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Growing a special bean in time for Christmas

harlow-carr-christmas-greenhouseA greenhouse at RHS Harlow Carr last December

After keeping this on the down low for months I’m very excited to reveal that Adam and I have our very own little bean growing, due in December!

It’s one of the reasons I’ve been blogging less over the last few months, I was literally too tired to read blogs and even muster up a blog post to begin with. Then, like the garden, I started ‘blooming’ but now I’m just exhausted all over again!

I’ve encountered another slight problem too – gardening when pregnant…

broad bean

Before I knew I was pregnant I was in amongst the weeds, digging and planting and not thinking anything of it. When I found out, someone told me about Toxoplasmosis and suggested that my gardening days were over until next year. No chance!!

We do see a lot of cats at the allotment so I’ve been very careful. I make sure I always wear gloves and wash my hands thoroughly afterwards. I’ve also avoided picking and eating fruit whilst pottering. Now I take it home for a wash first.

I’ve been spending time in the greenhouse on seed sowing and potting on duties, container gardening, some light weeding and cutting flowers. This is a big change for us as I normally do my fair share of that plus the digging and veg planting while Adam builds things. This year he’s had to do pretty much everything apart from pick flowers and light weeding! No wonder he’s still not finished the shed!

gardening pregnantHere I am late spring/early summer, trying to look energetic. My bump has grown considerably since then!

Gardening is something I couldn’t give up easily and has really kept me going through the nausea and tiredness. The garden has been a wonderful place to relax and switch off but it’s also allowed me to stretch my legs and get some all important fresh air.

I’m having to be far more organised this year because of the little bean. There can be no last minute bulb planting or late night gardening in November! I’ve chosen my winter garden plants already and I do hope that we have some nice Autumn weather so I can still spend time out there pottering – keeping active is very good for pregnancy.

harlow-carr-christmas-1Natural Christmas decoration ideas from Harlow Carr last year

Since our baby is due in December, hopefully in time for Christmas (if he or she is late the birth could be on Christmas Day), I’ve entered this blog post into a competition on Dotcomgiftshop to help everyone get into the Christmas mood. I have to admit that I don’t usually think about Christmas this early but this year I really have to. It just won’t be possible for me to do my usual last minute stint round the shops on Christmas Eve!

I’ve been eyeing up a few presents for people on the internet and I’ve also gone ‘nesting’ crazy and can’t wait to decorate my house to make it all homely and cosy while I’m waiting for the bean to arrive. I also fancy decorating my garden too, just like they do at Harlow Carr! Cute twinkling lights and lanterns have never been more appealing. These are some of my favourite Christmas ideas for gifts and decorations on the Dotcomgiftshop website.

dotcomgiftshop-christmas-gifts-decorations

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The competition prize is an iPad Mini and I do hope I get everyone in the mood for Christmas because I’d simply LOVE one of those! I have a laptop and iPad from work that I use now but in a few weeks time when I start maternity leave I have to hand it all back – how will I cope! So an iPad Mini is No 1 on my Christmas list because it will be the perfect size and so handy for me to keep in touch with my favourite blogs, order my baby supplies and google like crazy when I have no idea what I’m meant to be doing with the new bean! I suspect I’ll also be reading a lot more blogs about gardening with kids too.

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I can’t wait to have a little one to share the garden with :)

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Have you organised your winter planting schemes already? Do you prepare early or are you a last minute gardener and shopper?! Are you in the mood for Christmas?

 

Summer favourites – sweet peas

sweet-pea-garden

I have to admit that I’ve never picked sweet peas for the house before and I’ve only been growing them for a couple of years. I used to think the sweet candy coloured varieties that were popular years ago were sickly and a little kitsch but after buying a willow planter full of them two years back, I’ve changed my mind! So much so, I even started sowing the seeds for this summer back in November.

sweet-pea-close-up

My experiments with sweet peas:

A) November: Sowed a batch indoors, they germinated quickly and survived the whole winter on a windowsill. In the new year they went soft and leggy. Potted them on in February and moved them to the cold greenhouse, heating it at night. Mixed them into the willow planter with my next batch (experiment ‘B’ below) and I’m not entirely sure what happened to them?!

