Sowing Courgette, Squash, and Nasturtium seeds

With Spring in full force, it’s time to get the courgette and squash seeds sown.

The weather has been much more spring-like these last few days, with a few days of sunshine, and nature is bounding ahead with lush green foliage. I’m even potentially going to need to cut my lawn again.

Apparently there’s a ‘heat wave’ (by UK standards) next week. Although it’s chilly today, I headed to the shed with some more seeds, to get a few more sown.

Sowing Squash

First up was my Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ – I grew this for the first time last year, and whilst it completely invaded my garden – grabbing every plant, twig, and blade of grass in the garden as it spread 20 feet, it gave me about a dozen big yellow squashes to eat. In fact, I’ve still got two in storage, and they seem fine.

The largest Squash 'Spaghetti Stripetti' a few weeks ago.
The first Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ early July 2017.

My initial sowing last year saw me grow two, but after one being snapped by wind within hours of putting it out, and a second one being re-sown, it was really only the one surviving original plant that I needed – and it took over.

This year, I’ve sown just one seed on its edge (apparently helping to avoid it rotting off when being watered from above) in some multipurpose compost. I expect this to germinate in just a couple of days.

Sowing Courgettes

This is joined by 3 Courgette ‘Zucchini F1 Hybrid’ seeds. This is the first time I have grown this variety, as I’d always stuck to growing the ‘Black Beauty’ type, but let’s see how this one gets on.

a courgette and flower growing
Some sunshine and rain are all it needs to swell the fruit and open that Courgette flower.

Last year, I sowed 6 plants, and had a total glut of 45 courgettes weighing in at more than 15.5kg.

Whilst I’d like some courgettes, I don’t think i’ve eaten a single one since the end of last year!

Sowing Nasturtiums

I like nasturtiums, but have had trouble growing them in the past. Their bright yellows, oranges, and red flowers, with their greeny-blue waxy leaves attract a lot of useful insects into the garden – namely the hoverflies – which can then help address any aphid issues.

Sadly, they also attract the Cabbage White Butterfly, and their caterpillars can demolish a soft and tender nasturtium plant in a few hours.

A caterpillar eating a Nasturtium leaf
Caterpillars soon much their way through Nasturtiums.

I’ve found an older packet of Nasturtium ‘Whirlybird Mix’ seeds, so I’ve planted a dozen of these, hoping that at least a few will make it up out of the compost and eventually into the garden where they can climb and flower, bringing in those important hoverflies, without getting gobbled up too quickly by caterpillars.

Thanks again for reading, and I hope that you’ve had a happy weekend of gardening.

Andrew.

Pricking out the Swiss Chard and Sweet Sultan seedlings

It’s time to be ‘pricking out’ my Sweet Sultant flowers and the brightly coloured Swiss Chard seedlings, and get them ready for their next stage of growing.

Yes, the garden is driving on towards summer, and there’s not much you can do to stop it.

My windowsills are full of trays of seedlings, and so I have been busily pricking out and potting them into pots/plugs in preparation for their final planting out from late May.

What is ‘pricking out’?

‘Pricking out’ or ‘to prick out’ is a term used to describe taking an individual seedling from the tray or pot it germinated in, and then carefully planting it in its own pot or plug so that it can continue growing without having to compete with other seedlings.

The ‘pricking’ part refers to the precision needed to separate seedlings, and usually requires a small hand device, a bit like a needle, but usually (in my case) an old pencil.

The Sweet Sultan

Last year was the first time that I had ever grown Sweet Sultan flowers, after family friend (and keen gardener) Anne, gave me a bundle of seed packets that she’d had from the front of her magazine subscriptions. I’d picked out a few bee-friendly looking plants and sown them.

Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’ were amongst these and they were fantastic, and they looked lovely alongside my Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ plants.

Sweet Sultan Mixed purple flower
Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’ were wonderful – and a new plant for me in 2017.

