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BOOM! Flowers!

Well it’s finally happened, the flowers have arrived! The strawberries are in flower, as are the peas, which are just beautiful.

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Huzzah for the floating strawberries! For a second year running the slugs have failed to learn how to tight-rope walk so my strawberries are safe (apart from the old menace greenfly, but a good dose of bubbles from washing up liquid sorts those out quite nicely).

The peas are also having a very good go of it. The oldest ones are about as tall as me (5.5ft) and are flowering/producing peas! I can’t believe how beautiful some of the flowers are. We have whites, blues and purple, as you can see below. I have several seeds left over and so next year I’m quite tempted to go a little mad with the pea planting, but I’m also interested in investing in some beans, apart from the lovely Suttons that I have in the garden now.

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And lo, a pea was born!

And here is a selection of beans, peas and sweet peas

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The carrots are also doing surprisingly well. It’s my first year growing carrots and I was a little worried about how they would turn out. There’s been no sign of carrot fly so far, mainly because I sowed the seed so thinly I didn’t need to pick any out (or so I thought, only time will tell if this was a mistake), but I think altogether for a first attempt they’re not doing too badly at all. They’re in a tub on the patio in full sun and I’m watering generously every 2-3 days weather depending. The picture was taken a few weeks ago and they’ve been progressing very happily since.

As always happens around this time of year (or any time of year…), I went a little bit flower mad last month. Specifically, Fuchsia mad, which is COMPLETELY understandable as they are the most gorgeous little plants in existence. I have my patio fuchsia tree from last year, which has flowered three times since I bought it, and I also have my poor little storm-damaged fuchsia  that somehow survived the winter/storms of this year (not bad for a 50p cast-off from Trentham Gardens! Anyway, here is my novel solution to bringing new babies back from the garden centre:

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Not exactly what the designers of the car originally intended those for I would suspect, but it worked and everyone arrived home safe and sound. So off the top of my head the new fuchsias are: Aunty Jinx, Satin Blue and… Camille? They’re settled into their new homes and making me one very happy fuchsia- crazed lady.

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I’ve also added a few marigolds to the collection. Some for decorative purposes and to distract the slugs from the other flowers, some to help guard the tomatoes from white fly. So far, no white fly, but they’re very pretty all the same. The nasturtiums that I grew from seed also look very happy in their old salad tubs, and one of the geraniums that accidentally overwintered from last year is flowering! Oh, and the little bit of pink you can see in the bottom left is a bleeding heart that I bought from Poundland. Get in! Initially when it was planted the slugs ate through 3/4 of the stem, but somehow it managed to survive. I’m still quite confused about its death-defying abilities.

The potatoes have also exploded! I honestly wasn’t expecting so much foliage, but it’s much appreciated. Unfortunately, it would appear that the entire local slug population also appreciate it. This photo was taken a few weeks ago. Since then the leaves have become covered in holes and despite still being green, aren’t looking as happy as they are in this photo. I suppose we’ll always have our memories.

 (They’re first earlies, so I wont have long to wait before I can earth these guys up and then I can put the pumpkins in here)image

My dad also brought back some lovely butternut squash plants from down South. I’ve never grown these before but I put them in some bigger pots and they now reside quite happily in the greenhouse.

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Again, this was a few weeks ago and everyone has been rearranged and repotted. We’ve got sweetcorn, several thousand  chillies and aubergines and the two tomatoes that I grew from seed. Apart from a little bit of slug damage and a bit of growth everyone is about the same.

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The raspberry bush is flowering! It’s a miracle! It seems to be growing very nicely, however its counterpart the blueberry bush is unfortunately in the same state as Monty Python’s parrot.

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The tomatoes and peas have also become a little bit carried away. The tomatoes have had to be moved on to the floor of the green house as they’ve outgrown their shelf, but they’re still happy and (so far) pest free. I did have to make up a few beer traps, as the slugs were enjoying the vegetation a little too enthusiastically, but some 50p cans of beer turned out to be very popular/ successful.

