Thoughts of spring on dark days

Seed catalogues  have been landing on the doormat daily since just before Christmas – such temptation. The pull of spring ought not to be ignored but, for a teacher, seed orders need to be completed before the start of term tomorrow – or they won’t happen until February half term. This year, with no allotment I need to rein myself in so I’ve gone for some veg, a few cut flowers and a handful of new dahlias. Unusually I’m going to sow cut flowers meadow style in one of the beds. This is mega easy provided that you prepare the bed thoroughly and ensure you’ve eradicated all the weeds. I’m fairly confident because I’ve worked the bed for a couple of years now. I’ll cover the bed with black plastic in spring to encourage any annual weeds to germinate once the narcissi have been harvested, then how them off before broadcast sowing.

I have a few seeds from last year in my tin but I ‘ve ordered dahlias from Peter Nyssen, veg from Real Seeds and cut flowers from Higgledy Garden and Sarah Raven, the latter is expensive but germination rates are good.

Garden 2019 veg and flower order

Agapanthus Midnight Blue, Agapanthus Polar Ice,  Agapanthus Twister, Brodiaea Hyacinthina (Triteleia), Caryopteris Dark Night, Crocosmia Carmine Brilliant

Dahlias  – Ariko Zsaza,  Black Jack, Blue Boy, Art Deco, Art Fair, Happy Halloween, Jescot Julie, and Karma Naomi

Helianthus annuus ‘Sonja’, and  ‘Claret’, Lupin hartwegii mix, Papaver somniferum ‘Dark Plum’, Cobaea scandens, Cottage Garden Mix 6g seed, Country Lane Mix 10g of pure wildflower seed

Edamame Bean, Beetroot ‘Chioggia’, Chilli ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’, Kale ‘Curly Scarlet’ Kale, Spinach ‘Perpetual’, Spinach ‘Medania’, Organic Lettuce Seed Collection, Mustard wasabi, Salad Rocket ‘Serrata’

The Christmas Chronicles Part VI – All is quiet on New Year’s Day

 

My timeline is full of people congratulating themselves for having taken down the Christmas decs and given the house a thorough clean ready for the new year. My day is less fraught with activity. The tree still graces a corner of the kitchen and the Christmas candles are throwing a rosy glow over proceedings. Today’s activity is firmly rooted in my plans for the coming season.

There was a year when I spend a few carefree hours turning the compost but as a nod to the damp weather, today’s activity is cerebral. A pile of seed catalogues are lined up on the dresser awaiting perusal – although my seed merchants of choice are online – Higgledy Garden and Real Seeds. I like their ethos and seed germination rates have been excellent over the last few seasons.  I’ve made a list (unusual) and among the abundance of cut flowers this year I am making room on the plot for some purple podded climbing beans, heritage lettuce and purple carrots. I’ve also plumped for field beans ‘Wizard’  rather than broad beans. Only two of the household are fans and these are hardy. A more organised woman would have sown them back in October but teaching is so often an all-consuming activity and so a few will be sown now and the rest later. I still have tulips to get in the ground, after all!!

If you want to make this year a better one than last then you’d do well to spend more of it in the garden. This is a good place to start with #five new year’s resolutions for gardeners. It’s American and written in 2012 but those of you who have followed this blog for a while or subscribed to Our Flower Patch will be familiar with the principles. I’m going to take my own advice because 2018 is already shaping up to be busy with the children being variously occupied with driving tests, university applications, GCSEs, county rugby and a production of Goodnight Mister Tom to direct, thirty years of marriage to celebrate and the usual frenzy of life at the chalkface.

And after the seed order is in I will continue with my pile of new books (reviews to follow) and a spot of baking.

Simple pleasures.

St Piran, budding flower patches and Lenten abstinence

st piranIt’s St Piran’s Day, patron saint of Cornwall. What better way to celebrate than by supporting a Cornish seed supplier? It’s hardly surprising that one or two British flower growers have chosen to set up business in that corner of the British Isles including Higgledy Ben, who is the seed supplier for members of Our Flower Patch and has fed my seedaholic tendencies for a few years.

We’ve started our very own flower farm at school – albeit on a modest scale – with seed supplied from Cornwall. A few hardly annuals were planted by Year 5 back in the autumn and over the next few weeks Year 6 are driving the project forward, setting up a proper eco flower business. We hope to have a Friday flower market in operation at school from May and one or two blooms available before that, as we planted some bulbs and biennials back in the autumn too. I need to restock my own allotment flower patch too.

If you want to grow a few cut flowers yourself this year may I suggest Louise Curley’s new book as an excellent place to start. You can get oodles of advice too from Higgledy Garden’s website and I will put up a few top tips gleaned from #britishflowers hour on Twitter over the last few weeks.

I would have celebrated St Piran’s day with a scone and clotted cream but it’s the start of Lent and I rashly decided to give up brown food. Think about it. No bread, potatoes, cakes, scones, pastries, beer, chocolate. No meat…. not a problem for this vegetarian. No coffee.

Ummm. No coffee?

I may have to decide that coffee stays. It’s not a food after all. Some things one just can’t do without.

Reasons to be cheerful

The wind’s whipping around the back of the house. Every time I step out of the door it rains…and I mean biblical torrents. I have a ‘to do’ list which looks like a queue for the latest Banksy exhibition and my PC  is throwing a strop worthy of Violet Elizabeth Bott. Hence the messy looking hyperlinks!! Today may not be the best of days.  But who needs a blogger who moans? Enough! I need some blue sky thinking.

Firstly my passion for sunflowers knows no bounds and so I was delighted when Ben Ranyard of Higgledy Garden  asked me to write a guest article about them on his blog. Nip over to read it here. http://higgledygarden.com/2011/09/03/sunflowers-guest-article-by-cally-of-country-gate-gardens/ Ben grows and sells seasonal cut flowers and his blog is full of fabulous pics and info about all manner of delighful blooms.

Secondly I will be making another batch of elderberry cordial soon as the berries on and around the allotment are almost as abundant as the raspberries. You’ll find all the details here http://bit.ly/VYf92. Did I mention the raspberries? They are Ah- Maize – Zing this year!

See. It didn’t take me long to see the blue skies.

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