Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse’

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Goings on in the garden

May 18, 2010

I love May. The weather’s warming up and things are really starting to go on in the garden. Each day brings noticeable changes — a leaf unfurling, a new shoot appearing, a flower blooming or a seedling pushing up through the soil.

Today saw the first flowers on our potted strawberries…

…the Campanula covered in star-shaped buds, ready to burst into bloom…

…the Rudbeckia seedlings putting on a growth spurt, nearly ready for pricking out into pots…

…these Aquilegia plants from the Malvern Spring Gardening Show which we planted out at the weekend, making a much needed splash of colour at the bottom of the garden…

…and there’s all kinds of growing going on in the greenhouse.

But strangest of all is the bees.

A few weeks ago we bought a small hydrangea plant. J dug up some turf to make a new flowerbed and we planted the hydrangea, watered it in well and thought nothing much more about it. Within a day or two the bees had arrived. There aren’t any flowers on the plant yet — it’s too little and young for that — but it’s not the plant itself they seem interested in. It’s the ground below it.

I didn’t manage to get any particularly good photos but I’m sure you will see here what I mean.

Funny little wild-looking, burrowing bees.

Lots of them — going back and forth between my hydrangea and who knows where? Digging in the ground and then buzzing away again.

A quick Google tells me that they are probably solitary/mining bees — possibly tawny mining bees or maybe these red mason bees. What a nice surprise visitor! I was worried at first that they might damage the plant, but if I’ve identified them correctly they’re unlikely to do much damage and are an excellent pollinator — and they can’t sting humans. Welcome, little bees!

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Potting up the upcycling way

April 22, 2010

It’s busy, busy in the garden and today I’m quite excited because it was finally time to pot up some of my tomato seedlings!

I was determined not to buy any more flower pots this year and remembered this great idea from an episode of Gardeners’ World a year or so ago. The trick is to save up your old tin cans and pot into those. You need to use the ring-pull type, and ones with a nice smooth painted inside — I found that chopped tomato cans seem to be the right kind.

Discard the ring-pull lid part (put it in the recycling), carefully wash the can and dry it, then turn it upside down and remove the base with a tin-opener. You’re left with a tin tube and a flat circle. Drop the circle back inside and it sits nicely on the rim of what was previously the top of the can. The result is a bit like a loose-bottomed sponge-cake tin. It’s great for drainage, and when you’re ready to plant your little plant out into a grow-bag or into the garden, you can push it up out of the can from the bottom without damaging the roots. And once you’re done you can put the cans out to be recycled. How nifty is that?

As well as the tomatoes, everything’s growing and growing. The plants seem to be really enjoying the lovely spell of warm, sunny weather we’re having at the moment. We’ve already had one mini-harvest from the mixed salad and there will be loads for this weekend.

The little nasturtiums I grew from seed collected from my balcony last year are shooting up particularly fast. I’ve been interested to read about Life on the Balcony’s Nasturtium Seed Scarification Experiment as I had no idea that soaking or scarification of the seeds was recommended. I didn’t do either of these things and five out of my ten seeds germinated which I don’t think is too bad a result really. As you can see they’re turning into thriving little plants!

But maybe the most exciting of all is my little courgette plant! Well, I say little — here it is with just two days’ growth! If it carries on growing at this speed I will need a bigger greenhouse! Can’t wait to get some home-grown courgettes to eat. Delish.

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March winds and April showers

April 1, 2010

It’s almost a month already since our mammoth greenhouse-building session. I’ve been pottering in the garden almost every day since then — if only for a few minutes after work — planting seeds, watering the pots sparingly and checking to see if there have been any developments — signs of life — since the last time I impatiently checked.

After a couple of slow weeks where nothing much seemed to change, things are starting to happen in flurries. Of the three different varieties of tomatoes I planted, two keen tumbling tom seedlings are racing ahead to show the others the way.

The sweet peas (seeds I got free with the BBC Gardeners’ World magazine last month) are doing rather well — I’ve never had much luck with growing sweet peas from seed in the past. Five of the eight are poking their heads up for air and hopefully the rest will join in a few days.

The carrots are looking particularly keen — much more so than the ones planted outside in the little metre-square veg bed we’ve built. That’s also got garlic planted, and radishes, spinach and lettuce seeds sown but there’s precious little life there to show you of that yet.

Keenest of all, inside the greenhouse at least, is the mixed salad, which took less than a week to produce shoots, giving it a full week’s head start on anything else.

Also on the go — nasturtiums (sown from seeds saved from last year), beetroot, marigolds, cosmos (on the kitchen window sill), geraniums, and also on the kitchen window sill there is a tray of aubrieta seedlings, another one grow from last year’s collected seed.

But it’s still cold outisde. Or rather, the coldness has returned. And it’s still wet. So just for a bit of instant gratification while everything else is pushing up seeds — some pretty potted primulas. Voila!

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New greenhouse

March 9, 2010

It has been a while since I’ve posted hasn’t it? Have you missed me? Things are very busy at work at the moment, but you don’t want to know about that do you? When work’s not taking up all the available time, J and I are keeping busy settling in to our new house and making it our home. Some might think I have got my priorities a bit the wrong way round in that I seem to be spending more time planning things for our little garden than for the house itself.

It’s exciting watching the garden come to life, to find out what might poke up through the soil once the weather warms up a little. So far we have been surprised to find that our lawn is turning into a field of daffodils! Particularly surprised, because the we get the impression that the people who lived here before us didn’t really like gardening all that much. It’s all very tidy — very well kept — but there seems to be a notable absence of many plants. The flowerbed is gravelled over and the front garden is a square of grass. But a hoard of daffodils should look glorious until we get a chance to grow anything of our own.

It’s been bright and lovely for the last week or so, but it’s still very, very cold out there. We got busy at the weekend — with a lot of help from my Dad — and undertook the first steps towards transforming our little square of grass into a flower and vegetable-filled garden. We built a greenhouse!

I’ve always wanted a garden — and a greenhouse — so it’s all like a little dream come true. We have quite a small garden so it’s the smallest actual greenhouse I could find after a lot of shopping-around on the Internet — well, apart from this Tipple Glasshouse which I saw in Country Living magazine last year and fell in love with. After some consideration I decided against the idea though; cute as it is, I thought the shape and cuteness was a bit of a gimmick and that a small “proper” greenhouse would be more practical.

So, now to do lots of planting. I look forward to sharing news of much seed-planting and growing over the months to come. It was good fun being a balcony gardener but it should be great having a garden!