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We bid adieu to Wednesday Gardening Group June 03 2015

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

I think there’s such a thing as the ultimate weather for gardening and today I think we found it. It’s been raining the past few days so the ground was lovely and soft, the sun was shining and a soft breeze was blowing, a contrast to the gales of the last few days.

It was the last session of Wednesday gardening club today, next week we’ll round off with a shared lunch together then that’s it! It’s been such a lovely thing to get involved with. A fantastic group of people and a great opportunity to get out in the garden for a few hours each week and learn about what needs doing.

Here we are going for a wander round the garden before we got stuck in to our tasks:

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

This afternoon we split into two groups to focus on two key areas of the garden. The landscaped beds near the garden room and the vegetable patch.

You’ll remember that we removed the Phormium a few weeks ago (the week so aptly described by Kate as snailageddon) leaving a huge space which today was planted up with some beautiful things.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.           Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

The theme was pink and purple, this south facing bed gets a lot of sunlight so will look amazing.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Many of the shrubs we planted (*below) can be cut back in spring and will produce really good purple leaves, here’s a list of them:

A few perennials were added too:

And finally some annuals to fill the gaps in between:

It’s going to be a showstopper.

Meanwhile at the other end of the garden we were working hard to get the vegetable patch looking tip top.

Much of the red mustard and some of the brassicas had gone to flower so we cut off the tops of those and tidied them up then staked up the broad beans that had taken a battering from the wind.

Red mustard. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.           Broad beans after being staked and tied. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Staking the broad beans. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We planted out a crimson variety of broad beans which you can see Kate holding in their former pot

below and some beautiful tree spinach which looked as though it had been sprayed with colour. And finally a couple of the pumpkins went into the bed too.

Crimson variety of broad beans. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

PLanting the tree spinach. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Crimson variety of broad beans. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Tree spinach. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Green and purple are such a match made in heaven.

We also did a lot of weeding of the vegetable bed which was extremely relaxing (ie. my favourite kind of gardening). It was as though I’d been on a mindfulness course and I felt very zen by the end of it. The ground was so soft that the weeds came out easily by the entire roots and we managed to cover loads of ground.

Vegetable patch. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

A wonderful day’s achievements made the perfect end to our course. 

 

 

Read more from the Wednesday Gardening Group and you can see all the pictures we've taken over the past few months in an album by The Garden House on facebook.

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Perfect weather for a spot of gardening May 27 2015

The sun shone for us this afternoon and it was perfect weather for a spot of gardening.

Papaver Orientalis. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

The stars of the show today were these gorgeous poppies that have just appeared in the last few days. They’re huge, they’re called Papaver Orientalis and the colour is amazing.

Papaver Orientalis. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

So today in Gardening Group, we had lots of jobs to do.

Worm tea. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We gave the fruit plants some fertiliser in the form of worm tea. This was given to us by Amy whose worm farm is doing fantastically and last year produced loads and loads of worm juice. She also gave s the worms that live in our wormery. We diluted 1 part very stinky worm tea in 10 parts water and used it to water the fruits, including the blueberries &  gooseberries which are really coming along now.  

Blueberries. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Gooseberries. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. 

Inspired by our National Gardens Scheme visit to Tredcroft road a few weeks ago, we planted some very pretty viola and strawberries against the outside of the raised beds. A couple of tiny strawberries had already made an early appearance.

Viola and alpine strawberries. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Alpine strawberries. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Viola. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Alpine Strawberries. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We also planted Thunbergia “African Sunset” and Rhodochiton “Purple Bells” in the really tall pots, supported by some branches with twigs known as pea sticks. We had to handle the plants very carefully as they’d already grown quite long, and used pea rings to tie them to the pea sticks. The close up below is of the Rhodochiton.

Rhodochiton and pea sticks. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Rhodochiton. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Some of the team started work on the three sisters bed. Three sisters is a commonly used companion planting method of planting sweetcorn, beans and pumpkins together to allow them to all benefit each other. The beans grow upwards, using the sweetcorn as a support and feeding nitrogen to the soil, then squash is grown in between to shade the ground, preventing weeds and creating a natural mulch for the whole area. And as if all that wasn’t enough…the three crops combined provide a perfectly balanced diet too! Probably.

