It’s a good year for the roses

greenhouse classics_VicThanks very much to Vic Godard for getting in touch and picking this week’s Greenhouse Classic. It’s a great number with a gardening theme called “And roses and roses” by Astrud Gilberto. Short, sweet and on a floribunda tip!

Also a big thanks to G. (Mrs Godard) for sending a few words and some pics from their garden.Vic godard_5“It’s been a funny year weather wise, the early heat and sun meant many annuals and perennials flowered early and have now gone to seed, whereas the dismal August means some, like the Mirabilis Jalapas (aka four o’clock flower) are only now coming into their own.Vic Godard_3The bumper tomato yield is still ongoing and it looks like there will be enough beans to freeze and last throughout the winter, and it’s the first year we’ve seen pink flowers on the beans.Vic Godard_2Vic Godard_1I planted some old gladioli bulbs that Vic’s dad Harry found all dried up and papery in a drawer and surprisingly as you can see they all took!” Mrs Godard

If you remember from last years post, Vic’s dad Harry grows everything from seed; vegetables, annuals and even palms, how great is that! Thanks to Vic, G and Harry too!

Tomorrow never knows

Dig this 2015

It’s short notice, but this year’s Happy Seeds Festival/Tomato Planting Extravaganza takes place tomorrow, Saturday 16 May from 11am – 6pm at St James’s, New Cross Gate London SE14 6AD (next to Goldsmiths University and St James Hatcham Primary School) and it’s FREE!

The event will feature 90 varieties of tomato plants (90, how mad is that?) alongside 50 varieties of potted herbs and loads of seeds for sale. There’s lots of activities like making planting boxes, music, workshops on seed paper making, cooking, food, a beekeeping demonstration, local honey for sale and a fund raising book stall.

Happy Seeds/Dig This Nursery know a thing or two about growing tomatoes and sounds like a great day out, so pop down if you get a chance!

The best things in life are (nearly) free!

Seed swap_1_Edit
A big thanks to Lewisham Gardens and Golightly Gardens for organising the great seed swap in Deptford yesterday. I got nearly everything from my wants list and there were loads of great seeds available. These events are always good for meeting fellow gardeners, getting growing advice and for picking up those odd varieties of seeds.

I got sunflowers, sweet peas, hollyhocks, poppies, foxgloves and gaillardia in the flower line. I wasn’t looking for too much veg as I’m happily sorted for those after getting a bargain of mixed veg seeds on ebay the other month.

I did get a couple of varieties of basil (bush and sweet genovese), french beans and a beefsteak tomato called Marmande which looked like it could be an extra from that silly 70’s film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.Seedswap deptfordI was on my way out when I met a lovely chap who was looking for the seed swap who worked for Lewisham council. He told me later after a long shift at the council all he wants to do is spend the rest of his day up his allotment. Great stuff! Back in the seedswap he shared a wide variety of seeds (and I don’t even think he wanted anything in return as far as I can remember) and I got a tomato called Black Krim from Russia!

When I finally left I visited the new and improved Dig This Nursery in Clifton Rise, New Cross after being ribbed by Mihaly (who was doing a talk at the seed swap about growing veg in small spaces) for not being up to speed about knowing that their shop has moved. Sometimes I find it hard enough to keep up with what’s going in me own small world let alone outside it! They’ve even opened a new shop in Rye Lane in the parish of Peckham too.

In the New Cross shop is a second hand record section where I flicked through some old reggae singles (£3 each) where they had a copy of the late great Nicky Thomas tune Love of the Common People (to hear the original jamaican version without the strings click here). On the B side of that well-known single is the tune below which I was reminded about by The Rhythm Doctor when he span it at one of our events at Limewharf last year.

And thanks to the excellent Dancecrasher website (from The Tighten Up Crew) here’s the vocal version of the above from Slim Smith. Well I never knew that!

Thanks again to Lewiham Gardens and Golightly Gardens for this event. More seed swaps please!

Eats, shoots and leaves

I heard two great gardening tips this week. The first was from Penny Golightly (of the great Golightly Gardens website) who mentioned the free tomato seed offer from Heinz. It’s only a limited thing but have a look at their Facebook page here and see if you’re lucky!

Also on last week’s Gardening with Tim & Joe show on BBC Radio Leeds, Joe Maiden mentioned rather than buying a pack of seeds especially for pea shoots from the major seed sellers (around £2.50), go to the supermarket and buy a packet of dried peas which are the same thing and a whole lot cheaper!Bulbs in the greenI had a day off Thursday and managed to do a little bit of gardening before the rain came and it was so nice to be back out there. I cleared the bed next to the pond (Pic above – fish courtesy of Lewisham pet shop, bought a few years ago and they’ve multiplied a bit since then. God knows how they survive in a rusty old water tank!)

The reason I was out there was I bought a load of bluebells a fortnight ago which were bought “in the green” (as I missed the proper bulb planting time in the autumn) so when the postlady delivered them on Thursday morning they were live (with roots and shoots and all) so they had to go in. Let’s hope the birds or the squirrels don’t pull them up!

onions under glassThings are on the move, the onion sets, garlic and parsley under the top half of the old kitchen door are starting to show signs of life and the tomato and pepper seeds I stuck in a few weeks ago indoors are on their way. It won’t be long now, roll on the warm weather!

Tray of seedlings

On a tomato tip

Radikal Dub Soundsystem – Tomato Jungle/rajčice dub – Kingston

This morning I had a look at the excellent vertical veg website (run by Mark Ridsdill Smith who picked out that corker of a tune from Bessie Banks on The Dirt the other week) and found some great tips for growing tomatoes. I’ve a few plants in the ground, one in a well overcrowded hanging basket (plonked inside another hanging basket, novel eh?) and others in reused ready-mix cement buckets up near the house.Hanging basket within a hanging basketI’ve staked them up with bamboo canes, give them a regular water, a weekly feed and take off any sideshoots so all the plants energy goes into making the fruit. When the plant has formed about 4 or 5 trusses I nip out the top except the hanging basket one which I’ll leave. Most have been raised from seed except the ones kindly given to us from Dig This Nursery, who will be having their annual tomato festival on the 9th of August and know a thing or two about toms!Tasty tomOn vertical veg, Mark speaks to a guy called Nick Chenhall who runs the website Tomato Growing about growing the ‘umble tom in growbags and containers. Some brilliant tips on the video (see it here) like feeding them little and often (dilute the feed more than you usually would) and one mad one I’ve never heard before, adding a cup of used washing up water to your watering can once every couple of weeks which acts as a wetting agent, and helps bring back moisture to areas that have dried out.

Even better, at the end of the video the guy from Tomato Growing is seen serenading the toms in his polytunnel with a classical guitar. It’s that old music/gardening connection again, brilliant! Me, I will be playing mine some happy hardcore and see if that gets results!