Scarecrows, begonias and an update on our allotment and new potager all feature in this first June posting. As the days lengthen towards mid-summer, there still does not seem to be time enough for us to accomplish all we seek to do out-of-doors.
Scarecrows always make me smile, but they serve a useful purpose in the garden – so long as you keep moving them around! Once a customary sight in farm fields (where clothing past human wearing could be recycled), traditional scarecrows as bird-deterrents are now less common. Farmers – and gardeners – employ all manner of objects to protect their crops: foil discs and strips; plastic fertiliser and compost bags hung from poles; bottles on sticks; humming lines; fake birds of prey; spinning mini-windmills; flags, kites and balloons; guns and other exploding devices; cat-shaped standalones with flashing eyes; fleece, netting, cages … one’s garden or allotment could begin to take on the appearance of a shanty town!
You may not fancy making or acquiring a scarecrow ‘garden guardian’ against bird attack, but nevertheless need to deter other undesirable creatures – pest control is as important as removing weeds. Constantly on his hands and knees (not praying, but weeding), my husband takes judicious care of his large 45ft x 25ft vegetable plot; truly his pride and joy. Broad beans better than ever before, peas well-sticked with our own coppiced hazel, and garlic, onions and shallots sufficient to last the whole winter. And this week we ate our first new potatoes of the season. Delicious and buttery – the only trouble is, we eat far too many!
My new potager (remember the first views of it in late January?) is a joy to work in and already surprisingly productive, with its four raised beds and seeds and plants already providing us with salads. Nearly all that I am sowing and growing this year are the latest Dobies varieties – or new to me at least. Many have been bred for use in pots on the terrace; I’m using planters of various types and sizes, tucked into spaces hacked out of the previous wilderness, and making sure the potato tubers and plug plants are all planted in a good well-balanced compost, mulched or underplanted with home-made stuff (see last post).
Plug plants are a godsend, particularly if you are out at work all day. Not just vegetables, but flowers as well. Indeed, as mentioned in last week’s e-newsletter, Dobies were the first company to offer seedling plants by post – begonias, in 1979. Lovely for filling in odd corners, border edgings or in pots, they bring colour to the garden, even on a dull day.
Next week, I hope to blog live from the ‘Three Counties Show‘ at Malvern – food, farming and rural life, and always much to interest the keen and dedicated gardener. Oh, and these scarecrows were spotted in a field on the Goodwood Estate, near Chichester; a children’s festival and competition with scracrows stretched out in a long row along the edge of a cut hayfield.