Archive for the ‘Sowing’ Category

The year’s garden, week by week.

Friday, March 11th, 2011

March 11th. 2011

March 2nd week

A bit more structure to my blog this week.

Kitchen garden

The spring is in full swing now. Farmers are extremely busy cultivating the land and sowing , so take a leaf from their book and get busy.

1. If you haven’t already got the maincrop potato tubers, onion sets and garlic, planted, do so this weekend.

2. Prepare the ground for the beans. See item no 10 Second week Feb. blog.. Do not plant Beans out yet, much too cold. Get them started in root trainers or small deep pots, indoors in the greenhouse.

3. Parsnips can be difficult to germinate. I sometimes sow a batch in Feb/March, when conditions allow, sometimes it works, sometimes, they fail to rise to the occasion. If you want to take the chance out of parsnip success, leave until May to sow them.

4. Get all the cultivation of your outdoor growing areas done now if you have not already done so.

5. Areas already prepared, keep an eye for sprouting weeds and remove immediately before they seed and spread. For ease of maintenance of kitchen garden, all areas surrounding should be kept weed free at all times.

6. Sow some early carrots in the greenhouse

7. Consider harvesting the rainwater. We purchased 2 new large plastic oil tanks and rigged them up to the two large sheds. Great for watering the greenhouse, especially the seed trays and seedlings. The mains water is very hard.

8. Home composting. If you can get a tumbler composter it is the fastest, most efficient type. You would need two. Make sure, when they are full, that you will physically be able to turn them. Some designs are painful! Otherwise, simple heaps in the kitchen garden, well composed of different layers of green & brown material will work fine. Compost happens!

9. Mulch the fruit bushes, especially Raspberries & feed

10. Gardening Tools should be cleaned thoroughly. At the beginning of winter a bucket of sand with some waste oil mixed in, is a great way of cleaning and preserving tools in good condition. Just plunge the steel part in and out, wipe off and store. The bucket of sand without oil is a great quick cleanser at this time of the year when you are using the tools constantly.

Ornamental Garden

1. There is still time to plant bare rooted trees, hedges, roses etc., but hurry, the sap is rising!

2. Divide and transplant snowdrops now

3. The lawn can be cut if ground conditions allow. Raise the mower a notch. Cutting it too short now will encourage new soft growth which will damage in cold spells. Do a critical survey of the lawn now. Are there weeds, moss, bare patches, build up of thatch, looking bedraggled after the winter? Talk more about this in April.

4. If your lawn mower was not serviced after last year’s season, bring it in now for a service. Blunt blades leave jagged grass. Not a cool look!

5. Keep ahead of the weeds. Tip along the beds with your hoe. A few minutes regularly hoeing in early spring will save hours of valuable BBQing and relaxing time, later in the summer. When you have beds all clean and fresh, apply a 75mm layer of fine bark mulch. It keeps the moisture in and annual weeds to a minimum. Perennial weeds like Docs and nettles will persist unless the root is removed by manual or chemical means.

6. Clean out all last years pots. Put a layer of stones in the base, then a layer of fleece blanket, then some good top soil mixed with compost and grit sand. All set for planting later in the spring.

7. Pruning. When Forsythia is finished flowering, cut out the flowering branches. Winter heathers, give them a shave after flowering. Dogwoods, prune back young dogwoods hard, by about 2/3rds. Old overgrown shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting back hard now. Never cut the following back hard, Broom, Lavender, Heathers. Escallonia hedges have been suffering badly from blight and frost damage for the past 3 years. My advice in coastal areas is to cut back hard now, feed with pelletted chicken manure and keep them weedfree at the base. Inland Escallonias, if the frost doesn’t kill them this year it may next year, consider planting a hardy hedge. They are not so great in areas prone to heavy frost. The same applies to Griselinea hedges. Hardy hedges include, Beech, Holly, Hawthorn, Laurel, Hornbeam, Yew.

8. Plant some Lillium bulbs in pots. Will give a great show later and if given a bit of protection for the winter will come back next year.

9. If you want to cover an unattractive wall or fence, fix lines of vine eyes with rust proof heavy wire and plant Rosa Madame Alfred Carriere, along with Clematis Jackmanii superb (in the same planting hole). Train the stems onto the wires as they grow. Enjoy!

10. Bring a bit of nature into your garden, butterflies & bees. Plant Verbena bonariensis x lots, Buddleia, Sedum spectable, Cotoneaster, Fuchsia, Lavender,

11. Visit your local garden centre and see what,s looking good now. Plant if you are ready to do so, otherwise take a note in your new hardcover garden note book of what’s looking good and take a photo, for future reference.

12. Enjoy your garden this weekend!

My plant of the week:

Contorted Hazel

Contorted Hazel

Tip of the week: When planting onion setts, snip off the little dead shoots. This will help prevent birds from lifting them out of the ground.

The year’s garden, week by week

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March First week

Golden treasure!

Golden treasure!

I wander’d lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vale and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils,

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

W. Wordsworth

What a beautiful description of this wonderful sight at this time of year. It lifts your heart and spirits.

