June 2019

Sunday 2nd June – in the garden at home

Isn’t it just typical that when you have the time to spend a whole day in the garden and a mountain of jobs to do it rains. Today was one of those days when it showered, dried up and then showered again – so I ended up running around putting things in and out of the shed.

Yesterday was a lovely warm, dry day with plenty of sunshine and we drove down into Derbyshire to visit the Magical Open Gardens in the village of Bonsall. So many beautiful gardens to stroll around – I came away fired up with enthusiasm and ideas for my own garden.

On the way we visited a lovely garden centre outside of Matlock to look at some wooden boxes suitable for growing a few salad vegeatables on the patio. They had some very reasonably priced raised vegetable boxes but they would be far too big for the tiny space – so we opted for these smaller ones at £19.99 each.

I am not too keen on the colour and will probably paint them next year but I need to get on with the salad growing so they will stay as they are for now.

The bottoms are just open slats so a lining of cardboard did the trick and then I lined the whole box out with a thick black plastic bin bag to conserve moisture.

As the boxes are quite deep my trusty vegetable growing book suggests throwing paper and vegetable waste in the bottom which will rot down over time. I then added some of the bag of ‘rubbish’ potting compost I had and a little of the left over tomato grow bag (I didn’t use these in the end and went for tall pots with a water resevoir). The final layer was a mix of better quality potting compost, some well rotted manure and a sprinkling of moisture retaining crystals for good measure.

I transplanted the mixed lettuce leaves into one of the boxes….

…..and after putting a fnal layer of this John Innes seed compost into the other box have sewn a few lettuce seeds which will harvest later.

They will be accompanied by radish, spring onion and perpetual spinach when I get to buy some seeds.

The courgette seeds have come on well and have now been transplanted into the large pot with the one I bought. I hope I am right in thinking that you can put the little fibre pots they are growing in straight into the hole and they will eventually rot down and the roots push through. The bought plant has flowers forming already so will be much earlier fruiting than mine.

Just before the rain really set in I managed to transplant a few chive and curly parsley seedlings into one of the herb pots to fill the gaps. This one has thyme and feverfew; the thyme has been glorious – I have no idea of the variety but it has flowered all spring.

A quick check on the tomatoes – they are gaining height rapidly and seem quite cosy in their little greenhouse. My only problem is I am not sure how much ventilation they need as I think they can get fungal diseases if too moist. The cover is only temporary to give them a head start. They are outdoor tomatoes and when we go away we will have to remove the covers so they can get some water when it rains.

After a move around of the pots on the patio I called it a day.

Tuesday 4th June – in the garden at home

The weather forecast was for rain today and they were not wrong other than it didn’t start until after lunch so I was able to potter in the garden longer this morning and get a few more jobs done.

I had my new pot to plant. We bought it half price from the Forest garden centre at Darley Dale, near Matlock last Saturday for £16.

I decided to put the tray of French Marigolds in here and place them as near to the salad boxes as possible in the hope that they will keep any pests off my crops.

I use a few old stones in the bottom of my pots for drainage and as it is a tall pot I throw in some pieces of broken up polystyrene packaging and on top of this I fill the bottom half of the pot with the awful rubbish potting compost seen above on the left and top up with the better compost on the right; mixed with well rotted manure and a sprinkling of moisture retaining crystals.

Once the plants were in place and watered I decided to add a layer of gravel to the top of the pot to help preserve moisture. The only gravel we had was a bag DH got for making concrete when he extended the base for the shed and it needed cleaning. The holes in the garden sieve are too wide for this small gravel so I had to devise something to be able to wash away the sandy residue so it doesn’t wash down into the plants when I water them.

So I came up with this idea and it worked a treat. I used an empty 4 pint milk carton washed out and drilled some holes both in the bottom and low down around the sides. I cut the top off leaving the handle intact – filled the carton with gravel and hosed it down allowing the sandy water to rinse through. Brilliant and I love the bright and zingy splash of orange on the patio.

After this I planted the tiny alpine geranium which is like a mini version of the lovely variety, Geranium Psilostemon. My photo does not do the colour justice as it is a vivid magenta pink and will look lovely against the mauve of the Hyssop and Lavender when they flower.

The honeysuckle I bought last year, Lonicera Scentsation, is doing very well with many buds just waiting to burst into these lovely soft creamy flowers.

This is my latest addition bought at the weekend the award winning, Clematis Tranquility, grows only to a height of 5 feet and has the palest of mauve flowers with a white central streak. I love how delicate it is.

The largest of the tomato plants on the right, Sweet Million an F1 Hybrid, does not have many flowers yet – should I be worried? I think they have been a bit starved of sunshine in our area recently. They have been fed and watered well so I shall just have to wait and see.

After a bit of weeding in the flower beds I had to call it a day and went in for lunch – soon I hope to be eating our own salad leaves.

Friday 14th June – in the garden at home

At last a few hours without any rain – just time enough to do a few jobs in the garden. The green growth spurt is abundant with all the rain….

….. but there are many plants still in bud – just waiting for those rays of sunshine and warmth to make them open up. Those that have braved the rain are all looking a bit sad and sorry.

Meanwhile the Peony Shirley Temple is still waiting in the wings – the buds slowly opening and ready to burst onto centre stage at any moment but how much longer before it gets to perform.

The Buddleia Alternifolia is laden with arching boughs of pretty lilac blossom

and the Rock Rose is daring to open it petals up one by one.

I am making a note of this Aquilegia – it looks white in this photo but it is actually a gorgeous pale blush pink and I will need to remember this when the petals have fallen and the seed heads formed so I can collect them and spread them around the garden.

The tomatoes continue to grow and there are signs of more flowers but the Sweet Millions on the right, although a very strong plant, has the least flowering stems.

I managed to sow the raddish, beetroot, spring onion and land cress seeds today and the mixed leaves are ready for picking…

….we had a few for tea tonight.

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