Category Archives: Tips from Alex

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 April 2019

April’s ramblings

 

Well, it’s nice that the clocks have sprung forward giving us extra hours of daylight and who knows, extra motivation to get out there into the garden and catch up on all those jobs we promised to do but never quite got round to. We had some lovely weather toward the end of March but as April starts, it’s almost back to winter with a very cold spell. Some parts of the country have even had snow! As I write this, it is raining heavily and vertically. Looking on the bright side, it will ensure the general purpose weed and feed I put on my lawns is taken up quickly, I can already see the patches of moss turning black so I know it’s working.  Looking at my last year’s records, we appear to be about a month further on than last. Daffodils were just emerging and we were looking forward to the tulips blooming. This year, my daffodils are finished and have been replaced by some fine tulip specimens although they did get damaged slightly by frost earlier this week

Temperatures are forecast to recover this weekend and a spell of more settled weather is expected. I have managed to get my tomatoes and cucumbers potted up and shall have plenty available for the plant sale on May 4th. I have also sown lettuce, leeks, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and planted onions, shallots and broad beans. I had hoped to get an early sowing of sweet corn by now but it was not to be. I shall be making multiple sowings of these and many other of my vegetable selections in order to ensure as long a harvesting period as possible. April sees a marked increase in sowing and by the end of the month I shall have beetroot, carrot, runner and French beans, mange tout, courgette and squash all sown. Those of you who grow potatoes will no doubt be getting them in the ground this month too.

In addition to my usual variety of French bean, I’m trying a variety new to me called Hunter. They look quite attractive and I’m hoping they may catch the judge’s eye at the show. After trying a dwarf variety of Brussels sprouts last year which turned out to be an absolute disaster I’m reverting to my traditional variety of Brendan.

In the decorative garden, tidying continues at apace, readying the borders for annual planting. Rose pruning is complete and an early feed applied. The dahlias I started into growth last month are shooting well and I shall be able to take cuttings from them in the next week or so thus increasing my stock. In the greenhouse, I will be sowing annuals for filling in those gaps in the borders.  If, like me, you have a glut of snowdrops, now is the best time to split them while they still have their foliage. Just dig them up and divide the clumps as you wish. Put the remainder back into the hole you made when digging them up and in a couple of years you’ll be looking to divide them again.

A week or so ago, I listened to an item on the radio regarding water or the lack of it. In essence, it was forecasting that there will be insufficient water to support the population within 25 years. As responsible gardeners, it behoves us all to use water judiciously and we can all play a part by storing and using the water that falls on our own properties. If you don’t have a water butt, they are an excellent investment.

Good gardening,

Alex

 

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Alex’ September Ramblings – last for the year!

The annual flower show for is over for another year and although I was elsewhere on the day, all the reports I am receiving, tell me that it was another excellent one, both in terms of quantity and quality. Hearty congratulations to all that entered. It is pleasing to see that we had a new winner of the Banksian Medal by a member showing only for the second time. The winner claims that until two years ago they were not a gardener! It just goes to show what can be achieved by determination and a little skill. I hope this will encourage more to participate. Continue reading Alex’ September Ramblings – last for the year!

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Alex’ August Ramblings

Well, what a difference 12 months makes. Looking back at last August’s ramblings, I was bemoaning the amount of rainfall combined with a drop in temperatures and the impact that was having on the growth of plants in the garden. This year we have had the opposite, little or no rain combined with exceptionally high temperatures. This has persisted for about six weeks and only last weekend did we get any relief in the form of a decent amount of rainfall. Although nowhere near enough to make up for that which we have lacked, it did serve to refill my water butts. Rainwater is much more beneficial to plants than tap water which has been treated with all sorts of chemicals. We are now told that temperatures are set to rise again with little or no rainfall in the foreseeable future! Continue reading Alex’ August Ramblings

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Alex’ May Ramblings!

Well, April’s weather continues to frustrate gardeners with a very hot spell mid month which has curtailed the blooming season for some of my tulips and the remainder cold and wet so we have not had much opportunity to make up for lost time. I think we are still around five weeks behind where we might otherwise expect. Let’s hope that May turns out to be more favourable. Continue reading Alex’ May Ramblings!

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Alex’ April Ramblings!

For those who might have been looking for contributions earlier in the year I apologise for the lack of input. I can only put it down to a state akin to hibernation and the lack of some winter sun. We have endured some very cold and wet weather recently which with global warming, I thought was a thing of the past. We have recently had two snowfall episodes; the rainfall has prevented getting onto the garden and the weather forecasters are predicting a cold wet Easter. Continue reading Alex’ April Ramblings!

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Tips from Alex – August 2017

I seem to be starting each month’s contribution with a comment about the amount of rainfall we have been experiencing and this month is no different. July has seen large amounts of rainfall delivered in heavy doses combined with a drop in average temperatures. Apparently, this is due to The Jetstream being further south than one would ordinarily expect at this time of year. Let’s hope it decides to head north before too long. This change in rainfall and temperature has had a beneficial effect on the garden with all crops, vegetables and flowers growing really well. Continue reading Tips from Alex – August 2017

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Tips from Alex – July 2017

I started off last month’s tips with a comment that we had received at last, some welcome rain and the impact that it had on my lawn. This month, I start with another welcome of much needed rain. The spell of extremely hot weather we have enjoyed in June has come to an end with more seasonally normal temperatures now being experienced. With temperatures over 30C my lawn has again suffered, showing many areas of scorched grass but this time, I fear it will take much longer to recover. Continue reading Tips from Alex – July 2017

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