Sunday, 10 April 2011

Something's eating my radishes

Progress has been made in the garden, and we've inspired the neighbours to get some raised beds. This is, apparently, the green side of the street!
This picture shows the garden two weeks ago.. I have, unfortunately, started multiple jobs and not really finished any of them, though the veggies are the first thing I always start with - to make sure I'm planting when I should be and keeping an eye on any weeds.. My square feet gardens are taking shape, and I'm using two rectangular pot side by side to create 2x2 gardens for leeks and carrots that need deeper soil. The plastic covers are held on by bungee cord - which stops them flapping about in the wind. I've also kept a triangle of fleece on each garden during the day to provide a little bit of shade for any new seedlings that have been planted out.
Other than the veg, the main tasks have been to start to create a bed out of a boggy patch right outside the backdoor, and to cut branches off the trees that are crowding the garden. The boggy patch needs improving as we have clay soil, so I've been turning the soil over and incorporating compost & vermiculite - but it's hard going and not yet complete. Cutting branches down left a huge pile of scrub and branches in the middle of the garden that needed sawing up and disposing of.
This picture above was last weekend, with the work party who were tempted to come and help out with the offer of a roast dinner. This left my kitchen floor rather muddy as I ran in and out of the house combining gardening and cooking. They also brought tools with them that I don't have - a brush cutter, and a chipper (that I've kept hold of for the moment) which meant that we attacked a huge bush in the front garden that was threatening to take over the driveway, made a huge dent in the pile of wood and scrub in the back garden, repotted the heathers in the "frost-proof" pots that cracked and fell apart, repotted the clematis that I'd dug up from the old garden with an obelisk for it to climb, and got some onion sets and potatoes planted.. Something has been nibbling at my radishes and broccoli - but it's not caterpillars or slugs or snails...

Yesterday I spent most of the day in the back garden, and am a little bit pink as a result.
I spent a bit of time with the square feet gardens, thinning out any seedlings that needed it - SFG recommends station sowing and then snipping any additional seedlings that come up, rather than pulling them out as that can disturb the roots of the remaining plants. I also planted some additional leek , pea and onion seeds where the seedlings had either died after transplanting, or hadn't come up. New sowings included climbing french beans, peas, leeks and lettuces. I had a discovery yesterday - I have been finding sowing difficult because I soak the seeds first and then they stick to your fingers and don't fall in the hole. Yesterday I picked the seeds up with a small stick and then washed them into the holes with a little water.. Some of the potatoes have started to peek through, so I've been earthing them up. Our first harvest was the thinnings of the lettuces I planted a few weeks ago - so we had those leaves in our sandwiches at lunchtime. Finally the gnomes are outdoors and guarding my veggies.
I finished off the pile of wood - adding the chippings to a bed at the end of the garden, discovered a patio that had been covered in soil, and mowed the lawn for the first time since we moved. Next job is to start levelling the lawn - hmmmmm..

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A new space to play in - so much space!

Although I haven't written a post in a while I have been busy planting flower seeds each weekend, and doing my best to keep the seedlings alive. This has been the background garden activity while we have been moving house. I was fierce with my threats to the removals men that if they damaged my plants there would be hell to pay, and from their face it's clear that I have turned into "Crazy Plant Lady". Some seedlings did not survive the move, but I am pushing on and trying to persevere. I think the final number of plants per packet of seeds will be minimal in all honesty!
So now I have a new garden to play in, but we only be here temporarily so my challenge is to improve it without spending too much cash on things we can't take with us. The new space is so much bigger than my last garden that my collection of pots now looks rather lonely!
Thanks to my Mum and Dad, some progress has been made (in the rain): a water trap for under the garden tap to stop a big muddy puddle forming, lots of branches and undergrowth removed, and lots of Mel's mix made up for my square foot gardens. Birthday presents have included some climbing roses and a planter with trellis attached for them to grow up (very clever), and so they are planted too.
This week I've planted some leeks outdoors, and indoors - some tomato and pepper seeds, and some lettuce seeds to replace the tiny plants that died in the move.
My biggest enemy is a very fat squirrel that has dug up bulbs in my containers (so I've covered every pot with pebbles to stop that), attacked my bird feeder, and is now trying to steal horticultual fleece to line it's nest.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The fight against dying seedlings continues..

