Oslo Garden

A blog about gardening in Oslo, Norway


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May garden update

A burst of warm spring weather has got the plants romping full steam ahead leaving me trying to play catch up. Here’s a summary of what’s what, and all the jobs I’ve been busy with.

My windowsills had become jammed packed full of seedlings and a few days ago I decided to transfer as many as possible into the cold frame. To make some room I took out lettuce, beans and peas that I’d sowed at the end of March/beginning of April. They had been hardening off gradually in the cold frame, but as it’s been so warm, I took a chance and moved them outside.

I added a light protective layer for the first few nights and gradually got them used to the sun but essentially they’ve been out all the time. I pricked out the little lettuce seedlings and replanted them in one of the large tubs outside the cold frame, planting them close together as they’ll be grown as a cut and come again crop. Either side of the lettuce tub, are the salads I over-wintered. There’s a tub of Lambs Lettuce that managed to survive the winter outside and a tub of Red Giant Mustard (Asian) salad that was sown at the same time but never made it outdoors until I transferred it out in early April. In the Red Giant tub there are signs of some more quick-growing lettuces that I have sown recently to fill the gaps.

The Watercress seeds I sowed in mid April inside the cold frame have now germinated but I haven’t moved them outside. So they’ll stay inside for the time being, permanently sitting in water, keeping nice and moist (top right).

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I’ve started potting on some seedlings, such as the Helianthus annuus, Cosmos bipinnatus, Fennel and Kale but more need to be done over the coming weeks. Many seedlings have grown a little leggy, and some are still very small, particularly the beetroot. The warm and dry conditions inside the house won’t have been good for them, so I’m hoping they’ll improve in time in their new positions.

Now that the beans and peas that I sowed earlier in the cold frame were doing well, I couldn’t help sowing another batch, to get another crop later in the summer. Here they are side by side. When sowing the new ones I’ve used a multi purpose compost rather than a seedling compost in order to provide them with a bit more sustenance as they develop over time.

In the area outside, the plants have really picked up the pace of growth over the last month. 

The Lamprocapnos spectabilis (top right) has shot up and little pink flower buds have already begun to appear, being one of the earliest to bloom. In the oblong planter, the dwarf Astilbe, Geranium Rozanne and Corydalis are doing well. I thought I’d lost the Geranium but it’s popped up again. I’m finally hoping to see some blue Corydalis flowers this year; it’s not flowered in the 2 years I’ve had it!

The Coreopsis grandiflora is still a mass of dry stalks and by now has usually shown some signs of some new growth. I’ll wait a while longer before I take any drastic action, as it may just be late developing this year.  The Geranium macrorrhizum in the large round pot is already running riot and had already overshadowed the Salvia nemorosa. So I’ve put the Salvia in with the smaller mound-forming Geranium sanguineum that had been growing with the Coreopsis. Its new pot sits on the bench (shown below) alongside the Aquilegia vulgaris, and the re-potted Comfrey and Euphorbia epithymoides.

Below them is the long planter of strawberries, that I will continue to propagate this year.

I am a bit late erecting a climbing frame around the Clematis, which is just romping away. This is one of my next jobs to do.

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The Aubrieta at the base of the clematis, whose beautiful deep violet flowers were just beginning to form a few weeks ago (picture left), is now blossoming. I gave it quite a hard cut back in the autumn to rejuvinate it and it seems to have resonded well.

 

I have done well to resist the charms of new plants at the local garden centre up to now but it seems a plant has sought me out…..A wooden planter was being given away and the bush came with it….Well, how could I resist?!!

20160509_102322All I know is it’s an edible fruit bush and it has lovely reddish-green leaves. As it happens, I’m no longer keeping the planter but I love the idea of growing some fruit this year, so it stays. My mission is to identify the variety and get it out of the bin bag into a more suitable container very soon.

And finally, here is my finished Bee hotel.

20160506_132448I want to add a little overhang to the roof to protect it from rain, as I have kept it rustic and haven’t cut all the tubes precisely to fit flush with the sides, but essentially it’s done and I’ll hang it up soon. I can’t wait to see if any guests visit it over the next few months.

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Insect hotels

As part of my ambition this year to do more to support pollinators and encourage wildlife into the garden, I’m building a couple of insect/bee hotels. To have a healthy garden, it’s important to attract predatory insects and pollinating insects, and to create little habitats where they can nest or hang out.

Making a hotel is very simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. Yesterday I thought I’d pop down to the Botanisk Hage to check out their free workshop all about building an insect hotel. It was great to see lots of people there eager to get more involved. 

There are so many different methods, the simplest of which is to drill some holes, of different widths (but no more than 10mm) into a block of wood. Or you can cut the end off a plastic bottle or use an old tin can and stuff it full of bamboo canes. Hang them up somewhere dry and sunny and hey presto, you have a nesting site for solitary bees. A great description of what insects are attracted by what materials can be found here.

I’m going to try making two: an insect hotel that I’ll leave near the ground, with lots of cubby holes full of leaves, bark, and dead wood, and a bee hotel which I’ll hang up and fill with lots of hollow stems.

I’m off to do a bit of foraging. This is the perfect time to do it.