B is for borage, L is for lockdown

It started cold and bleak today so we stayed indoors wielding a paintbrush this morning. The weather did improve and come about 1pm it was beautiful as this bee on the borage can testify.

We have borage popping up everywhere this year, we bought some seeds a few years back and it now self seeds all over the garden. It’s a plant well worth growing for the bees to enjoy and for the flowers you can put in Pims and also salads (and it has herbal medicine uses too here) but we love it for the leaves that can be chucked in into the compost heap or comfrey liquid for a bit of extra goodness.

Everything in the vegetable beds are cracking on at a good rate. We are packing a lot into the home-made raised beds but why not? The ones above contain potatoes, tomatoes, peas, carrots, peppers and whatever else can be crammed in. We only have limited space so we’re taking a chance on what’ll grow.

Also don’t be fooled with this present run of sunny weather, next week it goes down a few degrees and it always good to be aware that you may get a late frost which can wipe out a lot of stuff so regularly check the weather forecast just in case.

We’ve still got protection over the top of the tender plants at night (we close them up about 6pm so any further heat that the sun produces can be trapped in until the morning) and it ain’t anything fancy. We’ve got large jam jars, plastic cloches, an old window frame and recycled polythene tacked onto the cold frames. With this gardening malarkey you can’t take anything for granted, especially UK weather!

We hope the growing is going well in your garden. Anyone fancy sending us pictures of what they’re growing so we can post them up on the blog which’ll give us all more encouragement during this lockdown. Do get in contact if so.

#gardeningduringlockdown #lockdowngardening #sleepinginlatertocombatlockdown #sniffindisinfectant

Can’t wait, won’t wait, will try

Patience, that’s what you need when it comes to this gardening lark. Sadly we haven’t got any.

This week we took the dahlia tubers straight out from under the stairs (where they’ve been hibernating since late autumn) and into the ground even though there’s still a chance of frost. We also left a couple of them in the garden from last season as we couldn’t be bothered to dig them out. Why do we do these things when we know we shouldn’t?

We have got protection for them and the other plants that don’t do well when it comes to frosts though. There’s the seed potatoes under the black membrane that was used under the decking and lots of DIY plastic/wood contraptions (don’t throw out your jam jars!) over vegetable seedlings that are germinating so it ain’t that bad.

All the gardening books tell you to be aware of late frosts, they also tell you that runner beans seeds don’t like sitting in cold soils and “for god’s sake don’t put out your tomato plants out early as they’ll suffer if it gets cold” but we still do it (we’ve a couple of tomato seedlings in the ground at the moment we’re ashamed to say.) It goes like this, we see a period of lovely sunshine so the hoe is taken out from its winter hiding place and then it’s all systems go after that. We don’t think this lockdown has helped in holding back either.

Talking of lockdowns, there’s a new gardening-related game developing here. At least once a week on our (very) regular visits to the compost heap a gloved hand will be thrust into the mass of rotting vegetables, old ripped up leccy bills and single tea bags to “feel the heat”. That’s not normal behaviour is it? Early signs of “lockdown lunacy” perhaps?

Constructing in a Blue Peter style

Nothing was really done in the garden this morning apart from putting some vegetable peelings in the compost heap (that’s still gardening isn’t it?) but come the late afternoon the sun came out for a short while. In that time some plastic sheeting was tacked onto the other two palettes, making them now a home for spuds and some rows of carrot seeds. This simple construction like the other couple we made this week will give the plants protection from the forthcoming cold days & nights we’re supposed to be having so the weather report on Countryfile tonight reckoned.

A left over stick of celery was stuck under the terrarium to see if it would grow and a wormery was hastily put together using an old butchers bucket that used to be a home for worms a few years ago. A bin bag and a concrete slab was put over it for good measure. On the last two subjects, will anything happen you reckon?

Where will three spuds get you?

It all started the other Saturday afternoon, we were in a shop in Forest Hill at the end of queue of people scrambling to buy some fresh fruit and veg. The woman in front of us was knocked back as she was trying to buy more than the regulation “Three potatoes per person” as stated on the hastily written felt-tipped sign on the wall. A thought came into our heads, what’s it going to be like in the next few months when it comes to buying fruit & veg? Will there be enough to go around and if so will they be affordable?

Apart from some onions and garlic which are overwintering, some packs of seeds left over from last year plus some from a recent ebay purchase we decided to see what else we could get, so another trip to Shannon’s was in order. We want to give a big shout to everyone there for their help, they’ve been great! When we were there they were well busy with everyone having the same idea as us to get seeds and plants in before the lockdown. They still had a good bit of stock left, so we bought a couple of big bags of compost, a large bag of seed spuds and a couple of packets of cut and come again lettuce. We know it’s early in the season and yes we’re taking a chance with the frost but the weeks will fly by and it’ll be summer before you know it, so we’ve started sowing now.

We’re working from home at the moment so we can now spend an extra hour daily (1-2pm) in the garden. As you can’t go out to get anything (and most places where you could are closed anyway) we’re utilising what we have stored away like the palettes we were given years ago now in use as raised beds and plastic cloches, window frames and the upside down terrarium thrown out for the binmen as frost protection. The latest thing is a roll of black material that was bought to put down before our decking was laid. It’s now in use as some sort of weed suppressant, frost protector come soil warmer for the early seed spuds that we put in. All we did was weigh it down with stones on top of the soil and cut an X in the material with an old bread knife and popped the spuds in. We put some soil on top of the hole that the spud will eventually grow through as extra protection. It’s a case of whatever we got, we’re going to use!

