Friday 24 February 2012

Walled Garden Progress

A couple of Fridays ago I started on the clearance of a walled garden that had been a wee bit neglected - there are some piccies of it before I started. Well today was the third Friday I have been there so I thought I'd show you how the clearance was going, so here are some pics I took this afternoon.

At the moment it is all about clearing the scrub and trying to see what there is in the garden that is worth saving, as well as collecting lots of old plant labels from the ground to get an idea of what was in the garden previously. Among discoveries so far are a witch hazel, paper bark maple, various viburnum, assorted mahonia, monkey puzzle tree, three flowering currants (two white, one pink), numerous roses, wisteria, lilac, japanese quince, choisya and loads of bulbs. The main problem is finding an area to make a burn pile - I now have three large piles awaiting the lighter.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

First sow your seed...

Well, that's the start of the season proper for me. Tonight after I got home from work, plugged in the heated propogator, set the thermostat at 22 degrees, soaked the capillary matting and sowed my first seeds.
The local show has a class just for members of the local gardening club, which this year is to grow a chilli plant in a pot - the variety being Basket of Fire. I have agreed to start these off and grow them on until the 9th April when the plants will be distributed to the members for them to grow on or kill as they see fit, until the show on 18th August. So tonight my first seeds sown were 50 x Basket of Fire chillies.

 When I ordered the Basket of Fire seeds, I received a free packet of seeds for Chilli Numex Big Jim, so these were next on the list. These will be grown on in my greenhouse - either the plants are huge or the guy in the photo has tiny paws.....

Finally on the chilli front, I sowed my own chillies - Ring of Fire which I purchased from Shelleys Seeds. Again these will be grown in pots.

And just before it got too dark to see the seeds, I sowed four pots of Lyon Prizetaker for culinary leeks.

 I know everyone has different methods, but for what it's worth, here is how I sow my culinary leeks.
Fill a 1 litre pot with compost, soak it from the bottom and leave to drain. Take a pinch of leek seeds (my pinch equates to about 25 seeds) and sprinkle as evenly as possible on the surface. Cover with a fine layer of compost et voila ! Not terribly scientific I know but this is the method I used when I was growing about 3000 leeks per year so it had to be quick. When planting time comes, knock the clump from the pot, cut the roots back to about 2", seperate the plants and place into pre-dibbed holes, water in and that's it.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Seeds have arrived - plus two trial packs for me to try

My package of seeds from Shelleys Seeds arrived today, accompanied by the handwritten note from James wishing me luck for the coming season. Also included are two trial packs.
The first is Shallot Zebrune, also known as ‘Cuisse de Poulet du Poitou’, this is a  heritage variety of torpedo-shaped, brownish pink-skinned bulbs from seed, popular for gourmet cooking and stores well - so that covers the kitchen shallots this year.
The second is Carrot Match F1. This is described on Medwyn's website as being from the same stable as Gringo with excellent potential and similar in shape to Sweet Candle, with a good skin finish and good stump end - so looks like I might have to cobble together another carrot box to see what I can do with them..

Monday 13 February 2012

Tain Show - Changes Afoot

Following the first meeting of the show committe last week, I have started to update / rewrite the schedule. We have decided that we should now have open and novice classes, novice being anyoone who hasn't previously won a red card in a particular section - eg if an exhibitor has won a cut flower class they would have to enter any cut flower class in the open section, but if the same exhibitor entered a class in the veg section where they had not previously won a class, they could enter as a novice. I know this might sound confusing but we need to be sure not to alienate all our locals who I think were a little daunted by some of the flowers and veg that were benched at last years show. It might lead to chaos on the day but hopefully we will have enough time to work through any potential difficulties that might arise.
We have dropped a couple of sections too - Floral Art (three entries in the first year, only two last year) and Best Kept Garden competition (three entries last year, four the year before) and also dropped a few classes - mainly from the vegetable classes - radishes (only 1 entry last year - me !) chillies (last two years, only 1 entry - me!, sweet peppers -last two years, only one entry - me!), truss red tomatoes (last year, only one entry - me|) Parsley plant in a pot (no entries last year, one the previous year). And tweaked some others - only one cabbage class instead of one for pointed and one for round, but callling for two specimens of the same variety and ditto with cauliflower - two specimens now required. We are also droppping the Garden News Top Vase and Top Tray -the Top Tray will now be replaced with a 6 x 1 Collection.
The Kids classes have been decided, we are introducing a Photographic Competition and the Gardeners Club Competition this year will be for the best Pot Grown Chilli -variety Basket of Fire, which I start next week in my heated propogator and grow on until the April meeting when the plants will be passed out to members.

