Garden of Earthly Delights: 2023 Gardening Thread

TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
The last post on the 2022 gardening thread makes a wonderful first post for this one.
January 1st 2023 - fat pink buds of rhubarb already poking above ground!

Please continue all discussion of growing things here; the 2022 thread is now closed (but still on the board for now, so you can refer back to it if needed).


  • Well, the cold weather has seen off my cabbages and beetroot, but on the other hand the allotment is dug for the winter, so I can afford not to worry for a bit.
  • BoogieBoogie Heaven Host
    I’m at the design stage with my new garden. All I have is a scruffy lawn and what I hope will be a small flowering cherry tree.

    I’m going to divide it in two and have a pretty fence with the bottom section as a dog-free meadow. Yellow Rattle was sown in November so I’m hoping it will grow and start the meadowing process.

    There’s a messy fence there now so it’s dog-free already. 🐾🙂
  • Saw my first snowdrop in neighbours garden, plus 1 daffodil. Also, lots of leaf buds now, e.g., on roses, fruit bushes, etc. Hope springs eternal.
  • Cheery GardenerCheery Gardener Shipmate Posts: 37
    It's been very hot here this week. I had refreshed my pots with bloomers and as part of this planted a Japanese windflower. By chance I looked out the bedroom window and my goodness the poor little thing was nearly cooked. I've moved it to a more sheltered spot, and I'm hoping I've saved it as I've tried tried to grow one before. All other things I put in appear to be more suited to the heat and haven't suffered too much. I gave all the pots a good drenching last evening as I like to let them have a drink and recovery overnight. Weirdly I did notice one pot in my back garden where it appears some bulbs are coming up. I don't know what they are at this stage, so will have to report when I get some flowers, but I thought a bit unseasonable for this time of year
  • No rain yesterday, so got out into the garden long enough to cut a big bunch of chard, and to add a weeks worth of veg trimmings to the compost heap.
    Daisies were flowering in the 'lawn', and I noticed one yellow winter aconite bud, keeping company with the single snowdrop the has been flowering for over a week. More snowdrops are showing white buds, and the rhubarb buds are beginning to open and reveal crinkly leaves.
    Cold snap supposedly on its way, so not expecting any further signs of spring from the plants for a while.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    I have just paid for another years green bin service. It get's emptied every two weeks but there is often nothing to empty.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Telford wrote: »
    I have just paid for another years green bin service. It get's emptied every two weeks but there is often nothing to empty.

    True about now, but when the Spring and Summer biomass get going it is truly amazing the amount even a small garden can produce. I compost what I can, but there is always woody stuff that's not going to rot down in my lifetime.

  • Yes, we produce a lot of stuff through pruning and weeding. The council stopped doing green collections, so it just goes in bin bags. Stupid really, as it could be shredded and composted.
  • We now put food waste, napkins, cardboard as well as garden waste in the green cans so that does help fill it up, still takes about a month to get a full can.
  • Ours (Manchester City - other GM councils are different) still does a 'free' bi-weekly green bin collection. I only fill it once a year with hedge trimmings, and maybe twice in the autumn with fallen leaves. That reminds me, I ought to cut the hedge...
  • I admitted defeat with our big privet hedge, and called in big strong men, so my wallet had a big strong battering.
  • If you felt able to let on what sort of a battering (approx per yard of hedge, perhaps?) I would find that extremely motivating!
  • If you felt able to let on what sort of a battering (approx per yard of hedge, perhaps?) I would find that extremely motivating!

    You mean the cost? £600 for a 100 foot long hedge, and very tall. In fact, it's the height that gets you, especially as we are ancient. Plus VAT. Of course, they do it with chainsaws, like a knife through butter.
  • Forgot to say, this is in rural Norfolk. In London, double it.
  • Thanks! Ours is only 20', but that gives me a figure to try to persuade myself to get and do it. I ought to bring it down 2 or 3 feet really - ours is also pretty tall - so maybe getting the chainsaw out is the way to go.
  • Just remembered, the sweet box is now splendid, and the sweet smell knocks you out, like hand cream on steroids. It requires very little maintenance, tolerates shade, and has the great name of sarcococca confusa. Slow growing.
  • AmosAmos Shipmate
    Wintersweet blooming here. The scent is amazing.
  • We have been having two weeks of very heavy storms with strong winds. It cleared a bit today so I had a peek at our patio garden. Thankfully our chairs stayed fit in their waterproof covers but seemed to have sailed across the entire long patio. The happy surprise is the Lilly plant has come up and is now 2 feet tall and the other spring bulbs are peeking through the soil.
  • Today I've finally almost finished my "pondery" - a pond-cum-rockery. Only taken me since 2020, when I started collecting rocks from the local fields while on lockdown walks. I've even filled it, bu bucketing water from my water butts. Now I need to tidy up, make sure there's lots of soil, and plant up.
  • I didn't tidy up my garden at the end of last year, leaving leaves etc for pollinators to overwinter.

