… because you just gotta have fun in your garden, you know?
Nothing Arbitary about The Ary of the Garden Apothecary! #3
I have been relatively lucky with the weather so far this week, east Kent has enjoyed sunshine in the mornings – but like now 2.00pm in the afternoon, the heavens have opened up again, and it’s been like that for the last three days … however with the mornings l have been able to catch up and get myself into the position l want to be in ready for seed sowing next week, so l can’t complain.
Another Tick off the List!
Suze doesn’t really let me play with power tools due to my haphazard way of finding accidents and how at times clumsiness finds a way to trip me up. But l am ‘relativey’ safe with non-powered tools – just. Hammers and l have a bad history from claw hammers finding my toes, to club hammer heads falling off in mid swing and flying through the air to sledgehammers having their grip lost and landing on my toes … never mind jigsaw blades, angle grinders and even once a runnaway leaf blower.
If there is a garden hose or a lawn mowers wire anywhere even just tucked away safely l will find it and trip over it … today l tripped over a piece of cardboard lying flat on the ground!!! I don’t why, it just does … lucky me! As it was, today, as l was retrieving my camera which was hanging off the tree l had a twig go around and underneath my glasses and promptly poke me in my eye – so in some cases, the photography is a bit wonky – my appologies!
So as much as l love gardening, l find l must be ultra careful in the garden and more so for this season especially, as l just want one clear season without illness, sickness, badnews or physical injuries hindering me further. Season 4, 2020 is to be the first vegetable season l hope to enjoy without incident considering my last full season in the garden was 2017 … l think luck and Murphy’s Law owe me this year.
So l am not going to jinx myself, but l am happy with the results so far and very pleased with all my carefully laid out preparations from last August which are coming to fruition.
I started on a mission on Monday which was to set about preparing the garden for the final countdowns in soil prep and three days in and things are on schedule.
My main tasks for this week were to:
- Wash out all the pots, seed models and containers
- Lay up all the required seed containers with compost
- Measure the garden space, and count the main pots to be used this season
- Make up the four new raised beds and secure to their seasonal position.
- Make ready the greenhouse for seed sowing next week.
Monday 17th February 2020
Monday was the washing day and l cleaned out everything l had plans to use for this season and made sure that l had surplus for any incidentals. My hands were incredibly cold and incredibly clean. I washed a total of 100 assorted sized small containers and crockery seed/plant pots and 600 seed modules and laid out the earthen pots. The latter are the actual pots which the seedlings shall be either transplanted to or sown to directly and planted directly into the ground where upon they will slowly decompose into the soils as the plant develops.
I have plans this year to most assuredly not be caught out and would love to be able to sell some of the plants l produce so by having more than enough containers and the like, l can do that. Any old crockery pots are broken down and stored ready to use as drainage for the pots themselves.
I have 11 trays for initial seed sowing which awards me 600 slots, this will ensure that succession growing can be sown at the right time, usually two weeks apart as well as offer me plenty of space for my prime and basic needs for vegetables.All washed out and up and ready to go once dried. They were then placed into the enclosed seed ‘wardrobe’.
I will have the second seed wardrobe made up and inserted into its position by the weekend. I could survive with one unit, but opted for two, they were cheap to buy but are ideal and fit for the purpose they serve. But with two it means l don’t have to have the trays stacked two high if l don’t wish to, but also and more importantly, with the compost inside the units the weight increases and once you start to water that weight continues to increase. Two high and heavier can cause problems for future waterings, so two wardrobes as inexpensive as they were makes the job much easier.
This season l am not just growing vegetables but making a concentrated effort to plant out vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers so having a much larger array of assorted containers will make that job much easier.
I moved out the larger workstation table and inserted the smaller table which is a much better option and allows for more freedom around the units. The larger table you can just see outside and stationed beside the greenouse.
With baby stepping as l have been performing and practising this week it means that l’ll not become stressed, so l have broken all the jobs up into much smaller tasks so as to ensure complete thoroughness and efficiency. On another note, under the netting l have my garlic plants and the normal garlics were doing well, but l hadn’t see anything of the elephant garlics and thought that for another season they may not appear either, however on Monday l spotted this – you can see below. The shorter green stems are in fact the missing elephants.
