A quick lockdown gardening progress report

The seed spuds we put under the upside down terrarium and the small plastic cloche we found in the street are now starting to show (and look at that celery!) and so are the parsnips, cabbages and carrots (below). As long as we keep them under cover until the risk of frost is over we should be okay! Those Blue Peter style mini-coldframes made with some plastic sheeting tacked onto some old wooden palettes are working well!

And that lovely red nasturtium from the Thompson & Morgan seed trials has returned, we don’t know if it self-seeded or if it ever went away, it’s great in any case!

Constructing in a Blue Peter style

Nothing was really done in the garden this morning apart from putting some vegetable peelings in the compost heap (that’s still gardening isn’t it?) but come the late afternoon the sun came out for a short while. In that time some plastic sheeting was tacked onto the other two palettes, making them now a home for spuds and some rows of carrot seeds. This simple construction like the other couple we made this week will give the plants protection from the forthcoming cold days & nights we’re supposed to be having so the weather report on Countryfile tonight reckoned.

A left over stick of celery was stuck under the terrarium to see if it would grow and a wormery was hastily put together using an old butchers bucket that used to be a home for worms a few years ago. A bin bag and a concrete slab was put over it for good measure. On the last two subjects, will anything happen you reckon?

Where will three spuds get you?

It all started the other Saturday afternoon, we were in a shop in Forest Hill at the end of queue of people scrambling to buy some fresh fruit and veg. The woman in front of us was knocked back as she was trying to buy more than the regulation “Three potatoes per person” as stated on the hastily written felt-tipped sign on the wall. A thought came into our heads, what’s it going to be like in the next few months when it comes to buying fruit & veg? Will there be enough to go around and if so will they be affordable?

Apart from some onions and garlic which are overwintering, some packs of seeds left over from last year plus some from a recent ebay purchase we decided to see what else we could get, so another trip to Shannon’s was in order. We want to give a big shout to everyone there for their help, they’ve been great! When we were there they were well busy with everyone having the same idea as us to get seeds and plants in before the lockdown. They still had a good bit of stock left, so we bought a couple of big bags of compost, a large bag of seed spuds and a couple of packets of cut and come again lettuce. We know it’s early in the season and yes we’re taking a chance with the frost but the weeks will fly by and it’ll be summer before you know it, so we’ve started sowing now.

We’re working from home at the moment so we can now spend an extra hour daily (1-2pm) in the garden. As you can’t go out to get anything (and most places where you could are closed anyway) we’re utilising what we have stored away like the palettes we were given years ago now in use as raised beds and plastic cloches, window frames and the upside down terrarium thrown out for the binmen as frost protection. The latest thing is a roll of black material that was bought to put down before our decking was laid. It’s now in use as some sort of weed suppressant, frost protector come soil warmer for the early seed spuds that we put in. All we did was weigh it down with stones on top of the soil and cut an X in the material with an old bread knife and popped the spuds in. We put some soil on top of the hole that the spud will eventually grow through as extra protection. It’s a case of whatever we got, we’re going to use!

And it’s only been a month that we sowed those cut and come again lettuces we got free with the Kitchen Garden Magazine (post here) on the back windowsill and they’re well on the way to start eating! The tomatoes and pepper seedlings are growing too. The sooner you sow the sooner they’ll be ready to eat but remember to protect against those frosts!

A foxtail lily and New York City

We’re expecting some cold conditions this weekend in London town (with a possible low of 1 degree) so the cloches and covers are still in place in the garden. The terrarium found in the street many moons ago is nearly being lifted off by the foxtail lily growing inside it (post from February here). We don’t want to take it off yet just in case. Look closely and you can even see the flower stem ready to reach up to the sky, and it’s not even Easter yet!

Now here’s a mad tune for a Friday night, very New York 80’s sounding, think New Order, Jah Wobble and ESG. This is one big tune! It’s off the Poli-Ritmo E.P. (available here) by Internal N.Y. Rhythms on Optimo Music and a belter it is, tribal with some added dubwise goodness! One for blaring out loud while hunting down that horticultural fleece!

