Six on Saturday: Plan, plan and then cross fingers

Things are definitely on the move in the garden.  The bulbs are poking up their first leaves and here in London some of the perennials are beginning to stir.  Storm Eric poured in yesterday and is blowing itself out today.  The sun is shining and optimism is rising.

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There was a brief lull in the weather this week.  The snow disappeared and the ground wasn’t too wet so the opportunity was taken to plant out the asparagus crowns.  I dug out the trench, created the ‘w’ shaped profile and elegantly draped the crowns across the top.  The trench was then back-filled to just cover the crowns and over the coming weeks as the crowns send out shoots there will  be more back filling to ensure the crowns are well buried.  A scattering of fish bone and blood also went into the mix.  I opted for one long trench and I think I have space for a border of companion plants. Recommendations are to plant tomatoes and basil in an attempt to fend off asparagus beetle.  I am growing tomatoes from seed this year and I’m sure I will have some spare plants.  The extras can go by the side of the asparagus as a first barrier.  I’m happy to sow a few basil seeds as well.  That’s the first plan.  We’ll see if it works.

Two

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The potatoes have been bought and chitting is underway.  The second plan is where to put the potatoes this year.  My veg plot has a three year rotation plot.  (I don’t grow brassicas).  Potatoes are followed by onions followed by root crops.  The lay out of the veg plot gives me two larger beds and then three thinner strips.  There is also one medium sized raised bed.  I have to decide if  I use the raised bed for half the potatoes and one of the larger smaller strips for the remainder.  You may be a little confused by now – as I am.  I have a few weeks to sort this all out.

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Beans will also have to fit into the plan and this year I am forgoing the climbing bean ‘Blue Lake’ in favour of a dwarf french bean.  The simple reason is I don’t enjoy untangling the beans and twine from the wig wam at the end of the season.  I also reasoned that the dwarf beans would fit very nicely into one of the thin strips.  A long term plan is to combine two of the thin strips, but that’s on the wish list.

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My final purchase of sweet peas seeds has been made.  Let’s see how ‘Iris’ and ‘Gwendoline’ get on with ‘April in Paris’.  The first batch of sweet peas was sown last weekend.  These will be sown in a week or two.

Five

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Onion choices have also been made.  Sturon, Red Baron and Longor shallots.  I am going to start off the onions in modules this year ready to transplant as the weather becomes warmer.  A first time of trying this for me so fingers crossed here too.

Six

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The first flower on the Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’  has appeared.  It is nestled under a Mahonia in the front garden.  Yes, Spring is on its way.

 

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Six On Saturday: Snow, sowing and growing

Clearly I have been spending too much time in the garden scouting out goodies for the Six On Saturday show.  I should have been cosy and warm inside reading the seed catalogues.  This has now been rectified and some seeds are on their way.  But it was the snow that arrived on  Wednesday.

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Wednesday was also the day scheduled for the builder to come and destroy  the brick walls of the old compost heap.  Bless him! He did come and the walls are no more.  I have three wooden bins ready to be installed but they can wait for warmer weather.  It was good day despite the snow.  All the garden rubbish went into the skip plus plenty more from the house.  The builder did not get frostbite and I didn’t run out of tea or milk!

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We moved to this house in 2016 and the garden was in need of a good weed and the addition of some new plants.  Each year another little patch of the garden gets my attention.  Last summer I managed to get this corner trellised and planted clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’.  It was a lovely surprise this week to see it putting on new growth and buds.

Three

For some unknown reason I missed planting out shallots and autumn onions.  Last year’s weather and lack of watering on my part did not lead to a bumper crop and the last few from the store have gone soft and been consigned to the bin.  The shallots did store better and they have encouraged me to try again.  A visit to the nursery is now urgent if I am going to get some purchases made before they sell out.

Four

I have been muttering for weeks that it is time to sow some sweet peas and as February approaches I feel that I might actually do it.  I find I always start talking about sowing sweet peas early but then actually do it a bit later.  These are my first two choices for this year but I am on the look out for a couple of extra packets, just in case.

Five

It’s still too early for me to be sowing tomato seeds but this year I do have some!  Last year in a bid to increase the number of varieties grown but decrease the number of plants I limited myself to six plants bought from my local plant sale.  This year I want to try ‘Green Zebra’.  For more variety I chose this seed collection which gives ‘Marmande’,  ‘San Marzano 2’ and a new (for me) yellow variety to grow – ‘Golden Sunrise’.  The ‘Green Zebra’ had to be bought separately.  I’m also looking forward to trying ‘Tigerella’.

Six

Here’s the compost area without it’s walls.  Once the bins are constructed I will see what tidying up I have to do round the edges.

All done for another week,  Mr P will be showcasing his goodies plus links to posts from around the gardening world.  Stop by and take a look.

Six On Saturday: Time for a rethink

Finally rain arrived.  Great for the garden, less good for other plans.  I’m having family over for lunch on Sunday, and rain is forecast all day.  Outdoor entertaining will have to come inside and someone will be cooking in the rain!  This week has been very hot. The plants in the garden are scorched, the veg plot is desiccated but I managed to find six things in the garden:.

One

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The lawn.  Quite an interesting view at the moment.  The crispy dry stripe is where, long ago, there was a path. The middle section is a mixture of green weeds and brown grass and the far corner is the part of the lawn that is always waterlogged through the winter.  There is local talk of underground streams but I think even these have dried up this summer.  The grass hasn’t been mown in months but a close look showed the creeping buttercup is, of course, creeping very nicely and the little acorns planted by squirrels are growing into mighty oaks.  The clover is mostly going to seed and providing food for the birds.  Such biodiversity.

