Category Archives: Uncategorized

Already we need rain

Well now we’ve had a few days of warm weather (25degC today) I’ve had to get the hosepipe out to water the beans and peas tonight. The broad beans especially were looking a bit stressed. Inside the greenhouse plants were drying out left right and centre. I’ve even had to fill one of the tanks that I use to provide water in the greenhouse.

A new batch of climbing french beans have come through to replace the lost ones – 4 or 5 of which are just about surviving. I still haven’t planted out the peas that are in pots in the greenhouse yet. Also waiting to be planted out are some basil seedlings that are now getting quite big. The parsley which had finally sprouted in the house are in the greenhouse now and seem to be ok, amazingly another batch in the house hade germinated as well – this after many previous failed attempts.

A batch of mixed salad leaves I planted in a collapsible planted in the greenhouse are just about big enough to put outside now. Speaking of planters – all the potatoes I had (four varieties Pentland Javelin, Charlotte, Bonnie & King Edwards) are now in planters – and I’m adding more compost to those that have produced shoots almost daily, and of course they need a fair amount of water.

On top of that I was cutting hedge and mowing lawn today – while sweating in the heat. 

I have a load of perennial and annual flowers to plant out as well so plenty to do tis weekend.

The wildlife is causing a hold on cutting one bit of hedge near the house as a family of blue tits have decided to use the nest box and now have a family of chicks – so I’ll have to wait until they have fledged. More worrying – the squirrels been in the garden again….

Winter Has Returned!

Well not quite snow, and just here we seem to have escaped actual frost in the garden, but the last week or more have been pretty cold for this time of year with temperatures below 5deg C at night, so much so that the central heating is back on!

I’ve had to take ‘special measures’ to protect my tomatoes and beans already outside – I’ve put a cloche back over the climbing french beans, which were looking rather sad. Also, I shielded the tomato plants by the house and outside the greenhouse with plastic bags. Sadly two of the plants near the greenhouse seem to have suffered damage from slugs (very unusual) and possibly bird or wind damage – I have one replacement in the greenhouse but may need to start another off.

Meanwhile the plants in the greenhouse seemed to cope ok – the tomatoes are now over a foot high and the aubergines and peppers are coming along nicely.

Another set of peas will soon be ready to plant out, although not all seem to have germinated. No sign of runner beans, or some more french beans I planted yet.

Inside the house, most of the cuucumber and courgettes have come up, and are just about ready to transfer into the greenhouse. A couple didn’t, so I’ll need to plant a couple more (one courgette & one cucumber). Some of the parsley I planted ages ago looks like it has finally germinated inside their little plastic bag tents, and a few more lemon grass seeds seem to have germinated.

The weather is predicted to warm up to ‘normal’ levels from tomorrow so hopefully I’ll be able to unshield the tomatoes and beans.

A squirrel has reappeared – hopefully I’ll be able to take it for a ‘holiday’ soon if the trap works!

Snow Gardening – Not!

With the UK in the grip of a severe winter the garden is currently a ‘Winter Wonderland’ making gardening a bit tricky. See picture below to get an impression of how it looks:

Snowy garden

Garden and snow

The straggly looking plants in the foreground are some broccoli and curly kale plants.

I know by the standards of many places this isn’t much snow – but chaos has ensued regardless….

I suppose I’d better start browsing the seed catalogues and trying to plan for the new season – a big revision of the planned crops and locations will be needed after the failures of last year. Ho hum, at least the beans did well.

Gardening?

Well work and weather have put a halt to almost all gardening activity. The only thing I’ve managed to do recently was prune a bush fuscia in the front and remove some plants that had been finished off by a frost.
Last night we had -4degC, so not much acitivity expected in the garden this weekend.
I guess I’ll have to start planning for the new year soon….

An Indian Summer

Just a quick comment – we’ve had temperatures well above 10degC over the last week, getting up to 16 even. Plenty of sunshine & not much rain.
All I’ve managed to do is to finish hedges on one side (lots of holly & brambles – I have the scars to prove it!). Plus some right at the bottom of the garden which I hadn’t managed to cut for over a year – it was over up to 15 foot high – needed a saw in some caases – still, lots of wood for bonfire night….

