The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Over Wintering Spring Cabbage

It’s time to sow seeds of overwintering cabbages. They are my favourite cabbages and should be ready from early Spring onwards. Sow: mid-July to August ¼” deep in a seed bed or in trays of seed compost. Keep moist. Transplant to their final positions when plants can be easily handled in about 5-6 weeks. Allow 18” between plants. Plant firmly and water well until established. Harvest: April-May for good firm hearts. The four varieties that I am sowing today, 22nd July,  are, Spring Hero, Durham Early, Offenham 2 Flower of Spring and Cabbage First Early Market. The  last one is new to me this year but the others are tried and tested favourites. Today, 29th July, all the seedlings are through except for the Durham Early, which haven’t shown at all. Seven days is quite good though so I will give the no showers another week.

Japanese Wisteria Sinensis Alba

I went to buy a birthday present for Janice and couldn’t resist buying one for home too. I bought a Japanese Wisteria from Webbs in Wollaston. They were £9.99 each and look really healthy. Now, one month on, it’s still in its original pot and I am nervous about potting it on. I don’t want to lose it. Wisteria is a vigorous climber with long, fragrant, pendulous pea shaped flowers and lime green foliage. This white variety of Japanese Wisteria can grow to 12 metres high and up to 8 metres wide and needs a wall or an arch or pergola. This climber can also be trained to grow up into a mature tree. I have read that the stems get large and gnarled and woody as the wisteria matures.  The fragrant flowers appear in spring and early summer and will occasionally give a second flush in late summer.

I don’t really have a perfect spot for this plant so I think I may put it into a large 50 litre pot with a strong support for a couple of years.

Scaevola Topaz Pink – Aemula


Laura went out yesterday and came back with a pot of Scaevola Topaz Pink, I had never come across this flower before and on reading a bit about it thought it would be a good candidate for the pond. This unusual and beautiful plant is  perfect for baskets and containers. The flowers are fascinating with all the petals clustered on the lower half of the flower in a fan-shape. Its common name is Fairy Fan Flower. It has a naturally trailing habit and prolific flowering and gives a continuous show of colour throughout summer. This variety, Topaz Pink, has pastel pink flowers.

Corydalis

This little beauty has popped up here and there all around the garden and I had no idea where it had come from. Its a very pretty ferny foliage and is now showing some lovely yellow flowers. I have googled it and find that it is called Corydalis and is a genus of about 470 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the Papaveraceae family, native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere and the high mountains of tropical eastern Africa. They are most diverse in China and the Himalayas, with at least 357 species in China. Wherever it has come from I like it.

Aubrieta Royal Blue and Red

Earlier in the year I bought some seeds of Aubrieta from Seekay and the instructions say to sow from June to July. They are very tiny and I don’t want to lose them to insects but I am planning to sow a few directly into the side garden in the hope that they will grow into some strong plants to use around the pond.

Aubrieta is a genus of about 12 species of flowering plants in the cabbage family Brassicaceae. There are six European species and take their name from Claude Aubriet (1688-1743), a French botanical artist. All are found on limestone but some appear on open scree, others in crevices while some crop up in coniferous woodland.  The genus originates from southern Europe east to central Asia but is now  common throughout Europe. It is a low spreading plant, hardy, evergreen and perennial, with small violet, pink or white flowers that grow well amongst rocks and banks. It prefers light, well-drained soil, is tolerant of a wide pH range, and can grow in partial shade or full sun. The technique to keep Aubrieta going year after year is to shear them hard as they finish their display so that they develop a new cushion of tight foliage. Cuttings can be taken, and ideally these need to have three inches of brown stem below the rosette of foliage. The technique is to tug them away with a heel rather than cut them. This can be done in September and October when the cushion of foliage is dense, or in late summer. A cold frame is ideal as it keeps the root cool. Sow seeds in spring.

Arabis Spring Charm – Rock Cress

Arabis is an attractive evergreen perennial which forms a low-growing mat of jagged, hairy grey-green leaves. It produces masses of stunning, sweetly-scented, pure white flowers in March and May. Ideal for using as an edging plant or growing around the base of shrubs, it requires good drainage and will thrive in sun or shade. It can be used to clothe a bank and looks excellent when set off against a backdrop of large rocks making it a great choice for the rock garden. Best cut back after flowering. I scattered a few seeds in the side garden in May and they have already formed nice little plants so I have sown a few more today.

