In the night, gardening

The last few days have been wet and wild. Not in a good way. 

It makes little odds to me because I have too much work on to do any gardening anyway. But at lunchtime today, I made a brief visit to the allotment. Oh dear. 

Empty compost bins (not mine) and their lids all over the place, the plastic tunnel covering my first sowing of carrots and beets lying all twisted on my  neighbour’s land, my brassica netting flapping in the wind. 

I didn’t have the time or energy to sort out all the chaos so I stuffed the tunnel into my storage box and retreated. 

But tonight, in the warmth and calm of my home, there was still a task I could get on with. Potting on the toms. 

I’d had a peek at their root systems yesterday, and decided they were extensive enough to transplant but still easy to prize apart. 

  

So, with multipurpose compost on the kitchen table, pots grabbed from a dark shed, an old roasting tin and a newspaper tablecloth, I carefully carefully separated the seedlings and buried them deep in the little pots. 

Tomatoes – apparently – develop roots from the little hairs on their stem when they come into contact with soil. So burying the plants deeply into the soil encourages a better root system. I’ll repeat the process (up to the first branch if I have the depth of compost) when they go into their final growing position. 

There’s an inch or two more stem under that soil!

Ps. If you ‘get’ the title you’re probably a UK parent or grandparent of a preschool or primary school child. If not, check out this solid gold craziness!

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(Wo)man vs machine

I needed to get the Sharpe’s Express spuds in the ground today. The chits were so chitty they had foliage!

Really really ready for the ground

Really really ready for the ground

So I was forced to grit my teeth, ignore my back, and get the potato bed dug. When I arrived at the plot, a neighbouring allotmenteer was rotavating. So naturally I took my coat off, grasped my fork, and began my own little race against the machine!

With a bit of competitive spirit I got it done in record time. My neighbour finished just before me, and had done a much bigger area without having to take his coat off. But he made a lot of noise in the process and had to whack his rotavator with a big spanner a couple of times!

So, how did the results compare? See for yourself.

The results of my labours. A bit lumpy. Gardening glove for scale

The results of my labours. A bit lumpy. Gardening glove for scale

A nice tilth on the rotavated earth

A nice tilth on the rotavated earth

It might be noisy and (relatively) expensive, but a rotavator will soon be on my Christmas list!

I’m not digging, someone tell me it’s ok

I forgot I’m supposed to dig the allotment. 

In previous years the arrival of a truckload of cow poo at lotsville has kicked off the spade-barrow-dig chain of events. 

This year, for good reasons, the muck didn’t come (til now). And thus, I pottered around without a care. 

Now work has gone bonkers and I don’t have the digging hours at my disposal. On top of that my back feels rubbish and I can’t face the pain. 

So I’m not gonna. Not until I need to anyway, bit by bit as I need to sow or transplant. 

I feel like a cheat, a maverick, a lazy git. 

Someone tell me it’s gonna be ok!!  

I only popped out for some seeds…

Breakfast at the garden centre today. Part of the promise to Miss MBaF of a fun morning out with Mummy!

We were really there for more sweet pea seeds. I get so focused on flowering plants’ colour, habit and size, that I’ve tended to neglect choosing flowers for their scent. This is definitely an area I want to improve on. Having a scent-filled garden – and the occasional fragrant treat at lotsville – would be wonderful.

At the sweet pea ‘bar’ I let Miss MBaF steer the colour choice, and I refined the decision to those that were described as having great scent. We ended up with Spanish Dancer and Painted Lady – sounds like a good night out in Soho! 





Our racy ladies in their loo rolls



 Then I got trapped by the allure of cheap baby plants…

I’ve been thinking about my window box strategy for a while. Mr MBaF made five wonderful window boxes for me when we moved here. We have two that face south (whoopee!) and three that inevitably face north (boo-hiss).

I used begonias on the shady side last year. They did ok, but frankly I hate most begonias so I need to find an alternative. Today there was a great selection of trailing fuschias, which the labels claimed do fine in cold shade! So I bought about three varieties of large flowering trailing fuschias,  all with partly white blooms that I hope will shine out of the northerly gloom.

For the sunny side, Miss MBaF picked some lovely looking pink Calibrachoa (mini petunia-like flowers) ‘hot pink star’ for a little hedgehog planter she was given. I thought I would continue the theme for the windows, adding some Calibrachoa ‘cabaret purple glow’ and some white Bacopia for a cool hue.

