May 2015 - Week 4

Banned from the garden!

Bannedweb (1) 

If future generations ever manage to write a history of the early 21st century they might have some comments to make about the integration of the Chinese economy into world markets.  Suddenly there was a flood of ridiculously cheap goods in the west.  The western consumer had apparently never had it so good.  One such cheap item is shown in my photo.  Imported into Devon from China and sold in a local garden centre.  The metal is so poor that it almost visibly rots in the damp.  The plastic is guaranteed to go brittle in a couple of month's sunlight.  Never again - such stuff is banned from the garden.

  Ransoms (Wild garlic)


At their best at the beginning of May and just going over now are Ransoms or wild garlic.  Here they are in a patriotic red, white and blue display along with Red Campion and Bluebells in a quiet corner of the garden.  Generally I don't eat Ransoms but they are always there if I change my mind.

Its botanical name means bear's garlic and I first came across it when working in woods at the top of Cheddar Gorge.  In season the ground is covered with Ransoms and a whiff of garlic is inescapable.  Ransoms will propagate themselves by seed or bulb if in a suitable habitat, or you can help them by spreading the seeds yourself.  They do not require any maintenance and their appearance every year is a reminder that spring is here.



Chives is another perennial allium that is flowering now.   It has a relatively mild onion taste and I use it a lot in green leaf salads.  I have clumps of it in sunny spots all around the garden because the flowers are attractive. I make sure that I have some clumps in odd spots in the polytunnel.  It dies back completely in the winter but with protection from the cold it will come into leaf very early - probably by early February, which is a valuable time of year to have some fresh green leaf.  It is another one of those plants that needs virtually no maintenance at all.  You can propagate it by lifting and dividing clumps every couple of years.   Alternatively you can collect the seeds by shaking the seed heads as they mature.  You will get good germination by sowing the seeds straight away.  If you don't collect the seeds then you may well find that they germinate in the ground anyway.

It is not usually recommended to dry chives but freezing the tender young shoots is usually a successful way to preserve them. There is a recommendation on t'internet to freeze chopped chives in cubes of softened butter - might try that someday!

My walnut tree is flowering!


Do you ever get the idea that people are passing on unwanted Christmas presents to you?  I'm sure that it happens to me but I also get passed unwanted trees.  About 10 years ago my sister brought down a walnut sapling on a visit from Essex.  In was in a builder's bucket and a friend had asked my sister to re-home it.   I planted it in the garden.  I'm not very knowledgeable about walnut trees.  I assume it is J. regia, the common walnut, not nigra, the black walnut.

It has quite a short season in leaf but has been growing steadily and spreading wide in true walnut fashion.  This year, for the first time, I've noticed it in flower (male flowers shown).  I've no idea yet if fruit will set.

I was lucky enough to have been given a copy of The New Sylva and discovered 2 very useful things about walnut trees.  Firstly they should be pruned at the end of the growing season - about mid-July - otherwise they bleed sap.  Secondly their fallen leaves contain a toxin that controls the growth of competitive species.  Some walnuts in the autumn would be very exciting,