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 🙂
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!
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 😦
Early sowing of peas, broad beans and runner beans are next on my list but I think that’ll try to wait another week 🙂
‘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:-)
‘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.
I truly believe that we shouldn’t be precious about our gardens…so what if it’s kitsch?!
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.’
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!
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!!!
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!
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 😦
The raised beds have resisted the weeds much better and are still producing some lovely veggies!
The Kale is also looking lush…
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?
The harvest continues on the plot -carrots, kale, banana shallots, 1 mooli radish (simply for a taste test!) and two parsnips. I even picked a mini tub of blueberries but they didn’t make it home 🙂
The radish was delicious…hot, hot, hot…so if you prefer a mild tasting radish then avoid moolis! We ate most of today’s harvest for Sunday lunch. Simply delicious! This is my first year growing and eating kale – not only will I grow again next year but I highly recommend this disease resistant, yummy crop to anyone that hasn’t tried it. I’ll leave the rest of the parsnips until after the frost. I’m told that the cold will turn the starches into sugars which will sweeten the parsnips further.
I will have to clear the vulnerable crops such as celeriac and carrots soon and put them into store before the air turns too cold! The cabbage is looking really good though so they can stay put for a little longer.
The clock is ticking but I still have daylight at the end of the working day (if I’m lucky an hour) to tidy up the plots of any old crops in preparation for next year.
Today was a crisp, sunny day (well mostly) so I had to go for it. I was lucky to have a little help from the family today too…offers of help are always greatly accepted!
The flowers continue to put on a splendid show on the plots which is always welcome sight!
Great day’s work on the plots with the family. I hope you are having a great harvest and that your next growing season is a beauty!
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!!
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?!
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.
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!
Brace yourself…I’m currently a VERY unhappy, racked with guilt, gardener! I’d plead ignorance but quite frankly I’m not allowing myself an excuse. You see in a bid to protect my precious produce I’ve become a ‘net user’. I’ve worked hard all year to produce healthy fruit laden trees and bushes on my allotment so I’ve been protecting my ‘fruits’ with netting. Not the cheap plastic ‘fishing line’ net you understand. I’ve seen the damage that can do to wildlife. No. I like to think that I’m environmentally aware… so I’ve chosen to use quality netting made of jute or soft knitted nylon.
(Above is a young female blackbird found with plastic (monofilament) netting wrapped tightly around her neck. The netting was protecting a neighbouring allotmenteer’s gooseberries. I managed to cut her free and fed her water but she was incredibly weak. I hid her near some food and water under my currant trees. She wasn’t there the following day so I like to think that she survived!)
This year I’ve released ten or more, young birds caught or trapped in all types of netting on the allotment site. Is this a common problem, I wonder?
Vegetable / fruit netting is readily available in any shop or online. It’s available in black, green and white. It is also available in a variety of ‘GAP ‘sizes depending on the bug, beast or bird that you are trying to keep off your food.
My fruit cage came complete with netting plus assembly instructions, however the cage kit lacked ‘best use of net advice’, never-the-less I pulled the netting as tightly as possible across my fruit cage. I cable tied the net to the frame paying particular attention to the bottom and I ensured that there weren’t any gaps! I secured all the ‘surplus’ netting carefully to the corners (once again using cable ties to prevent ‘flapping’. The net is of small-gauge mesh, 15–20mm (1⁄2–3⁄4in), which should exclude even the smallest birds. Perfect or so I thought!
Year one…spot on…no issues…no accidental trapping…no fatalities. This year, year two…multiple trappings (and releases) and two fatalities!!! Two female blackbirds. Both while we were on trips away. I’m devastated! I’ve no idea how they managed to get into the cage…
I decided to read up… ‘every year thousands of animals are injured in inappropriate netting of back yard fruit trees, or discarded netting. It entangles birds, lizards, snakes, bats….. The netting cuts their mouths to ribbons as they try to bite themselves free, and wraps so tightly around them that circulation is cut off and tissue dies, days or even weeks later. The animals die of thirst, starvation, strangulation or outright pain and fear in the nets. Many of those ‘rescued’ die later as a result of secondary infection, or are euthanasised because they are releasable.’ Quote and photographs of suggested alternatives to netting can be found on http://www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com/WFF/Netting.html
(WARNING: some of the photographs could be distressing to some readers).
Basically, if you can push your finger through the mesh or net then wildlife could be harmed. All types of netting has the potential to kill wildlife, monofilament or knitted!
It seems that a fine mesh draped over the tree or bush is better for birds and wildlife.
Another suggested structure made of very fine mesh.
Other suggestions are:
Fruit bags (jewellery mesh bags are ideal).
Shade cover / netting.
Adapting a plant pot to cover the fruit like a bell.
I’m not sure how feasible these wildlife friendly constructions / ideas are…I’ll give them a try…if I can find some wide enough mesh! Do you have any creative ideas?
Many of us have fruit cages and netted areas on the plot to keep the pilfering birds off our crops. However sometimes a determined bird can get inside and then is unable to find a way out.
So my point is that whenever you are on the plot, please check fruit cages and nets for any trapped birds, set them free and perhaps try a few alternative wildlife friendly protection methods.
I’m determined to clear the new plot as quickly as possible. Not an easy task. It’s totally overgrown, I work full time and I’m off to the ‘Gardener’s World Show’ this weekend. Nevertheless I’m cracking on!
I’ve enlisted the help of Mr D and we’ve bought a new ‘toy’ to help him! A flame gun…oh the power!! The noise is rather pleasing too 😀
Mr D loves it! He tested a small section in the rain this week. We were careful…keeping buckets of water and a hose pipe at hand (just incase!).