Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review: Stihl Compact Cordless Blower BGA 56

Autumn leaves at the front of our house
A tiny part of the job - 1 day's worth of leaves at the end of our side garden and part of the public land

With autumn comes the usual seasonal tasks, especially the collection and disposal of leaves. This usually causes a moderately tense time here at VP Gardens as NAH likes things to be neat and tidy with not a fallen leaf in sight. I prefer the leaves to gather over time, so the task is completed in one go.

It doesn't help that our neighbour puts us to shame most weekends by blowing the fallen leaves at the front of our properties onto the public land next door. I used to have a blower-come-collector-come-shredder for gathering the leaves up ready to make leaf mould, but I found it far too heavy to use.

Since those days I've adopted a Compost Direct approach to autumn leaves, where I sweep them up into useful piles and then apply them directly to borders. It's easier, yet still hard work, best left for a cooler day when I need a good work out to keep warm.

Blower + accessories collage
Main picture: The overall view
Top left to right: Blower + battery charger (which can be wall mounted); The battery end
Bottom left to right: Battery release button; Check how much charge is left at the touch of a button

This year is different, as I'm now the proud owner of a battery powered leaf blower courtesy of the kind people at STIHL. I collected it from my local dealer, who were most helpful and showed me how to use it properly. This is a relatively simple piece of kit, though the first time I used it I still managed to forget the battery needs to be clicked twice into place for it to work. Silly me!

The blower is light (the battery is the only noticeable weight), quiet (much quieter than my neighbour's one) and powerful. NAH - who's an engineer with exacting standards - says the build quality is good.

The job out front, plus our side garden and patio was completed in 10 minutes with plenty of juice to spare (the battery lasts about 20 minutes per charge). I loved blowing out the leaves from behind my patio pots without having to move them - a chore I tend to avoid. It also cleared out the leaves stuck fast around the drains in the road, which is good as these are at the bottom of a slope.

A job which used to be a chore just got so much easier. It also means I've future proofed my gardening, and we can do our share for our neighbourhood. As for NAH and me, marital harmony has been restored now we have the right gadget.

This blower retails at around £199. There are cheaper ones on the market, but the ones I've researched are less powerful and/or have a shorter running time per battery charge.

The blower in action
The blower in action - my thanks to NAH who agreed to pose and use the blower for this post  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Unusual Front Gardens #24: Keep it simple


I don't usually go for coleus, but these three simple pots round the corner catch my eye every time I go past them.

They're placed below a window at the end of a drab drive, with colours that blend with each other well and also complement the brickwork of the house. This photo was taken on a dreary day and their fieriness helps to lift the gloom.

I think they're fabulous, how about you?



Latin without tears


Coleus is another plant which has undergone a name change recently, though like aster it remains as the common name and is considered to be a synonym of the genus Plectranthus

Most of the coleus we grow as ornamental plants are classified as Plectranthus scutellarioides. I haven't found the meaning of Plectranthus yet, and scutellarioides means it resembles the genus Scutellaria. This genus name is derived from the Latin scutella, which means a small dish or bowl and describes the appearance of the fruit's calyx.

Update September 24th: Diana left a comment which illustrates the joy of blogging. She's found the meaning of Plectranthus for me:

Plectron = spur and anthos = flower. From: Plantzafrica website
The website adds the words plectron and anthos are Greek in origin.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

My garlic's having a bad hair day

Sprouted bulbils on a garlic scape

This scene makes me smile every time I step out onto the patio. A couple of the spare trial garlic cloves I planted for green garlic developed a scape, then from these little miniature garlic cloves called bulbils formed.

Now these have started to sprout and they look like they're having a bad hair day. I love them for it. I'm not sure which of the varieties they're from as I planted the spares in a random fashion in their pots.

I suspect the humid weather over the past few weeks has encouraged the bulbils to sprout and their obvious viability means I'm having a go at bulking them up into garlic suitable for cropping. Bulbils are usually dried and stored much earlier in the year, but seeing we're close to autumn garlic planting time, I see no harm in a little experimentation right now.

Usually I'd save some of my garlic from my main crop for next year, but even the resistant varieties eventually succumbed to rust* up at the plot. Therefore it'll be better if I start afresh next year instead of using saved cloves. The bulbils take about 3 years to bulk up and should be clear of the disease**, so I'll buy some new-to-me varieties to try until they're ready.

I've planted them into a couple of large pots of Dalefoot*** wool compost for vegetable and salads, which I've trialled this year with good results. I've left them in a quiet corner of the garden where I can keep an eye on their development over the coming years.

I'll let you know how I get on.

* = though not as badly as the non-rust resistant varieties my allotment neighbour grew
** = propagation from bulbils is a good way of providing disease-free garlic, or revitalising a strain
*** = I received some free bags to evaluate, courtesy of Dalefoot. Spent compost mixed 50:50 with their Double Strength option also works well and is more economical too.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...