Because these plants are so young (and £1.49 each) I need to pamper them until it warms up a bit. So they’re squished into a couple of dishes on the inside of the window for now.



The future window box lovelies





The south-facing kitchen box today



Finally, I treated myself to a new set of bypass secateurs 🙂



Springiness

Lovely sunshiney morning here in the Cotswolds. A post-breakfast survey of the estate (!) revealed much to be excited about. 



Apple-crate planter full of daffs and tulips for cutting





Beautiful delicate detail of iris reticulata



A promising abundance of spurs on our espaliered Braeburn apple – last year we only got one apple!



My apple- crate seedbed hiding its first entry of the year. Hispi cabbage, to be transplanted to the allotment when big enough.





Last but not least Mr MBaF’s fab new little greenhouse on our decked suntrap – hopefully the ideal conditions for bumper chilli crops.



Blogging fist-bump – I got a Liebster Award!

What a nice surprise, to get a bit of love from a fellow blogger in the form of a nomination for a Liebster Award!

The word ‘Award’ is perhaps pushing it – more like a blogging chain-letter-fist-bump for newbies and not-so-newbies with a select group of fewer than 200 followers ;o)

However, in the process of receiving it I’ve found and followed some new blogs, so the Liebster objective of discovering new bloggers has worked for me.

So, thank you to girlinthegreenwellies for the nom. Now I gotta pass on the love, answer her questions and ask my nominees some of my own (full rules at the bottom).

My answers to questions set by girlinthegreenwellies:

1. What do you use for inspiration in the garden/allotment? Monty Don and Nigel

2. What new vegetables are you growing this year? Colourful beetroot (recently discovered how tasty it is slow-roasted), Peas (Douce Provence) that don’t need support (I can’t believe it), Cabbage to use for spring greens 

3. How do you control pests in the garden/allotment? I was given very smart netting to keep the pigeons and butterflies of my brassicas, I spray on occasion to tackle specific invasions 

4. What is your top tip for new vegetable growers? Grow what you enjoy eating

5. What are your 2 favourite vegetables to grow? Oooo tricky. The incredible productivity of a single courgette plant is pretty awesome, and the anticipation of digging up any root vegetable is worth the toil.

6. What got you interested in growing your own vegetables? My Dad

7. Favourite music to listen too? The Archers theme tune?! Ha ha! All sorts – Stevie Wonder to 90s house, Kings of Leon to Beethoven

8. The one job you dislike to do at the allotment? Edging – because mine are gits

9. Marmite. Love it or hate it? Couldn’t be without it

10. Your favourite person to garden with? Little Miss MBaF, when she’s not tired or hungry!

My nominations for a Liebster award are:

Greener Grass of Home

Vegetablurb

beentheredugthat

Bolton Urban Growers

Union Homestead
(just before it exceeds the maximum 200 followers!)

My 10 questions for you:

1. You can’t beat the flavour of homegrown ___ ?

2. A crop you’re keen to grow but haven’t yet tried?

3. Everyone should try growing ___?

4. Favourite supplier?

5. Favourite ‘big’ blog?

6.  What grows best in your plot?

7. What refuses to flourish?

8. Top tip for new growers?

9. What does gardening give you?

10. Best way to unwind after a day’s digging?

The Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post

3. Answer 10 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Nominate 5 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display this information!)

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post. Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Primroses – not all created equal

Last autumn – which I don’t think is  the recommended time for this job – I lifted and divided overgrown clumps of primroses in my garden. 

The border at the front edge of my front garden has largely been a waste of space before now, apart from the swathe of naturalised primroses that put on a lovely spring show. However even they needed a bit of attention, so I split a load and replanted them around the front and back borders. 



Doing well in the back borders, but LH colour is weak



I split them long after flowering and hadn’t marked them to remind me which parent clumps had the best colour. Consequently the flowers I’m seeing now vary in quality. Some rich and bold, some fairly insipid. 



An uninspiring specimen



So I dug up and ditched those that aren’t adding much joy to the display, and generally tidied up the foliage. 



Before.





Tidier, but missing some yellow to match that single crocus!



The missing colour is the classic yellow; a zing to offset the rich purples that dominate. I’ve transplanted a couple from the remaining untouched clumps under my front-garden magnolia, but perhaps I’ll supplement with a few buttery primroses from the garden centre too. 

Can’t wait to see how my new daffs will do out there – the flower buds are heading skywards, so I shouldn’t have to wait long to find out.