Autumn seems to be slipping away into winter now with the garden coated in frost as I came in this morning. The parsnips and celeriac will have had their cold shock, improving their flavour so it's time to let the chefs at them; though the summer salads are now starting to look a little ragged, enjoy whatever is in season I guess.
The weather has been quite dry recently so we are steadily working through the landscaping of the HQ gardens. We are using perforated plastic sheeting to kill off the grass and weeds to plant our soft fruit and hedges through. The plastic will remain down for the first growing season then will be removed once the plants are established, as weed or grass competition in the first year can really knock the plants back. If you leave the plastic down for longer than one year you can start killing the soil. A healthy soil ecosystem needs organic matter falling on the surface regularly to be taken into the soil by worms and other soil life. I'm teaching a one-day course in fruit growing and orchard planting in GROW HQ on Saturday November 11 for anyone who is interested in starting a fruit patch.
We intend to have all the main garden structure and planting finished by next spring, though gardens being what they are it will take years to mature into its final shape. This is how it should be though, instant gardens are like instant food and instant gratification in general, a modern aberration, an unhealthy mind set when working with nature. I’m reminded of a conversation I had, as a young gardener many years ago, with an elderly friend who was planting some trees.
“What are you planting those for at your age Les?” I joked. (note reminding someone they wont live long enough to see the the fruits of their labours is hilarious, try it out on your elderly friends)
“Well somebody had to plant the buggers for me, didn’t they?” replied Les.
Growing done properly should help give us a sense of permanence in a world that can seem increasingly crazy at times. Maybe if we got Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to plant a few trees together the world would be a safer place. I think I should invite them on the woodland “Meitheal” we are planning in the trees adjacent to our veg patch. We are developing an exciting plan for this area to carefully rejuvenate the existing woodland and plant native trees in the open areas to create an ash/oak woodland. This will give us a lovely area for people to stroll through and play in, as well as a valuable educational resource. And no-one planting the young trees will see them even reach middle age. I guess that’s how things should be.
*A previous version of this article stated the Richard could give the UN diplomatic "core"a run for their money. This was a punny joke we felt, but it seems many readers did not get it and thought Richard had made a mistake. Also Richard could not compete with the UN in terms of global diplomacy.