Saturday, 10 March 2018

Building a Walk-in Propagator Cubicle

Some of our more tender plants haven't survived this winter in the large cold greenhouse.    

the garden on 29 December 2017 ...

The mercury hasn't dropped below -6 C, i.e. only our typical winter low, but I think it's the sheer number of very cold frosts we've had, many of them on consecutive nights.  

Usually, we'd get around a dozen or so sharp frosts all winter, but this time around it seems as if there's been a dozen every month for three months (not that we've been at home for most of the winter, but we kept an eye on the house and weather via our webcams and also talked to friends on Skype).

Having only recently returned to Blighty and surveyed the destruction of the plants, I immediately started thinking about heating a small area of the greenhouse during future winters.   We also brought back more seeds of sub-tropical plants from our travels, which should do well enough outdoors in our summers but won't tolerate even a sniff of a frost and will need protection throughout the winters.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Notes from a small island ...

After the success of our long winter break early last year, we decided to do it again in 2018.  By 'success' I mean avoiding the cold, miserable, grey days that characterise much of January and February in northern England.

So we're back in the Canary Islands for the best part of two months, although staying on a different island to last year. 

Of all the many places I've ever been in the world, I think the Canaries have one of the very best winter climates.  We're around 5 degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer, and it's very mild - warm even - but without the high humidity of the tropics.   The sun's bright, the sea's crystal clear and at night we can see many more stars than at home, due to the clearer air and lower light pollution.

The local flora is stunning, even at this time of year.  It's just a very nice place to wander around.

flowering vine growing wild on scrubland - naturally, I took a cutting ....

Monday, 1 January 2018

Investment Review - December 2017

Here's the final combined portfolio update for 2017, as compiled on the last working day of the year :-

click on the graphic for a larger image ...

Friday, 29 December 2017

Annual Spending Review - 2017

Here's the annual look back at where all the money went during the year.  A flurry of snow this morning put paid to plans for a final round of golf in 2017, and so I'm now unlikely to spend anything more until 2018 ... 

click on the graphic for a larger image ...

As usual, the columns are ranked highest-to-lowest from left-to-right, based on the 2017 spending, and include the equivalent 2016 and 2015 spends alongside, for comparison.   

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Brief Garden Review - in Pictures

one of the young pear trees - lots of
blossom but didn't set any fruit ....

tulips in the new bed ...

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Investment Review - September 2017

Here's the combined portfolio spreadsheet as updated on Friday 29 September, the last business day of the third quarter :- 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Time to order specialist seeds for 2018 ?

Late summer might not seem the time that thoughts should turn to seed sowing and propagation, but if you want to grow any out-of-the-ordinary species next year it may be time to order the seeds now.

There's nothing more frustrating in early spring to find those exotic seeds you've just received come with growing instructions that require them to be 'stratified' for several months to break dormancy.   

This usually means a long period of refrigeration to fool them into thinking they've been through a cold winter, so they'll be ready to burst into life when you eventually put them into warm soil.  

Some may even need an initial warm spell before they experience the cold, and then they'll germinate in the warmth again next year - in this case, first keep them somewhere warm in the house for a few months before popping them in the fridge.

If you leave the seed ordering until next year, it means they may not be ready for sowing for a long time, and then it could take a couple of months afterwards before they even germinate, so you've effectively lost a whole growing season.  Any seedlings sown later in the year might also not have enough time to become properly established before the cold weather arrives, which could easily kill them off.

So get thinking now about those trees, shrubs and palms etc you want to start off next year, research their propagation requirements on the internet and if necessary order the seeds soon.   

When you receive them they can go into the fridge over the winter, you can forget about them for six months and they'll be ready to sow indoors early next year.