I sowed these flower seeds at the same time as my Swiss Chard, and so they are ready to ‘prick out’.

 

My Sweet Sultan 'Mixed' seedlings ready to prick out.
My Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’ seedlings ready to prick out.

With the seedlings all pricked out, they will now be able to continue growing on to their next stage. I managed to grow 22 seedlings in that pot, and so i added two more seeds to fill my 24-plug tray. That will be plenty.

Sweet Sultan 'Mixed' seedlings all pricked out
Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’ seedlings all pricked out and ready to grow on.

The Swiss Chard

My Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ have been a delight to grow. This is my first year growing them, and I have undoubtedly sown far too many and will probably become sick of Swiss Chard by the time I’ve got to about July.

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' seedlings
The Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ seedlings were soon up out of the compost. Here they are at 10 days old.

However, their brightly multi-coloured stems (almost Rhubarb-like) make them a fun addition to the garden. They’re far from ready to go out yet (they’re too small and tender), but they had to be carefully pricked out so that they could grow on.

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' seedlings
Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ seedlings

I think these can often be sown direct, but I didn’t have my raised beds built until I’d been able to get outside to demolish the old shed (that provided the wood, and the ground space for the raised beds) first.

Armed with my trusty HB pencil, I dibbered out the seedlings one-by-one, and put them into a plug tray where they can grow into individual plug plants.

Most of the Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' seedlings pricked out
Most of the Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ seedlings pricked out

Once these plants get outside, they’ll soon straighten up, as they’ll grow upwards aiming for the sunshine. Right now, they’ve grown a lean like most seedlings, as they chase the light on a windowsill.

My parents have just moved house into a bare garden, and like me it has an unbroken lawn. Their plan is to have a load of raised beds and containers… so I know exactly where to smuggle some brightly coloured spare Chard plants in to 😉

I’ve already pricked out a load of Cleome ‘Colour Fountain’ seedlings, and the Parsley ‘Laura’ seedlings are now potted on too. It’s a productive time, and it’s so important to keep on top of growing as we head through April, otherwise they’ll get behind, or too leggy to be any good.

As ever, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a happy gardening week ahead (despite the rain).

Andrew.

The Garden Springs Forward

We’ve just had a mild week here in the East of England, and so the garden has woken up to throw lush green leaves skywards. It’s been the perfect time to get out there.

The sunshine arrived this week, and it’s been gently warming the soil and luring some of the spring plants out of winter hibernation, and for some, this has been the signal to open their flowers.

I even cut the back lawn for the first time since about September.

Now that my shed is pretty much in order, I can begin using it as a space to sow and harden off (that means, getting them used to cooler temperatures) plants. My Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants have already been through this process and are doing well in their new raised bed outside.

Having saved the cardboard toilet roll middles over the last few months, I have collected these up, filled them with a multipurpose compost and sown a French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ seed into each one.

Sowing french beans in toilet rolls
Above: Tea, Shed, Toilet Rolls, Beans and Compost – a winning combination.

French Beans (like Peas and Sweet Peas) like to send their roots down deep, and therefore these cardboard tubes are perfect for them to grow in over the next few weeks. They won’t go out until late May, but this should give them a perfect start, and the cardboard tube will rot down when it gets planted out with them.

Meanwhile, the Crocuses and Tulips are out, helping to provide the early-emerging bees with food. I’ve seen a few bees around so far, so hopefully the bulb flowers are going to help sustain them long enough for more flowers to open.

The first tulip opens its flower.
The first tulip opens its flower.

This tulip is one of a trough of Tulip ‘Mixed Garden’ bulbs that I planted up last year. It’s the first in the trough to open, but the others (which are bigger) should be along soon.

I also found a (what i think is the last of the) Erin seed kits that I was given back in about 2011. This time, the kit is for Rocket, so I have once again opened the kit up and sown the seeds that should be sown ‘by 2012’. Let’s see how this goes!

