Thursday, 1 July 2010

Long time no see

Well... I haven't posted in a while. I guess I lost interest a bit and was feeling a little silly writing a blog that no-one was reading. Very silly in fact and very vain and very self-obsessed. I don't believe I am the latter two (well not more than the average person), the former - well I've been a silly for 31 years - why stop now!

Anywho, as I've said previously. This keeps a log for me first and foremost.

Potatoes are growing at a silly rate. I've been topping up the soil as recommended but there are so many leaves at the bottom of the stalk - am I supposed to pinch them off and keep building up a little soil hill or build a soil hill regardless? Who knows, that bit of info seems to be missing in every guide I've poured over. Jolly good!

The tomatoes are looking very healthy and are about 20cms tall. Again I don't really know when I should transfer this. Nathan's sister gave us a tiger tomato plant which looks like a baby bush in a very small pot. I am assuming that I keep mine growing in their pots a little longer until they're stems are a bit stronger.

The peppers have only been separated about a week or two but are growing at a rate of knots. Amazing to watch.

The chili peppers in comparison are healthy but not much grown from when I first pricked them out.

The garlic clove shot up suddenly and then split into two leaves and most recently has split into three leaves. It went from lying dormant for ages and then whoosh!

The lemon pip has not done anything - I think I will plant more than one next time. I've collected some watermelon pips and I'm drying them out on the window sill.

I'm still determined to grow a few other fruits and I especially want to give ginger a go... now that looks like an unusual house plant. I found this great page where a guy shows photos and provides tips on how to grow any fruit or veg bought from the supermarket.

Unfortunately amongst all this excitement my Japanese maple is looking decidedly singed. Not happy at all. All its needs are being met but you'd think I'd put it in the hottest part of the garden without water.

My baskets are not doing well either. I believe that I unwittingly used peat based soil and no matter how much I water them, they dry out almost instantly. I did read that once peat soil has dried out it won't maintain a moisture level. The water crystals have no worked. I have tried a trick that I read about adding dish washing liquid to the water but I couldn't remember how best to do this. It helps break down the water or something so the peat can absorb it? I don't know.

That's my update for now.

Friday, 11 June 2010

My babies!

We're away from after work today till late Sunday. Nathan has a day off so I've asked him kindly to set all the pots on damp kitchen towel and water them lightly accordingly.

I feel like I'm abandoning my babies! How sad is that?
Hopefully, fingers crossed, all soils will stay moist and I will see some growth when we get back.

The small crate of salads is growing well so far. The garlic has produced a shoot. I cut a hole in the lemon seed so I hope to see a shoot when we get home.

The tomato seedlings are looking very interesting and determined to grow despite my poor attempts at pricking out.

I dragged poor Nathan around B&Q again last night. Bought some cane, more compost, rose food, Ericaceous feed for my Japanese maple and larger pots for the sunflowers in case we can't get in gear in time to put them in the ground.

Got home and fed and caned-up the roses. fed my maple and added more compost to my potato bags to cover the stalk - as apparently thats the maintenance procedure - keep the stalk covered so that you end up with a mound around the potato plant.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Why didn't I think of that?

I was just looking through some of my favourite gardening blogs then happened upon Diane's Garden. It never occurred to me, and I don't know why as I'm a designer by trade and by ultimate passion, to draw a plan of my garden as is then work on that plan to create it into a project more suitable and which covers my need's and want.

Oh yes I have a vision in my head of how I want it to look. As I'm learning, I am realising very quickly that rules have to be followed. That one can work against nature temporarily but not in a long term fashion. At some point mother-nature will scold and send me to my bedroom with no supper.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Everything's coming up roses.

I've been looking at the rose bushes wondering what it is that is bothering me about them. They're bearing blooms, they're being supported by sticks but they're looking very sparse and un-bush like. What to do. In my child-hood home the roses were very bush-like and I guess that's why I've been viewing my acquired bushes with confusion.

I've just spent the last 10 minutes trying to to find an answer to this and so far I've only find details on how to plant. That job has already been done for me... now what.
I know that my pink roses bloomed earlier than usual so I might be able to work out what type of rose they are based on that. This is what I've gleaned so far. The red roses are smaller and definitely a different type and bloomed at the start of June.

It's probably very obvious to everyone but me how to grow these bigger but you've got to remember that although I vaguely know that I probably need to fertilise it more etc - I need to know exactly how and what and even where. I've found this and here which gives tips on how to prune to make the bush grow more shoots that will flower.

