The veg patch was a hive of activity for sunflower seedlings earlier this year. Seeds were planted on the wind and by wild birds, eagerly feeding on seed heads left over from last summer. Easily recognisable by their large almost wax-like seed leaves, most had to be thinned due to self seeding in the most awkward of places.
Seedlings growing in good positions were each given a bottle cloche, they grew big and strong (annoyingly I lost a few to slugs one night because I forgot to cover them). By recycling 2 litre plastic drink bottles and turning them into cloches, instantly a warm environment safe from slugs can be achieved for next to nothing. Just cut the bottom of the bottle off, place it over your chosen seedling or plant and remove the lid to allow ventilation. Remove the bottle cloche during the day in hot weather to avoid scorching and remove permanently once the plants grow large and fill out.
I’ve measured them at just over 10 feet tall, not exactly giants I know but they’re just how I love sunflowers to be, tall with large flower heads. Sunflowers that I raised from bought seed were disappointing. As long as the sunflowers keep self seeding, I won’t bother sowing them.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on August 10, 2012
I harvested garlic at my village allotment plot a few weeks ago, covered in rust the plants looked very sorry for themselves but the bulbs were a decent size. However, a quarter of the crop was lost to rot and a fungal disease. The time had come to harvest garlic in my veg garden, I checked the plants and noticed a touch of rust, although they looked better than my allotment garlic before pulling. I used my hand fork to ease the bulbs from the soil, I was pleased to pull larger bulbs with no sign of rot.
I drape garlic over the side of the raised bed after harvesting to allow earthworms to free themselves from the roots and drop back into the soil, before dark I gather all the bulbs up and put them inside the greenhouse in trays or on racks to dry for about a week. To store garlic I hang bulbs in nets (recycled from fruit punnets or satsuma nets), or plait the garlic bulbs together to form a bunch.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on August 8, 2012
Ever since the hose pipe ban came into force on April 5th it hasn’t stopped raining. At times the rain has been very heavy, sometimes hail, making gardening tasks and allotment visits virtually impossible to carry out. Seed sowing outside is a definite no-no here at the moment, the soil is saturated and cold. But, my garden is thriving in other areas, everything is leafing up and looks green and lush. I’m not in any hurry to sow outside anyway, there’s plenty of time and everything will catch up eventually.
Besides, if you’re really lucky, like me, and you have a warm glass greenhouse in your garden (or at your allotment), I’m sure you have taken the opportunity to escape the heavy rain and banish ‘gardening blues’ by pottering about inside it. As a boredom buster, try sowing some coriander and rocket in pots, or edible flowers such as Calendula to brighten summer salads or the veg plot. They come up really quickly undercover. Potting on seedlings is another task that I enjoy doing inside my greenhouse, as I listen to the rain battering down on the glass roof I appreciate my greenhouse even more.
Speaking of seedlings, cosmos are coming along well and looking really healthy, peas are coming up, also kale, sweet corn, Swiss chard, coriander and alpine strawberries. Sprouts and summer sprouting broccoli have been potted on, also foxglove seedlings – one of my favourite flowers.
According to the news we’re on course for the wettest April on record (although still officially in the middle of a drought!), flood alerts have been issued in some places. What a difference to last year, hottest April on record! Mind you, water-butts are filling up nicely, this time last year it was a real chore to get everything watered and prevent trays of seedlings from being scorched. Everything seems to be thriving in my greenhouse.
From the amount of photographs in this post I think you can probably guess where I’ve been spending a great deal of time lately. I hope you’re enjoying greenhouse or windowsill gardening if the weather is bad where you are.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on April 26, 2012
I woke to a beautiful sunny day, I took the opportunity to take some early morning photos. Although the recent rain was needed, it was nice to have a break from it. The sun disappeared by mid-morning and the sky looked an angry grey, I felt sure the rain would be back. The sun burst through the gloom and stayed for the rest of the afternoon, allowing me to spend a long time in the garden.
I spent a few hours pottering around in the garden. Well I say “pottering” but what I really mean is I actually tackled a few jobs that I’d been putting off. My usual definition of pottering involves a bit of day dreaming, starting something and then moving on to something else without finishing what I started before, a bit of head scratching at why the garden looks messier than when I first started, oh and wondering where the time went.
The rain has helped the grass to put on lush growth
Anyway, one of the jobs I was avoiding was to tidy up the strawberry bed. The plants went berserk last summer, sprawling runners rooting anywhere and everywhere. I potted up a few stray runners to plant out at my allotment and moved some that insisted on growing in the most awkward of places. The autumn raspberries were sending new canes out everywhere, I found one coming up on a path so I traced that back and took it out, then tackled others that were growing out of the boundary I had set for them.
I really enjoyed working in the warm sunshine, randomly sprinkling packets of wildflower mixes in a bed right next to the wildlife pond. Should be gorgeous in summer. I also sowed a few rows of parsnip (my trusty and favourite ‘Gladiator’) and ‘Resistafly’ carrot, a Nantes type with good resistance to the dreaded carrot fly.
Did you get outside in the sunshine today?
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on April 13, 2012