Erin Wild Rocket seed kit
An old Erin Wild Rocket seed kit – should have been sown ‘by 2012’.

Last time I sowed an old Erin seed kit, a forest grew, that gave me lettuces throughout the summer, despite being 5 years beyond their ‘sow by’ date. Sometimes nature deserves a chance, as it has other plans!

I think some wetter weather is now on its way, but I hope that you’ve been able to do something in your garden. I know that I shall be busy pricking out seedlings over the next few days.

As ever, thank you for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew

Recycling the old shed and raising the broad beans and raspberries

With the old shed down, I’m turning the space into productive raised beds for a range of fruit and vegetables.

A few weeks ago I got round to dismantling the rickety little old spare shed in the corner of my garden. This has opened my garden up somewhat – not just to more gardening space, but also to the view of the neighbours who back up to my garden.

Shed
The shed was full of rot, woodworm and ivy.

The fence at the bottom of my garden is my responsibility and appears to be the original 1950s galvanised metal fence. It’s in a fairly good condition, but has seemingly had a snip in the top supporting wire that will no doubt speed up its inevitable unraveled sag. However the inhabitance of the houses behind me (they were empty when I bought mine) makes me aware that now that the Blackberry brambles and ivy, and now the shed, have all gone – it’s all a bit exposed. I can sit in my lounge and have clear line of sight right into their houses 😮

I’ve decided to get some screening from my local garden centre – either Willow or Bamboo should do the job – giving me and both of them – some privacy in their gardens. They both have dogs, and I have a RubyCat, so this should also ease any tension there.

I had a rummage through the wood of the deconstructed shed and have pulled out some pretty solid planks, and have turned them into a couple of raised beds. I also took the door and a few other planks and turned them into shelving in the shed.

Two raised beds for growing fruit and veg
The old shed has been recycled into 2 raised beds.

I then put the rest of the shed into the boot of my car and took it to the timber section of my local recycling centre.

I’d already decided what’s going in the raised beds, and planted the first plants a few weeks ago. First up were  5 Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ bare-root plants that I bought from Bunkers Hill Garden Shop (via eBay), and after adding some freshly dug soil and a 125 litre bag of compost, I watered them in.

These raspberries should grow upwards, and become established here, so a raised bed at the bottom of the garden should be the perfect spot for them.. even if I’m fairly sure the blackbirds will get most of them!

Thankfully, at least some of the raspberries appear to be coming alive.

Raspberry 'Glen Ample' plants shooting out
New shoots from the bare-root Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ canes.

Next to those, but not in the raised bed, is my new Redcurrant ‘Rovada’ bush. Apparently this copes with partial shade, which is good because this is now planted in the corner of the garden where the sunshine reaches for a few hours a day. It’s budding up, but the leaves are yet to break out.

When the old shed stood here, I had success with Lettuce, and growing French Beans ‘Blue Lake’ up canes in this area. I shall be doing this again, and have now planted out my Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants, which I have been hardening off in the shed this last couple of weeks.

The raised bed contains a mixture of rotting leaves, multipurpose compost, coir compost, and some smelly compost from a council green garden waste centre.

Broad Bean 'Crimson Flowered' plants
The Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants are the first in the raised bed.

A couple of days ago I sowed the Lettuce ‘Red Salad Bowl’ seeds indoors, so I should have quite a few of these germinate. I’m growing this variety because I’m pretty sure they were the variety in a mixed leaf pack that the slugs and snails left alone. Fingers crossed!

The garden is really sticky at the moment – the weeks of snow, drizzle, and rain, has left everywhere (including my trainers) a bit squelchy. With a bit more sunshine it should start to make gardening a little easier.

I have plenty of pricking out and more seed sowing to do in the next few days. What are you up to in the garden? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew

A snowless Saturday and a windowsill of seedlings

It’s a busy Saturday in the garden as Winter eases off. There’s sowing, pricking out, and shed sorting to do!

