I’ve been enjoying the sunshine today, with temperatures up to 19°C it seems to have gone from winter to summer over the weekend.
I’ve been looking for wow moments, well I did used to work in early years. These are the moments of the year that I really get excited about, peas ready to go outside is one of them.
The first destruction of seedlings by slugs is not!
Cumin though, last week, nothing, I thought that I’d sown them too early. This week seedlings!
Ah, the crown imperials, always a key, and therefore wow moment for me. They appear with big buds bursting through the soil in early spring and today they were in flower. There are quite a few in this garden so they make a good display.
One of the main highlights at the moment is all the prunus blossom out in gardens, streets and hedgerows, it looked good last week but the sunshine and blue skies made it look amazing today and humming with bees too.
The other notable new flowers out are the daffodils, en masse in the orchard and by the swimming pond.
Other notable mentions looking good today, the anemones and Brunnera but prize for most spectacular, today, goes to the frothy blossom.
This year, I finally grew myself a cut flower patch, something I have wanted to have a go at for a while. It’s in one of the beds at my allotment garden.
It actually started in September 2019 with an offer of a hardy annual collection of seeds, suitable for autumn sowing, from Ben at Higgledy Garden .
I managed to direct sow all the seeds while the soil was still warm and they germinated quickly, some better than others.
So the seedlings overwintered, with a bit of weed hoeing in between, but not changing much until the weather got warmer. I laid the canes on the ground so that I would know where to expect the lines of seedlings to come up, and so I could tell if they didn’t!
At this point, I should have thinned out the rather crowded seedlings but it’s also the time of year when the rest of the veg patch and all my other gardens are springing into life. I was probably busy trying to prepare beds, sow seeds and control weeds, anyway, I didn’t get round to it before they were too big to transplant.
Fast forward to early June and we have flowers ready for picking! Lots of Nigella, Californian poppies and the wonderful smelling Phacelia. Also cornflowers and a few Calendula, pot marigolds.
By August the flowers are fading a bit but I am still picking cornflowers, marigolds and Nigella seedheads. The yellow are Anthemis, a perennial I added, and the greenery from around the plot. The pink is Godetia which turned out to be big sturdy plants. I also had lots of self seeded Verbena bonariensis which was useful.
October, and the dahlias are still going along with self sown marigolds and poppies which I cut back and have given a second flush. There has been lots of self seeding all over the bed, the neighbouring bed and the surrounding gravel.
Since then I have cut back and mulched the dahlias, hoping they survive the winter in the ground. I have transplanted as many seedlings as I can to various locations but also removed a lot where I don’t want them. I have also ordered another collection of hardy annual seeds!
On reflection, I have really enjoyed having flowers which I can pick without having to worry about leaving gaps in the border.
I have also liked having the space to grow annuals, it reminds me of the packets of mixed annuals that I used to grow as a child. It is quite magical the impact that a few tiny seeds can have in just one season of growth and I am planning to use more in my customer’s gardens, well I do have quite a few seeds now.
To have a longer flowering season in 2021, I have sown a few in my polytunnel to overwinter, mostly because I didn’t have enough space in the bed and I left it a bit late. I then intend to sow more successionally in the spring, and more thinly!
This is what I call my allotment, I have previously referred to it as the pub veg plot if you want to look back on previous year’s progress. I am still growing stuff for the pub although only for the pop-up shop and takeaway ready meals at the moment. I am also spending a bit of my own time there to grow things for me. My new, and favourite, project this year has been a cutting garden, which you can see here.
On the left hand side, I have six beds. Two are permanently planted with rhubarb and fruit trees (underplanted with wild garlic) and the others currently have squashes, potatoes, sweetcorn and brassicas, and my cut flowers. And lots of weeds!
Not sure how to caption now WordPress has changed but this is courgette and a giant pumpkin with lots of space to grow.
This is just another view, including the flowers. The nigella have finished but I am using the seedheads and the godetia is just coming out. The cornflowers have just gone on and on.
End of June bucket of flowers.
On the right hand side, another six beds, this time three with permanent planting. One with herbs, one with newly planted asparagus, established globe artichokes and gooseberry and blueberry bushes and one with strawberries. Considering how I neglected the strawberry bed, it is producing well, plants in their second year now.
In the other beds, I have given up on the broad beans, harvested a few and pulled up plants. The red flowered, spring sown ones never really thrived and covered in rust and black fly, it’s time to go. I have let last years leeks flower, just because I like them, and planted s new crop, sown earlier in the year.
Also on this side, some later sown salad leaves and spring onions. The peas have been picked and eaten, by us and the pigeons.
Autumn planted onion sets are almost ready to harvest, not very big because of the dry spring, after the wet beginning of the year, and a bit of a lack of time on my part, hence my ongoing weed battle. I have more courgettes and squashes dotted about, first courgette harvested this week.
July tasks will include weeding and getting to grips with the blog. I also have dahlias to add to the cutting patch. I have learnt a lot about growing flowers so I will try to put it all together in another post. I also have some more beans to squeeze in somewhere.
