Planting out


My enemy.

The male deers on the mountain are having a territorial battle. And if you haven’t ever heard the very penetrating barking aggression of a large male fighting for his piece of land you are in for a ‘treat’. Is it human? Is it dog? The noise is so loud that even with thick stone walls and excellent double glazing on the windows, that’s what wakes me in between 4 and 5am.

Each and every morning. All this week. I just wish one of them will ‘win’ and spare us a few hours sleep.

Worse still. One of the deer has leapt the fence and got into the potager. I am desperately hoping he will be the one thwarted in battle and slink off to bother someone else’s garden this year.

I know this as I looked out just after 0530am and saw the miscreant hiding behind the kale bed.

I was lurking behind the window. He was working his way through the garden selecting his preferred juicy veg.

I shrieked in surprise and after quite a standoff he ever so casually ambled off. I have a grainy shot of him taken through a window all wobbly in my pjs, hopping from the cold and appalled that he got into my rather well fortified bit of green. But I have learned this trick. You may not see where he gets in, but I did get to see where he escaped.

It’s the tiny gap between the apple tree and the gate. So that became To Do List Number One for the day. How on earth do I secure the gap? I have strung two strands of thin wire to a height of two metres all the way around the rest of the perimeter. Chestnut fencing to the height of 1.2metres and then wire.

But of course I never expected the low bough of the apple tree and the gate to be an excellent space for hungry deer.

I use this gate all the time to reach the lawn. So instead of worrying about garrotting house guests and absent minded gardeners (me), with the same wire, I have stretched two green fat occy straps (Australian) bungee cords (rest of world) which should mean that one will spot them before it’s too late. Or only sustain minor abrasions around the head.

But everyone should understand: head injuries to humans come second to securing one’s Swiss chard.

Well, what is left of the Swiss chard. I usually plant them in the middle of the raised beds for this very purpose. Anything within touching distance of the deer’s mouth was well and truly pruned.

I’m just grateful he wasn’t a goat who could climb up and eat the entire crop.

I was rather distressed to see that some of the roses had been pruned as well. Shorn right off as far as the spines. So all those just about to pop into bloom buds…

Never mind. The deer eschewed the newly planted flower seedlings, so that’s a blessing.

I’m planting up the brand new raised beds (permaculture) at the back of the potager with annuals as I just don’t think they are quite settled yet.

So one season of trialing the cut flower beds will suffice with these annuals.

Next year the beds will be much better and I can dare to do some perennial planting.

But it’s so much fun to just perch and plant.

In here are the zinnias, helichrysums, amaranth and millet.

And of course I had way too many, so I have snuck more into the main beds which should be vegetables only…

You have great plans to do just leeks, or just tomatoes with red for kale and lettuce underneath.

But instead by the end of the long day you are sticking nasturtiums, marigolds and just about anything in the gaps.

It’s a glorious thing to get the potager seedlings into the soil.

I normally do this on a blazing sunshine and hidden under a sun hat day. But this year it is Unseasonably Cold and Drizzly. So I was wearing way too many layers and a beanie on my head. And was grateful I was wearing gloves.

Naturally a few weeks of hardening off the plants outside the potting shed really helped. But I destroyed most of the basil crop. They just froze to soggy sad crispy bits of Compost Ready mulch.

That was annoying. Especially as I gave away dozens of little seedlings to friends. And barely have any left!

And of course I decapitated a sunflower carrying it all the way from the potting shed to the garden. It’s inevitable to suffer casulties when you limp and have to navigate a gravel path that is logically called a goat track with an armful of seedlings destined for a raised bed.

And yes, if you study some of the pictures carefully you will see that, once again, I have planted way too many courgettes.

That’s the great thing about growing vegetables. You never learn from last year’s glut.

If they don’t get eaten by the deer in the next few months, I’ll be setting up a stall at the front gate and handing them out to every car that passes.