Tuesday, 10 February 2015

White Picket Fences, Garlic and Onions, and Future Thoughts

Gentle Reader ~~~ if there is one thing my heart yearns to see in my garden it is a white picket fence ~~~ and soon I hope to have one!  Plans are afoot but I am a classic Libran so it often takes me a long time to make up my mind, in this case to find the answer to the question "Where shall I put my white picket fence?" but I think, at last, the answer has arrived! Hurrah!

My love of white picket fences came long before I had even seen one when, as a child, I read books that transported me to faraway places where each house in the neighbourhood had these wonderful white picket fences.  No home was complete without a white picket fence. Even though no one had a white picket fence in my neighbourhood, I felt my childhood was incomplete without one of these magical things. I was obviously deprived and living in the wrong world. Of course, I never told anyone about this deprivation, this void in my formative years, for I would appear ungrateful as there was a wonderful, large garden in which I could play and ramble, with a swing, and an apple tree to climb, hens to pester, flowers to pick, and vast space in which to have as many adventures as I wanted to invent. Just no white picket fence to make my childhood complete.  Later, I saw them in films, or in television adaptations of the books I read as a child; then, when living in America, I'd sometimes see them in villages and towns as I travelled, and then I came across Susan Branch's vegetable garden, and if you click here you will see Susan and Joe building their very own white picket fenced vegetable garden.

You can read a little potted History of White Picket Fences.

You can also see a really pretty, thoughtfully considered, and useful white picket fenced garden over at Petals Paper Simple Thymes, where my friend Dawn has a sweet and heart warming tale to tell how her fragrant Tea Garden came in to being.  You just might notice a Susan Branch theme developing ~~~ Do stop by and take a peek ~ not only is it a such a dear story, she has added some truly special touches of her own.  Dawn will make you really welcome there ~~~

So, my hankering to own a white picket fence grows; long have I pondered and long have I wondered ~ for my garden is surrounded by stone walls, and there is not much I can do about that, nor is there a space to cordon off a special area as Susan and Dawn have done. Thoughts passed through my brain. Ideas are batted around and fall by the wayside. Then, it came to me ~ in a rare light bulb moment ~ that if I can't knock down the stone walls, if I can't have a whole fenced off area, I can have a white picket fence as the fourth side to my vegetable plot! It is too open and needs something to make it an enclosed area.  Perfect! Finally, an idea to run with that has real promise!

This is the main vegetable plot taken a few years back but it is pretty much the same today, bounded by three stone walls. The fence will go along the edge closest, or I shall make a rectangle across the foreground and enclosing the area up to the edge of the yellow weed suppressing sheet and over to the small bin ~~~ oh! and I want a row of lavender plants edging and falling over on to the paved area {where I am standing to take the photograph} ~~~
{don't look at how untidy it is, I've been using it as a holding bay for flowering plants for the borders}


They will be white and purple long stemmed lavender plants to contrast against the fence and to provide stems for lavender wands, which I love to make in the lazy summer evenings, sitting in my deck chair ~~~

