Happy Herbs and Friends

On Tuesday I took some small herb plants and my strawberry Temptation plant from an indoor windowsill to live out in the greenhouse for now.

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Having been given some pretty pots, I transplanted some rosemary and mint into two of them.

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And I transplanted some of my thyme and my parsley in the other two.

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The strawberry Temptation plant I transplanted, along with two small courgette plants I had been raising in the greenhouse, into large black pots.

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Today I have been transplanting most of the lavender plants I have grown from seeds. They came up like cress, surpassing my expectations, so I wanted to find a home for as many of them as I could.  Some, which I grew from seeds last autumn, I have planted in this big square pots.

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I have also planted some of the plants from the same batches in the edge of a flower bed.  It contains a rather uncompromising clay soil, so we will have to see how the lavender grows, but they were too good to waste.

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Amongst the smaller plants are three larger plants which I grew from seed the autumn before last and transplanted out into a trough last summer.

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When I couldn’t fit them all in, a few left over plants were planted in a corner and thrown onto the garden elsewhere, rather than throwing them away.

We’ll see how they do.

(More pictures on the Fidgety Butterfly Facebook Page.)

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Bursting Out!

Just under a fortnight since I planted the seeds in Raised Bed Container One I now have seedlings of every type that I sowed.  The dwarf French bean plants, in particular, were relatively slow to arrive but now they’re taller than the rest.

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My lupin has burst out into flower completely now.

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And my winter pansies continue to party!

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Summer is only hours away! 🙂

Dahlias: Take Two and Action!

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Last autumn, after a merry time of bright flowers, all the weary foliage was cut away from my dahlia plants.  Having grown them from seed last year, and having enjoyed their radiant blooms, I didn’t want to part with them.  They were stored undercover in the dark throughout the winter and early spring.  Several weeks ago they came back out into daylight.  With tubers like big ol’ spuds, it seemed wise to transplant them into slightly larger pots.

This photo was taken a few days ago, and as you can see four out of the five plants were growing nicely, albeit providing a few too many snacks for the local bugs, by the looks of things!  This has all happened within the space of a few weeks.  Since the photo was taken, the fifth pot has now shown signs of green and small leaves are twirling their way up out of the compost, trying to catch up with the others.

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Talking of catching up… a week on since I planted seeds in Raised Bed Container One, I am happy to report lots of sightings.  Every single day I have stared out the window and visited that wooden box I don’t know how many times, just to see what progress might have occurred.  So far, there are lots of mixed mild salad leaf seedlings and rocket and radish seedlings, all of which came up quite quickly.  There are also some turnip seedlings and a few beetroot seedlings.  Even a few lettuces seedlings have emerged, which surprised me this soon, given that my small plants in the greenhouse took a while to appear, and they were as a result of my second attempt of the year because the first seeds I planted never germinated.

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There has been quite a bit of rain in recent days, which has helped the seeds in the container, no doubt.  Now I will have to station myself at the window to peep at the possibility of a parsnip or dwarf French bean joining the party!

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My lovely lupin has begun to unfurl after yesterday’s rain.

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Then there is the sweet pea happy accident…

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Last year my sweet peas were a collection of plants from new seeds and self-sown plants from the autumn before.  And this year, again, I have found myself with a small number of self-sown sweet peas which sprung up in the old pot, coasted their way through winter in their laid back fashion, and surged through most of spring, climbing, climbing up the canes that had to be installed for them.  Now they are starting to come out on flower and fill the pathway with their warm, sweet scent.  If that does not make me dream of the pleasant side of an English summer – now less than a week away! – I don’t know what will.

Have a lovely Tuesday! 🙂

 

My Garden Diary

Almost since I started gardening with purpose I have liked to record what I plant when, what grows when, which things change and how, and all sorts of other things that occur.  It is brilliant for gauging how long different things take to progress, and it is a valuable resource for learning from successes and problems, though no two growing years are the same.

Last year I decided I would like a fancy, pretty book especially for the cause.  A notebook with an appropriately patterned cover would suffice.  Looking in a garden centre I saw a lovely A5 notebook with flowers and possibly a watering can on, and I thought it would be just the ticket.  Until I saw the price.  Knowing it is possible to buy a notebook the same size for several pounds less I had a sudden change of heart!

Wait a minute, I thought, couldn’t I fashion something myself?  Then I would have a design of my own choosing.  Obvious, really!  So searching through my stationery I found a plain cover hardback A4 notebook with only a page or few written in.  The very thing.

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Next I looked through my scrapbooking collection and found all sorts of pictures of various fruit, vegetables, herbs, trees and the like.  I cut out anything that appealed to me for this little project and arranged them in two groups, one for the front of the book and one for the back, until I had an overall look I was happy with.

