LL's Gardening Diary

Members adventures in the Vegetable Patch all year round
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sandy
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

Post by sandy »

So glad you are better now LL x
The Pink Ladies..Audrey,Ingrid-Bergman,Georgia,Madeleline,Norma-Jean,Dora & Janice
The Peds…Suranne,Jennifer,Nancy,
Vorky ,Blueped,Ginger,Ninger &Linky

Sunny Clucker was ere July 12-21 2012
Sunny Clucker was ere July 6 2016 to Sept 9th 2017
Sunny Clucker is here , rehomed Aug 18th 2018/
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

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I think it's pretty obvious that I had more or less abandoned the garden last year for one reason (unable to get compost in spring) or other (mainly the pressures of homeworking) and 2021 doesn't seem to be starting off any better so I'm not feeling particularly enthusiastic as I normally would be at this time of year. I've not even ordered my seed potatoes or taken an interest in any seed catalogues.

I have however, still been reading up on climate change issues especially with the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from 1 to 12 November 2021 under the presidency of the United Kingdom. So I'm going to at least get back into the composting and algae projects this year, and when it stops raining, snowing or blowing a storm, top up my "brash" pile with another hedge and tree trim which got missed last year. I'm determined this year that there will be a big wildflower seed sowing event in spring, and hopefully I'll also get to plant the comfrey and asparagus grown in big pots on the patio this past year out into the garden.

I know the algae project on the scale I do it is so small, it would barely be a speck compared to the CO2 problem but I hope to expand on it. And with that in mind, I started looking out for the algae culture I got back in 2019 and to my amazement, found the supplier I used before on ebay. I ordered a 250ml culture of Chlorella vulgaris (single celled algae) yesterday with expected delivery on Monday to find it had being delivered today! I can store it in the fridge for about a month so that should give me time to gather what I need to start up fresh cultures in readiness for seeding various tanks. The biggest limiting factor at the moment will be the temperature - they really need summer temperatures along with good light to thrive, both of which seem lacking at the moment.

I have lots of ideas about the revised "algae farming" but before I get carried away as usual and then failing miserably, I'll just post as and when (if) things get done and see how it goes ...
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

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With the Beast from the East 2 on the way, not a lot going on in the garden. I was a bit concerned that the algae I had bought would not survive so I have already started to spread some of it into partially filled 2L bottles of water and left them on the window sill. I'm not expecting any growth as the day temperature is well below optimum but when we have had some sun, it has been cosy in the window.

As my plans to be more "climate friendly" include no fertilizer (not that any were used in the garden), I do have a surplus from the allotment days. Most will likely be used for the potted plants only but I have been considering the algae project. To cut a long story short, algae, like all plants, need access to essential minerals for growth. The 2019 Algae project started off with some experiments to show growth using various sources of nitrogen - compost tea and urine showed exceptionally good growth and later, all other fertilizers except iron sulphate. I suspected the iron sulphate was too acidic but I still feel iron is worth investigating so I've set up an alternate experiment.

The problem with using urine and compost tea is the introduction of bacteria so this time round, I've kept to fertilizers. As well as Growmore, I used Phostrogen (all purpose fertilizer), dried blood (excellent nitrogen source and contains ... iron) and a liquid feed that was given to me for hydroponic growing along with plain tap water. The liquid feed contained a small amount of copper - I suspect this is to keep mould down but wasn't sure how it would affect the algae hence, part of the experiment. That's providing the algae survives until the weather is warmer and sunnier. I noticed the experiment / coffee jar results in 2019 were in June so only 4 months to wait ...
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lancashire lass
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Algae 2 update and buying Seed

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The "Beast from the East 2" was as bad as it was forecast - rooms in the house not heated got as cold as the winter of 2010/2011 and it got uncomfortably frigid even in the heated rooms. Thankfully the change from freezing easterly winds were replaced by southerly winds and temperatures have climbed to about 10oC give or take a couple of degrees either way, with even warmer temperatures forecast next week. My first concern was the fish pond - at times I couldn't hear the water from the biofilter and had visions of a giant ice cube and dead fish floating, but when I finally ventured out to find out what the damage was, not only was everything okay but I also found duckweed (which should have all died off in winter) was still on the pond surface. With damage to one of the pond walls, I had kept the water level much lower than in the past - my first thought that the reduced volume of water would not retain much heat but I suspect the lower level was better protected from the sub zero temperature under the plastic sheeting.

