Monday, 30 March 2009

Busy Weekend

Well Saturday was a disappointment in the weather stakes. The icy wind cut through despite the sun, and when the showers came some were hail. I'd planted out 8 kohl rabi seedlings on Friday, so I hope they were sufficiently hardened off to cope, They look OK, and so far have not been attacked by slugs. We had a frost last night, the car needed scraping this morning.
Takae and I spent some time in the warmth cutting up 2l plastic drinks bottles, and circling them with copper tape. Vicky came up with the idea, so we had a trip to the garden centre to buy some, and I was also persuaded into some organic slug pellets. Based on iron, they stop the slugs feeding, and then they go underground to die. Sounds great, and Vicky is desperate to protect the kohl rabi. Anyway each plant is enclosed in a circle of copper, I just hope we haven't trapped any slugs inside!
The tops and bottoms were left a reasonable size, and we have used those as mini-cloches over 8 lettuce plants. I am going to put some of them in pots too, but I have quite a few seedlings so I decided to give some a go in the garden.
The Hurst Green Shaft peas are not showing yet, but some of the Meteors were just poking their heads through, so they have gone into the garden, against the fence. They are planted quite thickly, so I hope that will help them support each other, though I will put in some sticks to help them. I've put the rose cuttings over to try to disuade the cats, as the soil is lovely and soft, just as they like it. I also sprinkle some over the Stay Off granules around. They do help, but you need to keep applying them.
I noticed tiny red seedlings coming through between the raspberry canes, so the beetroot seeds I planted a while ago have germinated. Hopefully they will grow before the raspberries take over. Also I wish I could persuade the raspberries to grow their canes in the right place. I have little ones coming up in the rhubarb (which was delicious stewed and mixed with yogurt), and between the wooden deck squares I've used as stepping stones.
The count of parsnip seedlings is growing, I plant out each one as it pokes its head through. Hopefully the tap root will then grow straight, and I won't get forked parsnips, which are such a pain to prepare for dinner.
I am really trying to make a difference to the food bill this year, so I planted 10 french beans in pots on the kitchen windowsill. They are 'Speedy', so should produce quickly. My plan is to keep them indoors as long as I can manage, then put them out into the greenhouse (which is already bulging at the seems). French beans do not need bees to pollinate them, so they should do well as long as they do not get too cold.
My onions I planted in January do not look too promising, later on today I hope to transplant the best ones, so I might get a few. The plan was to use some as spring onions, and let the rest grow on, but at the rate they are dying off I won't have any left. I don't know if it's damping off disease, but they are the only seedlings with a problem, everything else is looking really healthy.

Inside I have been sprouting a lot of seeds for use in salads. My favourite are sunflowers. I buy the hulled ones now, I might have mentioned it before. It saves removing them from the husks once they have sprouted, a fiddly and horrible job. I am trying out a new idea I saw on the internet though, sunflower greens. After the seeds have spouted, you plant them in trays and harvest the seedlings at the first real leave stage, so they are not too tough. Apparently it takes about 7 days, but it might be longer for me, because they are outside in the PatioGro, so are colder. I'm not sure where people get these growing times from, it would be useful if they would publish the growing conditions to achieve salad leaves in 2 weeks, radish in 4 etc.

One of the camellias is coming out, and with the miniture daffodils in pots and the various primroses the garden is looking so colourful at the moment. As a follow on I have tulips, the alpine clematis and the fruit trees, they are all waiting in the wings , and I don't think it will be long until the show starts. The only thing is, I think I will then have a colour gap, because the hardy carnations in the back garden are not in bud, the ones in the garage garden look better.

In the garage garden I have put in some poppies and cornflowers. I am trying to disguise the veg a bit, so people do not give into temptation. The sweet peas I have planted around the nut bushes seem to have taken, but I need to decide where the others are going. I have pots in the greenhouse that really need to go out soon. So much to do still, I think I will close now, and go and get on with it.
Edit - I've put in some pics, but they won't stay where I want them too, so sorry for the mess!

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