I am not a patient gardener although I think gardening can teach us patience. If things don’t happen quickly enough I tend to lose focus and get on with something else. It’s a trait I inherited from my mother for whom the rice could never cook quickly enough. My childhood was filled with the smell of burning rice while my mother wandered back to her studio.
After the initial excitement of seedlings comming up, appearing like magic through the soil and putting out their first leaves, now is the boring bit of waiting, waiting, waiting and in the mean time watering. It would be fine if we didn’t need to water and tend, if we could come back in 3 months and pick all the vegetables. Unfortunately most garden jobs and plants, require constance and I try to be the gardener they need. I still harbour a special affection for the plants that do it without me. The annuals that reseed themselves, the bulbs that come back every spring even though I’d forgotten they were there, I feel like those plants really get me.
Last Christmas I lifted and divided a clump of spider lily bulbs. Of course I accidentally stuck my fork through a couple so I decided to use them to propagate. Reading the instructions in my RHS guide it promised that
in a year I would have new little bulbs. And I thought ‘goodess a year is a long way off.’ SInce the bulbs were damaged there was nothing else i could do with them so I chopped them up and sealed them in a bag of vermiculite.
As the saying goes ‘don’t put off a goal because of the time it will take to complete it. The time will pass anyway’. And so it has.
Today I pulled out the bag and planted each little spider-lily plant with it’s own furry roots and smooth shoot. I have twenty plants in large yoghut pots and grow bags. No doubt it will be another year before they grow up and flower but the time will pass with or without my plants so I may as well use it.
Last year was disastrous in terms of vegetable seed sowing. I managed to raise a couple of courgette plants a few french beans and four cucumbers which shriveled up and died. I think my grand total harvest was three beans and a courgette. The problem was a combination of my method and my dedication. Everything just got lost in the dust and I lost heart. I should have waited for the rains to plant them out because my enthusiasm couldn’t sustain watering them daily so most of them had died by the time the rains came. Those that hadn’t were sufficiently weakened to be suffocated by the forest of weeds which then sprung up.
This year everything is different. Although it’s slow progress I am getting things done and I’m determined to stick to my resolutions.
I have been planting the seedlings in my paper pots. It’s such a simple way of doing it, as they’ll just degrade into the soil when I plant them. I have even planted some carrots in them as the ones I sowed straight into the beds got eaten by chickens. These were sown on August 22, I even labeled them, so far the peas and carrots have come up as well as the pumpkin seeds I saved from one I bought at the Bryanston Organic Market. The only downside is they don’t stand up so well to an excited puppy stepping on them.
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.
The 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.
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.
My 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.
On 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.
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. 🙂
It’s always exciting to see seedlings come up. Especially if you feel a bit guilty for sowing them late (well when exactly does autumn end anyway) and are not entirely certain it will work. Despite the late sowing and sudden drop in temperatures my foxgloves have appeared as sprinklings of green in the plugs. So have the snapdragons which I’ll be planting out for cut flowers. I’m a little miffed to say there is no sign of the pansies which I wasn’t even worried about.
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.
I’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.