#gardeningSE26

Friendly chat, questions, reviews, find old friends or relatives. Not limited to Sydenham only issues but keep it civil!

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Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

#gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

This is my 2015 New Year's resolution - to write something here non controversial about gardening at least once a week. Part it's just because I'm interested in gardening, but it's also in memory of an aunt of mine, who died last year, and one of the last people with whom I conducted an old fashioned correspondence - you know, using pen and paper. A good half of our letters were about our gardens, and I'll admit that sometimes lists of what flowers or crops were coming up were a bit dull. So I'm also interested by the challenge of making writing about gardening interesting.

I also want to encourage people to get help with their gardens from independent professional gardeners. This is something I've written about elsewhere, e.g. here

Overlooked - gardeners, economics

arguing that while people want their gardens, and gardens in public spaces, to look good, they don't think as much about having to pay someone who knows what they are doing to make it happen. I'm not, however, the first person to notice the problem
The circumstances of gardeners, generally mean, and always moderate, may satisfy us that their great ingenuity is not commonly over-recompensed. Their delightful art is practised by so many rich people for amusement, that little advantage is to be made by those who practise it for profit; because the persons who should naturally be their best customers, supply themselves with all their most precious productions.
Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter XI, Part I

To do something about the problem, I want this thread to be a way to recommend professional gardeners; not just the minimum wage (if that) "mow and blow", type, but people who have gone to the trouble of getting an RHS qualification, and who can, as well as helping tidy up, come up with their own ideas about how to make gardens look better, and more interesting. First suggestion here is Lumen, who has been helping me in my garden, ever since I had tennis elbow, and trades as Gecko Gardeners,

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and Lizzy Spencer, who trades as Garden Carers

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OK - onto the gardening ...

There's obviously not that much to do at this time of year, and it's a bit cold, but you warm up after a while, but for me, January is when I prune a vine I planted a few years ago. I'd been given a couple of cuttings by an allotment friend, which I accepted even though I'd no good place to put it. But a few doors away there was an unused south facing wall over looking their front garden, which to my mind obviously needed a vine growing up it. I'll skip the details, but there it is now, although the current tenants in the house didn't prune it in 2014 to get a decent crop, and as far as I know, left any grapes to the birds. It's a shame, but the the winter prunings of vines can also be used as cuttings to grow more, and this is something I like to do, since it's just a matter of poking a length of vine with a bud at the end into some compost, maybe with hormone rooting powder, and waiting till May, when at least 50% are likely to have taken. I'll probably do some again this year, although I do now have a couple of vines I think established in my garden. This particular variety, Black Hamburgh, is tough and disease resistant, so once established, there's nothing to worry about apart from the pruning. Vines roots go way, way down, so they never need watering.

OTOH, in the first couple of years it is vulnerable to slugs and snails, who rather enjoy their leaves. I think I've lost at least 50% of those I've planted out this way, so it makes sense to plant more than one, and keep some in reserve - which I do in my greenhouse. I haven't yet got round to making the cuttings, but the vines I have cut should be okay for a week or two. Since they had not been cut during the year, some of them were a few meters long, so I'm also wondering about weaving them into some kind of fence, a sort of rustic making off of part of the garden. If they they grow, that will be amusing.

I have to go now, but I hope to add some photos in due course.
Last edited by Tim Lund on 5 Feb 2015 09:15, edited 1 time in total.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

I've been splitting up rhubarb crowns this morning, and now have 18 potential new plants

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for putting in a new part of the allotment, here looking rather muddy. At least one STF poster has taken up my offer of plants in earlier years, and I gather it's still going strong, so if anyone else wants some, let me know.

Generally I split them up after 4 or 5 years, by which time, if they've done well, they will have developed underground into an area of roots going down about 18 inches, and about 12 inches across. I used to try to dig them out entire, which was really hard, but last time I realised if I cut down through the crown with a spade it made it much less back breaking.