B) November: Sowed a batch straight into my willow planter inside the (very) cold greenhouse. Waited… At the end of January they started to come through, it took until March for them to look established but they were far tougher than the floppy things that had been inside the house. They flourished and flowered in May and they continued to flower until July when we went on holiday and they didn’t get watered. Being in a planter, with room for only shallow roots, the basket quickly dried out in the heatwave and expired.

C) April: Sowed tons of sweet peas in pots in the greenhouse. A very slow start and I vowed never to sow them again as they also grew leggy and soft. Planted them out not expecting too much….. boom! They grew and grew and are still growing. They’re very healthy plants and gorgeous colours.

Conclusion: I’ll sow again in November but I wont bother bringing them on early in the house. I’ll just leave them to their own devices in the cold greenhouse (B) because that did produce a very healthy crop in spring. I’ll also sow again in April (C),  the more the merrier in my opinion and I’ll get them outside a lot quicker to avoid them going soft and leggy, even though they recovered well once I’d planted them out. I’ll avoid the planter next year too because sweet peas do put down long roots if allowed and will spread and grow a lot bigger if they are planted into the ground.

collecting-sweet-peas

I do believe the continued success of the sweet peas has been my cutting. I’ve been cutting all the flowers off and by about 4 days later they are back and ready to cut again.

cut-sweet-peas

They attract a lot of greenflies, so I give my picked bunches a good shake. This seems to knock most of them off quite easily.

growing-sweet-peas

cutting-sweet-peas

I just love having freshly cut sweet peas in the house and I also just love cutting bunches. It’s such a nice, quiet and relaxing job to do in the garden and walking home with my bag full of flowers or a bunch in my hand feels wonderful!

sweet-pea-vase

sweet-peas

Do you grow sweet peas? Do you enjoy the ‘cut and comeback’ flowers they produce? When do you sow or plant yours out?

Down at the allotments – what’s growing on!

allotmentA few weeks back the pumpkins and courgettes were still tiny..

I’m really enjoying myself at the allotment lately. I’m finding it a wonderful place to put my feet up and relax and I also love potting on in the greenhouse and watching the crops grow.

courgetteThe pumpkin patch growing a little more

Last year was also very enjoyable but because we had so much wet weather followed by lots of dry weather the harvest was quite mixed. I had amazing tomatoes, chilies and peppers but a severe lack of pumpkin, squash, courgette, beetroot, peas and potatoes. I suspect those crops didn’t enjoy the grey sky and rain.

allotment-courgettesNow the pumpkin patch is taking over!

This year I’m hoping for an all-round better performance from my edible plants and so far things are looking good (apart from the mess caused by ‘shed’ making!)

We are currently on holiday in Provence and I hear that there is a heatwave at home. Adam set up an ingenious timer controlled watering system and ‘allotment Bill’ has offered to help out too, but if this is what my crops were like before we left then I imagine (and hope) we will go back to a full-on harvest festival!

Here’s what was happening before we left…

tomatoes-growing

pears-growing

gooseberries

curly-kale

broad-beans-and-strawberries

lettuce

peas

The pea plants are so short and sparse this year but they cropped a long time before anyone elses at the allotments. I think this is because I sowed them earlier in guttering in the greenhouse.

broad beans

My broad beans have been cropping for many weeks now too, maybe because I sowed them back in November. The ones I sowed direct in March had caught up in size before we left but not with the beans.

peppers-growing

potatoes

redcurrant

I’m looking forward to these little cucumbers growing a bit more!

cucumber

I can’t say that I’m 100% looking forward to going home because our holiday in Provence is wonderful but I am looking forward to doing some gardening and seeing how much our plants have grown.

How are your crops getting on? Are you finding them better this year compared to last?

 

The allotment in June – what’s growing on?!

allotment_may

The weather has been amazing! I hope it’s been good with you too. As a result of this I’ve been busy in my greenhouse, garden and veggie patches and I’ve neglected blogging for some time. I’ve literally been getting home from work, gardening and sleeping for weeks now. Great work life balance, but not so great for the work blog life balance!

However, I’ve been given a bit of a kick start back into things via Michelle at Veg Plotting who’s inspired a load of bloggers to get involved in the The Bloggers’ Cut for the Chelsea Fringe 2013.

I’d never heard of the Chelsea Fringe before but it sounds cool! Definitely a people’s event with a focus on the environment, community and art and more importantly participation. So over on Veg Plotting you can see a number of bloggers’ links sharing their recent exploits in their gardens.