Two

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The hydrangea in the front garden is usually uniformly pink but this year it is pink on the side that gets the sun and shades of pink, purple and blue on the less sunny side.  Curiously it is doing well in the heat.  The front garden is watered very sparingly – and this plant hasn’t been watered once.  I hope last night’s rain will keep it in good health.  It will probably die of shock.

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The first ripened chilli in the greenhouse.  It’s a cayenne – looks pretty hot to me but apparently not a knock your socks off chilli.  Picked now and soon to be added to a tomato salsa.  The tomato crop is also ripening you can see a few ‘Golden Crown’ tomatoes in the background. Note for John K – I’m only up to four trusses.

Four

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The combination of tithonia and blackberries looks so autumnal to me.  There are lots of berries to pick and I haven’t watered these at all. Maybe they do have their roots down in an underground stream.  The tithonias have now made it to six feet and with the help of the magic water I think they may well make eight feet.

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The shallots have been harvested. They were planted out in late November and again I didn’t water them so they are on the small side.  I have been so mean due to a  combination of lack of time and a short hose! Some of these are heading into a potato salad this weekend.

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And finishing on a sort of ta-daa!  Work on the ‘ugly end of the garden’ project started. Temperatures were in the 30s and all was going well until the imminent thunderstorms meant the electrical equipment had to be packed away.  Now I  want the rain to stay away today so that the job can be finished.  Then I need to start planning again.  The beds get afternoon sun and I have asparagus on my wish list.  I’ve grown beans against the fence for two summers but I think it is too shady for a really successful crop.  More thinking to be done.

Who else is suffering and who is winning the rainfall lottery?  Those down under speak of cold winters.  Find out more by visiting The Propagator’s blog for this week’s links.

Six on Saturday

The fair weather gardener in me has  been dominant this week.  The temperatures are low and the lawn and borders are still squelchy and sticky.  I did refill the bird feeders, pull a few weeds and tie in a stem here and there but very little else was done.  Here’s my six:

One

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The new borders are going into their third summer.  The first was spent weeding, digging, suppressing weeds and feeding.  The second saw some perennial planting with annuals.  This year it is the turn of bulbs.  A mass planting of tulips and alliums took place in autumn and, with no apologies, I was very excited to see the first emerging shoots of allium Mount Everest pushing through.

Two

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The last of the cutting back was done recently.  The sodden brown remains of iris siberica were removed and there was more delight to be found in seeing the first signs of the new growth.

Three

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Over on the veg plot the onion and shallot sets are progressing.  I’ve kept the covers on to protect them from the birds but it is good to see there is strong growth.

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Every March I settle down to watch the new series of Gardener’s World and every year Monty brings out trays of seedlings he has sown in the depths of winter.  They are all ready to drop into the beautifully prepared soil for early harvests. This year I have got wise and I check in with Monty’s website each month.  Eureka!  Now is the time to plant your rockets seeds.  I’m going to put mine into modules so that I too will have a tray of plump rocket seedlings ready to drop into my beautifully prepared soil!

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My tray of violas from last week’s six was planted up and they are smiling away at the bottom end of the garden.  A good enticement for me to get out and about.

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Gardeners are generally sharing souls and this little pot of persicaria red dragon was given to me by a friend.  I’ve just got to find the right place in the new borders for it.

That’s my six.  For the links to a great many other sixes go to The Propagator.  You will find a treasure trove of good gardening from around the world.

Six on Saturday

Some things on  the gardener’s to do list are there for several weeks.  My list has a few that have been hanging around for months.  I am pleased and relieved to present the first of my Six on Saturday for this week.  I have finally bought and planted out some onions.

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Far from thoughtfully researching the most interesting, disease resistant and high yield bulbs I could find I simply bought what was in the nursery – radar, electric and jermor for the shallots.  The wire mesh and freezer basket are in place to keep the birds off until the onions are fully rooted.  I will leave these on for some months as I have learnt the lesson of taking them off too early.

Two

Still on the to do list is cleaning the inside of the greenhouse.  I promise you the outside did look wonderful about a month ago.  The ghostly apparition seen here is the lemon tree.  Having bought myself a  min max thermometer – another one crossed off – I could not avoid seeing the inside temperature fall to zero.  So I wrapped the lemon tree in 17gsm fleece.  The  top section has two layers of fleece and I have my fingers crossed.  Underneath the fleece I have decorated the tree with sachets of Amblyseius californicus mite.  These are a preventative control against spider mite.  And washing down the inside will also go some way towards eradicating those pests.

Three 

The leaves of Pulmonaria officinalis are looking fine at the moment.  This was a plant share and I am promised that the slugs avoid this one.  It has really bulked up from the tiny divisions planted earlier in the year.  You can also just spot a bit of new mulch.  Mulching is not complete yet but a start has been made.

Four

There is often a surprise to be found when looking for the six and this week it was finding a new flower on the hydrangea.  What a contrast the white makes with the pink of the autumn colouring

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Boxes of tulips arrived a while ago and planting up the borders has begun.  These Violet Beauty are joining Queen of Night, Barcelona and Shirley to form a line either side a path that runs through the border.  This border was first planted from about this time last year and it’s on the to do list to write up the story of its development.  I will. I will.

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There is one last shout of colour in the garden.  The container pelargoniums are stubbornly hanging on.  Cold weather is forecast for this weekend so its seems right to give them their five minutes of fame now.

Looking forward to seeing what’s going on in your garden.  Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession