Tag Archives: gardening

Plant-it-ary Disaster

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I know it is meant to get very cold this weekend, below freezing. It might not happen, just like the last big snowstorm went right over us on the Atlantic coast and dropped on the west coast instead. Pooooooor Dublin.

Me, surprised to be feeling positive in spring, decided to get some seeds going. First I had to sort through the massive, and I mean massive, quantity of seeds that I have. Hubby needs to stop buying me magazines with free seeds!

Nearly every pile has more than one variety – for example, seven kinds of poppies, eleven types of sunflowers. I had other piles of that I definitely wanted to plant, might want to plant, two groups for himself to choose from, and a discard pile. These are just the flowers; I didn’t get into the veg seeds yet (zipper bag still in the shoebox).

I’d already set up a mini greenhouse a few days earlier. Brand new, but had been boxed and unused for a couple of years. I had new seed trays, new soil – not for seedlings, unfortunately – and a sunny day to enjoy.

I’m not gonna list everything I planted now. It was a lot, and quite a few ‘best before 2014’ ones I planted for the hell of it. All carefully planted according to depth, needing a cover of light soil or none, and labelled with species and number of cells planted with each variety.

I’m not going to list them because it doesn’t matter.

I no longer have the faintest idea of what seeds are in which cell. The whole greenhouse went face-down yesterday in wind that wasn’t there…until it was.

Couldn’t even get to the front zippers. This happened when I left the house for 15 minutes. I rushed home from the shop because I accidentally locked us out of our bank card, found this, and started to cry.

Hubby tried to help me over the phone with the card, and told me to go sort out my plants until he called me back…I couldn’t, it was pouring rain! Then when I tried, one of the important plastic bits on the greenhouse shattered in my hands. I screamed bad words and threw greenhouse parts at the innocent grass.

Phone call from himself let’s me know that I have to drive to another town to sort out the bank card…bank closes at five, it’s ten to four now… deep breaths and make sure the car has enough petrol to get there as it is low, and we have no cash. As soon as the downpour stops, I go out to see if I can make it.

Rain stops. Out to the car and see that I left the windows and sunroof open as I was in a panic sweat that needed cooling when the bank card didn’t work. Back inside for towels to hopefully save the electronics. Drive to other town. Realise on the way that it is late on Tuesday and I needed to do something pretty important on Monday, but forgot. Struggled for parking, more panic sweats.

The bank closed at 4! Defeated, I went back home (on petrol fumes) to try to salvage my seeds. I had to take the greenhouse apart bit by bit and carefully try to poke dirt and seeds back where they came from. Not so bad for two trays on the lower levels. Very bad for the upper two – the ones I really wanted to grow!

My only hope for one tray is that as I used a seed packet, I turned it upside down on a pile. One label stick remained in place, so I can get it right one direction or the other, hopefully?

On the plus side: years ago I found some seeds on the ground at a local, beautiful, garden and they are growing. Not all is lost.

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Experiment Win!

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Orchid pot v2.0 had some slight problems, but I am sure the next one will be easier still.

After talking about my first attempt in the comments of the last post, I came up with a few new ideas.

Just assume I fixed the five problems I found the first time; now we have new complications!

I found a new outer pot to work with my already-perfectly-sized inner pot. It is a fully glazed, smooth, no-hole-in-the-bottom useless as fuck decorative pot. I love the colour, but I never use pots with no drainage holes; they are the best way to kill any plant.

I made my concrete in measured batches. Two small ones with the same measure of water to mix. I did have to make a third batch as I was still underestimating how much I needed, but this time the mix in all three were actually measured and not eyeballed.

I taped up my corks (shaved down, a full size cork would let all the growing medium run right out the holes). I hot glued them to the tape on my perfect size interior pot, so it can be used again.

Those corks need to be smaller still!

Here we go! I think I forgot to mention I used veggie oil last time to make pot separation easier. I used a lot more this time, as I didn’t want to destroy that lovely useless pot. I know, I know: I hoard. But this is why! I found a use for a useless thing! It takes me being unable to go to work and to be bored to finally use my useless crap.

