Sunday, 27 March 2011

Spring borders

Oh dear - disaster has struck my little cauliflower plants.  I transplanted them into small pots last week and all but 4 have withered!  They haven't been chewed; the tiny leaves have just wilted.  Did I transplant them too soon I wonder?  Where they still too young to be outside, even if they were under cover? I've no idea but it's something I'll have to notch up as a failure and hopefully learn from it. Thankfully I've got some more growing in a seed tray upstairs and I'll make sure I don't pot those up so quickly.  It's a real learning curve this veg growing business!

Aargh! the Cauliflower Catastrophe Conundrum
at least the second year rhubarb is doing well......
...and I've somehow managed to grow a cat too! (Felinus Relaxiflorum!)

Earlier this week I planted some of the marigold, broccoli (both the Early Purple and the Autumn), tomato, brussel sprout and sweetcorn seeds; along with more leek and cauliflower (thank goodness).  They're also up in the windowsill in the spare room and already starting to pop their tiny heads up in the trays. I'm growing these ones in seed compost; I used a normal multi-compost for the first leeks and cauliflowers......could that be another reason why the caulis didn't establish well in the pots?

No work on the productive garden this weekend.  A friend's 30th birthday party on Friday night put paid to doing too much on Saturday.  I did make it down to my first Seed Swap event, held in Lostwithiel (after a good breakfast and a couple of paracetamol!).  I took some seeds down to swap and came back with salad onion (Red Baron), Penstemon (Miniature Bells) and Chard (Mangold Witerbi) seeds.  Plus an edging tool for the lawn, a brilliant little hand scythe and some great 'cloches' made out of old street lamp know, the clear plastic covers that go over the light itself.  What a brilliant idea; and all for £5!  Great fun; I hope there's more of these events locally in the future.

AND, with all my concentration being on the productive areas of the garden,I've seriously neglected the borders around the lawn.  So today I spent the afternoon weeding them and redefining the edges - with my new edging tool of course. I got 3 out of the 4 done and I'll finish the rest over the week. Fingers crossed the good weather stays with us for a while longer.  Having said that, I had to top up the water butt today because we haven't had any rain in over a week and I've been watering the seeds, rhubarb and apple trees during this dry, warm weather we've been having.  It was only half full to begin with because it's not long been in the garden but I think I'm going to have to get another one because my garden isn't directly outside my house and it's, quite frankly, a pain in the butt (pardon the pun!) having to carry buckets of water up and down in the evenings.

Back to the borders. They're an eclectic mix of shrubs, bulbs and perennials.  I suppose all I've done over the past 4 years is fill them with anything I've seen around the garden centres that I like the look of, or plants that people have given me.  There's been no planting scheme in my thoughts at all. When I first created them I just wanted to plant for the sake of having something in them.  Aquilegias and Forget-Me-Nots began to grow soon after I'd dug the ground over and cleared most of the weeds. The first plants I put in were the cowslips (Primula Veris), a couple of Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) and Siddalcea 'Elsie Heugh's then came the bulbs; Muscari (Grape Hyacinth), Alliums (Ornamental Onion), Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-snow) dwarf crocuses and the odd bluebell bulb that I uncovered during my early days of frantic digging.

Grape Hyacinth & Cowslips sitting pretty side-by-side

Delicate blue flowers of the Chionodoxa

Next came the shrubs along the back of the borders; a Honeysuckle, Hairy Canary Clover (Lotus Hirutus), False Spirea (Sorbaria Sorbifolia), Pieris 'Forest Flame', Red Robin (Photinia), Choisya, a Flowering Current (Ribes Sanguineum), Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride' and most recently a Hydrangea Petiolaris and an Escallonia Peach Blossom.
Exochorda planted last year
Aquilegia growing by the False Spirea - photo taken 2010
I hope to be able to add some Penstemons if I'm successful in growing them from seed.

In the meantime, I should think about planting between the bulbs to add some interest during the autumn/winter period, especially whilst I can see where the bulbs are growing! Perhaps some hostas or something taller like Echinaceas. Looks like I'm in for trawling the 'net' to find something suitable.

Finally, just a quick note about the plum wine.  Hmmm, semi-successful I think. There was so much sediment that after racking it 3 times I'm down to half a gallon!! Just enough for about 2-3 bottles I reckon. Ah well, let's look at it as being half full rather than half empty and start thinking about getting some carrot wine on the go. 

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