INSECTS – STOP MOWIN’ THE EFFIN’ LAWN

I am concerned that my attempts at wildlife gardening are not resulting in many insects. My friend Di has said the same and she has a very well established garden with lots of pollination plants. Maybe it is too early after some unseasonal Weather earlier this year. Claims are often made that pesticide use is reducing in the UK. The variety of pesticides being used on single crops has increased and their toxicity is breathtaking – some neonicotinoid insecticides are 10,000 times more toxic than the most notorious insecticide in history, DDT. If we do not look after all parts of the food chain things will not node well for Planet Earth. It has been suggested that solar farms could be planted with native flowers and pollinator plants to encourage biodiversity and insects.

NEW PLANTS

The smallest plug plants ever! 6 of each of the following: Achillea Cerise Queen; Echinacea Nectar pink; Delphinium dark blue and white; salvia Salvatore blue; Verbena Buenos Aires. I have potted them up but will be chuffed if 50% survive. They are on the table as the greenhouse is probably too hot, and the pots will dry out. This way I can nurture them.

2 more cucumbers and my first big tomato – was half eaten by a slug – grrr! Deterents applied. But another handful of smaller ones and another bush providing.

GARDEN

5 am watering of greenhouse (with added hose the last few days), and then the patio and the front garden. All my mints, sages and thymes seem to be doing well. Chickory has spread a little andI love the blue flowers. Pineapple sage has had a lovely red flower and I loved the flax earlier in the summer. Lots of small white butterflies and one painted lady – hopefully the hot spell will lead to a proliferation of them. I have left some nettles and buddlea for them.

Tomatoes are coming on, and another couple of cucumbers – I reckon if I get 10 that is cheaper than buying them (although obviously they have not been sprayed, etc. – and so pleased see them!). Thinking about late planting of parsley, lettuce, whatever, as there are now spaces in the greenhouse. peppers looking good.

HERBARIA

I want one! Just saw this in the Observer Magazine during my busy Sunday! I did water the garden, greenhouse and house plants between 5.15 and 6.30 this morning!.

Obviously it needs something like a conservatory or a wall with plenty of light. But how good would a wall be with 20 to 30 herbs and flowers giving both a vibrant vista and a fragrant scent. If I get rid of the radiator in the conservatory and replace with an electric storage heater I would have a wall that at the moment has a rather brilliant Ceropegia woodii. Maybe I could move the furniture a bit and plan properly for once. But already thinking of Corsican mint, chocolate mint, creeping thyme, greek basil, parsley.

NATIONAL FOOD STRATEGY

A grand title with ok ideas, but they are just that, ideas. up to now most initiatives have failed or been so watered down as to be useless. The food lobby is powerful and rich. But the cost to the NHS and government via other support payments, and to industry in days lost is also very high.

GARDEN

Tomatoes and cucumbers join strawberries and raspberries and redcurrant that I have got from the garden this year – along with all the herbs.

Making strawberry jam later with strawberries bought from Draycott, maybe add a leaf of a mint near the end?

JULY IN THE KITCHEN

After a failure due to over ambition with strawberry jam making, I am now doing 1kg at a time which also gives room for experimentation! I also bought some greengages to make some green jam, and might see if there are cheap apricots of the amber. Traffic light jam might work, make the three jams a day apart to allow for cooling in the fridge? I am also on the look out for gooseberries before the blackberry and apple season. Redcurrant jelly has set nicely – and is lovely and clear due to not squeezing the jelly bag.

BASIL

Drying 4 trays in the dehydrator – about 6 hours should do. Then to start on dried bespoke mints. Maybe there is a market?

SHARING

In my road we all have (or had – my rewinding!) 5/6m sq front gardens which are lawns. Yet we all have a lawn mower which we use once a fortnight or longer. And then we have our power drills (used rarely) and so many other appliances like this. I would love to lend out the following pasta maker, yoghurt maker, ravioli maker, pizza stone, jam saucepan (big) and maybe even the food mixer although I do use it regularly, but many do not – and I never used to. I have offered to lend all these things, but no one takes me up? Does this make me a freak for making my own pasta and pizza and yoghurt? But we should share more!

GARDEN JULY 2021

Whoop, whoop, first 3 tomatoes. Hopefully I will be ok for next 3 months. Strawberry jam made yesterday has set and tastes good. I will need more jam jars, especially if I am going to dry herbs. Sun (dehydrator) dried tomatoes would be good, and then mix with different herbs, especially basil. My garlics are small but tasty. And I am getting enough raspberries to add to cereal every day (10-12). Nasturtiums ready for eating.