A light February flurry

…of gardening, at last!

It sure has been a quiet winter on the MBaF front. I’m a fair-season gardener for sure, and even my Gardener’s World magazines festered largely untouched some months.

But for a few hours, on a couple of recent days, the feeling of spring’s approach has begun to cajole these green fingers to flex.

Today has been one of those days, and it happened to coincide with no work and Miss MBaF at nursery. I couldn’t deny it any longer. Seeds. Were. Sown.

Hello 2016, and in Delia Smith’s immortal words: Let’s be avenue!

 

Pea Douche Provence sown. Over-wintered Nigella potted on.

 

 

Complacency is a slug’s best friend

Up to the ‘lotty in the freezing murk this afternoon, anticipating the harvest of the final winter cabbage (January King).

I knew it was GIGANTIC, and our last holiday supper before returning to work seemed the perfect occasion for its sacrifice.

Then…Gah! The magnificent dark green leafy globe had turned into a pathetic slimy brown mass.

It had drooped over, touched the ground, rotted off a bit and the slugs had a field day.

I could’ve cut it a month ago, but I was waiting for the right occasion; a special dinner, or a run of days when I could use it all up in different ways.

Turns out my complacency that it would wait – in peak condition – until I stopped dithering, was my downfall.

After stripping off all the manky leaves, the final score was Slugs 2/3: Family 1/3.

Hey ho, lesson learned, and our third was very crisp and delicious. My 2-year-old even ate it before her roast potatoes!

I hope the slugs enjoyed their portion as much.

First frost

This morning’s dog-walk was glorious, with frosted grass making the fields twinkle in the sunlight. It’s not crispy yet; the ground is still squishy and slippery under the dusting of icing. But the wintry signs are appearing, and there are three jobs I need to get on with this week.

Frosty fields

Frosty view over the fields

This summer I decided penstemons would feature in my 2015 garden, so I bought a dozen seedlings from Hayloft and stuck them in the ground. I’ve read that they can be a bit tender, and our garden is quite exposed, so I need to take steps to protect them.

Leaving this year’s foliage on until spring is supposed to help protect the important crowns. But my plants haven’t had time to bulk up yet, so I’m going to mulch them with a pile of bark chips too.

I’ll do the same with some of my dahlias at the allotment – Bishop’s Children – which have unexpectedly developed great big tubers after growing them from seed this year. Our soil is very free-draining, so [I’ve read] they might be OK with a good layer of protection on top.

However, I’m also going to try lifting and storing a few as recommended – in a shallow box in compost in a frost-free place. Both approaches are an experiment for me, I’ve never grown dahlias before and didn’t expect this variety to be perennial – but their colour is so intense, great for cutting, and the bees like their open blooms, so they’re worth the effort.

Bishop's Children dahlias in vase

Bishop’s Children blooms alongside Cosmos Purity, making my summer cider all the better.

Finally, I’ve accumulated various young plants grown from collected seeds (Sweet Williams from my Mum, Aquilegia from seedheads in a hedgerow) or purchased from Hayloft Plants and I’m sure these will need protection. The Fella knocked up a coldframe in the summer, so I’ll cosy them up in there for winter.

DIY coldframe

Mr MBaF building a coldframe from reclaimed decking boards and windows

Seedlings

My growing nursery