Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

Gardening Blog

Day 20 on the allotment!

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Despite the lovely sunshine and few hours off work yesterday, I didn’t actually get to do much at the allotment other than deliver some plants and water them. I was far too busy trying to find somewhere that sold garden lime for my newly acquired cauliflowers (thanks to a wonderful Freecycler) and find some courgette seeds as I have none.

I have to thank everyone who has helped me out so far with the allotment, I won’t name names, but I have the aforementioned cauliflowers, a handful of tools and a garden bench on which to sit and admire the view after a hard day (it’ll be a few years yet before HS2 goes past the allotment), some globe artichoke tubers and help rotorvating the beds.  I have had a few plants swaps and seed swaps so I’m so close to getting on track! Thank you!

Yesterday afternoon in the main spent shopping; both Homebase and B&Q didn’t sell lime and as I was in town rather than near as one staff member called it ‘a proper garden centre’ I tried QD and Wilko – both of which sell lime! I went for a smaller box from Wilko and on my way there popped into Poundland and spotted a variety pack of seeds, 8 types including courgette for £1 – bargain! Of course, I also checked out the price of a few things whilst in Homebase (blummin expensive) but I did find they were selling off strawberry plants 3 for 20p – so I picked the best 9 I could, along with a reduced price rosemary looking a little sorry for itself but most likely rescuable. I also picked up some organic slug pellets and 2 mouse traps. There are a few red kites that could do with a fast food joint on my shed roof.

Today started leisurely in the garden; watering and general pottering in the garden before the sun got too hot for it followed by a trip to the allotment. Firstly I sprinkled the organic slug pellets around the perimeter of the beds. I then started on adding the lime to the Brassica bed and raking it in (I’m not sure if I should water it, I must read up), then I added in the frame I found on the allotment with chicken wire round it. Later on I covered this with netting and left the plants still in their pots within for protection after a watering.

After a quick trip home to pick up the trug to transport compost (and a cup of tea!) later, I started fishing out the lovely compost left for me by the previous plot holder (this is where I don’t know if it’s organic, so any corn, legumes or squash I give to friends will have this proviso). I found the bins too heavy to lift off and really awkward to get to the good stuff so not an easy job. Finally after a disturbance of an ant’s nest, I had gathered enough compost for 5 mounds (I had worked out how many corn needed per mound in advance).

The mounds are the foundation of the ‘3 sisters’ technique developed by native Americans over thousands of years. Now, our temperate climate may not yield the same results so it’s more of an experiment than an expectation of success. The idea is to plant a few sweetcorn per mound, the beans (and peas) use these to climb up as well as fix nitrogen in the soil which benefits the corn. The third sister is squash (I’ll be trying butternut squash, cucumbers and courgettes) which acts as a mulch conserving water and protecting roots from scorching, as well as suppressing weeds and deterring pests with their prickly vines. Oh and they also love the nitrogen fixed in the soil by the legumes. I like the principle because I like to companion plant, but I also like to keep a plant diversity there, mono crops are not good – for the plants themselves or the ecology of the area.

So after a busy day, I gave everything a water, said goodbye to my fellow allotmenteers, packed away, set my mousetraps inside the shed and headed home.

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Baby spiders and sweetcorn

I took these photos about a week ago in the garden, not long after our last frost, unfortunately I lost most of my cucumbers (apart from two that were still in the mini-greenhouse) and I had no seed left. My friend kindly gave me some of hers (‘Masterpiece’) so I have sown them, hopefully they will catch up!

There were some baby spiders that had made some garden string their home for a day, with a bit of forethought I should have put a couple in the greenhouse, one or two made it in with my tomatoes – which also didn’t look too happy with the frost but survived, I had hardened them off pretty well, but the last frost was a lesson learned.  The frost also caught a good proportion of my French beans, but they are still growing new leaves so hopefully no lasting damage. Lastly, I lost a couple of squash plants, but the rest look happy enough and will need potting on soon.

I am very excited by my baby sweetcorn plants, they look very cute! I shall plant them on the allotment using the 3-sisters technique, a type of companion planting with beans and squash, as mentioned in another post.

