Dear Gardeners,

Well if I thought February was dramatic, March can only be described as chaotic! I wanted to celebrate St David’s day, in my childhood home of St Davids, but The Beast from the East, arrived, along with his friend storm Emma, and between them they spoiled my plans. It snowed. A lot. We hadn’t had snow like that since 2010.

Pembrokeshire had some freezing nights and on the morning of the first predicted snowstorm I had to go to a heart rehabilitation session; the temperature outside at 9:00am showed -5°c. As a result we lost many garden plants, yet, the Chindoxia, more aptly named Glory of the Snow, benefited from the cold snap; they along with crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth,bergnia and primroses bounced back and have flowered ever since.

The snow only stuck for two days, allowing me to meet up with one of my friends who I hadn’t seen in twenty years, she managed travel from Newcastle to attend her sister’s wedding. Spurred on by photos of the bride’s simple winter wildflower bouquet, I decided that I would abandon my plans for an all blue flower show this year, and try to grow as many plants as I can, to create little posies for the elderly ladies (and gents) at heart rehab class, as well as for the nurses and staff.

So I increasing my seed sowing. In the first week I planted, Sunflower Shock-o-lat, Velvet Queen and Marigold Strawberry Blonde. Food-wise I planted Red Onion –Red Baron, Classic Mint and Beetroot RaInbow Mix. These were all put in single cell propagators in “The Office.”

A week later, I moved my trial tomatoes (from the kitchen window) into the greenhouse along with the Yellow Stuffer ones. The latter being in the Heated Propagator after my Gardeners’ Delight failed. They failed as I used an ancient packet of seeds from Woolworths…Mark helped me sort out the greenhouses as the Cornflowers Black Ball, and Larkspurs needed transferring to the cold-frame for hardening off. He also dug poppies out of the borders of Ty Mawr and transplant them into a large pot on the patio.

T&M’s Coleus Canina (Scaredy Cat) plugs arrived a few days later, and I inadvertently picked the warmest day to pot them on. I wish I hadn’t! They had been confined for posting and with the heat through glass, the oils were particularly potent. I managed to transplant three quarters of them, but my eyes were stinging as was my nose. Never mind cats, the plants had already scared me. I got the others done the following day.

And then it snowed again. Luckily it was a dusting that only lasted twenty-four hours. In the third week I soaked sweetpea Turquoise Lagoon seeds overnight, then planted them the following day. By the Friday the Beetroot seedlings had grown in their makeshift propagator they needed thinning out and repotting.

As the photos show, a lot of my seeds are in recycled fruit boxes. I am choosing to grow them in these to

  • a) reduce my plastic waste,
  • b) save money as I still can’t return to work, which means that I cannot afford to spend as much as I used to on my hobby,
  • c) I have run out of single cell seed propagators and
  • d) because I want to show others that you don’t always need fancy equipment to grow things in.

I’ll be honest though I wasn’t sure if it would work, but evidently it does.

Last Monday I transplanted Cape Gooseberries, and Meconopsis Grande seedlings from the Heated Propagator into individual pots. In their place I have started a completely unscientific aubergine seed trial using Patio Mix seeds and Celine seeds, from three different companies

including T&M. I planted up the bright red fire bucket of chillies that my youngest brother gave me for Christmas. This is in addition to the chillies I set off last month. I had to abandon the Venidiums, Welsh Poppies and Echinacea as the compost went green and grew mossy. The contents were sprinkled in the hollyhock border, so perhaps they will grow there. That border hardly ever gets weeded as its a second wildflower border intercepted by dozens of hollyhocks, a Gogi and Tay Berry – both of which have never fruited. Plus there’s a Chinese Lantern shrub my other brother gave me. Also present are flowering daffodils and tulips.

Then add the daisies, buttercups and dandelions which are NOT weeds, but food for early pollinators. That afternoon I sowed some Radish, as well as more Hyssop as sadly ours died off. I am not sure if it was down to last year’s wet summer, the neighbours cats using our garden as a toilet or just that they were not big enough to go in the ground, even though they had outgrown the pots. Next I accidentally sowed a whole packet Buddleja, Reason being I still have chemo fingers and I can’t feel things properly, I was trying to open the seed packet with my fingers, As my hands were tired I didn’t feel the packet rip until it flew out of them and scattered 75 (on average, the label says,) seeds onto a waiting tub of compost. There was absolutely no point in me even trying to pick them out, my fingers were refusing to even pick up the packet. I was impressed that the seeds had gone in the tub though. I was going to plant some Lupins but didn’t remember I was supposed to soak them overnight so they will be done after Easter.Tuesday afternoon I sowed some Corriander, some French Marigolds, and Borage. I loved the marigolds last year and am thinking I really need to get some African Marigolds to add to my English and French display. Maybe I can have some instead of an Easter Egg. Hint, hint!

Finally the last thing I did in The Office was to transplant some sweet pepper seedlings from a pot in the kitchen that had the supermarket experimental seeds in. However, they didn’t grow,(the mini sweet peppers I got them from may be F1 hybrids) so I sowed some Orange Sweet pepper seeds that I had from a magazine last year. Only I think that the original seeds have now germinated as there are more peppers than there should be in the pot. So another totally unscientific experiment is taking place – lets see if I can spot the difference between two different types of peppers before they go in Ty Mawr or produce fruit.

I hope to continue sowing more seeds in April, my brother (youngest) gave me a funky veg kit, and I’m intrigued by its contents. There are six types of seeds including purple carrots. So The Office has many seeds, and baby plants It, as well as the things that have been overwintering. Foxgloves, primula, cornflowers, pot marigold, larkspur, Christmas Cacti, and lavender to name a few. Snow Princess marigolds are now in a wall planter outside. The Beast from the East destroyed the border in The Office, the subzero temperatures killed my money tree. There is a tiny bit left that I am hoping will regrow. It also killed one of the flowering house plants that was there too. I may put the Hibiscus that T&M gave me for Christmas in the border, as the pot sits atop it, but for now Mark added violas and a cornflower. The hibiscus got sunburnt on the top staging so it’s top leaves are pale and slightly crispy. I spotted the problem a bit late and now wondering where I can put it as its too big for the bungalow and won’t survive the westerly salty winds outside.

In Ty Mawr, I have marigolds starting to flower, cornflowers, shooting up, turnips that are growing by the day, and six grow bags of potatoes, that Mark had to constantly either has to earth up or water. The Vizella were slow to start off and I thought the weather had killed them, but as they are lates, I should have been more patient in expecting growth. The Maris Piper (second early) on the other hand have been strong from the start. I usually grow Charlotte’s but wanted a change this year.

The dahlias that are still wrapped in newspaper survived, being on the hanging shelves, but the baby money trees did not, neither did the cycleman or heather. My dad’s spider plant suffered badly, apart from two leaves, the rest was brown. I’ve cut the dead bits off and it needs repotting, but I am reluctant to do this in case I kill it altogether, I’ve already nearly lost his money tree.

Thankfully I still have his Christmas Cacti.

The whole borders need to be prepared for summer fruits, a job Mark will do next month, as well as build the tomato framework.

Until then.

Happy Gardening.

Love Amanda.

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