Tag Archives: garden

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 ūüôā
  • 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 ūüė¶

seeds

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

 

 

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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:-)

stump

‘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.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the mend: One step at a time

At the end of June, I suffered what I thought was a minor garden injury: I¬†fell over the allotment ‘wonky’ path, hurting the¬†side of my foot.¬†It hurt like crazy but I comforted myself with the knowledge that no one had seen me fall!¬† I limped home, wincing with¬†each step, a¬†100% sure that it was nothing major.

The next morning my foot was swollen and heavily bruised.¬†I could barely¬†walk. My family tried to persuade me to go to A&E but… ‘no way was I going to waste NHS resources with a bruised foot’ so I plodded on, literally!

Fast forward to the end of September, I was still in a ridiculous amount of pain, my foot had changed shape and I had lost all movement in my toes!¬† I visited the doctor.¬† Long story cut short…I had torn the ligaments, chipped bone and fractured my foot!

My foot was placed in a surgical boot (actually 2 boots because I wore one out!)¬†¬†for 9 weeks.¬† I’m left with possible nerve damage, post-traumatic arthritis and a programme of physiotherapy¬†ūüė¶

foot

Apparently…’ Around 300,000 individuals in the UK attended Accident and Emergency departments after having an accident in the garden in 2004. Some 87,000 people were actually injured while gardening.’

Gardening injuries are terribly common, I know.¬†I’ve had plenty of¬†bruises, cuts and aches but this has stopped me in my tracks. No digging. No clearing. No weeding. Nothing.¬† Luckily, my injury has fitted nicely into the ‘quieter season’ of gardening.¬† The weather hasn’t been brilliant either, so the whole allotment site has been generally deserted.

I’m itching to get back to my ‘sanctuary’ plots but this gardening season I’m going to have to plan carefully in order to make things easier for myself.¬† So far, I have a basic 5 point plan…

  1. Have a kneeler or seat nearby for regular rests.
  2. Get all the tools ready before starting a job.
  3. Look out for adapted equipment…more raised beds, tools with longer handles or lighter weight etc
  4. Invest in a cart or barrow.
  5. Consider a tool belt or work apron to carry ‘bits n bobs’ like secateurs or a knife.

Do you have a tips for a injured allotmenteer?  What about you?  Have you ever come a cropper in the garden?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature begins Autumn’s Canvas

When you feel that first crisp breeze, you know that Summer is gone and Autumn is in the air.  To me, one of the best things about living in Britain is the changing seasons.  Every season has its positives, however, autumn is especially beautiful.  I revel in the colours nature paints the landscape… red, gold, and orange.. enchanting!

The summer-flower has run to seed,
And yellow is the woodland bough;
And every leaf of bush and weed
Is tipt with autumn’s pencil now.

And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain;
And I do love each scene to view,
That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign. (Autumn by John Claire)

Autumn is well under way on the plots and there’s plenty of winter digging, mulching and covering yet to be completed, however, time is ticking…the clocks go back an hour at the end of this month so I’m grabbing every second of daylight.  I’ve been nipping to the allotment for an hour after work and working as long as my body allows at weekends in an attempt to ‘get things done’.  As a gardener, I’m conscious that the dark days of winter are around the corner and I need to be ready for the next growing season.

I’m working through the three plots one by one. PLOT 5A is still full of sweetcorn, cabbages, cauliflowers and kale so I’m focussing on PLOT 4A and PLOT 5B first.

PLOT 5B has been a battle against nature. The weeds were cut, burned, chopped, dug, burned again and finally the beds were covered!!

 

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PLOT 5B…Digging and covering well under way

I still have a few sections to tackle but I’m just about winning!!!  I plan to use PLOT 5B as a cut flower plot.  I figure that I have plenty of space, so why not?!

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PLOT 5B…Two bulb beds planted for spring.

On PLOT 4A, I’m removing the large bindweed infested strawberry bed after months of growing new ‘runner’ plants in pots.  The plants will then be placed in a raised bed in the hope that I can protect my precious strawberries from slugs and birds.

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Strawberry bed, almost gone!

I’ve also been busy trying to clear the calf high couch grass that was growing beneath the apple trees. It will be back within the blink of an eye so I’m planning to lay weed-suppressing fabric and cover with bark chippings as soon as possible.  The result is bags and bags of weeds waiting to be taken to our local tip!

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Couch grass keeps taking cover under the fruit trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Beds

It’s a Saturday and it hasn’t rained!! Whoo hoo!! Obviously I had to make the most of the opportunity and grab a few hours on the allotments.

