You get what you pay for

The time I allocated to sort out this week’s posts and generally sort my week was eaten by having to hurriedly repot all the tomato and chilli seedlings as it transpires they cheap seed compost from Aldi is indeed very cheap however it’s also very heavy and had meant very stunted roots

Which is vexing, however it was very cheap and and was worth a try, however I am not buying it again!

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Advertisements

Garden: Box plants and topiary

Aldi had some funky tall pots that looked a good height (and weight) for the front of the house

Initially I bought some lovely red grasses that promised to be low-maintenance and evergreen: they went rotten absolutely rotten and black spotted with ick

So I’ve abandoned that plan and given into my husband’ pestering to get some box plants. I’ve never really liked box, it reminds me of overly formal planting. However I’ve promised to be more open minded if the box can be a topiary experiment – preferably something mildly obscene in shape

(Photo from Wisbech standard who also handily mention the possible public order offence)

The internet tells me that it will take a while (years) to get enough bush to meaningfully shape and that for now I should give the plants lots of feed and consider making a template or frame to help prune it once it gets big enough to look phallic

If all goes well I could start to like box after all

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Hepaticas

Hepaticas are small pretty little alpine plants that flower around this time of year

My parents kindly, and randomly, bought me some of the nobilis variety last year and they flowered very well this year – so well in fact that my parents bought me a few more by mail order from a specialist nursery

This is how they arrived:

It certainly looks special but not in a good way… I planted them up immediately and am now hoping they survive, however they look very miserable and traumatised

The newspaper they are packed in is the Daily Mail, which seems an odd choice given the cost of the plants and who I would expect to be the general target audience of expensive alpine plants. Or maybe I’m distracting myself with trivial things to block out how flat out iffy Wednesday was

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – including pictures for a change! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Random Dragon

Buying random fun seeming things does happen in my household, although they don’t tend to be *this* random normally

At least I didn’t buy a pink gnome…

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – including pictures for a change! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Garden: Growing Parsnips

I didn’t think I liked parsnips based on the burnt sticky  things that accompanied occasional meals out, however it turns out that I do like parsnips when they aren’t overcooked; which was a good enough reason to decide to grow them in 2018

Parsnip seeds are apparently not very stable to the extent that using old seeds can lead to poor results – “old” can apparently mean even last years – which could be a pickle as my seeds for this year were bought in last year’s end of season sale

However I plan on trying them anyway, apparently parsnips should be sown directly into the ground between late March and June; planting earlier isn’t a great idea as parsnips hate wet soil and want the soil temperature is 12 degrees Celsius.

parsnip

(Photo from Pinterest)

The seeds should be sown thinly, or clump three seeds together 1.5cm deep and with 15cm intervals between sowings – multiple rows should be spaced 30cm apart.  Germination sounds very slow, up to 28 days, during which time the seeds may want watering if it’s very dry

Once germinated the seedlings want to be spaced 7cm apart – unless you want big roots at that point 10cm is better. Once they are growing parsnips don’t want much attention – however being too wet or too dry will split them.

Harvesting – the best bit of growing anything, can be from late Autumn until the end of January; the foliage beginning to die back is apparently the main indicator.  Although apparently even after the foliage dies back the roots can be left in the ground and picked as wanted. Rumour has it that being left in the ground until the first frost will lead to sweeter roots – I will be testing this!

Copyright  © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Garden: Growing Sweetcorn from seed

Last year we did grow sweetcorn from seed; of the 30 seeds only 15 germinated, those 15 were moved to the allotment where the rats / mice left us with 8, however those 8 plants gave us some very nice corn.

So my aim for this year is to try again, however with more germination and less rats, so this means I needed to do some reading!

Apparently sweetcorn seeds should be sown indoors from mid-April to early May and want to be 18 – 21 degrees Celsius. They want to be sown 2.5 cm deep and really dislike root disturbance – I tried the little biodegradable pots last year and they were useless, so I might try the deeper root trainer pots this year

sweet corn plant

(Photo from Pinterest)

Resist planting sweetcorn out until after the risk of frost has passed and the seedlings are 15 cm tall – planting out for sweetcorn is a bit weird as they want to be put in blocks rather than rows, with about 45 cm gap between each plant

The logic for blocks is so the wind can pollinate the corn. However there is also a manual way to help maximise pollination, tap t he tops of the plants when the male flowers (tassels) open, last year I went a bit beyond tapping and starting covering my hands in pollen and rubbed it on the emerging silk  of corn on the other plants (NOT on the same plant though!)

When the tassels on cob turn brown it’s a sign that the corn might be ready – although this was a false positive, a more reliable way to check was to carefully peel back the sheaf and pierce a kernel with a finger nail and if the liquid is milky then the cob is ready.

Other useful stuff to know is:

  • Corn needs to be watered a lot when the weather is dry
  • Corn likes liquid feed when the cobs start to swell – they also benefit from you using fertiliser in the soil before planting them out
  • Corn is stupidly shallow rooted so be really careful when weeding and perhaps even mound extra soil up at the bottom of the base
  • Last year our corn didn’t need staking, however this can be a good idea

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Garden: Crop Rotation

I’m currently trying to plan what we are going to grow on the allotment as I’d like happy and healthy vegetables – and lots of them!

One key thing that is apparently needed for healthy veg – even before buying seeds, is to understanding the basics of crop rotation; the core idea behind rotating crops is that to get the best out of crops you shouldn’t plant the same thing in the same place year after year.

Doing so increases the risk of disease and reduces the specific nutrients that those plants need.

carrot

(Picture from Pinterest)

Vegetables can be divided into four main groups – five if you count onions however I’m allergic to those so I am ignoring those!

  • Potatoes: Obviously potatoes and tomatoes
  • Roots: For example Beetroot, carrots, chicory (which I randomly bought despite having no idea what they taste like!) and parsnips
  • Brassicas: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts (which didn’t grow so well for us in 2017), cauliflowers, kale, swede, cabbages and turnips – not actually managed to successfully grow many brassicas so I need to do more reading on these
  • Legumes: Peas and beans

Rotation isn’t so important for most other vegetables; including sweetcorn, asparagus, rhubarb, squashes and courgettes – although planting them in the same place repeatedly isn’t a first grand idea

A simple rotation suggested by the internet and that I am going to try this year is:

Year One:

  • Bed One – Potatoes
  • Bed Two – Legumes and roots
  • Bed Three – Brassicas

Year Two:

  • Bed One – Legumes and roots
  • Bed Two – Brassicas
  • Bed Three – Potatoes

Year Three:

  • Bed One – Brassicas
  • Bed Two – Potatoes
  • Bed Three – Legumes and roots

I’m hopeful that this will work as our late potatoes did get blight last year – which wasn’t fun!

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2018 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content