Friday 26 June 2020

Old Codger's Secret

Well, this week’s sunshine has certainly brought on the soft fruit. I shall make time tomorrow to do my annual Summer Pudding. Must remember to somehow get some white bread, though. Not the same otherwise – and, preferably, a bit on the stale side. Line a basin with the bread, boil up the fruit – not too much, and pour it in. Cover with another layer of bread. Let it stand overnight – better in the fridge. Dollop of Greek yoghurt, crème frais or clotted cream and you’re away. Summer is here! All the better with your own fruit, of course. As we have said before, soft fruit is pretty straightforward and worth the little effort it takes

Mind you, raspberry canes were the furthest thing from my mind when we moved into our property. Seasoned readers may remember that our house and garden is situated on remediated industrial land that was set hard as concrete when we moved in October 1990. The Spring of 1991 was particularly dry. Indeed, there seemed to be a trend in that direction so how to handle such climatic changes? This is what brings me to the old Codger’s secret ...

Our nuclear sub sunbathing yesterday - now nearly 1 metre
Don’t tell anyone
Was it wisdom or was it stupidity? Digging the reservoir, I mean. Children coming to our garden notice two things: an old hand pump and, later on, a fish imitating a nuclear submarine. Starting with the latter, a pond was mandatory. But ponds demand water – could I find a way of keeping it topped up with a supply of rainwater?

30 years later - the hand pump still works
Then there was climate change. Could I have my own supply to keep the plants watered? Yes! Build a tank in the ground, slab over the top, and use a pump to deliver the goods. Seemed a good idea. I was still under fifty and game for a good dig, but I had not reckoned on boulders. Lifting a 60kg lump vertically 1.2 metres is one thing as exam question another as a practical proposition. (you now know why we have a rockery!) Eventually, the project was complete and now lies hidden beneath the patio. Indeed, it is old Codger’s Secret and a source, not only of water, but great fascination for children when they visit
Secret access lies beneath the patio

What did young Codger learn?
Regular readers will have discovered that not all of Codger’s ideas work perfectly. The main thing he discovered by doing the reservoir was that groundwater has a life of its own. Groundwater, as the name suggests, sits beneath our feet. It creates, what is known as, the water table. I have found that the water level in the chamber rises and falls considerably and is determined more by the level of the water table than by rainfall. When I did the job I also put in some drainage to help take the water from the growing areas, our land being so heavy. The reservoir also takes rainwater from the roof. This obviates the need for a water butt – difficult objects to disguise – so I have no tricks to offer there

Water being pumped into the pond via a concealed pipe
 When the pond needs a top-up, I now use an electric pump which lives in the reservoir. I could write an essay on pumps – I think I am on my third (not counting pumps for the pond). The present model has been in use for about ten years and works really well. I bought it from Lidl as, generally, I find their electrical items are good quality – speaking as I find

Anyway, all of this is great when children come to the garden. I ask they if they would like to know the big secret of Codger's Garden. Looking this way, and that, we ceremoniously lift the slabs. Sometimes a frog is sitting on top of the submerged pump, adding to the excitement

Happy accident
Two things about water lilies: (1) The offer of water lilies remains open - please speak up if you would like one - there is still time for me to take a root cutting - there is a choice of sizes. (2) For a couple of weeks now I had have miniature lily plants growing very happily in containers. Not by intention just other jobs have been more important. The interesting point is just how well they have fared. They are in containers about 2 feet deep and well-shaded. the water has stayed clear which probably indicates that they are taking nutrients from the water, which is what you want to avoid suffocating blanket weed. Another happy accident!

Cost? About £7.50 - clearance prices
Venturing out
After three full months of lockdown (we began early) I have paid a cautious visit to our local B&Q. Very strict measures in place and only few folk there – perhaps, time of day. I headed straight for the clearance trolley, spending £30 on half-price plants - Codger needs the stock. Since the pansies gave up a couple of weeks ago, the patio has looked miserable. I imagine my B&Q experience may be typical so thought I’d mention. Here is the result on the left

I am making up a few hanging baskets to be ready when people ask. Let me know if you are interested

The big job tomorrow will be lifting irises and propagating from them. You may remember the lovely blue variety. I shall add a photo below as a reminder. Again, please let me know if you are interested - they could go straight from our garden to yours. As usual, no charge, we just ask that you support BCM with a donation if you can. You can see how things are going by clicking here

Next week, I plan to publish again on Tuesday and Friday. So, until Tuesday we send ...

... best wishes from the old Garden Codger

This shot was taken on May 2 this year. They flowered on and on. Unusually for an iris, they are scented - a lovely delicate fragrance. I shall check on the variety and let you know next week. Please let me know if you are interested. I should have enough if you would like three to plant together 




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