For those interested with the ‘Ava the Avocado’ story, l took my final move with her this winter just gone … l am not one for giving up on anything, so l decided to attempt to winter her outside in the colder weather to see if l could oust this disease she has. I remembered she had a very strong root ball and so l clipped her remaining leaves. But on Monday l moved her into the greenhouse as l saw fresh sprouts which was very interesting to see and more so where that takes our story.
Monday turned out well and very productively too.
Tuesday 18th February 2020
Tuesday jobs were quite simple, to lay the compost up in the 600 modules and some of the earthen ware pots and taking some photos of the layout of the garden. As l said in the last episode, l would be opting to use less of the pots/containers for this season and instead opt to use 4 additional 31x31x10″ high raised beds in addition to our three existing larger beds. It was also to identify what was needed to be moved onto the patio and how much space we had there.
Above was the current layout and below is where the four new beds shall be sited. The bigger containers in the background will have their contents emptied into the new beds as part of the foundation and they will be relaid fresh for the season.
The patio is pretty roomy and it’ll not take much to get that into a fruit location – the likes of the raspberries and blueberries and Tiny Tim tomatoes and some of the hardier herbs will be sited here.
Composting the modules was easy work, and after the job is done it’s another tick off the list – instant gratification and no stress – win win! These black modules are great for the initial seed sowings and succession growing whilst ….
…. these smaller earthen modules [decomposables] can be planted directly into the soil for those trickier seedlings and this avoids transplating.
I keep toilet rolls back, because they are great due to their length, their disposable asset and the fact they are ideal for the likes of green and runner beans seeds with their long root system. Recycling at its very best! Every time a roll becomes free it can be composted and made ready for seeds.
An easy day and again, another tick off the list!
Wednesday 19th February 2020
Well today was even simpler, lay up 36 seedling modules [direct planting to pots and ideal for herbs and flowers], make ready one of the new raised beds and poke myself in the eye and take some wonky photographs!
The modules was fifteen minutes work, the next part slightly longer and more so with Mr Accident Prone here! How l came to poke my eye on the branch was that l tripped over a piece of flat cardboard and then fell forwards whilst trying to get my camera off the branch! If l didn’t know any better l would say …unbelievable and only me!
Sample siting – the four beds with their comfortable and easy size will fit in nicely to their new area. These are a really nice bed, and they were cheap too. They are Polish crafted, however whilst they are sold as beds l also recognise them as a form of European pallet for containment. I say this because my larger beds are the same style and they were ex Euro containment pallets. It doesn’t matter again, another form of recycling to a style. They arrive in four pieces and slot together using four hook eye pins that even a clumsy gardener like myself can master!
I managed to use the Stanley knife and stapler with no injury this time! [Nearly cut my thumb off three years ago] Bonus! I always include a bottom sheet to the beds, they are porus and don’t hinder drainage.
When making up a new bed, l follow the following recipe …
- Undersheet attached
- Wet crumpled cardboard scrunchies
- 2″ layer of ground compost [Fine/Ground Compost Differences]
- Garden Soil [I used the container that sat behind this unit, but basically it was a grown on compost/soil mixture]
- 2″ layer of compost [Ground compost introduces valuable macro and microbial life to your soils including earthworms]
- Garden soil [l used one of the newer screen top soil bags l had recently purchased.
- Dusted with volcanic dust, sprinkled with chicken manure pellets and a scattering of soil minerals and improver.
- Give a good soaking and rake and cover with cardboard to allow settling period until use later March/First week April for seedlings transplants.
Raked and covered with cardboard and allowed to settle in for the next 4 -5 weeks before seedling transplanting.
So, three days in and l am now ready for next weeks seed sowing to commence. In the next and final episode of this mini-series l will tell you what my growing plans are under the new monthly plan l have been learning about. Job done! You guessed it right – another tick off the list!
Anyway, thanks for reading – catch you next episode….