Tag Archives: Marigolds

Greenhouse expansion & sowing frenzy!

The spate of Bank Holidays have meant lots of work in the garden interspersed with the odd BBQ or three! So I finally got round to building the two mini-greenhouses that Rachel bought for me very cheaply at the end of last season. They’ve joined the one I already have as an overflow to the 8’x6′ cold greenhouse. I positioned them between the greenhouse and the fence, a gap just big enough for them, which also meant blocking off a favourite path for the girls to run round – but running round between a fence and a load of glass wasn’t fun for me watching an accident in waiting! A lot of people have had trouble with these things blowing away, I’ve got mine in a very sheltered position but have also driven an iron rod into the ground and hooked it over one of the shelves so there’s no chance of them going anywhere.

Yesterday I sowed leeks, more dwarf beans, more marigolds, alyssum, poppies and rudbekia. The crunch will come when all of them need pricking out, I’ll be out there for days with the amount I’ve sown!

The tomatoes are looking good, this is the first batch, the first true leaves are just appearing on the second. With the recent weather it’s tempting to plant out some of the tender plants to make more space inside. I think Spring will have a sting in the tail so be warned, don’t put them out too early!

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday!!

Flower Power Slide Show

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Does exactly what it says on the tin, enjoy!

Cucurbits update

At this time of year there is one family of plants that starts producing serious amounts of veg on the plot. Cucurbits include cucumbers, squash and courgette which are all in full production now.

I finally cut my first cucumber of the season today. It’s been a bit of a disaster after the first plants (Carmen) sucumbed to a greenhouse move when it was still too cold, if I’d have waited another week or two we would have been picking them a good 6 weeks ago. Last year two plants produced over 40 cucumbers from the end of May to the end of October, Carmen is a great all female flower variety that I will definitely grow again. But it wasn’t to be and my back up is not all-female, I think it’s called burpless tasty green or something like that but it’s nowhere near as productive. Still there’s one in the fridge now so can’t complain.

I’m leaving this squash to grow on but cut the rest when they are fairly small. One or two rot off but most make it to the oven.

The variety is Mixed Scallop, a packet of seed I’ve had for three years now, some plants produce yellow fruits and others are a light green colour.

The courgettes are flying along, this one is Black Beauty.

And this one is F1 Orelia.

The girls love picking courgettes!

The Sweet Peas, Cornflowers & Red Orach are still going strong.

Whilst I’ve been trying to grow more exotic flowers this year the old stalwart the pot marigold is still one of my favourites. These two pictures do it some justice, great colour.

Off to the village music festival tomorrow, fingers crossed that the weather will hold out. Hope you are having a great weekend!

More Bloomin’ Marvellous

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.

The Long Good Friday

It poured down for about 12 hours last night through this morning and the garden is like a bog so nothing done on the veg plot today. I would have planted some spuds as the tradition goes but no chance with all that rain.

I got a few indoor jobs done in the morning and by 2 the sun started to poke through so I grabbed a couple of hours out in the garden. The daffs are finally in full bloom and looked great in the afternoon sun (you can see the tulips in the background, they’re some way off yet).

The greenhouse is getting full so I set up the mini-greenhouse that I bought last weekend. I put it against the back fence which is south facing and gets full sun all day. It’s tied to the fence and I’ve also driven in two iron rods which I’ve hooked over one of the tiers so there’s no chance of it blowing away (famous last words!).

I potted on some Arabis, Erysimum, Gazania, Antirrhinum, Impatiens and Sweet Peas which pretty much filled it up. In the greenhouse there’s calabrese, cauliflowers, leeks, broad beans, red orach, nasturtium, french marigolds, more sweet peas, sunflowers, dahlias (from seed and tubers in pots), primroses, a blueberry, onions, little gem lettuce and carrots (Amsterdam Forcing) all coming on nicely.