Three sisters. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Three sisters. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Today the beans weren’t quite ready to plant out yet, so only two of the sisters made it into the ground. The beans shouldn’t be too far behind.

Now here’s an interesting fact…my grandfather, Gordon Haskell, was the first person to trial large scale sweetcorn cultivation in the UK. He was a horticultural scientist for John Innes and here is a picture of him posing next to his crop at Merton, South London.

Grandpa Gordon and the Sweetcorn. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Ro and Kate planted up some pretty pots and hanging baskets with bright pink petunias as well as some tins with hyssop, a medieval herb and also potted on some thai basil.

Petunias. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Petunias. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Hyssop in olive tins. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

And just to finish, here’s a lovely shot of Deborah herding the chickens, using some lettuce and cucumber to tempt them back into their house. Talking of chickens, it’s just a few days now until the chicks are due to hatch! Keep your fingers crossed that all has gone well and I promise to keep you posted.

Herding the chickens. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.


Nothing short of miracles May 20 2015

Begonias from leaf cuttings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

To start Gardening group off today, Bridge showed us what can only be described as a horticultural miracle… a selection of begonias which had been propagated from leaf cuttings. They had been created from literally cutting a bit of leaf and planting it in some soil. In some cases you could even see the original leaf cutting…

Begonia from leaf cuttings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

The technique is called leaf slashing and involves taking the section of leaf, using a razor blade to slash the veins on the back of the leaf and laying it on some soil. From each cut vein, new roots will emerge and a new plant will grow! We didn’t do this in Wednesday Gardening Group today but I hope we will at some point in the future.  

This is my favourite, it looks like a dinosaur.  

Begonia from leaf cuttings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Today we talked about mealy bug. Now that the danger of a frost has passed (15th May was the big day), it was time to move the echeverias from the conservatory out into the garden. Bridge told us a bit about the difference between Sempervivum and Echeveria…

Sempervivum (meaning “always living”) are hardy so can survive outdoors in the winter although they don’t much like the wet. So they need to be covered over the winter, perhaps in a cold frame.

Sempervivum. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

This one is called “Blue Boy”. What a stunning colour.

Sempervivum "Blue Boy". Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Echeveria are not tolerant to frost so can’t stay out in the winter. They enjoy a cold conservatory or porch as they need a lot of light.

Echeveria. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

These plants can fall victim to mealybug in a hot conservatory if there isn’t enough ventilation so our job for today was to move the echeveria outside. Mealybug is a common greenhouse pest as it thrives in warm, poorly ventilated conditions. We made a sort of plant A&E for all the mealybug-ridden plants which need a bit of TLC.

It’s gross looking, like a clump of talcum powder but don’t despair, there are ways to get rid of it.   

Mealybug. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Mealybug. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Ways to rid your plants of mealybug:

  • Ventilation is key. Open greenhouse windows and doors whenever possible.
  • Brush mealybug off the plants with a small brush
  • Remove any dead parts of the plant to improve ventilation
  • Leave the plants outside for a few weeks
  • Don’t over water or let the plants dry out.
  • You can dab an insecticide on the mealybug infestation or ask the internet about alternative remedies such as washing up liquid, alcohol, etc
  • In extreme cases you can order in some Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, they are a type of ladybird who rather enjoy mealybug for tea.

So we made a start on moving the echeveria outside for their summer residence and moving the sempervivum to a new location. While we were doing it we took some of the baby plants that had grown and potted them on/ made some pretty displays.  

Echeveria propagation. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We used this awesome new gardening tool, which is a brush to dust the soil off the succulents!

Succulent brush. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

There is such a diversity of these plants, and different ways of propagating them. Some of them can have the stalks chopped into little sections, and as long as there are some nodes they will grow into new plants. They need to be put on a heated propagator though. I’ll keep you updated on these.

Sempervivum propagation. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Sempervivum propagation. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

My favourite of all of them is the gorgeous Aeonium “Kiwi” (below). When we repotted it and split it into two, Bridge said I could have one half for my room so I was overjoyed. I’ve potted it up and am leaving it outside for 2 weeks now to settle into the pot before I bring it indoors. This will also make sure there are no pests by the time I bring it in, just in case there were some hiding.

