Thursday, 22 November 2012

All change!

(Apologies to anyone who reads all my blogs as this appears (with minor changes) in them all)

I have just spent the best part of today re-jigging all my photo albums for my Blogs .  It was prompted by Google telling me I was running out of room.  This led to having a grand sort out.  On the one hand it was great to have all the new (purchased!) room, on the other hand it was a load of work re-assembling various folders to share with you.  Whatever web album storage I look at, it never seems to do what I want it to do, which is simply to replicate my photo collection as it is in my computer.  The major problem is (with Google web albums and others) that I can't nest folders within folders as I would like to and I end up with a bunch of small folders all jostling for position.  I then have to rename them all so that they will clump together in some logical way.  For example all the folders to do with Bury Gardeners needs to start with the same word; as Bury Gardeners is too much to type each time, so they've become  - yup! - Garden.  This doesn't make files particularly simple to construct and probably not that easy to find.  I promise I have done my best with a duff system.

The re-jig means that any blog prior to this date which has a link to an album will be defunct.  I am sorry for that but it would have always been so at some stage.  I was already having to remove the older albums to make room for the new ones.  Hopefully, with all the extra space I now have, the future links will last a lot longer.  Meanwhile, so you don't feel robbed I have started you off with four albums - one is my garden in 2012 and three are visits to other people's gardens.

On the whole it will be fine.  When I write a post and create a new album or add photos to an existing one I will give you the link.  You won't have to go hunting and searching for it.  Additionally, if at any time you are visiting  the blog and just want to find something not being written about you can click on the link in the right-hand column labelled  All albums  and that's where you will end up.  When you get there if you click on the drop down arrow of the 'Sort By' option where it says Album Date you can select Album Title instead.  That puts them all in alphabetical order (obviously!) and should make it much easier to find what you want.  When I have finished the first clump of albums will be Clavering then a bunch of Garden albums then a mass of Minis.

Happy wanderings.

Home thoughts from abroad....

I just got an email from Spaldings asking me to imagine planting a patio pot with bulbs and to say what I would plant for a Spring display.

This set me to imagine my garden back home and what it would need to cheer me up if I was there in early Spring.  From my kitchen window (and in my minds-eye from here) I can clearly see  a half barrel at the bottom of the garden beside my summerhouse/shed.  It has a tiny peony plant lost in the middle of it which is crying out for some added interest throughout the year.  That particular space is about thirty odd feet from the house and on the North-facing (dark) strip.  It needs white.

Every year (except this one) I always have at least one pot planted with the traditional three layers of bulbs.  A large pot, a layer of broken crocks or similar for drainage, a layer of compost, then some narcissi, a layer of compost and then some tulips, a layer of compost and some small bulb such as muscari, irises, crocus and finally covered with a layer of compost.

For this particular pot I would plant Narcissi 'Sinopel'.  Please click on the link and take a look it is just lovely.  Fragrant white narcissi with a gold edged green cup.  The next layer would be Tulip 'Exotic Emperor'. Again, take a look; it is certainly exotic.  By now you will have caught on that the theme is green and white.  Normally I spend ages choosing colours that will look stunning together, this time I just want more and more of the same (but different).  To keep that going my choice of small bulbs would be Double Flowered Snowdrops.  Yet again, well worth a click.

It would be wonderful to see those first snowdrops smiling through in miserable old February.  Their companions are both listed as flowering in March/April but I have never yet planted my usual trios, always with matching flowering dates and had all three or even two varieties of bulbs in flower together.  Generally this is annoying as that is what I am trying to achieve.  This time because I want a staggered show of white (with a hint of green) popping up in my dark corner I bet they would flower together.  Anyone want to try it and let me know?

If you are still planting your spring bulbs here's a couple of bulb planting tips - they may not be my ideas but I wouldn't pass them on if I hadn't tried them and found they work......

If squirrels dig up your bulbs.... I had one home where they did this and the annoying little what-nots took one bite, slung the bulb and tried the next one.  One pot next to the front door was re- planted every evening when I got back from work until the bulbs were too nibbled to bother.  I then read about chicken wire.  Plant your bulbs cover with a thin layer of compost and cover with chicken wire then top up with compost.  You can't see the wire, the flowers grow through it and squirrels don't like it.  I don't have any proof that gravel works in the same way but I have had three homes since then and have always topped up with gravel and have never had a squirrel problem, so...?

