Happy New Year

Still time to wish everyone a “Happy New Year”.

I like to think in some ways that this is the start of a new season. Let me explain why. I have several hundred rooted cuttings, sitthing in their very small containers, just waitng to be potted up, and now is the time. Why ? Winter still has a strong hold on us (flodds and high winds as I write this) BUT !! the shortest day has been and gone. The days are getting longer (just what plants love) The only thing missing, is heat (or even warmth). This I am able to provide, in the form of an electric fan heater, and paraffin heaters and even a small wood burner (more of that later).

 

So, things are looking good.

 

Fuchsia Nursery Visit.

I was fortunate enough to visit Little Brooks Nursery on the 1st Jan. Owner Carol Gubler was rushed off her feet, serving teas and coffees to new year customers. I can’t resist buying new culitvars, plus a few on the “wish list”. Ones to try this year, include Lillian Annetts, Waveny Gem, Alfonso, Mrs Wilkes, plus a few more that slip my mind. I’m sure they will get a mention, as the year progresses.

 

Plant Updates.

So far, while the winter has been wet and windy, there has been no impact on plants in the greenhouse. Many are showing signs of buds, and new growth, just waiting for longer daylight, to start coming back into strong growth. Lots more in the coming weeks.

April 25th

Weather

WOW !! has spring finally arrived ?  Maybe….  It’s been warm to hot in the polytunnel.  Hottest day of the year today.  However, care is still needed.  Overnight temps for the weekend are close to freezing ….  Get those fleeces ready, and trim those wicks …….

Fuchsias – In the garden borders.

At last, more signs of spring.  Just a curserry glance at the hardy plants and there they were…  shoots !!!!  Oh yes……  See the picture below.  Cultivars spotted so far (and I have not scraped any covering off)  In no particular order.  Celia Smedley, Herald, Genii, Reading Show, Nicola Jane, Army Nurse, Bernisser Hardy.

Wildlife

Yet another sign of spring, I have bought a few plugs of Trailing Lobelia, watered in OK, and who comes along ?  Mr Toad.  Don’t you just love them ?  Of course.  But not in my plants please.  A gentle move needed here.  He’s (or she) is happily living in the greenhouse.

 

April 17th

Weather

Spring has sprung as they say.  It has gone very quickly from “protect from frost at night” to “shade from the scorching sun” during the day.  At least that applies to my propergators.  They are just about full still, but will be tailing off soon, as time to form a good plant from a cutting is starting to run out.

Fuchsias

A very busy few days.  I have spent some considerable time, tending to frost damaged plants from  a few weeks ago.  It’s surprising how long it takes fro a plant to show the true extent of the frost damage.  Having said that, it was pleasing to see that all was not lost.  My 3 whips certainly suffered badly, but the plants themselves are still alive.  They might make a small piller.  Other bush plants suffered better, just  case of cutting out the growing tips, and they are growing strongly again.

In the polytunnel, I have removed the extra “tunnel” I built, as the risk of frost recedes.  I have also cleared out more growing space on the staging, and started to use space under the staging too.  Plants are coming along nicely. I bought some trailing Lobelia plugs last week, and they are growing very well, now that it’s getting warmer.  Another week or so, and it will be tie to start potting up a few baskets.

 Tomatoes.

They are coming on too, although a bit slower than I would have liked.  I planted a 2nd batch last week, and they have started to sprout already.  Time to buy the grow bags next week I think.

April 8th

Weather

What a difference a few days makes.  The weather is finally improving.  I choose my words carefully.  The day time temeratures have improved, even if the wind continues from the East.  In the shelter of the greenhouse and polytunnel, it has been pleasant, but still cold at night.  Up to the past couple of days, it has been HOT in the polytunnel during the day, but still sub zero for a few hours every night.

Fuchsias.

A very busy week, plants are growing well, now the warmer weather has settled. But I’m afraid I have suffered a small disaster.  Saturday night, I forgot to close one of the greenhouse windows, and to make matters worse, I forgot to turn up the fan heater.  The result ?  Jack Frost called, and did some damage, not least to the standard whips I have been growing.  Sadly they had their growing tips badly burned, and they will not become the standards I had hoped.  In fact they wont be a standard full stop.  Pictures of the damage can be sen  here   I’m hoping that I can recover something from them, but I will have to wait a week or so, to see the full extent of the damage.
We are at that time of the year, when it can be quite hot during the day, but very cold overnight.  It only takes one slip up, and the penalties quite severe.

March 25th

Weather

If you live in the UK, there is little to say, other than we have had snow for the past few days.  In fact I’ve been sledging with my granddaughter this morning, and made a snowman this afternoon !!

