Sunday, March 28, 2010

Two innovations

Curiosity got the better of me and I assembled the mini-greenhouse. Very pleased with sturdiness and ease of putting it together. Good value for the money.

Also, I put out the parasol in anticipation and a spurt of optimism. Mainly, I wanted to try out the budget base to see how heavy it is. I may move the parasol bit back inside or it could hold off the rain for the next few months.

Come on spring!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Transplanting the turban

As suspected, the Turk's Turban squash (and the patty pan squash) seeds are a bit big for the little compost pods and are quickly outgrowing them. The roots are already stretching far beyond and I fear if I don't do something about it they'll just die.

Today I cleaned up some old plastic pots (I have collected lots over the years) and got some potting soil to transplant the bigger squashes. There, more room.

I'll wait a few days for the patty pan. One is doing pretty well, the other is just starting to peek through. Overall, I am pretty pleased with the pods. Compact, very easy to handle and transplant, everything germinated eventually, and there's no danger of the soil getting water-logged. I still have another tray but wondering if I actually need it - if everything survives then I already have plenty to fill up my little garden.

Reviewing my plant list for this year I just noticed that I should get the Welsh onions and the rocket (aka arugula) sown. It's not a desperate rush, it's been so cold until recently that a few days won't hurt, but may as well do a first sowing. I have a habit of not spacing sowing out over time so I will try and improve on that.

What I should really do is make a plan of what goes where - I haven't done that this year. Last year, the tomatoes were in the wrong place (not sunny enough) and I think they'll go where the beans were. Keep forgetting what I have, so yes, definitely more planning needed...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rhubarb! Germination!

Last week a "mail undelivered" slip arrived which I blithely ignored because I thought it was just some package from Amazon. Over the weekend I was wondering when my rhubarb I ordered would finally arrive (it said March delivery time), until this morning it struck me - eek, I bet that package is the rhubarb... And so it was. Collected this morning, and unpacked and planted tonight. I don't think they suffered any damage sitting in the post office for a few days.

I got two different varieties, "Stockbridge Arrow" and "Victoria". It was quite a spatial layout task to find the best position for them, since they will spread out. I hope I haven't put them too close together after all. Really looking forward to a couple years time.

(Stockbridge on left, Victoria on right - sorry, it was rainy and getting dark)

In other news, some of the seeds have germinated. The Turk's Turban squash is stretching out, I can see Red Pear and Marmande tomatoes coming up. Tigerella tomato and the cucumber and patty pan squash are a bit shy (although my spidey senses are tingling with the squash). Let's see if they dampen off or continue to grow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Digging out the compost bin

Not as in getting out of storage, no, I mean literally digging out.

Late last year something bad happened to my compost area. An influx of cage litter, old bits of stairs I had replaced, large dead shrubs, doors (don't ask...), it ended up all around the bin. It got to the point where I couldn't lift the top off anymore. So today, taking advantage of the nice weather, I did some investigation and a clean-up.

The doors have almost rotted down, except one which must be made of some hardwood (it is still solid and I think it has been out there for years). Restacked they can go on doing their thing. The large shrubs are now a screen against the back wall. Found lots of old decking off-cuts which I can use for marking beds. Also found a broken BBQ and lots of other rubbish. A broken birdhouse is sitting on the curb hoping someone can muster up the will to put it together again. The bits of stairs now form a wall around a mound of cage litter which still has another year of composting to do.

(It may not look like much but you shoudl have seen it before. And yes, I know there is a plastic goose...wanna make something of it?!? It's not rubbish, it's..decorative. )

Then I tackled the compost bin itself. Three-quarters full of lovely compost! I emptied that out on the nearest beds which have been mainly made up of cat poo and builders rubble so far.

I went a bit crazy after that because then I also forked in the guinea pig waste that I spread out on the other beds, and I cleaned up the deck, getting rid of an old table to make room for this little beauty:

I also hope someone will take about 50 small plastic plant pots off my hands...Oh, and I found some ancient grass seed in my cellar which I put on the bare patches in the grassy path. And I spread out some bags of ballast I had hanging around on the other, gravelly path.

Now I'm exhausted but it was lovely to sit on the deck with a nice cup of coffee and a hot cross bun afterwards.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

First sowing of the year

Last year's toilet roll method was more or less a disaster - nothing really germinated. This year I am giving little peat pods a go - the kits are cheap, compact and easy to water.

In my opinion, it's a bit on the early side to sow tomatoes, courgettes and cucumber since they can't really be planted out until mid-May. However, I am getting a mini-greenhouse so can move them there once they get going. I kept this attempt small so I can do another run in April or plant out directly in the soil in May. I sowed: tomatoes "Tigerella", tomatoes "Red Pear", cucumber "Crystal Lemon", tomatoes "Super Marmande", squash "Turk's Turban" and patty pan squash "Scallop Mixed" - two pods each. The pods are a bit small for the squash seeds but I'll see how it goes.

Here they are in the warmest and sunniest part of the house, the seat in the bay window. Also the most dangerous for them in terms of getting knocked over.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

First planting of the year

Inspired by one of my friends I planted my chitted potatoes in a big planter today. I was going to wait a little bit longer. If it all goes wrong at least I can blame her ;)

I didn't use that much compost; the intention is to fill up the pot with soil as they grow to encourage more potatoes to form. The planter is fairly large and the potato variety (Anya) is fairly small, so hopefully it'll work out. I have seen pictures of potatoes being grown in black bin liners but I fancied something more, er, decorative. Last year, the potatoes in planters started off well but then were like sitting ducks for slugs which stripped the leaves off (the ones in the ground held out a bit longer but not much). Let's see if they make it this year - at least I didn't spend a small fortune on seed potatoes.