So this week, the seedlings that I had lovingly sprinkled cinnamon on were doing ok, but the soil was developing a whitish hue.. More internet research required, and the opinions were that sprinkling vermiculite on top of the soil would help (why I'm not sure of the science of) but regular fans of the Gardening on the Move blog (!) will remember that I have more vermiculite than you can shake a stick at, having ordered wholesale, so I've tried that. They also were saying that a lack of air movement can also contribute to fungus forming, so I've bought a small fan and a timer to give the seedlings some breeze.
As well as all this, I've spent a good amount of time chopping at my compost heap with a spade to encourage it to break down, and of course turning it over to get some air into it..
I've also laid out my potatoes so that they will start chitting - I've bought some sacks to plant them in - and have bought Epicure, Charlotte and Rooster potatoes. I love roosters bought from the shop for making roasties, so am hoping these home-grown ones will be just as yummy.
You can also see the state that the frost-resistant pots have ended up in - so we went and exchanged them for nice new wooden ones. Except we can't get the heather out of the current pots because the soil is frozen solid..
Lastly, I have ordered 3ft x 3ft raised beds today - just need to set about turning them into square foot gardens before the outdoor planting season starts. (NB - there are varying views from hubby and Daddy as to whether these should have bases, or be on stilts or what.. Watch this space to see who wins!)
Compost progress:

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Cinnamon on seedlings

As we creep towards gardening weather that I know I prefer (light in the evenings and sunny in the day), most of my energies are on tending to the seedlings I'm trying to grow. 
Flowers include Lemon Eucalyptus, Chaenorhinum, Polyanthus, Scabious Japonica, and Red Hot Pokers. 
I've found I'm doing OK with getting the seeds to germinate now, using quarter size seed trays and heated propagators. I'm removing the lids once the leaves unfurl, and that is keeping them healthy. My challenge now is getting them to survive once I transplant the seedlings into little pots. I think I've not been precise enough about what I'm doing, so I've now bought special seedling compost, and am going to water them less. I also think that I transplanted some seedlings too early (too small) and others too late (too leggy). I read on the web that sprinkling cinnamon on the soil will help to prevent damping off disease (which I think might have been the cause of some of the seedling deaths), so I'm giving that a go too. Let's see how things progress.

The photos above show broccoli seedlings I transplanted today, shoots coming through on the Dicentra spectabilis that withered away over the Autumn & winter, snowdrops making a show, shoots on the honeysuckle, the greenhouse I've made out of plastic sheeting and cheap hosepipe, red hot poker seedlings, my new bird feeder, "frost resistant" pots (going back to the garden centre next weekend!), and buds on the rose bush.

I've turned over the compost heap again today, and although it's going mushy and brown it's not compost yet. The heap needs to get bigger in order for it to get hot inside. The worms seem to be liking though! I wonder if the removal men will have a compost heap moving strategy?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Thawing out and loving seedlings

Due to popular demand the gardening blog is back.. Snow and minus temperatures revealed that I'm a fair weather gardener. My feet turned blue in wellies in November.
So now that the snow has melted and the weather has warmed up a little bit, I've ventured back outdoors to see what damage the frost did to my plants and the cuttings I took in the Autumn. Unfortunately the frost saw off the osteopurmum cuttings, and also took it's toll on one of my "frost-resistant" pots, but other than that there are buds forming and snowdrop shoots showing themselves.
 I've started off some flower seedlings over the last couple of weeks, in an attempts to have pots and pots of colour over the summer - I'm learning not to over water, not to transplant into cold soil, and to uncover the propagator as soon as the first leaves unfurl.
The first veg seeds (broccoli) have gone into some vermiculite, and I'm reviewing the list of supplies I'm going to need for the Square Foot Garden this year..