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recent content by Maddy Harland

Maddy Harland |
Tuesday, 29th March 2011

One of my favourite trees in our garden is the Plum Myrobalan, Prunus cerasifera . It is robust enough to be used as a hedge plant but if you let it grow as a standard within a hedgerow, it will grow to 25 feet in 20 years. In March, its branches are alive with honeybees enjoying the nectar from the abundant pure white flowers. It is the first tree to blossom in the garden. I stand beneath it and savour the delicious scent and celebrate the hum of happy honey bees, too rare an experience even in my garden which has about 80 fruit and nut trees.

 
Maddy Harland |
Monday, 28th March 2011

There is little food in my garden at this time of year. The coldframes are full of salads – self-seeders and other leaves that have survived the winter snow in their protected environment. There's a few carrots left, spring onions and some cavollo nero and beetroot. We are still eating jams and preserves from last year and there is fruit frozen in the deep freeze, but there is nothing quite like the first rhubarb crop. We celebrate it at Sunday supper when all the family meet and sit down and share food together.

 
Maddy Harland |
Thursday, 24th February 2011

Take a barrel with a tap that's not connected to a downpipe. Add rainwater. Then add comfrey leaves (the deep tap root 'mines' the minerals from the soil), stinging nettles and any other weeds (before they have gone to seed) and a shovelful of manure. Leave to 'brew' for a few weeks. Be prepared for the pungent smell and avoid contact with your hands as you will be haunted by it for hours! Dilute 1:10 in water in a watering can and use as a fertiliser on maturing plants but not seedlings and watch them grow. Never buy a proprietory brand like chicken pellets again.

 
Maddy Harland |
Thursday, 24th February 2011

There are so many compelling reasons for growing even a little of your own food in the garden or allotment, on the patio, or even on the windowsill.

Take for instance the humble lettuce. On average of over 11 pesticides are sprayed on lettuces, more than any other vegetable crop. In one study by what is now the UK Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), pesticide applications had increased by 600% over a ten year period. Those innocent bags of mixed salad from the supermarket are also washed with chloride to prevent decay.

 
Maddy Harland |
Saturday, 8th January 2011

There is a treasure in the woods near me: a semi-rotten beech tree that hosts oyster mushroom mycellium. Every year, after a very cold snap (usually in January) the mycellium runs and its fruiting bodies appear. Behold! Sumptuous oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus).

 

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