Only a couple of the crowns I dug up today had done that well, which was one of the reasons I decided they needed a new place, with a fresh load of organic matter at their roots. I suspect also that it was to do with the very wet spring we had last year, meaning that for a long time they were sodden. Let's hope they do better in their new location, although I'm not expecting much off them in the first year, which is why I'm giving half the current crowns another year in situ, giving another decent crop.

I'm also a bit concerned that the organic matter I have - a load of manure from some local stables - isn't yet fully rotted down. Here it is, with the fruiting bodies of the Blistered Cup fungus,which rots it down, visible

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It's much cheaper getting unrotted manure, but I guess it means the plants won't immediately get the benefit.

I'm also experimenting with growing things over winter in my greenhouses. Last winter I had some left over peas in some greenhouse gro-beds, as supplied by Marshalls, and was really happy with the result; it wasn't just that I got an early crop of peas, but thanks to their being protected - mice or rot could be why I'd never done well with peas before - for the first time I got a worthwhile crop at all. So that's worth doing again, and here they are, already in bloom

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One of my greenhouses is on a concrete base, but the other has an earth floor, so I don't need containers. Last summer I used it for growing tomatoes, which worked much better than grow bag, with less need for watering. However, it makes sense to use it over winter as well, so I've also planted peas into it direct.

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They're not as advanced as the ones in the gro-bed because I didn't plant them as early, but I suspect they will do better. On the other side of the greenhouse I'm also trying spring onions

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I read that it was worth growing some other salad crops over winter, such as coriander, wild rocket and mizuna

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which all seem to be doing OK. I've never tried growing mizuma before - tastes pretty good, like a gentle mustard.

I also have some wild rocket in a gro-bed out of doors, which is doing noticeable less well

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The plastic netting over this is to keep cats off, although it doesn't seems to work very well, but I suspect the bigger problem is that it gets waterlogged when it rains hard, and just being colder. Growing under glass really makes a difference.

I'm still taking a gamble on frosts / global warming, since I don't have any heating in my greenhouses. Last winter there were no frosts here, and we've not had anything much this year so far, so I think it's worth it. It will be interesting to see how these plants under glass do cope with minus zero temperatures. But outside I still have a flower on a fuschia

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and a confused cowslip has been in flower since November

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while grape hyacinth is already in blossom here

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Last thing - I have now got round to taking some cuttings from those Black Hamburgh grape prunings, so here are potentially 12 new vines

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If anyone would like one come May, when it will clear whether they have taken, let me know - and any takers for rhubarb.

Also, if any one has any unwanted guinea-pig runs, such as this

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I wonder if I could borrow it, or buy it? I'm told it could be the best way of keeping cats and squirrels away from plants in gro-bed outside the greenhouse.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

Not exactly gardening weather, so I'm thinking about gladioli and other summer bulbs. Sometime before Christmas I made an impulse buy of 40 gladioli, some freesias and asian lilies, and only afterwards thought about how I was going to grow them. I managed to grow gladioli a few years ago, but the corms didn't survive the next winter, so this time I took the trouble to find out about their ecology. It seems they are native to dry grassy habitats and scrub in the Mediterranean area, so it's probably no surprise they rotted in a damp clayey London winter. So, I'm going to try adding some sand to an area where I'll keep an eye on them,

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and make sure I lift them when they die back and keep dry over winter. But I also saw in the Chiltern Seeds catalogue that there is a gladiolus species adapted for damper conditions, gladiolus palustris

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so for the longer term, I'm going to have a go at growing these from seed.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

I've been thinking about the impact of frost this week, such as this inside one of my greenhouses

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- which reminds me of my bedroom window in winter when I was growing up. If you tell kids now-a-days, they wouldn't believe you.

Anyway, I'm interested to know how the peas I'm growing over winter in it will survive, some of which have already bloomed and set seed.

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So this is how they looked the morning of the frost - definitely affected

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and then a day or so later, recovered

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which is reassuring. The variety, incidentally, is Douce Provence. It's behaviour I'm familiar with in autumn sown broad beans - Aqua dulce - which has from some time been one of my established best value to grow crops. The picture here from this afternoon doesn't show them looking as sorry for themselves as they would have in the frost, but you can see they have been knocked back.

