Six on Saturday: 15 Jan 2022: party time

After a short break in the Ardennes last week for my birthday (snowy treks, a visit to a war museum, an unexpected detour to Luxembourg, but no parties, absolutely no parties, not even ‘work’ ones, not even the ones where you send someone out with a suitcase to get booze, not even one held during a national lockdown when nobody else is allowed a party! What’s wrong with me? And why hasn’t there been a revolution on that troubled little isle that is Britain?), I’m back for Six on Saturday. This week, the weather has been quite gentle for January, with foggy starts followed by some sunshine and blue skies – isn’t that lovely?

Ahhhh – blue!

Starts off cold in the mornings, but by mid afternoon it’s been warm enough to go out and do some gardening without a coat. There’s noticeably more daylight, I can stay out until after 5pm, and in only a few weeks the first seeds will be sown indoors – tomatoes, chillis and peppers. So it’s a looking-forwards sort of Six on Saturday this week:

1 Slug patrol. This is the nicest method of slug control, with minimal fuss, mess or unpleasantness for the gardener. My elite team of three were sent out on a couple of sunny afternoons to sweep the lawn, borders and veg patch. It’s very satisfying to see them track down a slug and gobble it up.

2 New seeds. I haven’t gone mad this time, as I’ve still got plenty of seeds left over, but here’s what I picked up at the garden centre. A favourite variety of cherry tomatoes and a new variety to try. I’ll be growing them in pots with the French marigolds. Can’t grow any tomatoes in the ground after last year’s awful experience with blight. I couldn’t resist having another go at sweet peas; despite two bad years with them, there’s always hope.

3 Veg patch mulching. Maybe I’m a bit early doing this, but I felt motivated to mulch the veg patch with garden compost and give it a little tidy up. It’s evolving into more of a permanent potager, with some herbs, self-sown verbena and aquilegia, and a few biennials that will flower this coming season. There’s also a very-sorry-for-itself broccoli that’s been nibbled at – perhaps it will recover! I’m going to try a slightly different method this year, growing smaller quantities of veg but more variety, mixed in with other things – flexible square foot gardening.

4 Glade path. You know how it is, once you get started on one job, you suddenly feel inspired to do more! This is a project that’s been delayed by a year, mainly by sheer laziness. The path connects the raised decked terrace to the lawn, and isn’t finished yet – I ran out of chipped bark! Also, I need to move a plant is right in the way. The glade is a tricky, dry area I’m trying to improve on. I hope that the path will give more structure for the planting around it (after I’ve done some weeding!).

5 Buds! On the wall of the glade, two early flowering plants are showing promising signs. Big, fat buds on the Clematis armandii, and pink ones showing through on the Japanese quince, Chaenomeles japonica. These both get spring off to a good start.

6 Amaryllis (more accurately Hippeastrum). I have mixed feelings about this one, growing indoors of course. It’s striking, but are those flowers just a little too big? Is it trying too hard? I was thinking about this and did a quick search, to find out there’s a perfectly good reason for being this attention-seeking. According to Greek myth, Amaryllis was a nymph who fell very much in love with a shepherd, Alteo, but sadly he didn’t return her feelings. He was only interested in flowers! So Amaryllis visited him and pierced her heart every day with an arrow, spilling red drops of her blood on the ground. On the 30th day, beautiful red flowers appeared where her blood had fallen. This did the trick and Alteo promptly fell in love with her! A melodramatic tale for a dramatic bulb.

That’s all for this week, for more gardening posts from far and wide, check our host The Propagator’s site. Have a great weekend, and happy gardening if circumstances allow.

31 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 15 Jan 2022: party time

  1. A belated Happy Birthday. I’m envious of your slug controllers! You’ve been busy and the path is looking great. It’s tricky with seeds and limiting yourself – I was a bit better at it last year but think I need to sow fewer things again this year if only to save on compost and potting up.

    1. Thanks and yes those chickens are very useful, we even get a small egg every now and then! You are right re seeds and compost, it’s all a lot of work too. But inevitably we get greedy!

  2. Thanks for the Greek myth about the Amaryllis, this was new for me. I like these flowers too, they are realy impressive. I see your garden is slowly comming to live and the chickens do theire job well 🙂

  3. Very beautiful amaryllis flower!
    I ordered lots of seeds from the Ferme de la Sainte Marthe! I will receive them on Monday and I will soon also start my tomato seedlings. Your slug solution is really excellent, it’s something I miss in the garden…

  4. I’m appreciating some of your sentiments this morning. Firstly, with veg, I do find it better to grow smaller amounts of a large variety of things. It eliminates the possibility of a catastrophically bad harvest if something fails! Secondly, starting one job and feeling inspired to start another; my list of ‘in progress’ projects seems to be expanding at an alarming rate!

    Elsewhere, it’s nice to see the Japanese Quince getting going.

  5. Oh, you three hens are gorgeous, and isn’t it great to have them helping out in the garden? I think the glade path looks great, and once you remove that plant that is in the way, you will be motivated to finish off the project. It will be interesting to see how you tackle that garden. Good luck with the seeds. Wow! The Amaryllis looks great. Their flowers are big and bold! It sounds as if you celebrated your birthday in style! Belated Birthday wishes to you!

    1. They are great little helpers! Lots of work still to do on the glade but hopefully I will finish it and not get distracted by something else! Thanks for the birthday wishes.

      1. I only know of this from the comments and photographs of online friends in various Facebook forums for snowdrop enthusiasts.

  6. Belated birthday wishes. 🤗 I liked that story about Amaryllis. It is nice that you can do some jobs in the winter. I have also sorted out my seeds and done lots of planning, but it is still icy and extremely soggy here!

    1. Thanks Cathy! It’s been quite mild here this last week so I’ve made the most of it 😀and when the sun is out my motivation definitely goes up (the reverse is also true 😉)

  7. I love your slug patrol, what pretty chucks. How lovely having a trip to the Ardennes. A trip anywhere would be nice. Still there are compensations in the garden, even on a cold day. I use wood chipping paths too. Hippeastrums are lovely apart from their giraffe necks.

    1. Giraffe necks, long and bendy, yes that’s an apt description! One of the unexpected benefits of international travel restrictions is that we’re getting to know Belgium as a whole a lot better – it’s a rather lovely country🙂.

  8. I love your slug patrol ! That amaryllis is impressive. I was hesitating about buying one in our garden center the other day but I think it might be a bit late in the season. Don’t know much about them. They were in pots and had stalks with a big bulbous tip that could be ready to flower. Many happy Late Returns for your birthday.

  9. Happy birthday! Your chickens look very focused and efficient. Thank you for sharing the mythological background on Amaryllis. My plans for my vegetable patch are very similar to yours. Some more perennial elements and more of a mix of herbs, fruits, vegetables.

  10. What a delightful post! You had me chuckling all through it with the adventures of the elite team of 3 and the mythic tale of the amaryllis! Always lovely to see your garden and what you are doing there.

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