You can see the oil at the surface here, and the concrete is still wet. A worry. The next day it was so bad I dipped a paper towel in it to soak up the excess oil.

Weighed down. I brought it inside later, before it got chilly out.

Inside pot pulled out with help of pliers. There was a very thin sheen of ‘crete at the bottom, but it easily chipped off. The inside pot, between the corks pulled up most of the bottom. Not all the way, and no cracking at the bottom. I did it perhaps a bit too soon. Or maybe the corks were too big as I already said. In any case the bottom is thin.

Next problem was how to get the concrete out of the lavender pot. I’ve already given a spoiler with the two pictures above that proves I did it. How? I ran the sink full of hot water and let it soak. I made sure not to get the ‘crete wet, and after 10 minutes I turned it upside down, gave it a couple of thumps with my hand and heard a welcome clunk when it fell out. Whew! Thermodynamics, baby!

Pretty damn clean in there! Yay! The little bits left washed out easily.

My timeline is all screwy now, sorry!

I used these to make the holes in the sides. A very dull scalpel (an X-Acto blade would also work, in the same rounded shape) to start the hole. A not-too-pointy pocket knife that we don’t care about to do most of the hole drilling. I did have to sharpen it five times. Lastly a crappy battery powered drill that had no charge and likely had the wrong drill bit on it.

I made a bunch o holes! When it was working well, it took me about 5 minutes per hole.

Overexposed. But by now the cats were waking up from their 3-hour nap and wanted to see what I was doing.

Not too shabby!

Immediately planted up one of my unhappy orchids. Lots of root rot and suffocating moss in the original plastic pot. I even poked some of the roots out of the holes for stability. Let’s hope they like their new homes.

Lilac Love

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I’m so excited! My little girl is all grown up. ” 🎼 Girl, you’ll be a woman, soon…” horrid song but let it go as my lilac has bloomed!


Grown from seed and still well under a yard (or a metre) tall, my little baby is now looking for love. *sniffle*

*sniff, sniff* Oh, how I love a lilac! 

Last Gasp of the Flowers?

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It was gorgeous today. Sunny and about 8 degrees C, which feels warm to me at this time of year. In the last two months – officially winter here – we’ve had one day of sleet and hail, and about three so far where it got near to zero and there was frost on the car, and the grass. The wind barely made its usual horrendously damaging appearance in late October, and November has been equally placid.

Of course the rain never really goes away, it is Ireland, after all.

Last weekend it was also lovely, so I borrowed iDJ’s iPhone to take pictures of my remaining flowers.

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The rudbeckia is still going strong. I am so impressed with how long one bloom can survive. They are very welcome; now more than ever with their warm autumn coloration.

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More rudbeckia.

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Galliardia is still in bloom, too.

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I’m fascinated with their huge puff-ball seed heads, too. I’m leaving them to mature, just out of curiosity.

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Now. This is something that really fascinates me! This is the stem of just one of the many black lilies that I grew this year. This one plant has not only made seeds, but seems to be growing bulblets all along its stem. I’m boggled. I think it is quite possible my garden next year is going to be overrun with black lilies. We may just have to dig up the whole front lawn (no great loss) and plant it with lilies and tigridia. I have no photos of them, but I have hundreds of tigridia seeds. Anyone in Europe want to have a go at growing them from seed? I’ll post them to ye.

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The strawberry / raspberry patch is looking distinctly autumnal, and dammed ugly to boot.

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One of my blueberry bushes always has incredible colour for fall. And it takes fall to heart: leaves everywhere.

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I don’t know much about lavender. I grew these from seed last spring because I was told it was hard, and I love a challenge. They are blooming now, is that normal?

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I had an absolutely terrible time trying to get the phone to focus on the lavender blooms. Oh well.

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Some real colour to finish off with! The violas, a first for me this year. I expected tiny wee plants that were good as a border around another lavender plant. Instead they got nearly 2 foot tall, choked the lavender to death, and seeded everywhere when I wasn’t looking. As they are still beautifully in bloom, I can’t complain. Those little cat-whisker faces just make me smile.

And We’re off to Mayo in the Green, in the Green

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Where the plants are glistening in the sun!