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For the title I soaked some paper in tea to give it an aged look and then I wrote on it in fountain pen, I think, to give it a more traditional vibe. Also I wrote the names of all sorts of plants on the same paper, chopped it up into little bits and added those to the pictures.

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When I was satisfied with the layout I glued them all together.

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Trimming the rough edges off to neaten them up, I stuck the front page to the front cover of the notebook and the back page to the back of the notebook. Then I covered front and back, though not the spine, with that see through stuff they sell for covering your schoolbooks – ah, those were the days?!?! 😉 – so that my new gardening diary would be wipe clean if it got messy in any fashion.

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This book has now had a year’s worth of little gardening anecdotes added to it and I am now writing all about my new plants in it.

Lovely Lupin

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The one and only lupin seed that germinated for me last year yielded a little plant whose tentative, spidery stems and leaves stretched out, trapping raindrops in their centres.  No other colours ever appeared, though.  No flower.  Now, however, I have this mass of clawing leaves on stems not winter-weary, but robust and stocky.  And amongst them I have these two wonderful pineapple-like cones of promise with just a sighting of pink hinting at the possible flowers to come!

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Salads Coming Along

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I have finally been able to transplant my largest Sungrape tomato plant (above) and Big Daddy tomato plants (below).  However, I did have to take some grotty leaves off the Big Daddy plants because they had simply gotten fed up with being trapped in a pot that was too small for them and so had gotten a little poorly.  Let us hope they are feeling better now!

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My cucumber plants are coming along nicely, too, as are the dwarf French beans in the foreground.  I really hope there will be some little cucumbers – whether munch-size or brunch-size, I don’t mind! – to eat soon.  🙂

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Planting Raised Bed Container One

Earlier in the year I got two raised bed containers for growing more plants outside.  Edible plants are my preference for growing in these at the moment, so that is what I am trying.

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Originally, I intended to raise plants in the greenhouse and plant them out into these containers once the weather improved.  However, the frosts stretched well into May making even raising seeds in the greenhouse a bit risky at times, nevertheless committing anything tender to outside life!  In the meantime, I have been raising a few dwarf French bean, tomato and cucumber plants, for example, among others in the greenhouse.  This week, in particular, we have had some high temperatures and gorgeous sunshine, so I actually decided to plant seeds directly into the previously prepared contents of the raised bed containers.

Then came my next decision:  Should I plant seeds into one and leave the other to be planted in a week or two, or should I plant seeds in parts of each while leaving areas free for future planting?

In the first year I was growing plants I was full of wonder when anything I planted grew.  In the second year I was excited at the prospect of growing more of a variety of plants than the previous year and I was amazed when watermelons grew in my greenhouse!  In the third and fourth years I still never lost my gratitude and sense of surprise every time a seed germinated, or a stem stretched sunshinewards with its increasing canopy of leaves, or the fruits of the plants’ labours appeared.  This year I am just as enthusiastic, hopeful and thankful, but I am also trying to pull my feet to the ground and focus on trying to achieve some continuity in my planting.  Consequently, I have opted for planting seeds in one of the raised bed containers and trying to wait at least a week or two before planting anything – whether seeds or plants – in the second one.

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The way I see it is the only way I will know which way is the best approach to take will be if I try both options.  And the easiest way to try  both options is to leave one raised bed container temporarily empty before I start, in order to compare.  So that is what I have done.  Already I have been coming up with theories as to why this may not be the best method, but that’s the beauty of trying it out.  We will see.

As you can see, I laid out some wool strands to give me a rough idea of the areas where I wanted to plant different types of seeds, according to how fast and big they tend to grow.  I’ve since removed the wool but I have left the little windmill to try to deter birds from taking the seeds.  😉

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I drew this little diagram so that I would have a quick means of reference regarding what I’ve planted.  As you can see, I have planted rows of turnips, parsnips, radishes and beetroot along the sides.  The turnips, if I remember rightly, are supposed to be a little kind of mini variety, but hopefully I will be able to tell you more about that in the future.  The parsnips are like some I grew in a large flowerpot last year.  They are intended, according to the seed packet, to be pulled when they are quite small because they are coreless, and at that stage they will be sweet.  Those that I ate last year were very tasty, but they were crying out for more room to grow in.  The beetroot are a variety which are supposed to be very pale, so I thought they would be worth an experiment.  With all the seeds planted in rows I have staggered them, leaving large gaps between so that if they germinate sucessfully I can plant some more in between them to be coming along, but if they are not I will have room to play with for something else.

