National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Seven

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Hoverflies and ladybirds= garden goodies, because they eat garden baddies.

Yay, I did it! Every single challenge is complete.

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Labrador shown for scale. Except she is a very small labrador so probably no help.

Day Seven’s task was to plant something for wildlife. This weekend I have been continuing the brick edging around my lawn. This bed is small and was full of weeds, but I’ve dug it over and it’s all tidied up. It’s only a very small space but my plan is to fill it with plants that are both fragrant and attractive to pollinators. Mr The Digger sits nearby in the evenings by his chimenea so I thought it would be nice to plant something that smells nice so he can drown it out with the stink of whatever the feck he is burning.

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Phacelia seeds.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple of Evening Primroses (Oenothera biennis) and there was already some Cerinthe in there. Later on I will add some Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala) which is well easy to grow from seed. Today I sowed some Phacelia, which I was going to use as green manure up at the allotment but with the amount of weeds up there I think it would be better to cover the soil with weed suppressant fabric over the winter. So I did some inside in my propagator (which I still spell wrong EVERY TIME, you think I would know it by now) and sprinkled some direct into the new smelly/buzzy bed.

GO ME.

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These should appear in a week or so!

 

Always check you have clicked ‘publish’. Sigh.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Four

Day Four of my National Gardening Week Challenges and today’s task is to sow something that I’ve never grown before. So here’s my pick:

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Cucamelons!

I’m pretty excited about these, and not just because I think they will go really well in Pimm’s.

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Seeds!

If you don’t know about cucamelons, these little guys are from the cucurbit family. The scientific name is Melothria scabra and they have many other common names including mouse melon and Mexican sour cucumber. The plants are climbers and produce (hopefully) tons of little fruits that look like miniature watermelons. The taste is meant to be somewhere between cucumber and lime, which leaves lots of cocktail possibilities. If I’m lucky and I manage to get a decent crop then I might spend most of August drunk.

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Into my propagator they go.

Job done!

How’s your eyesight? I’ve got lobelia seedlings and they are microscopic

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I assure you this is not empty.

Here they are! 5 days after sowing, they are sticking their teeny tiny little heads over the parapet. Honest, they are there. Look, I did a close-up:

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This is the best photo of a bad bunch. I probably should get a decent camera and learn how to use it. I was trying to get my phone to focus and it was like FOCUS ON WHAT, THERE IS NOTHING THERE.

But there is if you look very, very closely.

I can’t wait until I have to prick these buggers out with my massive clumsy fingers and rubbish fine motor skills.

And they’re off!

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First off the blocks are the Cosmos, which took a speedy 3 days to emerge (I shit you not).

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And not far behind are the sweet peas (heritage mix) that broke through this morning 4 days after being sown.

What is in this seed compost?!?

Here are some boring photos of seed trays

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Look! OK, there’s nothing to look at. Never mind.

Yes, I have started sowing seeds. This time of year is testing for gardeners because we’ve spent all winter planning what we’re going to do and we can just TASTE THE SPRING in the air. But patience is a virtue and all that. Sowing too early can result in leggy seedlings and having crammed windowsills because it’s too cold for your plants to go out yet. So HOLD ON. There’s still plenty of time.

I’ve still got plenty of veg to go, but I have started a few things that need a bit more time or that can go out sooner than some of the more delicate plants.

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I swear my window is cleaner than this. Something weird must have happened when I took the photo *cough*

First off was the Astrantia ‘Ruby Cloud’. Still not sure about this one. What I wanted was a red flower for cutting, but in some photos it looks more pink so I may end up giving it all away anyway. That has gone outside in my plastic growhouse. There were a few cells left in the plug tray so I bunged in a few Lavender of the ‘Munstead’ persuasion. These are going up on the allotment to tempt in the pollinators and also I will be cutting some for drying and stuffing into my children’s pillows so they will GO TO SLEEP.

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Not sure if Lobelia seeds or…. dust?

