Bits and Bobs and Bulbs

Ha! Ha! Ha!The moles have been laughing at The Man from Salford.  They kick dirt at his solar powered buzzy thing.  He is not amused.  Mowing this little bit of grass outside the front of our house is his only contribution to gardening.  It’s not even our grass, he is guerrilla mowing.  I’m not overly keen on lawns.  Lawn maintenance is energy intensive and in many cases, although not here, requires a lot of watering.  Lawns are the kings of monoculture.  But mostly I’m just not keen on them because it seems like an awful lot of effort for a lot of dull plant. 

The Man from Salford forgot all about the mole outrage when a passer-by, who introduced himself as Trevor Firkin, told us that his grandad once lived in our house.  The Firkins had it much tougher than us, that’s for sure.  They made their living plying coal up and down the canal on narrow boats, despite this I’d be inclined to guess their carbon footprints were pretty dainty.  Smaller at least than the yetty sized print we’ll be leaving behind. 

I was pleased to learn that the generator room was once occupied by a cow called Smokey. (I guess that’s what coal men call their cows instead of Bluebell.) The property also had a lot more land at one point, enough to graze domestic livestock.  The garden was definitely, Trevor assured us, brimming with veg.  The bathroom, not surprisingly as it’s always freezing, was the larder.  It also housed a water still which had to be filled from the well over the two bridges on the other side of the canal.  Needless to say the toilet was a slightly grander version of a hole in the ground outside.  Our wooden stairs were once stone and the place had a whole lot more doors which probably made it very dark, but I guess less draughty.  Trevor can remember the ice on the windows when he used to stay as a child.  So can we actually, but we’ve had double glazing installed since!

Speaking of bluebells I’ve been ordering bulbs for Spring.  Whilst ordering I noticed there was such a thing as smelly bulbs that will apparently deter moles for up to two years.  Despite my misgivings about lawns I’ve ordered some for The Man from Salford, I’ll let you know if they work in due course.  I’ve ordered some garlic for Autumn planting, but that’s the end of my food planting for this year, we really need to clear some more of the slope if I’m going to have any hope of rotating crops for next Spring.  The rest of my bulb plans are more about feeding the soul, pretty flowers make me happy!  Hopefully they will alos make early Spring more tolerable for our bee population. 

I have ordered fifty English Bluebells for the wooded area around the septic tank.  These were over ten times more expensive than a similar number of Spanish Bluebells would have set me back.  Conservationists don’t like Spanish Bluebells.  Spanish Bluebells interbreed with the English Bluebells and eventually breed out our native version.  From an ecological point of view solely Spanish Bluebells aren’t the arch villains that other invasives such as Himalayan Balsam or Knotweed are.  You are simply replacing one flower with another that is very similar and functions within the local ecosystem in exactly the same way.  It doesn’t  impact negatively on any other aspect of the system.  Still, we live in a conservation area and I wanted to do the right thing.  Hopefully my fairly meagre  fifty bulbs will naturalise and proliferate very happily here.

I’m going to plant a hundred Fritillaria on the island formed by the canal splitting.  Again, not our land so a bit more guerilla gardening.  It sounds like a lot of bulbs, but really it will only amount to a few patches as I intend to plant in groups of at least seven.  The damp soil and climate should suit them however and hopefully they also will naturalise happily. 

I’ve also ordered a tonne of daffs.  For my efforts with a credit card I have been rewarded with some free tulips.  Tulips, I know from past experience, aren’t too happy in our soil.  But they will probably be ok in the soil we’ve been improving in the raised beds, so I might just pop them in a bare spot and treat myself to some cut flowers for the house in Spring.  I decided some time ago that bought flowers from a florist really are not a sustainable option, but with a bit of love hopefully my tulip bulbs will supply me again and again, Spring after Spring.

The nice thing about bulbs is that planting them now will be soon forgotten, but they will be such an effortless joy come Spring.  I’m already feeling quite excited!   


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4 comments to Bits and Bobs and Bulbs

  • Aah Grass.

    It´s been absolutely barren here all Summer. The grass is finally starting to grow now and it makes me quite nostalgic for those cold, wet and damp Welsh Summers.

    Um, hang on, that doesn´t sound right.

    Actually give me the barren Spanish earth instead.

  • goo

    Hmmm!! I bet your tomatoes turned red too. My tomatoes are still as green as Welsh grass. I think you’re teasing me!

  • He bottled replying so I will…

    We have had a little ‘problem’ with the toms! Yes they did turn red, but there were far fewer of them than there should have been and the plants are a rather stick like shade of brown. Definitely too dry this year! Oh and just to cheer him up – it’s raining at the mo!

  • goo

    That doesn’t make me feel so bad, i’ve taken to threatening my tomatoes with the indignity of having to ripen on a windowsill with a SUPERMARKET tomato. However, they don’t seem in the least bit bothered.

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