Finally! A weekend day where it isn’t raining, snowing, or icy cold with the remnants of freezing temperatures and winds that chill you to the bone.

I was very pleased to be up and outside in the garden with RubyCat by 9am AND without a coat. I had loads of jobs to get done.

I was pleased to finally find a Daffodil that hadn’t been flattened by wind, rain, or snow. A cheery lone fanfare of Spring’s arrival.

A container-grown yellow Daffodil
A container-grown yellow Daffodil celebrates a lack of snow.

First up, was to finish putting up some more shelves in my shed. When i moved in, this shed was shelf-free, and I brought some cheap pine shelving with me, but with the demolition of the rickety old shed, this has given me enough planks to turn into shelving. The most significant shelf being the full length one that runs under the shed window.

To make this, I bought some inexpensive brackets from my local DIY store, and then took the old shed door and cut it down the length – thankfully it was 6 planks wide – so it made the perfect 3 plank wide shelves. I put those up with my new drill/screwdriver, and was then able to start pricking out some seedlings.

I planted some Cleome ‘Colour Fountain’ seeds a few days ago, and they have shot up, so I took the opportunity to use this new-found workspace to start potting them into individual plugs.

Cleome ' ' seedlings (left) with Cosmos 'Seashells Mixed'
Cleome ‘Colour Fountain’ seedlings (left) with Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ (right) have been pricked out.

I also took the four surviving Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ seedlings (RubyCat had been pulling them out of the pot and spitting them on the carpet until I moved them out of reach!!). I potted these on, and sowed some more as they were so pretty last summer.

Cosmos flowers in garden
Some of the Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ reached about 4 feet tall.

I found a little pot of Honesty seeds that I must have collected from my parents garden a few years back. I added these to a pot of compost – not expecting much – but they had been stored carefully in a sealed container. You never know! Once you’ve got Honesty, you tend to have it forever seeding itself all over the place.

I also sowed some Lettuce ‘Red Salad Bowl’ seeds. I think that these were the variety that grew from that old out-of-date Erin seed kit. I’m growing these again because the slugs and snails did not touch them.

Ten days ago I also sowed some Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ – my first ever time growing these – having been completely inspired to by the blog and videos by Katie at Lavender & Leeks (thanks, Katie!) and it turns out they’re packed with nutrients.

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' seedlings
Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ seedlings showing their coloured stems.

These seedlings were up within a couple of days and now I’m staring at the pot thinking that I might have too many! 😀

In addition to my first-time Chard, my first-time Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ seeds have been growing on a cool windowsill in my spare room.

Broad Bean 'Crimson Flowered' plants
Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants are doing well

Whilst I’m only growing half a dozen, I’ve done two sowings and gotten 5 plants! The first 3 plants shot up, and the next 2 did too. Are Broad Beans usually temperamental?

The plants are now in the shed to begin a hardening-off process, and they joined the Lupin ‘Band Of Nobles Mixed’ (remember them?) which I sowed a year ago in 2017. These plants take a while to mature, and somehow they’ve survived a year on windowsills, despite the recurring threats of central heating. Hopefully the slugs and snails won’t eat them in the first evening.

My windowsills are now covered in trays, propagators, and seedlings. It finally feels like spring has arrived and the garden of 2018 is coming.

What jobs did you get done in the garden this weekend?

As ever, thank you for reading. Go-on, share this blog post somewhere, and have a happy gardening weekend!

Andrew

The Crocuses and Daffodils awake

The snow reminds the Spring flowering bulbs that Winter hasn’t quite finished with us yet.

Over the last couple of days there’s been a lot of snow in the UK, and whilst my garden is somewhere under this icy white blanket, I feel like I’ve gotten off lightly with just a few inches compared to other places in the UK or Europe.

Bursting out of the snow are little dashes of colour in the garden this week, as yellow Crocuses begin to flower. I managed to catch the crocuses before the snow fell. I planted these Crocus ‘Golden Bunch’ bulbs back in about October/November.

