Monday, 30 May 2011

Potting on and Planting out

This Bank Holiday weekend has been all about potting on and planting out.

It started on Friday, with the arrival of our new tree fern (to replace one we lost over the winter). It's super!

The Viola 'Rebecca' that I bought as 5 little plug plants from Sutton's, have really come on, so I've planted them out in the garden.
Dwarf French Beans 'The Prince' and 'Dalmation' have gone into a raised bed near the fig tree.

Climbing French Beans 'Tiger's Eye' and 'Lazy Housewife' are in a long tom planter with bamboo cane supports.

Achocha 'Fat Baby' has been planted under an obelisk (2 plants).

I've potted on most of my Tomato plants again, and loads of Swede 'Helenor' seedlings. Also the primed leek seedlings from Sutton's, which have come along very quickly with an excellent germination rate.

A quick check of everything else shows that the sweet peas are coming along, and the strawberries are fattening up well. I'm looking forward to picking both of these!

And the delphiniums are looking the best they have ever done, and I really like the deep purple against the blue of the Summerhouse.

We also made a couple of trips to the allotment for some hard labour.

We finally got the chitted seed potatoes in. The ground at the allotment has been so hard and the weather so dry that it's been impossible to put them in any sooner. We dug out trenches, and put some well rotted manure in the bottom, popped the tatties into this, and earthed them up a bit. We'll have to visit more regularly that we have been to keep them covered up properly.

We also did a lot of weeding - they've really enjoyed the rain we've had recently.

I constructed some supports, and planted out peas 'Junos' and 'Kelvedon Wonder'

I filled some gaps amongst the Aquadulce Claudia plants (I use the term loosely, because they've suffered in this hot weather, so I've trimmed them all right back to a sturdy side shoot - it'll be a while before I get any Broadies this year) with some 'Hurst Longpod' which did really well last year.

We really need to strim the paths, but the strimmer doesn't want to play ball at the moment, so that will have to wait. In the meantime a pair of shears made it look a fair bit tidier.

We had to give up just after 8pm, because the cloud came down really low over the Downs, and a fine drizzly rain started falling - you know, the sort you can hardly see, but soaks you to the skin instantaneously!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Poor Germination - time for a furtle...

Hmmmmm, there is something very odd going on in my 'blowaway'...things just aren't germinating. Affected things seem to be French Beans, Pumpkins and Squashes. So what's gone wrong?

Well, I had a good 'furtle' (poking around in the soil until I locate the seeds) last night, and discovered the main problem with the Pumpkins and Squashes is simply overwatering. Normally I would sow my cucurbits indoors, and keep them inside until they are a really good size and ready to harden off. That way I can keep a close eye on them (I think they are the most fascinating seeds to germinate - they errupt out of the soil!). This year, due to lack of space, I decided to put the pots straight out into the blowaway (with its new fleece cover). We've had a few downpours over the last few days, and the fleece cover is permeable, so some rain will have got in, but I think the main culprit is my little helper, MrPB. He's been giving everything a 'general' watering with the hosepipe during this dry weather, which is fine for plants, but its just too much for seeds. When I went furtling, not only did I discover soaking wet soil, but also soggy, squishy seeds...they'll never germinate. I've resown several varieties, and have brought the pots inside to germinate. Fingers crossed!

The second problem seems to be my friend Mrs Norty. I had sown a tray of modules with dwarf french bean 'Sprite', which she kindly rummaged through, for me (as previously posted). Now, I thought the seeds were still in place, but it would appear that she dug up my beans and replaced them with wheat seeds from the birdfeeder - they've come up beautifully, but no bean seedlings!! I've resown these too.

The third problem is quite possibly age related...I have a sneaking suspicion that I labelled a pot for French bean 'A Grand Nero', but forgot to actually sow the seeds into it....ooops! I furtled through the entire pot contents, and there is just no sign of them...I sheepishly sowed some of these too!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Garden Society Day Trip to Chelsea Physic Garden and Buckingham Palace Garden

Yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday), the Gardeners' Society hired a coach, and took a trip up to London for the day. And what a day! The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the Plane Trees were shedding their seeds in abundance. Let me tell you more...

At 9am the coach left the village. MrPB and I are going to get a reputation, as we were the last to arrive - again!! Ooops, well, at least we weren't late this time!! We had a clear run into London, arriving outside the Chelsea Physic Garden at 10.30.

Most of the group had opted for a guide, but MrPB and I decided just to wander. I'd done a bit of reading up on the website, so was able to point out things like the oldest fruiting Olive tree in England (it bearly fits in the photo, its so enormous!) 

We also watched the honey bees flying in and out of the WBC and National hives tucked away in a quiet corner. I think MrPB is now convinced that our garden couldn't have handled a honey bee hive - far too frantic! We're much safer with our Beepol Bumble Bee hive.

We saw the clipped bay trees in the...oooh, erm, I think it was the Aromatic part of the garden.

We sat on a bench and watched a wood pigeon drinking from the large rectanglar pond, surrounded by beautiful yellow flag irises. Went into the Fern House, which had some lovely curious plants, and a lovely white Rhododendron trained against the wall, which I've never seen done before.

Then we wandered outside again and sat on a metal bench near the tea rooms, enjoying the sunshine and the view,

and being entertained by a fearless little robin, who hopped right underneath my seat and sat there for ages!

Then we went into the Tea Rooms and had a beautiful selection of salads for lunch. I thought the minty pea, soya bean and parma ham one was just delicious, and might try to recreate it at home! But not the Stilton one - bleurgh!

After lunch and a wander round the lovely shop, we jumped back on the coach and headed off to Buckingham Palace. We had to go through a couple of security checks, first ID and then belongings, and then we were shown through a long gallery, and up some steps, where we were offered tea and coffee. We then went and sat in a room kitted out with a big screen and a laptop, and a lovely guide called Martin gave us a potted history of the Palace and its owners. He then lead us round the mile long path that traces the boundary of the palace gardens, pointing out plants and features of interest as we went. Unfortunately he wasn't a horticulturalist himself, and couldn't answer some of the more searching questions like 'what's being grown in those wire cages?', but nevermind, it was very informative nonetheless. It's a great shame that you can't take photos in the Palace gardens, but that's security for you.

Both gardens are lovely, and if you get the opportunity to visit them, then do, and you can easily do both in a day.