Monthly Archives: June 2012

My blue wall seems to be orange and purple!

My little sister emailed me yesterday and pointed out I had not posted anything for a while. I realise this is true but there is a reason. Every time I sat down to write something all I could think about was the awful weather, nothing is growing and how the garden is being eaten alive by slugs.

I am one of life’s positive people – irritatingly so sometimes. My glass is always half full etc etc etc but when midsummer night came and we were sitting in the dark with the fire on – normally we would be sitting outside until after 11pm – even I found it too hard to think of something positive.

Since then, the temperature has risen to a level that is still below average for this time of year but slightly warmer than the record breaking coldest June on record levels experienced recently. And there has been the odd sunny spell. It is still very wet, that combination of heat and damp that conspires against straight, shiny hair (ladies, you’ll know what I mean), but that is why scrunchies were invented.

So last night when I got home I wandered round the garden looking for something positive to tell you all and, despite recent adverse conditions, there is some good news.

My experiment growing early carrots and peas inside the greenhouse has paid off and I now have lots of the sweetest petit pois and Autumn King and Purple Haze carrots to eat. The spinach and pak choi are also ready for eating.

The tomatoes, lettuce, rocket, basil, coriander, peppers and chillies are all making progress, the aubergines are in the bed in the greenhouse and I have flowers on my melons (ok how many of you are hearing Kenneth Williams saying “ooh matron!”).

Outside, the brassicas are happy and there is beetroot, fennel, beans, peas and mangetout. The strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants should be ready for picking soon and the potato bags have already been filled up to cover the shaws.

On the flower front, I have still not finished planting all my seedlings, but most of what I have planted has been eaten by slugs.  I have turned my focus to the winter flowering pansies and perennial flowers for next year which are all germinating nicely inside.

Finally, my biggest surprise came when the flowers on my blue wall started to come out. I dedicated a trellis and the border in front of it to be only blue flowers to see if I could create a wall of blue flowers. For the climbers I picked blue sweet peas and a variety of morning glory called Grandpa Otts – a lovely royal blue flower. In the border I have planted blue and white anemones, white cosmos, silver dust, salvia, catnip (not that there is much left after Dennis has eaten it) and, when they are a bit bigger, my lavender that I have grown from seed.

Well the monring glory flowers have started to come out. What colour would you say this is?

In my book this is purple!

However, at least purple is closer in the colour spectrum to blue than this anemone!

My blue and white anemones appear to be orange!!!!!

But after the season we’ve had so far I am just delighted to have any flowers.

Happy gardening!

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Tippety top tomatoes

I think if I could only ever grow one thing, without a doubt it would have to be tomatoes. One of my earliest memories is helping my grandad in his greenhouse and even now, the smell of a greenhouse full of tomatoes on a sunny day takes me back to when I was three years old.

Since then I have always associated gardening with growing tomatoes before anything else…plus I love them!

In the past I have tried growing different varieties with mixed success. Central Scotland doesn’t have the same climate as Naples so the San Marzanos that you see dripping off Italian balconies did not quite live up to expectations. So this year I decided not to be clever and stick with what I know works and tastes good – Sungold, Red Cherry and Moneymaker (my grandad’s favourite).

Having started early, sowing my seeds in February, I then lost all my plants to frost in April. I started again, gutted at having lost my 7 week head start and finally, last week, my boys were all ready to be planted in their final growing spot.

My boys are raring to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year Mr Mac made me some troughs which I used for growing tomatoes, melons and squashes. The mistake I made was putting weed membrane along the bottom to stop the compost falling through. I did not put in any drainage either and I don’t think my plants were very happy.

This year, I learned from my mistake and filled the troughs full of stones first for drainage then added a layer of our own compost and topped the troughs up with growbag compost.

The troughs were filled with stones and gravel for drainage

They were then filled with a layer of our own compost and topped up with growbag compost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I had to call on Mr Mac to do his special string trick! He thinks he saw Alan Titchmarsh doing this on tv but is not sure. It definitely works though. He runs wire along the roof of the greenhouse. Then he measures a length of string long enough to reach from the wire, down and underneath the rootball of the tomato plant, then back up to the wire. He then plants the tomato with the string underneath the roots and then ties both lengths of string to the wire. It should not be too tight but the tension can always be adjusted by untying the string on the wire and loosening or tightening as required.

The string is under the roots of the tomato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This means as the tomato grows you can wrap it round the string and this provides all the support it will need.

All happy in their new home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I planted some French marigolds and basil in between the tomatoes to deter whitefly!

And then I had a little surprise when I went to plant some basil…

A little tomato plant is growing in the basil!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I checked my book and last year I planted the tomatoes on 25 April. This year it was 8 June! Now all we need is some sunshine although a friend told me that lining the greenhouse with foil or mirrors can increase the light to help them grow….I would prefer sunshine though so fingers crossed.

What a difference a day makes……

What a difference a day makes                                                                                                       Twenty-four little hours                                                                                                                     Brought the sun and the flowers                                                                                                    Where there used to be rain.*                                                                                                                                                                                                            

So sang Dinah Washington, The Temptations, Jamie Cullum, Tony Bennett and all day yesterday, me!

Yes the sun was shining and I embarked on my flower planting marathon which will continue all weekend and probably well into next week. I am keeping a note of how many of each flower I am planting and I think you will all be truly impressed!

However, the reason I am blogging about a day making a difference is that my Jekyll and Hyde personalities (ie my legal brain and my common sense brain) have been wrestling with each other this week about, would you believe, the timing of sowing seeds.

I was passing the garden centre on Wednesday (30 May) and popped in to check there was nothing else I could grow this summer and also to pick up some winter flowering pansy seeds which I read should be sown around now.

I have been reading lots of other gardening blogs and recently many people were talking about harvesting purple sprouting broccoli which had been over-wintered. I thought I would give it a try and looked for the seeds. There were lots to choose from but when reading the instructions a common theme was developing… “sow April to May”. That only left me one more day!

You see this is where my mental tussle began. To my legal brain, used to 20 years of sticking to time limits and deadlines, I only had until midnight on 31 May to sow these seeds.

Thursday 31 May dawned.  It was so wet, even the slugs had umbrellas. I checked the weather forecast. It was due to dry up around 4pm. Perfect, still plenty of time. 4pm came and went and it was still torrential, getting even heavier.  The fire, the lights and the television went on. I kept wandering over to the window and gazing out. No change.

Eventually, Mr Mac asked what was wrong with me. I told him I only had until midnight to sow my purple sprouting broccoli seeds. As soon as the words were out of my mouth I realised how totally stupid they sounded. My legal brain had clocked off for the evening and common sense brain was on the backshift – they just hadn’t told me.

Anyway, I can’t publish Mr Mac’s response but it was along the lines of “don’t be so silly, darling, one more day won’t make a difference”. This is from the man who believes sell by dates are a conspiracy and is often heard muttering at an open fridge, “it says ‘best before’, not ‘will kill you’ after”.

So yesterday, Friday 1 June was a beautiful sunny day and guess what? I still didn’t sow my purple sprouting broccoli seeds. I was so busy trying to catch up with flower planting I did not get round to it. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? (That’s the Irish side of my family!).

Then this morning my copy of Amateur Gardening magazine arrived and I eagerly ripped it open to see what free seeds were included (schizanthus, in case you’re interested) and what I should be doing this week. I turned to page 40 to read all about the free seeds and was horrified to read the following:

“Plants from a March sowing can be in flower as early as late May, but, of course, we’re into June now and we’ve missed the sowing deadline for summer flowers this year”.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*Lyrics by Stanley Adams; Maria Grever