Roses for the Veg Garden

I done it! It was harder than I hoped it would be, mostly because of the stupid woman who was my predecessor here. She really does amaze me. elderberry_cordial.jpg

i set off with the mattock to clear the nettles and stuff out of the back of the bed against the north hedge of the veg garden. This is my raspberry bed, will be … but more of that later … so I don’t want to be climbing through the canes to get at some other veg behind them. It’s a narrow bed anyway, not more than 1m wide (if that) down its length, it begins about 1/3m and widens out to 1 m at the end so not a lot of spare space. There’s a nice young apple tree half way down that’s doing fine, with an elder to its left and a young ash to its right. I’m really not convinced about an ash tree there; I love them but they’re big and its roots will take all the food and moisture from the raspberries so I have a feeling it’s on its way out. I want the elder, I make elderberry cordial which is extremely good for preventing colds … and so very helpful right now as the coronavirus is of the cold-virus-family.

At present the hedge isn’t. I mean it’s not a hedge but a fence with green windbreak netting on it to about 1m high. Not ultra attractive and I do like my veg beds to be pretty as well as productive. I found a good deal at one of the big nurseries I use for Queen Elizabeth and Stromboli roses; the QEs are floribunda roses, meaning they just keep on flowering! Rosa_'Queen_Elizabeth'_Lammerts_ParquePozoNorte_Puertollano.jpgThey’re thick and tall and pink and scented, and tough as old boots! My Dad grew them when I was a kid, we had one on the outside of the stable wall and he swore its roots went under the ancient cobb wall and got the horse manure straight from the source. It was about 15ft tall and a serious rose tree! I grew them as hedging in Archenland too, they’re lovely. The Stromboli are brilliant red, similarly tough and disease resistant but maybe not so tall, probably making about 1.2m at most, and scented. Both roses will make excellent and pretty hedging.

Today the QEs were yelling it was their turn to get planted and on the north hedge, the Stromboli seemed OK with this so I went for it. My mate Guy, hammered the worst of the weeds out last Nov before I put the first raspberry canes in, so I hoped the job wouldn’t be too hard. I didn’t take Young Lisa (my predecessor) into account!

The woman seems to have the most amazing ideas about gardening;

  • Mulch with coal …
  • Bury large pieces of old carpet in your deep beds …
  • Plant bricks and concrete blocks in your deep beds – in fact in any and every bed you have!
  • knock down good and useful sheds to leave an ugly space, and through the old wall on the bed next to the front gate, path and front door, allow them to grow excellent crops of nettles having first thrown in a few mint, lemon balm and sage seeds to do the best they can. Oh and add a lot of boulders (about 1m in diameter) for effect.

Today’s epic appeared just as I thought I was really doing well. I’d mattocked my way down most of the bed, turning the soil easily and getting the weeds out well (not too many of those), and then I lifted the mattock and dropped it. Thwok! It said soggily. that’s the best description I can give of the depressing noise. I gave it another go. Th-thwok! it said again. I stopped to look. There, some 6″ deep, was bubble wrap. somewhat dirty and disheveled bubble wrap and beginning to fall to pieces. I went to pull it out. It didn’t. In fact it felt like it pulled back.

Using science and working from known principles, previous experience (not that I have any of gardening with bubble wrap), and as much nous as I could muster, I managed to lever my way beneath the bubble wrap to find it went on … and on … and on! I realised that Young Lisa had grabbed my by the ankle yet again! For all the gods’ sakes what do you bury bubble wrap in a veg bed for? I asked Paul (hubby) later, to get the wide-eyed and innocent reply of, “To keep the soil warm and the moisture in, of course”. Well yes, actually, I strongly suspect that Young Lisa really did think this … sigh!

IMG_20200330_145644An hour later I had sufficient of the beastly stuff moved out of the way to put all the roses in and so began. The first four were easy … dig the hole, put in some Rootgrow and some composted organic cow dung, insert rose and backfill. Now do the Gardener’s Shuffle. This is a special dance all good pagan, organic and biodynamic gardeners learn very early in their careers. After you’ve backfilled you must make sure all the soil is firmly packed around the plants roots, unless you do this the roots are waving about in pockets of air, unable to get food and water from the soil because they’re not touching it. So you tread the plant in … the famous Gardener’s Shuffle LOL. But I’d done it! The QE roses are in and looking good (for late March and newly planted) They’ll be gorgeous in a few weeks time.

Knackered, I packed up and went in, an hour later than I’d intended (Ta very muchley, Lisa! Grrrrr!). I made myself a cup of bone broth, had a painkiller and an apple, and gradually became humanoid again!

I’ll write up the rest of what I did today in the next blog … I’ve run out of steam for today!

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