Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do it again

While, as a gardener, I'm always interested in trying something new, the lure of repeating a previous success is hard to resist sometimes. And that force becomes irresistible when I know how much my wife Pam loves poppies, our best little success story from last year. And so I'm starting up our winter poppy patch again, very happily, too.

Here's the scene last year which delighted us for months, providing lots of colour outside and a steady stream of cheery faces in vases for the house. I learned a bit from last year's first attempt with poppies, and plan to do things slightly differently this time round.

This is the garden in late March, just before a patch of rainy weather sent the marigolds into mushy decline, and just before a very large tomcat decided to make a bed/love-nest (or fight club?) of the zinnia patch, flattening whole sections as if he was a furry, ginger crop-circle maker.

By early Easter Saturday everything was yanked out ruthlessly, except for the curly parsley border, which is soldiering on quite well. This might sound awful, but I love clearing a garden bed, making it ready for the next project!

My recycling bin over-floweth with ex-zinnias and ex-marigolds!

Half an hour of gentle exercise digging in a goodly amount of chicken manure, garden lime and compost, and the beds were ready for their next assignments.

I've blogged about my Asian hand tools before here, but I do love them and just want to mention them again. On the left, the Korean Ho-Mi, on the right, the Japanese Niwashi. The Ho-Mi handles heavier ground better, but the Niwashi is by far my favourite for tilling soil, provided it has been loosened by a heavier tool first.

Another half hour or so later and Mr Impatient has planted out the two bare beds. In the foreground is a bed of leafy greens and herbs (from right to left, a row each of lettuce, English spinach and Asian Pak Choy – great in stir-fries), and beyond that bare earth which has been sown with seeds of coriander and dill, plus a bare patch awaiting some garlic cloves I have mail-ordered. In the rear bed is the poppy patch.

I say I'm impatient because I decided to buy poppy seedlings and plant them out, instead of starting from seed, but there's a spot of reasoning behind this. Last year, I found my seed-raised poppies had very slender stems which were easily damaged by winds, while one little section of poppy patch, grown from seedlings to fill a few gaps, produced plants with much more stout stems and generally a better selection of colours, too. So this year I'm going for all bought-seedling poppies. (As I was at the garden centre buying the Iceland poppy seedlings, all those other vegie seedlings just sitting there begging to be planted proved irresistible, and so I bought them, too.)

During Saturday's dig-a-thon the soil seemed moderately moist and was full of happy worms squirming with annoyed surprise as I churned over the soil with my Niwashi, so prospects were good for a great start. And then last night (Monday) the rains really started to come down, and this morning there was two inches (50mm) of rain in the gauge. Having planted seedlings, instead of seed, and then getting perfect "I wish" rainfall overnight, I almost feel guilty at how easy it all has been, but not quite. Poppies, here we go again!


Liss said...

oh that bin full of zinnias and marigolds looks so sad! :( I suppose that's the pitfall of a small garden huh?

That said, can't wait to see what replaces it..

Chandramouli S said...

Love the photo of that patch last year. I hope this year turns out to be more cheerful! I can relate you the irresistible urge to try the same variety again that did great. I do wanna try the Pot Marigold again but tell myself that I have no space for it, but who knows when I'd succumb to that urge?!

lilyflax said...

hey why the green bin why not compost

Jamie said...

Lilyfax: my two compost bins are both chockers, filled to the brim. The bigger one is full of lovely, ready-to-go compost that I plan to spread all over a friend's garden in a few weeks' time, and the other back-up bin is also full to the brim with all the prunings from the hedges, plus all the usual fruit and vegie scraps. Honestly, I could fill four or five compost bins if I kept everything on-site! And I only have 9m x 7.5m in total to play with...

Kenneth Moore said...

Hi Jamie,

I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and I don't know if you'd be interested in this, but thought I'd see what you'd get into if you chose to do this!

I tagged you in an Earth Month meme to improve your environmental friendliness (with prizes--a Brita gift pack).