    I'm keen to start sweeping up the leaves and smartening things up now, but gather that any bugs etc are still snugly overwintering. I've read that you should leave everything till temperatures are consistently above 10 degrees, but in this part of NE Scotland that could mean waiting till April. The BBC weather forecast for the next fortnight is that we'll have highs of 6 or 7 degrees.

    Has anyone else done the "leave the leaves for pollinators" thing and if so, when do you plan to start clearing up?

  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I would like to be out too, but deterred more by the 6/7° than by the thought of snoozing bees.

    I might compromise by hand-clearing (rather than raking) round any emergent snowdrops, primroses etc.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    I have just paid for another years green bin service. It get's emptied every two weeks but there is often nothing to empty.

    We have a complex 4 bin system. There's a 240 litre bin, for general household waste. That's emptied weekly. Then there are 3 360 litres ones for recyclable waste, one each for paper and cardboard, bottles and cans, and green waste. 2 of those go out one week, and the third on the week in between. Apart from the timing of collection, seems to be about 5.30 am, it works well for us. We don't really need 360 litres for green waste as most of that goes to the compost heap. Lots of the paper waste gets shredded and put onto the compost also.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    When my PIP (non-means-tested disability benefit, for non-UK people - based purely on disability level rather than income) decision comes through (hopefully within a few weeks) and finances are more stable, I'm considering applying for an allotment locally as a way to have some outdoor space of my own. Does anyone have any advice, especially for those without a car (so building structures etc may be trickier). On the edge of the South Downs here so the soil is very chalky and the water is very hard! To be fair at the moment I have no cooking facilities for using any fruit or veg (beyond fresh fruit that can be eaten as is) anyway though that is hopefully changing soonish.

    Unfortunately the local allotments don't allow ponds to be built but do have some existing plots with ponds on them - very keen to have a wildlife pond. What are the must-haves and must-NOT-haves for allotment beginners? I would say I'm reasonably knowledgeable about gardening but I just haven't had my own before.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Admin, 8th Day Host
    Based on a friend’s recent experience, take photos and/or a short video at the point you take over the plot - so there are no future arguments about the condition the plot was in when you received it.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Good advice. In fact, photograph it a lot so you can trace its development over what I trust will be many happy years.

    As someone with clay soil and soft water, and 400 miles further north, I don't have a lot to offer on planting. But in my limited experience, the easiest and most productive were runner beans, courgettes and peas.
  • Yes, I agree re the plants, also chard, black Tuscany, and leeks are easy. We buy small veg plants, a lot easier than growing from seed. A few flowers are nice, we have Cal poppy, love in a mist, and borage. Oh yes, herbs are fun and attract bees. And raspberries are easy, although they spread.
  • Just remembered black Tuscany is usually called cavolo nero.
  • JLBJLB Shipmate Posts: 35
    I'm increasingly growing perennial things rather than annuals. Of course all fruit is perennial, but I'm adding more perennial veg as well. It saves work, and some of them help bridge the "hungry gap" in late spring. I've got Babington's leeks, asparagus, sorrel, Jerusalem artichokes, good king henryetc. We're on a band of heavy clay at the foot of the Marlborough downs, with hard water off the chalk.
    In other advice, garden centres are expensive. Are there local garden societies with sales, Country Markets, or similar?
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Fruit trees can take up very little room and start producing when still saplings. Plus if you can source old varieties, you have the satisfaction of preserving biodiversity. I have 6 in one corner of (quite small) garden - and more apple jelly than I know what to do with.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Yes, definitely looking at getting small fruit trees - chalk isn't ideal for fruit but apples etc can still grow here. Apparently chard, sweetcorn, and brassicas do well on chalk soil but it isn't good for fruit or courgettes/squashes due to being so alkaline. Some things like soft fruit and courgettes will likely be limited to containers as well as parsley and lovage. I was hoping to do some kind of 'three sisters' growing with corn, climbing beans (or peas or sweet peas), and squash or pumpkin - with the often-missed fourth sister of sunflowers (or sometimes bee balm aka monarda or bergamot flowers).

    @JLB growing from seed is much cheaper than growing from plants - Chiltern Seeds have a lot of older varieties. Garlic chives (aka Chinese chives) and wild garlic are also handy perennials. When I have a room with actual natural light I'm planning on growing lemongrass, ginger, and galangal indoors as houseplants - you can grow these from supermarket herbs and spices. Apparently the ginger and galangal flowers smell amazing.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Oh and Real Seeds is another good UK seed supplier that specialises in non-hybrid plants - this means you can save the seed for further seasons and helps preserve rare varieties.

    @Firenze my eczema is very jealous of your soft water! Though I'm sure I have very strong bones now from all the calcium in the tap water here.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I found water an issue when there was a protracted dry spell last Spring/Summer. I'm in a first-floor with the garden at one remove.

