Friday, 31 May 2013

Being positive

At the time of writing this post it has been raining pretty much none stop for three days. The sun has cheekily appeared through the clouds but has always swiftly hidden itself again.

Whatever the weather though I will always make my way to the garden after work. It is wonderful how just being in my little plot can un-stress me.

Yes, it is very wet & the weeds are sprouting up like nobody's business. It is also looking very green & lush.
See this is the view from my greenhouse as the sun briefly appeared yesterday morning. I wont bore you with moans of gooseberry sawfly munching its way through my gooseberries & red/white currants. I shall save that for another post. No I shall just briefly tell you how the rain has helped my mixed flower border grow, how I don't have to water my seedlings, the potatoes are growing without any intervention, raspberry canes are growing taller & the rhubarb has again spilled out over the plot. Before I forget the water-butts are also filling up nicely just in case we do have a summer. Enjoy your day

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Celery

After my success with growing cauliflower which I grew four of.I thought I would give celery a go. Celery is supposed to be a tricky veg to grow. Perhaps its all the faffing about with making a trench & earthing it up rather than it being tricky. A proper guide for those who wish to have a more expert view I do have a tendency to chuck it in & see.

Anyway a couple of months back, I sowed in individual coir pots six celery seeds which very nicely sprouted for me. Last week I planted my baby celery plants in pots & placed them outside.
Don't they look lovely?
The variety is Granada  for no other reason than the seeds were half price from the local garden centre when I bought them. When the plants are larger I shall be wrapping some sort of contraption round them to help blanch the stems. It may be a plastic tube or then  again some nice thick cardboard. Naturally I shall be stepping up the slug patrols at that time.

Even though I have a small plot I can pretty much at relevant times of the year grow enough of certain crops to make a cost saving. Not that this is why I grow my own, I'm in it more for fun. However after purchasing two packets of celery for 49p each recently I very much doubt my six plants will save me any money at all. Though of they do well I may grow a few more next year. Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ready for the summer

The large greenhouse had been filled with plants ready for the summer, the small greenhouse also has a few too.
Tomatoes in place. I normally grow them in tubs but Mike spotted these watering trays so we are giving them a go instead. So this year in the greenhouse I have three San Marzano & three Moneymaker tomatoes. Outside I have taken a chance & planted three Gardeners Delight & the cherry tomatoes have been planted round the fruit trees. 
One of the new watering tray things. They are made by Hozelock & you place the grow bag on top quite firmly so the spiky things pierces the bottom. The water is drawn up into the soil around the roots by capillary action by the looks of it. 
Aubergines &  a rather small sweet pointy pepper plant. Also I have courgettes & pumpkins ready to go outside. 

Normal sweet peppers & some more small pointy peppers.

and either side of my large potting up table are the chilli plants. You will also be able to make out my sweetcorn in toilet roll tubes & a selection of salad seedlings in the centre. I have taken out some of the wooden slats to give a bit more light. 

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A bit of a round up

Well that was a bit of a blogging break I wasn't expecting. After spending a couple of days in the garden last week I was absolutely whacked & then too busy in the week to log on & blog.

I have cleared the brassica patch & re-sown with some rooty type things.
Can you make out my wonky row of parsnips? I really must use a line to sow. The bed above is 8 ft by 4 ft. I have sown an 8 ft row of parsnips, just enough to give a taste. I have sown them rather thickly as they don't germinate very well apparently. Though this row looks lush & green so I will have to do some serious thinning soon.

Also in this bed I have sown some Florence fennel ( I love this roasted round a chicken) Mike will happily eat it raw in a salad but I'm not keen. Some kohl rabbi & baby turnips. They are normal turnips really but I shall pull them when they will be small. Also some beetroot seeds have gone in. I lost the beetroot seeds I had so we had to nip out for some more. Mike wanted to try some Chioggia beetroot which is stripey & I wanted to try some yellow beetroot. Upon perusing the seed selection Mike spotted the one he wanted & I was attempting to read the seed packet of the yellow variety I had picked up. I gave up reading & just stuck it in the basket as I had some one wittering in my ear & couldn't concentrate. Yes Mike I am talking about you! It was when I was about sow the seeds I realised I had picked up some yellow skinned white fleshed beetroot instead, not sure I am so keen now.

