Sunday 11 March 2012

'Snip 'Snip

With Maggie off running the Inverness Half Marathon today, I got back out into the garden to get some more jobs done as it's getting close to that manic time of year.
After topping up and levelling all the barrels, I cored out the two for the parsnips and filled them with the mix. That leaves me three for my long carrots (though I may be tempted to have two for long carrots and one for long beets.

Each barrel has 5 stations and are now just patiently awaiting the parsnip seed to germinate. Now on opening my packet of Pinnacle, I discovered that my 'snip seed has a blue seed dressing coating the seed. This is a bit disconcerting as last year, a lot of growers who had ordered Vento onion seed found their seed also had a blue coating and this definitely had an adverse effect on their germination rates. Anyhow, we shall have to wait and see. Last year my snip seeds took forever to germinate, so here's hoping they are slightly quicker of the mark this year. I have set them to chit about a fortnight earlier than last year in the hope of getting slightly bigger specimens this year. Last year was very much a last minute dash as I wasn't planning on growing snips but was sent a packet of Albion in error and told to keep it. This year I won't have any excuses. Anyway, they are set out on damp kitchen roll in a clear plastic container (with lid) on the kitchen worktop, immediately above the boiler. I shall start checking them daily in about 5 days for the appearance of the radicle and then start to sow them at this point.

The onion sets (of which I have over 150) are all well-rooted in their cells, though some of the sets have pushed themselves out of the compost - something I have heard blackbirds getting the blame for previously. So if you go out one morning and your stes are lying on their sides, don't automatically start swearing at the birds - try shouting at yer onions instead !
My sers will be planted wherever there is space, although the Hercules sets will be in a designated bed alongside my garlic, which I have to say is looking pretty healthy at the moment.

After messing about with my "fussy veg" ( a term coined by my daughter) I started back on the garden itself, by strting to edge the lawns, and extracting nettles, creeping buttercup and willowherb from the borders - sounds easy until you try and do this without disturbing the masses of spring bulbs that are through. - slowly slowly catchy monkey is definitely the only way to get this job done.

Sunday 4 March 2012

A day in my own garden

After a slightly slow start this morning (this working as doorman at weekends as well as gardening and forestry 6 days a week is beginning to tire me out) I set to my own garden. Now you might think that with me being a gardener to trade, my garden is immaculate - nothing could be further from the truth - after working in other peoples gardens all week, the last thing I feel like doing is gardening on my day off. However, having been all but ignored for several years, it has got into such a state that I decided (actually , truth be told, my daughters decided) that I should do something about it this year. So we had a massive bonfire as I set about hacking back the shrubs and trees - the fire was lit at 11am and is still burning now at 5pm. I then started dismantling the fences that marked out the borders and the paths and cut up the posts for the woodburner. In between times I pottered about in the greenhouse, drank copious cups of coffee and smoked a few ciggies.
I also thougt that I should really start to wash out the sheep and cattle mineral buckets that myself and Hoss (a fellow member of the NVS) will be using to grow our large onions in this year. So I set them all out and got the hose out - what a job !

The tubs, each of which holds 22 litres of compost, needed several washes and a good scrub - in fact there are still  5 that will need to be re-visited during the week. Then I will give them all a good final scrub with a solution of Jeyes Fluid to kill off any nasties.
I also cut the top and bottom of another blue barrel, ready for filling with sand this week and made up another 75litres of my carrot mix. FinallyI  weighed out the Vitax Q4 and Calcified Seaweed for another 75 litre mix and made up a litre of SB Plant Invigorator for delivering to another new show grower locally later this week.

Friday 2 March 2012

Walled Garden Update

Finally reached the footbridge at the entrance to my Friday garden today, so here are a couple of pics to show what difference there is from when I started a few weeks ago.

Above is the view that you get now when you cross the bridge to enter the garden, and below is what you see when you look along the ditch-side wall..

Below is the view from the first corner of the path - any big heaps of scrub / brush are what has been removed and is awaiting burning, Currently there are 5 very large burn heaps!

This next photo shows the view from the corner where the greenhouse used to be, looking up towards the footbridge - you could see the bridge if it wasn't for two of the large piles of brush /scrub./

I finished the day in search of the plum tree - but it ain't there - though I think it was at one time as there is a large and decidedly dead tree lurking in the middle of all this hawthorn / blackthorn  - this is what I will be clearing next.......

However, I have also been asked to resurrect the border that runs up the side of the drive. It was apparentlyput in six years ago and then neglected due to the arrival of children etc. It is 45m long and varying in width from about 6 ft to 4 ft. There are some plants in situ - I spotted hemerocallis, pampas grass & lupins amongst all the couch grass and daffodils. So if it's dry next Friday I might make a start on this too. Anyway, here are a couple of pics of the border in question, taken from either end.

That's it for tonight. Later.................

Thursday 1 March 2012

Onion Sets and Show Tatties

Got my show tubers delivered today from JBA, including the Casablanca that I omitted in error from my original order (Thanks Iain and II haven't forgotten I owe you a cuppa). I am only growing 50 bags so I have ten tubers each of NVS Sherine, NVS Amour, Csablanca, Kestrel and Blue Belle - these are now sitting in egg tryas in my greenhouse to start the chitting progress. I intend to grow these in Iain's potato mix this year so it will be interesting to see how they get on.

Started some of my onion sets away this week - the varieties are Centurion, which I have grown for the last three years, and Stuttgarter Giant which I haven't tried before but one of my clients grows every year and gets huge bulbs. Anyway, there are just over 50 of each and these are now snuggled up in 10-cell packs filled with last years tattie mix with a bit of Vitax Q4 added. I am still waiting for my Hercules sets to arrive - hopefully soon and that will be all my onion sets for this year, though I have also oredered some Kelsae plants from Mr Fothergills too.

On the chilli front, all the Numex Big Jim have germinated, most of the Ring of Fire are through but only a couple of the Basket of Fire are through - should be mostly germinated by Sunday I hope.

Filled another barrel with sand - that's four filled, two to go, but they should be done by Monday night.

Was speaking to a chap locally who is interested in growing for show and got to talking about different things, so I'm going to pop up and see him this week, take hime some New Red Intermediate (Reselected) seed and a spray bottle of made up SB Plant Invigorator. He is growing Robinsons Mammoth onions from seed but thinks they are a bit pale, and has St Valery for his long carrots (hence the NRI seed). He is also growing Parsnips and Long Beet, so we should have lots to talk about. He has also said I can use his electric mixer to make up my mixes if I want - I have already started but there's quite a bit still to do so I may well take him up on that offer.