Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Monthly Archive: April 2017

Ammi Majus – Bishops Flower

I sowed a few of these seeds around the garden earlier in the month and they have already grown some vibrant ferny foliage. Today I have sown a few seeds in a 7″ pot with a view to eventually creating a large mixed container of Ammi and white Cleome and other tall white perennials. At present its just a plan but it’s something to look forward to.

Ammi Majus is among the best white filler-foliage plants available, lacy, elegant and splendid arranged in a great cloud on its own. Ammi is easy for beginners and perfect for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Ammi Majus seed can be sown from March to May or from late August to September. Seed is best sown in deep pots as it has a long taproot which is sensitive to disturbance and can be damaged when transplanting so care must be taken. Sow 6 to 8 weeks before planting out. When first true leaves appear transplant into larger containers. Harden off and plant out after last frost. Alternatively seeds can be sown where they are to flower once temperatures are around 15 to 20°C . Surface sow thinly  around 12″ apart and cover lightly. Keep moist. Germination normally occurs within 7 to 21 days. When large enough to handle thin out 8″ apart and provide support in exposed areas.

 

Tomato Tumbler F1 – Ildie, Roma and Aubergine Mohican

I have sown a tray of Tomatoes and Aubergines to replace my lost seedlings. The last of the Aubergine Mohican, some fresh seeds of Tomato Ildie, Tomato Tumbler and some old Roma seeds. I lost all my biggest plants by putting them outside too soon and being punished by a severe drop in temperature.

Tomato Tumbler F1 is a vigorous, trailing British-bred tomato ideal for hanging baskets and containers. One plant can produce up to 9 lbs of cherry-sized fruit in a single season. Grow one plant in a 14″ hanging basket. This is a bush variety and is very easy to grow as trusses do not require support and fruits without side shoots being removed.

The Roma Tomato is a plum variety that I have grown before and is good for cooking. Ildie is a tried and tested old favourite producing lots of grape sized fruit.

 

 

A Sudden Turn In The Weather

It’s 25th April and it’s snowing. Last night the temperature dropped drastically. The reason? I had potted on the Tomatoes and courgettes and planted some outside. Going against everything that I preach and paying the price. Also the Butternut Squash were  screaming to get out of their small pots and I was short of pots and compost so I risked putting some of them out too. I don’t think that I will get away with this mammoth mistake. Watch this space.

Regional Forecast for West Midlands. Cold and windy with wintry showers and some sunny spells. A strong northerly wind will make it feel cold for all of us. There will be sunny spells and scattered showers, locally heavy with hail and thunder possible. Some sleet or snow is also possible, mainly over higher ground.

Lavandula Stoechas Anouk – Lavender

I bought a couple of pots of this Lavender from Lidl. I think they were £2.79 each. One is here in the garden and one has gone to live with Sean and Deb. I have repotted it for now as it seemed a bit pot bound but it will go into the garden later in the year.

Lavandula stoechas is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, occurring naturally in Mediterranean countries. An evergreen shrub, also called French or Butterfly Lavender. Anouk is a compact variety and does well in mixed containers as well as a hot, sunny border. Hardier than other forms but also easily wintered indoors. Drought tolerant once established. Flowers are attractive to butterflies. It  was developed in the Netherlands.

Prune the lavender plant in spring or early summer just after new growth begins. Pruning in autumn can cause the plant to waste energy on new growth leaving it vulnerable to frost. Do not prune lavender plants in the first year when they are establishing roots. Lavender plants, unlike many perennials, do not handle division well so cuttings is the way to go. Softwood cuttings – use only soft, new-growth material from this year that has not yet become brown and woody. These cuttings will grow fastest but are only usable if the soft material is at least 5″ long and includes at least two leafy nodes. Prepare a seed starting tray or small flowerpots to place the cuttings in for the first few weeks after cutting. Because plants without roots are sensitive to both drought and excessive moisture use a good draining compost. Use terra cotta pots due to their breathability and soak overnight before continuing to the next step. Using a clean sharp knife and  slice off the selected branch just below a leafy node, removing a cutting at least 5″ long, including at least two leafy nodes. The longer the cutting is, and the more nodes it has, the more likely it is to be successful. Leave the top cluster of leaves on as they will provide energy for the new plant. Cut all the other leaves off the cutting so that it directs its energy to root development. Plant the cuttings in the containers you prepared earlier just deep enough to keep them steady. Give them a generous quantity of water immediately after planting.  After three to six weeks strong roots will have developed in the small pot. 

 

Californian Poppy – Eschscholzia Californica

Eschscholzia californica is a species of flowering plant in the Papaveraceae family and native to the United States and Mexico. It is an ornamental plant and it is used medicinally and in cooking. It became the official state flower of California in 1903. I love these graceful wild orange poppies. I had an abundance of them both in the garden and at the allotment but they seem to have vanished while my back was turned. This year I have bought seeds of both the orange King and the white, Ivory Castle, variety. I am planning to introduce both of them back into the garden in the hope that they will naturalise. I have scattered the seeds here and there around the garden.

Meconopsis Lingholm – Himalayan Blue Poppy


I received two plants of Meconopsis Lingholm today purchased from ebay. They look good strong plants and were well packed. One is perfect but the other one is a little battered but I am sure after a rest and a drink it will be fine. 29th May and these plants are still in their pots. I am a little nervous about planting them into the garden as the slugs and snails are thriving out there.

