Have I really not written anything since February? Lots to update, then, so here goes…
The garden remains largely under control and not at all like it was this time last year. It has rather more birds than before, on account of the ridiculous number of feeders I’ve got up (and down) to encourage them to visit, but the robins still rule the garden with iron beaks and I very much enjoy watching the comings and goings. It’s still recovering from getting waterlogged earlier in the year and the lawn’s a state. Fortunately, I largely ignore the lawn, so it’s all fine.
I planted a ton of stuff in February when I was all excited about growing things and then the weather was appalling for far longer than usual. The ground was sodden so nothing could get planted – even if we hadn’t still had frosts. Sadly, this meant the loss of all but one of the peas, and the dwarf French beans are looking fairly sorry for themselves as well. I think they were in pots too long. I’ll give them a bit longer in the large raised bed to see if they pick up, and if they don’t I’ll pull them up and stick something else in. I’m not short of something elses.
Back in February I planted some discs of herb seeds in pots and now my chives, basil and parsley are all doing well in the herb planter in the garden. Having left it too late to grow anything else like that from seed, I bought potted sage, rosemary and thyme and planted them out with the others recently. I sowed a packet of oregano seeds as well, so will see if they come to anything. Having spent so long trying to keep the herbs alive, I’m now diligently using them where I can, and making up herb butters to freeze where I can’t. They go well with veg etc. and are dead easy – just chop the herbs, combine with some butter, roll into a sausage shape, chill, slice and then freeze on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a tray. Once they’re frozen you can stick them in a freezer bag until you need them.
Also back in February I sowed a seed tray with a load of leek seeds. They take a while to germinate – around 21 days – but after weeks of nothing, I’d stuck the tray in the garden, ahead of reusing the compost and only noticed by chance that they’d germinated. They’re doing rather better now and I’ve transplanted them into tubs, which are deeper. I’m planning to plant the largest ones at the allotment when I’ve cleared some more space. They’re not quite big enough to transplant yet, so it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t happen for another week.
I’ve planted some of the strongest tomato plants into the new raised bed I bought, as well as the tried and tested grow bags. I’ve got a load more young plants, have given away some to my parents and have planted some up at the allotment, in the polytunnel, to try and extend the cropping season. I’ve learned my lesson with overcrowding as all the seedlings were together in a pot for too long, but they’re mostly recovering well and I have more than enough for my needs.
It’s not all veg in the garden, I’ve got quite a lot of flowers in pots and tubs, hopefully encouraging bees and other good insects to visit in due course. I’ve planted sunflower seeds between the tomato rings, in the hope that the birds won’t find them before they sprout. With any luck, they should do well in that spot, if I’ve not left it too late to plant them. We’ll be sowing some of them on the allotment too – and if they grow, I’ll harvest the seeds at the end of the season.
The primroses and other spring bedding plants are past their best now, but I’m still dead-heading them and they’re still producing flowers. The pansies and violas have come into their own, and I’ve even given over some of my new raised bed to them, to add a bit of colour.
I was given three pots stuffed with sweet peas, and then didn’t do anything with them for far too long. By the time I did, I found them to be far too entangled to separate without killing them, so stuck one each on the middle of some hanging baskets, in the hope that they’ll perk up and then tumble down, bringing some more colour to the garden.
I’ve grown a rose from a bargain £1 bare root stock, for my niece who wanted a pink one. I’m not sure whether it’ll flower this year, but it’s grown really well from the pitiful twig I planted. [Update: in the week this has sat in my drafts folder, a bud has appeared. Her birthday’s in 10 days so the timing might be very good.] Other, similar, bargains included 2 blackcurrant bushes, 2 redcurrants, 1 tayberry, 1 raspberry and 2 gooseberry plants. The ones in tubs are coming on brilliantly whereas the others, in the big raised bed, are growing more slowly. I’ll see how they go as I shouldn’t really muck about with them, but may end up taking them out and sticking them in tubs. When they’re dormant next year I’ll plant them in the allotment and they can stay put for a bit.
I planted a load of nasturtium seeds on the 15th, and yesterday I saw they’d begun to germinate, in the grow house. Having no clue what to expect, I was surprised to find these thick little stems appearing. The seeds are similar to sweet pea seeds, so I thought they’d be similar seedlings. That was as far as I got with this post and the nasturtiums have grown enormously in the days since. I have high hopes for them, as long as I get to plant them out when they’re ready.
Having lost all the digitalis I’d tried to grow at the beginning of the year, I’ve been ignoring a small pot of hollyhock seeds that my mother asked me to grow for her. I did get as far as taking the pot into the garden one day, but then forgot about it until two days ago when I realised it had got wet and the seeds had started to sprout. I spent a good hour planting these very healthy-looking but fairly wiggly sprouts into well watered seed compost, in the hope that they’d take and I wouldn’t have lost them all. Well, 2 days later and they look much better so I might have got away with it.
I’ve sown a tub of carrot seeds and they’re germinating well. Since we can never have too many carrots in our family, I bought some carrot seedlings for a bargain price because someone hadn’t watered them and they looked all feeble. They perked up perfectly well after 12 hours of shade, a drink and then some sun. I hadn’t considered how horribly pot-bound the roots would be. I’ve been teasing out as much as I can with a teaspoon handle and planting individual seedlings in holes in tubs. You need to leave space between them, so I currently have a loads of tubs of carrots all sitting on the patio. I’ve got lots more to separate. I think what I may do is separate them all out, plant them gently in some compost just to keep them going, and then stick them up at the allotment. I’m a bit concerned about the slugs, but I can’t possibly grow them all in my back garden.
If I did that, I wouldn’t have room for any of the 11 golden courgettes which have germinated and are growing beautifully in the small grow house. Their larger cousins, the pumpkin seeds planted by my young niece and nephew a week and a half ago, are growing like lightning – they’re definitely destined for the allotment. My sister, who’s good at that sort of thing, can hopefully carve some good lanterns in October.
All the germination that’s going on here has led me to clear some space and erect another grow house. This one’s much bigger and I can have so many more plants in there at once. I’m very pleased with it. I’ve just got to work out where to place one more grow bag and then I think I’ll be set for summer.