And the low temperatures had an impact on my algae project - I'd left the bottles on the windowsill for maximum light from the south side, but was also the coldest. However, when there was some sunshine, the temperature on the windowsill was much warmer than expected. For the moment, not a lot of growth as I would expect but there is a slight cloudiness in the water suggesting something is growing. The delivery instructions for the algae indicated it could be stored in the fridge for up to a month so the remaining culture should ideally be used up sooner rather than later that is on my to do list.

After last year's disastrous gardening due to the Covid lock down (unable to get fresh compost and working longer hours from home, meaning having to do a lot more than I would normally have to do at work just to prove I was doing something), I wasn't feeling particularly enthusiastic about gardening 2021. A bit of warmer temperatures and a hint of spring to come, I confess that I started to look at seed catalogues. I was pleased with the Bunny Tail grass last year and decided to add a couple more ornamental grasses to the shopping basket - Blue Festuca glauca and Ornamental Grass Squirrel aka Foxtail / Mouse barley I also got a packet of Coleus mix to add a bit of colour. And then some flower seeds - my sunflower last year were surviving in tiny pots but didn't amount to much which was to be expected but this year I thought I'd go for a dwarf variety which I've grown before - Teddy Bear is much shorter, bushier and has multiple flowers. Also Polyanthus Crown Exhibition Strain mix (which will probably not flower until next spring) and Masterpiece Rococo pansy mix (they look like ordinary pansies but have frilly petal edges) I still have plenty of other dahlia and various wildflower seed which I am keen to sow this year so ... roll on spring.
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lancashire lass
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Saturday 27th February 2021

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Well, my 2021 growing season "starts" from today :-D Despite the spring-like feel to the weather (mild and sunny) I know it is way too early to start sowing in earnest but some things can be started off, and I also need to give the garden a bit of a trim and spring clean before everything bursts into growth. This morning I set off to the local garden centre and made a couple of purchases - top of the list was compost!

I was at the garden centre soon after the doors opened at 9.00 am hoping to avoid the inevitable crowds ... it seems however, I wasn't the only one to have the same idea. The garden centre is quite massive with an indoor shop with a huge floor space for just about anything related to gardening, as well as an expanded aquarium and pond specialist (it's where I bought the first batch of goldfish for my pond back in 2017 which is the last time I was at the shop) and a large outdoor space for all the trees, plants, garden furniture (including ornaments), sheds and pond liners and of course, compost, gravel, you name it. Navigating through the shop took some doing as the aisles had been rearranged to make it more Covid secure but I must have wandered about half a mile (well, it felt like it) before I finally exited the rear part of the shop to get to the compost. Even then, more navigating through the covered section where tables of spring flowering plants were for sale - crafty sales ploy, I found myself looking at them.

I got 3x 50L bags of compost for £12 and then faced another route back into the shop (a sort of one-way system where you entered the shop through one door and out the rear end before re-entering the shop through a different door and exiting the shop from a separate door - sound complicated? Try pushing a heavy trolley at the same time as wondering how to get out. Naturally I found myself pausing at the spring flowering tables again and finally decided 5x flowering primroses for under £5 was within my budget (considering I thought the compost was going to be a lot more expensive than it was) By the time I got back to the car, the car park was rapidly filling when I suddenly realised I had parked in a disabled spot (not intentionally as the road markings and bay lines were barely visible) and decided to make a quick exit!

Task today - to rescue the containers by the front door. The Pink Jasmine didn't get pruned last year and it had 6 foot or more lengths - some on the floor that had managed to root itself between the house and concrete driveway, the others swinging at waist height like triffids by the porch entrance which probably looked a bit sinister to anyone posting stuff through the letter flap. I found the secateurs and trimmed the stems right back to 8 inch lengths. Sadly, the 2 fuchsias in the same pot were dead, probably crowded out by the jasmine and neglect during the summer last year, so out they came. To finish, I put a layer of fresh compost on top.

