Kindle monthly deals

It’s a new month and that brings new kindle deals. This month brings quite a few gardening books. While kindle isn’t an ideal format for gardening books where you often want the pictures many are cheap enough to be worth a try. Can always buy a hard copy if they prove good.

Organic Gardening: The Natural No-Dig Way

Charles Dowding’s books haven’t much of a reduction on them. I am still interested having seen him on Gardeners World a number of times. His gardening practises of avoiding digging to help soil health.

RHS Grow for Flavour: Tips & tricks to supercharge the flavour of homegrown harvests

James Wong discussing growing tips for edibles.

The Garden Awakening: Designs to nurture our land and ourselves

A gardening design book with a different focus. The focus being connecting with the garden and nature.

How to Grow: A guide for gardeners who can’t garden yet

A basic beginners guide.

How to Create a New Vegetable Garden: Producing a beautiful and fruitful garden from scratch

Another Charles Dowding book.

RHS Grow Your Own: Crops in Pots: with 30 step-by-step projects using vegetables, fruit and herbs (Royal Horticultural Society Grow Your Own)

These little RHS books don’t give massive detail. But they are usually quick interesting enough reads. I don’t have a dedicated veg plot, but I am growing a few things in pots. I may buy this one for some extra advice.

RHS Little Book of Small-Space Gardening: Easy-grow Ideas for Balconies, Window Boxes & Other Outdoor Areas (Rhs Little Books)

Continuing thus years trend for looking at small spaces.

Revive your Garden: How to bring your outdoor space back to life

This was only released by Nick Bailey a few months back. I was tempted at the time, as I like Nick’s contributions in magazines, and at 99p I’ll take a chance on kindle formatting.

RHS Little Book of Happy Houseplants (Rhs Little Books)

I’ve bought this one as well. I’ve been contemplating our house plants. Amy regularly buys herbs for the windowsill in the kitchen, then forgets she has them and they grow too big. Other than that she favours plastic looking plants I feel are hideous. I rather like cacti for their evolutionary adaptations, but not a great choice with a two year old in the house. However the benefit of having plants in the house for air quality and mental well being are well discussed. So I’d like to find something that meets my taste.

The Golden Age of the Garden: A Miscellany

A miscellany of garden writing.

Link party

A quick shout out for the glorious garden link party. The #mygloriousgardens brings together like minded gardeners to share their blogs. I was pleased to be selected for the featured blog for June. The list is here. Well worth a browse. To join in with July check it out here.

Six on a Saturday 30.6.18

It’s a lovely day out. We’ve got a school Fair to go to. Then hoping to do a bit of weeding and then maybe get in a few of my seedlings.

1. Unknown rose

This rose came with the garden. After the first year I cut it back quite severely and have fed it better since and it is now giving an abundance of pink flowers. It repeats flower and last year was still flowering well into Autumn.

2. Charles de Mills

Charles de Mills was bought back in April. In its first year I’m not expecting much, but got a few flowers to get a taste of what will hopefully come in great numbers. The closely packed petals give an interesting slice off appearance. I don’t think there quite as nice when they fully open, but a good addition to the garden.

3. Poppies

I don’t remember planting poppies of this variety. I remember scattering the standard red variety, but not these. So either I’ve remembered wrong or got some self seeders. Either way they are very nice. A rich plum going well with the sweet peas and lynchnis. However in the heat the petals are not lasting long.

4. Obelisk

The obelisk of sweet peas is looking good. The sweet peas were looking a bit pasty, but after adding some slow release feed they are looking lusher. The peas are flowering well now with lots to come.

5. Hebe

The front garden has a line of hebes that have all probably grown past their best. However they ate low maintenance needing no watering most of the year. Ideal for the front garden. Some are flowering less, but one variety is still giving a burst of white flowers that the bees are all over.

6. Salad leaves

I had this plastic window trough spare. I used it last year for salad leaves to pick off. I thought I do the same. I don’t grow much edibles, but do like to have something each year to enjoy. These are a David Domoney mix I planted just a few weeks ago and taking off well. It contains a mix of two tender Italian leaves: lollo rossa and lollo bionda. It grows quickly then can be used as cut and grow again salad leaves. While it won’t provide a mass amount of salad it is nice to have a few home grown pleasures in Summer.

While the garden is still a random mix it is gradually taking shape with plants working in better combinations. The borders are filling out, so next year can start looking at how each plant works with its neighbours.

 

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Six on a Saturday 16.6.18

It has been a windy week. Despite the strong sea winds my garden suffers from the fox gloves are still standing proud. The hollyhocks I’d already staked luckily. But a number of plants have suffered and the leaves are looking the worse the wear for the weather. The garden is currently in a state of anticipation of things to come. The roses, the hydrangeas, the hollyhocks, the teasel is all set to flower. But hasn’t quite happened despite the signs for the last two weeks.

