Saturday, 30 October 2010

Cosmos (30 OCT 2010)

On 21OCT I had to scrape ice off my car windscreen. I realised that the routine of checking on the progress of my flowers after work was over.  The first noticeable effect of the frost in the garden was that the cosmos petals crumpled. I'll miss the cosmos swaying gracefully in the wind and brightening up the autumn scene. Mrs. F had given them to me as seedlings. I'd looked them up in an encyclopaedia but I never expected them to grow  as big as they did so quickly and flower so prolifically. Life goes on in my little plastic sheet greenhouse because the seeds they produced have germinated into seedlings completing the cycle. They might have a chance of surviving the winter if my greenhouse doesn't get blown over.

I have now cut down all the annuals even though they weren't completely dead. I couldn't bear to watch them dying. I left the roots in the soil just in case there's a chance that they might re-generate next year. The snails & slugs will have to find new hiding places and I'm sure they will. It was sad to see the borders empty but on the other hand the canvas is blank and I can make plans for the spring.

As this is my first year of proper gardening I didn't get my timing right. I eagerly started planting bulbs in September : crocuses in the grass and tulips & daffodils where soil was showing in the borders. Then at the beginning of October I saw bulbs on sale so I planted some more. Now I can't remember what's planted where and when I dig around I usually fork a few bulbs in the process. I'm not sure if a forked bulb will heal itself but I'll find out in about 6 months. Lesson learnt for next year is that I'll plant bulbs in groups after cutting the annuals.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Edible Fig (24 OCT 2010)

Before I started gardening, when I felt down, used to treat myself to a chocolate bar. Now I go to B&Q or Wilkinsons and buy sick plants from the reduced items shelf. This edible fig and bedding plants are examples of my comfort purchases. The fig was a yellow shoot when I bought it. Just un-potting it that day, shaking off the old soil, setting it in fresh compost and watering it in was so therapeutic  (for both of us), let alone watching it turn greener and greener, sprout leaves and grow a twiggy stem over the summer.

Fig is one of my favourite fruits. It's also one of the earliest cultivated fruits going back to ancient times - I like the idea of facing the same challenge as a neolithic man trying to find the ideal position for his fig tree. I was thinking about growing it from a dried fig seed but then I saw this plant.

I think I need to dig it up though because I read that figs fruit better if the roots are confined to a small space. (My bible on gardening matters is Reader's Digest Encyclopaedia of Garden Plants & Flowers 2nd edition 1978). Its recommended to line the planting hole with bricks or plant it in a pot to prevent root overgrowth. There are various ways to train fruit trees - apparently figs grow well fan-trained (ie. pruned so they grow flat along wires) against a south-facing wall, but I'm going to pot this one and leave it to grow naturally on my patio. 

Saturday, 16 October 2010

16 OCT 2010

This is a canary creeper hanging from my other washing line pole - another plant from Mrs. F. The flowers really look like little canaries about to land from flight. While morning glory climbs by winding up objects with its main stem, canary creeper climbs more randomly by wrapping its small side shoots around thin objects. It kept deviating into the bushes so I attracted it to the pole with a wire mesh. Thought it was dying because the bottom of the plant turned dry and brittle but the top end is still flowering, producing small green, fleshy fruits. At first I didn't realise that over-watering can sometimes encourage a plant to continue growing rather than produce flowers. This was particularly true for canary creeper and cosmos.

Last year I didn't water my garden at all.  I used to think that watering was one of the more boring gardening jobs and didn't have the patience to do it, but it's totally different when you've nurtured plants yourself and watched them grow day-by-day. This summer I watered gladly nearly everyday.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

09 OCT 2010

After my outdoor seed-sowing mostly failed, I decided to germinate seeds indoors at the end of March. I knew what to do because my mother is a gardener, but I didn't realise the thrill of seeing a little speck of green in the soil where I had poked in a seed. It took two weeks before there were any signs of germination, I didn't expect anything to happen because I wasn't sure if I was watering them correctly or if they were warm enough. Then it happened and it was almost magical the way the seeds all germinated at the same time.

This is one of the results - morning glory which I chose for its blue flowers. The seedlings turned yellow and died except for this one which struggled for a while, but after it started growing its true leaves, it spiralled quickly and evenly up my washing line pole without any guidance. The delicate flowers open in the morning and fade in the evening.

The leaves reminded me of the bindweed which attempted to strangle many of my plants last year. Unfortunately, I have just found out that morning glory is in the same family as bindweed (convolvulaceae). As I have decided not to use artificial weed-killers or fertilisers (until I'm forced to at least), I controlled the bindweed this year by raking the undergrowth in the spring and keeping it clear. I think the best solution for weeds is to plant lots of plants.

Saturday, 2 October 2010


Started gardening (again) on 02MAR10.

Planted sunflower, poppy & sweet pea seeds and gladioli & oriental lily bulbs directly into the soil outdoors. Not sure what happened to the sunflowers & poppies but the rest grew and flowered in the summer. No skill required just watering.

Mr. F told me to watch out for slugs. At that point I decided that I wouldn't sprinkle slug pellets over the garden as advised. Double-planted instead - half for the slugs and half for me.

After their visit in May, Mrs. F gave me some seedlings. I planted them in a pot and left them in a corner.  They are now distributed over the whole garden replacing all the weeds which thrived last year.

This is one of seventeen nicotiana lime green grown from Mrs F's seedlings. Each one grew to maturity and developed its own personality. Had to transplant them several times as I kept underestimating how big they would grow. Think this traumatised them in the summer heat as they would raise their leaves up to cover the inner shoots. They all survived though.
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