They’re under starters orders

I’ve got a collection of leggy tomato plants waiting to go in the garden until after the risk of frost has gone, like I have every year. After starting them off on the kitchen windowsill a couple of months ago, I put them in the plastic mini-greenhouse outside with the front open during the day to harden them off. This weekend I stuck one of them under the terrarium outside and also sowed  a mixture of seeds beside it. There’s onions and garlic on their way in the bed behind and in the raised bed furthest away have seed potatoes under a good deal of earthed up soil. Seed bed of the weekThe bed at the bottom of the garden which I was going to keep veg-free this year has now a row of leek seedlings which I sowed indoors on xmas eve last year and a couple of courgette seeds which went in over the weekend under jam jars for extra protection. The rest is a mixture of flowers, a purple sprouting broccoli gone to flower, rocket and strawberries. It won’t be long now until “they’re off” and we can’t wait!back bed of the week

You raise me up (just like a runner bean cane)

Tarrium and garlicA big thanks to the weather for the weekend just gone and it looks like spring has finally sprung!  Things are certainly on their way, I’ve got some healthy looking leek seedlings, black poppies and garlic in the glass terrarium I found in the street a couple of years ago (above) and the bulbs are starting to come up in the found empty champagne case too (below).Garlic in bucketsEarly Sunday morning I popped into Shannon’s (ta to Paul, Araba and Alexi for the lift) and got myself three bags of multi-purpose compost to put into the new raised bed (below) made out of a couple of free scaffolding boards procured from Paul a couple of weeks earlier. So thanks to a cheap argos drill, some spare wood and a quarter of a tin of fence protector left over from last year, it’s now a home for beetroot, carrots and climbing french beans. And look at the runner bean cane wigwam, that’s been put in a bit early!Raised bed and bean canesAnd here’s a tune dedicated to all who put in a few hours over the weekend with their mowers, garden forks, spades, trowels and (new pair of) loppers while enjoying the good weather in their gardens and allotments! Roll on the spring!

Damian Marley – Hard Work (Dedicated to all Westminster City Council gardeners)

I’ve got the side bed blues…

Augustus Pablo – Thunder Clap/ Ken Boothe – Ain’t No Sunshine

In the video above there’s a scene from a pub called The Enterprise which I’m convinced was the one in Camberwell where in the 1980’s I had my first “sunday afternoon stop back” to a soundtrack of old reggae, classic soul and clinking beer glasses plus a free plate of chicken, rice and peas from the generous landlord Louis when everyone else was going home to their sunday roast. In the good old days London pubs used to close at 2.30 then reopen at 7, bonkers!

Talking of which, the weather’s also been bonkers today, while I’m writing this, it’s tipping it down with added thunder and lightning. Yet at just gone 9 this morning the sun was blazing, so a bit of early “tipping about” was in order so I tidied up the beds down the left hand side of the garden. This can you believe was once where a couple of greenhouses stood before one of the previous owners smashed them up. Criminal isn’t it? I’d love a greenhouse (with heating, hi-fi and disco lighting of course!)side bed blues_2The beds nearest the house contain peas, one solitary cabbage, onions, rhubarb, parsnips, beetroot and carrots. There’s not much rhyme or reason to the beds, (I mean just one solitary cabbage!) some rows go north to south and some go east to west. The raised bed to the side of them (made from a couple of scaffolding boards found in a skip) contain runner beans and raspberries (I was given a bag of roots with shoots that a friend of mine was going to chuck out when he was thinning out his raspberry patch on his allotment.) The bed furthest away has a dwarf plum tree, three tomato plants, a couple of courgettes, a pumpkin which is now starting to wander, some borage for the bees to the side and a couple of houseplants that are having a “summer break” in the terrarium/fishbowl thing in the middle. Pick and mix jazz-gardening or what?Side bed blues_3 Talking of tomatoes, I heard a great tip on last week’s episode of The Dirt, don’t forget to give your tomato flowers a light shake to help the pollen on it’s way. Good eh?

Boards Of Canada – Saturday Sun – Warp