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But they well survive, and produce a decent crop, maybe from April to June.

It's also interesting that the coriander, mizuma and rocket I'm growing in the greenhouse were also affected

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but also spring back

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There has to be some kind of anti-freeze chemical which their genomes allow them to synthesise. I wonder if it's the same in all of these, which come from different plant families - Brassicaceae, Apiaceae and Fabaceae ...

Something less like to survive is the lone fuschia blossom

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The main job today, however, was replanting some rhubarb, which involved digging a couple of trenches down to the depth of about two spade spits

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filling the bottom with some of the not really well enough rotted stables manure in the barrow on the left, then planting the split up crowns in it, and filling in with the soil previously dug out.

If you look carefully at the soil dug out on the right, you can see the slightly lighter, yellowy colour, which is the London clay which forms the subsoil round here. On first walking onto the plot today, I felt some of the soil sticking to my boots, and wondered if it was going to be too waterlogged to make any digging possible, but it was ok - which is evidence of having got enough organic matter into it over the years. On some of the other plots on the site, the top soil is rather thinner, and they are not as productive.

With this digging out, I'm taking a once in five years chance to get some organic matter right down to the depth of the roots where rhubarb operates - five years being the rough frequency at which I replant my rhubarb. I guess I should look this up, but last year's experience suggests that rhubarb doesn't much like over heavy soil, with the risk of it getting water logged. In fact, this variety, whatever it is, having been handed down in my family, would for most of the time grown on much lighter soils, originally Becontree Heath, then alluvium near the Thames in Oxford, and later Peckham. It's only since I've lived in Sydenham that I've had to deal with heavy clay based soil. I'm moved to make another try at finding out what variety it is - my cousins whose farm it came from back in the 1940s told me once they would be able to look it up in their old diaries. I suppose I could also take a sample to the RHS ...

Working heavy soils also makes me think about the tools we use. Some years ago I noticed how plot holders whose families had come from other parts of the world often had some kind of mattock, which they would use rather than a spade or fork.

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So, seeing a mattock on sale at Sydenham DIY one day, I bought it to see how useful I might find it. A lot of the time it was very effective, and versatile, since it could be used for weeding, like a hoe, slicing through dried clogged up soil, dragging soil around, whacking down to chop through roots, with the assistance of gravity putting less strain on my back, and unlike a fork, the solid blade never getting bent, in the way that the tines of a fork do. As such, it was much better for working stony soil. The corner can also be dragged across a seed bed to create a quick seed drill.

I wrote about this in one of my letters to my aunt, who replied with a sketch of a tool such as my Granddad had brought back from France (he never left England again, after serving in WW1). He called it his chipper, and used it until it wore out, whereupon his son bought a replacement from France, which he continued to use until his 80s, and this was what my aunt sketched.

I also asked various people on the plot who had these about them - Jamaicans, Maltese, Mautirian and Tamil - whose mattocks, unlike mine, had been made by someone they knew. One even offered to bring me one back. Of all these conversations, the most interesting was with the Tamil plot holder, who mentioned that the word for mattock in Tamil literally meant 'earth-cutter'. From which I conclude that the principal factor affecting the use of mattocks in gardening is the prevalence of dry stony soil, which is much more likely in Mediterranean and tropical soils than it is in rainy old England. But I was proud of my Granddad, whose practical mind had no trouble overcoming a general preference for things English.

Finally, those gladoilus palustris seeds arrived from Chiltern Seeds, so here they are, now sown in the greenhouse, along with some impulse buys of carnations and bergamot

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There's absolutely now way there will be room in my garden for these, however poor my germination rate is, but just some will be nice, and any surplus can be donated to some plant sale in May, such as for my allotments. I don't pretend to much Homes and Gardens style, but I love having cut flowers round the house, and it's just interesting to expand my gardening knowledge, which is best done by trying things out.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

In the spirit of the OP here, thanks to a retweet from SEE3

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I learned about another local gardening business, Millefleurs
Millefleurs offers a garden design, planting and maintenance service. We are experienced organic gardeners and our aim is to create inspirational green spaces at home, work or in public spaces.
We run workshops for companies wanting to encourage well being and innovation in the workplace through the co-creation of indoor or outdoor gardens.

