It has been a good few weeks since my last Six on Saturday and it has been a hugely busy period in the garden, both at work and at home. The weather has been changeable, to say the least, and the list of jobs to be done continues to keep growing at a rapid rate.
It is a time where plants are growing, the greenhouse is creaking as space becomes in short-supply, and the garden starts to flourish, with tulips stealing the show. Working in a large garden brings a lot of challenges at this time of year, as you try to get everything done. But there is also a lot to do in my tiny garden at home.
And that is what this Six on Saturday focuses on, the six main facets have been keeping me busy over the last few weeks.
So many plants to grow and it means a lot of sowing to do. At this time of year it pays to get organised and try to plan your sowing, though weather (too hot & too cold), poor germination, damping off/disease and several other issues always wreak havoc with your ideals. In recent weeks it has been taking every opportunity possible to do seed sowing, both in terms of ornamental and edibles. The likes of squashes, marrows, runner beans, courgettes and more have gone in, as well as a multitude of plants that will make up the annual formal garden display. Watering and checking the health of seedlings is imperative to success and it is rewarding to see new seedlings popping up in the tray. At home I have been trialling sowing in pellets to reduce space and waste, and I am happy to say that so far it has been a real success. These two pictured packets are my next on the hit-list; I am planning a pot display consisting of black plants and these are destined for there.
A lot of sowing and seedlings obviously means a mass of potting on required. Potting on is a continual process both at home and at work. Given we propagate practically all our plants from seed, including hundreds of plants for the formal gardens, a variety of edibles for the walled garden, and those for cut flowers, it means a constant supply of seedlings to pot on. At home I grow a mixture of vegetables and annual flowers; most recently I had to pot on my tomatoes, sunflowers, cornflowers, and lupins. Pictured here is my Tomato ‘Indigo Blue Berries’ which have a deep almost-black skin. I saw them on a trip to Croome Walled Garden last summer and loved the look of them, so am very excited at growing them this year at home.
The grass continues to grow at an almighty speed, so it is a constant cycle to keep it under control and looking smart. It means a combination of pedestrian and ride-on mowing on a weekly basis to get all the areas done. And, of course, on top of the mowing there is edging and strimming to get done. At least I don’t have to mow at home, as I have a court-yard garden at the moment. But, in truth, I do enjoy mowing and looking after lawns. It makes it all the better when you can enjoy views like this, taken as I sat on the ride-on mower looking out across the Worcestershire countryside.
It is that time when you need to get prepared and get the structures put in place for your edibles this summer. Sets of frames have been put up for runner beans and climbing French beans, while posts have been knocked in and stringed together for peas and broad beans. Stepping away from edibles, there are also structures in place for sweet peas to scramble up and posts in ready to support the collection of dahlias. Getting the structures in place early reaps rewards, as it is much easier than trying to build the support around larger plants.
Several areas of the garden are under the dreaded threat of bunnies, so we have built new fences to protect the plants from being munched. These new fences are made from twisted steel rods, that have been painted black, and some new stronger wire than the old dilapidated fences. They look rather smart and it also provided the ideal chance to replace rotten edging boards with new wooden edging. It gives the cut flower patch pictured a great spruce up, while also giving vital protection to the plants. To protect some plants at home is requiring less construction, and we are using some carnivorous plants (Pinguicula and Drosera) to lure and trap insects, as well as monitoring and eradicating slugs out the greenhouse as required.
At home and at work it is a time of inspiration as you see the signs of promise for the rest of the season. I look around my plants at home and see real signs of encouragement; my potatoes look great, the garlic is strong and prominent, and my dwarf raspberry canes are budding like mad. And my hops are romping away at a fast rate, which gives my hope I might have the hops I desire for my home brewing this year. Also the range of chillies, peppers and tomatoes on my windowsills make it look like I could be on for a bountiful year with home-grown produce. It doesn’t get more exciting than this.