Six on Saturday – April 21st

They forecast dry sunny weather today, and rain from about 9pm…. well they weren’t overly accurate, it started raining at lunchtime. But now it’s  mid afternoon and the sun’s back out again, so we’re making the most of the dry warm day. Anyhow, welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. I don’t understand why women’s gardening gloves aren’t made to withstand “proper” work in the garden (or on the allotment). This is the only pair I’ve found which are short enough for me to wear (I can get children’s gardening gloves on, but I can’t bend my hand while wearing them!), and still can protect against most things…. but stinging nettles can still get to me through the padded fingers, and these are so filthy the mud now comes through!

    I think these desperately need a clean…. but I want to get a spare pair first, in case they don’t hold up to washing (the last time I tried washing a different style of gardening gloves, the fingers fused together as they dried (out of sunlight, left flat) & were utterly useless!
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  2. You know those broad beans we thought weren’t ever going to grow? They went down to the allotment this week – considering the weather, we had a surprisingly good success rate in them germinating and growing!
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  3. The “compost mystery plant” is a mystery no more – I brought this one home in a pot this week, and it’s definitely a mint plant… it must have broken through into the base of the compost bin, as I’ve been careful to not put any mint into the bin at all!

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  4. A relic from last year (or maybe the year before), these strawberries have been neglected, and left outside the front door. But they look quite healthy (or will do once I give them a bit of water), so they might go back onto the allotment next week.
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  5. And from the healthy, to the …. dead. The Snow White strawberries in the garden were looking quite wet, so we brought two into the porch to try and give them some dry warm weather. Unfortunately, they just didn’t seem to have any inspiration to keep growing – these look pretty dead to me, and the remaining ones in the garden aren’t looking any better.

    I’m hoping the 4 on the allotment will survive, but if not, this was an expensive failed experiment!
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  6. And last but not least, is the Rhino Runna that has made hundreds of trips to the allotment and back… and is suffering as a result! This is what it looked like new (courtesy of Amazon):

    and this is the state of our Rhino Runna

    The rust is taking over, and I’m thinking it’s about time I tried doing something about it, before it just disintegrates into a pile of rusty dust!

So here’s my question for you – how on earth do I tackle this?!
Is it just a case of a wire brush and lots of patience to rub off the remaining paint and rust, then using some kind of primer paint that will stop the rust coming back, before painting it with a top coat?
(as you can guess, we’ve never done any maintenance on it other than pumping up the tyre!)

 

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Six on Saturday – April 14th

So much for sunshine, it’s all foggy and murky out there this morning. But they’re teasing us with forecasts of 21C for parts of next week, so maybe Spring really has sprung! Welcome to my  Soggy Six on Saturday!

  1. We’ve been talking about getting the Blackberry bush onto some kind of support for ages, and finally found some suitable stakes this week. I thought it was going to be challenging to get the stakes in the ground, but it was surprisingly easy – a couple of old socks on the end of the stake padded the top, while a large pebble-like stone worked as a makeshift hammer.

    All we need now are some suitably short vine eyes to screw into the wood, and we can get the wires attached.
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  2. Rhubarb! It’s grown a lot in the last week, so this week we brought home the first few pieces – not enough to make a crumble(!), in fact it could be described as a “taste” of rhubarb rather than a sensible sized helping, but looking at the plants, I think there’s plenty more to come.

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  3. We decided it was time to tidy the Raspberry patch before the autumn-fruiting raspberries grow too much. The grass sneaks into the patch every year, making the patch feel more like a jungle at times, but I want to try and keep it more under control this year. As you can see, it’s not the easiest ground to dig grass out from, but the lumps of grassy soil we removed, have been ‘recycled’ into steps at the side of the plot.

    There’s still a lot of work to be done before this is grass-free (or at least has a straight edge!), but I think the soil needs to dry out a bit more before we can get more digging done.
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  4. Digging out the Cucamelon patch was a bit easier, although there’s a lot of huge stones lurking just under the soil. We’ve not planted anything in this section on a regular basis, and a couple of inches below the surface there’s pure clay…. I think this calls for a load of compost before we can plant anything!

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  5. Several years ago, I bought this Penstamon and up to now it’s been looking great… unfortunately the green leaves it had last month, have all browned off. I’m guessing it didn’t approve of the cold and snow in March. A relative tells me I should “cut it back”, but didn’t tell me if it’s like Lavender where you don’t cut it back too much, or if it should be cut back as hard as possible. I’m reliably informed by Granny’s Garden that nothing should be cut until the risk of frost is over, and she cuts back to one green leaf on each stalk. Given that I have zero green leaves on the stalks, that might prove challenging, but I’ll give it another week or so just to check the chance of frost, given that the allotment site is so exposed.

