Thursday, 16 May 2013

Greenfly are swarming

Today the sun is shining. Which is slightly surprising given yesterday's freezing and very very wet weather. So I have taken the opportunity to plant a few Nasturtium seeds in my Alpine Strawberry trough.

It's the one at the end on the right

What else is there? 

Starting from the right, the first metal trough has both Red and White Alpine Strawberries in it.  The four canes at the back will in due course have 4 sunflowers, or something similar, once I get around to finding my seedpacket.  I've put 4 Nasturtium Alaska seeds in at the front and to the right of the trough.

Why sunflowers and nasturtiums?  They are both loved by pollinating insects and by predatory insects who will quite happily eat up the aphids currently beginning to colonise my strawberries.  Mum's got me converted to Bob Flowerdew's ideas on Companion Planting.  I have her copy of his book on the sideboard waiting to be given to a friend.

In the meantime, until the nasturtiums grow up and start flowering, I'll be making up a solution of washing up liquid and spraying it on the plants - this doesn't hurt the strawberries, isn't poisonous to anything (well my Ecover isn't, normal standard washing up liquid contains surfactants that hurt frogs, who are very good predators in themselves).

In the little white & blue dragon and the blue bamboo pots, we have overwintering perpetual spinach. It's not done so well, probably due to me not wrapping the pots to protect from frost, and the plant in the little pot is just about to flower having bolted early.  These are going to be picked soon, and eaten. Then I'm going to plant rocket or similar in the bamboo pot. The dragon pot's a bit close to the ground given the number of neighbourhood cats (who go around spraying liberally), so I'll be putting some sort of flower in it in due course.

Then there's the second metal trough: from the right to left and from back to front we have: 
  • lemon balm (this was hiding in the lavender plants in the blue plastic square pot over the winter, so I transplanted it), you can eat this as part of a salad, or use it to make a tisane (hot infusion like a tea), it's pretty rampant and tall, so it went in the back!
  • chives, these have done very well considering they overwintered.  Just about to flower, I know I shouldn't let it, but I love the flowers
  • next along is a space at the back, I'm thinking of putting 2 or 3 pak choi in there, or maybe a basil
  • at the front is parsley, the common spiky edged sort.
  • also at the front is squeezed in some flowering lobelia (again, pollinating insects love it)
  • next along at the back is some sage which overwintered very well.
  • and in the front we have a very healthy thyme (again overwintered)
  • next along at the back we have a 70p Living Salad from Lidl - they're usually £1 in most supermarkets. The idea is they live on your windowsill and you 'cut and come again', but mum puts hers in the garden, it lives for longer and you get more out of it, especially if you feed it.
  • then finally, at the back what's technically a weed, but I love it and so do the bees, and it gives height, and now my mind's gone blank.  Can't remember what it's called at all. sigh. it has tiny little flowers with yellow centres and white petals. grrrr.
  • and in front, a mint. Still in it's pot so it doesn't spread and take over everything else.
There used to be Coriander, but that is annual and died over the winter, and a Rosemary that was too small and exposed to survive the winter.  But what's there is mostly what I use for cooking and it's really convenient having them right outside the door...

The final pot in that row is the square blue plastic one, with 4 Lavender plants in that I brought from London as babies. They'd self seeded themselves, and are probably some sort of cross-pollination of the parents (these originally came from Downderry Nursery in Kent who are Lavender specialists - not that I've ever been, the parents were tiny plantlets I got at one of the Museum of Garden History in Lambeth's fairs about a decade ago) so I'll be very interested to see what comes out this year!  Again Lavender is great for attracting pollinating insects, and it really does sanitise the air around it.  In London I had 5 or 6 mature lavender plants in the front garden and on a hot stuffy day it really lightened the air as you walked down the street.

That block of wood is driftwood from the beach. I love the shape and the colour, and it stops me kicking the feet out from under the lavender pot by accident, and gives Ivorcat something to push against when he's wriggling on the concrete...

Then on the other side of the front door, we have what was originally a pot full of Narcissus (daffodils) but then some lovely purple & pink lungwort has grown up through it, so after I deadheaded the daffs, I've kept the pot until it goes over.

Then I'll be swapping it for another blue plastic square pot currently living at mum's, that will will have a tomato plant in it. Eventually. I want to find one of those half-dead for 50p ones in the hardware or local supermarket, which I shall revive and which will give me lots n lots of tomatoes until the Autumn.  When that happens, the lavender will be here, and the tomato will be on the other side of the door.

I know, it's a very very tiny garden, but it's about all I can cope with, gives me something pretty to look at, and gives me a lot of pleasure.  I spend a lot of time looking forward to the strawberries!

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