1. Cobra lily

This strange looking plant is a cobra lily. It’s the first year growing one, so have no idea if it’s coming up right. The picture on the packet shows a dark striped flute shape. Then at the base planted black mondo with the idea that it would be a striking combination. Watch this space to see if the lily develops more. While its meant to be hardy I’m not sure the wind this week has done it much good.

2. Campanula

Each year these star shaped flowers have regrown out of this post. I think it’s a type of campanula, but not something I planted. It is lovely though in flower and the bees love it.

3. Aquilegia

After setting up foxglove seeds ready for flowering next year I’ve also set up a tray of aquilegias. I’ve got some that self seed already, but I’d like to introduce a few more to increase their numbers. I’ve gone for a more flamboyant variety with two coloured flowers.

4. Weigela

I’ve picked up a cheap weigela from Morrison’s. My neighbours has been flowering and is looking beautiful. I’m planning to start in a pot on the patio then see how it grows.

Next doors.

5. Pollinators

The garden is awash with insect life now. Bees are out everyday. Damselflies are coming in bigger numbers. Hoverflies are loving the daisies and marigolds. It’s a clear sign that things are warming up. The weekends have still been cloudy, so still not many butterflies. Sat out in the garden there is now the hum of insects to listen to.

6. Mud kitchen

The biggest addition to the garden this week is Alice’s new mud kitchen. Made for her by her grandad and my father in law to be. She has been loving mixing and smashing the soil. I’ve made a mix of play sand and compost for her cooking. Truly something special for her made by family. I have noticed many of the nearby pots now have a top dressing, but never mind getting her outside and involved in the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. Got a few garden jobs to get on with quickly as it looks like rain is coming.

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Living with slugs (and snails)

As most regular readers of my blog will know I’ve tried to build my garden up to attract various wildlife. I’ve tried to avoid potentially harmful chemicals for weed killing and pest controls. But even trying to encourage wildlife I still need some methods to control some of the more destructive forces in the garden. I’m talking about the slugs and snails. My aim hasn’t been to wipe them out completely as I don’t feel comfortable with committing large scale molluscacide I just want to reduce plant damage.

While many people use nematodes I’m not convinced of the long term sense in this solution. Nematodes for slugs and snails involve microscopic eelworms that create bacteria leading to slug destruction. Snail shells combined with time above ground defend them from nematodes. While a biological control seems like a better option than slug pellets which have been shown to be harmful to animals up the food chain. But something about the idea of nematodes is distasteful to me. I just want to control the numbers, not eradicate completely. I’m not looking for little daleks programmed to exterminate slugs and snails I just want a few less holes in plants trying to get established.

So I still favour biological controls, but not ones leading to total destruction of the slugs and snails. Encouraging predators into the garden helps create an equilibrium with the slugs and snails not destroying all green life. I have encouraged birds in through keeping bird feeders stocked. While they come for the food put out they still usually do a sweep of the borders to check for prey.

I’ve also tried to encourage hedgehogs to take up residence. While none have stayed they do visit through the hedgehog hole. Within. The garden I have hedgehog homes and feeding stations to bring them in. The trail camera shows they do visit. I don’t know how many slugs they account for, but I still like knowing they are there.

IMAG0047

Frogs and toads can eat through large quantities of slugs and snails. While I don’t have a pond next door does. To encourage some across into my garden I have a number of frog homes. Spots that are shaded and moist for frogs and toads to shelter in. A broken pot can be buried into the ground to provide shelter.

On top of biological controls slugs and snails can be controlled through barriers. Copper tape is recommended as they don’t like crossing the copper. However many still will cross when wet. Grit and egg shells are again recommended, but any gaps and they will find a way through.

Sheep wool pellets can be used to protect plants. They also act as a mulch helping water retention in the soil. It is however quite pricey for any reasonably sized area.

With almost any barrier method the slugs and snails can find a way in. Any leaves drooping over the barrier provides a path to a feast. Most varieties become less effective when wet. So I’ve mainly employed barriers to allow seedlings to get established. Then I trust that the larger plants can handle a bit of leaf loss.

When I have seen damage is bad I’ve employed beer traps to reduce numbers. Slugs and snails seem unable to resist beer. The beer dehydrates them leading to their death. Darker beer is supposed to be more effective, but I haven’t four d much difference between cheap lager and other varieties. Plus I don’t really like to pour away nicer beers to the slugs.

I have some commercially made traps, but jam jars and plastic bottles can be up-cycled into traps.

Through this multi-fronted approach I seem to be keeping plant damage to a level I can live with. While many people go out with the torch at night to remove this isn’t really an option for me as I have Alice to put to sleep, so not about to send time in the night picking them off. If you do though it is worth getting to know your slugs. Leopard slugs for example eat other slugs so are worth leaving.

