Wednesday 27 February 2013

Blog Of The Month - February

This year, I've decided to do a monthly post titled Blog Of The Month. This is where I'm going to feature a blog I enjoy reading. Some of the blogs will be new to me, others may be blogs I've been reading for a while. I hope that by doing this, I can introduce some of my readers to other, interesting blogs, though I know that some of you will already read the blogs I feature.

The blog of the month for February is Annie's Little Plot. Annie lives and gardens in Huddersfield, which isn't too far from me. She's had her present allotment for a couple of years, but had a previous allotment in Cheshire. If you look at her recent posts, you can see how she transformed both her allotments from the bare earth she took on, to productive plots. Annie also has a wonderful garden, as you can see from the photo, but it didn't always look like this. Take a look at her very first post, and you can see how it started out.

Annie takes us out and about with her, as she also writes about visiting various gardens. Her latest post is all about the snowdrops at Hodsock Priory. I couldn't write this post without mentioning Bob, Annie's cat, who has made a few guest appearances on the blog, especially when we had snow, he didn't particularly like it, a bit like me.

I hope we've seen the last of the snow now, so that Annie and Bob can get plenty of time in the garden, and the rest of us too. If you don't already know Annie, do pop over to her blog and have a read, and don't forget to tell her that I sent you.

Monday 25 February 2013

Primroses For February

This year, I'm taking the late Geoff Hamilton's advice and visiting a nursery each month with a view to buying a plant which is in flower for my garden. Doing this should ensure that I have something blooming in my garden every month of the year.

I've got one primrose in my garden at the moment, but I adore primroses, so I decided upon seeing some plants in flower in the garden centre, that I would add to my lonely specimen and make the primrose my flower purchase for February. I don't know what it is about primroses that I love so much, they seem such dainty things, almost fragile with their pale, buttery yellow blooms, but they're actually quite tough little things putting out flowers in the coldest of months.

I've been meaning to increase the number of primroses in my garden for a while now. They can be propagated from seed, it's best to sow the seed when green, and apparently, they're quick to germinate. I shall definitely have a go at it this year so that I can have even more primroses in my garden.

Friday 22 February 2013

Chit Chit Chit Chit Chitting

As well as collecting the mystery seeds last weekend (see last post), I also collected the potatoes I'd ordered. I've gone for Arran Pilot, the same variety I grew last year. I was really impressed with them, the yield was good, they tasted very good and they were versatile. I'll be growing them in containers rather than in the ground, firstly to free up space for other things at the allotment, but also because they come out so clean when grown in containers, with no damage at all. My potatoes used to suffer dreadfully from slug attack when grown at the allotment. This is the first time I've ordered my potatoes from the allotment shop and I was pleasantly surprised by the price, just £2.25 for half a stone, which is a little over the 3kg nets which are sold in garden centres for considerably more. They've now been set out to chit in the conservatory, this is just some of them. It's a good job I've got plenty of containers as I'm going to need them. I've also got a small packet of Anya potatoes which I'm growing for the first time, and I may get another small bag of another variety to try this year.

The peppers and onions which I sowed are doing very well. One job I must make time to do this weekend is to pot on the peppers as they could now do with moving out of the seed tray and in to individual pots of their own. The onions were sown in to modules, so they'll be able to stay in there until they're planted out. I sowed one seed to one module and about thirty out of the forty have germinated so far, but I haven't given up hope of the others pushing through yet as the ones already growing have germinated at various times. I've just noticed that another couple have poked their noses through the soil overnight. They obviously germinate over a long period. Some people would sow a couple of seeds to each module just in case one of the seeds doesn't germinate, but I don't mind if I end up with a few empty spaces.

The snow which was forecast for yesterday didn't fall here, though Hubby did hit a patch on his way home from work. He was at a meeting in Salford so would have to cross the Pennines which usually catch any snowfall which is around. It's forecast again today so we'll see if that materialises, then it's forecast to snow all tomorrow morning. I hope it isn't too bad as it was my son's 18th birthday this week and we're having a bit of a party tomorrow night. I hope I don't have to go in my wellies.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Surprise Surprise

I usually buy the majority of my seeds from The Garden Centre Group when they reduce all their seeds to 50p per pack at the end of the gardening season. There were a few things I didn't get last year, so I placed an order at the allotment association shop at the same time as I ordered my seed potatoes at the end of last year. I should have kept a copy of what I'd ordered as I couldn't remember, I'll definitely make a note next time, so it was a surprise when they were collected at the weekend. There's a pack of French beans - Blue Lake. I grow these every year, they're a great performer and taste delicious. I've gone for broccoli - Rudolph, which is an early variety, parsnip - Tender and True, and sweetcorn - Extra Early Sweet F1, they're supposed to have long cobs filled to the tip, so I'll see how these do this year seeing as I haven't had much luck with sweetcorn since having my allotment. I'm giving squash another go this year and have opted for two varieties - Queensland Blue and Crown Prince. These are both winter squash so they're suitable for storing, providing I can manage to grow some this year. I keep saying that I'll grow some stocks as I love them for the house, they have such a gorgeous fragrance, but I've never got round to it yet. I've bought the variety Ten Week Mixed, so I shall definitely get round to sowing some this year.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to visit a garden centre where they sell onion sets loose. I don't need a whole bag as I don't grow that many, and I'm also having another go at growing some from seed. The garden centre I went to did sell the onion sets loose, but they were still charged for by the scoop rather than by weight. Luckily, they allowed me to mix what was in the scoop, so I got some red onion sets too. I still came home with far too many than I actually need though, so I shall plant any surplus sets in to containers and pull them when small to eat as spring onions, or I might even pickle some.

