September round up

Yet again, I haven’t written much over the summer – there is just too much temptation to be outside gardening, not indoors blogging. Despite 2020 being a bid of a mad year for the world, I got my greenhouse installed and my mosaic built so it feels like I have a couple of hefty projects under my belt.  Aside from those hard landscaping projects, here’s a roundup of the winners and losers of the season.  

The greenhouse has been a really enjoyable learning curve.  Next year I will know not to plant a courgette indoors because they get out of control and also go mouldy, and that tomatoes need a proper regime of attention but will still give you some fruit if you aren’t that organised.

The weirdly bushy tomato seedlings, which I didn’t pinch out as an experiment to see what happened, turned into mad bushy monster plants that had far too many stems and I had to thin them out so I could open the door. My loofas were sowed too late to have any flowers, let alone loofas and my cardiospermum climbing vine had one solitary seed case, despite a mass of tiny white flowers. Towards the end of the year the tomatoes went quite mushy and had to be cooked rather than eaten fresh, which is possibly due to overwatering.  Most of all its just been a lovely peaceful place to be and sit in the sun with a cup of tea surrounded by plants. 

The radishes either bolted, or grew golf ball sized and were as hard as wood. But for a brief week or so I had a patch of radishes and lettuces that looked exactly like Mr McGregor’s garden. The echium seeds all germinated beautifully and I will have a forest of them next year if they all live, which could be quite epic based on previous echium adventures

My tetrapanex rex is looking marvellous and I hope it survives whatever a Yorkshire winter can throw at it.  I can’t wait to see how big it gets next year   – it has potential to be a real showstopper.  The photo below shows just how much growth it has put on since I bought it back in May.

The dwarf bronze sunflowers I planted in the front garden turned out to be neither dwarf nor especially bronze, but they catch the sun so nicely I forgive them, and hope to get some goldfinches on the seedheads. It doesn’t seem to be a great year for cosmos.  I sowed as usual and they are big bushy plants but not particular floriferous.  I thought this was because of all the manure I put on earlier in the year but looking at a few gardeners’ forums, many people from all over the country seem to be having the same problem this year.

My delphiniums had a brief glory of flowering before being badly damaged the July gales.  I staked far too late and had a forest of bamboo canes and string holding them up which didn’t look great and wasn’t very effective. Must get in earlier with my staking next year!

Most of the delphiniums are plants that I grew from seed in 2018 and 2019 (see Delphinium Blues). They have nearly all lost lost their labels and I will have to try and match the flowers back to the original seed order from Larkspur Nursery to see what I ended up with. The sweet peas didn’t flower till late but are still going strong and have not succumbed to mildew this year.

The willow supports I was so pleased with last year proved to be a one season wonder and definitely don’t last through to a second, at least not for very heavy plants. The weight of my sedums has snapped the dry twiggy supports and the plants have splayed out from the middle. They may need a metal support next year. 

This weekend I emptied the biggest of my compost bins and gave the area under the apple trees a good mulch. I can see from an earlier post that I last emptied this bin in February 2019, which means it is just over 18 months old, although I could have used it a couple of months earlier if needed.

Since I last emptied the compost I have stopped composting Teapig teabags and eggshells as they don’t break down in this domestic heap. From this latest batch I can see that Tetley teabags do compost but leave a faint skeleton, and that the ‘compostable’ covers from the Saturday Guardian supplement don’t break down well either.  I could still read the writing on some pieces!  I think the Guardian must have realised this also as they have switched to paper envelopes. 

Finally, mistletoe. These don’t seem to be doing anything at all after being sown in February (see Growing mistletoe from seed). They show no outward signs of growth and have faded to a dull khaki green, and I am unsure as to whether they are still alive. They are very much a long term project and this is just its first year, so I will watch and wait.

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