I have 2 small oil heaters, which are now installed in the polytunnel, on low, 24hrs a day at present.  Forecast for the coming week is nothing over 4C and -2 to -3C overnight.  That’s not frost, that’s COLD !!

Talk Night

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure, of co hosting a talk, with the Beds & Herts Chairman at the Totternhoe Garden Club.  Sadly, there was far too little time to cover everything we wanted to.  Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, as did our audience.  We look forward to a return visit.

Fuchsias.

A fairly quiet week.  A few cuttings taken from the propagator and re filled the spaces made.  All 3 propagators are crammed, and doing well, the cold weather has little effect on them, but  a little more “sunlight” would not go amiss.

Some of the overwintered plants are showing good signs of growth, and I have done the first season pinch on “Gillian Althea” and “Checkerboard” (lots of cutting material there)

Fuchsia Standards – Ongoing.

The 3 whips which are part of my little “experiment” have started to shown some good growth. The full story and updates can be viewed   here   As you can see, one is starting to get ahead.  Time to start removing some of the side shoots, to allow for upward growth.

March 17th

Weather

It seems that we are in for a “cold” spring.  The week has been changeable to say the least.  Snow flurries continue, in between the sunny periods, and rain showers.  Temperatures in the polytunnel have risen above 20C when the sun is out.  The forecast for the coming week is still unsettled, some rain, some cold nights, we might see some sunshine.  I will keep the heating turned up overnight !!

Fuchsias.

Well, the plugs arrived on Wednesday.  I was very disappointed with their condition.  Just about rooted (that’s not a problem in itself) but they were just potted up in their “plug” consequently, the courier handling was less than perfect, as a result, they were tipped out everywhere.  Several hours of “jigsaw puzzling what plants were what, all is now recovered.  I have spent the past few days, potting up several hundred plants, as well as watering more established ones.  I have also started to bring back to life, overwintered plants in 2 litre pots.  For most, this means taking out the old plant, cutting off the bottom 1″ of soil, putting 1″ of fresh soil into the pot, then returning the rootball to the pot, and water lightly.  Trim up any old dead wood.

Fuchsia Standards – Ongoing.

The whips are doing well.  I have now potted up 16 in total.  The full story and updates can be viewed here  here   Given the poor weather, they have grown quite well (about an inch).  Fingers crossed for better weather, I’m hoping for 2″ at least.

March 10th

Weather

Will spring ever come ? The week started off so well, I even went fishing for a few hours (and caught a fish) but, once again, it closed in again, only today, snow has fallen. Forecast for the coming week says cold and getting colder for the next couple of days (climbing to 6C by Thursday, but some cold nights, down to -2C, which is bad, it only takes ONE bad night to spoil a years worth of effort)

Fuchsias.

Time waits for no man they say, and neither do fuchisas. Along with a friend (Richard) it was a small “Cooks tour of the midlands” this past week) First up, was a new nursery (not named) not visited before ( cash and carry type) I was after small plugs (X20) I spoke on the ‘phone before travelling, to be told “we have everything in 20′s” to only find this not to be true on arrival. Not happy !! However, not all is lost. The owner explained the situation, and even showed us around the greenhouses (quite impressed) she took my order and I’m expecting a delivery later this week (update to come). Next up was “Rosebank” at Measham. I’ve been here for a few years, highly recommended, bought a few plants (nothing out of the ordinary) except, I got a few “Whips” all the same (Jennifer Anne) only small, but of very good stature see here for the full story.  I’ll post a few updates here, but the link should be used for the full, ongoing story.

 

Fuchsia Standards.

As mentioned last week, I am growing a half standard of “Breeders Delight”.  I am now also growing a few of “Jennifer Anne” (bought this week).  There is not enough space here (or format) to present to you what I want to show, so. please go here, for a better and detailed description of what is happening.

Tomatoes.

They are finally starting to show (planted 2 weeks ago today)  The only problem is, one variety, Red Alert, has failed to show (so far)  All I can think is, the seed is last years, so may be past it (but some of my other seed is old too) never mind it’s early days yet,  If the seed has failed, it’s not to loate to sow a second batch.  Watch this space.

Chickens.

While it’s still cold, it is drying out a bit, so, time to let the chickens roam a bit (not to far, foxes are very active this time of year) I set up  a small area, surrounded by plastic fencing.  It worked great yesterday.  Today ?  “Chicken Run” springs to mind !!  they escaped, and not only that, into my hardy fuchsia bed !!  see picture.  (Back inside my girls !!  until I can set up something more permanent)

General Update.

Spring is coming, and so do the rooted cuttings.  I’m starting to clean up the polytunnel, in readiness for plants moving out of the greenhouses.  The problem being, the cold (especially at night).  Having said that, I have a delivery in the middle of next week, and after that, I will have no choice, but to start to “populate” the polytunnel