Aeonium "Kiwi". Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Also at Gardening Group today we planted some Geranium phaeum ‘Album’ in a shady part of one of the beds.  

Geraniums. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Geraniums. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

And finally, we planted up tomatoes in these really cool special tomato pots. They go into the ground and include holes for canes to build a wigwam, and a little reservoir for water. It’s important to water tomatoes regularly and evenly at the roots, otherwise they can split before you’ve had a chance to eat them (I’ve done this before, it’s a bit annoying). So the reservoir helps you monitor how much you’re watering the plants. The team set up a frame for the tomatoes to grow up as well and placed this whole contraption in the greenhouse where the warmth will really help the tomatoes out.

Tomato planters. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Tomato planters. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.


Major removal work at The Garden House May 13 2015

Today at gardening club, Kate and I spent most of the afternoon trying to contain hundreds of snails. It was our job to massively cut back the enormous Acanthus, which was taking over a huge section of the garden right next to where the broody chicken is staying. Acanthus leaves are a great shape and were commonly used in Greek architecture on ornaments and friezes. They’re still grown as ornamental plants nowadays and the striking colour makes a great impact in the garden.  The leaves of this one weren’t quite so ornamental as most of them had been munched on and the plant had grown out of control. So we spent the whole of gardening group today chopping it right back (and chatting), leaving only a few small shoots of new growth.

As an added challenge, the plant was harbouring an entire kingdom of snails which were crawling along the leaves and stalks and sliding around underfoot. It was gross but important to remove them otherwise they were going to multiply and eat everything in the garden, they were literally all over this plant.

Because we were both too squeamish to squash any of the snails (especially as the baby ones are v.cute), we put them in some plastic trugs for Bridge to despatch later (she mentioned boiling water and salt but we chose not to dwell on this too much).

We accidentally trod on a few, which was kind of devastating, but most of them went into the buckets where a modern day version of whack-a-mole ensued. The snails would all try to climb out of the trug, and we would knock them back in. As soon as we poked a few back in, some others would have reached the perimeter on the other side so we were kept very busy indeed. It was SOO disgusting though I now know a great new game to keep my little brothers entertained next time they come to visit. I’m toying with slug-in-a-trug or snail-in-a-pail as a name for it. Either works quite well methinks. We both went a bit soppy when we noticed that some of them were carrying the baby snails on their backs (shells) in their bid for freedom. Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind. Ehem. Don't think about it. 

            

Here’s how the plant looked by the end:

So while we were keeping ourselves entertained on the far side of the garden, the rest of the group covered loads of ground…

They dug up a Phormium (Also humungous) involving a lot of hard graft.

 

Look at what they dug up!

            

Then tied in the Clematis Armandii against the wall where the Phormium used to be.

Here’s Aniseed seeing what’s occurring.

They removed a load of Alkanet (weeds in the borage family) and planted some Acidenanthera (a gladioli) from the corms saved from last year.

And then potted on lots of dye plants, that is, plants that were traditionally grown to be used for dyeing fabrics. These included woad, weld and madder and perhaps we’ll use them at a later date to try out some natural dyeing. That sounds like my kind of gardening… getting my craft on and not a snail in sight!

 


Notes on pruning May 06 2015

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Today, we all had a go at pruning some shrubs, to be specific, we pruned a Forsythia (you’ll recognise this from the Easter Tree we made last month), a Viburnum and a winter flowering Honeysuckle which is one of the nicest things to have in your garden in the colder months.

Winter flowering honeysuckle. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Pruning is terrifying. There don’t seem to be that many rules around it, as most of it goes on gut feel and aesthetics. But the few rules that do exist really need to be rigidly adhered to. Or else. We’re talking “never-stick-your-head-out-of-a-train-window” level here, because once you’ve made a pruning error there ain’t no bringing it back. The first rule of pruning is #1. Cut cleanly using whichever tool is most suitable for the size of branch (in ascending order of size: secateurs, loppers or a pruning saw). This will protect your shrub/ tree against pests and diseases and leave it looking neat and tidy.

