Friday, July 22, 2011

A Rose by any other name....

Just look at these weeds!
Does the fact that I love them mean I'm not a serious grower?
My allotment neighbours are perturbed by my love of weeds. They tolerate my quirks because I diligently mow my paths and any communal areas near my plot and because I always pay my rent in cash and on time but I know they think I'm very strange.
Last week a new lady took over the plot next to mine and I heard the allocations officer explain that I 'garden differently' from other folk. 'It takes all sorts' she added.
 But I am no botanist and I don't really understand the difference between a weed and a wildflower so I have come up with my own definition.
I have decided that a weed is a plant that hurts me with prickles or stingers, hurts the plants around it by strangling them or growing enormous very quickly and is of no conceivable benefit to either.
Very, very few plants fulfil this criteria! Stinging nettles for example, hurt me but not the surrounding plants and they are very beneficial to bees and to compost and to me when cabbage whites lay eggs on them instead of my brassicas.
Must be wildflowers then!
Any really pretty unidentified plants that are 'in the way' get carefully transplanted to the amaranth bed (because amaranth simply doesn't care)   
I think this yellow one is called birdsfoot trefoil. It makes beautiful pillows of yellow and red.
And I think this one could be the elusive Scarlet pimpernel! I'm not at all sure though and if anyone could recommend a good book to ID these with I'd be everso grateful.
I especially want to know what this lovely purple flower is.
It's popping up all over the place this month. It wasn't here last year and I suspect it's one of those whose seeds lie dormant for decades untill the ground is disturbed again.

A less welcome flower springing up all over the plot is the ragwort.
Ragwort is so poisonous and horses who ingest it die slow and painful deaths. There is no antidote.
I recently discovered that small children (like mine) who pick flowers for their mum (like mine)  can also die if they ingest the milky sap of ragwort....the stuff that gets all over their hands when they pick it.   So that one's going in the fire pit.

As for the actual veg on the plot it's rather a mixed bag this year. I had my first ripe tomato last week, earlier than ever before but the cucumbers on their big healthy plants are just refusing to swell. And judging by the slime trails on that leaf, I'm not the only one impatiently waiting
Plus, to my great shame, my courgettes are not even
flowering yet (surely any fool can grow courgettes) 
nor are my runner beans.

 But the grapes....ahh! the grapes are doing splendidly with literally hundreds of bunches swelling by the day....think of the wine! jam too and fresh black grapes for eating but mainly...think of all that wine!!!!


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