Wednesday 30 January 2013

Blog Of The Month - January

Anna, over at Green Tapestry, often showcases new blogs which she's enjoying reading, and I thought it would be a good idea to do the same. I've decided that I'm going to make this a monthly feature titled Blog Of The Month. Some of the blogs I feature will be ones I've recently discovered, while others will be ones I've been following for some time, but which I think deserve a mention.

The Blog Of The Month for January is A Whole Plot Of Love. Joanne started the blog in June of last year, and she writes about gardening in her North Wales garden where she has a small vegetable plot. It's amazing how much she manages to fit in to her garden, certainly more than I manage on my allotment, she even has numerous fruit trees and bushes growing in pots to maximise space. Like most of us, Joanne is currently finalising her list of seeds to sow this year, and working out what she still needs to buy. You can read about the things she's already decided on in her most recent posts.

Joanne's husband has just embarked on quite a large DIY project, knocking down the dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room and making a kitchen diner. I'm looking forward to hearing about progress on this. Joanne also includes snippets about her two boys, one of which is now at university. I love to read Joanne's newsy posts, not just about her gardening exploits, but about other things too, as they help you to get to know the person behind the blog.

I wish Joanne all the very best for the gardening year ahead, and I shall be following her progress through her blog. I know that some of you already follow Joanne, but if not, do pop across and have a read, and don't forget to tell Joanne that I sent you.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Cyclamens For January

I mentioned in one of my posts that I don't have much in the way of colour in my garden during the winter months. I had a comment, quite a while ago, telling me that the late Geoff Hamilton had once suggested going to a nursery once a month and buying something for the garden which is in flower. That way you know you're going to have something blooming in the garden every month of the year.

I've decided that I'm going to follow Geoff's advice this year. We had a great little nursery close by but unfortunately, it closed down last year as the owners were retiring. There's another nursery a little further away which I've visited in the past, but it wasn't as good as my local one. It's some time since I visited it, so we had a trip there today to see if it had improved. It does look as though they're trying to build the business up a bit, but they could really do with a wider range of plants. The prices were very competitive though, and it is only January still, so I'll certainly be making a return trip when the gardening season gets under way, and I hope to see a wider selection of plants available then.

Following Geoff's advice, I had a look for plants which were in flower and found some very healthy looking Cyclamen. I was very careful in ensuring that these were outdoor Cyclamen as there's also an indoor variety which wouldn't do very well being planted out in the garden. There was a good range of colours and I decided that I'd buy five plants, each in a different colour way. These cost me a total of £5.00, which I think is very reasonable.

I think this is a great way to ensure there is colour in the garden throughout the year, so I shall be plant shopping again in February.

I also succumbed to a couple of Cowslips. At £1.25 per plant, it would have been rude to leave them behind.

Sunday 20 January 2013


My Paperwhites have just come in to flower. I saw these bulbs in a half price sale after Christmas and decided to buy them as they're so pretty. They're part of the Narcissus family, often forced to come in to flower at Christmas, and highly fragrant. Not everyone likes the scent though, as I've just found out. These have had to be moved in to the conservatory, well away from Hubby who thinks they smell like public toilets. There's no accounting for taste.

With the cold weather we're experiencing lately, I'm making sure that the bird feeders are kept topped up. I'm being rewarded with a good variety of birds which are visiting the garden, sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, robins, coal tits, blue tits, an occasional great tit, collared doves, wood pigeons, and although we've seen the occasional greenfinch in the past, they're now visiting in greater numbers and are a regular visitor. I hang niger seed in the hope that I can attract some goldfinches, they're such colourful birds, and I've had the odd one or two in the past but haven't seen any for quite some time now. It's just as important to provide water as it is food, as many of the regular places where birds drink and bathe turns to ice in these conditions. It can be quite a task keeping the water from freezing though. Next weekend, it's the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Over the period of an hour, you watch the birds in your garden or a public park, and record the highest number of each bird species you see at the same time. These numbers should then be reported back to the RSPB, and it helps them to monitor trends and give an understanding of how birds are doing. I'm hoping to set aside an hour during the weekend in order to do my bit.

