A year in the greenhouse

Follow the diary of a year in the greenhouse (more than one greenhouse, in fact!). Amanda Davies and Caroline Broome share their experiences of gardening under glass, and all the challenges that come with it.

So Much To Do – So Little Time

I hate gardening! Our 18 year old acer Bloodgood has died; it resided in a huge terracotta planter on the patio so replacing it will be disruptive and expensive. Melianthus major, focal point of the hot border, followed in its footsteps (rootsteps?) shortly after. Digging that up was no joke (so why are you all laughing?) The root ball was solid with finger thick roots that had anchored themselves under all neighbouring perennials, so the whole lot had to come out and be replanted afterwards. Then a branch of our ancient lilac came down in the recent windy spell, straight across the barbecue (could have been worse, we might even have wanted to use it this summer). Finally I discovered that the potting tray containing my own mix of compost, water retaining gel and T&M incredibloom® had become a giant litter tray! Oh joy.

Brunnera 'Alexander's Great' & Fred having an identity crisis!

Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’ & Fred having an identity crisis!

Still, the hanging baskets have all been planted up, with four extras in dappled shade: two on the patio combining ipomoeas with T&M begonias, and two in the fernery with hostas (how do those snails manage to get up there?), heucheras and some lovely as-yet-unnamed T&M trial bidens. Very impressive bidens they are too; within four weeks their 9cm pots were full of roots. These compact plants are already in flower, their delicate white petals blushed with pale pink, belying their robust form.

Petunia 'Mandevilla' & Cucamelons on the go!

Petunia ‘Mandevilla’ & Cucamelons on the go!

So now that all the baskets are planted up – Crazytunia Mandevilla and Bidens Bee Dance Painted Red already in flower – I can concentrate on the greenhouse crops. Tutti Frutti cordon tomatoes are in the raised bed. Shame I didn’t realise that they came in three different varieties; I’ll just have to wait and see which is which! Chillies have gone in with them to maximise space. The canes supporting the three cucamelon vines are not going to be sufficient so David is going to rig up some mesh for them and whilst he’s at it he can put up some wires for the cucumbers I have yet to plant (David are you reading this?) It’s only an 8ft x 4ft structure, not Kew Gardens, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

Digitalis 'Ruby Slippers'

Digitalis ‘Ruby Slippers’

Ricinus are in! One in the kadai on the roof terrace, surrounded by Canna Durban and blood grasses, one in prairie border and one in the front garden, amongst other architectural plants melianthus major (son of deceased), filipendula and contorted hazel. Very directional I must say!
Courgettes de Nice a Fruit Rond, courgette Soleil and Patti Pans Summer Mix have been planted on the allotment. I’ve taken no chances after last year’s initial fiasco of the disappearing crops (the dreaded mollusc again) so they each have a T&M tomato auto waterer collaring them as well as slug pellets, and I’ve kept back a couple of spare plants just in case.

Flaming Kadai & unnamed bidens

Flaming Kadai & unnamed bidens

Oh, and then there’s the small matter of our NGS Open Day on 12th June. Never mind the borders! All hands are on deck baking cakes, putting up signage, distributing leaflets and London Guides. Volunteers, raffle and children’s treasure hunt to be organised, plants for sale labelled and colour coded by price point. The living wall, nicknamed the dying wall due to an unfortunate misjudgement regarding the watering system, has to be replanted, so I’ll fill it with nasturtiums for a quick fix.  T & M nasturtium Phoenix seeds are popping up all over the roof terrace but no time to grow more from seed; it’ll have to be a case of Instant Gardening at this late stage.
Oh well back to the grindstone. How I love gardening!

May madness with Amanda Davies in the garden

Hello Gardeners!

Just like this time last year the season doesn’t know if it wants to be spring, autumn or winter. One minute it’s wet and windy, next it’s too hot to stand in the greenhouses for more than ten minutes. Unexpectedly the potatoes have shot up, and luckily I moved them outside before the really hot weather kicked in, however they have started to grow flowers so they will be ready sooner rather than later. It takes 12-16 weeks for Charlottes to be ready, and Dad used to say once they have flowered cut off the foliage and leave them for 7-10 days where they are. The trouble is once I know they are almost ready I just want to dive in.

 

Amanda's Potato 'Charlotte' & Tomato 'Magic Mountain'

Amanda’s Potato ‘Charlotte’ & Tomato ‘Magic Mountain’

The month started off with high winds and a telephone call from Rachel asking “Who’s your glazier?” My greenhouse was unscathed but she had lost a few panes. Come the Friday she said, “I found someone who does glass cheaper than yours.”

“Who?” I demanded.

It turned out that a long established garden nursery in Pembrokeshire were getting rid of 2 giant glasshouses as they are diversifying into a Glamping Eco Centre, and to raise extra funds they were selling the panes for £1 each. Rachel said ” I’m getting extra panes tomorrow, do you want some?” Of course I did. I bought £5 worth as I didn’t want to get too many hope this will last me a few years.

We have both been busy in the garden and greenhouses, I have pricked out my geraniums, hardened them off and planted them outside, along with the petunias, cosmos, Californian Poppy, sweetpeas, eating peas and a sunflower. Apart from 3 nicotianas the rest have also been put into their final growing positions. Meanwhile Mark has been mowing, edging, weeding, digging and fixing.

Trial fuchsia & bidens with Petunia 'Night Sky'

Trial fuchsia & bidens with Petunia ‘Night Sky’

I, like a lot of people this year seem to be struggling with seed germination. My methods usually work, but out of 20 sunflowers, only 1 has grown. There is no sign of my malvins, dahlias, Bells of Ireland, strawflowers, asters, snapdragons, cucumbers, squashes, verbena or pumpkins. I don’t know if it’s because I bought poor compost or the unpredictable weather. I usually stick to a certain brand of compost from my local Garden Centre, but they had a 3 for 2 offer on 70ltr bags of a different one. When I was sieving it, I was disappointed by how many pebbles, bits of glass and bits of wood were in it. It doesn’t hold the water and bakes hard in the sun. The other 2 bags I have mixed into the big greenhouse borders as there was no way I as using it for seed again.

As the little greenhouse is now empty Mark decided to take everything out at the weekend and give it a good clean, it was surprising how much muck was on the inside windows.

Whilst waiting for the seeds in pots to germinate, I feel a bit annoyed and let down that I didn’t buy extra pot plants, so I would have something to write about, but then something brilliant happened. Thompson & Morgan asked me to trial some plants for them. They sent me, and bloggers Caroline and Geoff, and others to trial an as-yet-unnamed set of trailing fuchsias, bidens and antirrhinums. So we planted up some hanging baskets with them and let them establish before placing them all outside. The bidens were planted with a single Petunia ‘Night Sky’ as I wanted to fill the hanging basket. The bidens are white with a yellow middle – almost daisy looking – but not all are white, some are white and mauve with a yellow middle. The scent is outstanding, on a warm day we can stand six feet away from the basket and their fragrance drifts on the air. As the baskets are attached to a boundary wall that backs on to a back lane, I don’t think it’s going to be too long before someone passes the garden and asks what is that beautiful smell.

