The first of the 2012 seeds are now sown

The first seeds have been sown in 2012 – a mixture of Aubergines, Peppers, Salvia and Sweet Peas.

I’ve just sown my first seeds of the year!

Six pots containing newly sown seeds.
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 seed packets
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!

Strawberry picking and some new arrivals

The garden is continuing to provide as the first strawberries are picked; the second courgette is picked; and new plants arrive.

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.

Strawberry 'Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta'
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
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.

April Showers (June Edition)

Rain arrives! So, it’s off to the garden centre where I pick up some strawberries and yet more herbs.

At last – the rain arrives. And it does it properly. Everywhere has been completely soaked by almost a day’s worth of rain.

Admitting defeat, I ventured off to my usual gym session but got stuck in my car for 10 minutes whilst thunder, lightning, hail and torrential rain turned the carpark into a reservoir.

About 90 minutes later it had stopped and the sun was out, so I took the chance to go Homebase, and Garden and Leisure in nearby Huntingdon to see if i could find some nice plants and some pots.

Having found the pots i needed to do some overdue houseplant re-potting, I found myself looking round the garden plants and noticed that the bees were all over the bright blue flowers of the Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’, so in the basket it went.

Salvia
Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’.

Over at Garden and Leisure I remembered that I had a ‘get a Strawberry plant for free’ voucher, so decided to pick up two Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ plants (very green and lush). Last year’s Strawberry ‘Judibell’ are all but dead – apart from a few runners where they shouldn’t be, and a couple of tiny signs of life. I picked up some more organic compost and then ended up with yet more herbs Parsley Japanese ‘Cryptotaenia japonica’ and Tarragon French ‘Artemisia dracunculus’ (the latter is good with chicken apparently).

Monty Don said a couple of weeks ago on BBC Gardeners’ World, that if you’ve had a Tarragon plant growing in your garden for more than a year, then it is undoubtedly the Russian Tarragon as it is hardier and is characterised by a bitter taste. However, whilst Russian Tarragon was in stock, the French Tarragon also says that it is frost hardy, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one does when I plant it out.

Cosmos and Digitalis (Foxglove)

Today i bought some cheerful Cosmos and Digitalis (Foxglove) for the garden.

This weekend I bought some plants for my garden.

This is slightly unusual as so far I have just grown them from cuttings or from seeds, but I fell in love with the beautiful Cosmos at my local Twenty Pence Garden Centre and they were on a 3 for 2 offer.

cosmos-on-flower
The pink Cosmos flowers add a burst of colour.

Then today, whilst in Tesco, I spotted that they were selling Digitalis Primrose Carousel (better known as Foxglove) for £3. Whilst Foxgloves are toxic, they are very popular amongst bees, and this is something that I am passionate in encouraging into the garden.