Monday, 26 March 2012

Who Needs Words?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The First Spring Days

Browsing through my Google reader list and reading the blogs I follow, I was amazed how green are the gardens in some other parts of the world and how many spring flowers and shrubs are in full bloom. I guess, the winter behind us was rather shocking for the plants in my garden. For years we have mild winters and this one was really harsh - just as it is normally supposed to be in the continental climate.
Anyway, the very first spring flowers such as Snowdrops and crocuses are slowly vilting and hyancinths and daffodils are coming out. 
Wood anemones and hellebores are blooming at the moment.

What I've been doing in the garden these days? Mostly pruning: shrubs, roses, wisteria... And, cleaning: shed and the potting area. Soon it will be time for sowing the seeds outdoors. All the pots and trays should be clean and disinfected.  
I must admit, the weather is rather tiring warm and I don't have much fun working in such conditions. We still miss the good rain shower. And, the weather predictions for the following summer are not promising - even warmer the last one and dry too!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

No Dig Vegetable Garden

Vegetable garden in 2007. No garden shed!

I started to loosen the soil in my veg garden yesterday. As you know, my vegetable garden has eight 2 x 1.5 m beds, each of them being surrounded by the old brick paths. For those who doesn't know it, please pop up here.
Years ago I have decided not to dig the earth any more but only to fork the soil. I use sturdy garden fork for the purpose. It took some time for the soil to change the structure into loose, crumble like mass.
Firstly, I started to use mulch. I never leave the soil uncovered except in Spring when it needs warming up.
Secondly, I use compost as mild fertilizer and mulch as well.  These two actions were enough for the soil in my veg garden to improve. Heavy clay or sandy soils are probably more needy and it is not so easy to change their structure.

All I do now is loosen the soil with the garden fork. Mulch also suppresses the weeds so I do not have to weed so much. After I finish loosening the soil I cover it with sieved compost. It is much darker than the original soil and it will worm up now quickly. Forking is only needed on the direct place or row where the vegetable seed will be sown or seedling planted. There is really no need to fine tilt the whole vegetable bed.

Hay or straw make a good mulch. Here, there is the last year's kale.

There is also no need to fertilize the whole bed as well. I use pelleted organic fertilizer and just put a few pellets around the plants.

The same as above, last year! The shed is here.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Am I Not a Beauty?

Last Saturday I went shopping to nearby town Daruvar. I always go there on Saturday because Saturday is a market day. And I mean a traditional market with stands filled with goodies. Besides food and textile, there are numerous stands with flowers. At this time of the year the offer is limited on the first spring flowers: hyacinths,  primroses, ranunculus and so on.  I could not resist not to buy some flowers. Isn't it beautiful, this lovely Ranunculus?

I used to plant them in the rock garden but, they look nice in planters as well. I put the pot into an old mug and added a bow. I also bought one Hyacinth and re-potted it in a metal container.

Every morning, when I step into the kitchen, they bring smile on my face...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Pretty Coloured Sticks

I simply adore the trees and shrubs with bright coloured stems. I have Cornus alba 'Sibirica' in my garden and love to see it in winter; its bright red stems against the white snow. 
Going for a walk some two weeks ago, I noticed in one garden a beautiful willow with red-orange curly branches! I once had Salix matsudana (curly wilow) in my garden but the branches were green.
The owner was outside and I mentioned how lovely the willow looks. And she gave me four cuttings! I only put them in the water and after a few days the first buds appear. Willow is really easy to propagate from cuttings.

There are also a lot of  root buds and I will pot the cuttings soon. The cutting may be inserted in soil immediately after taking them; I only did not have any sterile compost at the time to do it. The willow grows pretty fast and I expect it to form a shrub within two years.
The other two yellow coloured cuttings belong to some shrub I found growing near the railway track. It looks like some Cornus to me. They have neither the leafs nor root buds formed but I only think this species need more time to root.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


A few weeks ago I got a parcel from my blogger friend. Among other goodies there was a sachet of pepper seeds. The cultivar is called 'Padron'. The name sounded Spanish to me and I was right. My Italian was good enough to understand what's written on the back side of the sachet. And it says: 'This is the typical variety of Galicia, Spain. It forms small elongated fruits. To be eaten fresh when green.' And that was all! What I wanted to know is if they are hot!

And so I did some Google search and found out that these peppers have quite a history.  They are the most famous product of Padron in Spain. They say: 'Os pementos de Padon, ons pican e outros non!' which means that some are hot and some are not! It is impossible to distinguish the hot pepper from mild. I guess, eating them will look like a Russian roulette. I also found out that in this region of Spain they are served fried with olive oil and coarse salt. About 15,000 kg of peppers are grown in Padron each year. And, of course, the 'Festa do Pemento de Padron' has been held since 1979. every first Sunday in August. The seeds are actually brought  from Mexico by monks.
Now I am going to sow the seeds indoors. I am already looking forward to the hot ones!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Cleaning the Garden Shed

What a mess!

Does your garden shed looks like this every Spring? Well, it was the time to take out garden furniture (I have already mailed my friend that the outdoor coffee season is opened!) and clean the shed. Armed with a bucket full of water and a rug I started to wash the dust away from the shelf and every single thing that I found in my shed. 

It took me two and a half hours to finish the job but I am so happy now! I even washed the windows. To my  great surprise, there was not a single mice trace in it and not as much dust as I expected it to be.  

Cleaning the shed was a good opportunity to sort out old seed packages, plant labels, working gloves, tools and other things. Old tin can are ideal to organize e.g. plant labels, dibber, scissors and other small tools. 

I use small strawberry crates as a drawers to store twines, gloves, bags, secateurs...

The sun was slowly coming down when I finished the cleaning but, it does look much better, doesn't it?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Vineyard Afternoon

the old pear tree

I spent this Sunday afternoon in the vineyard. The friends of mine called me yesterday and asked if I would like to go with them to their 'ranch' as they call it. They have a piece of land on the hill, not far away from our small town. It includes a vegetable garden, an orchard and a small vine yard. Now is the time to prune it so we did it. Actually, they already have pruned the most of it but the two rows of grapevine and it took is only an hour to do it.

a part of the vineyard

The day was ideal, sunny and warm. I really enjoyed working in the piece and quiet of this place and spent a lovely afternoon.

seniors pretending to do something...

Crocuses in the wood

The First Crocuses

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Counting the Damages

Unlucky kale

I do hope so - the winter is over. A few sunny days we had recently were good to rise up the mood and get out into garden. No, I haven't worked in it at all. It is still too dump, I would only make more damage to soil. I simply made an inspection to see what could not survive this rather cold winter month.

First: the ivy on the fence - which is rather surprising because it takes cold very well. Now I truly see how cold it was. It will take some time for new leaves to grow again, but now it really looks awful.

Second: Honeysuckle and the rose 'Felicite Perpetue'; they will need fair cutback. 

Third: The Japanese Spindle; this small bush is completely  brown but, the leaves will grow again. That's about all of the damage I noticed (besides that poor kale on the first photo!). Not much. And, it is not all black as it seems - snowdrops are everywhere.

The first garden task this weekend will be cutting the Wisteria to two buds. It is the right time to do it.