Californian Poppy 'Cherry Swirl' & Dahlia 'Bonita'

Californian Poppy ‘Cherry Swirl’ & Dahlia ‘Bonita’

The trial fuchsias are attractive to slugs so we have had to keep using pellets in the hanging pots to keep the critters away. Although this year we seem to have more snails than slugs which is better as I can just remove these by hand, taking them into the closed down school field where they can live in peace. The plants themselves are putting on a lot of growth, but no signs of any buds yet.

The antirrhinums are also planted with a petunia, these are growing fast and appear to be starting to bud, I can’t wait to see what they look like. All of the trial flowers were repotted into their baskets/pots on the 26/04/16, using a compost that was tested with our meter to be PH7, they were watered, given a slow release feed and slug pelleted.

Typically when the greenhouse is misbehaving my nieces call and say, “Auntie Amanda, Daddy’s building our greenhouse, have you got any tomatoes we can have please…..oh and some aubergines, and peppers and basil and chives, and peas. Oh and Daddy says do you think Uncle Mark can help make the greenhouse?” Luckily I have lots of aubergines and tomatoes. I have basil and peppers, but I am now in the process of growing several different types of herbs which include basil, oregano, Lemon Balm, corriander, parsley, chives, dill and mint. Then my mum comes over for her tomatoes, aubergines, nicotianas and cosmos and geraniums, followed by my Auntie Mary who then needs aubergines as well. She asks what variety the tomatoes are (Magic Mountain) and takes one of them as well. Not that I mind, I had a packet of seeds that said, average 10 seeds, there were 14 of them, and they all grew, so I have been looking for homes for them. I have also given tomato plants to my next door neighbour and a friend at work. I can’t wait for the feedback from them as to the taste, size of fruit and quantity.

Cucumber 'Curino' & Squash 'Patty Pan'

Cucumber ‘Curino’ & Squash ‘Patty Pan’

I love sharing plants, after all what’s better than teaching a younger generation where food comes from, or having a jar of homemade tomato chutney for Christmas. As I wrote in one of my earliest blogs, a generous gardener is never poor.

In the small greenhouse border the Aloes have put on a lot of growth as has the money tree. However the Peace Orchid hated it, and had to be moved back into a pot of its own, so I put a spiky cactus in there instead.

In the large greenhouse, Mark has been busy building a cane support for the tomatoes, luckily it didn’t involve a trip to A&E like last years build. I have decided to use the left border for them instead of the right border this year to see if it makes any difference to the way they grow. I want to find out if they will get more light, as although the sun shines on the greenhouse all day and last year the vines created too much shadow for the plants on the left side. Hopefully this year the aubergines, peppers and chillies which will go on the right hand side will have more early morning light.

We have already put the tomatoes, peppers and aubergines into their final growing spots. Unfortunately, the hot chillies are still tiny, no more than 2 leaves each. They are on the hanging shelves and I don’t know if I should move them into the cooler smaller greenhouse or be a bit more patient. Also on the hanging shelves are seeds still waiting to germinate and a fabulous Banksia Hookerina that is growing steadily. I keep inspecting it every day and wish I had thought to do a time lapse photo record of it.

I am waiting the arrival of some plug plants that include a cucamelon and extra chillies. The back border in the greenhouse only has some Basil ‘Lemonade’ and rueben in it to go with the toms. Rachel is threatening to share some yellow tomato plants too, but the variety she grows are delicious so I am sure I can squeeze them in.

I must remember to buy some sticky yellow traps, although I was surprised at how much they cost. I don’t really like using these though as they also end up catching the beneficial bees and butterflies. I think I might research companion planting instead where the scent of a flower or herb attracts the pest to it instead of the crop, good ones to try are marigolds, basils and borage.

I am hoping June will see more progress on the germination of the seeds, if not I am going to stop the seed sowing until it’s time to plant winter veg towards the end of August. June and July will be busy months with nipping out side shoots, pest control, watering and weeding.

On a personal level I have a number of hospital appointments coming up, a Cardiology one this week and a balance test due to my ears being damaged by the Labrynthitis virus, which I still appear to be fighting even though it’s been over 12 months. I need to have an MRI scan on my head because of the balance issues and again I will be distracting myself by thinking of all the jobs I need to do in the greenhouse to get me through the tests. I am so glad the RHS Chelsea show are doing a huge amount to promote the health and wellbeing of gardening, because not only does it offer great exercise, encourage you to eat healthily, and get fresh air but being at one with nature is nourishing and healing to the soul.

Until next month,

Happy Gardening,

Love Amanda.

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

So many plants, so little space!

The greenhouse is packed to the gunnels with plugs-in-waiting and half hardys. With the cold spell behind us, at least for now, at last I can start thinking about hardening some of them off. I’ve managed to plant the millions (well, 2 dozen actually) of sweet peas on the allotment, as well as some more tree lilies salvaged from the carnage created by slugs and snails. Half of the postiplug Minitunias have been demolished as well, so displays will be somewhat diminished sadly. I’ve received some surprise (as yet unnamed) trailling antirrhinums, bidens and fuchsias to trial though so hopefully they will compensate. It took three 50 litre bags of compost to refill the tomato trough, but at last I can transplant the Tutti Fruttis.

Fred the cat & chillies and curcumas

Fred the cat & chillies and curcumas

The salvias and cannas can be relocated to the shelter of the patio now, so I can set up the tubs for the cucamelons. I’ve got the T & M Incredibloom® and fuchsia plant food at the ready so there should be no excuse for a poor harvest. It’s Russian Roulette as to whether I remember to open the greenhouse door in the morning (think tropical rainforest) and then close it again in the evening (frozen waste). A friend once trapped a neighbour’s cat in hers overnight but I digress!

Caroline's overflowing greenhouse & ricinus

Caroline’s overflowing greenhouse & ricinus

The sunroom is crammed with the cucamelons, courgettes De Nice A Fruit Rond, patty pans and chillies, all fed and potted on into 4” pots, ready for planting into their final positions by end May. The curcumas and eucomis are finally emerging too. I’ve got several thriving hosta divisions wedged in behind the bin store in the front garden. The helianthus Lemon Queen, run riot in one of the containers on the roof terrace, has been dug out, split and potted on for our National Gardens Scheme Open Day Plant Sale, now currently residing between shed and greenhouse. David reckons if he stands still long enough I’ll plant him too!
Tulips in pots on the patio are coming into bloom in succession (more by luck than judgement), their leaves the object of a running buffet for my Oriental cat Fred. I can’t have New Guinea impatiens, begonias or hostas at ground level as he munches on them too. (Winky the Sphynx cat is partial to chives.) I’m getting impatient with the tulips now, even as I enjoy their riot of colour, as I am already planning their replacements: all those zingy T&M petunias and bidens in waiting!