Also in the above bed I have sown some cumin seeds at the back & some spring onions at the front.

Lots & lots of weeding has taken place & the raspberry bed has been freed from the bindweed. I tell you I found some thick juicy bindweed stems there. Must be the weather for it. The broad beans are smothered in flowers & nearly all of the runner beans have started to sprout through the soil by their canes, I'm pleased about that as I took a chance & sowed them direct.
Another thing I took a chance on were some left over Zinnia seedlings. I had run out of space in the flower border so I stuck them between the runner beans. I hope to have a few pickings for the house.

Anyway I have lots more to blog about & don't want to bore you all too much in one post & I really need to play catch up on your lovely blogs so I wish you all have a good day!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Veg on the move

Thank you all so much for your comments on my chicken post. It was particularly touching after an extremely stressful day in work when quite frankly I felt I didn't have the motivation to log on to read your blogs or to see if anyone had commented on my return home.

I'm so glad I did after reading your comments I quite happily passed the drinks cupboard & left the gin where it was & skipped into the garden. Well I say skipped I'm knocking on 40  with what feels like a dodgy hip but you get the jist I'm sure.

Look what lovely things I found in the garden -
The first of the runner beans germinating. The pointy leaved one not the other two seedlings which will be dispatched this weekend. 

Broad bean flowers. I just love the scent, I would quite happily put these  flowers in a vase, its just that I love the actual beans just that little bit more. 

My purple podded mange-tout has put on quite a bit of growth, I hope to be tying these in soon.


The greenhouse was also checked for slugs & trapped bumble bees. None to be found, the plants didn't need any watering so I stroked the tomato leaves & inhaled the scent for a few minutes before I joined the boy for pizza & cherry coke. The only thing that is annoying me now is that some dipstick has parked straight across my driveway, I have yet to find where the driver is so I can get the car moved before Mike returns home.                                                                      Enjoy your day

Friday, 17 May 2013

Chickens

I don't make much secret of the fact that I would like a couple of chickens. With the garden being a fairly small size & being my veg plot I have had to think long & hard. By the way the chickens would become my much loved pets & the egg production would be a secondary consideration.  Though they will have to lay eggs as it was my way of persuading Mike round to the idea.

I had thought of some bantams but apparently they don't lay many eggs. I had also thought of ex-battery hens & while I haven't dismissed the idea in full,  from my research I believe they are let in batches of three. Ideally for the space I have I thought two would fit in nicely, though & don't think of me in a bad light, battery hens wouldn't be offended at the lack of land I can offer. The other sensible option & I have far far more not very sensible options believe me are some hybrids. Hybrids have the best bits bred into them -higher egg production being one of them.
The small greenhouse is being removed to make way for the chickens. Ridiculous idea to have two greenhouses in such a small patch, however useful it is. I will be creating a fenced area above either with chicken fencing or more than likely (to make it look nice) picket fencing with a gate. In all it should give me a 9 ft by 7 ft space.

I have decided on a plastic chicken coup for two reasons. The higher quality wooden chicken coups are hugely expensive, the second reason is when cleaning the chicken coup in the winter, plastic dries quicker than wood.

More than  likely I shall be making my purchase from Omlet While I would like the Eglu cube I will in all likely hood be going for the Eglu Go as I will be able to fit it in my chicken area on an angle with the run attached. The run being essential as they will be able to spend the day in that if I am in the office & not logged on at home. Also there used to be a fox in the area but I haven't seen or heard about the fox for a couple of years now.

I have a lovely book on the subject which as helped me no end over the problems of having chickens & a veg patch. Another  issue with Mike. With a bit of jiggery-pokery I will be able to manage just fine. Chicken Runs & Vegetable Plots. is the book you need.

