|Reach out and touch the roses|
But I did sneak out just before sunset today, as I felt I needed a small dose of fresh air, and to count my blessings in the face of some of life's difficulties.
And I wasn't disappointed. It might be November in heart and soul, but we are still lucky enough to have spinach and carrots and broccoli and lettuce (yes, amazingly, lettuce!) all growing outside, a second flush of marigolds, and two precious November roses. As you can see, it is not a tidy garden, but the theory is that leaving plant debris and greenery will provide cover and food for wildlife.
|Spot the green tomatoes|
But my fairweather attitude to gardening is not the attitude to take when trying to live off the land - after all, we still need our greens in the cold months, and it can't all be stored in the freezer. And after the hectic harvest of summer, we now need to take the time to do necessary maintenance, and work on the structure of our green and growing space when the pace of life has slowed down.
|Recycling in the garden - a mouse hotel|
And when I say we, of course you understand that I mean the Head Chef, always ready to do the heavy work when I stand indoors and supervise through the windows, for after all, someone needs to keep the home fires burning, and if I wear enough clothes outside to keep me warm, then my movement is so restricted that I really can't be of much use on the hefting and heaving front.
And in terms of out of season hefting and heaving, I have been quite entertained by a couple of books I have come across from Timber Press, which are full of ideas and projects for me to add to the list of the Head Chef's things to do.
Garden Eco-Chic by Matthew Levesque is all about 'reusing found objects to create decks, paths, containers, lanterns and more', which certainly fits in with the permaculture principles we use in designing our growing space.
Be aware that this book is not for the faint-hearted or girlie amongst us - this is a book for chaps and chapesses willing to wield drills and saws, and get down and dirty on the constructive front.
I particularly like the ideas for creating different surfaces for paths and paved areas from a variety of found and recycled materials.
Levesque uses all sorts of interesting and unusual materials such as metals and plastics to make fencing, dividers, and more decorative items such as this mobile of copper offcuts.
However, with the price of scrap metal hitting record levels, I am not sure that now it will be quite so easy to find discarded copper and aluminium, and going by the levels of metal theft in our area, such things would be best confined to the back garden, out of the reach of passing scrap hunters.
The second book is rather uninspiringly entitled Concrete Garden Projects by Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson. However, it is a much prettier book than the title would imply, and has clear instructions as to how to make various containers, water features, and other garden structures using concrete, all very beautifully styled.
I was uncertain about the environmental implications of using concrete, but have found an article here which seems to be a thorough discussion of the issues. As will all things, there are pros and cons, and one has to consider whether one's use of the material is necessary, and also what the alternatives would be.
|Am I mistaken, or is that a rather luxuriant crop of ground elder?|
I had seen concrete stepping stones before, and do like the look of them, as well as the rows of concrete pots - the instructions are step by step with pictures, and such projects seem to me very feasible on a domestic scale, and the miniature ponds and water containers could be a very valuable addition to a garden in terms of helping wildlife. However, I am not quite so convinced of the rationale of making concrete 'cakes' using cake tins and jelly moulds and then decorating them with flowers!
On balance, I think these books are definitely useful for practical, hands-on types - there are lots of ideas for achievable garden structures and decorations, and they would make a really good present for the outdoorsy people in your life.
I, though, am retreating inside, heaping up the blankets, and looking forward to winter evenings sitting by the fire, knitting. I will see you outside when the days start lengthening . . .