Tulips…

Are in full swing and considering that it’s their second year I am quite pleased.  I braved removing the rabbit proof  fence over the weekend that is made from a roll of small mesh wire, bent to approx 2 1/2 ft high (so I can easily climb over to weed) and held in place with old canes every few feet as below

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as you can see our fence doesn’t look all that glamorous but there are plenty of climbers that will hide it a little over time (honeysuckle, chocolate vine etc).  The tulips are providing the main colour, in the border we have:

‘Ballerina’ (bright orange), ‘China Pink’, ‘Jan Reus’ (deep red), ‘Burgandy’, ‘Jimmy’ (orange), ‘Uncle Tom’ (a double Jan Reus), ‘Attila’s Elite’ 

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and in my cutting patch I grow

‘Black Parrot’, ‘Green Wave’ (as pictured below), ‘Orange Favourite’ and ‘Recreado’.  

I grow these between my usual lines of cutting flowers.   I also grow Narcissi ‘Geranium’, Allium ‘ Caeruleum, and Coronaria ‘Mr Fokker’ and ‘Sylphine’ in the cutting patch.

I plant all my tulips very deep (about 10 inches) so that I can overplant them and also because I don’t lift them in the summer, I just leave them in the ground which so far has always worked for me.  

It has taken me so long to post this blog that I am a little sad to see the tulips starting to fade this week (they are being battered by the rain today) but the alliums are already beginning to open and take their place so all will be well.

New Linen Cat with Tulip 'Green Wave'

New Linen Cat with Tulip 'Green Wave'

More April Lists…

The greenhouse is starting to look busy.  I removed all cloches yesterday, last year I lost most of my tomatoes to a late frost in April so it makes me a bit nervous, but as long as I keep an eye on the weather it should be fine.

Green stuff

Green stuff

Recently planted are:

Melon ‘Edonis’ – In Greenhouse

Carrote ‘Sytan‘ – Direct

Broccoli ‘Red Arrow’, ‘Rudolph’ & Late Purple – In Greenhouse (to go in after garlic lifted)

Kai Lan – In Greenhouse

Tegates planted in the greenhouse to keep greenfly off the tomatoes

Lettuce ‘Reine de Glace’ & Green Oak Leaf’ – direct in apple crates

Salad leaf ‘Mibuna’ & ‘Mustard Red Frills’ – direct in apple crates

Cress ‘Bubbles’ – in Greenhouse

Beetroot ‘Pronto’ & ‘Burpees Golden’ – second sowing in gutters to give them a good start.

Sweetcorn ‘Sweet Nugget’ for a Three Sisters Planting bed – in Greenhouse (they don’t like root disturbance so in big pots or coil pots)

Squash ‘Turk’s Turban’, ‘Butternut Harrier F1’, ‘Sweet Dumpling’, ‘Butternut’, ‘Crown Prince’ & ‘Gem/Rolet’ – in Greenhouse

I also netted the ‘roots’ bed after sowing carrots to keep the carrot fly off with Enviromesh. and watered in the first of three lots of Slug Nematodes to keep the slugs under control, and some Ant Nematodes as we have an excess of ants nests, especially red ants.

Planting in containers…

I plant a lot of what I grow in pots, partly because I have wide pathways between the raised beds and also because I start a lot in the greenhouse then move them outdoors. For instance last year I bought some old apple crates, lined them with bin bags and John Innes no 2 and planted them up with all my cut-and-come-again salad leaves. Part of the idea was that I could move them into the shelter of the house over winter and use these cloches to have year around salad (one cloche fits over three apple crates).  I should note here that the same cloche is the perfect length if you have used half a weather board (so 120cm wide) to create the width of your raised beds, which I have.

Apple crates filled with garlic

Apple crates filled with garlic

The only problem was that the reclaimed crates were riddled with woodworm, which isn’t ideal, so this year I bought new crates from Plant-a-box. They also make great presents as you can stencil a personal message on the side.