Tulips & more tulips

Tulips & more tulips

I did treat myself to some T & M perennials as well this summer. Brunnera Alexander’s Great are said to grow far bigger than Jack Frost, so we will see in due course. Following the success of Digitals Illumination I’ve also bought new Ruby Slippers. But my most anticipated plant so far this spring is the Ricinus communis Impala. The four seedlings are romping away, their leaves and stems already deep red. I shall plant one in the raised bed out front with melianthus major, grasses & ferns for an architectural effect, and one in the island Prairie bed out back combined with (yet more) grasses, thalictrum, angelica & eupatorium. But my Piece de Resistance (or dramatic flop) will be planting up the kadhai (won in a prize draw at GROW London last year and an unwanted eyesore ever since) with ricinus as a centre piece surrounded by fiery red hot pokers and cannas, on the roof terrace. It will probably end up looking like a sacrificial altar – hope it doesn’t frighten the neighbours!

Amanda’s April inspirations

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well.

These last few weeks have been really busy, April is an inspiring month. Before I set out to write this I had a quick read of my April 2015 diary and last years blog, as I was convinced that I was lagging behind in the greenhouse. However, according to my journal we had only just finished constructing the big greenhouse and we only had potatoes growing in sacks, onions and strawberry plants in the greenhouse so it turns out I’m actually a little ahead this year.

 

Potting up in the greenhouse

 

It’s hard to know where to start so I will begin by saying that my plug plants from Thompson & Morgan arrived, they include a Barnsley Baby Mallow, Nicotianas and Petunias. They have been potted on and are growing rapidly. To make room for my ever increasing seedlings, last September I sowed Yarrow, Californian poppies and nigella which have been hardened-off and planted either straight into the borders or into decorative pots. I have saved a few for mum  as I like to share my plants with her in return for cookery lessons.

 

Yarrow and Californian Poppy

 

The September sown sweet peas have been pinched out and I would recommend reading Kris Collins sweetpea diary for some really good tips on successful sweet pea growing. The geraniums have germinated and are taking on that distinct leaf shape that makes them so identifiable. Before long they will be transplanted into pots of their own so they can establish into healthy specimens before being moved outdoors. I thought I planted a pot of red and a pot of green basil but one pot has nothing in it whilst the other has both in it! The variety shown looks really pretty together and I’m wondering if I have stumbled across a new summer taste sensation Basil Lemonade and Rubin mixed with fresh tomatoes. Has anyone else combined two basil tastes together?

 

Potted plants in the greenhouse

 

Only one sunflower has germinated I’m not sure why this would be as they are in the same small greenhouse. I have sown more as these are one of my favourite plants. I’m still waiting for Malvin Mystic Merlin. I am also waiting for the Dahlia Cactus Flower, the Hot Chilli Peppers Prairie Fire, the Cycads, most of the Squashes and the Perennial Sunflower Helianthas Maximilian.

I have very recently sown two cucumber seeds, two pots of Baby Leave Lettuces, more Spencer Sweet peas, five pots of Everlasting Strawflowers, five pots of the half-hardy annual Bells of Ireland, three pots of Snapdragons, as well as several pots of Verbena Bonarienses as although this hardy perennial will happily self seed in our garden, last year the Blue Tits stripped the seeds and we have only two or three plants left out of the many we grew from an original seed packet at least six years ago. I have also sown some Asters as I love that it flowers mid summer to late autumn so it’s perfect for pollinating insects. In addition I have also taken the Begonia bulbs out of storage and put them in individual pots of compost to bring into growth.

 

Tomatoes

 

We are really impressed with the Tomato ‘Magic Mountain’, all the seeds have germinated and there is rapid growth. I decided to plant a whole packet on the basis that they might not all grow, but I should of had more faith. Luckily I can give some plants to family and friends as well as keeping three for myself. The Aubergines have germinated and so has the Sweet Bonita Pepper. These have been moved onto the hanging shelves in the big greenhouse and they are loving their new position. Also on the shelves are the Aloes, Cactuses and Spider plants, as well as a germinated Banksia Hookerenia, I can’t wait to see how long it takes for this to grow into a decent sized plant, at the moment they have a pair of leaves that seem to be opening wider apart and getting bigger each day. I have trays of germinating seeds on the shelves too, a mixture mostly of the flowers mentioned above. What has surprised me most is that as the shelves are nearer the roof the plastic tubs stay hotter for longer, meaning that the compost warms up quicker hopefully giving the seeds a more temperate state. One drawback is though that they do dry out a lot quicker.

Also in the bigger greenhouse are the Charlotte Potatoes. They have, in the last month, grown so rapidly I cannot earth them up any more as the sacks are full.  The leaves are strong and vibrant, although I am tempted to put them outside I always wait until the farmers in our neighbourhood take the plastic off their crops before I even think of hardening them off.

 

Potatoes

 

As I mentioned I am waiting for most of the squashes but I do have one Patty’s Pan that has grown, albeit a little weedy. Not everything has worked out unfortunately.  My direct sown two dozen radishes shot up for about two weeks then died. I don’t know if it was the rapid change of temperature from cold to very warm and then back to very cold again or the fluctuating light levels. Either way they are no more. I don’t know if I will grow any more of them. I don’t have a specific veg patch in the garden so perhaps I will wait until early autumn and try them in the bigger greenhouse in pots on the shelves.

The final job we did before I wrote this blog was to decide what to do with my massive Peace Lily, Money Plant and Aloe Vera.  They had outgrown their pots, and last summer I let them live outside, and apart from the Peace Lily the others successfully overwintered in the large greenhouse. Unfortunately they are now too big for the windowsills in my bungalow. My home is compact so we try not to have too many pots or ornaments cluttering the shelves. So I asked Mark if I could dig up the expired radishes in the border in the small greenhouse and settle them in the soil in there.  I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but I really didn’t know what to do with them.  I didn’t want to give them away or plant them outside. I am hoping that it might make my small greenhouse look tropical and provide evergreen foliage throughout the year. I am hoping the heat they may generate will keep the seedlings warmer at night. I’m hoping it’s not a decision I live to regret!

