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Jun 4 2009

Posted By: 26/06/2009 10:00:00

It's no good, the salad bed is producing too much rocket I can't eat it all, so I am admitting defeat and will turn some of it in into Rocket Pesto, or 'Pesto di rucola' if you want it to sound more edible.

  To make the pesto you need rocket, garlic, capers, black pepper, salt, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and parmesan. First grind the leaves in a pestle and mortar (or you can chop it finely with a knife), and add the garlic, capers, salt, pepper, and parmesan, then a little vinegar, and drizzle in the olive oil. Keep grinding until it looks like the stuff you buy in the supermarket. Then store it in the fridge and use it on freshly cooked pasta.

The Spinach, Lettuce, and Kohl Rabi are also cropping well now, and as I'm using them up, I'm planting more rows for a succession of veg later in the year. I have also left some space for Chicory, Radicchio, and Swiss Chard which I will be sowing

this weekend.

With everything growing so quickly at the moment one of the busiest jobs in the garden is the weeding. There is a saying which goes "One years seed is seven years weed" and there is a lot of truth to the saying. Some of the weed seeds can sit dormant in the ground for up to seven years, and will only germinate after the soil has been disturbed or other growing conditions have become more suitable. As the garden I have had been left to go wild for at least 18 months the amount of seed lying in the soil is quite considerable. There is one bed I will have to tackle this year which has a nice cover of geraniums and aqualiga, but the dreaded bindweed is also present, and even though I am digging up any roots which sprout I'm only putting off the inevitable. I have tried using a systemic weed killer by painting it on the leaves, but it still comes back, so the only option left is to dig out all the soil from the bed and pass it through my wheelbarrow sieve, and then burn the roots. I will have to firstly dig a spades depth down and keep the top soil to one side, and then dig another spades depth down, and repeat the sieving. I have heard some scare stories about the depth Bindweed taproots can go down to, but the truth of the matter is the majority of the roots are found in the top 60cm (2 feet) of the soil, so I should be ok with a couple of spade depths. Once I have sieved the soil for roots I can return it to the bed after mixing it with some compost. Hopefully it will have reduced some of the problem. However with Bindweed the real problem is not with the roots, it's the seeds. A bindweed seed can lie dormant in the soil for more than 28 years! So despite my efforts it looks like I will be sharing the garden with bindweed for the rest of my life. If you want to live with a garden guaranteed to be bindweed free in the UK, you should make sure your garden is at an altitude of at least 1000ft as it has not been recorded above that altitude. It would seem then the saying is out of date and needs to be revised. A more accurate saying would be "One years seed is 28 years weed".

This weekend, apart from weeding, I'll be taking delivery of three sheep. Not in the garden, but in a small field just over the road. They are Dorset Downs which are traditional local sheep. They are capable of putting on about half a kilo of weight every day. Also the fleece they produce is one of the highest quality fleeces you can buy. Now if only I can train them to eat bindweed I may have just solved a big problem.

Happy Gardening!

Paul

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