On the plot I noticed that my long carrots have started to germinate. They’ll now grow on for a while before I thin out to the strongest seedling. The onions, shallots and garlic are all sprouting. The spring cabbages are showing signs of life and the salad veg has all germinated. Still nothing from the PSB, how much longer do I have to wait? The overwintered lettuce is starting to thicken up, I’m sure if I’d have deployed the plastic bottle cloches before the snow it would have been ready to pull up by now!

My chillies and peppers have germinated but it’s slow going, no true leaves yet. I paid a visit to B&Q last weekend to see what they had and bought a Scotch Bonnet plant marked up at 78p. When it went through the till it came out at 21p so I went back and bought another 10 plants, yellow bell pepper, Californian Wonder and Fresno Supreme. At that price I thought it was good value as they each have half a dozen leaves on them.

Indoors the plants are coming on well. Chillies, peppers, courgette, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, pansies, asters, marigolds and sweet peas. Just waiting for Cerinthe to germinate. And last of all I love the flowers on this Fritillaria meleagris.

Hopefully the plot will dry out soon and I can get those spuds in!!

Embrace the Dark Side

In previous years I’ve just grown veg, now I’m embracing the dark side and having a go at growing flowers. It’s a pretty miserable day here and I’ve been left alone to look after the girls. Rach is off at a local NCT sale helping out and trying to make some spending money for our holiday.

So in between nursery rhymes, painting, stories etc I thought I’d sow some flower seeds. I moved the operation indoors and the dining table became a temporary sowing area. I’ve recently received some seeds from Maureen which was amazing and a very kind offer. She has collected them from her garden, something which I need to learn to do this year! And put a little note on each packet to help me. There’s a whole host of them, some I’ve never heard of, so it’s exciting to learn more about them and to see their progress. Here’s the list:

Mixed Sweet Peas
Red Orach – hardy vegetable like spinach and deep red leaves mean it can be used as an ornamental border plant.
Mixed Dahlia’s
Sweet William – to be sown direct outside
Cenrinthe Major pururascens
Nasturtium tom thumb mixed
California Poppy ‘Golden Values’
Pumpkin Rouge Vif d’Etamps
Tomato Gardener’s Delight

I’ve sown all but the Poppies and Sweet William in a mixture of trays and pots filled 3/4 full with moist multi-purpose and topped with seed compost. After sowing I’ve covered the larger seeds with a thin layer of seed compost and the smaller ones with just a sprinkling of vermiculite. Then into the sink to soak up some water and then onto the windowsill. Job done!

Most of the seeds sown so far are up and well away with the first true leaves on the cauliflower, calabrese, onions, sunflowers and lettuce. I have some peppers and chilli seedlings coming on and waiting for the courgette and squash to germinate. I’m really pleased that all 3 cucumber seeds I’ve sown have come up as the seed I use, Dobies Carmen F1, is quite expensive at £3.75 for 6-8 seeds (although I do get 50% discount on that price ordering through my local Horticultural Society). If they survive the pack of seeds has latest me two seasons and I will manage to give one plant away each year as I only need two plants in the greenhouse to be self-sufficient in cucumbers from May-October (and we eat a lot of cucumber!). So all in all good value.

A week to go to our local Spring Show and my daffs are nearly there.

I’ve never entered, or even been to, the Spring Show before so have no idea what I’m doing other than what’s on the schedule. I was hoping to enter some of the flowers I planted as bulbs back in the Autumn. There’s a dozen daffodil classes of various sizes and types, a couple of tulip classes (no chance for me as mine are only 3″ out of the ground), flowering shrub, primula and a few other classes such as collection of spring bulb, mixed vase of cut spring flowers etc. Then there are handicraft, homecraft, photography, art, flower arranging and junior sections. We’ll see how it goes, I need to get my entry form in a couple of days beforehand so I will wait and see what I’ve got in the middle of next week.

Here’s the Plot Defender aka “Polo”, my dog, a rescue Staffie cross. He hasn’t featured on this blog before. He likes sticks and proving how destructible so called indestructible toys are (I used to have a Staffie as a kid, Grip, full pedigree name, Grip ‘The Dandy’ III – he used to chew up a car tyre in a few weeks!). Polo’s dislikes are cats and pigeons so he makes a great defender of my patch of earth.