Almost Summer Again

Sorry for the break – hols and decorating have been keeping me from paying more than scant attention to the garden over the past 3 weeks.

The time away from home didn’t prove disastrous – although I had set up my drip feed watering system for the greenhouse plants and the hanging baskets plus tomato plants near the kitchen in case there was a heatwave. Although it seemed that it had been fairly dry while we were away it can’t have been too bad judging by the state of the plants.

It did mean some rapid harvesting sessions once we had settled back into the house – beans (runner, dwarf & climbing french), tomatoes (plenty, and harvesting every day since), broccoli (though not much – most had gone to flower) and cucumber forming the vegetable part. Then we had brambles (lots in the hedges – I need too make a pie now)) & damsens (the trees at the bottom of the garden only produce every five years or so and this year was it – they go into the freezer for jam making later.

Meanwhile, the lettuce have all gone to seed, as have all the other salad crops – still the guinea pig likes the lettuce. The courgettes didn’t really produce while we were away, but there are one or two coming on now.

The sweetcorn is in full flower- though the plants are rather dwarf compared last year – it looks like the cobs will be small – the lower light conditions in the plot has held them back I think. Still they were worth a try. The celery planted in the same are seems to be growing ok though.

In the greenhouse, the aubergine plant is flowering, but no new aubergine is being produced at the moment. The sweet pepper plants are now in flower, but the hopes of producing ripe peppers are now pretty slim. The grapevine has a good collection of grape bunches ripening up as well.

One slightly irritating point though – after renewing the guttering on the greenhouse side nearest the path a couple of months ago and resetting the water butt – I noticed it was leaking about a month ago. it had split near the base. So I emptied it, let it dry, and mended the hole with epoxy resin. Fortunately we’ve had enough rain to mean it hasn’t been crucial in any case. However, yesterday I noticed it wet below the butt – and the split seems to have spread and it is leaking again, slowly, but perceptively. So, it will have to be drained, dried and fixed again – I can’t even blame frost!

The lawn needed mowing when we returned from hols of course – which I did manage to do, but the bits of hedge that need trimmming will have to wait for now.

On the wildlife front – the robin, and at least on great tit have worked out that it is safe to go into the squirrel trap and pick up the peanuts left as bait! Which is annoying as another squirrel has been appearing during the last week or so. We also had a frog that seemed to think our kitchen was home – it promptly hopped in at least twice when the back door was opened. Also, more caterpillars on the broccoli…..hmmmm

The First Beans

Yes, a first harvest of broad beans – I managed to find just enough on Sunday to mean we were able to have some whole pods steamed with our dinner. There seem to be quited a few pods coming along so the broad bean season is well and truly started.

Broad Bean Harvest

Broad Bean HarvestThe pen in the picture is for scale only....Broad bean Pods

The picture above shows some of the growing pods

We’ve had sunny weather for a few days which has helped get things moving in the garden, which has meant watering for the laast couple of days. Today we’ve had a helpful shower to save me from having to water – and a thunderstorm is rumbling around at the moment.

Elsewhere, the extra peas are now planted – in between the existing peas and the broad beans, and they seem to be happy enough.

I’ve planted  a short row of red mustard as the existing row is close to flowering, and they are through already.

One of the corugettes planted in the garden has flowered and may even be trying to produce a courgette!  The cucumber plants though are still looking a bit glum really – I guess they need some more consistant high temperatures.

All the outside tomatoes look pretty good now, some in flower and even the ‘runt’ in front of the kitchen has grown into a real plant.

Everything else is doing well apart from the salad rows in sections B & C which aren’t really all that good. See the broccoli plants below – coming on well.

Row of Broccoli

Row of Broccoli

In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are almost up to the roof, and tiny tomatoes are growing fast (see below).

Baby Tomatoes

Baby Tomatoes

The pepper plants in a growbag  have got over the initial shock of replanting and are coming on (see below)Pepper Plants

The plant in the lower RH corner is an aubegrine that I thought I would try – I saw it in a garden centre when buying some plants for our hanging baskets.

I’ve pricked out some of the celery seedlings into pots and they seem to have survived ok. The basil and coriander now have recognisable leaves. I’ve added some more seed to the top of the pot that had seed in which hasn’t made a show – so maybe that will get some growing.