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Also pictured above are my other favourite planting containers:

Potato Barrels – They aren’t all that pretty but they are fantastic.  I have 2, both planted up with Charlotte seed potatoes (5 per barrel) and a mixture of JI 2 and multi compost (2:1).  I started them in the greenhouse in March and moved them outside yesterday.  As you start the seed potatoes about 2 inches from the bottom (with 4 inches of soil on top) and then keep adding soil to cover the stems you need to move them outside before they get too heavy.  Once they have flowered you can lift the bottom revealing holes where you can remove a few potatoes at a time, as you need them – perfect!

Pots – In this case my favourite the Yorkshire Long Tom.  Last year I used one of the largest size for squash patty pan.  Pictured are sweet peas, ready to climb up and over the arches around the vegetable patch.

Potato Bags – Here they are full of yet more garlic (planted last Autumn) but I will be growing all my courgettes in these this year.

Massive containers – I have to buy these yet, but I plan to plant all my squash in them, one per massive pot.  I am more concerned about how much soil is needed to fill them than anything else.

Finally, and not photographed are cheap green buckets from the local DIY store with holes drilled into the bottom.  Every year I plant my tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines (1 plant per bucket) and this year broad beans (3 per bucket) in these with JI no 2 or 3 compost.

Easter Bouquet and rhubarb bellini…

Yesterday I cut the first flowers from the garden to give as a gift for my sister.  Although I have been cutting narcissi and corona for the house, this is the first mixed bunch this spring.  The bouquet contains:

Euphorbia/Spurge ‘Martini’ (from the top bed – needs stems searing in boiling water)

Cerinthe Major/Honeywort (from the cutting patch – needs stems searing in boiling water)

Tulip ‘Ballerina’ (lovely bright orange and my favourite)

Tulip ‘Jan Reus’ (first of the dark crimson tulips)

Narcissi ‘Geranium’ (grown all over the garden and cutting patch as it lasts well in a vase)

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I also made syrup for bellinis from the rhubarb which is in it’s second year of growing.  I planted ‘Champagne’ and ‘Timberley Early’ and they have gone crazy this year so I feel happy to pick a few stems.  

The syrup was a HFW suggestion from ‘The River Cottage Year’, you simmer (for approx 15 mins) 500g of rhubarb with 4 tbls sugar and the juice of 2 oranges then drain off the syrup, let it cool and pop in a sealed jar in the fridge (it keeps for up to 1 month).  Mix 1:3 with fizzy wine.  It was quite nice actually and went down well, unlike a bottle of elderberry wine I made a couple of years back that I found in the back of the cupboard…that was a bit nasty.

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Early April Lists…

For the purpose of being able to use this blog next year as reference I am going to have to do some quick catch-up lists. Now, I do like a list or two, in fact I find that with an online shop (The Linen Cat), 2 children and now 2 blogs I have very little time so having as much organised as possible helps.  To this end I spend the winter months working out what I am going to plant where.  I buy all my seeds and organise them in my seed boxes according to when they will be planted (I have one for veg and one for flowers).  I also write out quick reference sheets with what gets planted when…my last job was as a Project Manager, can you tell?

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Ok, on with the list.:

Early April Sowing:

Pak Choi ‘Joi Choi’ & ‘Mei Quing Choi’ – Greenhouse

Chard ‘White Silver’ – Greenhouse

Kohl Rabi ‘Kolibri F1’ – direct outside

Courgettes ‘Defender’ & ‘Soleil’ – GH

Radish ‘Sparkler’ & ‘Cherry Belle’ – direct

Herbs

Spinich

March:

Cucumbers ‘Tasty Burpless’, ‘La Diva’, and ‘Gerkin – Piccolo Di Parigi’

Spring Onions ‘North Holland Blood Red’ – direct

Parsnips ‘Gladiator’ – direct

Peas ‘Sugar Snap’ – direct, then in gutters in GH after mice ate most of them!

