Mar 15th, 2012
For many years, I have taken used compost and pots of dead plants and put them in old peat bags until all that remains is peat and bark, the rest having rotted away. This was then taken to my father-in-law’s vegetable garden and dug in to improve the heavy clay soil.
However, as age got the better of him, weeding and planting just became too much. My mother-in-law really missed her fresh vegetables so there was pressure on to think of another way. A trial within the flower borders was not very successful so still another way was needed.
The answer came this year after the hard winter (2010/2011) resulted in large numbers of dead plants and their compost needing to be got rid of.
Using a pallet for the base and others for the sides, a box was fashioned and this was then lined with landscape fibre, filled with dead plants and their compost; it needed a bit of treading down to fill in the air spaces.
We have a pallet lifter so were able to move the box after making it but it would be better to think carefully about position before the box is made. I put ours on wood blocks to keep it off the ground and made sure that there was access from all sides for ease of planting and harvesting. A good range of vegetables were successfully grown: sugar peas cascading down the sides gave an amazingly good crop with carrots sown thinly in the middle (aim for 1 seed per square inch). As the compost was “used” we had an interesting plant combination of carrots, Ipomoea and Nasturtium which made pulling the carrot difficult at times!
The great advantage of using pallets was their height which made weeding and harvesting very easy. The only difficult crop was runner beans which grew and had loads of beans but harvesting had to done from a stepladder. Other crops we tried were bush tomatoes, chard, lettuce, parsley, courgettes and french beans. The lettuce was cut and come again and was particularly successful.
Not only did we have some good vegetables, but we felt much better about having to get rid of so many dead plants after the winter.
© John Millington, MHort. 02.02.2012
Jun 28th, 2011
Despite the hideous winter, we have now fully recovered!
The nursery has been cleared of all the plants that didn’t make it through the winter. John has made vegetable boxes out of old pallets, which have been filled with some of the ‘expired’ plants’ soil, and has used them to plant some vegetables (radishes, carrots, broad beans, runner beans, beetroot) for us.
We decided, as we weren’t sure what had survived, not to publish a paper copy of the catalogue this year. This has turned out to be quite a good thing, as plants such as the Salvia’s were showing no sign of life in Janruary when we would usually send it to print, but by April, they were shooting and are now in flower.
Mar 8th, 2010
2010. This is the “Chinese year of the Tiger”. It is said that having a Tiger in the house is the very best protection against the evils of fire and burglary: now we have seven cats, I hope this will apply to us all at Hillview.
Lilian has semi-retired and is here 2 days a week, and at shows. Ingrid, John, Sarah, Edwina and Alice are still all here and Edward appears at various shows.
‘Grow your own’ gardening course
We will be planting a new, small vegetable garden at the top end of the twin tunnel to help inspire you to “grow your own”. John will be running a course one day a month, on the theory and practise of vegetable and fruit growing. Cost will include lunch and will be £15.00 for each all day session. Please ‘phone or look at our website for more details and syllabus (maximum course number is 15).
We will be levelling the slabs (weather permitting) so that walking around the nursery will be easier. We also hope to label all the plants in the stock beds and garden and the sales plants will all have a picture price label. We have had our conifers cut down so that the garden is more accessible. Please feel free to have a look around and if you would like to picnic, there will be chairs and tables available.
As usual, coffee and tea are available on a DIY basis, in the “New Shed”. The WC is also there and is suitable for disabled visitors. If it’s raining when you visit, we have umbrellas for you to borrow.
Hillview customer loyalty scheme
Sarah has started a customer loyalty scheme. It costs £5.00 to join and benefits will include 10% off purchases at the nursery and previews to our sales.
Apr 3rd, 2009
So far, this season has seen the 2 trainees Alice and Tom from Rodbaston College carrying out lots of new tasks to improve their horticultural skills. One task has been sowing seeds, many of which have appeared from friends and customers. We now have several new species of Saliva (via Edward) which have been sown: it sounds very easy but some seeds need cold, others need heat while another type needs light so they have had a great deal to find out. Then pricking out requires great dexterity and good eyesight with some seedlings being minute whilst others are large and easy to separate and pot.
The weather has been playing its games again. Our first RHS propagation day was taken outside with lunch in warm sunshine but the following week was in the greenhouse battered by rain,
hail and a very cold wind. Still we did cover all the topics so those who attended have the basic knowledge from seed sowing to the advanced twin scaling of bulbs.
On the nursery, spring has come with lots of colour. The double primroses have been in flower for a couple of months and show no signs of stopping! The rest of the primulas are starting to flower too. One of our main interests, the auriculas, are in bud and will soon be flowering so their beauty should be showing by mid April. Why not come along to Ingrid’s Primula and Auricula afternoon on April 29th at 1.30, cost £5.00.
With spring here, it’s surprising that the Hellebores are still in flower just as they have been for well over 3 months.
On the “zoo” front, Maggie is now accompanying John on ever longer walks as he is in training to ascend Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro in September. Chilli has come out of winter hibernation in the greenhouse to meet and greet the customers as Jane, now 17, has retired from this particular job and now spends her days indoors demanding small portions of the most expensive cat food: it’s amazing how she has made us all so fluent in cat speak but we must be getting good at interpretation as we seem able to meet her demands.
Macy, Clemmy, Louis and Wain are all just having great kittenish fun, climbing trees, chasing bees and generally mucking about.
This weekend brings our first two plant sales so fingers crossed, people fed up with hearing about credit crunch and all the doom and gloom that brings, will get out and buy themselves lots of lovely plants to cheer themselves and their gardens up!
Mar 31st, 2008
…and another catalogue hot off the press.
The good news is that we have 3 new little cats but the bad news is that Tarzan, Tin-Tin and Snowy all had to be put down and sadly Millie has recently been put down too, although we hope to get a new puppy soonEdwina has had another baby, Bethany, so will not be back at work for some time. That just leaves Lilian, John, Sarah and me (Ingrid) to man the fort. Crocosmia weekend was a great success last year so we will be running it again in 2008 on 1st – 3rd August. If anyone would like to receive a reminder of any events or offers from the nursery, just go onto our website www.hillviewhardyplants.com and sign up for our newsletter. Our first RHS partnership day will be on Pruning and the second on Primulas and Auriculas. They will both be hands-on workshops and last all day with a light lunch included.
You may notice quite a few unfamiliar plants this year: John has been busy collecting plants from the Acanthus family, many of which may or may not be hardy. They have been marked with an asterisk (*). It is December and I have just seen a Sollya (planted outside) in flower so hardiness is something I think we all need to experiment with.
Thank you to all our customers (so many of whom are now friends) for your support in 2007 and we look forward to seeing you and to welcoming new visitors in 2008.