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  6. Finally, we have a Morrison’s Supermarket bargain buy… these Geraniums aren’t heading to my allotment, but we’re potting them up to grow on for a relative’s garden.

 

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Six on Saturday – April 7th

What’s that strange glowing blob in the sky? And more to the point, why is the sky blue instead of that murky grey colour? It must mean the sunshine is out, so we could finally get some more work done on the allotment! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

 

  1.  Several weeks ago, I ordered a new raised bed – I thought the plastic corners would help make it more sturdy. After a couple of phone calls to chase the company, it finally arrived this week, so I was looking forward to getting it all set up on the allotment. There was a slight problem though… the plastic corners were all smashed to pieces.So we’ve now arranged to take this piece of rubbish back to the store for a refund, and I’m still needing to find a decent, sturdy metre-square raised bed! Anyone got any suggestions, given that my DIY skills are lacking at being able to make my own?
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  2. I finally got around to weeding the second strawberry raised bed yesterday. It looks like the March snow killed off a few of the strawberry plants in this bed as well as the main one (no photos until I get a replacement frame for that!), so either I will use some of the spare strawberry plants from the garden or I might actually be reckless and buy some fresh plants to fill the gaps. Anyone have a favourite variety they would recommend? (My original 9 plants came from a newspaper promotion and I haven’t a clue what variety they are!)
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    The strawberry plants on the right are the Just Add Cream ones, and I planted out four Snow White on the left of that raised bed yesterday – they look absolutely minuscule, but these are the biggest four so far!

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  3. According to my half-written allotment diary from last year, we were already picking rhubarb by this point. It’s way too small to pick right now, but it’s all growing really well so hopefully it won’t be long before Rhubarb Crumble season starts!

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  4. No photo of the main potato patch, but this is the overflow patch! I have read that you can put black polythene down on the soil surface to save the need for earthing up the potatoes, so if I can find some I might give that a go once these sprout through the soil.

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  5. The peas were looking a lot healthier than the spring onions, and I decided it was time they were planted out. The label on the pot just said “plant out as soon as possible” which was really informative! I’m hoping that the way I put the netting in a zigzag will mean it’s not too challenging to pick the peas (assuming they grow!).

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  6. And finally, I have no idea whether it was a deer, badger, the wind, or just the cabbages wanting to escape, but I think we need to work on replacing the fleece covers!

Here’s hoping for some more dry weather, so the plants can recover from all that cold and snow last month.  Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – March 31st

So much for the weather improving – it’s been wet, wet and a bit more wet this week (and forecast even more wet over the Easter weekend).

 

The ground is far too wet to dig, so I had a rummage through my tub of seeds to sort out what I can plant once the weather improves (again)…. here’s my  Six (seeds) on Saturday!

 

 

 

  1.  I’ve grown herb fennel on the allotment for years. I planted it next to the compost bin in the hope the aniseed smell would cover any pongs when the compost bin lid is removed! However, I’ve never grown bulb fennel, so this will be an interesting experiment!

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  2. I know I bought a pot of sweet peas, but this packet of seeds is left over from a previous year. I’ve tried growing sweet peas from seed before, but it’s never been successful (the loo roll tubes got so soggy it all disintegrated before the seeds had germinated!). Maybe this year I might get on better….

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  3. Runner Beans are a standard sight on our allotment. We usually plant two long rows of them, but during the last couple of years the bamboo canes kept falling over with the weight of the plants. This year we’re planning two long rows again, but this time we’ll only join the bamboo canes together for half of the row, so if one end starts to fall over, it shouldn’t pull all of them over…. I hope!

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  4. Our local council-run allotment site allows 25% flowers (including wild flowers), but that limit only counts non-edible flowers…. Nasturtiums flowers are edible (although I admit I’ve never tried them!), so these seeds will be going into my flower patch to work as some ground cover, and also to attract the pollinating insects.

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  5. This packet of green manure was probably bought a couple of years ago. It’s a good idea in theory, to grow something which can then be dug in to help improve the soil…. but I think we left it too long before digging it in when we tried before.
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  6. And finally, I had totally forgotten we had this packet of seeds! I’ve never tried growing Rocket before, and I think it was the name Dragon’s Tongue which attracted me to this one. Apparently they can be grown indoors as well, so I might try sowing a few seeds in a pot on the windowsill as well as sowing some on the allotment.

Here’s hoping for some dry weather after Easter, so the soil will be suitable to dig! Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – March 24th

The weather improved after the snowy Sunday, which meant we had a chance to finally get some work done on the allotment. So here’s my Six on Saturday with no snow in sight!

  1.  First up are the Broad Beans…. earlier in the week we had none, now we have 9! Just a few (!) more needed for 100% success rate, but hopefully the warmer weather will encourage them to get growing.
    ….on the allotment, the ones I planted under fleece last year are looking great!
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  2. A quick chitting update on the potatoes – the first earlies are still looking like they’re hardly doing anything (egg box to the top left in particular), while the second earlies look almost ready to plant out!

