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 This year, my daffodils are finished and have been replaced by some fine tulip specimens although they did get damaged slightly by frost earlier this week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

 

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

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. Details tba.
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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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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!

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

Alex’ July Ramblings

Last month I hailed the return of good growing weather in May. June turned out to be “Flaming June” and it appears there is no end in sight to the exceptional temperatures we are experiencing. Rainfall has and continues to be forecast to be extremely scarce. Gardeners will be spending many hours ensuring that plants have adequate water while hoping that no hose pipe ban will be introduced. Bristol Water has said that it is experiencing an increase of 17% in demand. It behoves us all to be judicious when using this precious resource. Having said that, my water butts are empty and I’m relying on mains supply. Continue reading Alex’ July Ramblings