Willow, radiant Willow

 

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I love the look of Willow.  It grows quickly, comes in a range of beautiful colours and you can make things with it!  I’ve decided that now is the best time to work on a new allotment project using willow.

My plots are on the side of Welsh mountain, consequently crops can suffer from the effects of strong winds, so I’m aiming to grow a living fedge (a cross between a fence and a hedge) to create an informal boundary along the most exposed edges of the plots.  The aim is to reduce the wind speed coming down from the top of the mountain.  I’ve read that the most effective windbreaks need to be semi-permeable and I’m hoping that my Willow fedge  will filter 50-60 percent of the wind!

This weekend we took delivery of 34 twelve inch rods of Willow…17 different types.

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1.White Willow 2. Scarlet Willow 3. Flanders Red 4. Golden Willow 5. Candida 6. Goat Willow 7. White Welsh 8. Black Willow 9. Bay Willow 10. Purple Willow 11. Curly Willow 12. Green Dicks 13. Sekka 14. Dicky Meadows 15. Black Maul 16. Viminalis 17. Grey Willow

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I’m using one of the larger flower beds on the back allotment plot as a ‘nursery’.  The ‘Willow nursery’ has already been covered with weed suppressant which is an absolute must when it comes to growing Willow.  Willow can grow up to 6½ft each year but despite their vigorous growth, young Willow trees cannot cope with any competition from weeds or even grass!

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I’m hoping my fedge will eventually look something like this…

Photograph from: http://mygarden.rhs.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Lightening Seeds

Loving my windowsill propagator…

Rosella tomato seeds planted  February 27th at 14:21

Germinated  March 2nd – (photographed at 11:38)

Romping away March 3rd at 16:11 !!

There’s something really exciting about watching your seeds germinate and grow into strong plants.  I’ve been growing from seeds for a few years now and I’m still loving it! I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered all things ‘germination’ yet but I’m getting closer every growing season 🙂

Seeds of Promise

Late February / early March brings the opportunity to start the growing season – indoors only – my garden is still far too cold and wet!  I did check using the ‘squeeze test’ and, yep, the soil forms a soggy mud ball in my hand!

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I’ve invested in a windowsill propagator so I’m hoping that the seeds will be kept warm and moist – perfect for germination!

I’m only sowing a few to begin with…sweet peas and tomatoes.  Sowing now should allow the plants to reach a decent size before planting out after the last frost, which should be around the end of April in my area of Wales.

  • Sweet Peas ‘Spanish Dancer’ – highly fragranced and an unusual tri-colour plus a packet of mixed tall sweet peas that were free on the front of a gardening magazine 🙂
  • Rosella tomatoes – part of James Wong’s collection (Sutton Seeds).  I grew them last year and I can honestly say that they were the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted!  I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to grow this tasty fruit however because they’re a hybrid. In my experience hybrids tend to be offered by seed growers for a few years, then disappear 😦

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Early sowing of peas, broad beans and runner beans are next on my list but I think that’ll try to wait another week 🙂

 

 

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Gardd Mamgu (Grandma’s Garden)

‘At the bottom of the garden there lives a little gnome’

I love my garden.   I’ve always appreciated the beauty of a lovely garden buzzing with wildlife and I hope that I’ve managed to pass on that love of nature to my children. However as a grandparent I’m taking ‘gardening’ to another level by trying to create a little magic…

There’s a little gnome house in the old tree stump:-)

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‘Tiddler A’ loves stories about fairies and gnomes. A few strategically placed items seem to light up her imagination and keep her interested in the garden as a whole.

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I truly believe that we shouldn’t be precious about our gardens…so what if it’s kitsch?!

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I always have watering cans ‘dotted’ about the place and ‘Tiddler A’ regularly fills up from the garden tap before helping  me with the watering – she knows how plants grow.  ‘Tiddler A’ has planted seeds of most vegetables and nurtured her chosen flowers seedlings with joy but sadly she is the only child in her class that understands the process of gardening.  None of the other children had ever sown a seed, watered a flower, dug up a home-grown potato or even made rose petal perfume! Sad, very sad!!

My garden is the perfect and most natural place for the ‘Tiddlers’ to play and learn.  Why, oh why, is gardening generally ‘discovered’ later in life?!  We have a responsibility to be sharing gardening skills with our grandchildren…if necessary with a little sprinkle of fairy dust!

