Too many seeds ?

For the record here is a photo of the 60 plus packets of flower, herb and vegetable seeds that I will be sowing on Plot 124 over the next couple of months seed-2008.jpg

Bear in mind that the plot is no more than 30 by 60 feet and has a pallet patio, woodchip paths, a compost area, a soft fruit patch and so on. There’s also various bulbs, corms, tubers, onion sets and chitted potatoes to be planted. On that basis I reckon that the area for seed sowing is reduced by around a third.

Even taking into account that many won’t germinate, and some eaten by the birds, I really do think that I have enough. So I must stop browsing through the catalogues or looking at the seeds in the hardware shop and horticultural society’s hut.

I went to the plot this morning as I’d not been there since Friday. There was a cold wind so apart from topping up the bird feeders and putting up some wire trellis for the grape vine I did little else.

On my usual tour of inspection I did notice that there’s plenty of signs of growth including some tiny leaves on one of the raspberry canes! I’m also happy to say that the globe artichoke is recovering, just as I was told it would.

Spending spree!

Well kind of as on Thursday I went to Homebase to spend the £50 worth of vouchers that I’d been given in December as compensation for the damage done to the plot.

I bought a pair of Pruners, a Dutch Hoe and a Soil Rake all of which are to replace the ones I have that really aren’t very good.

I also bought this trough dscn0053.jpg which is for the climbing Asparagus which I mentioned in this entry.

I shall also grow some Matricaria White Gem matricaria-white-gem.jpg

and Viola F2 Joker Blue pansy-f2-joker-blue.jpg in it as well.

That was the £50 spent, well very nearly as I actually got 34p change!

As you can see in the trough picture most of the daffodils survived the rain and wind during the week, but sadly the crocus didn’t.

The only newspaper that I buy now is The Independent on Saturday when I’m at the bookshop all day. I always read Cleve West’s Urban Gardener page in the Magazine which last week was aptly titled A mighty wind as you can see here. Has anyone grown, cooked and/or eaten Jerusalem artichokes ?

Early March

It’ll be a few weeks before I start planting and sowing many of the flowers, herbs and vegetables on the plot.

Meantime you can see that the herb patch (on the left) and the vegetable area (the square S shape on its side) dscn0046.jpg have been dug over and are now ready. The light coloured area on the right will be the wild flower bed to attract bees, birds and butterflies. In front of the log pile is the globe artichoke which as you can see has now completely flopped. However I’m assured that it will recover, and if not I’ll be given another one!

This plant dscn0048.jpg was one of the few that I kept from when I started. It died right back during the winter but it’s looking good as it begins to grow again.

Nikki will be pleased to learn that the roses are doing well, particularly the Valentine Heart which already has some small leaves on it dscn0049.jpg , and which is the focal point of what will be her corner of the plot.

Just for the record here are a few of my daffodils dscn0047.jpg which are growing in front of one end of the log.

I’ve transplanted the grape vine into a big green square plastic pot which I got for free as it’s slightly damaged. It looks much better than the round black one it replaces. I’m also going to paint that bright green board a darker shade and add a trellis of some kind.

Talking of bees, last Thursday, which was a fairly warm but overcast day, I’m sure that one buzzed past me! I didn’t see it though as I turned the wrong way. I must ask plot neighbour John when I next see him as he has two beehives on his allotment. I remember last summer when I first saw him donning all his special clothing and wondered what he was doing as at that time I didn’t know that he’s a bee keeper.

[ Click on any of these thumbnail pictures if you want to see a larger image]

Magical moments

The weather forecast for the weekend is wet and windy so it looks like I won’t be doing anything on the plot.

I don’t mind too much as I’ve spent several hours both yesterday and this morning in good weather mostly forking over the herb and vegetable areas. It was still a bit sticky in places which did make it a touch harder than I’d hoped.

Last week when I was there I was standing little more than arms length away from the bird feeders when out of the corner of my eye I noticed the peanut one moving slightly. As I watched one of these delightful little

blue tits bluetit.jpg appeared from round the back of it. I could have possibly have got the camera and taken a photo of it but for one thing…my hands were very muddy and wet! So I stood there and savoured what had to be a magical moment watching it peck at the peanuts.

Today I was meet by the robin and and a couple of blue tits on the feeders.

As I worked I saw a blackbird, several magpies, two parakeets, some pigeons, a few seagulls and starlings around the site.

At one point I heard several crows cawing away very nosily and as I turned I saw them wheeling around the sky overhead the adjacent ecology park. As I watched I suddenly realised that they were mobbing a magnificent grey heron gh300_tcm9-166996.jpg It circled lower and lower to disappear in the ecology park which does have a fair sized pond. I rarely see herons so for me this was another magical moment!

The only new wildlife programme on terrestrial TV next week is Unknown Africa on Monday BBC2 at 8.00pm. Saba Douglas-Hamilton explores hidden corners of Africa for this new series starting with the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Have a good weekend!

I’m glad I went !

