All posts by Avril Greig

Alex’s Ramblings June 2019

Apologies for my absence last month: as for an excuse, I’ll quote former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan ”events dear boy, events.” One of those events involved spending time on The Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides where it was so cold and bleak, I wondered how anything could possibly grow there. It makes one realise how fortunate we are to live where we enjoy a much more benign climate.

On the subject of weather, it is noticeable how much warmer it has become, although as I write this, we are subject to a reduction in temperatures due to the Jet Stream being in an unfavourable position. Rainfall has been below average but we are promised a significant downpour tomorrow which should give the garden a good soak and top up my water butts, not to mention my fish pond.

Progress in the vegetable garden has been good. In the greenhouse I have twenty nine tomato plants of three varieties: Sungold, Sweet Million and Golden Sunrise. We should be eating tomatoes in around ten days time. These will go nicely with my cucumbers which have already started producing. The remainder of the space is taken up with peppers and chillies.

Last year, I told you of how I was trialling potting up side shoots removed from leaf axils of tomatoes which would enable a longer growing season and also save on the cost of seed which for F1 varieties, can be quite expensive. Results achieved were just as good as plants sown from seed hence, I’m repeating the exercise this year. As for the outdoor crops everything seems to be doing quite nicely. Successional sowings have been made of beetroot, cabbage, sweet corn, mange tout, lettuce and French and runner beans to ensure as long a productive season as possible. Kale, cabbage and Brussels are all under protective netting and I have just noticed that my broad beans have an infestation of black fly which I shall remove by blasting them off with the hose pipe. From now on in the vegetable garden, it will be case of using the hoe to keep weed infestations down and ensuring adequate watering.

In the ornamental garden, everything seems to be moving on nicely. Roses are in their first flush of blooming and have benefited from their second administration of feed. From now on, it will be a case of dead heading to ensure a continuous production of flowers which will hopefully produce nice specimens for the Flower Show. Sweet peas have been attached to canes and will be regularly fed at intervals of ten days with the same aim in mind. Gaos have been filled with annuals.

The lawns have still not recovered from last year’s drought and I have used a weed and feed mixture on them, just having completed the second application and they are showing signs of improvement. It’s going to be a long job and no doubt, due to climate change, it looks as though it will be a continuous struggle to keep all lawns in the same condition as we have previously enjoyed. As you may have surmised, I’m not a fan of watering lawns.

Although not here for the plant sale, I’m told it was quite successful and trust that you may have acquired something to fill in gaps in your garden or even to grow on to enter into the Flower Show which this year, is to be held a week earlier than normal, on August 3!st. The show is a great day out for all the family with classes for all ages. As a Society, we try to encourage entries from the school and we ask you attempt to get all of your children and grandchildren interested in growing plants of all sorts. The younger they start the more likely they are to develop a lifelong interest.  This year, our grandchildren have been actively engaged in sowing vegetables at home and here in our garden, have planted sweet peas and as a bit of fun, a giant pumpkin. Look out for a large entry in the show!

 

Good gardening!

 

Alex

 

 


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Alex’s Ramblings March 2019 (First of the Year!!)

Well, here I am back again after the winter break sharing thoughts and experiences for the upcoming gardening year! Let’s hope it is going to be a more moderate one than last year’s.

The weather this past winter has not been as bad as last year. Who can forget “The Beast from the East?” February has seen record temperatures which prompted the sound of many lawn mowers in the vicinity. Snowdrops and crocus are all finished. Daffodils are bursting out. You could be forgiven for thinking Spring has arrived but as my mother would have said “we will probably pay for it later.” Temperatures have returned to a lower level but are still above the seasonal average and it is heartening to see more of the sun and experience the lengthening days. As I sit here writing this, we are experiencing some short, sharp showers which, pardon the pun, puts a dampener on things for a while.

