What an amazing May, so hot and dry! Hope this isn’t our summer.
I have a confession to make – I’ve not done half as much in the greenhouses as I would usually do. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in them, or in my garden, but with limited energy, mobility and dexterity I have not been able to do as much as previous years. But fear not, I’m not ready to hang up the trowel just yet.
So what have I been doing this month? It seems a lot of trying to keep the plants cool by opening al, the doors and windows and damping down the floor with a good splash of water. I went in there one morning and it was 35°c. Because the plants are still quiet small in Ty Mawr we still put the washing to dry on airers in there.
Lots of the plants put on so much growth they were moved to the cold-frame then later into their final growing positions.
Oh Star Wars day (May the Fourth – be with you), in The Office I decided to take my recycling project even further and filled up an egg box with soil before sprinkling a food for bees and butterflies seed mix into it. They took a matter of days to germinate. Because the egg box was similar in feel and texture to the peat pots I have been using, I was careful to keep it damp, but not too soggy, so that I could lift the box up without it falling apart. That same day I planted my trial-for-another-company petunias into a hanging wall planter bag and laid it on the staging to settle and establish. Then the next day I planned to clean the greenhouse after the winter storms.
Mark washed all of the glass on both greenhouses inside and out, while I decided to empty the storage seat to see what goodies I had. I found some incredibloom, some colourful cane toppers and and some pretty bulb markers that T&M sent me last year. After Mark washed the glass he took everything out to sweep the floor. I was really tired and when I was trying to help put things back in the greenhouse with him, I dropped a sunflower. The plant was fine, but there was now mud all over the clean floor.
Mid month, the new batch of Marigold Strawberry Blonde seedlings were big enough to be transplanted into bigger pots, I spent a few days pricking them out along with the African Marigold Spinning Wheels. For some reason my French Marigolds are refusing to germinate. I’m on my third sowing since March. I think they are sulking because the beautiful Orange Calendula and the fluffy Snow Princess are the star of my baskets so far.
As the temperatures began to soar I moved the Cape Gooseberries, and a collection tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and chillies from The Office to the hanging shelves in Ty Mawr. With access to longer periods of sunshine and a more temperate climate they established strong root-balls very quickly. Sometimes I had to water them morning, noon and evening as they were shooting up.
Mum had been sorting her garden, and no longer wanted her pretty shell planter. It matches the solar water feature of hers she gave me a few years ago, and my own blue containers that sit on the patio, so she gave it to me. I have planted it with the strawberry blonde marigolds and I cannot wait to see the flowering results. With a bit of luck the colours that are opposite on a colourwheel, chart, should look fantastic
Our new neighbours opposite us had recently asked if we wanted a collection of their primroses for the garden as they had far too many. We said yes please, and as we were talking and wondering around our garden, they commented on the biodiversity of wildlife that was in it. They said they had slow-worms in their garden as their cats kept bringing them in the house. Mark explained that Slow-Worms are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and if possible try to put them somewhere safe from the cats. The slow-worm breeds in May and the males can be aggressive towards each other in order to find a female and mate. I added that slow worms are very beneficial for the garden, as they eat slugs and snails, however I was very glad I didn’t have them in the garden as I am afraid of them and snakes.
A few evenings later we had a knock on the door, thankfully I didn’t answer it. I heard voices and in the hall there was Mark and the neighbour with a slow worm. I kind of went off on one about bringing it near me. When they finished laughing I asked why was there a slow worm in my house. Apparently, Mark has been re-homing slow worms in our compost bin, from the neighbours since that conversation. I was very brave and took a photo of it for this blog. This little critter has two puncture marks where a magpie dropped it on their lawn. It did occur to me that it was probably the one from our garden they re-homed before as our resident magpie is often up by the compost bin.
On the 18th of May we went off in the motorhome for the weekend. This time I left all the peat pots and the egg box in a tray of water. I soaked all the plants and we almost drowned the greenhouse borders. And just as well, as the temperatures soared. When we were back on late Sunday I had hay-fever from hell so avoided the garden until Monday morning. All the plants were fine. The Sweetpeas Turquoise Lagoon where placed in a large pot and I made a string and cane obelisk for them to climb.
The bee and butterfly egg box and other pollinator plants were big enough to go outside and we up- cycled an old plastic wheelbarrow into a feature planter. It was better to drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the barrow than take it to the tip. Although it would have been recycled I think it will look better filled with flowers this way, rather than using energy to make it into something else.
My garden peas haven’t germinated, and I think the packet has been open too long, so I had to chuck the last few seeds out. Coincidentally, I sent off for some free pea seeds months ago and had forgotten all about it, so imagine my happy surprise when they arrived, the day the I chucked the old packet out. The seeds are part of a social-media incentive to get people growing their own produce, so I will be posting updates on my social media platforms about regarding the progress.
On the 24th of the month I got Mark to build a sort of trellis from my mums old greenhouse staging, canes and
string to give the Cape Gooseberries something that climb up. He then placed them in their final growing positions, along with the sweet peppers and aubergines. Which means that in The Office, I now have the following jobs left to complete:
- Transplant the Zinnias Amaranthus Joseph’s Coat into individual pots and place in the colder frame to harden off.
- Build another string and cane trellis for my emerging garden peas.
- Sow the Blu Moon and Pink Moon Radish and some more Rainbow Mix Beetroot.
- The final job will be to put the two chillies into hanging baskets to allow them to spread their roots.
In the cold frame, I need to transplant the carrot and Brussel Sprouts into deep pots or sacks. In Ty Mawr, I need to pinch out the tips of the trial-for-another-company tomaítoes, dead head the marigolds that keep the pests away. Next I will thin out some of the chilli plants in the fire bucket and place them in the borders between the Beetroots that are due to be pulled up in a week or so.On the hanging shelves I have some of the Lidl’s sweet peppers that I grew from the seeds in the ones I ate, many are planted in the borders, but I am hoping to give these to my nieces. Mark plans to erect their greenhouse for them as my brother still hasn’t done it. I meant to give them some of the sunflowers, but because of the weather the plants ended up going in and around our garden.
I hope I have more to share with you next month. Learning my limitations has been hard, things that I took for granted, like watering the plants building trellises and spending hours pottering are no longer possible. Instead I rely on Mark to do lots of the work for me. I have learnt do garden, little and often. If it take me three hours over three days to transplant seedlings, then so be it.
As I said at the start, I’m not ready to hang up the trowel just yet.
Until next time,