Six-on-Saturday – Don’t Look, Ethel.

Make up cucumber hills in the evening. Get up early the next morning and sow the seeds before you speak, and you will have a good crop.

Wednesday was the best day of the year by a country kilometre mile. I spent some time doing small jobs and a lot of time sitting in warm sunshine, resting, admiring, reading and snoozing. I had intended cycling my usual Kilmolash and Glenshelane route, but rested instead. I’m told that improvement in fitness happens between sessions, so it’s a win-win situation. Of course, I made sure to wear my big ugly sun hat. I figured there’s no point in being rested, super fit and sunburned.

Last week you’ll remember I changed things around a bit. On Tuesday I continued, this time in the back garden. The square patio area was the focus of my attention.

However, before I show the progress made, I want to inform you of a shocking alert. It was a Facebook alert. Oh, I do love a shocking FB alert. If it weren’t for FB I’d be completely lost. You see, it’s full of rubbish that cannot be got from other sources. This one was about cucumbers…

Cucumber

I tried growing cucumbers last year and I gave up on them. They germinated but never really got going. I may not have adhered to correct procedures. This year I’ll know better.

My homework for this week brought me to read some of Frank C. Brown’s Collection of North Carolina Folklore. Here’s a short summary…

  • Plant cucumbers during the last quarter of a new moon, preferably on a twin day in April. I think a twin day is 11th or 22nd.
  • Get up early in the morning and sow the seeds before you speak.
  • If cucumbers are planted on a Saturday, they will be bitter.
  • It is bad luck to point your finger at a cucumber bloom, as it will cause it to fall off. It is unclear from the text what falls off. I’d imagine finger. Yes, I’m going with finger, and I’ll be sure not to point it anywhere.

If I’ve helped you in any way, please tell your friends.


Patio

Once again, I’ve changed things around. Normally, we get the table and chairs back outside for the May Bank Holiday weekend, but it’s been so dry this year that they’ve appeared a bit earlier. We also like to put them in a different spot from year to year. Once agreement was reached, I moved plants, pots and troughs around. This time, I’ve combined the two timber planters together as a central feature. I looked upon the fruits of my labour and grinned widely with satisfaction.

Next up…

There’s much here that I like. At the rear, there’s an overpowering scent from the Skimmia, while the Forget-me-nots (myosotis) and Aubretia add an extra touch of colour. My thanks to Steve for the Aubretia. On the left, there’s a small clump of snowdrops given to me by Geraldine. I’m very grateful for any and all offers! There’s also the remains of a fuchsia that I cut out two years ago. It’d be good to find time to remove the stump completely, but my priority will be the cucumbers. Before dawn.

Foliage

Polyanthus, Carex, Feverfew, Arabis and Vinca. Us gardeners sometimes forget that foliage can be very beautiful too!

Vegetables

The cauliflower and kale are finished. I’ve added a layer of fresh home-made compost along the bed and planted out the spring onions that I’d started in the glasshouse. I’ve also put two covers over the soil. These will help warm it up so that seeds will germinate faster. There’s a small space to the left of the spring onions. It’s just a foot wide. The spinach will go here, specifically because it prefers a shady spot. I’m buying shop spinach at the moment but not for much longer. There are a dozen seedlings grown inside that will be ready for their outside adventure very soon.

Gaura

Here’s a look back to early September of last year. The white erect stems with starry flowers is Gaura that I grew from seed last year. I enjoyed it so much that it won the 2021 PdeB Growme Award.

For the record, the Gaura above is just one gaura! It’s a perennial and it’s growing very well again now. Altogether I have four. They got a hard prune back in November and I repotted them into larger pots a few weeks ago, giving them a rich soil with added vermiculite and perlite. Gaura is regarded as one of the longest flowering plants. I cannot wait, but know I must.

Anyway, the upshot of it all is that I’ve grown more this year. There are two different varieties here, and I’ve added several friends to the Gaura Giveaway list. Each will be given two or three. A bird never flew on one wing.


Just one other thing… yes, a short repeat of some cucumber information you may not have taken on board. This is very important tamhachtach!


That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Happy Easter to you all. Until next week, take good care of yourself & others. Slán go fóill. If you’d like to read many other Six-on-Saturday updates, just head over to Jon The Propagator‘s blog.

