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.

Rocky-style montage

I have been super-busy in the last couple of weeks in the garden and at the allotment. Sadly I don’t have time right now to do a proper update, but I will do some more in a couple of weeks. For now, I have a lot of photos so you can enjoy this montage and imagine me hard at work (cue Eye of the Tiger).

Back garden

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My courgettes used to be here.

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Now it has roses and aquilegias. More photos and a full plant list when it’s flowering!

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A log pile is great for attracting wildlife like slugs and rats.

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Peekaboo!

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My hazel coming into leaf.

 

Front garden

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I re-did all the front borders last year and I’m pretty pleased with this side.

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This side is going to have some pretty spectacular irises in the next week or so, but it needs more orange and yellow.

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You need sunglasses to look at these in real life. Don’t they look ace with the Centaurea?

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Me loooooves the Centaurea.

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So. Close.

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Tiny little Lonicera nitida flowers, absolutely covered in bees.

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Phacelia is also loved by bees.

 

Allotment

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Hello! I’m putting my maincrop potatoes here.

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One Mr The Digger went to mow.

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My onions are doing OK.

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More fruit in my fruit cage! Autumn fruiting raspberries have gone in.

That’s all, folks. More updates coming in a couple of weeks when I’ve stopped being BUSY BUSY BUSY.

 

How to plant up your pond margin for £1.30

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A month ago I dug a brand new pond and bog garden. I’ve managed to do this without spending very much money at all:

Pond liner for pond: £18
Liner for bog garden: £10
Water lily: £5
New plants for bog garden: £10
Seeds: £1.99

I also added plants that I already had. The loosestrife I did buy (years ago) but the cowslips, forget-me-nots and irises were all either given to me or came up on their own.

The only thing I was missing was some marginal plants. These are really, really important for wildlife. For this reason, I prefer to use native species. My original plan was to use bogbean but then one morning on Facebook I spotted some of my wildlife-gardening friends talking about using watercress in ponds.

So this is how it’s done:

1. Buy yourself a bag of watercress.

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Don’t eat it. That will ruin the project.

 

2. Put it in some water on the windowsill and wait.

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If you don’t have containers like these then just order a takeaway.

 

3. A few days later it should be growing roots. Time to harden it off!

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Roots!

 

4. Use some aquatic compost and plant your water cress in the pond margins.

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Plant either in aquatic plant pots or straight into the pond bed.

 

5. Done! A haven for pondlife and all for £1.30.

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It’s definitely looking less like a muddy hole in the ground.

 

PS I tried planting some in the bog garden. Slugs ate it. I hate those guys.

Sow what (round two)

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Here we go again.

In round one, I sowed two varieties of tomato and two varieties of sweet peas. The sweet peas are now all 8 feet tall and threatening to eat my children. The cherry tomatoes (Sweet Million) had a 100% germination rate; let’s hope the good start means I will actually have millions of them. The plum tomatoes (San Marzano) were not quite as successful- only four out of a dozen came up. So it looks like I’ll be buying tins for making my pizza sauce after all.

Now that the propagator is empty again, I’ve decided to sow more San Marzano- another 14 seeds, which will hopefully result in half a dozen plants. I’ve also sown 20 sweet pepper seeds. Last year I had crappy results from seed and ended up buying plugs, so I thought I’d really go for it. Even if I do get 20 plants, the slugs will probably have half of them, the bastards.

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These could grow into ANYTHING. Probably tomatoes though.

The final tray in my propagator is for the brand spanking new experimental tomato from Thompson and Morgan. It’s a cordon variety that’s meant to be blight resistant. You may have seen Monty Don talking about them on Gardeners’ World. Well, I sent in for the seed giveaway and I got lucky. I’ve got a little survey form to fill in. They’ve asked for me to grow the plants outside rather than in a greenhouse to test their blight resistance, so up to the lottie they will go.

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I don’t even know why I bothered taking a photo of this.

Outside in the little growhouse, I have sown a tray of ragged robin seeds to go in my new bog garden. They are a native wildflower so I figured they don’t need too much pampering. There were also 600 (!) seeds in the packet so I don’t need an amazing germination rate. Time will tell whether I’ve screwed up by ignoring the instructions.

How to make a bog garden, by someone who has probably cocked it up

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It’ll look better in a couple of months, honest.

I have been planning a bog garden for sometime, having been ‘blessed’ with heavy, wet clay soil (my mum keeps reminding me about all the good points of clay but she’s not the one who has to dig it). Last year my back garden was a bit overrun with veg, but now I have the allotment I have plenty of room to extend my wildlife section with another pond and a bog garden. The area is a small border, but you don’t need a ton of space for a bog garden anyway. You could create one in an even smaller space than this if you wanted.

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Digging is hard work, so get help if you can.

The first step is digging. Digger Jr looks like she’s helping but really she is just posing with a spade, the massive slacker. You’ll need to dig down about a foot and a half, which is 45 cm or knee high if you’re 5’4″. For a bog garden, you don’t need to worry about using a fleecy liner because you want holes in the liner anyway. Just remove any biggish or pointy stones and bung in the liner.

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Stabbing things is fun. And legal if it’s pond liner.

Next comes the fun part! Stab some holes in the liner with a fork. The bog garden needs to be slow draining but not completely water tight, so some drainage is needed.

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Looking forward to this not looking like a grave.

Next add a layer of gravel at the bottom to aid drainage. It’s hard to tell how thick it is in this photo- it’s about an inch.

The next step is to fill it all in. The soil will settle and the level will drop so it’s best to leave the planting for a couple of days.

So I finished my bog garden off with (and you’ll have to trust me on this because they’re only just waking up): Purple loosestrife, Ligularia, Persicaria (no idea which one…), cowslips and forget-me-nots. I’ll also be adding some ragged robin which I’m growing from seed and some bog bean in the pond margins. I’ll take a few more photos when it starts looking good. In fact, I’ve worked so hard that I’ll probably approach strangers in the street with photos yelling ‘LOOK AT MY BOG GARDEN.’ Someone look after my bog garden while I’m in jail.

 

 

Oh, great

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I didn’t take this photo. The slugs in my garden all get squashed.

 

The slug invasion is coming! So say the experts.

Thanks to the super-mild winter, this year is predicted to be one of the worst ever for slugs and snails. Well, the best ever from their point of view.

So; order your nematodes, build your hedgehog dens, dig your wildlife ponds, and put up your bird nesting boxes. This is war!!