Yellow Crocuses on flower before the snow.
Yellow Crocuses on flower before the snow.

They’re being closely followed by the Daffodils, which I was hoping would be on flower in time for St. David’s Day, but whilst they have a tinge of yellow, they are still tightly in bud.

Daffodil buds
The Daffodils are beginning to turn yellow.

But for now, they are all but buried under the soft, cold, white carpet. A few more days, and we’ll be back on track for Spring (hopefully).

Going….

Yellow crocuses in snow
Yellow crocuses begin to get surrounded by snow.

Going….

Crocus in snow
The yellow flowers of Crocus lay buried in the snow.

I don’t think my part of England is due any or much more snow, so it looks like those bright yellow flowers will escape being completely buried.

I have planted loads of other Crocus varieties in the garden, and transported some in pots from my previous house, but these yellow ones are the first out, and it’s a welcome sight.

Looking back to 2017 and 2012, I can see that the crocuses are fairly close to previous flowering times, albeit without the snow. However, this same variety flowered in mid-February in 2013, even after the -11C temperatures.

Feed the birds

I’ve also been making sure that my garden birds have fresh water and filled feeders during this snowy weather. They’re pretty desperate right now, and I’ve seen a load of species in the garden tucking into the peanuts, sunflower seeds, niger seed, banana, wild bird seed, and the fat balls. I’m trying to put out as many types as possible, so that there’s something for all kinds of bird.

If you’ve got any fruit that’s beginning to turn in the house, pop it out for the birds – you’ll please the blackbirds at least, but probably a few other species too.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, keep safe and warm, and happy dreaming about all that warmer Spring weather!

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

Planning for the shaded garden

Whilst most of us are dreaming about the sunshine, I’m thinking about the shade.

There’s a part of my garden that spends a fair amount of time in the shade. The clay soil is pretty tough here – like the stickiest glue in the winter, and like concrete in summer. I’m hoping to improve this with compost, bark, a little sand and grit, but this will take time to accomplish.

When I moved in, nothing but weeds lived in this corner of the garden, which is up against a tall perimeter fence, and bordering the side of my patio and instantly visible from my lounge window.

I realised that it was shady, and transplanted a number of young Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seedlings into this space. I first sowed these back at my old house in 2011, and they have self-sown into my garden pots from my old garden, and come along for the ride when I moved house.

A pink Foxglove 'Excelsior Hybrid Mixed' on flower
This Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seedling survived the garden transplantation in 2017.

These are growing well, and I added a fern too (they’re so ancient and elegant!).

The uncurling fronds of a lush green fern.
I’ve had this Fern in a pot for years – I love its curled fronds of lush green foliage.

Now it’s time to add another shade-coping flower – i’ve opted for Thompson & Morgan’s Aquilegia ‘McKana Giants’.  Strangely their website says ‘full sun’ yet the packet reads ‘full sun or semi-shade’, so I’m going to hope the latter works.

These come in a range of colours, and apparently they can reach a height of 1 metre, and so alongside the foxgloves, they should add a nice bit of height against the fence.

This afternoon I sowed these tiny black seeds into some multipurpose compost, lightly dusted some on top, and then sealed them in a bag and put them at the back of my fridge. Yes, you read that correctly. The fridge.

Apparently, they have to stay there for about 3 weeks (or at least until they begin to germinate, after which they can hop out and into my propagator. I assume that this simulates Winter, as my mother has many that happily self-sow in her garden each year, so they’re not fussy about the cold.

Seeing as we have a new ice age branded ‘polar vortex‘ coming this week (I guess it sells newspapers, right?), I could probably just put them outside instead!

Whatever your weather, stay safe and warm, and happy gardening.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew.

The first plants spring to life in 2018

The garden and the seed trays begin to wake up with the first flowers and the first seeds germinating. Here comes the Spring! (hopefully)

There’s some early signs beginning to appear in the garden and in the seed trays now – a welcome diversion from the cold, frosty starts of this week.