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Thinking Ahead

It’s still going strong! Gaura has been in flower since early July and I love it!

11th September 2021.

Thinking is hard work and thinking ahead is the hardest. In any case, while enjoying this week’s selection, I’m making mental notes. I’ll allow just a small thinking-window. I’ll call it a by-product of the moment. There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. William would have approved.

I do like my salad greens and I mostly remember to repeat sow them the first week of each month. Several varieties of lettuce, spring onions and spinach are at various stages of growth. I’m rarely without something to nibble on.

These ones were sown a few weeks ago, but the blackbirds have been doing damage. It’s like Fort Knox, but they will not be deterred. The beautiful crumbly new compost is just filled with tasty morsels. How can I solve the problem? These intelligent birds are known to move bamboo. They’re thinking on their feet. I’ll have to buy another thinking cap.

I’m thinking ahead to finishing this bare wall next summer. There will be trellis and mirrors. I feel that it’ll happen in spring. As yet I’m undecided about what to grow on the trellis. Jasmine perhaps? I’m taking recommendations. It’s a great way to sub-contract out the thinking.

It’s still going strong! Gaura has been in flower since early July and I love it! I’m told it’s one of the longest-flowering plants so I do expect it to keep on going for another month or thereabouts. It does tend to lean over after heavy rain, but recovers beautifully soon after. I’ve moved it slightly from its original spot. Now it’s just behind the Lobelia Cardinalis. What a combination! I’ll definitely be growing more of the Gaura from seed, and it’ll soon be time to divide the Lobelia. I’ve got three in pots, bought in 2019. I’ll separate them into six plants and put three in the ground. Thinking ahead. Wasn’t too taxing.

Having bought a 10-pack of Busy Lizzie, I’m thrilled with the outcome of my efforts this year. I’m told that the secret is to grow them in semi-shade. There are a few smaller ones growing on top of the rockery. They’re smaller because they’re competing with shrubs, and also because the soil there is a bit too dry. However, I don’t really mind. The entire corner has been a highlight of the many successes this year. I’ll not be using my new thinking cap here. It’s a mistake to overthink what’s already working well.

The glasshouse is back to its shelved state. I had removed everything in a failed attempt to grow tomatoes. Now I’m ready for autumn/winter. I’ll continue to sow some salad greens. Later, when the first frosts arrive, the Begonias will be brought inside, together with other delicate potted perennials. It’s also a good spot for coffee on cold winter days, and some thinking might happen too.

French Marigilds are still growing very well. I’ve saved some seed and am letting them dry out in the sunshine. Later, I’ll store them away safely. I’m thinking that these brightly-coloured flowers would do very well in my swap-pots next year.

I’ll have several thousand of these seeds left over. Local enthusiasts will be more than welcome to come along and collect same. My guess is that there will be several hundred for everyone in the audience. Best between now and end of this month, I’d imagine. Pick and dry your own. Much more satisfying that way.


I write as a member of The Saturday Gang. We are a group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania, USA, Canada, Britain and Waterford City. Many more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more about it here. Six things, in your garden. Could be anything, and frequently is. Do join in.


This Time Last Year

Here’s the full article: Dibbers And Pringles

Pádraig.

Six-on-Saturday – Seed To Flower

31st July 2021.

I’ve repeated to myself that July and August are for enjoying the garden; time to relax and do very little work. This year, I’m busier than expected because I grew so many plants from seed. I’m noticing that, although I’m delighted with my new plants, I am spending more time dead-heading than is good for me. If dead-heading were an Olympic event, I’d be on the podium for sure!

Here’s a selection of six that really please me, even though some are a bit needy… I’ll call them Six Seeds on Saturday. Each one is given a rating out of 10. A teacher of mine once advised that everyone should include the phrase “Up hill and down dale I sped rapidly.” when writing an essay, no matter what the topic! So, follow along as best you can. You’re with me? Ar aghaidh linn up and down, over and back, as this is the last Six-on-Saturday for July…

A h-aon: Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia is not needy at all! Known also as Black-eyed Susan, the flowers are about 6-8cm and easy to care for. This one is Rudbeckia Toto. Please don’t anyone tell me it isn’t, because that would mean I’ve got my labels mixed up. Anyway, I like Toto as a name. It reminds me of Japan and the Olympics. The plant has been awarded AGM status (Award of Garden Merit) and it’s easy to see why.

I adore the two-tone colour combination. I’m thinking also that my favourite begonia last year is quite similar. I still have that Begonia but I’ll not show it this week, because today is all about seeds I’ve sown this year. Score: 9

A Dó: Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’

Another perennial, the catalogue says that Gaura is a plant whose flower has a very long season. In fairness, I cannot vouch for that yet, but it’s another one that takes care of itself. It grows beautifully among other plants and pleases me greatly. Heavy rain can knock it sideways but it seems to recover well. I may support it with a bamboo stick or two. Score: too soon to tell.

A Trí: Dahlias

Oh lordy! I’ve got about ten or twelve dahlias flowering from seed. Some look like gangly pre-teenagers, all foliage but very few flowers. And yet, I like them! They will strengthen over the winter and emerge from puberty to excite the senses next year! They are perennials, but will need to be protected from frost between November and April mid-May.

I love the doubles because the flower stays for much longer. The singles are a bit of a pain, needing dead-heading every few days, and for the life of me, I regularly confuse flowers that are finished with new flowers that are on the way. I remind myself of the barber who ignores a customer’s instructions! Snip, snip. Oh, sorry! Score: 6. Maybe 8 next year?

A Ceathar: Nasturtium

I’ve sown three varieties and all are doing very well. I will say one thing, though. I’ve used these to fill any gaps that I noticed after all other plants were put in position. At times, they look a bit lonely here and there, but in my experience, they really shine in September. Fingers crossed. Next year, I may do an entire window box with one variety, en masse as it were. Better still, the seeds will drop and germinate in position next year giving a much more natural effect. Score: 8

Peach Melba

This one is just getting going. Let’s see how it looks in a month. Peachy!

Empress of India

The Empress of India is a reliable plant, erect and proud. It seems to be one of the very few reds that I’m able to photograph well. For that alone, I give it 10/10 as befits royal status.

Tom Thumb looks shook because I moved it from vegetable bed to this pot only last week. Again, I’ll be hoping it will fill out enormously in September. Bit like myself!

A Cüig: Asters

I’ve never grown Asters before. I’m assured they will come into their own when summer annuals begin to fade. Watch this space. I’ve got a variety called Mixed. Yes, that’ll be interesting. Score: 5 perhaps. Maybe 4. I hope I’m wrong.

A Sé: Echinacea

Dreamcoat

I planted ten seeds of Echinacea Dreamcoat, seven germinated, three died for lack of care, three are missing, and this is the only one left. The jury is out, but I’ll be rooting for the underdog. Score: 10/10 simply for the fact that I’ve succeeded in breeding it. The bees will agree it’s a top class addition.

That’s my Six Seeds on Saturday. I do have many many more, and consequently I’ve brought extra work upon myself. Hang on, it’s not really work when I enjoy it. But wait… The flowers are stunning but I’m not sure I enjoy tending to the needy ones. I’m all confused.

That’s it for this week, a cháirde. Get yourselves over to The Propagator to find many many more weekly gardening stories, and until next week, I hope that all will be well in your world. Slán go fóill.


This Time Last Year

Excerpt from this weekend last year:

“Hiding the ugly plastic oil tank will be my number one priority … I know exactly the way I intend to do it, and when it’s finished the ugly plastic oiltank will be hidden from view. That’s the whole point. It’s on the way to being a top priority.”

[Observation: I’ve managed to change this corner entirely, that’s for sure. It now has a Budda, a water feature, a duck-egg-blue seat and an unique micro-atmosphere.]

Here’s the full article, a three minute read: Six Urgent Tasks

The Week That Was

Not garden-related, this is merely to keep a record of events for future reminiscing.

  • The heatwave is over.
  • Indoor dining opened up, but we will dine outside while summer allows.
  • My report about our first Garden Open Day is in both local newspapers. Worth the effort to finish a great event by recording it.
  • We used lots of petrol this week: Johnstown Castle on Wednesday and Kilmacurragh on Friday.
  • The ladies Olympic road race was amazing. Amateur Austrian cyclist & college maths teacher, Anna Kiesenhofer, beat all the professionals.
  • Táim ag léamh An Béal Bocht le Myles na gCopaleen. Irish language satire. Oh, how I’m enjoying that rare combination!

Pádraig

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