I actually started this post last week, so this is what my garden and allotment looked like back then. The only difference over the week is that my alliums are in full flower, the clematis and the aquilegias are out and everything is really coming on. The warm weather combined with a good dose of rain last week provided the perfect growing conditions.

tulips_at_allotment

The tulips are still flowering at home and at the allotment and they’ve been outstanding this year. As well as some new bulbs we planted last Autumn the tulips I planted under my trees at least 5 years ago are still going strong and just get bigger and better with age.

tulips_under_elder

I planted them under my trees after a visit to Levens Hall in Cumbria where they had planted perfectly spaced big red tulips under the topiary. It reminded me of something out of Alice in Wonderland and I just loved the red/green combination. Mine aren’t perfectly spaced but then neither is anything in my garden, I just took the inspiration and made it my own.

tulips_under_fruit_trees

The bulbs have multiplied over the years and the tulip heads are literally huge! Many people replace tulips each year because they just don’t last but some are perennial and will actually naturalise, how long for I do not know. On my recent trip to Great Dixter, head gardener Fergus Garret was talking about some research they’re doing on tulips and trying to work out how to tell if they’re perennial or not. He suggested that the larger the bulb the more likely they are to keep coming back. Sounds about right since these were huge bulbs to begin with.

tulips_under_fruit_trees_2

Veggie wise I still have a lot of seedlings in the greenhouse but outside things are coming along nicely too. My potatoes are all through, onions are growing, broad beans have been flowering for a while but still seem shorter than usual and my peas are growing nicely, but not as good as Bill’s (my allotment neightbour)! The fruits are doing very well and I also have tons of broccoli, kale, squash, courgettes, pumpkins and beetroot.

In the greenhouse I have chillies, sweet peppers, cucumbers, spring onions, my pink onions are still in there, half my giant leeks (the other half are outside), tomatoes, celery and probably some other stuff that I’ve forgotten about! No crops as yet apart from some small broad beans, lettuce and spring onions.

greenshouse_view_maybroadbeansinside_the_greenhouse_maypotatoes

I also have tons of sweet peas and begonias ready for planting out. I’ve kept the sweet peas outside for a while now so they don’t go soft. I did a few sweet pea experiments this year and found that the seeds sown before winter that came up in the cold greenhouse around February are the strongest, biggest and best looking! I think they like a bit of a cold start perhaps?

greenhouse_and_shed

Back to the other theme of The Bloggers’ Cut, Michelle wants to know what our favourite kind of cake for gardening is. This weekend I enjoyed eating some jam and cream doughnuts but I’m very easy going when it comes to cake and will eat pretty much anything.

Something that sprung to mind, however, was a very special cake I made last year during the Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday – ‘Herman the German Friendship Cake‘. I was reminded of this because Adam started a bank holiday project last week but was still finishing up this weekend – our new shed! I’m so excited! Anyway, last year we had some of our dearest friends staying, the weather was gorgeous and Adam started his first bank holiday project, the appropriately named ‘Jubilee Bench’.

He finished the bench in time for us to share a lovely BBQ and to finish off Herman. Have you ever heard of this cake? I was given a yeasty cake mix and told to ‘feed it’ regularly then bake it. I have to say it was one of thee most amazing cakes I’ve ever had!!!! We all loved it. Here’s a photo from that awesome day (Adam on the left) where we celebrated the arrival of the Jubilee Bench. Sorry no photos of the cake, it all went down just far too quick.

jubilee_bench

How are things getting on in your garden? Have you been enjoying some good weather? Have you started any new projects or perhaps you’ve baked a cake?

Now I know why they’re called spring onions

IMG_9565spring_onions-3

Scallions, otherwise known as spring onions were a tricky item in my veg growing schedule for a long time. I could never get them to grow. No matter what I tried or when I sowed, I either got nothing or I got little stragglers that faded away never to get past about an inch high.

Here’s my simple how-to guide.

I very nearly wrote them off but then my mother-in-law, Tina, showed me her ‘spring onion production line’ in her greenhouse. She had a big pot full of them and effortlessly sprinkled some new seeds in a fresh pot right in front of my eyes before uttering the words, “see, it’s easy”.

spring_onions_4

Not wanting to let ‘mother-in-law’ down, I tried again. This time it worked! I sowed the seeds straight into big pots and all last summer I had a production line going and I felt like I could carry on growing them all year round. I sowed my last batch around the end of September and then nothing happened. The little seedlings didn’t appear and I thought my luck had run out. So I cast the pots aside and made room in the greenhouse for my tender plants and bulbs that would live in there over the winter.

