Sunday 27th March 2022 – snatching some gardening time from the jaws of (welcome) chaos

Dreadful photos (bright sunshine, don’t want to complain!) and no confluence between enough time to take better ones and the inclination to do so. Chief Engineer’s birthday and a weekend of extremely welcome visits and a sense of normality and a life fully lived… WELCOME, LIFE, we missed you. The Under-Gardener is noticeable in his absence from these outdoor photos – he’s either been menacing visitors for snacks, lounging in awkward places on the patio or skulking indoors…

Some annoying bare patches still, but I am heading in the right direction I think. Except these were meant to be orange and red tulips. The orange ones have come up decidedly on the red side. As for those pale pink ones… I think I might have worked out what’s happened…
…I think I might have mixed the pale pink ones up with the deep pink ones and planted them in the wrong place, though even with my love of clashing colours I can’t quite believe I meant to put this deep pink in with red…. This little beauty has come up in another bed, I love this colour, I think it would look great with blues, grape hyacinth maybe… and maybe I’ll try again next year with my tulip combinations!
Apparently I bought multiple different types of plant supports some time ago and left them in their packaging in the shed. I thought I’d try to be clever and put them in place now, so the delphiniums can grow through them, which is how they’re meant to be used, as opposed to my usual trick of trying to fit the supports over delicate fully grown plants, invariably breaking flower spikes in the process. The height of these rings can be increased a little as the plants grow. I’ve never yet managed to get them in place in time to see how well they work, so this could be an interesting experiment.
A hot day and full sun are precisely the wrong conditions for pricking out seedlings started indoors. Too bad, because something has found its way into my heated propagator and is munching my tender seedlings, so I needed to take everything out, sort it all out a bit and try to get on top of the problem. These padron peppers, chilli peppers and… erm… something else were all in tiny modules so really needed pricking out anyway. I’m hoping they’ll perk up once I get them back in the propagator. If not, I have time to sow more, but I’ll be annoyed with myself.
A lovely friend and fellow gardening obsessive sent me an aconitum. I’ve only ever seen pictures of them and I’ve always fancied one – they’re often a really arresting blue, but this one will be white. I knew they were highly toxic but I never realised just how toxic until I researched it further – apparently the entire plant contains neurotoxins which can even be absorbed through the skin when handling the plant, especially the roots. I have to say, I didn’t realise and handled it bare-handed and I did feel quite peculiar in the evening but that might have been psychosomatic (or sleep deprivation, or an attack of the vapours). Anyway, I’ve written myself a reminder to wear gloves on the plant label, though with my habit of losing plant labels, the writing coming off, or me just ignoring them, this is hardly a fail safe approach…
Three different types of peas, the two gutters on the left sown at the same time (about 2 weeks ago or maybe a little more; the one on the right sown last week). Why are the ones on the far left so poor? It’s either mice, slugs, old seed, cold claggy soil, or seed rotting before it can germinate. I gave up and sowed more today. And – much as I hate to do either of these things – I baited the rodent bait station with poison and I put down the lightest possible sprinkling of slug pellets! Both, however, are in the greenhouse, which I hope will mean that I can target pests in here without affecting the wildlife outside the greenhouse. Using endless amounts of seed and compost and getting no plants out of is is not environmentally friendly either, so I figure I need to strike a balance here and employ some pest control wisely, judiciously and strictly according to the instructions – it’s astonishing how light a sprinkling of slug pellets we’re meant to use, and how heavily you see people shovelling them on. My main concern will be to ensure birds and other garden friends can’t eat the dead slugs – I think if I’m careful to leave a decent amount of time between the application of the pellets and taking the seedlings out of the greenhouse, I should be able to ensure it’s as safe as it can be. I feel ridiculously guilty about using these… less so the rodenticide, to be honest, I don’t mind mice but I really can’t stand rats! They really make my flesh crawl.. and I saw quite a big one in the garden a couple of weeks ago, plus I found obvious signs of them having been in and around the shed today!

