We’re on summer time – the nights are getting shorter, the days are getting longer. The earth is warming up, it’s time to get some seeds sprouting. Some seeds can go straight out into open ground or outdoor pots & planters. Many other seeds are a little more delicate and need a helping hand. Windowsill propagators are the perfect tools for the job.
This week, I’m finding it hard to choose the best of the three, each has its own plus points. The cheap Jiffy comes with biodegradable ‘pot strips’, so there’s no need to disturb the fragile little roots when planting out. The mid-range Marshalls offering comes with trays that can hold up to 48 cells, so pricking out won’t be necessary. The Super 7 has a heated tray which means that seeds will germinate earlier, more quickly and more successfully. Quite an asset if your windowsills are as cold as ours!
- Jiffy 20 strip windowsill propagator: £6.00, Suttons
- Windowsill propagator kit: £14.95, Marshalls
- Garland Super 7 windowsill propagator: £25.99, Keen Gardener
The successes of the summer crops on our allotment have been inconsistent. It started well with bountiful berries & currants. From there it went gradually downhill with indifferent potato yields and then absolutely abysmal with just a handful of tomatoes saved from a blanket of blight.
We’re now planning our autumn planting scheme and want to grow some garlic, onions and shallots. Perhaps even try our hand at some container-grown asparagus.
Hopefully our next harvest will be better than the last!
Curated by H is for Home
I first got the idea of growing my own lemon plants from a pin I came across on Pinterest.
It looked really easy so I collected all the pips from lemons we used in cooking for a few weeks.
When I had a handful, I was ready to go. I opted for this lovely oversize cup as a container – you can choose anything you fancy – cups, old tins, boxes etc. Some gravel in the bottom to prevent water-logging and multi-purpose compost to cover. Done!
The pips were planted in February and small shoots appeared in June, so it took quite a while for them to start germinating – I have to admit that I nearly gave up on them! They got a day in the sunshine as encouragement & reward when I saw those first shoots appear.
Look at them now! The bold, brightly coloured pattern of the cup contrasts with the glossy green foliage of the young lemon plants. It looks fabulous on our kitchen window sill… and they smell gorgeous when you rub a leaf between your fingers – fresh and citrusy.
I can leave them in the cup as they are now and have lots of these pretty dwarf plants – or perhaps pot these on to get larger lemon trees and start again with the pips. A fully fledged lemon business maybe!
Did you watch any of the Chelsea Flower Show last month? Were you lucky enough to visit in person? We were glued to the screen on every day. We were in agreement that Dan Pearson’s garden should win best in show.
However, it was the flower marquee that effected the most ‘oohs’ & ‘ahhs’ from us. The colourful, perfectly poker straight lupins; the bright, almost radioactive daffodils; the delicate lilies and all the exotic & alien-looking blooms shipped in from around the world.
The sights made us feel slightly inferior about our own outside area. Our flowering dolly tubs that began flowering way back in January have now just about gone over. We’re now thinking about what perennials we can add to extend the colour and structure beyond June.
As we’ve said in the past, we love planting bulbs and seeds that can just be left to flower, die back and reappear again even bigger & stronger the following year. Here are some perennials to plant in the summer that we have our eye on.
- Chinese lantern ‘alkekengi‘ – 200 seeds: 99p, eBay
- Himalayan blue poppy ‘meconopsis baileyi’ Hensol Violet – 40 seeds: £2.99, Thompson Morgan
- Foxglove ‘digitalis’ Woodlanders Mix – 500 seeds: £1.99, Marshalls Seeds
- Teasel ‘dispacus fullonum’ – 160 seeds: £2.49, Suttons
- Noble lupin collection: £14.99, Crocus
Our potatoes have been chitted & planted out, the first of our veg seedlings have sprouted, it’s time to start thinking about getting some tomatoes started.
Our garden (and allotment for that matter) is really shady, a definite no-no for sun-worshipping toms. The sun only hits our back garden from around 1pm, and only at a height of 4 foot and above. We have a tall south-facing fence so we’ve decided to try growing tumbling tomatoes along it. We have a couple of hanging baskets and just bought some hanging grow bags.
Mark Ridsdill Smith aka the Vertical Veg Man recommends ‘Cherry Cascade’ for hanging baskets. In a Telegraph gardening trial ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ came out tops. After some research, we’ve come up with this short-list of tumbling tomato contenders.
- Tomato ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’ (10 seeds): £2.25, Marshalls
- Tomato ‘Gartenperle’ (25 seeds): £1.49, Crocus
- Tomato ‘Cherry Falls’ (15 seeds): £3.19, Mr Fothergill’s
- Tomato ‘Romello’ F1 hybrid (6 seeds): £3.99, Thompson & Morgan
- Tomato ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ (8 seeds): £3.99, Suttons
We’ve been working down to our allotment a couple of times in the past few weeks, mainly raking up mounds and mounds of leaves that fell last autumn.
In the summer, much of the plot is in dappled shade thanks to lots of big, tall beech trees. Because of this, a lot of what we planted last year such as tomatoes and peas didn’t produce bumper harvests. This year we’ve been looking into shade loving vegetables.
Vegetables and herbs with lots of dark green leaves are an indicator to shade tolerance. Spinach, kale, lettuce, parsley, coriander will all do well. There’s a saying I’ve come across which is a general rule of thumb for growing fruit & veg: “If you grow it for the fruit, you need full sun. If you grow it for the leaves, stems or sprouts, partial shade is all you need.”