Thursday, May 30

Peas and beans

Peas and broad beans have been among the first things to be planted on the plot.

So far two lots of broad beans - Masterpiece Green Longpod and Witkiem Manita - have been planted out with a third variety - Crimson Flowered - hardening off in the cold-frame.

As I've mentioned before weed control fabric has been used on this bed and the beans planted through it in a crossed slit. We're learning as we go along which type of planting technique best suits which type of plant.  When planting the first lot of beans I tried to scoop soil out of the 'hole' in the fabric but for the second lot I sort of scooped aside a planting pocket in the soil keeping the soil under the fabric. During the last visit to the plot both sets of beans were growing well.
At first we thought that the fabric was keeping weevils at bay but they have obviously now homed in on the plants and started nibbling.
At least now the plants are growing well and large enough to withstand the attentions of the weevils.

We're also using weed control fabric with our peas. Here the method is different as we have planted the peas into long slits in the fabric - in the same way as we have planted the carrots, parsnips, onions and shallots. The pea plants - Meteor -were first raised by sowing seeds in small pots to grow them on before planting out on the plot.
We have also planted two taller growing variety of pea - Sugar Snap (this was a substitute for another variety of pea that we ordered) - and a mangetout variety - Carouby de Maussane. The latter has purple flowers and we have grown it before.
We have just coppiced one of the hazel bushes planted on the plot, (originally these were transplanted from the garden where they started life as one corkscrew hazel). The 'prunings' are being used as pea sticks. The manure mulch is just really to prevent the fabric from blowing about and will be of no harm to the peas. Once the fabric is removed it can be incorporated into the soil and so eventually serve two purposes.

Again it will be interesting to see how much weevil damage the pea plants suffer.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Wednesday, May 29

Cornflower Art

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, May 27

The food of love

Back in March 2010 we planted a quince tree - Meeches Prolific. Funny I thought it had been planted longer than that but my picture album doesn't lie.
We had never tasted quinces but we were looking for new fruit to plant and we decided that even if we ended up not liking the fruit - the description of the tree sounded beautiful. 

The flowers really are beautiful.
So much so that we had one photograph turned into a canvas print for our bedroom wall.
They also have a really subtle perfume that you catch when you pass close by.

The leaves are beautiful too - very felty like the young fruits.
Surprisingly we harvested our first fruits during the first year - not many but enough to find out that we thought they were delicious. Each year we have had a few fruits but this year is full of promise as the tree is loaded with blossom and looks stunning. It's difficult to take a photo that does the tree justice.
If all that blossom sets fruit then the tree will have a problem as quince fruits grow fairly large and are quite heavy. We may even have to overcome our natural reluctance to remove some fruit.
But lots can happen between now and then - the fruit has to actually set first - fingers crossed! Although the bees seem to be trying their best to do their bit.
So why 'The food of love' title? Quince fruits are sometimes referred to as golden apples and many believe that early references to apples - including the fruit, assumed to be an apple, in the garden of Eden given by Eve to Adam - were in fact referring to the quince. The ancient Greeks dedicated quinces to the goddess of love and also apparently gave them to a bride at her wedding and were shared by the bride and groom to sweeten their breath.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Sunday, May 26

A foxy conundrum

I'm sure Mark from Mark's Veg Plot was thinking four legged garden vandals when he arrived at this post. My foxy conundrum relates to foxgloves.

We used to sow foxglove seeds each year and grow the resulting plants on the plot as an encouragement and reward to the bees. 
Then I decided that we were wasting our time as each year dozens of self sown foxgloves appeared in amongst the weeds
They are often growing in the wrong places, (in an earlier post you may remember the photo of them growing amongst my overspill strawberries), and so each year I simply dig up the plants and move them to where I want them to grow. I also transport a few plants into the garden.
I have a couple of shady spots where I plant them.
So  ... and here's the conundrum ... why do I never find self sown seedlings in the garden? I don't dig the area where the foxgloves are planted other than a hole to plant them in so I know I don't weed out or uproot any seedlings. I thought I'd only need to transport plants from the plot once but no it's a yearly activity!

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Friday, May 24

When four became twelve.

Do you remember this picture of the collection of plants that recently found their way home with me after a visit to a nearby garden centre?
I explained that some of them were to replace the plants that went awol from my Living Lid in my post here but what about the others.

In the alpine section plants were being sold in groups of six - you could buy one of course but by buying six you got each plant a little cheaper. So I'd found four plants for the Living Lid and just needed another two to make up my six. Any gardener faced with an array of plants from which to choose just two will empathise with the difficulty that I had. Martyn found a couple he fancied too so in the end we came away with twelve.

In addition to the sempervivum and sedum already listed in the previous post we bought - Veronica prostrata - Nestor, Chaenorhinum origanifolium - Blue Dreams, Mazus repans, Campanula poscharskyana - Hirsch Blue, Anthemis - White Carpet, Delosperma cooper, Lewisia Cotyledon - Sunset and Lycnis alpina.

The idea was that these would be added to fill in some spaces in the Pebble Garden and also plant up a further ledge below the main part of this garden area. You can just see the area that I mean in the bottom right of the photo below. At the moment it house my baby primrose plants.
Things didn't exactly go to plan as I used six more of the plants in the main part of the Pebble Garden.
That left me with just two plants - neither of which would be happy on the ledge but not to worry I can find them a place to be happy.

But I'm left with no plants for the ledge area - oh dear - I'll have to go back to the garden centre!

And I'd better confess I bought a clematis - Cezanne too. It was just crying out to me that it would love to live in the blue and white border!