I also planted out some radish seeds 2 weeks ago as I’d heard that they were relatively easy to grow and though that I should take up the challenge. They’re now twice this size. image

And finally,  here are some pretty flowers:

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My Russian Giant sunflower, now sadly nearly deceased. I didn’t have much luck with these. The stems always seemed too thin to sustain the rest of the plant. I think next time I try sunflowers I/ll try a smaller type.

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My lovely patio rose about to flower. It’s in dire need of repotting but unfortunately there’s nowhere else to put it, so it’ll have to wait until I seek out a new garden next year.

The Taming Of The Gooseberry

So yesterday was a little busy. After a week of psyching myself up and convincing myself that Saturday was the day to start planting everything the day finally arrived! The peas, broad beans, basil, marigolds, pelargoniums, chillies, tomatoes and sunflowers are now planted in the greenhouse!

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I saved every mushroom packet, salad box and humous tub that passed through my kitchen over the last few months in an attempt to save a bit of money on seed trays (they’re proving to be excellent for starting seeds). Please ignore the dying basil, I bought it a week ago and I’m trying to do my best with it.

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I’ve moved all of the strawberries into the large greenhouse in the corner of the patio to make room in the “warm” greenhouse for the new seedlings.

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The roses are now covered in aphids. I’ve done my best to pick them off but there are so many! I can’t wait to try out the marigold theory and see if they will help to keep the beasties away. As you can see, the broccoli is doing quite well.

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A terrible tragedy also befell us during the storm- the baby fuschia plant was snapped in half! Luckily the smaller of the two stems survived and is actually thinking about flowering again. I really hope that it makes it through the winter, although the larger fuschia is certainly enjoying itself and is already budding again/bringing out new growth! Good times.

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The survivor.

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The sunflowers on the windowsill are also doing very well. I’ve named them Jaime, Cersei and Tyrion, of course.

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The garlic is also looking rather smart. These were cloves that had started sprouting while in the fridge. We had no culinary use for them at that point and I’d managed to grow two small bulbs of garlic last year, so I planted them and voila, GARLIC! Even the small bulbs last year were very strong and highly enjoyable, and so I have high hopes for these (the leaves are much larger than last year’s attempt)

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And below we have the chillies I planted on Thursday (jalapeno, cayenne and scotch bonnet), and what I would like to call The Taming Of The Gooseberry.

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Battling The Elephants (… elements)

We’ve had some rather stormy weather over the last few weeks and so there’s been very little in the way of “gardening”, apart from tidying up and trying to salvage things. The small plastic greenhouse fell over and, well, let’s just say that ventilation in there has been considerably improved.

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This also meant that I’ve had to replant a number of things. Of the seeds that I planted in the tray last month (peas, pelargoniums and marigolds), some of the peas are actually germinating but the pelargoniums and marigolds decided to jump ship when the greenhouse fell down. I now have no idea where they are, which could make spring rather interesting!

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A few more of the strawberry runners have perished (still plenty more though!) and the thyme has shuffled off this mortal coil, but the chilli plant that I’m overwintering has been doing very well since I trimmed it back and have been battling against the greenfly every day (they’re still not getting the message). Unfortunately, I don’t know what kind of chilli plant it actually is but it was very pretty and ridiculously generous last year and so I thought it would be a nice experiment to see if it could make it through the winter.

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Precocious sowing

I know it’s a little too early in the year to be thinking about sowing ANYTHING, but I’ve given into temptation and sown a few things (for science). It’s been surprisingly mild recently and so I thought that I would seize the opportunity and try sowing a few seeds.

The Geranium packet said that one could sow the plants from December, and so as it is January I thought why not? I have plenty of seeds and so if they germinate and manage to survive I’ve got a head start, and if they die, lesson learned and I wont do it again. I promise. At least not until next year. Maybe.

I also threw in a few marigolds and peas. Chances are very low for these guys but it’s all experience and a learning curve (these are all in my new walk-in plastic greenhouse so they’ll have a little protection from the elements, although it’s still bloody cold at the moment).

In other news, the cress on the windowsill is doing very well, and the three sunflowers are great. Well, until a certain someone’s boyfriend was a little too rough and broke one in half. I’m still getting over the trauma :P

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