A Mixed Bag of Six on Saturday

If I had taken the above photograph first, a pleasing combination of hollyhock (ignore the foliage!), Persicaria ‘High Society’, climbing rose ‘Strawberry Hill’ and, just creeping into the bottom left corner, Lychnis coronaria, I might have gone down the line of other pleasing combinations. However, I had started in the greenhouse and was rambling aimlessly for the last three of six ‘things in the garden’ for Jon the Propagator’s popular Saturday meme, so further combinations will have to wait for another week.

I meant to include the contents of the hydropod propagator as one of my ‘surprises’ in last weeks post, but forgot. I had taken cuttings (mostly salvia, penstemon and persicaria) only a few days before, and already roots were appearing: a week later roots are developing well on a majority of the cuttings, an extraordinarily exciting process to monitor on a daily basis.

I will wait another week or so before I pot the more advanced cuttings on, but when I do so I shall be trialling some coir, mixed with perlite or grit to grow them on. We went to Gardeners’ World Live last Sunday, courtesy of free tickets from Karen of Bramble Garden (thanks Karen!) and I took advantage of a trial offer of coir compost discs. Like many and hopefully all of us gardeners, reducing our peat usage is of paramount importance, but finding a good alternative is difficult, with availability and quality both big drawbacks. Coir, A bi-product of coconut processing, has been mentioned a lot, and I was keen to try it for myself so these discs were a good opportunity to do so in small quantities – each disc (from e-pots) absorbs up to 500ml of water and a pack of 10 makes about 10 litres of compost. I have already sown some seeds in the resultant compost, and potted on some young plants, so will report back in due course. If it proves successful, for larger quantities Coco and Coir seem to provide reasonable value, although good peat free alternatives are inevitably going to be more expensive than the ubiquitous peat-based composts.

Also in the greenhouse, I have been harvesting a good crop of tomatoes, including my first beefsteak tomato: ‘Big Daddy’, a variety I am trialling for Which? Gardening. As a regular consumer of tomato chutney, making enough jars for next year is always a priority, so skinning four or five large tomatoes instead of 2lbs of cherry tomatoes has been a gamechanger!

There was a welcome burst of sunshine mid-afternoon as I made my photographic SoS ramble, and as I passed the main borders the fragrance from these nemesia was glorious, no doubt accentuated by the gentle breeze which accompanied the sunshine – even though vanilla is not something I particularly enjoy in a culinary context, as a fragrance in the garden it is somehow more acceptable!

I was not the only one enjoying this September sunshine, as this Succisa/Succisella pratensis was being well worked over by the local bee population, none of whom would oblige by perching on a bloom in the most photogenic way. This is a plant that was added last year but has just begun to thrive and has been blooming only for a couple of weeks; hopefully it will prove to be a good do-er in future years.

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24 Responses to A Mixed Bag of Six on Saturday

  1. Heyjude says:

    Your hydroponic propagator looks good and I am interested to find out how you get on with the coir products. I had a look at the CocoandCoir site and am considering trying some of their compost. Not having to heave around heavy bags seems a plus! Not cheap though. And I love the Nemesia, I was going to buy some this year, but didn’t in the end. I love the smell of vanilla. Are these Wisley Vanilla?

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it will definitely be more expensive than peat based and there is not an unlimited supply of coir either, so prices are unlikely to go down. The 6+ rate made it more reasonable though – although I counted how many bags I used one year and it was 29!!! I have grown Wisley Vanilla, but these nemesia are called something like Easter Bonnetand are bicoloured – plugs from J Parkers

  2. Love that propagator. Do you have a link?

  3. That propagator looks awesome!

  4. Prue Batten says:

    We too, make our own chutney, Cathy, out of all manner of things. My favourite is pear and apple. But in a fit of tiredness a couple of weeks ago, and needing a new batch, I lifted a couple of kilos of Roma toms from the freezer, mixed them with a kilo of apples, couldn’t be bothered to peel the toms as Romas are so smooth and clean and it’s all fibre anyway, and set to work. The recipe was the tried and true fruit chutney recipe, not the family tomato chutney recipe and it worked a treat. We still have another couple of kilos in the freezer and a kilo of nectarines and I’m going to do the same thing. Waste not want not! 😉

    • Cathy says:

      Interesting to read that yours was successful even without being skinned. I used to make apple chutney but haven’t done for years – have plenty of apples on the way though so perhaps might do a batch for old time’s sake…!

  5. tonytomeo says:

    Nice nemesia. I know that it ‘can’ bloom white, and might have seen white nemesia mixed with other colors, but I do not believe that I have ever seen it exclusively white.

  6. Pauline says:

    Like the first photo of your colour co-ordinated pinks!

  7. Cathy says:

    That first photo is great! It will be interesting to hear how the coir goes. I used something similar for seedlings in spring and the tomatoes were the only things that seemed to like it. Succisella has been in my old garden for about a decade and seeds itself around profusely. I love it almost as much as the bees and have started some off here now as well!

    • Cathy says:

      Interesting about the lack of success with coir for seeds – Monty Don uses coir but possibly mixes it with something else…and he sieves it, which sounds a bit of a faff! Good to know that succisella can seed around!

  8. Noelle M says:

    Mr S happened to glance over my shoulder earlier, and said Ah! Cakes…..With the coir my concern is that traditionally this was spread over local land to increase water holding capacity and build up soils in thin coral soils to enable vegetable growing. Denuded of this traditional local enhancer, I wonder what they will be using? An interesting article and the responses well worth reading: https://www.gardenmyths.com/coir-ecofriendly-substitute-peat-moss/

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, yes, so many things to take into consideration and I imagine the market will be in a state of flux for a few years as alternatives are trialled, ideally sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives

  9. Giant tomatoes are amazing!

  10. Such interesting propagation methods. That last plant is truly special–for the pollinators and for us because of its beauty.

  11. Paddy Tobin says:

    That’s a good propagation method. A friend uses it very successfully.

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