‘What we sow in their minds today will reap a priceless harvest tomorrow.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books, Copper and Red Noses!

I’ve treated myself to a few books by Charles Dowding as recommended by fellow bloggers plot34 and LisaSpooner.  Thank you both!

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I’m also following this brilliant organic gardener via his website http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/

As I explained in earlier blogs, I’m currently managing a nasty injury to my foot.  This has pushed me to look at alternative gardening methods.  I’ve always been passionate about organic gardening but I’m also very keen to learn more…

During my ‘wanderings’ through various blogs, books, webpages and articles about ‘The no-dig method’, I’ve stumbled across a growing use of copper tools.  Gardeners who use them claim that copper tools have properties that deter slugs and snails!  The idea is that each time you use a copper garden tool in the soil, you leave a little copper residue in the soil – this can reduce the damage done by those nasty ‘mini beasts’!  I’ve yet to be convinced on this point having tested copper  bands and actually seeing a slug lying happily across a copper strip, munching my newly planted lettuce!

Well respected gardeners have flagged up a few more practical reasons for using copper gardening tools such as, they don’t rust, the copper edges stay sharp and they slice into the soil with ease!

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Photograph:  www.permaculture.co.uk

One more little point…they look stunning!!!  I’ll add them to my wish list. Perhaps Mr D will pop one in my Christmas stocking this year 🙂

My latest gardening gift…. ok, technically Comic Relief Noses (2017) but I think they make great cane toppers and they survived storm Doris!!!

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Growing Medicine for the Mind

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

I love growing flowers on my allotment plot. To me, they look stunning, they attract pollinators and very importantly are they can be used as an environmentally friendly bug barrier!

I’m currently growing perennial flowers such as daffodils, verbena, hydrangeas, lavender and rudbeckia but I also grow a number of annual flowers such nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas and marigolds.

This year I’ve decided to dedicate Plot 5A to flowers. So far, I’ve planted 2 beds of bulbs and they’re already up!

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In 2016 I have to admit that I was very disappointed with the results of ‘direct sown’ seeds – they either didn’t germinate or produced 3 inch high plants 😦 so this year I’ll be starting ALL my flowers off in the greenhouse.  I’ve already started stockpiling a few beauties (these will go straight into the ground)…Any tips on growing dahlias will be gratefully received 🙂 Look at these gorgeous ‘dinner plate’ varieties!

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I’ve managed to gather a few basic planting tips:

  • Don’t rush to plant – dahlias hate cold soil. Wait until all chance of frost is past.
  • Plant in full sun. They need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive.
  • Protect from the wind.
  • Soil should be rich and well-drained.
  • You can start tubers indoors.
  • Be cautious with watering – tubers rot easily.
  • You can expect flowers within around 8 weeks of planting, starting in mid-July.

Do you have any tips or advice on growing Dahlias?

On my wanders around gardens in the UK, it’s clear that most kitchen gardens combine flowers and veggies.

These two pictures show the Agatha Christie’s kitchen gardens at Greenway House…

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Love the combined planting!

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I’m aiming to create a mini version of this sweet pea and bean (the beans have been cleared) arch (at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales) over the central pathway on Plot 5A…

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Do you grow flowers on your allotment?  How do you ‘mix them up’? What are you most looking forward to growing in 2017?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Dig. Is it that simple?

My recent injury has left me thinking more seriously about my ‘allotmenteering’ methods.  So far I have stuck to traditional methods and dug my one and a half plots completely by hand, from front to back.  Admittedly, it does take its toll on me physically!

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I dig mainly to control weeds and to restore the soil structure (after trampling) but after several ‘injury months’ away the weeds have already started to grow back!  Very disheartening to say the least 😦

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The raised beds have resisted the weeds much better and are still producing some lovely veggies!

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The Kale is also looking lush…

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Obviously all gardeners dip their toes into the no-dig regime, out of necessity – weeding by hand, shallow hoeing and mulching however there has to be much more to the method!

I may not be able to dig much of the plots this season so  I need some no-dig guidance. I’ve tried searching the web but there’s way too much to sift through!  Can anyone suggest a few no-nonsense sites?  I’d also love a good quality book on the subject…what would you recommend?