Saturday, 24 April 2010

Spring Bulbs

In the autumn, I treated myself to lots of spring bulbs, tulips, daffodils, narcissus and many more. Most of them were for the allotment, so that I would be able to cut them and bring them home to brighten up the house, but a few were for the border in the garden. Most of the garden ones are now in bloom, the daffodils have been out for a while, some tulips are out now and some are still to come. Seeing all the lovely colours makes me kick myself that I didn't get round to planting those intended for the allotment. I do this year after year, not only with bulbs but also with plants, which languish in their pots whilst I decide on a place to plant them. Some bulbs which did get planted were the Fritillaria Meleagris - Snake's Head Fritillary, which is a gorgeous little flower and one of our native wildflowers. Not only do I have these little checkered flowers in a deep purple/plum colour, but also a white, which also has a checkered pattern to it. Do watch out though if you have any in your garden as the Lily Beetle will decimate them. This year I really must do better and get some bulbs planted at the allotment so that this time next year my house will be brightened up with lots of colour.

I have made a decision about the beds at the allotment. Last year my beds measured approximately ten foot by four foot. This year I decided that I would do away with the paths in between the beds and make two beds in to one, making each bed ten foot square. Whilst digging over the allotment and planting, I'm finding it frustrating that I'm having to stand on the soil which has just been dug in order to reach the middle of the bed. Also, I know it's all in the mind, but somehow it keeps you motivated to dig over two smaller beds rather than one bed which measures the same. It makes you feel as though you have achieved more. So with this in mind I have decided to go back to the smaller beds. I know I waste space having more paths, but I feel I can manage this way better.

This weekend I intend to get my squash and sweetcorn planted. They will be started off indoors, and by the time they're ready to go out, the risk of frost should have passed. I've never grown squash before, but I have a few varieties to try, Butternut, Cha Cha, Carnival and Turks Turban. I will ensure that they have a much larger bed then four foot by ten foot as I know they like to sprawl.


  1. Jo, I usually get new bulbs and plants into the ground before the end of the season. My problem is with seeds. I buy packet after packet with the intention of starting them indoors. Then we are called away to babysit for a few days, or I find some other excuse, so they don't get started. I don't have the same problem with the seeds that go straight into the ground, I'm glad to say. My main beds are 4 feet x 8 feet, and that size works well for me. You will enjoy the squash, I'm sure.

  2. Jo, I love the snake's head, mine's still in a pot though! My beds are 6 foot wide so I can just about reach into the middle, I think smaller beds are better, I hate walking on soil.

  3. We have a couple of snakeshead fritillaries in the 'mini meadow'. They are really beautiful and we hope they will multply.

  4. good luck wiht your squash...I have some seeds but have planted them this year as I don't think I will get all of the new land prepared...maybe next year.
    Glad your bulbs are coming through nicely!!

  5. I love snakesheads too. One year I took off a seed pods and sowed the seeds in a pot. They germinated well but them somehow the pot must have been tipped out and they disappeared. They did look a bit like grass. I'll try this again this year I think but this time label the pot!!!

  6. I didn't know lily beetle would eat snakes head, I'll keep an eye out for them now!

  7. How fab, I bet your garden looks great. I love those snakes head flowers , I planted some bulbs once but they never came up :-(

  8. Now I've got plenty of daffodils on the plot I think that I'll be getting some tulips!
    My plot neighbour Trevor has lost his fritillaries to lily beetles one of which we found, then lost, today! Did you know that if disturbed they'll fall to the ground then turn over to expose an earth coloured underside which makes them impossible to spot!
    I agree about having smaller beds but don't consider paths to a waste of space!
    I don't grow squash but will be interested to see how you get on.
    Happy gardening...Flighty xx

  9. I know what you mean about timing - I'm either too early or too late with bulbs, seeds, planting out. I never quite manage to be horticulturally punctual. I am hoping to pot up some seedlings tomorrow and am borrowing a tiller from a friend. That always makes the plot look better...