If I make an enclosed space there must be just enough space over on the left where there is a small path {hidden under the ever~expanding osteospermum and sage plants} to push Wilbur Wheelbarrow on to the plot. As soon as the weather is a little warmer, I will go out and measure things up!  
Goodness, I am quite excited about this.


~~~ Let's Talk Onions!~~~

Onions are probably my most favourite and most used vegetable. A day does not go by where I do not use onions in some way in at least one meal, whether it be as part of the trinity that forms the base of most home made soups, in a vegetarian chilli or a rich tomato pasta sauce, caramelised as a pizza topping, in a lentil stew, raw with a salad, or in a cheese sandwich.  I could go on, and I know you are mentally adding your own personal favourites to this list as you read ~~~ unless you don't like them ~~~ 

Do you know that onions are one of the most widely grown and widely used crops on the entire planet? Every culture grows and uses onions in cooking, and they have numerous health benefits as well as being versatile and tasty. If I have onions in the fridge I have the foundation of a meal. Just think about how many times in the week you use onions ~ but did you know that they aren't just the spherical brown, white, or red ones in the shops ~ their cousins include shallots, banana shallots, leeks, garlic, spring onions {salad onions or scallions} and the tinier pickling onions too?

I recently read an interesting article, which will help you get to know your onions too. It tells you a little about the history of onions, and even how they are found in the first known recipe book that is four thousand years old ~ yes, you read that correctly!  I find that so amazing ~~~

Despite being a favourite, I don't actually grow onions {or potatoes} for the simple reason that they are inexpensive, readily available, and I do not have a huge vegetable plot that I can turn over a lot of space to growing when they are so readily available.

However, this winter, rather than leave the garden to rest, I sought advice and planted a small area with an assortment of onions, and a couple of tubs of garlic; if you click here and scroll all the way down you will see what they looked like about four weeks after I planted them in November, and below is what they look like now.  I am thrilled at their progress, and am probably quite unreasonably excited over them, but then as a novice gardener I always get excited when things do well ~ and the reward of nurturing anything from a tiny bulb or seed to a full grown plant that gives so much pleasure when it ends up on the plate, when you know the complete provenance of what you are eating, is something you cannot describe, or buy!

First, the two bins of garlic ~~~ the first one had rather a nasty accident three weeks ago, but from the looks of things was caught and rectified in time!  We'd had a lot of rain, and one day I noticed the bin was full to the brim with water! Panic strikes! The holes in the bottom somehow clogged up, so I pierced around the base of the bin to let the water drain out, which it did very slowly. I was afraid the crop was waterlogged and spoiled, but new, green shoots are growing from the middle of each plant so I'm hoping all is well below the soil ~~~




If growing in these bins is a success, I can move them on to the paved areas where there is nothing at the moment, so I will increase my growing space!

This bin was planted about a month after the first one and has nearly caught up! ~~~



and here are the onions, with weeds still growing so I shall have to clear them in a week or two ~~~



They are still quite small, but looking sturdy and strong, so I hope they will start to increase in bulb size as the weather warms up ~~~



{I had to zig zag the frames with string to keep off the birds and cats that might do a lot of damage if they are able to get on to the planted area}


If you want to know more about planting onion sets, garlic, or anything else garden~related for that matter, then the RHS has good information and guidelines.

While looking around the garden earlier, I also noticed my clematis is putting on a lot of shoots already.  Do you remember the dead clematis that suddenly came back to life after many years?  It now seems to be doing all right for itself, so it is time to look for a permanent structure and maybe take some cuttings when the time is right!



Thinking and planning forward into Spring and planting vegetables, I have bought some raised beds with suitable liners to retain the soil, on a spare piece of land adjacent to the cottage. These will hold my simple salad crops of lettuce, leaves, Spring onions, baby beetroot etc., thus freeing up space on my small plot for other things. Photographs and ideas will follow!

For now, though, I am still browsing the seed catalogues ~ for remember, I am a typical Libran and cannot make up my mind what to plant in my precious small spaces!  Top of my list this year will be seeds for growing outdoor tomatoes ~~~ I've already selected two varieties, and must think carefully as to what else will be grown this Summer ~~~ in the meantime, while I peruse the seed catalogues in front of a warm fire, with a mug of hot tea, remember that ~~~



~~~A Gardener's Work is Never Done~~~

18 comments:

  1. Deb, I hear the excitement in your writing of gardening. I feel the same way about watching the garden come to life every year. Your plans of a picket fence will make your gardening excitement more amplified. Have you seen the picket fences in Colonial Willamsburg---they are wonderful! I do love your stone walls--they are so interesting and add a beautiful dimension to your garden. Different textures in the garden give lots of visual interest. I look forward to seeing how you incorporate the picket fence with them. ♥

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    1. Yes! Colonial Williamsburg! Dear Martha Ellen ~ Colonial Williamsburg was my favoured weekend haunt when I lived in Virginia Beach {when I wasn't down in the Outer Banks ~ ah! I have suddenly have a pang to be back in Virginia.
      One of my stone walls is an ancient Pembrokeshire Stone Hedge and is probably over 200 years old. ~~~Deb

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  2. Oh, Deb! Heartfelt thanks for the lovely words! Visitors are always welcome in my garden! ♡ Your plan sounds just wonderful! It would be the 'best of both worlds' to add a white picket fence as a fourth side to your garden. How beautiful with lavender growing along the fence, too! I have a little secret to share ~ I am always dreaming of stone walls for my garden!! Every time I see a stone wall, I study it, wondering if I could ever build a small one here in my Midwest cottage garden. I dream of the plants I would love to grow along a low stone wall. We are Kindred Spirits, for sure! Isn't this the perfect season for dreaming our garden dreams? ♡