This perpetual wallflower (erysimum) is a fleeting joy every Spring. It has one short lovely flush of flowers early on, but I don’t mind its brevity too much as it has a biddable form and it looks so happy, lending a nice bit of evergreen structure to the border year-round. The yellow and pink on this one (I think it’s called Winter Orchid) are a bit grubby-looking really but I think it gets away with it. It didn’t look remotely like this in the nursery, both the colours were much brighter and cleaner. I assume this is due to soil variations (it was growing somewhere in West Wales, where the soil is much redder than our dark loam).

I cannot believe that these tiny onions raised from seed are going to bulk out – so far, growing from seed seems altogether more hassle for far less reward than simply planting sets. Unconvinced but undeterred, I have planted out all my seedlings and we’ll see what happens (I don’t suppose the impending cold snap will help, I might have to wrap the whole garden in fleece…)
Another failure, due to 1) me being hopelessly optimistic and sowing too soon or 2) slugs or 3) wood lice or 4) old seed or 5) wet/rotting off…. Who knows, but neither the carrot seed sown under the wood nor the ones covered only with compost germinated (or if they did, they didn’t stick around). So I’ve sown some more, though I suspect the seed is too old. Really carrot seed should be bought fresh every year, but there was so much left in the packets I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. This is probably a false economy and one I need not to repeat next year! Otherwise I’m just wasting time and effort and losing valuable growing time which will impact on yield through the year. We are growing in order to eat, after all. A sprinkling of sand seemed to help last year so I’m done that again.
Very out of focus, but this is the first showing of flowers forming on the currants. The white currant always comes first, then the red, then the black. I hope the white currant doesn’t start putting out lots of flowers, only to be knocked back by a cold snap and then fail to fruit. It’ll probably be ok, currants are really tough. We’ll be needing to net the fruit cage again before long, though.
I applaud the enthusiasm of the raspberries, really I do, but must they spread so exuberantly? Not content with inching over the wooden edge of their bed and invading the left edge of the path, they’ve suckered and popped up on the right edge too. I bet I end up trying to lift the suckers and potting them up in the belief they’ll either come in handy somewhere here or someone else will want them. I think I’ve already given raspberries to anyone who could possibly want them, though!

A few more potatoes, planted deep and covered with plastic sheeting to act as a cloche. Hopefully I can defeat the cold snap this way and get nice early first earlies. I held some seed potatoes back, anyway, just in case this proves to be a failure. It doesn’t look especially nice, but hopefully the plastic can come off in another couple of weeks (and no doubt be put to use elsewhere…. It really is incredibly useful around the garden!)

Plum tree coming to life. Every plum I’ve ever tried to grow has turned its toes up and died on me. I’m not sure whether it’s my poor husbandry or just that they’re a bit miffy. Fingers crossed this one turns out ok eventually. I might have a long wait, they’re not known for their speed: “he who plants a plum plants for his son”…!
Flower buds forming on the lilac. Lilac in bloom is one of the nicest things about Spring – the fragrance is like nothing else. It seems to me that we don’t se the old-fashioned lilac around much any more, perhaps it has fallen out of favour. I love it and I’m so pleased that the two I have are finally old enough to flower (both about 7 years old… well worth the wait!) Despite being the same variety both have different habits and flower spray shapes altogether – this one is upright with fairly small sprays (panicles), which point up, the other , which is not so far along as this one as it gets more shade, is bigger, with more scandent branches and big fouffy cloudy panicles which hang a little more. I have no idea why this difference exists – some sort of genetic mutation, probably.
Indoors and snoring. Good use of counter-camouflage on the teal blanket, there.

Published by Notes from the Under-Gardener

Keen amateur gardener, tending a large home garden growing flowers, fruit and veg, ably supported by husband and dog.

2 thoughts on “Sunday 27th March 2022 – snatching some gardening time from the jaws of (welcome) chaos

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