Members adventures in the Vegetable Patch all year round
We've had no rain for several weeks now and although the garden is tolerating it, the potted plants are needing regular watering. I have up until now just been using the water from the pond filter box but this is no longer enough. As I'm often awake very early in the morning (more out of habit but also Lucas the cat likes to wake me up far earlier than I'd like), my first task was to drench all the potted plants on the patio. With all the dahlia tubers, asparagus and comfrey planted in pots and the spring bulbs in trough planters, it took several visits with the watering can. The dahlias are just starting to push shoots up and quite exciting to see although I'm keeping an eye on weather forecasts with fingers crossed that we don't have a frost. Still no sign of the asparagus yet but the established comfrey are now well over a foot high and really taking off. I will need to plant them out soon but still need to find a home for them - they need a sunny location and preferably near to the compost bin as the leaves will be used to add nutrients as they break down.
In the glass greenhouse, some seeds are starting to germinate - I'm happy to see both the pom pom and cactus hybrid dahlias are germinating as are the Bunny tail grass, borage and pot marigold. Even the sempervivum (house leeks) are germinating which is quite exciting - the seed was like dust and I was a bit dubious they would grow but there are distinctive signs as little green specks on the soil surface. I was sure the Yellow Flag Iris and English bluebell were also germinating but it's difficult to see. However, I think I may have killed the Busy Lizzie and Foxglove seeds - I should have watered the seed trays on Friday morning but I had got caught up with work (I was trying to finish off a task on the computer before an online meeting) and when I finally remembered by evening, the tray was bone dry. I also think that maybe they may have preferred to have been in a cooler area and not in direct sunshine in the greenhouse as it can get hot in there. For the moment I'm just assuming they are being slow to germinate but I made sure the trays were well watered and fingers crossed.
I also drenched the potted wildflowers I had dug up from the prospective asparagus bed. The little blue flowered one seemed to be struggling and when I watered the pot, the water would just run out. That shouldn't surprise me as I just shoved the clod into the pot and likely to have big gaps in the soil. Ideally I should plant it in the garden somewhere but the question as usual is "where"? I think it is a type of Forget me Not but doesn't have the characteristic blue petals and yellow centre. Meanwhile I think I've identified the others as a form of daisy - the leaves resemble the Shasta daisy.
Finally I topped up the bird bath which needed cleaning first. Considering I'm topping up every 2-3 days, there was hardly any water in the bath. It is well visited by birds possibly due to the long period of no rain. I often see them having a bath and then flying on to the winter jasmine trellis to have a preen. One final task before breakfast was to clear out both pumps in the pond of all the blanket weed and other gunk trapped in the grilles. The smaller pump was the worst as a lot had got inside the pump and the little propellor had stopped working. As I cleared the grilles, I realized that it wasn't just blanket weed but also duckweed roots - clearly the pond fish have started to feast on the duckweed now that the blanket weed that was floating has been cleared making it easier to access the tender leaves of the duckweed (another reason for keeping duckweed as it is free food for the fish)
My main task of the day was to make a start on the patio pond planter. It looked untidy and along with germinating grass and ash tree seeds, was more like a rescue. The Fibre Optic plant in particular looked scruffy and difficult to rescue so I decided to dig it out. It was a tightly packed mass and I could see some green growth already had the characteristic flower tips so I couldn't give it a short back and sides trim as in the past. So I decided to split it into smaller clumps and ended up with several pots. I also decided to lift up the iris and the dwarf sweet flag - neither had done well since they were planted so I decided to pot them up in a mix of pond soil and compost. I split the sweet flag into several pots - I found it interesting how the mass of moss and liverwort was trapped in the leaves and as they grew, it lifted the moss mass up like a dinner plate. As I'm trying to "grow" moss as part of another project, I have kept them and for now just dumped them in the tray that I use to contain overflow water from the pond filter box to deal with later.
The Carex muskingumensis (Palm sedge) I bought in 2018 was also sending up new growth but leaving a dead mass in the centre. It's a pretty plant that gives the planter height and appears bushy so again, decided to split this as well. After clearing the first crate, I emptied out the pebbles so that I could put the pots in and cover over. I decided to put one of the Cyperus alternifolius plants (bought August last year and I split it) in place of the Palm Sedge with both the established flag iris and the new variegated leaf iris I also bought last year along with a Imperata cylindrica (Red Baron) reed and Orange Peel plant and one each of the repotted sweet flag and Fibre Optic. It looks a little raw at the moment but it is only spring and I'm sure they'll recover.
Then I started on the other end of the planter where the Dutch rush looked a bit tatty. As a tall plant, it does get battered by wind and I never planted it properly so I decided to split it into 2 lots and into pots. Despite not being planted properly when I got it, it had a mass of roots that filled half of the crate and took some doing to get it out. I decided to put both pots back in the same crate but had to remove the Red Stemmed Parrots Feather which had spread out and was choking the surface. I also planted a
Carex pseudocyperus (Cyperus Sedge) and the Water Forget me Not (in flower) from last year's purchases and a smaller contained Red Stemmed Parrots Feather. I have to say this crate looked a lot more "established" than the first crate and quite pretty with the blue flowers.
I decided to leave the middle crate as I have simply run out of compost, but also the Japanese dwarf bulrush and the Corkscrew rush had spread out and filled the entire crate, growing amongst each other so not so easy to split. I would like to do it as I still have other pond plants that I want to put into there. Meanwhile I had been giving all the pots and crates a drenching and good soak in water that I had taken out of the pond (rather than use tap water) So to end the day, I topped up the pond water which was a good couple of inches lower than I would like with tap water.
So overall, not a bad day's gardening even if it was only dealing with the pond. I still need to plant the potatoes (!) but as I still haven't sorted out the raised beds in the other polytunnel (as I learned last year), I have been wondering whether to plant the seed potatoes into big pots. I still have the pots from last year's garlic filled with compost so I might plant a potato in each and then if and when the raised beds are sorted, can then plant them out so there will be no delay in their growth. The pots are quite big so there'll be plenty of room for roots to grow ... they might even be big enough for the potatoes to develop but rather than risk it, I think it better to plant out.
I had some seed potatoes last year and no-where ready for them and pot them in a really big pot. Ants nested in it and chewed through the shoots.
Do you want some of mine?!
Or mine. Seem to have a lot on the drive which I don't think we used to have (unless Jim cleared it regularly which I can't remember).
What will you do with it.
I can just imagine the donations being sent in bulk
I have taken a keen interest in different moss types - there's literally 1000s of different species not just the typical sphagnum that people are familiar with. You can make mini terrarium gardens with them or think of a Japanese moss garden, moss round the base of bonsai trees or hanging wall frames. What I would like to do (if and when) the wildlife pond is finished is to try and encourage moss to grow especially over rocks and wood - this will not only make it look more natural but hopefully encourage wildlife like frogs to the pond. For example something like this
Anyway, when I've seen something of interest, I have casually been gathering some samples. Some piccies of acquisitions and some close up photos with the macro lens:
This is the clump I lifted up off the dwarf variegated sweet flag (you can just about see the leaves on the upper left hand side):
Well, fourteen out of the fifteen dahlia tubers I planted have all started to grow and are between about 5-8 inches tall but the cold spell of weather and forecast of frost is something I really could do without.
The asparagus planted about the same time on the other hand are a no-show which is very surprising as the crowns were healthy when planted. We have had some moderately warm weather since then so I would have expected something to be pushing up by now. I know they can come up later than most other crops so I won't despair just yet.
Meanwhile, the Bocking 14 comfrey that I got last year are now throwing up flower heads - they are a purple colour unlike the pink flowers of the wild type and actually look very pretty. They should be sterile so won't self seed but I would still like to be cautious before planting out.
From the Easter seed sowing, the 2 new dahlia variety seeds were the first to start germinating and most now have their second leaves as have the pot marigold and borage. The Bunny tail grass are also growing but still a single leaf. Up until the other day, the tray of Busy Lizzies were just not showing any sign ... something green has recently appeared in one module in the seed tray but for all I know it could be a weed seedling. I don't recall having problems last year and was sure they germinated within a week so either I have duff seed or they got cooked when we had a bit of warm sunny weather and being in the greenhouse they have been affected. Worse, I can't find the packet of seeds I had intended sowing a week later so my "vertical garden" plans (with the 2L pop bottles) are at risk of not being done this year. Meantime the Foxgloves are germinating and surprisingly, about 8 of the sunflower seeds have germinated (they were out of date and most were tiny seeds so I hadn't really been confident they would grow) as are the house leeks. I was surprised that the nasturtium didn't germinate earlier as they are normally like weeds but they are now just starting to push up. So all is not lost and I'll just have to be patient.
I still have to sow the wildflower seeds but the ground between the fruit trees is dry and desperately in need of heavy watering ... something I don't really have the time or stamina to do. This morning we had a good heavy deluge so I might just throw some of the seeds on the bed and hopefully they'll be fine. Last year I sowed the wildflower seeds at the end of April so hopefully not too late for them to grow and flower this year (I particularly want to see the poppies in flower this year) Meanwhile I found a packet of Love in a Mist seeds which I was unsure whether I'd bought or not - I was wondering whether they might be a good alternate to the Busy Lizzie vertical garden so I need to sow them sooner rather than later!
During the coronavirus lock down, I have been working from home doing computer work. There is a lot of pressure to prove you are actually working so I am tied to getting batches of work done but unlike in a work situation where I would have multiple breaks dealing with other things, I have found myself sitting for long periods and it has had a knock on effect on my health. For one, I would never normally spend more than an hour sitting on a kitchen chair at the kitchen table and although the laptop is fine for a couple of hours at a time, it has a small screen (unlike the 2 big monitor screens I have on my desk at work) and most of the work I do is visual while I copy/paste text between windows. By the end of a work day, I am stiff and sore and do not feel up to much gardening other than basic watering and pond maintenance. It is quite frustrating as I would have thought having all this time at home would have been a good opportunity to do a lot more in the garden - even my weekends are spent recovering so that I'll be fit for "work" ...
And that has meant the plans to move the raised beds from one polytunnel to the other so that I could plant potatoes hasn't happened. It's leaving it very late now so I had no option but to plant them asap. First on Friday (bank holiday for VE day), I spread the chitted seed potatoes in a seed tray and then left them soaking in a solution of seaweed solution for a few hours. In the polytunnel, I decide to re-use the old growbags (from last year's tomatoes, chillies and aubergines) and put a handful of dried blood in each planting hole (2 holes per bag) and about a full watering can of water to hydrate the compost per bag. On Saturday, I popped a seed potato in each planting hole - they are more or less sitting on top of the old compost but with ring cultures in place (the bottomless plant pots used for the tomatoes, and a bit of corrugated plastic lawn edging shaped into a circle for the other bags), I lightly covered the potato with a handful of fresh compost on top with space to add more as the plants start to grow. I have no idea if growing potatoes in a growbag will work so it's a bit of an experiment - I know you can upend a bag so it is upright rather than flat to grow potatoes but as these already have multiple holes cut into them for last year's plants, was a little difficult to do. And with having grown tomatoes, chillies and aubergines (which are in the same potato family) in the same compost last year, there are potential added problems. The dried blood should give the compost a nitrogen boost but I still need to add some other fertilizer like potash and phosphate so that they produce good roots and tubers. Definitely experimental.
So it's all fingers crossed at the moment.
Can you spread out your working day so that you can take gardening breaks. Rather than x hours at a stretch then waste the evening. Do you have to log in and be seen to be at your desk?
The year we moved into our house here had a very harsh winter, and we couldn't get to the house until Spring. I planted my spuds in May, and met a local farmer who arrived on an ATV trying to round up stray sheep. He told me that tenancies used to be exchanged on 31st May, and that the first job would be to plant the spuds for the year.
We have a late start and early end to our growing season, and they still managed to grow enough. Mine are still chitting, but will go in soon.
I don't see why you can't grow them in a gro-bag if you can grow them on the flat under weed control fabric, as some people do. Maybe it would be possible to stack one on top of another to get some depth, or cut holes in the bottom of the bag so the roots can go down into the soil, like some do for tomatoes.