My "exotic" seed sowing, however need a boost that this lack of weather isn't providing.

I've found some fascinating things, really get into the mind-set and personality of Mother-nature here. says this:

Passion fruit germination:

"Soak seed in warm water for 24 hours before sowing, in a good seed compost at 1/4" deep. Keep damp soil, not soaking wet. Keep pot in warm situation 20°C/68°F, 24°C/75°F. Cover the top of the pot with clear plastic so the humidity will remain high. When you see some tiny plants starting to sprout, slowly open the top of the pot, a little each day, so that the new seedlings don't go into shock from the humidity being lowered too quickly. "

On other websites I found the same info again and again:

Seeds like to be heated from the bottom - 70-80F for faster germination. Some people soak seeds in warm to hot water overnight before planting.

Papaya seeds:

"Papayas are normally propagated by seed. To start a plant, extract the seeds from ripe papayas and wash them to remove the gelatinous covering. They are then dried, dusted with a fungicide and planted as soon as possible (the seeds loose their viability rapidly in storage). Plant the seeds in warm (80° F), sterile potting mix. Seeds should be planted in sterile soil as young papaya seedlings have a high mortality rate from damping off. Potting soil can be sterilized by mixing 50-50 with vermiculite and placing in an oven at 200° F for one hour. Under ideal conditions the seeds may germinate in about two weeks, but may take three to five weeks. Gibberellic acid can be used to speed up germination in some seasons. Seedlings usually begin flowering 9 - 12 months after they germinate.

Seedling papayas do not transplant well. Plant them in large containers so the seedlings will have to be transplanted only once, when they go into the ground. Transplant carefully, making sure not to damage the root ball. To prevent damping off, drench the potting mix with a fungicide containing benomyl or captan. Set the plants a little high to allow for settling. A plastic mulch will help keep the soil warm and dry in wet winter areas, but remove it as soon as the weather becomes warm. Plant at least three or four plants to insure yourself of having females or plant hermaphroditic plants."

I don't think some of that will apply to UK growers wishing to just grow an interesting plant with no hopes of growing fruit.

Lemon seeds and mango:

Again, I keep seeing the same advice. To scratch the seed/stone with a nail file or pierce a hole to allow water to get in.

How to do this is best explained by Ruth on

General fruit growing:

"If their pot is too large or if they have an unrestricted root run then the whole plant will simply get bigger and bigger but it will refuse to flower and therefore produce the fruits. By limiting the pot size you are limiting the ability to grow and this is seen as a threat, so the natural mechanism is to produce seed for the next generation. A suitably sized pot for an adult plant would generally be of 12 inches in diameter."

Fascinating eh?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Gardening blog recommendation

I thought I'd share this beautiful garden and it's blog with you.

I would love to produce something as wonderful as this - blog and garden wise.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Survival of the fittest.

When re-potting the tomatoes, I had some leftover weaker looking specimins which I decided to just throw in the garden... to see what happened. I totally forgot about it, but as I was filling up some new pots, I happened to notice a very familiar looking seedling. Two of the tomato seedlings had made a home. Now these two are obviously very determined as I didn't sow them just chucked. The sickly looking sunflower I put in my growbag with the herbs is looking pretty snug too. Watch this space!

I've gone a bit gung-ho now and I've sown a garlic clove and some passion fruit seeds. Just to see what will happen. I'm wise to the fact that the garlic needs to be sown in autumn for results but I'm interested to see what occurs now. At some point I will add papaya seeds, avocado and mango to my fleet. I'm enjoying the experimentation.

I really don't like re-potting. It seems too dangerous for the plants. Have thinned out my pouch of basil which I'm not convinced was the best way of doing it. It's made to look so easy and yet I really do not find it so.

Success! and weed control.

It's pretty evident to me now that I am going to have to do something with the actual garden. The weeds are out of control and the pumpkin plant that our friend gave to us is growing at a super-duper rate.

Every time I pop into B&Q, I look at the weed display and have to turn away again as there is too many bottles and packets to choose from. I very unwisely figured that you just spray this around your garden and it only kills the weeds and not the plants. I have since learned otherwise.

So what to do?

There are a number of plants that I want to keep or feel I should keep is more accurate. I also want to plant the pumpkin as apparently they need deep roots and who am I to neglect poor penelope to her roots needs. Never forget your roots!

There are a number of options and it is pretty clear that I don't have time or patience for most of them.