Whilst I’ve been typing Chloe has been busy practising being the next Jackson Pollack!

What’s Growing?

Time for an update on what’s growing………..or not.

On the plot the overwintered spring cabbages and lettuce seem to be growing but no sign of the broad beans, garlic, onions or shallots yet. The 1 rhubarb crown I have is poking through though. I sowed carrots and parsnips last weekend so not expecting anything from them for a while.

In the greenhouse there’s cauliflower, onion, leeks, little gem lettuce and sunflower seedlings growing on. Sweet peas still yet to appear and the containers of carrots and dahlias which I made up on Tuesday night.

Indoors there’s calabrese, tomato, pepper, chilli and french marigold seedlings growing on. Waiting for more peppers, some back-up broad beans, tomatoes, squash, courgettes and cucumber to germinate.

It’s a really exciting time in the season, loads of potential and expectations are high. Can’t wait to start planting these out, patience is a virtue though, go too soon and pay the price.

Plans for the weekend. I’ll re-build the two cheap plastic cold frames I bought last year and place them straight on the plot and sow some salad crops in them, lettuce, radish and spring onions. I need to prep the two dustbins full of sand and sow some carrots which I’m hoping will come good for a couple of shows this year. The remainder of the beds need to be dug over and I’d like to start work on some compost bins. So much to do!

It won’t stop raining!

Well I felt a bit better today and just needed to get out of the house after two days stuck indoors. With all this greyness around at the moment I was in search of some colour to share with you. So I packed the family off to our local In-Excess and garden centre. Picked up some bargains in In-Excess, packs of summer bulbs (Dahlias and Gladioli) for 95p, seeds (Summer Squash, Autumn/Winter Cauliflower, Rudbekia) for 50p and some more marigold seeds for 25p. Well worth a visit, they have stores in Salisbury, Ringwood, Bournemouth and Christchurch.

The garden centre we went to was quite small but had some welcome colour.

Some nice Polyanthus.

Beautiful primroses and some daffs.

Back home just a bit of sowing and pricking out to do really as the plot is unworkable with this heavy rain. In the greenhouse growing on are onions, cauliflowers, calabrese, tomotoes, sunflowers and marigolds.

On the windowsill indoors are leeks, pepper, chillies and little gem lettuce. No real signs of life on the plot yet, the broad beans haven’t come up so I have some in pots as back up. Garlic, shallots and onions are still dormant and nothing off the PSB yet. Hopefully we’ll get some sun and warmer weather in the next couple of weeks.

A couple of bursts of colour in the garden. A nice clump of winter heather and some Crocus (I think) almost coming into bloom.

Veg tips!

Here are some tips that I have learnt recently. Some I’ve tried and others I haven’t got round to yet. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these.

Marigolds – great companion plants but it’s the dead flowers you want. I only found this out last year after diligently de-heading them like a good gardener!

When sowing carrots sprinkle in some vermiculite to ward off the dreaded carrot fly.

Grow a white flowering variety of runner beans, they’re self-pollinating so you’re not reliant on the insects. Don’t use a wig-wam for runners, only climbing french beans.

Tomatoes – when the first truss forms tap every day to self-pollinate.

To boost your greenhouse production you need to up your CO2 – fill a pot with manure, clingfilm over the top with 6 pencil holes in, this should be enough from October to May. Not sure how PC this one is??

Rotting onions or parsnip canker? Try using a small amount of vermiculite mixed with flowers of sulphur in the seed drill or when planting onions.

Clean tools with tomato sauce – apply with a coarse brush and leave on the tool for 2 hours then wash off and dry thoroughly.

Use the cress test for manure from a new source that may have been contaminated with herbicides – also use for testing your water butt quality.

5-6% full fat milk in water is now used to control many pests and diseases.

That’s all for now……………