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Daphne

So how is the season so far?

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The garlic is ready to plant out so I've been hardening them off outside - although I bring them back at night because of the munching animals.  Naughty rabbits made a burrow in our pile of compost that was delivered recently!  I've been transferring barrowfuls of greenhouse spoil and I have made a huge bed - and still a pile left to move!  Yesterday we put cardboard down on part of it and put a layer of compost over that.  I will put some more on before planting - we had some ordinary chicken wire that we put over the compost - again to keep bunnies off.  No news from the fence man, so we are thinking of using electric fencing around the area to keep the buns off!  This morning no sign of the furry cottontails on the patch - although they are getting bold as brass and I can get much closer before they bounce off.  

Potatoes chitting here, in addition to the Charlottes I've bought bags of Violetta, Red Duke of York and Arran Victory from Caroll's Heritage Potatoes.  From the potato day I had 10 of each variety of Casablanca, Rocket, Estima, Wilja, Apache, King Edward and Sarpo Mira.  It'll be the first time planting main crop potatoes - but it's an experiment.

The tomatoes are going crazy and the peppers are doing well.  Only one old seed packet failed to germinate, but that's OK - it would have been a bonus if they had.  One interesting variety that I had to test is a long bell pepper called Yellow Monster - with a name like that I just had to!

Also sown Imperial Green Windsor broad beans to test.  Have yet to do Aquadulce Claudia.  Onion sets are popping up and the Ailsa Craig onion seeds have all germinated.  The old seed hasn't done much apart from 2 seedlings.  Again it would have been a bonus if they had, but the compost will go on the ground in the greenhouse and I'll use that for lettuce or some spinach.

I think I've overdone the seed potatoes - but plenty for our children to take home when they visit!  I hope!

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Well it’s that time of year again when I wish I’d spent more time tidying up last year!! I did sow a bed of rye grass to keep down weeds and act as green manure. Plus one bed was covered with plastic, but I have 7 beds full of weeds and practically no bark chippings left as paths....it’s going to be a slog getting it right again. 
 

Someone at the allotment has arranged a wood chipping delivery for us all to use...arrived yesterday so I need to get down there quickly before it’s all used. Sadly it’s at the other  end of the allotment to me, but I have a new wheelbarrow to shift it. 😀👍🏻
 

Now, do I bust a gut and break my back getting it all in order on my 6 days off or take it slow and steady and get frustrated? 😂😂

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Slow and steady Christian!  I went down the plot to pick some sprouts the other day.  It was nice and frosty - but everything is still squelchy, so can't really get cracking.  I did see a field vole who has happily been chomping on the celeriac.  Amazing really - like little goblets sunk into the ground.  The furry brat!  I need a live-in veg plot farm cat!  Buzzards, owls, foxes can't seem to cope with these furry sausages and I guess rabbits are more substantial for the bigger beasts.  Tawny owls are overflowing with mice, voles (bank and field - and maybe even shrews although I haven't seen them yet) so the veggie plot is the last place for them to hunt.  Maybe I need a model of a bird to make the voles think "eeeeek" or rather "squeeeeak!" and stay hidden.  The plot may be rabbit proof but the voles get through easily.  And something is chomping my comfrey as it shoots up!  Whinge whinge whinge! 

On the plus side garlic is coming up and so are the winter onions - in the greenhouse, because I figured they'd either be pulled up or chomped in the ground.  So same as last year and we weren't disappointed.  Have also just planted shallots in cells in the greenhouse too.  Not sown the tomatoes or peppers yet, but will be doing so in February.  Was too eager last year and the tomatoes romped away too fast.  Had a reshuffle in the greenhouse so tomatoes will be reduced to keep better control - they were sending side shoots out all over the place and it was hard to keep on top.  They also shut the light from the peppers - which did better in the ground than in the pots.  Seemed to get a lot of damp/condensation issues even with the vents open.  Roof vents had to stay closed because of the high winds, but sunny days they open automatically anyway.  A big learning curve.  

