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