Tuesday, May 31

More gaps filled

You may remember that in an earlier post I commented on how we had gaps in our pebble gardens which were providing an opportunity to buy more plants. 

I had already recently filled one gap with a tulbaghia. A few days ago we decided to carry out a garden centre crawl and came back with among other thinks some new gap fillers.
The small pebble bed was the one with most gaps but I decided that some of the new plants we a little too vigorous to be housed there. On the other hand a couple of plants in the larger pebble bed were in danger of being swamped.
These plants were lifted, and along with three of the new aquisitions were planted in the small pebble bed.



The two saxifrages in the small pebble bed have been impressive. I bought them in flower at the end of January and planted them out on 7 February as shown below.

They have flowered continuously since and only now are the flowers coming to an end. 

As the plants grow the gaps should close up even more. The new plants that I expect to spread more were planted in the larger bed.


Now I am looking forward to seeing some new flowers.

Saturday, May 28

It was worth a try!

Back in January I bought a couple of African violets. One was a deep purple.
At some point - I can't remember when or how - one of the leaves broke off. 

It was a healthy looking leaf so I decided to try to root it. For some reason I had a small pot with a compost/vermiculite mix in our little bedroom - where the grow lights are housed.

I stuck the leaf in. I obviously didn't expect much as I didn't take a photo or record the planting. The small pot was left sitting on the windowsill and was given a small amount of water if I thought about it. More often it was ignored until one day I noticed that something was happening.
This made me pay more attention and more shoots appeared.
I made a guess as to when to separate the plantlets from the parent leaf ending up with seven baby plants.
These were placed in a tray of water to soak and have been left in the bedroom to see what becomes of them.
The original leaf had lots of roots and if allowed would no doubt have parented more small plants.
I decided that to potentially grow seven identical African violets was probably more than enough.

Maybe I should try and replicate this with my other violet - or should I just quit whilst I am ahead?

Wednesday, May 25

Flowers of plot and garden

Monday, May 23

All about peas

We don't skimp on peas seeds when we are sowing. Some would say that we go overboard and sow too thickly but as I mentioned in an earlier post, this works for us and we are now being rewarded with 'bushy' rows of young pea seedlings.
As well as sowing 'ordinary' garden peas we have also sown a row of Delikata - mangetouts and a row of Oregon Sugar Pod - sugar snap peas. Both have now pushed through so I am hoping that the weevils confine themselves to nibbling the broad beans that can withstand their attentions.

We have also now managed to plant out our sweet peas - getting drenched in the process. Having set our sights on getting them planted we were not going to let the rain deter us. We delayed starting when the rain was at its heaviest and sheltered in the shed with a cup of coffee but as the rain eased we decided just to go for it.
To save space in the greenhouse the seeds were sown two or three to a module cell and each cell treated as one plant. For some reason we couldn't fit all the plants into the usual area and so had to create a second sweet pea area in what will become our annual flower bed. Honestly I ordered the same number of seed packets so either the packets contained more seed this year or germination was better.
Hazel twigs will be pushed along the rows to support the plants soon. We also need to allocate another bed to another sowing of peas.

When we left the sweet peas looked a bit bedraggled having been subjected to a downpour - however, you should have seen the state we were in. It called for immediate showers and gardening clothes being dried out when we arrived back home!

Saturday, May 21

M for Harlequin

When I was clearing a bed on the plot a few weeks ago ladybirds were scurrying here, there and everywhere.

I didn't manage a photo of these fast moving individuals but I did manage to take a photograph of one mooching about on a blackberry leaf.
It can be quite tricky deciding whether a ladybird is a native species or a harlequin invader.
I know that a harlequin is usually larger - if it is less than 5mm it definitely isn't a harlequin, however some native species are larger than 5mm. Besides who carries a tape measure about 4mm and 5mm wouldn't look so different to the naked eye.

If it is red with 7 distinct spots it is our native 7 spot ladybird. The one below was quite big but had 7 spots so I guess that it's one of ours.

I have read that one way to recognise a harlequin is by a M or trapezium marking behind its head so this individual must be a harlequin - unless you know something different.
It's much easier to identify the harlequin's spiky larvae.
The larvae of our native species hasn't any spikes, 

I posted about the ladybird life cycle here

We put together this video in 2007 which shows our native ladybird larva but be warned the quality is 2007 standard.

Maybe we should try for an updated version.

There are 3500 species of ladybirds worldwide of these 46 are considered UK residents. An identification sheet can be found here.

Have you a foolproof method of identifying an adult harlequin?

Wednesday, May 18

Tulbaghia Purple Eye - one gap filled

Monday, May 16

What a bind

This past week or two I have been doing something that has been needed for a while. I've been clearing out the Joan J autumn fruiting raspberry bed.

In parts of our plot we have a problem with bindweed. It snakes its way in amongst plants with surprising speed and then tenaciously clinging to them making disentanglement without damaging their chosen hosts impossible. The problem is made even worse to deal with as underground the roots are matching the progress being made above ground and weaving themselves in amongst any other plant roots forming a thick matted mess. It's the stuff of early horror films.
Don't get me wrong, where hedge bindweed is growing in the right place and scambling along hedgerows, I am full of admiration. The flowers are striking.
 We've even raised some of its more colourful cousins from seed.
In the right place it's fine but holding our autumn raspberries in a strangling embrace is definitely not the right place. A plant in the wrong place is a weed and so it was time for this weed to be given some attention.

Last year's bindweed top-growth is dead but you can see the remains of the dry stems tangled round last season's raspberry canes.

Given the nature of the beast the only thing to do was to dig everything - raspberry plants and weeds alike - and remove as much bindweed root as possible. I removed 7 bucketfuls of root but I don't kid myself into thinking that I have removed the lot. Any tiny remnant will make a bid for plot domination.
The roots were duly removed from the plot as to compost them would have been madness. I now need to try and be vigilant and remove any new growth as quickly as I can.

As they had become thick and congested, rather than just replant all the raspberry roots, I split them and have chosen the healthiest bits to replant.
I gave the newly replanted raspberries a feed of fish, blood and bone. Now it is up to them to decide whether or not to reward all the hard work.

The bad news is that our other autumn fruiting - Autumn Gold - bed really could do with some attention. At least there is no bindweed here.
The good news is that despite my concerns that the extremely wet conditions may not suit them, all our summer fruiting raspberries have survive and sporting lots of flower buds.

Friday, May 13

A third eye - acer flowers

I had noticed before that our acer had some sort of flowers but I have never paid them much attention. Camera at the ready I decided to rectify that.
Taking close up photographs is a really good method of observing something in more detail.
The tiny flowers are really quite pretty.
It can be quite difficult getting the camera to focus on very delicate subjects so a finger behind sometimes helps.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

Wednesday, May 11

Midget Gems