My seedlings seem to be surviving better this year and making it to flower. I may even risk adding some hostas to the shaded corner!

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Six on a Saturday 12.5.18

Time for six on Saturday as started by the propagator. The last few weeks of heavy rain followed by bright sunshine has really brought on the garden. Everywhere luscious green foliage is appearing. Blossom is out all over. The tulips are almost spent, but the alliums are following close behind to replace the loss. I like Summer flowering plants that form tall spires and they are all making their push to the sky. The hollyhocks, the foxgloves, lupins and teasel are all pushing up higher and higher. It’s a good time of year for the garden.

1. Clematis

The first of my six isn’t actually from my garden. It’s my neighbour’s clematis that is growing through. My own aren’t doing very much right now. There is one on side of the fence that was in the garden when we moved in. This had become thin and sprawling and only managed one flower last year. I’ve trimmed it back to almost the ground and it seems to be returning stronger. Then I have another on the other fence that was planted fresh last year that seems to be establishing now.

The neighbours clematis is growing through and over the fence. It’s providing a nice burst of colour in a patch that is currently a bit bare. I’ve got a climbing rose coming up here. Combined they should compliment each other well. Not sure of the type of clematis, beyond Spring flowering, but it is going strong.

2. Lilac

The lilac is out in flower now. It’s one of Amy’s favourite and the colour is nice. Not as strong smelling as I remember last year, but still has more flowers to come.

I’ve taken out a few suckers to grow new plants. Lilacs spread by suckers. The roots spread and new shoots grow around the stem. I’ve dug out three and potted up in a gritty soil mix. Then watered well and stones on the top to help retain moisture. These are destined for school if they establish well enough. I’m trying to save school budget by improving my outdoor area with free plants grown by different methods of propagation. I’m also making use of the discarded plastic pots of other purchases that are now planted in the border.

3. bluebells

The bluebells in my garden are just getting going. This years frosts has sent everything a bit off kilter. They were English, but I think they might be hybridized now. I’ll see when they flower.

Behind the garden there is a path with both blue and white varieties flowering. They are one of my favourite Spring flowers. Another like daffodils that mark the season.

4. teasel

Last year I established some small teasel seedlings in the border. Now they are beasts ready to flower. While not a popular garden option as it seeds all over and the leaves fill a lot space I wanted it for its wildlife potential. Bees love it. Goldfinches flock to it. I love seeing the goldfinches in. Last year they were all over my cornflowers. I’ve scattered some cornflowers seeds again. So I’m hoping between the cornflowers and the teasel and putting out niger seed I’ll see them more regularly. As biennials it should flower this year, as there second year. I have a few starting off this year to ensure a patch flowering next year.

The leaves are great, large, thorned things that surprisingly haven’t been eaten apart by slugs and snails.

5. Sempervivum

My patio holds my more exotic plants with alpines and succulents, while the border holds more traditional cottage garden choices. The sempervivum suffered with the frosts, but are recovering well now with rich green leaves and the darker leaved varieties looking fresher.

Six. beer traps

The slugs and snails have been devouring one of the patches of foxgloves and self seeded hollyhocks.

I have tried to avoid weed sprays and pest deterrent sprays that may be harmful to much of the visiting wildlife. I haven’t used pellets for several years now to avoid poisoning other animals up the food chain. My compromise has been beer traps. I periodically fill them up to kill off a few of the slugs and snails and give plants a chance to recover. It doesn’t eliminate, but it gives the plants a chance to establish a bit stronger. In hot weather the beer evaporates quickly, so they need topping up regularly if you want to keep them effective. As I’m just trying to keep numbers down I’m a bit lackadaisical about this.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six and enjoy your weekends.

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My watcher on the wall keeping an eye on my writing.

Camelia propagation

After watching Carol Klein, on this weeks Gardeners World, I thought I’d try and take some cuttings of one of my camellias. I’m planting more in my outdoor area at school, but as I have little budget to spare in this I’m relying on cuttings from my own garden, donations and plants grown cheap from seed. Having had success with lavender last year and my hebes from this year are doing well I’m going to continue trying expand my propagation techniques.

The camellia has been looking stunning the last few weeks, but the flowers are wilting now. Having fed it better during the last year has had a big impact.

So having watched Gardeners World, checked the literature and internet for advice I set out to attempt the cuttings.

I started with the drainage for the pot with a crock and stones.

Then a thin layer of gravel.

The soil needs good drainage and space for roots to form through. I mixed compost and a gritty sand as a good medium for the cuttings.

To choose a branch for cutting I was looking for growth from the last year. The older growth is lighter and the newer growth redder and fresher. Looking on this particular plant. Then with secateurs I cut a small section of the newer growth.

With a sharp knife I then cut diagonally just after a leaf. These were dipped in rooting powder then placed in the prepared soil mix.

After a water the cuttings were covered with grit for two reasons. First to retain moisture. Second to stop weeds.