Tomatoes – A Gift From Frank

Following the disaster of germination then loss to the frost and the starting again but with limited success we have been given eight tomato plants by our allotment neighbour Frank. Today I have the job of potting them on into their final pots. Some are familiar and some new varieties to me.

One of the new  varieties is Solanum lycopersicum Harzfeuer and is an open pollinated cultivar. A German variety this beefsteak fruit is acidic and juicy. Harzfeuer grows to a height of 5′. Tomato Idyll is a cocktail tomato variety which produces long clusters of red fruit. The slight red fruit are highly valued for their delicious taste. Gardeners Delight, Sweet Millions, Marmanade and Lemon Pear, Hildares plus one unlabelled are the others.

 

Coleus Wizard Mix Merlin – Lamiaceae

I bought seeds of Coleus Wizard Mix from Seekay. There are 50 pelleted seeds in a tiny plastic tube and cost 99p. I have had them in the fridge for a week and now plan to put them onto a tray of moist sandy compost in a flat tray and keep them in the light. Wizard Merlin is said to be a good mix of foliage colours with single and double coloured leaves. It is a little late to sow but nevertheless I am going to have a go. Sowing advice says January to May. I will use half and try the other half next January.  I may use some of these in my pots but planned to use them as house plants in the main. The advice is to pinch out growing tips to promote a bushy plant. Coleus are a greenhouse Perennial but are often grown as an annual. The plants prefer a site with deep moist well drained soil in full sun.  My first job is to get them to germinate and make a few decent plants. I have put ten of these seeds to germinate today 12th May. Friday 17th May update…I can see tiny seedlings coming through already at five days.

Coleus is a former genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. The genus is no longer recognized and the species are instead placed in the genera Plectranthus and Solenostemon. Coleus is regarded as a synonym of Plectranthus. The term “coleus” is often used as a common name for the species that are cultivated as ornamental foliage plants . Wiki.

Sweet Pea Cupid Mahogany – Bush Type

Sweet Pea Cupid Mahogany is a bush type ideal for hanging baskets and tubs. It is said to have beautifully perfumed flowers. I have grown Sweet Peas many times before but have never tried an everlasting one or a basket type. It will be interesting to see how these turn out. The Cupid are soaking in tepid water for sowing tomorrow. These seeds are in compost now. They should germinate in seven to fourteen days. Seven days on ands no sign of the seedlings yet. Three out of eight germinated. They will be potted on today 28th May.

It was in Sicily, in Palermo, that a Franciscan monk named Father Cupani first took an interest in what became known as “the scented pea”. He grew it in his monastery garden and in cultivation, its flowers grew half as big again as those that grew wild. In 1699 he sent seed to England and Holland. The flower’s ease of cultivation and willingness to set seed, coupled with its perfume and colour, guaranteed that it was in popular demand and it became widely distributed. information from Carol Klein.

Lathyrus Latifolius Red Pearl – Everlasting Sweet Pea

An everlasting Sweet peas, Red Pearl, is a reliable, easy to grow perennial plant. It will scramble up trellis or through a shrub and give cut flowers all summer. Cut back in autumn and they will shoot up again in the spring. Being leguminous they provide nitrogen to the soil.  Best in a well drained position against a trellis or wall in sun or part shade. Hardy perennial. I have soaked ten of these seeds overnight and they are now in a module tray.

Lathyrus latifolius, the perennial pea vine, perennial pea, broad-leaved everlasting-pea, or just everlasting pea, is a robust, sprawling perennial in the Pea Family Fabaceae. It is native to Europe but is present on other continents, such as North America and Australia, where it is most often seen along roadsides.

Lathyrus latifolius keeps its roots in a tidy clump, is easy to raise from seed, and is wonderfully fresh at a difficult time of year. Plant it next to something that dies down after midsummer or put it under a shrub and let it climb through the branches. It is best to sow indoors and put out when you get a strong plant.