Laying down old carpet or some sort of covering for years on end is not my bag. However I think if me and Nathan can get our arses in gear, my plan will be this:

1. Dig up as many of the weeds as possible.

2. Treat other weeds growing in areas such as the gravelly section of my garden with this procedure or vinegar.

3. Mulching. I've found a lovely black bark which I think will look pretty amazing. However I think I need more reading into this. There is no point putting down something that looks cool but stops all plants from growing.

On an old note, my baskets are looking pretty funky now and have flowered. My totally inappropriate efforts at pricking out are looking ok. One sunflower got a beheading when a tomato plant fell on it. Still not sure how that happened. The tomato plants look willing to survive for a bit longer.

The potato bags are showing little green buds - how exciting!

I'm feeling pretty happy about it all.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Pricking 'ell!

Finally... finally got the compost and the vermiculite needed for pricking out the seedlings and transferring as many as I could into their own pots. 

I bounced about B&Q again much to Nathan's dismay. Bought some ties, the above vermici-wotsit and grabbed some night-scenting flower seeds. Next project. Also chose a new shower hose and rose for our pants bathroom. Why the previous owners never got a new one while they were there I don't know. I managed only 3 months with the highly inappropriate-for-use shower head. One way to experience a multi-spray shower I guess. Managed to wash down the rest of my bathroom whilst showering. Lots of fun. Terribly frugal.

Got in at about 10pm then decided it'd be a great idea to repot on my lap on the sofa in front of Desperate Housewives.

I wouldn't recommend it.

I don't think I have enough patience for pricking out :/

It's very delicate work and fiddly. 

Soil gets everywhere.

As does vermiculite.

I started by mixing up the compost and vermiculite in a bowl. Well I say started, initially I tried to do this in a small 7cm pot and realised what fool idea that was straight away. So I did a Hansel and Gretal routine to the kitchen and back for a bowl, leaving a trail of compost for no-one in particular. I then filled all the pots, that I had grabbed from the £1 shop, halfway up with this mixture then tried to work out how to get the seedlings out of each pot.

You've got to understand that by this point the sunflowers were about 5 inches tall and lolling all over the place.

I had both my gardening bibles with me however they both only gave tips on how to transfer seedlings to a pot rather than how to get them out of their present pot. I eventually squeezed them out and separated them that way. Many a leaf broke despite the advice being to hold the leaves. I did as many as I could then showed my attentions to the tomatoes. 

These were shockingly delicate and I'm wondering if I've made a huge mistake here. I guess time will tell. My method for getting them out of the pot didn't work so well this time. I squeezed and the whole thing fell out in a soggy wet lump. I didn't use all of these and the rest I've randomly threw in the garden just to see if any of them have a huge will to survive. I'm quite cruel I agree. I felt like I was pushing my children out into the woods at the age of 3 and seeing if they return grown up and unscathed. Perhaps I'm too harsh on myself... and perhaps just a little bit twisted.

I added sticks to the sunflower pots and tried a number of ways to hold those suckers up. I don't remember it being so involved last time I grew sunflowers as a kid. I'm sure we just stuck it in a pot and watched it grow.

I highly recommend not doing what I did. I recommend doing this or this but not this:

and certainly do not do this kind of thing at gone 10pm on your lap in front of the telly.

I'll make the mistakes so you don't have to.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

What I have learnt so far...

1. When a plant plug goes limp in places or even fully, it's not the end of the world. Just water it some more and the rest will thrive and even the limp bits might plump up again.

2. Even slightly damaged plants can perk up. They will be scarred but can carry on quite happily with a bit of love.

3. I won't worry about poking trailing plants through a planter/basket liner ever again. After looking at other baskets, which I hadn't done before, I noticed quite a few hadn't bothered to do this and the trailers had trailed better for it. The other option would be to cut out a curved section rather than an actual hole.

4. I will line a basket, next time, with a plastic bag with drainage holes to slow down water drainage.

As you can probably guess, I came home to find that the days rain had perked the baskets up and there is one beautiful flower in the planter. It is a white flower which is a little strange as the bloom-ed plant is a blue isotoma. But I'm not complaining.

Blimey! I am sat here smiling thinking I may have it in me yet.

Wanted - For seed murder!

Spent a wonderful day in Norfolk yesterday. Visited Holkham beach and Wells-Next-The-Sea with a group of our friends.