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We’ll start off with a tried and true standard, the cornflower. I have them in many colours this year. There’s pink – very tiny blossoms.

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A faded-blue-jean blue.

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And, what was described as red.

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They aren’t what I would describe as red. Oh well. I’ve planted one box in the red and blue cornflowers, with white cosmos. Red white blue, repeat. Nothing at all had bloomed in time for the 4th of July, so I can just hope I can get a decent photo for next year. None of the cosmos are blooming yet, except for one wonky looking flower I stuck in between my hostas. It has just four petals. I can’t embarrass the wee thing by taking a photo; it’s too sad.

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How about some edible stuff? My first ripe raspberry. We ate it Friday morning. I shared. The second one that came ripe I ate all by myself. Shhhh.

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Broad beans! I don’t have very many that are ready to eat. When I googled ‘when to harvest broad beans’ I found that you can eat the whole pod when they are young, or let them mature and then they become, through movie magic, fava beans. Shame I don’t like a nice chianti. Or a not-nice chianti. Or any kind of wine. But we did eat six pods on Thursday, which delayed our dinner quite a bit as I decided to cook them in the juice left over from the pork roast (with some extra garlic). I really liked the whole pod, when it was a younger and smaller one. Hubby had the oldest longest one, and I told him to open it up and just eat the beans, to see what that was like. He said it was a whole different taste. I ate his discarded pod. Nom! A bit fuzzy but there’s nothing like fresh veggies, especially when you’re not a huge veggie fan to begin with.

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First garlic pulled. Now, this isn’t bought seed garlic, it’s whatever we got at Aldi or Tesco and it went off/started to grow, so I stuck it in the ground. Woot! Looks great.

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Roses! These were taken last week, I think the bushes look even better now.

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I trimmed off all the leaves that had black spot since these pics were taken.

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Hope that helps. I paid for Rose Clear and have been using it, but they still haven’t looked that healthy.

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The blooms look great! There are two bushes out front, but they look like four as the colours change between bud and bloom. Salmon becomes soft pink, red becomes a light fuchsia.

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The damn white rose out back has bloomed at about 6.5 feet high. I can’t enjoy them way the hell up there! I think I’ll have to cut it back. It’s a climber, and seems dedicated to being a tree more than a bush.

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My lavender rose bloomed finally. It’s gone now, so photos are all I have.

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The plant is barely a foot tall, but looking good this year due to the feeding and Rose Clear. Fingers crossed I don’t have to worry that it is dead next spring!

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Remember these? Euconmis. The packet was spot-on. Little weird pineapple space flowers. I watched this grow, and it amazed me daily. I’ve regretted that I didn’t take a photo a day of it.

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But, very late in the game, there is another coming up! So I still have a chance to document.

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I’ve saved the best for last. My first black Lilly has bloomed! It did so overnight. The first photo was at about 10 am.

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This is around 4, not much change. But just look at it! Wow! iDJ really did an amazing job finding these beauties for me. Wow!

Bloomin’ July

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I have flowers! Not all of my little green friends are awake yet, but I do have my first cornflower bloom:
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Soon I’ll be overrun with them, so it’s good to appreciate the very first one to open. Hello!
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My violas from seed are blooming – I expect there will be a lot more to come, as they have really increased in height this week – odd, because it is cooler and much less sunny. I think they have cat-whiskers.
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The first lavender rosebud. It’s been a bud for days and days and days, and I couldn’t wait any longer to take a picture before it opens. I’m fascinated that the outside of the petals is a dark rosy fuchsia, but it will be so pale when open.
There’s also the dying remnants of my daffodils looking horrid in the background. And…what’s that purple blotch? Could it be? Yes! It is my first clematis bloom. Sadly it was beat to shit by the wind so that’s all you’re going to see of it. But the plant is now one year old, and over 6ft tall in places, so I expect more out if it.
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Not flowers, exactly, but my radishes are starting to bolt (make flowers) so I pulled a few. Then, oops, I left them on the kitchen counter for a couple of days and they shrivelled like prunes. Not edible. Not edible for me: but the dog loves them. Go figure.
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Do you remember the field full of yellow iris from my last post? Well, they are like a weed here, they’re everywhere right now. Including some we dug up and stuck in our own garden.

