Thursday, March 30

Garden update - a summary

Some areas of the garden are past their best. The hellebores and snowdrops planted under the magnolia tree have faded. They had their moment of glory earlier and will now rest under the magnolia until next spring.

The bulbs in the bird bath bed are also fading but hopefully I can enliven this area with some annuals.

The latest of the narcissus bulbs planted in the front garden are flowering but perennials should take over there soon, however there seems to be one or two gaps that will need replanting.

One group of plants that have moved into a star role are the flowering shrubs and trees. 
The alpine plants in the pebble beds are getting ready for their moment of glory. I moved one plant out of the small bed and onto the ledge of the larger pebble garden as it was growing too vigorously for that area. I may need to force myself to buy something smaller to replace it.

Various spring bulbs are now flowering with the tulips hanging back in bud waiting for their turn to flower.
The tubs on the patio are adding colour to the garden. Some of the primroses are actually self sown pants from last year's primroses

The perennial plants in the blue and white border are beginning to bulk up. Technically being purple, the vinca shouldn't be there but I have allocated it a free pass as it is good ground cover under the acer.

The perennials in the red and yellow border are not as far forward but are showing new growth. The daffodils that I planted in this bed have not shown their faces. Whether they have disappeared completely or are just much later, only time will tell. The tulips have appeared again and are in bud.

Last year some of the taller perennials flopped over on the shorter growers and hid them so this year I am ready with some hazel twigs to try to keep them in check.
The dicentra - that I refuse to call anything else - is in another part of the garden. The hostas in pots around the pond are beginning to shoot and so we will have to take some precautions to try to mitigate slug attack. Some will need repotting as their old clay posts are crumbling.

We are gradually beginning to populate the cold frame. More precautions against slug or snail attack will be necessary. We are trying some wool pellets called Slug Gone and spraying with Grazers slug deterrent.  I'm hoping the blackbirds that are often hanging around up near the cold frames will do their bit too. We tried most other things in the past. Some methods are impractical and others have been of limited success. If anyone comes up with a foolproof method or product, they could make a fortune.

I've arranged some pots of herbs between the climbing roses in the cold frame courtyard (area). The mossy growth has been tidied up and the herbs clipped where necessary. I just need to topdress the pots with some fresh compost.

That's it - the state of play on the garden at the moment.

Wednesday, March 29

Plot companions


Monday, March 27

Not much to show

We haven't much of a harvest to show this week and what we have brought home from the plot is mainly flowers.
Vegetable wise we have only harvested the few sprigs of PSB and another small savoy cabbage. We may have been able to stretch it to include a few leeks and there may still be some edible parsnips lurking underground. It will be touch and go with respect to the parsnips as the tops have started to regrow. It's just as well that out freezer is still well stocked with last year's produce.

The daffodil harvest has been short and sweet. We only have one variety for cutting so maybe I should plant some different ones to extend the cutting time. I'm toying with the idea of a mixed bag but will that give me the range of varieties that will extend the cutting period. Do you have any suggestions if possible varieties if I opt to buy  separate varieties?

The only other mini harvest came from our garden greenhouse where the mint is now growing well.
We have been busy on the plot though and there are now plenty of beds ready and prepared to accept this season's plants. In fact we think we are well ahead of last year in the preparation stakes so to make up for the lack of harvest here are some plot photos to show that we haven't been lazy!
Our plot extends just to the grass path - the greenhouse belongs to a plot neighbour

The polytunnel and shed beside it are on the next plot
Martyn has posted a video diary on his blog showing some of the things we have been doing this week.

We have also started a new vlog here where we will post all our videos, some of which may not make it on to either of our blogs.

I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

NB: Just in case you are unaware a vlog is a video blog not a typing mistake.

Saturday, March 25

Bug hotel or more accurately bug pyramid,

I've wanted to make a bug hotel for a while but I was trapped in the idea that I needed to make one from a pallet. I didn't have a pallet and so consequently no bug hotel.

Over the last few weeks we have been busily tidying the plot. Part of this has involved moving things around and carrying out long overdue projects. During this activity I was struck by sudden inspiration.

When we took over the plot  - about thirty years ago - we inherited a pile of sections of clay cylinders. I guess a previous allotmenteer had used them to grow prize winning leeks, carrots or parsnips. As we are content with edible rather than prize winning, the said clay cylinders have mainly been used to hold down, netting etc.

This was about to change as in my mind's eye was a more creative role for them.

Four of the cylinders were placed in a line and some moss covered concrete blocks were arranged alongside three sides. This was to keep the cylinders in position.