I’ve even done some weeding – especially round the beans and peas.

Wildlife – well another squirrel has been evicted, I saw a hedgehog ambling down the path in daylight the other day and toads have taken up residence in the greenhouse growbags as usual – just 2 so far (see below).

Toad in growbag

Toad in growbag

The blackbirds are being very noisy, alarm calls in the morning and evening probably for the cat next door. The male still comes down often to investigate what I am doing in the garden – gets disappointed though as I’m not digging. We still got goldfinches turning up from time to time on the nyjer seed, and the ‘sparrow gang’ is pretty active.

Summer Made a Brief Appearance

Yes we had over a week of sunny weather, including amazingly, one weekend (we actually attended an outdoor meal and event in the sun!). Then, during last week it all fell apart again and topped by a very wet weekend, plus wind of course. Temperatures tumbled from over 20degC to less than 10degC last night – almost put the central heating back on!

However, some progress in the garden. All the french beans are in now, though some of those planted earlier are struggling to get going partly as a result of the weather I think, and partly as a result of pigeon attack.

The only things left to plant outside at the moment are the dozen peas – and I’m struggling to find where to put them, not to mention the weather (though it is fine today it is still windy, mostly cloudy and more rain predicted for late today & tomorrow) plus celery.

The climbing beans are now well up the fence, and the broad beans now have one or two baby pods (the row of dwarf type furthest from the fence) so maybe we’ll be eating a few in a week or so. The peas have started to flower, but as mentioned above, the french beans are disappointing – only one has really got to be full size and isn’t flowering yet.

The rocket and red mustard were being harvested while it was sunny and ‘salad weather’, and the new row of rocket is just appearing but I still need to plant more to follow on (the rocket is already trying to flower). The weather will have to buck up before we will feel like eating more salad.

The sweetcorn seems to be coming along ok, but one or two plants are still lagging in size. The salad rows in the same plot are slowly coming through. 

On the plot A the broccoli are now looking pretty strong, apart from one at the end of the row that has been got at by pigeons I think.  The curly kale looks ok as well, the the nearby spinach plantlets are still recovering from their earlier pigeon damage. The courgettes and cucumbers both in the plot and in pots & growbag all look ok, but have been held back by the weather. I’ve been harvesting the lettuce already in plot A, as well as those inside the greenhouse. The short row of carrots is still looking very sparse, but the beetroot, turnip and radish are looking a bit better.

The growbag tomatoes by the greenhouse and outside the kithen are looking a lot more healthy now, even the tiny ‘runt’ one near the kitchen.

Inside the greenhouse the peppers are at last in a growbag – four of them so they will need to get growing fast. The tomatoes are now almost at roof  level with plenty of flowers, some of them set now I think. The basil and coriander planted in pots are now seedlings, but the lettuce planted in a pot haven’t shown at all – looks like I’ll have to plant some more asap as the pot of grown lettuce is now just about harvested out. The celery seedlings are coming on – slowly, it will still be a week or so before they can be planted out.

So that’s about it – the only other plants growing well are the weeds of course and the recent rain will only have made that worse – and I’m not the most enthusiastic weeder so the rows of beans and peas are well infested with weeds underneath.

Apart from the visits of feral pigeons, which continue though the ‘CD scarers’ seem to have put them off the crops mostly, I have managed to evict the latest squirrel intruder.

Now of course the lawn needs mowing (but it is wet) and the hedges…..

I’ll add photos if I get chance.

A Real Winter for a Change

Yes we’ve had snow as well as frosts – the first proper snow for a few years. So much (all of about 3 inches here) that school was cancelled one day which meant that my son and I could go sledging – great!

Greenhouse in the snow

Greenhouse in the snow

We did have more snow on top of that shown above. We even built a snowman in the garden

What this means of course is that there has been no chance to do anything in the garden – even without the snow (it has gone now) the frosts at night (last night minus 3degC) have meant the ground is rather hard…

Not really much else to report – only that this year the beans will be in plot C, which is almost where they should be in a proper rotation. I still need to get hold of the seeds etc and to make final decisions as to what else to grow beside the usual runner, french and broad beans. I’ll need to get the broad beans going as well…

Hopefully in a week or so the garden will be amenable to digging – the only upside is that the garden pests should have been well and truly zapped this winter. We’ll see…

Little Progress really

What’s been happening since the last post you might ask? Not a lot really, just a bit of clearing up.