 

Peace Lilly, Money Plant and Aloe Vera

 

I still have plenty of other jobs to do. I need to build my cane and string wigwam for my eating peas, keep an eye on the long term weather, as believe it or not there are sleet and snow showers forecast as well as frosty nights. I have to find and wash the bigger pots for the next stage of transplanting. If that’s not enough, I also want to keep up with all of the other cracking blogs on the T&M community page, and take a look at some of the growing guides. Whilst sorting out some DVD’s last weekend I came across the T&M E-zee Guide to planting Flower Pouches, I must watch this again as I would like to be able to gaze up at my ‘Night Sky’ Petunias.

Soon it will be May, another busy month, what with watering, thinning out, and repotting. But for now, I’m going to continue to enjoy the longer lighter evenings, pottering about after work with sieving, sowing and settling plants, sitting on a stool listening to the blackbird singing his evening song. The best things in life are definitely free.

Until next month,

Happy Gardening,

Love Amanda X

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

What are you growing in the garden this spring?

Hello Everyone,

Spring is on its way! Every farmer, gardener and outdoor working person will be able to identify with this, there is something in the air. One day we just step outside and the air feels and smells different. Bulbs are flowering, birds are singing and there is more heat in the sun. But it’s more than that, it’s an essence of things to come.

 

T&M Potato Sacks & Amanda's Potato Sacks

Amanda’s Potato Sacks & T&M Potato Sacks

 

My greenhouses are now filling up with fruit, veg and flower seeds that have been recently set. I love this time of year. I started out by asking Mark to find my potato sacks and give them a cold shower, so that there was no risk over overwintering pests or diseases in them that could affect my crop. After leaving the sacks to dry out in the big greenhouse until the weekend, I then set about choosing which seeds to grow. I did plan in January what I wanted, but then I changed my mind again. I do understand why garden designers say to just plant a few types of seeds with the same colour palette as it gives the garden uniformity, but I don’t like this style. I agree that it looks really effective, but to me, life is too short to just grow one type or colour of something.

So come Saturday, I sowed my potatoes and put them on the path of the large greenhouse where they will stay until the frosts have passed and they have been earthed up maybe once or twice. I also potted up some hot chillies and some mild peppers.

On Sunday I emptied everything out of the smaller greenhouse and gave it a good brush out. Mark then dug the greenhouse border over for me, pulling up a few weeds that had germinated in there over winter. Whilst he did this I took a variety of different sized pots into the house to give them a warm soapy wash in readiness for refilling.

 

Potato 'Charlotte' & Chilli Pepper 'Poblana Ancho'

Potato ‘Charlotte’ & Chilli Pepper ‘Poblana Ancho’

 

While the pots were drying I then set about sieving the garden centre compost. I enjoy doing this as its a great workout for my upper body. I place about three to five scoops of soil into the sieve and then shake it like mad until I have a fine potting compost in the tray below. The rougher stuff that is left in the sieve then gets thrown into the large borders in the bigger greenhouse, as its still good stuff just not great for the seeds. Sieving the compost also shows me what quality the shop bought stuff is like. I have bought what I thought was good value compost only to find out that it’s full of twigs and hard material and vey occasionally some clippings that seeds would not be able to push through. T&M sell incredicompost® but I have not used this as yet.

It takes me at least an hour to sieve about thirty litres of compost, it thirsty work but it’s nice in the sun. Mark is cutting the lawns so I sneak off to put the kettle on. Once inside I then look through my three tins of seeds. I am banned for buying seeds, according to Mark I have enough seeds to last me a few years. I like to have a choice though, and I always grow something new each year. Although I do have my favourites that I grow each year. These include sunflowers, peas and tomatoes.

 

Sunflower 'Russian Giant' & Pea 'Aderman'

Cycad seeds, Sunflower ‘Russian Giant’ & Pea ‘Aderman’

 

I am probably too methodical, but once my compost is sieved, I three-quarter fill all of the clean pots, this way I can see if I have enough compost, as it annoys me when I get to the last three or so pots at the end of the day only to find I have to drag everything back out and start sieving again.

I then put my seeds packets in order and using my seed sower device that looks a bit like a syringe I plant the number of required seeds into the pots. Sometimes I will sow the whole packet, but occasionally I just like to try a few seeds, this way if they fail the first time around, or an unforeseen change in weather kills them. I can always make a second sowing.

I start by planting three pots of Geraniums, I have not grown these from seed before so am excited to see how they differ from shop bought ones. There are eleven seeds in the packet so I put three per pot. Then I plant a single pot of Basil ‘Lemonade’, I love this herb, it’s so versatile. I also do a single pot of Basil ‘Rubin’, this is a very strong burgundy basil that I want to share with my friends and family. The Sunflower ‘Russian Giant’ are next, I plant five pots, two seeds per pot. Next is another plant I have not grown before, it’s called Malvin ‘Mystic Merlin‘ and it’s a mallow. The packet says its good for cottage style gardens and back of the borders, the flowers are lilac, purple and blue. This pack of seeds was part of a gift that I had for being blogger of the month towards the end of last year. I don’t think I have ever seen this plant before, so I can’t wait to see what it looks like. The tomatoes are next on the list. I am growing the Vegetable of the Year (2016) Tomato ‘Magic Mountain’ variety. It’s the best for blight resistance and as we had blight last year because of the warm wet summer, I am hoping I will have a much better crop. It’s also Year of the Cosmos so I plant up three pots with these seeds. Summer isn’t summer without going out into the garden and eating peas from their pods so I sow ten Pea ‘Alderman’ Heritage, they go into individual one inch pots. I never grow rows of peas, I train them up a wigwam and do succession sowing during the year. This way I can avoid the pests and crop for longer in the year.

 

Tomato 'Magic Mountain' & Cosmos 'Xanthos'

Tomato ‘Magic Mountain’ & Cosmos ‘Xanthos’

 

I am eager to try a new vegetable too, so I sow three pots of Patty Plum Squash. These green skinned ones look like they would be nice stuffed and roasted. They also look good for a squash soup.

Finally I plant up my Cycads Species Mixed, again a free gift from T&M, there are only three seeds in this pack and one of them is huge as large as a fifty pence. It says they take one to three months to germinate, this is another new plant for me. I have seen them growing in botanical garden greenhouses, and I am a bit dubious about how big they are going to grow, but like I stated earlier, life’s too short to just grow one type of seed. I have a plan, that if they do grow they can stay in my small greenhouse turning it into a nursery and tropical space, whilst the bigger one can be for my fruit and veg. Mark did say if it gets too big it can always go outside, but being a greenhouse plant I don’t think it will survive. The Cycads are slow growing though so hopefully I will have few years to think about what to do with them if they actually grow.

