One more night AKA No Frost Required

It was funny old weather again today, cold then later on in the day it heated up a bit. Judging by the weather forecast for tonight it’s supposedly the last one where there’s a possibility of frost (London has a low of 3 degrees tonight and then tomorrow night it goes up to 7). Our hotchpotch collection of frost protection is out in full force this evening complete with an old duvet cover thrown over some of the spuds (we got that great idea off twitter the other morning!) One of the potato plants is even starting to form flower buds. How long have they been in the ground again?

Also the dahlia’s are starting to show through so some of that black membrane we bought to stick under the decking before it went up has been thrown over the top. What month is it again? And whilst you’re there, can you tell us the year? #gardeninginlockdown #canwecomeoutnow?

What? Dahlias on a draining board?

The dahlia experts out there are probably “tut tutting” at the picture above but Friday we gave the tubers (we only took out the ground the other week and will be putting them back in a short while) a little wash and brush up as the mud that was on them when we dug them up had still not dried out and some parts were looking rotten.

We know we should’ve taken them out a lot earlier but sometimes that’s the way it goes. We took off the rotting parts and dried them out in the sun the best we could and now they’re back under the stairs for a few weeks. We’ll inspect them on a regular basis and see how we go, fingers crossed we don’t lose any as we love a dahlia here. Next time we’ll pull them out in the autumn after the first frost like you’re supposed to!

And the best named dahlia of the week goes to…

We may not have started gardening yet but the garden has

We still haven’t ventured out the back to do any work even though there’s a lot to do and the weather weren’t that bad yesterday. The couple of cardoons we got from Shannon’s a while back, flowered last year and then died down and we thought that was the end of that. Then in November the plant came back to life and here it is at the moment (above). We’ll be popping back to Shannon’s soon to get a couple more cardoons as they are great stuff. We hope in the next couple of weeks as well to spend some time tidying the garden up for spring as it’s looking a bit messy. And the Dahlias haven’t even been taken out yet!

And to start the new year off on the downbeat tip here’s a nice mellow number from Davin Plashin with Norkav, it may only be 2 minutes and 22 seconds but it’s chilled and infectious!

And the next, a lovely bit of electronica from L.Porche with Saint Gingolph. Who says the new year is dead when it comes to music and the garden?

The end is nigh (sort of, until next year)

We’ve sadly not been out in the back garden for a good while mainly due to the bad weather and also been busy elsewhere (rediscovering the joy of building crystal sets, contributing to Free Radio Skybird and DIY jobs indoors). We’ve missed being out in the garden! Yesterday was cold but the sun came out after a well misty start and it gave us an opportunity to see what’s what!

The lawn we sowed after pulling up some of the rubbish 1980’s crazy paving in the August bank holiday has taken really well and it’s had a couple of cuts with a flymo and it’s looking good (above: before, during and after). The Dahlias to the left of the lawn don’t seem to have gone black yet (have we actually had a hard frost yet or are the plants getting a bit more tolerant?) but very soon we’ll be digging them up and drying them out for keeping indoors all ready for next year.

The veg bed at the bottom of the garden is looking a bit sorry for itself like an allotment that’s been forgotten about but an hour or two spent pulling up the Nasturtiums and a fork over should do the trick. The Cardoons down there that did so well this year (below) have now died down and the local Parakeets are using the dry heads as food but lo and behold there’s more greenery appearing at the bottom. Brilliant stuff, a plant and a half!And right by the house and up against next door’s extension (so getting the benefit of the heat) are the Garlic we bought back in September here (alongside some succulents and a Egyptian Walking Onion or two) stuck in the great South Suburban storage box we found in a skip up the road. Roll on spring. Please!

We’ve just had a look on the web for any mentions of London based seed swaps, free seeds, garden give-a-ways to cheer us up at this time of year, nothing as yet. But there’s news of a couple of Potato Days that are worth going to:

London Potato Fair
Sunday 9th February 2020
Roots & Shoots,
Walnut Tree Walk,
Lambeth SE11 6DN
Free Admission.

Potato Day and Seed Fair
Sunday 1st March 2020
Garden Museum,
5 Lambeth Palace Road,
London SE1 7LB
Free Admission to the Potato Day.

Those lovable spiky tops

The dahlias in the back garden are still going strong, here they are this morning before the rain fell. We’ve had a few vases worth of them this year and there’s still no sign of frosts yet. These spikey orange/red ones were originally bought as one tuber from Shannon’s. Apart from once when they were left in the ground, they were mainly dug up after the first frosts, cleaned up and put under the stairs most winters until this spring where they were divided up and put back into various areas in the garden.

A big thanks to our good mate Andy for his top gardening tips including telling us about the excellent Adam The Gardener series years ago whose top tip for dahlias is shown above. Divide your tubers and get more for your money!

And whilst looking through our old blog posts about the ‘umble dahlia we found this brilliant Earl Gateshead Big Youth podcast. Tune in and turn on!

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

I’m waiting for the (weather) man

Waiting for the weather to turnWhat’s going on with that weather at the moment? One day you’re in the garden with your jumper off, the next indoors with the heating on. They’ve even talked about sleet and snow at the London Marathon tomorrow. Madness!

Well we aren’t taking any risks here at Weeds HQ (above) so there’s a array of tomato plants, a squash, a safflower plant and sweet peppers all being kept indoors until the risk of frost is passed. And look at that Mongolian Giant Sunflower in the centre go! Below: That will be us up that ladder in the summer if the advert for those giant sunflower seeds we bought on ebay for 80p is to be believed.massive sunflowersOut in the garden we’ve got some fleece over the spuds (after we earthed them up as extra protection) that are now coming through. Don’t be fooled by that bit of sunshine at the moment as it can still be nippy overnight but give it a few more weeks and all will be well! spuds under fleece and thingsSoon we’ll be able to put out those Dahlia tubers that are sitting in the corner of the back room that are starting to sweat in their packaging. Talking of Dahlias, have a butchers at The National Dahlia Collection here for a comprehensive list of said plant, there’s even varieties called Punky and Abba but why no Charlie Harper or John Peel?PunkySoundtrack to this post is this classic Babylon from Johnny Clarke that’s being played on last week’s Ross Allen’s Mi-Soul show on Mixcloud as we write. Tune!

Lock up your tubers

lock up your tubersLast weekend featured the fastest session of gardening in weeds up to me knees history! It was a quick pop out to the garden to stick something in the compost bin, feed those starving goldfish and to lift up a couple of Dahlia plants so they can be safely stored for the winter. My my my daliahThe frost earlier on this month had blackened the tops so I dug them up and cut off the stalks. It was then a case of cleaning off the excess soil, letting them dry naturally upside down and then sticking them in a cool place out of frost, light and heat which was under the stairs in a paper bag. I’ll keep a check on them over the winter just in case there’s any rotting going on. Graham Porter on Radio Leeds mentioned they can be stored in a tray of dry compost or the like as well.Adam and eveI’ve heard advice to the contrary but I do remember reading that Adam the Gardener (not a real bloke just a drawing in a book, above) starting them off in the spring and separating the tubers when new shoots appear thus producing a few new plants, how good is that?

Also James Wong mentioned that the Dahlia was originally brought to Europe from Mexico as an alternative to the humble Potato. Dahlia Dauphinoise anyone? Dahlia Chips with Cod and that pickled egg? Er, no thanks.