In the garden the broad beans are growing very fast, as are all my potatoes, I should have earthed these up already but have been so busy I haven’t gotten around to it, they by rights should have also been affected by the frost but no issues there at all. All my salad plants are growing bigger, but not ready for harvesting yet but there will be spinach and rocket and radishes soon. The herbs seem to like the longer days and are responding well, soon I shall be using my garden herbs in cooking.

Finally I have noticed a few lavender seedlings starting to germinate, perhaps I sowed these a little early, but it is two months since I sowed them.

I am really pleased at the pace at which everything is happening, I just need to speed up my soil prep in readiness, it’s a shame I didn’t get the allotment even a few weeks sooner so I wouldn’t be playing catch up, and I could have used the frost to break up the soil, it’s slower waiting for rain and sunshine to do so!

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Veggie Plant Sale

This afternoon I held a little plant sale, I had been worried whether to hold it at all due to the weather forecast, but the day before I decided to go for it and advertised.

Thank you to those who popped by, a reminder; plant info is located here.

The sun showed it’s face for a while and in the end it didn’t rain! I sold a few plants, enough to pay for my allotment for the year anyhow!

I must say I rather enjoyed it, it was lovely that a friend popped over for a natter, plus in the downtime I had the chance to plant my beetroot seedlings and pot on my nasturtium.

There’s still quite a few plants leftover so I might see what the weather is like next weekend, maybe another sale will pay for some organic compost from Haddenham Garden Centre, any leftover can go in the allotment if not!

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Sprouting garlic, tomato and mini-greenhouse

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garlic sprouting

My garlic cloves are sprouting!

Those who’ve read earlier posts will remember I have had problems with locals cats in the beds. Well I am happy to report that the cats are mostly avoiding the beds these days and part of that I think is down to the smell of the garlic cloves planted recently.

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tomato Maskotka seedlings

The Maskotka tomatoes were really starting to need more space to grow, the other varieties planted later (but in propagators cells) were starting to put them to shame. I think my experiment of re-using egg boxes has been successful in that I now know that it’s not a very good idea! I planted them into both Compostapots and traditional plastic pots, I wonder if there will be any difference between them.

There’s now a hand-made extra shelf in the mini-greenhouse, mainly to give a bit more storage, but to also keep seedlings that like it a little warmer higher up. I have noted that the slugs like the plants lower down so I’ve taken everything off the floor for now and installed a slug trap (cider in a tin can). My poor coriander really was being eaten to ground level every night so fingers crossed this recovers. I hope to reduce the slug population here before I need to plant my tomatoes and cucumbers in the grow bags!

Speaking of tender, I put my cucumber seedlings in the mini-greenhouse overnight for the first time last night and was reading several weather apps worried that it might go as low as -1°C and I possibly went a little OTT in putting a small terracotta oil lamp (fuelled by olive oil) on the grass at the bottom at 2am so as to keep the temperature up above freezing. I checked it first thing this morning and it appears to have worked perfectly, there was no chill in the air inside the mini-greenhouse.

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Potting on cucumber plants

 

 

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cucumbers just after potting on

The cucumbers really needed potting to have more room to grow, so they have been potted on now, although they appear to be a little upset about this, so they’re having some TLC on the windowsill currently, fingers crossed they perk up!

The peas are looking bigger;
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There are two or three good seedlings of each variety.

The sweet peas are growing very slowly, according to a recent Gardener’s Question Time this is normal:

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The chard is starting to show it’s colours, you can see which are red or yellow or white already:IMG_9915

The broad beans are also sprouting, but slowly:IMG_9917


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Sunshine and seedlings!

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propagators

On sunny days I have been taking my seedlings outside, partially to let them make the most of the sun and partially to start the hardening off process. There was another visitor to the garden today; a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, unfortunately by the time I’d popped into the house to find my phone to take a picture, it had gone.

