The Potting Bench Diaries – 15th February 2023

Well, blimey – it’s been brisk, hasn’t it!? Just when you think Spring is round the corner, another significant frost hits and knocks our poor seedlings about! I’m trying my best to not check the thermometer in the cold frame every single hour of the day, but when I did have a peek earlier in the week, it was -1.8° C….and that was at 11:30am.

Admittedly, there isn’t much action in the cold frame at the moment, but it could do with being a little more tepid than it is right now. Soon enough, this humble little wooden structure will be positively overflowing (hopefully) with seedlings and young plants, awaiting their eventual planting out.

Right now, it’s home to a couple of Jasmine, that are waiting for slightly warmer temperatures for planting out, some of the sweet peas (looking a tad leggier than I’d like) and the pots of meconopsis that are yet to germinate. On a lower shelf, there are also several foxgloves that were sown last year and have been cautiously overwintered- more on them another time!

Elsewhere in our patch of solace, more bulbs emerge through the frosty soil and the odd Ranunculus also tempts fate by sneaking a peek of the sun. I’m far from a Ranunculus expert (I’ll save that for Naomi Slade!) so I’ll need all the help I can get with these this year – do send your tips on a postcard (or a DM will do).

Ranunculus aren’t something that I’ve given too much attention, I must admit – but their lure has been too much to resist this time. There’s nothing too fancy going on here, just a simple few tubers from Wilko – but I’m hopeful of a small display nonetheless. Wish me luck!

Now I might not be all that confident of my abilities with the new additions to the garden, but I’ve got much more faith in the tulips. I’ve been looking back on the photos from last year’s efforts and this year is set to be a notch above that, all being well. You’ll remember that I’ve planted over 2,600 bulbs – granted, they aren’t all tulips – but a great deal of them are and they can’t come soon enough.

Tulips remain (and I think will always remain) my favourite friends in the garden. For reasons fairly unknown, they bring me so much joy and I hope that the increased numbers means that I can cut more for the house this year!

After I’d finished reminiscing about last year’s tulips, I gave some of my attention to the pots that are holding my other most-prized plants, the salvias. Usually you’d wait a wee while to give them a haircut, but several of them had quite a substantial amount of dead and brown growth so for some, it had to go. These have been in the same pots for a couple of years and the compost will have long lost the majority of its nutrients, so some TLC was in order. I simply took them out, shook off some of the old compost and re-potted them in fresh (peat free, might I add!) compost with a new layer on the top too. Very little effort, but they’ll love it.

And, as has become tradition – I’ll end with a podcast update. This week’s guest is none other than gardener, writer and presenter – Rekha Mistry.

Rekha talks about her beginnings with ‘growing her own’ and how her life changed with a certain little challenge. We also discuss her new book Rekha’s Kitchen Garden, a review of which – you can read or listen to here now. Do consider subscribing so you don’t miss this cracking conversation and other future episodes.

Talking to Rekha has made me want to grow even more edibles this year, so watch this space to see which crops we’ll be harvesting this year!

Before I go, I wanted to give a brief shootout to who make these blog posts and the accompanying podcast more possible with their support. If you havent heard of them then please do consider checking them out for all your organic & natural compost and fertiliser needs. As an added bonus, if you use the code POTTINGBENCH at the checkout then you’ll get 10% off your order.

Hopefully the sun will shine for you this weekend, with the odd spell of gardening here and there. See you soon…

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