The Land Rover Owners Wife

Gardening Club: blossom and paint

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The pear tree is in blossom

The pear tree is in blossom

It has taken longer than I anticipated to complete the painting of the Foundation area planters and storage box but all the pieces have now received a coat of wood stain, although I won’t be winning any awards for my decorating skills, if truth be told. Replacement bolts are being dispatched, in place of the rusted ones which came with the small trug and so it won’t be long before we can finally get the items assembled and ready for planting.

The school is currently undergoing some building work and on the last day of term before the Easter holidays, I had been gutted to realise that tonnes of glorious top soil, removed in readiness for the building work, had been trucked away just the day before. When I think of how it would have benefited the beds …..

The Foundation planters are ready for assembly

The Foundation planters are ready for assembly

Tuesday morning this week and I was finishing off the painting on the last couple of pieces of the large planter, when two of the builders working on site approached me.

“Heard you could do with some top soil,” one of them said.

“I thought it had all been trucked away?” I replied.

“Got a bit left,” the other one told me, glancing around the beds, “Not the best quality but better than what you’ve got.”

Bearing in mind that the soil in the raised beds wasn’t the best to start with anyway and even now after 3 years of enrichment it still has a way to go before it could be classed as half decent, the chance of some top soil was a godsend. So I’m hoping that by the time I get back to the garden, the beds will have had a new layer of top soil added to them and, if we’re really lucky, will have improved the overall condition of the soil considerably.

Hundredweight seedlings

‘Hundredweight’ Pumpkin seedlings

My first job on reaching the poly tunnel that morning had been to check on the pumpkin seeds planted by my young gardeners three weeks ago. When I had checked them last week (10 days after sowing) they were only just starting to emerge and so I had watered them copiously and left them to it. By Tuesday morning 11 out of the 12 seeds sown had emerged and were looking pretty healthy.

These plants are part of the County Councils’ county wide school pumpkin growing competition but we’ve added our own twist by incorporating the schools’ house team system, so the house team that grows the largest pumpkin will get 100 house points, 75 for second, 50 for third and 25 for fourth. With the warm weather we’ve been having and to ensure that the pumpkin seedlings continue to grow at a nice steady rate, I transferred them into the two self-watering propagator trays. Of course the temperatures at night are still a bit hit and miss and so they are still in the little greenhouse which itself is in the tunnel, I just haven’t zipped the sides completely shut which will  hopefully be enough to keep the seedlings warm at night but not too hot during the day.

Not to be out done, the plum tree is blossoming too

Not to be out done, the plum tree is blossoming too

It was good to see that the plum and pear trees are blossoming and the apple tree has blossoms forming but not open as yet. Mind you the poor little apple tree has had a traumatic few weeks as it has to be relocated when the poly tunnel was moved. I did think that it would take some digging to move the little apple tree, as it had been in its’ position for some 4 years or so and so I was shocked to discover that I was actually able to pull it out with one hand and its’ root structure was virtually non-existant!This, I suspect, was a direct result of its’ run in with the Honey Fungus last Autumn which I believe can damage the roots of trees and bushes. Initially I thought the little tree was dead but a friend spotted the first signs of tiny buds and suggested that I pop it into one of the schools’ large half-barrel planters to see how it did and to protect it from further Honey Fungus attacks. Long term this isn’t the best solution but for now it seems to be working as the little tree has a good coverage of leaves and the signs of blossom forming.

This time last year, the Gardening Club had sown quite a few seeds but the continued cold weather and late frosts meant that we were no further along come June, when the weather finally began to warm up, than had we waited a few weeks longer to sow them . In fact some of the seedlings didn’t thrive at all and we ended up resowing to compensate for poor germination, damaged and dying seedlings. This year we’ve waited and waited, with only the potatoes planted and pumpkin seeds sown.

Snug and safe in my greenhouse, propagators of school seeds

Snug and safe in my greenhouse, propagators of school seeds

With the continued good weather (relatively speaking of course) and decent temperatures, I was anxious to get some more of the school seeds sown but this is the childrens’ vegetable garden and I don’t like to do jobs I know they would enjoy or should be doing. Of course one of the benefit of being a parent of children at the school, children who just happen to be members of Gardening Club, is that I have been able to get the Mudlets to sow some of the schools’ seeds at home, using propagators and trays belonging to the school. These are now housed in my bubble wrapped greenhouse until school opens next week, at which point they will move to the tunnel.

So for those of you who like to know these things, on behalf of Gardening Club the Mudlets have sown:

  • ‘Chocolate Cherry’, ‘Stupice’ and ‘Amateur’ Tomatoes;
  • ‘Golden Sweet’ and ‘Bijou’ Mangetout;
  • Lettuce ‘Little Gem’;
  • Cauliflower ‘Magic Mix’;
  • ‘Green heading’ Calabrese and Broccoli;
  • Kohl Rabi ‘Azur’;
  • ‘Quintal de Alsace’ Winter Cabbage;
  •  ‘Bleu de Solaise’ and ‘Jaune de Poitou’ Leeks;
  • Spinach Beet;
  • ‘Early Fortune’ Cucumber;
  • ‘All Green Bush’ and ‘De Nice a Fruit Rond’ Courgettes;
  • Purple Podded Peas (saved seed); and
  • ‘Rattlesnake’ Pole Beans (saved seed).

Once back at school lettuces, carrots, parsnip and beetroot will need to be sown into the beds and the Winter Squash, more beans and more lettuces will be sown in pots or seed trays, so there will still be plenty for the gardening club members to be getting on with. It is a relief to have the first of the seeds sown though.

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