The second rule is #2. Don’t overprune. Jeez, this is a toughie. Experienced gardeners seem to have a knack for this, but it’s frightening because mostly it’s hard to know when to stop. Overpruning can in many cases damage the health of the plant and in the worst of cases, lead to the threat of jail!! A rule of thumb is to prune no more than 1/3 of the foliage. Any more than this can trigger the plant to go into survival mode, creating far more new growth than you would like. It’s often helpful to start cutting back the foliage in the middle to make space for the remaining branches, then you can also cut any branches shooting off sideways at a jaunty angle then any that are crossing over each other too. This will help the plant look nice and give more light to the remaining branches. With every removal you make you should always step back and observe the plant from afar to check how it looks. It’s kind of an art, an art that takes a while to perfect and is very nerve-wracking in the process.

Here’s how the shrub looked at the end:

Winter flowering honeysuckle. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

And the pile of braches we removed!

Winter flowering honeysuckle. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We took cuttings of the honeysuckle for people to take home. This involved pruning a bit of the top of a new branch just below some nodes, chopping off the bottom leaves and cutting the next level of leaves in half, this helps with water retention of the cutting. As demonstrated by Bridge here:

Winter flowering honeysuckle. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Winter flowering honeysuckle. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We propagated some grass (Pennisetum Hameln) by simply slicing sections from a clump of it using a sharp knife, then repotting into some gritty soil. Here are some pics of Bridge showing us how to do it. The roots are quite robust. In some of the sections, we had to cut clumps of the roots just to get them to fit into the pot. Apparently this is fine to do.

Pennisetum Hameln. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Pennisetum Hameln. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.          Pennisetum Hameln. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Alongside this, some of us created little wigwams for some pretty climbers.

Climbers. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.          Climbers. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

And we began the process of stewing some comfrey in water. In about a month’s time this will smell horrendous and make an excellent fertiliser for the garden.

Comfrey. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.          Comfrey. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Also, Bridge kept finding loads of things to show us, including this sea kale, which is edible, and hopefully yum:

Sea Kale. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

And the crazy root nodules on this Celandine:

Celandine roots. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

The potatoes needed earthing up. Here’s Richard getting involved, covering them up with mounds of soil to make sure no light gets through to the potatoes growing underground.

Earthing up Potatoes. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Now that the potatoes are coming up, we’re going to register the Garden House crop for the Brighton Mile of Potatoes which is a really cool initiative to highlight how many of us in Brighton & Hove are growing our own spuds. During the World Wars, the Land Army concentrated on growing different crops in different districts. In Brighton, a mile of potatoes was grown through the town. The Green Centre, an environmental project in East Brighton, are aiming to recreate this level of potato-growing activity by  asking growers to register their spuds to be plotted on their fabulous “Potato Map”. If you live in the city, make sure you register yours too and see if together we can achieve a mile.

Finally, we dug up some “weeds”.  Now, if me and Bridge ever fall out, I’m fairly certain it will be about our opposing definitions of what is and isn’t a weed. Today, the bluebells were up for debate. Yep, those gorgeous violet blooms, that flood our woodlands with a carpet of blue and give us the hint that summer is close. Not to mention that they make an excellent choice of head-wear for fairies. Swoon. Sob. I visited Ashdown Forest with some friends at the weekend and walked through some beautiful bluebell woods to Pooh Bridge where we sat and had a picnic. If you have a chance to drive up there this weekend I can’t recommend the trip highly enough. There’s a little shop on Hartfield High Street named Pooh Corner where you can buy what looks like every piece of Winne the Pooh merchandise ever made as well as enjoying a wonderful cream tea (amazing scones).  Anyway some of the bluebells at The Garden House were in the wrong place and besides, there are hundreds of them so I (only slightly) begrudgingly helped dig them up and we separated the constituent parts out for disposal as follows: Bulbs = Garden waste, leaves = compost, flowers = for displaying.

Bl;uebells. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

I got to keep the flowers which are now in a vase in my room, so everything turned out okay in the end. TTFN!

Bluebells. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

P.S. A.A.Milne famously said “Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”. Just saying.


Lara Messer at The Garden House April 29 2015

This week we had a very special visitor to Wednesday Gardening Group. Food photographer and stylist Lara Messer  - who I am so delighted to call my penpal and now true friend, came to visit Brighton all the way from Glasgow.

