Early spring planting

Yesterday was a lovely day so I got my early spring planting done and then read in the garden for a while. Couldn’t have asked for better weather. I love the early spring sunny days, when it’s warm enough to sit outdoors but never gets too hot as it’s barely in double figures. Perfect!

Seeds sown:

  • More basil, both indoors and outside (in the greenhouse)
  • Coriander – planted in a pot outside
  • Chives – also in a pot outside
  • Mint in a pot shoved in the greenhouse
  • Lettuce and salad leaves – both in a mushroom box in the greenhouse
  • Peas and spring onions – both straight into the veg patch, half a row each

The thyme, basil and parsley have not shown any sign of life yet so I fear they never will germinate. I am giving the thyme and parsley a bit longer but have pretty much given up on the basil (not chucked it though, just in case!).

As an added bonus I saw a wren in my garden, which I’m really pleased with as they are easy to miss since they stay hidden most of the time. This brings the species seen in/over my garden to 16.

How the garden looks now
How the garden looks now
Greenhouse starting to fill up
Greenhouse starting to fill up
Mushroom trays are so useful!
Mushroom trays are so useful!
Just waiting for the peas and spring onions to appear
Just waiting for the peas and spring onions to appear
The hawthorn is showing signs of spring at last!
The hawthorn is showing signs of spring at last!
Spot the Polly!
Spot the Polly!
Home-made hedgehog house
Home-made hedgehog house
Mmm, bird seed!
Mmm, bird seed!

After my seed-sowing activities I used some old tyres to mark out roughly where the pond will go and checked the size. I will easily be able to fit a pond of around 3.5m by 2m in the space available and that size means the cost of the liner won’t be unreasonable. I’m currently trying to source some cheap paving slabs for the front to save the wildflower meadow from being trampled but it’s hard to find ones that are easy to pick up locally and aren’t huge (I only want 40x40cm ones). Failing that Wickes sell them for £2.16 each but after adding VAT and delivery it comes to quite a lot. I’m sure it’ll be worth it though 🙂

The next job is to pull up the wood spurge that has re-appeared at the very front of the front garden and to move the rose in preparation for planting lavender. I have already bought some grit to help improve drainage in that area and will add that with some of the spoil from the pond at Easter. I need to plant some potatoes as well but a friend has bought a job lot and is sharing them with me so I’m just waiting until I see her to get them. Next sowing will be April also – it’s going to be a busy month!

I have set a calendar alarm to remind me to water things – this is my biggest issue!!

Veg plot

Today we were gifted with a beautiful sunny, breezy day, despite the weather forecast telling me it would rain all weekend. I therefore decided to spend most of the day in the garden since more digging was needed – my favourite job!

See below for before and after pictures. I should have taken the ‘after’ picture before spreading the comfrey leaves on as it doesn’t look very finished now! I will dig the comfrey in a little next time I get out there but right now I want to sit down and rest my aching bones!

Before
Before
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After

Once the bush, rose and miscellanous self-set tree had been removed I created a tool for use as a hoe…

It's amazing what duct tape can do
It’s amazing what duct tape can do
Handle fashioned from a bit of an old fence panel
Handle fashioned from a bit of an old fence panel

…and finished it off with some edging to help suppress weeds and to help designate the area for veg:

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Guess what I made the edging out of!

I then spent several minutes trying to get a decent shot of a red kite…easier said than done!

Count the kites!
Count the kites!
Love the downbeat on this one
Love the downbeat on this one
Just love that manoeuving ability!
Just love that manoeuving ability!
More agility
More agility

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I have that happy knackered feeling now. Only one job left to do today: clean out the hamsters! Then I can settle down to a film while doing some cross stitch 🙂

I couldn't let you go without a picture of the wter butts now could I?!
I couldn’t let you go without a picture of the water butts now could I?!

Preparations

No fancy pics today I’m afraid – the garden looks much the same and very rainy (and now dark)!

However, I have been making a few preparatory purchases and have established that my local garden centre sells play sand but no pond liners. Good to know. I have bought a second water butt (this one was much easier to get home in my house-sized Mondeo compared to the old one, which we brought home in the MX-5, sitting in the passenger seat and nearly taking off at speed!), a watering can (this one will be dedicated to watering whereas the old one was really bought for car washing purposes), some veggie plant food, some gravel for improving soil drainage and some multi-purpose compost (cheaper than potting compost coz I’m a skinflint!). Speaking of which, I declined to buy the nice plant labels as they were £30. Yes, £30! I kid you not. I have yet to determine how I will make my own but make my own I bloody will at that price!

The date for the pond digging party is dependent on Mr S’s work schedule but I’m hoping for Easter to allow us a full four days to get the turf up, hole dug, soil transferred to front and wildflower seed planted. I will probably go for Emorsgate EN1 mix as it is nectar-rich and a well thought of brand (British seed). Next door has kindly offered to lend me their wheel barrow 😀 – what would I do without them?

2015 – a fresh start

This year I am determined to make my garden spectacular (in its own way!). Last year I achieved quite a lot and made a really good start on my gardening ‘career’ but I didn’t put in as much effort as I could have done and made plans that never materialized. This year will be different!

So what did I achieve last year?

