Rocket returns to earth

A second wave of Rocket has been set; the first Courgette is almost ready for picking; the Aubergine’s patiently await planting out; and the Campanula begins seeding.

Today I planted (launched?) the second wave of Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ into my windowbox. The first batch had germinated within three days – but these have been planted in warmer temperatures and also in a slightly different compost – so we’ll see how these fare.

Rocket Skyrocket is sown

I found the last batch had the peppery taste, but the leaves were far from being as big as the ones on the seed packet or as big as the ones that you’d get if you bought one of those (overpriced) bags of rocket from your local supermarket.

I’m a serial buyer of bagged Rocket because I generally eat salad leaves every day, but I found that the previous wave of Rocket just wasn’t producing enough and was spending a lot of time just sending up flower buds that seemed to appear every other day.

Maybe the differences with this second round will help to achieve a better crop.

Speaking of crop, this week I expect to pluck the very first Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ from my two plants. They are both producing them but the plant at the sunnier end of the garden has been a bigger plant, and ahead of the one in the slightly shadier part of the garden (close to where last year’s one had been). This year of course, I’m also feeding them with the Doff Portland Tomato Feed, so this might attribute to the slight boost as well.

I’ve also collected seeds from the Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ which show up every year. It’s now finished and so where there were once beautiful spires of white or blue flowers, they are now covered in little brown pods ready to guarantee next year’s blooms.

The bees come into the garden – loving the Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’ (the Foxglove)  and in particular the blueness of the Lavender. I’ve struggled repeatedly to catch a photo of a bee on any of the flowers in my garden – either because the bee is moving too fast, or the wind is frantically flinging the plants around… but it looks like i might have caught one at last.

A bee collects pollen from Lavender
No prizes for spotting the bee.

To do…

This weekend’s duties include planting out the Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants with supportive canes (one of them seems a bit wobbly) in one of those wicker boxes (which i’ll need to buy), plus fill in any gaps in the borders with plants.

A Foxglove Fanfare

The Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’ or Foxglove as it’s better known, has now begun flowering… and Andrew wonders what to do with four Aubergine plants.

It’s been raining heavily but on and off for about 4 days now. In this time, the garden has been getting a really good soaking. The plants that I put out at the weekend are perhaps now beginning to get used to their new homes.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’, better known as the Foxglove, as it has been steadily reaching upwards with it’s lush green spire, covered in cream/white buds. In those 4 days, I reckon that it has grown at least a foot (3ocm).

Today the first of the flowers opened – bringing a blast of colour to an otherwise shady part of the garden.

foxglove-fanfare-of-flowers
The first Foxglove flowers in the garden.

 

I bought the plant on impulse one day for £3 from Tesco in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. I hadn’t gone there for plant shopping, but knowing how much bees seem to like Foxgloves, and how they grow well in shady spots, I thought it would be a good gamble. I wish i’d actually bought a few.

This time next year I should have loads, having sown some Thompson & Morgan Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids’ (Mixed) seeds. Hopefully I can nurture them to grow like this one has.

Jobs to do…

  1. I need to decide where my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants are going to be planted. I’ve been casually looking at those vegetable bag/wicker boxes. Any one have any experience of using these? Do they retain moisture? Do they rot/fall to bits in one season?

Planting out

I’ve been planting out my seed-grown plants today – all 3 hours of them!

I’ve just come in from an afternoon of planting out.

After a few days of rain (thunder, lightning, flooding, hail etc…), I took the opportunity to put out the plants that i’d nurtured from seed and also the few that i bought at a trip to Homebase and Huntingdon Garden and Leisure.

It’s taken me almost 3 hours of planting but I have finally given most of the Antirrhinum ‘Chuckles’ their release into the wild. A few had begun to flower, the ones that I’d transplanted into normal trays had got lanky, but the ones that i’d transplanted into plugs were smaller and more upright. Still, i’ve picked them out and planted them everywhere (with loads left over… oops).

Antirrhinum 'Chuckles'
Antirrhinum ‘Chuckles’ – waiting to be planted out

After all my sowing, re-sowing (due to poor germination rate) and nurturing, including fending off a flock (?) of snails, I’ve ended up with a paltry half-a-dozen Marigold ‘Boy O’ Boy Orange (French)’. This is disappointing considering that my mother has them growing like weeds! No doubt she’ll remind me of this when she visits next.

With some very carefully tying up of my Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’, in a bid to entice them upwards, I’d noticed that one of the canes that I’d set two against now has no sign of a plant. So, with it being late in the season, I decided that I would pop two Pea ‘Celebration’ seeds in to see if they’d like to grow and give me some tasty green petit pois late in the season.

I was really pleased to see the bees out in full force today. It was almost like they thought they’d help me in the garden. They’re all over the Lavender and also going for the Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’ that I bought yesterday. I reckon that bees love blue flowers.

The Buddleia that I took from cutting months ago, and which I planted out a few weeks back, looks like it’s heading towards a flower. It’s still quite short, and the Foxglove ‘Digitalis’ that I bought from Tesco, is towering over it ready to burst. According to my mother (!) the bees love that Buddleia – it’s white. The Foxglove is meant to be a creamy yellow-white – so the bees will be in for a treat.

Speaking of Foxglove, I’ve just set some Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seeds in a propagator to grow some new plants for next year. Buying the plants is expensive, but the seed is a cheap and easy way to get loads of them.

Right, that’s enough for now – time to make a cuppa and put my feet up!

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.