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There are a few projects on my mind for this year. Regular readers will remember I had some success at this last year. And I finally got round to building a proper compost bin and took on my shared plot in the next village. I even grew some long carrots and parsnips in pipes for the first time. So what’s on the cards for 2012?
- A covered potting area – I currently have 2 options for potting on, either on the bench in the greenhouse or in the workshop at the back to the garage. In between the end of the garage and the greenhouse is a 8 foot square area which is north facing, so has no real growing potential as it’s shaded by the garage and is just gravelled at the moment with a log pile and compost bin. The project is to build a covered area with two sides that will house a bench for potting and store compost bags etc underneath and have space to store logs down the side. With easy access to the greenhouse and back garden it would be ideal and allow me to do some useful in those winter and spring nights were you still need a bit of shelter to be comfortable. A great way of increasing the usable space in the garden and relatively low cost as well. Not a simple project though (for me) so I’m hoping my Dad will be on hand to assist!
- Extend the compost bin and have a cage for leaf mould.
- Get the new half allotment into shape and add some well rotted manure to the shared plot to improve the soil.
- Dedicate a small area for the children to grow stuff.
- Be more wildlife friendly – a few bird boxes and places for bees etc.
- Add more to the Hort Soc website and blog (I am now Treasurer as well so I hope the books will balance at the end of the year!).
- An Asparagus bed up at the allotment.
- Sort the two lawns out – they’re a bit of a mess and need some attention this year to get rid of the worst of the moss and weeds. I don’t want a Titchmarsh standard lawn but something that looks less like a field will do!
I’m hoping that by writing this stuff down I’ll actually get round to doing it. Time will tell!
So what garden projects do you have planned?
With the new season well and truly underway, and a recent spate of Bank Holidays, it was time to dust off the list of garden projects. You know the ones that you’re always meaning to get round to, never quite the right time to start etc. Well with a burst of energy I got the first of the 2011 Two Chances Projects completed:
Garden Project #1
To clear the old bathroom suites (3 in total) from the side of the garage and dig out the old compost heap (suspected rubbish dump from previous occupants) and generally make good the area.
Tools required – 6-yard skip, wheelbarrow, shovel.
Costs – £258 for the skip and £25 for the weed control membrane.
Estimated time – a decent days work.
And after removing 3 toilets, sinks and radiators, 1 bath, 1 shower cubicle some carpet and piping that was my rubbish I started to dig into the so-called compost heap. There was compost, although riddled with bineweed it was unusable, and also many lengths of metal drainpipe, roof tiles, bricks, rubble and a car engine!
This was the state of play at tea-break time (possibly my 4th or 5th cup!). I then laid the membrane and shovelled excess gravel over from the driveway to tidy things up a bit.
Not bad if I do say so myself. I sub-contracted out sanding and staining the garden furniture to Rach and she did a pretty good job of it.
And then it was on to the next project. Down in one corner of the front garden was what some ‘trendy’ gardeners would call a ‘dead hedge’ or ‘wildlife area’ but what I’d call a pile of old hedge cuttings I couldn’t be bothered to clear properly the first time round. So buoyed by my newfound enthusiasm I decided to tackle it. Now while this wasn’t a ‘wildlife area’ I suspected it was an ideal site for something to be quietly going about its business so I took extra care and wasn’t disappointed when I found some slow worms.
I managed to carefully move them to the sanctuary of the nearby beech hedge and carried on clearing the area.
I’m hoping to fit in a 6′ square raised bed in this space, screen off the wheelie bins somehow, and build a couple of proper permanent compost bins. Keen readers will remember when I foolishly posted about the Quick Cook Composting Method some 18 months before the project is likely to come to fruition. A warning if you’re writing about projects, make sure you’ve finished them, or are substantially down the road to completion, before you write about it!
Have you got any projects planned for this year?
Some of my veg took centre stage at a local Harvest Festival this weekend in a lovely display arranged by a friend at All Saints church in Whiteparish, near Salisbury. The chillies, courgettes, celery, aubergine, squash and runner beans are all from the plot and after the festival the local WI souped the ingredients from the displays in aid of various charities. Good to see the spare veg going to a good cause!
Does exactly what it says on the tin, enjoy!
We’re having some work done at the side of the house and the scaffolding afforded me the opportunity to get a different perspective on the garden from just above the roofline.
