Tune In, Pot Up, Plant Out

Music, sunshine, and a bank holiday weekend. This can mean only one thing – gardening time!

The sun has been shining today – somewhat unusual for a British Bank Holiday weekend – but I made the most of it by doing a few jobs I’d put off due to the recent rain storms, hailstorms, and cold weather.

Armed with iTunes Remote, garden wifi, and a strategically placed speaker, I set to work in the sunshine by pulling out some irritating Cleavers ‘Galium Aparine’ (or ‘Goosegrass’ as it’s also commonly known). Having had some warm weather, then rains, it had grown strong and woven its way through many of the plants. I have to wear gloves to remove this plant as I seem to have become allergic to it in the last few years. It’s an ever-lasting war with Goosegrass, but for now, I am winning.

There’s geese on the pond near my house – wonder if they actually like goosegrass?

Strawberry 'Elsanta'
Strawberry ‘Elsanta’

The Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ plants are doing well. They are a mixture of survivors from last year, new plants from runners from last year, and an extra plant that I bought last weekend. I have potted these on, so hopefully their flowers will soon turn into the delicious red fruits that I enjoyed last year, and have been plucking from my fridge more recently.

I also planted out the Lupin ‘The Governor’ plant that I bought recently from Twentypence Garden Centre. My mother’s garden has many Lupins, so hopefully this will self-seed like the Foxgloves and Antirrhinums have done.

Hopefully, the snails will leave it alone long enough to allow it to take hold of its new-found freedom.

Lupin 'The Governor'
Lupin ‘The Governor’ will have blue and white flowers

The Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that I sowed last spring, and planted out, over-wintered perfectly, and are now strong plants, breaking up the lush green of the garden with their snowy white foliage.

Cineraria 'Martima Siverdust'
Cineraria ‘Martima Siverdust’

It won’t be many more days until many of the plants are planted out into the garden. The beans, nasturtiums, courgettes, and tomatoes are all impatient on my windowsill, whilst the Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ for next year’s garden, are beginning to germinate.

The next few days are crucial for the success of the garden. A herd of snails, or strong winds could wreck many of the tender plants. Fingers crossed that the single figure centigrade nights soon end.

Happy Gardening!
Andrew

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!

The Aubergines Awake

The Aubergines finally wake up; Next year’s colour is ready to plant out; and spiders wrap the garden in their webs.

I’m feeling a tiny bit paternal today having just discovered that one my the seven Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants has finally started producing a berry (apparently they aren’t botanically classed as ‘fruit’).

aubergine-plants-awake
The Aubergines begin to emerge…

Having sown seven seeds back in March, all of which germinated and then giving three plants to my mother (who has grown hers on in a greenhouse), and tended to the remaining four in a large basket in my garden, this will be the very first ‘berry’ from all six plants (one plant collapsed and died a month or so ago).

The clock is now ticking though, with night time temperatures sometimes coming in at about 8C degrees and all these foggy mornings, it won’t be long until the cold snap comes and kills the plants off.

Will this aubergine be worth harvesting?

Elsewhere in the garden, I bought some Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ the other weekend from Twenty Pence Garden Centre, so these need planting out, as do the 50 or so Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’  which I have carefully tended to from seed. The Foxgloves will love the shade, and in turn the bees will love them. Both of these will bring colour to the garden next year.

Spider!
One of many garden spiders (Araneus diadematus, apparently)

About 15 beautiful spiders have been covering the garden in very large and strong cobwebs. There’s few birds in my garden, so these beautiful arachnids (Araneus Didadematus) spend their day sitting in the middle of their webs. I’m struggling to catch a good photograph of them though – their colourings are amazing and the photo above just doesn’t do them justice.

Everywhere I step I seem to be just a few inches away from a spider web or a spider – sometimes at face height.