    I put my weather station sensor on the rack next to the spuds to see what the temperature was – it’s been about 6C during the cold snap this week, but on Thursday was more like 13C. Hopefully that extra warmth will encourage those first earlies to get a move on!
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  3. On to the strawberries now, and the ones that were partly covered with snow from earlier in the month. These are white-fruiting strawberries, and most look like they have fresh growth – next month they’ll be planted out in the raised bed (once I’ve laced some twine through the net to close up the holes – these nets rip far too easily!).

    And the new addition (last year) on the allotment, pink-flowered “Just Add Cream” which is actually looking better than some of my older ‘regular’ strawberry plants!
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  4. I thought I’d better plant out those new Spring Onions from last week (the packaging says “plant out as soon as possible”), so I spent a while carefully separating each plant. Not only did it fill my newest half-sized raised bed (avoiding where I planted the chives of course), but I had three left over, which went into the raised bed with the Just Add Cream strawberries.

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  5. I dug up the oldest lavender plants, and tried digging over the soil in preparation for the pea plants. About 3 inches below the surface, I kept hitting stones so I think this bit is in need of a thick layer of fresh compost before anything gets planted in it.

    The two pots house two mint plants – the one on the left was so compacted, I couldn’t loosen any of the soil to try and get the weeds out.
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  6. And finally, a “mystery compost plant”…. yes, you read that right. I needed to get some compost out of the bin and discovered a lot of these little plants growing in the top. But I haven’t a clue what they are!
    We did bin these, as we didn’t want to find it was a weed we didn’t want to keep, but does anyone have any idea what they could be? I think there’s possibly more growing in the compost bin still!

 

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Three on Thursday – March 22nd

Ok, so there’s not really a garden “Three on Thursday” but I had some photos from Sunday’s snow, which won’t really fit into my Six on Saturday!

 

  1. A creative photo to start with – this was taken in my garden, but can you guess what it is? (solution at the end – no scrolling down until you’ve guessed)

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  2. Those new herbs from Saturday’s Six had a rude awakening on Sunday, with a layer of snow covering them. Surprisingly, they didn’t seem to mind too much.

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  3. Most of the snow had melted, but the Berberis was clinging on to a few patches.

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Continue reading “Three on Thursday – March 22nd”

Six on Saturday – March 17th

So much for it getting closer to spring – they forecast snow for tomorrow, and we’ve already had some snowfall this morning (although it did melt as it hit the ground). Nevertheless it’s still Saturday, so here’s my plan(t)s for the allotment, plus a rogue 6th picture for my Six on Saturday.

  1. I’d been toying with the idea of digging up some of the older lavender plants on the allotment for a while. They haven’t been looking at their best for a while, and ended up as a mostly tangled knot of dead-looking wood. So here’s the first replacement plant for that bit…. Lemon Thyme. According to the plant label it grows to 45cm tall, so if it doesn’t look like it’ll work to replace the lavender, it might end up near the rhubarb to act as a bit of ground cover.

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  2. This Oregano is also destined to replace the lavender. I’ve never actually used any of the herbs I grow in cookery – maybe this year it’s a good reason to find out how to use them, and what they would go best with!
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  3. There’s also some (even older!) lavender behind the seat on the allotment, and that part of the plot tends to get overlooked most years. As an experiment, I bought these Hurst Green Shaft peas to plant there instead, to see if that works out any better.
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  4. Last year I bought some White Lisbon spring onions, planted them in the raised bed, and they all got nobbled by something (slugs and snails maybe?)…. it shouldn’t have been the deer unless they managed to press down on the netting to make the onion tips poke through! But this year I’m determined to try them again, so this is a strip of spring onions from Homebase, which will be going into the newest raised bed with the chives (suitably spaced, so I don’t get in a muddle with what green growth is what!).
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  5. Each year I think “I’ll grow sweet peas from seed next year” and I never do…. and this year is no exception! It’s earlier in the year than I’ve bought the plants before, but I was just attracted to the name and colour of this variety.
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  6. Ok, I admit my 6th photo isn’t actually one in my garden at the moment. I spotted this Nolina Beaucarnea in Homebase yesterday, but there were no instructions on how to care for it. Rather than buy it then discover that it’s too picky to be a success, I thought I’d just take a photo, research it, then head back next week to buy it!
    Apparently it’s a Ponytail Palm (also known as Elephant’s Foot), and the bulb-like bit at the base actually stores water. It’s slow growing, but looking at photos of mature plants, I think it would fit well with my quirky houseplants, so we’re planning a return visit to the store soon in order to get one!