Got chatting about my "gardening" and sure enough found some fellow gardeners in our group of five who have/are successfully growing in containers and the outdoors. Both proved to be encouraging and very generous by offering a plant or two to me to continue growing. Made me worry less that my peppers and chillies weren't growing. They may just need longer to germinate. Although as I wrote this I had a little look and each page I looked at suggested different things. Hmm, this is exactly why I am writing this blog. Too much mixed information for the first-time gardener. However I'm wondering if my kitchen windowsill just hasn't been warm enough for the peppers and chillies.

Went back to one of our fellow gardener/friend's home and she showed us her containers which were all growing wonderfully and her plot in the garden which looked ever so professional. Apparently she'd only just started too but clearly quite a bit before me. She'd just been following a book her sister got her. Very inspiring but it's given me the fear again unfortunately. I think I'm going to have this trouble until I get more solid results. I left with a small pumpkin plant which I have named Penelope and I'm hoping that I may not only grow a pumpkin in time for this Halloween but make my own pumpkin pie with it. My friend reassured me that the more results I get the more I will love gardening.

Our other friend who has been successfully growing chilli plants has offered me a chilli plant too, that she grew from seed.

My baskets are looking very sad indeed in places. They are also drying out like no one's business. They seemed to stay moist when they were sitting on the grass but now they are hanging up it seems I have to drench them. Strangely enough some parts are wilting but others are thriving so I'm on tenterhooks to see what happens. I do believe I am seeing flowers buds as well. I'm sure the next bit of sunshine we have will get those going. When we have sunshine again, is another matter.

I still have to prick out the sunflowers and tomatoes and the basil needs thinning out. I worked out what was wrong with the herb set. I'd managed to sow the seeds too deep. I believe I've solved the problem with one of the pots but sadly only the basil is striving to live. The parsley and chives may not survive. It looks like they germinated then had too far to grow.

I'm thinking my huge fear is not failure exactly but killing something that is alive or heeding something that could live. That fear has clearly become fact with the herb set which was also a lovingly-picked present :(


Friday, 28 May 2010

Hung, drawn and quartered!

I have finally hung up one of the baskets.

I think the holder is put up wrong but what the hey. Nathan drilled the holes and the crumbly wall made the first hole go HUGE but I wangled it by inserting an almost big enough rawl plug and made that one bigger by inserting a smaller rawl plug inside that. I am clearly a DIY genius.

I'm just glad that these look much fuller because blimey, they looked sparse when I first put them together. They're taking a sodding long time to flower but had to get them up because the snails had clearly mis-assumed that they were there for their feeding pleasure.

I'm desperate to make the walkway to our house more pleasant.
Hence the planter in the window.

What does one do when they're in a leaseholder premises? The leaseholder has promised to re-paint the building for the last two years before we moved in apparently. How far can I go?

I think I've already made a huge but probably typical rookie mistake. The flowers I've planted are a mixture of sunny and shade plants. Bugger!

Extra! Extra! - Update on kitchen window seedlings. 

The chillies and herb set aren't doing anything that I can see.

Everything else is growing at astonishing rates. Last night I checked when I got home from work and the sunflowers were poking out of the soil by 9pm they were fully out of the soil and about to shed their seed casing.

Is it weird that I'm totally blown away by this?

I can't wait to see what has happened by the time I get home.

I'm getting a mango stone ready to pot up. I need to get it to over-ripe stage then cut up the stone to get to the bean in the centre apparently and it's this that I plant up.

I've also added a pot full of four kidney beans that I'm going to try and grow. See if that works.

Soon comes the hard part. I've got to prick out each seedling and transfer them into individual pots. ::epp::


I've finally put two seed potatoes (that I got from the pound shop) in the potato grower bag I bought in B&Q and I also put two seed potatoes in a Morrisons large use-again bag. Apparently you do two per 30cm bag.

The potatoes that I was chitting up are, after all, totally unsuitable for growing. Oh well!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


A beautiful, full pink rose has emerged at the back of the garden.

Terribly exciting.

It's a little bit strange the way the garden has been planted. There are small clumps of lovely flowers. The crocuses and snowdrops featured in two small clumps in separate parts of the garden. There are two roses. They look like they've only been planted. They're are that small. Again separated. There looks to be a very tiny fir tree hidden behind the pink rose. A yellow flowered plant - again looks like it's just been bought and planted up. Two tulips came up in March. Some dwarf dafs appeared in a pot that is now full of weeds. Lots of green plants - but they're positioning makes a little bit of sense.

All very weird.

or maybe that's not weird at all.

