10 May 2012
It's a Kind of Magic...
While I try and squeeze a few moments to write up my notes about my trip to Jekka's herb farm, I wanted to share a little bit of magic going on in the herb patch: free cherry trees! I almost didn't see this tiny seedling as I weeded under the cherry tree but my eye was drawn to the two halves of a cherry stone lying on top of the soil and it dawned on me what the seedling must be. I stayed my hand and placed a marker stone to remind me where the seedling was. Several weeks later and the little tree is now 3 inches tall with four true leaves. There are a couple more 'trees' that have popped up and will be similarly nurtured. My first foundling has been potted up, ready to be taken to the school gardening club this Friday and will eventually be grown in the school's raised bed in the kitchen garden at Lauderdale House in Highgate.
The example above reminds me that every seed wants to grow, given the right conditions and freshness, and every plant is genetically programmed to propagate itself. Even in an urban environment it wouldn't take long for nature to take over. There's a copse of Victoria plum trees growing alongside a lane near my parents' home; its origins lie in the fruit falling from trees in a private neighbouring garden. If I left the York Rise veg patch alone this year, growing in between copious amounts of weeds (chickweed, dandelion, daisies - all edible; goosegrass, couch grass, thistles - not, unless you're a donkey) would be red orach (mountain spinach), sunflowers, nasturtiums, potatoes, horseradish, calendula, nigella and monarda. Every one of them is self seeded.
Even the autumn raspberries have spread a bit too enthusiastically, sending out runners where they shouldn't. Earlier in the year I pulled several out while tidying round. Obviously I didn't get them all because there are more than half a dozen raspberry canes still flourishing in the bed used for last year's courgettes.
Don't make my mistake: I thought these runners were suckers which stole energy from the main plant; I've since learned that they can be moved and grown as new canes. More free plants! Now that's magic!
(I feel I ought to apologise to anyone who will now have that Queen song running around their heads all day. I just can't get it out of my head... whoops, there's another one!)