Last year I purchased from several seed companies - the "heritage" seed from Dobies didn't perform, the beans from all sources didn't do well either.  The Real Seed company I bought Lazy Housewife beans from and they were definitely not the same beans as my original Lazy Housewife beans from the proper Heritage Seed collection, but membership costs are crazy nowadays so I no longer belong to the organic gardening organisation.  Two companies had top marks, one was Franchi Seeds of Italy and the other was Tamar Organics. Fothergill's was reasonable.  Dobies wasn't too good, although Dobies onion sets were better than Fothergill's that developed white onion rot in some.  Then again that could have been partly due to the weather.  Ailsa Craig seed onions were by far the best from Fothergill's.   Dwarf beans did much better - Purple Teepee stands out as the best perfomer.  Even did an encore as we are eating them from the freezer.  For seed potatoes I bought from Carroll's Heritage potatoes - they were super.  The potatoes I bought from potato day weren't brilliant, but this year cutting down on the amount of seed potatoes, I just had them from Tamar.  Seems potatoes will be a thing of the past and if only I'd known earlier, I wouldn't have ordered the amount that I did this year!  OH has been diagnosed borderline diabetic so has now cut spuds from his diet.  That leaves me with a potato mountain and we haven't even started on the main crop spuds!  I had a slight hissy fit the other day and said I want to eat some of my own potatoes! 

But you are eating your own potatoes!

I'm still eating Charlottes and I want to try the others before the start sprouting!  I can't eat them all!!!!!

I have to say the mice in the garage are valiant little helpers in getting through the stored spuds.  Not amused, but our children have been piled high with produce and am about to take a fair few round to the neighbours!

So fingers crossed that this awful weather stops so that we can get cracking outside.

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Huge lover of Franchi seeds. Their borlotti beans are lovely and never had a problem with any of their squash/pumpkin seeds. Still eating the last few onions that cake from Dobbies. Samt remember the type -stur something? 
 

i spent 2 1/2 hours just doing the paths with wood chippings yesterday.  Sadly they were piled high at the farthest point from my plot, but the wheel barrow helped 😉 

 

Covered a large bed with cardboard, cut back half the autumn raspberries and pruned the blackcurrant bushes - a bit late but such is life. The crab apple I planted for my mum 5 years ago needs a decent prune, but I left my saw at home 🙄 Will do it this week. Really ought to paint the shed....purple I think this time? 
 

The water butts need moving (again) and one is pushing against the shed and has caused water damage. The last time I moved it, I fractured my wrist so will be extra careful this time. 🙄

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Yup, Sturon.  I grew those and a few different ones - names escape me!  We cut some branches away from overhanging the propane tank and some apple tree branches set to mess up the electricity cables!  OH cut a few of the larger branches and added them to the wood pile - and we didn't have to go to A&E either!  Both had our hard hats, ear muffs and visors while Mr Chainsawmassacremyself was kitted up in full chain mail and boots!  I stood back out of the way and just looked up or dragged the lighter branches away.  Shredding will happen in a couple of days!  It's now foggy as anything - blooming clouds!  So not much going on outside apart from intrepid explorer ducks.

Yes!  Purple - or a nice lavender/lilac hue.  In Hartley Wintney there's a blue/grey/lavender house that I always thought looked like a misty smokey thing through the trees - and then I saw oooh pretty colour house!  Our house being battleship grey needs a facelift - and I so want lavender!

Definitely be careful with those butts!  You did a lot of work yesterday!  Hope your arms feel like they still belong to you after all those wheely trips!

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Lovely to hear from you both and resurrect this thread😀

I was a bit lazy last year, I planted spuds and broad beans, but very little else.  As it turned out we had a relatively cool summer, and a wet autumn, so if I was ever going to give the toms and peppers a miss, last year was a good choice.   If any of you have a free draining soil I can thoroughly recommend Aquadulce broad beans for an autumn sowing (I suspect it will sulk if you have a heavy soil), I already have flowers on my plants.  The germination is always good, and they are the easiest things in the world, pop the seed in the soil, wait about 5 months, harvest.  However, like you Valkyrie, I seem to have a potato glut.  In my case, its because I must be the most rubbish harvester in the world.  I planted over 50 spuds last year, Charlotte, Lady Christl and Maris Peer.  The MP were hopeless (probably the location rather than the seed), but the others did well.  However, this year I have about 25 new plants - from spuds I obviously didn't see when I was harvesting!  I suspect I am not going to get a good harvest this year as I remember Bob Flowerdew concluding that you got bigger potatoes from bigger seed potatoes.  

I grew ginger in pots, from tubers bought in a shop and they worked very well, the roots swelled to at least three times the size of the bits I planted, so that was a result.  Very easy, you just plant a bit with an 'eye', cover and leave to grow in the sun, keep it watered.  When the shoot dies down in autumn you can either harvest, or overwinter.  My lemon grass is also bulking up, I have 3 pots from a single original.  Someone gave me a carob tree grown from a cutting, but I suspect I will be dead before it fruits!  I am also growing passion fruit from cuttings and I have several loquats on the go from seed, although I suspect they may be sterile.  However, I love the tree, so if they ever get big enough to flower I will be happy.

