Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

Gardening Blog

Day 26 on the allotment!

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I planted my chitted potatoes (Anya new potatoes and Maris Piper main crop) on the 5th May (the Bank Holiday Monday) and although expecting them to grow a little quicker that the 30 days they took planted 1st March in the garden as the soil is warmer, I didn’t expect that they’d be poking through the soil already!

The weather has been rather rainy in the last few days so that and the fact I sliced my thumb with a parang, plus other commitments have meant that I haven’t been to the plot since the weekend, it’s good to see that things are starting to grow. Unfortunately so are the slugs and I perhaps need to invest in some more organic slug pellets.

I’m really impressed with the efforts the rhubarb has made in the last few days and that the potatoes sprouted after only 18 days is fantastic.  The jerusalem artichoke is settling in ok, despite the slugs.

This weekend I have to fit in time to plant the rest of my onion sets, pot on the strawberry plants as well as the butternut squash plants and give the mini-greenhouse at home a lot of attention.  I need to plan where I am planting the outdoor tomato plants too.  Fingers crossed the sun shines for us all!

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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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Tomato seedlings transplanted in greenhouse with the beasties!

I’ve now transplanted all my tomato seedlings, there’s more than I thought! They all pretty much protested the move, despite a soak in a dilute organic seaweed feed. These are the heritage varieties Golden Sunrise, Black Russian, Outdoor Girl and Craigella which all seemed to like being in a propagator on the windowsill, if possibly a little leggy. Maybe I might consider a grow light next season.

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transplanted seedings protesting the move

This will be their first night in the greenhouse, fingers crossed they like it! I did sow a few extra seeds so that I have plenty of contingency for losing some due to pests etc. I have already given some as gifts, veggie plants make a great housewarming present.

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tomato seedlings starting to perk up again in the greenhouse

The greenhouse is getting a little full now as I am keeping things high up until the slug pubs do their job. I have two types of trap, but they both have cider in them, mainly because its leftover from our recent BBQ and I’m not a fan of it. It’s working a little, but I did notice one slug had a drink and escaped. The coriander seems to be recovering ok although I am wondering if I need to buy  some real ale instead… just for gardening purposes of course!

I’m not sure when the tomatoes might be big enough and strong enough to withstand the slugs – I need to research!

There is a bunch of ants that want to make the greenhouse home, they had a dose of hot water to get them to move on, it’s not entirely worked. I had a look at something like this, perhaps this might be needed if they’re still there next month.

On Saturday I sowed some more peas and beans for successive crops, they are in propagators in the greenhouse, the blog is showing me that these took 10-11 days to germinate, so just over a week to go. I want them a certain size before I risk a full frontal slug attack in the beds!

I think that my flower seeds were eaten by the slugs, so I have re-sown those today.

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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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French Pink Garlic

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Garlic being planted at the front of the bed

A little sunshine today warranted digging in compost to the beds and planting the pink French garlic. As I understand it, these cloves will be a deterrent to cats (and any mice that might be in the vicinity) and a few spare cloves in the greenhouse given a squeeze now and then should deter white fly. Three huge bulbs managed to supply 45 cloves, the fattest of which I’ve planted for growing in the veggie beds, the smaller ones in the flower beds to try to deter cats, if good garlic comes of this, ah well! There’s some more to be planted, but they can wait a while until the next bed is ready to start being filled.

I’ve had to plant them at the front of the beds as they shouldn’t be grown too close to peas and beans as they stunt their growth. Peas and beans will eventually be grown up the fences on these beds, with outdoor variety tomatoes hung from the fence posts. The garlic is however good for a lot of the other plants I am growing, as would several of the herbs I am growing.

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overnight cat poo prevention

More cat protection was required as previous efforts were ineffective, we have very acrobatic cats in Waddesdon! Hopefully the above will mean I no longer have to dig carefully.

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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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Daffodils and bees

 

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Daffodil and snowdrop fruiting body

The daffodils have been out a little while now and the snowdrops have most definitely gone.

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We had a few bees visit the garden whilst I was there today, a honey bee got caught in the mini-greenhouse and needed extraction. He was a little peeved by the time I found him so I had to be careful not to upset him further. There were a couple of bumble bees in the garden too

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bumble bee near the apple tree

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bumble bee exploring a hidey hole in the grass

I sowed beetroot ‘boltady’ and aubergine ‘black beauty’ today so we shall see how long those take to germinate.  My nasturtium seedlings were getting rather big and needed thinning so I re-potted four of the five seedlings and they are now in the greenhouse. I am hoping they are ok there as I haven’t fully hardened them off yet. I’ll transplant them into beds as the risk of frost disappears.

Yesterday evening I sowed courgette and coriander seeds from a friend in the pots they came in so fingers crossed they are happy.

I am debating whether to grow garlic at the moment; I use a lot in cooking and so it’ll be interesting to see what flavour I could get out of the garden.

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