After writing out a set of labels on the back of old lolly sticks for each set of seeds, I then placed the tubs in wicker baskets and cover them with cling film to help retain heat and moisture during germination. I need to find my Dymo Machine so I can make individual labels for each pot, as I can guarantee things will grow at different times and I will move things around on the staging, and before I know it, my tomatoes will be in the garden borders and peas will be in the greenhouse, as I will have muddled the labels, or worse Mark will knock the labels off whilst watering and then I will have no idea what is what.

Just when I thought I had finished, I decided I would direct sow two dozen radish into the small greenhouse border. After all the soil was looking bare.

The above list might sound excessive but in all I only planted about thirty five pots and four sacks of potatoes. This will give me a good start and add to the plants that are now recovering from last month. It also leaves me with the opportunity to sow again later in the spring.

 

Petunia 'Anna' & Petunia 'Night Sky'

Petunia ‘Anna’ & Petunia ‘Night Sky’

 

Greenhouses aren’t just for germinating seeds though, they are a great place for bringing on plug plants, I am expecting a delivery soon from T&M of Petunia ‘Anna’, Petunia ‘Night Sky’ and my favourite Nicotiana ‘Eau d’ Cologne’. I have also ordered the shrub Barnsley Baby a Lavatera x clementii I have always fancied one of these and as it was on a special offer I could not resist. It comes in a seven centimetre pot so I might need to bring it on before it gets planted in the garden.

Greenhouses come in all shapes, sizes and prices, I started out with the plastic pop up ones many years ago, and I would recommend starting with these before investing in a horticultural one as this is a great test to see if you have the time and energy to devote to gardening whilst on a budget. My brother bought a lean to greenhouse last year, but as yet he hasn’t even built it, although he says its definitely going up this year and please can I supply him and the girls with some plants including aubergines. I hadn’t got around to sowing the aubergines.

So I now have another list of other plants that I have to grow for myself and the family, Aubergines, for my brother Sweet Peas and more Cosmos for mum, and a selection of herbs for someone at work. I usually grow loads of plants anyway so what’s a few more?

Do you end up growing more than what’s on your original gardening list or is it just me?

Until next month, Happy Gardening,

Love Amanda.

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Clearing up after Storm Imogen!

Dear Gardeners,

Firstly, I would like to apologise for this blog been later than intended. I could say it was down to my gastro-flu bug, or I could blame the weather, either way it has kept me out of the greenhouse for weeks. I was reading over last February’s blog and gardening diary, and in terms of planting I am about a week behind. Last year I was tending to my indoor onions that seemed to take forever to grow, but were well worth the wait. My potatoes were in their grow bags, and I was waiting for some of my seeds to germinate.

This year my Potato ‘Charlotte’ have been growing their funny little tails in my tin cupboard next to the sink as opposed to on top of the wardrobe in egg cartons. The reason why they were in the cupboard is because I took them out of my fridge salad drawer where I had been keeping them from last year to warm up, and I put them in the cupboard in a bowl, then accidentally forgot about them, it was only when we were looking for a tin of tuna that we rediscovered them!

 

Potato 'Charlotte'

Potato ‘Charlotte’

 

The weather here in Pembrokeshire has been awful – day after day of rain. We also got hit badly by Storm Imogen at the start of the month, and it came at the worst possible time. We were due to take a relative who had been staying here back to London on the Monday morning, and stay a few days with them ,as we wanted to beat the early morning traffic we set the alarm for stupid o clock and went to bed early. Unfortunately the wind was howling, around midnight, and the thunder woke us up. As a precaution we set the mobile phone alarm in case our electricity went off. We never really got back to sleep properly and when dawn came round we were dismayed to find that the storm was getting worse. We were just finishing our breakfast when Mark causally announced that he was surprised the greenhouses was still standing. To be honest so was I. We had checked the local radio announcements and they said that the Cleddau Bridge was close to all vehicles as the winds had been recorded at 95 MPH meaning we would have to go the long way round to reach the motorway and when the bridge is closed it cuts the county in half, so anyone going from Pembroke Dock to Haverfordwest and vice versa would face a 30 mile detour. Then suddenly crash. I looked at Mark, “What was that?” I asked. Another crash and splatter, the unmistakeable sound of the greenhouses exploding. It was still too dark to see anything, and as we placed the relative in her car seat, we drove away wondering just what we would come home too.

 

Greenhouse damage

Greenhouse & Garden Damage

 

On the way to London, I text mum and Rachel to ask if it was safe later in the week, could they see how much damage was done, part of me wanted to know, part of me was dreading it. Rachel, unfortunately wasn’t able to check, but mums text said, it doesn’t look too bad. I think she was being optimistic as we lost 14 panes of glass and the door had popped out out of its frame, meaning that the plants had very little protection from the elements when we were away.

When we got back Mark managed to put the door back in, remarkably the glass that had popped out of it lay on the grass undamaged. We also had some spare panes from when the large greenhouse was delivered last year, so that saved a lot of money. We salvaged a piece of glass that was broken at the corners, useless for the part it had come out of but perfect for a missing triangular bit if the glazier was willing to cut it for us. We phoned our usual glazier and got no reply, so we tried a new one who said the older one was no longer in business. The new glazier was more than happy to cut the spare glass for us, he said his supplies were a bit low as everyone was calling on him. We ended up having to buy only 8 sheets at £35 so it wasn’t too expensive. Frustratingly the wind and rain meant it took another few days before it was safe enough for Mark to go out into the garden to install them.

 

Amanda's remaining plants

What’s left after Storm Imogen!

 

As for the plants, well, I have only have 2 Sweet peas left after my September sowing. The geranium is kaput and the pepper is too. The Aloe Vera’s are perfect, the money tree and spider plant are thriving. Unbelievably there is a planter of spring bulbs in bloom, including a purple Anenome. The Yarrows and Californian Poppies were battered, wind burnt, and totally dried out, but they are resilient and they appear to be making a bit of a comeback. The Nigella sort of looks ok, and I appear to have a dandelion in another pot, which I did definitely not plant. The mystery plant that I thought was a tomato seedling is beginning to look more like a hollyhock. My begonias have finally died back, so I can now remove the tubers and get ready to plant them in fresh compost towards the end of March.

I said in my January blog that I had lots of seeds so plant and that I had bought my compost, but for some reason I was reluctant to do so, and for once my laziness has paid off, as I would have lost the lot in the storm. Besides, as the last two years have shown, we get better days in autumn then we do in spring, and so long as everything gets underway in the next two weeks it should be okay.

 

Seed packets and Cosmos 'Sensation Mixed'

Seed Packets & Cosmos ‘Sensation Mixed’

 

One type of seed I a really looking forward to growing was kindly sent to me by Jean Willis, and this is the Chilli ‘Cayennetta’ it can be sown in Feb March and April. Mark wants to make some sweet chilli sauce. I don’t particularly love hot peppers, so I will be trying the Pepper ‘Sweet Boneta’ sauce instead. Luckily she also sent me these too.

