Tag Archives: garden

My German Garden

To be honest, I haven’t done a lot in the garden this year. First the arctic winter dragged on… then there were dry spells which seemed to coincide with weekdays when I was working, but pouring rain and decidedly gardener-unfriendly weather on days when I could have got my wellies on.

But nevertheless, as summer approaches, there are still some signs of a good harvest coming up.

My tomatoes are being very Teutonic this year – they are growing in formation. They line up on the stalk in a very orderly fashion.

germany

German tomatoes... neatly growing in orderly rows

My first aubergine is not so orderly. In fact Birgit has accused me of having a positively disorderly aubergine. “It’s all wonky, there’s a definite list to the left,” she said to me yesterday, having subjected my entire crop to a military-style inspection. Pah! It’ll still taste lovely … even if it doesn’t live up to Germanic expectations.

On the fruit front, the strawberries have pretty much finished now and the rhubarb-season is past. But the grapes are starting to show a lot of promise… maybe it’s time for another doomed attempt at wine-making…

Meanwhile, down in the jungle orchard there are very promising developments on the apple and plum front…

Lovely plums... ooooh...err....

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Hedgehog season is with us again

It’s prickly times in our garden.  Frau Hedgehog has only produced one baby this year… but she’s certainly got her paws full with this one. It’s a non-stop squeaker when they’re out and about!

Ooooh! Is this the big wide world?

'ere, Mama, who is the weird lady with the camera?

Never mind her... follow me and I'll treat you to a nice juicy slug....

 

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Herd of deer invades!

I just looked out of my office window and there was a herd of deer crossing the courtyard just outside.

Now I know who has been nibbling my courgettes!

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A most indiscrete pumpkin

Followers of this blog will know that I have become a fanatical vegetable gardener this year, much to the dismay of my family.

The displeasure on their part is because I will not stick to growing things they actually like. No, I plant all kinds of “vile” items, such as turnips, courgettes, beans and kohlrabi.  However, there is one vegetable which even I knew I’d have to hide if I were to plant it. The pumpkin is the most despised of all vegetables in our house. Nobody likes it… except me. So early in the spring I secretly got up a dawn and snuck a couple of seeds into the soil right at the back of the vegetable patch. Carefully hidden behind cabbages and califlowers, beans and peas.

The pumpkin plants clearly had other ideas though. Oh they came up discretely enough at first… but all of a sudden, after a week of heavy rain, they took off across the garden and the next thing I knew they’d even reached the path. Not only were they trying to trip  everyone up with their leaves and tendrils… they actually decided that the path was the place to deposit their pumpkin fruits.

Of course I’ve been rumbled. How could all my family not notice these bright orange items the size of footballs? I tried the “Oh, it’s just a big tomato!” line…  but it fooled nobody.

Tomorrow I’m planning to make pumpkin soup. This will be noticed by the hawks. They all know that there are pumpkins on the premises… and as soon as they spot the absence of the pumpkins on the path, they’ll all be making playdates and other Termine just to avoid eating at home until they know the soup is finished or thrown away.

But they haven’t reckoned with my cunning. You see… I have a freezerMuhahahaha!

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A very German botanical garden

When I was in Münster at the weekend with Eldest Daughter, we went to visit the university’s botanical gardens. In my defence, I should state that this was, in fact not the cruel act of a heartless parent… dragging a reluctant teenager around the most boring sightseeing available.  No, Eldest Daughter actually wanted to see the botanical gardens. Of her own free will. Really.

You see, as of October, she will be studying biosciences there and her course will involve her making the acquaintance of plant life for the first time.

Like most teenagers, Eldest Daughter’s knowledge of plants to date has been pretty much limited to a life-long mission to avoid broccoli or sprouts. So the Münster University Botanical Gardens will have its work cut out to fill in all the gaps.

The entire park is laid out like a massive pop-up botanical textbook. The plants are lovingly labelled and huge notices provide more information than you could ever wish to know.

Parts of the gardens focus on particular families of plants and particular habitats….such as the moorland section or the sand dunes. These areas are actually laid out to look like natural heathland or scrubland. There are no tidy flowerbeds, just swathes of moor, with heathers and sedges… or rolling sand dunes with tufts of scrubby grass or spiky plants clinging to the sheltered side of each hillock.

There are also swamps…

…meadows…

…and wooded streams.. to name but a few.

Then there is the medical section. This includes extensive information on the medicinal uses of plants – grouped according to the ailments which they cure… here, for instance, an exhibition of plants used to cure sex-specific diseases.

Each plant is carefully labelled, not just with its name and basic botanical data, but also a set of symbols outlining how it is used. I can see that students will never again need to visit a doctor or pharmacy… they can just pop down to the botanical gardens and find out which flowers or leaves to steep into a healing potion!

I was very excited to see that courgettes (of which I still have several billion growing in my garden) have significant uses in the cure of ailments relating to the prostate.

I shall make a note to renew my efforts at offloading them on my elderly male neighbours. Citizens of Meerbusch…I come to heal your prostates…

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Growing weird vegetables in Germany

One of the intriguing things about growing your own fruit and vegetables is that you can experiment with varieties which you don’t normally find in the shops.

This year I’m trying out a new type of pea. What could be different about a pea?  Well… for a start, instead of the normal white flowers, these have pretty pinky purple blossoms.

What’s slightly more alien though is the pods which are now starting to form. They’re purple.

It’s actually a Dutch variety, called blauwschokkers (blue shockers!). Apparently the peas inside will be green… or greyish if I dry them for winter storage. I like them because they’re unusual and pretty… and also because I can find the pods more easily on the tangle of pea plants in the garden.  It won’t be long before they’re ready for eating. Can’t wait…

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A vegetable jungle

I posted in April about starting a vegetable garden. It seems that two months is a long time in gardening.

Those pictures of bare soil and a windswept wasteland of a vegetable patch are now distant memories… today the vegetable patch looks like this.

The greenhouse is nearly impassible…

We’re already almost self sufficient in vegetables.

Every conceivable piece of waste space where I put a tub has now sprouted triffids…

I shall need a machete just to get to the gate soon! Herr Doktor Livingstein I presume?

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