Since moving to the UK, I’ve become accustomed to stinging nettles. They grow very vigorously, as a weed, and have runner roots just under the surface which spread out everywhere and result in new nettles. They’re hard to get rid of and their leaves really do create an unpleasant sting.
One thing I’ve found is that they love ground that has been dug up. In general, if grass is well in control, stinging nettles don’t have a chance. Once the ground is disturbed, stinging nettles can grow quite tall very quickly and dominate the grass, but if the grass is already there, stinging nettles can’t compete.
My Stinging Nettle Problem
When we had our pottery studio built including new steps down to the studio, there was a lot of ground disturbed and then relocated. This was just perfect for the stinging nettles and they took over. Since I hadn’t experienced them before, I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried pulling them out by hand, using a garden fork and some good leather gloves, and I found they were easy to remove because the roots are generally shallow. They don’t like being pulled out and it takes them quite a while for them to start returning, but they do return and, in summer, they grow very vigorously. At one point I was confronted with stinging nettles between 4 and 5 feet tall. Read more
Recently, I’ve been thinking about getting outdoor furniture to add to our garden. As many of you know, I’ve certainly become more spiritual in the last 6-7 years and have got into yoga and meditation (see Life in the Right Direction), so it will be no surprise that I took notice of a local company making wooden garden furniture called “Sitting Spiritually” (I have no affiliation with them, I’m just interested).
There were many things I liked about “Sitting Spiritually” when I first looked at their website – they are fairly local to where I live (southern England), they make bespoke furniture using local artisans, each piece is one of a kind and they aim for a beautiful finish to and exceptional standard. I decided to ask them a few questions and they we so kind to answer them well and to allow me to publish their answers here. They even sent me some of their photos to include.
Here are the exact questions I asked Sitting Spiritually and their verbatim answers. Read more
I’m pleased to have decided to put in a large rainwater tank when we had the opportunity. Every time I use water in my garden now, it’s good to know that I’m not using mains water but just using rainwater that has been saved in the tank.
I first started by dreaming of a natural garden in lower part of our property, and had been starting to work on it (Garden Diversity and Slugs, Scything with frost, Planting trees and shrubs – 24 of them!, Rows and rows of windrows) and then, when we decided to build a pottery studio at the edge of this natural garden, we had the option to install a rainwater tank to collect water from the roof of the new studio. If we were going to do it, now was the right time.
I sourced the rainwater take from RainWater Harvesting here in the UK, and I decided to get the 3000 litre shallow dig version and it was a bit surprising how big it was when it was delivered. Read more
As you might already know, I do a bit of scything around my garden, and you may be wondering what happens to all the grass. Ok, that thought probably never entered your head, but I’d like to think it did. In my garden, I like to try to keep everything circular – everything that’s produced by the garden goes back into the garden – and I use all the grass that I cut to enrich the soil. This requires windrows.
What is a windrow?
The dictionary definition is something like “a long low ridge or line of hay or a similar crop, designed to achieve the best conditions for drying or curing”. When grass is cut with a scythe, the cut grass tends to line up on the ground to the left of the direction the scythe is swung, and that tends to create natural windrows. However, it works out that there’s cut grass all over the place in general. If the grass is cut in the morning, it’s best to just leave it spread out to dry in the sun for the day and, near the end of the day, to rake it up into windrows.
Why create windrows?
It’s quite amazing that we have, all of a sudden, a colourful garden bed near our house. This area has been a bit of a disaster area for the past few years as we’ve had major renovations to the house, had a new patio and paths put in and only had the garden beds bordered with bricks a year ago. These garden beds were really like a war zone with labourers, brickies, scaffolders and decorators working all around them (and over them!) for such a long time.
After the brick borders were put in last year, I got into the beds and did the first attempt to clear the weeds and I gave everything a pretty good prune. Also, in the autumn, I put a lot of the fallen leaves in the beds as mulch. It’s really pleasing to see today just what a nice colourful garden bed we have. It’s putting on a nice show (as my father would have said). Read more