Flowers and Wildlife

Just for a change I though I would post some pics of flower from our garden taken in the last month or so plus some pictures of the birds currently enjoying the feeders and more….

Flowers

A few pictures of flowers from the ‘flower section’ in our garden.

Marigolds – grown from seed

One of the Penstemons in a bed just planted with Penstemons

Cosmos – from seed – with visiting bee

Leucantherium – on of several of these perennial plants

A Rudbeckia – again frown form seed with visiting insects

Achillea (with hoverfly)- several patches of this spread around flower beds

 

Wildlife

Long-tailed tits

Finch on feeder

Blue tit on feeder

 

Great tit waiting for a spare feeding position

Sparrow – a few have only recently appeared in the garden

I have some movies from may trail camera and I’ll try and make one or two available via YouTube if I get time

Summer is on the Blink!

We seem to be in almost a winter weather pattern with lows coming across the UK one after another. So we may have a day or so of sunny weather then rain. It’s been so bad that I only finally was able to mow the (still wet!) lawn this evening after more than a couple of trying to do it when the grass was dry. I finally cracked this evening when I was rain forecast more or less for the rest of the week.

6 days later

Since then we’ve had a shower or more almost every day and the grass is growing like mad!

The vegetables are growing well though and I’m harvesting plenty of climbing beans, together with the french/dwarf beans (almost finished now though). Only a few mangetout peas at the moment although I have one new seedling to plant out (only one out of four came up!). I’ve sown a couple more pots full today.

Climbing beans – note the different varieties

The tomatoes are producing well, especially the small ‘sugar plum’ types but some of the larger ones just ripening now.

Some of the current crop of tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse – these are ‘Marmande’

We’ve had plenty of cucumbers as well although just at the moment there aren’t any new ones ready but the courgettes are producing and as usual if I’m not careful picking them while they are small we’ll have a glut.

Baby courgettes – they need watching!

 

One unfortunate side effect of all the rainy days is that I haven’t yet harvested the garlic even though they are ready, but they really need a chance to dry out once I’ve dug them up.

The broad bean plants are still there just in case the flowers on them just now actually produce some beans… unlikely but you never know.

Over the last couple of weeks I have harvested all of the blackcurrants and gooseberries (some of which were immediately cooked into gooseberry ‘cobbler’). The raspberries are just about over, but the blueberry bushes are full of ripe berries – and the birds haven’t found them yet! There are a few strawberry flowers so there may be a late crop. The brambles are ready now as well – I’ve had a few already with my breakfasts.

Some of the blackcurrants and gooseberries

 

 

I’ll close this now and add more in a couple of days….

 

 

Now Cropping

Yes production has ramped up in the vegetable zone so that now the climbing beans are being harvested, along with the cucumber (too many for us to eat, so some being given away), broad beans (just about finished), climbing beans (looking a lot better now), mangetout peas (the first plants will soon need replacing), raspberries (providing some for most breakfasts) and the tomatoes just started (one of the small varieties in the greenhouse). The strawberries have also been producing pretty well over the last couple of weeks and we’ve had several pounds of fruit, but now that flush is over. There are a few flowers on the plants now so there will be some more.

The courgettes (2 plants only this year planted out) will be producing soon and the tomatoes will soon be arriving in real quantity, especially if the wether stays sunny.

Over the last couple of weeks it has been mostly fine with rain just at the right moment when the garden was getting a bit dry. In fact one useful shower arrived just after I’d finished watering the whole garden! Typical!

The ‘salad’ bed continues to be poor. A few radishes only, more beetroot, a few Swiss chard – growing very slowly, a few pak choi (trying to flower), and a row of mixed lettuce – not too good in the middle. A row of ‘mixed leaves’ planted a while ago has failed to appear though. Nothing yet ready for harvest.

Salad bed – not too good though

The kale has grown well though:

Kale bed – we haven’t started eating it yet though

The garlic leaves have all laid down now and are ready to harvest – I just need to check for a few days of dry weather so they can dry properly.

I’ve planted on of the four cucamelons that germinated out under the ‘door’ protection (where two cucumbers and one of the courgette plants are placed) and another is in a big pot in the greenhouse. Not decided what to do with the others yet though.

Cucumber under the ‘door’

The climbing beans have finally started to produce and look a lot better.

Climbing beans now producing well

The bed of cauliflowers planted as a bit of an experiment has actually been producing heads of cauliflower, though not all look like ‘normal’ cauliflower as it was a mixed selection – we’ll need to see what they taste like.

Cauliflowers – quite successful

The tomatoes are just starting to produce now, with some in the greenhouse ripe (zuchero) and others outside just turning.

Zuchero tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes outside just ripening

Meanwhile, since my last post we have had the annual ‘open gardens’ weekend for our area and several hundred people tamped through the garden over tow days and mostly seemed to be sort of impressed.

Some of our visitors on our ‘Open Gardens’ day

Summer – Phew What A Scorcher!

Well after the poor weather reported in the last post things have taken a much warmer turn. We’ve had temperatures over 25degC the last few days and exceeding 30degC yesterday and today. The prospect for the rest of the week s for temperatures between 25 and 30. All this means that is is far too hot to work in the garden during the middle of the day and afternoon and of course there is plenty of watering to do!