I already spread it out so that I can have long breaks inbetween sessions but I am in no fit state to do any amount of gardening after sitting on the kitchen chair for several hours every day. I think our hours are flexible so long as we are seen to be doing the work and complete tasks - every Friday I have to send in a weekly diary with what I have done every day (and this usually means logging the completed documents done that week) The good news is that with the prime minister's announcement last Sunday of steps to ease the lock down, my employer is starting plans of re-opening but for the moment we are still shut with the work from home policy. We each had to make suggestions of how we can go about opening up buildings - as a technician, I would be amongst the first to go in and get the lab I work in up and running (particularly as the lab was shut down in a hurry so will need a health & safety assessment first) and means some equipment might need to be checked over / serviced (such as replace perished seals after sitting idle for weeks on end) I proposed some jobs I can do on a part time / staggered slots booked in advance to maintain isolation as oppose to the social distancing and also work from home (as part of the green campaign) Meanwhile, we have been given an opportunity to visit the site by appointment only for anything we might need to make working from home easier - most people opted for IT equipment but take a wild guess what I asked for ... my office chair
yes, my online gardening friend in Aberdeen has told me he plants his potatoes in mid-late May through to mid June (including his main crop which are harvested late) As mine are classed as second earlies, I wasn't that concerned so much about the later planting but the seed potatoes were looking rather shriveled up hence a soak in the seaweed solution prior to planting to give them a boost (seaweed extract contain hormones which encourage growth)
And it has worked! Despite a week of temperatures well below normal for this time of year, this morning I went into the polytunnel not expecting anything and to my surprise, little green shoots were just starting to poke up through the compost. One potato had somehow lifted up (by itself rather than pulled up) and I could see lots of little white roots spreading out from underneath the shoot. I gently put some compost on top and re-covered them.
well, all that worry for nothing ... despite a recorded wide spread frost elsewhere in the country, there was none on my patio ... I suspect the pond and large body of water created a slightly milder micro-climate and the dahlias are mostly fine. Believe it or not, but the biggest problem has been slug or snail damage. Some of the bigger dahlias are unaffected but there are about 4 pots where the shoots have been cropped back to soil level. Even the garden itself was frost free and that may have been due to the trees and hedge giving the garden added protection. Still, I kept the greenhouse door partially closed to retain heat most of last week day and night, and the seedlings have not only survived but have thrived.
The dahlias I sowed are coming along nicely and with a forecast of above normal temperatures this week, I reckon I might need to repot them soon. I really need to buy some fresh compost as I would like to eventually grow the dahlias in big pots like I did last year with the Dandy mix but while garden centres may be opening up, I should still try to avoid shops during the coronavirus crisis (even with social distancing in place, I don't fancy standing in long queues waiting to get in like I did with the visit to my preferred supermarket) It'll be a few weeks off so no need to panic just yet and maybe if and when schools re-open and other shops gradually open up, this will take the pressure off as people change their shopping habits rather than focus on the few that were available at the time of the lock down.
The sunflowers, pot marigold, Bunny tail grass and borage are also growing well but surprisingly the nasturtiums, Busy Lizzie, foxglove and house leeks seedlings are still tiny or only just trying to germinate. Today I decided to sow a tray of Love in a Mist and they are now in the greenhouse. Meanwhile I cleared some weeds from the fruit tree bed and is ready to be raked over and wildflower seeds to broadcast sow. Despite the deluge of rain last week, the top soil surface remains stubbornly dry - however, when I used a spade to lift up some dock weeds, the soil underneath was lovely and moist. I shouldn't be too surprised ... 2 years of heavy mulching with whatever was at hand such as cardboard, soiled chicken coop litter, cat litter and autumn leaves, has helped to keep soil underneath moist (my primary goal much to everyone's amusement during the persistent rain and floods) and for the most part, weed free (except for perennial weeds like the horsetail, goose grass and wood avens as well as bramble and of course, the self seeded hazel and ash tree seedlings) but it doesn't help too well when trying to sow seeds on top .... I might try mixing the seeds in damp compost (from the used growbags that are not being occupied by the potatoes) and after a couple of days, then toss this out and with a little watering until they start growing, hopefully this will get the seeds to start germinating and their roots to grow down through the mulch. Sounds like a plan ....
On the patio, all the comfrey are now flowering but still no sign of the asparagus - I'm seriously thinking of moving the pots down to the greenhouse and maybe the warmth might give them a boost. Meanwhile the cheeky blackbirds have tossed all the duckweed / blanket weed that I'd dumped on top of the pots off on to the patio (one even got onto the patio table and oiked one of my pond plants out of the pot and scattered the precious gravel everywhere) As for the pond, with low daytime temperatures and cold nights, I decided to turn the big pump off - without plastic covers on top, the pond surface water would be cold and with the pump drawing up the warmer water beneath and mixing it up, it would chill the water down a lot more quickly which is not too clever for the fish. I gave the pond another blanket weed treatment last weekend and it appears to have worked - the duckweed on the pond surface has spread out and appears less dense so it won't be long before I start harvesting it on a weekly basis for my composting plans. I cleaned out the filter box (and used it to water the potted plants) and started the big pump again.
