• Kay

Zombie Butternut


Today is frequently sunny and quite warm. I start the day by having breakfast on the newly positioned swing seat in the sun - lovely! Patrick, Aideen and James have built a small paved area at the end of dad's building for the swing seat and it looks brilliant. They also fixed one of the bird boxes on the apex of the building above the seat. It's incredible how easily a grotty area can be transformed, Grandad joins me on the swing seat for a companionable chat.

My first job is to mark the position of the trees in the orchard on the map I'm preparing for the guidebook. When this is done I head for the polytunnel. I am pleased to see that the young tomato, chilli, pepper and aubergine seedlings seem to be ok in their new home. Yesterday I had left three varieties of seed soaking, (this helps some types of seed to germinate) so I started by sowing these. They included a root trainer (planting container with longer than average planting cells) of Cardinal Climber - a very interesting type of Ipomoea with fern like leaves and scarlet flowers, Morning Glory - Heavenly Blue - one of my all time favourites because of the beautiful blue blooms and the new Chatsworth Sweet Pea seed that was sent to replace the pack that failed.

I then briefly walk around the garden - I do this every day to check i'm not missing any problems or forgetting important jobs. One thing that needs checking regularly are the beds of onions, shallots and garlic because inevitably a few will need pushing back in the soil because they've been unearthed by a cat, dog or bird! Also, even at this time of year it is important to check that recent transplants are not thirsty. I notice that some perennials that were dug up to put in the base for the play house have not been replanted so I attend to that first. I also take some time cutting back some old growth in the herb garden, and go into the root cellar to collect some butternut squash for dinner.

Generally, the squash I am bringing in are the ones that are beginning to rot so I cut out what is useable from each one and put the remainder in the compost. The Butternut are lasting well as there are still plenty left, which considering they were harvested 6 months ago is brilliant. Carrying them back to the house the end drops off one of them and I am reminded of an advert on TV where something similar happens to the hand of a 'zombie' girl! A little gross, but my motto is definitely 'waste not, want not!' and I'm not going to let a bit of rot put me off using produce. I finish the day deciding which lucky flower seeds will get the remaining available space in the propagator and I plant up two mini plug trays (84 cells) of Salvia Coccinea 'Summer Pink Jewel' (25), Salvia 'Seascape' (52) and Ornamental Grass 'Hare's Tail' (7) and in the second tray 32 Viola Hybrida 'All Spice' and 52 Pansy 'Joker Light Blue'.


A beautiful sunny day but sadly I don't have much time to spend outside, as unusually for a Tuesday, I have an afternoon rehearsal and concert. I'm shortly about to depart for Harrow School, to play 'Dream of Gerontius' on my contra bassoon, but I intend to get as much done as possible before I leave. I start with some careful watering in the polytunnel - sometimes only part of a tray dries out, so you have to take care not to overwater the rest of it. I notice the lower shelf of trays in my DIY protected cabinet have some drooping seedlings - it was very cold last night and I'm afraid they might be 'damping off'. I bring the trays outside and put them on the wall of the herb garden in the sun, hoping to revive them and luckily after an hour, this works... hooray! I then carried on sowing the flower seeds that will benefit from 'bottom heat', and then put them in the propagators. I plant one 84 cell tray of 'French Marigolds', 'Red Knight', 'Defender', 'Zenith' and 'Allumia Vanilla Cream'. Another 84 cell tray of Pertunia 'Tidal Wave Silver', Bracycome 'Blue Star', Tithonia 'Red Torch' and Dahlia 'Bishops Children' and a 40 cell tray of Zinnias 'Illumination' and Orange King. The Petunia seed seems to disintegrate - is it supposed to be like that? - I might need to phone Doboes. Probably I should now go in and get cleaned up before I spend the rest of the day effectively blowing raspberries - yes that is what a contra bassoon sounds like!

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