Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

Gardening Blog

Frozen January – preparations!

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I’ve tweaked the plan a little to accommodate growing borlotti beans (mostly to dry) and one or two other refinements.

Recent preparation jobs have included repairing the shed roof which was leaking (probably not a good idea in gusty weather – I nearly took my head off), then built a compost area out of reclaimed pallets, raised my water-butt so gravity gave my solar-powered pump a hand which I have positioned on the shed roof.  This leads to my greenhouse for use as required.

The ground has either been frozen or waterlogged in January, I have done a little digging where the garlic needs planting but I am hesitant as I heard this can damage the soil structure if the ground is too wet.

I have proven that giving in to itchy sowing fingers is bad idea – the small quantity of squash and tomatoes I tried in the propagator were struggling in the low light levels on the windowsills so I took them to the allotment greenhouse, still inside the propagator, but the recent night that was forecast as -5C in reality was -8C which was just too much for the majority. I’ll hold off a while yet before I re-attempt anything tender. The good news is that now it’s starting to get to the time of year I can sow a limited number of things.

In the meantime I took the challenge to grow successive sowings of radishes; French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe and Sparkler. I have discovered they need initial heat of the windowsill, but are quite happy in the greenhouse after germination. I also have the main of my onion crops just starting to germinate; Red Brunswick and Bedfordshire Champion. I have some initial sowings too that I shall keep in the greenhouse as long as possible before I need the room with the intent that they will be an ‘early’ crop before the main sowings start to crop. I have ordered some shallot seeds that will be harvested next year, so in a while I shall need to buy some sets if I wish to grow shallots for harvest this year, they’re so expensive!

I have started off some early potatoes in pots in the greenhouse (like a fellow plot holder did last year) in the last week, they were supposed to be chitted in time for planting mid-February but they were well chitted by this point; 8 tubers of ‘Swift’ (1 per 12 litre pot) and 6 of Aaron Pilot (3 per 56 litre bag). there are a further 28-30 tubers of Aaron Pilot chitting away to direct sow later in the month. I need to decide what my main crop potato will be, which needs good blight resistance.

I bought some supposedly blight resistant tomatoes (Losetto and Ferline) which are new varieties for me and I am not sure how they will taste. A few of the plot-holders advised that it would be the only way I would be able to grow tomatoes outside my greenhouse there, so I’ll add to the potato bed and see how they grow. I have also signed up to the ‘blight watch’ website – watch this space!

 

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2015 growing season plans!

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I am getting rather itchy fingered about the lengthening days even if the days are still cold! There’s quite a bit of planning going into the next growing season in terms of what is going where, especially as I have been rather weak-willed when it comes to buying new seeds and have a lot of things to fit in.

Update – here is a rough plan of the 2015 growing year:

Around November last year I added garlic cloves to trays in the greenhouse and they’re about ready to go outside now. I am also over-wintering my new strawberry plants in there until spring – if the mice leave them alone long enough!

I heard that village veggie competitors sow their onion seeds on Boxing Day to give them the best chance of large vegetables so I thought I’d give it a try. They really did need the heat tho, nothing was happening in the unheated greenhouse so they have come inside on the windowsill and they are sprouting now!

Similar story for some far too early sowings (did I mention I had itchy fingers?!) of squash, pumpkins and tomatoes. The aubergines and chillies I tried tho have yet to sprout.

One of the gardening forums I joined recently prompted me to start of some radishes too; I’m so excited they have actually started to sprout!

 

 

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Day 33 on the allotment!

Wow what a busy week! Lots of rain too so not really an opportunity to get to the allotment so I am a little behind on potting on and planting.

A quick update; My onions are peeking through the soil, I have had a chance to get the seeds in I wanted: carrots, parsnips, lettuce, beetroot, chard, celery and some French marigold for good measure. My potatoes are really going for it and need ridging up, the beans and sweetcorn are a little slow-growing tho.

I have been working hard and buzzing around a lot (and someone texted far too early this morning) so I am afraid it all caught up with me a little today, I wasn’t at the allotment for as long as I would have liked, I still had daylight hours and a jobs list to complete! I decided to leave a few tasks for tomorrow, but did make a point of raking over the beds again, particularly where I plan to add in a greenhouse, I am trying to level this off.

I also decided that I want to plant more peas and beans, I have the space to do so if I plan carefully, and I have the extra plants anyway. I added in some canes in between the corn and beans/peas as far away from the mounds as I can so to minimise any light being blocked from the corn. Tomorrow I shall plant the legumes in this structure.

I still need to finish off planting my onions, and would like to try to squeeze some more into the bed, I am thinking instead of adding more rows perhaps I should interplant the sets between those already growing, i.e. did I plant initially with too much space… I shall have to read up and find out. I also still need to sort out my strawberry plants.

I was gutted to find another allotment holder had moved some pallets on my plot and destroyed all my courgette seedlings (and the rabbits have finished them off), he has offered to sow some more for me which is lovely but it will make me a little more behind schedule. I shall have to go ahead and plant the squash and hope the courgette can catch up without being smothered.

I helped out again at an allotment in Haddenham again this morning and gained some borage plants and some Jerusalem artichoke plants from a plant swap there. I need to get them in the ground pretty sharpish so they get going.

Tomorrow I also need to head to Buckingham to start dismantling a greenhouse I was offered through Freecycle, this would be really good for my tomatoes so I am super excited about this!

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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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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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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.

Green Garden Gate Waddesdon