Spring Planting and Hügelkultur Planters
Our property is on a slope. It's not a really steep one, but it's enough that we have a bit of a retaining wall on the back garden. It doesn't fully span the garden, however, so we still have areas sloping downwards where the soil can start coming downhill. This makes it a little awkward to work with at times, so I wanted to add in a plant form of soil retention to help combat erosion. Something I can plant once and it stays there, rather than the annuals I've been growing so far. I've been mulling over what to put there for some time now and finally realised that lemongrass could be the answer, as it ticks several boxes. I've been wanting to expand on what I have anyway, so I can separate my current plant and try to establish a row at the base of the slope. Grasses are heavy feeders and the base of a slope is where nutrients and water should run, so hopefully they'll capture that run off, instead of it going to waste. This will also hopefully grow that root base nicely to keep that soil in place.
I've not had any luck with establishing lemongrass from sections separated off before, so I'm trying a few different approaches. Two of the replants were sections I purposely removed from the edge of the main plant which were already starting to grow new grass this spring. One of these had a tiny shoot at the base. Two were stumps from lemongrass I'd pulled for use and noticed they had a bit of root with them. With both the sections the grass died off after transplant, but I noticed that little shoot made an appearance (unfortunately it still died off later and a little tug revealed that it had rotted at its base). With the others I've seen no growth, however, a little tug seems to indicate that all bar one might be working on roots, because they seem to be firmly anchored. One came straight out and any root that was there had rotted away. This was one planted from a stump.
I got so excited it was growing!
With my most recent attempt at separating a section off for transplant, I tried putting in a jar of water, but despite regularly refreshing the water it just kept getting rotten around the stump the shoots were growing from, so I moved it into the ground before it all became a soggy mess. The new grass that was growing has once again died off, but I'll leave it longer and see if any roots start to take.
Elsewhere in the garden I've been weeding (aka collecting rabbit food) and clearing space for transplanting. A friend gave us a load of tomato seedlings, which took me a while to get planted out, due to the sheer amount of weeding needed. Each hole was prepared with as much poop and eggshell laden compost as I could gather together, because they are heavy feeders and like their calcium.
The nasturtiums look pretty in the background, but they're actually in tatters from the nightly earwig feasting.
Just as I finished transplanting the tomatoes that same friend sent my husband back with some more different seedlings. Thankfully I'd already been clearing another area so the courgettes/zucchinis could go straight in there in time for some rain. The cucumbers need some support, so went in along the fence in the same area. I'd actually planted bean seeds there and they were coming up, but have all been eaten back to stems by bugs. Thankfully the ones along the other fence have faired better, so fingers crossed we'll still get some beans later this year.
All this rain and warmer weather has given the sugarsnap peas a boost and they are producing. I want to get on top of them and harvest and freeze while they're still young and sweet. They are beautiful in a green curry and I've got lots of coriander to make some, but no green chillies or lemongrass, because it's the wrong time of year. So prepping and freezing could be the best approach.
Something I've always struggled to grow from seed is basil. Usually I only have it when someone else gives me seedlings. Last year I got some from another friend and let one go to seed, while I kept trimming the flowers off the others. We had such a mild winter that those I trimmed are still alive and, incredibly, have started growing again with the warming spring weather. I've removed the plant that went to seed and died off, chucking down a load of its seeds where it was and they are sprouting. This is about the stage that I lose them so we'll have to see if any start to move onto the next stage of growth and if so, I'll need to decide where to put them. Fingers crossed I'll have enough to gift back to my friend who supplied them last year, as she hasn't had chance to grow any herself yet.
In previous updates I mentioned I was moving some planters from the lawn down to the edge of the patio, because the grass was invading them from underneath, despite lining with cardboard. I did a hügelkultur approach and put some small branches and twigs in the bottom before filling with soil and compost. They've since been through a summer and a winter and have handled both the heat and heavy rain well. When it comes to the heat, it could also help that they are close to the pergola and likely get some shade at certain times of day.
The patio was starting to slope down at the edge, with the concrete that was supporting it having given up the ghost, so I levelled that back up before setting the planters in place. Hopefully the planters will be enough support to stop erosion from causing it again.
On the livestock front I've buried two of my older hens recently and I have another who seems to be egg bound, but if she is the egg seems to be high up so I'm unable to do much more than give her antibiotics and hope it gets reabsorbed. She's started eating and drinking a bit more, so fingers crossed she's on the road to recovery.
In memory of Buffy and Lavender