Seemed Like Summer – Briefly

Temperatures last week got into the mid-20’s degC for a couple of days and for most of the week it was really too hot to spend a lot of time in the garden during the middle of the day and the greenhouse was unbearable! Previously since my last post the weather had been cold and rainy so it was quite a dramatic change.

Despite all that there has been progress, though not as much as would have normally taken place by this time of year and some aspects are really behind.

So, what’s been done? Well the tomatoes that had germinated are now in a grow-bag in the greenhouse, rather three are in on and one in a second. Until today that was the sum total of vegetables planted in their final place. However, a burst of activity today saw me planting potatoes (‘desiree’) in the furthest bed and some cabbage and cauliflower seedlings in the bed alongside the greenhouse. I’m sorry to say I bought the brassicas from a DIY centre, well I’ve never had a lot of success with brassicas but last years cauliflowers gave me some hope. Those plants came from seedlings bought in the same place, so when I saw some this year I though they might be worth a go and they mostly fill a bed up. I’ve put one of my new larger cloches over most of them and those that didn’t fit under have clear plastic bottle halves over them to act as mini-greenhouses.

Three of the tomato plants safely in the growbag  (the fourth one is now in the bag in front)

Apart from that the seed germinating situation hasn’t been going too well with so far not too many of the vegetable seeds I’ve planted over the last month showing any signs yet. Some of the seeds sown a while back have produced though, the coriander (in a pot) is through and one! mangetout pea has appeared. The same sort of story is true for the flower seeds, though I do have some cosmos seedlings which were in a tray and now transplanted into individual pots. A second sowing in a half tray of sunflower ‘teddy bear’ (new seed) has produced a few seedlings.

Rather sadly one of the two cucumbers that had germinated and been re-potted into larger pots didn’t make it through one of the cold nights in the greenhouse so only one now. More seeds have been planted, and some from a new packet (‘cornichon’ baby cucumber ‘vert petit de paris’ – one has just germinated) plus I’ve planted squash (butternut F1 hunter) which I haven’t tried before and some french/dwarf beans as well as a couple of climbing beans. More tomatoes seeds also mostly of the smaller types (‘garnet’ & ‘sweet aperitif’) and some ‘gardeners delight’. Also sown and waiting for some to show are basil, russian tarragon. I’ve also, sown some carrots in the old tank I’ve used before (Nantes & )

The broad beans now – the slowest growing are the ones sown in the Autumn! (the furthest away)

Meanwhile the bedding plants bought online and at the DIY centre are piling up. I keep being surprised by deliveries of plants arriving at the house that I forgot I ever ordered – then having to hastily pot them up into big pots or matrix trays (which I had to do for 36 geraniums in the greenhouse heat last week!). I have made a start on clearing the borders ready for them now. It’s a shame but I’ll be pulling up a load of self-seeded forget-me-nots during the week. Normally they would be just about finished before I needed to clear them out but this year the weather has delayed them somewhat but they will just have to go.

A selection of flowers and veg seedlings under the ‘cold frame’

I did finally get round to mending the damaged raised bed at the end of last week so that’s now ready for action – though on my plan it has ‘TBD’ against it….

The repaired raised bed. The lone plant is a phlox which somehow managed to escape replanting last year – now planted in the flower border. Note the replacement side is higher quality timber – more or less accidental but there wasn’t much choice

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Feels Like Spring – Again

Now as I write this (Thursday 29th) it feels like spring, it is sunny right now, but we had -1degC last night and this weekend promises to be cold again, though not as bad a previous events!

All this meant that as I had put the cucumber seedlings into the greenhouse the other day, I had to move them onto the bench with a tube heater under to make sure the frost didn’t zap them. This morning they ;looked a little sad but did seem to have survived.

Well whats been done since my last post? Starting with the last couple of days I’ve been busy potting on 72 bedding plants (gazania & bidens) which arrived as tiny plantlets in their little plastic holders and had to be potted into something pretty much straight away.

Since only 2 cucumber seeds germinated, botth the same type (baby), I’ve planted the remaining seeds from the ‘burpless’ variety in a pot (in the kitchen) to see if I can persuade them to produce.

The flower seeds in one of the heated propagators – 4 pots of various sweet peas and 4 pots of various sunflowers haven’t produced much unfortunately. there are  only 7 sweet pea seedlings (out of a possible 16) and no sunflowers. So I’ve sown some more sunflower seeds (teddy bear) and they are in the kitchen with the cucumbers in a plastic bag – hopefully a better environment.

Sweet pea seedlings at the back – sunflower pots nearest with no seedlings!