If I were to see this garden I would assume that someone had bought some established but young plants and planted them into a garden without weeding first.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Sunday shenanigans.

Well today I spent a much longer time then imagined cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. Over 3 hours later with only breaks for nature, coffee and buying tickets for a club night in the bank holiday weekend - I still haven't finished. However have managed to get Nathan to say he will do the bits I haven't done. Namely the weird smell under the sink and the weird smell in the tank cupboard and the making sense of the food cupboard.

 I now have a number of pots on my kitchen windowsill. I sat in front of the very good but very depressing "The Butterfly Effect", with a tray on my lap potting up all those seed kits I bought from the 99p/£1 shops. I have sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers, chilies, basil. chives and curly parsley ready to go. The herb kit had some very weird dehydrated compost discs enclosed with which I was to add water to rehydrate. One blew up to 4 times its size almost immediately but the other two stayed very much disc shaped so I had to wait for them to soften then I got very dirty breaking it all up.

I'm not sure if the others will grow very well, in particular the tomatoes as I've apparently missed the window of opportunity. However, this is advice for when May is usually warmer than it was this year. From what I've read you're not supposed to take anything outside until it is warm enough so maybe my lateness won't matter this year.

Dragged the planters and baskets to a sunnier spot in the garden. I must say they're all looking much more full. They were looking quite pathetic with everything spaced out according to instruction and I was worried the the spacing instructions were for ground planting rather than container planting. You see all these really full and bountiful planters and baskets and I couldn't see how the hell what I had put together was going to take on a similar look when in bloom. (photos below taken at night

But things may work out yet.

The damaged plants are looking perky, scarred of course, but have resurrected themselves and are looking quite strong despite the obvious signs of previous distress (when I tried to push them through the lining.)

Still haven't quite managed the potato planting but the potatoes I'm chitting are well on their way but blimey do the sprouts look scary.

Found some overly chitted (is that the term) potatoes on top of the fridge. Each root was about 4 inches long. From what I can gather they won't do much if I try and plant them. They look like they're about to grow leaves actually. Little purple leaves. Hmmm. Might keep them and see what happens.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Pearls of wisdom - just a couple for now.

What happens to potatoes when you forget to eat them. Don't cut off the shoots, allow them to grow some more. I have six potatoes that are currently chitting, they look damn scary but I'm going to try and grow them. Strangely enough I have done this in the past with an onion and something else just to see what would happen. The something else got thrown out by my flatmate, even though I had it on a plate (I hoped that would be clue enough). The onion I threw out myself because I was not aware that I was doing anything remotely useful - I thought I was just being weird. Who'da funk it?
 I'd like to add that I'm not entirely convinced that using potatoes that you originally bought for eating is the best way to go but I haven't as yet found anything that says you shouldn't unless I'm being dappy which is probable. I'll give it a go and report back though.
Here's how to do it properly.

What type of soil do I have in my garden? The below activity is a very simple way to find out and feels terribly Mother Earth like.

There are three basic but different types of soils. The three soil types are clay, loam and sand. Loamy soils are the ideal; the other two soil types present challenges ::eep:: Let's hope us first-time gardeners don't have to worry about those two.

But how do you find out which type of soil you have? Forget the more sophisticated ways, and more than likely the most expensive ways, to find out what is holding up your back garden.

Grab a large fistful of moist soil. Now what you want do here is roll it in your hands as though you're trying to create a shape - a sausage or ball shape will be fine and dandy.

Do you have a well formed shape? if yes you have a clay type soil.
Has you attempt just crumbled through your fingers? you have a sandy soil.
Were you able to create a shape, but the shape did not hold? Congratulations you have loamy soil.

To make a good guess at how healthy your soil is dig up a good spade's worth of soil - can you see many earth worms? how about insects? Good healthy soil should be teaming with worms and other soil dwellers.

What to know what will grow well in your soil? Check out your neighbours gardens if you can see them without inviting a visit from the police. Hell get to know your neighbours by asking them if any are keen gardeners and what they grow. Of course if they are as unsociable as some of the people in my area you might want to just not. *

And of course if you live anywhere like Lewisham, the majority of people couldn't give a monkeys about their gardens. A lot of people grow in pots though.

And almost anything that grows in the ground can be grown in a container. Jolly good.

*info written in my own words, information garnered from Alys Fowler.

Links galore

In this article I found some wise words that have left me feeling a little less inept, and rather just inexperienced with room for improvement.

