Six on Saturday – 02/02/2019 ‘Purchases’

I think we would all agree this time of year is quite frustrating! Apart from preparing beds and cleaning tools there is little more we can do and if you are like me you are itching to get out there and start sowing and planting. Buying is a bit of a panacea and helps scratch that itch for the time being.

Purchase 1 – Cloche


I’m a big Wilko fan and for years have bought garden equipment from them. I was more than happy to find a good sized PVC cloche greenhouse for £10. Many will say “you get what you pay for” and I agree one costing £40 will be more substantial, but I’m living on a budget and at the moment a cheap one will suffice.

Purchase 2 – Garden tool

Also from Wilko, I bought a long handled cultivator (£7.50). I have a treasured handheld multi-prong cultivator which I use constantly for weeding, however that is an on your knees job so when I saw this I thought it might be ideal and less back aching for getting the beds ready for planting – I’m going down the No Dig route. Until I can afford to replace the little, somewhat rickety, shed inherited on the allotment I’m loathe to buy expensive tools.

Purchase 3Bare root roses

My roses arrived this morning! Whilst I’m saving money on equipment I’m spending it on plants and bulbs from reputable growers. That is not to say cheaper suppliers are rubbish, I’ve bought some really good plants from Wilko and one year I bought raspberry canes from Poundland and they produced excellent crops every year. I wrote about my bare root roses order from David Austin Roses on an earlier post during the week My Criteria for Choosing Roses. We’ve had a couple of really cold nights and, unlike a lot of Hampshire, we only had a smattering of snow on Thursday night. As long as the soil is not frozen I can plant the roses in my cottage garden area.

Purchase 4 – Dahlia Tubers

I grew dahlias for the first time in 2016 in my last garden. Having never grown them before I bought tubers from Wilko at a £1 each, on the premise if they were rubbish I hadn’t lost much. They were, to my surprise, so successful I’ve fallen in love with growing dahlias. I learned that the secret to having exciting and different cultivars is to buy early from tuber growers, as the unusual ones are sold out very quickly. I ordered 5 varieties from Peter Nyssen which arrived yesterday. I’ve unpacked them and have stored them carefully until March when I will start them off in large pots.

Purchase 5 – Seed Balls

I’m going to grow a wildflower patch on the allotment and came across The Seed Ball Company. Always happy to try something new and I liked the idea, I ordered their Urban Meadow Mix. They’ve not arrived yet, although I had an email from them 7 days ago to say they’ve been dispatched. I’ll contact them on Monday if still no sign. If you have used them do you have any growing tips?

Purchase 6 – Sweet pea seeds

Higgledy Garden is an independent supplier of garden seeds. I’ve been buying from Benjamin Ranyard for many years. I ordered a lot of seeds for the cottage garden patch including 3 types of sweet pea, Beaujolais, Mammouth and Painted Lady. I sow sweet peas in January, without soaking first, into root trainers and started them off last week. This morning just 7 days later I found a tiny little shoot (Beaujolais) peeking through – it’s so exciting to see!

Just to clarify, although I’ve mentioned companies in this post they are my own choice and opinion, I have no commercial interest.

There you go, that’s my Six on Saturday for this week. Take a peek over the garden fence at other contributions, not only from the UK, on The Propagator Blog.

Six on Saturday – 4 August 2018

My Six on Saturday is an allotment update.  The ground is like concrete, I am going daily for about an hour to water and ‘stock take’.  There is little else to do, so I am appeasing myself that I am building up a tan and tightening my biceps carrying heavy watering cans from the trough to the plot.

First an apology I have broken rule 7 of Six on Saturday:

Not too much verbiage. ….it’s easily done, but since there are Six things, and a growing number of Six posts to read in a typical week, consider being a little frugal with the wordcount.

1. Protecting sweetcorn husks

53FDD0D5-C284-4534-9FF4-B6E9E46E5F11The sweetcorn (Northern Extra Sweet) is coming along a treat, despite the strong winds last Sunday.  I have staked them and built up the soil around the base of each plant – there are only 8.   I read that night visiting animals have a panchant for ripe sweetcorn and it’s recommended to protect the husks with large plastic bottles until ready to pick.  Now, I’m not sure if this was a wise thing to do.  I have carefully punched holes in the top so they don’t sweat.  Any thoughts on this?

2. Pumpkin update

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I planted 3 pumpkin plants and have 3 pumpkins,  there is an abundance of female flowers but no more male ones,  I wonder if that is the norm, I don’t needs lots anyway.   The one with the yellow bottom I can’t stand up because the stem is too short, the one at the bottom right of the photo is now on its end so with a bit of luck it will become round in shape.  I’m seeing a lot of posts on FB allotment group pages of pumpkins splitting so fingers crossed mine will be ok.

3. Cauliflower protection 

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This is allotment life on a shoestring.   I had a freebie packet of cauliflower seeds so for a bit of fun I sowed them in pots.  Only 2 came good and because the ground was so hard when they were ready to plant out I put them in a doubled up growbag.  Someone told me an elderly gentlemen on her allotment said they thrive on solid ground, he compacts the soil with a roller and drills thin holes for his plants.  She said his cauliflowers and cabbages are the envy of their plots!   Anyway – my homemade cage.  Despite putting collars around my two precious plants they are still swarming with whitefly.  Rather than buy a cage, or netting, I found an old net curtain I was about to throw away and made my own cage.  It’s a bit rickety but I am hoping it will do the job.

4. Blackberry heaven 

When I took the plot over a number of folks told me that the blackberries were always fabulous and they were not wrong.  Last week I picked a punnet full and decided to make blackberry gin.   There are so many recipes on the Internet but all are roughly the same, however, they vary in the time that the gin is ready from 2 weeks to 3 months and I’m  not sure why or if it matters.  I’m going for 2 weeks in time for my daughter’s birthday.

Ingredients

250g Blackberries

70cl Gin

100g Sugar

Method

1. Put the blackberries in to a 1 litre sterilised bottle or jar

2. Add the sugar

3. Top up with the gin

4. Shake well

5. Store in a dark cupboard and leave for a maximum of three months, shaking the bottle every week or so.

This recipe is courtesy of NicholasJon.

5.  Apples galore

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The little apple tree on my plot would appear to be some type of Pippin.  They are still very small and it could be due to the lack of water. I understand they are usually ready in September so we shall have to wait for a taster session then.   I’ve seen recipes for spiced apple gin 😄😄, so much better than eating every apple from the tree.

6. Baby strawberry plants

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I am wondering if I would do better to put these little strawberry runners into individual pots rather than a new bed.  Any advice please?

If you’ve been a great reader (thank you) and got to the bottom of this post, please now pop over to The Propagator Blog who hosts this weekly meme and has lots of contributors it’s always great to peer over the fence at other peoples gardens.