Sunday 7 July 2013

Gardening part 6

This is rather shockingly the 6th gardening instalment I've written. It's unbelievable for a couple of circular reasons; firstly I haven't killed my plants off yet so I've still got something to write about, and secondly I haven't got bored about writing about the growth upstairs. This week's exciting events include the emergence of hairy pods, a middle class blueberry bush and enough broccoli to scare every school child between Poplar and Hammersmith.

But first the results of an unexpected visitor from the Midlands. My good friend Gill grew up in the country like me and remembers more gardening lore than I ever knew. She was very excited with my balcony flowers and impressed with the stuff grown from seed up on the roof. She warned that my peas would grow much taller so higher sticks would be required at some point. She did laugh at my sad effort at carrots though. Anyway I learnt a few things from her:

1. Carefully selected geranium leaves can be popped in a jar of water and in time they become small plants. The leaf has to be large enough to capture sunlight but not so big that it is too much for the water to keep going.
2. A small sprig of sweet William can be cultivated in the same way. As you can guess, in the greenhouse, I've now got a few jars with leaves and sprigs in them with hopes of a random planting of loud red flowers on the roof.
3. A soft sprig of rosemary was also semi stripped and popped in compost. Apparently this will grow...
4. If I dress (!)  my soil upstairs with compost it will help keep the soil moist and stop the water draining away. I've put this tip to the test tonight with my hardy brassicas and beans. I forked it over a little to. She also threatened to post me some can't help but imagine the disgust of any bad person wanting to steal anything from my post. That'd learn 'em...

All in all, the stuff on the roof is splendid. I particularly love watering the leathery leaves where the mercury-like droplets gather and wobble in the wind. Today I noticed that the broad bean flowers have produced some lovely little hairy pods so I may get 6 or 7 beans, if I'm lucky. The peas are now graduating from infant to primary school with most of them reaching the second band of string.

With care, I've planted out about 20 broccoli plants - if they all take, heaven knows what I'm going to do with them. Random radishes are still tastily popping up which is nice.

And finally the blueberry bush is enjoying the addition of Sainsbury's finest fair trade coffee grounds, Yorkshire tea leaves and a springing of white wine vinegar on a regular basis (I settled on this out of a choice of that, Sarson's or balsamic). This seems to have stopped, overnight, the wilting and bad there you go, acid soil contrary style.

On the downside, the rhubarb isn't good (will also google), the transplanted lettuce has wilted, the carrots are pathetic and one of my geraniums has frilly leaves. Still, I've had enough success to compensate. My onions are developing their second leaves but are still too small to plant out.

Given the sunshine, the roof has become a desirable place for everyone to hang out and people have shown interest in what I'm growing. They probably think I'm some crazy country person but I really hope it inspires them to start thinking about the other raised bed and start planting things. One lady this evening wanted to know how to start - easy: dig over, buy seeds, plant, water repeatedly!

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