Next, the lavender container. The lavender was not happy last year and one half looked like it had some sort of blight (leaves had shrivelled dry and fell off the stems on one side of the bush while the other side was green) By winter, the whole plant had died. The soil in this pot was free draining so root rot didn't seem to be the problem although I did wonder if there were root weevil larvae. After lifting up, I checked the roots but they looked fine but for good measure, I removed as much of the old compost and refilled the tub with fresh. Along with the 5 new primroses, I also planted a pot of hyacinth that I had left outside last year (started off as 3 bulbs when I got them as a Christmas present a couple of years ago, but looks like there may be more now) and ... 8 tulip bulbs that did not get planted last year :oops: The bulbs looked and felt solid and had about 1/2 inch shoot on top - I bet they will quickly grow and should (fingers crossed) flower this year. They were part of a belated 60th birthday present from a colleague so I really hope they do okay.

The rest of the compost is indoors now so that they can warm up before I make a start on sowing seeds (the bags were frozen solid after the overnight frost) which I hope to do in the next week while daytime temperatures are fairly mild (when it is sunny in the morning, the back bedroom where I have a pasting board set up by the window gets lovely and warm)

Talking about mild weather - the pond fish are feeding again. I topped up the water level last weekend and as I directed the hose over the pond wall, the water was not as cold as I would have expected. And the fish were swimming around so I gave them a few flakes of food and they ate the lot. The next day as I peeked under the plastic sheet, some fish (including Big Bertha, the Shubunkin goldfish) were waiting in anticipation.

Meanwhile I have been drawing up a "to do" list for the garden - mainly trimming (all the aquatic/bog plants) and then moving on to planting (especially the asparagus, comfrey and foxglove still in pots) The Sempervivum Houseleeks from seed sown last year survived the winter and will need a new home. The algae on the windowsill do appear to be multiplying - a couple of bottles seem more cloudier than before but some of the experiments (with the different fertilizers) are not doing much but still early days. Lots to do - and so it begins ...
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sandy
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

Post by sandy »

Just catching up on your diary, as always so imformative )t'
The Pink Ladies..Audrey,Ingrid-Bergman,Georgia,Madeleline,Norma-Jean,Dora & Janice
The Peds…Suranne,Jennifer,Nancy,
Vorky ,Blueped,Ginger,Ninger &Linky

Sunny Clucker was ere July 12-21 2012
Sunny Clucker was ere July 6 2016 to Sept 9th 2017
Sunny Clucker is here , rehomed Aug 18th 2018/
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lancashire lass
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Onions, garlic & potatoes 2021

Post by lancashire lass »

I wasn't going to bother growing veg this year and was just going to concentrate on flowers and the algae project no. 2 but I was tempted by the free p&p :oops: ... I restrained myself and kept to the basics of onions, garlic & potatoes when ordering online. I've never grown a spring planted garlic variety before so it should be interesting. The supplier only had the variety Flavor available (a softneck type) - I recall someone once said it did well so fingers crossed for a good yield. I'm thinking of popping the cloves inbetween the flowers in the fruit tree bed which gets good sunlight levels.

Potatoes - usually I go for second earlies such as Vivaldi but have decided to try Abbot which is an extra early variety (good for chips and baked potatoes) As my garden can get very shady when all the trees are in full leaf by summer, I thought an early maturing variety might do better. We'll see >fi<

As for the onion sets Corrado F1 ... I am starting to regret putting these in the shopping basket as onions really do need a good sunny spot. Unlike the garlic grown in the fruit tree bed, onions do better when the ground is cleared of weeds and anything that might compete for light, water and nutrients. Oh well, I'm sure I'll find somewhere suitable.
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lancashire lass
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Pond maintenance + tidying up

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During the stormy weather last week, the plastic sheeting over the pond was lifted up and tossed about under the netting pinned over which normally holds the sheets in place. The wind was so wild that it was too dangerous to go outside to try and sort the sheets out until the direction had shifted from the back of the house. Inbetween the heavy rain and hail showers, I eventually ventured outside and put the sheets back but was aware that the pump wasn't working and the water had stopped pouring out of the biofilter overflow. It was late and I was tired so I turned off the electricity with intentions of sorting it out later.

Yesterday I decided to take a well-earned break from homeworking and popped outside - it felt surprisingly warmer outdoors than inside the house. I lifted the pump out of the pond and found the problem ... great wads of blanket weeds had clogged the grille yike* I couldn't believe it at first but I had also noticed that there was enough duck weed covering about a third of the pond surface suggesting the water has been warm enough to allow the plants to still thrive during winter. It hasn't felt like a mild winter but I do wonder if the lower water level had kept the worst of the cold weather from affecting the temperature in the pond. My priority was to get the pump up and running again but I will have to start up the pond maintenance much earlier than expected including the blanket weed treatment as soon as possible.

