Bank Holiday rain won’t stop the plants growing

Whilst the wettest drought continues with continuous heavy rain for yet another Bank Holiday, there’s still plenty of jobs to do indoors in preparation for this year’s garden.

Over the last few days, the plants have been busily growing on my windowsills, but the heavy rain (which has led to my village being cut off from the East and South!) stops any activity in the garden.

With the Bank Holiday weather rain beating down, I decided to tackle a job i’d put off for a while – tidying up my gardening pots and tools. So I bought a cheap set of shelves and made use of the height – giving me loads more floorspace and some kind of order to the tools, pots and seeds.

Keeping the plants moving

It’s important to keep seedlings moving through the potting-up stages otherwise they can quickly suffer. I’ve just pricked-out the 40 Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ seedlings that I sowed back in late March. Of all the things I’m growing (apart from one exception), these seem to be the slowest growing, but they now have their own little plugs to grow into before being planted outside in a few weeks time once they’ve grown on, and the cold weather finally goes away.

Cineraria 'Martima Silverdust' seedlings
The Cineraria ‘Martima Silverdust’ seedlings.

The Dill has not surfaced – it’s been 3 weeks and there’s no green speck on the compost. Is there a trick to growing them? I’ve kept them in my propagator the whole time. Am I just being impatient?

Meanwhile, the two Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ plants and the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ seedlings are standing tall, with the latter looking for their first grasp of cane. I didn’t grow French Beans last year, but this variety did well for me in 2010.

French Bean 'Blue Lake'
French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ plants

The Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ that I potted up almost two weeks ago, are now getting used to their new pots and have started showing signs of a growth spurt too.

Out you go!

Last week I also planted out the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’, so hopefully these are enjoying this wet drought and will be making good use of the wigwams. Fingers crossed that the snails don’t find them for a while.

Running out of windowsill to sow Courgette and Dill

Whilst clearing windowsills to make way for some newly sown vegetables, an unwelcome pest gets its comeuppance.

I’ve just sown a couple of Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ and some Dill seeds into some pots and popped them into my propagator with the Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that’s busy germinating.

In a couple of weeks i’ll also be sowing some French Bean ‘Blue Lake’. I last grew these in 2010 and was kept in a steady supply of green beans for the whole harvest season. Fingers crossed that they will be as successful this time too.

Harvested Courgettes and French Beans.
My harvested Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ and French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ from 2010.

I’ve been rapidly running out of windowsills, so I’ve cleared an entire windowsill of my Spider Plants ‘Chlorophytum Comosum’ – which i often add to containers as bedding.

Scale Insects
Close-up of Scale Insects. Photo: Gilles San Martin.

However, whilst clearing the windowsill I’ve discovered that these plants had Scale insects – tiny brown/orange sticky bugs that suck the sap and secrete a sticky solution over the leaves and anything else they come into contact with.

So, I’ve really had to clear the windowsill with hot soapy water (and a blast of Dettol spray for luck!). Those Spider Plants are now outside where they’ll spend the rest of their days – dodging frosts.

The Magical Powers of April Showers

After some heavy April showers, the garden has leapt forwards with lush growth and flowers, but there’s still plenty more seeds to sow… including some for next year’s garden!

There’s a drought on at the moment but whilst I do live in the dry of East Anglia, my water provider (Cambridge Water Company) has not imposed a hosepipe ban. This has been a hot topic of conversation here on local radio and television but it wouldn’t really affect my garden as it is small enough to cope with lots of watering cans and buckets when it comes to it.

Wallflower 'Ruby Gem' about to bloom.
The Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ were planted out last year and are now starting to flower.

Fortunately though we did see a few days of refreshing rain (albeit typically and neatly fitted into a bank holiday/Easter weekend!) and then a few days of sunshine. This has resulted in a surge of lush green growth from things like the Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ plants that I planted out last year which are just starting to flower, the hardy Welsh Onion ‘Allium Fistulosum’ and Caraway ‘Carum Carvi’ herbs are also lush green,  and those pretty Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ have thrown-up lots of leaves.

The Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ is on flower, and with it a delicate scent wafts closely to it’s branches. I’ve just captured a few photos of a large bee collecting pollen from the bright yellow flowers.

Bee and the Broom
A bee on a mission as it collects pollen from this flowering Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’.

With this warmer and rainy weather around, I’ve started putting the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ outside so that they can begin adjusting to the different environment. I’m bringing them inside at night as we’re still seeing low temperatures. Leaving them out all night might be too much of a shock for them. They were lucky to receive rain on their first day outside too!

The Chives and Parsley ‘Moss Curled’ that I sowed a month ago are now at the pricking-out stage. I also planted some Coriander on 1st April, to make up the third pot of the BBC Gardeners’ World herb kit. Some of these have germinated too but will need a couple more weeks before they will be potted on.

Two Pepper (Sweet) 'Friggitello' plants grown from seed.
The Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants are growing well.

Those two Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants that I grew from seeds given to me by team CBM, are now several inches high, one of them requires a support cane. I’m sure it won’t be many weeks until they’ll need potting on again before finally going outside to hopefully produce their fruit in July-October time.

Yet to sow in april…

  • Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ – my third sowing of this variety. They were plentiful in year 1, but poor in year 2 – having suffered from mildew.
  • Night Scented Stock ‘Matthiola Bicornis’ – This will be my first sowing of these, and they are sown directly outside.
  • Dill – I’ve missed not having Dill around for cooking – the leaves and seeds can be used for flavouring dishes, and in pickling, and can be used to aid digestion.
  • Delphinium ‘Pacific Giants Mixed’ – I’ve always liked the towering spires of Delphiniums (like the Foxgloves), so as with the Foxgloves,  I shall sow some of these now for flowering in next year’s garden.