The weather was gorgeous at the weekend, but apart from visiting a couple of garden centres, I didn't do any sort of gardening. It's typical that I'm really busy and have lots of errands to run when the sun is shining, but at least I wasn't having to dodge any rain whilst going about my business. I think it will take more than a weekend of sunshine for my allotment to dry out though, and a few snow flurries are forecast for the next few days again so it doesn't look as though much will get done this coming weekend either.

Thursday 14 February 2013

The Miracle Of Life

It's such a miracle how a tiny seed, sometimes no bigger than a speck of dust, gets sown and watered and it springs to life. It never ceases to amaze and excite me when I see that the seeds I've sown have germinated, so I'm very happy at the moment as all five pepper seeds that I sowed have germinated, and the onions are just nudging their way through the compost. Speaking of onions, as well as growing them from seed this year, I'm also going to grow some from sets. I don't need a whole bag full, so I used to buy them loose from the local nursery, but it closed down last year. I'm missing it so much as I used it all the time and I haven't found another good nursery, which is local to me, to take it's place. I asked at the allotment shop if they sold them loose, but they've stopped selling them altogether because of poor quality, but they did tell me where I could get some from, so I'll be having a trip there this weekend.

The potatoes I ordered from the allotment shop have now been delivered, as have the seeds I placed an order for last year, but I haven't collected either yet. That's another job for me this weekend. It'll be quite a surprise actually, because I can't remember which seeds I ordered, I didn't keep a copy. I know that the potatoes I ordered are Arran Pilot, a variety I tried for the first time last year and liked so much that I decided to grow them again this year.

We had snow again yesterday. There was actually quite a covering, so it's surprising that it's all gone now already. I'm not complaining though, I'm glad that it hasn't hung around. Take a look at my Through The Keyhole blog to see who visited me in the snow.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Here We Go Again

I have to admit to being a little neglectful of the broad bean plants which are residing in the greenhouse. They were sown in autumn ready to plant out in spring. It was a while since I'd checked on them, and when Hubby went in to the greenhouse last week, they were desperate for a drink. A few days later, I thought I'd better make sure they were ok after being watered, and it looks like I was in the nick of time, just look at what I found. To add insult to injury, the slimy slug who did the deed was lounging on the top of one of the pots in full view. I'm so squeamish when it comes to killing anything, I just can't do it, and as I was home alone at the time, the munching mollusc got a reprieve. He was scraped off the top of the pot and catapulted in to next door's garden, I just hope that no one saw. I'm pleased to report that the rest of the broad bean plants are doing well, but I definitely need to check on them more often.

The onions and peppers which I sowed last weekend haven't germinated yet, though I'm not too worried as they can take much longer than a week to do so. I shall be sorting through my seed packets this weekend and looking for other things which can be sown now.

I'm seeing bulbs bursting in to bloom on lots of blogs at the moment, yet I haven't got a single one in flower yet. It's probably for the best as we're forecast yet more snow tomorrow. The birds have been very busy on the feeders this morning, I wonder if they know they're going to be nest bound tomorrow.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Seed Sowing

This morning saw the first seeds of the year being sown. I've sown some Corno di Toro Rosso peppers and some Bedfordshire Champion onions. They both need a long growing season so I wanted to get them sown early. The peppers are a long variety which I've grown before. I've started them off in a heated propagator as they require a little heat to get going. I'm hoping that I can manage to keep them from growing leggy, which is a problem when starting things off early because of the low light levels, but I shall start some more off at a later date too, just as an insurance policy. I've sown forty onions, but I'm going to be growing some from sets too, as well as shallots, so I don't want to start too many off from seed. They didn't do well at all last year, so I'm hoping that I can do better this time.

My propagator is a Super 7 Propagator, which is designed to fit on a windowsill. It holds seven quarter size seed trays with vented covers. I actually have two of these propagators, but I've been thinking of putting a different type of propagator on my wish list. I like the Super 7, but it's not ideal if you're wanting to grow large amounts of something, and it's not very adaptable. I'm thinking of getting one where the lid covers the heated base rather than individual trays, so that I'm able to start things off in different sized pots or trays.

Now that the seed sowing has started, I really need to sort out everything I'll be growing this year. I have a box which is divided up in to monthly sections, and I file the seed packets according to the month they need to be sown. It helps me to remember what to sow and when. I like systems which help me to stay organised.
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