Anyway in all likely hood this will not be happening until next year, the greenhouse wont be going until the end of July, & it will take a couple of months for me to get the space sorted. I really don't want to start keeping chickens at the onset of winter so I would like to think that this time next year I will be up & running.
It also gives me time to research suitable vets. Enjoy your day

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Its all go

Feeling very pleased with myself this morning. I have sown some Little Gem lettuce seeds, two types of Radicchio & some Chicory & before I forget some Corn salad. Oh Oh Oh & some spring onions. I have taken the precaution of sowing the seeds in little plant pots. Also when these little plants are big enough they will be going in tubs rather than the ground. Just another precaution against the snails & slugs.

I have also planted into the ground my three globe artichoke plants & I have two spaghetti squash & two patty pan squash plants ready to squeeze in between the fruit bushes.

Also with great excitement I can announce that an asparagus spear has come forth. Only one but its a step in the right direction. I shan't be picking for the next couple of years & the crowns have been planted in a mixed bed but have a spot by themselves. I know the asparagus crowns should have a bed all to themselves but I lack the space to do that. Also my neighbour has grown asparagus for yonks & yonks amongst some flowers in a rock garden. He can often be seen picking fistfuls of the stuff, so I have a chance.

No photographs of the above yet so here are some blossom ones to brighten up this post. Enjoy your day
Apple

Cherry

Pear

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A seedy pen pal update

I thought it was about time for another seedy pen pal update. As I have posted before I joined in with a Seedy pen pal swap over at Carl Legges blog.

I have sown all but one packet of the seeds I received. I have yet to sow a purple leaved Pak Choi but I plan on doing this over the weekend in a couple of troughs.

Some strawberry seedlings. I received a packet of strawberry seeds 'Sarian'. I think I shall have to wait until next year for fruit though.
 I also received a packet of Aquilegia seeds. A red & yellow double variety,
also some bronze fennel seedlings. The aquilegia & bronze fennel will be planted in the same bed when they & the bed is ready.

I also received some tumbling tiger cherry tomato & aubergine seeds both of which need to be in their final pots. Another job for the weekend I think.
Enjoy your day


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Potatoes on the way

I have lots & lots of pots with potatoes in the garden. A huge amount for my tiny plot but hey ho. Next year I  will have to cut down drastically  I mean with the space I have, growing three types of main-crops along with the normal early potatoes really is too much. The tubs for these have encroached on part the seating area & its not as if they look pretty.
Five of the above tubs contain the main-crop varieties. Next year I will be growing one type for roast potatoes, probably in that black bin in the back ground. The area has been weeded now by the way.
Like the fool I am I didn't label the pots of first & second early potatoes. I am looking forward to the surprise though & I am pretty sure that  'Anya' are in the small greenhouse for an earlier crop.
Enjoy your day

Monday, 13 May 2013

A rainy Sunday afternoon.

Sunday tends to be my main day in the garden. I like to potter, plan & do a touch of weeding. The plus point of  a small plot is you can keep on top of things.

Yesterday I spent an hour in the greenhouse sowing the sweetcorn & chard. I have planted the sweetcorn in toilet roll tubes so they can gain a good root depth before the final planting.I was also willing some seedlings to grow bigger so I can plant them out. I need the space now for tubs of tomatoes, cucumber, sweet peppers, aubergines & chillies.

I have read that this summer is supposed to be another washout I'm happy to wait & see. Most of my veg plants have been sown in the greenhouse this year to be of a big enough size to give them more of a fighting chance.

I rather like being in the greenhouse when it is raining. I like the patter of raindrops on the glass & the feel of the compost against my hands whilst I pot up. It also has a lovely old fashioned smell.

Anyway these two photographs were taken at the beginning of last week when it was sunny. The top photo is of a celery plant. I have six in all & plan on planting them in tubs. I filled some coir pots with compost & sowed a celery seed in each one. They are more than ready for their final planting & I hope to get this completed next weekend.

