Saturday 22 May 2021

Gardening for the Intrepid!

Rhododendron: Percy Wiseman
We need to tell ourselves that we shall see the sun again! And, just as a reminder, here is our favourite rhododendron, Percy Wiseman. It flowers for such a short time - but how very lovely it is

Old Codger was up bright and early on the one good sunrise we had this week and got this shot. And there's a bit of nostalgia attached - my father was named Percy. (And my mother was Gladys. Known in the family as our Glad and or Perc - sort of places them, doesn't it?)

One compensation has been the clouds - some lovely skies at times
I'm rewriting what I had prepared for today's blog - I had planned a full-on tomato edition but such weather! The garden is sodden and enough to deter the most intrepid stalwart. Perhaps, like me, you watch Monty Don get a soaking in last night's Gardener's World. I guess, when the crew arrives and you're booked to film - you have to film! However, good value. See further TV comments below

Petunias, violas and so forth have been moved into the potting shed
Tomato bonanza
That is, tomato plant bonanza - we have not yet reached the fruiting stage

The old truth comes to mind: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously*. We experienced, what seemed to be 100% germination, spread across no less than eight varieties. This means that readers will have plenty of choice when we come to June and time to plant out. The tomatoes have boomed to the extent that other stuff has had to be moved out of the greenhouse. More about the flowering annuals in a few weeks. Let's get some sunshine first

Cerise - a cherry tomato, already potted up
Cherry tomatoes:
the easy way
But it is possible to get going right now by growing cherry tomatoes the easy way. We are deliberately promoting a lovely sweet cherry variety: Cerise. We've already had repeat orders from last year and the plants are ready to go!

 Cerise is a bush variety. This means you plant it, water it, feed it and pick the fruit! Masses of sweet bite-size tomatoes right through the summer. All tomatoes need sunshine, so you must choose a sunny spot. No techniques like 'pinching out' are needed

A threesome with support built in
Codger can make life easier for you by supplying the plant in a good container with strong bamboo support. Last year, many folk got good results this way. But you will also get a good harvest by planting in the border - even in among the flowers. Just make sure it gets the sun

Incidentally, we also have a few Tumbling Tom. These are similar but with more of a trailing habit. These can be grown in a hanging basket if that's what you want, so this gets yet another option

However you want them - Cerise or Tumbling Tom - just let me know. Time to get growing!

Informative TV
Having mentioned Monty in the introduction, I would also like to put in a word for Carol Klein. In ebullient mode, she has often appeared alongside Monty but now has her very own programme on Channel 5. Although I have watched only a couple of times, I was well impressed by her very clear instructional approach. Less pizazz but more perspicuity, you might say

Sorry, not a good photo - but it's the real thing: Bittercress
Interestingly, I learned something about the most common weed in Codger's garden: Bittercress. It is edible! I did not know that and checking this out on the web, I find that it is full of natural goodness. And, yes, it tastes okay - quite peppery, a bit like rocket

Among the many other gardening programmes on offer, I would also pick out Beechgrove Garden from Scotland. Mind you, they have a rather broad view of Scotland - it now takes in Chris Beardshaw in the Cotswolds. Perhaps they have takeover rather than independence in mind

Sweet Peas, potted up, ready to go
Sweet Peas and hanging baskets
As well as having cherry tomatoes ready to go out we also have a few sweet peas that I pot up wigwam fashion as in the photo. They are mixed colours in a rather nice pot - probably only a couple left, perhaps three by the time you read this

I've loads of petunias desperate for some sunshine. They look great in a hanging basket. I've been looking at ways of bringing the cost down. Good quality basket-type containers don't come cheap. I think I've made some progress and will report next time

Petunias grateful for a bit of sunshine

I've got a couple ready to go and will be planting up more with trailing geraniums, as an alternative. They should look fantastic in full flower

Thank you
Perhaps this is the point to mention that our fundraising page has been given a new look by the charity organisation, Stewardship, that runs the service. You can see the result by clicking here. We are truly grateful to those who have donated this past week

Receipts always given for cash donations
A recent donor reports that the process was an easy one, so please do not hesitate to use this means of making a donation. You will see that I have raised our target to £4000 - an increase of £1500 which represents the figure we would like to raise this year. I shall keep this under review - really, I'd like to hit £5000. We shall see ... We don't often speak pound notes so one final financial point, particularly with tomatoes in mind. Cash donations are absolutely acceptable and are more sensible when handing over a fiver for a few tomato plants. And, above all else: it's in a very good cause 

For more on the great work ofBCM please click here 

(if you would like too read two fascinating real-life stories, click on: I Once Was Lost and Precious Child)

Time to go ...
Well, yet again, I'm out of time - so must sign out now. But we'll be back soon encouraging you to get out into the garden - and, hopefully, to grow some tomatoes. More on that topic next week

I'll add a few quick photos below

Best wishes for the old Garden Codger

The gripping grapevine
We refer to Black Hamburg, of course. I'll provide an update next week. For now, I just want see if the photo that mysteriously disappeared from our previous edition makes it in this. Here it is ...

Do you see the little chap (probably chapess) on guard defending the new growth against all-comers?

Fantastic foliage
Often taken for granted, this foliage (below) belongs to the shade-loving epicedium

And, below that, sadly, the last of the camellia blooms. Mrs codger collects up the best and displays them indoors

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