We host the Millefleurs Garden Club, an informal network of local people interested in organic gardening.
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Source here

This is exactly the sort of local business I'd like this thread to support, by raising awareness of what gardening is possible round here, and the availability of qualified gardeners who could help them achieve this.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

And this I forgot from my own garden

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In times past
‘The snowdrop, in purest white arraie, First rears her hedde on Candlemas daie’
Source here

Candlemas being February 2nd, but this is London in an era of man made global warming, so late January is none too early.
Rachael
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Joined: 23 Jan 2010 13:42
Location: Sydenham / Forest Hill Intersection

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Rachael »

I like the idea of using this thread to share information about gardening services that are available. I love my garden, and learning about it. But struggling with everything is foolhardy. With that in mind, I've had Lumen from Gecko Gardeners, as recommended by Tim, come and prune my fruit trees today. She's done a brilliant job, a lot more considered and expert than the hack job I would have done.

An added bonus is that I went out and did some tidying and cut back the ivy before she came, a bit like tidying up before the cleaner comes. I'm very bad at getting out there in January to do those jobs, so it was good to have an incentive.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

Well, that's really nice to hear, Rachael - and good to see Lizzie posting elsewhere on the Forum.

Ideas to brighten up a winter garden - any favourites?

Thanks to the posting about MilleFleurs, I've also been invited to join their informal gardening group, which I very much look forward to meeting. Obviously this is a private group, so I won't be able to write about other local gardens as I would about my own, but I'm sure there will be some ideas and thoughts to share all the same.

I've also been thinking about the discussion on the Asylum about whether there is a place on this Forum for long, possibly rambling posts, either about gardens, or film and book reviews. I'm not sure. I might start one or more stand alone blogs for such posts, but I still think that you know what you are letting yourself in for if you start reading such a post, and if I fail to hold the reader's attention by the first paragraph, that's my problem. In this Twitter age attention spans maybe shorter, but that doesn't mean there aren't some people - e.g. those actually interested in gardening - who will want to read on. I'm well aware there are many who are not, and I can live with that. But let's live and let live, and maybe if further feedback and thought means I do move such posts elsewhere, then maybe. But I will be sorry to miss the feedback I get on this Forum.

OK - that's probably long enough, so on to a new post for this week's exciting update :D
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

The main thing this week has been clearing out the beds at the front of my house, made with bricks and concrete slabs. They've never been very satisfactory, and suffered last year from being dug up to replace the gas supply to the house. So when the weather improves a local builder will be coming to smarten things up, creating space for some planters, and requiring a bit of reorganisation in the rest of the garden. But ahead of this I dug up what was there, and saved the plants I cared for.

Mainly it was daffodils and grape hyacinths, although there was one peony, which is one of my favourite flowers.

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I remember reading long ago that they didn't like being transplanted, so I took a fair amount of care not to disturb the root ball. On looking it up now on line, I find almost no support for this - so maybe I could try something more than just replanting it all together somewhere else. It was also interesting to see just how much more organic matter I'd got into the soil in the brick surrounded beds compared with underlying clay, so well worth saving that soil. There were some Japanese anenomes, which have been there ever since we moved in, needing no attention. I'm not so keen on them, so if anyone wants a root, let me know. And if you're not so interested in gardening, think of it as something you can just forget about.

