A week's a long time at the Acreage

Thank you to those who commented on the spring update from the Acreage, the letters from the Acreage approach seems to work fairly well.

As those of you who are gardeners or have large gardens (the two are not as interchangeable as you might think) will know, you have to get ahead of the May growth spurts of you're fighting a losing battle for the rest of the summer. As a result, this is another week of garden related activity.

You will remember the tomato plants that were transplanted from the little green plastic cells in which they arrived.

Despite not having a greenhouse the south facing kitchen window appears to have done the trick pretty well - that plus the rather warm conditions for early May resulted in (as Vaughan would say) them going gangbusters. I've two varieties here and neither of them are called species Audrey II, but I do keep expecting a chorus of 'feed me, feed me now as I walk into the kitchen,

The difference after two weeks on the south facing window sill is pretty impressive and they have plenty of flower, so I'm hoping for a decent crop of Acreage tomatoes this year.

Their final position will be just outside this window which is south facing, sheltered from winds, easy to water and clearly getting the sort of light they seem to like. Watch this space.

The (potting) shed is fully occupied hardening off runner beans and dwarf beans along with some beetroot ready to plant out in a week or so. After something of a false start roof-wise, the shed is proving to be well worth the spend.

A different story when it comes to recovering the cost of the re-roofing from either the supplier (who just blanked us) or Amex who have rejected the initial section 75 claim as the purchase was made through their card (partly due to the cover of sect. 75).

Needless to say the reasons given are dubious and we've already provided them with stated cases where the House of Lords or Court of Appeal say 'nice try banks, but no cigar'. Despite that the bank still said 'No.:' so that's off to ombudsman land which will cost Amex more than the claim - it's a strange world at times.

I did have my doubts about the extra deep window sills in the new kitchen extension, but it turns out they are just perfect for mini propagators.

So we have some seeds germinating on there including some chocolate habanero chilis which I'm looking forward to trying if and when they decide to emerge and grow.

So this year's plantings will include beetroot, tomatoes. savoy cabbage, kale, chard, carrots. parsnips (not together), celery, spinach, onions, garlic, runner and dwarf beans, rhubarb, horseradish (in a pot it's too invasive otherwise), a cluster of herbs, not forgetting some swede and turnip for later in the season along with around 40 strawberry plants.

The ground for the main patch is dug over (bean poles are just temporary they'll move) with a two row extension compared to last year being dug this weekend.

Before you tell me that list of crops won't all fit in there - well, yes although that list will be summer and autumn. Plus the herbacious borders will be supplemented with the occasional black kale (James Wong Black Magic) and a crown or two of rhubarb. The borders may look a little unconventional, but they'll taste great.

This weekend's jobs include completing this extension then treating this patch (along with the strawberries and other bits) with nematodes. Then the seedlings being put out in 7 days or so. Then it's over to special agent VW to roll out the hose and keep everything watered.

Yes, I know the bush needs cutting back but it was a great splash of yellow flowers, so it could wait.

However, some of last year's planting is starting to take shape.

The lavender bushes are starting to form a low hedge which I should be able to square off in due course. Looks a lot better than the scraggy bit of rough hard standing that was there 18 months ago.

The water feature has been very successful in bringing a small trickle of water to the garden. So much so, that there may well be another more substantial installation over the next twelve months. However, some preparations and repairs to a retaining wall need to be done before that can be tackled.

Compost corner has been completed and they seem to be working fairly well. Although they look smallish, they wilt greenery at a rate of knots so they're deceptively capacious.

The frame for the strawberry patch has been built, wired and is ready to fend of all comers for the fruit (other than the Mem'Sahib or me).

Taz isn't above snuffling out a ripe strawberry - he's already given the freshly planted bare root plants out and all have had a good niffin just to make sure they're all Taz approved.

I'm always surprised how quickly the local wildlife check out and take advantage of the improvements in the garden.

Taz is finding a particularly brazen squirrel quite a challenge. The squirrel seems to know just how far is safe and stays just on that side of distance from Taz who is keen to escort it off the premises without recourse to appeal.

That said, he is enjoying the time with me out in the garden and its really helped his cruciate ligament repair gain strength. He's pretty much back to full fitness now which feels like some extra good quality years with such a special dog.

The latest addition to the acreage is for those late summer and early autumn evenings.

A beautiful copper rimmed fire pit. Vaughan immediately spotted there was a grill included to go over the wood/charcoal and immediately went into full barbie mode.

It appears you can take the boy out of Australia but ....

Ultimately, this will probably go on a decked area (yet to be constructed) near the bottom of the garden, but in the meantime, some summer evenings might have extended by an hour or so. I can just imagine Vaughan cooking up something over coals in a grub-with-v-dub video. That could be interesting, but maybe when it's just a bit warmer.

The 'rough' banked area at the bottom of the garden, currently little more than a dumping ground for garden waste and earth already has a retaining wall and could easily accomodate a low area of decking while being barely visible from the house (so not spoiling the view).

There may even be room for a summer house or seating at the very least. This is where the fire pit might end up. Whatever we finally put there, the view (above) would be a great way to spend those long summer evenings. - But that's a task for the next 12 months or so.

While it may be a little hopeful in terms of the weather, this seems somehow appropriate for this week which has been relaxing and verdant in equal measure.


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