Keeping Seedlings Close to Home
On Lovely Greens I mainly feature my allotment garden that sits on a hill above Laxey. It’s a beautiful site but exposed to both the elements and pests so I like to start many of my crops off at home. I can keep a closer eye on my seedlings from the warm conservatory and greenhouse and make sure that slugs and birds don’t take their toll.
For that same reason I’ve also decided to grow most of my salad crops at home this year too. Not only to make sure that pheasants don’t eat it all but also for ease of harvest. Keeping greens and herbs a few steps from the kitchen will make fixing a fresh salad so much more convenient.
Growing under Protection
In March and April I start my seeds off in trays or modules in the conservatory. The temperature inside is warmer and more consistent than in the greenhouse and perfect for encouraging seeds to sprout. After they’ve grown to a good size I pot them on individually and then move them into the greenhouse.
From the greenhouse I ‘harden’ my edibles off before taking them to their final growing space outside. All this involves is setting the plants outside during the day and moving them back into the greenhouse at night.
After a week of this, plants are a bit more accustomed to the climate outside and will have a better chance of surviving. Saying that, none of my tender edibles such as beans or squash will go outside until at least May 15th. After then I’m sure that it will be warm enough for them to thrive.
This is my greenhouse’s second year and I’m very pleased with with its design and customer service. The panes are high quality plastic which means that they’re less likely to break than glass — a bonus considering our stormy Isle of Man winters.
In fact, a storm blew out the window in January but because it was plastic it didn’t break. I also contacted the manufacturer and they were more than happy to send an extra piece that was lost to the wind. The window is now re-attached and as good as new.
Edible Plants in Containers
Outside the greenhouse I use different planters and pots to grow herbs, greens, and berries. My strawberry pallet planters are set against a warm south-facing wall and the plants inside are just beginning to grow again. They grow along the top and through the slats in the sides and the rich compost inside encourages loads of berries in a small space.
I also grow greens in a pallet planter that I built to have wheels on the bottom. It’s shallow so not all crops can grow inside — lettuce and greens do very well though. The large area of this planter means that I can make use of even more of my paved area to grow food. Here’s the instructions on how to build and plant this pallet planter.
Along the patio and the walk up to the door are various terracotta pots filled with herbs and flowers. They need more watering than plants in the ground but I love how they look and growing in containers makes use of otherwise wasted space.
Succulent Sided Planter
One planter that I’ve built creates a space for both edible and decorative plants. Last year I grew carrots on the top and established succulents on the front. This year I’ll be growing herbs in it and encouraging moss to grow on the less sunny sides.
I’ve shared the tutorial on how to make this planter over here. It’s fairly straightforward and you can use scrap wood or heat-treated wooden pallets for some of the materials.
In the Garden
There’s a patch of ground near the gate where I usually grow flowers. I’m still going to be growing them this year but alongside edibles. I’ve cleared a few perennial flowers to create room and have started by planting cut-and-come-again lettuce. They’re under the protection of antler-like branches that will hopefully deter our resident pheasant and wood pigeons.
Sweet Pea Wigwam
In this area I’ve also used pruned Ash branches to create a wigwam for sweet peas. I was late with starting my seeds this year so went ahead and bought plants from a garden centre. They don’t seem as hardy as homegrown ones but I’m hoping they fill out in the coming weeks.
In the conservatory are some seed sown plants and these will eventually make their way into the allotment garden. It’ll be interesting to see how these ones do — I’m away for the month of July so with luck they’ll be blooming after I get home.
My Bird Feeder
Last year I had a care package sent to me that included a heavy duty bird feeder from Smart Garden’s Chapelwood range. Since then I’ve become an avid bird watcher and have the feeder set just outside my kitchen window. It’s amazing just how many birds make their way to the feeder — I have to refill it every two to three days!
The most common birds in my garden are Great Tits (yes, haha) and Robins. They love seed balls but are constantly pecking away at the high-protein bird feed in the feeder.
I’m also impressed with how easy it is to refill and to clean it. The feeder comes apart via quick release buttons so I can get in and clean every little area. I think this is really important considering the outbreaks of Avian Flu we get here in the UK. I can’t find the exact model on Amazon but here’s a similar bird feeder on Amazon.co.uk.
Sowing More Seeds
When you’re growing edibles you have to keep sowing. For some crops you’ll need to sow every 1-3 weeks, especially in the spring. Cut and come again lettuce, radishes, oriental greens, and spinach need to be succession sown in order to keep a harvest ever ready. My cat Louis likes to help out during sowing time as you can see below.
My greenhouse and container garden sometimes comes second on Lovely Greens. The allotment garden is lovely but without my mini plant nursery at home many of my edibles in Laxey wouldn’t be around. I plan on showing these areas on a Facebook Live video tomorrow morning so if you’d like to see even more and ask questions, head over to my Facebook page at 4pm (UK time) tomorrow afternoon.