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First of my lilies. They always bloom before the yellow ones, and no sign of my fancy ones being ready to open, yet (I did have to save those from aphids today). I think I’ll have to split these out next year, that pot is a bit crowded.

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What greets me outside my back door – the lilies, and Sweet William. Did I say that it was phlox? I was phloxing wrong. Sweet William. I won’t forget! Even my neighbour complemented me on these, and was surprised to learn I grew them from seed. Hahaha!

Greenery and perhaps a Giggle

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Hi, howrya? Please read that in the Mayo accent in which I would say it. I must apologise to all the bloggers I follow: I can’t seem to be able to comprehend very much, my concentration is terrible, and my sense of humour has nearly deserted me (when is the last time I tagged something as humour/humor? It’s been yonks). I do read everyone’s blog, but I can’t seem to summon up much in the way of a response. Sorry, I hate being like this.

What seems to be working for me is visuals. So! More photos. I did a walk through town last time. I’ve taken more shots in town, but I think we’ll go back to purdy flors again. Please read that in the NW Florida/southern Alabama accent in which I would say it.

First photo is a crappy iPad one. But, it is my mystery plant, and the mystery is now solved! First I have to give a shout out to the fabulous website, Shoot, and its plant finder. It didn’t take much time at all to get to the eureka moment and find the answer to what I’ve been wondering for weeks.

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Please meet my Mimulus! There are about 150 species and I didn’t have the patience to figure out which one I have. Or is that which ones, as there are three different colour blooms? Common name is ‘monkey flower,’ but I have no idea why.

The rest of my pics are taken on the new fancy-pants camera. Did I mention that it requires you to look through the viewfinder? And actually turn the lens to focus? It has a lovely big screen, like a digital cam should, but since I have to put my eye up to the little hole, the screen is always smeared with nose grease. That’s when my schnozzola isn’t pressing the menu button and changing the settings. Oh! Here’s a picture of the camera itself. I took it for a walk a few weeks ago. No pictures, because the battery, unknown to me, was dead. So I took a pic with my iPhone of the heavy-ass camera I took for a walk, in a bag on my shoulder, like an expensive pampered chihuahua. I thought I should take a pic of it just to memorialise the first time I took it out, since it didn’t bloody well work and I had no other way to record the day’s events. Yes, I stuck it on a stone wall in a cow field. Damn thing.

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Okay NOW the rest of the pics are by the pretty Nikon.

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Phlox, Phlox, Phlox, Phlox! My other mystery solved. I don’t remember planting this stuff but I have oodles. Really, oodles. Must have been one of those late plantings where I shrugged and said, ‘ah, who gives a phlox?’ It smells heavenly, and every flower seems to be a different colour. Sadly the bees don’t seem to know what to do with it. I have no idea what happens next, as phlox is a biennial and I don’t have any other biennials in my garden. We will see! But if I have to plant again, I will certainly put in fewer seeds. I have this stuff everywhere now. Not that I mind, of course.

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My leggy irises. They are already starting to fade, boo. But I love that second bloom, it has white streaks on it when none of the others do. Have I created a mutant?

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The weed! I love it. Screw the neighbours and their store-bought plug plants. Weeds are pretty too, and free!

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This is a Houttuynia cordata ‘pied piper.’ We, um, kind of stole it from the church’s badly-cared-for gravel ‘landscaped’ parking lot. It’s in a pot and usually lives indoors – but I’ve seen a local garden where it has rather naturalised. I put it outside early this year and it is so very happy. I wish the colours were true to life – they aren’t, even after some tweaking using Perfectly Clear. That one leaf at bottom slightly to the left is amazingly bright! I couldn’t get fancy-pants camera to focus on just that leaf like I wanted it to. Maybe I should read the manual. Hahahah.

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Californian poppies! These are blooms on the plants that survived the winter here – I never thought that something with ‘Californian’ in the name could survive so well here. But they seem to be slug-proof and the seeds are numerous and very viable. I’ll have these for the rest of my life, I think!