The cutting has been placed on the patio in a warm spot, but not one that gets sun the whole of the day to prevent drying out. Some sources of advice mention sealing the pot with a plastic sandwich bag over. I hate taking these on and off to water, so going to try without. Time will tell if it was a bad decision.

The advice reckons the cuttings will be ready for potting on in around three months. I’m looking for roots out of the bottom of the pot, but as I’ve used quite a big pot I’m unsure if I’ll get this.

While I’ve been bust propagating Alice has been busy planting stones from the alpine plants pots into the left over plastic pots from recent purchases. She is happy as anything using these plastic pots. So for Gardeners Worlds aim of reducing or reusing plastic if you have lots of spare plastic containers give them to a toddler to see a face of pure excitement.

I will report on progress later in the year. To follow my garden exploits and wild exploits with Alice subscribe to the blog or follow on twitter.

Six on a Saturday-14.4.18

The weather has remained horrible for much of this week. However there are signs of gradual improvement. The temperature is slightly warmer. I managed in the garden without a coat yesterday.

Currently my garden has a bit of a void. It’s transitioning between seasons. The crocus and glory of the snow are going over or gone. The camelia is still flowering, but wilt is setting in. The daffodils are still going adding bursts of sunshine and the forget me nots are starting to bloom. I’m eager with anticipation for tulips and then Summer flowers.

1 self seeders

Across the borders many plants have self seeded. I selected many cottage garden favourites for just reason when planting my first flowers. From a small patch of forget me nots under two years ago any bare earth has been claimed by forget me nots. The first are flowering now adding small patches of sky blue to the border just visible from the house.

The foxgloves have seeded in a nice drift behind the bench in the shade. I love the appearance of foxglove’s flowers. There structure being visually appealing to me.

I’ve even got a few hollyhock seedlings establishing themselves around.

2 Skimmia Japonica

The skimmia has given me a good dash of colour through Winter. It has now opened its flower’s revealing the dainty white flowers.

3 Roses

Last month I won garden vouchers from linking to The Old House in the Shires Linky on garden blogs. This includes many good reads on gardening. With my vouchers I thought I’d go with a few plants that will hopefully last a good while. Both options I’ve gone for are strongly scented. In my mind roses are supposed to be scented and many modern varieties have lost this. I’m not a big fan of roses however having bought some tougher gold leaf gloves and enjoyed the long flowering season of several of the existing roses I’m coming round to them. Much of my planting is cottage garden style and roses suit the garden.

Cottage maid has white flowers with speckled pink lines much like a raspberry ripple ice cream. Then Charles de Mills has been a popular choice amongst rose growers for many years. It only flowers once I believe, but it has reasonable foliage for the rest of the year to make up for it. With some under planting I can still have colour coming through.

I’ve planted them in a big hole with new compost and root powder to give them a good start. I wrote on planting roses before with my climbing roses and they seem to be taking off now.

4 Dicksonia Antarctica

Also with the vouchers I bought a Dicksonia Antarctica. This fern can grow to large sizes eventually, though growth will be gradual year on year. I’ve wanted one for a while. It would be nice have one further on its growth. However the price rapidly goes up for a larger one. This will be planted in my shady shed area. I haven’t planted yet as I wanting to check advice on the best means of planting.

The patch it will be going into.

5 Jasmine

On my continuing quest to establish climbers over the fence I have planted two jasmine. Jasmine Stephanese have fragrant flowers that are generally white, but can be pink or sometimes yellow. They fruit a black berry. This was another purchase from tesco’s along with the passionflowers purchased previously. As mentioned with the roses I’m hoping to make more of scent in the garden. I have a wonderful section of fence covered in honeysuckle, however it is behind trees and only smelled when I prune it. My lilac bush is beautiful scented, but short lived. So it would be nice to have more pleasing fragrances.

6 Gertrude Jekyll

Over the last week I’ve read Gertrude Jekyll’s the beauties of a Cottage Garden. While there was little actually discussing cottage gardens, it was still informative despite the 100 years since publication. I did like this paragraph:

But the lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others is to know the enduring happiness that the love of garden gives. I rejoice when I see one, and especially children, enquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For the love of gardening never dies, but always grows and grows to enduring and ever increasing source of happiness.

Following from the child comment, my little gardener has been in the garden with me moving one weed at a time. She is getting a reward with the last of my vouchers. I’ve bought her Percy from Thomas the Tank engine to go with her Thomas from the New Forest. I haven’t given it to her yet, but I’m sure she’ll be happy with it Percy is one of her favourite characters.

Having reported on wildlife provisions in the garden last week I set up the trail camera for the first time this year. I’m pleased to report hedgehogs came in last night twice. Not sure if it was the same one twice or different, but either way happy they are still visiting.

Hope you all have lovely weekends with the improved weather.

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