Nevertheless it all has to be done and the good thing is of course that we are in the period of maximum daylight at the moment so working in the garden is possible until just about 10pm (and of course from about 5am if necessary).

The flowers are looking good as a result, but keeping the climbing and dwarf beans well watered has been quite tricky. The bonus point about the good weather is that it has brought on some serious harvesting with some of the crops, most notably the strawberries as you can see:

The strawberry bed and fruit

One of the strawberry harvests (since had one with over a kilo of fruit!)

Elsewhere the mangetout peas are producing and we’ve been eating them in salads and steaming them with other veg for hot meals:

Mangetout peas waiting to be harvested – note the ‘eye protection’ on top of the cane.

The climbing beans had one ore two almost ready to be picked, but the plants themselves still look a bit scrawny and in fact one of the the original plantings had to be replaced with the more recent sowing as it clearly was not going to amount to anything even though it was still alive – just!

Climbing Beans – overview plus Cucumber plant

Climbing Beans – almost ready for picking

What were baby cucumbers a couple of weeks ago have suddenly become the size they should be picked!

Cucumber – should be pick I think

The dwarf/french beans seem to be hardly growing much, though all bar one are surviving:

French/dwarf beans – compare with the last post – not much change

The tomatoes in the greenhouse meanwhile are coming along nicely with fruit on all the plants:

Tomatoes in the greenhouse

The bush style plants near the kitchen seem to be doing ok with a mass of foliage and flowers:

‘Tumbling Tom’ plants growing well

On top of all this I had to hastily get the mesh cover over the redcurrant bushes at the end of last week as the redcurrants were ripening rapidly. If I don’t get them covered in time the birds will have them!

Ripening redcurrants – protected!

Plus the gooseberries aren’t far off being ready

Ripening gooseberries

I’ve also planted some more mangetout pea seedlings since starting this post yesterday and harvested a foot-long cucumber. I’ve also harvested a large enough quantity of mangetout peas to warrant blanching and freezing (too much for us to eat just now) and over 1lb of strawberries! This means we’ve probably harvested around 2 kilos of strawberries altogether – pretty good really.

In top of all the above had been the routine maintenance of course, mowing the lawn, cutting the hedges and weeding of course. The rainy period followed by sunshine has just encouraged growth of course. So it’s a pretty continuous process – once I’ve cut all the hedges etc. it’s about time to start again. Also, the hedge cutting in the ‘flower’ end of the garden right now is more tricky than ever as all the border plants, which grow right up to the hedges, have to be protected while cutting – it’s a real nightmare.

Wildlife

No trail camera results really since last post and no real changes in the birds arriving at the feeding points. I have seen some baby blackbirds being fed by their parents on the lawn though and I suspect the robins may have a second brood (or a different nest  judging by the noise coming from the hedge on one side.

One squirrel made into the garden and has been taken on holiday…..

Summer Was Brief….

Hopefully this will be an up to date blog on the garden after the delayed last post.

Anyway, we were having a couple of weeks or so of sun and some really hot days – to the point where I had to use the hosepipe (temps up into the mid twenties C). It coincided with a period when there was lots to plant out, mainly bedding plants in the ‘flower’ part of the garden but there were also dwarf beans, climbing beans and cucumber plants to get planted.

Now summer seems to have temporarily gone away. We have rain and wind today and more predicted for this week – not altogether a bad thing as it helps get all the recently planted flowers and veg get well established.

There are only a few things left in the greenhouse to plant out now – some more climbing beans, and more mangetout peas so there is now some room to put the peppers and a cucumber plant into bigger pots and locate them in the greenhouse. One pepper plant already has a fruit – a very curious plant as it is only a few inches high…

Anyway some pictures to illustrate the progress:

Broad Beans – with some beans now

The broad bean plants are finally protected with string, however the plants are not too tall (The Sutton) but the dry weather in May may have prevented some bean pods from developing – certainly I can’t see as many as I would have expected.

The cauliflower plants are doing well, not attacked too much as yet apart from one or two – we’ll see if the ‘heart up’ later. They are a mixture of types.

Cauliflower plants

The potato plants have really grown and form quite a forest now – I just hope some potatoes are developing

Potato plants in raised bed

There are three ‘potato bags’ with plants in as well – I just have a problem as to where to put them at the moment – they are just outside the greenhouse and in the way at the moment.

The mangetout peas are in flower and I’ve just planted another eight plants so we should have mangetout to eat over quite a while.

Mangetout peas plants – a mixture of two types – Oregon Sugar Pod & ??

The tomato plants outside the greenhouse are surviving:

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse

I know the plants in the far growbag look a bit scrawny, they are a new variety to me – ‘rainbow blend’, but I think they are ok. There are a couple more of that variety inside the greenhouse looking much the same. The more leafy plants are ‘marmande’ which I’ve grown before.

Tomato plants in the greenhouse

Can’t remember the mixture of varieties right now but the nearest are ‘rainbow blend’ and there is at least one ‘pomodoro’ in there and the one ‘gardeners delight’ that germinated.