Plots 4a and 5a are coping quite well with the appalling winter weather, but the clock is ticking and I need to get the plots ready for the growing season.

Jobs of the day were:

  1. The 3rd raised large bed needed to be erected and filled.
  2. Move mini raised bed.
  3. Put weed suppressant on the paths between the beds.

All done!

I have a second mini bed to take up tomorrow (if the weather holds) and I need to buy some bark chippings for the paths.

Raised Beds X3

I must admit that when I took over plot 5A January last year, I was 100% against having raised beds on the plot, even though for some reason, it seems most new gardeners grow their vegetables using raised beds. It’s¬†fashionable at the moment! Gardening magazines and programmes are¬†full of raised bed images (and adverts).

Allotment site
Allotment Site.  A mixture of methods!

However, I like the look of veggies planted in rows.  I love the watching the experienced allotmenteers, use traditional methods to produce plots bursting with tasty goodies. Every possible space is used for growing!

Last year some of my ‘ground grown’ vegetables ¬†weren’t entirely successful. ¬†Carrots for example…they grew. Yes – but were very misshapen! I tried growing a batch in the mini raised bed and the results were fantastic!! My cauliflowers grew nicely but were nibbled to nothing by tiny slugs! ¬†So frustrating!!

For me raised bed gardening seems like another useful trick up my allotmenting sleeve. It would be absurd not to give it a go…¬†I have enough room, with two plots, for the best of both worlds. ¬†Who knows, my ‘chosen veggies’ may actually enjoy being snuggled up in a nice warm bed!

Gardening Tips

It’s the second weekend in a row that I haven’t been able to visit my allotment due to heavy rain! Not happy!! ūüė¶

I’ve created a fairy garden around the tree stump at the bottom of the garden, as requested by the ‘Tiddlers’ but constant rain is preventing any more garden tinkering…

Fairy Garden

So I’m doing a little light reading, gathering ¬†a few gardening tips in readiness for the next growing season. Fellow allotmenteers and gardeners, down the generations, have passed on tips about the best way to grow flowers and veg. ¬†

There is so much information that we can all share…

Tea Soak 

Soak seeds in tea, apparently,¬†the tannins soften the seed casings and aid seed germination. ¬†Chamomile tea is especially good because it contains anti-fungal properties which reduce cases of ‚Äėdamping-off‚Äô. ¬†As every gardener knows, some species will struggle to germinate unless they’ve had an overnight soak!

Tea is useful for helping your flowers to bloom too!!

Cooking Water  

The left over¬†‘cooking water’, from your veg, eggs and even pasta, is full of nutrients. If the water is free from oil or salt, why not use it to water your plants (when cool)?

Strong Pongs

It is said that ants hate the smell of spices! ¬†Try growing a lavender bush or a curry plant – they dislike the distinctive aroma given off during flowering. My grandmother used to protect her beloved rose beds from an ant invasion by sprinkling a line of curry powder around the perimeter – she was convinced that the ants wouldn’t¬†cross the curry line!

Potatoes

Another tip from grandmother…stick your rose cutting into a potato and plant the whole lot into the ground! ¬†She thought the potato helped keep the cutting moist while it established some roots.

Bananas

We know that bananas are rich in potassium so a few of my fellow allotmenteers will bury a banana peel among the roots of roses, sweet peas or any other potassium hungry plant.  The peel’s potassium will give the plant a nutritional boost and should help it  resist disease.
Iron 

Throw a few old nails into a bucket of water.  Leave for a while (a little rust goes a long way!) Water your camellias, blueberries, in fact any iron-loving plants, with the solution.  Apparently the plants will love it!

Matches

Place a few unused matches a few inches below your pepper plant roots and they will reward you with a wonderful crop.
According to allotment folklore pepper (and chillies) love a bit of sulphur!
Milk

Milk diluted (skimmed is best) with water will help fight off powdery mildew.  Spray the leaves daily until the battle has been won!

Thyme

I’m in a constant battle¬†with weeds between the cracks in the pathways on my allotment. ¬†This year I’m going to be using Thyme for ground cover. ¬†Hopefully, it will be happy to grow in the cracks and ‘crowd out’ those pesky weeds!

Egg shells

Give your garden a calcium boost by grinding up egg shells and sprinkling the powder over the garden. Calcium is essential for all plants, but the following are especially responsive: apples, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, grapes, lettuce, peaches, pears, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes.

Just took another look out of the window…still raining! ¬†Ah well, I think I’ll stay warm and take a browse through the wonderful gardening blogs and my collection of December gardening magazines.