Tuesday, 24 April 2012

I know we've had a lot of rain but....

......this is taking things too far. This is what I found nestling in a heel print in one of the long borders this morning !!

To start the day off, I potted on the tomatoes that I had been growing on in my heated propagator at home. I sowed 6 seeds of each of the following varieties - Gardeners Delight, Golden Sunrise, Tigerella and Black Cherry. They were all sown in the same compost on the same day, were all treated exactly the same, but the number of seeds germinating varied drastically. The numbers were GD - 6/6, GS - 4/6, T - 1/6 and BC - 3/6. So although we have 14 plants, which is more than enough for the greenhouse, the germination rate overall was pretty poor at 58%. Poor quality or old seed ? Who knows?
The tomatoes were potted on into a mix of MP compost and Perlite and the seedlings were planted deep as tomatoes will throw more roots from the stem that is below the level of the compost, and the better and stronger the root system, the better and stronger the final plant.
I then potted on 2 chilli Big Jim plants that I also brought from home that are surplus to my own requirements.
And finally I potted on the Hispi cabbage, PSB and Nelson brussel sprout seedlings into 3" pots.
I also brought another 20 or so 8ft bamboo canes from home and put up the second row of supports for the cordon sweet peas. This gives two rows of canes about 3ft  apart with the canes being spaced at the distance of a size 10 welly boot apart (real high tech stuff you know).
There are three varieties that Sally selected to grow in this fashion -Daphne, Pink Pearl and Royal Wedding, and each had 21 seeds sown, resulting in todays planting out of 20 Daphne, 16 Pink Pearl and 14 Royal Wedding plants, all with side shoots growing away.

These plants have all had the growing tips nipped out to encourgae the growth of side shoots, of which the strongest is selected and trained up the cane. It will be held to the cane with these little plant rings

All, tendrils and side shoots will be removed twice weekly, to encourage the plant to produce fewer but bigger and better blooms for showing.
After planting out the cordon varieties, I planted out the Arrangers Blend of sweet peas at the base of their wigwams in the borders

Unlike the cordom grown plants which are grown singly, I planted these out as they came out the pots - in clumps of three plants.
Immediately after planting, all the sweet peas were given the protection of slug pellets, as slugs / snails (and we have both) are very partial to young sweet pea plants.
Elsewhere in the borders, we have orintal poppies threatening to break out.......

.......as are the first of the lupins........

and the pink rose with the honey scent by the door into the garden has numerous buds preparing to flower too......

It's not all good news though. There has been a casualty, albeit just outside the garden, but it is a big one !!

And when I was walking back up through the as yet untouched area of the garden after taking the photo above, I came across a large clump of these plants

I believe that these are Solomons Seal (Polygonatum), and if so, they shall be dug up and used in the garden.

And finally, here is this weeks shot from the potting shed. Pretty soon we should see some splashes of colour over and above the sea of green - if the weather would only dry up, and warm up too. The only plants that are truly happy in this weather are the weeds !

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Rain, Rain Go away -and stay away !

As the title of this post suggests, today was rather wet, though it wasn't anywhere near as bad as the forecasters had predicted - at least not up in this neck of the woods.
So here are the borders from the usual vantage point this morning.

Still greening up and new shoots appearing all over the place but the only new colour in the borders comes with a couple more types of tulips

Started the day by sowing some beetroot, variety Bolthardy, in cells. I know that you don't get the beautiful tap root etc by doing it this way but as these are culinary and not for show, it gives me a head start and also means I can plant out without any gaps appearing due to non germination. I can also thin the seedlings in the cells before planting out. I also sowed some Black Tuscan Kale and a pot of leeks, variety Musselburgh. I know it's a bit late for leeks but these can go in the ground whenever, as I already have a number of pots growing in my greenhouse at home for the various gardens I look after.
After sowing the veg, I started to take some cuttings from the dahlia tubers which are finally starting to produce shoots.

After this I made a start on this years temp veg patch by planting out the onion sets - 50 each of Sturon and Centurion F1. Just as I had levelled and raked the area for the onions, Sally came down to the garden and we set about deciding where to place the various perennials that have been growing on in the greenhouse over winter. So after placing the pots where we wanted them, Sally made a start on planting them out whilst I planted out the onion sets. When I had finished this.....

.....I finished planting out the remaining perennials. In total we planted out 18 x Campanula pyramidalis, 6 x Verbena hastata " Blue Spire", 3 x Rudbeckia, and 21 x assorted Hemerocallis, including 3 which produce double flowers.
I also planted out the 9 x Phlox that were laid out in the borders last week and transplanted  3 Geums and removed 3 Lupins that had self seeded last year and were where the Rudbeckia were going. .
There are still some perennials in the greenhouse - including 3 more Rudbeckia, 5 Echinops and 4 Phlox that weren't looking too healthy and were beginning to go backwards , so I removed them all from their pots, checked their root systems were okay and repotted them in some fresh compost with perlite added. Hopefully this will give them a bit of a boost and with the weather turning warmer (soon hopefully) they should be okay to go out next month.
Whilst I was in the greenhouse, I took the opporchancity to have a look at the sweet peas and select the strongest sideshoots on those that are to be cordon grown, removing the others with a pair of nippers. These will have to go out soon as the roots are now at the bottom of their pots.
Aftre this I returned to the veg bed and sowed three rows of Parsnips, variety "Gladiator". These were station sowed with three aseeds per station and then each row was covered by a plank of wood. I had read about this previously on a veg forum as a way of aiding germination of 'snips and this idea also appeared in the latest edition of Simply Veg - the quarterly magazine of the National Vegetable Society.
I finished the day by cutting back the foliage and dead-heading some of the clumps of daffs that had gone over. I know there are those who do this regularly and those who say you should never cut back the foliage but leave it to die back naturally - I personally have no preference. My main reason for deadheading and cutting back the fioliage to about 6" was to let the light and air into the white Campanula that are growing at the edge of this paticular clump of daffs. Then I lifted the last of the leeks and that was it, another day done.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A day of two halves