Thrifty gardening according to Alys Fowler whose book I've been pouring over, Just in this article alone you will find some great ideas to get you started but in particular how to view anything and everything as a potential gardening item. She also gives some wonderful tips in her books on how to understand nature better. For instance how to decipher what soil you have before using expensive soil test kits.

This website is a wonderful idea and not only that, its beautiful to look at.

This seems to be the best weed identifying site I've managed to find. I'm sure I have every single one ; / However, the little blue flowers with the lovely leaves growing out of my brick walls are delightful.

Ooo things may work out fine after all.

My baskets and containers are not flowering but the blue isotoma are about to flower and even the petunia plugs that started to wilt afterwards are now looking strong again.


On another note, I'm getting the impression I'm doing everything too late or in the wrong order. I want to give it a go anyway. I need to see for myself why things have to be done a certain way. Just saying why is not enough for me.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

How to get on with your neighbours - tip 28

28. Don't do anything remotely weird where they can see you.

Picture this - I'm wearing a ginormous t-shirt with a weird looking pig in an unsuitable bikini emblazoned across the front (bought in Florida circa 1990) and a pair of trousers that have seen better days. The trousers have a huge slit in it where I decided it was a great idea to slice paper up using a stanley knife with no protection on my lap.

My hair has it's usual ducks bum-esque style fringe as I've not bothered to brush my hair today - it is Sunday after all.

PERFECT time to do a spot of impulsive gardening.

Potting up to be exact.

There was a weird looking ant thing messing about with a weird looking spherical thing about 5mm in diameter in my leftover petunias. Makes me itch just thinking about it. I left that one alone.

::itch itch shudder::

You'll be glad to know I've saved a few more plugs (speaking the lingo now) from polystyrene prison. I now have one more hanging basket which I now remember I was saving for growing tomatoes. Dammit. A pot found in the garden is now filled too.

I'm about the clear my kitchen windowsill so I can pot up the lovely herb kit Jo and Wendy got me for my birthday and some of the other kits that I bought from the 99p shop.

Nathan did a fab job putting the shelves up. All my books on the sill will be going up there.

::itch itch shudder::

Way too many insects out there people and what in hells bells was that spherical thing and what was that ant doing with it in my petunias? Ant football?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A little bit of inspiration from an unexpected place

Whilst adding to my learning of web building I came across this website with this article.

I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Oh dear!

The Petunias are withering.

I was going to pot up the leftovers but blimey its cold.

Ooo sunshine - bugger.

I have to stop myself from checking my little projects obsessively.

I made a point of leaving them alone this morning. However I am sitting here fretting about the possible waste of money/gain of shame that might transpire after a few more days of tentative sunshine that we have been experiencing. The potential of a sunny day is now just as much a threat and a joy. I can blame (or so I tell myself) any poor returns on a lack of sunshine and extended cold weather. With good weather in the offing... I can only blame myself and my cackhanded-ness.

What will it do to my blind determination to acquire green fingers or at least sickly chartreuse digits?

I'm desperately trying to work out what to do with the leftover flower plugs. At the moment they are serving as a snail cafe whilst flaunting their excellent health to their poor siblings that got Sarah-May-ed.

As said previously, I'm also learning how to build websites. I'm making loads of mistakes but that is where the similarity ends. Its very obvious when I have done something right and living things aren't getting harmed in the process. I am doing pretty well actually. I've progressed very suddenly to inserting/editing code freehand (is that the word I want) rather than copying and pasting. Very exciting.

I added a bought coriander plant to my growbag of herbs last night. The mint, parsley and chives are growing surviving wonderfully. The flat leaf parsley has been perky for a few days now which has cheered me up no end.

So... talking about the growing of herbs and politics being very similar now - ok so we weren't but the fact that I have four different herbs growing together in one growbag it made me think of politics and the fact that we are now being run under a coalition. The UKgovernment (timely edit made at 18:22pm as that would be a whole different thing) being the growbag ::cough:: - stick with me - and the herbs representing the different parties.

Granted there are only two parties joining forces and not four but will it end up being as harmonious as herb-life in my growbag.

I worry that things might not run of smoothly as it should.

I think a lot of people have a point in their concern that the Lib Dems, who came third, have had the upperhand in all of this. They have, in some ways, employed a form of very civilised blackmail. The British are well known for backing the underdog and this is a wonderful thing. However I am a little uncomfortable about how all this has played out. I just hope that the Lib Dems have played their cards to win for the voters and not for their own personal ambitions.