Then about 3 weeks ago I saw them. The most beautiful spring onions ever! They had grown over winter, outside in the freezing cold! I couldn’t believe it. They had over-wintered! What an amazing revelation! An accidental surprise, or to my mother-in-law, a perfect example of my veg growing ability ;)

spring_onions_2

Anyway, this is no miracle, this is what is supposed to happen when you sow spring onions at the end of summer. I’m over the moon though because it gets me even nearer to the challenge I set myself recently to source more local food and to have more of my own crops available all year round. If I can pull this off again it means I can have spring onions ‘in stock’ March to October.

IMG_9590.jpgspring_onions_1

So there it is, the easiest over-wintering I’ve ever done and this year I’ll be sowing more. Amazing how a couple of pots of spring onions have changed my whole outlook on growing veg over the winter!

Are you eating an over-wintered crop now? Have you got any spring onion tips?

 

Spring is nearly here – what’s growing on?

adam_in_greenhouse

I’m so happy that spring is round the corner but in terms of it ‘feeling like spring’ I’m as confused as the weather! It’s snowing one minute and mild and sunny the next. Very random! On the milder days it’s been great getting outside into the garden. Adam’s been tidying the greenhouse and I’ve been doing the weeding and having a general potter around. The weeds have really started growing now and I enjoy trying to get rid of them as soon as possible.

weeds-3What is this plant? Is it a weed?

My soil is lovely and I wonder if the minimal digging we did in the autumn combined with a bit of mulching has helped it achieve a soft and crumbly texture. I really can’t remember what it was like this time last year – warmer and drier I think so I’m not going to be able to pin point exactly why my soil texture feels great but it’s very easy to spruce up and keep neat, which is good in my books!

broadbeans-under_netbox

A few weeks back I planted out my broad beans. I started them off indoors and then popped them into the greenhouse in big tubs until I felt the weather was a bit more stable. I’ve covered them with a net-box and sprinkled coffee grounds around them. One of my favourite local Cafes – The Cheerful Chili gives them away and they claim it works! So far, so good.

tulip_bulbs

Inside the greenhouse I have pots and pots of tulips. When they come into flower I’ll take them outside and most of them will go by my front door. I also have my ornamental kale which has bolted a bit. I’ve never grown this plant before so I’ve got no idea what I’m doing with it to be honest!

ornamental_kale

mini_lettuce

Inside the house things are also growing and I’m starting to sow all my seeds for March.

My lettuces are still tiny but looking really healthy and I expect to be potting it on very soon and starting my next batch.

mini_lettuce_2chilies_sowing_2

A couple of weeks ago I sowed my chilies in expandable coir pellets. I bought a kit with the propagator included for around £4.95, which is quite expensive compared to a big bag of seed sowing compost. I’ve never used these pellets before but they seem to be really popular. My chilies are still germinating (they take ages) so I have no real view yet on how good these modules are. They are extremely quick, easy and clean to use though, which is a bonus. I just hope the seeds grow well, I’m hoping they’ll pop through any day now.

mammoth_leeks

My mammoth leeks are potted on and still look like little stalks. I’ve never grown this large variety before so I’m just keeping them in the light, well watered and I’m hoping for the best!

iris_march

My irises have been lovely this year but some are already on their way out, which is quite sad. I have another variety to come up next and I can’t wait for my daffodils and tulips to flower. The lavender is looking very healthy and once spring is established I’ll be looking forward to that taking hold.

I spent the day at Harlow Carr on a photography course today. I discovered that I’ve pretty much been doing everything wrong! I’m looking forward to downloading the photos I took and I’ll post any good ones. I’m really looking forward to getting out in the garden tomorrow.

Have you started sowing anything yet? What have you been doing in your gardens and allotments?

Month by month – gardening in March

primrose-2

March is the month of real hope for gardeners as we start to see some sunshine (in amongst the rain and possibly even snow)! If you enjoy growing from seed then this is the month to really get sowing.

spring_onions

Outside in the veg garden your over winter harvest can be both finishing and just starting, for example, if you planted in the late summer and autumn you could be now be eating spring onions, Swiss chard, winter lettuces, spring cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli in addition to any leeks, parsnips, sprouts and kale that you might still have left.

iris-pots

In the main garden early irises and snowdrops will be in full bloom, tulips will be pushing through, crocus and daffodils are starting to flower. Primulas will be looking good and shops will be stacked full of gardening equipment and plants.

crocus

It’s a great month for sorting and planting as well as sowing. If you’re sowing in a greenhouse some protection against frosts will be required. In the UK we’ve been known to have frosts until June, so although spring is in the air it can be cold.

