Thursday, 19 March 2015

Rotten luck and quick results.

I've just had a poke in the blank, undisturbed pots which house my anemone corms.  I'd had them in the cellar to try to force them into slightly earlier sprouting, but having seen no signs of life, moved most of them into the greenhouse.  Still nothing.  However, one little pot in the porch has started to show stirrings in the compost during the last couple of days.

The lack of activity in its blank-faced contemporaries led me to conduct investigations.  Using a pen as my probe, I firked around the compost until I met with the little truffley nuggets which are the swollen corms of the anemones.  I uprooted one to investigate, and found that despite it maintaining its shape, it had turned into a splodge, rather than a nugget, and oozed whitely when poked.  Oh dear. That's not going to grow.  The lesson to learn from this is that I MUST remember to make a really sharply drained potting mix next time I plant them and perhaps water more sparingly to boot.

But for every tragedy there is a triumph.  Sowed seeds of achillea 'Ptarmica' a few days ago and read with a heavy heart that 'germination may take between one and three months'.  Spotted a fleck of green on the surface of the seed tray when peering through the condensation of the propagator lid, pulled it out of the fuggy warmth, and found a whole downy crop of sprouters populating the surface of the compost.  Yippee!  Result! So for my 12 deceased anemones, I have about 200 achilleas....

Gardening in my view is muck, magic and learning lessons.  Like British football teams in Europe, a lot of what we sow doesn't make it to the finals.  But if something fails, just sow something else. There are lots of seeds in a packet and the law of averages tells me that if I keep going, I'm bound to get something to grow.  It seems to have worked so far!

British cut flowers, Birmingham.  Tuckshop Flowers
Last year's pink achillea  - this year's will be white.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Mission theoretically possible

I'm on a mission.

My allotment is going to be good this year.

Every year I say this, and most of these years, I fail!  But this year is going to be different.....  I've made a good start with the  half plot - it looks so spick and span that it appears that Dave the Tidy Man has taken it over.  But no, it is the work of ME!  That messy-round-the-edges, slightly chaotic gardener who has the shaggy patch of currant bushes and ankle breaking potholes next door.

I'm even on the way to eliminating the bear traps which masquerade as paths - they're a legacy of when my children used to have a penchant for digging to Australia on the plot - and while a bit of gentle subsidence and weathering has done a great deal to moderate their handiwork over the years, the literal pitfalls of allotment life, remained in evidence.    In my new incarnation as virtuous creator of tidy plots, I'm making it my mission this month to get paths that go right across the two plots, from one side to the other, to make life easier with my wheelbarrow.

This has involved digging out forests of raspberry canes that barred the way at a junction, necessitating a few sharp wiggles (tricky with a full load in the barrow!), and levelling the ground somewhat with some fairly major earthworks.

But lo - now a passable route has appeared... the only work which remains is to cover the cardboard weed-smothering layer on the newly excavated area with some of the wood chip mountain which still lurks down at the bottom of my own garden.

Another sound bit of sense which has emerged through the new path system, is that the plot is now effectively chopped into three sections - I know for the perfect crop rotation it should be four sections - but having any sort of systematic way of thinking about the plot is a new treat for me!

Perhaps I'll get a rush of blood to the head and go for the fourth section before the month is out. But then again... maybe next year.

Outside the sun is burning off the last vestiges of mist, the greenhouse needs opening to let the fresh air circulate around its residents, and more work needs to be done.  So I'd better get out of my unsartorial pyjamas, stop writing and go and actually do it!

Let's look back at the blog in 6 months time and see if the resolution has been upheld.  I set my jawline in determination at this point.  This WILL be the year.  Maybe...