First to note is the Cyclamen, which has uncurled its leaves and crowned them with pink flowers in one of my wooden troughs.

A pink cyclamen on flower
The Cyclamen, nestled amongst the uncurling tulips in a garden trough.

This Cyclamen is one that I found in a little shop pot in the garden of my late-uncle when we were clearing his house. Along with the trough, I brought it home and planted it. It’s a reminder, not just of him and his garden, but also that life continues on, with it’s bright flowers when so much is still dormant in the garden.

Meanwhile indoors, the first of the seeds have germinated – with Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ leading the way after 8 days. They’re the oldest of the sweet pea breeds with origins in Sicily in 1699, and I’ve grown these since at least 2011.

Whilst these aren’t the first seeds to have been sown in 2018 (that’s the Cineraria ‘Maritime Silverdust’), two small little green shoots have begun to push the compost aside as they reach upwards.

The first up are the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ seedlings.

There should be 10 more Cupani, and they sit on a cool windowsill alongside a dozen Sweet Pea ‘Royal Mixed’, and 6 Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ all of which I sowed on the same day.

I can’t wait to see these climb my fence and cover it in fragrant blooms in the summer.

Sweet Pea 'Cupani'
Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ on flower

Which reminds me: I need to re-do the climber web on my fence this weekend with wire. Last year the Sweet Peas grew and flowered, but, they didn’t like the string/twine that I hung for them to climb up. They simply flopped over onto the lawn and wouldn’t go upwards. I’m hoping wire will be better for them. It sounds weird that their tendrils have preferences, but it’s my only explanation why they wouldn’t touch it.

Anyway, as the plants of 2018 begin to come to life, have a great week, happy gardening, and thanks for reading,

Andrew

Garden Review 2017 – the Flowers

As February rolls on, and flashes of greenery and flowers begin to appear, let’s take a look back to the summer of 2017 with my top 5 flowers in my garden.

Following on from my recent review of the top 5 vegetables in my garden in 2017, it’s time to share the most successful flowers that grew in my garden last season.

I can’t wait for Spring to really kick off, and for the flowers and lush foliage to return. For now though, here’s a quick fix:

Rose ‘Ernest H. Morse’

Rose 'Ernest H Morse' on flower
The Rose ‘Ernest H. Morse’ is very fragrant, and flowers heavily.

I’m a sucker for Roses, and this Hybrid Tea bush Rose ‘Ernest H Morse’ was one that I picked up from a market stall in Ely, where they were doing a 3 for £15 deal.

Ernest H Morse rose on flower
The Ernest H Morse rose flowers heavily.

This heavily fragrant rose has grown about 3 feet since I planted it into the soil concrete-like clay when I broke my lawn in April 2017. In fact, the day I picked up my keys to my new house, this rose was in my car and amongst the first things I dropped off.

Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’

purple Sweet Sultan 'Mixed' flower
Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’ flowers came in a range of colours.

A family friend gave me a load of seeds that she’d saved from the front of her gardening magazines, and amongst these packets were Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’. I’d never heard of them before, so thought I’d give them a try.

A white Sweet Sultan 'Mixed' flower.
A white Sweet Sultan ‘Mixed’ flower.

I’ll definitely be growing these again in 2018, as they work well with the Cosmos.

Gladioli

A lone Gladiolus stem
Up goes the Gladiolus stem…

I found just one Gladiolus bulb whilst picking the plants to move from my old house to my new one, and in its new home in the fresh border, it performed the best it ever has done.

Pink and white Gladiolus flower
The Gladiolus flower was well worth the wait.

However, this Gladiolus was clearly not the same one that flowered in the old garden in 2013-2016. I hope that that one brought a dash of surprise deep pink colour back there to the new resident.

I have purchased some more Gladioli bulbs, and will be adding more to the border for this year.

Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’

Cosmos flowers in garden
Some of the Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ reached about 4 feet tall.

I’d never grown Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ before, nor any Cosmos from seed, but I had previously purchased a couple of these plants from a garden centre and enjoyed their cheery daisy-like flowers.

This time, I grew them, although I admittedly sowed them so early that I worried that they would be too straggly to come to anything much. They spent too long in their secondary seed modules before planting out.

Pink Cosmos 'Seashells Mixed' flower in sunshine
Cosmos came in many colours.

However, after a few weeks, they had recovered and within a few months had become huge plants that filled my garden with cheery pinks, purples, and white flowers, set upon sturdy green stems and delicate leaves.

Cosmos flower with bee
White Cosmos ‘Seashells Mixed’ with a happy bee

I’ll definitely be growing these again in 2018.

Tulip ‘Mixed Garden’

tulips on flower
My Tulips in pots at my old house in April 2017, just days before I moved.

I bought a pack of Tulip ‘Mixed Garden’ back in 2016, and planted them into a few wooden troughs that I rescued from my late-uncle’s garden when we were clearing his house.

At that point, I was living at my previous house, so I made sure that I didn’t plant them in anything I couldn’t pick up and move with – and I remember driving to my new house with a car boot full of beautiful tulips gently swaying in the rear-view mirror.

They put on a beautiful show in my old shady garden, and they continued that in my new sunny one.

They’re emerging again right now – with their waxy green leaves curling out of the compost. I’m hoping for a similarly beautiful display in the next couple of months.

That’s it!

So, if this hasn’t cheered your February winter blues up, then I don’t know what will.

With bulbs poking through the soil, green buds appearing on shrubs, and even the first blue tit inspecting my as-yet un-used birdbox, it feels like winter’s grip is loosening a little.

There’s seeds sown in my propagator, the shed is tidied, and I’m getting ready for what 2018 can bring.

Will you be growing any new flowers this year? What worked well for you last year? Let me know in the comments below.

As ever, thank you for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew

Sowing flat-leaf Parsley ‘Laura’

It’s time to sow some flat-leaf Parsley ‘Laura’ – it’s more than just a garnish.

I’ve added a third pot to my propagator… and yet another seed sowing that wasn’t on my 2018 plan (I wonder how many times I’m going to do that?).

Ever since 2012, when I was given a packet of Parsley seed within a leaving present I’ve grown it, but it has been with mixed results. I don’t think the seed keeps particularly well, but when it does grow, it is a handy nutritious addition to salads and as a garnish.

I don’t really like the look or taste of the curled leaf parsley, with this flat-leaf variety taking on a more discrete salad leaf taste.

 

Parsley 'Laura' in pot
My 2014 Parsley ‘Laura’ sowing – it grew for months.

I really enjoying tearing some up to have on scrambled egg, sneaking it into a sandwich, or using it as a garnish for a soup.

My 2014 pot lasted on my windowsill for about 6 months – happily growing and renewing me with fresh green leaves. I managed to do a second sowing that year once it had tired out.

I don’t grow this outside, as it saves it from garden pests and makes it reassuringly cleaner for me to quickly wash and use in the kitchen.

There’s plenty of health benefits for Parsley, with claims that it can aid digestion and reduce gas, contribute to kidney health, provide Vitamin K and C, and acts as an antibacterial, amongst many others.

A Parsley 'Laura' seedling in a pot
The first of the Parsley ‘Laura’ seedlings, from that first sowing in 2012.

So, with this in mind, I’ve sown a pot with some Parsley ‘Laura’ seeds, and added it to my propagator. Hopefully in a few days it will begin to push out above the compost and start to throw those green little leaves skywards.

As I type this, the blacbirds are singing, and I can hear loads of other birds twittering around. I think Spring is definitely on its way, even though the sky today is grey and a bit drizzly.

Thanks for reading, and as ever, happy gardening!

Andrew