I will bring back some cherry tomato seed from the UK, and then probably buy plantlets here, for an April or May sowing.  I will do peppers as well - I have found that these grow best in a raised bed with plenty of compost, rather than struggling in the earth, so I think they are quite heavy feeders.  In fact, I am still waiting for the construction of a new raised bed, so that will be my first planting.

I am not brave enough to wield a chainsaw, although we always have a lot of stuff to prune.  We now have to notify the council if we have a bonfire, so we save stuff up for the best part of a year.  I need a new pair of extending loppers as we broke the old pair, and I am developing a weak wrist, can't do too much pruning at once.  As I get older I become more like my mother in terms of physical issues, grrrr!

Somehow I managed to have cosmos in flower in Dec and January, its been so cheery.  I think its given me a long season as I planted it in a well manured bed, so I had a couple of huge strong plants which flowered for months, then all these tiddly ones came up later as well.

We had voles in the UK, but they weren't a pest so I can't offer any advice, but I hope you get it sorted, its so offputting when weeks of intensive effort to sow seed, prick it out, nuture it etc, then goes horribly wrong when you think you have succeeded and got through the worst.  However, you'll never guess what we saw this morning a few yards from our land - wild boar markings!  I hope they don't venture in!

 

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Wild boar!  Glad we don't have to deal with those . . . yet!  Goodness knows though, but while I know there are escapees somewhere around I gather they prefer wooded areas.  I think the local game bods would have had any if they dared set trotters on their land!  :lol:

I have some turmeric that I'm going to try and coax into growing.  I did have some and put some compost in the tray to start them off but I'll be blowed where they ended up.  Can't even find the tray!  Maybe OH threw it all in the compost!  I know we have some ginger in the fridge, I did use some the other week when I had the coughy lurgy.  I may need to ninja the rest of it!

I forgot I've put some Aquadulce in the greenhouse - seeds were fine, plants died off after sowing and flowering last year - so this year hope a different part of the plot will help.  I need to get that compost down - I have strawberry and raspberry plants arriving in February!  Nothing like a little bit of pressure!  

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Am feeling woefully unprepared for the season ahead! Due to a bad hip I couldn't 'put the garden to bed' during October/November and it's now looking very sad. I have plans but won't be able to get out there until probably the beginning of April as, hopefully, op next week. The orange, lemon and olive pots seem to have survived reasonably so far - mainly with OH playing hokey kokey with them during the colder weather. Out for the rain and warmer nights then back in undercover for frosty ones.

The winter jasmine which OH bought me for Mother's Day last year was re potted and has got through so far.......am waiting for flower buds to appear before I bring it in to the warmth of the house to get the flowers opening (is that right?!) Our cardoons, which are about 10 years old now, are looking great. Big dramatic leaves so far........this year I must try and cook the thistley bits! They look so unappetising on the plant that I haven't been able to bring myself to prepare them thus far! 

Will spend the next few weeks thinking about what to plant though I fear I'll have to go for things that will 'produce' later in the season! It's very interesting to read about others plans on here......

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Managed to get 3 more wheel barrows of chippings laid before the pile ran dry. 
 

Tigerella tomato seeds planted and some calendula - just a couple of trays in the green house. Back to work today for 6 days but then have 11 days off. A quick trip to Germany with dad for 5 days but I’ll get some more seeds in at some point...

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You are all making me feel very guilty!  So far, my gardening is limited to looking out the window and thinking. I really must DO something.    My only excuse is that I’m currently battling with a plumber who installed a shower for us which is badly leaking and has lifted the tiles!   He’s finding every excuse under the sun to say ‘it’s not me’ guv.   I’m trying to be reasonable and give him the opportunity to remedy it, when all I want to do is get bolshie.  Aaarrrgghhh!  But that’s not for this lovely gardening thread.....

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On the news today this is the 2nd warmest January on record. The result is the veggie plot is covered in weeds and it's far too wet to dig them out, however I did manage to cut one of the lawns.

Good luck with the shower Patricia. Problem is the pipes can't be tested until the whole thing is installed. We had one develop a leak, caused by a pinhole in a sub-standard copper pipe, perhaps 10 years after it was installed. The end result was the whole shower room had to be completely rebuilt from scratch which meant taking down the walls because the plasterboard and the wood had rotted!

