Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

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April showers

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There’s been a few sunny days with lots of April showers recently, which I guess is only to be expected!

Here are a few things happening in the garden currently:

I’ve had a couple of dramas trying to get an allotment, which I shall mention in another post, but suffice to say the plants I have been getting ready to go on the plot are pretty much ready and I have no plot to put them on!

I’m thinking of having a plant sale to sell my excess plants but I’m not sure what the weather will be doing from one day to the next so it’s difficult to organise. Although I might just have a couple over a few Sundays and advertise locally. I’ve also been toying with the idea of setting up my own garden services business. Watch this space!

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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.

IMG_9849Green Garden Gate Waddesdon


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Peas, flip-flops and Common Frog

This morning I had to break the ice in the bird bath, proving that it’s still a little too cold overnight for a lot of my seedlings, I’ve those that like the warm inside in propagators or terracotta pots in the case of my herbs, but today I have sown a few outdoor seeds in propagators ready to sit in the greenhouse.

I decided to plant seedlings indoors rather than catching a chill outdoors, but still had one or two jobs in the cold!

When I am working I obviously stick my wellies on but I have to say a little trip to open up the greenhouse and check on things I often wear my bright red flip-flops bought in Asia. I happen to keep them handy near the door at the moment and every time I put them on it does remind me of crossing a threshold when living in Asia, sliding them on or off in one movement often without stopping, each end every time I smile.

IMG_9767Another reminder of Asia; I stumbled across a large frog in the garden, turns out she is a Common Frog, and a welcome sign the garden is doing well, I hope she eats as many slugs as she finds!

IMG_9771A quick internet search suggests that my coriander seed now residing in the greenhouse should really have gone outdoors in April so that may be why it’s not sprouting yet. Ah well, it either grows or it doesn’t. I’ve sown quite a few sweet peas, pea ‘Lincoln’, sugar snap, pea early onwards in propagators in the greenhouse, unfortunately it’s too early for beans just yet. Wild strawberry seeds are also in a propagator, as is swiss chard. I am a little naughty in planting the chard just yet, it’s a few weeks early, but I had some spare cells in the tray and a few seeds to risk. And I am impatient.

I took a chance and sowed night-scented stock seeds directly into the front of the flower beds, mainly because if a flower isn’t going to be edible or medicinal the it need to smell good. everything that needs it had a water and the empty beds had some organic fertiliser added.

Indoors, next to the maskotka and the cucumber I added some peppers I forgot yesterday; Hungarian Wax, they have the curious characteristic in that they are sweet when young and get fiery when left on the plant. In another propagator there are a few lavender seeds and some french marigolds, again, a little early but I had the room and there are more seeds if they don’t take. I’m growing these to act as a companion plant for the tomatoes, cucumber and peppers.

I’ve completed my seeding for the next few weeks, so now the hardest part happens…. waiting!


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Boris

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Obviously not a gardening post, but there is a tenuous link in that there are microflora and microfauna involved… and it grows… and needs feeding and watering. Plus there’s a permaculture/sustainable living angle here!

I’ve been growing my own sourdough bread starter culture since the bad storms hitting the UK started last year, the night our neighbours’ fences suffered. The first part of the recipe asked for the bread to be left outside for an hour or so. Hence it’s original reference as Waddesdon Storm bread. Over time the name Boris stuck, I’ve no real idea why.

He started off in a 2l Kilner jar but he did like to escape occasionally, now Boris resides in a 3l Kilner jar in the cupboard (although he camps in the fridge if we go away). I’ve made a multitude of types of bread from pizza bases to focaccia to seeded batch to farmhouse split tin to rye bread and more. I have to say it is rather tasty!

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I first ate sourdough bread that my Nanna made years ago and would often help her, thinking back, she used a sour milk or buttermilk as her starter, but I went a bit more traditional with my starter, it’s literally just flour and water, using time and natural yeasts and lactobacilli from the air. I used stoneground rye flour in the first mix but over time any regular bread flour will do. It’s great fun to play with the different ratios of flours and flavourings for different results.

I’ve done a fair amount of reading up since last year. Playing with the water levels, or the temperature you store the starter at, or even the interval in between feeds all affect the equilibrium of the bacteria and yeast and therefore the rise and taste.

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Apparently sourdough bread is healthier than that made using commercial baker’s yeast, it’s easier to digest, more nutritious and I have to say there is a depth of flavour that rivals the farmers markets artisan breads I’ve paid a lot of money for in the past. There’s the added bonus that I can make two large loaves from a 1.5kg bag of good quality bread flour (starting at 80p) so the price of a loaf starts at 40p, but more if you use organic flour. If you can find a local flour supplier rather than a supermarket do go for it, it’ll cost more, but no-where near as much as an off the shelf loaf would.

As much as a bread machine may be handy and even Cameron uses one, they’re very expensive and take all the fun out of it, they stop you getting to know your dough and the result just isn’t in the same league anyway. Sourdough isn’t suited to a bread machine so don’t risk it. It takes a lot longer to make a sourdough bread loaf, but it’s not harder, and you don’t knead it any longer than making regular bread, you just have to plan ahead.

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There’s many recipes to get you started out there, I found a Jamie Oliver one that worked for me as a starting point, there’s even one currently printed on the back of a certain brand’s bag of bread flour. Have a play, try out different techniques – have fun with your food!

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Green Garden Gate Waddesdon


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Welcome

IMG_9746-1Welcome to a home gardening blog based here in Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire. This is intended to keep a track of what is happening in the garden and when.  Although it is firstly for me to keep track of things, my gardening diary if you will, I thought some of this might interest others.

I’m interested in growing my own produce organically but I certainly do allow a little room for flowers too they just need to make themselves useful! I’m a bit of a fan of getting involved in the community and have one or two causes close to my heart, sustainable living (permaculture), communities getting involved and helping each other out, tasty nutritious food and of course gardening!

If you’re local to Waddesdon I’d really appreciate an ‘hello’ and maybe you could share what’s happening in your garden?

It’d be great to get a bunch of us together to chat all things gardening or maybe help out a local resident who might be struggling with their patch of earth. Perhaps if there are enough fabulous gardens in the village then we might look to set up a garden tour in aid of a charity. With the sad news of Waddesdon Plant Centre closing down maybe a seed swap coffee morning would be a nice way to get together.

I look forward to hearing your gardening tales!

Green Garden Gate Waddesdon