Next, in the propagator went Lobelia seeds (mixed colours). At least I think they did, but they are too small to tell tbh. The Lobelia will be used to spruce up my front doorstep in the summer, along with something else in a pot. I don’t know yet.

Also I got around to sowing my chillies and peppers because Monty said so. The peppers are Cayenne and the peppers are… I dunno, they were free. So I don’t really care what they are. Last summer I had no luck with them at the allotment, but the year before I had a decent crop in my garden. This year they will be back in containers in my garden and hopefully there will be a bit more sun than there was last year.

I chucked some Cosmos ‘Purity’ in the last section of the propagator. I know 2016 is the year of the Cosmos and they are pretty and everything, but I just can’t get excited about them. But these were free so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Next up are the sweet peas! I always sow these in spring because I don’t have anywhere to overwinter them (the growhouse has to come down because it is so windy where we are). Also I am not sufficiently bothered about sweet peas to go to the effort of overwintering them. They’re OK, but I don’t get the obsession with them. The varieties are Promise, which I didn’t choose, and Heritage mix, which I didn’t choose. My enthusiasm is so catching, isn’t it?

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Sweet peas- Promise and Heritage

Digger Jr Jr helped by writing labels. Last year I helped her spell them but this year I let her free-style. Can you figure them all out?

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Thanks, Digger Jr Jr

I also took a cutting of this rose. It’s from one of the rescue roses that I picked up at the village carnival last year. There are two pink ones, Gaujard and Prima Ballerina, one white floribunda which is maybe an Iceberg but idk, and one other which didn’t flower so I have no idea. They are all still in pots and I don’t know which is which because I convinced myself that I would be able to remember and of course I bloody can’t. So anyway, I have these cuttings of a rose that I don’t know what it is and I don’t know if it will work, but what the hell. There was a bit sticking up that needed cutting off anyway.
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So anyway, that was my week. I also did a lot of tidying in my garden ready to smarten up some of the borders, but I will save the before photos for when there is an after photo. Otherwise it’s just a photo of a messy, muddy border and that’s even worse than photos of empty-looking seed trays.

 

Seed sorting

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OMG *cries*

I would love to be one of those gardeners with a carefully organised seed stash, but I’m not good at organising or planning. My brain doesn’t work that way.

I am also very bad at saying no to free seeds, even if I KNOW it’s something I already have.

So the annual seed sorting usually involves many cups of tea and a fair amount of swearing. Yesterday I got the tins out of the shed and they exploded everywhere and I panicked a bit. Where the frick did all these seeds come from?

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Good thing I saved some tomato seeds last year.

Luckily my local gardening club is having a seed swap in a couple of weeks so I might be able to offload some of these. But then there’s a risk that I’ll come back with more than I left with. Hmm.

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…. why though?

I have multiple packs of some things. I knew I had a lot of basil seeds but I don’t know why I’ve got 3 lots of sunflowers.

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But I let mine set seed last year. Noooooo!!!

Last year I sowed an entire packet of nasturtium seeds in a panic because I had a last-minute trip to Canada happen in late spring. My nasturtiums were lovely and all set seed, so now I will have loads. It’s a distinct possibility that my entire house will be swamped and I will have to eat my way out. If you see a blog post titled ‘save me’ then please come to my house with salad dressing.

 

You wait ages for a propagator and then two come along at once

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Props

I grow a lot of things from seed, because I am cheap/poor (actually both). In early Spring, my poor husband has to cope with seed trays on every available surface. Even opening the airing cupboard can be tricky, with trays balanced precariously on piles of clean towels. So I decided I should get a propagator but then I got distracted by something else and forgot.

Anyway, I’m in one of those Facebook selling groups for local gardeners- I’ve had many bargains so I highly recommend them- when up pops an ad for someone selling a windowsill propagator. Perfect, I think; no more stuffing all my peppers and chillies in the airing cupboard. Pleased with my bargainous propagator (a tenner!), I decide to ring my mum and tell her about my good luck. First we natter about various plants and what we’ve been up to gardening-wise when she says, ‘By the way, we’ve been cleaning out the shed- do you want a propagator?’

So now I have two.