I had some free Cosmos seeds from a magazine, and as it’s the year of the Cosmos, I definitely have to grow these. The mix is called Summer Sensation and they come in pink, carmine and white, again they are T&M seeds so I know they will be reliable.

Hopefully, March will be more productive for me, I would be interested to know if any readers were affected by the winter storms, and if like me, you are still behind with your greenhouse or gardening tasks.

Until then, Happy Gardening,

Love

Amanda.

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Another year in the garden – January 2016

Greetings Gardeners,

I am so pleased to announce that Thompson & Morgan have allowed me to come back and write a new series about my garden entitled Another Year in the Greenhouse. To be honest, I thought I made so many basic greenhouse mistakes that they would run screaming to the hills. However, it was quite the opposite; they said they liked to hear about the failures as well as the successes; after all I am not a trained gardener. I’m just an ordinary person with an office job, who likes to escape into the greenhouse whenever I can.

I really hope I don’t make such silly mistakes though. Last year I thought it would be so easy to erect a second greenhouse and apply the same principles that I had to the original smaller one. Unfortunately I didn’t think about how the light would fall, how the sun moved on a different course or how the slope of the garden would make it look like I was standing at an angle even though the base was perfectly level, giving me horrible vertigo especially after a severe dose of Labrynthitis.

The Labrynthitis, was my worst gardening problem as it lasted months, I would stand in the greenhouse with my eyes squeezed shut hoping that I wouldn’t go crashing into the plants or glass, all the while thinking I can’t give in, I have plants to grow and a blog to write!

Amanda's Labrynthitis

So this year my resolution is to do a better job than I did last year. At least I have a good amount of spring flowers and bulbs growing healthily already in them. With the extremely mild winter that we have so far had, the Californian Poppies have developed strong roots, and although they are currently a bit sleepy there does look like fresh green leaves on them.

I have no idea how the Yarrows will be potted on as they went from tiny seedlings to plug plants practically overnight. The roots are so tangled I could end up damaging them, I think the best thing I can do is to put them in bigger pots in one root ball as soon as possible and start hardening them off in February, then plant them in the old hollyhock patch in Spring.

After reading many different articles on the best time to sow sweet peas, I thought I would try a September sowing to see for myself if they would last through the dark months. Amazingly they have, although during late December I had to keep nipping the tops as they were getting too tall. They have now put out side shoots that should develop extra flowers in the summer. I only planted two seeds as I didn’t want to waste them if it went wrong, now I wish I had grown more. January is also a very good time to start off sweet peas so I am considering growing some more.

Amanda's Xmas gifts

Bo t h my mum and Mark’s parents gave me garden related Christmas gifts, two sets of hanging shelves for the big greenhouse and some clever cane grips that mean I can create wigwams without having to fight with the string and scissor. So one of the first jobs Mark did this month was to wash all of the glass again because the salt laden winds have really taken its toll, and the second job was to put the shelves up. They only useful thing I did was make the tea stand in the greenhouse so he sees if I could reach them or not. My being five foot has its advantages, in that he didn’t have to stretch very far or use a step ladder to get the shelves at the height I wanted.

Amanda's Xmas Gift

A quick inventory of the small greenhouse consists of the above mentioned plants plus, a red geranium that is still flowering since September, a tomato plant, two pots of Nigella, two tiny Broccoli seedlings, a spiky cactus that I forgot to bring indoors, five Aloe Vera’s, a Spider Plant that is too big for indoors, and a Thyme cutting. In the border of the small greenhouse was Spinach Beet that had got seriously big and bitter tasting so we pulled it up, as I have a new plan for this border. I will definitely grow Spinach Beet again though in the autumn as it’s so reliable and tasty. In the large greenhouse I have a Bell Pepper that is still trying to produce fruits. I don’t know if you can grow peppers for more than one year but this one hasn’t died off so, I keep picking off and composting the tiny fruit in the hope that I can move it to a sunnier spot in the greenhouse. Also overwintering is my large Aloe Vera and a Money Plant. I had hoped to utilise the space more in the winter but a late slug attack meant my cauliflowers and cabbage seedlings were destroyed.

Greenhouse accessories

My final jobs for January will be to start washing my slightly dusty pots, sieve the garden centre bought compost and plant some more seeds. This month is ideal for starting off Snap Dragons, Geraniums, Dianthifolia and Pennisetum and Salad leaves. I will be growing all of these from seed plus two others that I am hugely excited about. One is the half hardy shrub Banksia Hookeriana which will eventually replace a dying broom. The other is a Cycad. A truly magical greenhouse fern. I say this because when I was sent the seeds last year from Thompson & Morgan I had no idea what it was. I had to go on their website to find out and it amazed me. The cycad is a fossil, it was on Earth long before the dinosaurs, it has lived through millions of years of climate change, and evolution. It’s hard to believe I have a seed in my hands that is so ancient and yet so new. I was telling a friend about it and I said I was worried about accidentally destroying something so historically valuable. Don’t get me wrong the seeds are not hugely expensive and it’s not a rare endangered fern as the seeds wouldn’t be for sale, I just meant that I hope I can be trusted to grow something that has been around forever without getting it wrong. I think I will be doing some more research though before I open the packet though.

Amanda's seeds

Finally, if I have whetted your appetite for seed sowing, then take advantage of the January sales, there are often offers for half price or even free packets or seeds. This month Thompson & Morgan are offering readers of a National Magazine twelve packets of free seeds for £3.20 P&P. They include vegetables, flowers for cutting and flowers for wildlife. I’m tempted are you?

Until next month.

Happy Gardening,

Amanda.

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Season’s Greetings Gardeners

As Christmas approaches and I write my final blog for “My Year in the Greenhouse 2015 ” I feel a kind of sadness as my project has come to an end. But, I also feel very privileged to have shared the journey with you. From the start of Mark erecting the greenhouse in January, to the excitement of today Sunday the 13th of December when I pulled a cracking crop of carrots. This is the first time in my gardening life that I have grown decent ones and just I had to share them with you.

 

seaon's greetings

I have learnt more this year than any other about the seasons, I have had disasters as well as amazing successes, I have laughed I have cried, I have had fun. But more importantly I would like to thank everyone at T&M, especially Terri Overett who’s been an inspiration in helping me along the way as well as you valued readers for staying the course.