  10. Good luck with the squash. All my family love them and they store so well, so you can't go wrong really.

  11. Can you grow squash in a big pot Jo? I haven't enough space in my single bed to allow for a sprawling plant.
    Claire x

  12. I have seen these flowers before, didn’t know their name, now I know - Snakes head. Lovely flower. I usually grow flowers in the garden to enjoy them there.

    Have you thought of using some kind of a wood board when stepping onto garden bed to reach? Stepping on a board wouldn’t disturb soil as much.

  13. I'm keeping a constant eye on my potted lilies at the moment Jo - they are at growth spurting stage and if the lily beetle gets them now they can do so much damage.

    I think narrowing your beds is a good idea - hope your squash sowing went well - great names! I may try growing squash in a large pot as I won't have room in the raised beds.


  14. I know what you mean about the arrangement of beds. We've had narrow strips (lots of annoying, frequent, tricky mowing) and now have vast swathes of soil having removed the paths (less mowing but muddy knees and tricky foot placement amongst the seedlings). My allotment buddy bought a tiller yesterday - am more than excited and can't wait to get that tilth tilthed. Will you grow your squash vertically?

  15. Hi Jo, lovely fritillary, they are so pretty, I 've heard they are very good for attracting bees. I've been having the same plot dilemma too. I always look at the plots which are totoally dug over enviously but the reality is I quite like growing small patches of things as it makes looking after them so much easier.

  16. I prefer smaller beds too as i also feel really bad when i walk on the dug over soil, my largest bed this year is 10 x 8, for my brassicus as it will be easier to just net one large area than 3 smaller beds, but every time I step on the soil I feel like I'm commiting a great sin :(

    I will be growing squashes too, you know how I like my squashes. I plan on sowing them this week, I sorted out what to grow from my seed stock last night and the amount is astronomical :o

    I have also tried growng Snake's Head Fritillary but with no success, will try again this autumn.

  17. Hi Jo, Leigh grew butternut squash last year and, boy, did it sprawl! They can grow up to 3 metres so need to be planted out with 80 - 100 cm spacing. Don't plant out until mid to end May as frosts will kill them. I'm planting baby bear pumpkins this year as they take less room (they only grow to 10" max) and have great flavour. I'm planting out my sweetcorn and peas in a couple of weeks, with fingers crossed! Caro x

  18. Hi Jo, this year I'm also trying squash for the first time - called Baby Bear. I'm going to try 'the 3 sisters' and grow them inbetween my sweetcorn and dwarf french beans. Very excited as last year I grew Hopi Indian blue sweetcorn and it was a huge success. This year its F1 incredible and it all seems a lot slower growing this time around - although there has been very little sun up here so far this year. I started my seeds off indoors a couple of weeks ago (2 weeks earlier than last year) in modules and today had to pot them up into something bigger in the greenhouse. Fingers crossed that I haven't blown it by being a bit 'previous' with them.

  19. Hi Jo, I planted a butternut squash last year at home, though it never produced any fruit, they were crowded out by the courgette plants which I had planted very near by, obviously I didn't give them enough room. I've just planted up some squash seeds at the weekend to try again and i'm hoping that the more room they can have at the allotment will allow them to develop. Fingers crossed, heres hoping yours do well also

  20. I LOVE Fritillary! (sp) they are such a pretty looking flower - I planted loads this year, but think the squirrel has had them all, or the touch of death that I have may have helped!

  21. Such a beautifully marked flower Jo. I have the pink but not the white. Will have to remedy the situation :) I sometimes think that I waste space at the lottie with my small raised beds but they are easier to work.

  22. Lovely flower at the top.
    I procrastinate a bit too, I still have not planted my wildflower seeds.

  23. I have the same problem with seeds too, Pamela, you should see my seed stash and many packets are unopened. Your beds are a similar size the the ones I had last year, they seem to work quite well.

    The Snake's Head Fritillary is one of my favourite spring flowers, Damo. They look quite good with the purple and white ones together. I wouldn't be able to reach to the middle of a six foot bed, my arms aren't that long.