We had a lovely week hanging out in Brighton, showing Lara all the best cafes, bars and vintage shops and as well as helping out at the Garden House open day on Sunday, she came along to Wednesday Gardening Group too.

Here is Lara to tell you all about what we got up to...  

It's been such a pleasure to come to beautiful Brighton this week, (albeit a little colder than I expected!)  Having the joy of attending The Garden House open day was wonderful.  We welcomed 100's of garden enthusiasts, shared our passion for flowers and enjoyed delicious cakes.  As a photographer, I often have to seek beauty in different areas. Although, at the Garden House, beauty is in abundance and in every corner.  I feel truly privileged to have been involved in such an inspiring day. 

This week at the Gardening Club, we snuggled under the pergola and talked about our tasks for the day. Learning from Bridge is like learning from a gardening guru - she will have all the answers to your plant-problems and explain them in the most relatable way, leaving you armed with knowledge and a furthered love for gardening.  From my two hours, I've picked up tips for pricking out herbs, planting dahlias and experiencing the precious rose hip.  

For the herbs, we planted up coriander, dill and savory (smells like thyme).  An extraordinary discovery for me was that our dill had pink leaves which, even though it's pretty to look at, actually means the plant was lacking in nitrogen.  I love the science behind gardening.

Planting the rose hips was incredibly interesting. The gardening group began this process back in September.   Today we took the little seedlings and planted them in tiny pots.  My miniature loving heart was very happy with this task! 

We potted up the knobbly gnarly dahlias too.  Starting with a layer of compost, followed by the dahlia, more compost and topped with horticultural grit.  Horticultural grit is a lesson I will take home with me to my Glasgow garden.  It helps with keeping the slugs/snails away (however cute they may be) and locks in the moisture. 

We finished off the day with Bridge giving us all some gardening gifts.  Tulips, bluebells and any other seedlings that she had excess of.  We brought back a beautiful bunch of bluebells for Claire and Harry's flat.  Is there anything more delightful than garden gifts? 

 

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National Garden Weeding April 22 2015

Weeds. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

This Sunday The Garden House are holding an open day as part of the National Gardens Scheme charity. The garden will be open for visitors to nose around and a selection of plants will be on sale as well as plenty of tea and cake.

Weeds. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

So today we did some weeding. I always find this a bit weird as I think loads of weeds are really pretty and object to digging them up. Anyway Bridge made us identify a range of weeds then we had to go and actually remove them from the beds so I thought it would be fun to make you guess them like we had to (and see if those of us from gardening group can still remember what they were). See which you can identify from these pictures that Bridge gave me. Answers at the bottom and you can leave a comment telling me how many you got right.

1. 

2. 

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Whilst we were weeding, this little dude came and helped/got in the way by eating some of the dandelions. He's fresh out of hibernation. Kate told everyone that you could deep fry dandelions  I’m not sure if they believed her (NB. You can and I am living proof that they are edible).

Tortoise. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

Apart from that we pruned the olive tree using a pruning saw which meant taking loads of branches out of the middle leaving it still looking quite full. Whilst doing this I realised that there is a sundial in the garden! It's sort of obvious. 

Olive Tree. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow          Olive tree. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

Scott and Katie got involved in some topiary:

Topiary. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow          Topiary. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

And we pricked out some Californian poppies, Eschscholzia White Linen. These need a bit more delicate handling than usual as they have a taproot (as opposed to a fibrous root). A tap root is the kind of root you get on a dandelion or a carrot, one long root rather than lots of little bits of root. As that’s all it’s got you have to be a bit more careful when transferring these roots than you would be with a fibrous rooted plant.

Poppy White Linen. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow          Poppy White Linen. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

Oh, and remember that Hypertuva planter we made a few weeks ago? Here it is in action! It’s now a water feature!

Hypertuva. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

And apparently this is a weed too. It’s Celandine and it’s incredibly pretty. When I get a garden of my own I’m not sure there’ll be room for much else after all the pretty weeds I'm going to leave in.

Celandine. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

See below for the quiz answers and here is a sneak peek of what you'll be able to see at the open day on Sunday, hope to see lots of you there...