Next task was to trim back all the dead leaves from the pond plants and reeds in the troughs and planter on the patio. I was a bit concerned that the earlier freezing weather had killed off the plants especially those still in pots, but I could see new growth pushing through the litter. Definitely a good sign that spring is well on the way ... and perhaps a reminder that I really need to venture down into the garden to tidy up the beds and start sowing some seeds! The crocuses in the trough planters on the patio are almost coming to the end of their flowering but surprisingly, the daffodils are a mix batch. In one trough, I can see flower heads poking up above 15 inch leaves but hardly any growth in the other troughs, most of which are barely 5 inches high - the hyacinths on the other hand are doing so much better. Strange. Meanwhile, as I looked down into the garden (and mentally sighing at the tasks still to do), I could see splashes of yellow colour from the daffodils in the fruit tree bed. What a lovely sight. And another reminder that I need to spend more time outside and make a serious start on the garden.
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Mo
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

Post by Mo »

Yes, Spring has taken me by surprise too. Get out and enjoy it, the hard work but the Standing and Staring too. Does your home-working let you choose your own time or must you be at your desk for most of the daylight hours?
Dance caller. http://mo-dance-caller.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-i-do.html
Sunny Clucker enjoyed Folk music and song in mid-Cheshire
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lancashire lass
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I got a delivery :)

Post by lancashire lass »

Mo wrote: 17 Mar 2021, 10:03 Does your home-working let you choose your own time or must you be at your desk for most of the daylight hours?
A bit of both - I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet targets to show I AM working but generally my line manager is happy for those working from home to fit round home life (especially for parents had children at home during the lockdowns and were home schooling) I am a morning person so I tend to start much earlier than expected (no need to dress up to go to work or commute) with intentions of finishing earlier ... only I tend to be too tired and stiff and sore to want to do anything afterwards. I do however, need to attend to meetings online which are of course, during normal working hours.

My garlic, potatoes and onion sets arrived this morning )c( This afternoon I'm going to put my thinking cap on about where to plant everything - I've been mulling over a couple of ideas so would like to make a start on them.
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lancashire lass
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Algae 2 update

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lancashire lass wrote: 20 Feb 2021, 17:57 And the low temperatures had an impact on my algae project - I'd left the bottles on the windowsill for maximum light from the south side, but was also the coldest. However, when there was some sunshine, the temperature on the windowsill was much warmer than expected. For the moment, not a lot of growth as I would expect but there is a slight cloudiness in the water suggesting something is growing. The delivery instructions for the algae indicated it could be stored in the fridge for up to a month so the remaining culture should ideally be used up sooner rather than later that is on my to do list.
I eventually made up 7 bottles (2L pop bottles) of culture - 4 in just plain tap water, one with a pinch of Phostrogen (all purpose fertilizer which contains trace elements for healthy plant growth), one with a pinch of dried bloodmeal (high in nitrogen which encourages growth in plants. Also contains some iron which I think might be key to growth of algae) And one bottle containing a liquid feed for a hydroponics system (it was given to me by a colleague at work which was used as a control against a new type of fertilizer they had manufactured) I noticed this liquid feed had a blue colouration suggesting it contained copper which is a good for preventing moulds especially when you considered hydroponics are likely to make conditions damp.

The results - all the tap water cultures were the first to start greening up. I found this a little surprising but left the bottles on the windowsill. At the end of March when temperatures shot up to 20oC+, the bottles of water warmed up and what a transformation. All but one showed good growth - the liquid feed with the copper is clearly an algaecide (but I wouldn't recommend using it in say ponds to control unwanted algae and blanket weed, as it is also toxic to aquatic environments) The best result was the dried blood experiment - despite being much slower to start growing after being seeded with algae, it was the greenest of all the cultures. Definitely the winner - makes sense really that a nitrogen feed greens up plants and encourages growth that it should do the same for algae (and looking at leaching of fertilizers from farm fields into water courses causes algal blooms) The Phostrogen sample was another that was slow to grow until the weather got warmer - it too produced good strong green growth but not as good as the dried blood. As dried blood is a natural by-product rather than manufactured, I think it is the better one to use (particularly as the algae project is about capturing CO2 from air which will then be watered into the soil to increase soil carbon)

I will continue to keep seeding more bottles ready for later in the year when the weather outside will be warmer and then use them in the new project.
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