It’s not the only failure, a half tray of cosmos (2 varieties) in the lounge near the french window have not produced anything. A second half tray, split between nicotiana and rudbeckia, has produced just 8 rudbeckia seedlings – not very good at all.  new batch will need to be sown pretty soon though and I think I will need some new seed.

Also, I’ve sown some coriander in a pot in the greenhouse to see if they produce (oldish seed so not sure of the viability). Plus a pot of mangetout peas (oregon sugar snap) so hopefully to get peas soon…

Also, I’ve now plated out the remainder of the broad bean seedlings into the bed, which is now full (see below)

Broad bean bed now full – mostly ‘De Monica’ nearest and ‘Aquadulce the further half

Last week I had a good go at the ivy and branches of the old pear tree in the middle of the veg garden, hopefully before any serious bird nesting has occurred (the ivy is pretty thick around the trunk and is nested in every year) – it needs to be kept trim so there is less shadow over the beds in the summer.

The garlic bed is now looking pretty good now I’ve filled it up:

Garlic bed – 2 types, bigger plants were planted last year

Finally, I have taken the time to try and properly plan the raised bed contents so I have an idea what other seeds to buy, if any. More on that later when I’ve had time to properly document it.

The very first raised bed I constructed (from a kit, had kale in it last year) suffered some damage to one side over the winter, basically one side has rotted enough to more or less fall off, so I’ve mad a start at moving the soil away so I can add a new side, just needs me to buy the wood now!

Broken side of raised bed

I found some rather large fancy cloches/cold frames in a local shop recently – unfortunately slightly shorter than the raised beds and slightly wider than half the width, but they were a bargain and are over a couple of the beds now – we’ll see how useful they are.

New cloche/cold frame (green) with my old cloches nearest

I think I know which bed the potatoes will go in, and the ‘chitting’ potatoes (desiree) on a tray in the greenhouse have shoots on, but still pretty small, with the weather still pretty poor I guess I won’t plant until after Easter any way.

Wildlife

A review of one of the trail cameras at the bottom of the garden revealed that at least one hedgehog is active. which is encouraging

Another surprise turned up on the bird ground feeder the other day – I took some photos of a bird with my zoom camera, not because I recognised it but it just seemed to be behaving differently from the usual robin or dunnock. Then when I looked at the photo  I could see it was a blackcap (after I’d consulted my ‘bird book’) – as the photo was taken through the kitchen window it isn’t as sharp as it could be but here it is:

A surprise blackcap

 

 

 

After a week of gardening – Winter Returns!

As I write this first draft (Sunday 18th)  there is a covering of snow on the garden and a temperature of -1degC! Yesterday I was working in the garden in a temperature of 12degC. Quite some contract. We now have a ‘mini-Beast from the East’ affecting our weather this weekend.

Broad bean bed after snow!

As I mentioned, during the week it was fine and I managed to get a few jobs done in the garden. Threee more raised beds are now clear of weeds, had some pelleted chicken manure added and some ex-growbag compost added (if soil level was low enough). That leaves the bed with kale in to sort out – it has some damage to the retaining plank along one side that needs a repair. The only other bed not touched so far is the one nearest the house. That bed has had carpet over it for most of the winter so should n’t need much weeding, though it may need topping up with compost.

The beds here are clear of weeds – honest!

As far as plants and seeds go, the first lot of broad bean seedlings are now in the bed with the seedling from the overwintered plants. I’ve filled in the gaps of the ‘Aquadulce’ seedlings with the ones from the greenhouse – and they look a lot better than the plants from the autumn sowing. The other seedlings were ‘De Monica’ and they are all in. The bed isn’t yet full but there is another tray of broad beans just coming through in a greenhouse propagator. I was thinking of turning the power off but it’s just as well that I didn’t!.

Broad bean bed – with some of new seedlings in. All are now in

The picture above shows how much better it is to start the plants in pots rather than planting beans in the autumn…..

Meanwhile in the kitchen I have tomato seedlings through and cucumber as well. They rather took me by surprise, I hadn’t bothered to look inside the plastic bag covering the post (it wasn’t a clear one) and when I did the other day was rather surprised to find the seedlings already a bit etiolated and about 2 inches tall. Now the cover is off they are looking a bit more normal. Basically it is a 50% germination, 2 each of the tomato seeds (I think I put 4 in each pot) and 2 cucumber seedlings (‘Baby’) in one pot, the other (Burpless’) none so far. The tomatoes are ‘Alicante & ‘San Marzano’.

