Thursday is my Friday. Currently the end of the working week, day off and time to plan and catch up before Garden College on Friday and two whole days off at the weekend. I love my life.
Today, sitting by the radiator (there's still snow outside), armed with two slices of hot buttered toast with marmalade (I have a friend who tells me off for using that old fashioned nursery phrase but, let's face it, 'Toast' just doesn't sum up the experience), a mug of coffee, a pile of books and a large seed box, I'm armchair gardening.
The books were free (except for Brian Capon, Botany for Gardeners on the top). I recently discovered a local Books for Free recycled book shop nearby. At each visit, you're allowed to take (and keep) 3 of someone's unwanted gifted books ... like a library with no return date. The gentleman in the shop kindly let me have a double ration (he could see the gleam of obsession in my eye) so I came away with two books on garden planning, a city gardener's handbook, the Tree and Shrub Expert, an illustrated book of herbs and a short biography of Gertrude Jekyll. Bliss! I think these shops are popping up in empty shop premises all over the country so worth keeping a look out as they're a boon for avid readers of all genres.
Once the seed box has been sorted through, I'll put that away and get out my drawing board - I have to complete a page of garden design symbols and a drawing of a border (plant elevation) for an assignment due in next week. My own (community) garden is uppermost in my thoughts, I'm constantly visualising different planting combinations so mapping all this out on paper really helps to clear it out of my head.
I'll be ordering some Root Trainers for my sweet peas (a cuttings garden essential) and starting off my beetroot and broccoli in a windowsill propagator; these should be ready to plant out in about 6 weeks time, having been hardened off on the balcony for the last of those weeks.
By the end of all that, I think the "sun will be over the yard arm" (to quote my Dad) or perhaps it will just be time for a Spot of Afternoon Tea ... Anyone else got any 'old fashioned' phrases that keep slipping into the conversation or is it just me that over-indulged with too much 'Miss Marple' / Joan Hickson at Christmas?
A further thought on root trainers: In previous years I've used loo roll inners to start off my sweet peas, beans and peas. Even microwaving the tubes before use has not stopped mould forming on the outside and, once planted, the cardboard takes ages to break down so the roots have to find their way down into the soil, rather than spreading out. I haven't been impressed with the quality of plants produced by this method so this year I'm splashing out on buying root trainers. The hinged ones allow the roots to be removed without damage prior to planting out and the shape of the trainers encourages a stronger root system by promoting the growth of fine hairs (better uptake of nutrients from the soil).