Archive for February, 2013

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My Lovely Patch of England

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This is what my greenhouse looks like now. It’s finally finished and I can get in there and start to sow some seeds. Yey! I have some heated growing mats, seed trays and a box full of seeds all ready to go.

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My union jack bunting looks right at home as does my Borough Market trough and Haws watering can. It’s my tiny patch of England.

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These before and after shots show how the plants are settling in around the greenhouse. And how the brick base mellows the look quite significantly.

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First Seeds of the Year

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The very first seeds to be sowed in my brand, new garden are these little Radish seeds. I even broke out my new set of white, wooden row tags and carefully wrote the word ‘Radish’ on there. I resisted putting the variety on there since I’ll be reusing the tags but the variety is Cherry Belle.

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Sweet Potato Project

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I’ve bought a book called Garden Wizardry for Kids. This is the first project we have done from the book. It’s a ‘Grow Sweet Potatoes’ project that is pretty simple and the kids love it.

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All you need are two glass jars, some toothpicks and warm water. Push the toothpicks into the Potatoes and suspend them in the jar. Then fill with warm water. We started with four Sweet Potatoes and only two of them sprouted. But once they did their roots began growing very quickly. Jackson, my four year old, checked it every day and was very excited to see the new growth. Then, when the root system is quite large, the tops start to produce leaves.

I think if you do the project when the weather is warm outside you can then plant the tubers in the garden and hope for the best (depending on where you live). But as we’re still in Winter here I might have to discard them. But, just for entertainment value and a great visual aid to learning about roots and how they grow, this is definitely a great project to try.

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Spring Crocus

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Because, I have inherited my garden I have little idea what’s planted in it – the ornamental part of it anyway. At the moment I am being constantly surprised by what’s popping up in both the front and the side garden. The side of the house is a bit unruly and so lots of the plants there go unnoticed by me until they do something spectacular. The latest gem to arrive is this gorgeous, tiny carpet of Crocuses. They are everywhere.

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They’re all the same colour and when the sunlight comes in horizontally at the end of the day it illuminates the swathes of them along the driveway. If you sit right next to them, like I did for this photo, you can see the veins in the petals. So small, so delicate but yet Winter hardy. It almost seems impossible.

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But for now they are cheering me on my way and letting me know that Spring is just around the corner.

slugs

There’s not much going on in my garden right now so I’ll carry on with my ‘Master Gardener‘ series.

This week on the course we had a lunchtime speaker come in to talk about slugs and snails. Part of the talk was about how to reduce their numbers in the garden but mostly it was about getting to know slugs and snails better. Because the more you know about something, the better your chances of fighting it. So here goes:

There are lots of types of slugs. The larger ones may look mean but in truth it’s the smallest ones that tend to do the most damage.

If you see a leaf with a ragged-edged hole it’s most likely slug damage. If you see a leaf with a smooth-edged hole it’s most likely a caterpillar or vine weevil . Slugs eat with a dragging motion, hence the ragged edges.

Slugs are hermaphrodites. When they mate both slugs become pregnant. A slug can produce 500 eggs per season.

Their eggs are clear and gradually go opaque. The slugs keep the eggs inside them until there is 25 per cent moisture. Then they lay them.

Slugs avoid eating:
Ferns, Ivy, Sweet Woodruff and Foxgloves (among others)

Slugs love eating:
Hostas (but not the blue, quilted kind for some reason)
Lettuce, Daffodils, Lilies, Strawberries and Primroses (among others!)

They live under rocks, mulch and anywhere it’s moist.

They like to eat at night, or when it’s wet.

Defences include:
Barriers like copper strips, coffee grounds, egg shells.
Salt.
Citrus or Melon halves then trap them.
Beer traps.
Lettuce under a board then trap them.
Nematodes watered into the soil.

Repellants include:
Garlic, Cinnamon, Copper

Slug bait is exactly what it says it is, bait! The slugs move towards it so don’t put it all near your plants. Put it between their home and your plants. In other words find out where they live!

Research shows that it’s best to bait every two weeks because slugs do have some form of memory and can remember where you put it.

Slugs can see about six feet, and they can smell about three feet.

Chances are you’re using too much bait. You only need a light sprinkle. Because they are attracted to it they will seek it out.

And remember slug bait is toxic so only use it as a last resort and away from children, pets and ideally birds.