As I sit here writing this blog post, it’s almost the longest day. It’s officially mid-winter, yet I’m just in from the garden, red cheeks and frozen fingers to boot. I would absolutely say yes, gardening has slowed down a little now we are deep into winter but it definitely hasn’t stopped. We don’t have that urgency or endless list of tasks we do for spring and summer, sure, but there are jobs to be done, discoveries to be made and definitely preparations to be done.
The first job I had to tackle today was one I’d been putting off for ages. I knew it needed done but I just never got around to it, and I’m not sure why, because it’s not a particularly big or arduous job. I had to move the enormous salvia shrub from the herb planter and get it settled into a bed.
So the Salvia I have is Blackcurrant Sage the same variety as Hot Lips which is really popular in the UK. It’s called Blackcurrant Sage as it’s meant to smell and taste of blackcurrant (hence the cocktail thing) but it so doesn’t. However, being salvia, it got quite big and we had to move it. Now, I’m not sure how it is going to do over winter as although salvia are perennials, they often don’t do well in our winter. But not to worry, I took some cuttings just in case, so if the shrub doesn’t make it through winter, I have some new cuttings to take its place.
The other job I had to get done, was a little bit of a tidy in the greenhouse. It’s not busy in there just now, but I’ve got a few bits and pieces going, so I just want to try to keep on top of the clutter and keep it usable. It just makes life easier if I know where bits and pieces are. It’s also a chance to make sure I don’t leave random dead plants in there, providing the opportunity for nasties. One job like this was to bin the old tarragon plant. It had been an amazing, strong and busy plant during the summer and we used it loads, but like the basil, it just didn’t make it in the cold, even in the greenhouse, so it was time to get that chopped up and added tot he compost bin and get the pots washed. Except, when I cut it all back and pulled it from the pot… it had loads of new shoots on it, so clearly not dead then. Back in the pot and under the protection of the propagator it went. I figure that that will give me a head start come spring if I already have a nice strong plant that’s started to grow shoots. One less batch of seeds to germinate.
Being in the greenhouse and getting these little jobs done is a good thing. I must confess that just having that visible barrier of the bubblewrap, stopping me from seeing into the greenhouse has in fact had a negative effect of preventing me going out there as often. I think just because I don’t see the plants in there, so I’m not inspired to go in. Unfortunately, that has thoroughly bit me in the arse this week. The hydrangea has been infested with aphids, and I hadn’t noticed. The downside of it being so mild, the pests aren’t being killed off the way we’d usually expect from the cold winter days and nights.
This has had an unusual downside. Mould.
Yup you ready that correctly. You see… the aphids produce a sweet sap like excretion called honeydew. This is why you generally see ants around any plants which have aphids. The ants actually farm the aphids because they use this honeydew as a food source. Who knew ants were livestock farmers?
Well to get back to the story, this sweet stuff is the perfect environment for a type of mould called Sooty Mould. And yup, we got it on the hydrangea, not only that, the honeydew dropped from the plant and we also got mould anywhere it landed, including the shelves, staging and on some of my propagators.
So an unexpected set of chores form that then. The hydrangea itself had to be cleaned up to get rid of any of the mould that was forming on it and I pruned any branches which had been damaged. Unfortunately, a fair bit of the new growth was damaged. I also took it outside into the proper cold and gave it a good spray with my insecticidal sop to deal with the aphids.
So fingers crossed we’re on top of things. Just shows you though, laziness doesn’t pay 🙁
I do have a wee positive to leave you with though. Remember the carrot seeds I sowed and seedlings I planted? Well the seedlings are going strong and finally, the seeds are starting to germinate. So maybe, just maybe we might have carrots in April.
As always, you can follow the full story on youtube