(My) First Gardening Day of the Year

I used to do a lot more updates about gardening, but I haven’t done one for a while, as it’s been winter.
It’s definitely spring now, so I’ve been watching Gardener’s World, testing out some iPhone apps and fixing some problems in my garden.

iPhone apps

You’d think that there would be a wealth of gardening-based apps, but there isn’t. Some are terrible, some are not free despite having no ratings or reviews (who wants to risk that?), and so the best app that I’ve found so far is the RHS’s (Royal Horticultural Society) “Grow Your Own”. It’s not flawless, but it’s pretty good. While some of the other apps have 30 varieties of tomato, or 20 varieties of carrot, Grow Your Own has just a section for the vegetable (i.e. “carrot”), with the rough dates it should be grown.

My garden, so far

You pick something, add it to your garden, and then the app reminds you when you should be planting them, when they should be flowering, etc. which is all very handy, if like me, you tend to think “I’d like to grow some sunflowers” in February, then forget all about it until the last day of July (which is precisely what I did, last year).

Sadly, it doesn’t cover sunflowers, as it’s only fruit and vegetables (I’ve emailed them already asking if they might develop one for flowers), and the basic free app does not include ALL the things you might like to grow. There are 4 add-on packs available for more vegetables, herbs, and fruits, for £1.79 each. I’ve purchased one add-on pack, so far. Still, I like this system of getting to try out the app with a small selection of vegetables, before committing to paying for it. Great. And £1.79 seems like a reasonable price to pay for all it does for you.

It has plenty of information about how deep you need to plant things, how far apart, and potential problems you might encounter if say, the soil is too hard, or too much compost is used. How do you know when potatoes are ready to dig up? When the plant shows flowers? When it loses flowers? This app will tell you.

Pond

The next problem is my pond. It’s full of horrible blanket weed, and despite the fact I’ve been removing it by hand (wearing rubber gloves) every now and then, a week later it’s all back again.

According to Google, one of the best ways to get rid of it, is to grow watercress.
So, yesterday I went out to a big nearby garden centre, picked up some oxygenating plants and watercress, and added it to the pond. Within an hour, the watercress had caught the attention of several frogs (there are at least two in there, but the water is currently too murky to tell the actual number), who, one after the other, swam over to it, then just hung static in the water, staring at its beauty.

"WTF is that?!" (click to enlarge)

Cats

uglyevilcat.jpg - A cat I met on holiday in Ibiza

Cats have become a bit of a pain in my street. One cat tries to get into my house every time I open the front door, because its owners make it stay outside all the time. Several of my neighbours have decked over their entire gardens, and as some of them have cats, they almost certainly shit in my garden. Yesterday, me and my girlfriend attempted to plant some stuff, and found another load of cat shit in another part of our garden.

I can’t get a dog, and we’ve already got one of these guns from B&Q, which emits a horrible loud noise to scare cats away. It works, but I can’t sit in my garden all day and night, to keep the bastards out.

It accurately reproduces the note of ARGH sharp.

At the garden centre then, when we spotted an anti-cat plant, we couldn’t resist it. Apparently it gives off a smell that cats don’t like. I can believe that – it stank out my whole car just driving it home. Hope it works.

It stinks.

According to the information:

Really, really stinks.

A dog owner friend of mine on Twitter has suggested urinating in my own garden, but I’m overlooked by several other houses, so I’m not sure about that. The challenge continues. Has anyone got Mary Bale’s phone number?

Dogwood

A few months ago, I went to Wisley Gardens to see a rare butterfly exhibit (live ones that is, flapping about). I took a load of pictures, but the humidity (I think) meant that most of them are absolute rubbish/blurry, as the autofocus had trouble locking onto anything.

I took this and it isn't (too) blurry.

I must admit this was my girlfriend’s idea, but I did enjoy the day out.

While in the gardens, I saw this very vibrant red thing called dogwood. So, a few weeks ago, I bought one. Yesterday I finally got around to planting it.

When I bought it, it was just like firey-red sticks, and so I wasn’t really sure what to expect it to grow into. This is what it looks like now (the leaves are new), although it may end up with yellow bits, according to Wikipedia.

Woof.

Raspberries

I must admit I thought we had grown a lot of weeds, until my girlfriend told me they were raspberry plants. She’s been growing them for a while, and yesterday they were relocated to a better part of the garden. Hopefully, we’ll have enough fruit to make some jam in a few months, but for now they look like this:

Jam cometh.

So, in summary

The pond is cleaner, the frogs are happy, and the cats are probably still a nuisance. The RHS are reminding me to look after the garden, Monty Don is reminding me what to plant each weekend, and this year I’ll get those sunflowers in when they’re meant to go in (this month is fine), so I can grow some that are so tall they’ll win the Blue Peter competition.

Also yesterday – a trench of potatoes were planted, but I’m not going to show you pictures of a pile of soil (which is all you can see of those at the moment). More (and smaller) updates, as they occur.