This land is your land

Yesterday afternoon just as the rain started to pour we popped in to Shannon’s for some multi-purpose compost for our new zinc planters in the back garden. While we were there we got chatting to a nice chap from The Woodland Trust and asked if they’d be up for compiling a chart for us. Until they get back to us here’s a quick woodland-related five on this wet and chilly Good Friday. We honestly can’t see ourselves putting those spuds in the ground this weekend, so it’s back to looking on the internet for odd and interesting seeds.

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It’s a punky leggy party (and it’s alright)!

Weeds progress report March 2018: The seed trays on the windowsill in the front bedroom are doing well if not on the leggy side (nice article about correcting leggy seedlings here), containing heritage varieties from the Roots & Shoots event and some nice herb and veg seeds from Shannon’s. It’s early days yet but spring really does come around before you know it so it’s best to be prepared!

And the seed potatoes are chitting nicely (above). The hymn sheet-like list to the left corresponds to the seed tray next to it as we’ll probably forget what’s been sown. Roll on spring when we can sow those seeds in situ!

NASA we have a (money) problem

It may look a scientific experiment aboard the ISS that’s been done on the cheap but hopefully the above object may help us sort out the problems of “leggy” seedlings. The seed we sowed a week or so ago on the Weeds HQ windowsill has now started to germinate so we’ve taken the lid off the propagator and stuck the seed tray inside a cardboard box covered in tin foil. The idea of the tin foil is that the seedlings don’t grow towards the light from the window and instead grow upwards. This is a trick nicked off the great Graham Porter on the BBC Radio Leeds “Sunday Gardening with Tim Crowther” show. It’s the first time we’ve tried it so we’ll let you know how we get on.

There were three propagators in the set we bought from Shannon’s so behind the tin foil lined cardboard box another tray of seedlings has just been started off. Why not? It’ll be spring soon and we’ll need something to plant outside.

Out of the starting blocks

It looks like the growing season is now underway at Weeds HQ after a quiet autumn/winter. The other Monday we popped into Shannon’s and purchased a set of three plastic plant propagators (complete with lid, seed and drip tray) at a nice price (below).

Granted they’re not as sturdy as those green hard plastic ones with the plastic cover that has a circular air regulator on the top but we find the covers of those types of propagators get used outside in the garden as cloches and seed protectors and by the end of the season are lost or in a right state. An advantage with the one from Shannon’s is that the seed tray is a collection of “plug plant” type holes that’ll make transplanting the seedlings a whole lot easier (less of that pricking out business!)
Seeds purchased: Tomato (Red Alert), Italian Basil, Pepper (Sweet Boneta) and Chilli Pepper (Numex Twilight – the fruit go all sorts of colours while ripening).Thanks to a discount code (Thanks to Ola at Thompson & Morgan Blog!) we purchased some nice seeds from Thompson & Morgan including some nice poppies, giant sunflowers (you know we here love anything with “Giant, Weird or Rare” in the title) and also a dwarf blackberry bush which’ll be good for sticking in a pot outside the kitchen door. One plant that did interest us was the cat’s whiskers/bat plant or the devil flower (below) that looks great but as we haven’t got a greenhouse or conservatory we had to pass on it. If you have somewhere under glass where it can go, go get this plant!
Seeds purchased: Poppy (Pink Fizz), Poppy (Checkers), Night Scented Stock, Russian Giant Sunflower, Sweet Pea (Night and Day).

Finally the Sunday just gone we ventured to the great place that is Roots and Shoots (in association with Pennard Plants) in Kennington for their potato and seed shop day. Getting there just before the allotted time of 11am we treated ourselves to some bamberger long seed onions and “Rocket” seed potatoes which when chitted (the art of producing nice green buds, more on how to do that here) we’ll do that trick of cutting them in half so we’ll have twice as many plants. Also after taking ages going through the racks of seeds we purchased some great heritage and heirloom seed varieties (more on what heirloon seed is here.)
Seeds purchased: Far too many to mention but included Beetroot (Detroit Crimson Red), Courgette (All Greens Bush), Sea Holly, Cornflower (Black) and Sweet Peas (Black Knight, America and Albuit Blue).

It’s been a very good week or two for gardening and we haven’t even set foot in the back! By the way do send in any news of seed swaps, plant sales or related events (London based or nationwide as they’re all good) as we’d love to post them up. Fingers crossed we’ll all be out in the garden very soon.

No rest for the wicked

Here’s a couple of recommendations if you fancy music of a chilled nature. The first a tune that Tom Ravenscroft and Ross Allen have been playing on the radio comes from Charlotte Gainsbourg (produced by Guy-Man from Daft Punk) called Rest. It’s a brilliant song but do disregard the “walking in the air” lyric or you’ll think of that dreadful Snowman film. The second is an excellent set from Laut & Luise (a record label from Cologne and Berlin) thanks to our good mate Will who slung it our way. It’s a mix in an “out there” downbeat style (track listings please!)

We’ve been busy the last fortnight so we haven’t had much time to garden until yesterday when the sun came out in force. The lawn was mown and the seed spuds we bought from Shannon’s many moons ago were finally dug up. Usually as soon as the plant’s flowered we’re in with a fork pulling up marble sized spuds but this time it’s been well worth the wait!Also we tried for the first time an alternative weedkiller (a strong solution of salt and water with a little dot of washing up liquid) for the cracked pavement out the back. We will revisit the area in a week or two to see if it actually works or it’s back out there on our hands and knees.

Tubers and cheap seeds

It’s been a bit manic at Weeds HQ over the summer so gardening has been a bit lower down on the priority list but that’s not to say things are not growing out in the garden. The cactus type Dahlias (above) we got at Shannon’s a few years ago are doing well. We here advocate the “digging them up after the frost and storing over winter under the stairs” method and it works a treat. None of that “leave them in the ground and see how they survive” business here!  Dahlia growing tips here, James Wong on eating them here and the masses of varieties here. And for good measure here’s one of the very few tunes that has the plants name in the title which was made by our good selves at Weeds when we couldn’t find anything under Dahlia in Discogs. Available on CD baby here!

Also thanks to our friends at Lewisham Gardens for letting us know through a retweet about an offer in Tescos of Kitchen Garden Magazine which has lots of free seeds in the September issue for the bargain price of a fiver! We’re going to be searching those supermarket shelves this week!

Cork it Kojak, cork it

mc-demijohnToday a chap collected some demijohns that were finally put on ebay last weekend after throwing in the wine-making towel a few years ago. There were more failures than successes making vino, including once ending up going to bed early one Saturday evening feeling “well woozy” after a bottle of white wine made from a Boot’s kit. The attempt at making mead using cheap honey procured off a man who sold unfridgerated ham, cheese and european varieties of sweets you’ve never heard of in a market in Farringdon ended up “displaying a intense battery acid type flavour” and was duly tipped down the sink cleaning the U-bend out in the process. Sometimes you have to let go of things.hidden-chitting-and-propagatorOn a happier note it’s mid-way through February and there’s a little bit of gardening action at Weeds HQ. More seeds have been procured from Shannon’s today (sweet pea and night scented stock) and there’s spuds chitting underneath a table. The plastic plant propagator in the back room has a few pots with peppers and tomatoes in them and after listening to a tip from Christine Walkden on Gardeners Question Time the other week some foil was stuck on the back of the propagator to reflect any light so the seedlings don’t automatically lean towards the window and hopefully don’t grow on the leggy side. Roll on spring!