Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Oops. I forgot that I ordered some raspberry canes. They arrived today and should also go in soon. They are Joan J (which I try to convince myself are named after Joan Jett...), an autumn-fruiting variety which is said to produce fruit in its first year on newly produced shoots. I love raspberries and already I am dreaming of raspberry cake (made the German way), raspberry muffins, raspberries on my cereal...yum.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Failed chores and sowing

Unfortunately I am running way behind on gardening chores. I was going to book a streetcar to go to the local DIY centre yesterday to get some compost but a) all cars were already booked (my own fault for leaving it so late) and b) according to their web site the shop location is out of all big bags of compost (a fact that I cannot quite believe). So I need to do it next weekend which means that my potatoes and mange touts are going in a bit later than I had hoped.

However, the first seeds are in. I sowed a serrano pepper that Karesansui-san passed on to me. I also planted my six varieties of tomatoes and some seeds from my one pack of aubergine. I am using the "toilet roll method" - the cardboard core cut in half and filled with compost. Usually I either go for the tray method or scratch all the little pots I have together but this year I am willing to try something new. The idea is that you can just plant the whole thing out and the cardboard rots down. I have also heard some negative reports that the glue or something in the cardboard may inhibit germination. Let's see what happens.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Step 3: the great transplant action

Yesterday I managed to grab a couple of hours to shift the plants from the new vegetable side to the dedicated flower side. I am very pleased with the area where the irises are now situated, mixed in with a few sedums. To the right of them I put the acanthus and bergenia - keeping my fingers crossed that they re-establish themselves.

I also found quite a few surprises, some plants of unknown origin and species. They look interesting so I plonked them in and I'll see what happens. I also found lots more bulbs, violets and bagfuls of creeping comfrey. A hebe and an oleander joined the bushes at the back of the border. There is a lilac tree that I am tempted to move closer to the deck, replacing a dogwood shrub but I am not sure about that yet.

It was supposed to be raining today but in fact it was nice and sunny so I had to get the garden hose out to give them a good watering. After all these changes I might actually have enough space for all my vegetables. Now I only need to improve the soil and start sowing...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Step 2 completed and planting list

Before the glorious morning turned rather surprisingly into a soggy afternoon I managed to complete the second part of the edging for my new borders/vegetable patch (excuse the blurry pic, I was rushing to not get soaked). Unfortunately I wasn't able to move the irises and some of the bigger things like I hoped to. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for next weekend; I am running far behind schedule and some things actually have to go in soon.

In the meantime, my potatoes are chitting on the windowsill in the kitchen and I added some garlic cloves in the hope that they sprout. I also had a seed swap with Karesansui-san where I steadfastly refused brassicas (I remember trying to grow them before in this garden, absolute failure, probably clubroot) and tomato seed (vowed to get plants to avoid leggy windowsill-babies). Suffice to say that a quick dip into the local garden center ruined the second promise - spotted a delightful tomato seed collection out of the corner of my eye which I wasn't able to resist. Along with my other seeds from my planting list is starting to look impressive (and marginally unachievable in the space I have):

  • Serrano Peppers
  • Potato 'Mimi'
  • Potato 'Harlequin'
  • Mange Tout 'Golden Sweet'
  • White Beetroot
  • Aubergine 'Fairy Tale F1'
  • Tomato 'Orange Berry'
  • Tomato 'San Marzano 2'
  • Tomato 'Costuluto Fiorentino'
  • Tomato 'Red Pear'
  • Tomato 'Ildi'
  • Tomato 'Tigerella'
  • Onion 'Helens Welsh Siberian'
  • Radish
  • Cucumber 'Wautoma'
  • Endive 'Bianca Riccia da Taglio'
  • Climbing French Beans 'Cherokee Trail of Tears'
  • Courgette Dwarf 'Verde di Milano'
  • Patty-Pan Squash 'Pattison Orange'
  • Winter Squash 'Butternut'
Not to mention that I am still waiting for the delivery of some raspberry canes and I snaffled some very cheap blueberry and gooseberry bushes from Lidl. It's going to be a tight squeeze...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stage 1 of 34 complete

I spent a couple of hours today in the garden, outlining vegetable and flower beds in the top half. Progress was quite good but I don't want to wear myself out doing everything in one go (I am learning from past mistakes finally). Also, the spring bulbs are going to flower soon and I would like to enjoy the blooms, instead of moving everything around right now. The dwarf pear tree and the greengage are budding. Spring is definitely in the air.

I narrowed the graveled area to a path that winds itself to the compost bin, hidden behind a large cordyline. This gives me larger beds either side, which means that on the left I can grow vegetables (that side doesn't need as much watering as the right and the soil is slightly better) while I can transplant the irises to the right (they won't mind that it is drier there).

As I was clearing out the vegetable patch, I discovered chives popping through and some oregano. I also saw plenty of mint in the garden. Lots of self-seeded crocuses and cyclamen around; I tried to save as many of them as possible. I also moved a shrub of unknown identity over to the right to fill in some gap at the back of the border. After a quick digging over, I found that the soil is ok where I grew vegetables previously but is awful elsewhere - there is gravel in the soil and some sharp sand. I see a lot of sifting and compost in my future. Or maybe I can recruit toxicfingers...

Maybe next weekend I have some more time to tackle the rest of the garden, at least edging the new path. I cut in a groove where I roughly want it to be to judge the effect. I already cut back the overgrown shrubs and I can see where things would fit in nicely. I'll almost have a completely new garden when I have finished with this.