I wasn’t going to buy anything at the horticultural society hut this morning apart from peanuts for the birds. However looking round I spotted some bulbs, corms and tubers.

So I got two Dahlia tubers, one each ‘Bishop of Leicester’ and ‘Stolze von Berlin’, just to see how I get on with them. I got ten Gladioli corms, five each of the blue ‘Her Majesty’ and white ‘Amsterdam’. Lastly I got some Tigridia bulbs which include some white ones. I picked up a bundle of ten green 3 foot flower sticks as well which I’m sure I’ll need later on.

The weather was actually quite good with sunny intervals and the wind being not too blowy. On the plot some more crocus are out as are a few daffodils all providing some welcome splashes of colour.

I forked over the part of the vegetable patch which I’m probably going to plant my potatoes in. At the moment they’re in egg boxes on the kitchen table chitting away quite merrily by the look of them. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about then have a look at this Growing Our Own entry.

The birds were notable by their absence today although I could hear them in the nearby bushes and trees. There weren’t many people around either.

Anyway I’m glad I went !

On the plot

It was a nice morning so I was on the plot before nine and had the place to myself, with even most of the birds having a lie in.

I’d planted some crocus last autumn and I was greeted by this golden glow. sun-1.jpg

Aren’t they lovely? There’s more to come, and the daffodils won’t be long either!

Plot neighbour Trevor very kindly gave me this magnificent globe artichoke

sun-2.jpg

which I planted near the log pile. It’s a terrific looking plant and grows quite big so he tells me!

I gave the shed a coat of green wood preservative which I think is a better colour than the shade of biscuit that it was. sun-3.jpg

The metal trellis will be used to support the Asparagus verticillatus that I’m hoping to grow. This is a hardy climber with feathery foliage and small white flowers followed by small bright red berries. Chiltern Seeds says that it is easily trained for concealing unsightly chain link fences, garden gnomes and the like!

To round off what had been a good few hours just as I was packing up to come home I heard a familiar bird call and turned to see one, two, then several more parakeets flying at low level right over the top of me! Wonderful!

Vegetables

Just when I was starting work on Plot 124 back at the beginning of last July allotmenteering lawn lounger Mildew was sadly about to relinquish hers as she simply didn’t have the time to devote to it.

The week before last she commented on my Grazie Joe entry offering me some packets of vegetable seeds, which I gratefully accepted.

She sent me about a dozen packets, together with a nice card, which I received during the week. In the card she said that most of what she has sent me are fairly mundane and quite everyday vegetables, but I don’t mind that at all.

They include Beetroot, Cabbage, Carrots, Peas and Runner beans ‘Painted Lady’, which she thinks is the best variety having eaten some last summer. There is also Leek ‘Musselburgh’ which is a vegetable I would not have considered growing but having read Louise’s entry Leeks I’ve changed my mind!

My thanks again to Mildew. Now I’ve off to read The Vegetable & Herb Expert to find out just what I’ve let myself in for!

Happy gardening!

Grazie Joe

grape-vine.jpg

My plot neighbour Joe very kindly gave me this grape vine yesterday. As you can see I’ve put it in a bucket sized plastic container and stood it on the pallet patio by the shed. I’ll have to think about some trellis for when it starts to grow.

It was very spring-like being sunny and warm, although the ground was still too sticky to really do anything. Perhaps by tomorrow it will be more workable and I can do some light forking over and weeding.

On Thursday I got the flower seeds I’d ordered so I’ve been pondering on what I’m going to sow where. After all I’ve now got over forty packets…do you think that’s enough?

I’m still undecided on what vegetables to grow apart from potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and onions. I’ll have to have yet another look through the catalogues! All suggestions will be most welcome.

Probably the most unusual plant I’m going to grow is Jersey cabbage. It can grow to six feet the first year, and beyond ten feet the second year! The stems can be cut in mid-winter, dried and polished to make a walking stick. Leaves can be picked throughout the season for cooking.

As usual the robin appeared to say a chirpy hello! Talking about birds I must mention that on Wednesday I saw two Grey wagtails gw300_tcm9-139894.jpg which was an unexpected treat. They weren’t on the allotment site but near the bookshop on the grass verge opposite where I’d parked the car.

It’s been a quiet and routine week but a good one. I hope I have more like it!

Herb patch

I’m not one for using any herbs when I cook but I am going to have a small herb patch on the plot.

I was given a Rosemary last autumn which is a classic herb, and well known for remembrance.

I’ve ordered a packet of mixed culinary herbs which contains Basil, Parsley, Sage, Summer Savory, Thyme and several others. These are a mix of annuals and perennials, and it will be interesting to see how they grow.

I’ve also bought a packet of seeds of this herb basil-magical-michael.jpg

Chiltern Seeds Vegbook says…This has been developed especially for ornamental use, being very floriferous, branched and compact. It is very fragrant, has green foliage and small creamy-white flowers with attractive purple bracts. There may be better ones to cook with but not many to look at.

You will guess why I have to grow this one when I tell you that it is Basil ‘Magical Michael‘.

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