Hanging baskets – time for a bit of a refresh

When the garden is in bloom there is no better antidote to the blues. Bright, colourful flowers and a bit of sun may just be the best thing in the world. However, this weekend saw us give in and accept that the hanging baskets needed a wee bit of help. They weren’t horrendous, I mean there was stuff in them, they were just a bit… lacking.

I take full responsibility for it though, I was a bit over eager to get some colour out there after the winter and I’m afraid to say I threw the poor little baby petunias out of the greenhouse a few months too soon. Poor wee souls, shivering away in the cold.

So they were a wee bit under developed.

Oh no!!!! A trip to the garden centre, how horrendous! NOT!!!

It’s a bit like when you go to Ikea, you go for a specific thing, like some tea light candles and come home with a Billy bookcase. Well a trip to the garden centre is exactly the same with us. We go for some petunias for the hanging baskets and end up with 100 quid’s worth of plants and two planters. Watch the video and see how much we ARE NOT miffed by this LOL.

We did our usual and stood at the entrance with Kate saying, “we only need one trolley. We’re only getting some plants for the hanging baskets.” To which I, as always, replied, “yeah we always say that and then you send me for another trolley cause we’ve filled the first one.”

Guess what happened? Yep two trolleys.

So off course, that mean we HAD to fill them. It turns out, it was just as well, but I’ll tell you all about that in a second.

So petunias for the hanging baskets, you guys know by now what our favourites are, so as usual, my favourites: easywave

And Kate’s favourites, starry night

We also got something new, you’ll have to trust me on this cause in the photo it looked just like the pink and white easywave petunias, but it’s not quite. In fact it’s not a petunia, although I can’t for the life of me tell you what it is. It was labelled up as a trial and had “???” Where the name should be. But it’s got flowers like smaller versions of the petunias but the leaves and more like succulent leaves and stems. We thought we’d give it a go though.

So I was telling you that it was a good thing that we bought extra plants. Well… we came home and got stuck in. Kate was tidying up the rockery and I was sorting out the planting out back. That includes two big wooden planters which we’d bought new plants for. They are full of aquilegias which die back in late summer which leaves the planters looking as bit empty, so we got some new bits and bobs for them. While I was arranging the plants, not planting or touching the planters in anyway, I heard a thwump noise. I turned around to see one of the planters had just basically disintegrated. One side had completely fallen apart and the soil and plants were trickling out. I SWEAR IT WASN’T ME!

Turns out the wood had just rotted and eventually just given in. They are 7 years old to be fair. So it was a quick jaunt out to replace the planter. Actually we replaced both cause on inspection the other one was pretty much rotten as well.

Means we have a couple of nice bright new planters though which match the colourful pots we have around the garden.

As well as all this fun, we got a few new plants that are just the perfect photography models (there are just some plants that are wayyyyyyy more photogenic than others). So here are some of our new gazania.




A greenhouse update: spring 2019

There was much excitement when we replaced that rickety old polycarbonate greenhouse with our shiny new glass one, but it was excitement about having a new toy rather than of what was to come, because at that point, we really didn’t know what to expect.

So since it’s spring and we are actually using the greenhouse now, I thought it might be time for a wee update on how we are getting on and what we think of our new toy.

First thoughts

Temperature

Well the first thing I notice is that the glass greenhouse seems to take the heat a lot quicker. We are seeing the automatic windows opening way earlier in the season that we did previously and the greenhouse generally does feel warmer. Probably because it doesn’t have a howling gale going through it and rain seeping in. Yep you read that correctly. The old greenhouse was never quite water or wind tight. This one however, feels solid!

It’s not yet at the point in the year where the temperature is unpleasant in there, but there is a marked difference between outdoors and inside the greenhouse. Can’t wait to see how this changes as the weather changes.

Cleaning

Also it seems to stay clean which is a crazy thing to say because obviously I didn’t get a free shift of elves with the greenhouse sale who come in during the night and clean up. Or did I?

Check out youtube to see the naughty elf in the greenhouse.

But it does, it seems to stay clean. The glass is still clean. The old polycarbonate greenhouse got taken apart and cleaned every year because green sludge built up everywhere, also the polycarbonate discoloured badly.

Space

I also feel like I’ve got way more space, even though it’s exactly the same size. I don’t know if this is because I have more headroom in this one, but it definitely feels bigger.

There is also one thing which makes a huge difference but it’s not exactly the greenhouse. The new staging. I used to use cheap and nasty wire shelves which to be honest weren’t really much use for anything other than storing things but the new staging is really solid and practical so I can actually use it for potting on etc. It just makes the whole space feel more useable.

I am really happy pootling away in there and I feel like I can pootle and do so much.

Changes

One of the things that’s new and a bit exciting is that I can now hang baskets inside the greenhouse. Before I had to do a kind of magic balancing thing with an upside down stool but the new greenhouse, apart from being really solid, has rails for hanging stuff. Means I can have the baskets in there while the plants mature a bit and grow.

Only downside though, I keep forgetting! They are hanging just a t my head height.




Spring in the garden: growing salad in the chilligrow

There are always jobs that need doing, even small ones so we were up early (as normal) planting stuff. I still hadn’t quite got everything planted up that I had wanted to, so was getting that sorted today which gives me the chance to share some wee tricks you may find useful.

Trick 1: using your chilligrow to grow salad

The quadgrows and chilligrows are great and I use them for all sorts of stuff, I don’t always follow the rules though 🙂

We have two chilligrows and over the years we’ve realised we really don’t need 6 chilli plants. Usually what happens is we dry loads

or freeze bags of them and Kate usually takes 2 or 3 kgs into work for Andrew who is a chilli head. Either way, we grow way more than we need. So this year we are only going to grow a couple of plants and use the other chilligrow for… SALAD!