The bottom photo is of celeriac. Only three plants, just to try. I'm going to stick them in a block with the fruit bushes a couple of weeks after I feed the soil with some nematodes. With only three plants I really don't want to take a risk with the slugs gobbling them up.
Enjoy your day

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The problem with having an under gardener

I find the problem with having an under gardener (Mike) is that he thinks he has any say so in the design of the garden.  Naturally we discuss plans, mainly what I want & he says no (at first). I would also like to point out he has unlimited sports viewing, playing & I'm more that happy for him to go fishing at the weekend so don't be feeling sorry for him. The man has a good life.

A new border has appeared where we had the fence/wall replaced. Mikes idea was to use it as a walkway to gain access to the fruit bushes & rhubarb. He wanted to cover it in slate chippings. Now if I have the opportunity to fill a space of nearly 2 ft deep by 10 ft wide it wont be by slate chippings.

I have planted a jasmine in the far corner & am planning on some wild garlic next to it. In the centre a wine-berry bush & then three yellow raspberry canes. Slate chippings indeed I don't know what the man was thinking of. I have backed down & agreed to a covering of bark with my plants.
Enjoy your day

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Now we have a new wall/fence between the garden & the next door neighbors garden I have had a few decisions to make.

Mike has always wanted to extend out into the garden. Now we have knocked through the kitchen & dining room (still a work in progress) Mike wants a small inside seating area. There is a little space outside the french doors & it is only a little space as he knows he wont get any of the garden.The plan is either a small extension or conservatory, big enough for a corner sofa & a small table.
 I had though he had forgotten about his plan as I had my own ideas for the space. I have read that you can grow a Mulberry quite successfully in a large enough pot. My plan was to have a Mulberry in a large pot in the middle of the fence with my Pear trees either side with a couple of nice chairs in front for relaxing in. I now need a change of plan.
I would rather like some chickens & am fast running out of space, not that I have a lot of space to run out of.  So my latest plan is to get rid of the small greenhouse, I've already found someone who will take it & my chicken run can go there. I shall then have enough space at the side to place the Mulberry & Pear trees. The small greenhouse will be going around about August. Just in time for my birthday in September where an ideal present from Mike will be a Mulberry tree. All it takes is a bit of thought.
Enjoy your day

Friday, 10 May 2013

Strawberries

Not long ago I purchased a strawberry planter. Its a nasty plastic terracotta affair, I do so hope it will fit its purpose.

The main reason for buying it was because I didn't want strawberries in the ground after last years minuscule harvest of about three strawberries from about 20 plants. The weather, slugs & blackbirds saw to the rest of them.

My new strawberry planter has spacing's for 32 strawberry plants, imagine the cost involved of purchasing new plants. Especially as I love perusing magazines looking for nice named varieties. The strawberry plants in the ground were chosen especially for their names, one of them was 'Florence'. I ripped up the plants from the ground in a fit of resignation & failure vowing to myself to never to grow strawberries again'.

By chance I spotted an advert by marshalls-seeds for 30 'Elsanta' strawberry plants at £9.90 I think they were less than £10 anyway. The ideal way to fill the strawberry planter on the cheap I thought.

I'm not expecting great things this year, I shall give it a chance to fill out first.

Anyway I wasn't too diligent when ripping up the old strawberry plants, a by product of my slap-hazard gardening style. There were a few that survived winter in the ground, hidden runners I think as I was pretty sure I dug them all up & I received about 36 'Elsanta' plants in the post. Far too many for my planter so the excess have been dotted in a few small pots & around the fruit trees in barrels.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Loganberry

A couple of years back I bought a Loganberry bush/plant? however you describe them. Why I bought one I have no idea, possible by reading a blog or reading a magazine & thinking I'd like one of them.

A Loganberry is a cross between a raspberry & blackberry, both of which I have in the garden. The few berries I picked last year in August & September were a very deep, dark red colour & were firm to the touch. They were also very tasty, they tasted more of raspberry but with the firmer texture of a blackberry.

