Ladybird, ladybird

poppy appealThis morning before the sun started whacking out some serious heat this nice poppy (above) showed it head.

We must be getting boring in our old age as once we used to be obsessed with obscure seven inch reggae singles. The other year it was mint plants (including chocolate mint, pineapple mint and Eau de Cologne mint, god forbid!) now this year it’s the humble poppy. It’s not unknown for us to walk around the front and back garden in the late evening with a packet of poppy seed giving it a pinch here and there in an anarchic fashion. Fingers crossed this anti-social behaviour will pay off when we have all sorts of mad varieties springing up out of nowhere later this year. Dutch flag in the frontThe obsession started when we discovered this gem of a poppy, the dutch flag the other year and what a flower it is! We’re presently waiting on the postman who if all goes well will be bringing us some seeds for the Welsh poppy, papaver oases and Californian poppy sun shades. Expect more pics of the results from our evening clandestine poppy sowings.

This post was written while listening to this great chilled out mix from our mate Phil Mison (a.k.a the balearicbailiff/toothgrinder/facepainter) with the back doors open celebrating the sun we had earlier today as you never know what it will be like tomorrow!

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My leeks are no Usain Bolt’s, let me tell you!

Rakim – It’s Been A Long Time [DJ Premier – Original Version]

It was sunny yesterday morning so I went out early in the back to tidy up the bottom bed, weeds were beginning to sprout there and bindweed was finding it’s way in too. I do like a bit of clearing and weeding as it also gives my headspace a chance of a clear-out too (man)!one clear bedFunnily enough I was going to “rest” that bed this year, but in February I obtained a great selection of stuff from the seed swap organised by Lewisham Gardens and Golightly Gardens (post here.) Then there was that bargain seed job-lot I won on ebay too (post here) and that’s apart from packets bought from the garden centre, so those seeds had to go somewhere!on a cheery tipIt started with some poppies, then it was beetroots, carrots and a couple of salad crops. Then I added a couple of different varieties of sunflower, parsnips, rocket, cornflowers and not forgetting there were some strawberry plants in already. It looked like a garden designer’s nightmare (below pic: the plot in the summer). So much for a “resting” bed with nothing in it!June_2015_2It’s like gardening itself though, once you start it’s difficult to stop. You go out for ten minute’s “tipping around with a hoe” and you return a few hours later after finding “another job I just had to do”.Tarrium and garlicOne thing though, a row of leeks that I started off from seed (above, in the seed tray in the “found in the street” terrarium taken around late February) are just about ready if I wanted to use them small. How long do they take to grow?Back bed leeks

The world this week

cheap herb gardenThis evening I popped into Robert Dyas where it’s half price seed time again. I was told by the assistant that the offer is only for another week or so, get in there quick!  I bought a mixed pack of herbs (basil, coriander, chives and parsley) for the bargain price of £1.50. Not bad for an indoor herb garden for winter!

I also learnt a new word this week courtesy of Gardening with Tim & Joe on BBC Radio Leeds. The excellent Graham Porter who was standing in for Joe mentioned that Petrichor is the word for that earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. Well, I never!

Here’s a great tune as played by Tom Ravenscroft over the past few months which has been on my mind this week. It’s by Rozi Plain called Actually on Lost Map records. Apart from being a lovely tune with a video that’ll put a smile on your face, the video features a bit of T’ai chi sword form and what looks like a bit of Yang style. More T’ai chi in music video’s please!

oh what a dramaAnd finally on the subject of China here’s what arrived through the post after three month’s wait (plus free gift!) Possibly the best name variety of Poppy there is!

Summer the first time

June_2015_2Where’s the time going to this year? It’s July next week and the garden is now starting to go a bit mad. The bed at the bottom of the garden (pic above) the one that I was going to “rest” this year funnily enough, has started to develop into a right old mixed patch.

Don’t ask me why it’s got like that as it certainly wasn’t planned and I blame it on all the great seeds I got from the seed swap at the start of this year and from the big ebay bargain pack the other month.

From the back of the bed going forward I’ve now got sunflowers which stretch around the side too, a row of poppies (poppies in rows? That’s a bit OCD I hear you cry!), leeks, carrots, beetroot, parsnips and at the front a mixture of poppies and cornflowers. Talk about a bit of gardening anarchy!June 2015_3 PoppiesPoppies seem to be a bit of a favourite of mine this year as I have a few dotted around the garden where I’d scattered seeds randomly. The ones shown above and and below I’m sure came from the seed swap and hopefully will keep self seeding!June 2015_4_pinkTalking of seed, here’s one of the pepper plants which were sown earlier this year on the kitchen windowsill which gave them a bit of a head start. It’s a first for me as I never usually have much luck with peppers. Roll on the sunshine!June_2015_1

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!

Don’t free the weed(s)!

Yesterday I spent an hour or so clearing a small patch of bindweed along the side of the garden in preparation for some more raised beds. It’s the area behind the broad beans, tomatoes and the mini plum tree (below). God only knows how long it will keep bindweed free as it’s horrible stuff and I can see myself pulling it out on a daily basis.

I mean does anyone really like weeding? In Bob Flowerdew’s book on compost he thinks of the plants he pulls up as more material to go onto the compost heap which gets him through it. A good way of looking at it, I reckon.

I remember years ago on a gardening course with the council, (and boy did they like doing courses there! As a workmate once said to me “the more courses you go on, the less real work you have to do, so sign up for everything!”) the teacher’s definition of a weed was a plant growing in the wrong place. She gave an example that a rose could technically be a weed if it was growing on a football pitch for instance.

I got stuck into the area with a hand trowel while on me knees (on an Sainbury’s own range kneeling pad, well worth the couple of quid it cost). If there’s anything that self seeded like Poppies and Calendulas I always transplant them elsewhere in the garden. Nettle leaves I now save in a bucket where I will later add comfrey and borage leaves to make a top plant feed (another Flowerdew tip, as he says adding the other leaves to the comfrey makes for a better all-round feed). Any weeds with seed heads I stick in a bucket of water to rot before chucking the horrible liquid on the heap later and any sticks get put on top of the ever growing mountain of wood to burn (another job I’ll get around to one day). Everything else goes straight on the heap.

Also I took some time to “thin out” a row of lettuces in the salad bed, giving the remaining plants more space to grow and at the same time providing us with salad for tea. Waste not want not, eh?