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As I was doing this, I was also thinking about how gardening can be quite hard and uncomfortable physical work. The temperature wasn't that far above freezing, and the concrete slabs I was lifting were quite heavy; there is no way that I could have done more than a few, and even that was maybe putting my back at risk. Before I'm too much older, it will probably be advisable not to try at all. Hence thoughts of how an independent professional gardener will either need to be fairly strong, as well as knowledgeable about plants, or else have access to a network of other gardeners which includes someone who can help out - maybe some young man with more inclination to show off than sense. Whatever, it supports the case I want to make in this thread, for calling upon the services of independent professional gardeners, not just for their skills, but also strength, and toleration of winter weather. Of course, the two can be combined - I don't like the idea that there's some kind of trade off between brain and brawn.
Last edited by Tim Lund on 3 Feb 2015 21:48, edited 1 time in total.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

I forgot - something else I'm going to have to do soon is prune my mulberry, which if left to itself will take over much of the back garden. This time what I thought I read is confirmed by the RHS - it does matter about doing this in the dormant period.

I'm also thinking of clearing a space within the interior of the tree in which I can safely put up a step ladder when it comes to pick the fruit. Currently it takes some uncomfortable contortions, which are witnessed with great curiosity by the cat, who thinks it a great game to see humans trying to do what she can do so much better.

The alternative to actually picking the fruit is just to spread a groundsheet out underneath the tree and shake, but various other plants get in the way. So, a couple of the concrete slabs from the front are going to be positioned for the step ladder to have a secure base, and mulberry yields will be maximised!
Last edited by Tim Lund on 3 Feb 2015 21:47, edited 1 time in total.
Lumen
Posts: 6
Joined: 9 Jun 2011 18:28
Location: Sydenham

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Lumen »

Consider taking some hard wood cuttings when you prune your mulberry. Would be a lovely addition to the cuttings on sale at your allotments and quite unusual. I know one person who would definitely be interested in acquiring her own tree.
busylizzy
Posts: 12
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Location: Beckenham

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by busylizzy »

Maybe this is Tim's personal gardening blog but there's some handy hints and tips sprinkled about (or should that be sown about!). There are plenty of "what to do this month" guides but they can either be rather too prescriptive or can get you down if you haven't been able to keep on top of everything.

One thing I always remember one of my RHS tutors saying - yes there is an optimum time for gardening jobs but sometimes you just have to do it when you get round to it.

So this is my "good to do soon tip" if you didn't get round to it in November.....sow sweet pea seeds - cool bedroom window-sill will do if or in my case the hardly heated conservatory as Santa just couldn't fit the green house in his sleigh.

They do flower earlier and longer according to some research compared to those sown outside after the frosts have passed.

Haven't got round to carefully planning the annual colour scheme at this stage so have stuck to the standard "Spencer Special Mix". This was rather helpfully labelled "Climbing Variety" on the packet which seemed a bit superfluous until I noticed another variety "Sweetie Mix" labelled "Dwarf Trailing Variety". So will be trying that as well to plant out in large tubs and on top of the water butts.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

busylizzy wrote:Maybe this is Tim's personal gardening blog ...
It's not meant to be, although checking with the OP
Tim Lund wrote: I also want to encourage people to get help with their gardens from independent professional gardeners. This is something I've written about elsewhere, e.g. here

Overlooked - gardeners, economics

arguing that while people want their gardens, and gardens in public spaces, to look good, they don't think as much about having to pay someone who knows what they are doing to make it happen.

...

To do something about the problem, I want this thread to be a way to recommend professional gardeners; not just the minimum wage (if that) "mow and blow", type, but people who have gone to the trouble of getting an RHS qualification, and who can, as well as helping tidy up, come up with their own ideas about how to make gardens look better, and more interesting. First suggestion here is Lumen, who has been helping me in my garden, ever since I had tennis elbow, and trades as Gecko Gardeners,

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and Lizzy Spencer, who trades as Garden Carers

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.
I realise I could have made it clearer that I very much welcome other people adding to it, either amateurs like me saying what we are up to or thinking about, or professional gardeners, such as you, Lumen, or Kathleen and Catherine from MilleFleur. The only qualification is that if it's to be used to help promote professional gardeners, they should be RHS qualified. So no reason not to promote yourself, given that you are.

Think of my blogging on it about what I'm doing and thinking about in my garden as just seeding it :)
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

I got round to pruning my mulberry today, creating not just a space close to the trunk to allow a step ladder, with its feet on paving slabs

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but also cutting out any branches which were crossing.