Now I can hear you all shouting, but Eli, surely you can just grow one plant in each pot! How will this work. Well let me show you our trick.

Trick 1: growing salad in the chilligrow

First thing I do, is I cut the wick that draws the water into the pot. I usually cut it into two maybe three.

This then lets me spread the wick around the pot a bit more, maximising the water dispersal. A bit like my bit quadgrow plus does with my herbs. I add soil as normal, making sure to remember and spread the wick about and give it a really good soak.

Then sow my salad seeds on top of the soil like normal.

Lastly, spread another layer of compost over the top to keep them safe and happy.

I’ll keep watering from the top until I think my little salad lovelies are strong and then switch to filling the chilligrow reservoir as we would normally. I did this last year and it worked great so it’s become part of my normal routine now.

Trick 2: drainage for your pots

You may recall the conversation we had a few months back about making sure to add little feet under your pots to allow water to get out and stop things from drowning? If not it’s below, but I also have another spring tip for you (well anytime of year to be honest) about using these little feet for drainage inside the pots.

I have to plant up some of our impatiens this morning. They are some of Kate’s favourite plants and we always have pots of them on the steps.

The little plants in the greenhouse were ready to move on now but oh no… I’d used the pots they normally live in so I had to find some new pots and the ones we have didn’t have any drainage holes. Uh oh!

Not to fear though, a few little feet inside the pot (I went two little feet high) which lets a plastic plant pot sit snug inside, off the bottom allowing space for water to drain. Hurrah!

They’ll stay in the greenhouse a little while longer until he weather heats up a bit more and the plants are a bit bigger, but looking lovely.

In the raised beds

I was also adding my beetroot to the raised beds this morning as I still hadn’t planted it, this year, I’m testing out something new, seed tape. We’ve never used this before and wondered if it would be useful. It means your seeds are all perfectly spaced apart when you plant them and given our beetroot somehow always ends up all over the place, we thought we’d give it a go.

Not sure if it will be a keeper as I usually plant a couple of seeds for each plant and take out the weaker one. That means I don’t have the risk of plants not germinating but we’ll give this a try and report back as always. I suppose I can always backfill seeds if needed.

So anyways, it’s spring time, shut down the computer and get out in the garden. There are lots of jobs to be doing this weekend :). I’m off to prune the hydrangeas.

Have fun folks!

Update!

We have lots of tomato seedlings, lots of carrot seedlings but still no peppers – boo!




Winter is coming

1379628_10151986545584319_1217562309_nToday was the last harvest day of the year, time to dig up the last of the root veg and empty the beds ready for winter.

We did not bad considering it’s October, we got a good haul of carrots (which are destined for Kate’s Carrot and orange soup) and a few decent sized beetroots, which if you’re a regular blog reader you will know that these will get roasted as I’m a massive roasted beetroot fan.

I’ll maybe roast these up and add them to our wraps for lunch tomorrow.

We’ve said that this is the last harvest of 2013 although that’s not strictly true as we are still getting a few tomatoes, but you kinda get our idea.

There was one big fail this year though, something we didn’t get a single harvest from, our sprouts. Unfortunately we learned a valuable lesson this year, at the expense of my dream of having Christmas dinner from our own garden. You just cannot grow brassicas without covering them over with a net. The cabbage moths are a nightmare.

munched srouts

I thought as long as we were vigilant and kept on top of things we’d be OK. Well unfortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong. Even with us chasing off any moths we’ve seen and picking off caterpillars and eggs, the Brussels sprouts were desecrated.

Not only do the caterpillars eat every bit of leaf they can get too, they also weaken and kill off the plant, in this case the leaves and stalks were all falling off meaning the areas where the sprouts grow was exposed and damaged.

I’m really disappointed, but I’ve learned and if we choose to try again next year at least I know exactly how I have to deal with things.

But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s October and you should see how nice the garden still looks. We still have lots of colour and texture out there.

The beds we put in this year are all still full of colour and we’re quite excited now to see what happens with them next year as there were some bulbs and things which didn’t come up this year (as it’s the first year) so just how amazing will it look next year.

 

fence bedsWe’ve had a fantastic year for gladioli, the beautiful burst of red and purple flowers have been such a success but the best is yet to come as we had the same amount again that didn’t flower this year. I can’t wait. We are still enjoying them, so how amazing is next year going to be? We also had some stunning hanging baskets and some of them are still flowering as you can see. Looking out the French doors into the back garden is a stunning view at the minute and I have to keep pinching myself and saying, “its October!!!”

There’s just one more photo I want to share with you before I leave you to think about winter, Christmas and then the best bit of the year, spring and what next year’s garden will bring.

One of the hanging baskets on the fence has the most amazing geraniums in it, surprisingly as everything else in that basket has died off, but these have come back for a second round of wow!

 

 

 

hanging baskets fenceYes they really are that amazing shocking pink!

So there you go, our garden surprises for this year. I’m starting to think and plan for next year already (which Fiach will be having a good chuckle at), but I like to be organised, I’m definitely the girl with the plan. It helps too. I spoke before about the effect winter has on me and to be honest I can almost feel the dark creeping in around me, but having the garden and being able to plan for spring is a good thing. It keeps the good stuff alive and works as an everyday reminder that winter isn’t actually that long and there are all the good things to look forward to like thanksgiving at Mole end and Christmas and hey, when spring comes, things will burst to life in the garden, the birds will come back to the bird table and I’ll make Saison beer to celebrate.

It’s all good.