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast so you don’t plant out or prune just before a cold spell.

Here’s a list of things I’ll be doing and some ideas for things you can do:

  • My potatoes are chitting and I’ll plant out at Easter. Early varieties can be planted in now.
  • My windowsills are covered in seed trays and I’m sowing indoors. I’ve sown everything from beetroot to tomatoes. If you haven’t yet sown your chilies or peppers do so now because they can take ages to germinate.
  • I’ll be planting my onion sets either next weekend or the one after. Some of my fellow allotmenteers have them in already and they’ve covered them with green mesh. If you haven’t done so already, you can still plant shallots this month.
  • I’ve just bought a lovely new rhubarb plant and I dug it in this weekend. They love fertile soil so if you have any manure, ‘chicken-poo’ pellets or similar, then plant that in with it and water well. Don’t eat the rhubarb for a couple of years. It will be tempting to eat it next year and especially the year after but it will weaken the plant.
  • Plant raspberry canes and cut any dead canes right down to the ground.
  • Plant strawberries
  • Protect new shoots from slugs – I’m trying spent coffee beans from my local café. Fingers crossed it works!
  • Planning my summer borders. I’m stocking up on summer bulbs to plant out on nice days.
  • Looking after perennials by tidying round them, dividing and ensuring they’re in the right place. A bit of a nudge/move at this time of year will be fine.
  • The lawn is growing so if it’s dry it can be mown.
  • The weeds are also growing and I’ve started hoeing them down before they grow too big.
  • On fresh days I open the greenhouse to air it so it stays mould free.
  • If you’ve got winter shrubs such as dogwood (Cornus) and willow (Salix) cut them back this month and you’ll soon see new shoots coming through.
  • Cut old leaves off hellebores. This helps keep them disease free. I would encourage this because this is probably how I lost mine this year. I just didn’t look after them well enough at all.
  • Keep deadheading pansies and they will last through summer.
  • You can deadhead any daffodills that have finished flowering but don’t cut the foliage down, I tie mine in a loop to keep them tidy.
  • Warm up your soil and keep yourself warm too. It’s really easy to get cold outside at this time of year so wrap up and enjoy :)

primrose_1

The Garden Smallholder and Not Just Green Fingers  have done some excellent to-do guides this month and if you’re thinking about ideas for your summer borders then Garden in a City has posted some inspiration.

What will you be doing this month? Have you got any top tips for gardening in spring?

Month by month – gardening in February

hyacinths_2
I always remember back to a job I had years ago when I used to drive up the motorway home every night. I benchmarked February 10th as being light when I hit the slip road. It doesn’t always happen on that date though but in February I basically live in hope of the light! At the end of this month I’ve usually managed to get up to my allotment after work and I start airing and cleaning the BBQ ready for March, when cooking and eating my evening meal up there becomes normal. This month could bring more snow and bad weather though, so we’re not out of the woods yet…

  1. Buy your seed potatoes and start ‘chitting‘ them by standing them up in trays (egg boxes are perfect) on your windowsill or anywhere light so they start sprouting.
  2. Start warming up the ground where you’ll be planting this year. Cover in polythene, mini poly tunnels or net boxes.
  3. Keep protecting pots of bulbs that haven’t come up yet from squirrels and water-logging. Keep them in your greenhouse, cold frame or a sheltered spot.
  4. Divide up any big clumps of bulbs after they have passed their best – snowdrops are the ideal candidates followed by clumps of grape hyacinths and daffodils next month.
  5. Start sowing chilies, peppers and early tomato varieties indoors or in a greenhouse that you can heat if temperatures plummet.
  6. Once they’ve finished flowering, prune winter flowering shrubs.
  7. Carefully prune fruit trees and certain types of clematis – don’t hard prune anything that flowers in spring.
  8. If your ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged you can plant garlic.
  9. As above, sow broad beans and/or plant out any well-established young broad bean plants that you’ve previously sown under cover.
  10. Go shopping for onion and shallot sets ready for next month, if your ground looks good though you could plant shallots in February. I tend to wait. You can also start sowing onion seeds now, although I prefer planting sets.

