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Into January 2013 & the start of February

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Into January 2013 & the start of February

Post  plantoid on Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:15 pm

Whilst it’s quiet and lousy weather for most of the UK & mainland Europe I’ve been collecting various seed merchants catalogues , visiting web sites and making arrangement to get a programme of slug control using nematodes set up.
I’ve used the down time to build my new heated seed propagation bench with overhead full spectrum LED grow lights. It’s cost me about £58 so far
It’s a simple frame lined with 2 inch Styrofoam sheet to make an insulated floor some pond liner filled with 60 kg of washed kiddies play sand for the heat exchanger /dissipater four upright and a full frame top of 25 mm light weight aluminium angle plus a few pop rivets to hold the frame in place. Tghe wood was some spare stock from a previous project.
The most expensive bits were the lamp shades at £ 16 a pop ( got two in a sale )& the trace heat cable & control (£40 ish )
Inside the sand 45 mm down & 45 mm above the liner there is a trace heat cable and a thermostat , it’s covered with another bit of pond liner to help keep the heat in and to keep the sand and moisture in the sand inside the whole set up.
I’ve sown a few lettuce seeds and will soon be adding more new season seed in new pots..
Whilst I was constructing it all , I ran my mind over what had worked well and what hadn’t and why it turned out as it had in both cases.

Too much rain has been a big problem ,we have come very close to having the biggest rain fall since records began for the UK & Wales in general . 54 inches if memory serves me correct.
This has led to lots of luxuriant top growth of almost everything.
Onions bolted as soon as they found it was not going to be sunny so did the garlic’s .

The brasicas aka greens have ended up massive specimens , attacked by slugs and cabbage white butterfly caterpillars they are a shadow of what they were earlier last year.
I’ve been out and about around the beds whenever I could when it stopped raining . It’s no use hiding away hoping for a better day for eventually you get such a backlog of tasks you feel overwhelmed with it all and give up.
Had a decent big tidy up on 4 JAN collecting the last windblown leaf shed and also any yellowing brasicas leaves for the compost. Collected all the plant marker /labels off all 20 beds and put them to soak in some warm soapy bleaching water not only to clean them but to also sterilize them so I don’t put disease in with new seeds/seedlings or cuttings. Some how I have over 600 labels over 6 inches long made from ½ 2 wide of long lasting white rainwater square down piping .
Now is the time to start collecting you seed label materials and cutting them to size as well as organising any plant pots and trays you need for the year.
I’ve rounded up all my plant pots up for a similar treatment with bleach and soap . Strong storm force winds & rain s a few weeks ago spread a big pile of them all over the gardens .
Had to get organised to power wash off all the slimy blackened /green algae growth on all the paths in the property which is something I’ve never had to do before , but as they were so slimy they had become dangerous not only for me on crutches but even the dog in full four wheel drive.
Next major exercise is to use a soapy bleach solution and spray the inside of an empty glasshouse to sterilize it , clean the glass down with a window cleaners fluffy “T “ bar , then rinse it out and “ Aquavac “ the washings water away off the floor after it has soaked in and killed the green algae that has developed on the concrete .
Apparently this simple glass cleaning task can easily give you an extra 10 to 12 % more beneficial light. All the greenhouse staging etc will also get cleaned and sterilized. There’s no point in putting new delicate stock like seedlings or cuttings back into a heavily diseased / spore ridden building that has been festering away over winter, as they’d die off in a matter of days .
I’ve got a few supermarket spuds ready for tub growing but this year will not be putting them on a drip watering feed for last year the tops reached seven feet tall with only a few small potatoes to show for my efforts. I might also try putting some in as slips rather than a whole fully chitted seed potato. I might also try and give sweet potatoes a go in the glass house , if I can find some to chit up from off the supermarket grocery shelves..
Our supermarket lemon grass is growing fine in a glass of water ( change the water daily ), once the green tips start showing I’ll be potting it up and putting it on the propagation bed to try and get it rooted .

We have recently ordered some Goji Berry shrubs so that they will arrive in mid May when things warm up. Once the plant is established by the end of the year it will be able to handle minus 20 o C or so.
Now is a good time to think ahead for shrubs & plants you’d like rather than try for a last minute order and get rubbish stock or find that what you wanted is out of stock
I’m using a very old established in 1700’s company for shrubs and some seeds etc. called the Victorian Nursery , their online prices here in the UK are a fraction of the big seeds men / nurseries and the stock is guaranteed viable & sound .

The compost bins have reduced to about half full so I dropped a 56 pound bag of neat chicken muck into two of them and put a covering of the collected wet leaves over the top as it didn’t half pong ( water had got inside the tops of the bags& it had started fermenting /decaying )
I still have eight full bags of well made compost made early on in last year , the worms have been through it . Over the next few weeks whenever possible I’ll be putting a bucket in all the fully cleared beds that will not be having root crops this year.
The front flower beds have already had a 3 to 4 inch top up dressing of well made MM just before Christmas day . There are now the green shoots of renewal/ re growth pointing skywards as well as a few pansies and some ornamental cabbages I left in the beds for seeds stock later in the year.
My lawns could also do with a haircut if it ever stops raining or being misty wet as there is nigh on 3 inches of grass.

That’s about all for now, I hope it give you some inspiration or provokes some action in your gardens.

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