Sunday, 17 February 2013

Notes from the greenhouse

11.5°C in the greenhouse, 7.5°C outside

You know that glorious winter’s day we carry about in our heads; cold, crisp, and golden with sunshine? It was today – and although it’s never a hardship working in the garden, this afternoon it was a positive pleasure. And so, while Emma got stuck in to weeding the veg patch (rhubarb peaking through the soil here; fat, deep pink stems starting to swell), I made for the greenhouse.

I’m nursing a bruised hand from planting digitalis on Friday; the most ridiculous injury, which can only have been caused continually stabbing through the blasted weed control membrane (how I hate that stuff). Consequently my body in its wisdom has decided to isolate my hand by turning my entire forearm into a solid lump of locked-up bone and immobile tendon. So I’ve not been at my most dextrous today, but hopefully my bench skills haven’t suffered too badly. And it gives me something with which to distract myself while avoiding accusatory stares from the corpses of plants I should’ve taken better care to see through the winter. More food for the compost heap.

I’ve potted on some of the Ammi majus sown in autumn, though lots more to do, and also the A. visnaga. It’s encouraging to see at least some of the Bupleurum which I sowed straight into 9cm square pots have made it, and I’m looking forward to having these in the garden this year. I’ve also started sowing sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus ‘Blue Ripple’ today) as the light levels are increasing — I didn’t sow any in autumn, and I don’t want to start too early this year and end up with leggy, sick looking seedlings that give me rubbish plants. At this point, I need to point out that the current formulation of the peat free compost from B&Q (their Verve brand) is utterly hopeless, rubbish water retention and no structure at all. (You know what you’re left with after a vampire gets staked or wanders too far into the sunshine? Well, that.) I need to find a reliable, good alternative, and am tempted to try Carbon Gold’s GroChar. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for, I’m told.

Outside in the beds the tulips are pushing through strongly, though I fear I’ll have to dig them all out and bin them fairly quickly being reasonably certain that last year’s poor show (mottled petals and flowers going over rapidly) was down to tulip fire. It’s a significant investment to have to lose though so I do want to be sure but, if my worst imaginings prove to be well founded, this means no tulips or lilies or fritillaries in the borders for four years. Interestingly, the foliage so far looks healthy. We shall see.

Next time, I’m sowing straight into 9cm pots

Vampire dust

Crumble filling