Posted by Skud on April 14, 2013 at 11:45 and edited at May 26, 2019 at 22:06

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I really should've got started on winter planting sooner, I think. Everything in the garden is in a lull right now. Although people near me are still blogging about the last of their crops from summer, all we have still going are some chillis and some basil. Lots of things died off in the summer's last heatwave a month or so back, and some of our crops were either disappointing in the first place ( zucchini ) or succumbed to powdery mildew ( cucumbers ). Sigh.

Anyway, everything's paused right now while we wait for the winter crops to come up. I've been planting things in seedling trays rather than direct in the tubs outside, partly because I need to do some work to clear out the dead remains of the summer crops and perk up the potting mix in the tubs for a new season, and partly because there are birds out there who love to scratch around in any bare dirt they can find, which makes direct planting a bit of a challenge.

I have two Ikea mini greenhouses (these ones), which hold 9 standard seedling punnets exactly, with no room to spare. Two weeks ago I planted the first one with various green leafies, beets, and celeriac; those sprouts are now starting to push out their second sets of leaves (except the celeriac, which is barely up). Today I planted another 9 punnets, again with green leafies and some celeriac and chives. I'm hoping to keep up an every-two-weeks schedule, and always have some advanced seedlings to replace any crops we harvest.

Today I also planted snowpeas, in three large tubs with three stakes set tripod-style in each one for them to grow up. I'm not sure how they'll turn out. I'm a little worried about the potting mix, as one of the tubs previously had some beans in it that really failed to thrive. So I took the mix from that pot, split it between the three I'm using, then topped up with a mixture of secondhand potting mix from other tubs, a bit of bought compost, and the composty-soily underlayer that I shovelled up when I dug up the messy old garden scrap heap last week.

I've been reading up a bit on potting mix and things that can go wrong with it, and I'm wondering whether my mix is too dense/wet/badly drained from repeatedly using it and adding compost each time? Perhaps I should add a bit of vermiculite or perlite or something next time round? Something to consider. Of course the other possibility is pH or nutrient imbalance. I did a very rough pH test over the kitchen sink with some vinegar and baking soda, but didn't see anything conclusive. Eventually I womaned up and bought this soil test kit from the Diggers' Club, which not only does pH but also NPK. And yeah, I finally got a Diggers membership. It had to happen sometime. (Can't help wondering whether it's a valid business expense. Hmmm!) Anyway, I guess when that arrives we'll see what's what.

In other news, last week when I cleaned up that compost corner, I also attacked a dead shrub in the front yard, which is the last shrub in the garden bed along the front fence. The landlords originally planted the yard with a bunch of low-maintenance rental-style shrubs which I mostly hate (except the lavender) but some of them haven't survived the dry summer. I can't say I'm very sorry. I wouldn't have ripped them up otherwise, but since they are dead I can now put that front garden to some useful purpose.

My first plan is to plant it with lupins and sweet peas, immediately, to grow through the winter and flower in early spring. Then I'll slash them down -- they're nitrogen fixers and should make good mulch -- and grow sunflowers and beans a pumpkins there for the summer. At least that's my current thought. I'm a little worried because the picket fence to the north may give a bit too much shade at first, but the more we get into summer the less shaded it is, and the taller the sunflowers/beans get and the sprawling the pumpkins get, the less they'll be affected anyway. At least that's my theory.

Apart from that, not much going on. I've been trying to do regular Harvest Monday and Thursday Garden Gobble posts over at my domestic blog though I missed TGG last week and I might miss HM this week unless I go pick some chillis or basil just to say I've got something. (Hmm! Makes me think of a Thai stirfry, now I say it like that. Hmm hmm hmmm.)

Work on Growstuff-the-site is slowish this fortnight because we have a lot of bureaucracy and business stuff to slog through, but I'm hoping I can get some coding time in later this week.

I think that is all. Phew.