Time On My Hands

At last I have had time on my hands to get out in the garden and get on with all those seasonal jobs, managing at least a couple of hours most afternoons this week – and what a difference it has made! Not only have all those lingering bulbs been planted, but the pansy, viola and bedding plants which were were due to overplant many of the bulbs in pots have been planted out too, as above, immediately clearing space in the greenhouse to home any tender plants that have not already made it inside.

Some tender plants are being cosseted in situ, this year using lambswool that came as insulating packaging for a Michelin star meal-at-home that the Golfer and I treated ourselves to for an anniversary back in September (the prepared parts of the meal were individually packaged ready for reheating or cooking). The wool is literally straight off the sheeps’ backs, lightly compressed into a multi-neutral coloured layer around 2″ thick, and very soft and tactile. Easily cut, it readily forms a collar to wrap around tender plants, where it can be supplemented on top by compost, bark or straw; I have no idea whether it will rot down over winter, but it is a great way of recycling and, having read about the low price farmers have been receiving for their fleeces recently, is another market for this end-product.

The dahlias were lifted this week, and are now drying out in the greenhouse; once excess soil can be brushed them I will pack them away in dry compost recycled from pots and stored in large boxes in the greenhouse till early next year when they will be potted up. I have wondered whether to cut out the box storage stage and store them directly in pots…

Next to this working greenhouse, in the fruit cage the autumn fruiting raspberries are still producing, only an ounce or two at a time, but it all adds up. As I double crop these raspberries, the larger part of their yield comes in June or July, and smaller autumn yield comes in dribs and drabs from September onwards – but this year both yields have been later than usual.

One belated task was emptying compost from the HotBin, which supposedly produces compost in just a few months but as I don’t use it to full capacity it hadn’t seemed worth emptying before. I use it primarily for kitchen waste as it is far closer to the house than the main compost heaps, and certainly in the warmer months it seems to work well, but like wormeries the composting processing is very much slower in winter. To access the finished compost you remove a front section and take out the final product – mine was well-blessed with eggshell fragments! Once the front section is replaced, the remaining contents will drop down to fill the void.

Despite my relative lack of height, even I have had to duck under some of the clematis growing up the supports of the Rambling Rector’s arbour, but that was remedied today. Although Group 3 clematis should be pruned in early spring, specialists Thorncroft Clematis advise it is acceptable to tidy them up in autumn or early winter, cutting them down to about waist height and tying them in to prevent damage. The resultant greenery takes up an awful lot of green bin space but at least all those near the house have been dealt with and crammed into our overflowing bin and that of our tiny-garden neighbour – the ones on the clematis colonnade will have to wait! I wonder if our Six on Saturday host Jon the Propagator has been able to get any of his outstanding jobs done since last week – why not pop over to his log to have a look?

This entry was posted in Autumn, composting, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, pruning, Six on Saturday. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Time On My Hands

  1. Susan Thomas says:

    Hi Cathy. I always now store my dahlias in pots which I keep dry until its time to wake them which is how the gardeners at Anglesea Abbey (National Trust) overwinter theirs. They have a most wonderful display every year and its always a good opportunity to speak to the gardeners. They store the pots on their side (I don’t have room to do this), refresh the compost in spring and plant out still in their pots.
    Thank you so much for sharing your garden – I do enjoy virtually visiting it 😊 Take care x

    • Cathy says:

      That’s really interesting to read, Susan, and has given me the push to try it that way this year. Why do they store them on their sides at AA, do you know, and are the pots planted out into the ground, or ae they decorative pots?Do you live in the Cambridge area? Thanks so much for atking the time to share this with me and thanks for your kind comments about the blog

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    I like your use of lambswool as a mulch, great repurposing. Although, I am sad for the farmers who aren’t getting good prices for fleece. They deserve better for all their hard work.

  3. What a great idea to use the lambswool. I have a few plants that will need a little extra assistance to survive the winter. I’m thinking of placing some kind of insulation around them and removing it after the worst of the winter is done. You have been busy!

    • Cathy says:

      The packaging suggested there were many ways of recycling/upcycling it, and they referrred to their website for idea but I had already decided to use it this way

  4. tonytomeo says:

    compost bins seem so neat and clean. I have never used one. The compost piles here are bigger than most home gardens. In my own home garden, compost was merely piled and allowed to compost at its own rate, and only rarely turned. It somehow worked.

    • Cathy says:

      My main compost heaps are more rough and ready, Tony, just with timber sourrounds – and I don’t bother to turn the compost either, just leave it fr a year

  5. karen says:

    What a great idea to use the wool packaging. I’ve seen this idea at easton walled gardens where they mulched the rose garden with it. I’m the next village there’s an alpaca farm with some wool going free. I’ll go and investigate later… I’ve got a hot bin and I love using it. But it’s difficult to get the little door back in place. Enjoy your Sunday. Xx

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, the free alpaca wool sounds useful – are they not able to sell it for spinning, etc? My friend gets alpaca poo from somewhere quite local, also free I think. I notice they now do a stand for the hotbins, which sounds like a good idea because it doesn’t help that they stand directly on the ground – no doubt they will be pricey! Hope your poorly family members are doing as best they can x

  6. Noelle says:

    Again an interesting and fulsome report, with a some useful tips. I have a couple of lovely handknits that have sadly seen their day, and rather than putting them to ‘recycling’, I shall think of uses for them in the garden. When I had a wormery, they were cut and used as the topmost layer rather than buying the ‘bespoke’ ones. It took about two years before they were completely incorporated.

    • Cathy says:

      Ooh, before you do that Noelle consider felting them in a hot machine wash and cutting and sewing them into new garments, something I am just getting into ps when I first read your comment for some reason I was thinking you cut the worms in half… 😲😁

  7. Cathy says:

    Using wool as insulation is such a good idea and has got me thinking… I could use lots of wool scraps and make ‘cushions’ to put around some plants! Your raspberries look mouth-watering. I think I need to feed mine to get a decent crop next year. We have also been moving compost around this week. Our wormery was great for a summer, but we had to turn out the worms in winter for fear of the bin freezing and killing them. I must look into ‘Hot Bins’.

    • Cathy says:

      There are two sizes of hot bins, Cathy, and mine is the smaller one although still bigger than I expected when I first ordered it! They suggest it would be suitable for a small garden, but not one where the owner does a lot of gardening I would say. I am using mine for the convenience of having it near the house, but I am still reluctant to put cooked food waste in because of maggots in the summer 🙄 I still have my ‘proper’ compost heaps though for the bulk of my garden waste

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