Sorry I’ve been so quiet. I went on holiday, came back and got sick, and the building work I mentioned previously has taken over my whole garden.
As a result of all the building work, my garden isn’t a very pleasant place to be right now but last weekend I steeled myself for a day’s tidying. Turning my back on the garden next to the house/building site, I went down to the bottom of my garden where I grow my vegetables and began putting the garden to bed for the winter.
I dug up the remains of my courgettes, squash, tomatoes and leeks (I’d greedily planted them too close together and they’d gone all woody inside) and tossed them on the compost heap. I then set about cutting down my French beans and runner beans and untangling them from their canes. I didn’t pull up the beans – rather I snipped them off at soil level and left the roots in the soil. This is because the roots of beans contain nitrogen nodules which the soil needs to help replenish the nutrients taken out of the soil when you grow beans.
I dismantled the nets around the cavalo nero and red kale and picked off the nibbled leaves before staking the kale to help it through the winter. The great thing about kale is that it’s frost resistant and will continue to grow (albeit slowly) through the winter. It’s also really pretty.
Spurred on by last weekend’s achievements, I ventured out into the garden again today. This time I thought I’d cut down a few perennials. I’m never really sure how far to go with the cutting back of perennials. Some gardening books swear by it to remove debris that will harbour pests and diseases over winter. Other sources say to leave well alone to protect the crowns of plants from frost and to provide hiding places for wildlife over winter. Today I started cutting back the dead stems of the echinops as they don’t look very nice – even with frost and sunlight them. I was about to start on the dead sweet peas (again leaving the roots in place for their nitrogen-fixing qualities) when I noticed two ladybirds on it. I immediately stopped tidying and decided to call it a day.
I like to think I was being wildlife-friendly. But maybe I was just being lazy?!