If it snows, clear it off tree branches and shrubs (Adam finds this hilarious but just shake the shrubs and use a brush if need be to clear it from tree branches) and if all else fails stay inside and do some sowing! My seed sowing list this month is:

  • Chilies – Anaheim, Jalapeno, Cayenne and ‘Hot Thai Culinary’ from World Kitchen
  • Peppers – Californian Wonder and Ingrid sweet pepper varieties
  • Lobelia – String of Pearls
  • Tomato – Black Russian from Seed Parade
  • Cucumber – Beth Alpha
  • Broad beans – I’ll be sowing straight into the ground outside and planting out the ones I started off in December

The important thing to remember about planting out is that the ground must not be frozen or waterlogged. Don’t do any pruning or planting out just before a period of very cold weather – check the weather forecast for the week ahead first.

The most comprehensive guide I’ve seen this month is on Woolly Green. There’s a video on pruning wisteria if you’ve not done that already and some advice about lawns. I know that some bloggers pruned their wisteria before Christmas. Not Just Green Fingers also has a great guide for the kitchen gardener.

Talking of bloggers, Sue from Green Lane Allotments has listed what she’s sown so far and also done a great post about her new seed delivery. Jo from the Good Life has sown her pepper seeds and onion seeds. My complete seed list for the year is here

Please feel free to add your own February tips and advice. What will you be doing this month?

Month by month – gardening in January

berries_in_snowMy friends and colleagues are always asking me what they should/could be doing each month and January has been no exception. I feel slightly uncomfortable starting this new series since there’s a ton of books out there that give wonderful month by month guides to gardening and there’s some great websites too, including Gardeners World and the RHS and of course plenty of other blogs written by passionate gardeners who have brilliant advice. Please feel free to add your own tips, ideas and advice and hopefully all our friends and colleagues will benefit!

~ ~ ~

1. When it’s cold outside and you want to be indoors check out seed catalogues and read books! Now is a good time to start thinking about what you will grow, going through your seed collection and starting to plan your garden. I’ve organised my seeds in zip lock bags, sorted by each month.

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2. Sow indoors. Not everyone has a greenhouse and not everyone can heat their greenhouse so start sowing on your windowsill. January can be really poor for light so if you really don’t have a bright or sunny spot then you don’t have to do this, most folk start in March. I’m a massive fan of starting my seeds indoors though and some things you can try are:

  • Early tomatoes such as Mr. Fothergills Red Cherry. If you have a heated propagator set them off in there now and when they start coming through we should have better light conditions. Be warned, they can be leggy if sown now though but tomatoes are very robust. If you are raring to go, then try it, better still wait until February or March. I will be sowing some end of Jan/start of Feb because I want some early varieties.
  • Autumn Leeks like the Mammoth Variety I’m growing right now.
  • Broadbeans – again, start them indoors and you will have some really strong and healthy plants to plant out in March. They will start to grow big though so be prepared to pot them on. If you haven’t got the time or space then wait and sow them direct in March.
  • You can also check out what I’ve got ‘growing on‘.

3. You can plant garlic outside but only when the ground is frost free and not waterlogged. Digging frozen or wet ground can damage your soil structure. With this current cold snap it’s probably best to wait now until March unless you’re in a blessed part of the country or the world where mildness prevails!

january_snow_garden

4. Potter and clean things. On a crisp but frosty day take your flask of coffee (or if you’re like me your flask of Baileys Hot Chocolate or a nice tea) and potter around. Any bulbs you have in pots should be in cold frames or sheltered from bad weather, including rain, some bulbs don’t like to be waterlogged. Clean your greenhouse with hot soapy water – that’ll warm your hands! Fungus can grow in your greenhouse so it’s important to ventilate it in this weather too. Shake snow off branches and when everything is bare in the garden it’s a great time to tidy around and visualise where you will plant things and what changes you might make over the coming months.

5. Certain bits of pruning can be done now. I only know about Apples and Pairs but I never do them when it’s frosty, snowing or completely frozen like now as that can be harmful to them. So wait for the next mild spell and that would be a good time. I expect that rule applies to other trees and woody shrubs. Best to check that one!

