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

Sowing Sweet Peas, Salvia and Broad Beans in February

The propagator is fired up, and the sow-athon begins with Broad Beans, Sweet Peas, and Salvia.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been chomping at the bit to get gardening again. February can be one of the most bitterly cold months in the UK, and so when you get a little bit of sunshine, or a day without rain, snow, wind, or freezing conditions, it is so tempting to get out there and make a start.

In my last post I shared my seed planner, and I’ve found that really helpful in reminding me what I’m going to grow and how I can pace myself a bit. I’ve already added more seeds to the schedule!

So, with four days of February under our belts, I’ve decided to start sowing some seeds, and set up my little propagator again on a windowsill.

pots of cineraria and salvia seeds in a propagator
Cineraria ‘Maritima Siverdust’ and Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ are the first in the propagator this year.

First in today were my Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ seeds – only 6 seeds so far, but I can go back and add more seed in a few weeks if they don’t germinate well, or add more a few weeks later just to stagger my crop.

As a child, broad beans were like nasty little warts and they tasted disgusting, yet, as an adult I simply cannot get enough of them. I’m frustrated by the lack of them in my local supermarket – and can’t even get them frozen, so I thought that I would sow some myself. I’m worried about the blackfly though, as they took great delight in attacking my tomatoes last year, but I’ve been watching several videos on how to deal with these on Broad Beans. I’m also looking forward to the benefits that they will give my garden by pumping nitrogen back into the soil. The courgettes and squash will love that!

packets of sweet pea, salvia, and broad bean seeds
The first seeds to sow in February – Sweet Peas, Salvia, and Broad Beans.

In addition to these, I also sowed a dozen each of Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ and Sweet Pea ‘Royal Mixed’. I grew both varieties last year, and whilst they flowered well over a long season, they didn’t climb. I think this was due to the garden twine ‘web’ that I put up for them, so I will swap that to wire before I plant these out. Past experience shows that these will germinate quickly, but last year the Royal Mixed variety were up first.

Finally, I’ve sown some more of my Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ seeds. I sowed some of these (same packet) last year, but only one germinated – although it did become a large striking plant in my new garden.

Salvia 'Farinacea Victoria' with deep blue flowers
The sole surviving Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ plant was covered in deep blue flowers.

Hopefully, they will be more successful this year, and help fill my new border with its beautiful deep blue spires that looked great, and were popular with the bees. This early sowing does at least allow me time to perhaps get some new seed if the germination is poor.

These Salvia seeds actually join my Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that I sowed last week. Those will add an intricate snowy-leafed set of foliage to my garden.

Cineraria 'Martima Siverdust'
Cineraria ‘Martima Siverdust’

They worked really well in my previous garden where it was sheltered and shady, and they lived on for about 4 years! They contrast well with most other plants.

As I finish typing this post, the sun is blazing, the birds are feasting on my feeders, and I can hear a blackbird singing. It feels like Spring is here, but I’m not fooled by February – which won’t flinch about bringing deadly snow and ice.

Have you started your 2018 sowing season yet? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Andrew

Why isn’t it Spring yet?

Filled with dreams of Spring 2018, I’ve found myself browsing and buying next year’s seed.

I’m feeling impatient.

Snow is on the ground, the garden is brown and sleeping, and I’m thumbing the Sutton’s 2018 seed catalogue impatiently. Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I catch myself drifting off forward in thoughts of filling seed trays, potting up, and bright spring sunshine.

garden in snow December 2017
The back garden is covered in snow.

I’m lacking in the TARDIS department, so I return to the cold winter window view of 2017, knowing that at least my planning will be good.

Over the last year I’ve been tuning in to videos by Vivi, who has been allotmenting for years, but in 2017 she put herself out of work and aimed to become self sufficient. Her videos have kept me inspired to keep gardening, to keep trying when it doesn’t quite go to plan, and also to try growing new things (as well as making soups!). She inspired me to grow squashes after watching her harvest a wheelbarrow load off her allotment, so in 2018 I shall be growing some new things… well, new to my gardens anyway.

First Grows

In 2018 I shall try growing:

  • Turnip ‘Snowball
  • Carrot ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid
  • Carrot ‘Sweet Imperator Mix F1

I bet i’ve tried growing carrots before – i mean, who hasn’t? But the harvest can’t have been successful as I’d have remembered what happened. The latter of the three firsts are those ‘vintage’  kinds of carrots – the yellow, purple, red and orange kinds. So these will be fun to grow. The ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid’ carrots should, as their name suggest, be ‘fly-away’ for the carrot fly larvae.

Turnips are completely new to me, and I don’t remember them growing on my parents garden either. I’m really into roasting veg, so I shall be roasting these snowy white turnips. I think I can also eat the tops too.

I’ll also be growing a range of Peppers, because I’ve realised that I use quite a lot of these in my cooking – far more than tomatoes, so I shall swap to growing those instead. And what I’m sure will be a mixture of disbelief and amusement of my mother, I’ll also grow some Broad Beans in 2018.

From what were bland-tasting, smelly warts as a child, after 30+yrs, I finally realised that they’re actually quite tasty, healthy, and filling. I know that you can get varieties that can be sown in Autumn, but having missed that boat, I’ve got my eyes on some Spring varieties like Crimson Flowered or Listra instead. Thankfully, you can get away with sowing these as early as February.

But I’ve got to wait to sow the rest of these seeds. Months.

Instead of Christmas shopping (it’s December after all), I ended up on the “1 present for you, 2 presents for me” routine at a local garden centre. Oops. I came home with two packets of seed and a propagator.

Other garden tasks for 2018

Once it’s dry enough, I am going to demolish an old little shed in the back corner of my garden. There’s a much bigger and newer shed opposite it, and I don’t have enough junk to fill both. How this little shed has survived the gales of 2017, it’s anyone’s guess. It has no felt, the door regularly swings open, and I think i could push it over with one generous poke from my index finger… yet still it stands.

A lawn garden with sheds awaiting planting
The little shed on the left is going to get it!

My plan is to carefully remove the pane of glass (I think it’s glass anyway), and then deconstruct it so that I end up with a pile of planks. I then want to recycle it into raised beds, as my one from last year really worked well.

The end of April 2018 will signal the end of my first year in this house, and hopefully by then, I’ll have worked out how areas of my garden perform, and will be able to plant appropriately.

For now though, I shall continue watching the winter garden, feeding the birds, and dreaming of warmer, greener months ahead.