Well, after the snow of last Tuesday, the temperatures have never really got much above 9 and even the greenhouse has only just remained above 0 some nights.
But it was dry and not at all windy in my arrival so it was straight on the back with the knapsack sprayer and I sprayed off  all the paths, round the greenhouse, the veg bed and the area surrounding it, and a wide strip below the lower herbaceous border.
Despite the overall drop in temperature, the borders continue to progress and green up and it is good to see that most, if not all the plants are coming back bigger, better and stronger than last year, which for many was their first.

There are tulips starting to  open now, just as the daffs are starting to fade a wee bit (their lifespan wasn't exactly boosted by last weeks snow), including these ones in the top border

Similarly , down in the greenhouse the perrenials due to be planted out next month are really getting a shift on and despite a few casualties, most are looking really healthy. The ones pictured below, Verbena hastata "Blue Spire",  have really put on a lot of growth in the last week or so

Elsewhere in the greenhouse, I potted on the lupins grown from self-saved seed - there were 54 cells sown and we have got 48 young lupins so I'm quite happy, These are destined to form a "wall" below the hedge of the lower of the two herbaceous borders.

Also in the greenhouse are the sweet peas, both for the borders and for the exhibition cordon growing trial. These have already had their grwoing tips pinched out and the sideshoots are beginning to grow away well. The pots pictured below are the variety Daphne which are one of the three varieties to be grown as cordons.

Finally in the greenhouse, the onion sets are going to need planted out in the very near future - let's just hope it warms up soon.

Still on the veg front, Sally had put the seed tatties in the potting shed to chit a couple of weeks ago. However, see what happens when you feed the friendly mouse with pizza -this is how he / she / it repays you.

The trays are now balanced on top of two Morrisons Flower Buckets - hopefully this should stop any further damage.

As the title of this weeks entry states, this was a day of two halves. Fine and dry in the morning, really wicked heavy showers in the afternoon. I spent the afternoon with my mattock, continuing the removal of dockens, dandelions, nettles and old currant bush roots from the fruit bed. Finally, I pulled some leeks for Sally before I finished. There are another half dozen or so left and that's them done.

As you can imagine, I was pretty well soaked through by the time, so it was time to head home and get the stove on - bliss! See you next week

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Scorchio No More !

What a chamge from last week. When I got up this morning there was about 1/2 inch of snow in my own garden. However I am only a couple of minutes walk from the coast and only about 100m above sea level. Scotsburn is a bit further from the coast and 400m above sea level - and what a difference it makes. There was between 3 and 4 inches of snow lying in the garden on my arrival and throughout the morning, several more small but nasty falls kept it going for a while longer.
Here is what I was met with this morning...

And the view from the potting shed..........

Whilst it was still this miserable, I decided that the potting shed could do with a clear out and set abot sorting everything out and sweeping up the detritus of 26 or so years, so now I have a place for everything and everything in it's place ..........

As you can see, the weather started to brighten up soon after I finished and the aftenoon was actually very pleasant indeed. Whilst clearing the potting shed, I came across an old piece of a cardboard box which originally held hyacinth bulbs

More to the point, there were handwritten notes below each picture stating where they should be planted and what with. From the right,  Jan Bos was to be planted in tubs along with Parrot tulips and Anemone blanda, L'Innocence was to be planted in bowls along with Lily Tulips, Ostara was to be in bowls on its own, City of Harlem was to be planted in a row in the front border of the house along with Parrot Tulips and Lady Derby on it's own in bowls.
Although there was still snow on the ground, it was retreating from the edges of the walls as the weasther brightened, so I got the Mantis out and rotavated the ground for the first line of the cordon sweet peas that Sally wants to grow for showing this year. This bed had already been dug over and the Mantis made short work of the soil. Then it was in with the canes at approximately a size 10 welly distance apart. The canes were then strung together and staked at both ends. There is another row to do next eek when I bring over some more canes.

By now it was actually getting quite warm and various plants were beginning to show themselves.
There was the ornamental quince, Chaenomeles japonica, of which there are two in the garden - one with a white flower and the other with the more common red flower.......

In the long borders, the three Paeony "Sara Bernhardt" plants are looking well .......

And up by the summerhouse, the Viburnum looks good, especailly against a clear blue sky !...

Down in the greenhouse, things continue to grow on well, and yet another tree paeony has appeared, giving us four plants from seven seeds sown. The first of the brassica seeds are germinating......

And the self saved lupins continue to appear - there are now 51 young seedlings in the tray (don't try and count them - some cells have two seedlings in!).....

After watering everything that needed it, I decided to set about the fruit border next. Now this is full of old blackcurrant bushes, bramble roots, nettles, thistles, dockens etc etc, so Ibrought my old mattock out of retirement especially for this border.........

And that's about it for this week - nothing done that was planned to do but still quite a lot achieved in spite of the snow. See y'all next week.