Our skiing exploits in Austria at the behest of our son has meant that I have been away from the garden for almost two weeks at the most important time of the year. March and early April is the time when you lay down the foundations for summer so I have had a lost of catching up to do. Just to get the skiing thing out of the way no I didn’t break any bones, no I still can’t ski, both Cruella (my wife) and I were great disappointments to our son as neither of us could stand up, stop, or otherwise show any competence in skiing. To be honest we gave up halfway through our second lesson and contented ourselves with Apres Ski. The photo below shows our son James giving us his disappointed look.
2nd April: Things I have been doing lately
Right back to gardening. There is so much to tell you and so little time before the heat of summer, so we just better get on with it.
🌱 Planting seeds for annual bedding plants.
In terms of planting seeds I am probably almost a month behind where I should be. As we were going away there was no point leaving the seedlings first few important days with our house sitters; especially as our house sitter was our friend Karl the notorious plant murderer.
Anyway, you can buy bedding plants from Garden Centres etc, but real gardeners grow their own. I grow Marigolds as they are very easy to get going and they make fantastic mid-summer bed fillers. I also grow Pink Trumpet Vine and a few other favourites just to plug areas of the garden that may die back in summer. All seeds should be planted in a free draining compost with copious quantities of vermiculite to allow for that nice free drainage. In Spain you do not need a greenhouse to get seeds going a small 3 shelf mini greenhouse is fine, just make sure you open it up in the morning or your seedlings will fry, even at this time of the year.
The first photo below shows my seed planting equipment which is very simple: compost, vermiculite, seed trays, dibber and dust pan and brush for cleaning up the mess I always make. The second photo shows the seedlings happily settling in to their new home.
🌹 Weeding, feeding, watering and mulching Roses.
This is one of my least favourite gardening jobs, (I have 26 Roses of various types) but one that must be carried out if you want lovely healthy Roses. I dislike this job as the Roses take great pleasure in scratching, cutting and otherwise hacking at my flesh till I bleed profusely; at the end of this exercise I look like someone who has been feasted upon by Vampires.
Roses are very hungry feeders and require good healthy organic compost to see them through the summertime. This is where all your hard work at creating compost in your bins and heaps comes into play; if you don’t compost then I’m afraid I’m not speaking to you and you should be ashamed. The photo below shows one of my compost bins ready to spill forth its wonderful richness to enhance the garden.
Unfortunately, a full and active compost bin means the return of that old favourite the giant blood oozing maggots that feature so regularly in this blog. I think these come from a fly that must lay the eggs onto the grass and then I transfer the eggs with the grass cuttings to the compost bin. No matter, you cannot allow them back out into your garden so as you empty out the bin you must pick out the maggots and see if they can swim in a trug – none have managed it so far – then recycle them back into the active compost bin. The photo below shows some of the giant blood oozing maggots before their swim.
The process of preparing your Roses is simple. First you must assemble all of the things you need before starting this process, the photo below shows everything you need: compost, feed, water. The reason for this is that you must do this one Rose at a time to ensure you don’t let them dry out between each stage. The three photos below show each of the stages: weeding, feeding and mulching. Only 25 more to go.
🔆 Mulching borders.
Mulching borders and bedding plants is just as important as Roses. In the heat of the Summer most bedding plants will wilt quite badly and in some cases just get overheated and die especially if the your irrigation system fails. This is where mulching comes in. Water each of your bedding plants thoroughly, then, put a donut of mulch around each plant. The mulch will lock in the water and stop the plant drying out in the sun. Also, the mulch will buy you precious time if your irrigation fails and ensure that you do not lose plants. The photo below shows some of my border plants sporting their new donut of mulch. The space between each plant has been left mulch free as this is where I will be planting out my Marigold seedlings; which will be munched at a later date.