 

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Six on Saturday – March 10th

Last week’s snow has finally melted (although there’s still some on top of the hills), but the cold has been replaced by wet and windy weather…. so this is an indoor version of Six on Saturday.

  1. Back in 2001 (I think) a family friend let me have a couple of cacti. They really were a bit large to keep on the windowsill, but a small piece broke off it as it was being moved, so I put it into a pot. As it grew, and more pieces were accidentally knocked off, I added them to pots as well, and ended up with quite a few! The larger cacti in this pot already had roots when I planted them, but the smaller ones had no roots at all…. I’m hoping this will eventually be a mound of cacti, but I might have a few years to wait before the little ones catch up!
  2. I tend to go for more ‘structural’ plants than flowering ones. I’m not sure what type this particular plant is, but it looks a bit like a Yucca…. possibly?
  3. I had a Tradescantia “Wandering Jew” many years ago, but once it started wandering, the stems became so brittle they snapped far too easily. A relative spotted this plant at a garden centre and thought it might work on my windowsill, without realising it was a Tradescantia, albeit a non-wandering variety!
  4. On to something with a little more novelty value, and a succulent with a difference. This one has been painted with a glow-in-the-dark paint, although it either doesn’t get enough light (unlikely given that it’s by a south facing window), or it’s not quite dark enough at night for it to glow.
  5. Up next is the “Flapjack plant” (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, according to a quick google search), which didn’t seem to like being on the windowsill (or was suffering from a lack of water!). I moved it onto the bookcase next to my dragon trees in the hope that it would prefer that location.
  6. And speaking of dragon trees, here’s the largest (and newest) dragon tree (Dracaena) to make its home on the top of the bookcase. I did have one for 17 years, but when I tried repotting it last year, I realised that half the roots were stuck in concrete-like soil at the bottom of the pot…. it didn’t approve of the repotting, so this is the replacement plant.

    I would’ve taken a photo of the trunk as well, but the plant was slightly too big for the decorative pot I had, so it’s perched half in the pot with some A4 paper wrapped around it to stop the soil falling out! ….anyone know of a decent place to get some decorative outer pots (with no holes in the base) for houseplants?

 

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Six on Saturday – March 3rd

This week’s Six on Saturday is a real mixed bag… blame it on the weather!

  1. I finally got the nails hammered into the new raised bed, filled it with multipurpose compost and grit sand, and rigged up a net across it to stop the deer from trying to eat everything. In trying to dig up the grass around the chives, I accidentally dug the chive plant up as well, so I went on and moved it into the new bed now.
  2. The herb bed is a lot tidier than it was – I cut back most of the dead wood on the sage, mint and fennel, and cleared a lot of the fallen leaves away too. If I leave them all on the soil, that patch turns into a boggy mess if we get a lot of rain.
  3. Ok, it doesn’t look great still, but this is the flower section after we cleared away a lot of the dead wood & weeds. The pot in the centre has a mint growing in it – the idea of the bottomless pot is to try and contain the roots a little, so it won’t take over the entire plot.
  4.  Bad weather stopped play on Thursday and Friday with snow falling most of the day both days. I don’t think the daffodils in the garden quite know what to make of it all.
  5. Remember the spare strawberries from last week’s 6 on Saturday? This is how they looked as of Friday morning this week…

    I’m hoping the snow will act as an insulating blanket, and they won’t be getting too cold under there! But all the strawberries on the allotment will be similarly covered, as they weren’t fleeced.
  6. But there was one thing in the garden that looked happy to be covered in a snow ‘duvet’ – the little mole gnome sitting on the wall!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – Feb 24th

Apologies for no Six on Saturday last week, but hopefully this week will make up for it!

  1.  The broad beans seeds are in…. obviously no signs of growth yet, but they’re all cosied up, so hopefully it won’t be long before they start growing.
  2. Strawberry Snow White (still not planted out from last year)… 
    I’m not sure if these got caught by a frost, or if they’re meant to all now look like they’re browned off, but I might have to raise these pots up a little before the cold weather they’re forecasting for next week.
  3. Strawberry runners (spares from the allotment last year)…
    In contrast to the Snow White strawberries, these pots are at ground level and appear to be growing strongly. If they’re not needed to fill any gaps in the raised beds on the allotment, they’ll be donated to a local ‘pop-up garden’.
  4. Another plant still waiting to head to the allotment is the Rosemary…

    I’m planning on digging up some old lavender plants in the allotment flower section, and planting this Rosemary in amongst them – the herb section is possibly a little too shaded for it to thrive.
  5. Ok, I’m kind of cheating with 5 and 6, seeing as they’re both potatoes! First up we have some of the Second Earlies (Maris Peer … or possibly Maris Piper), which have some really strong growth… 
  6. …although the First Earlies (Pentland Javelin I think, going on the labels we added to the egg cartons) don’t seem to be progressing quite as quickly