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Barmy Blue's Bland Blog

Oh So Many Plants

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Right then. Haven't had clear access to my keyboard for a while. It seems that the last thing I wrote was my plant theft. We never recovered the plant. But clearly I'm not the only one. Going into town, so to speak, I passed a home with a lower ground floor flat (you might also know it as a basement flat perhaps, where you have to go downstairs to get to the front door from the street) with a BEAUTIFUL array of flowers in containers. Many many different flowering plants. Clearly this is a keen gardener making the most of their limited space/sunlight. There was a sign basically saying don't 'don't steal my plants' so I'm not the only one. Clearly it's happened to them a few times to warrant putting up a sign.
I have a bunch of plants outside now oh hang on.
Although I never got my original lavender back I was given a replacement. We started looking for a replacement as soon as supermarkets have 'let's sell flowers and stuff in pots that we don't water enough' but it was too early. However, mum has a colleague who likes garden centers and collecting plants on sale. It seems that my mum mentioned it to her in conversation and she gave her a potted French lavender to bring home. I don't know if she already had it or sought it out just for us but either way she was kind enough to give us a replacement lavender and I asked mum to express my gratitude. I've never actually met the woman but thank you for the lavender. It spent quite a while in the toilet until I got round to repotting it, I needed to get more dirt. For context the toilet wasn't any sort of insult. My mum put it there to get some sun as the stairs are too shady. The windowsill was clear because we have a problem with the overflow in the toilet. It was dripping and had been for a while but not constantly. This was just the first time I could confirm it. When I called my dad to get his take on the situation he had a full week of work and, to quote directly "didn't need this now" In all honesty neither did we and it's not like it was urgent. We just need to flush the toilet to stop it getting to the overflow (there seems to be a crack in the seal for the overflow or something. Couple that with the fact that there's something off with the ballcock the toilet drips constantly. Like I said, just needs regular flushing. I'd been trying to save water for the past few years by only flushing when necessary but not so much now) Anyway. He basically demanded that in the morning (it was late at night when I discovered it) I call his friend/colleague/ our old family friend who is a plumber. We'd had to call him in last year to replace the boiler. And he added that the toilet MUST be CLEAR and giver that the room the toilet is in is basically the size of a cupboard I took that to mean the ENTIRE room. So I took absolutely everything out including the plants. I did make the call but stressed that it was not urgent because I didn't want him to think he had to rush out to fix it. He said he'd let us know when he was in the area. That was a few months ago now and he hasn't gotten in touch. i think he's forgotten. We don't want to harass him and it really isn't a problem and he'll need to service the new boiler every year so if we don't see him before then we should be able o bring it up again then assuming that there are no other issues.
So that's why there was space in the toilet for the lavender. I have since moved a few things in for practicality and put the previous plants back in. Well mum put one back in and I put in the other.

