Tuesday 19 April 2011

Pretty Flowers

Garden Girl told me very early on in the year that she wanted some pretty flowers in the garden. She loves growing vegetables but equally loves anything pretty and our garden does lack flowers, so I readily agreed to a visit to the garden centre last week to buy some. We went for a swim first, grabbing a sausage roll for a quick lunch. The intention then was to nip into our local garden centre, choose some flowers and head home to plant them. However when we arrived at the garden centre there was a host of easter activities and we ended up staying for the whole afternoon.

We searched for golden bunnies, decorated plant pots, sowed seeds and had faces painted. We only had to pay a minimal fee for the face paints and half of this went to a charity, but the activities were well equipped and well organised so I was really impressed. However, I was a little bit disappointed when the staff offered a choice of seeds for the children. Garden Girl chose poppies which was fine, but Garden Boy picked up a packet of Mung beans. I asked how we should treat them once they had germinated and they were unable to tell us. As far as I was aware Mung beans are used for sprouting and I have no idea how to grow a Mung Bean plant in compost. I was handed the seed packet which only gave instructions on how to sprout them so I left with no further knowledge. What really disappointed me however, was not that they couldn't tell me what to do with the plant but that they actually said 'Well, it doesn't matter. You probably don't want to actually grow them anyway.'

Hmmm.Seriously? Garden Boy will be sooooooo disappointed if Garden Girl's poppies grow and his mung beans don't even pop up above the compost. And why would you organise a childrens activity that encourages growing things if you don't expect them to go ahead and grow them? That said, all three of our Little Garden Helpers had a fabulous afternoon at the garden centre and I will now be looking out for future activities held there, not least because they make delicious cakes in the cafe and we stayed long enough to require extra sustenance!

And we did remember to buy the flowers we went for in the first place and although we ran out of time to plant them that day I made them a priority the following day. By June there will be some lovely petunia's and impatiens of various colours decorating the border of our apple tree bed and presumably a happy smile on Garden Girl's face whenever she sees them!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

But I Want to Eat Them

Last week Garden Boy spent a morning with me in the garden, working really, really hard. He pulled up a whole bucketful of weeds while he chattered to Garden Lass and the Ladybirds. He was having so much fun and was very proud of his work. When I eventually looked at my watch and saw that it was time to go and collect Garden Girl from school I suggesed he come with me to tip his weeds into the green bin. His face changed. His smile disappeared. 'We not throwing them out,' he pouted.

'If we put them in the green bin they will be taken away and added to a really big compost heap to make compost which we use to help our vegetables grow.'

'NO', we not throwing them out.' At this point he reached his arms around his bucket, hugging it close. 'I want to wash them and then eat them.'

'Oh Honey, they are weeds, not vegetables. We are pulling them up so they don't steal all the water from the vegetables which we will eat when they have grown.'

'Oh.' He had such downcast eyes and I felt so sorry for him. He had been working so hard because he thought he was digging up our dinner. He didn't eat his dinner that evening. I wonder if he was just too disappointed!

Friday 8 April 2011

Birds of Prey

At the weekend Garden Girl and Garden Boy had a brilliant time scattering grass seed over the large bare patch of lawn. For once they did not need to be precise about where they put the seeds. They could just throw handfuls of them wherever they wanted and they loved it.

And then they were able to see their bird scarers erected, to keep the wood pigeons away. They are so proud of their birds of prey. Garden Boy has been telling eveyone how he made it and he looks out of the window regularly, to check that the big fake birds are doing their job. And so far, they are. Only once have we spotted a brave wood pigeon eating our grass seed but all our Little Garden Helpers banged on the window and it seems to have stayed away since.

If you want to make a bird of prey as well, this is how we did it.

1) Rip up an old piece of material into long strips. We used an old shower curtain.

2) Take two coat hangers and tie three pieces of rag onto each one. Our Little Garden Helpers loved doing this as they were learning how to tie knots and it was easier for them with large pieces of material.

3) Use another strip of rag to tie the two coat hangers together, leaving some rag trailing to act as tail feathers.

