After a long dark and miserable February, March arrived and it was time to decide which vegetables to plant at home and, for the first time in the allotment bed – and which ones will never darken my raised beds again (Beetroot, your days are numbered). The first job was to sort through my vegetable seeds. Being me, I made a spreadsheet! I’ll update it as and when I buy/receive new seeds.
Only three packets of seed have gone out of date, and eight must be used this year. This is what I ended up with.
Back at the beginning of January I bought this hebe from the rescue shelf at the garden centre. I though it was about time it had a bit of a prune to stop it putting all the growth into the ends only.
Using the stems I ‘trimmed’, I’ve taken several cuttings (the green and brown pots in the middle of the image above).
Fast forward to the middle of the month and there were signs of new growth on the main plant, and none of the cuttings had died!
And we finally got on with the new tiny greenhouse after I pointed out to my husband that the sooner we start producing at least some of our own food, the better. He seemed rather shocked when I explained just how long vegetables take to grow to a size worthy to be eaten.
This month is the two-year anniversary of turning this . . .
. . . into this
. . .and it’s time to think about digging out the compost from that right-hand raised bed to remove the final chunks of bricks, mortar and large stones that have been the bain of my life since I started planting. With most of the long-term vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, brassicas) destined for my allotment bed, I can afford to have one bed out of action for
a couple of weeks however long it takes me to dig out the ‘soil’, remove all the masonry, and return it to the bed along with the contents of one of my compost bins. I’ll do the same to the other bed next year. Maybe!
On the 15th, I sowed my first tomato seeds – the remains of a packet of Ildi –which have gone into the mini-greenhouse. And more again on the 21st.
And I sowed some courgette and squash seeds – 8 of each variety (40 in all), which I put in larger modules in a propagator tray and brought into the convervatory. I am fast running out of space to can’t sow too many seeds at once.
This year, I decided it was time I attempted to propagate my sedum Autumn Joy, which has put on a growth spurt this month.
As always, I checked online and, as always, there was conflicting advice. Some said stem cuttings, some said lay single leaves with cuts on the surface of the compost, others said place single leaves upright in compost without cutting.
So I’ve tried all three methods to see which – if any – actually work.
We’ve built our own lean-to greenhouse and, with the sun still shining on the 25th (and after buying still more seeds during a mad dash round our local Lidl), I started transferring plants and cuttings into it, which left more room in the mini-indoor greenhouse.
^Sedum cuttings and (I think) spring onion seedlings
^Flower seedlings – cosmos, cornflowers, nastertium and ‘poached egg’
^ Iceberg lettuce and round lettuce
^Lollo Rosso seedlings potted on
^Kale, Mizuna salad leaves and chard (which doesn’t seem to be doing much).
Avoiding Greenhouse confusion
There may be some confusion when I refer to my greenhouses. To clarify:
- My potting shed is a former pergola which we covered with twin-wall plastic sheets some twelve years ago when new neighbours moved in and their teenage son kept kicking his football over the wall and into our laps. So technically it is a sort of greenhouse (so I may sometimes say potting shed/greenhouse)
- My Mini Greenhouse – is a small metal slot-together frame with wire shelves and a plastic cover with a zip-up (or down) door. This stands inside my Potting Shed
- My Tiny Greenhouse – is the new lean-to greenhouse we have just completed which stands on the site of a former raised bed in the Very Shady Border in the back garden alongside Compost Corner (and opposite the conservatory).
. . . and the world has gone into lockdown. Who could have forseen such a thing just a few weeks ago? We are having to adapt to very narrow horizons.
For me, this means I will not be able to go to my allotment bed as I have to drive two miles to reach it. Luckily I have planted nothing in it yet, so the rabbits can enjoy a few more months nibbling on the red clover.
This morning I have spent some time on the phone with one of our local garden centres (closed for the duration but offering home deliveries – free if orders over £50). There are some advantages of having their loyalty card (and not living too far away).
I have ordered six bags of compost and ten potato growing sacks which should be delivered by next Friday. I really hope so as I have 50+ seed potatoes chitting in the conservatory.
That should give me thirteen bags, four large pots, and two plastic dustbins: anything else that can be pressed into service will be.
Here’s hoping we all survive for another month. Keep safe everyone.