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Archive for January, 2011

Simply seeds…

I know I said I wasnt going to go mad over how many different things I was going to grow from seed this year, but this week that idea seems to have flown out of the window.After we got the basil, sunflower and morning glory seeds from Marks and Spencer I went onto http://www.simplyseed.co.uk and ordered my sweetcorn seeds for this year. Unfortunately they were out of stock of the ‘Swift’ variety that we grew last year, so I chose some ‘Golden nugget’  seeds instead. As they only cost 95p and postage is £1 I thought I would have a look and see what else was available.

I found some Aubergine seeds, also priced at 95p and chose the ‘Black Beauty’ variety, which are the large, shiny black type of aubergine, as below.

I told myself that that would be it for this year, however today James and I popped to the garden centre down the road from our house to get James’ potato and onion seeds for his own vegetable patch that he made last year (see garden construction posts for more details!). He chose a bag of ‘Home Guard’  chitting potato seeds and also bought a couple of bags of lily bulbs to go into the pots on the patio. I meanwhile wandered off to peruse the seed display. BIG mistake. I ended up buying rocket, romano pepper and beetroot seeds, of all things!!! I have absolutely no idea where all of these different plants are going to go!!!

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Last year was the first time James and I had ever attempted ‘serious’ gardening, We had some great successes, quite a few failures and we spent an inordinate amount of money. Here are some things that we learnt from the experience:

Make your own compost – It really is a massive cost saver and is sooo easy. If I can refer you back to my previous posts on compost, you can sometimes actually order a compost bin from local councils for about £15 If not, DIY stores, amazon.com, ebay and your local garden centre are all good places to look. Then, just throw your garden waste, old tea bags, vegetable peelings, old fruit and vegetables and egg shells into it, and try to also add layers of cardboard (I used the cardboard from my amazon delivery boxes) and newspaper now and then. We started doing ours last year and it should be ready for us to use this year, meaning we dont have to buy bags of compost and plant feed to dig into the soil, we have our own free supply already!

Growing things from seed is trial and error but cheaper than buying plants! – I started a lot of our vegetable plants from seed last year and the majority of the plants worked well. However, dont do too many lettuce than you need (we did FAR too many and most of them rotted in the ground), spring onions didnt work at all for us last year but that may be due to me planting too many seeds in one tray, and seed tomatoes grew quite weak and spindly ( the actual tomato plants that we bought did much better).

Building a raised bed is EXPENSIVE – Fair play to all those lucky gardeners who salvage big pieces of wood to construct raised beds from, we got ours from a trade gardener’s store and they still cost us almost £150 all in all to buy. You can get smaller ready made ones and if I was to have any more in the garden, I would buy lots of the smaller ready made ones instead. It isnt just the wood either, the cost of the soil, compost etc needed to fill it soon mounts up. I am really glad that we have ours as anything that is planted in there seems to really thrive, but I am not sure we would repeat the experience, not to mention the cost.

Plants cant get enough water, especially in Summertime – Last summer it felt like all we did was constantly walk around the garden watering plants. How our water bill didnt rise extortionately, I do not know. Hanging baskets especially need LOADS of water, particularly in the 25 degree plus heat that sometimes we are lucky enough to get.

Supermarkets are a great source of cheap garden plants, tools and seeds – Morrisons in particular was amazing last year, and our garden is full of plants that we bought which I hope will really flourish this year. Strawberry plants and pumpkin plants are only £1 and packets of seeds about 75p.

 

Timing, position and feeding the soil are really important – By timing I mean what time of year is the best time to plant different things,  by position I mean where you are going to plant something, i.e in sun, partial shade, under a tree etc. By feeding the soil I mean that it is extremely important to ‘dig things in’ to your garden soil, this could be compost,manure or even special plant food. The advice that you receive on these different things should not be ignored.

I hope these bits of advice help you, too.

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New seeds!

Yeay! tonight me and the Mister went to Marks and Spencer to spend some christmas vouchers. Whilst we were waiting to pay, I spied some seed packets by the flower display.

I love seeds, and have decided that this year I am going to create a flower bed at the front of the house using packets of wildflower seeds only.  I picked up a packet of red giant sunflower seeds and a packet of blue and white ‘morning glory’, which I am pretty sure we already have in our garden, but they are so pretty that it wont hurt for them to mingle in amongst all of the other wildflowers.

I also chose a packet of Basil seeds, as James really wanted to grow this last year but we didnt get round to getting some seeds.

Marks and Spencer only seem to have a limited range of seeds (I spied poppies, spring onions, sunflowers, basil and cottage garden flowers) but at £1 a packet I think these are great value.

I think I am going to wait until the last frosts have passed in February and then I am going to start planting my seeds. I am going to plant one seed per pot, this avoids having to move them around as they get bigger, plus we should have our own compost ready for then, so I wont need to be buying bags of the stuff unlike last year!