I’ve started to get rather low on potting compost, so yesterday went to 4 or 5 different places in Aylesbury to find some organic compost and tomato feed, I was really surprised to not find any. The last place I bought some (Waddesdon Plant Centre) has since closed. In the end a trip to Haddenham Garden Centre did the job, finding 50 litre bags of multipurpose at £5.99 or on offer; 3 for 2 – bargain! It’s peat free too, even better, peat should be left in its natural habitat supporting our native wildlife.

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organic compost

We picked up some grow bags for the mini greenhouse too, which meant I had a perfect reason to get the greenhouse ship-shape and stop using it as storage!

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items previously stored in the greenhouse

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Grow bags in greenhouse

It’s a bit of a squeeze for the grow bags on the side, but I figure the tomato roots won’t mind what shape they grow into.

It gave me an opportunity to water everything and reorganise the pots that had been in the beds and inspect everything.

Here the pea and chard seedlings are starting to sprout:

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various pea varieties on left, centre to right, swiss chard, bright lights

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compostapots

The pots in the beds are going much slower than I hoped so I have decided to bring them into the greenhouse for now. The catnep is showing a couple of germinated seeds and the mallow is germinating. The wild primrose isn’t doing anything as yet.

This is how I have laid everything out until the tomatoes and cucumbers need to go in:

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full greenhouse

The broad beans aren’t doing anything, so hopefully some greenhouse time will give them a chance to get going. The coriander is just sprouting, the time in the greenhouse appears to have done it some good.

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These are the cucumber seedlings, just starting to get their first pair of true leaves, it’ll be time to pot them up soon! I tried leaving the lid off them the other day, they didn’t much like it, I think the small amount of wind we had was stripping them of their water as they went papery thin and a little droopy, fortunately another watering and quick replacement of the lid had them recovering in 20 minutes.IMG_9840

The same with tomato maskotka, the first true leaves are starting to grow so they’ll need potting in the next few days.IMG_9841

The Hungarian wax chilli plants are coming up nicely, they’ll stay in the propagator a while yet tho.IMG_9843

My mutant marigolds are doing as well as the regular ones, nothing to report there.IMG_9844

Lavendar seedlings are just starting to sprout – if you look ever so closely!IMG_9845I read the labels of some cat repellant in the garden centre the other day (not organic) but the active ingredient in quite a few was garlic… so that and the persistent acrobatics of the local felines has swung my decision to grow garlic! This bag has 3 massive bulbs in it, each clove of which should result in a bulb. These were 25% off too and they have a lovely pink skin which I rather like. I’m going to have to do a little research as they don’t actually tell you when to plant them.

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Sunny days are here again!

 

What a wonderful sunny Sunday today! I’m mostly still in the waiting stage of gardening so a little watering of the potatoes and a peak at everything growing meant my gardening jobs were pretty much over… so I spent the afternoon on a picnic blanket on the front lawn of Waddesdon Manor with a lovely girlie friend from Westcott, a wonderful time to pass a sunny Sunday. Both being residents we had our pleb-passes (residents season ticket) so free entry to the National Trust Rothschild Estate grounds!

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cucumbers and Maskotka tomatoes

The cucumbers are all coming up healthy, and the maskotka tomatoes are still looking good, I managed to pull the leaves off one seedling by accident, it was stuck inside its seed sheath and I tried helping it along, I shall be more careful. I do rather like the cute way that the tomato leaves fold up at night, like they’re tucking themselves in for the night!  This propagator was left out for the day to make the most of the sunshine, along with the newly sprouting marigold.

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French Marigold seedlings – Naughty Marietta

Tomatoes Golden Sunrise and Black Russian have just started sprouting:

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Tomato Golden Sunrise

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Tomato Black Russian

Here are a couple of snaps of the herbs that are braving the season, I placed the nasturtium outdoors for the day to make the most of the sunshine as they are the most advanced.

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Nasturtium

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Dill

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Sweet marjoram and thyme

In case you’re wondering, the straw was because they were initially planted outdoors and was an attempt to keep the frost off, I’ve now removed most of it as it’s warm enough indoors!

I hope all your veggie patches are enjoying the sunny weather.

Green Garden Gate Waddesdon