I have been working in the garden most of the last week, tidying up and transforming an unused area. The area is currently partly undercover but I’m not 100% confident off of the stability of the structure. I’ve given it a good wobble and it even takes my weight easily but parts of the wood are quite rotten and so we’ve just tended to stay out of there.
This year I decided I would make it a project to get that area sorted out and usable again. I have added some extra support and stabilising length of timber to add strength to the whole structure. My intention is to completely clear the area and use it to extend the veggie and herb garden. I am also considering moving all my plants from the patio and into this space instead. There is an old swing frame there which I’m going to use rather than dig out. Each of the four legs has a huge ball of concrete attached to it under the soil which I would need to dig out, break up and then get rid of somehow. Then I would need to take apart and store the swing frame itself somewhere. But looking at it I don’t think the screws are going to come out easily, if at all as they are quite rusted. Easier to leave it there and incorporate it into the garden. So far I have planted my runner beans to grow up one side of it and I have sown broad beans and peas for the other side. They seem quite happy with the arrangement and the spot is sunny in the morning with shade later on in the day, so should be just right.
A large part of the area was originally covered in an old carpet and a few years ago I discovered a large paved circle underneath. The inside of the circle is all soil and looked as though it had been used for planting at some point. I assume the soil was covered over when the swings were fitted so that whoever used them didn’t end up muddy.
Under one corner of the carpet I had often seen slow worms. They are a protected species here so I was worried about disturbing them and if they could be a nest or similar as they were often there. After doing some reading, I feel that they like the area as they can lay on the warm paving stones but be safely undercover. As there is an overgrown hedge area next to the space it is also easy to get to without too much worry of predators. As where we live is away from town and has a lot of woodland around we get lots of birds here as well as foxes, plus cats from other households. All I’m sure would happily eat slow worms. To solve the issue I decided to leave the entire end of the area overgrown and transform it into a wildlife area. I have left a length of the carpet say the slowest can still have their sunny spot. Using an old rabbit hutch and bits and pieces we picked up around the garden Jack and I created a bug hotel for the area too.
While working on the area I have got bitten many times I’m not sure by what. I always suffer from insect bites in the summer and have done for as long as I can remember. They are mostly on my legs and hands and itch like crazy. I wanted to make some soothing plantain salve to put on them but don’t have any plantain oil ready, though I do have loads of both greater plantain and ribwort plantain growing in my front garden.
On Pinterest I found a method for making a quick herb infused oil. I’m not sure if it will be as good as the slower method of infusion but I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. I am only making a small batch as I don’t have that much dried plantain at the moment. As I will use over half my store I have picked some plantain from my front garden and that is now drying in the dehydrator. I have enough for two trays worth so I have a good amount ready for future batches. I’m going to use a recipe for a basic herbal salve I pinned from Mountain Rose Herbs for amounts.
The pantain salve came out great and was really easy to make. I couldn’t have made it a better time, as later in the evening I began itching and found several bug bites. I always seem to get bitten in summer and never notice it at the time, but boy do they itch later! I waited for the plantain salve to fully harden and then applied some to the bites. After a few moments the itching began to die down and stop, much to my relief. I used the balm several times over the next few days and found it very soothing. Definitely glad I gave making this easy plantain salve a try and have popped a jar into the buggy bag to keep with us when out. Looking forward to using the herbal oils I have infusing on other home made remedies.