Tomatoes are already developing on the ‘rainbow blend’ :

Rainbow blend fruit already developing

The kale plants seem to be slow growing but are at least surviving, although as you can see at least one has been ‘got at’ by slugs or pigeons:

Kale plants ok apart from near left plant

The dwarf beans (two varieties) I planted out only a week or so ago seem to have survived ok – in addition there are four of ‘cannellini’ bean plants (right at the back), a type I haven’t grown before. There are a couple more seedlings just ‘hardening’ at the moment which I’ll add in a couple of days.

Dwarf and cannellini bean plants

The climbing beans are struggling a bit and at least one looks as if it might not survive – not sure whether the current rain and lower temperatures help or hinder that – one though does have flowers and is climbing ok. The only saving grace is that I have several seedlings in the greenhouse waiting to go out so I could cope with one or two of the planted beans not making it – but I’d rather they survived!

Finally,  two cucumber plants are under the ‘door’ protection are doing well and indeed one has flowered and a proto-cucumber is visible:

Cucumber plant with developing cucumbers

I will get round to weeding around it eventually….

Wildlife

The recent trail cam videos revealed only one cat, which is a surprise and steady hedgehog traffic plus a squirrel which still hasn’t made into the rest of the garden – which has saved it from an enforced ‘holiday’!

Birds – much the same as the previous. More butterflies (when it was sunny) and plenty of bumble bees, but very few honey bees. I guess there are no hives nearby.

Some Rain after a Dry Spell

Apologies for this post – started on the 20th May but then after problems with uploading pictures it never was finished…….

Over the last few days we’ve had a fair amount of rain, which was needed as previously we’d had a long period with virtually no rain so the garden really needed it. In fact I’d been driven to getting the hosepipe on the garden – and a day later it started rain of course!

There has been some progress – a few things have made their way out of the greenhouse into the garden.

Four climbing beans – different varieties – are now in the garden. Probably a bit early but they were getting rather leggy in the greenhouse.

Climbing beans – after a few days.

One of  the cucumber plants is now under the ‘door’ protection – again it was getting too big for its pot in the greenhouse.

Cucumber just getting going.- it is a ‘burpless’ I think

Meanwhile the kale is hanging on ok and hasn’t been attacked too much:

Kale plants

The potatoes are coming on well:

Potato plants – earthed up already

The cauliflower plants are ok – one or two leaves have been attacked ?pigeons?

Cauliflower plants – still with ‘CD scarers’

and the broad beans are in full flower but I still haven’t ‘strung them’ yet but being ‘The Sutton’ they aren’t very tall and have managed to survive so far.

The Sutton beans in flower

The mangetout peas are thriving (a mixture including ‘Oregon  Sugar Pod’) and now need support canes

Mangetout peas

The one real disaster is the carrots which after only a few germinated the seedlings were all destroyed – slugs or pigeons – I’m not sure. So yet another sowing will have to go in….

Wildlife

On the bird front, not much to report. The robins have a nest in one hedge – I can hear the chicks when I’m working nearby. Not much variation at the bird table – just the dunnocks (on the ground), robins and blue/great tits plus the odd blackbird. There is a pair of magpies nesting in one tree alongside the garden which is rather annoying, I just hope they done’ have a go at any of the chicks that there must be in addition to the robins.

At the bottom of the garden the trail camera has shown the hedgehog(s) to be active and even coming into the main garden at least once.

 

Winter Has Returned For A While

With temperatures close to zero overnight the last couple of nights and not rising above 10degC during the day with a cold N & NW wind, it has been quite worrying especially about the seedlings in the greenhouse. I do have enough heating in the greenhouse to keep it above freezing – I think…..(hope)

Outside, so far the cauliflower plants and mangetout peas seem to have survived as well. The second batch of mangetout was planted out over a week ago.

Manngetout peas after second batch planted

Mangetout peas and pigeon scarers! (you can see what magazine I subscribed to)

I now have three tomato plants in the greenhouse planted in a growbag and they seem to be ok. They are 2 zuchero and 1 gardeners delight.

Growbag tomatoes (still surviving after low temperatures!)

Meanwhile I have another eight or ten tomato seedlings close to being ready for growbags – so I hope it warms up pretty quick after this week!

Also in the greenhouse the kale seedlings are getting close tot he point that they really should be planted out as well as a bunch of flower seedlings.

Tomato, kale & cucumber seedlings in the greenhouse

The broad beans are in flower now, at least the couple of rows that I planted in the autumn, and I haven’t yet got round to ‘stringing’them to support them – although they aren’t actually very tall yet.

First rows of broad beans in flower

Amazingly, some carrot seedlings have now appeared! Though not a whole row – but still it encourages me to sow some more seed.

Half a row of carrot seedlings is better than none! (plus weeds)

Wildlife

The only notable development is that it looks as if a pair of magpies seem to be building a nest in one of the trees on one side of the garden. I may try and discourage them…

Also, I have seen frogs (and a toad in the greenhouse) active in the garden – plus a tiny frog which can only be from this years batch!

I have seen butterflies – comma and ‘small blue’, plus  an orange tip possibly (before this week!)