At one end I have planted some seeds from a mixed mild salad leaves packet, which will no doubt be a bit of a lucky dip, and who doesn’t like a lucky dip?!  In the other end I have planted a few lettuce seeds of a cut-and-come-again variety.  Some of the mixed salad leaves should be able to be harvested in that way, too, if they come to fruition.

Since I love dwarf French beans, and since they will be the largest of all the single plants in this raised bed container, if all goes well, I gave them centre stage.  Between them I have planted some radish seeds because they grow faster and are smaller so should be able to be harvested quite quickly under the umbrella of bean leaves.  There is also a row of radish seeds between where I have planted the dwarf French beans and a row of beetroot.  Since rocket tends to grow quite fast and be prolific, I have planted some between the lettuce and a dwarf French bean, and between the mixed salad leaves seeds and the other dwarf French bean.  As with the radishes I think the rocket will be alright coming along under the beans as they get taller.

Only time will tell whether my choices are sensible or not.  But I’m aiming for trying to grow as much as I can comfortably and feasibly within this small space.

 

Adorable Alyssum, Pretty Pansies and Friends

Last year, as I think I have mentioned before, a dear friend sent me some Alyssum seeds.  I planted some last summer and they started to flower quite quickly.  Then, in the autumn, when I planted crocus bulbs in a trough, I planted Alyssum seeds in the compost above them and covered them with more compost.  As the winter months came, spreading their cloak of frost across the soil and hiding gardens in deep and stretching shadows, on the days when the sun shone, the seeds sat quietly under the surface.  Sometimes the trough was covered at night and uncovered in the daytime.  Underneath all that protection, I could only wonder whether or not I would see those merry little flowers in the springtime, and hope for the best.

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Well, I wonder no more, because I’m thrilled to say the surface of the soil in the aforementioned trough is gently being carpeted by the dainty pink, white, purple, and peach coloured little flowers.  I can’t get over their delicate yet powerful beauty.  So tiny each individual flower appears in its own right, while creating such an effective and obvious spectacle of colour to catch our eyes.

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Among other seeds that I planted last autumn were my winter pansy and Miniola Heart Purple seeds.  Earlier in the spring, after surviving the winter in the greenhouse, they all started to look a bit fed up for want of being transplanted out of their cramped seed trays.  However, the late frosts meant that it just wasn’t conducive to do so very early.  Pesky greenflies appeared and started feasting on them in the meantime, so they really did look sorry for themselves.  Eventually, it got to the point where it had to be done or I would lose them regardless.  So I planted them out and they went to live outside.  For the odd night they came back into the greenhouse when the temperatures were low, but they had to get used to flying their glass nest, so to speak.

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Now, as you can see, the winter pansies (above) and Miniola Heart Purple pansies (below) really look to be enjoying themselves and the warm and sunny weather.

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I do love their little heart-shaped faces!

Back in November, as I’ve also mentioned before, I bought a little Christmas tree.  A few weeks ago I transplanted it into a larger pot.  For weeks and weeks I had been bringing it out of the greenhouse during the day and putting it back inside over frosty nights, to try to get it used to outdoor life, since the frosts seemed to seep well into May.  Now I think it is much happier to be outside getting a taste of its “real” life!  It is also pretty chuffed to be sporting a set of clear solar lights that help to light up the garden in the night.  How smug it feels to think it has beaten all the other Christmas trees by having lights on it as early as May! 😉

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And here are four of the six bags of my second batch of early potatoes this year.

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They seem to have shot up in the last week or two.  These have never known life in the greenhouse like the others, so they didn’t have to get used to the difference, but equally so I hope that no crazy weather spoils them.  Time will tell.

A Little Temptation…

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…strawberry, that is.  This little strawberry Temptation plant was just under two months old when I took the photo.  I planted the seeds on April 6th and within a couple of weeks the seedling of this merry little one had appeared.

 

As for the dwarf French beans I showed you last week, I picked my first harvest of them for this year on Saturday.

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They did sneak up on me a bit.  Not that they towered over me in the greenhouse and tapped me on the shoulder, you understand.  But their leaves had become such a luscious green umbrella that I did not realise the little squirly beans I had seen appearing under them had grown so much and multiplied in such a short space of time!  And so runs my excuse for not having picked them a bit earlier which, when I saw these, I thought I should have done.  When I cooked them they were tender and tasty, though, so it all worked out alright.

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A Herby Scuffle

Indoors on an east facing windowsill there’s a bit of a herby scuffle going on.

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We have twirly thyme…

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…messy mint (which we just know will want to take over if it is given half a chance 😉  )…

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…and then there is the flat-leaved parsley.

Not forgetting, of course, the ladies and gentlemen:

Rosemary…

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and the two Basils!

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Basil Bush (left) and Sweet Basil (right).

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