I kept it in its pot for the first few months as I was at a loss where to plant it as the canes can grow quite long. I soon realised I didn't have the space for it to reach its full potential in the back garden where the veg/fruit plot is. I did however have a small piece of ground spare in the front garden where we we have a gate to reach the back garden.

Courtesy of a cheap metal archway, there is plenty of space for the canes to scramble up (providing I tie them in)



I was unsure how to care for it after it fruited for the first time last year, I found out that the canes which had fruited should be cut down to ground level & canes that hadn't fruited should be tied to the support structure.

This foxed me a bit, I couldn't see any that hadn't fruited, so I took a chance & cut half of the canes back to the ground & the remaining ones back by half.

This seems to have worked well. The canes that were still tied in have flower buds on them & there is new growth coming through at the bottom.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A bit of colour

A bit garish I know & how I managed to mix up pastel & bright bulbs - well I have no idea. But they do make a lovely display in the front garden.

I'm not too keen on the shapes but it is the first time I have managed to grow tulips so I am rather proud.

I shall be having a good look through the garden brochures later on in the year to pick some more bulbs.

I think I shall go for a mixture of pinks from light to deep & plant with some forget me knots. I do enjoy that combination.

The ones you see above will be dug up once the leaves start to die back & stored in a safe place to be planted again in the year, where I plan to put them in pots.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Herbs

Today's post was supposed to be about my strawberry planter which is now choc full of strawberries. Well to be more exact strawberry plants. I have failed to take a photo of the planter so it will be a post for later on in the week.

Perusing the album of photographs taken over the weekend I was looking for inspiration & saw this image.
A pot of Tarragon. I have kept this plant & its sister plant going for three years. It makes me feel like a proper gardener.

Tarragon prefers a warn dry climate & hates our frosty winters. I normally stick the pots in the greenhouse over the winter period. However I forgot last year & feared the worse when I remembered about them. Which was the end of January I think.

Geoff Hamilton  must have been smiling down on me from heaven as both pots survived their ordeal & have sent up nice new sprigs of tarragon for me to use. It has a warm aniseed sort of taste which I love & I also use it a lot in cooking.

The two thyme bushes a sage & the mint do need to be replaced however. Which means a trip to the garden centre, the local one in walking distance stocks a good selection of herbs & if memory serves me correct I can choose 6 for £10.

Enjoy your evening

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Alliums

For such a small plot I seem to have a large selection of the Allium family growing in it. But they are a pretty useful addition to have in the kitchen & I really don't think there are too many dishes that I make where I don't use them.

For some reason only known to the deepest darkest recess of my mind I have a huge amount of shallots this year. Far too many for my tiny plot. Last year I purchased some Asparagus crowns from a magazine offer. I also ordered some French Shallots. Anyway the packet arrived in due course & there were loads of them. Like a complete fool I planted all of them & now I am without that part of the garden until July. I have learnt my lesson.

French shallots & garlic planted in a 8 ft by 4 ft bed. The shallots look like green spiders & are planted either side of the garlic. These shallots shall be roasted whole in their skins & the flesh squished out, used for risotto & on the BBQ.

Normal shallots planted in two troughs. I am planning to pickle these once they are ready.

Red onions, I love these in salads or sandwiches. They are lovely & sweet straight from the garden. I shall also be making some onion marmalade.
Leek seedlings coming through. I didn't have any leeks in the garden last year. I did sow some & planted them. However the bird feeder was right next to where I planted them. The birds are messy feeders & when I was hand weeding the seeds that had germinated I found I had pulled the majority of my baby leeks too.

I also have spring onions which are far nicer pulled from the garden than the course ones bought from the supermarket. And for the first time I have sown some Silver-skin onion seeds. I like tiny pickled onions where as Mike prefers larger ones (hence the shallots in troughs) only I don't think they have germinated yet Apart from the flowering kind in the front garden. that is my onion family collection for this year.

Enjoy your day