When I started this blog in January last year, I wanted it to be a tribute to he memory of my both sets of grandparents, my dad and my auntie. But I also wanted to write it to show the natural order of things, we reap what we sow, and we live and we die. Writing and poetry was a big side of the Davies family, and my late auntie used to say keep writing, even if it’s only a few sentences a day. I never thought that this blog would inspire anyone but I have had some lovely feedback, and I was very impressed when my mum and her sister, (Auntie Linda) decided to grow tomatoes after reading my posts, and even more startled that they are going to do the same next year.

seaon's greetings

In my greenhouses today I still have a sweet pepper that is in full leaf and crazily still producing tiny non edible fruit. I have so much spinach I could give Popeye a run for his money. I have two foot high sweetpeas, Yarrow, Nigella and Californian Poppy. I have spring bulbs in pots that are growing splendidly, they are there for protection from the high winds we are still experiencing. I have overwintering strawberries and begonias, cacti and aloe. I have broccoli and cauliflower in a sort of semi dormant stage. The Christmas cacti are indoors and flowering.

I have to find room somewhere in the bungalow for the money plant as when I asked a question on the T&M forum I was advised by other members that it will not overwinter in an unheated greenhouse. If it gets any larger I may have to consider wrapping tinsel around it and using it as a Christmas tree.

I will be honest, Mark and I have never experienced a winter so mild. It’s strange and a little unnerving, as a work colleague pointed out, even the trees are confused. They appear to be loosing leaves and budding in the same day. As I mentioned we have had high winds and rain and the greenhouses luckily have not had any damage, but nothing compares to the weather the people of Cumbria are experiencing. My heart goes out to them, especially at this time of year.

As the shortest day of winter approaches and the nights get chillier, excitement begins to flutter, as I realise that in a month’s time, I can sow early spring seeds again. Another gardening year will begin, a new diary will be opened and I will be wrapped up in my woollies washing pots sieving soil and crossing my fingers that my plants will grow.

My plans for 2016 are to grow more flowers. I am interested in Petunias and think I would like to try some in the hanging baskets next year. I also have a half packet of Bells of Ireland to finish off so will be growing those. I will definitely be growing Cosmos as they will be the 2016 plant of the year. I will also be growing Aster. I was given some Magic Mountain tomato seeds to try so these will be in the big greenhouse along with an orange pepper and an aubergine. I will be seeding turnips in March as well as potatoes and sunflowers.

season's greetings

In April I will start off he main greenhouse crops and in May I will be hardening off the bedding plants. As for the rest of the year – well that’s another story. Health wise I have to accept that I am getting older and cannot do as much as I think I can. I have been told by my cardiologist that in the future I will require two heart valve replacements – however its not going to stop me. He says it’s a question of mindset. If I tell myself get on with it emotionally as well as physically then I should be good to go. After all you don’t see annuals hiding in the corner crying about their disappearing youth.

 

So in the spirit of Christmas let’s all appreciate what the greenhouse gave to me.

 

The Twelve Months of Growing

On the first month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

A frame and glass packs times three.

On the second month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

Compost, top soil and a plan for us to see.

 

On the third month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

A few bags of spuds and early strawberries for a cream tea.

On the fourth month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

Pansy viola, sunflower, nicotiana lettuce and pea.

On the fifth month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

Thyme, chive, dahlia oregano and sweet chilli.

On the six month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

Lovely vine tomatoes, peppers, rocket and a cane poked into my knee.

season's greetings

On the seventh month of growing my greenhouse gave to me Begonia, radish, aubergine

– everything was cost free.

On the eighth month of growing my greenhouse gave to me Hundreds of pollinators

including a queen bee.

On the tenth month of growing my greenhouse gave to me Amaranthus yarrow,

poppy, mint and parsley.

On the eleventh month of growing my greenhouse gave to me Spinach,

spinach, spinach and slugs oh how disappointingly.

On the twelfth month of growing my greenhouse gave to me

A cracking crop of carrots, and that’s enough singing from me.

Wishing you all the very best for 2016.

 

Kindest regards.

Amanda xx

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Update from the Greenhouse

Hello Everyone,

Despite it being the mildest November since records began, winter has arrived in Pembrokeshire, with 50mph winds, continuous rain and short dreary days. In fact over the last week we have had enough rain to fill the forty gallon water butt from the gutters of the greenhouses. The glass was rattling so loudly in the greenhouses on Sunday 15th that I felt a teeny bit scared to be in them. However, I had to go in and try to salvage my plants.

I am still getting amazing spinach leaves, and aubergines but the pepper is now producing bitter green fruits. I am not sure if I should dig it up or allow it to overwinter. Next year a pepper plant will go to the more sunnier side of the greenhouse.

In the little greenhouse a slug managed to get in and eat a good lot of my new salad leaves, as well as destroying the Pansy, Laurentia and most of the Yarrow seedling. The slug did leave the broccoli, cauliflower and radishes alone, so I was pretty lucky there. I found the critter in the Californian Poppy plugs looking very fat and satisfied. I put him on the bird table; I have no idea if it escaped the house sparrows at feeding time.

incredibloom fertiliserUnfortunately, the slug problem was not the only disaster to hit my crops, the higher than expected temperatures (it was 16 degrees Celsius one night) and strong winds have meant that I cannot vent the little greenhouse as well as I wanted too as it’s just too dangerous – which in turn has meant that I have now got a good case of what appears to be green slimy damp-off in some of the pots. I am not altogether convinced it’s down to the weather though, when I checked the ( Garden Centre ) compost ingredients I noticed that its moss based, so it appears to want to go back to its original form. The compost appears to hold the water in the top half inch whilst the lower pot seems to be bone dry. This happened in the summer also. I always sieve my compost before planting small seeds, and have done so for many years, as I find the seeds germinate better in a fine tilth. If I water from the top of the pots the water runs straight through the soil, if I water from the bottom it seems to help, but I can’t have the plants sitting in trays of cold water in the winter as it may freeze the roots if the temperatures drop. As a result I have lost my radish, the kniphofias some tomatoes and some broccoli and cabbage. The frustration is immense. Especially as we had just dug the fertiliser into the bigger greenhouse to grow our winter & spring veg. I will definitely be buying some Incredibloom® next year, and will dig the rest of the old bought compost into the flower borders. I am looking forward to the 2016 sunflower competition, and if you fancy winning a big cash prize click on the T&M community link and read all about it on the website. Also think about pre-ordering Cosmos at its going to be flower of the year next year. I have my seeds already, courtesy of a magazine last summer that I forgot to grow.

 

christmas cactus However, it’s not all doom and gloom, I am on week thirteen of carrot growing, I don’t seem to have any slugs in the borders. The shoulders of the carrots seem to be raising themselves out of the soil, so I am thinking I can harvest them next weekend. The Begonias are still in leaf and the spiky cacti are a lovely shade of green. The pots of Tulips and other spring bulbs that I planted at the start of the month had to be moved outside as the bulbs shot up and if left in there they would probably be in flower by December. The Christmas cactus inside the house is starting to flower; I will bring the two in from the greenhouse in the week so they can start to bud. In the large greenhouse I have the Aloe Vera’s and the money plant which appear to be thriving.

