Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Parsnip growing trial

I tried sowing parsnips in cells and transplanting growing plants from germinated seed into growing on position. They can have terrible germination issues, so I thought this may give me better control, and an even row of plants. Maybe this will be great........lets see!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Packaging Plants for Mailing/Posting

Having posted out many plants over the years, and having my fair share of packing failures due to over enthusiastic postal workers, I came up with my own method of packing.

The basis of it is saving weight, to keep costs down, and ensuring the plant arrives in good condition. I want to keep the roots moist and the plant in good shape. Watch the video for a demo of my technique.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Low Maintenance, High Expectations

There were quite a few important requirements in purchasing my first house. One of them being that the garden should be small. I had no interest in gardening then, you see.

As long as there was abit of lawn and room for a patio, I would be happy. This ideal couldn't have been more different when looking for my second home. The house had to be bigger, but the garden had to be huge. My passion for gardening had now taken over me. It was completely clouding my judgement and the decision would come to bite me in the backside a couple of years later. This dream garden has high demands you see. Its both financially draining and time consuming. The financial burden makes the time consuming issue to be two-fold however. It means working more hours to earn more money, meaning less time to create the dream garden. Finding an answer has taken all year, but with clever low maintenance ideas, I think I may have worked out a way to achieve the dream.

I now have various short lists of planting possibilities. The list uses a plants merits from a care perspective, against its outlay cost. The lower the maintenance requirement, the higher up the list the plant gets. But, the less appealing the plant material is compared to others in the list, the more it is dropped back down the list. By Christmas I hope to have the list finalised as I need to use the 'bare-root financial loophole' that the winter period allows. The twenty five tonnes of topsoil have gone some way into setting out half of the garden. Now, I need the plants!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dahlia Lifting (video)

I lifted a couple of Dahlias this morning. Most advice is to lift when they have been frosted but I lift some before they have gone black. There are two reasons I do this.
Firstly, I think the blacked foliage initiates rot. I've no proof either way, its just a gut feeling, and I waited for frost once only to find the first freeze came with a foot of snow! I was forced to leave them in for too long and lost some stock. Secondly, I have little spare time and need to get some of my Narcissus in. But the Dahlias are in the way!

Techniques vary I imagine, but this is how I do it.
I chop the top growth to eight to ten inches above ground. Chopping to above a node is not required at this stage as the tuber will be trimmed again before storage. Then lift the tuber with a spade (I find forks damage the tuber sometimes). Once the tuber is free from the ground, use the remaining stem to lift it up (don't be scared, they are usually tough). I then grip the stem with one hand and whack the top with a rubber mallet or block of wood to loosen the soil from around the tuber. Make sure you wire on a label at this point too. Line a tray with newspaper and just lay it in angled with the stem down, not to densely though as airflow around the tuber is vital. I then put the tray indoors to 'dry' the tubers for a week or so (I use the utility room)
For storage I just leave in a very open basket or tray, indoors over winter (utility room cupboard actually).

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Penstemons are top of next years plant list!

I have overlooked them for too long. Plants that flower for so long deserve space in every plantsmans garden. I put a couple in as gap fillers last year. These two became six all on their own and have divided with ease again this year, making twenty or so.

Most penstemons are herbaceous perennials. They are very easy to propagate now with semi ripe cuttings. Most of mine have an abundance of cutting material right now. In fact, most have air layered, with early stems having roots on the bottom few inches of stem.

I'm going to look for some interesting varieties for next year to go with my Sour Grapes (pictured) and Etna.

Love gardening.........making the most of that room outside. My favourite room in the house!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Garden skills undervalued

I have seen so much demise in gardens this year. All by homeowners that think having a gardener is lavish and costly. They know how to do it themselves you see. Or think they do!

However their lawns and hedges are nearly dead now. All due to the fact they failed to spot the warning signs. Easy signs to spot, especially by the knowledgeable gardener. Lovely lawns ravaged by chafers. Beautiful conifer hedges sucked dry by aphids. Clipped Laurels riddled with shot hole disease. All for the sake of saving money on a professional. Years of self manicure erased in one season of thrift.

Now some money will be thrown at turf because the lawn is dead. They will lay it themselves, badly, and spend endless Sundays fixing it up. I've seen it all too often. Easter weekend will commence with supermarket sweep at the 'DIY stores' garden bit. Plant slaughter initiated......

Rant over........