At this month's indoor gardening group, we experimented with layering bulbs in pots, alias "bulb lasagne" (a term coined in Holland).
It's a simple but effective way to create a continuous and bold display, using indoor or outdoor containers, throughout the spring. Our group were using a combination of Narcissus (dwarf daffodils), Tulips, Muscari (grape hyacinths), Crocus and Chionodoxa (lovely little purple/blue flowers).
The principle of layering is to place the larger/latest flowering bulbs on the bottom of the pot and they'll grow around the smaller/earliest ones. The bulbs can be positioned quite close together, just make sure the bulbs aren't touching (about a finger width apart). For indoor bulbs (forcing) they will need a period of cold (e.g. garage, cellar, cold greenhouse), so they think winter has arrived, and then bring them into the warm so they think it's Spring.
Fork to fork
Today, we are mostly eating fresh produce from the garden - a salad of lettuce, rocket, tomatoes and cucumber (sadly not the goat's cheese)!
Later on I will be preparing these delicious corn on the cob for our dinner, grown in the raised beds (who says we don't get enough sunshine)!!
And for dessert.....our very own Yorkshire grapes!!
At the Friendly Friday social group (bramleyea.org.uk/information-support/living-with-dementia/) this month, we have been creating new plants from old, by taking cuttings. Pelargoniums (or geraniums as they are better known) are easy to propagate as they will readily root at this time of year. Choose a healthy, non-flowering stem and cut from the plant above a leaf joint (growing point). Trim to about 10cm below a leaf joint, where the roots will develop, and remove the lower leaves. We used recycled plastic plant pots with drainage holes and put 2-3 cuttings around the edge of the pots. They are best watered from underneath and left in a warm, shady spot. Re-pot once roots appear on the underside of the pot.
We also had a go with lavender and rosemary plants - plants for free!
I am now the proud owner of a beautiful octagonal red cedar greenhouse, and I can't imagine life without it! So this year I have grown pretty much all my veggies and quite a few perennials from seed. The greenhouse is bulging (you can never have enough space) and the plants are now queuing up to go outside. Thanks to the lovely people at woodpecker-joinery.co.uk the greenhouse came with a free coldframe to harden off some of the plants before they go into the raised beds. Things that were never possible before, due to a shortage of windowsills and an excess of cats, are now possible. And for the first time I am growing cucumbers, watermelon, aubergines, sweet peppers and a larger variety of tomatoes and chillis. I am also enjoying sharing and swapping the excess plants with friends, neighbours and customers, which makes gardening an even more rewarding and sociable activity.
Back to school
I've just spent an inspiring couple of days in Birmingham with Thrive at the Martineau Gardens, learning more about social and therapeutic horticulture for older people. A fantastic location, and some great work going on in this beautiful community garden. Came away with lots of new ideas to try with my groups, and a fresh insight into all the different ways that gardening can improve and enrich people's lives.
Toilet rolls and tin cans
The green bin's a bit less full this week... I've been working with a community group, using cardboard toilet roll tubes as sweet pea planters, and empty tin cans for window sill herb gardens. If you want to try this yourself don't forget to sterilise the cardboard tubes for 30 seconds in the microwave, and punch a few holes in the bottom of your tin cans for drainage. I use a hammer and a big nail - very satisfying! Save your plastic fruit & veg punnets to hold the cardboard tubes upright. Fill them with a seed compost and off you go!
Rubbing shoulders with the stars!!
We were very excited to meet the very lovely Katie Rushworth today (of ITV's Love Your Garden) at Leeds Kirkgate Market great new food hall and event space. She gave a really interesting talk and demonstration about container planting, with some great plant combinations which we're definitely going to try at home. Loved the pink planters - would really cheer up a garden on a grey day. Katie also spent time with children from a local primary school, helping them to plant seeds and indoor plants. Can't wait to read her new book "Plants, beds and borders".