 

At this point in the season I really have to weigh up what to do now, as it’s impossible for me to get in the greenhouses after work as its too dark. I don’t want to say, I should just cut my losses dig everything up and wait until the spring, as I would have nothing to write about and there may be some plant survivors that can be transplanted on early next year. However, I don’t want to waste time, money or seeds trying to persevere with plants that probably won’t survive the winter in an unheated greenhouse. What this month has taught me though, is that no two gardening years are ever the same. I have noted in my diary that the best plants for me to grow in the greenhouses from September onwards will be lots of lovely carrots onions and spinach. I will be trying parsnips next year, and possibly buy in some late veg plug plants that I can grow own. I think I left it too late into the season to attempt overwintering vegetable seedlings.

 Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition

I haven’t included many photos in my blog from the greenhouse this month as I didn’t think you wanted to see photos of aubergines and beet again, and I didn’t think you wanted a photo of a fat slug on slimy green compost.  If you want to look at some amazing pictures, I would say take a look at the T&M competition winners snaps, they are amazing. However, I have included a photo of my proud mum (Anna) who won the Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition.

 Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition

Next month will be the last update for this year in my Year in the Greenhouse story. I really can’t believe how quick this year has gone. I hope you will join me in December.

Until then,

Happy Gardening, Love

Amanda.

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Greenhouse Update

Hello Everyone,

 

At the start of October T&M asked on their Facebook page, “What do you like best about this month?” There were many comments including my own, but thinking about it a bit more now, I have to say I think I like how you still have time to grow a few more seeds in the greenhouse before winter fully sets in. We have been so lucky here lately, it has not rained since September and it’s still warm enough to go outdoors without a coat. We have had no frost, and only had to have the heating on once or twice in the last two weeks in the evening.

seeds

I am so pleased that when I order seeds from Thompson & Morgan’s website it only takes a couple of days for them to arrive, this has meant that I have been able to make a start on my early spring vegetables. I have sown in the very first week of this month Cauliflower, Calabrese/Broccoli and Cabbage. I also had some left over pea seeds Alderman Heritage, Radish, Calendula and Nigella, so they have been sown too. I was really surprised n how quick the broccoli and cauliflower and radish germinated, I am still waiting for the Pansy, Godetia, Laurentia and Knifophoas to germinate from last month.

seedsAnother surprise I had was that some tomato seeds germinated in the borders of the big greenhouse. I have no idea what variety they will be. They were near the sungolds, so I am hoping it will be them. Mark has potted them up into individual two and half inch pots and they are in the small greenhouse as I am hoping they can be kept up heated over winter in there. I thought that when it gets colder I will wrap the pots in bubble wrap to keep the roots warm. I have no idea if this will work or not as I have never had tomato seedlings germinate in October, in a greenhouse border. I am usually very vigilant in removing all fruit, stems, leaves from the borders to prevent harbouring pests and diseases. The frustrating thing is that I was sent tomato seeds from Terri that arrived literally on the same day we found the seedlings. However, seen as I really don’t think the October tomatoes will still be alive next year as I am not planning on ever having a heater installedseeds in one of the greenhouses, I am really looking forward to growing Mountain Magic it’s specifically bred to be more blight resistant. Also I certainly won’t be putting in ten tomato plants it was too many for me to handle. I know next year six tomatoes will be the maximum for the big greenhouse and maybe three for the little one.

Just today we had confirmation that workmen are going to be painting our bungalow and replacing the external doors, so we have had to remove the hanging baskets and summer pots in readiness for them next week. So some plants that have been enjoying the summer sun have now had to be moved to the big greenhouse earlier than expected to ensure their protection. I have a load of Aloes, and Money Tree plant that need to be repotted, but for now they are sat on the greenhouse path waiting my attention.

We work full time so realistically most of the gardening is done on evenings and weekends, it’s getting dark quickly now, by seven the sun is almost setting, also the temperature drops rapidly once the sun has gone down. I may be lucky to hop into the greenhouses between making the next day’s sandwiches and cooking supper between five and six, but once the clocks go back and the weather changes I find it very difficult to go out in the cold and dark. Also I will be finding out in December if I am going to be having heart surgery or not, so I am planning to grow only what I can reasonably manage to look after.

In our small greenhouse we still have a continuous supply of spinach beet, I am really pleased as it’s a brilliant source of iron and it can be eaten raw or cooked. I like to lightly steam it, or sometimes just rip a few leaves into a stir fry. I recently found a recipe for spinach and pumpkin soup which seems ideal for Halloween. The carrots are starting to raising themselves out of the soil, on T&M’s website it says that with a bit of planning carrots can be more or less grown all year round, but they need protection from the worst of the weather.

seeds

Carrots take around twelve to sixteen weeks to mature and can be left in the ground until you’re ready to eat them. By growing carrots in the later seasons it reduces the chances of being destroyed by carrot fly. Carrot flies are attracted to the plant by oils released from the leaves or stems so it’s best to pull carrots in the evening.

seedsOn the shelves I have the baby veg seedlings, sweet peas, yarrow, Californian poppies and herbs. I also have empty plastic pots ready to transplant seedlings into. I have a collection of Christmas Cacti that need to be repotted after spending the summer under hot glass; they will be brought in and put on the bathroom windowsill where they will flower from November to January. I have a spider plant that I have no room for inside; it came from Dad’s so I don’t want to lose it, but I am not sure if it will survive the winter in the greenhouse. Finally, I will need to dust off the old blue bread trays for storing the begonia bulbs this winter. The begonias are still in flower so hopefully we don’t get any frost as they don’t look ready to die back any time soon. We usually leave the gazinas and dahlias in situ as although we have frosty days, it’s been at least five years since we have had a really harsh winter. In Pembrokeshire we tend to get west/south west winds or gales and an awful lot of rain rather than snow.

 

Whatever the weather there’s always something that needs doing in the greenhouse!

I’ll be honest with you, the last few winters I have tended to just pick the last of the produce in October, do a big tidy up, wash the glass down then shut the door until January when I start off the sweet peas. However this year it’s going to be different, it would be a sad sight if my new greenhouse was to remain empty for at least three months. There is a plethora of veggies that can be grown now from Brassicas to Onions and Shallots, and if growing food isn’t your thing, just think of how pretty your garden will be in the summer with strong bushy flowers such as fuchsias, dahlias, or or cannas overwintered under glass.

 

Until next month.

Happy Gardening,

Love Amanda X

My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

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