Friday 14 May 2021

Open for business

Our camellias have been lovely this year...
... always sad when the flowers fall
After the seemingly long night of lockdown, how good to be able to welcome visitors back to the garden and to, what has become, Codger's Nursery

By 'Nursery' I mean what used to be my veg patch - a series of raised beds at the back of the garden, tucked way behind a trellis screen. Plus the greenhouse, plus the potting shed, plus the new plastic greenhouse, plus ...

Oh! dear - it seems to be taking over! But that's no bad thing if we continue to raise funds for BCM. So Codger is very thankful to those who have called in this week - it was great to see you. Everyone seems to have gone away happy with a selection plants from which they can derive enjoyment

Petunias building their strength in a hanging basket ...
... ready for a long season of flowering
Feel free to call in!
Checking through the new receipt book the list of plants includes: several peonies, hellebores, a blueberry, a whole tray of geraniums, a couple of hanging baskets with petunias, sweet peas in containers, etc, etc

Plus some tomatoes - yes, these are now on the move. In fact, they deserve their own blog edition so please look out next week. Lots of folk have been in touch to ask when they will be ready

Lettuces growing under essential protection

As soon as I have finished today's edition I'll be busy potting up and potting on. They will be ready soon - with a wider selection of varieties than last week, so you may wish to try something new. As I say, more information in just a few days ...

A bit of veg
I have not forsaken vegetables altogether, as you can see from the lettuces in the photo (right). The micromesh protection is essential as the sparrows will reduce a row of lettuce to their roots in a trice. I proved this with a little experiment last week when I transplanted some lettuce thinnings in open ground

A female sparrowhawk keeping an eye on things
They often take smaller pigeons - which helps me out
(Photo courtesy of Wiki - Eurasian Sparrowhawk entry)
As I approached, there was a guilty flutter as two dozen culprits fled the spot, leaving virtually no trace of the plants

 Pigeons can also be a nuisance. They take an unhealthy interest in our plum tree, picking away at the blossom. We get little fruit so I suspect that they eat the emerging buds

But having birds around has benefits (dealing with insect pests) so we continue to encourage them and love to see them on our feeder. And they, in turn, keep our local sparrow hawk in business

How it works
Speaking of business: the main message in this episode is simply: we are open for business and warmly welcome visitors

Because of my caring responsibilities, I have rather less time than last year so cannot so easily do my wheelbarrow deliveries (!) so prefer you to collect

Sweet peas planted up and ready for collection
To answer an obvious question: how does Garden Codger work? Apart from a few donated plants (always welcome!) we mainly acquire stock by growing our own. Most simply this is done by growing from seed - or other methods of propagation such as cutting and division. Very little expense is involved - and, obviously, the labour comes free as this is my hobby

However, we do buy some stock - mainly through online offers. Judging by the number of promotional email offers I receive, I reckon that planning horticultural sales is, by its nature, highly speculative. I get very attractive plug plant offers several times a week. Mind you, they are very good at upselling, if I have used the correct marketing term

Growing away in the greenhouse on a dull day (just now!)
I also do plant rescues - usually from the big DIY stores. This means that we pick up well established plants for half price - often because some employee slipped up with the watering. And then there are occasions when simple over-supply means a glut needs to be shifted. This was very much the case last autumn and fuelled our Spring bulb offer. I reckon that our £400 come in this way that went to BCM Toylink

We opened the bag and found this 'stick' inside
Well, time presses and I must get into the greenhouse so those tomatoes are ready to go out next week. However, I must tell you a bit more about Black Hamburg - the story I started last week ...

The story so far ...
Episode 1: Dutch friends visit the Dutch Garden at Hampton Court Palace many years ago - and are impressed by the Great Vine - the biggest grape vine in the world, producing 600lbs of grapes each year! 

Five-star treatment - my standard: seaweed
Episode 2: Mr and Mrs Codger visit Packwood House near B'ham and see a scion of the Hampton Court Black Hamburg grapevine - send phot to Dutch friends

Episode 3: Dutch friends plan a surprise: purchase a Black Hamburg and post it to Codger but day after day passes and it does not arrive. Has its fate been sealed by Brexit?

Episode 4: Three weeks to the day, jiffy bag arrives with bareroot 'stick' inside. After 21 days is there life in this stick?

Episode 5: (this is a long-running drama made under lockdown conditions) Codger gives the poor plant five star treatment

Roots being soaked prior to planting
Episode 6: The buds shows signs of life. This is somewhat amazing to old Codger. The plant had survived in a jiffy bag - presumably in British Customs - with only a a bit of damp kitchen towel to keep it alive!

[... to be continued - more photos below]

Which goes to show that these shrewd Dutch deserve their reputation as great growers (our good friend, Jan, was for many years an expert nurseryman). Incidentally, I looked around the plant section of our local branch of the The Range, yesterday. A huge wagon had just made a delivery - every pallet I looked at carried a Dutch label - straight from the nursery in Holland to the branch in England. They grow well - and thrive

Well, time to do a bit of lunch - then out in the greenhouse with those tomatoes. So, it's ...

... best wishes from your old friend, the Garden Codger

Plus a few photos to brighten a dull day

[edited 16th May - readers have pointed out the two Black Hamburg photos have mysteriously 'disappeared' - sorry about that - very strange - will solve if I can but sometimes Google wins! Actually, with me, Google always wins]

This was the new vine a week ago

It's now a little greener but, there's no doubt, there's life in that 'stick'

Checking today I see that the tiny leaves are turning green

However, I'm using this week-old shot as it shows the we have a little friend taking care of the young plant

Look closely, perhaps you can it clinging on to the bottom of the top shoot

I've blown up that part of the image - see below. In reality, the little critter is about a millimetre across

Tomatoes a-plenty in the greenhouse

The potting shed has been drafted in to cope with the overflow

Broad beans doing well now that the frosts seem to be done

Plus a few other plants - no space goes to waste

And a favourite corner of mine - the little woodland margin under the cherry tree
Mainly lungwort (pulmonaria) plus a primrose

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