30 April 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Frostbite on the Potatoes and Finally Some Planting Out

Evening everyone,

How's your week been? A mixed one here with a whole spectrum of weather. Plenty going on in the garden but for most of the week still too cold to plant out.

Monday - well  it appears my rain dance did the trick, rained overnight and throughout most of the day. Don't think that much was forecast but not complaining. It was also cold (48F 8C) and only warmed up to 52F 10C by late afternoon when sun came out. I had taken the cloche covers off late yesterday - even though they're perforated the rain wasn't getting through to the seedlings. I was in two minds as there was possible frost overnight during the week but I'm glad I did as they had a good soaking. I de-snailed the greenhouse and checked the sowings - chop suey greens coming along nicely so is the watercress. Once the rain had stopped I cleared the blanket weed from the pond, planted up the raspberry bush and re-potted a blackcurrant sucker that will hopefully grow into another bush. There are a lot of bumble bees around at the moment and they are huge!

Tuesday - sunny, cold and early temperature of 40F 4C yet by 9am it was 60F 15C in the greenhouse.  I sat in the conservatory watching the birds...have you ever seen a pigeon trying to run? It's hilarious from behind! I planted out the cottage garden plants I bought last week, hopefully it's not too cold for them. The sweet peas I planted out a few weeks ago are doing well and surviving the cold snap.

I was going to plant out more this week but I think I'll wait until the weekend along with the peas and beetroot. The samphire is growing slowly and the leaves are a lovely shape

Apart from frost (thankfully) we had all weathers today; sunny and windy early morning, showers midday followed by sun then the sky darkened and we had sleet, hail and thunder and lightning followed by a few minutes of snow. Saw a pigeon on the bird table this evening...aaaarrgghhh!! Back to the drawing board. I watered the tomatoes and courgettes in the greenhouse with liquid feed.

Wednesday - another cold and sunny start 40F 4C then a day of sunshine and heavy showers. In between them I fed the birds, checked the garden and adapted the bird table yet again - I'll see if it works first before I take a pic. Four pigeons were sat on the fence watching me with interest. There was a robin in the gravel garden near the patio today so I'm trying to think how I can leave food there without the pigeons eating it. I sowed aquilegia seeds viridiflora (chocolate soldier), potted up more marigolds to grow with the tomato plants to deter aphids, and hung a fly trap in the greenhouse.

Thursday -  even colder this morning 38F 3C and a frost. And I didn't cover anything, fingers crossed I haven't lost any plants. It grew very windy today and the temperature only rose to 51F 10C.

Friday - cold 43F 6C cloudy and windy and stayed cold all day. Although we had a short shower just after lunch I had to water the garden this evening as the wind has dried the soil and the pots. I secured the sweet peas that the wind had blown over. It appears that everything survived the frost except a couple of the potato plants. I've removed the damaged leaves and hopefully they will survive. This evening I covered all the potato bags just in case we have another frost. Still no sign of the fish, the frogs or any tadpoles.

Saturday - 38F 3C again this morning and sunny, the wind has dropped and thankfully no frost. I checked the damaged potato plants and there are already new leaves forming...phew! I put weedkiller on the front drive again - the weeds are proving persistent - then I topped up the bird feeders. It appears my adaptation on the bird table has worked - there is still food on there! Hah...take that pigeons and magpies!

Plenty to do over this weekend. I planted up the cucumbers, gherkins, chillies and peppers in the greenhouse, potted up the basil seedlings and the outdoor gherkins:

I planted out some of the sturdier and hardened off sweet pea plants, topped up the pentland javelin potatoes and moved the echinacea into the cottage garden. I protected the newly planted sweet peas and the seedlings from the greenhouse which I was leaving out overnight.

Sunday - sunny, cold 43F 6C. The wind picked up around lunchtime then died down again mid afternoon. A busy day today: planted out the pot grown peas (they were planted after the seeds sown direct into the ground and are much bigger), some of the larger celeriac, rainbow beetroot, the remaining sweet peas, kale, radishes and pak choi (think I've over sown on these two!), zinnias and tree spinach. I re-potted the chop suey greens, sowed more peas and spring onions, cut back the hellebores then tied back the daffodils as the stems were draping over the cottage garden and smothering the newly growing plants

After all that I needed a long soak in a hot bath! Not many birds around today, plenty of bees this morning and then early afternoon there were a lot of butterflies. Oh, forgot to mention...the runner beans still haven't started growing yet.

Saxifraga that was hidden by the bluebells,
A primula that has flowered this week
Maris peer potatoes

Garlic,courgettes and pak choi

Azalea, cherry tree and the veg beds

This sweet pea grows every year, not only that it's on a north facing wall so doesn't get any direct sunlight. See... nature will always find a way
Well, apart from some much needed rain tomorrow and an unwanted cold, maybe frosty, night on Tuesday the week ahead is looking good for gardening with the temperature steadily rising...yesss! I hope the weather is as promising where you are, have a good week and catch up next weekend.
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