I also meant to show the tools I used, but the secateurs and pruning saw are barely visible - just the long arm pruners - another momento of my aunt. The point is that most people, certainly those taking on a garden for the first time, are unlikely to have the right tools, or even know what tools are right, so even if it is just for an occasional job such as this, it helps to be in touch with a local professional gardener who will have access to such tools, either their own, or ones they can borrow through their local gardening contacts.

As to the prunings - here they are, with some portion of the Met Police stable clearings lately collected from Mayow Park in the background.

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I'll be taking up Lumen's suggestion of using some of this for hardwood cuttings - it'll be interesting to see if this succeeds. Having just looked it up on the RHS website, I see it could also work for figs, so I'll try that too.

It reminds me of a gooseberry bush I have on my plot, which one year I failed to tidy up properly in autumn, and allowed it's lower branches to trail in the earth. When eventually I got round to it, I found I had about half a dozen new layered gooseberry plants, which I have put round part of the outside of the plot. My thought it to train them like a box round a potager garden, but actually get something useful off it.

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Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

busylizzy wrote:Maybe this is Tim's personal gardening blog but there's some handy hints and tips sprinkled about (or should that be sown about!). There are plenty of "what to do this month" guides but they can either be rather too prescriptive or can get you down if you haven't been able to keep on top of everything.

One thing I always remember one of my RHS tutors saying - yes there is an optimum time for gardening jobs but sometimes you just have to do it when you get round to it.

So this is my "good to do soon tip" if you didn't get round to it in November.....sow sweet pea seeds - cool bedroom window-sill will do if or in my case the hardly heated conservatory as Santa just couldn't fit the green house in his sleigh.

They do flower earlier and longer according to some research compared to those sown outside after the frosts have passed.

Haven't got round to carefully planning the annual colour scheme at this stage so have stuck to the standard "Spencer Special Mix". This was rather helpfully labelled "Climbing Variety" on the packet which seemed a bit superfluous until I noticed another variety "Sweetie Mix" labelled "Dwarf Trailing Variety". So will be trying that as well to plant out in large tubs and on top of the water butts.
I've grown sweet peas for some years now, sowing them in autumn, about the time I clear out the tomatoes, so they are ready for an early start the next spring.

TBH, I've never got round to thinking ahead about colour schemes, since all sweet peas seem to look good to me. One especial favourite is a variety I bought from Chiltern seeds, which is close to an original wildflower, native to Sicily, which means it breeds true. So I can harvest the seed, and get the same flowers the next year. Here are some of them ready for 2015.

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and here are some 'Bouquet mixed', to provide some more highly bred variety

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Last edited by Tim Lund on 8 Feb 2015 11:29, edited 1 time in total.
Hissing Syd
Posts: 118
Joined: 7 May 2012 15:09
Location: Sydenham

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Hissing Syd »

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread and found it inspirational too, thank you.

And BusyLizzy, your RHS tutor's advice was a great relief to me; I'm often wracked with guilt about not doing things at the right time! Even now there is an unplanted bag of bulbs in my scullery silently accusing me...
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

Thanks, Hissing Syd. I just found the link to those Chiltern Seeds sweet peas I mentioned

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Lathyrus odoratus 'Cupani'
Old-fashioned Sweet Pea (Heirloom, 1699)

Rather surprisingly, for such a well-known flower, the origins of Lathyrus odoratus are shrouded in mystery and its country of origin is not known. The flower was first introduced into this country from Sicily in 1699 where wild specimens have also been collected relatively recently. In addition, similar plants have been collected in South America, but all these are suspected of being garden escapes. From these "original" plants were developed what were known as the grandiflora but are now generally called the Old-Fashioned Sweet Peas.

Grow them and we think you will agree that they thoroughly justify a place alongside the modern varieties - although the flowers are smaller, they are more dainty and are borne in profusion - once flowering starts, some can be picked every day, even sometimes until October (provided you don't let them go to seed). Their colours are more intense and glowing, and their scent - strong and heady - is in a different league. Fairly hardy throughout the British Isles.