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I’ll wrap up with my broad beans, I’ve never grown these before, and I’m astounded with how beautiful the flowers are. I had the most difficult time getting these photos. Nothing looked in focus, and I just couldn’t seem to capture that pale pink blush at the base of each flower. It shouted at me, that pink, when looking at the blooms. But it was so shy and didn’t want to be caught.

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The bees love them, too.

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Growing not a whole lot

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Crap. Not much is going green for me out of the load of seeds I started. I have one tomato plant, one mystery gourd, five sunflowers, and a load of cornflowers. My cosmos did next to nothing – think I have five plants total, all white (yawn), and only about half of my corn grew – and it is tiny, weak and probably dying as I type. Sigh. It’s just been cold, windy, rainy, and grey.

But. Hubby bought me these back in March, and I finally got them all planted out. I love that they all look like alien spacecraft from Babylon 5.

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Kinda late for some, but I got the gorgeous black lilies in right away and they are coming up nicely.

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That thing behind them is a weed – a weed, I tell you – that I planted on purpose. It has daisy-like flowers and hubby likes those. So there. Right out on my front step, a huge-ass weed in a pot. Heheh.

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More from the March collection – obviously not lilies but I forget what I put where. I was in a hurry. Do you see the Siamese in the background? My sister painted that for our mother decades ago, he’s concrete. Starting to look a bit rough around the edges, but still makes visitors think there’s a kitty on the stoop.

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Here’s another of hubby’s March presents – raspberries! I waited too late to plant them out, so it looks like only two of the SIX he accidentally bought me are going to live. He didn’t realise there were three canes in each package! So I guess two is all he expected anyway.

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I planted these last year and I forget what they are. Take two years to bloom apparently, and they are ready to go now! I have a lot of them.

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Anyone know what this is? We skip-dived (dumpster-dove, for my US friends) this huge slightly cracked planter around Christmas, and it seems the plants in it came back. Blooming shortly, whatever it is.

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Hostas are better this year: I put down slug pellets as soon as they started to come up from their long sleep. Last year I forgot and had to look at holey leaves all year.

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My lilac! I’m so thrilled with this green baby. I collected the seed from a bush that lives out front of a mostly-abandoned garage. Started them last year, got three to grow. One didn’t make it to fall, one I thought had died but it started to come back, then died again – but this one is happy. Yay me! Grown from seed on a whim, in seriously wet soil inside a plastic take-out container. I couldn’t even tell for sure that I had collected any seeds, so all three were a gift, even if they didn’t live long. The odd grass is native, dug up from the coast and brought home because I like it. And two of my red sunflowers – how tiny they are, supposed to get several meters tall possibly. Possibly a bad place to plant them? Meh. Also a glimpse of both lavender and rosemary.

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We need some colour, all this green and no bloom is getting boring. I moved some of my tulips last year as they aren’t happy where I planted them.

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That’s it – just the two. But that’s two more than I got from the ones I didn’t move. Oh, and both of these are in crappy recycled materials pots – one in a container that previously contained salt (from my uncles’ bakery, we stole them out of the recycle bin) and one in a former plastic Celebrations chocolate box. I rarely buy a pot anymore, why bother?

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The Stupid Girl planter from last year. Radishes, carrots, rocket, my few straggly pathetic corn stalks. I planted the last five kernels in the packet today, figured what the hell might as well try. It’s been warm, finally.

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The broad beans are coming up – if you can see them behind the extraordinarily happy oregano plant.

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One, one! of my rudbeckia survived the winter. It’s also in one of the former salt-containers. It seems to be happy there! I only have four seedlings this year. It won’t be as orange a garden in 2013, unless the galliardia do well – I think they might.

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My ending picture is a very, very welcome surprise. My beloved lavender rose bush. I truly thought it was dead, dead, dead. It was down to the ground a brown twig with no life or leaves (we have black spot bad). Early on I bought Rose Clear and have been spraying my poor roses every two weeks, and doing a just-in-case spray of the dead twig. Looks like it was worth it! Gave it a good bone meal feed and trimmed all that grass back so it gets some sunshine. I have hope again!

Green fingers and thumbs and toes, oh my

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I managed to do some planting over the weekend! It was lovely and sunny on Saturday, and I got out my box o’ seeds and decided what I wanted to grow. I had a look back, and I’m two weeks ahead of when I planted things last March, yay!

