Sunday, March 09, 2008

No Rain for Most of the Day

I was so thrilled when I woke this morning to discover that it wasn't raining. I have been out for the bulk of the day, getting some jobs done.

The first big job was to remove the big aluminium staging from the poly tunnel, cut a bit off with a hack saw and install the shortened staging in the greenhouse. I was surprised how easy it was to cut through the aluminium with a small hack saw. It was the work of 20 minutes to get the staging to the proper size.

When I started to put the staging into the greenhouse, I immediately came across a problem. It was too wide to get through the door. Nuts! I had to disassemble the entire thing and reassemble it once I had it inside. I was so pleased it wasn't a rainy day.

Now the staging is in, reassembled and is holding a variety of newly potted up perennials and a few hopeful annuals.

I knew I was going to run out of potting compost so a run into Carlisle was on the cards. This gave me an opportunity to have a browse through the new Houghton Hall Garden Centre just outside Carlisle. I actually like going to these places by myself. If anybody goes with me, they soon show signs of being bored and want to leave. The guys are at the football today so I could mooch around the garden centre all I wanted. Wouldn't you know it, they carry the full selection of David Austen roses. Damn! I was SO tempted to buy a few. Two things held me back: 1. they cost £14.99 a piece (!) and 2. I don't have a spot ready for them in my garden. The impulse buyer in me was screaming but I left them there.

This new garden centre is lovely but bargains are hard to find. It carries many gorgeous things that would do well in my place here. They had lots of luxurious plants for sale and thousands of little mini-plants for potting into hanging baskets. I admired it all, but didn't buy any of those things. After admiring all these plants, I went and got the big bag of potting compost I went in for and made my way to the till.

I had to go past the racks of seeds to get to the tills and it was at this point that my resolve not to buy anything else left me. I caved in and bought some coriander seed and a packet of tomato seeds. I always grow a whole lot of leaf coriander (cilantro) for cooking each summer and naturally, I'll need some tomato seeds if I'm going to have any tomatoes this year. I bought some seeds that are new to the UK, Italian tomato seeds. I read an article about these very seeds two weeks ago. They're supposed to be thin skinned, very meaty flesh, great for cooking and bursting with flavour. We'll see how I get on with them. There were 400 seeds in the packet! I only needed about six. I would only need 400 if I was going to go into the commercial tomato plant business. I won't sow all of them. I'll just sow what I need and hope that I can keep the rest until next year.

So, back at the ranch, I potted up the bargain perennials I picked up earlier in the week. Some had started to sprout, so I was happy to get them into pots. Some of the packets that I got contained up to four cuttings! These extra plants made my .49p expense an even bigger bargain! Now that they're potted up it means that the perennials won't die before I have a chance to select a spot in the herbacious borders and plant them in. I also potted up the sweet pea seedlings. They were so terribly over crowded in those tiny little pots. Sweet peas are supremely hardy. I could almost get away with planting them out right now, but I'll wait until April. We'll still have frosts in April, but I'm sure we won't have any more snow.

While I was out in the larger greenhouse today, listening to the radio and enjoying myself, we had a short hail storm. I wasn't even expecting it and blam! All of a sudden we've got hail. I had my camera in the greenhouse with me because I was going to take a few photos.

It's not very professional, and the greenhouse looks a bit of a mess, but here's what I shot.

At the end of this clip you can see a plastic bag and my blue coat hanging from an "S" hook from the top of the greenhouse. This is to keep my jacket clean and the seeds that are in that plastic bag away from mice. I disturbed what I think are the last two mice in the greenhouse. One ran across my arm when I disturbed it and I made an astonished little shout. Julio got it. I know there is one left in there. I've left a mouse trap set. Let's hope it works.

I had a great time in the greenhouse this afternoon. I got it all organized out there. After I finished I gave it another sweep up and blocked up the door. It is good to have our cat, Julio help me, but I just know that if left unmonitored, he'll walk across (or worse) the trays of newly sown seeds. When I left, I put a brick behind the sliding door so that he can't worry the door open and let himself in. I've seen him do this.

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