09 March 2019

Pruning Purple Sage

The unpruned pruple sage plant

When we took on the allotment last January, we inherited a pretty substantial herb patch consisting mostly of a well established giant purple sage (Salvia officinalis "Purpurascens") plant and rosemary bush of unknown variety, mixed in with some oregano and thyme and something I could not identify at the time which turned out to be a a kind of giant daisy.

The woken-up pest controller

Thrilled as I was that I have all these plants, as the year went on I have not used the sage at all. I tried to reduce its size and gave the off-cuts away to friends to use in the kitchen but it wasn't until last week that I decided to go about it a bit more brutally and give it a proper prune. I was thinking about getting rid of it altogether, but as it is a good feed for pollinators, I decided to keep it. Moreover, I have read that drinking water infused with this plant can help with sore throats - something that I sometimes suffer from as a teacher.

Cutting away the lowest and widest branches I noticed that those that were lying down and touching the soil have developed roots. This is a commonly used method for propagating the plant asexually called "layering" - covering a lower branch with soil, waiting for roots to develop and then cutting it off and thus getting a separate plant. I am not sure whether the previous owners have done this intentionally or whether it just happened but I separated sections of those branches which gave me some really healthy looking cuttings.

Cuttings from the lower branches that have already rooted
I potted and watered them and I keep them in a shady spot behind the shed. I now have eight plants that I definitely do not want to keep but I am thinking I might give them away or wait until our allotment association's open day where I am sure we will have a plant sale.

Three of the cuttings in their new pot. Pretty, aren't they?

05 March 2019

Bumpy Allotment Visits

Today it has been two weeks since I have passed my practical driving test and with lots of encouragement from my husband I have been brave enough to drive my little red car, proudly displaying the magnetic P (probationary) plates. Of course, my first journey was to the allotment. I love the fact that I can just pack a lot of stuff in the car and take it right to the plot.

A perfect day to take the bump out for a bit of fresh air.

Last time I visited the plot and did some proper work was in November when I cleared out the insides of the cold frame, which is where my tomatoes were growing last summer. They have gone a bit wild and the bed became a haven for many weeds. So I took the glass out, moved the frame away and cleared the bed underneath. I have also cardboard mulched it and am planning to use it as a seedling starting site this spring.

The cold frame before and after. The plants on the left are self-seeded forget-me-nots. Great tortoise feed and pretty flowers for me and for the bees)

As we had a couple of unseasonably warm days (17°C in February!), I went back a few times and did little bits and pieces. Amongst them was cleaning the little patio in front of my shed and sifting through some compost.

The patio before and after.

I am slowly weeding the other neglected beds (and expecting a lot of volunteer tomatoes!), but as it goes with big pregnant bumps, I needed to rest frequently (thanks be to anyone who invented folding camping chairs). Cup of tea and a creme egg got me right back into it!


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