My political leanings cover both the Lib Dems and Conservatives so the both of them together should be a good thing (in my world).

Anyway thats the end of my very poor simile.

Monday, 10 May 2010


I'm having wayyyy too much fun changing the template.

I've been learning css so my plan is to create my own template eventually so I can add it to my portfolio.

The day after...

Well I had a quick look in the morning and another quick look now and the trailing flowers look very very unhappy.

Ok everywhere I looked it said simply to poke your trailing plants through the basket liner. I worked out that the only way you could do that was by cutting. Not one place said to cut, just poke. If anyone has messed around with one of these liners, made from coconut fibre mostly - you'll know how difficult it is the poke the point of a scissor through let alone a delicate plant.

I've just found this too late:


Just so you know I used:

Trailing - ivy and purple petunia.
Middles (uprights) - verbena and blue isotoma.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Day one - well sort-of.

About a year ago one of my oldest friends, who may I add is a very successful gardener and I am sure has been successful from the very start, bought me (also from his wife and my goddaughter) a wonderful present of a wooden planter with my name burnt into the side. It was filled with lovely herbs and he had added some rocket and lettuce as well I believe. Just the fact that he thought I'd be able to keep such a wonderful gift alive filled me with such warmth and I took said gift home convinced as well that it would surely be a doddle. Granted he had found said gift in a wishlist that I had showed them.

Alas, what I now know as "gone to seed" happened a month or so after despite my care and attention and soon after that the whole thing was covered in what looked like a white fluff but at closer inspection revealed itself to be scary little white insects. The planter was in our conservatory and I thought that would make it safe from such unsavoury happenings but no.

Ick ick ick - makes me shudder as I type.

Mike is not the only person to believe that I can enjoy, and be a success, at gardening. One of my other friends has been doing fabulously in her garden as well. She has been shockingly enthusiastic from the start. I admire both of them and hope that eventually I will GET IT.

But today I didn't GET IT. Oh yes a week ago I put some potted herbs that I bought in the supermarket into a grow bag that I also bought for a quid from the same supermarket. It was supper easy, required little effort and a week later is still looking fab, although the parsley is not sure whether it wants to look sickly or healthy yet and does a great impression of both on alternating days.

Yesterday I dragged my poor boyfriend around the pound shop to try and keep my costs down as much as possble. Oh you can find loads of things to make your garden fab and it is true that I went a bit over the top.

I now have sunflowers, various fruit/veg and potatoes that I now need to not kill. I'm getting tired just thinking about how I'm going to ruin that lot but at least they only cost a quid each.

I then subjected my poor suffering man to B&Q. I had a whale of a time in their and totally went over my budget of £25 gift card given to me from the latter successful gardener friend and £20 left over from other birthday monies.

Following the B&Q catalogue project to the tee I grabbed (too many) trailing flowers and uprights (too many) and various types of compost (too much) including a potato sack and a suitably gothic planter and water-holding crystals and what turned out to be another pack of water holding crystals with feed. Bugger! I also purchased a stunning Japanese Acer which I've been after for a while. The leaves are purple what can I say.

Poor Nathan spent the whole time shaking his head, muttering curses under his breath and probably wondering if his love could really stretch this far after all.

Yes there I was tripping about, shivering my ample posterior off, wondering which purple flower I should get and feebly trying to pick up all the wrong types of compost.

It was when it came to pay that I realised I may have taken my mini obsession a little bit too far. It wasn't majorly expensive but it was £30 quid over what I had planned.

Add to this the new shelving we had bought and we were certainly a comical sight to behold each desperately trying to drag our (my) purchases to the car using two broken, wobbly trolleys. Poor old Norman (the Japanese Acer with an impossibly Japanese name) fell off Nathans trolley and almost got crushed by a landslide of shelving.

Once we're home we arrange everything as safe as possible in the garden then set to putting up our very first shelves with Nathan on the drill. Hmm perhaps this should be another blog - "a first-time homeowners inept guide to DIY" perhaps. Lets just say, after Nathan had drilled two holes and jiggered up a third - we both realised that we'd put it on the wrong wall.

Anywho... in the evening we try very badly to do a meal and cinema and end up driving in a circle from Lewisham to Greenwich and almost back which took an HOUR (usually its a 10 min round trip) just to realise that we'd make neither dinner and cinema combined in a suitable time and went to Blockbusters and a fab sushi place in Catford instead. I think it is clear that me and Nathan are well suited in our ability to not quite do anything right first-time. I'm almost proud of it now.