Tulips. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow

Answers:

  1. Hairy bitter cress
  2. Speedwell
  3. Aegopodium podagraria (Ground elder)
  4. Alkanet (part of the borage family)
  5. Dandelion (easy)
  6. Galium aparine (Sticky willy)
  7. Groundsel

 

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Springtime flowers at Wednesday Gardening Group April 15 2015

Back to Wednesday Gardening Group this week after an Easter break and the garden looks absolutely stunning. Daffodils, hellebores and most stunningly tulips, are filling the garden with colour. We planted the tulips months ago and they have made an early appearance, slightly in advance of the National Garden Scheme Open Day taking place next Sunday. I’ll share some pictures with you over the next few days.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Tulips.

Today’s jobs were to plant out the sweet peas, add some new things to the tulip and wallflower bed and pricking out some seedlings.

Bridge started off by talking to us a bit about corms. She showed us some beautiful gladioli corms of Gladiolus primulinus Comet (which I forgot to take a photo of) and then some larger ones (Plum Tart) with tiny cormlets growing on them. Too cute. These Plum Tart are from last year and the tiny cormlets can be taken off and planted separately, though they will take a few years to develop enough to come up.  

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Gladioli Plum Tart Corms.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Gladioli plum tart corms.           Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Gladioli Plum Tart cormlets.

These gladioli corms were planted into the tulip and wallflower bed to maintain some colour later in the year, and we also planted some giant red mustard, whose dark purple leaves will make a stunning impact again the orange and plum.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Tulips.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Giant red mustard in the tulip bed.

There were some Chrysanthemum rainbow mix, calendula and Agrostemma githago (White Corncockle) to prick out and we were careful to pay attention to the three golden rules of pricking out:

  1. Always transplant the seedlings by the leaves
  2. Always put them into the soil right up to the bottom leaves
  3. Always write labels for them

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Chrysanthemum rainbow mix.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Chrysanthemum rainbow mix.           Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Chrysanthemum rainbow mix.

A few weeks ago, the gardening group dug trenches for the sweet peas and filled them with newspaper and compost to provide good drainage and nutrition, and this week it was time for the plants to go in.

Sweet pea Henry Eckford. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

These are the sweet pea Henry Eckford that we sowed a long time ago and they have been steadily growing in the greenhouse, and outdoors since it’s been warmer. Sweet peas are hardy which means that you can sow them in autumn ready for the following year and they won’t be wiped out by a frost.

Sweet pea Henry Eckford. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Sweet pea Henry Eckford. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.           Pea rings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We dug holes, filled them with water (this helps the plants develop deeper roots as they seek the moisture deep in the ground), popped the plants in and attached them with pea rings to their supports, then covered them with grit. The purpose of the grit is threefold: it keeps weeds and slugs off and keeps moisture in.

Sweet peas are my absolute favourite, though we realised this week that if you tot up the man/woman hours involved in having them in your garden, they’re a pretty demanding things to grow; sowing, potting on, pricking out, creating a structure for them to grow up, filling a trench with newspaper and compost for them to be planted in, actually planting them, then tying them to the structure with pea rings. Not to mention all the watering, picking and seed saving that will come later in the year. That’s a lot of work. But they’re totally worth it. They’re so sweet and unassuming though, it’s impossible to see them as divas.


Potatoes, Weaving and Feeding at The Garden House March 27 2015

It was the last week of term at Wednesday Gardening Group this week, and unfortunately I wasn't there to enjoy it. The first gardening group that I've missed which was a shame, but luckily, my lovely friend Gabriella of Mangia Bene Blog volunteered to give you this week's update and she took some beautiful pictures to go with it! 

Over to Gabriella to tell you what everyone got up to and a picture of hellebores to start us off... 

Hellebores at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

"Today was the last day of term for Wednesday Gardening Group. Sadly, I won’t be able to make the new term after Easter, but I will definitely be checking into the What You Sow blog to keep updated with all The Garden House antics.

There were three main jobs for us to do today – plant potatoes, weave the wooden arches and feed the beds.

Potatoes at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.                Potatoes at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

The potatoes were being planted in a bed, which already had rhubarb, artichokes and lettuces growing in it. We prepared the bed by digging up the winter lettuces that were ready to eat. Then we raked the soil and dug some trenches ready for the potatoes to be planted in. When planting potatoes make sure the eyes of the potato are facing up.

