August garden journal

August kept gardeners as busy as bees with harvesting and extreme weathers. I certainly learnt a lot, enjoyed the sunshine and deepened my gratitude for nature’s gifts.

Marvelling at nature

Artichoke-770x500

This might not be anything practical but I think it’s a really important part of gardening. When we take a minute to stop and be in awe of the nature around us it takes us to a happy place and leaves us feeling energised and centered. At the start of the month I took a minute to marvel at one of the last artichoke flowers at the Inspire Community Garden. I happen to catch Deputy Bee – who looks like he’s perched on a royal pillow.

Digging onions

We had a lot of onions at the community garden! I learnt that you should only pull out the ones with a folded top as the upright ones are still growing. I laid them all out in the polytunnel afterwards to let them dry and force a brown skin so that they store longer.

Planting Strawberry stomas

Strawberry stomas (c) Rianne Mason

Look at this clever strawberry sending out little babies. I secured the new stomas into pots with wire. When they’ve rooted we can set them them free from mum and have a new set of plants. Apparently it’s good to re-new your strawberry plants every three years or so.

Courgettes, courgettes, courgettes!

Courgettes (c) Rianne Mason

The extremes in weather has led to courgettes going crazy. Let’s count the things you can do with courgettes:

  • accidentally leave them so that they turn into marrows
  • throw them in with pasta, herbs and tomatoes from the garden (my favourite)
  • make a chutney, jam or pickle

Getting brutal with basil

Pruning basil (c) Rianne Mason

Basil has been my practice herb because I love Mediterranean food. I’ve enjoyed growing them from seed but then I had to figure out how to maintain them to keep them nice and bushy! So I think you keep cutting them down to the first node of each new branch – that encourages two new shoots to grow. We’ll see what happens…

I made a lovely pesto after this brutal cutting. My permaculture reading is teaching me that this is close to the dream situation – ‘harvesting as maintenance’.

Foraging blackberries

Blackberries (c) Rianne Mason

I used to walk past the blackberries I see everywhere at this time of year without much thought, but now I see a waste of beautiful produce. All those free vitamins being handed to us from nature. I’ll take some thanks.

Keeping an eye on seeds

Red Orach seeds (c) Rianne Mason

My new friend, the Red Orach, is producing absolutely loads of these pretty little seeds that come individually gift-wrapped. I’ve never harvested seeds before so I’m not sure when to pick them, but my mum thinks they need to be a bit drier. I guess I’ll wait until they naturally start falling off.

Learning about trees, herbaceous perennials and alpine rock plants

Study notes (c) Rianne Mason

I’ve finished another unit of self-study for the RHS level 2 – hooray! This section was very heavy on the different types of plants used for different situations. These included herbaceous perennials used for:

  • mixed borders (shrubs, bulbs, annuals)
  • herbaceous borders
  • island beds
  • naturalistic planting schemes
  • woodland, cottage, knot, herb gardens
  • ground cover
  • containers
  • waterside gardens
  • cut and dried flowers

I also learnt about alpine plants and I really have a soft spot for these. I first discovered my love of them in the alpine house at Harlow Carr back in February. It felt like walking around a tiny museum of beautiful small sculptures.

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