Six on Saturday: 16 Jan 2021: let there be light!

Mid January. At this time of year, I often feel like a participant in the Chinese communists’ famous 6,000 mile trek, the long march to freedom of the 1930’s, except that instead of the emergence of Chairman Mao as undisputed party leader, it’s the emergence of spring that we are marching towards (and perhaps freedom from the tyranny of Covid-19!). So let’s keep marching folks, the way seems long, but there are only two more Six on Saturdays until February! On this endurance feat, am keeping my spirits up with some good music (am flitting this week between Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and The Best of Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music), many cups of tea, some nice food and planning a new world order (or do I mean planting schemes?).

I’m going to start with some snow, a brief white interlude:

1 A dusting of snow. We were promised snow in Brussels this week, and this is all we got, it lasted for all of two hours on Thursday morning. I was mighty quick to get the camera, before it all melted. Honestly, I was expecting better, but hey ho, perhaps next time.

2 LED Plant Grow Lights. A new bit of kit! Arrived this week, can’t wait to try them out when I start sowing in February. Hopefully, goodbye leggy seedlings. It clips on easily to the window ledge, has four flexible arms, dimmers, timers for 4/8/12 hour bursts and a remote control! Cool. Here my Aloe is enjoying the full spectrum light. I feel like joining it.

3 Gaultheria mucronata berries. These are still doing well in their big blue pot.

4 Garlic. Planted in the veg bed in October, it’s pushing through healthily now. I counted about ten, which I think is how many cloves I planted.

5 Geum ‘Scarlet Tempest’. Already showing buds, this one flowers quite early in April. Although I lost two plants in the summer drought, one survived and I divided it into three, and planted these divisions in my new purple-orange themed border. They are a cheerful sight in flower – as shown in the second photo taken last spring.

6 Borage. Right plant, wrong place. I have decided that borage can’t grow in the veg bed. Simply gets too big, even though it’s an excellent decoy for blackfly/aphids, which left my veg alone last year, going for the borage instead. I love it though, so I’ll find a new place for it, but this fellow and his friends are going to have to come out. I wrote a post about borage, you can see it and photos of its brilliant blue flowers here. It’s worth growing not only for the beauty of the flowers and the bristly foliage that glimmers in morning sunshine, but also for its value to pollinators: scientists have found that after a bee visits a flower, it refills with nectar within two minutes, making it like a busy service station for bees!

To finish off, I’d like to thank readers for the great comments made on my post on herbs last week. I used all the herbs I mentioned to make this rather delicious topping for bread: chickpeas, red onion, lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper and all the fresh herbs I could lay my hands on. It felt like a taste of summer. That’s all from me this week. Check out the Prop’s site for lots of interesting Six on Saturday reads from all over the globle. Till next time.

26 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 16 Jan 2021: let there be light!

  1. I bought a packet of borage seeds last autumn. I must remember to sow some. I hope my Geum ‘Scarlet Tempest’ ends up looking as good as yours. I ordered one online last year but it was a bit too small to flower. Do the LED plant grow lights have a disco setting?!

    1. Now you mention it, it does look a bit disco! 😆They’ll be happy plants. Btw I was told once you sow borage, you will never be without it as it selfseeds merrily, but that’s not a bad thing in my book.

  2. I think your photos were taken a little earlier and that this morning you’ve had more snow… Here in Normandy we have 1.5 cm so far and now the rain seems to be back.
    My gaultheria has not had berries this year. I have large stems but haven’t had any flowers. How do you trim it? And when ? Thank you for your advice

    1. No more snow here yet but it is very very cold! My gaultheria is still very small, so I haven’t pruned it yet, but I might give it a trim in the spring and see how it reacts. I read that they like shade in the summer.

  3. What a perfect combo, the berries and the pot! And another perfect combination, the chickpeas and the herbs on bread, looks delicious. I am jealous of your LED lights, looking forward to seeing how you get on with them. Have a great week!

  4. Your last picture looks yummy and very summery. I enjoyed the thought of the ‘Long March’. Just now a little ray of sunshine broke through the cloud and lit up a path as if to guide us forward to Spring.

  5. Hi Sel – the Geum picture is lovely and those plants look raring to go again this spring. As for those grow lights – I can hear SoS participants all over the world going ooooh. Do let us know how successful they are!

  6. Looks like not much snow in Brussels. Here in Antwerp the snow fell from 3 pm (I think about 2 cm). Those LED lamps look very promising, where did you find them? I did not know that a plant can produce new nectar so quickly. I also see that a few crops are already coming to life in your garden 🙂

  7. That lunch looks tasty! I am also very fond of Borage which sows itself around better than any other plant I have ever had. I like to eat the flowers in a salad, but find the texture of the leaves a bit off-putting. Interesting to hear about its nectar production. Do you use it for anything in the kitchen? Love the Geum too. I have some I grew from seed a couple of years ago and they were fabulous all spring and summer last year. 😃

    1. Thanks Cathy, yes the borage flowers in salads with nasturtiums too look amazing. I also use the flowers frozen in ice cubes for fun summer drinks, and did you know borage is also traditionally used to decorate Pimms? The flowers would also be nice crystallised for cake toppings, must try that this year. Geums are just fab, aren’t they, they make such an impact 😀

  8. Your blue pot looks lovely and I have to agree with you about borage. I sowed some the first time I moved here (2016) and have to weed out millions of seedlings each year since! You are right, it takes over a vegetable bed (herbs in my case), but the bees do love it. I allowed some to grow in my ‘wild’ garden (really the car park) where it does no harm.

  9. Wow, that salad looks incredible. I think I probably need to bring some more freshness to my winter diet. You have a lovely collection of ceramic planters. I appreciate your photo giving a foretaste of the geums in full bloom. Such a rich orange color. Though I also suffered some let’s just call them complications with my borage last year, I couldn’t agree more about their value aesthetically, as companion plants, and as food source for pollinators. I will definitely be trying again this year – hopefully with better results!

    1. Thank you Rogue Garden! Hope it goes better with the borage this time round, they definitely warrant a second try, and I find it such a pleasure to watch the bees buzzing around the flowers non-stop.

  10. Hi Piglet! I know, those lights are fab! You can grow borage in pots – I moved some seedlings into pots last year. The only prob is they grow tall and hefty, so they could do with support so that they don’t flop around too much (same can be said for growing them in the ground). But the flowers are so lovely, and the bees so appreciative, that it’s well worth it. 😊

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