Talking of composting, the composter is up and running again - every day I fill it up to the top and by the next day has settled down to allow another fill up. However, I really do need to get a second compost bin so that I can start using the composted material in the first bin. I had a look at my local council website and they have a link to a site where the bins are considerably cheaper than those from garden centres ... there's just the matter of the lock down and availability of the bins (and water butts) Talking of water butts, I'm really pleased with the one I bought from Wickes last autumn and would like to get an identical one but when I looked at their website, they have completely changed the design and are considerably more expensive. The ones sold by the council looked tiny. It's not necessary to get one now but I'll keep a look out in future.
This post wouldn't be complete without a mention of Lucas ... every time I went outside into the garden he would get up out of his bed (an armchair which is devoted to his use only) to accompany me. I think I'm beginning to understand why he pesters me during his day time outings and I am stuck indoors on the computer working from home - not only is he checking to see that I'm still there, but more likely he wants me to come outside as well and join him. He follows me into the garden, as well as jumping onto the compost bin but also likes to jump on to the shed / chicken run roof so he can look down on me and give me a playful slap with his paw on the head. This morning while emptying the filter box, I looked up to find him half way up the neighbour's ash tree He didn't seem particularly confident perched in the branches and I had awful visions of having to call someone out to rescue him but no need to worry, he had sussed out he could jump down safely on to the shed roof - clearly not the first time he's tried that and probably how he has managed to get up the tree in the first place. The pigeons are no doubt attracting him as they eye up on the cherries developing on the cherry tree ... in which case, Lucas might be earning his keep if he can keep the beggars from stealing the fruit and I may get the chance of a harvest for myself (I had long ago realized the tree was becoming just a floral display rather than a source of fruit)
Wandering down my garden, not only cherries but plenty of plums are developing too! I haven't checked the pears or apples, but I can't see why these won't be heavy this year as well as we did have a relatively mild and sunny early spring so fingers crossed. My garden is becoming a focus for many small birds like tits (different ones - Great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit) and robins which are good for eating the bugs and I often see squabbles and hear loud shrieking or chattering (no, it's not because of Lucas but more likely territorial spats). I managed to get a brief glance of another visitor I don't think I've seen before - hard to say what it was but I saw a flash of pale yellow banding on its wings when it was flying and the body appeared pale brown. I tried to identify it and think it may be greenfinch (it didn't look like the goldfinches I've seen before which had a more distinctive marking) My neighbour has a large conifer near the house and the tall leylandii along their bottom fence which I understand are often used by greenfinches to make nests.
Finally, the lock down itself has also had an impact I'd never noticed before - when I drove to work, I would see the changes of the seasons as they happen and although I've got my garden and seen everything grow and trees throw out leaves, I have missed out on the world around me. After the weekly visit to the local supermarket I have given the car a little drive round (and a burn up down a small stretch of dual carriageway) just to boost the battery / keep things moving. Every week I marvel at the massive changes around me - from the bare trees of late winter to suddenly seeing lilacs in other peoples gardens or the cow parsley on the verges. It really makes you appreciate the natural world around you when you see it with it with new eyes.
For some reason I hadn't walked round the orchard for a week or so (concentrating on the fruit bushes by the path instead). When I did I was amazed at the growth. Waist high cow-parsley, grass and nettles almost as tall.
I usually have someone strim twice a year but he only did paths through the orchard in Spring then hurt his back and couldn't come in autumn.
Not a lot to report this time. Not only did I have the Bank holiday weekend, but also Tuesday as well (officially a university holiday) With being stuck at home most of the time, the days kind of merge into the same but I did appreciate some non-computer time (both from work and social media) Most of the time off was relaxation rather than rushing around to get stuff done but I decided I ought to repot some of the seedlings in the greenhouse on Tuesday.
I concentrated on the dahlias - some are STILL germinating but most now have their second leaves so time to tease out of the seed trays into pots. I haven't done a count but I estimate about a total of 40 plants - there seemed to be more of the cactus type than the pom pom variety. While teasing the plants apart, I could see distinctive slug trails across the compost surface and a couple of casualties but surprising most were fine. After potting, I sprinkled a few slug pellets on top ... with not being able to do any other shopping other than for food, my supply of pellets are dwindling so rationed to about 2-3 pellets per pot. Once the seedlings are more established, slugs & snails won't be a problem. Also I noticed a few whitefly but at the moment not enough to do damage. I'll give the plants a couple of days to recover and then will do a dilute washing up liquid treatment to be on the safe side. With very little wind and mild nights, the repotted dahlia are on the patio hardening off.