If you, like us, enthuse over these lovely Sweet Peas, why not join "The Eckford Sweet Pea Society of Wem"? Named after Henry Eckford of Wem who began work on the flower in about 1876 and by the turn of the century had raised more than half the varieties then commercially available (even in America), it is dedicated to the conservation and promotion of these varieties. For details, contact the Secretary at johnandvalgood@tiscali.co.uk.

This is the variety, cultivated, garden escape or wild form, that was in fact introduced from Sicily in 1699. It is a robust, compact strain with beautiful flowers with mauve wings and a maroon standard. Very heady scent. Packet of 25 seeds.
Tim Lund
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Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

It was a nice to be down on the plot today, and I even found myself shedding a jacket as I forked over some ground,

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trying to get rid of perennial weeds such as couch grass and bind weed.

I took a few more photos like that, in the hope of communicating the joy of achieving a good tilth, but experience tells me pictures of smooth level areas of earth just don't cut it - you need to have felt the soil crumbling as it passed through the tines of your fork.

So just for this evening the end of the product life cycle of the leek, with any time now will resume as I sow this year's seed.

Here they are, the last standing from 2014

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one of the joys of which being that they survive in the ground over winter, so being available for lifting whenever is convenient. In effect, the soil continues to work as a larder, after it has supported the months of growth before hand. It's not an approach which works with potatoes, although they can over winter, but they are liable to frost damage, and get eaten by slugs. There has to be some chemical synthethised by leeks - and other members of the onion family - which deters them.

Anyway, here are the ones I did lift today, taken home and in course of being processed.

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They're not going to win any prizes, and they wouldn't pass the standard required by supermarkets, but they will at least get eaten - well, those parts which don't get composted.

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Having cleaned them up, we just chop them up fine and quickly blanch them, before putting them in bags in the freezer. Then they are available for use in whatever quantities we want as we want them, generally as an ingredient for a sauce or stew.
busylizzy
Posts: 12
Joined: 2 Jan 2015 17:10
Location: Beckenham

Re: #gardeningSE26 - what's a qualified gardener?

Post by busylizzy »

A propos the question of using qualified gardeners, when people are looking to use the services of the gardener they can always enquire what qualifications they have - general horticultural qualifications can be be awarded by the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and City & Guilds. These are both theoretical, exam-based qualification but also have practical modules.

The Gardeners Guild is a trade body for qualified gardeners providing support & information for the gardeners, but there is also useful consumer advice on aspects of gardening, including advice on training & skills. http://www.thegardenersguild.co.uk/Care ... ining.html

This includes links to LANTRA which is the UK's skills council for the landbased and environmental sector. LANTRA provide an extensive array of training awards including hedge-trimming, pesticide application, stump grinding, and so on.

You can also ask whether your gardeners are members of any professional organisations such as The Horticulture Trades Association http://www.the-hta.org.uk/.

Hope that helps.
Tim Lund
Posts: 6716
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: #gardeningSE26

Post by Tim Lund »

Thanks for that, Lizzie. Are there pluses and minuses for the different qualifications? I have a friend who was trying some RHS qualifications, and was almost in tears of frustration because she couldn't manage to graft anything.

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More here

Meanwhile, this weekend I've been away, so not doing too much gardening. But last week I revisited my Mum's old garden (she hand build the wall you can see at the back!) which has only been mown and occasionally tidied since she died more than ten years ago. However, it still looked good, in spite of the occasional bit of junk to be seen

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thanks to her having planted winter flowering cyclamen, which have naturalised just as well as the snowdrops. At the back you can see the trunk if a huge tree, and in the foreground, unswept up, last year's fallen leaves from it. An example, I guess of what might be called woodland gardening, which doesn't require too much maintenance, but will benefit from a gardener with some long term vision.

If you look carefully, you can also spot a bramble, which will need to be dealt with, and the attractive lighter green leaves I think are cow parsley. There are also some bluebells, which will bloom in a couple of months, and the seed pods of honesty (lunaria) from last year
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