I thought I would do something different for my allotment post this month, so instead of words and pictures from the allotment I bring you a video:
and in the meantime I want to write about something much smaller………
Gardens often get classified on the basis of size; small, medium, large, etc. Pick up any gardening magazine and you’ll see references to gardens by size. There are many articles on small gardens, which is probably because this is the most common size. In a world of increasing development, gardens seem to get smaller. My own, like many doesn’t meet the definition of a small garden, it is more of a micro garden. That doesn’t mean that you need a magnifying glass to see it, but it is gardening on a small scale.
I once measured it, to find that it was roughly 8m x 8m, but I’ve packed a lot in. I don’t particularly go for formal bedding plants e.g. geraniums in the summer, pansies in the winter; I much prefer having self-seeding annuals, bulbs, biennials and perennials that keep on going year after year. I also like to have as much variety in as possible to make it friendly to wildlife, e.g cotoneaster, which produces flowers for beeds, and berries for the birds. I have trees and shrubs, some hedging, a pond, some long grass and areas that are just left wild. At this time of year, many of the more formal plants, in particular the roses are in full bloom.
I have a small pond. When I first arrived in the house, it had a few fish in it, but over the years they’ve fed the local heron and I didn’t replace them, wanting instead something that was more wildlife friendly. Now it’s full of newts and insects as well as water plants. My only concession to a formal pond is the Water Lily. This little plant flowers only a few times, and each time the flower lasts only a day, but they are spectacular looking flowers and well worth it. The pond also serves the birds as a water source for drinking and bathing.
No Vegetables? Well Not Quite
As the allotment is primarily about the vegetables, that I grow there, the garden is about flowers and wildlife. The only exceptions are tomatoes and cucumbers. These grow in a ramshackle potting shed, and where I try to find interesting varieties, such as Lemon Crystal cucumbers; these are round yellow cucumbers rather than being long, thin and green. They taste great too, slightly sweet, and they’re perfect in salads and sandwiches.
Just Hanging Around
Utilising height works well in any garden but it works especially well in small gardens. Hanging baskets or vertical planters achieve this pretty well. They’ll need a little bit more watering than the rest of the garden, but with water retaining gels that you can mix with the basket compost or slow drip watering systems (which tend to run on the more expensive side), this doesn’t need to be too much of a chore.
Someone Else's Home Too
In addition to being part of our home, our garden is also home to quite a bit of wildlife. This year we’ve had many nesting birds, including a clutch of blue-tits that made their home, temporarily in our garage. I’m always amazed that such a small garden has so much going on in it.
Plant of the Month
Whilst there are many edible flowers, I’m going to go back to the allotment for this one and choose the broad bean. It’s a very versatile legume, and it makes a fantastic hummus. You’ll need:
500g broad beans (fresh or frozen);
3 to 5 cloves of garlic(to taste);
150ml rapeseed oil or olive oil;
1 spring onion;
1 small fresh red chilli (deseeded if you don’t want to much bite to the hummus;
A liquidiser or food processor.
Boil the broad beans in water for about five minutes. While they’re cooking chop up spring onion and chilli.
Once cooked drain the broad beans and allow them to cool to the point you can handle them. Once cool place in liquidiser or food processor with a about a quarter of the oil, the spring onion and chilli and blitz. Add the remaining oil a little at a time until the mixture reaches a consistency of a thick paste. You can blitz more or less and add more or less oil to taste and depending on how smooth you like you hummus. Serve, or refrigerate to eat later.