flowers, fruit, Garden design, Grow Your Own, Plants, Secret Garden, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Sow many seeds…so many seedlings

aquilegia seedling

I’ve been on a sowing frenzy.

Although I work part time and theoretically have two days each week to spend in the garden/greenhouse doing lots of lovely gardening…it never usually works out that way.  Family/work/home responsibilities often creep into this time and so I have to grab gardening opportunities with both hands and make the most of it.  This sometimes means that I will sow like mad or get planting even if conditions aren’t perfect or if it’s a bit early or late – because if I wait until just the right time, I may miss it.

Yesterday gave me just the right opportunity for a bit of seed-sowing: some spare time, a sunny day and the need to stay close to home to nurse a poorly hen (latest on her on my Instagram feed @mycorneroftheearth).  Also we’re into another month – February! – and this brings with it a whole new set of seed packets to crack open and sow to get things off to a nice and early start.  I realise this can be a risky move, as seedlings can end up leggy or be exposed to frosty weather if sown very early.  However, where we live (North-east Scotland) it can be fairly cold and even frosty right into April/May and summers are frustratingly short.  So this year I’ve decided to give many of my plants a good head start so that they can flower for as much as possible of that short window of time when summer properly begins and autumn hits us again.

So my greenhouse is already looking pretty busy…

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This panoramic shot makes it look like the bench is bending under the weight – but we’re not quite at that stage…yet!  We have: sweet peas, calendula, greater knapweed, leeks, wallflowers, more sweet peas, nasturtiums, various cuttings, astrantia (taking a while to germinate!) two varieties of cosmos and shasta daisies.

And outside I’m hardening off the seedlings which were sown in the autumn and have been overwintering in the greenhouse…

This selection includes aquilegia, gypsophila, some geum cuttings, plus hollyhocks and stipa tenuissima.  What you can’t see on the ground under the table and along the fence is all the extra teasels, lavender and various cuttings of shrubs and fruit trees which I grew last autumn too!

What am I going to do with all these plants?  Well, some of them will definitely be planted out in the front garden.  I’m deliberately sowing a lot of herbaceous perennials and hardy annuals according to my planting plans for the front.  However, I know I’ll end up with too many.  Some, I will probably gift to family and friends but if I really end up with a lot of extra plants, I’m seriously considering selling them – I’m just not quite sure how to do that yet.  More on that later, perhaps.

Bearing in mind all this new growing activity, I’m going to need more kit.  I will definitely need more pots.  Thankfully I spied a bargain recently which will help with hardening off all these new seedlings – my local B&Q was selling off hardwood cold frames marked down from £48 to £20, so I snapped up two!  My husband very kindly put them together for me yesterday.

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So that’s what’s going on in the Secret Garden at the moment.  Lots of sowing and growing already – and I haven’t even started on veg and/or cut flowers for the raised beds yet!  Spring isn’t quite here yet but I’m getting ready for her…

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flowers, Grow Your Own, Plants, Secret Garden, Vegetables

Mr Smith

As promised in my previous post, just a few hours ago, I grabbed the opportunity to get out into the garden and I’m pleased to say it was a productive afternoon and evening.

I had to dodge a few showers but I managed to plant out pea seedlings, as well as sowing new pea seeds.  I also sowed early carrots, lettuce and rocket under a fleece mini-tunnel (the only one of two which survived the recent high winds).  In the same bed there was one square space remaining so I constructed a makeshift obelisk from some branches foraged from the woods just behind us (fallen, not cut!) and sowed a few remaining sweet pea seeds beneath it, with the help of my smallest daughter, who loves to pick the flowers.

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Pea seedlings

AND just before the light fell, I also filled in some space at the top of the potato bed with a few broccoli seeds – a bit of an experiment as I haven’t grown it before and, to be honest, we don’t eat much broccoli.  I reckon whether it’s successful or not, the chickens will benefit from these plants the most!

Phew – I got quite a lot done with the bit of time I had and am feeling quite satisfied that I’ve got a few seeds and seedlings into the earth today.

A word about my companion when I am sowing or growing vegetables – Mr Smith.  After we moved in here and I acquired the raised beds in the Secret Garden, my Dad bestowed upon me his copy of ‘Mr Smith’s Vegetable Garden’.

My Dad has been using this book since he began growing his own vegetables many years ago and swears by it as a very simple, straightforward guide to how to grow most veggies in your garden or allotment.  For each vegetable, Mr Smith lists the basic guidelines for How to Grow, possible Pests and Diseases and Storage and Kitchen Hints, plus a few simple line drawings for a bit of illustration.  I have just checked the front cover and the book was first published in 1976 (as well as a reprint in 1977 – the year I was born!) and the advice and guidance in it is as relevant now as it was then.  The book looks old-fashioned, but then I have a weak spot for ‘vintage’ gardening books – something I will definitely share in a future post…

Clearly Dad thought I could find the book as useful as he did as a reference point – and I do. Every year at this time I know I will bring out the book to check guidance for sowing my veg.  I don’t know who Mr Smith was – the Monty Don of his day perhaps – but he’s an excellent guide and adviser when it comes to growing your own vegetables.

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Secret Garden, Vegetables

What a load of crap…

Literally.

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I have recently acquired a fairly large quantity of horse manure, via the Head Gardener (aka Dad) whose village, apparently, has a Dung Day, when local farmers will pitch up with bags of fertilizer which you can buy at a very reasonable price.  Et voila – horse manure for my raised beds!

It’s a little bit of last-minute enrichment for the soil here, which I think could do with some help.  Last year’s crops were mostly poor and while the weather probably had some part to play, I think the beds have probably been dormant for a while prior to us moving in and the soil may be lacking in nutrients.  So I’m hopeful that chucking in a sizeable amount of poo – both horse and chicken – will help them on their way to becoming fertile containers of lush vegetables, fruit and flowers.

As well as digging some of the manure into a currently vacant bed, I also planted my potatoes – ten earlies (Duke of York) have gone into the top bed.  These beds are really big (I didn’t make them, I’m just the lucky soul who’s managed to inherit them from the previous owners!) so there’s still a bit of room in it for something else – I think I’ll probably also add some peas or sweet peas in the space that’s left.

So – currently in the beds at the moment:

Bed 1 – potatoes (10 Duke of York)

Bed 2 – empty (+ cloche to warm soil)

Bed 3 – empty (+ cloche to warm soil)

Bed 4 – 2 x raspberry canes planted last year (Autumn Bliss)

Bed 5 – 2 x rhubarb (inherited and moved from a different part of the garden); 4 x young strawberry plants grown from the runners of a large old plant; 6 x raspberry canes (Tulameen and Glen Something) and the re-sprouting Tayberry plant which I thought I had previously removed

Bed 6 – empty (+ generous amount of horse dung)

The Easter holidays are imminent – I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for some good weather to warm the soil so I can start sowing a few more seeds and filling all those empty spaces.

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The rhubarb is coming along – it’s already looking a bit healthier since its move to the bed.

 

 

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