Lettuce at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.                Lettuce at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

Planting potatoes at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

Planting potatoes at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.                Planting potatoes at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

The bed where the alliums were planted in last week needed to be weeded and also fed. This time of year is the perfect time to feed your garden.

Weeding the allium bed at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

The smell coming from the alliums was incredible, almost like wild garlic. We then realised it was an onion smell and of course alliums are from the onion family. Amazing!

Cornus stolonifera flaveriamea at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.              Cornus stolonifera flaveriamea at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

Cornus stolonifera flaveriamea at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

 

Cornus stolonifera flaveriamea at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

We cut the yellow barked dogwood (cornus stolonifera flaveriamea) right back to the ground ready for it to grow again. The beautiful yellowy green twigs were not thrown away, but instead used for weaving in between the wooden arches we’d put up a few weeks ago. The twigs weren’t as pliable as the silver birch, but with a little manipulation they moved through nicely. We cut the ends off to give a neater look and tied some string around them for extra strength. The colour of the twigs looked incredible against the birch. The weaving was not just for looks, it will be were the sweet peas climb up once they’re planted. The area where the sweet peas will be  planted were prepared by putting some moistened newspaper into the soil. I really can’t wait to see how it all looks when it grows!

Planting sweet peas at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.                Planting sweet peas at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

We also used the dogwood twigs to make a really effective and pretty edging to a bed."

Cornus stolonifera flaveriamea at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

Cornus stolonifera flaveriamea at The Garden House. Photo by Mangia Bene Blog.

 

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Apples, alliums and tubers March 18 2015

A big job for today was to prune the apple tree. Lots of people were keen to learn about this and got stuck in, but had to show restraint as they were only allowed to prune one third of it. Overpruning an apple tree can make the tree think it is under attack and go into fight mode, sending out new shoots like crazy so the next pruning session will have to wait until next year. Who remembers the feature on Gardeners World a few years ago when Alys Fowler visited an apple tree that had all sorts of different varieties all grafted onto one tree? That would be so much fun to recreate, but we’ve got a mammoth amount to learn before we can undertake a project like that.  Talking of grafting, I’m going to ask next term if we can learn how to graft a tomato onto a potato. You say Pomato, I say Tomtato. Not sure quite what they are called but I love the idea of mutant gardening.

Garden House Brighton by What You Sow. Pruning the apple tree.

Dahlias are very much a favourite of mine, and indeed a favourite for lots of people who enjoy spending time in the garden. Today, Camilla and I potted some dahlia tubers up, filling half a pot with soil, placing the tubers on top and then covering with soil to the top of the plant pot and covering with a layer of gravel. We potted Dahlia Karma Lagoon and Dahlia Babette, which amazingly sound like some sort of seedy nightclub and its cabaret headliner. I had a look at the dahlia catalogue after class and thoroughly enjoyed discovering that these kitsch sounding names were nothing out of the ordinary. You’ve got Painted Girl, Rip City(!), Rosella and Silver Years as a starter for 10, then newbies to the dahlia scene - Peach Brandy, Stranger and Sweet Love. Whoever is responsible for the naming of Dahlia, I applaud you. Perhaps we will use the dahlia catalogue as inspiration when we name the worms...

Dahlia Tubers at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Potting up dahlias at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We also had to move some alliums from one bed to another. It’s not the ideal time of year to do this as they had already developed leaves, but they needed to be moved so we dug some big holes and carefully placed the alliums into them.

Moving alliums at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.          Moving alliums at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Moving alliums at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Some of us also did some pricking out, this week it was the turn of Cleome ‘Helen Campbell’, Nicotiana langsdorffii and Malva ‘Mont blanc’, all half hardy annuals which have required heat to germinate and which were sown earlier in the year.   

Pricking out seedlings at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.         Pricking out seedlings at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

An update… here is the hanging basket that me and Gabs planted up a few weeks ago, looking very vibrant and spring-like. The crocuses that were filling the garden are nearly over now, but hyacinths have popped up everywhere you look!

Hyacinth basket at the Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

I won’t be here next week for the last of the Wednesday Gardening Group before the Easter holidays but if all goes according to plan, Gabriella will be doing the honours and posting in my absence!

 

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