Potatoes ‘Charlotte’ – Direct into potato barrels in the GH after chitting for 4 wks

February:

Tomatoes ‘Sungold’, ‘San Marzone’, ‘Brandywine’ & ‘Tigerella’ – under cover

Aubergines ‘Violetta Di Ferenze’ & ‘Slim Jim’ – under cover

Sweet Peppers ‘Topepo Rosso’ – inside in 2 ltr pots

Beetroot ‘Pronto’ & ‘Burpees Golden’– in gutters in GH

Carrots ‘Early Nantes’ – in gutters in GH

Broad Bean ‘Super Aquadulce‘ – 2nd sowing (first was last Autumn) – direct in buckets

Spring Flowers…

OK, so I feel the need for a quick re-cap on flowers so far this year.  Over winter/early spring there is very little in the garden.  All year round we have Euphorbia Oblongata, Euphorbia Martinii and Euphorbia Wulfenii…I like Euphorbia, can you tell?  I also have a row of Euphorbia Oblongata in one of the cutting beds as it’s the perfect ‘filler’ to go with tulips etc later in the spring for cut flowers.  The sap is nasty stuff so you must sear the stems in boiling water after picking and wear gloves.

My favourite Spring Flower by far are Coronas.  I have both ‘Mr Fokker’ (bright purple) and ‘Sylphide’ (bright pink) in the cutting patch.  Last September I also planted ‘Hollandia’ in the boarders (bright red) and ‘Cristina’ in a pot (purple and very expensive, hence the pot).  The Coronas flower very early and are a cut and come again flower so the more you pick the more they grow.  I love them.  Down here in the South they survive well in the ground over winter without the need for mulch or protection.

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Also flowering in the garden at the moment are Helleborus/Christmas Rose (different varieties but mainly ‘argutifolius’), Muscari/Grape Hycinth (‘armeniacum’ and my fav. ‘latifolium’ which has pale blue at the top). And just coming into flower the many narcissi (I grow, ‘Cheerfulness’, ‘Geranium’ – my fav, also in the cutting patch, ‘Silver Chimes’, ‘Avalanche’ and new to the border the year is ‘Pheasants Eye’).

Have I bored you yet?  Sorry.  I just want to make sure I catch-up on all that has flowered this year for the record, I promise not to go on like this for the rest of the blog.  Also, I had no idea about latin names when I started and found the easiest way to track what to grow was by photos, below are a couple of pages of my gardening note book…

A plan for one of the cutting beds.

A plan for one of the cutting beds.

 

Spring plants added to the top flower bed in year one.

Spring plants added to the top flower bed in year one.

The garden…

We live in an end of terrace of four houses built around 1850 with the garden (about 1/3 acre) wrapping around two sides.  When we first walked up the path (about 3 yrs ago) we knew we were going to live here both because of the garden and the house.  It’s five minutes out of the village where we used to live and was very much a ‘project’, the garden hadn’t been touched for 25yrs (I am told) and although it had recently been trimmed for sale viewings by the time we moved in the thistles were head high and the brambles had taken over.  We had little choice but to get the digger in and flatten the whole lot and start from scratch.  I should also point out that we had nearly 1 1/2 yrs of builders and a second child (Charlie) whilst all this was happening. 

I claimed the corner I wanted to use for growing vegetables and cut flowers and got to work creating 8 raised beds based around a new fabulous Alton greenhouse.  This took some time and in the first year I only had 3 in use for growing  veg but by the next spring they were all up and running.  In year 1 the rabbits came in in Autumn and ate everything pretty much overnight.  This was war.  I have since fenced in the veg garden with a low fence pegged along the floor by about 1 foot so the rabbits can’t dig under.  I have planted box hedge along the front of this with redcurrant, blackcurrant, red gooseberry, rosemary and lavender which I hope will eventually cover the wire to create a low hedge.

The easiest way to introduce the garden is with some photos so here they are…

This is the day we viewed the house with the Estate Agent.

This is the day we viewed the house with the Estate Agent.

After the digger has arrived.

After the digger has arrived.

Again, during the big dig

Again, during the big dig

Creating raised beds.

Creating raised beds.

Last years veg garden.

Last years veg garden.

The garden looking good at last...and Charlie, cute as always.

The garden looking good at last...and Charlie, cute as always.