Poppy-like blooms which are borne on strong upright stems over green softly bristled rosette leaves. Lingholm is a sterile form of Meconopsis which flowers longer than other varieties with intense-blue blooms revealing their trademark pearlescent lustre. Meconopsis grows best in semi-shade in rich fertile soil and looks best when planted in small groups creating an unbelievable display during the summer. info Hayloft  Stake  before the flowers appear. Deadhead regularly to prolong flowering. Apply a generous 2″ mulch of bark chippings, well-rotted leaf mould or composted pine needles around the base of the plant in spring. Crocus.

Lupin Russell Noble Maiden White

I bought seeds of Lupin Noble Maiden White from Seekay and after an overnight soak they were sown into module trays of damp compost and covered in a polythene bag, I sowed two lots about a week apart and germination has been very good, as with most of the seed from this supplier. It looks like I may not see any flowers this year which is sad. These seedlings have been potted on twice now 25th May, and are producing some good roots.

This is said to be a robust Lupin that produces densely packed spikes of creamy white flowers in mid summer and often again in early autumn. Lupins are stalwarts of the cottage garden and are perfect for the border. Easy to grow and undemanding they put on quite a show with the minimum of fuss as long as they have enough moisture when actively growing.

A Hardy perennial , Noble Maiden bears pinnacles of White flowers. Sow the seeds from April – July after having soaked them over night. Sow in damp compost and cover in a polythene bag. Germination can take up to 21 days. When large enough to handle pot on into 3″ pots prior to planting out after all risk of frost has passed. According to the National Gardening Institute, all parts of a Russell Lupin plant are toxic. Overwintered plants will flower in the summer but those sown in March may not flower until the next year.  Young plants need to be potted on frequently whenever their large roots stick out of the pot. Wait until they are at least 12″ tall  before putting them out then you will  get a good strong plant. Originally Lupins, Lupinus polyphyllus, were introduced into Britain from North America in 1826. This cottage garden perennial had the plain blue flowered spikes with occasional whiter flowers. In 1937 the RHS awarded its highest honour to a  jobbing gardener George Russell for developing a strain of Lupins that caused a sensation.  George Russell developed his Lupins by selection of seedlings achieving a central spike covered with flowers. Bred for a long flowering period with unbeatable garden performance. He produced one of the most popular plants in history, the ever popular Russell Hybrids.

The Russell Hybrids, Band of Nobles series, have exceptionally bright and strong colours.  Noble Maiden, occasionally called Fraülein, feature soft ivory white buds that open to pure clean white. Stunning in the border or in a vase. Growing to around 3-4ft the plant forms a well established leafy foundation with several flowering stems rising out of a single base. Tall spires of tightly packed flowers rise above beautiful green clumps of palmate foliage. The flowers open from the bottom up making for a longer blooming period.  Lupins are very hardy plants, surviving extreme temperatures withstanding frost and are extremely attractive to bees and other pollinating insects.   Lupinus x Russellii Noble Maiden has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Creeping Phlox Subulata

The plug plants of creeping phlox ordered from T&M have been potted on into small pots of moist compost and put outside. The five varieties include, Snowflake, Candy Stripes, Emerald Cushion Blue, Red Wings and Drummonds Pink. This a completely new plant to me but caught my eye as ideal for around the pond if it gets done this year. At least they can hopefully flourish in pots for the time being.

Creeping Phlox Subulata is a stunning, wintergreen perennial and ground cover plant, with lovely star-shaped flowers. Flowering from April to June, creeping phlox grows out to an attractive and eye catching, spring flowering green carpet. Creeping phlox is much loved by gardeners all over the world for its rich flower display and grows to approximately 15 cm tall. It is an ideal rock garden or woodland plant and is a welcome addition to any flower border. This lovely plant is easy to grow and care for.

 

 

 

 

Forget me Not – Myosotis Blue Ball

Although I do have forget-me-not in the garden already I bought a packet of Myosotis Blue Ball seeds from Seekay, 400 seeds for 99p, and have dotted a few seeds here and there around the garden. They may throw up something a little different. I love these delicate flowers with their beautiful blue colour. The fact that they self seed is also a winner in my book. Blue Ball produces dwarf plants with rich blue flowers between April and June. Sow in May on the surface of moist seed compost. Do not cover as the seed needs light and warmth to germinate. Leave about 9″ between plants when planting out.

Myosotis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. In the northern hemisphere they are commonly called forget-me-nots or scorpion grasses. The common name “forget-me-not” derived from the German Vergiss mein nicht and first used in English in 1398 AD via King Henry IV. Similar names and variations are found in many languages. Myosotis alpestris is the state flower of Alaska.

 

Pak Choi 2017

I have a few seeds of Pak Choi left. They are quite a few years old now so I am just sowing them all into a flat tray of moist compost. If they germinate successfully I shall pot them on into an oblong planter. Sow seed in moist compost in small pots or cells. They can be sown direct but young seedlings are susceptible to slug attack. Thin out young seedlings and keep them well watered. Pak Choi should be ready to harvest in 30 days from sowing as baby leaf or between 45-75 days as semi-mature to full-size heads. When seedlings are 5cm tall plant them outside firming in well. Keep them well watered to prevent bolting. Cover the crop with horticultural fleece to provide a barrier to airborne pests, such as flea beetles. No sign of these seedlings at all so the seed must have been too old. I shall try again next year though with fresh seeds. These leafy green vegetables are similar to Spring Greens. The paddle shaped dark green crispy leaves have a thick creamy stalk and a mild flavour. The leaves and the stalks can be eaten as an accompaniment to meat or fish or used in stir fry. It is best steamed or stir fried with fresh ginger and a little soy sauce. Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.