Kitchen seedlings just after bag taken off. The cucumber seedlings are upright now!

There is a tray of sweet peas in the other propagator and yesterday it looked as if they were starting to come through – well a couple at least.

More updates soon – as I finish this on Tuesday the snow is all gone and temperatures as high as 8degC today so there is some chance of getting something done in the garden again…..

Just to provide a bit of spring – here is a daffodil (taken before the snow):

 

The Beast has gone – gardening can begin

The ‘Beast from the East’ is no more!

Yes over the last couple of days all the snow hereabouts has melted (still lots in the N and Scotland). The temperature has risen enough to work outside and in the greenhouse – 10 degC outside yesterday and it reached the heights of 17 degC in the greenhouse!

So got round to a few jobs yesterday. and the day before I’ve planted more broad beans both ‘De Monica’ and ‘Aquadulce’. They maay be needed as I can see some gaps in the rows out in the raised bed now the snow has gone.

The broad beans in pots are now out of the propagator and in a tray and some of them are pretty much ready to plant out in the next few days. More shoots have appeared, so the germination rate looks rather better than when I last posted.

Being rather hopeful I’ve also planted some cucumber seeds – ‘Burpless Tasty’ and ‘Baby’ which are now in pots on the kitchen window ledge. Also in the same tray are a couple of pots of tomatoes (new seeds bought a couple of weeks ago) – ‘Alicante’& ‘San Marzano 2’ (rather like Pomodoro).

On top of that I’ve planted some flower seeds – sweet peas, several varieties and half a small tray of geranium and cosmos – in a half tray and inside the house inside a plastic bag by a window.

I’ve also finally cleared the ‘salad’ raised bed and covered it with my rather old long cloches – current plan is to plant beans in that bed (was a garlic bed last year) but I may yet change my mind…

Even though temperatures have risen, the daffodils in my bed of bulbs haven’t recovered yet, still look very sad.

Sad daffodils – knocked down by the frosts

Some spring flowers are out though, berengia (elephant ears) of course, plus some pulmonaria and at the bottom of the garden primroses (see below).

Pulmonaria

Berengia – ‘Elephants Ears’

Primroses

Still plenty of clearing up and other work to be done in the garden yet though!

Not much gardening outside just now!

We have been hit by the ‘beast from the east’ so gardening outside is a bit tricky just now! The picture bellow illustrates the situation.

A snowy garden!

You can just see the garlic shoots….

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, the germination rate of the broad beans doesn’t look too good – as you can see below so far only a few are through (2 beans per pot planted). Bearing in mind this weather (-5degC overnight and not above zero during the day) is going to continue for a few more days I’ll try and plant some in pots and keep them on the kitchen window ledge otherwise I’m going to be a bit short of plants once the weather clears….

There are loads of other seeds I should be planting but it will just have to wait until the cold snap ends.

Broad bean seedlings in the greenhouse – still some to appear

Wildlife

The birds are finding it hard of course – I’ve had to go out twice today already to add more mealworms and seed – most of of first lot were eaten, but some on the ground feeder were buried by more snow. One of the blackbirds was so desperate it worked out how to get into the ant-squirrel cage (see top pic) which up to now hadn’t managed to do.

B’bean Plantin

After a bit of a while not actually working in the garden I managed to spend a few minutes in the greenhouse the other day and sowed a few broad bean seeds into pots. Four pots (2 beans in each) of ‘De Monica’ and 4 pots (2 in each) of ‘Aquadulce’. The pots are now on one of the heated propagators

Meanwhile, outside the first shoots of the beans I planted last year have just started to appear. It will be a week or two before I can see if any have failed from that planting. I’ll need to plant a few more beans yet to fill the bed they are to go in (nearest the greenhouse).

The garlic are doing well. The first planting are now well up and the second are just showing. The ones I planted in a container are also just appearing.

Last year’s planting of garlic growing well

So the major job I need to do now is to go through my seeds before it’s too late as sowing both veg & flower seeds will need to start before too long.

There are a couple of beds that still need clearing as well, one with ‘salad’ crops i and the one with kale – which is still growing well though we keep forgetting to harvest any for a meal. There is also a bunch of hedge and shrub cutting to do before the nesting season gets under way.

Here is a snowdrop picture just to show it isn’t all dead plants in the garden:

Sbowdrops

 

Weather Update!

Just to point out I’ve finally got round to processing some of the past weather data so now there are pages showing the temperature and rainfall data for the years 2014 to 2017.

Look in the menus under the ‘Weather‘ pages.

I will try to keep on top of the weather data a bit better this year!