In one of my big raised beds (the ones I made last year), I put radish, two kinds of carrot, and some rocket. There’s two of last year’s late-planted carrots and a sad excuse for purple sprouting broccoli that have survived the winter in that box, so I left them alone. The carrot packet in the photo is dated ‘for planting year 2001’. They’ll still grow, I promise!

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For veg, I have a dearth of good things, it seems. I gave up on cauliflower (blecch, anyway) and regular broccoli a few years ago. They are related to cabbages, and probably because cabbage is so common, this country has every insect and disease known to horticulture ready and waiting to attack members of the brassica family. I never knew cauliflower could turn bright yellow and go slimy. Hubby never ate the heads I managed to save, anyway. And it stinks like the inside of a cow’s intestine. I’m not a fan, can you tell?

I always grow basil and it always looks great and then turns black. Sigh. Got some red cherry tomatoes, some kind of supposedly edible gourd, bell peppers, courgette (zucchini) and broad beans. I really want to try to grow corn but I have low-to-no hopes for it surviving here. I don’t have any seed, either.

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I have three definite colours of iDJ’s favourite, the cornflower – red white and blue! Also a mix, in the hopes that I get some pink ones.

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His other favourite, cosmos, is also in three colours, white, white with a pink edge, and a mixed selection that also has funky double petals. I didn’t grow the pink/white ‘candy stripe’ last year, and I missed it, so it’s back.

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His last year’s favourite, rudbeckia, did not survive the winter here (despite the advert on the packet, hmm) so I’ve got it on the go again, too. You would not believe how TINY rudbeckia seeds are! I’m going to surprise him, hopefully, with a new bloom, gaillardia. The aquilegia (what I call columbine) and the coleus are for me, taking me back to a good flower garden I had in Ohio.

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I’ve also got two kinds of red sunflowers for him, with no clue where I’m meant to put them in my garden. According to the packet as they grow 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7m) tall, yikes! I have some violas and dianthus (a different variety of dianthus than what I’ve had growing out front for years). I think I tried to grow both last year with no germination. Oh well, the seeds are free!

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I put out a lot of garlic that had gone well past its use-by date, as in it was mostly dried up or had a long green shoot coming out of each clove (or both). I find it grows amazingly well here. Easy and no maintenance to speak of. Shove it in dirt, water when dry, dig up when the greenery dies back. In a few months, one sorry-ass clove becomes a good sized garlic bulb. It tastes wonderful fresh.

My back didn’t appreciate the work, and our weather is meant to be very cold and windy but dry until the end of the month. Nevertheless, I’ve got everyone snug inside their propagators, and we move them from sunny morning windowsill to sunny evening windowsill daily. I dreamt last night that they had already begun to sprout – so I had a look when I got home tonight to see if I was right.

I was! The early birds are the gaillardia, all of the cosmos except the white, the mixed cornflower, and the ‘velvet queen’ sunflower. I’m so excited!

Growing Thing

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I ran into the house few minutes ago. “Come see! Come see! Better put on shoes, it’s damp out.”

Fabulous hubby, iDJ, didn’t stop for shoes but did grab his iPhone.

“It’s over here, in the corner, you probably won’t get a picture,” says I.

I showed him a gourd I’ve managed to grow. As he was taking a pic, I was blathering away about how I didn’t know if it was a pumpkin or a courgette (zucchini). I lose track of these things, he knows well. I also was telling him how I figured out how to stop gourds from rotting on the vine – it’s called blossom-end rot and if you just manage to keep an eye out for baby fruit after the bloom has faded, you can scrape off the mushy flower with a fingernail and voila! it doesn’t get all icky and decide to die. Hey, I had to Google that one, it was killin me to have a fruit and then, suddenly, a ball of mush.

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It’s still small and unidentifiable – I’m guessing it’s a courgette based on two things – I think that’s what I planted there, and pumpkin usually comes from the vine rather than right at the heart of the plant.

Look at all the other female flower ready to bloom! I might have more, yet – and there is another small one at the back that you can’t see.

Wish me luck!