We are now over half way through the meteorological winter and the dark is retreating a little at both ends of the day, every day. Downhill till spring!  Let’s not think too much about the fact that February is often very wintry indeed. Regardless of the weather, it is time for Six on Saturday. Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a flower, plans, a favourite tool, a job completed, seeds sown, anything at all. Join in!

Here are my Six for this week.

1 – Extra garlic. In an all too familiar burst of excessive enthusiasm I bought more seed garlic bulbs back in the Autumn than I have space for. After planting out 32 cloves into the allocated space in the veg plot, I still had over 20 cloves left. What to do? Rather than compost them, I put six inches of compost into some empty bags and planted 4 or 5 cloves in each one. They are growing away happily enough, the leaves are beginning to poke through.

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2 – Spent hops. One of the down-sides of the no-dig approach to the veg plot is the need for a thick mulch of compost once a year. In the past I haven’t produced enough of my own compost to meet these needs. I mainly mulched with well-rotted manure this time around. I have read elsewhere about using spent hops as a compost ingredient, and some have even used them neat as a mulch   My local brewery was happy for me to collect as much as I could take away. The photos are at the brewery, I carted away 5 sacks. I’m just going to add to my compost bins. It behaves the same way as grass cuttings in the heap, so needs ‘brown’ material adding. I’ll add newspaper and cardboard packaging, torn into strips. The brewery usually has a stash, so I’ll be able to collect a few bags whenever I want. Hopefully I’ll have enough of my own compost to mulch the whole veg plot early next winter.  A word of caution, watch out if you have dogs – spent hops is toxic to dogs and can be fatal.

3 – Clean greenhouse. Last weekend I took the plunge and spent a couple of hours clearing out the greenhouse and deep-cleaning it. I cheated a bit, using the pressure washer to get the worst of the grime off, inside and out. The inside was scrubbed with a bleach solution, paying particular attention to the corners, edges and frame, then the whole lot washed down again with the jet-wash. This always feels like it will be a burdensome task but actually was not too onerous once I got going.

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4 – Sweet peas. Currently occupying a little cold-frame I built last weekend. I haven’t grown sweet peas much before, but this year I am dedicating some plot space and growing several varieties. They look ok to me, I’ll plant them out in a couple of months.

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5 – Emerging tulips. At least, I am fairly sure these are tulips. They were in patio pots last year and have spent the intervening time squatting in these plastic pots. I wasn’t sure if they would come back again, but clearly they are, so now I’ll have to find somewhere to put them. Nice problem to have.

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6 – Seeds in pots. There’s not an awful lot going on in my garden at this time of year, but I am already several seed varieties into my yearly seed sowing frenzy. In this lot are chillies, one speculative tomato variety, and the others are mostly hardy perennials. At the front, you can just about see some zinnia seedlings emerging. It’s a bit early for annuals, but sod it. This is the advance guard, in a couple of weeks they’ll have lots of friends.

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That’s my Six for this week, what are yours?  Please join in, it’s always a joy to nose around other gardens. Just write your post and add a link to the comments below, and maybe add a link to this blog in your post. Please see the brief participant’s guide for more details.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to check back later on as more links to other fab Six posts are added.

I’ll be back next week with another edition of Six on Saturday.

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