I know the above heading may seem slightly incongruous and doesn’t match the requirements of a gardening blog, but let me explain. Cruella (my wife) has for years despaired of getting me to come in from the garden at meal times. Over the years she has tried many options including: shouting loudly, ringing a bell, banging a dinner gong and even blowing a vuvuzela (at the time of the South African World Cup).
But now she has gone too far. She has taken up archery and now regularly fires arrows at me before every meal. I have become accustomed to the swish of air as another close miss whistles past my ear, or the thwock sound made by an arrow slamming into a tree I am standing beside. She has even perfected the technique used by Legolas in the Lord of the Rings, whereby she can fire arrows rapidly. Sometimes I will be cutting the lawn and suddenly I am surrounded by a ring of arrows rapidly thudding into the lawn.
Anyway she has gone too far and I am thinking of reporting her for attempted murder. The other day I was sitting at the spot where I rest between the far end of the garden and the shed. I use this spot to stop and think about what I am supposed to be getting from the shed; it saves time as if I go straight to the shed I will forget and have to go back to the beginning again. To cut a long story short, as I sat there innocently contemplating my mission to the shed, suddenly thwack an arrow went straight through my oldest (and best) gardening hat. When I complained to Cruella that this was attempted murder and she had gone too far. She merely smiled and said she was practising. The photo below shows me moments after the attempt on my life, (note the damage to my hat).
17th September. Things I have been doing lately:
🧎♂️ Gathering seeds. September is the time when you should be scurrying around checking all your plants for seedheads. Most plants will have set seed and there is a wide variety if you just look.
🌸 Margeurites provide the best and easiest way to get new plants. Instead of gathering their seed, just rub the seedheads between your finger and thumb and let them drop to the soil and just water them where they fall. Within a few weeks you will have lots of little seedlings popping up. Once they have at least four leaves then you can prick them out by easing them from the soil with a trowel. and repot them into trays. You can then plant these out in your borders in mid January and they will flower from May all the way through till December.
The first photo below shows my seed spreading technique. The second shows the lovely little seedlings, the third shows them being eased out of the soil and the final photo shows the 96 new plants I now have. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🌼 Grey Santolina. These are lovely drought tolerant plants that grow well in Spain and their small yellow flowers stand out against their grey foliage. To get seeds from these plants you simply cut off a number of former flowering stems. Take them to a table where you can sit and gently roll the seed heads between your finger and thumb, letting the seeds fall into an envelope for safe keeping . These can then be sown in trays in mid January. The first photo below shows the Santolina being harvested for seed. The second photo shows me sitting peacefully on a hot day harvesting the seeds. Note my new hat sitting on the table beside me – whenever Cruella comes near me I whip it off defensively. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🌻 Sunflower seeds. Regular readers of this blog will remember that after the great seed disaster of 2020 I was forced to plant an odd arrangement of things. One of the great successes of Summer was the Sunflowers. These grew magnificently high and flowered beautifully. A few blogs back I showed you how to cut the heads off and dry them in preparation for harvesting seed. After thoroughly drying the heads it is now time to harvest the seeds.
Using a fork pry the seeds out from the seed head into a bowl. It is important that the seed head is completely dry. Then using various type of sieves, sift them as much as possible to separate the seeds from the chaff. Once you have as many seeds as you want, place them in a plastic box and store them in a cool, dry, dark space. When you are finished place the seedheads out in your garden so that the birds can get the rest of the seeds that you don’t want.
The first photo shows my efforts at manfully prising the seeds out of the heads. The second photo shows my sieving efforts (Don’t tell Cruella, I borrowed these from the kitchen). The third photo shows the seeds boxed up and ready to be planted next Spring. The last photo shows the seed heads lying on the lawn ready to feed the birds. Click on each photo for a larger view.