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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Companion planting

I have been doing a lot of reading up on companion planting recently to refresh myself on what plants grow better together, those that don’t like to grow together and those that help deter pests. The garlic already sown should repel slugs (as well as cats!) and carrots and garlic grown together helps both. Onions sown with carrots helps to mask the smell of carrot fly (and the carrots confuse onion fly) and there is some evidence that garlic may help peas, but possibly stunt the pea’s growth, so it’s nearby, but not too near. I also read that lettuce helps onions and carrots and vice versa. I have sown in the marked rows: spring onion, Lilya on the left, then carrot, early Nantes 5, then spring onion white Lisbon, then a row of Garden Lettuce seeds – a lucky dip from a seed swap, all I noted down was ‘Lactuca saliva’ so it could end up growing as anything! Around these rows I have transplanted a few French marigold seedlings, with the hope that the slugs might give them a chance to grow, if not, I have held plenty back and have enough seeds to re-sow if needed. Finally at the back I added in 3 types of peas (in soda bottle cloches) with the intent of training them up the fence. There’s room in the bed to do successive sowing.

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the layout

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French Marigold, Naughty Marietta seedlings near garlic cloves

Once the carrot and onion seeds start to grow, I will consider what other herbs I might want to grow interspersed between the veggies. The garden still seems to attract bees and a Peacock butterfly even landed on my head the other day as I was watering. I just wish the slugs and ants would find a new home! The cats are learning not to visit so often, this could be garlic related, or it could be that I just made their favourite facilities too wet for their liking. I had a chance to try some herbal medicine today; I stung the back of my hand on a nettle whilst planting and it wouldn’t stop itching, so I did as I learned as a child, found a dock leaf and rubbed the bruised juices on the sting – instant relief! Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

Weeds or wildflowers

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There are a few bee friendly wildflowers flowering in the lawn at the moment, some of which are edible, all of which are pretty. Some folk would be weeding them up, but I’m happy enough for the early bees and butterflies to have a feed. I’m slightly tempted to try making a salad if they grow a little more.

 

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Recipe and lots more seedlings

First blog recipe published! Check out: Gardener’s puy and French bean salad one of my current favourites and one I hope to make from my produce soon.

Please do let me know if there’s anything in your garden growing you’d like recipe ideas for, or submit for inclusion your own favourite recipe from your garden produce!

There are now 9 maskotka seedlings and two cucumber, plus nasturtium marjoram, thyme, dill and basil are all happily sprouting away – very exciting!

Surprisingly, there’s also a marigold sprouting and it was only sown 3 days ago, exciting times!

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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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Getting started with seeds

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River Thame bursting it’s usually steep banks. Car is driving through water over bridge

We’ve had unprecedented amounts of rain in recent months and so planning to start off the gardening year has been a little problematic.  The ground may be too wet or more rain may cause germination problems. Soil preparation hasn’t really been possible. The growing season has already started, the weeds were looking really healthy and the snowdrops & daffodil are out in force.

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Snowdrops

In the last week I decided to prepare for a nice day so invested in a propagator and bought fresh seeds and seed potatoes and shopped for the required paraphernalia.  I thought I’d try to germinate some coriander seeds I had laying around in the kitchen (you never know), these have been in for about a week now (nothing happening yet!). My herb seeds have been sown in terracotta pots ready to be placed outside the kitchen door, although it’s too cold for the seedlings right now they are being germinated indoors. For info; Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, Spearmint, Nasturtium, Sweet Marjoram, Thyme, Sweet Genovese Basil, Plain leaved Parsley and Giant Italian Parsley.

Finally, with a whole weekend of rain forecasted (and camping plans cancelled), I awoke 7am this morning to beautiful sunshine and lots of blue sky!  Needless to say the wellies were on and the fork and spade were on duty digging and weeding all the veggie beds in the garden. I don’t know what the soil in your garden is like but I have grown up gardening on clay soil so I expected this to be very heavy going. Surprisingly the soil was easy enough to deal with here in Waddesdon, also a little help does come in handy!  The lawn is still a little soggy tho.

Digging completed, random gladioli bulbs and a foxglove rescued for other beds, chitted seed potatoes untangled from the netting and I quickly realise I need twice the space I’d planned for the potatoes – ah well!  Potatoes in (Aaron first early’s) and a quick glance over the shoulder at a few clouds later I decide there is still plenty of time to get going on sowing some of the earlier seeds outdoors.

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Sowing wild primrose

Armed with those ‘Compostapots’ (the biodegradable pots that allow you to either remove for planting or just plant intact), my organic compost and some Rootgrow (first time trying this stuff – some friendly fungus that aids a growing root system organically), I get sowing catnep (have you ever used this in tea or as a seasoning?), mallow, wild primrose (great in salads) and broad bean (bunyard’s exhibition) and labelling them up. Adding the Rootgrow layer makes the process twice as long but I’m sure the healthy root growth will lead to more abundant tasty veggies!

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Poo prevention

These were all placed under a 3 metre length cloche in situ, which also served as cat poo prevention on the recently dug beds. Other poo prevention measures included garden canes criss-crossed over the potatoes and an old green gate laid over an empty bed. We seem to get the cons of cats without the benefit of ownership!

Tomato (maskotka), cucumber (bush champion) were sown in the propagator and slotted onto the kitchen windowsill.  The coriander was kicked out under the cloche so as to make room. We decided the bed viewed from the kitchen would be flowers, so the rescued foxglove took centre stage:

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Foxglove

Starting to get a little chilled and with the promise of a cup of tea I decided to call it a day, everything tidied away to what I am assured is not called the potting shed as it’s for specific man things. Whilst in town another propagator was acquired as was a mini greenhouse – lots to do tomorrow if the weather holds!

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