  • Bought and installed a water butt and ‘pretend’ greenhouse (see below)
  • Planted hawthorn, pyracantha and rowan (one of each)
  • Planted and harvested lots of potatoes and peas and some lettuce (also planted rocket, which bolted, and salad leaves, which did not germinate at all)
  • Started feeding the birds
  • Started making some leaf mulch (some are just piled up to be hedgehog friendly)
  • Mr S built me a compost bin out of old fence panels (he also promised a second but never got round to it)
  • Removed 4 buddleia plants by pure hard labour!
  • I found a newt! Also lots of bulbs came up by themselves, which was nice!
Smooth newt found resting under old wood
Smooth newt found resting under old wood

Plans for this year

  • Dig a pond – as big as will fit between the whirly clothes line and the hawthorn – hopefully 3m long by about 2 wide (not rectangular!). It will only be about 0.6m deep in the deepest places as I am designing it for amphibians, not fish! I will probably plant it with locally grown native species but will decide once I have managed to fill it (may need a second water butt to even get it a quarter full!)
  • Plant a wildflower meadow – this will be in my front garden. I plan to strip off the turf and topsoil and use the subsoil from the pond hole to build up the level (it currently sits below my driveway which is annoying) and reduce nutrients. The area will then be planted with wildflowers specifically good for bees – all native of course!
  • Grow as many herbs as I have space for – these will be planted in the 8 pots I bought for veg growing last year
  • Grow a good deal more veg – I have a space about 1m wide by 2-3m long so should get a few things in!
  • Not to run out of steam and keep the veg going – some will require sequential planting if they are to be actually useful in the kitchen.

What does 2015 look like so far?

The first flower has appeared already!

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Primrose

Snowdrops are also coming through

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I have installed the grotesque my aunt bought us as a wedding present

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I have planted some herbs (in my pretend greenhouse!)

Basil, Parsley and Thyme
Basil, Parsley and Thyme

Gratuitous picture of my cat

Polly the pirate cat
Polly the pirate cat

Pretend greenhouse

Pretend greenhouse, complete with chair anchor
Pretend greenhouse, complete with chair anchor

I love my garden and it will be very satisfying to see it flourish this year. I hope the bees, amphibians and other wildlfie will be happy too! Anyone who knows me is very welcome to come and help dig the pond! I will be having a digging party in April…watch this space!

My Garden Part 2

So much for regular blogging resolutions! Oh well, I have something to blog now and maybe I will blog more often in the future.

Yesterday I harvested my first crop: three potato bags and two pots of peas. The peas tasted yummy (although my other half disagrees!), and I don’t even like peas generally. The potatoes look really good but taste fairly bland; add a bit of garlic mayo and now you’re talking! With all the peat free compost I had to buy to grow them they are probably the most expensive potatoes that were evergrown, but might pay for themselves if I grow them for ten years using the same soil! I planted the first lot of peas on 18/4/2014, and they were edible about a month ago and may produce more peas still. Sadly I didn’t note down when I planted the potatoes so I don’t know how long they took to grow, but I have harvested them about one-two weeks following the stems and leaves dying down, so will use that as a guide. I do remember that they were ‘second earlies’. I will definitely do them again next year, and might try some bigger potatoes as well, as I do love a baked potato. I also planted spring onions on 18/4/2014 and they are still minute. I’m not sure why, perhaps I didn’t water enough, or they may need feeding?

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My first crop!
Garden in July
Garden in July

Having missed the early spring mow in order to watch what my garden does by itself for a year before choosing a regime, it has gone mad! Early in spring a lot of bulbs came up, including primroses and snowdrops. Unfortunately I lost all of my computer files in May so I have no pictures to post of these. The rowan and hawthorn are doing really well, and are the best thing I have done to the house since I moved here. I have some cleavers in the back and bindweed in the front, so trying to keep on top of these. The bramble I’ve been trying not to cut back in the hope it will bear fruit, but that doesn’t seem to have happened, so I may as well chop it back before it takes over my shed and bins! I also have wild strawberries in my front garden, but they taste a bit strong for me!

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Rowan July 2014

You can just see the rowa amongst the weeds. Next to the rowan is where we buried my darling hamster Victor Vesuvius, the best hamster who ever lived.

Next year I plan to demolish the remaining buddleia and assorted bushes, leaving the large purple one behind as the bees seem to like it, and dig a vegetable patch (between the rowan and the shed). This area is extremely clayey so will probably need some ‘improvement’. I am also going to build as big a pond as I can fit between the bird feeder and the washing line. I also pledge to weed around the rowan! Maybe I can find some small native bushes that don’t mind shade to go there instead.

In the front I have been planning to make room for a car next to the existing line of cars and devote the rest to herbs. However, I start a new job in August which will not require me to use my car for commuting (woot!), so I may just devote the whole garden to growing stuff. Need some ideas. Tempted to try to grow fruit as the front is where the sun is…

My Garden Part 1

So…in November I finally realized* my dream and moved into my own house, mine all mine (well, shared with my fiance). I would like to make a record of my progress with the house and garden so I can look back and see how far I have come in five years’ time (hopefully!).

Last weekend I purchased and planted three locally sourced trees  – this is the first significant thing I have done and has given me the motivation to start  my blog!

If you look really hard between the bird feeder and the up-ended turf you will see a baby hawthorn tree!
If you look really hard between the bird feeder and the up-ended turf you will see a baby hawthorn tree!
Rowan
Rowan
Pyracantha
Pyracantha
Rowan and pyracantha (regarding the evil Buddleia behind - its days are numbered I'm afraid!)
Rowan and pyracantha (regarding the evil Buddleia behind – its days are numbered I’m afraid!)

*I use Oxford spelling