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Yuk!  We had issues with our shower in the old house - pipe burst in the wall and the wet leaked into the bedroom.  Luckily the floor was OK, just new plastering - and time for a new bathroom!  Makes an expensive leak!

As for the weeds - cover the beds with cardboard - it does rot down - and then mulch over the top with 3 - 4 inches of compost.  The worms do a lot of the work - they aerate the soil at the same time plus worm casts are super!  We had dandelions, couch grass, buttercups and sorrel in the field, but only a few bits remained and most had gone.  Where we put black damp proof membrane down on the other areas first, we pulled it back to reveal no grass but a few dandelions very weak and white stemmed.  We strimmed those, then put the cardboard down and repeat the rest.  Result not many weeds dared to show.  A little couch grass in odd places but it works eventually.  Worst was the paths where the dandelion seed heads had blown and landed - but they were really easy to pull up or hoe away.  Saves a lot of trouble in future years - I first started the no dig in my veg patch (well it is dig but dig into the compost and chuck it down instead) and had a trial bed - amazing results, so the following year did all the veg patch.  5 minutes weeding now and again with nothing major to remove.  Did the same last year and it's been blooming good.  Apart from the wet and rain.  Wind did damage the bean poles which ended up horizontal, but have a cunning plan!

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Shower is less than 2 years old.  Plumber saying ‘not me Guv’...   let’s wait and see..  Anyway, back on track.   I’m aiming to put in a raised bed this year.  So planning the planting.  Fancy beans, kale, obviously lettuce etc.   I must try your method of getting rid of couch grass.  I’ve cleared it most places but have a persistent patch which keeps coming back.   I think, like bindweed, the roots go down a colossal depth

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Those blooming roots do!  Plus if you break a bit off then whoopee another little monster grows!  We've had a little bit of wireworm in our spuds and roots, but nothing like the damage that we were told to expect from uncultivated ground.  We found some spuds had nothing while others they made a beeline for them, but noticeably on the edges.  I did have raised beds before, but thinking against that this time - even more exposure to the winds until the hedges grow - no protection from the southerlies because the ground drops too far and the hedges would need to be very tall!  I'm not going for leylandii!:lol:  Although maybe the likes of raspberries around the fence perimeter might cut a lot of wind out - hmmmmm, that's worth thinking about.  Cultivated blackberries even!  Thornless!

I've got strawberry plants and raspberry canes arriving in a few days - I'm hoping for a little bit of dry so I can work out there.  At the moment the sun is shining and the forecast of zero rainfall is proving to be rubbish as I saw the radar, the cloud and the wind direction and yep - it is raining too.  But not for long.  

We've been to Screwfix today for chain link wire, piping insulation and metal links - tarpaulin arrived the other day so instead of fixing the tarp over the top of the existing holey tarps on the chicken run, we are fixing it up inside.  OH was a negative Nellie with going over the top, refused to discuss tarps and I thought nope, I want my chickens dry thank you very much!  So thwarted him - now he's OK with that idea.  He's also a clock watcher and asks me for times - gets angry when I say I don't know, because I do know that once the clock touches the very time I've quoted he'll be so antsy and naggy that it just stresses me even more.  Today I said right, I'm ready - and he says what for?  Then he mutters about not being told a time. :lol:

 

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First day of real garden activity this year - got 2 of our new fruit trees planted - hurray!  I was beginning to think I'd never get them out of the veg beds where they've been heeled in since November.

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Tarp up and the birds are dry underneath.  Something is eating my comfrey and nipping the new leaves as they pop up!  So I've netted some and will look for more netting in the week.  Broad beans are doing nothing.  They may be bad seed as I had issues with the beans last year and these are the few left over.  It is different compost this time, so it can't have been anything to do with the compost I had last year then.  

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Well, we managed to plant a small cox apple tree! Our newish neighbours at the bottom of the garden have now removed the lellandi (sp?!) that were shading and drawing all the nutrients form the bottom bed and so we decided to add the new tree. Also 3 smallish lavender plants that should soon bulk up. I've had a seed catalogue from DT Brown (I think it came free with the Sunday paper!) and I've earmarked some dwarf runners, plum toms,baby cues, baby butternut squash and compact peas that I'll order tomorrow ready to go out in April in pots or growbags on the patio. I am toying with the idea of cucamelons; anyone tried those? Can't quite get my head around what they may taste like!

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Hoovered out the porch and hinted (loudly) to OH that it was ready for the table and propagator to be set up again.  Slacking outside somewhat!

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