6. Plant trees, hedging and roses. Never plant a rose where another one once was. It can lead to disease. Dogwood seems to be flavour of the month this year and it does look utterly brilliant. Again, avoid digging barerooted plants in when it’s really very cold weather. Wait for it to thaw out somewhat first. This is to protect the soil and give the plant a good start for it’s roots.

7. Feed the birds. They will be very grateful.

8. Plan your crop rotation. This is what I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks.

9. Order your seed potatoes for chitting next month.

10. If all else fails and snow continues to fall, then go for a nice walk and take photos :)

rotten_snowy_cabbagesThis is why I don’t grow much over winter, rotten cabbages don’t look great even when covered in snow

Can you think of anything else? Please feel free to link up to your posts if you have any winter / January advice. Happy gardening!

Seed list 2013 – my year of experimental growing

seeds

In my last blog post I wrote about the seedlings that I’ve got growing/germinating/thinking about (hopefully) germinating in January. I’ve also been right through my seed collection and grouped everything into zip lock bags, an idea I saw someone post on twitter – last year I had a disaster with an automatic watering system so waterproofing is required! Instead of ordering the seeds by type, I’ve ordered them by month in the hope that I’ll be a bit more organised and I won’t forget to sow things, like the cucumbers I forgot last year.

I’ve totally discovered that I have far too many though! Some seeds simply won’t get sown, so I’ll prioritise new unopened packets and the seeds that I’ve gathered myself over any open ones that I’ve carried over, as they could be a bit dodgy.

Here’s the list!

Broad beans – Karmazyn and Aquadulce Claudia
Leeks – Mammoth Blanch and Musselburgh
Sweet Peas – various varieties
Tomatoes – Every year I grow a variety that my mum also grows, Sugar Plum. They’re the best! I saved the seeds from my crop. The sugar plums are late developers so I’ll be experimenting with some other varieties and sowing them in Jan & Feb then the sugar plum in March.
Lobelia – String of Pearls
Sprouts – Evesham Special
Sweet Pepper – Californian Wonder & Ingrid
Chilli – Cayenne (I saved from my crop last year), Anaheim and Jalapeno
Celery- Golden Self Blanching
Cabbage- January King (I think these are the big beastie ones!)
Cornflowers – mixed
Peas – Purple Podded & Douce Provence
Chives
Wildflowers – mixed packets that were given to me for the Bees
Beetroot – Boltardy
Radish – French Breakfast 3
Sunflowers – Velvet Queen
Asters – Mixed variety that I bought in Amsterdam
Carrots – Nantes Early, Resistafly F1, Amsterdam 2, Cortina & Purple Haze
Nasturtiums – Mixed Whirlybird
Dwarf French Beans – Amethyst
Runner beans – ‘Selby Beans‘ saved over from my crop
Stocks – Mixed
Cucumber – femspot F1 & Crystal Lemon (the round ones!)
Courgette- Atena Polka
Cauliflower – Purple Cape
Squash – Summer Satellite, Winter Uchiki Kuri & Cornell’s
Swiss Chard – Rainbow Mix
Black & White Kidney Beans
Turnips – Golden Balls! Oddly, while I was sorting, Mark’s Veg Plot posted this about his golden balls.
Spring Onions – Summer and White Lisbon Winter Hardy
Mustard – for green manure
Various Herbs and Salads – you name it, I grow them in pots everywhere, mixed in with my flowers.

Things I’m missing and need to buy:
Broccoli – Organic Green Sprouting
Pumpkins
Curly Kale!!!

I’ve been banging on about these and would you believe it, I don’t have any yet!

The other things I grow are Rocket potatoes and Turbo & Red onions from sets. I usually get the onions from Wilkinsons and they’ve never let me down. My mum traditionally buys me the Rockets from their local market and starts chitting them for me. I think this tradition is rather cute so I’ll carry on this year. I need to confirm where she got last year’s from though because they were poor. However, that could have been due to the weather.

I also grow fruit but I don’t think I’ll be adding to what I already have. You can guarantee that every time I visit a garden centre I will come out with something though and I’ll be given lots of plants and vegetables. Adam will no doubt want to sow a load of flowers too. Good job I love gardening!

I’m on holiday in Andorra next week and if I get any spare time I’ll be thinking about my crop rotation and I’ll share some plans at a later date. Have I missed anything from my list?! What have you got planned for 2013? Do you have any tips you can share?

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