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Mr Muck delivers the goods

Mr Muck delivered his compost this morning. All 20 bags of it. Expensive tomatoes these 🙂 I was on a conference call when my mobile rang, I rejected the call but then it rang again so I answered. It was the compost delivery driver. He’s already delivered to our house once but was still lost! 

I found it convenient to take a break from the call and went out to meet him, putting the kettle on as I went through the kitchen. When he turned up I just said hello, keeping a safe distance obvs and left him to it. There is now a pallet of 20 bags of compost near the side gate awaiting movement to the back.

In the meantime I had three plant pots taking up space in the greenhouse but without a plant. As the other tomatoes are already thriving in their new pots I figured it was time to finish the job in the greenhouse and replaced the empty pots with new tomato plant bearing ones. 

The irrigation system seems to be working very well albeit with a couple of leaky joints visible from the pools of water on the greenhouse floor. In fact although the pump is on its minimum setting there is water appearing the trays under the pots suggesting that the plants are getting more than enough. We have had some very sunny days without necessarily  the expected accompanying warmth.  

The irrigation system is self controlling. The more sun the more frequent the watering but if there isn’t the heat inside the greenhouse to evaporate the water then maybe this is causing the puddles to accumulate in the trays. This isn’t a problem and it may just be that the plants themselves just aren’t big enough yet to draw up all the water they are being given. The compost in the pots isn’t overly wet so I don’t think we need to worry.

In other news the first lot of apple blossom, on the cooker, is just about to explode on the scene. A lovely pink job. Also the star garlic plant is now almost at 21cm. I’m thinking of finding some old CDs or simlar to act as bird scarers on the raised beds. Not sure we have any but will root around in the cupboards this weekend.

BBQ tonight…

apple blossom emerging

bamboo

red tulips

raised beds

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Happy bird day

This morning the birds are extremely happy. It is a warm sunny day in spring. What’s not to like? The world is at its best. This enforced time at home has come at the best time of year for me. We are fortunate enough to have a nice garden and my daytime vigil in the shed with the doors open is a comfortable one. The shed is my control centre from which I manage the Davies empire.

At 11am the temperature inside the greenhouse is 21.88℃ and outside it is 15.88℃. Beautiful.

Just dropped off half my spare jalapenos, peppers and tomatoes on Trouty’s doorstep. Shannon is sending her manservant Michael to pick theirs up at the end of the week, which is tomorrow or the weekend I guess. The main external potting out of the rest of my stuff will happen at the weekend now. 

The lawn needs a cut. Had Green Thumb around last week for the “spring treatment”. This included weedkiller and feed, in separate doses and put down some grass seed in the odd bare patch. Chatted for a while at a distance with the gardener. It is a good company and I don’t begrudge the money we pay them.

Today I am also moving surplus “stuff” to the potting shed. This includes small pots no longer required for this season, leftover irrigation tubing that may or may not be used later. I tend to irrigate the plants on the trays on the floor using the automated system and to the rest, on the shelf, by hand. I also like to stand at the door and water the whole lot using the hosepipe so the fewer bits left in the greenhouse that are not directly involved in the growing process the better.

Our cooking apple tree is preparing to blossom. The eaters are a little further behind and the plum blossom already came and went. The raised bed sits in between one of the eating apple trees and the cooker. This is non optimal as the trees will eventually shade the raised bed but it was the only obvious place to put it. We don’t want to go using up any more lawn. 

When we first moved into this house, 23 years ago, the garden was ⅓ lawn, ⅓ vegetable plot and ⅓ flowers for cutting. This did not suit us. We needed a cricket and football pitch so the whole lot was laid to lawn. It is a biggish garden so we still have a smaller veg plot that is largely given over to raspberries and some strawbs and of course my raised bed. Not sure whether to call it a raised bed or beds. We only have the one but beds sounds more right than bed. It isn’t important.

Just counted 65 onions growing in various places – raised beds, flower beds and the patch next to the raised bed (which will need weeding shortly).

This afternoon Anne cut the grass. Looks much better now. Lawnmower always takes a bit of starting. The easiest thing to do is prime it and try and start it the first time, walk away for 5 mins and then try again. Usually a couple of tugs on the starter and it fires up.

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Dawn chorus 5am

This morning the dawn chorus was at 5am. I know this because I must have been just dozing and was woken by the birds in our front garden. The milkman then arrived at 5.04am and a doze or two later I awoke to the sounds of traffic on the road outside at 5.40am. I then dropped in and out of sleep until 6.30ish which is our normal time for one of us to get up and make the tea. As I thought  I’d done it yesterday I just lay there waiting for it to appear. At 7.10 I was informed that it was actually my turn so I duly went downstairs and obliged.

My habit after breakfast is to nip out and film the progress in the raised beds and the greenhouse plus I am watching the plum tree. The plum was a Christmas present for Anne from son Tom a few years ago. Last year it yielded one plum which dropped off before attaining its majority. This year is looking more promising. The vids go out most days piecemeal on Facebook. I should discipline myself to wait until the end of the day and do one properly edited video. I might do that when I get my Macbook Pro back from the menders.

