Saturday, 31 August 2013

The garden shed

I repeated last year's experiment of growing runner beans up against the side of the garden shed, and it does seem as though the beans like it there. I attached some netting to the shed on either side of the door and planted the beans a couple of inches in front of it. They didn't need much encouragement to start winding their way in and out, and up through the netting. In front of the beans is a rampant rosemary bush that is now obscuring a comfrey plant (also rampant). The comfrey is regularly chopped back and the leaves are rotting down nicely in my improvised fertiliser bucket.

The rest of the ground is smothered in lemon balm, chives and oregano, and there is Greek basil, spring onions and Moroccan mint in the pots. Nettles keep popping up and are regularly picked for making tea and adding to our green vegetable mix for lunch. In spring there is also a patch of ramsons. Ramson flowers and leaves have a lovely, mild garlicky flavour and are wonderful in a salads or as an alternative to chives on scrambled eggs or in omelettes. Hairy bitter cress also likes this spot although it does better in the spring before the other herbs take over. I once regarded it as a weed but I now use it to add a peppery zing to salads. You can even make hairy bitter cress pesto! ( And, of course, there are the inevitable dandelions. Like the bitter cress, I treat the dandelion leaves and flowers as salad vegetables but don't let them run to seed. Plenty come in from adjacent gardens without our own plants self-sowing. There is no point trying to pull them up; a tiny piece of root always seems to remain in the ground ready to regenerate an even bigger and stronger specimen! My past experience is that weedkiller is not always effective - even if I were still in favour of using it - and not really an option in such a densely populated herb patch.

In the tiny patch of ground to the left of the shed door are runner beans at the back (again winding through netting), another comfrey plant going beserk, and herb fennel in front (about 3ft high). A foxglove struggled valiantly for a few weeks and managed to produce a few flowers, but in the end just couldn't handle the competition.
The shed itself was homemade in the late 1940s, or so we were told by our elderly neighbours when we moved here in 1982. The sides and roof are corrugated iron and the door is made from reused planks of wood. The cast iron framed windows finally came away from the main body of the shed about 10 years ago and now form part of a portable cold frame for spring sowings. Our neighbours hinted that they would be glad to see it come down and we did consider it for a while. Apart from the fact that it is a good size with plenty of room for storage of pots, garden tools etc., it is very solidly built (apart from the windows that fell out). It would require serious brute force, or a stick of dynamite, to demolish it. For much of the year vegetables hide it from view and, in any case, we have grown to love it.

Long live our garden shed!

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