4) Draw eyes onto an old CD and make a beak shape using a yellow pipe cleaner. This can be attached by winding the ends around the CD.

5) Tie the CD in the middle of your wings to make your birds head.

6) Attach to some sticks and put in the garden. The large flapping wings will hopefully look like a bird of prey to smaller birds who will fly away scared, with the shiny CD acting as an additional warning to the braver birds.

Thursday 7 April 2011

A Satisfying Weekend

We managed to make quite a lot of headway in the garden this weekend. Our Little Garden Helpers were very eager to help out and in particular wanted to please me because it was Mother's Day. I took full advantage and let them help with some weeding and some sowing.

It was very satisfying to finish weeding around the apple trees, where Garden Dad then laid some weed fabric to supress any other weeds that were thinking of popping their heads above the soil. We need browse the garden centre for ideas of what to put over the fabric so for the moment it is weighted down with some large stones. We have left a gap all around the edge of the bed so we can add some pretty flowers. Garden Girl is very excited about choosing some which we will probably do over the Easter break.

Then I weeded around the blueberries where I discovered a strange, fungus type thing growing. At first I thought it must be some strange plant growing in the acid compost we planted the blueberries in, but on closer inspection it turned out to be mould, growing on cat poo. One of the neighbouring cats seems to be using our blueberry bed as a toilet. We have now covered the soil with weed fabric which will hopefully deter the cat as it will no longer be able to bury its little presents, however I am concerned that it will simply relocate to another of the raised beds, digging up our carefully sown seeds. If anyone has any ideas on how to deter the cat let us know.

With lots of weeding accomplished we took a break and had a brew and a piece of Turkish Delight, chosen by our Little Garden Helpers for me for Mother's Day. Then it was time for the fun stuff and we spent the afternoon filling pot with compost and sowing seeds. We sowed,

Painted Lady Runner Beans
Gem Store Squash
Sprinter Squash
All Green Bush Courgette
Dario F1 Courgette
Long Green Bush Marrow
Yellow Sunflowers
Black Magic Sunflowers
Coriander Santos

Garden Girl and Garden Boy also enjoyed moving the onion sets outdoors. These had produced lovely healthy roots and had started to sprout in their tray in the greenhouse so were ready to be moved to the raised bed. The shallots are not showing quite as much growth yet, so I have left them for another week.

We also managed to scatter our grass seed and set up the watering system in the greenhouse which is essentially a piece of fabric which soaks up water from three containers. The pots with seedlings sit on the fabric, soaking up the water and keeping them moist for slightly longer than usual. Garden Dad also built me another table for the greenhouse as I have now run out of room for all or seedlings.

And this week the sun has been shining and I have been able to spend more time clearing weeds. I just hope it has not been too dry for our newly sown carrots, spinach and spring onions.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

I Wish...

... I had a potting shed, so that on wet, rainy days I could still sow seeds and re-pot seedlings. Then I could sit on a chair in the doorway with a hot cup of coffee, looking out at my garden, breathing in the scents and watching the rain drops.

... Or any kind of shed to store our garden tools. That way I would not have to navigate the obstacle course in our garage everytime I want another pot or a tool.

... I had a bigger greenhouse. And maybe a second one - one would be heated, the other not, so I had better control of the temperature for seedlings.

... I had a very flat, luscious lawn so we could play croquet without our balls rolling down a hill or bending away from the hoop at the last moment, (although I am told that is part of the challenge of garden croquet).

... I had better soil. The best soil in fact, that has no large stones or clay in it. Soft, dark brown luscious loam please.

... I had a bigger vegetable patch, a bigger lawn, a bigger patio and additonal space for an orchard, a secret flower garden and hidden nooks and crannies.

... I had a garden that was not overlooked by sycamore trees, casting shade on my veggies and sending down thousands of seeds to make more work.

... I had a multitude of different birds visiting the gardens but with none of them eating our seeds, uprooting our onions or eating our cabbages.

and yet...

... I love our garden!

It is filled with all our hard work and so many happy memories. Everything we have built up in our garden we have done ourselves, with the help of our little garden helpers and despite all the things I wish I had, our garden is amazing.