On top of the four cylinders were placed three more, then above that layer another two and a final one placed on top to form a pyramid.
I filled each cylinder with a different type of bedding material to try and encourage a diverse range of inhabitants.

Wood chippings were spread around the base with some being pushed inside the bottom cylinders. I'm hoping that the lower holes will provide shelter for the many frogs and toads that we come across on the plot. There's maybe even room for a hedgehog.
Then I found a few broken bricks of the type that have holes in and used these to 'build' a wall at the back of the pyramid. The wall should provide another type of habitat.
All the materials were either found on the plot or in the case of the egg boxes, shredded paper and dry magnolia leaves brought from home. The wood chippings are delivered courtesy of the council parks department.
Now all we need at the hotel are some guests to book in.

If you are interested I have put together a video showing the construction. It's ten minutes long.

Martyn has also fulfilled a a long time intention and created a mini pond using a rubber bin lid that was also on the plot. 
It holds a surprising amount of water. The large stoe placed in the middle is totally submerged.

Martyn posted about this on his blog here where you will also find a video of his wildlife project. 

If you like watching our videos, Martyn and I have started a vlog - Two Gardeners - One Video Diary. of all the videos taken. We have started it by posting all the garden videos taken in 2017, some of which don't actually make it onto our blogs. Here we are posting our garden related videos. Martyn posts the steam train (oops steam locomotive) videos on his blog Steam Days

Wednesday, March 22

Looking very dashing

Tuesday, March 21

Garden greenhouse update - a summary

In the comments on yesterday's post quite a few people expressed surprise that we were picking rhubarb so early and asked what the secret was.

No secret - as with many other plants there are early and late varieties of rhubarb. The clump that we are picking at the moment is an early variety. Martyn has posted about our rhubarb on his post today on this page.

Monday, March 20

Daffodils and rhubarb

Thursday 16 March
We managed to find a few sprigs of purple sprouting broccoli - PSB and a few leaves of kale. Most people seem to be having a bit of a glut with PSB but for us it is a delicacy. A couple of years ago we fell out of love with these two as they always seemed to fall foul of whitefly infestation which made harvesting and preparation for cooking unpleasant. We covered brassicas with enviromesh last season which seems to have kept the whitefly at bay and this has provided the impetus to try harder with them this year.
We just have one patch of daffodils on the plot that are grown for cutting and last week they decided to burst into bloom. The problem is that all the flowers have decided to open at once so our house is now filled with daffodil perfume.
Sunday 19 March
The Brussels sprout have done really well this year but I think last week's pickings will be the last. There are some small sprouts at the top of plants but I can't see them amounting to much.

Like the PSB and kale, the winter cabbage hasn't really performed well, however, some small cabbages are almost ready. We picked a small Savoy type - Traviata - last week.

At least at this time of year the rhubarb can be relied on to provide us with something to pick.

I'm linking this post to Harvest Monday over at Dave's blog 

Sunday, March 19

Plot update - a summary

Friday, March 17

Pollination without the buzz.

In our garden greenhouse are three large tubs each containing a fruit tree. They are a peach - Avalon Pride, an apricot - Flavourcot and a nectarine - Fantasia.
The tubs containing the trees were originally outdoors but after the first year, when we managed two delicious fruits from the peach tree, the peach and nectarine were so badly affected by peach leaf curl that they didn't manage a single fruit.
The apricot was unaffected by this problem but it generally flowers very early and so it seemed that it would be a good idea to move that indoors to to offer some protection.
This year all three trees are flowering at the same time. Last year the apricot was covered in flowers and produced a decent amount of fruit.
This year it has only a couple of small sprigs of flowers.
On the other hand the peach and nectarine are loaded with flower. The larger lovely pink flowers of the nectarine dominate the group.

The peach flowers are more delicate and less showy but viewed close up you can appreciate their beauty.

As the trees are indoors and often the greenhouse door is closed at this time of year, added to which the weather may not be conducive to encouraging insect pollinators to be out and about, I am giving nature a helping hand - literally.
Using a soft paintbrush I am trying to mimic bee action by gently brushing the pollen from one flower to another. The peach and nectarine have far too many flowers for me to make sure that I brush every flower but I am trying to visit as many flowers as possible.

One day when I was busy with my pretend bee a bumble bee joined me so maybe she will have dealt with the flowers that I missed.

I've added a short narrated video of my attempts at hand pollination. It's about two minutes long. I know some people enjoy watching videos and other don't so I am trying to cater for everyone and also get to play with video editing.  Does everyone sound weird when their voices are recorded? I should credit my cameraman, Martyn.

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