Status Report Captain…

  
How the weeks have flown by! One minute you’re pawing over the seed catalogues and the next it’s May and you’ve not even planted out the potatoes….well, rather, I’ve not planted out the potatoes! 

I know, I know, it should’ve been done weeks ago but, the delay in planting then has made sure they haven’t succumbed to the sharp frost we had, and I’m sure once they do make it into the ground, which is going to be tomorrow, I’ve every confidence they’ll still be delicious when harvested, even if it’s a few weeks later than anticipated! 

  
So that’s the potatoes. 

I’ve been equally late in getting the beans and peas going but I’m pleased to report that the broad beans have made an appearance over the last 7 days. Last year I veered away from the Crimson Flowered variety and tried Bunyards Exhibition. The pods themselves grew really long but I did prefer the sweeter taste of the crimson flowered type, so I’m back to those this year. 

  
Last week I sowed the peas direct and constructed a support frame from bamboo canes for them to scramble up when they get going. I’m sticking with the tried and tested Hurst Greenshaft peas, but I’m also dabbling in the world of Mangetout. The variety I chose is Shiraz, and the pods are a lovely deep purple colour. I can’t wait to try them later in the year. 

  
The shallot sets have fared the frost well and the onion sets have started to sprout. I also spotted the first of the familiar lily pad shaped leaves of the self seeding nasturtiums today. I love how they come back again and again adding colour to the plot. 

  
  
The Gooseberry bushes I planted last year have put on loads of growth (I think I should be pruned them in winter) and I had an abundance of flowers in March and April. I’m delighted to see that there are now loads of mini gooseberries gently swelling up. 

  
Indoors, the tomato plants are coming on great guns. I’ve been tickling them every day to encourage them to grow strong and sturdy for when I plant them out at the allotment. There’s something about the smell from the leaves of tomato plants that just reminds me of the summer! I’ve tried not to get too carried away with the tomatoes this year and have restricted myself to only 2 types: Gardeners Delight and Sungold. 

  
The Cayenne chilli plants are now flowering away quite happily on the window sill. I’m not sure if they are self pollinating or not so once a day I’m playing the part of a bee and gently using a small brush I’m transferring pollen between the flowers. I’ve got huge respect for the bees, pollination is tricky! 

  
I’ve also got sunflowers growing along with a second batch of cabbage and cauliflower. I’m not sure what happened to the first batch of brassicas, they just shrivelled up. I’m hoping the second sowing is more successful. 

  
The next few weeks are going to be hectic with all the squash, courgettes, beetroot, strawberries and the rest of the quick crops. I’d better get the last of the leeks dug up quickly otherwise I’ll have nowhere to put them all! 

  
Happy Gardening! 

Bringing the outside in

  
I love the idea of having beautiful flowers and plants all around the house. Nothing brightens up a room more than a lovely vase of freshly cut flowers, arranged just as you’d see on the cover of a magazine. Unfortunately I lack (quite severely) the skill of flower arranging and each time I’ve tried to make an arrangement it looks as if I’ve just dumped the flowers directly into the vase without any thought or care. Due to the ugliness of the arrangement it’s more often than not that the flowers are put to one side of the room in shame and forgotten about until all the petals have fallen off and they make their inevitable journey to the bin. I have also failed miserably at keeping a bonsai tree. The poor thing lasted about 3 months before it shrivelled up, the leaves turned brown, then made its inevitable journey to the bin. 

To say I’ve not had much success as an indoor gardener would be a fair statement to make. 

But I still yearn for house plants. 

While browsing Pinterest recently I came across something that might just be the solution to all my houseplanty problems..

A Terrarium. A lovely little plant world inside a glass. 

Today I’m giving indoor gardening one final whirl and if I can’t keep a Terrarium I’ll resolve myself to only out door gardening. 

To start making the terrarium I picked up a couple of glass bowls, some stones, a selection of alpine plants and cactus potting soil. 

  
Alpine plants like free draining soil, so to help with the drainage I placed a selection of stones in the bottom of each bowl. I then filled the bowls about 2/3 full with the soil then arranged the alpine plants into the bowls. Once in their positions I added more soil around the plants and topped off with some decorative stones and pebbles. 

  
   
 How easy was that?! 

I’m really pleased with the end result, the only thing left to do is to find a sunny spot for them.