Over enthusiastic sowing

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I knew that there had to be a reason for the sports supplement!

Last year I bought myself a little paper pot maker.  It is used to turn strips of newspaper into sweet little paper plant pots.

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The idea is that the young plants can be grown in these biodegradable pots which can then be planted straight into the garden without any root disturbance at all.

At this time of year one is warned not to be too enthusiastic when it comes to sowing seeds.  They are likely to be ready to plant out too early in the season when it is still cold and inhospitable outside.  Looking after them indoors becomes increasingly problematic as light levels are too low and plants become forced.  Moreover, they keep growing and taking more and more space on crowded windowsills and in greenhouses.

So what have I done?  Sown seeds of course!  As well as the Rainbow Swiss Chard in paper pots I have planted sweetpeas not to mention all of the seeds that I sowed last week.  Sadly I put them in the airing cupboard but did not keep a close enough eye on them; I failed to remove them as soon as they germinated!

These poor seedlings have had the worse start in life!  They are yellow and drawn and will be very susceptable to damping off and other fungal diseases.  Fortunately I think that only some of the seeds have germinated so far. I hope the ones that were slightly slower to germinate will be a little healthier, otherwise I will have to sow some more!


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I want my soil to be ready to start planting within a few weeks.  The garlic is sprouting strongly and the roots are already showing underneath the pot.  Most of the broadbeans have now germinated and they too will want to be in the ground.  However, the soil is still cold and wet at the moment; not at all a welcoming for young plants.  So today I decided to do something about it.

First I prepared the soil in three of my beds by adding products that claim to improve the soil structure and microbial activity.  To the bed above I added calcified seaweed meal, growchar and compost left over from last years tomatoes.  I worked it into the top few inches of soil before covering with some empty compost sacks to keep off the rain and start to warm the soil.  Adding both products was not a particularly scientific thing to do; if the plants grow well I will not know what has caused the effect.  However, I will prepare other beds with just one or the other additive, or nothing at all, so that I can make a comparison.

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I also prepared the beds that I have earmarked for broadbeans.  One of these has been double dug (the one on the right), and the other has had the compost added to the surface.  Because I am comparing these different preparation methods I have made sure to do everything else exactly the same with these two beds so I added the same amount of calcified seaweed to them both and working that into the surface before covering them both.

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I hope that when I take the covers off in a couple of weeks time the soil will be warm and welcoming for my broadbeans.



New Old Path

The story so far!

As you may remember two weeks ago I started giving my garden path a makeover.  On Sunday I decided to finish the job.

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First I cut a weed suppressing mulch to size.

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Then I put down a layer of sand so that I could bed the bricks down in it.  It was a bit complicated because I had an edge of new bricks which were on their side so at more depth than the main path.

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I was a bit grumpy when Chris pointed out that I needed to use a straight edge to make sure that they were laid evenly.  Thank heavens no mention was made of spirit levels!!!

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I was even grumpier when the bricks which I had arranged on the grass last time would not fit into the space!

Then the man himself came and pointed out that if I wanted a slightly curved path I would not be able to make it with rectangles butted tightly together.  Hurumph!  There he is casting an expert eye (and hand) over the project, and there he is with some sort of noisy machinery trimming some of the bricks to fit.  He also suggested that the edging was making things unnecessarily complicated and that we ditch them.  So we did.

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And here is the finished path.  I had to import a lot of soil back to fill up the space that I had originally dug.  Doesn’t it look lovely though? (The scissors were used to cut the weed supressing membrane to size).

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And my Valentine’s trugs?  One was used to cart top soil and one to cart sand so they have already been put to very good use indeed.

Sunday Sowings

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Last year, for Valentine’s Day, Chris bought me a packet of heritage tomato seeds which I planted immediately.  I decided that this would be the start of a new tradition so this year, on Valentine’s Day, I planted some of the tomato seeds that came with my gardening magazine.  The varieties were Red Cherry, Red Pear and Tigrella.  I had also saved some seed from last year’s crop (Wladeck).  As they still had a little of the pulp dried on to the seeds (which would have inhibited them from germinating) I put them in water to soak for a couple of days.

