Categories
General

First Asparagus at Sowandso Belgium

Last year I sowed some asparagus seeds and planted out the seedlings a bit late in the season in the new bed near the house.

Seeds

Growing Asparagus from seed is a tricky business as you never know if the plant will be a female or male plant. As Bridget mentioned before in Asparagus at the Villas males produce better spears than female. But growing from seed is a lot cheaper so I was willing to give it a go.

Asparagus

Fall came and the little feathery leaves died back, weeds took over and covered the bed. I was sure the plants did not survive the fluctuating winter weather we had this year. Ready to clear the bed of weeds and grow something new I started to clean it vigorously.

Asparagus

15 plants

Suddenly my eye caught sight of a tiny asparagus and I went down on my knees, carefully clearing away the weeds around it. I planted in rows so I checked the rest of the bed and found more than 15 tiny plants some with more than 5 little spears. I immediately contacted Bridget as she is my go-to woman when it comes to Asparagus and she advised me to leave the spears this year, than tentatively harvest a few next so I can enjoy a full harvest in year 3.

Asparagus

These asparagus will stay in the same bed for the next 20 years or so, thus a little patience is not too much to ask. I think I am going to sow a few more now!

Categories
Gardening Tools General Guestposts

Start Home Composting this Spring

sponsoredSpringtime gardening can be a tedious waiting game, as the earth has not yet fully recovered from a winter thaw. With plants not yet ready to begin their growth before the prime of summer, you can often feel at a loose end in your garden. A valuable way to spend your time in the spring period, however, is gathering materials to produce your own compost.

Image by Joi Ito - licence

Image by Joi Ito

Home composting is not only good for the environment, making use of household waste to prevent unnecessary landfill and incineration, but can also save you quite a lot of money on store-bought compost — the price of which mysteriously peaks in the summertime, when everyone is looking to use it! Here are a few simple tips on how you can start producing your own compost this spring — starting the process months in advance of summer will allow you to enrichen your plants with natural, resourceful compost when you really need it.

How does composting work?

Composting is nature’s way of establishing a full life cycle for plants. A plant lives its life before dying, decomposing, and enriching the earth with nutrients to promote further plant growth. If you localise this decomposition process to a compost heap, you can stockpile the compost to use as and when you need it, on all different types of plants. Your compost solution consists of decomposed organic matter, with the all-important plant-enrichening nutrients retained.

What do I use to make compost?

More local councils are starting to charge for the privilege of removing your garden waste. This is taxing on gardeners, as you can already spend quite a lot of money on improving your garden before worrying about waste disposal costs. Not only will home composting save you money on buying compost, but also on garden waste removal charges.

Compost 2

Rotten fruits and vegetables are great for composting, as are decomposing plant matter and grass cuttings. You can also use old newspapers and shredded paper, as well as tea bags and coffee grounds. However, never use garden waste consisting of diseased plants or flowers, as this will contaminate your compost. A huge list of compostable items can be found on the Recycle Now website.

How do I make compost?

Composting can be as simple as gathering all your materials into a pile and waiting for them to decompose, but this is a very inefficient and wasteful method, as the elements will often wash away or reduce the size of your compost heap. The most efficient way to produce compost is by using a compost tumbler.

Compost 3

Composters from Mantis can produce lovely, earthy compost in as little as 14 days. And as they have turning handles on them, the drum can be spun easily — this distributes the heat generated by composting and speeds the process up. A mere compost heap or static drum is not afforded this assistance, which can lead to poor compost.

Dispersing the compost among your plants can be trickier than you think, as some plants respond better to compost being laid below the surface of the soil, whereas other like it on the surface, for example. A helpful guide to laying compost is available at WikiHow the guide also explains when to tell your compost is ready, which is very handy.

Hopefully with this starter’s guide to home composting, you will feel motivated to begin preparing your garden for the summer by producing your own compost — saving both money and the planet in the process.

Categories
General

Tulip Fields in Holland – Wordless Wednesday

Tukip fields in Holland

Categories
General

I’m In The Garden

It has been a while that we have posted something new here at sowandso.

During winter nothing much goes on in the garden. Here in the Ardennes even the hellebores can’t handle the Ardennes weather. It hasn’t been extremely cold, but there were a lot of temperature fluctuations which played havoc on the hellebores, the clematis I planted last year and a few other plants I really hoped would survive.

