Sunday, 24 October 2010

Focusing on flowers

This week I've trying my hand at propagation - planting the seeds that arrived for Eucalyptus Lemon, Polyanthus and Chaenorhinum. Some are happily sitting in a heated propagator in the kitchen, but some of them had to go in the fridge for a few weeks. I think that this is called cold stratification - tricking the seeds into thinking winter has been and gone so that when I put them on the windowsill they will start to grow.

I've taken some cuttings from plants I bought when we remodelled the front garden - I've started with the Dianthus and Convolvulus Cneorum (also called Silver Bush). I found out from Gardener's World this week that you shouldn't cover up cuttings or they get too damp and rot, so let's see how they do on the window sill. 
While I was at the Garden Centre buying a pot to plant the tulip bulbs I got sent for free with my seeds I saw some amazingly coloured heather plants, that I just had to buy, to kick-start my plans for clusters of pots in the back garden. Having planted them though, and washing out the pots - I'm wondering if they plants have been spray-painted? Next year will they grow back white?

Compost heap week-on-week progress.. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

How much is 100 litres?

Square Foot Gardening calls for vermiculite. The"soil" that you grow your veg in is made up of  ⅓ compost, ⅓ sphagnum moss, and ⅓ vermiculite. So as part of my research I had found a supplier in readiness for ordering in the New Year when the building of my Square Feet will start in earnest.
As I spent the weekend researching how to propagate the shrubs and perennials I have planted in the garden this year, planning on taking cuttings or divisions in pots to our new home, it turned out I need vermiculite to grow some of the cuttings in. So I ordered some.
I didn't really realise how big a 100 litre bag would be! It was on my doorstep when I got home one night this week, and it sat in my living room looking ominous as I wondered how I would hide it from my husband who has determined that my gardening won't take over the house!
I used some to pot up the cuttings I had been preparing - that's one litre used, only 99 left to find a home for!!
 I can't wait for the seeds I've ordered to arrive - I have found some perennials I can start off indoors over the winter, ready to plant in the Spring. I'm also thinking about grasses, but I don't think I can plant them yet - I have visions of a cluster of different shape and height pots with different and interesting grasses in..
Week on week compost heap progress..   

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mini harvest, and preparing for the winter

This week has been quite productive in the garden.. Turning the compost heap as often as I have time to, to try and get things moving - though the frame did move rather too far after I fixed a cover to the top, I woke up in the morning, the wind had got under the cover and taken the whole frame down the garden. The heap wasn't very big though, and was still sat there in a tiny tidy pile on the ground cover with no frame around it.
I thought I should share photos of this year's late mini-harvest, before and after cooking (supplemented with chicken, roast potatoes and asparagus from the shops!). Next year, next year, a bumper harvest will be mine!! I've shown you my smallest mini carrots - caused by sowing too closely together. There's also a pic of sweet peas planted in preparation for next year, and some aster cuttings I've taken - which I originally mistook for osteopermums...
So today, having spent the afternoon poring over a seed catalogue to figure out what hardy perennials I can grow from seed over the winter, and hunting the internet for care information on the plants I have already planted over the summer I got going in the garden.

Starting with turning the compost heap, I went on to finish planting the daffodil and snowdrop bulbs I'd bought a couple of weeks ago and plaited the very petite onion harvest that had been drying in the top of my little greenhouse (picture below).
In preparation for the winter, I lifted the salvias (pic below, top left) from the border that I planted in the summer (unfortunately they have rather been attacked by slugs in the last few months, better those than the lettuces though!), tidied up some other containers and added gravel to the tops to make them look pretty, lifted and divided a veronica (pic below, bottom middle) in an attempt at propagation, and found a plant in my garden that I have no idea what is it even though I planted it.
I've included a picture of the leaf - any ideas on what it is?  

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My first SFG step - composting!!

Having read almost half of the Square Foot Gardening book, I am so keen to get on and do something in preparation for next year's garden. I've been doing research into where to buy timber for the boxes, conduit for the frames for climbing plants, and moss & vermiculite for the mix, as I am resisting the temptation to buy and build everything now, and just getting the plans in place.

Compost Heap
However, the one thing I can legitimately do now is make my own compost for the mix, and so today I've made a compost frame (as per the book) out of chicken wire, and collected leaves and weeds from around the garden (and the back path) to try and make a good start on my compost pile.  

The SFG concept of compost making involves mixing different types of plant-based materials, chopping everything up into small pieces first, keeping the pile moist, and regularly moving or turning the pile. I've made my frame out of chicken wire and put it on ground-cover material. The idea is that a few times a week, I'll put down the second square of the ground cover, remove the frame from the pile and put it onto the second ground cover square, and move the compost pile into the frame again, mixing it up as I go. The chicken wire will also allow air into the pile - hopefully creating better compost and not a slimy sludge...

Since I took this photo I have covered the top of the pile with one of the squares of ground cover material, so as to prevent the pile from getting overly wet from rain..

Sundaville Red?
As well as this, I've started planting bulbs for daffs and snowdrops next year, extended the growing support for an amazing Sundaville Red (is that what it's called?), and I ran a 10k for Cancer Research UK on Saturday morning..

Thursday, 7 October 2010

This year in the garden

As I've started this blog one year into my gardening adventure, after most of the growing this year is over and before much planting starts for next year, I thought I'd share some pictures of my garden in my first year of trying to grow veg and flowers.

This doesn't show the latest harvest, but does show my first (small) carrot, leeks and runner beans. The first salad I tried to grow bolted in the heat, but in my second attempt I planted lettuces and these have been far more successful - I have been eating it in salads and sandwiches for a few weeks. The peas I ate straight off the plants - I will need to grow far more next year if any are likely to reach the house for a meal!

My book about Square Foot Gardening arrived and I was avidly reading it on the train home last night, and dreaming up veg plans non-stop! However, being sensible, my first plans are to build a few 2x2 SFGs next year, and see how I get on. Putting a base on them will mean we can take them with us if we move house mid-season.

First things first, I need to find out how I can get the different bits and pieces I need relatively cheaply.. Research, research - my other half would be proud of me! 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Planning next year's garden

Having spent all weekend reading gardening books, drawing plans, surfing the internet for tips, ordering seed catalogues, and creating a planting plan for next year, my enthusiasm for next year's garden is still strong.

My little greenhouse in the snow in February..
This has been the first year that I have had outdoor space to enjoy, all be it rather small and paved in places, and have had a great time this spring and summer creating borders in the back garden, redesigning the border in the front garden - with the help of my parents, tending the front lawn with TLC (and buying a little lawnmower - hurrah) to try and get green grass, and growing some veg in pots. I started off early this year, growing veg in a propagator indoors, as we had some snow..

This weekend, I have harvested most of the final (rather teeny crop) and been trying to figure out what to do next year to have better success. I've made quite a few mistakes - the main one being unsure when to harvest veg at the right time - and am determined to do better next year.

My biggest challenge is that my husband has a job that means we will move every 2 years or so, and so I am looking for a veg and flower growing approach that will survive moving frequently. My main plan is to grow flowers in pots and take them with us, and to grow veg in smallish raised beds as well as containers.

I am patiently waiting for Mel Bartholomew's book on square foot gardening to arrive to see what inspiration that provides..

The reason I've started this blog is to try and join the community of online gardeners, especially those with square foot gardens, as I reckon it might just work!