The other tip is that most tulips don't do that well in our Northern gardens year on year.  I find I get a great first year - all that stored bulb energy, then a middling second year and pretty much nothing by year three.  Yes, I do feed them.  They are fussy about cold and drainage.  I have planted them on sand but with no better results.   It is best to dig them up when they finish flowering.  If your garden is like mine that's not all that easy.  First find them when they are ready to dig up then do it without damage to all and sundry.  I know you plant them in a clump but don't they seem to wander a little?  The answer is any kind of well perforated basket you can get hold off.  I just used dollar shop storage baskets of various sorts.  Pond plant baskets are also used by some folk.  Spaldings have these Handy Planting Baskets.  

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Brandlesholme Community Allotment

Fantastic News...

Brandlesholme Community Allotment is here and just waiting for you to come and grow your own!  It doesn't need to be hard work - a single raised bed isn't at all daunting.  You can get at it from pretty much all sides and you wont be grubbing about on your hands and knees. You might want to grow flowers for your house rather than fruit and veg.  You could plant permanent stuff like rhubarb or raspberries which take very little work and go on from year to year.

The above photo isn't that flattering thanks to rubbish weather but you can see how much it has changed from this scary start:

This might be a hard thing to promote after last summer which was very wet BUT they aren't all like that.  This is somewhere you can get out to on a fine day, maybe have a little bit of exercise and come home with a 'gift' from your little plot.  All pretty much for free.  How often can you do that?

Readers of this might be wondering why all this enthusiasm when I have just this year put my four foot by sixteen foot border back to flowers from veggies.  Here's why I gave up on my veggie strip at home:

1. Cat toilet 
2. Too low - 1 was still working kneeling on the floor
3. Impossible to work the beds as I only had front access
4. Impossible to easily pick the veg for the same reason
5. Not enough space to do everything I would have liked to do
6. Difficult to cloche or net due to its construction of timber-framed 4 x 4 beds

As far as I can see BCA offers ways round all those issues.  Primarily as I can get all round the bed I can easily net them to deter Cats, carrot root fly, cabbage white butterflies et al.  If I can get more than one box I can permanently plant stuff because I will still have room  for what I want.  I can plant enough potatoes to make it worthwhile, 4 x 4 feet isn't enough.  I love spuds!  I might have people I can give seedlings to or give surplus veggies to. The waste always frustrated me doing it at home.

Please get in touch with Donna and lets start a great five-a-day community on our doorstep.

Here's all the info I have so far from Donna Cartwight, a community development worker; this was an email she sent to people who had expressed an interest:

Donna Cartwright
Community Development Worker 
Six Town Housing 
6 Knowsley Place 
Angouleme Way 
BL9 0EL 
Tel: 0161 686 8000

I have your details from the survey we carried out regarding the community allotment.  After much work trying to get it cleared and the raised beds made, we opened the site to residents at the end of October 2012.  Currently the site has 25 raised beds and the Community Payback Team are constructing a summer house and also storage shed.
It is a very large area and we have plans for the following:
Mini fruit orchard
Habit mound
Water butts
Junior Gardening club
Wildlife area
Sensory garden
Seating area
However, this is all dependant on the level of support from the community and how well the site is being utilised.  There are many more options for the site and if people would like to develop a section themselves, this is also an option.
We are also looking for a person to oversee the site and liaise with myself with any problems, concerns, or for support in developing the site.  Ideally a small group of residents to assist them would be great.
Whilst it is not the growing season at present, there are winter vegetables that can be grown, and we are keen to get all the beds signed for.  If we have spare beds, there is an option of having additional beds.  Community Payback are happy to create more beds.
Community Payback have offered training and advice sessions every Friday, on site, between 10.00am and 2.00pm.  They can offer advice on what to grow and when.
If you are still interested, please let me know so you can sign up and receive a key and a set of rules.  You will then be free to visit the site whenever you want.
I look forward to hearing from you and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Donna Cartwright


My photo album Garden - The Lotty - 2012