The snow hasn't been too bad here, we've still got a covering, but we missed the heavy snowfall which was forecast in the early hours of Saturday morning. The prediction now is for heavy snow tonight and in to the early hours, and it looks like we're in for these type of conditions well in to next week. I'm hoping that the school stays open as my son is taking exams towards his A levels this week.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

A New Variety

I had a wander around Wilkinson's at the weekend. They've cleared their shelves of Christmas paraphernalia and have now stocked them with gardening items, ready for the new season. They've already got their seed potatoes in, and although I've got my Arran Pilots on order from the allotment association, I couldn't resist trying a new to me variety. I've gone for Anya, a potato mentioned on many blogs before, but which I've never grown myself. Anya is a cross between Desiree and Pink Fir Apple and is supposed to have a nutty taste. I'm hoping that it will produce a good salad potato. I'll be growing all my potatoes in containers again this year, I find they grow much better and cleaner this way, and frees up the allotment for other things.

I've decided that I'm going to grow peppers again this year, after giving them a miss last year. I've never had a huge harvest of peppers, but I'm hoping that by increasing the number of plants I grow, I may get a worthwhile yield. I haven't checked my seed stash yet, but I'm sure I've got a few varieties still in there. I'd like to get some sown quite early as they do tend to need a long growing season. The problem is judging it right, too early and the plants will grow leggy, too late and there won't be enough time for the peppers to ripen.

We woke to a little more than a sprinkling of snow yesterday, and throughout the morning it continued to snow. I really didn't think we'd had much, but I noticed a snowman in one of the gardens nearby when I took Archie for his walk this morning. Most of the snow has gone now, but it's trying it's hardest to snow again at the moment. We keep getting a flurry, but it doesn't seem to be settling, thank goodness.

Wednesday 9 January 2013


I usually get lots of gardening gifts for Christmas, but it was a little different this year, I think everyone is running out of things to buy me for the garden now. I did get an Amaryllis - Red Lion. The bulb was already planted, so all I have to do is water it sparingly. I was a little worried at first, as the bulb just looked like a stump without any life to it at all, but it didn't take long after watering for it to show some green, and it's growing by the day. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for it to bloom.

I still haven't had a trip to the allotment yet this year, but Hubby went and collected some manure from the stables near by at the weekend and took that to the plot. He didn't get nearly as much as he'd wanted to, as he didn't have much time before darkness fell, so if the weather stays fine this weekend, he'll be making another trip.

It's forecast to get much colder than it's been recently. We've had a very mild January so far, but it's noticably cooler today. I had to make a mercy dash to school this morning as my daughter's trousers had split. I saved her blushes by taking her another pair, but I had to de-ice the car before I set off. At least the frost should kill off some nasties before the start of the growing season.

Friday 4 January 2013

They've Bean Growing

The broad beans - Aquadulce Claudia which I sowed in autumn have been growing well. I wondered if they'd grow leggy with the low light levels, but they're not doing too badly. I started them off indoors and then moved them in to the unheated greenhouse where they'll stay until I plant them out at the allotment in spring. I'm hoping that by sowing in autumn, it will give them a head start and I'll get an early harvest.

I forgot to mention in my last post that Hubby visited the allotment to dig up my three parsnips to have with Christmas dinner. I was hoping that the growth beneath the soil was doing as well as the growth above, but in all honesty, they weren't huge. We did eat them with our Christmas dinner, and they tasted delicious, which is the main thing, but I won't put parsnips on my list of successes for 2012. Only three germinated from three sowings, and I only got one meal out of them. I'll try again this year.

I haven't visited the allotment since before Christmas, we've had so much rain over the festive period that it's just not worth bothering. I know that there'll be standing water in some parts, and that the rest of the plot will be too wet to do anything with, so I'll wait until the weather improves a little. That's not to say that I'll be sat twiddling my thumbs, I've got every intention to start my onions off soon, I think they're one thing which can be started off now, and I'm itching to get going, so why not?

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