What’s hot – and what’s not – in my tiny garden this month.
If you think certain things are missing this year, fear not! I have ongoing and separate posts for tomatoes, potatoes, the allotment, and even loofahs! Yes, this year – along with Monty Don on Gardener’s World – I am attempting to grow loofahs; in my case to use as dish and pan scrubs. I bought my seeds from the internet last year for this very purpose. I’m also growing peas and beans, and new this year, chrysanthemums and dahlias,
After germinating and growing just one plant in 2021, I am trying again. With conflicting advice on the internet, I sowed seed onto damp compost and covered it with grit. Suggestions were to put the tray into a polythene bag on a warm windowsill; to cover it with black plastic; to leave it in an unheated greenhouse – which is what I have done. I will not water again until I see seedlings. Fingers crossed.
Sarracenia (Pitcher Plant)
This has FOUR flower stalks! I’ve only had one other flower (November 2019) so I am very excited and will put off splitting it until the flowers are finished. It overwintered in the Tiny Greenhouse but will shortly move outside.
The only green in my garden is the parsley in the Potting Shed!
The spring bulbs continue to push through in the ‘Blue’ pots.
Hmm? Snakeshead fritillery and snowdrops in these two – planted at the same time, but only one is showing signs of growth.
How difficult can it be?
One of the problems of a December birthday during a pandemic is what present do you buy? This year, my friend Vannessa solved the problem by giving me a grow-your-own kit of narcissi Minnow.
Stage 1 – prepare your compost by soaking the block in 300 ml of luke-warm water.
Stage 2 – plant bulbs, water, place in a cool dark place (7-9’c) and wait for shoots to appear. As the pot has no drainage holes, I’ve used a plastic pot that fits inside and left it inside the cupboard in the Potting Shed.
Stage 3 – will be to move the planter to a warm light place (18-20’c), so that means the windowsill in my study. Fingers crossed!
Not strictly September but on the last day of August, I emptied Compost Bin 2 into old growbags and compost bags – eleven in total – ready to take to the allotment to help improve the soil in my bed. So while Bin #1 does its thing over winter, I can start a new batch in Bin #2.
I could, however, have done without the eight-and-a-half-hours in A&E with chest pains that followed; and the potential diagnosis of angina following two ECGs, four blood tests, and four hours on a cardiac monitor. I am now on one low dosage aspirin a day, have a GTN spray for when the pain starts. BUT, after a chat with a cardiac nurse on September 10th, it MIGHT NOT be angina after all. Further tests are being arranged.
Gardening, apparently, is the best exercise; though I doubt she meant lugging great pots of compost around and stretching across raised bed. She probably thought I meant a little gentle pruning and a bit of weeding!
August has been a long month, concentrating as we were on house and garden maintenance; not so much gardening, more prettifying the area around the garden by painting exterior walls and paintwork, as detailed here and here. A month that, as it neared the end, found us running out of energy and time to do the things that had to be done.
Tuesday last week found me painting the other side of the gate and the frame around the garage door, which I wasn’t looking forward to as it is fiddly to get at. The old paint was flaking off and required a lot of preparation before I could start. But it’s done now (though with the garage door half open I did spot a couple of patches where the brown paint hadn’t covered the blue; but they’re underneath the dips in the door and can’t be seen when it’s down. I can live with that for a couple of years).
An up-and-over door isn’t the easiest thing to paint. I managed the top of the door (standing inside the garage with the door open) and the bottom of the door (standing outside on a stepladder), but I could only manage the lower half of each side due to lack of space inside the garage. It could probably do with a second coat (sometime) but it’s better than it was and I quite like the neutral brown colour.
I’ve still got to pain the white door surround. The paint here is flaking off so will need brushing and sanding, but that will be done at a later date, as will the door behind the brick arch (image 1 & 2). In the final image, the garage door looks blue, but it’s just the reflection of the sky in the wet (brown) paint – I haven’t “missed a bit”.
This month has been a complete wash-out, literally; and when it wasn’t raining, we had overnight frosts. Everything is weeks behind and the soil is still cold to the touch.
First, a look at the saracennia (pitcher plant). This has been overwintering in the Potting Shed as it needs a couple of months of cold temperatures before it starts its new growth cycle. It’s been re-potted twice (July and November 2020) since I bought it in December 2019, in nothing more than the moss my brother raked from his lawn. Then, at the end of March, my favourite TV gardener said it was time to cut off the old pitchers to allow new ones to grow. So I did.
With Autumn officially here (22nd), my garden is preparing for hibernation. (So am I.)
With the exception of some general tidying and collecting of leaves, my gardening will mainly take place in the relative warmth of the Potting Shed and/or the Tiny Greenhouse (already the subject of their own, separate, posts) as I attempt to grow a succession of salad crops over the autumn and winter months and to start off sweet peas ready for next Summer.
And I embark on a new, non-garden related project in October as I begin a two-year Masters Degree in Creative Writing.
So this will be the final Monthly Roundup of 2020.
It’s been full-on in the garden this month as harvesting of potatoes, climbing beans and all things salad has continued. The freezer is slowly filling up with beans, and with foraged blackberries picked from hedgerows on our daily walk.
The weather has been ‘changeable’ (understatement) – which led to some lovely cloud formations – while Storm Francis battered the UK in the final week of the month. Damage in my garden was restricted to this pot of chard (past its best anyway), a tomato pot blown over but no damage, and a bent sunflower.
Bulbs, onion sets, and salad leaf/herb seeds have been ordered, though I’ve only received the seeds. The weed membrane for my allotment bed finally arrived, along with the tomato feed I’ve been trying to get hold of for months. (Note to self – stock up early next year).
Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the garden, another garden pest comes along to distract me. Initial research indicated a Japanese beetle; further research suggests a Garden Chaffer. It moved on before I could check its belly for spots.