I think this lunchtime I will make a purchase of some lovely F1 Swift sweetcorn seeds, as these worked brilliantly last year!

Once I begin the propagation (posh word for starting off the seeds in a conservatoryor greenhouse etc)  I will detail how I did it along with photographs of the process.

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A Guilty Pleasure!

One of the things I really look forward to is receiving the David Austen rose catalogue.

I should point out that a) We have roses in our garden already b) I have always thought of roses as particularly difficult to grow and c) They are really quite expensive as far as plants go. Plus the fact that James isn’t particularly keen on them and my dad has put me off trying to grow them as he says they are difficult to maintain.

I do so love them though. This morning I have been browsing the David Austen website looking at all the new varieties for 2011. My particular favourite of this year’s range is the ‘Maid Marion’ variety, shown below.

My absolute favourite type of rose are the apricot colour varieties. My friend Lizzie is getting married in Sorrento this year and she is having sunny yellow roses as part of her bouquet, which I think is quite unusual but will look amazing.

There are some really unusual looking varieties of rose too, very unlike your typical idea of what one should look like.

 

I really really really love the ‘Lady Of Shalott’ version too, with its lovely orangey blooms. It also apparently has a lovely warm tea-rose fragrance.

Either way, I am not sure I can justify spending £15 per rose plant, but if I won the lottery I would fill my garden with roses!!

If you fancy treating yourself to some roses for your garden, have a look at the website: http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/SlipGate.asp

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Gardening Prep!

Today is a typical dreary January sunday! To keep myself occupied I have been perusing Amazon to see what bits and bobs I might need for my gardening projects this year.

First up I purchased these Burgon and Ball seedling tray labels:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0028S7GFE/ref=oss_product

I got these as last year I tried to use strips of cardboard, but every time I watered the seedlings the labels went soggy!

Next up was a new lovely yellow watering can!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000PKDGRO/ref=oss_product

I need a new one of these as last year we stupidly used our old one for weedkiller (we have a BIG weed issue on our drive).  Plus I really like yellow things!!

As we spent quite a lot of money on the garden last year I am trying to avoid spending too much, especially seeing as we have so many tools, pots, seeds and products already! I have been saving plastic dessert pots to use as little planters for the seedlings and our compost should be ready this year so we can use that instead of having to buy bags of the stuff!

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Well, after a bitterly cold, snowy winter in which we literally did NOTHING on the garden except occasional half hearted tidying up, it is time to think about what to do on the garden this year.

This year we are going to go to the Malvern Spring Gardening show in May to get some ideas. Tickets are only £15 if you buy them online now from: http://www.threecounties.co.uk/springgardening/ and believe me, they dont half go up in price if you buy them on the day!! We are going on Sunday 15th May and I cant wait!

Anyway…back to ideas for what we are going to concentrate on this year. At the end of the summer I bought LOADS of packets of flower seeds. These include wildflower mixes, sweet williams and some lovely red field poppies. I have decided that rather than spend a fortune at the garden centre buying plants for the beds, I am going to throw all of my seeds into the front bed (which is directly in front of the house as you approach it) and pray for lots of different brightly coloured wildflowers to grow.

you may remember that we planted lots of tulip bulbs in the raised bed as a bit of an experiment. Well I am pleased to say that it looks like they are coming through ALREADY (a wee bit early, but still!) so in the raised bed we should hopefully have lots of brightly coloured tulips for early spring. Once these have come and gone, my plan is to dig up the tubers (the bulbs that they have sprouted from) and to move these to the back bed. That means that the following year we would have an actual flower bed full of tulips.

In february (after the frosts have passed) I am going to start some vegetable seeds off. This year we have decided to do petit pois, sweetcorn, potatoes, onions and rocket, and we will be growing tomatoes in the conservatory again this year.

I will be buying my sweet corn seeds from http://www.simplyseeds.co.uk as their F1 Swift seeds were absolutely brilliant last year.

This year I will start the seedlings off in individual pots right from the beginning as all the moving about from seedling trays to pots to into the ground disturbed a lot of the seeds last year. I will be potting them up in anything from small plastic plant pots to saved yoghurt pots to old teacups!

My most ambitious plan for the garden this year is to create another bed on the other side of the garage, facing the one that James created for his potatoes last year. This will be a full days’ digging at least, so we will have to wait for the better weather to start this I think.

Other plans include buying and painting an old picnic bench, so that we have somewhere to sit and eat on sunny evenings and weekends (lets hope we actually get some of those this year). We also need to buy some plants for the pots and James would also like to plant some rhubarb in the shady part of the garden.

I will update the blog as soon as we start our garden work!

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