more sowing

I sowed the luffa seeds a week ago, as some books/sites say they can take two or three weeks to germinate. It took less than three days – they’ve already reached the point of needing transplanted !

Today being Valentine’s Day, as usual I sowed tomatoes. Despite having said I wouldn’t grow “Latah” again, I’ve sown some! There just isn’t anything else I can see that’s that early (60 days after planting out, which I do around 21st April) – although Real Seeds Co is entirely justified in describing it as “Absurdly early red tomato. Untidy sprawling bush.

I also sowed “Urbikany“, which last year proved to have a surprisingly long season after an initial glut, and of course “Black Russian“. All the tomato seeds are home saved – fingers crossed, though it worked well enough last year.

Still very soggy outside, so I’ll put off sowing Broad Beans for another week or so. As last year’s trial of “Aquadulce” was disappointing, I’m reverting to “Sutton” this year – dwarfish, productive, but a little prone to rotting if the soil is waterlogged.

Daffodils in full bloom outside the front door, which is cheerful.

sowing indoors

Yesterday was a session of cleaning and sterilising the heated propagator tray. I did eventually track down seven of the eight pots and covers it uses … no idea where the errant one has got to!

The open bag of multi-purpose compost is thoroughly dried out, and it took a lot of effort to re-wet it. However, I managed to do enough yesterday to sow seeds of the “peter pepper” chilli, which I’ll grow indoors.

Today I sowed loofah plant seeds – which is one of this year’s experiments, to be grown in the deep pot outside the back door. It will probably have lots of Morning Glory “Grandpa Ott” come up, as well, as that’s what the pot contained last year, but no harm done as loofahs are not particularly decorative and I’m sure can stand a bit of competition.

Next items to sow will be tomatoes in ten days time – I traditionally sow them on Valentine’s Day.

buds

The daffodils in the front garden are getting close to opening, (though this time last year they were already in full bloom). The ones in pots by the French windows, and the ones further up the garden, will be a couple of weeks yet. Snowdrops sadly not yet in bloom, either …

daffodil buds

OUT wake

Last night was the “OUT Wake” – a meet-up of various member of the OUT gay social networking website, of which I’ve been a member since March 2005. Sadly, the site is now about to close. It was great to chat to several old friends and acquaintances, though the venue (The Yard in Rupert Street) was, of course, very noisy. Still, being sort-of-outside, I got to smoke my e-cig, which I suppose was a bonus.

Here’s a pic of some of us – I’m sitting.

OUT wake

Leaving the Yard, I realised that I’d got extremely cold, and my back was playing hob. In fact, I started shivering uncontrollably, and even the heat of the tube didn’t really help. A brief stop off at Liverpool Street station for a hot chicken and bacon “megaslice” helped a bit. Back to the hotel – in Bethnal Green, the same one as I stayed in for Phoebe’s graduation. That had been the hottest day of last year, so I suppose it kind of makes sense that this time was the coldest night of the winter so far!

There was a glittering frost on the fields on my train journey home this morning (and a thick mist on the Cotswolds scarp between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham).

There are still frost patches in the parts of the garden that the sun doesn’t reach. The first flower (ever) is now fully out on my 2-year-old camellia – hopefully, the frost isn’t heavy enough to kill the rest of the buds.

camellia flower

garden bits

Everything is still very damp here!

I’ve been pretty much housebound for the last week, but have managed a couple of expeditions up the garden, to pull a few carrots and put veg peelings in the compost bin. I’m surprised at how backward everything here is, compared to the past few years.

When I cut a couple of forsythia branches to bring in on New Years Day, they were all in very tight bud, though in previous years some of the flowers have been actually open. The clematis cirrhosa v. balearica has only just shown decent-sized buds, and I normally reckon on a flush of flowers well before Christmas.

Daffodils – both in the front garden and in pots outside the French windows – are just starting to poke their leaves an inch or so out of the soil, so it doesn’t look as though I’ll have the flowers in the last week of January which I had last year. Only the iberis sempervirens – perennial candytuft – seems to be on the normal schedule, with the first flowers opening just before Christmas, and gradually working itself up towards being a wonderful white froth of flowers against the dark green leaves.

iberis

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iberis

flower bits

Sunshine this morning, so I’m feeling a bit more cheerful, even if still rather groggy. The camellia outside the French windows is starting to show a flush of pink on the buds – fingers crossed, though I’ll probably lose them if there’s a heavy frost. Indoors, the dendrobium on the bathroom windowsill is in full flower.

camellia

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dendrobium

garden bits

Looking out of the French window, I can see the first shoots of daffodils appearing in one of the pots – no sign yet in the front garden, when I went out in the rain to bring the bin back in after the rubbish collection.

Also outside the French window is a potted camellia, which I have my fingers crossed for! Last year, all the buds fell off. This year, although the buds have a bit of browning at the edges, I’m hoping for flowers …

daffodil shoot

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camellia bud

Chinese lanterns

Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi) brought in to dry, while they’re still orange and haven’t got to the skeletal tracery stage. Some on stems to go with honesty as a dried flower arrangement, as there won’t be fresh flowers until I bring in forsythia at New Year.

However, this year I’m also drying individual seedpods, which I’ll hang on loops of thread on the Christmas tree, as the start of a move to plastic-free decorations.

single seedpod

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many seedpods

scents

Nipped out in a brief break between showers to dig a few carrots for tonight’s stew.

I love the smell of fresh carrots being scrubbed in the sink – it’s one of the scent milestones of the year (following on from the glorious smell of pinching out side-shoots on tomatoes).

an hour of autumn tidying

A sunny (but chilly) spell this afternoon, and with enough painkillers I could actually use my hands properly! Front rose and scarlet sage pruned.

Tomato plants cut down (they’ll go in the once-a-year garden waste collection, as if seeds get in the compost it’s a bugger – they end up coming up everywhere!). The few remaining tomatoes are in a bowl in the kitchen, where hopefully most of them will gradually ripen.