Mr Muck just called me re the compost delivery I was expecting tomorrow. He couldn’t find my address as I paid for the shipment with a card with the name Huw Davies on it and he couldn’t find an address for Huw. He has me down as Trefor Davies for the delivery. My name is Huw Trefor Davies. We got there in the end and the delivery is now coming on Friday. The beer, which is just as important/probably more important, comes today. I will start consuming it tomorrow.

At this time of enforced isolation I’m trying to avoid opening beers at least for the early part of the week. I don’t mind doing so at the weekend which, to all intents and purposes, starts on Thursday. Lockdowns need to be made bearable innit 🙂 Thursdays are now typically a virtual night out with some pals who randomly say they are available via Facebook. 

I have 48 cans of Beavertown Neck Oil coming. This might seem excessive but it must be remembered that our 4 adult kids are holed up with us at this time of crisis and at least two of them assist with the drinking of it. I don’t want to guess how long the 48 will last but hopefully for a decent while and we have to remember they are only smallish cans.

Got the irrigation system set up and working – real result. Also now back on track with the online streaming vid and have automated the process of taking a daily screengrab. Thanks to Wayne for the help there. Didn’t get around to putting the real time temperature readings online yet but will get there.

The raised beds continue to thrive though with evidence of avian disturbance in the soil. Hasn’t really affected the plants yet. Lettuce is going to need thinning out sooner rather than later and the plants under the jam jars are definitely coming along ahead of those outside. The garlic seems to be growing at 1cm a day. At least my star performer is.

Finally my Macbook Pro arrived back a day ahead of schedule and the beer tuned up at around 5.30pm yay. I’m being a good boy today though 🙂

garlic
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More plant pots

Sue Agius tipped me the wink yesterday that Tesco on Canwick Road had 35cm planters for £2 each. What’s more there was no queue and hardly anyone in the shop. Armed with a supplementary list of food requirements I hot footed down in the car (so to speak) and bought 20 of them and managed to get everything on the list including a couple of extras: tomato puree, which has been like rocking horse $%&” and chocolate flavoured Angel Delight. The latter is a serious indulgence only to be consumed in times of emergency. It’s perhaps 25 years since I last had some but it was a staple when I was a kid. 

I also bought a couple of reduced price avocados for 18 pence each to make guacamole. The ones we had at home, bought over the weekend from Fresh From The Fields in The Bailgate are still far from being usable. Tesco’s reduced avocados were at the perfect ripeness.

Overnight I wrapped a fleece around the plum tree. Someone on Facebook had observed that temperatures would drop to zero in the wee small hours. This morning I unwrapped it again and it looks as though we will be fine over the next few days with  or 5 degrees being the min temp.

Started repotting the jalapenos. I have some to give away and Trouty has already bagsed some –  I can let him have toms, chillies and peppers. Also have some for Shannon who is about to have a baby and therefore not had time to prep her veg garden. Finished off by potting more peppers and put 12 toms in big pots. 

I have plenty of plants left to stick in pots near the kitchen. Just waiting on the horse manure delivery on Thursday. Overall not a bad day’s work although in reality it all only took 20 minutes or so. I am fortunate in that I work from home and can just pop into the greenhouse every now and again and do bits.

plant pots
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Big drop in temperature, more compost ordered and the online queue for plastic plant pots

Today I  got up earlyish and got dressed as normal: shorts and t shirt. However a fleece was required to venture outside and I even had to steel myself before heading to the greenhouse where it was 11 degrees Centigrade inside compared with 35 yesterday. Looking at the tomato plants I think one or two have even suffered due to that excess heat.

I need to move some of the tomato plants into bigger pots for onward growth. I prepared the pots yesterday by filling them with Mr Muck’s horse manure compost and put them in place on trays on the floor. Also got the solar powered irrigation system working after a winter of disuse and storage inside the greenhouse. Took a while to get the pump moving properly again. I think next winter I will move the system into the shed where it won’t get so cold.

We are down to the last two bags of compost but will need more than that so later I’ll be ordering another delivery. Mr Muck’s min order for delivery is 15 bags but we will use it all even if some gets held over until next year. I suspect we are not going to have enough big pots so might well order some of those as well. Update – everywhere sold out online and more than an hour’s wait on B&Q’s website for click and collect! May have to make do with what we have.

Managed to call Mr Muck in the end. His website was reporting “504 not available”. He now charges £100 or so for ten bags delivered or £139 for 20 so ordered the latter. It’s seriously good stuff. Says delivery costs have gone up but I suspect there’s also an element of supply and demand. No cheap plastic 30cm plant pots available on Amazon. I’m down to 45 minutes of waiting left on diy.com but if they don’t have any at the right price I have a plan B which is buckets. Plenty of buckets available online! Wait gone back up to 50mins! People are obviously dawdling on the website.

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What’s it all about?

The primary activity for this site is simply to broadcast a live stream of my greenhouse. This is a modern day horticultural version of an Andy Warhol video of the Empire State Building. His wasn’t as long as mine though. The plan is for visitors to be able to watch the plants in the greenhouse, principally tomatoes, grow, in real time. This is all about the art of growing.

Come back regularly for more information and announcements relating to the greenhouse.