Friday 10 February 2012

My new challenge !!

Well, today was my first day at yet another walled garden reclamation. Not sure how long this one has been neglected but by the looks of it, quite a while. So for at least the next four Fridays, I shall be gardening by chainsaw !! The photo above shows the wee bridge you have to cross to gain access. The next series of photos will give you a flavour of what I'm up against ! This next photo shows what greets you as you cross the bridge

This next photo shows you what is round the first corner in the "path"

Somewhere in here lies a row of plum trees !

And this one shows a small area not smothered in trees / scrub

And this next one shows the corner of the garden that used to house the greenhouse

And finally, here is the small veg patch that the family used lastyear - to be extended by the area at the front of the photo that I cleared this morning. The ground was still too frozen to dig over but it is a seething mass of nettles and willowherb.

In general, the garden is completely overgrown with the principal culprit being buddleia, which has grown up, bent over, re-rooted, grown up, bent over, re-rooted, grown up, bent over - you get the picture. There are some nice plants that I have spotted in amongst the carnage - witch hazel, bamboo, mahonia, viburnum, paper-bark maple and some pillar roses - no doubt there is still alot to be uncovered though.
Will do a progress report next Friday evening.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Lifting the last of the leeks

At Mounteagle Estate, Fearn, where I work on Thursday, I was asked to lift the last of the leeks today - no problem I said, do it after my lunchbeak.
So after my lunch, grabbed a fork and off to the veg patch - the fork just bounced off the top of the ground - as did the spade.
In the end, I did manage to lift the leeks - by pouring tap water onto the ground round about the plants then using a 4ft metal spike to get them up - I hope they enjoy them !!

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Last of the seeds ordered.

Today I finally got round to deciding that I am not going to re-cover the polytunnel this year and adjusted my seed order accordingly. Having done so, I got on the phone to Shelleys and ordered myself the following.

Cabbage Ramco - James said this is no longer available but suggested Liberator as it's replacement - in for a penny in for a pound so I am now growing Liberator Cabbage;.

Cabbage Tundra - a Savoy that stands amazingly well - I have dug these up from under 3ft of snow and they were almost perfect

Carrot Sweet Candle - nothing needs to be said

Carrot Reselected New Red Intermediate - have more blue barrels this year so thought I'd give long carrots a bash

Cauliflower Raleigh - I couldn't decide between Raleigh, Cornell or Boris so tossed a coin a couple of times and Raleigh it is.

Kale Winterbor - see tyhe comments about Tundra Cabbage - this survived it too

Parsnip Pinnacle - last year Medwyn sent me a packet of Albion in error. I wasn't planning on growing parsnips but I got myself a blue barrel and they turned out okay - this year I'll try a bit harder! Got 4 barrels for these.

Tomato Cedrico - I'll squeeze these into my greenhouse somehow !

Chilli Ring of Fire - can be grown in pots so that sorts out some of my chilli addiction.

If you add the 50 bags of potatoes, 40 kelsae onions 200 onion sets, French beans, Broad beans, Runner beans, Chard, Scallions, culinary leeks, Peas, beetroot then that should keep me going - but I know what I'm like and if I see anything else I'll probably buy some.