The lavender is getting along I guess. I'm not sure if it's doing well but it's not dead. I think it's just been getting a little dry. I don't water them when it rains but I don't think it's getting much water even though I have it near the edge. My other two are looking good and look like they're going to bloom very soon, earlier than all of the lavender bushes in my neighbors gardens which have just started to bud. We're feeding the bees pretty early this year. The thorns (can't tell you exactly what they are. Blackberries? brambles? or something like that) have flowered out front and the ones out back are flowering (there's so much of it. It's a pest) so I've been stepping around bees to water my plants and now the hedge is flowering (the bees love that). Once they're done with us they get the lavender from my neighbors blooming and it's constantly buzzing in mid/late summer. This year they'll get lavender from me too. Yay.
Now lets see. I got a blueberry and a blackcurrant plant at Christmas while tree shopping. The blueberry has died. Partly due to lack of water but possibly due to the wrong soil. A gardening magazine answered the question "does it matter what soil I put my plants in?" and the short answer is no. Not usually. Most plants will do fine if not well in general all purpose compost but plants such as blueberries need acidic soil. The tag said ericaceous and I didn't know what that meant and kept forgetting to look it up so I'm glad I chanced upon "acidic soil" in the magazine. Although I didn't heed the advice. I decided to test general because ii didn't think it was worth buying a special bag of soil for only one plant that I wasn't sure would work out anyway. Also During a hot time I thought mum had watered my plants with hers and she did, but only the main ones. I had pea seedlings planted. She watered them but left the ones harder to get to. She wanted to get some marigolds and I didn't stop her so I've sacrificed a planter for plants I don't intend to eat (you can actually eat marigolds but they're mostly decorative).
The peas are harvestable. The blackcurrant is a sneaky thing and flowered almost without me noticing (to be honest I mainly got it so the birds could have fresh berries but maybe we could eat some too) and the blueberry is dead (I got it because mum buys blueberries every week or so and doesn't always eat them before they rot. I figured our own supply would save a little cost both to us and to the planet in travel time. Alas it was not to be this year. Next year who knows) I held out hope it could revive. Although the leaves were all dry scraping the bark revealed green. But that was just folly. No new growth came and further scraping revealed brown. It's just that I scraped the ends where the freshest growth had been and it took a while to fade. I have finally dumped it out and yes. It is dead. The roots are very brown. And dry.
The pea seedlings were purchased when we went compost and plant pot shopping. Peas are supposed to grow fast. These took longer than I thought but never mind. Sugar snap. They were besieged with aphids and not a ladybird in sight. i had to remove them with duct tape. Die you little green bastards DIE. Sap vampires for ever entombed in duct tape.
I have two lots of pea seeds for when these ones are done. To be honest I thought I'd have moved onto them by now. Some regular peas. Is it ambassador? and Winter peas. They grow over winter it seems. WINTER VEG! Yes peas. (yes that was a deliberate pea pun).
I planted a bunch of seeds but not all of them took. I got them form gardening magazines, mainly so I didn't have to choose what to get and I think it might be cheaper overall maybe? Or there are seeds that I wouldn't get individually. Also there's helpful advice if I need it without being swamped by internet results. Sometimes you can have too much information and it's not always helpful.
I planted and then had to re-plant carrots "perfect for shallow stony soil" or window boxes. Tiny carrots. The cold earlier this Summer kind of knocked things back though, and then no rain in May. Tricky.
I'll only list what seems to be doing decently now and not all of my failures.
A big one is cucumbers. They're very big (the plants. The fruits are just starting) I have hopes of pickling home grown cucumbers. They're super spiky though. I've only ever seen smooth ones. If you look it up there are SO MANY varieties of cucumber that I didn't even know existed so that's not surprising.
Cabbage/cauliflower. This is a tricky one. I planted two of each together and three sprouted and they look identical so I don't know if I have 2 cabbages and one cauliflower or 2 cauliflowers and one cabbage. Unless I made a mistake and somehow planted three of one and only one of the other. I was no super smart when starting this.
Tomatoes. That was tricky. It wasn't warm enough to start with, that's why there was much failure. I replanted later and have a mix of "Black Russian" tomatoes and all of the old seeds I saved from last year. Again I planted those together so I'm not completely sure what is what and I still need to separate some. I think I've separated the Black Russians but I can't be sure. I planted them clearly in one half and the others in the other but when you cover them over they can move a round a bit you you can't be sure where the line between one side and the other is. At first I was only planting 1-2 seeds of something so I wouldn't have too much and wouldn't waste the seeds by having to let some seedlings struggle. Only problem is many failed. 2 seeds is not enough if something goes wrong and like I said, cold start. So when I replanted I planted more. and that resulted in my issue with the next plant.
Chilies. I had two varieties. Only the cayenne grew. Long slim failed twice. But I replanted them in the same container as the first (half a water bottle with the top taped back on to incubate them. Unfortunately I had them in the bathroom by the radiator for warmth but it wasn't on all the time to it got too cold during the day. Turns out some seeds need a certain temperature to germinate or you get nothing) I popped another seed in the bottles and this time some sprouted. But the cayenne sprouted two. Seems the first seed wouldn't come up without a rival. Ant they sprouted right next to each other. They grew more than I'd planned before I finally separated them. They seem to have survived the procedure but they're still in small pots waiting for bigger ones because I've run out of space for them and they won't get enough light from the back windows. All plants are struggling at the back windows. They're just growing slowly and not reaching their full potential. I planted strawberries late last year. They're still alive but nothing yet. I thinned out the weaker ones and put them in a big bottle that I'd used to incubate the carrots. This is why I have one carrot growing with the second lot of strawberries. It was hiding until it's siblings had moved out.
I didn't have much hope for the strawberries I moved so I picked mostly weaker looking plants. I have them at the front and they've gotten huge. No fruit yet though. So I know the quality of light is having a big effect.
Lets see. I have one pepper that successfully grew and one aubergine. I don't hold out much hope for the aubergine. I just moved it out back today. Things out back aren't doing too well. Unless they're potatoes.
Yes I planted old sprouted potatoes again. They've shot up.
I also planted turnip and parsnip seeds out back (in a big pot) and they sprouted but I think the slugs have been getting to them. I've put some onions out but they're were young and I don't think they will last.
I also got a baby raspberry plant because mum also like raspberries and I was sad about the blueberry (couldn't get a replacement. It's more about pretty bedding flowers now than practical food plants). It's so small that I didn't realize until we got it home. It's from the same family as the thorns that infested out garden isn't it? I'm going to have to keep an eye on it and move it to a much bigger pot before I see any fruit.
I also planted a bunch of lettuce seeds all crowded in a bottle. I separated five. One of those perished but the other four look good. Not sure where I'll put them when they're bigger. I also planted some mixed salad but it's in the kitchen so is growing VERY poorly. I planted spring onions that struggled and failed and I also replanted store bought ones. That was nice to have for a while until they were done.
I still have a bunch of seeds I wanted to try growing but there's just no space now. Oh well.

In other news (and the main reason I decided to write, but I checked what my last post was and decided to continue the plant theme first)
My mum sort of had a stroke. Don't panic. It's not like it sounds.

It was a "mini stroke"/TIA/transient ischemic attack.
For clarity I shall cover that in the next post which I might as well do right now while I'm here. I would jsut put it in this post but I feel it deserves its own. But I'm sure you'll forgive me for double posting because does anyone really give a damn?


  1. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Love reading about your garden. Wondering if you can post a picture of your lavender? I hope your mom recovers soon!