Family Garden Pip

In the Pocket Handkerchief Garden: 4 June 2015


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

There have been big changes afoot in the Pocket Handkerchief Garden this week.  Most notably, we weeded. We being me, with some haphazard assistance from Pip while Elma took an uncharacteristic post gym-class nap.  And yes, in my level of gardening, weeding is a big deal.  It was at least in part necessitated by the storms we’ve seen run through these past few days which brought down a few little branchlets and scattered them all over the garden.  And while I was down there clearing those out we had a go at picking out the things I know definitely to be weeds.  There were a couple of casualties but the garden has mostly remained intact.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

The spinach is getting its second set of leaves and the rainbow chard is doing its thing in patches.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And while the seedlings grow merrily away, revealing just how haphazard the planting can be when you let a four year old and a two year old do it (hint: clumpy!) I have some questions for everyone out there who knows far more about growing things than I do.

1. The strawberry plants.  They all seem to be growing very nicely and if they all survive the birds we might even get a supper’s worth out of them but one thing I have discovered is that what I thought was one strawberry plant is in fact two.  We planted them four years ago and against the odds they have grown where others failed.  So, given that I have these two nicely squished up against the side of the bed, and a bit of space beyond, do I move one of them into a new spot now, or wait until the fruit has come and move it in the autumn to be ready for next year – or just leave it alone because strawberries are resilient?

2. I don’t know what a sweetcorn seedling looks like.  At the moment we still have a lot of bare earth in the sweetcorn patch but there are two candidates for possible sweetcorn germination.  Do you think either of these could be a sweetcorn coming through at last, and if so, which one:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

3. In doing the weeding I think I have discovered why we may have some patchy seedlings and next to no sweetcorn.  It’s ginger, it says “Meow”, it belongs to our next door neighbours who seem to leave it outside whenever they are out or away and it appears to consider my vegetable garden as its personal litter tray.  The children don’t like it because it once climbed into our house through the landing window and I am going to be very unimpressed if I can’t let them be hands on in the garden for fear of putting their hands into something that isn’t soil, nor will I be very keen on eating anything grown in the vicinity.  Short of a miniature electric fence, how do I stop a cat from defecating next to the spinach? Are there flowers that they hate or something like that or should I set H to designing a cat proof child friendly fence?

And by way of thanks, and to brighten up your Thursday I leave you with this:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

My assistant gardener has apparently been trying to taste test the mud again!

Joining in again with Soulemama


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  • Diane A 04/06/2015 at 9:32 am

    The seedling on the left is sweetcorn, its leaves look like fat grass. Cats tend to respond to a carefully aimed water pistol, but do you want your children to see you shooting animals. A piece of nylon netting held down with stones might deter cats and protect strawberries from the birds. Move the strawberry plants in the autumn.

    Have fun in your garden.

    • Carie 05/06/2015 at 12:09 am

      Thank you – we will! I think the water pistol might have to wait until I can explain the purpose to the children – netting it might have to be for now!

  • Mandycharlie 04/06/2015 at 10:21 am

    1. Move after fruiting and you’ll need to net to protect fruit from greedy black birds.

    2. Plant on the left.

    3. You’ll need to net to stop the cat using the soil as a litter box. Easiest way to net is using lengths of hose and canes. A 2.5 ft piece of cane either side of the space spiked into the ground with a length of hose to form the shape of a large semi circle with its ends slipped over the cane, several of those form a structure to throw net over and weigh the net down with bricks and stones.

    • Carie 05/06/2015 at 12:12 am

      Plant on the left seems to be the general consenus (backed up by text message from my aunt who’s a farmer of both strawberries and sweetcorn!), and I love the plan for hose as the struts for netting, I’d been wondering how to best go about it but that sounds like something we could do. Thank you lovely 🙂

  • Coco 04/06/2015 at 3:27 pm

    I personally would just leave the strawberry plants. This is generally what they do as they multiply themselves. I’ve used lemon juice and aluminum foil to keep cats off of countertops. Maybe that could work somehow? Of course the nylon netting would also keep out strawberry eating birds!

    • Carie 05/06/2015 at 12:16 am

      I’ve heard of cats not liking tin foil, but lemon juice is new – time to find the lemon squeezer at least until we can get the netting!

  • Katie 04/06/2015 at 5:52 pm

    Unfortunately I have no useful information – just wanted to say I love your relaxed attitude about your garden. Looks lovely!

    • Carie 05/06/2015 at 12:18 am

      Aww thank you – I’m very much learning through doing here but what we learn this year we can build on next year so it’s all good in the end!

  • Kim 04/06/2015 at 9:46 pm

    Sounds like things are coming along Carie. It looks like you got the answers to your questions 🙂

    Happy gardening!

    • Carie 05/06/2015 at 12:20 am

      Thank you 🙂 It’s all definitely growing, and now I know which plant not to weed!

  • Jess @ Picnics in the Rain 05/06/2015 at 8:39 pm

    Looks like your garden is coming along nicely Carie 🙂 Don’t talk to me about cats in gardens, it seems everyone except us has one around here, and they all use our garden (front and back) as their litter tray, I get so cross and absolutely nothing we have tried works. So please, if you do have success at keeping your neighbour’s cat away, please share your secret with me! x

    • Carie 05/06/2015 at 11:11 pm

      The general consensus seems to be that netting is the only answer to keep out birds and cats alike – it’s not very practical for the lawn though is it!

  • sally 13/06/2015 at 9:38 pm

    It looks like it’s coming on beautifully. Shame about the cat though – can you not just set children on it whenever you see it, a few tail pulls from Pip might make it feel your garden is not the best place to visit!