Wednesday 29 February 2012

Sets In

I've finally got round to getting my red onion sets and shallot sets potted up in to modules. It's still too wet to get them in to the ground so potting them up this way gives them a chance to get started and put out some roots before they're eventually planted out at the allotment. I did the same thing last year with the shallots and I got a great harvest, in fact, I'm still eating them. This is the first year that I'm growing red onions, I've gone for Red Baron which seems to be a common variety.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'm going to start some potatoes off early to try and get an early harvest. I had intended getting some planted up alot earlier than this, but it's another job which I haven't yet got round to doing. I've got a container at the ready and shall get round to planting a couple of tubers in it this week, and it will then reside in the greenhouse to give it some protection. The weather is very mild at the moment, but if it turns cold again I shall make sure that I've got some fleece at the ready.

I seem to be behind everyone else with their spring bulbs. I've now got a few snowdrops and crocuses blooming, and the daffodils are pushing through the soil, so I don't feel quite so left out now when anyone mentions all the flowers they have in their garden.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Signs Of Life

The strawberry plants which I overwintered in the greenhouse are springing back to life, reminding me that I need to get a bed dug over at the allotment ready to accommodate them. These are Sonata, a mid season variety, and I also have some Flamenco which are everbearers. I cleared my old strawberry patch at the end of last year as the plants are only productive for between three and four years. I do so hope that I get a good haul this year as my daughter and I absolutely love them.

I've been wondering whether or not I should get an apple tree. I don't have room in the ground for one so it would have to reside in a large pot, but seeing how well my container grown cherry tree did last year, I've come to the decision that I'm going to buy one. I've had a look at the local nursery and they do apple trees on dwarf rootstock, which is what I need if I'm going to keep it in a container. A variety which took my eye is Gloster which produces red apples and is self-fertile, so I think this is the one I'm going to settle on.

The blackcurrant bush which I bought last year is still in the container I transferred it to after I'd brought it home. Getting it planted at the allotment is another of those jobs which I didn't get round to doing, so that's another job I've got to do as soon as possible. The jobs are stacking up already and we're not yet out of February, I think it's going to be a busy year.

Friday 17 February 2012

The Cutting Patch

I've tried for the last couple of years to grow a cutting patch at the allotment, flowers which I can cut and bring home for the house. I love seeing flowers in the garden but hate to cut them for indoors so this seemed to be the perfect solution. It hasn't quite worked out though, as once the growing season gets going, I tend to devote most of my time to my veggies. Space is also a concern as starting vegetables from seed can take up quite a bit of room on the windowsills, starting flowers off too just adds to the problem of where to put them. This year I'm going to try direct sowing the flower seeds. Sarah Raven's Kitchen and Garden catalogue can be really inspirational. I just love the Amethyst and Sapphire Cut Flower Mix bouquet on the right hand side, and the information states that the seeds can be scattered in a sunny corner of the garden, sowing this way would certainly alleviate some of the problems I have when growing cut flowers. I shall go through my stash of flower seeds and see which ones can be sown this way.

One must have flower, which is perfect for cutting for the house because of it's wonderful scent, is the sweet pea. I didn't get round to sowing any last year and I really missed them. I've still got my red onions and shallots to pot up so I shall make sure that I sow some sweet peas at the same time. I'm hoping to get round to doing that this weekend, but it's my son's birthday on Sunday so I may run out of time. It'll get done soon though.

I only have one flower border in my garden, and that's not very big. I planted it up three years ago with native flowers, but some of them have now outgrown their space. This year I want to revamp this area. Bilbo Waggins from The View From Bag End left a comment on one of my earlier posts which really got me thinking. She told me that the late, great, Geoff Hamilton had suggested going to a nursery once a month and buying something for the garden which is in flower, then you'll have flowers in your garden every month of the year. I think that's a great tip and one which I'm going to take on board, I keep saying that I need more colour in the garden in winter, so doing this will really help.

Friday 10 February 2012

Yes Peas

The variety of pea I've chosen to grow this year is Hurst Green Shaft. I grew this variety last year and was very pleased with them, they grew well and tasted delicious. Last year was the first year that I've sown direct, and I was pleased with how well they germinated and grew so I shall do the same again this year, though I may make an early sowing in pots to be transplanted. I'd like to grow more peas this year than I usually do. I did manage to freeze some last year but they didn't last long so I'm hoping to get a bigger harvest this year. With this in mind, I sent off for the Yes Peas! recipe booklet. It contains twenty one different pea recipes, and some of those are vegetarian so there's something for everyone, providing you like peas. I quite fancy Peas and Goat's Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms and Spicy Beef and Pea Patties, but there's plenty more in the booklet to get the taste buds tingling. If you'd like a copy of the Yes Peas! recipe booklet for yourself, it can be ordered from the Yes Peas! website. There's also other recipes on the website as well as lots of information.

The onions which I started from seed aren't doing so well. They're very straggly because I left them on the windowsill after germination, whereas I should have really moved them to the unheated conservatory or porch. It's just too warm for them where they are, and this is encouraging weak growth. I think I shall start over and sow some more this weekend while it's still early enough.

We had more snow fall last night, though not as much as last weekend. The problem now is that the original snow hadn't melted, so we're walking on fresh snow on top of compacted, frozen snow which makes it extremely slippy. I took Archie for a walk this morning and nearly went flying, I don't know how I managed to stay upright. It's very cold today but there's no more snow forecast, so that's good.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Hedging My Bets

I've already got two blueberry bushes but I've hardly had anything off them for the last couple of years. I'm going to repot them in to some fresh ericaceous compost to see if that will rejuvenate them, as well as giving them a mulch of coffee grounds. Whilst I was shopping this morning, I decided to pop in to Wilkinson's to have a look at their gardening section, as you do, and I happened to come across this blueberry plant for the princely sum of £3.18. Many plants which are bought like this look like sticks at first, but this already has some new growth so I won't shock it by putting it outside straight away. After being potted up, it can live in my greenhouse until the weather improves. I'm hoping that now I've got three plants, each will be pollinated better and I'll get more fruit.

My shallots, which I bought from my local nursery last week, are also waiting to be potted up. I've gone for Sante again, they did really well for me last year. I also bought a few red onion sets. I've gone for a variety which I've heard many people mention they grow, Red Baron. I love red onion in a salad, but I've never grown them before.

I wasn't long in Wilkinson's, but when I went in the weather was cold but fine. By the time I came out again, there was already a fine layer of snow on the ground. Since then, the snow has continued to fall and we've got quite a covering now. It wasn't predicted to start snowing until early evening so it came sooner than expected, and there's no indication that it's going to stop anytime soon.
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