I’ve just sown my first seeds of the year!
The first seeds have been sown.
Yesterday I popped over to the wonderful Twenty Pence Garden Centre where I picked up a new propagator and a small bag of compost. I managed to somehow resist even touching seed packets – knowing that I’d already done my buying for 2012 and that there were also plenty of seeds in the secret santa gifts and my farewell present from CBM.
As last year’s Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants just didn’t seem to be far enough ahead, and following the suggestion from fellow blogger Barry at The Gourmand’s Progress, I decided that I would sow the seeds in January to give them a head start.
I took the opportunity to see what other plants in my seed collection were recommended to be planted in January and it turned out there were a few… so after some rummaging for pots, I ended up with a propagator full of sown seeds ready to start life.
The four types of seeds that have been sown.
Having seen the bees swarm around the one Salvia Nemerosa Ostfrieslan plant I picked up by chance last summer, I decided to hunt down this vivid blue flower for myself. So I’ve planted a small number of Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ in a bid to replicate this for myself.
Despite being decimated by greenfly last year, I’ve sown some more Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ in a bid to get them that bit ahead of marauding pests. These were determined to survive (and they did) but the pests damaged their young leaves and buds, stunting them in their bid to scale the canes.
I’ve also sown a couple of Pepper (Sweet) Frigitello - apparently they are ‘vigorous plants with small, sweet tasting, thin walled conical, green fruits which turn red’. These will be joining the Aubergines in the wicker basket.
So there we go, 2012 has properly begun, and the propagator is now sitting on a windowsill waiting for the signs of lush green growth to push through the compost.
Have you sown anything yet? What are you going to try growing this year? – as ever, let me know in the comments below!
Posted in 2012, Sowing Seeds
Tagged Aubergine Black Beauty, Johnsons, Pepper Sweet Friggitello, propagator, Salvia Farinacea Victoria, seeds, Suttons Seeds, Sweet Pea Cupani, The Gourmand's Progress, Twenty Pence Garden Centre, Unwins
I’m feeling a tiny bit paternal today having just discovered that one my the seven Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants has finally started producing a berry (apparently they aren’t botanically classed as ‘fruit’).
The first Aubergine 'Black Beauty' peeps out from under a leaf.
Having sown seven seeds back in March, all of which germinated and then giving three plants to my mother (who has grown hers on in a greenhouse), and tended to the remaining four in a large basket in my garden, this will be the very first ‘berry’ from all six plants (one plant collapsed and died a month or so ago).
The clock is now ticking though, with night time temperatures sometimes coming in at about 8C degrees and all these foggy mornings, it won’t be long until the cold snap comes and kills the plants off.
Will this aubergine be worth harvesting?
Elsewhere in the garden, I bought some Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ the other weekend from Twenty Pence Garden Centre, so these need planting out, as do the 50 or so Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ which I have carefully tended to from seed. The Foxgloves will love the shade, and in turn the bees will love them. Both of these will bring colour to the garden next year.
One of many garden spiders (Araneus diadematus, apparently)
About 15 beautiful spiders have been covering the garden in very large and strong cobwebs. There’s few birds in my garden, so these beautiful arachnids (Araneus Didadematus) spend their day sitting in the middle of their webs. I’m struggling to catch a good photograph of them though – their colourings are amazing and the photo above just doesn’t do them justice.
Everywhere I step I seem to be just a few inches away from a spider web or a spider – sometimes at face height.
Posted in 2011, Flowers, Predators, Vegetables
Tagged arachnids, Araneus Didadematus, Aubergine Black Beauty, berry, crop, Eggplant, fog, Foxglove Excelsior Hybrids Mixed, spider, spiders, Twenty Pence Garden Centre, Wallflower Ruby Gem
I planted out my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants into a wicker basket at the weekend.
The Aubergines and Nasturtiums in their basket.
The basket, bought from the excellent Twenty Pence Garden Centre, is a few feet high and contains a durable liner bag into which I have put a mixture of composts and some soil, with a few drainage rocks in the bottom. I’m not sure how well this is going go, or how long the wicker basket, or more to the point, the liner bag, will last. However, I’m willing to give it a go and see how it gets on.