The compost I used was a mix of used compost with unused from last year's grow bags. I still had some fertilizer so each got a little sprinkle ... again, supplies are low with being unable to visit the allotment sheds that have been shut since the lock down.
The borage have really taken off and growing rapidly so next on my list to pot up (they will eventually go into the garden or big container pots near the house) I'm disappointed with the nasturtiums - only about 4 out 20 seeds have germinated. The pot marigold on the other hand are another that needs repotting sooner rather than later. Only 3 out of 20 sweetpea seeds have germinated - now these were well past their use by date so I'm not too surprised. I'm very disappointed with the Busy Lizzies too - I sowed about 4-5 seeds per module in the seed tray (20 module) but only 15 have germinated. Shame really because they were meant to be part of my "extended" vertical garden that I started last year. The foxglove seedlings are still small but taking on their distinctive leaf shape - despite sowing thinly, they are clustered together so need to be teased out for gentle repotting. My other success are the Bunny tail grass - I'm not sure what to do ... leave the grasses to grow in a cluster as per module in the seed tray or should they be thinned out too? The seedlings look like ... grass (doh) so presumably they will look pretty when grown in clumps when the seed heads are produced. Finally, the house leeks ... these too seem patchy with some seed modules having plenty germinating while other seed modules with nothing. They are still tiny but taking on their characteristic fleshy appearance.
Meanwhile, the asparagus are growing now I was starting to get a little concerned but are now taking off. Variety Burgundine, the spears are dark purple so were a little difficult to see when just starting to push up but some are now easily about 8-10 inch tall. Dahlia tubers from last year's seeds are well ahead and I even spied a flower bud coming up on one so I am very pleased. Only one tuber failed to grow. The raspberries are coming along nicely with the summer fruiting ones flowering and the others getting ready soon. And the potatoes are looking very healthy and most are about 9 inch tall. Strangely, a cluster of 3 near the door in the polytunnel are barely breaking through the compost but I can see the leaves poking through. Perhaps when we had that cold windy weather they were affected by the drop in temperature (and yet I did zipper the door closed) Still, looking good so far.
The pond plants took a thrashing during the very windy weather last weekend - most of the rushes and reeds leaves are bruised and a little tatty but generally all are now throwing seed heads up. The Japanese dwarf bulrush look very small and dainty compared to the reeds which are thriving.
As for sowing the wildflower seeds, I've left it very late and decided to wait now until late summer / autumn to sow (that way, most will get established and will flower in the spring next year). Here in Nottingham like most of the midlands and south, we have had hardly any rain for quite a while now so the top soil surface is very dry (even the weeds are keeling over) .... will we slip into another hot drought year like 2018 or will the fine warm sunny spring weather give way to another wet summer like last year? Dry springs are usually followed by rain but the unusually long dry spell this time round (since late March bar a couple of rainy days) and forecast of warmer weather next week has me wondering.
Here in the Borders, like most of Scotland and the North, we have had hardly any rain for quite a while now so the top soil surface is starting to dry out, given how much we normally get (the weeds are doing beautifully).
The worst thing that's happened is wind damage last weekend, which has flattened some of the taller weeds.
The repotted dahlias have been outside since last Sunday and with the fine warm weather, have responded well and settled in (even the seedlings that lost a lot of root when trying to prise them apart have been okay) This Sunday I decided to get on repotting the borage and pot marigold which were definitely outgrowing the seed trays, and then I thought it best to start repotting the Bunny Tail grass as well. I decided to look them up - seems they are best sown in little clusters for best effect when the seed heads appear so that worked out fine when lifting the whole module out of the seed tray and potting on. Apparently they are annuals but they can self seed and become a nuisance in a garden so probably best grown as a container display.