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    1. Oh, Sweet Dawn ~ stone walls have such depth of character, and I love letting the ivy ramble over mine, and foxgloves, pennywort, and primroses grow along the old stone hedge too, with oregano and self~heal edging others where they have seeded ~~~
      I know you will find a way to incorporate a stone wall into your garden and I look forward to seeing it. Kindreds indeed ~~~Deb

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  3. It is nice to read words from someone who is so evidently enthusiastic about their garden! Even growing onions, whilst it might sound mundane, can be exciting. I am not keen on the white picket fence, but I do love the mellow brick wall I have along one side of my garden.

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    1. Ah, Mark ~ sometimes I wish my enthusiasm was matched with effort. I have more ideas than space allows and this always puts the breaks on for me until I make the decision. Thanks for stopping by ~~~Deb

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    1. If Peter Rabbit shows up I think I will give up gardening! lol. I am currently reading a lovely book on the gardens that influenced the great lady, Beatrix Potter, herself. Thanks for stopping by ~~~Deb

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  5. Oh I love picket fences too Deborah, we saw many on our trips to America & had a couple made in our other houses but not one here yet! I love chesnut pailing too & we have that for the hens.
    I love the way you talk about your childhood, it sounds wonderful.
    We are huge fans of onions & leeks.
    Fondly Michelle

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    1. I remember my childhood with great fondness, Michelle. Living in the country with wide open spaces and the ocean as my playground it was very special indeed.
      This morning I came across a recipe that added finely sliced leeks to home made Mac n cheese, so that is on my To Try list now!
      ~~~Deb

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  6. Oh Deb, how exciting you will soon have your own white picket fence!... I have been wanting one too, and like you, I do not have the space for a whole fence... but I DO have a small spot where I can put a little one, now you have inspired me to start my plans as well!... love all your little sprouts!... it is very Springlike here, and I am anxious to be outside... however, I caught a nasty cold two days ago and have mostly been inside, drinking lots of tea, looking through gardening magazines... and daydreaming... now there will be a little picket fence in those dreams!... xoxo... Julie Marie

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    1. Hoping, hoping your dreams of a white picket fence become reality very soon, dear Julie Marie ~~~ someone told me make the space and it will come, so I am mentally making all the space needed! I'd love to put one around a little garden seat up by the cottage too, surrounded with roses, lavender, and paving stones with Corsican mint!
      ~~~Deb

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  7. I think a white picket fence will look wonderful in your garden. It will be a lovely contrast to the stone walls. And, like Dawn, I lust after stone walls! Funny, isn't it? :-)

    I love to hear about your garden growing, while mine is buried in snow yet. I have a while before I will be able to play in the dirt. So, I will live vicariously through you. More, tell me more! lol

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    1. So funny how we always want what each other has, isn't it?
      Yes, you are still digging yourself out of snow drifts, and I am building an Ark yet again! Those few, short months of growing season will soon be upon us so we'd better get ourselves ready then ~~~Deb xo

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  8. I am so excited. I'm going to be able to plant my vegetable garden this year. I live in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. We are in an extended drought, and last year we had to cut our water consumption by 50%. It was all we could do to keep the trees and plants alive. This year, even though we are still very dry, we are being told that we "should" have enough water to make it through the summer.

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    1. That is wonderful news Michelle! I bet you are busy planning what to grow and what you can to so the ground retains moisture. It is rare that we do not have enough water, and more likely that the rain will take care of most of it for us here in wet west Wales ~~~Deb

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  9. Well Deborah! I am now getting excited to think about my garden!! (which is presently under tons of snow)! And I am excited to see your picket fence when it appears exactly where it will :-D!!
    And I am interested in the onions in a container I think I shall try that! I enjoyed my visit along with all the good thoughts and pictures and ideas :-)
    Many Blessings and warmth Linnie

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    1. Everything is worth a try, and garlic is often container grown it seems. I will be trying it in shallow containers next winter too. ~~~Deb

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Thank you for stopping by today ~ I love reading your comments