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That should remove all of the pulp and then they will be ready to sow.

I also thought that I would try sowing some parsnips indoors.

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Parsnips are slow and difficult to germinate.  They also need a relatively long time to grow.  There is no point in sowing them in my heavy cold clay at the moment.  However, they also hate being transplanted.  I thought that I would try growing them in toilet rolls; with luck they won’t notice what has happened when I transfer them to the garden.  The variety is called ‘Hollow Crown’.  I put two or three seeds in each tube and will thin them out after they germinate to leave just one plant in each.  After I took this picture I covered the seeds with more compost.  The compost is left over from last years tomotoes as on Gardener’s Question Time yesterday Bob Flowerdew suggested that carrots grown in a poor compost are forced to send their roots vigorously down in search of nourishment ….. we shall see.paths and potatoes 045.JPG

I left the parsnips and some cut and come again lettuce that I also planted in the conservatory.  The aubergines, tomatoes and basil I sealed in polythene bags and put in the airing cupboard.  I will have to keep a very close eye on these as they will need moving to a warm sunny windowseal as soon as they are through or else they will get terribly forced.

I bet you are wondering what Chris bought me for Valentine’s day this year aren’t you.  Chris doesn’t go for half measures so as well as flowers, a lovely meal out and someting else garden related that I haven’t photogrpahed yet he got me these.

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Two lovely new garden trugs; what an old romantic!  Needless to say I was delighted with them and tomorrow will show you what use I put them to immediately.

Lemon Grass

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When I went to Sainsbury’s on Saturday they were selling off lemon grass for 40p.  I’ve never actually cooked with lemon grass before but thought that I would try some.  There were two stalks in the packet so one I used to flavour a stir fry and the other I planted.  I wonder if it will grow?

In other news; my broad beans are just beginning to show signs of life.

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And I am starting to wonder just how many slugs there are in my garden.  What are my chances of growing a decent harvest this year?

Allotment Walk

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Today the soil was too wet to work on so I went for a walk down the allotments instead.  I love allotments and always look out for them when I am on the train or in the car.  Many years ago Chris’ grandad and parents had an allotment on this site so I have been visiting them since I first met him.  They are a favourite place to go for a walk.

I love looking to see what crops are in the ground.  Look at those lovely brussel plants and a mat of healthy looking strawberry plants.


I should think that the netting over those splendid young cabbage plants is to keep the pigeons off.  Someone else has made bird scarers out of bottles.  However, I did not see much evidence of slugs or slug damage.

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Maybe it is because of the different way they arrange their crops.  There aren’t so many places to hide as in my garden with the its paths (or slug hotels as they might more properly be known).

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Or maybe it is becuase they don’t have a heavy clay like I do.  Look at that lovely dark brown soil; it is a rich fertile loam.

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I saw one plot which someone had spent ages making into small raised beds.  Maybe they will have more problems with slugs?  Look at all the lovely places for slugs to hide.  A bit like my garden.  I look forward to seeing how this plot progresses over the course of the year.  I hope that I am mistaken.

I love finding little nooks and crannies where the allotment holders have arranged all of their materials and tools so neatly.  Apart from a solitary gardener there was no one around today.

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There were quite a few chickens though.

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I love allotments!

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Old Brick Path

When the children were much, much younger I was very proud of myself because I made a brick path from the lawn to their play-house.  However, when I recently changed the shape of the lawn the path didn’t reach it anymore.  Moreover after nearly twenty years the original path was looking a little the worse for wear.

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So today I decided to start again.  I lifted all of the old bricks.  I was delighted to be able to get to the roots of all of the weeds that have been so difficult to reach!

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I redug the foundations.

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Then I arranged the bricks on the lawn to make sure I had sufficient to make a path of the required length.

Finally I washed all of the bricks.  Some were a bit the worse for wear after so long being a path.  I hope that next week I will be able to finish making my new ‘old brick path’.