February might be the shortest month, but boy has it been packed with drama – at least for me anyway. First we had the wicked west winds so bitter they could have given an expresso a run for its money. These annoying gusts meant for several days we couldn’t go in the greenhouses for fear of the glass being blown out on opening the door. How the flowering marigolds inside Ty Mawr managed without a drink for three weeks is pretty astounding.
On the second weekend of the month I happened to stay with my mum on the Saturday night, we had met friends for lunch and that evening I was trying to teach her Logic colouring-in puzzles. We didn’t notice the wind picking up and by the time I did it was too late for me to text Mark to check the cold frame was secure. It was wedged under the shelter of the eaves between the bungalow wall and the side of a garden bench, plus there was a large plant pot just in front it, so I assumed it would be fine. I had overwintering Violas, cornflowers, foxgloves and calendula in it .Mark is pretty good at checking the cold frame as the pesky thing likes to make a dash for the shed in windy weather. Credit where it’s due, Mark spent most of Sunday morning walking around the neighbourhood looking for Rhett Butler(aka the cold frame), as now it had literally Gone With The Wind- He broke the news on the drive back from mum’s. – the plants were okay, they hadn’t moved from their position. I was upset, I didn’t cry but I was mad at myself for not noticing the inclement weather, and for the fact that I won Rhett in a T&M blogger only photo competition
In frustration I put a post on Pembrokeshire-Bay asking if anyone had found an unexpected polycarbonate cold frame in their gardens near me. Lots of people replied, many had even gone to check their gardens for me. One extremely kind Gardening lady who lives eight miles away said I could have hers for free if I wanted. I was touched, and told her I would contact her again in a few days if mine was gone for good. Her generosity sparked offers of free manure from a person with horses, and thus my post grew, so I thought, well at least Rhett leaving brought out the best in other people.
Mum called for over the following Monday, we went for a short walk,with her peering into gardens and hedges still seeking Rhett. It’s okay mum, I said, Mark has looked and looked. Do you think it was stolen? she asked. I replied No, they would have taken the plants and solar lights as well. Anyway our part of town is relatively crime-free.
Much later, when we were doing the dishes after supper Mark suddenly exclaimed, “I know where your coldframe is!”
“Please tell me…you didn’t put it in the shed and forget did you?” I ask.
“Would I be that stupid?!”
He takes a torch and no more than five minutes later he’s back with a disheveled looking Rhett. Apparently the one place none of us had thought to look was behind the wheelie bins between the old youth club and the surgery. I asked him what made him look there. He said because he saw an old patio table there yesterday and thought it was a funny place to put one – , so perhaps someone had fly-tipped it. So maybe Rhett is not Rhett, but then again maybe someone is still missing a patio table…
When the winds blew themselves out, I ventured into The Office as I needed that start off some seeds. The first packet were a Freebie from Just Bee Drinks, a lovely blend of bee friendly flowers, as I won them – and three cartons of Honey infused fruit juices for submitting a good bad-bee-pun at the end of January.
I am also taking part in a tomato germination seed trial with a different company so was keen to get that underway.
The Office was in a bit of a state as I had only being going in to check things and water small pots, so that afternoon I tried to rearrange the shelves. I was glad I had. After a wait of nearly nine months grass Ponytails had germinated and was in dire need of repotting. I found a surprise turnip, that needs transplanting and I nearly pitched a fit when I looked down to wipe water from my wrist to discover it was a baby slug happily sitting there.
A tray propagator that I had completely forgotten about had sprouted a couple of Heleniums and some Malvas as well as several kinds of disgusting white moulds. Holding my breath (not ideal with heart failure) and zipping my hooded fleece up to my nose I carefully carried the tray outside, rescued the good stuff then had Mark empty the tray. I moved another propagator (clean and empty) and found a remarkably big radish growing behind it in a three inch pot. I threw out the refused to germinate-in-a-year Liatris seeded pots as well as several Snow Princess Marigolds that were ruined by frosts and my new pet Slugsy, who I had put near the bird feeding station.
A few days later, I had Mark sieve fresh compost so I could start my T&M seeds. I set off some sweet peppers, Boneta’s and Bullhorns, then came the Cayennetta Chilli peppers. Fed up of buying supermarket mixed salad leaves, that are too much for one person to eat in a week, and washed in chlorine I sowed some speedy salad leaves, so we can just pick them as we need them. The final food item i sowed was my favourite basil variety Lemonade. This year, I am hoping to grow more flowers from seed, so I sowed Lewsia and Commelina Dianthifolia, both of which need cold weather to germinate. Talking of which I am hugely excited to announce that both my Himalayan and Grande Meconopsis Blue poppies have germinated. The Himalayan ones in the Plant Butler outside and the other type in the heated propagator on the kitchen window sill.
After seed sowing Mark watered the aloe border and swept up for me. I was back in Ty Mawr checking the status of the potato grow bags which were in need of water, so were the marigold and cornflower borders. Mark watered these for me, while I mourned the loss of two baby money trees from the cold. Thankfully the newspaper wrapped dahlias are not affected. Ty Mawr is overcrowded now as I had to put the rescued cold frame plants on the path as the shelves are full. If I put them in the borders they will take root, which I don’t want. I need to cut off the dead foliage from last year’s pepper and chilli. I am not sure if the Nicotiana has survived I can’t climb over the pots to see. A sorry state really, but on the next warm day l’ll do a proper inspection.
Today the cold frame is in the confines of The Office. Mark has straightened it back out and secured lengths of narrow batons to three sides to make it heavier. He plans to add another baton to the top to keep the lids closed with clips of some kin, (don’t know what as I have no DIY skills whatsoever,) so that the lids don’t act like sails again. Fingers crossed that no other dramas occur, but with the Beast from the East on its way I wouldn’t be surprised if something did. Our coldest day so far has been 4°c and we had a light frost a few nights ago. I am not looking forward to the cold snap, even if it does mean more Blue Poppies.
Until next time,
PS Does anyone have any idea why I can’t grow Welsh Poppies in the same heated propagator on the kitchen window in the tray next to Himalayan ones when they both require the same growing conditions, heat and light , AND I’m in Wales and in the Himalayas?