Rough Patches

Talking about survival, I have also been out of commission lately. I suffer from anxiety and depression. Have been for years but it hasn’t been this bad for a long time.

One of the side effects is the lack of creativity, or the lack for wanting to do anything really. I felt as grey and dull as the garden. However, gardening is one of the things that usually help me through a bad period.

in-the-garden

Gardening

One of the key things to do is exercise when you are depressed. The thought of getting on a treadmill is daunting for me. I have always preferred to be outside. I discovered that gardening is really therapeutic. Even turning the compost heap in the rain can be satisfying and creating life when planting a seed in soil and seeing a plant form gives hope, and hope is what people with depression and anxiety issues need.

Spring is everywhere

And now the first signs of spring are showing, the crocuses are the first ones, their light purple colour are a welcome sight in the front garden. The other bulbs are close behind. Tiny buds are showing some colour on the lilac, and the shrubs in the back garden.

The tomato and chilli seedlings are well on their way and I took a chance and planted out some French bean plants in the poly. Snugly covered with a fleece I am hoping they will survive the occasional night frost we will still have.

As the garden is showing promise for the new season I am ready for some therapeutic times spend getting my hands dirty and my mind a bit calmer.

Categories
General Polytunnel/Greenhouse

New year, New beginnings

Winter is finally upon us. Last weekend we had a lot of snow and now the temperature has dropped to minus 10 degrees centigrade.

Snow

The garden is covered with snow, almost knee deep, so it is even hard to differentiate between path and raised bed. Together with a friend I cleaned up the snow inside the polytunnel before heavy frosts make it impossible to sweep the snow from the top. Inside, the calendulas are getting a beating. I am pretty sure that with a few days of heavy frosts they will finally succumb to the winter weather. Everything else is at a standstill. I still have a few spinach, kohlrabi, endive and cabbage greens but they are all small and not growing very fast.

Poly with snow

Seeds

So there is nothing else to do now but plan for the coming season and wait until spring comes around the corner. My organic as well as some heirloom seeds have arrived from Vreeken zaden in the Netherlands. They have an amazing selection of varieties and I spent some happy hours filling that shopping cart on their site.

Seeds

I decided on a bit more of an adventurous journey in 2016 with tomatoes. Last year’s tomato experience was an enormous success. So this year I have gone for the bush cherry tomato Whippersnapper, a beef tomato called Glory of Mechelen (a city in Belgium), and two varieties of medium large tomatoes. As usual I have probably gone overboard choosing four different kinds but since I started selling some of my surplus vegetables to colleagues I need to have some kind of business sense and want to present them with varieties of tomatoes you would be unlikely to find in the supermarket.

Chillis

I have bought a lot of chilli pepper seeds as well. As a big chilli fan, it is a must to grow at least two or three varieties. Last year I had little time for gardening and my chillis punished me for that. The yield wasn’t as big as I had hoped. This was all due to irregular watering…. and lack of talking to them. This year I am hoping to better myself and have set myself a new goal. I have bought the Caribbean blend which consists of 25 seeds of a selected variety of chillis. Some very rare ones. The funny part is that I will have no idea what I will be growing until the chillis are formed. Next to that I will grow Ancho chillis and Chilhuacal negro chillis and I will try to sing to all of them to keep them happy.

Colourful Chillies

Courgette

My colleagues love my homegrown courgettes. They claim the taste is so much better than the supermarket ones. I wouldn’t know because I hardly ever buy courgettes. I eat them homegrown when in season and out of season I eat seasonal vegetables. So the packet from Vreeken  All colours and shapes will appeal to my work mates. With 40 seeds I am pretty sure they will all get sick and tired of my courgettes …and maybe even my courgette chocolate cake – eventually!

Courgettes in the october polytunnel

The only outside of the box seeds I will be sowing are Canadian blueberries. I love blueberries but the plants are expensive to buy. It will probably take me a few years but growing them from seed will be cheaper and will give me stronger plants.

I just can’t wait to start sowing!

Categories
Bees Did you know...?

What Beekeepers Use to Fuel Their Smokers?

Did you know…?
SUMACH
… that beekeepers in-the-know use the dried flower heads of the Sumach tree to fuel their smokers! They provide a mellower smoke than other fuels such as dried grass, light easily with a little bit of paper, and smolder for a long time.