To cut to the chase. At about 5pm I found myself being ganged up by snails, covered in compost, sitting on the grass in a heap of dirt and polystyrene and tears, desperately trying to cut holes into the liner of my first of three basket containers, knowing that there is no way I can SIMPLY push such delicate plants through said holes without causing irreparable damage. I knew this because I had unsuccessfully pushed ivy through holes in the sorry looking planter I had done before.

In the project photo, his basket - that is Alan Titchmarsh's basket is in bloom and looks lovely after he puts it together. Because I chose to not be seduced by already flowering plants, my two baskets and planter look very sad indeed. I think my neighbours may have heard my mutterings and yells and got scared that I was now talking to the hoodie snails (well it is South London) that were circling me.

I'm not feeling the love.

I'm not feeling very optimistic.

I will add photos soon.

p.s I have been reading some fabulous books which will help any aspiring gardener to know exactly what they should be doing and what they have done wrong when they give it a go.

"How To Grow Practically Everything" by the Royal Horticultural Society published by DK books.
"The Thrifty Gardener" by Alys Fowler

Why? How? Where? When?

I can tell you exactly what possessed me to start this blog. I started my first real attempt at gardening today and realised very quickly, that all those gardening books and projects sections of the B&Q catalogue... had lied. BIG TIME!

I've been making little comments on Facebook concerning my little journey up to this point and had been getting some encouraging or like-minded comments in return. I look back with just a hint of a sneer at my excitement of when my new garden, in my first owned home, has started to show its personality. How ecstatic I got when I realised that a previous owner has planted snowdrops and a lovely blue flower whose name I have currently forgotten. The joy and the wonder of the garden whose blah blah blah.

I now look at this garden wondering why the previous owners didn't leave me a manual and explanation as to what and why they had planted what they have. WHY? WHY? WHY? I have no idea what that green thing is in the pot or that lighter green leafy things is in the corner. Are they roses? are they weeds? that's kind of pretty but the leaves look well dodgy. GAH!

This is my little blog for all those keen gardeners like me that thought it may be easy, who watch their friends effortlessly maintain a garden that they've grown themselves, eat their friends home grown produce hearing how EASY* (see it's that word 'easy' again) it is and read books for first time gardeners that make it sound so simple... but when the time comes to proceed with all their built up enthusiasm, they find themselves covered in dirt. They're staring mournfully at a load of living organisms (or almost dead) depending on you to guide them into their full potential. With a finality of realising that - actually - the last few hours have been horrible.

Making you scream "I HATE GARDENING" at the top of your lungs and soon after hearing your neighbours windows shut with a bang to block out the sound of your crazy mumblings.

::cough:: maybe just me.

Or maybe this will just be for my friends to laugh and slap their forehead at my crap ability to do anything decent with not only the garden bits they have bought me but the rest that I got myself in my excitement.

* eas·y
adj. eas·i·er, eas·i·est
1. Capable of being accomplished or acquired with ease; posing no difficulty: an easy victory; an easy problem.
2. Requiring or exhibiting little effort or endeavor; undemanding: took the easy way out of her problems; wasn't satisfied with easy answers.
3. Free from worry, anxiety, trouble, or pain: My mind was easy, knowing that I had done my best.
a. Affording comfort or relief; soothing: soft light that was easy on the eyes.
b. Prosperous; well-off: easy living; easy circumstances.
5. Causing little hardship or distress: an easy penalty; a habit that isn't easy to give up.
6. Socially at ease: an easy, good-natured manner.
a. Relaxed in attitude; easygoing: an easy disposition.
b. Not strict or severe; lenient: an easy teacher; easy standards.
8. Readily exploited, imposed on, or tricked: an easy mark; an easy victim.
a. Not hurried or forced; moderate: an easy pace; an easy walk around the block.
b. Light; gentle: an easy tap on the shoulder.
10. Not steep or abrupt; gradual: an easy climb.
11. Economics
a. Less in demand and therefore readily obtainable: Commodities are easier this quarter.
b. Plentiful and therefore at low interest rates: easy money.
12. Promiscuous; loose.
1. Without haste or agitation: Relax and take it easy for a while.
2. With little effort; easily: success that came too easy.
3. In a restrained or moderate manner: Go easy on the butter.
4. Without much hardship or cost: got off easy with only a small fine.
easy as pie Informal
Capable of being accomplished or done with no difficulty.

As taken from