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Plants Everywhere!

By mid March I had germinated trays and trays of seedlings in my house which had then been taken to my Greenhouse. Some were sowings of vegetables that can go in early like Leeks, Chard and Brassicas, but many were trays of Flowers like Rudbeckias, Lavatera and Helychrysums. Practically all of them were germinated on my Kitchen Windowsill as I donít have any heated Propagators anywhere. I do have heat on in my Greenhouse, but only on a Frost Setting. Most seed is happy to come up in the Kitchen like this, but the Parsley seed failed this year and on the packet it says that it wants high moisture levels to germinate well, so I guess it was just too dry in the house. As we went through March I sowed a lot more tender things like Sweet Corn, Squash, Courgettes, Ridge Cucumbers (Outdoor) and Tomatoes, but I left the all of the Beans until later and will sow them as we go through April because they come up and develop very quickly.
As usual I jumped the gun a bit and planted my Potatoes in Mid March even though Pink Fir Apple are, I believe, a Main Crop and shouldnít have gone in then. Wanting space in my greenhouse I also planted out my old Chrysanthemum Stools, although again, it was too early really.
Trying to make space in my greenhouse also meant that the pots of Chives and Rooted Sea Kale Cuttings that were starting to shoot, went out onto my yard. In fact on my plot I had had my first harvest of Sea Kale back at the start of March and had lots more throughout March.

With so many young seedlings in my Greenhouse I had to keep a good watch on my unheated Plastic Greenhouse Propagators as we started having many more warmer, sunnier days, to make sure that they didnít overheat. The young Seedlings had been put in these to give them a bit of a boost, especially at night-time. Generally, seedlings are very vulnerable to drying out and will frazzle up in a short space of time if you donít keep a watch on how moist they are. Propagators can also simply overheat in the sun and if they get too hot the seedlings virtually cook inside them, killing them. It is very much a balancing act to keep them at a beneficial temperature until all of the days and nights are warmer in later Spring and the Windows and door can be left open. Then as we go into Summer and things get hotter still, it will be time to put some shading on the Glass. I usually use the whitewash type that you roughly put on with a large, soft, brush. At the end of the Season it washes off again very easily and is quite cheap to buy. Some people put up shade netting, but that can be expensive to buy and more fiddly to put up. As for putting up Bubble Polythene in the Winter, you can put up Netting using Drawing Pins in Wooden Greenhouses, or the special little Plastic Clips that insert and twist into the channels of most metal Greenhouses. They can easily get lost from one year to the next though, so I save mine in a little screw top Jam Jar because they are not cheap to keep replacing. In the Jar I also keep spare Glazing clips that pop out sometimes and spare Nuts and Bolts some of which have little rings through them. These can be bolted into the Framework to tie strings on to, to provide support for things like Tomatoes and Cucumbers a little later on.

As usual I have been re-cycling/re-using lots of old pots and trays that have come my way from various sources. It may be that the old style Black Plastic Pots are out of favour because they canít be re-cycled with other plastic, but the best way to re-cycle them is to simply wash them and re-use them year after year until they break up. I have been mean with my Potting Compost this year as well because I decided that it was too expensive to keep using freshly bought Potting Compost. Mixing it with Loam/soil to make it go further might not, in some circles, be considered Environmentally Friendly, but when the Loam has come out of our Communal Compost Heap on the Allotments, I feel that it is about as Green as you can get. The Sites Weeds have been used to make the Compost which is then used to pot up more Plants that will be sold in our Fundraiser and they will eventually be planted on the Allotments putting the Soil back where it came from.

Last Winter I planted/sowed some Mushrooms on a small block of straw that came in a kit which a friend gave me as a Christmas present. The instructions said to grow that particular variety of Mushrooms in the warm, inside the house, but this year I ordered some Mushroom Plugs that were simply small pieces of wooden dowelling impregnated with Mushroom Spores. The instructions that came with them said that a length of freshly cut branch as thick as your leg, should be drilled and the Plugs hammered into it at a defined spacing. It said not to use Pine Logs, so, as I had just brought some small lengths of freshly cut logs home to finish edging a bit of path that had been missed when I had done the rest of my garden, I decided to use a couple of those. I donít know if I should have used Holly, which is what they were, because the instructions did not specify that, but they did imply the use of Deciduous timber as they specifically said Beech, Oak Etc. However, I otherwise followed the instructions and wrapped the two small logs up in a black bin bag for a few months. Apparently, I am then supposed to unwrap them and keep them in a damp, shady spot, where they should produce edible Mushrooms for up to 5 years, or so. I actually only used half of the pack of 30 plugs and took the rest to work for one of the Staff to try. She used a Beech Log as instructed so we will see whose does the best.

My Brother has had a Passion Flower in his garden on a large support network of posts and timber cross bars for some time and it puts on quite a show every year. He gets lots of exotic flowers followed by the bright orange, plum sized fruits. He has tried eating them, but there is no real substance to the fruits of the hardy Passiflora Caerulea. There are other fruiting varieties that are edible and are often available to buy, but they are not tough enough to survive our weather outside here in the UK and need to be grown in heated greenhouses. Even the so called hardy variety will be damaged and can be completely killed by really severe winter frosts. Most years I save one or two of the Fruits from his vine, and sow the seed that they contain, to grow a number of plants for the Charity where I work. They seem to germinate easily and grow quickly, but need some protection for the first winter until they get a bit bigger and develop a more woody stem. Then, when planted out, they should survive.
I thought about putting a Passion Flower over the Shed on my Plot some time ago, but never got round to it, so, recently, I decided to put up an arch like framework to grow one up at the end of one of the beds on my Allotment. I was going to use 8 foot treated posts and fasten some cross bars to them, but with the shortage of Timber and subsequent escalating prices due to the problems caused by Covid, I have not been able to do the job yet. Officially, all of the Covid restrictions had just about been lifted by the start of March, but I guess it will take time for the supplies of everything to get back to normal and the Russian/Ukrainian War is only going to exacerbate the problems, so the Archway will have to wait until later in the Summer. The plant that I brought from Work, (One of last years Seedlings) will be happy enough in its pot until I get round to doing it.

One Vine that I have done quite a bit of work on recently was my row of Grape Vines. They should really be Pruned right back to the main stems at the end of every February, but I was a bit late this year as it was into the start of March before they got trimmed hard back.
I also cut back my Kiwi Vines and was pleased to see that the Cuttings I had put in earlier were starting to Bud up which is a good sign that they are taking up moisture even if not properly rooted yet. At least it shows that they hadnít rotted over Winter.
My Twisted Willow, at home, was growing over the Path so I decided to trim the Prunings and put some of the thicker pieces into a Jar of Water on my Kitchen Windowsill in the hopes that they will root as well. I have done them before like this with a lot of success and if they do root they may be ready for our Fundraiser sale as well.
In fact I have been potting lots of little Tree Cuttings/Seedlings up into larger pots, but I think many of them maybe too late but for our Fundraiser this May and even for the Jubilee and the ďPlant A Tree For The Jubilee!Ē
Still, there is always next year I suppose ! ! !
You could ďPlant A Tree In 23 ! ! !Ē


 

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