5 Feb 2012

That settles it

Finally!  Winter's here, proper snow, face and finger numbing cold, heating on, hot buttered toast (or crumpets) at teatime with a large steaming mug of tea. The sense of anticipation over the last couple of days has been huge;  I felt properly excited at the prospect of wintry weather descending and yesterday evening, sometime around 7 p.m. a light, persistent misting of snow started to fall over north London, leaving a good few inches to wake up to this morning.

Winter, finally.
Seen at Camden Lock Market yesterday afternoon -
the waterbus frozen into its dock.
Now it feels like we're having a proper winter, the traditional seasons have re-asserted themselves and once the February freeze is finished, we can confidently begin the process of nurturing our seeds into life. What a relief.  I hope that doesn't appear churlish; being snuggled within the reaches of an overheated city, I'm relieved to know where I stand, weather wise.  On the other hand, I can fully appreciate that if you're currently cut off from access to the nearest supermarket, you might not see things in the same light.

Recent warm sunny daytime temperatures had prompted thoughts of sowing a few herb seeds on the balcony. Thankfully I resisted.  Instead, last weekend, I successfully split and repotted a floppy supermarket chive plant.  Spring is the time to divide clumps of chives growing outside so I thought why not try this with my windowsill chive?  It was beginning to look very sorry for itself, not far from that moment when you know that your supermarket herb will keel over regardless.  Do or die time, I thought, as I removed the pot.  Have you seen how many bulbs are crammed into one tiny pot? And, bizarrely, it looked as though the roots had been cut off close to the bulbs.  Now, divided into six clumps and repotted into good fresh seed compost, the plants seem much happier and are throwing up flower shoots.  Incidentally, chives grown from seed should be left to grow for a year then moved to their permanent position after frosts have passed.

Chive repotted
~ Divided we stand; united we fall! ~

And the last essential job of the week was to move the veg patch lemon tree.  Poor little thing suffered last year by being exposed to the full blast of winter and dropped all its leaves.  It's pot grown so, this year, I've brought it upstairs to my tiny balcony, a space not much bigger than a metre square, and covered it with fleece protection.  I'm working on the theory that the proximity to the flat creates a sheltered micro-climate for my plants but I'm still going to mulch the roots with straw, just in case!

February is forecast to be typically very cold.  Good.  The soil will be conditioned and soil borne pests and diseases will be zapped by the frost - ready for it all to begin again.  Now, warm wellies on, I'm off to find my straw and check the snow damage in the garden. I hope that all my gardening friends will have heeded weather warnings and been able to protect their plants in time.  Keep warm people!

22 comments:

  1. Caro, the caption should read "Provided we stand, untied we fall" [I expect your Chive plant came in a little cellophane sleeve to help it stand upright]. Actually I suppose if you buy a plant from the Fruit & Veg section you must assume that it is intended to be eaten fairly promptly rather than grown on, but we always ignore that, don't we?

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    1. Ah yes, very good Mark! Yes, it was wrapped in cellophane and did very well for a couple of weeks in the kitchen but oh it feels good to have got one over on the big supermarkets by rescuing a plant pre-destined to live a short life.

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  2. I've tried growing on herbs purchased from the supermarket but they usually end up dead on the window sill. I hope yours do better though :)

    The chives I have growing in pots outside are from a friend who grew it from seed. They're really hardy and grow quickly - and I've had to split them a couple of times in the last year and a half.

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    1. I tried growing chives from seed a couple of years ago but they didn't do well - too dry for the seedlings. I'm hoping to plant some of my repotted chives outside in due course and others will be potted on into larger pots. Already the plants are sending up new strong shoots so I'm hopeful ... (I also do well with supermarket sage :) x

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  3. It feels right to have the seasons back on track, the over wintering pests are getting a hard time at last!

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    1. Damo, I couldn't agree more! Isn't it great? (I just hope all the ladybirds had the good sense to hide somewhere warm.)