There are a couple of veg beds in the front garden. The one by the front door you can’t see in this picture and it’s where the courgettes, squash, strawberries and raspberries live. At the far end by the road you can just see the newest bed behind the trees. In there are beetroot, brussels, sweetcorn, squash, pumpkins, celery, sprouting brocolli and cabbage. By the drive is the main flower bed and the rest is the girls domain with toys everywhere!
Most of the veg growing is in the smaller back garden where I have 3 beds and a greenhouse. Having just dug the onions and potatoes there’s quite a bit of space now, a month ago it was packed solid.
The aubergines are going mad in the greenhouse. I bought these two as tiny plants at our spring show so have no idea what the varieties are. One is producing a few standard looking egg-shaped fruits and the other is throwing out loads of long thin paler ones. Any ideas?
And so are the cucumbers, now we have more than we know what to do with.
I’m really pleased with the progress on the pumpkin front. These are Rouge Vif d’Etamps from seed Maureen kindly sent to me.
And the squash have been great this year.
There’s also plenty of colour in the garden, these are Asters, Appleblossom.
And the glads and the sweet peas are still going strong.
Lastly I’m really pleased with my first attempt at Dahlias, definitely going to grow more next year, I don’t think you can beat them for colour.
At last the Gladioli are out in a burst of colour that brightens up the flower bed. I’ve planted two varieties this year, Passo and Mexico, and am hoping I can use them in our Summer Show next Saturday in the Master Gardener class, which is 3 veg and a vase of flowers. Hopefully they will be in flower at the right time!
Now is the perfect time of year to prune this years growth on your hedges. The higher light levels between late July and late August mean the sex hormone is dominant over the growth hormone in the plant so pruning now will not result in vigorous regrowth which is the last thing you want on an established hedge. If you are pruning into old wood and want a lot of regrowth then April and October are your best bet. If you chose April check for nesting birds as it’s illegal to disturb them.
This is my beech hedge which needs a good haircut. Most of it’s in shot, it’s between 80 and 100 foot long and around 12 foot high. On the other side of the garden is a conifer hedge of a similar length but not as tall. And then there’s a handful of shrubs and trees dotted around that need attention. So I’ll be setting aside a whole weekend to take on this task, with shredding, tidying up etc it’s surprising how long it takes!
Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched last week. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here. I’ll be drawing the gift voucher winners and despatching the seeds towards the end of the month.
Here’s a selection of my favourite flowers from around the garden this weekend. Everything seems to be in bloom at the moment, a great time of year to sit back and enjoy all the hard work!
The Sweet Peas are still going strong, around 6 foot high now. I am keeping up with the cutting just about, only seen a couple of seed pods. As I’m allergic to them they stay in a vase on the garden table or I give them away.
And next to the Sweet Peas is a patch of Cornflowers in various colours.
There’s also a couple of groups of Carnations that I grew from seed last year.
And in the same bed are Nasturtiums and Marigolds grown from seed.
Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus) growing amongst the Marigolds.
I think this one is a Phlox.
Pansy ‘Joker’ from seed.
I love the striping on the Gazania flowers.
This Mallow hides the drainpipes coming down this corner of the house and gives off loads of flowers.
The Hydrangea by the kitchen door is now in flower.
And finally the clematis against the back fence is in full bloom.
I thought I’d share my first ever Sweet Pea flower with you; as I’ve never grown them before this is a bit of a landmark moment.
I’m growing quite a few plants this year so I’m sure there’ll be many more to come.
Spent the morning planting my sweet peas out. I made a couple of wig-wams, not perfectly geometrical by any means but I like that, very simple just bamboo canes and string. I’ve got around 60 plants so there was plenty to go in the main flowerbed around the wig-wams, some have gone into a big pot and the remainder are still in the coldframe. The varities are Appleblossom, Janet Scott, Princess Elizabeth and some seeds that Maureen kindly sent me. I’ve never grown sweet peas before so have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve pricked off any sideshoots so there is just one main stem and planted 3 per cane, hope that’s right!
Following my charity plant sale there was some space to fill up in the greenhouse so I sowed some runner and french beans. I also pricked out 20 or so Asters and about 50 pansies to grow on before planting out. So that’s the greenhouse full again!
The Red Orach are doing well.
I should really get the cucumbers in the greenhouse as they are getting quite big now on the bathroom windowsill.
In the conservatory are the squash, courgettes and tomatoes.