Thursday 7 July 2022

Sunshine & showers

Angela doing a good job
- literally front-of-house!
We need both, don't we? Sunshine and showers, that is. At the plant sale on Saturday we even had both at the same time - but not enough rain to deter the punters. Perhaps I should add that as we were clearing up at 3:15 there was a sudden and heavy  downpour - it was a mercy that it did not arrive earlier

The sale sported a great variety of plants and sales were good. (The Codger household is now caked up for a week - the cake stall was groaning with goodies so we felt obliged to relieve the load a little)

As always, it was good to renew aquaintance with friends old and new - and to see so many willing volunteers helping with the event. All very rewarding - receipts totalled over £1,500 - all of that will be passed on to BCM

This is how they come - with a
simple bamboo support structure
The new Grow-Your-Own section met with some success (see next). It was good to talk to folk who had got into the gardening habit as a result of the lockdowns. The sudden imposition of Lockdown 1.0 two years ago seems to have been the catalyst for many - or so I discovered in various conversations

Post-Sale sale!
Fancy growing a cucumber or two? What about a squash - either to eat or for decoration? Perhaps courgettes are your thing - all are easy to grow. Basically, just keep them watered and enjoy the harvest

We have a few that did not sell on Saturday and I need the space so, roll up! Although I say "just keep them watered", I ought to add, in honesty, that the subsequent growth will probably require an extension of the support so you grow up as well as out. And for great results a weekly feed will be well rewarded

Loaded up and ready to go
A special Thank You
A few week's ago I mentioned young Violet who had set up a Platinum Jubilee sale to raise money for Ukraine. Well, I am very pleased to say that she has passed on £37, the amount raised through her imaginative efforts! You can see Violet, and her mom, in the photo below

And some further good news: an anonymous donor has matched Violet's fund raising pound for pound - so, allowing for rounding up, that makes another £75 for Ukraine relief - that will be passed on soon

(We are still waiting for the final details that will mean the giving channel is officially open - please continue to watch this space. We have a backup plan - in the meantime all funds are accounted for. I'll give full financial details in the next episode)
Violet bearing a small reward for her big effort

In the meantime, Thank You, Violet. And also thanks to the many other who have made cash donations - and to those patiently waiting for the details of online payment webpage

Our garden wildlife
It has been a long time since I have written the wildlife in our garden . The unexpected appearance of a new visitor gives me a reason to put that right. It's a tale of flocks of birds, three rats and a hedgehog. 

Starting with birds
We do well for birds - and I think that's for three reasons. First, Codger gardens organically - so harmful chemicals are absent - and insect life thrives. Secondly, we have a pond with a stream - so there's good access to water. Third, through trial and error, I have found what seeds the birds like most

Not much left of the pigeon
Until iIgot the seed mix right I had lots of trouble with piles of discarded wheat being discarded and creating a yukky mess on the ground. To the extent that the pigeons could not devour it all. Slight digression, our pigeons keep the local sparrowhawk fed - you can see the evidence in this photo (left). As you can see, sparrowhawks don't leave much on the plate

I use a humane trap big enough most suspects
The other problem with discarded seed is rats. I thought I had overcome this problem until last week whn we experienced a bird feeding frenzy. This has happened in the past with our sparrows but this time - for a reason I cannot explain - the goldfinches and greenfinches joined in. Within mutues we had piles of seed on the floor beneath the feeders - just like the old days when the wheat in a cheap mix got thrown out

I tried to make Horatio feel at home
A special visitor
I left the feeders empty for a few days whilst the ground feeders cleared up the mess - thank you, pigeons and blackbirds. I should thank the sparrows too - but they were responsible for most of the waste in the first place. Catching a glimpse of movement in the undergrowth, I decided to deploy my squirrel trap and was rewarded the following morning with the sight of a rather disconsolate rat. Over the next nights I caught two more and then, to my surprise, a hedgehog!

Hoping that he (he was 'he', I noticed) might settle in permanently, I fashioned Horatio a cardboard home. However, he stayed the night and then moved on. But, for all I know, he might still be lurking somewhere in the garden. He can leave the premises - following national publicity last year, I a cut a hole in the back fence - so that seems to have worked!

Start with the canes - four and then four more

Sweet pea wigwam
These have proved to be one of Codger's most popular lines so towards the end of May I sowed more seed and I've just around to planting them up. In case it's of interest here's a photo guide to doing the job

Obviously, the number of plants depends on the size of the pot. I usually plant six or eight but start with the bamboo canes. In this case four canes are pushed down to the bottom of the pot and tied at the top. You'll see that there is spare string - this allows me to pull in the next four, giving me eight canes all together

Next, I plant the sweet peas which have been grown from seed in root trainers. This helps develop a good root system - helped by a dose of seaweed feed

Planting and tying-in complete -
just one things more to do -
see next photo!
The plants go between the canes and are tied in as I go - but note two points

First, twirl the anticlockwise around the canes so they spiral upwards. Why anticlockwise? Well, you best ask the plants - that's what they do naturally. Check around the garden - you'll old Codger is right (any readers in Australia or New Zealand please tell me if there's an antipodean difference!)

Second, and this is the hard bit - snip out the growing tip! Think of it as being cruel to be kind - the result is more stems and more flowers. See the photo below

Snip out the growing tip - this will encourage
the plants to produce more stems and blooms
A word about the potting mix. Commercial all-purpose compost is a bit to caggy - lighten it with perlite of grit. I like to include some of my own garden compost. Sweet peas are hungry feeders so I also mix in slow release fertiliser. I use Wilko's own brand that costs about £3.50 - you can pay twice that for posher brands (same formulation as far as I can see)

Place the finished result in a sunny spot. Water regualrly and feed weekly. Thw Wilko tomato feed will be fine (although here I do use a branded product - Mr Fothergill's Seaweed Feed)

The other thing to mention is dead heading. Don't let the spent flowers turn to seed - snip off the pods immediately. This simple discipline will prolong flowering

Codger plans to have three or four of these sweet pea wigwams made up over the next couple of days. They will be looking for a good home so please get in touch - first come, first served. Perhaps I should also say that I've still got a good stock of perennials - now is a good time to see them - many are in flower at the moment (sse the photos at the end)

Slipping down the agenda
As I write this final section for today the news agenda is dominated by the shinanigans at Westminster. By the time you read this we might even have a constitutional crisis as we enter unchartered territory. One concern among many is our support for Ukraine as the war of attrition grinds on and we are tempted to look away

Stop press!
As I typed those words a message flashed up: 
Boris Johnson will resign as prime minister today, the BBC has been told. So no constitutional crisis but I think my point is valid - we could easily lose interest in what is happening in Ukraine. Whatever our preoccupations I do hope that does not happen

One again, thank you to everyone who has donated funds that I am due soon to pass on to our Polish friends as they continue their efforts to help Ukrainians in great need - both those who are in Ukraine and, also, those who have been displaced to Poland

[late addition (Thursday 12 noon) - just received further news from Poland which I'll include in the next edition - lots being done]

... best wishes from the Garden Codger

The view from my upstairs study window -
which I really appreciate

I love this bloom - Ensata - Japanese Water Iris
It has just come into flower

Mrs Codger at work, here

As I mention above, there are many plants in flower at this time

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