Well none of us can resist commenting on the weather when we meet either how cold it is or referring to other years but unless we keep an exact record of the daily temperature or rainfall how can we really remember what happened last year or any other come to that.
All I know is that we are still needing to water the garden from time to time and the lovely sunny days encourage us out to do those little chores that frequently get left on the ‘round to it list’ because we never do get round to it !! It is exciting watching recently planted potatoes romping ahead and other spring vegetables that a northern gardener would never dream of planting up right now. Don’t worry winter will come one of these days but we will still find a few sunny hours to be out in the garden.
One quite important job to do right now is to prune the grape vine if it has not already been pruned. All of this years growth must be cut back to just a couple of buds for the next seasons new vine to mature. Grapes only grow on the new vine which is why they are cut back so drasticly unless of course you are wanting to allow it to grow up and over a pergola or take a vine along a wall but don’t expect any grapes to form on anything left from old growth. The cuttings from the vine when left to dry out and cut into lighting wood length make excellent kindling for an open BBQ hob, giving a fragrant flavour to the smoke as you get the fire going for an outside BBQ. Yes, everything has its uses, even those bits pruned not only from the vine but other woody shrubs as well.
The next climbing shrub to cut right back will be the Bougainvillea, as the last coloured bracts fall and then the leaves it really must be kept cut back. Just be careful of those needle sharp prickles that always seem to be ready to draw blood. This is another fast growing climber every year so must be kept in check to keep it tidy. All of these type of cutting can now be burnt on an open bonfire now that the ban has been lifted but of course with caution never to be left unattended whilst it is still smouldering.
Just think of all that lovely wood ash after it has burnt right through. The fine grey ash can be added as a top dressing anywhere on the soil to add a little natural potash that plants need and also serves as a deterrant for slugs and snails, so they say!! I have yet to be able to say that the wretches haven’t got at some of the new vegetables.
A reader has written to comment on drying her bunches of Sage that I suggested last week could well be hung up to dry ready for rubbing down. She has a little recycling tip. Keep the open weave sacks that onions and potatoes come in when bought by the sackful. Put the Sage cuttings into the sack, don’t fill it or cram the cuttings together, and then give the sack a little shake from time to time.
It will be best to hang it so that the air gets at it all round and after just a couple of weeks it will be obvious that the leaves have dried out sufficiently to be able to rub them off their stalks and finally make a fine powder out of the leaves. She says that she actually uses a coffee grinder to break down the dried leaves, it really works and there you have dried Sage ready for making Sage and onion stuffing for the Christmas turkey. Keep it in a screw topped jam jar and it will always keep that wonderful Sage aroma.
And finally a Nispero tree in full bloom, if only one could reproduce the fragrance onto paper, that comes from these tiny flowers !! The garden smells of flowers and now the bees are having a field day busy collecing the pollen, so much so that the whole tree just buzzes and seems to shimmer with them, as I mentioned before, it is the tree of all the sences, see, hear, smell and when it comes round to it, taste.