    I'm hoping that mine will multiply too, Vegetable Heaven. Some of the bulbs which I planted in autumn haven't appeared, so it would be good if they did.

    The squash might be good for the parts you don't get round to doing this year, Tanya. So long as you dig a decent planting hole and incorporate plenty of compost, they're sprawling plants so they may keep the weeds down in the places which aren't cultivated.

    Let me know how you go on growing them from seed, Green Lane Allotments, it might be easier than growing them from bulbs as not all of mine have appeared.

    The lily beetle are partial so Fritillaries, Su Harris, though I haven't seen any on mine yet. I keep looking though as they cause so much damage.

    Not all of my bulbs came up, Scented Sweetpeas. I think they must be a little temperamental. They are very pretty though.

    I like tulips too, Flighty. The lily beetles are a pain to catch because of their habit of dropping to the ground. I haven't had many in the garden, but I had lots of them at the allotment last year. I'm definitely going to go back to smaller beds, they're so much easier to deal with.

    I could do with using a tiller, Countrymummy, but am doing it all by hand at the moment. My squash will be allowed to sprawl on the ground, but I'll try to confine it to it's own bed.

    I haven't grown squash before, Mark N, but I'm hoping to have some to put in store for the winter months. I've got a few varieties so I can compare which I like best.

    I would certainly have a go at growing squash in a container, Claire. Before I got my allotment I tried all sorts in containers, sweetcorn, runner beans which grew up ten foot canes, and it was surprising how well everything did. Let me know if you do decide to give it a go.

  24. I enjoy my flowers in the garden, Vrtlarica. I don't like to cut them for the house, but I'm growing some at the allotment for this purpose this year. I have tried using wood to stand on across the beds, but I find it tricky. I think it will just be easier to go back to smaller beds.

    I love lilies, Jeanne. It would be such a shame if the lily beetle gets to them, as you say, they do so much damage. Let me know how you go on with your squash in a container, and which variety you decide to grow.

    I created a border last year, Ninasgardeningnotebook, with native plants to attract beneficial insects to the garden. If you look back to my April posts from last year you will see a list of the plants I used. I also find smaller beds easier to deal with, but there are those who prefer to dig over the whole plot. I think it's each to their own preference.

    My largest bed this year will be for my squash, Kella. All my other beds will be smaller, but things like my brassicas, and legumes will each have more than one bed. I'm looking forward to reading which squash you're growing this year.

    I know that squash really sprawls, Caro. I'm making sure that it gets a decent sized bed. They've only just been planted and haven't yet germinated, so it will be a while yet before they're planted out. I'm looking forward to hearing how you do with the Baby Bear pumpkins.

    Sweetcorn is hard to germinate sometimes, Alex T. Mine's been sown now, but hasn't yet started germinating. I look forward to hearing how you do with the three sisters approach.

    I look forward to hearing how your squash do for you this year, Happy Plotter. I'll be also interested to know which variety you're growing. We'll have to compare progress.

    I think I'd bet on the squirrels, Cat, they're such pesky things in the garden. I'm hoping that I can get them to spread a little now.

    The markings are lovely, Anna. That's how I feel too, that I'm wasting space on paths, but I don't suppose it is a waste if it makes everything easier.

    I'm sure you will get there with the wildflower seed eventually, Kat, and if you don't, well there's plenty of wild flowers around where you live anyway.

  25. Wonderful capture of the Snakes head Fritillary! I am fortunate enough to live on Clattinger Farm where the fritillaries grow as wildflowers. They've already come and gone this season but were a beauty - a sea of purple blossoms, with the odd white one here and there. Here's a pic if you're interested. Happy to have found your blog - thanks for dropping by SmarterFitter! =)

  26. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, Monica, and thank you for the link. Last year I created a (very) small border and planted it up with native flowers to attract beneficial insects to the garden. It must be lovely to have the fritillaries growing wild on your farm. Their blooms last such a short time, but are beautiful whilst they're here.


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