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  4. We had snow all day yesterday but then it turned to rain and has all gone now. I still get excited by snow and hate it when other parts of the country get it and we don't so I feel happy to have seen some this year. However it was so cold this week, minus 9 one night and we're running out of wood so I'm hoping the cold spell won't last too long. Keep warm and I do like the sound of those buttered crumpets and tea. Mmmmm its making me hungry.

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    1. Welly, two days on and I can report that nearly all our snow has gone. In fact we have sunshine today over London! I was out and about yesterday, wandering in the slush, and the temperatures were relatively warm - no need for gloves. I wouldn't mind some more freezing nights, it would be very good for the garden!

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  5. I try dividing the supermarket herbs. There always seems to be lots in one pot and I think they are probably brought on in very warm, light conditions and that makes potting on a bit of a lottery.
    No snow here at all.....

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    1. It'll be a wonder if my chive experiment works, but I live in hope! When you consider that the plants have been moved from a warm polytunnel, to a van, to a supermarket shelf (usually overcrowded) and then to a kitchen windowsill, it's no surprise that they have a short shelf-life. (Although mint is usually a great survivor!)

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  6. We have snow, snow and more snow. The sun came out for a bit and a little bit of it melted but then everything froze over again. So it looks like the big freeze carries on. One good thing about this weather is that all the fruit trees will have their chilling out period so we should get some good fruit crops again this year.

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    1. Elaine, you're making me envious! I lived in Yorkshire as a child for a few years and remember the cold winters and freezing fog! My fruit trees are starting to bud so probably don't know whether they're coming or going!

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  7. No snow here but yesterday was a day of sleet/ freezing rain so the garden was decorated with icicles. I live near to a canal too and when it freezes over I know that it is seriously cold. Glad that you had some of the white stuff to restore the natural order. I think that your chives will respond to your tlc and will flourish.

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    1. Ooh, I think icicles sound nicer than snow! Hope you ventured out to get some photos, they look so pretty! Water freezing over is always a good indication of what the weather'd doing. A pond by the road at the top of Hampstead Heath usually freezes over quickly but, for the canal to freeze, especially as it's surrounded by buildings, we're talking serious temperature drop!

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    2. Also, thank you for your kind thoughts towards my chives. I think a little tlc goes a long way in the plant world!

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  8. I was starting to wonder if we were going to get any winter at all. It's kind of reassuring to know that it's here at last, though after a day of snow I've had enough already.

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    1. Jo, I like watching the snow fall from my window! I'll let the kids go out and get soaked and cold, although my lovely warm wellies and sheepskin gloves make a short walk a pleasure - as long as the ground isn't icy!

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  9. Tea and toast sounds good to me! Although proper snow always looks good it soon turns grey and slushy here which is why I'm not keen on it.
    It's good to see that there's still plenty of gardening items that we can blog about. Flighty xx

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    1. I agree Flighty! We had lots of slush yesterday and I thought how messy it looked. And yes, although I'm not blogging as frequently during the winter, I'm still finding plenty to write about! xx
      And, however yummy tea and toast is, a slice of fruit cake is also nice ... ! ;)

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  10. You sound as if you have the right idea, batten down the hatches and eat something hot!!Just a flurry of snowflakes on Saturday, but they didn't last long, back to warm and wet in Devon. At least we had freezing temperatures to zap the bad guys for a few days!

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    1. Hello Pauline, thanks for commenting. Now I've found your blog - your garden is very beautiful! We have sunshine today so who knows what we're in for next. I don't mind very cold weather as long as we have a glimpse of sun at some point, otherwise it all gets just too gloomy for words!

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  11. I am always amazed at how they cram plantlets into those supermarket herb pots, but I often find that by dividing them up and repotting them they carry on and on really well - and become a cheap source of new herb plants. I'm sure your chives will thrive, I have several pots happily growing in the greenhouse from doing the same last year.

    I'm with you on the weather front, particularly relishing the cold snap to kill off unwanted critters in the soil up at the allotments. A good excuse to hold off doing much outdoor work for another week or so until the weather starts to warm up properly.

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Caro x

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