It was a good sized frog.
As ever, that glistening motley
wash-leather skin – lemon, green,
yellow, black spots;
it went well with the garden leavings
with the rolled back old carpets,
April leaves, grass, roots in a heap,
it went under, blended in;
its skin matched the land colours.
At first I saw it, after a spade thrust,
then stop, elongate,
as if to show me itself,
unchopped, whole, no missing limb;
as if I’d have sense of it,
come from the beck,
and of where it fitted in.
Nicholas Bradley, 2004
When I got there
I saw eight magpies on one plot,
one perched on a cane or a pole,
they let me get quite near;
it was raining, no-one else
around. I guess the wrens
and long ago hoards of small birds
are edged out. I half hate
these big survivors, half love
their beauty when I see them,
close, by the four foot pink
and off-pink bush; what is it?
I got digging, the odd whinny
of a horse was all this inner city
garden had on its grey six-thirty
soundtrack, as slowly the church
and houses on the hill
sank below street lights;
I had to get out.
Nicholas Bradley, 2004
Make your own seed and potting composts …
You can make your own organic, peat-free seed and potting composts using leaf mould, garden compost and loam. You can make it up as you need it, in large or small quantities. Leaf mould needs to stand for two years. Loam is basically just good garden soil. If you are bothered by weed seedlings you can pasteurise the loam at 80 degrees C for about half an hour. I just pull the weeds up.
The recipes are by volume: shovel-fulls, scoops, or whatever.
- Sowing compost: 1 part sieved leaf mould + 1 part sieved loam.
- Potting compost: 1 part sieved leaf mould + 1 part sieved loam + 1 part sieved garden compost.
- Tomato compost: 3 parts loam + 1 part leaf mould + 1 part garden compost or manure.
Gillian North’s recipe for success!
Use lots of nettles or comfrey to activate and provide extra nutrient in the form of trace elements. Layers of shredded bark also aids decomposition. Intersperse with grass cuttings.
Extend the season for earlies and avoid blight on maincrops…
Plant just one short row of earlies as soon as conditions allow in order to get your first new potatoes of the season. Then plant maincrop and second earlies so they have a long growing season before blight strikes. Continue with the rest of the earlies, staggering the planting so not all are ready at once.
Gillian’s ‘three for one’ planting tip…
Sowing: It is necessary to sow three seeds, or plant three plants – one for the slugs, one for the weather and one for yourself. If the first two survive, they can go to the annual bring and buy sale.
Gillian’s tip for getting the most from your onions and garlic.
Always buy twice as many as you think you will need and either plant all closely or plant half in a separate bed one inch apart. Thin out or pull when large enough to use as spring onions from late April or early May onwards. Continue using as large spring onions and young ‘green’ onions. Delicious at any size and much sweeter and juicier than fully ripened onions. Also, start using some garlic young and green in late June. This is when it is at its best.
The Nasturtium is said to have sprung from the blood of a Trojan warrior. The blossom symbolised his golden helmet and the round leaf his shield. It is a close relation of watercress, which explains why its leaves make such a tasty addition to salads. The seeds of this creeping, twining plant when pickled make a good substitute for capers.
For replacement greenhouse glass, try
401A York Road Leeds LS9 6TD
Tel. 248 8433
Next time you get slug slime on your fingers try this…
Yuk! Even soap and water won’t shift slug slime on your fingers. Next time try rubbing the slime with something mildly acid: rhubarb juice, gooseberry juice, lemon juice, vinegar. Magic!