Next Tuesday marks the Winter solstice for us northern hemisphere dwellers. No cattle will be slaughtered here to save on winter feeding (we’re veggie in any case 🤣). The Sun will nevertheless follow its lowest arc in the sky and, if there is any sunshine, our shadows will be at their longest. The ‘day’ will last a short 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds in London apparently, but from then on there will be increasing daylight … all the way to summer. I’m sure all northern gardeners will be breathing a sigh of relief!
I’m joining Mr Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme today, along side many other tweeters and bloggers. Check out Jonathon’s blog and browse the links in the comment section to see more Six selections … and not just from the northern hemisphere of course!
Here are my Six:
1) A ‘free’ crop of Oca tubers
I seem to be as bad at removing all the ocas that I’ve grown from the ground as I am at clearing potatoes. This year I forgot to plant out my saved tubers until way too late. When I open the storage bag there were so many etiolated shoots that it looked like a bag of spaghetti. I threw those away, but the little pieces that I failed to collected from the ground last December stealthily pushed up their own new shoots and started the next cycle anyway. I dug up a couple of clumps today and it looks like there will be sufficient tubers for a couple of meals. Maybe more, if I end up being the only one eating them again!
2) Sunny Pot Marigolds
Calendula ‘Neon’ continues to flower in the borders. In spite of their overall tatty appearance, I can’t bring myself to clear them. They looks so darn cheerful.
3) Witch Hazel ‘Jelena’
Way back in July my parents ordered this shrub for me for my birthday. They finally received the plant at the very end of November. It was a small, bagged-up, bare-rooted specimen. (I don’t think they knew this when they ordered it for me.) Anyhow, it looked a healthy plant and, despite its overall size, it had some flower buds on. I potted it up immediately and plonked it in the shelter of the greenhouse. This week I noticed that some of the flowers were beginning to open and today, it looks like this:
4) Greenhouse Insulation
For the first time in a long while I’ve completely insulated my greenhouse with bubble-wrap. This time I used proper fixings (rather than paperclips) and I have to say it has made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the job. Being a cheapskate only gets you so far, clearly! I’ve made the task one of my six as I need advice on how to fix the stuff to the doors. I’ve got double doors and it would be a large area to leave unprotected, but there are no grooves on the doors to use the fixings on. I’ve resorted to sticking the wrap down with packing tape. The problem is that moisture gradually reduces it’s stickiness and I end up with loose, flapping wrap that catches in the doors and gets tangled up in the sliding space. What do others do to insulate their greenhouse doors?
5) Tulips and Garlic
In the end I didn’t manage to entirely hold out against buy a tulips in the sales, in spite of my avowal that with all our resident mice, squirrels and voles, it would be a pointless purchase. So I’ve been potting up some lovely Tulipa whittalii bulbs and covering the pots with chicken mesh, but in addition I’ve planted several actively growing cloves of garlic in each pot, which I am hoping will put the critters off completely. I can cut them down or pull them once the tulips are well through. We will see how successful the ploy is, but so far so good.
6) Melianthus major
Melianthus is a lovely plant, but gets knocked back badly here each winter. However this year, we’ve not been hit with enough cold to ruin it, so I am currently enjoying its unusually large, lush stature. Everything about the plant is attractive, isn’t it? Those fan leaves, the pronounced serration, its slightly frosty, mint-green colour. Plus, I adore the look of rain or drizzle on it’s leaves. Now, if only I could get it to flower!
Well, that’s our last Six of the year. See you on the other side, when the days will be getting longer and we’ll be already anticipating swathes of spring bulbs.
Are your greenhouse doors aluminum or steel? I wonder if a roll of magnetic tape might work? The sticky side can go on the wrap and the magnetic side would attach to the steel.
What a clever idea, but sadly the frame is aluminum. Thx
Hmmm… maybe double stick Velcro on the glass?
Could you hang a pole -thick dowling -and use shower curtain hooks so you can hang the bubble wrap like a curtain across the door?
That could work, thanks Eileen! I’ve over-lapped at the top so it hangs down to head height, but so far avoided draping bits I can tangled with (naturally clumsily 😉 )
I’m glad to see your witch hazel photo. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it in the wild — unless I confused it with something else — but I surely would like to.
It would be wonderful to walk into a grove of them! Imagine the scent …
For the greenhouse I have a single sliding door and the same problem … I unroll a vertical strip of bubbles from the roof that I “block” at the bottom +/- before closing the sliding door : To do every day … ( that is therefore a bit spaced from the door)
I have not found better because the tape lasts 15 days and goes away with humidity. Keep us posted on what you do.
I do like the droplets on the calandula and on the melianthus leaves
Thanks Fred. I am going to try your idea next time my tape comes unstuck. Funnily enough, since I posted this dilemma the tape has held firm!! 😲
I put the bubble wrap on the outside of the door and use small bulldog clips to attach it – also for tops and sides inside – they work well. Depending on the thickness of the bubblewrap you might also need 2 of the plastic washers with each little turning clip to keep them in place. For some reason I am 2 lengths short this year – perhaps I accidentally used them for a more typical purpose!
I am pleased your Jelena has given you flowers in its first year – she is probably my favourite of those I have, now closely followed by Orange Peel
So I checked the outside of my greenhouse doors and I think I can work out how to attach bubble wrap as you suggest. I’ll need more bulldog clips though, ‘cos what I have are already in use for the vents. Great idea, thanks!
Hope it works for for you Allison 👍
I’m impressed with your tulips-garlic solution and will look forward to seeing beautiful tulips in spring. Your Witch Hazel ‘Jelena’ has a gorgeous color.
So far, so good with the tulips! ‘Jelena’ is dreamy and when she is bigger will be a show stopper I think!
The witch hazel is a beauty. What do the ocas taste like? What are the fixings you are using to attach the bubble wrap this year?
Ocas are a bit like radishes when you eat them raw, but the taste is more citrussy, rather than hot. Once cooked they are more like potatoes, but they retain that slight lemony flavour and so are reminiscent of jerusalem artichokes.
My glasshouse fixings are flat little plastic anchors. These are pushed into the metal struts through the bubble wrap and rotated by 90 degs to lock into place.
I love oca – which are called yams here in New Zealand. Lovely roasted.
Yes, roasted brings out their depth of flavour.
Lovely witch hazel. Good luck with the tulips!
I remember the oca from last year, such a lovely colour and nice for you to get an unexpected harvest despite the whoopsie. Hopefully the tulip trick will work, unless you have gourmet rodents! Love the Melianthus. Happy solstice!
The oca harvest was surprisingly good, given it was completely untended all year. A lesson perhaps. I also had a self-sown achocha crop, which was even more amazing given we had some very cold periods last spring.
Wishing you a Happy Christmas!