Plum jam paradise to plumburst

plum tree

Our little plum tree, after the first plums had been picked.

Summer is such a great time to be outdoors and watch the plums ripen.

Which is exactly what I did for about two months – apart from trying to get my allotment strawberries out from between loads of weeds (well, grass actually. But not the nice stay-in-one-place grass you get in lawns. The other, ambitious, conquer-the world kind. My mistake).

And one day a plum was lying on the terrace. Ripe as anything. Plum harvest time!

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Flowers under the hedge

It’s about time for an update on my bulbs under the hedge! Since we’ve got a beech hedge which looks rather brown and drab in winter, I decided to try to bring a splash of color by planting flower bulbs underneath and in between the plants.

And then winter hit. Or rather, it splashed. It was so bad I’m still wondering how the neighbors’ grape vine didn’t drown. The big question was whether the bulbs were in any way affected – and which ones, if any, were going to give a sign of life in spring.

The bad bit? I haven’t seen many anemones under the hedge. Perhaps those small bulbs just got soaked and rotted away, I can’t tell. The good news? The tulips did very well. Mind you, these were tulips from a package that said they grew 20 centimetres tall. They didn’t. Not here, anyway. The first tulip started to blossom almost as soon as it was out of the ground.

Tulip under the hedge: early on

But then it kept growing nearly 35 centimetres – without the flower. Here it is from two different angles.

Tulip under the hedge - grown quite a bit!

Any regrets? Well, yes. I regret the flowers are gone now. And I especially regret I didn’t put in more tulips! They have done so well and on rationed sunlight, too. I put them in sparingly in shady areas and the one side-effect I’ve noticed is that the flowers didn’t get bleached by the sun. They stayed the same firy red hue. Whereas the tulips in full sunlight looked great (with anemones and crocuses) but they didn’t quite keep the same richness of color.

Have you got flowers in odd corners of your garden? Or plants you thought would be lucky to survive in the spot you gave them?

The contented gardener

When I first started blogging, I decided not to blog about me. For more than a year, that worked really well. But then something happened. And it changed everything.

Winter garden

Photos from the garden yesterday afternoon. Call this winter? At ankel’s height there’s still lots to see. Bulbs reaching up. A cold snap with a drizzle of snow caused stubborn flowers to droop.

Over a year ago I got a new job. In content management. A great opportunity to turn all my talk about content, social media, and the like, into my daily job.

But somehow, spending hours at work fiddling with texts doesn’t motivate one to sit down at night and do the same thing all over again. Writing about content wasn’t the only problem. It was the editing, finding the right picture, and so on.

And even ‘writing about content’ was turning into a problem. Because it was ‘work’. I don’t mind work, I just don’t need to do one thing anywhere near 24/7. I craved variety. I’ve always loved doing a lot of different things at (nearly) the same time. (I know it’s getting out of hand whenever there are three different books by my bedside and another (two or three) in the living room.)

Content to garden

Then a new topic to blog about crossed my path. My garden. Actually it wasn’t that much of a garden: it was what was left after the houses had been built. After removing most of that one plant species I later learned is called lady’s thumb, because it grew nearly two feet tall all over the place, I let the other stuff grow to find out what kind of weed it was:

  • nice (like the flowery ones)
  • educational (stinging nettles – our son never had accidents with them at home)
  • slightly annoying (dandelions, but making up for it by looking great)
  • a real pain – unless you find a use for it (horsetail)

I’d added some plants but never sat down to decide which bigger plants might really add structure to our garden. It almost felt impossible to put big plants into a small garden. Partially because it would mean ripping out weeds that had grown on me. Sort of. Some of them. Partially because, well, it’s a small garden. Big plants were never going to fit, right?

Garden changes

But here I am after trying stuff in my garden for a whole growing season. I put in bigger plants and I keep seeing patches where more plants would fit quite snugly. I also started blogging about my garden.

Looking back at some pictures I took a few years ago I noticed one thing. A lot of small plants have disappeared. Having bigger plants shade the soil and soaking up nutrients and water has probably meant that the smaller ‘pioneer’ plants have left – after depositing their seeds in case a big shrub or a treelet is uprooted by a storm.

I’ve been able to retain a red clover, so hopefully it will attract bees and the like next spring. The gaps left by the pioneer plants are now begging for inhabitants -they are an open invitation for our neighbors’ cat to crap right in that spot (they don’t have a garden. Just a place to sit outside. And a cat with toilet issues). That’s one thing about some of the herbs: they die back when it gets cold and then the cats move in. Plants with woody stems are better.

Looking forward to spring. Happy New Year!

Gardening projects… and horsetail

The bulbs have been planted… or most of them have. Unfortunately it looks as if it will be too cold this weekend to go digging and planting the last of my bulbs. Still, not to worry – a couple of warmer days next week are enough.

Meanwhile I got a couple of gardening projects going. Continue reading

Bulbs under the hedge

For the past few weeks I’ve spent time digging tiny and not-so-tiny holes in the ground in my garden… planting bulbs. If you’ve visited my blog before you may have noticed I wrote I don’t have that much space, so where do I leave bulbs?

Flower bulbs

Bags and bags of flower bulbs… these are a couple I selected for the back yard. These didn’t all fit exactly under the hedge.

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September strawberry blossom

So this past week I checked on several plants in the garden… and noticed one of the strawberry plants was flowering for the second time this year.

september strawberry flowers

Well-hidden september strawberry flowers

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After strawberries come plums… already?

For the past week we’ve been eating plums for dessert almost every day. It’s come as a bit of a surprise to this urban person! The label said “harvest in August” and yet I found myself wondering why a couple of plums had dropped from the tree at the start of July.

plums

After rescuing a couple from the gentle critters that would have cleaned the fruits up – woodlouse in English, they also tend to eat strawberries when they can get at them in wet weather, and slugs – I washed them, cut them open to check the inside, smelled them, and ate them.

These plums are ripe.

Wow. They’re ripe – over a month before they were ‘supposed to be’. So out I went with any kind of bowl or pot I happened to have. And picked about fifteen plums. And told my husband, and put our son in his bed. When I came downstairs said husband had picked another dozen.

After having gained that little bit of knowledge about strawberries “strawberries don’t ripen after they’re picked”, apparently, I was a bit alarmed by the fact that some of the plums looked decidedly unripe. I needn’t have worried – plums do ripen rather well if the temperature is high. Which was probably what had led to our early harvest.

Do you happen to have a good recipe for plum pie?

So we’ve eaten a big bowl of plums by now and I know that for next year I really want a good recipe for plum pie. I’ve had some wonderful pies in Germany over the years. The cherry pie I once decided would make a great lunch (cherry layer: two inches) wasn’t bad either! But I don’t think we have room for a cherry tree as well. Oh well.

For now we’ll just have to munch our way through our harvest. So far we’ve combined plums with strawberries (from the shop, unfortunately – ours have run out), and yoghurt. I think they’ll be great with banana. All in all we have been having more fruit than usual. And that’s our first harvest from the plum tree!

There’s still some fruit on the tree and there must be around twenty plums on the ground and in the box hedge near it. They’re already half-eaten, so I’ll leave them where they are expecting that the nutrients will end up back in the soil at some point.

P.S. Looks like the peas want harvesting. Investigate tomorrow. I hope. Unless we get another month’s worth of rain pouring down – again.