I can’t quite believe this will be my fourth year writing for T&M. I have learned so much more about writing blogs as well as gardening over the years. I’ve shared my ups and downs with you, and formed many friendships with the blogging community. One of things I love is your interactions, a little message on my page really does make me smile.
Each year I start off by promising to write more factual and interesting pieces, but by May, all I am focused on is telling you how this or that is faring. So this year I added a new blog called “Rake to Bake,” where I will attempt to encourage you (not that many of you need it…) to try something new with your edibles. Did anyone make the Parsnip Scones? I recently modified the recipe to include sprouts as well as parsnips – all I can say is I am very sorry for the unusual high winds the UK is experiencing.
I must be the only blogger here who has not abandoned the winter garden. I haven’t done any work, but I have watched Mark tidy up. My job is to examine the plot by walking around taking photos, tracking the pattern of the sun and sighing at the wind damage. I spend time laughing at the antics of the birds that don’t mind coming to feed at the table when I’m watering the plants in the greenhouse. Finally when I come in from the cold it is usually sees me getting pens and paper to draw fancy plans for where I plan to put things. Then on a day that is far too bitter to go out I revise the plans or draw them up again.
Due to my ineptness for the last three years I have put the bee hotel facing west. It was only when I read an update from The Bumble Bee Trust that I realised the poor bees would not move in, unless I repositioned it. I also noted that Bees don’t nest at too high a level, so about a foot off the ground for the hotel is just as effective as head height. In case you are wondering I have a Bee obsession, I would love to have bee hives, unfortunately Mark is allergic to their sting, so I’ll just have to settle for feeding them instead.
The greenhouses are ticking over, inside “The Office” nothing new has germinated this month, except for what could possibly be a new lavender. The odd frosty nights have seen most of the seedlings go dormant. I only need to keep the compost moist and ventilate on warmer days. There are a few pots of violas that smell divine and have been flowering for over a month. I’m itching to start off my sweetpeas, but the gales mean it’s too unsafe to be in the greenhouse for more than a quick five minute check.
In “Ty Mawr” the peppers and chillies seem to have survived the winter, although Mark forgot to water them, so I nearly lost them. The English Marigolds have really shot up, and even though some of the same batch are flowering outside the ones under glass have not. Curiously, the plants inside are much larger, and I am assuming this is because they are warmer and drier. The cornflowers did not like the cold, nor the lack of regular watering, but they have picked up over the last few days. Incredibly the Nicotiana is still flowering – I expected it to die off between Christmas and now, but no it just keeps going. (Hope I haven’t jinxed it.) The turnip looks like it could be ready soon. The garlic bulbs died. The stored dahlias have not rotted, the baby money trees need repotting.
I ordered and received my onion seeds at the start of the month. Followed closely by an offer on seed potatoes. By placing an order for Maris Piper I was able to order a trial sample of the new Vizella potato variety for the bargain price of £1.99 and potato fertiliser for 50p. They also came with a free packet of mint seeds, perfect for a late spring/early summer salad. I have started the chitting process, hopefully I can plant them mid February, that’s the beauty of living by the coast – less frost. I had to leave my cold frame in the large greenhouse due to the fact it keeps going off on its own accord every time the wind picks up, scattering its contents here, there and everywhere. The last time it went off on one it ended up from being in a sheltered spot by the bench in front of the bungalow to almost putting itself in the shed round the back.
I’ve set up my electric propagator on the kitchen window, I’ve planted seven types of seeds, so far nothing has grown, but it takes 7-21 days so I’m not worried yet. I am planning to write more about the propagator at a later date.
As January is traditionally a time to look both forward and back, here is a short summary of my past actions and new plans:-
I introduced myself and asked you to share a year in the greenhouse with me. Everything from the construction of the greenhouse to the last produce of the year. I wrote about the importance of keeping a gardening diary, (something I still do today), and I told you that I couldn’t grow cucumbers. – I still can’t grow them…
I started the year by explaining the rookie mistakes I made with a bigger greenhouse, I complained about my Labrynthitis, I was ecstatic I had grown Californian poppies. I noticed that we had plenty of blue skies in in early 2016. I bought hanging shelves for Ty Mawr, and I was excited to try out the seeds I had won for blogger of the month the previous December.
Full of optimism I wrote this :- “The first thing I learned this year is how powerful plants can be. During my final session of chemotherapy, I decided to google what goes into the drugs that are saving my life. Cabol is synthetic and therefore uninteresting, but Taxol, as the name suggests, is derived from the Pacific Yew tree…” “…It (Taxol) also contains poisonous plant alkaloids from the periwinkle (Vinca Major) and the American wild mandrake, commonly known as the May Apple. Plus it has extracts from the Asian Happy tree – a 40 meter giant that is also grown in Canada.”
I went on to talk about the plans for my grassy knoll area the Orange coloured garden flowers I would grow, and the plans to help mum rejuvenate her front space. I stated my brother still hadn’t put his greenhouse up.”
A month after I wrote the blog, I had my surgery and just as I was returning to work six months later, I had a blood clot in my heart leaving me with Heart Failure.
Through all of these setbacks the greenhouses and garden kept me sane, the act of planting a seed and watching it grow enabled me to be determined to go on. I didn’t want to die without tasting the new variety tomatoes, or seeing the dahlias bloom.
I have many plans, I might not achieve them, but here they are –
- Have a go at growing Cape Gooseberries.
- Have a go at growing Himalayan Blue Poppies
- Improve the grassy knoll.
- Have all my family and friends around on warm sunny days to sit outside eat cakes then go home with a bunch of flowers/fruit/veg picked from the garden.
- Visit Geoff at Driftwood on his Open Day.
- Visit Caroline and her cats.
- Encourage even more bees into the garden.
- Nag my brother until he puts up his greenhouse – he has done the base…
- Advise (nag/dictate- delete as appropriate) my other brother on his new allotment.
But I know as well as anyone that things do not always go according to plan, so my all time favourite thing to do this year is to just enjoy being in the greenhouse whenever I can.
Until next time,