And it’s only been a month that we sowed those cut and come again lettuces we got free with the Kitchen Garden Magazine (post here) on the back windowsill and they’re well on the way to start eating! The tomatoes and pepper seedlings are growing too. The sooner you sow the sooner they’ll be ready to eat but remember to protect against those frosts!

We’ve all been told to garden from home

There’s been a lot of keenness in the garden today what with the sun coming out and we’ve spent a good few hours since 10 am tipping around, sowing, tidying and mowed the grass. Some suntan lotion was even applied!

You know for a fact it’ll probably snow all next week but that’s a risk we’ve got to take, it’ll only be the cost of a packet of seeds and a few seed potatoes. You never know what’ll happen and it’s worth giving it a go.

We even used the last of the comfrey feed we had left over from last year so started a new batch. Comfrey leaves are now springing up and we used them combined with some fresh nettles and some borage leaves for added goodness. It’ll be stinking up the place in a few weeks time but the jazzy Boots home brew bucket is way down the garden and the liquid is worth its weight in gold when it’s ready!

Gardening on a DIY tip, yet again

We had a brainwave this morning, “What if we tacked some left over plastic from a delivery over the top of those palettes we were given a few years ago that were sitting in the corner crying out to be filled with compost and made into raised beds?” we said to ourselves. We’ve now got some carrots, cabbage and parsnips in a micro-DIY-greenhouse thing. Who said you need much money to do that gardening lark?

And now the sun’s out, here’s a wonderful tune from Rahat called Djembe on Via del Sol records to cheer us all up and it’s a grower!

It’s that time again, or is it?

We’re working from home for the foreseeable future and on Thursday lunchtime we went for a walk (in a social distancing style of course) to clear the mind. There were queues outside the doctors, pre-corona paranoia, not a soul on the streets nor a sausage in the shop. We popped into Shannon’s where it was well busy! We purchased a big bag of compost and some seed potatoes (below) whilst other people were getting herbs, tomato plants and all sort of good gear that’ll come in handy in the months to come.

God knows what’s going to happen when it comes to getting fresh veg in the near future so we may as well make a start now! We’re already overwintering some onions and garlic and now warming up the raised beds where we may stick the odd seed potato in this week and take a chance. We using all the stuff we’ve found in the street or in skips like the terrarium, the window frame, the odd jar and some plastic small cloches to do the job. We’ve got a few rows of seeds in already and we’re going to do more. Why not? You never know what the weather’s going to be like.

And this thing (below) covered with a jar is a courgette seed, talk about starting early! Keep safe and when loneliness hits you during the day working from home, don’t go down the local shops as you’ll be disappointed, walk out to the back garden and tip around with a hoe for half an hour. It works wonders!

What? The sun is shining again?

A massive thanks to all at the Thompson and Morgan gardening blog for the box of Beneficial Flower seeds containing all sorts of great stuff for bees and pollinators including cornflower, cosmos, dill, foxglove, catmint and wild poppy. After the last frost (have a look at this site here for estimated dates) we’ll be sowing them in the bed at the bottom of the garden. We’ll even mix some of the other box we got from the pound shop (nowhere as good as the T&M box but it was a quid!) the other week for added effect! Cheers again T&M, we’ll keep you posted!

Prompted by the person who said to us the other month: “Why don’t you write a blog and keep track of what you planted where and when”, yesterday we sowed a row of golden acre cabbages and a row of red salad bowl lettuce (both from the free seeds from Kitchen Garden Magazine). It may be a bit early but they are sown under glass. This bit of window was found in a skip many many moons ago and is still in use at Weeds HQ. Waste not want not!

And to celebrate the sun coming out again here’s a belter of a tune that’ll if all goes well will be getting an airing later this month on the next episode of Free Radio Skybird as part of a mix called “Radio Fanatics of the world unite”. The tune is from Yemanjo & Monarch Duo called Roma (Yemanjo remix) on Jumpsuit Records. Any record label that describes itself as a “curation project of The Polish Ambassador and his cohort of scientists, spirit animals and vibe consultants” is alright by us! May the sun shine on all day.

It’s good to get out there (while you can!)

We don’t know what the weather has in store for us today but last Sunday it was glorious and a few gardening jobs were done! The garden pond pump was cleaned and the wires put back together again with some dry solder joints and a good bit of electrical tape after some roadent had gnawed through them last year. The pond pump now works!

The back bed was dug over again and raked to a nice tilth as we’ll be sticking some wild flower seeds down there after the frosts and give the bed some rest from the vegetable growing for a change. Even the lawn got its first cut in true council style, one cut on very high, then one a little lower.

And some palettes we were given years ago were put into use as some raised beds. All we need now is a big bag of compost to stick in them to get them to a nice height!

When the sun’s out the old enthusiasm seems to lift. Roll on the good weather!

Keep ’em peeled again

A big thanks to our long-time friend Mark Platts for sending us some pics of his novel gardening idea. He painted up some found-in-the-street old wheelbarrow’s and filled one with an alpine display and in his own words “the other is empty and just standing by watching at the moment”. That’s a great idea Mark, so we’re going to keep them peeled for those thrown out wheelbarrows down these parts!

Cheers for the other pics of the garden Mark. We’re loving your raised bed veg patch and greenhouse (that look like there’s peppers and tomatoes in there).

And we love the rhubarb rescued from some wasteland that’s gone a bit mad in the raised bed! Brilliant Mark, keep them pics coming!