Sunday, 30 March 2008

Lizzie got busy

It's 5 o'clock in the morning, and I've just said goodbye to my son, off back to Hull after his Easter break from uni. His dad drives him up, and then comes straight back, a 9 hour round trip if the traffic is OK. I was hoping to get in the garden today, but the rain is beating against the window, so unless it gets better....
Back to the title of this post, the busy lizzie seeds are coming through, little dots of green. Too small to handle yet, but a few more weeks should see them bursting with colour. The electric heated propagator is great. The pre-germination of parsnips worked, just in the kitchen, but a bit too quickly in one way. They began sprouting on Wednesday, but with OFSTED coming into school for Thursday and Friday, I haven't got anything done with them. Still there are plenty more seeds in the packet, and if they sprout that quickly it won't take long to do some more, timed to be ready in the school Spring Break. It seems strange not to be calling it the Easter holiday.
The lettuce in the greenhouse are really looking good now, and the dwarf peas I planted in the same pots, to take over once the lettuce are cut, are opening their first leaves. I wish I had more space! If it would only stop raining and let the ground dry enough I could perhaps get some stuff in to the ground. The next planting of lettuce seeds are through and will need pricking out next week.
Talking of pricking out, I did 45 lavender plants yesterday, 9 to a pot, and there must be as many again still in the seed tray. Hopefully some of the gardening club will want some! The clocks changed last night, and as I went to bed at 1.30 (last minute packing), and was up again at 4, (new times), I think I will close this and try to get some more sleep.

After a bit of a snooze, and a much needed tidy around the house, I finally made it back outside around 3 this afternoon. The sun had come out and I felt spring might be back. In the greenhouse an enormous bumble bee was battling against the glass. I opened the vent and she flew to freedom. On the way back to the house I realised there were at least 5 bumble bees busy in the spring flowering clematis. I made a cup of tea and intended to go back out and sit on the bench to watch them work, but by the time the kettle had boiled it was raining again!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Wet, windy and SNOW!

Well it's been a time since the last post. My first cold of the year decided to catch up with me, and I've felt pretty lousy for over a week. It's now Easter weekend, I'm still feeling grotty and it keeps hailing outside! I know Easter is very early this year, but it would have been lovely to get out into the garden for some fresh air.
Typically one plum tree has decided to bloom just as the weather turns bad again, the other one still has its buds snuggled up against the cold. The blueberry flowers are almost open now, and the camellias in the pots look lovely. Everything seems to be sprouting out, I just hope they don't catch a cold like me!
In the greenhouse I did prick out the rest of the celeriac seedlings. I've got 36 plants now, and I'm not sure if they will fit in around everything else. The leaves are a lovely shape and they looked good among the flowers last year but I did not have enough colour, so I need to put more flowers in. I think almost all the self saved lavender seeds are up, I haven't pricked them out yet, but the clumps of tiny thyme plants look good after their move last week. I'm still waiting for the busy lizzie seeds to sprout, and the dwarf clematis, a free packet of seeds, haven't shown yet either.
I was going to plant my seed potatoes, Vales Emerald, in pots last week, but I couldn't locate the pelleted chicken manure. After trawling the garden centres I found boxes at one of the cheaper odds and ends shops on Thursday, when I was looking for something else, so hopefully I'll get them in this weekend.
However I did notice the poor, shivering tomato plants at the garden centre. They had them in the unheated greenhouse part, and they definitely looked the worse for wear. I've still got mine tucked up in the warm, together with the chillies and peppers. They have had a couple of trips out to the greenhouse on better days, but looking out at the snow falling now, the best place is indoors!
I decided to try pre-germinating parsnip seeds as they are supposed to be very slow to get going. I've put them on damp kitchen roll in the kitchen, the forums reckon about 2 weeks in these conditions should do it, then plant into pots before putting outside. Daniel is very keen on parsnips, but space is at such a premium! Still he doesn't like much of the other stuff I grow so it seems a bit mean not to give them a go.
Yesterday I saw a gardening programme talking about a root veg called yacon, which is grown like a dahlia. The plants produce 2 types of tuber, ones for growing on next year, and storage ones to eat. Apparently you can eat them raw and they taste like pears, or put in stir fries like water chestnuts. There are some specialist suppliers of yacon syrup, sweet but we can't digest the sugar, so it's good for low carb diets. I found a supplier doing 5 plants for £12.50, and as long as you keep the growing tubers frost free, there should be no need to buy again! I'll keep you posted as to how it goes!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

All Change!

After the appalling weather yeaterday, we woke up to a cold, sunny morning. I was just relieved it wasn't raining as I was on duty outside at school!
When I got home tonight it was windy, but very mild. I checked out the greenhouse, and was pleased to see how well the celeriac and thyme seedlings looked after pricking out over the weekend. The lettuces and spinach in pots are doing well, and hopefully I'll pot up my chitted first early potatoes over next weekend. There are still puddles in the bottom of the greenhouse, but the path is dry!
The heated propagator has helped on a second sowing of tomatoes and peppers, which I'll pot on at the weekend too, but I did take the time to pot on the chillies from Nicola from the Garden Pub Club. Once I've got the space in the propagator I'll plant the busy lizzie seeds from Rachel.
In the garden the potted blueberries are showing flower buds and the buds are swelling on the cherry and plum trees too. There's no sign of life from the grape vine yet, but the prunings I stuck in a pot over the winter are showing little furry buds, so hopefully the roots are growing under the soil! Except for the daffodils there was no damage from the weather yesterday.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Windy and Wet

Today was not the best day for the garden. Torrential rain fell almost all day, and down by the garage the path was under 2 inches of water. Even the slate path up to the patio was flooded. Either side of the greenhouse path was awash with water, if the water cress seeds were up, they would have loved it!
Out of my kitchen window I could see the puddles of water around the trunk of the silver birch, and the daffodils were bruised and broken by the winds which whipped across the school fields. My tomato, chilli and pepper plants trembled on my bedroom window sill despite the double glazed windows, and the wind howled incessantly outside.
Looking on the bright side, the water butts will be full, the camellias and rhododendrons in their pots love rain water and the blackcurrants I planted over the weekend do not need watering!