Category Archives: Garden

Dahlias

I’d forgotton that I’d ordered some Dahlias before Christmas. The postman dropped them on the mat this morning. Very exciting, even if I couldn’t remember exactly what I actually did order. When I opened the packet I discovered three dried tubers. These have the appearance of something you might not want to pick up from the park. I thought back to the conversation I had with the mail order company just after Christmas, the chap I spoke to seemed surprised that I wanted to order tubers rather than cuttings especially after I informed him that I’d never grown them before. Oh dear, I suppose I can understand what he was worried about. Its a bit like me giving away my tomato plants to relatives – my grandma always tells me that my mum is ‘not very good with houseplants’. By this she is very politely saying that my mother has killed every plant that she has ever given her to the extent that she buys me plants rather than my mum (ho, ho, ho). Well if the nursery man reads this I can assure him that I’ll do my best to make sure that his tubers florish.

My trawling around the internet didn’t give me as much information as I would haved liked. There was a lot of information about planting dahlia cuttings and chucking the tubers into the ground but not too much about planting the tubers for taking cuttings. Broadly speaking it was something like:

  • Do it in February, indoors
  • Put them in damp potting compost but leave a bit of the tuber above the surface
  • Take cuttings when there are 2 notches(joints) on the shoots
  • Don’t plant the cuttings (or tubers) outside until all signs of frost has gone

So I planted my 3 tubers in damp compost inside. Hopefully I’ve done the right thing. Heres the result:

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Kind of reminds me of a ‘turd on the beach’. If I was a modern artist I’m sure I could make good money out of these photographs – especially once they start producing shoots. Wonder what the critics would make of the gingham on the table?

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This is plot 1, where some of these dahlias will end up at the end of may

This is plot 2, where some more dahias will be planted.


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I wanted to get a before and after picture. This is the before, I cleared some space, turned the soil and dug some compost in.

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Rasperries – In the bleak midwinter…..

I’m new to rasperries. We inherited a few rasperry bushes when we moved into this place and the few bushes that we have produced a huge amount of fruit at the end of last summer. Fab!

I’m completely converted, rasperries seem pretty easy. I thought I’d follow their development this year to get an idea of what they do.

This is the south facing fence which they grow along. There is a gap in the middle because I removed a 1m section of plants as they didn’t produce anything at all. I thought I’d fill this with a cougette and then plant some more rasperries at the end of the season. At the moment there is a plastic sheet over the ground and I’ve dug in quite a large quantity of compost. I’ve also covered the ground around the rasperry stems with leaf mould/compost to keep the weeds at bay.

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We have a very clay soil. Rasperries (so I’ve read) will grow in most soil types but they don’t like waterlogged roots during the winter. This may be why the section in the middle were not doing very well.

We also have some Loganberry bushes set against a north facing fence on the other side of the garden. These produced a lot of fat berries last year but it was difficult to catch the berries before they shrivelled and went to seed. I’ll make more of an effort this time.

My Geraniums Got Toasted (Well frosted….)

We had a really nice day last week so i thought I’d put my geranium cuttings outside to get a bit of air. I’m sure they loved it but in the melee of getting the house ready for a dinner party I forgot to bring them in overnight. It was very frosty and so yet again, I’ve lost more than half of my geraniums to the weather.

Will I ever learn? I think I do this most years. Luckily one or two survive each year so I can butcher them at the end of the season for cuttings.

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The curled leaves on this one clearly show the frost damage

Notice how few leaves are left – I removed the frost damaged ones to check rot


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I took these cuttings in October and left them in the garage until the first frosts when I brought them inside. As you can see from the cuttings they are not very well advanced and they’ve got quite a bit of frost damage. It will take them quite a few weeks to recover. They’ll be fine as long as I keep them inside until the spring and make sure I don’t over water.

Neat & Tidy Propagator

I always grow from seed. I always have the seeds indoors because its warmer. I’m very careful, but I’m told by my beautiful wife that I always leave soil around. Weird.

I found a cheap coldframe/propagator when I was christmas shopping. Its a clear plastic box. I don’t like buying plastic but I wanted something that I could move easily between the house and garden without loads of mess and would double as an indoors propogator and an outdoors cold frame.

These boxes are fab. They are strong, they are clear, they are big enough to take seed trays (with a little adjustment) and they have a lid. I think they will be just perfect. I used to have a greenhouse. This was fine for bringing plants on early but no good at all for raising seedlings. Instead I filled all the windowsills in the house with seedtrays and even though I put paper underneath, I still managed to stain all of the paintwork…..

I planted some tomatoes, Gazania and some other thing this evening as you can see. I think I may just get away with it this year!

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The Mice Ate My Peas – I don’t like mice anymore

We have mice, I’ve known this since we moved in. I’ve seen evidence of them in the garage and I did wonder about the ‘Mouse Genocide’ chemicals that the last owners left behind. They’ve nibbled on candles and a couple of fatballs that I left out on the bench, not too much of a problem. I also think they’ve discovered how to get into the compost bin. I’ve seen them scurry off when I’ve lifted the lid a few times. All in all pretty harmless. I quite like mice, always have done. I’m sure they are not very hygengic and all the other things which people moan about but they live in the garage and frankly I really don’t mind.

That was, however, until I left out my Feltham First peas on the bench in the garage. There was 2/3 of a packet left when I put them there. When I came back the bottom corner of the packet had been neatly chewed and there were only 3 peas left.

I don’t like mice anymore.

I’ve ordered some more early peas to replace the ones that were maliciously eaten and I’ve installed some pea netting over the ones that I planted. Wouldn’t want the stinking pigeons to get these.

I’m off to plant some tomatoes. 🙂

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So I spent too much on seeds again

I love this time of year. You know you’re past the shortest day and its soon going to start getting lighter in the mornings. Its also the time of year when I make decisions about what i’m going to try and grow. It doesn’t always work out – i’ve ended up with 40 tomato plants when I had the space for about six and i’ve repeatedly failed to propagate clematis from cuttings. I’ve only been doing this for a couple of years though and I’m slowly, slowly becoming a little better at deciding what to try and grow. One of my biggest problems is trying to grow on absoutely everything rather than being prepared to only select the best seedlings.

I tend to enjoy trying to raise plants from seeds rather than buying in young plants. They can be be expensive and its difficult to get exactly the type you’re looking for. Its also not much fun!

Criteria:

  • Slightly unusual
  • Expensive to buy in shops
  • Haven’t grown before
  • Good use of garden space and summertime

I spent a little time trying to get a feel for what I can plant where in the garden. As we moved in in june last year I know roughly where the sun falls in the garden, which bits get baked and which bits are in shadow. This makes a big difference. We moved into our last house in october and my first summer was a bit of a disaster!

I’ve added a calendar here which gives a guide as to what I should be planting when.

More Veg Plot 3

Spent a bit more time on veg plot 3. It now has sides and i’ve dug over the sticky clay soil and added quite a large proportion of leaves to improve the soil texture.

The rest of the compost won’t go in until late spring so its had time to compost a bit more. The soil in the bed won’t be ready until next year as it’ll take a while for the leaves and small twigs to break down. Depending on how it goes there might a possibility of growing some thing in the bed late spring to keep the weeds away and break up the soil a little more.