There is something about spring, March in particular, that just energises me. Maybe its the emergence of new life from the barren, frozen ground. The magic of it never ceases to amaze me.

Now for some more magic.

The garden is really awakening now in my neck of the woods, which is a mild area. Camellias have been in bloom for a month now, Daffodils, Crocus, Snowdrops & Hyacinths are showing off their new spring coats. The winter Cherry (Prunus Autumnalis) is putting on a grand finale show of little pink, fairy-light, flowers. The beautiful red stems of the Rhubarb are glistening in the sunshine. Spring has definitely sprung!

So, what should we be doing in the garden?

  • Sow some lettuce seed indoors. It germinates fast. Use Jiffy 7’s for a change. The seed germinates in this peat disc and then you can transplant it without disturbance into the ground or into a pot. Sprinkle a little gritty sand around it to deter Mr slimey!
  • Mulch the Raspberries
  • Get some strawberry plants and plant them indoors (greenhouse or cloche) or outdoors. Existing outdoor strawberry plants should be tidied, removing old leaves and rubbish & letting air flow around the crown. To save space in the greenhouse, you could plant the strawberries in a raised planter, and sow other crops underneath. This makes it easier to remove the plants after fruiting. I never leave strawberry plants in the greenhouse after fruiting because of the risk of inviting vine weevil and they never fruit well indoors in the second year anyway.
  • Take advantage of the last couple of weeks of the bare rooted season. Bare rooted hedges & trees are cheaper! Get your skids on though, the sap is rising!
  • Buy yourself a soil thermometer to check the temperature of the soil before sowing seeds. if you sow seeds in soil that is too cold, they will die a miserable cold death!
  • Have a look at the finances. See if you can rise to a small greenhouse, polytunnel or even a simple coldframe. We have a polytunnel approx 13m x 6m. We grow the following in there; potatoes, strawberries, garlic, chilies, peppers, tomatoes, more tomatoes (we like tomatoes), mangetout, basil, more & more basil (we like basil very much) parsley, rocket, lettuce, coriander. We also like to bask in our polytunnel in the winter sunshine or sit for a glass of well earned wine… lovely!
  • Catch up on all the work you did not get around to in February.
  • Get lots of early nights because next week I am going to give you a lot of work. March is the busiest month of the spring.

Plants of the week:Prunus autumnalis (Winter Cherry, small tree) Cornus alba Sibirica (Red Dogwood)

I feel a tart coming on!

I feel a tart coming on!

Talk to you next week.

The year’s garden, week by week

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Is that how you do it?

Is that how you do it?

February Fourth week.

Welcome back to my blog. I hope it is of benefit to you. Straight to work now.

  • Where ground conditions allow, dry and workable soil, make a start on some Parsnips, if you like them. I never use them as a veg but always include them in homemade veg soups. I like them as part of a dish of roasted veg too. Ground must be well dug, deep and manured the previous year. Never freshly manure ground immediately before sowing carrots or parsnips, the roots will go like octopus tentacles. Avonresister is resistant to rust.
  • Sow onion seeds. Sunny position, good deep soil, well manured and very well prepared. If the ground is not dry enough, leave for another few weeks. Sow some parsley nearby to deter the onion fly.
  • Plant clumps of Gladioli bulbs into your beds and borders.
  • Start some Dahlias off in pots now indoors. They are great for late summer colour. I particularly like the modern single red one Bishop of LLandaff. Dark purple foliage against the crimson red flower
  • If you want to sow some summer bedding plants, now is the time to start to sow the seeds, indoors in seed trays. Petunias, Marigolds, Lobelia, Alyssum etc. A heated propagator is a useful bit of hardware to have. This will get the seeds germinated quickly, eg Busy Lizzie, lobelia etc. Annuals can not be planted outside until at least May, even later in colder districts.
  • If you have Blackcurrant, Raspberries or Gooseberry bushes, they would love a mulch of well rotted manure or garden compost now. This will help to keep moisture in the plants in a dry spell, feed the plants and help with the weed control. Rhubarb also benefits from a mulch.
  • Visit your garden centre and see whats looking good now.
  • If you are not adventurous enough this year to grow veg from seed, the garden centres will have seedlings in trays, ready to plant later. Take your time, no rush on these just yet.
  • Plant of the week. Forsythia spectablis. Gorgeous big cheerful shrub, laden with bright yellow flowers on bare wood right now.
  • Get a large pot with drainage holes in the bottom, plastic will do. (approx. 600mm diameter) Place a couple of inches of stones in the base, layer of capilliary matting over the stones, fill with ericaceous top soil (Not compost). Position the pot on a nice sheltered, warm sunny patio. Purchase two Blueberry plants, for pollination. Plant them in the pot. Water them weekly, feed with tomato food weekly and you will be rewarded with pounds of delicious blueberries for your fruit salads for the summer. You will need to put a net over them otherwise Mrs Blackbird and Mrs Robin will beat you to it.

Plant of the week: Camellia.

Camellia Donation

Camellia Donation