Planning seems to be paying off

I’ll probably change my mind when summer gets here but at the moment this is definitely my favourite time of year. The first swallow arrived yesterday – only 5 days later than last year – which I’m definitely taking as a good sign even though it was only one bird so far.

There is so much happening right now with the seeds starting to put on some impressive growth and the effort put in through the winter with the planting plans starting to pay off.

I’ve even managed to resist the urge to plant too much too soon this year which is a first for me. Having said that I think I might still have planted a little too much but at least it wasn’t too soon!

Original raised bed plan
Original raised bed plan

The only minor change to the original plans I’d made during the winter was to also plant a selection of flower seeds as well as vegetable and herb seeds. I suspect that this helped to ease my excessive planting urge because I could plant other seeds instead.

Actually, I now remember that there was another “minor” change when I added the new 20ft long raised bed a few weeks ago. However in my mind that doesn’t really count as breaking the plans because I’m simply adding more growing space for the courgettes which went so well last year.

Next year will certainly be a little different though as there are grand plans in my head for a polytunnel (maybe 10ft x 20ft) and even a greenhouse but I may need to seek approval from my better half before going ahead with all of that!

Cutting it fine

Excuse the pun in the title but last weekend I had a spate of taking cuttings from various plants around the garden because I get the feeling that autumn is approaching fairly quickly up here in the North East.

First batch of cuttings
First batch of cuttings

It’s possible that there may not be enough decent weather and sunshine but we’ve had a good couple of weeks so why not try. If they don’t make then there is nothing much lost.

The main reason was so that we can take some plants with us if/when we eventually move but there have also been requests from No. 1 and No. 2 daughters to have some (free) plants for their gardens.

As with most things in the garden, I am no expert on taking cuttings but I do have an old copy of The Tree & Shrub Expert by Dr D G Hessayon so what could possibly go wrong?

In the end the plants that I “attacked” with the secateurs for the first batch of cuttings were Philadelphus, Rose, Euonymus, Hebe and Lavender.

It didn’t take that long to get these prepared, dipped in rooting hormone, firmed into the pots and lightly watered. I find that there is something very satisfying about planting up pots whether cuttings or seeds.

There were still some spare plant pots and I had  a few old compost bags each with a little bit left. It made sense to keep going at least until I run out of space to put them all but maybe mixing old houseplant compost with the  old other slightly dried out left overs was not the best approach.

Fuschia, Lonicera and Cornus
Even more cuttings

Next to receive an assault with the secateurs was Fuchsia, Bay, Lonicera and Cornus. In the case of the Lonicera for example I already had some success a few years ago with another cutting so I have high hopes for that!

Most are still alive for the moment and they are happily zipped up in the cheap plastic “greenhouse” I bought in the spring.  However I’m definitely starting to notice the days getting shorter and I’m not convinced that all of them will make it.

A weekend off but can I really spare the time?

This weekend will be a non-garden zone and will be devoted to other more pressing tasks such as an Open University assignment which must be submitted by Monday. With luck (and some hard work)  it should not  interfere with a trip to Stamford Bridge for the FA Cup match on Sunday.

I know that I should be grateful and really should make the most of this “free” weekend away from the garden. However I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m missing an opportunity to get a head start before spring really kicks in.

As usual there are plenty of other jobs that I could get on with like the front garden which needs a good tidy up and some sensible pruning on the bigger shrubs. I know that some of these still wouldn’t get dealt with even if I had been around this weekend but it’s the thought that counts.

I’m also fairly sure that I could plant out the first batch of seed potatoes that have been chitting away happily for the last few weeks. I’m sure they will survive one more week of chitting before I get to plant them out.

There is a lovely looking tray of marigold seedlings which were coming on nicely too. These are French Marigolds that are intended for my initial attempts at companion planting because they kill nematodes and deter whiteflies. I’m not too clear what a nematode is just yet or why I would want to kill it but I plan to find out soon! I’ve also noted from the previous link that I shouldn’t plant marigolds next to bean plants (although they don’t say why).

I’m also hoping that the cheap plastic mini greenhouse I bought recently will help to reduce water loss and give decent protection for the seedlings. I have also implemented a “semi-automatic watering system” while I am not around but I’m not sure that she will remember!

Maybe this delay will actually be of some benefit by stopping me planting things out too soon! I have to keep reminding myself that snow at Easter is not uncommon and being in the North East means that spring is slower to arrive than other parts of the country.


New mini greenhouse

Mini greenhouse from the local pound shopSometimes you find a bargain and sometimes the bargain finds you. I quickly popped in to the local pound shop on Saturday to see if they had anything that might help if I decide to grow runner beans. (they didn’t really).

While in there I spotted this handy three shelf mini greenhouse with zip fronted plastic cover. It was only £10 so I thought I’d give it a try, especially as I know that there is only limited window sill space in my garage.

At that price you probably can’t go wrong and it’s much sturdier than I expected for the money. Even the plastic and zip front looks like it will last a least 2 or 3 years…

I think I can probably live with the prospect that they are on sale elsewhere at a lower price but I doubt that is possible!

Earlier I happened to stumble across what seems to be almost exactly the same product at the Thompson & Morgan website. I was very happy to note that it was priced a little higher than the £10 I paid for mine. Having said that I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this Mini Greenhouse from Thompson & Morgan was a better quality product which would explain the higher price.

UPDATE: The range at Thompson & Morgan seems to have changed since this was first posted so I’ve updated the links above as necessary.