Last week I put the tray of nasturtiums outside and let them harden off in the seed tray. A few more seeds have germinated so I wondered if the greenhouse was too hot for them. Meanwhile the Love in a Mist are all germinating which I'm pleased about. The foxgloves need pricking out - way more plants than I have room for and I only used a pinch of seed from the packet when sowed. The Busy Lizzies too are still germinating but so disappointing compared to last year's ease and even those that germinated earlier are still quite small. Again, perhaps the greenhouse is too hot for them especially now. Still no sign of the flag iris even when making the compost very wet, nor the bluebells although apparently they can take up to 12 months to germinate!
Finally, I potted the sunflower seedlings - sadly about 3 died but possibly my fault. I sowed them in loo rolls filled with compost as I wasn't that confident any would germinate and the rolls were stood upright in an old ice cream tub. The top half of the compost always looked dry so I would give them a good drink not realising that the rolls were sitting in about 2-4 inch of water so in effect, drowning the roots. I managed to rescue 5 plants (one at about a foot tall (but only on their second leaves), another not far behind, a couple middling and one that had keeled over and then perked up so has a bizarre kink in the stem)
I also gave the pond a little clean ... not very well I should add. It's only apparent with the late afternoon sun and the angle of the light showed up a dark messy mass on the pond bottom. I tried to oik it out with the pond net but all I seemed to do is collect all the duckweed and elodea, and inadvertently caught one of last year's baby goldfish (just over 3 inch in length) I had a closer look at it - in the water it looks white but close up it actually looked silvery and nothing like any of the potential parent fish in the pond. Perhaps it is mutant or quite possible reverted back to an earlier ancestor. As for the mess, with disturbing it most actually ended up getting trapped in the pump grilles so I was eventually able to get rid of it.
Finally, Project Moss ... I finally got round to sorting out the moss I collected before spring / covid lockdown which the cheeky blackbirds have taken a fancy to and enjoy tossing it all out of the tray I had them in. At work we discard the caps from the solvent bottles that go for recycling which meant they would end up in landfill. The caps are quite robust and I thought it such a waste to throw away so I wondered about using them in some projects ... maybe use them to make a footpath (like a pebble path - each cap is about 1 and half inch deep about 2 inch wide at the screw end) or string together to make a sort of beaded curtain. I had a few other ideas but ended up using them to make little pots for the mosses. Mosses tend to grow where there is very poor drainage so no need to drill holes in the pots (I'll keep an eye on them when the weather changes as I may be proved wrong) I packed the cap with mainly dry crushed soil from the garden mixed with a little used compost and used a pestle to really compress it in the cap. Then I popped a piece of moss in the centre and now I am giving them daily sprays of water to keep them and the very top soil layer moist (but not wet) They are currently in a seed tray with a clear plastic lid on to keep the humidity up until they recover and start to anchor in / spread over the soil surface. The idea is to seed the caps and once they have matured, could be used as part of a vertical wall hanger or if/when the wildlife pond ever gets done, the whole cap can be buried and to just let the moss spill over and spread out on the ground. It's all very experimental but they do seem to have responded well to the daily spray and look much greener and plumped up (apparently if moss is dried out, it can be revived by spraying it and it will plump up again) I've got at least 5 different types of moss - one looks like little balls of fluff, another dark green like a velvet carpet, a typical garden moss (well, the ones in my garden that grow on the greenhouse frames), one that looks slightly different to the garden moss (it may well be the same) and one typically sphagnum moss) So fingers crossed for Project Moss.
I'm now turning my attention to starting up the mini algae farming again but my stock algae doesn't seem to be doing well and suspect the Chlorella I got last year has died and been replaced by some other wild type algae (it doesn't have that lime green in your face colour which was so obvious before) I've been keeping a look out for the seller I bought the original culture from on ebay but no sign of him - maybe with the lock down he hasn't been able to put any for sale or it was just a one off. Some of the other Chlorella cultures for sale are way too expensive and have to be shipped from Germany. I bought the culture in June last year so it's possible I might get lucky but if not, then I guess the culture I have will have to do.
I have foxglove seedlings too. They've popped up by themselves in various places.
I have self-seeded wild foxgloves, but growing them from scratch has been less successful. I suppose the self-seeders are the hardy survivors - probably a load of dead ones about the place.
Our place has experienced the same dry/wet extremes that everywhere else has had, and over the last few years too. The moss seems just to go dormant during the unfavourable bits and then comes back with a vengeance. This includes both soil areas and hard-standing like concrete and gravel.
I'm very curious about your algae experiment. Is there a reason why the one species is preferable to any other?
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