    However, I've had a tap run along neighbour's wall (who, fortunately, are friendly) so I am looking forward to being able to irrigate that side of the garden. How is the water supply to your allotment?
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    All the allotments (there are a number of allotments spread across the city, run by a central association) have their own water supply and standpipes around the edges of all the sites, plus toilets at the main HQ site. There are long waiting lists, although there is also a community allotment plot.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    First day of gardening in south Edinburgh: both I and a couple of neighbours were out. Got about halfway round filling (4) sacks with leaves and dead foliage before feet and fingers got too numb - it's barely 5°C.

    I'm seeing a bit more snowdrop action this year - last they did nothing but leaf. Also winter aconite, primrose and hellebore.
  • Our pond has sort of collapsed, no doubt got a leak, but the birds love it, as they can stand on some mud, have a drink and a bath. Yesterday there were 6 long tailed tits cavorting, completely adorable. Our garden is a bit of a wreck, but wildlife likes it, e.g., muntjac pop in. Saw plenty of buzzards and red kites also, (Norfolk). They say there are ravens around, but haven't seen, plus the white tailed eagle, also not seen.
  • I love long-tailed tits, quetzacoatl.

    First day of gardening in Aberdeenshire likewise, Firenze. Filled three sacks with dead leaves, and planted some primulas into pots next to the front door for some instant colour.

    We have several clumps of snowdrops.
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Purgatory Host, Circus Host
    My experience is of a community garden rather than an allotment, but the one bit of advice I would offer is definitely get to know the people on the neighbouring plots. This is worthwhile in itself - you get to meet nice people and make new friends - but IME along with letting you know what grows well, people share seeds, cuttings and the like. This means you can grow more different stuff and everyone saves money.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
    What is the actual difference between a community garden and an allotment? I don't think we have allotments here, and community gardens are a fairly new things. We were involved with organizing the community garden on our church property, and three years into the project, my husband and I actually claimed a bed for ourselves and attempted growing things for the first time (we are not natural gardeners) but I always wonder what's the difference between that and what English people mean when they talk about their allotment.
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Purgatory Host, Circus Host
    I think the main difference is the size of the plot you are likely to get. An allotment is usually quite a lot bigger than what you get in a community garden.
  • JLBJLB Shipmate Posts: 35
    An allotment means that you rent a defined plot of land, often from the local council. A community garden is a shared space, which may be gardened co-operatively (as the one in our village is) or with allocated spaces for individuals.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
    Oh OK that makes sense and confirms my belief that we don't have anything similar to allotments here. Our community garden gives people individual raised beds that are 4 ft by 8 ft, so I guess fairly small compared to an allotment.
  • Yes, we have 8 beds like that, although, they are shrinking, as allotments become more popular, they are sliced up.
  • JLBJLB Shipmate Posts: 35
    It took me a while to find allotment measurements, but a standard one was 10rods (an archaic measurement), which is about 300 square yards. Our local council now halves the size when they come up for rent, but it's still a sizeable plot to work.
  • Yes, ours is 4 rods, much smaller than previously, but now these are being sliced up, so you get 2 rods. We are hanging on for grim death, but they have their beady eyes on our plot.
  • Some argue that very small plots are bad, as you can't rotate crops. Well, you can, you just can't rotate the full monty. But maybe there's a danger of overload of a particular chemical, e.g., nitrogen. And 2 rods isn't tiny.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Standard plot with the main allotment association here is a whopping 11 rods, but they also have some smaller plots of 5 rods or less - there are two other allotment associations here just due to historical differences in land ownership etc. Apparently we are the city with the third highest number of allotment plots in the country. I would definitely prefer a smaller plot, but then again having room for a shed (if only for shelter during a shower!) would be nice. A shed with room for a chair and table for tea preparation would surely cut down useable space by a fair bit.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    My garden is a bit under 150 sq m, which my feeble arithmetic calculates as quite low roddage. I have one structure - approx 2 x 3m which accommodates a shed and a space big enough for two chairs and a small table and a bookcase.

    I don't feel it impinges much on the area available for cultivation. And the amenity of having somewhere to just sit and look at the garden is worth it (plus I occasionally use it to paint in).
  • Is that "rods" as in "five and a half yards equals one rod, pole or perch"? I've only ever seen them in tables on the back of exercise books; had no idea they were still used!
  • Is that "rods" as in "five and a half yards equals one rod, pole or perch"? I've only ever seen them in tables on the back of exercise books; had no idea they were still used!

    That's rods as a linear measurement, but they were also used for areas, in fact it means square rod. About 30 sq yards.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Checked the Edinburgh Council website and allotments come in square meterage of 5x5, 10x10 and 10x20 - no mention of rods. There are a couple of plots in this vicinity, all, by the looks, at the lower end of the scale.

    The spaces I find fascinating are the back greens - the areas enclosed by tenement blocks and therefore only visible from the flats themselves. Depending on the interest of residents they can be anything from garden to jungle (usually buddleia).
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