No doubt all of you will by now be thinking of sowing seeds to get things off to a good start and I’m no different. If you haven’t completed your seed order, it’s not too late or you can pop into one of the local garden centres. All have clearance sales on and bargains are there to be had. A tip for your next seed order:  I managed great savings by purchasing on Black Friday. Don’t forget to bear in mind what you would like to enter into the flower show which is a week earlier than usual this year. I have already made sowings of onion in February and this month, three varieties of tomato, Sungold, surely the sweetest variety of all, Golden Sunrise, a yellow variety great for salads and grilling and San Marzano, great for cooking. Together with the tomatoes, I have also made sowings of peppers and cucumbers. With the plant sale scheduled for May 4th this year, I have sown extra of all of these. It would be great if you could do likewise. Last year’s sale was a great success and we are hoping this year’s will be even more successful.

As the month progresses I shall be making sowings of sweet corn, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks and lettuce in the sparkling clean greenhouse which was one of those winter jobs I did manage to get round to!  Speaking of winter preparation, all of my vegetable beds are available for planting and those on my allotment have been covered since the autumn so I am hoping to get early plantings of onions and sowings of carrots, beetroot and parsnip later this month.

As far as the formal garden is concerned, my attempts to repair the ravages of last year’s drought have been pretty unsuccessful. I am undecided whether to redo each of them or purchase new turf with which I can patch the affected areas. My borders have been afflicted for some time with an inundation of wild strawberry which manages to root itself very cleverly in the very centres of my bedding. The grandchildren do enjoy picking and eating the tiny fruits but they have to go and to that end, I have completely dug out my largest bed and am in the process of replanting with some existing plants from that bed but also with stock raised by myself in the summer/autumn of last year together with some bought in examples such as alliums, lilies and agapanthus. With an eye on the flower show, I am about to start off dahlias in pots from which I can take cuttings and hence increase my stock.

No doubt you will remember last year, the Hort Soc had pollinators as its theme for the year supported by talks, films and a bee walk  on the subject and I hope many of you will have or be about to include something in your garden to make life easier and increase the level of these creatures. This year the chosen theme is Climate Change. Most people I know think it irrefutable that the climate is changing. I remember my mother in the sixties moaning about climate changes although she did not call it that and blaming the atom bomb! I, as a know-it-all teenager at the time, dismissed such observations out of hand but now realise that although she may have attributed it to the wrong cause, she had witnessed in her lifetime perceptible changes to the climate. One leading organisation in the field has proclaimed “we are the first generation to realise what we are doing to the planet and we are the last generation able to do something about it.” A sobering thought indeed.

As gardeners one might ask: what can we do about it, it’s a global problem that will require global action and anything gardeners achieve will have little impact. Well, anything we can do will help and who knows where it might lead? A few suggestions for you to consider:

  • Garden as organically as possible with the aim of eradicating chemical use.
  • Encourage pollinators into your garden. Install rainwater collection devices.
  • Compost as much of your own material as possible: your compost will keep your soil in good heart which, in turn, will produce healthier and better crops.
  • Avoid peat based composts.
  • Recycle all that garden plastic material so that it does not end up in land fill.

 

If you have any further suggestions, drop me a line and I’ll share them with everyone.

In the meantime, I wish you

Good gardening,

 

Alex

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What’s on 2019

EVENTS FOR 2019

THEME OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Wednesday 13th March 7.30pm, Wellow Village Hall: a talk by Tony Davies entitled “Space and Climate Change”. There will also be “climate-change-friendly” plants for sale.
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Wednesday 3rd April, a visit to Downside Nurseries at Westwood. 
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Saturday 4th May 2-4pm, Wellow Village Hall: the annual Plant Sale. Tea, coffee and cakes available.
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Saturday 6th July during the day and NEW to Wellow, “Best Gardens in Wellow Competition” (this is not an open gardens event – only the judges will be going around).  Followed by the Annual Garden Party to be held at Cranborne, Wellow at 6.30 -9pm. The results of the earlier competition will be announced at the party.
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Saturday 31st August, at Wellow Playing Fields, 1-5pm, Flower Show and Country Fair
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October – details to follow on Apple Day
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Thursday 21st November 7.30pm in Wellow Village Hall, AGM
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December – details to follow on Wreath-Making Workshop
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