The past week has been very mild, very calm and very dry. It was a great week for cycling and for enjoying the garden. Unfortunately, Crystal Palace were beaten by Watford and Brexit remains characteristically complicated. I wonder what will the week ahead bring? On the other hand, rather than look ahead, I pledge to look to the present, and it will bring memories and ideas to record. I have become very comfortable with a short daily note, and I plan to follow this formula. Here are my notes for last week:
The heated propagator gets turned on today and seed sowing will continue fast and furiously for the next 8-10 weeks. That’s a lot of seeds. The first two packets are sown in a warm 22 degrees Celsius, and I expect germination in about 7-10 days. From then on it will be a case of get them out and get the next set in.
That’s when the trouble starts. I will need lots of shelving in the glasshouse. At present, the entire right side is shelved and is filled to capacity with plants and dormant wintering tubers. The left side, seen above, shows lots of wasted space. The timber is ordered and arriving later today, so I’ll be a busy bunny tomorrow to get this space shelved. I’ll need to do it in such a way that the shelving can be removed in summer to allow the tomatoes to grow tall.
The season started yesterday with two packets of geranium. The 10 seeds of one and the 16 seeds of the other are sown and incubating at 23 Celsius. I was reminded this morning that they are not geraniums at all, but pelargoniums. These two separate species are very distinct, yet the names seem to be used interchangeably. I decided to get more information by asking Alexa the gardener. I finally settled on this short paragraph from Allwoods Nursery in Sussex: The first recorded species of Pelargonium to be cultivated was P.Triste which is native to South Africa. It was bought over by ship to Leiden Botanical Gardens before 1600 and made its way to the UK in 1631 when an English gardener bought some seeds in Paris and introduced it to England. However, the species was not recognized as any different from a Geranium and this is where the confusion was created. It was only much later in the 1700s that the two were officially classed as individuals. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things.
I’ll tell ya one thing… Them shelves will be Carlsberg shelves when they’re done! The measuring and cutting are complete. Some of the lower shelving is complete and it’s so sturdy I could lie across it. I tried to construct these in such a way that it will be possible to lift sections away as necessary and to move the entire structure outdoors next summer. I will then be able to use them separately or combined to add height to all the begonias. In the meantime, I’ll complete the job tomorrow so that everything is ready for the steady stream of germinated seeds arriving in about two weeks.
Work has come to a standstill because I am allergic to tree sap. Even a small amount of cutting and contact with this timber has flared up my sensitive skin allergy. I’m on double dose antihistamine, hoping to relieve a flare-up. Rounds 2 and 3 will recommence when it’s safe. In the meantime, despite some discomfort, satisfaction levels are high.
Rhubarb munchissima. This early shoot is proving to be a nutritious mid-winter dessert for some garden creatures. As yet, I have been unable to identify the well-fed recipients as they seem to be camera shy. Likely some nocturnal slug or caterpillar type. Winter has been so mild that many are still alive, so mild that the rhubarb has shot up early.
I had planted it last August and covered it with several layers of mulch and a horse numna. The plant has thrown out delicate shoots along the edge. I think I will leave it as is and allow some post-Christmas munching. Later, in order to keep the slugs away, I will crush eggshells around the base. I generally eat an egg every day and keep the washed shell. At present, I’m up to 38 so there should be enough to form an impenetrable barrier.
Built as the sister castle to Ardfinnan Castle in 1185 by Prince John to guard the river crossing, the castle site was originally occupied by Lismore Abbey, an important monastery and seat of learning established in the early 7th century. Currently owned by the Cavendish family. All information from the Wiki People.
On a slightly smaller scale, the glasshouse shelving has been completed to the second storey. I may add a third if necessary. I noticed that the tomato seedlings on the ground were receiving much less light than before, so I potted up six to grow on for planting in March or April. Incidentally, they will be planted back where they came from as soon as the shelving is removed. Finally, looking for bits and pieces after a small construction project is a project in itself. I was missing the drill chuck. It had mysteriously moved into the centre of a heather plant.
Out and about in Abbeyside. These insect boxes have been placed on the trees beside the Greenway. Well done to whoever got this going. In other news, the oceans and roadway ditches are riddled with discarded plastic. Let’s be serious about getting priorities right. Yes, I know it’s not an either/or situation. Every attempt to live and let live is important. I’m wondering are there people who are stupid enough to see the beauty and worthiness of the picture, yet throwing away items that will not biodegrade? Is there even a small possibility that some insects within have been harmed by minuscule pieces of plastic?
Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig garden articles. He loves growing from seed, measuring twice before cutting once and he really really loves Lismore. Additionally and also, he likes rhubarb and Geraniums but not with custard.