I so love growing strawberries, but I don’t like it when the birds get them.  My number one solution is to ‘jam jar’ them.  I wait until the flowers have been pollinated and the fruit has set, and then I place a jam jar over each truss of fruits. The jars rest on the hay I have put down, and I tilt them slightly downwards so they don’t fill up with rain. This makes a marvellous  individual greenhouse over the fruit, helping them to ripen while warding off the birds. Keeping the strawberries dry, out of the rain also reduces the occurrence of fungal diseases. It really works! (I do take the jars in for winter as they tend to get water in them and crack if left lying around).

2013-05-27 17.10.38

I don’t trust the weather here, but I do want to get my courgettes out now whilst there is still a risk of frost. Here is an example of what I am doing – a courgette planted in a water tank (full of soil not water). It’s under a plastic propagator top and surrounded with grass clippings. The grass clippings in the depths of their desire to decompose are giving out a little heat to keep the courgette cosy, until the summer comes (ha-ha!).

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A friend gave me some ‘lost label’, second hand plants a couple of years ago saying they ’might be woad’.  (I am of course a repository for all manner of such plants that no-one else wants). And so it came to pass, that after a patient wait I see that they are indeed woad – Isatis tinctoria, a plant beloved (allegedly) of the Ancient Britons for its blue dye. The tall frothy stems of really bright yellow are shouting loudly in the middle of my herb bed.  It used to be cultivated in Gloucestershire, and is locally naturalized here in places. Methinks I shall save the seeds and release it into my semi-wild border, where it will give me much satisfaction and fodder for the flower vase.

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Woad –  the tall yellow flowers.


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