I can’t believe that it is the end of May already. I don’t know how other people fit in blogging with everything else going on in the garden, there’s still lots of sowing and pricking out to do but here is a quick look at, what has been a very dry May.
The lockdown has gradually been lifted and this weekend has seen lots of people making day trips. You can now visit RHS and National Trust gardens, if you book first. Meanwhile at work and home, the borders are filling up. The tulips have come and gone and the may blossom, hawthorn, has been spectacular.
It has been the month that the roses start performing, filling the gardens with their beautiful scents and lots of other flowers too, and it’s still exciting waiting to see what is coming out next, year after year.
Really enjoyed sniffing this lilac!
Mine is always the first peony, left, I am afraid that I don’t know the variety as it came with the garden. There are so many different peonies, from dark red to pure white and from simple flowers to really frothy blooms.
These white ones are just coming out at the end of May.
Now a bit of real gardening where things go wrong. When I worked at a garden centre, I used to warn people not to plant out bedding too early because there is always a chance of frost until the end of May. This year I didn’t listen to my own advice and we had several frosty nights during one week in mid May. The dahlias suffered and it also caught my beans and squashes in the poly tunnel. Mostly they have recovered but it has been a bit of a setback.
Apart from looking after the seeds and lots of watering, I seemed to have pulled forget-me-nots up in all of my gardens throughout the month. Here is a quick before and after. They come up easily so it’s quite a quick fix job.
Towards the end of the month, there are bean pods forming on the overwintered broad beans and the climbing French beans are beginning to climb. I have now planted out all the squashes and courgettes.
The lack of rain has meant flower petals, like this poppy, have lasted well and having the family at home during lockdown, and in the garden more seems to have improved the chances of the alliums which usually get eaten by rabbits. Here’s hoping the dahlias benefit too.
Just finishing off with this field of daisies in my village.
At home, dodging the hail showers, planted out my poor sweet peas they have been neglected and needed planting weeks ago. Sowed salad seeds in the raised bed and planted out the watercress.
Weekend 11th/12th May
Reached that point where everything has to be sown or it will be too late. Struggling with salad in the raised bed. Although early sowings are ready to pick, nothing else has come up. There was a lot of heavy rain last week and now it is supposed to be getting warmer so fingers crossed. Still those chilly nights though. Can’t get runner beans to germinate at all this year but have some French bean plants and more seeds sown. Lots of squashes and courgettes ready to go out soon.
Tuesday 21st May.
Last week we had cold nights and one frost but temperatures of 14°c and above in the day. Quite a lot of moving plants in and out of the poly tunnel went on. This week is more settled so plants are able to stay out but there is more watering now.
The garden exploded into bloom and I wowed at all the new flowers and all the butterflies.
Today I saw the first few blackfly on the broad beans so I pinched out all the tops. They are doing really well with beans forming now.
Moved a lot of the dahlias from the greenhouse into the beds making space for the tomato plants. Used very sturdy supports this year!
End of the month
It’s getting full on now with the Irises, peonies and poppies in bloom. Lupins in full flower ready for the first wedding of the season.
We had the first proper frost here in Suffolk this week and it took me by surprise Only the day before I was planting out some broad bean plants and taking cuttings from a rescued houseplant in my polytunnel. It’s one of those small ones by Gardman but it serves me well.
So, after scrolling through an instagram feed full of ‘first frost’ pictures I headed out myself to check on my poor, unsuspecting plants – and to take photos!
The sweet peas, which I had put out of the polytunnel, to harden off, ha ha, seemed to be fine and the cuttings inside were luckily in the propagator and also ok I think. They will need to be relocated to a windowsill very soon.
At my first garden, in the still open greenhouse plants still looking green. Sorrel seedlings, ✅, Salad leaves in the greenhouse bed, ✅.
The broad beans, which I planted in September also nice and perky.
What I am really hoping is that the caterpillars, which have decimated the cavalo for the second time this year, are not ok!
Some dahlias are still flowering.
Moving on to the borders, it seemed a good time to lift the dahlias and tuck them up for the winter. They are now all in the greenhouse beds where the tomatoes were. The greenhouse is on the side of a brick building and I think that this makes a difference in keeping the soil above freezing. The bricks heat up in the day time, even with a small amount of sunshine, and radiate it back at night like a storage heater. I also keep the soil completely dry. This has worked well the last few years although we haven’t had any prolonged cold weather for some years now.
Dahlias in their winter bed (I will cut them down).
This is really a bit of a luxury. At my next garden I dug up the tubers, cut them right back and put them in a large pot filled with old compost from empty summer pots. They are now in the shed although if it gets really cold, below zero for several days, I will move them to the garage. Obviously there were a lot less tubers just 3 plants.
My dahlias at home are mostly still outside and will have to take their chances until I have time to sort them out. I have a few more this year and am considering borrowing a bit of greenhouse space from the first customer.