Insert Expletive Here

I just had to say it, didn’t I.

I had just planted a huge bunch of things on monday, many of my seedlings were finally coming up and… SPLAT.  Potatoes are not enough ballast, it seems.  Cue me rooting around in the rain, trying to rescue anything small and green that I could find and any of the larger seeds.  Beans, sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, peas, sweetpeas and ‘unknown brassicas’.  At least most of what was sprouted was fairly easy to distinguish.

I rescued as much of the compost as I could and repotted what I found.  I’ll keep a eye out for random brassicas (either sprouts, cabbage or cauliflower) in with other things, as there was no chance of me finding the tiny black seeds in this lot, as well as my root parsley which I have no idea how it looks – I’ve never grown it before.  I know there are at least two unaccounted for cherokee beans (black seed in black compost is not easy to find) and all of the other beans, which are almost identical looking, are just planted together.  Should be easy to tell them apart when they start to grow, though – their foliage colour is different as is their growth habit (a dark green dwarf french and a green-yellow pole runner)   I have one tub now just filled with the compost that was left over to see if anything comes up.

The greenhouse also has new ballast:

The paving slabs are easily heavier than the grow-bag which is holding the other one upright so hopefully this should stop it taking a tumble again…  If not I’ll probably puncture the cover at the back and tie string through to the fence to secure it.


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Patchy to Pretty

Saturday was a little surreal for me.  Andy had taken a long weekend this week and was catching up on little jobs – like cleaning out his pigsty car and I was at a bit of a loose end.  I wandered outside, looked at the little piece of ground beside the door (above) and when Andy wandered past with hoover in hand, asked him what he thought if I sorta did ‘that and this and took that bit out’ to the little scrap of weedy ground.  He said he was sure that’d look good and pootled off to finish his cleaning.  Cue shovel and digging like a maniac. An hour later I had reshaped the ground to be two-tiered rather than a gentle slope and about an hour and fifteen minutes later I’d begged a lift to Homebase.  15% off day?  Score!  £10 voucher? double score.  A bashed box shredder for £25? – it seems like it was totally my day.  Oh and the plants.  Sooo many plants – hebes, euonymous, rosemary, thyme, foxgloves, ferns, violas, pansies, and primulas – all chosen for their ability to grow in part-shade at the very least apart from the flowers, which I just wanted for some colour until things settled down a bit.

I also added some more foxgloves I had in the garden, some alpine strawberries (again, more for a bit of colour / foliage cover), and lupins.

In the space of about seven hours the above had become this:

It’s still a little sparse looking but the plants will eventually fill out and the front will be brought into the design once the spanish/hybrid bluebells are done doing their thing (if they ever are – I did stomp on them a little with my big wellies, whoops!).  Eventually I’m hoping it’ll be a lush little garden just outside the front door.  Moving the tiny, bumpy patch was a pain, last year, and it never really looked neat.

I’ve also now sown some nigella and forget-me-not.  It’s not an ideal location for either of them – they both prefer it a bit sunnier – but if they even show a little it’ll help fill things out until the shrubs get a chance to bulk out.

In other garden news, everything is in GO mode.  Beans – blue lake, cherokee trail of tears, valdor;  second sowing of tomatos togi xl, yellow scotland; mini physalis, root parsley, turnips, peas and brussel sprouts all went in yesterday.  I really need to wash some pots – I’m running low on clean ones now.  I’ve started a second lot of toms to hopefully get plants with less leggy stems.  I left the last bath in the propagator too long and they seem to be suffering for it, now.  The beans are all early, but I’ve planted them under plastic with the hope of getting an early start and then adding more plants later in the season so that cropping lasts longer.

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Safe as Greenhouses

Around this time last year I was setting up  a plastic mini-greenhouse and hoping that it’d last more than five minutes, given the ratings similar ones had been given on Amazon.  I figured eventually that, for the cost, it probably didn’t really matter if it didn’t last too long and it would mean I could temporarily keep the militant takeover by plants of all available window-space at bay.  I mostly used it to store ‘spare’ plants, start off some hardier seedlings, and of course hardening off.  It actually ended up managing to survive the winter well – with only a few tiny holes and, despite being light enough to lift with one hand when empty, never blew away.  This year I decided I wanted to try growing tomatoes, figuring the little greenhouse would totally be up to the job – but since space is limited I’ve grabbed a second one!

