Thursday 6 August 2020

Sun flowers

Greeting the sun
early this morning
Old Codger is writing this blog post a day early, on Thursday rather than Friday. High temperatures are promised tomorrow, and he does not do at all well in the heat. Our Dutch friends tell me it is already hot there – in the upper thirties. So, please excuse a rather shorter blog today so we can get things done without being “mad dogs of Englishmen … out in the midday sun”

It seems rather appropriate to feature a sunflower. Apart from one, all our sunflowers are self-seeded – escapees from the birdfeeder. The spiral pattern in the seed head is amazing. Just as though it has been designed, I always think. Now, there’s a thought …

Ever noticed the pattern?
Tomatoes doing well?
How are your tomatoes doing? I am getting good reports of the bush tomatoes we supplied ready-planted in large pots. The variety, Cerise, seems to perform well producing lots of small, sweet fruit. Mine are somewhat behind as I let all the early plants go. Watering is really important, of course – plus a weekly feed and remember to tie in the growth as they get bigger. Picking the ripe fruit encourages the others - you don’t have to wait for the whole truss to ripen

Outdoor bush tomato ripening today - The Amateur, I think
As well as Cerise, I am interested to see how an old bush variety does. It is called The Amateur so suits me very well. There is another bush variety called Falcorosso that looks promising. You may remember that I was limited by what seeds I could lay my hands on at the beginning of lockdown – is there a variety called Hobson’s Choice, I wonder? Moneymaker (cordon type) and the Lidl standard, Hertzfuer, are both doing well – they are in the greenhouse and also outside growing in a raised bed

Spring propagation
Home-brew propagator
Back in March, when we were sowing the seed, I was using a bit of persuasion to get them started. Over the years I have graduated from a small electric seed tray propagator to several homebrew editions. As this may interest DIYers, I have taken a couple of photographs. The carcass is a drawer from an old kitchen cabinet – a handy size for taking three seed trays

The heat is provided by a sealed flexible element. Basically, a length of cable with a three-pin mains plug. The one shown is 11 watts, I seem to remember. It was supplied by a company called Elixir – ordered via Amazon. Different sizes are available, and I now have three homemade propagators utilising different power ratings. The same company also supplies thermostatic controllers which I use on my largest job

Heating cable
(normally covered by sand)
In the example shown, the cable is laid as a spiral (photo left). The covering of sand is necessary in order to spread the heat and to absorb spilt water. I have moved the sand to one side so you can see what is going on beneath. All three propagators did their job well this Spring producing hundreds of seedlings. Some of those plants may well be growing away in your garden at the moment

More propagation
In the previous post I mentioned the cuttings I have taken from the wayside white rose. Both sets, covered and uncovered, look fine at the moment – but it is early days. I have also taken some hardwood cuttings from the hawthorn I fancied in the Spring – a double red growing on the local walkway

I am not optimistic about this but it seems silly not to try. As you can see, I have inserted them in a slit trench. Each one has received slightly different treatment. We can only wait and see. If I can find time, I shall try to read up on the methods available to me. But I am told that hawthorn is a difficult subject to propagate. Our garden is terminated by hawthorn (on the school field side). Sadly, it never flowers so I am wondering if I can introduce this better variety

Cuttings apart ...
... we have plenty of young plants coming on. Things like a very nice variety of aquilegia (Mrs Scott Elliott) which is a lovely pale yellow. I am just about to update the list (see Plants for You, top right - I shall try to do the updating over the weekend)

Apricot dahlia
Lots of plants coming on
For now, let me just push Rudbeckia Prairie Sun again. These are just bursting into flower and should go on flowering into October. They can even stay in their pots – just place them in the border – instant gardening! You will also get flowers this autumn from dahlias – we have a few available. Usual message - if you need plants, just get in touch

Due to other pressures, I am planning on just one post next week – towards the end of the week, I think. Until then ….

… best wishes from the old Garden Codger

Post Script
Lepidopterist Alert! Spotted yet another butterfly today. Our best guess regarding identity is a Wall - of which we have never previously heard. Trying to check this, I've stumbled across an excellent website. You can find it here

A Wall resting on a Turk's Turban - odd as that sounds!

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