The Aubergines were very keen to move on to their next pot, so this is ideal for them. I’ve been feeding them regularly, and so they’re flowering and in need of being planted out. Hopefully they’ll forget their windowsill days quickly and become established in their new home.
Amongst them, I’ve planted some Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ in a bid to add some colour, and have something spill out over the sides of the pot. These Nasturtiums were ones that i bought as a ‘rescue’ purchase. They’re a bit leggy, but I read that they can attract hoverflies. Hoverflies in turn feast on those pesky aphids which pretty much obliterated my Sweet Peas in an afternoon. There’s also my neighbour’s old dilapidated trellis that divides our gardens, and which is next to the basket, so the Nasturtiums might want to climb this too. I may even try some of the leaves in salads.
This part of the garden gets sunshine from the East, and it stays in the garden for quite a while. Plants such as my Fern and the Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’ do well nearby, and I allow the yellow Corydalis ‘Pseudofumaria Lutea’ to grow up through the join between the paving here in a bid to add some colour for a few weeks in July.
However, the glorious sunshine has turned to chillier days with grey skies and rain showers. Hopefully the sunshine will return to help ripen those veg.
The Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ that I planted on 6th July had begun germinating by the evening of the following day and they are now standing about 3cm tall. Hopefully these will crop for longer than the previous lot.
Posted in 2011, Flowers, Planting Out, Vegetables
Tagged Aubergine Black Beauty, Corydalis Pseudofumaria Lutea, Digitalis Primrose Carousel, Fern, hoverflies, Nasturtium Peach Melba, Rocket Skyrocket, Twenty Pence Garden Centre, wicker basket
Darting in and out of rain showers, I managed a couple of tasks in the garden this afternoon. The second Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ has now been picked – smaller this time, and weighing in at 275g. There’s plenty of flowers and some more little courgettes forming, but it’ll be at least a week until there’s another one to pick.
Behold! A ripe Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’
Having spotted a Blackbird staring at a red strawberry on Friday morning, I had a good look at the strawberry situation today and found that there wasn’t one but three that were ready for picking. There’s many more forming too, but those are still a healthy green. These are from the two Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ plants that I picked up a few weeks ago. I’ve picked the three ripe fruits and had them with a little (about a teaspoon!) of set yoghurt – they were wonderfully sweet. Last year’s variety didn’t really fruit in these pots and spent most of the time just dying. A few runners made it to the ground, so there’s about 5 second-generation plants surviving, whilst the originals died off.
This afternoon after gym, I went back to Twenty Pence Garden Centre over in Wilburton, where I’d seen the wicker planters a few weeks back. It was here that these had entered my consciousness and had set me wondering whether I could plant my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants in them, seeing that the garden itself is pretty full. I’ve ended up with one that’s apparently for ‘Beans, Peas and other rigourous plants’ so whilst it is taller, I really bought it for the width and depth of it. I’ll be planting this up tomorrow, once I’ve sourced some more compost.
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ alongside the Hydrangea
Whilst there, I also found yet more blue flowers in the form of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ (Catmint) which I was attracted to more by the buzzing sound first rather than the colour. As i picked it up, the bees were following me in protest of me taking their food. I’ve now planted this towards the sunnier end of the garden. I moved the Tarragon French ‘Artemisia Dracunculus’ because it really hasn’t looked very happy and the vigorous growth of the courgette was beginning to intrude.
I spotted a slightly desperate-to-escape pot of Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ and so picked that up too. I figured that I could put some of these into the wicker basket pot with the aubergines. I’m aware that Nasturtium can also ward off some garden pests and that the young leaves are good in salads too. They’ve got a chance.
I also had time to pop over to Huntingdon Garden and Leisure, where I picked up a tray of Marigold ‘French Double Mixed’. These plants look sturdy enough to withstand those home-moving little pests, and I will be planting these in the gaps that I’ve made through pruning the Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ back.
Posted in 2011, Bees, Flowers, Fruit, Garden Centres, Herbs, Vegetables
Tagged Aubergine Black Beauty, Campanula Persicifolia, Homebase, Huntingdon Garden and Leisure, Nasturtium Peach Melba, Nepeta Six Hills Giant, pruning, Strawberry Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta, Tarragon French Artemisia dracunculus, Twenty Pence Garden Centre, wicker basket