On Saturday I spent the afternoon in the garden, putting up the new greenhouse and pottering around with various other jobs.  I semi-joked with Andy that next year I’d get another two so I’d have mini-greenhouses expanding all the way along to the end of the fence… ;)   It’s given me a lot more space and one greenhouse now slightly shades the corner of the other – giving me a spot for the slightly less sun/heat-loving plants or those who’ve just begun their foray into the great outdoors.

Greenhouses Side by Side

I’ve also been picking tonnes of marigold seedlings out of the veggie garden.  On the one hand I’m annoyed at myself for not dead-heading the plants last year and shredding the seeds before putting them into the compost but on the other I’m really impressed they’ve managed to survive the winter and I’m tempted to collect some and place them where I actually want marigolds if my current crop of hand-sown seeds doesn’t do well.  At least I know I’d likely be selecting them for hardiness!

I planted some beans which had been in pots until now whilst I was pottering about.  They all looked chunky and healthy and had been hardening off for a week or so outside so I figured I’d plant them whilst it was still relatively cool and overcast – didn’t want them to burn up, given they’re going into a slightly warmer spot in the garden than where they’d been sitting.   They seem to be holding up ok and I’m looking forward to an earlier crop of broad beans. Yum.

Lastly, I also put some potatoes in.  It’s still a bit early here, with a few more promised frosts, but I’ve stuck them in the bottom of one of the greenhouses as ballast until I get the tomatoes in.  It gives the pots a nice, slightly warmer start and me some, hopefully, earlier potatoes.  I stuck handfuls of comfrey in with them so we’ll see how that compares to seaweed, if I can get my hands on some or how it compares to nothing, if I can’t.  Unfortunately my comfrey is quite small still, so unless it sprouts sharpish I won’t have enough for all my potatoes.  I think the comfrey might be pouting at me for continually dis-budding it last year to encourage it to root and grow a bigger crown…

Comfrey clump


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Kick Off in the Garden

It really does seem to me that things outside are really starting to bounce into action now – every time I go out into the garden something else is popping up or flowering.  Even though I’ve been down with a cold for the last week and a bit I’ve made the effort to get out into the garden – sow a few seeds, check on how the garlic is (settling in nicely, thankyouverymuch) or make a vain attempt at emptying the half-barrel which was supposed to become a planter but is currently a water feature.  It genuinely makes me feel better to do so and gives me a nice burst of enthusiasm and cheeryness despite the rain and snow.

Bean Sprouting

This is one of a few beans which I planted in January in the coldframe.  I’m glad I didn’t bother to plant them before winter as they’d likely have been piles of frozen mush given our winter… however, the late start hasn’t hurt them and they’re now sitting outside in their pots.  They are so lush and green looking, chunky and healthy – I can’t wait to actually plant them in their permanent spot!  This will be my first time growing broad beans so I went for a tried and true variety – ‘Aquadulce’.  It’s apparently a heavy cropper and I’m hoping it’ll like the sunny spot against the fence.

Tiny Hosta

This teeny little thing is a hosta!  I grew some at the tail end of last year and they all came up, put on two leaves and then decided it was time to hibernate.  I was sure they wouldn’t come back up, but I left them on the ‘sill, watering occasionally, and it appears my patience is being rewarded – three of the five have so far shown signs of stirring.  I’ve started some more from seed as I’d really love to have a lot of hostas for the side of the house which is currently just scrubby, untidy looking grass.  I know hostas aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that a lot of people seem to regard them as ‘old fashioned’ but I’m rather partial to them =)

My propagator, which is new to my setup this year, is getting busy – I have two types of tomato (‘yellow scotland’ and a hybrid ‘togi xl’) as well as some unusual chilli peppers (‘venezuelan purple’);  the green tray is the aforementioned hostas and there’s also two winter squash seeds and some parsley.  Last year I didn’t get parsley to germinate until rather late because of the cool temperatures so I want to see if putting it on some heat will help get it started a bit faster – it’s hardy enough once it has a few leaves on it!

Propagator from above

Finally, some spring daffodils – last year these didn’t bloom until quite late in April due to the really bad weather.  These look about ready to pop open any day now.

Daffodil buds

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I’m bad at pancakes.  Like, really bad,  I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times, in fact, just how bad I am at making them!  The only time I’ve managed to make half-way decent ones was with wholemeal flour and those tasted great… until they cooled down.  Today however (or should that be yesterday, now?) I managed to make good pancakes and I have Coffee Muffins recipe to thank for it.

Thanks to her, I managed to make good pancakes.  Even when they cooled down.

They even looked good…

Yes, I did put sugar and lemon on them, even though they’re ‘Scotch’ or ‘American style’ pancakes.  It was good, too.

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