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Thursday, May 23

Alternative Strawberries

We grow lots of alpine strawberry plants - if you want a decent crop of fruit you haven't really any choice than to grow lots of them. The cultivars that we grow in our gardens have been developed from the wild woodland strawberry. 
Alpine strawberries are much smaller than 'normal' strawberries and their texture is softer. If you grow alpine strawberries expecting the fruits to be just small versions of their big cousins then you will be disappointed. They are not juicy and the taste isn't as obvious. We use them to make a compote that we use to make our own fruit yoghurt or to liven up the morning bowl of porridge.

We have various generations of alpine strawberries as most year's we grow new ones from seed and dig up those plants that have become straggly. This year our oldest plants have been discarded and as - for some reason - the seeds we sowed last year didn't grow, we will have a much depleted crop this year.
We plant alpines as edging plants around several of our fruit beds and the ones that were planted a couple of years ago needed tidying and weeding. These have been split and replanted. Although some varieties of alpines are said to produce runners, ours - Alexandria - never have. Some have self seeded though and these have been transplanted.
They are already producing flowers so hopefully we should soon have some berries to pick.

We also have some plants in our over- spill strawberry bed. I've left the self seeded foxgloves as they don't seem to be doing any harm!
Meanwhile the next batch of new plants are still tiny seedlings. The seedlings grow very slowly. We have two sowings some being further advanced than the others have started to produce their true leaves.
Hopefully once pricked out into modules they will produce healthy plants like the ones below and will go on to keep us supplied with fruits for two or three years before they too will have to make way for younger specimens.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Wednesday, May 22

A moment in time.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Tuesday, May 21

Lid Renovation

I recently posted about the vandalisation of my Living Lid by creatures unknown - although I think we had settled on blackbirds as the most likely culprits. 

Last week I had a visit to a local garden centre where amongst other things - lots of other things - I found some sedum and sempervivums to replace those that has disappeared.

I bought Sedum - Silver Frost, Sedum - Sexangulare, Sedum tetractium - Coral Reef and Sempervivum-Rheinhard which you may be able to pick out amongst some other acquisitions.

I have now carried out a lid renovation and hope the blackbirds are too busy squabbling over territory and feeding nestlings to indulge in any further acts of vandalism.
You may be able to spot very small surviving remnants of the main plant casualties. Some of the tiny pieces had already rooted and so I am hoping these grow on. I've left plenty of space as these plants should multiple if they are left alone to get on with growing.

I may put some sort of netting over the trays over winter as a security blanket as that seems to have been when the damage occurred. I don't want to cover them up now as the idea is to make the garden look attractive.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, May 20

Lavender hedging

We have lavender plants partially edging two of our fruit beds. I am trying to create a complete edge around the beds but originally I didn't have enough plants and so I compromised and edged just two sides of the beds.  The beds only have three edges - I know that sounds strange but along the fourth edge is the row of summer fruiting raspberries. I planted some rooted cuttings along the third edges last year but these are only growing really slowly.
Just to clarify the beds are set out like this.
The large purple dots represent the old lavenders and the small dots represent the smaller ones taken as cuttings but seeming not to want to grow.
I do trim the lavender hedge every year to try and prevent it from becoming bare and leggy but the problem is that over time weeds and grass has grown through the lavender and I want/need to remove it somehow! The only option seems to be to dig up the lavender plants and clean them of weed roots and replant them but ... when should I do this?

Also when I do can I sink the plants deeper into the soil and get them to regenerate and to grow out some of the bare bits caused by the weeds? I don't want to have to start the hedge from scratch as if the cuttings are anything to go by - it could take ages for a decent hedge to grow back. The bees and I can't wait for that to happen!

So has anyone any advice - have you regenerated a lavender hedge this way?

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Sunday, May 19

Willow screen (aka blue and white) border

Another renovation project started in 2011 was to totally revamp what I now refer to as the Willow Screen Border.

I decided to limit the flower colour scheme to blue and white as the border 'sits' beneath a fairly large crab apple tree which casts shadow over the border so I thought these colours would give a lift to the shade.
Although the flower colours were limited there is also the additional colour provided by the leaves of plants - some I chose for the silvery white variegation which contrasts with the plummy leaves of the heuchera that provide a link through to the leaves of the crab apple that overshadows the border
As well as providing interest through colour the leaves of the plants above also have a variety of shapes and textures which are added to by the leaves of the perennials that are shooting into growth.
In this border I planted a couple of shrubs - one being an acer and the other ...
... at the opposite end of the bed to the acer, a hydrangea quercifolia both of which also have interesting leaves. I did worry recently that the hydrangea  was dying but it now seems to have rallied and is producing new shoots.
A choisya that, along with one or two other plants, was allowed to survive the renovation is just coming into flower. Luckily for it the white flowers fit my colour scheme.
At the moment flower colour is being provided by spring perennials.
and the bulbs that I planted last year.
Summer flowering perennials should hopefully take over once these have died back. I'm hoping the crab apple that is now in full flower won't cast too much shade for them to thrive.
Of the five clematis planted along the screen four are showing growth in varying degrees - although none are really growing as quickly as I would have liked - but I am concerned that one plant has disappeared altogether. 
All in all I am pleased with how things are progressing and just need to consider whether I need to add anything once I determine where the gaps are.  
The blue crocuses planted in this area disappeared altogether so I'll buy more crocuses this year and grow them on in pots to plant out later - as I did for the front garden bed.
I'm thinking of planting out some anemone blanda which have been growing on in pots. As they came in a mixed pack, I've been waiting until I saw what colour they were. I'm quite happy that they have all ended up having blue flowers so I have placed the three pots in the border to see how they'get on'' there.
Being spring flowers I think they may tolerate a bit of crab apple shade once the tree is in full leaf. What do you think?

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett