Tag Archive | growing flowers to attract bees

A ‘March’ Catch Up

Well it’s nice to be back blogging but as usual I haven’t been resting as planned, however I have been careful to make sure I’ve not been rushing around.

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March started off very wet and we had so much rain one night that our local park flooded in places!

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I had a wonderful mothers day with nice presents and a really nice cooked breakfast made by Mr Thrift.

One of the things my daughters bought me was a couple of bug boxes, that I am very pleased with and I put them up straight away:

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In February I repotted my blueberries and needed a mulch that was acidic (as blueberries like acid soil) and I remember that someone on here suggested I used pine needles, but I didn’t have any to use.

During March we had some very windy days and unfortunately an enormous branch broke off a pine tree at the park…..which was great for me as I managed to take a bag full of pine needles before the council shredded the tree (I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded considering how big the fallen branch was).  I placed them around my blueberries as a mulch and they actually look quite attractive:

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At the beginning of March I planted some new Snowdrops that I brought ‘in the green’ (this means they have just finished flowering and they establish quickly at this stage).  I did bring a very small amount back from my old allotment when I gave up but I like a lot of Snowdrops as I said previously they remind me of my old friend that passed away:

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At the beginning of March I also found that B&Q were selling their fruit bushes off cheaply.  I managed to get a redcurrant bush, blackcurrant bush and five summer raspberry canes for £6 which was a bargain.  I have planted them in an area that only gets 4-6 hours of sunlight in the summer, so this is a bit of an experiment….but for £6 it is worth a gamble.

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I have also had a go at making an arch to go over my path.  I have never really made anything before so armed with some left over wood and a bit extra that I purchased, I gave it a go.  I also used some expandable trellis from Wilkinsons.  After it was finished I gave it a paint with my faithful old tin of woodstain….the whole thing cost me just £16 to make and I am really pleased with it:

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I am planning to grow sweetpeas up the side of my arch and the sweetpeas I sowed previously have been growing nicely in pots and I will be able to plant them shortly:

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I then decided to carry on and try and make something to stop Judy (our rescue dog) from being able to run down the alley at the side of our house (and bark).

I brought an expandable trellis on legs, added a few bits of wood including an old gate that I made last year out of an old allotment cage and attached it all to our brick outhouse and house wall to make it sturdy. I also brought a cheap planter off ebay and attached it to the expandable trellis and painted the whole lot again with my faithful old tin of brown woodstain.

I lined the wooden planter with plastic (with drainage holes) and added compost.  I then went to my local nursery and brought some primroses and cowslips for £4 as they were selling them off cheap to clear them and planted them….and this is the result:

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I am very pleased with it, though I do need to rethink the area behind as it does look scuffy.

The Cowslips and Primroses will be replanted somewhere else in my garden when they have finished flowering and they will hopefully come up year after year.

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I have been busy in March sowing seeds, though you can see from the photo below that Judy has hampered my seed sowing at times….as you can see one of her dog treats was ‘hidden’ on top of my seedlings:

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During March I sowed red cabbages, white cabbages, coriander, greenhouse cucumbers, spring onions and various flower seeds:

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I have tried very hard to keep my seedlings in the house up until now, as the greenhouse heater is expensive to run, but I do know that when I sow my next lot of seeds next week I will have to switch it on.

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At the beginning of March in my cold greenhouse I also planted my onion sets in newspaper pots that I made (you can read how to make the pots here).  This week they were ready to plant.  I have planted half of them up to now, but I have made sure that I have planted them under environmesh as I had such a problem last year with the allium leaf miner.  The flies have two generations each year and the adults first lay their eggs in March / April and the next generation lay their eggs September to November:

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I also planted my ‘spare’ garlic that I sowed in January in newspaper pots and left to grow in my greenhouse.  I also planted with some leftover onion sets next to the garlic – again under environmesh…..it feels like one day I will have my whole garden under environmesh!

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This month I also planted the broadbeans that have sat in my cold greenhouse since the middle of January, again in newspaper pots.  As always, I raked in some blood, fish and bone a couple of weeks before I planted them.

I put some garden string around them ready to support them when they are bigger:

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Elsewhere in the garden I planted some lollo rossa lettuce under glass (a bottomless box and an old piece of glass):

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I removed any yellowing leaves from around my Spring cabbages and sprinkles some blood, fish and bone around them and gave the ground a quick hoe.  I also gave them a seaweed feed to help perk them up after a long winter:

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I thinned the leeks that I sowed in January in the hope they will now grow bigger.  I use a pair of scissors to do this as it is so much easier just snipping them off and doesn’t disturb the remaining seedlings:

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And I sowed some mixed salad leaves and radishes in my cold greenhouse at the beginning of March and they are growing nicely:

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The garden is springing into life now and I have noticed that the bees are starting to buzz around my flowers, so I am glad I have plenty for them to choose from.  Incidentally the daffodils that I planted far too late last year (mid November), have been flowering beautifully during March….I’m so glad I didn’t just throw them away as I was so late planting them:

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In The Home During March:

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I made some more ‘mini cloches’ by cutting ‘pop’ bottles in half.  I will soon be using these in my garden:

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I found I still have some stored apples which I have started to add to my porridge in the mornings.  I also made some apple cakes too (the recipe is here):

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I also ran out of my last batch of laundry liquid.  I usually use Dri Pak soapflakes for convienience but unfortunately after ringing them I found out that they have discontinued them and they are no longer available.  They now sell liquid soapflakes which are equally good to use, however I chose some cheap, unfragranced soap and just grated it instead and this has worked just as well as the old soapflakes:

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(Here is the recipe for homemade laundry liquid).

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One last thing I wanted to tell you about this week is some flowers that we gave to someone special in March.  I didn’t want to buy them ready made up from the florist as they would have been so expensive, but I did want the flowers to be extra special….so I copied the florists and made my own arrangement with flowers from Leicester market instead.

The market sold me a ‘flower box’ for £1 (I’m not sure if that is the right name for it) and I used the roll of cellophane I have at home.  I carefully wrapped the flowers so that the bottom of the cellophane was water tight and put an inch or so of water in the bottom of the cellophane to keep the flowers fresh.  I popped them in the box and added a bit of ribbon and a gift card that I also brought from the market for 10 pence……..and this is the result, which I am very proud of:

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Anyway, that’s it for this week.

Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next week as usual.

Have a great week!

 

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A Tour Of My Kitchen Garden & A Bradgate Park Dog Walk

Last weekend we took part in a ‘Bradgate Park dog walk’ with Judy our rescue dog.  This is what their website says about the walk:

“A chance for you and your dog to get out for a walk at Bradgate Park in the company of one of our Rangers who will talk about the history and wildlife of the Park while dog behaviourist Steven Havers gives tips on how to ensure that a walk in the park is a positive experience for you, your dog and any other people and animals you may meet.”

I have got to be honest and say the only reason we went was because Steven Havers is our dog trainer and I feel confident when he is around.  The last time we attempted to walk Judy on our own in Bradgate Park a few months ago, we ended up hiding up a hill behind trees as Judy reacted so much to each and every dog, regardless of how far away they were!…….but not this time.

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At the start of the walk she barked a bit as there were lots of dogs, but after a few minutes she behaved really well and took time out to relax and have a lie down….I was so proud of her!

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Bradgate park is beautiful and the views from ‘Old John’ are spectacular as it stands on Bradgate’s tallest hill and Leicestershire’s second highest point – some 690 feet above sea level:

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Old John:

This Folly or Prospect Tower was built in 1784 by the 5th Earl of Stamford. The circular stone tower replaced a former wooden windmill (which had been made unsafe in an earlier storm).

On the 31st October 1786 a huge open-air fire was built on the Hill by the 5th Earl of Stamford to mark the coming of age of his son, George Harry.  Legend has it that a bonfire timber burnt through, falling amongst the guests and accidentally killing an old retainer of the Bradgate Estate called John.

After the accident, the 5th Earl is reputed to have decreed that the Tower be named in affectionate memory of “Old John”. It is said that the stonework at the side of the Tower was altered so it looked like a handle – perhaps knowing the old man’s liking of ale, it was deliberately modelled to give the Tower its familiar beer tankard shape of today”

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You can read more about Old John here if you are interested.

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This week in my kitchen garden:

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This week I planted some Cosmos just behind the new wire fence that I put up last week.  Hopefully they will grow and look pretty later in the season and because they are behind the wire fence my daft dog won’t be able to destroy them.  Again I planted them through the weed suppressant:

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I also had four spare tomato plants which I planted in this area as well.

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As I said last week, I’m not sure how well these plants will grow as I haven’t prepared the soil in this area at all….I just dug a small hole for each plant and used a small amount of blood, fish and bone and filled the hole with compost…..it will be interesting to see the results!

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I also decided to give my old garden chair a face lift by buying a new piece of wood for it and giving it a new coat of paint.  It does need a second coat but it certainly looks better already:

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My new kitchen garden:

Considering it is the first year of the garden, it is doing really well.  I thought today I would give you a tour:

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In the photo above you can see the whole kitchen garden with the new area in front that I created last week.

The new front area has mangetout, dwarf peas, a bag with potatoes growing in it, strawberries, sweetcorn and four tomato plants:

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In my onion and root beds I have onions, garlic, parsley, parsnips, spring onions, beetrrot, radish and lettuce.  The lettuce will shortly be replaced with leeks:

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I have two beds with potatoes in – ‘Marfona’ a second early and ‘Desiree’ a late main crop potato:

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In my legumes beds I have broad beans, french beans, runner beans, climbing peas and lolla rossa lettuces:

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And in my brassica beds I have cabbages, curly kale, swedes, kohl rabi, outdoor cucumbers and two butternut squashes that will hopefully grow up my washing line post:

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At the back of my plot I have herbs in pots and fruit trees (apple and pears) and I have autumn raspberries along the side fence:

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On the shady side of the garden I have rhubarb, comfrey and jerusalem artichokes.

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And at the front I have blueberries, red and black currants and a gooseberry bush too:

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In my greenhouse I have cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, peppers, basil and two melons:

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And elsewhere in the garden I have courgettes, patty pans, outdoor tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, corriander and two dwarf plum trees…..

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….and as usual I have squeezed as many flowers in as possible to attract bees and other beneficial insects to my plot:

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I’m sure I have missed one or two things, but never mind I’ll write about them another time when I remember them.

So I am hoping over the next few weeks I will get some lovely crops, but for the moment we are enjoying some delicious salads:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back on Friday at my usual time.

Have a good weekend!