Garden Update – 27 July

This week LIFE outside my walls led me astray and ruined my rhythm. As for work in the garden, that has luckily continued even if I showed no signs of it on the blog.

ippThe roses I transplanted are doing fine. No sign of expiration on any of them and this one seems to be going about it’s business as if nothing happened.

I’ve stopped taking the seedlings in at night, I forgot one evening and they seemed entirely unchanged in the morning so I gave it up. In fact they seem to not have changed for the whole of this past month, except for one pansy seedling which has put out a third leaf. Since only 20 of the pansies germinated this seems like a meagre victory. It is NOT worth planting seeds out of season. I am quite sure I will feel differently when they finally start growing and bloom.

As for the compost heaps, they are going well. The first I’ve stopped turning. I’ll probably turn it
again in a few days and then leave it for the next month. The second is still being turned every second day. They are both quite dry, like everything else, so I’m adding water. Turning, I’m happy to say, get’s easier.

ipp I’ve pruned all of the hybrid teas and taken cuttings. I’ve put them into pots filled with a mix of coir, grit and germinating mix and covered them with coke bottle cloches. Some of the ones I took a few weeks ago are definitely showing signs of growth.

I’ve dug up some of my shrubs that have been almost completely destroyed by frost, put them in pots and are keeping them under frost blanket. I should have done it earlier, honestly didn’t realise how frost tender they’d be. I would probably have left them alone to see if they’d survive the winter if I wasn’t planning to redo the whole bed.

ippMy rose geraniums and lavender ‘Margaret Roberts’ (my absolute favourite lavender) cuttings have rooted. I transplanted them into pots this morning. These are the first (non succulent) cuttings I’ve successfully rooted other than a rosemary I did once pretty much by accident so that doesn’t count and a lavender that died just after It started putting on new growth. It was a particularly nice grey leafed one and I’m still a little miffed about it.
ippOn another happy note, I don’t thing I’ve ever seen my lavender such a vibrant deep purple. And this lavender arrangement I did three weeks ago still looks fantastic.

Garden Update!

This week has been freezing!!! It’s hard to think positively about the garden when it’s so cold, so mostly I’ve been stuffing myself full of gardening videos on youtube which is fantastic, but also a little nerdy, so double fantastic!!!

This series is GREAT!!

As is this one

And there are millions more. Being an anglophile I only watched the British ones which just makes me REALLY want to be planting an English wildflower meadow in summer RIGHT NOW.

It’s not all bad though. The compost is going great! I’ve turned it twice, on the 5th day and then the 3rd day after, because I didn’t get around to it on the days I was supposed to.  It was very hot, I don’t have a thermometre but I think it was too hot because there were signs of fire blight; probably because I didn’t turn it on time. Now that it’s better mixed hopefully that won’t happen again. The turning is hard work, just as I thought it would be, but it probably only takes me half an hour and it’s a good job for a cold morning. Have to remember to wear gloves though, the first time I did it I got blisters. 😦

I’ve started a second one, just a pile in the veg garden. I think it will be easier to turn because I’ll just knock it down and pile it up again. As we’ve got plenty of space at the moment this seems like a good idea.

We’ve enlarged the beds in the top garden ready to put in the fruit trees, I’m just waiting for my mycorrhizial fungi to arrive in the post, I thought it had arrived on Friday because I saw a parcel note sticking out the post box. I got so excited that I reversed into the bins. It was pretty awkward as someone was driving past and saw me and it turned out to be a parcel for my sister. :/

This morning I pricked out my cauliflower and broccoli seedlings. I sowed them into a six plug tray but there were quite a few in each so I transplanted some into more trays. That is more than I need so hopefully I can give some away for Mandela Day. The theme for Mandela Day this year is food security and literacy. Two of the things I’m most passionate about.

I also spent the afternoon planning my Rose Garden, (spoiler – not really a rose garden) so tomorrow I’ll be putting up the first of my garden plans. 🙂

The Great Compost Experiment!

ippWe all know the most important aspect of any garden is the soil. Mine is dreadful; stoney, sandy and nutrient poor. Organic and permaculture principles tell us to feed the soil not the plant. If I’m going to turn my garden around the first thing I need is compost.

Good compost is pretty expensive, roughly R400 to R600 a cubic metre ippdepending on how much you buy. This is very good value for what it does, there’s no point in buying a beautiful rose for R100 and putting it into poor soil, (I have done this and speak from experience) but I’m going to need a shitload (haha see what I did there) so I’ve got to make it. Previous experience is restricted to cold composting, piling everything up and leaving it for months and months and months. If I want compost fast I need to make hot compost. I found some great posts, here and here, on how to do it in under a month.

ippThere is a stable down the road which gives away manure to whoever will take it. They leave it ready packed into old feedbags and only ask that you return the bags. I can fit about seven in my little ford fiesta
We cleared out an old compost heap resulting in five massive bags of mulch (and another hand trowel) and built our new one. I’m not entirely sure about the ratios, so we’ll see how long it takes. Hopefully in a months time I’ll be able to tell you all about my fantastic compost.

Compost

ipp

I’m sure other gardeners out there must also find that if you lose something you’re sure to find it when you’re sifting the compost. In the past I’ve found a veg peeler, a pair of secateurs and yesterday a small garden fork.

We’ve been digging out compost heaps to improve our poor sandy soil and also so I can make a new home for my chickens. I think this will be house number 5 but they get better with each try.

ipp  ipp  ipp

ippI’ve also planted out more garlic, I think i must have about a hundred garlic plants but you can never have too much right. Peas are just coming up, so exciting as well as broccoli, cauliflower, red onions and red lettuce that i planted into trays.

The expected frost came with a vengeance, 4mm thick ice on the water bowls, so I’m putting the seedling trays to bed at night and bringing them into the sun every morning.