Sunday, 27 March 2011

Spring forward!

I've been doing loads of seed sowing over the last couple of weeks, so I haven't blogged it all as I've gone along, however, here's a list of what I've done:

Flower seeds sown:
Dahlia 'Double Dwarf Mixed'
Dahlia 'Dandy Mixed'
Stock 'Cinderella Mixed'
Sweet Pea 'Old Fashioned mix'
Aquilegia black double
Aquilegia blue and white frilly jobbie (that's the actual description given to me by the donator, Liz.
Eschscholzia 'Bridal Bouquet'
Scabious 'Pincushion Mix'
Linaria 'Moon River'
Rudbeckia Purpuea 'Brilliant Star'
French Marigolds 'Safari mixed' and 'Naughty Marietta'...I've often wondered why Marietta was so naughty...

Flower bulbs planted:
Anemone coronaria 'Royal'
Lilium Asiatic 'Navona'
Dahlia semi cactus 'My Love'
Triteleia 'Queen Fabiola'
Iris hollandica 'Blue Pearl'
Gladiolus grandiflora 'White Prosperity'...which gives me an excellent excuse to quote one of my favourite films, Hitchcock's 'Marnie' "Oooh, we could stand Gladiolas!"
Vegetable seeds sown:
Brussel Sprouts 'Silverline'
White Sprouting Broccoli
Cauliflower 'Snowball'
Cauliflower 'Candid Charm'
Cabbage 'Hispi'
Cabbage 'Greyhound'
Cabbage 'Copenhagen Market'
Broccoli 'Arcadia'
Beetroot 'Boltardy'
Beetroot 'Cylindra'
Spinach 'Scenic'
Carrot 'Early Nantes 2'
Carrot F1 'Bolero'
Radish 'French Breakfast 3' ...that's a lot of breakfasts, even for a Hobbit!
Radish 'Ravanello Candela Di Fuolo'...the maddest colour radish I've ever seen!
Tomato 'Britain's Breakfast'
Tomato 'Gardener's Delight'
Tomato 'Sweet Olive'
Tomato 'Roma'
Tomato 'Piglet Willie's Black French'
Chilli 'Hot Rokita'
Chilli 'Fuego Ibrido F1'
Chilli 'Scotch Bonnet'
Chilli 'Hot Cayenne' (these chillis are in addition to the ones I'm growing at work with a collegue, which I haven't mentioned before, but as they're doing so well, I really ought to post about them)

On top of all that, I've also weeded the front 'woodland' garden...took a couple of hours, but it's looking really special. The hellebores, primroses, wood anemones and violets are absolutely singing in the spring sunshine!!

Here's a shot of the whole 'woodland' garden, but it doesn't really do it justice.

and finally here's me sowing seeds under my Wilkos cloche

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Mystery of the Garden String

So there I was, at 8.30 this morning, doing the washing up, looking out of the kitchen window onto our back garden. A Coal Tit came down and took some seed from the bird feeder on the pergola, Mr Blackbird flew down onto the birdtable, and the Goldfinches were happily munching nyjer seed in the hawthorn tree. A vision of ornithological perfection.

A movement caught my attention...Mr Norty (the squirrel) had entered the garden. I went and got my camera, and this is what I saw...

First, he was being all cute...

Then he got a mischievous glint in his eye...

...He headed down the pergola post...

And stole all my string again!!!!

Look at that! Caught red handed! what a little monkey!!

...I may have to resort to wiring my grapevines up instead...*sigh*

Friday, 4 March 2011

A shopping spree in Wilkos garden department!!

This afternoon I went on a lovely shopping spree at Wilkos...I never, ever come away from Wilkos empty handed, and today was no exception!!

I bought (just from the garden dept.):
  • A 3m fleece cloche
  • A new fleece cover for my 'blowaway' (our affectionate term, on the Vine, for those plastic greenhouses thingys)
  • An unheated Propagator for the kitchen windowsill
  • 2 Scoops...oh yes, not one, but two!!
  • A bag of plant labels
  • A pack of tree ties
  • Some soft covered wire plant ties
...and finally some fat balls and suet feeders for my garden birdies!

So, by the time I'd unpacked all my booty, it was gone 4 o'clock. However, undeterred, I ventured forth into the garden...
My first job...after feeding the birds, was to retie, my rather Heath Robinson, attempt at espaliering my Fig Tree, by using the new soft covered wire plant ties and the tree ties. It looks...well, better than it did.

Now, I'm not well known for my patience when it comes to waiting for things to grow. My Broad Beans have been in their root trainers since 13th February, and there is no sign of life yet. So, next this afternoon, I engaged in a little activity that we, on the Vine, like to call 'furtling'. Basically, this involves gently drawing the soil off the top of the pot or seed tray, until you reveal the seed, just to see if you can see signs of life (or to see if the seed has rotted off, which is unfortunately a very real possibility). The good news is that the little white bump you can see on the top of the seed, in the second picture (below right), is the beginnings of a root breaking out of the seedcoat. After I finished jumping round the garden for a moment or two, whooping with joy, I quickly tucked the Broad Bean seed back into its root trainer.

Next I put the new fleece cover on my Blowaway, which looks much smarter than it did. I weighted it down with some spare block pavers on the bottom shelf, and added my Broad Beans (in their root trainers), my tragic looking leek seedlings, and my even more tragic 'Ailsa Craig' onion seedlings (see photos below). In fact, my onions have been such a disaster, that I took the decision to sow some new seeds into the modules this afternoon...even though it wasn't a 'Root' day.

Then I put my new fleece cloche into the bed where I grew my pumpkins last summer. It does fit between the wall and the fig tree, but only just!!

I'm planning to either use this to grow some early lettuces, or I might use it as a seed bed. At least with the cloche in place, it will start warming the soil up and give me a bit of a head start.

I noticed that one of our grapevines was no longer attached to the pergola. There are two possible reasons for this:
1) The string has rotted a bit over winter, and the gales we've had over the last few days has snapped them. Or.
2) Mr Norty (the squirrel) has been stealing the string for nesting material. You think I'm joking, but I did once watch him unwinding the stings, I had spent ages weaving in and around loads of canes, which was intended to support a large chrysanthemum during the summer. I had to redo the whole thing with wire! He's  so cheeky!

Here's the vine in disarray, and then temporarily tied back to the pergola (it was 5.30pm by this point and it was getting cold and dark). At least it will be supported if the wind gets up again. I'd be devastated if the main trunk snapped.

....And finally for today, here's my first Tete a Tete Narcissus, of the year, coming into flower. Yay!!