After the sun has gone

Last weekend was a corker when it came to sunshine as on Sunday the temperature in London reached 20 odd degrees. The lawn was cut and a good load of jobs were completed and we even gave the seedlings (tomatoes, brussels sprouts, peppers and walking onion) that are on their way indoors a bit of a break in the sun.

Very much influenced by (episode 4 of) Jane Perrone’s On The Ledge podcast combined with the fact that in our seed tray were a few dealer bags with a tiny amount of seeds in them (cress, peas, beetroot, lettuce, coriander, basil and more) that needed to be sown, we filled a large pot full of multi-purpose compost and threw them all in. Come a couple of weeks time we’ve have some micro-greens to accompany our dinner!Traditionally this week (Good Friday) is the time for putting seed potatoes in (so the late great Joe Maiden used to say on his radio show with Tim Crowther). We aren’t too sure if we’ll be doing ours as it’s still cold out and as someone once told us at a potato fair, as soon as it’s warm enough to put your hand in the ground for ten seconds without it feeling cold that’s when you should put your spuds in. Sounds like good advice!

And while you’re waiting for your ground to heat up here’s a nice bit of mix-up business from one Mr Andrew Weatherall on Rinse FM the other week (8.04.2017).

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What’s in the mix?

Life is all about what’s in the mix and the above is what we recently found after clearing out our compost bin of its organic matter. There’s some surprises: a sonic screwdriver (for God’s sake), a silver teaspoon and a plastic bag with some Caesar Salad mix in it! It’s frightening as we think we’re really careful of what we put in the heap.

As for our latest bit of listening pleasure: the Rhythm Doctor’s audio mix for FatCat records (above), there’s no unwanted rubbish in there! Listen out for the following!

 

Gardening at the speed of light

rots-and-shoots_dec16We had to do a bit of speed gardening today (at the pace a council worker would go at if their foreman had said “as soon as you’re finished you can go home”) as we’d left it a bit late in the afternoon when we started. There were good intentions to begin earlier but you know how it is on a Sunday.speed-gardening-bed-afterIn the space of an hour, a couple of beds were dug over, some plants moved, lost root veg rescued and the Lemon Verbena hopefully protected for the winter. There’s still a good few beds to crack on with but at least we’ve started. The more you get out of the way now the less work it is in the spring. It’s just making that start!another-clean-bed

Tuber labelles

tuber-labellesThe sun was out today so went out and pulled up a couple of weather-bashed dahlias. The foliage on the plants have now turned black after the frosts so it’s time to bring the tubers in for the winter.

It’s a simple process, you leave on few inches of the stalk at the top, knock off as much as soil as possible on the tuber (and carefully remove any damaged parts), leave to dry off for a week or two and then keep in a frost free place (under the stairs is good.) Keep a check of them over winter and come next year they’ll be ready to go out again. If you leave them in the ground (which you can if you want to risk it) there’s a good chance they’ll turn to mush! More on lifting Dahlias here.

And this week’s dahlia of the week is the brilliantly named bed head (below). I’ve just seen on the web too the statement “don’t write off dahlias as your granny’s flower” and with varieties called “Poppers”, “Blah, Blah, Blah” and “Rave Machine” they certainly are not!

bed-head-dahliaI also checked the compost heap I hadn’t touched for a good year and it’s looking great. That lot won’t be sitting in that bin for long! Don’t look too closely in the bin as there’s two elastic bands, a piece of string, a paper clip and a plastic spoon. How did they get in there?compost-and-elastic-bands

Songs to sow seeds to

Songs to sow seeds to

Here’s the first in a regular monthly series of tunes to accompany your seed sowing. It’s February and still a bit early, but for the eager beavers out there you can sow a few in the greenhouse or on that plastic propagator on the kitchen windowsill.

We’ve got our tomatoes just on their seed leaf stage at the moment and there’s some mini-peppers coming through too but you could also start off your aubergines, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, calabrese, onion seeds and start chitting your spuds if you haven’t already.

And here’s a tune by Digid called Revolution Sound out on the Lion Charge label to crank up loud while preparing your seed sowing (making sure the compost has been warmed up a bit by being indoors for a few days beforehand rather than stone cold from the outside.) Sow on and sow forth.

Hand in glove

glove

I made a bit of a slip-up today and now have to buy a new pair of gardening gloves.

I was tidying up a comfrey plant that was getting out of control and snipped off some excess leaves as you do. I then decided to add the cuttings into some comfrey liquid that’s been fermenting in a bucket down the bottom of the garden for a couple of months or so.

The leaves went in, followed by my (gardening) gloved hands. The gloves had to be thrown away straight away and my hands thoroughly scrubbed!

I’m still haunted by that smell of rotting comfrey and can’t get the putrid smell out of my nostrils. Horrible stuff! (More on how to make liquid comfrey feed here.)

Proud to be twirly

It’s always happens come this time of year, I start to get a bit twitchy and “sow just a few seeds” and come March/April I’ve loads of leggy looking tomato plants sitting on my kitchen windowsill waiting to go out after the risk of frost has gone. Will I ever learn?

It certainly don’t look like I will, as just after the new year I went to Shannons and bought some seed compost, a set of seed trays and a plastic propagator. I even had a look at one of those heated propagators with a view to buying one but at £30, had second thoughts. It’s funny I got rid of one on ebay a few years ago as I thought I’d never need it again. Great eh?

I was also told a top tip though at Shannon’s, “never mind buying a heated propagator, just stick one of the normal ones next to a radiator.” Not too close though as it will dry out the compost and the seeds will possibly cook!propogatorMy seeds aren’t by a radiator but just tucked out of the draughts by the patio doors in the back room (image above with an patented added extra to keep the lid firmly on, 2 clothes pegs!) I sowed some tomatoes (moneymaker), peppers (sweet mini-mix), coriander and lettuce leaf basil which will give you leaves as big as your hand (if the picture on ebay is to be believed!) As they used to say at the post office, I think I have “a touch of the twirlies*”

compost bin 2015

Also over the christmas holidays while off work, I managed to tidy up some of the back garden that got a bit neglected last year. A couple of beds have now been weeded, forked over and now ready for the growing season, giving myself a bit of a head start come spring. I spread some of the great compost that is now starting to come out of the compost bins (albeit with eggshells still in it, I’m now breaking them down more before sticking them in the bin).

garden stardate jan 2015

Also there was a bag of seed onions (Troy) under the stairs that I should have sown in the autumn to be overwintered. Even though I thought I kept them cool and in the dark there’s a few green shoots developing so a few of those went in alongside some cloves of french elephant garlic.

They’ll more then likely rot but “what the eck” they’ve gone in under the old glass frame I found in the street years ago which now doubles as a cold frame once two broken peices of paving slabs go on the ends of it and there’s a few onions under the sawn off glass part of the old kitchen door we had replaced (image above).

I mean can you ever be “too early”? We’ll soon see come the spring, if they’ve either rotted or started sprouting! As I write this, the rain is lashing it down like nobodies business. “Twirly?” I do think so!

*Full explanation of the term “twirlies” here.