I’ve cleared away to peas etc., all the outside tomatoes, and the plants inside the greenhouse – and managed to trim some hedge as well (mind there’s more to do).  Away from the veg, the hanging baskets are down and some of the flowers are cleared in the front garden – as well as the bush fuscia, which had only just finished flowering.

To give you an idea of the rather scruffy state the garden is in now here are some photos:

Where the beans were...

Where the beans were...

 

Where the peas were...

Where the peas were...

 

Sad greenhouse plants before removal

Sad greenhouse plants before removal

Yes the pictures above show a very unkempt garden. The greenhouse picture shows the peppers after a frost just before they were removed.

We’ve had a few frosts so far this autumn but nothing that has lasted more than one night so the weeds are still growing.

I will do some digging when I get time…..

After 2 weeks nothing much has changed

Yes, even though some time has passed since the last, and delayed, post was uploaded, not an awful lot has changed. The weather hops between rainy days and sunny ones (like today – sunny). Some cold nights, approaching freezing, and some quite warm (13degC).

Meanwhile the crops are just about over. The sweetcorn is finished, the remaining cob are either too small are past their best. The runner beans are still flowering and may even produce beans yet if the frosts don’t arrive first. I’m still harvesting tomatoes but there are only few left now.

The broad beans are all out but I haven’t dug over the ground yet. One thing I’m going to try if I get it dug over soon is a ‘green manure’ crop – I picked up some seed recently just to experiment with.

In the greenhouse, the peppers are still growing both sweet and chilli, the sweet ones are just ripening. The grapes are ready and I really must get round to picking them next week – and trying to use them to make some wine – if I get time.

We’re eating the apples but only a few left on the tree now and a few raspberries are ready. There are still ripe brambles ready to pick as well.

Talking of ‘free’ crops (the bramble just grow in the hedges) we suddenly had a crop of horse mushrooms (Agaricus Arvensis) in one corner of the lawn, under a bush. In the end far too many to eat, we had a couple of meals and gave some away before they got too ripe. The generally wet weather has meant it will be a bumper autumn for fungi I would guess.

Fortunately the hedges haven’t been growing too fast and I’ve only had to cut the grass once since the last post – but it is due to be cut again……

Autumn is Here

28th September

It ‘s taken a while to write but I haven’t been doing a lot in the garden recently. I’ll try and summarise the progress – or lack of it – over the last couple of weeks. The weather has been better during the last two weeks but before that was pretty wet – we had a sort of ‘indian summer’ during the first part of September, which is still carrying on to a certain extent – but looks like wet again at the end of this week.

The courgettes are over, almost all have died back, except one rather strangely has started flowering again – though I suspect it won’t produce anything.

The broad beans are now all out, including the roots – needless to say the secondary growth didn’t go anywhere thanks to the weather.

We have been the sweetcorn cobs, though some turned out to be past their best, but they have been very sweet.

The climbing french beans were all over a few weeks ago, and the runner beasn also. However, the runners have developed a second rash of flowers – though they may well not produce much.

Tomatoes – well I made tomato soup with over a kilo of them a couple of weeks ago, since then my wife has made two lots or rather delicious tomato ‘sauce’ (we used it on pasta) with at least as much in each batch. This on top of eating loads in salads, and just as accompaniment to snacks – so they have been very productive, all small ones. The ones outside the greenhouse have died off – I think hit by a near frost a week or so ago – so all the tomatoes are no good

I was interrupted while writing this and never got back to it – hence the unfinished nature of the article but now I’ve got back to the blog I’ll publish it anyway……

Just A Few Remarks

Since I’ve been concentrating on our produce I haven’t been mentioning some of the other issues so I thought would just make a few comments.

Firstly, the blackfly attack on the beans seems to have petered out – I haven’t pinched out all the broad beans and many plants are untouched. The few plants that were affected and I had to take the tops off and/or rub out blackfly on the pods seem to have recovered. There were a few on the runners at one point but they seem to have essentially disappeared. So that’s all quite good.

I’m still harvesting broad beans but they will all need shelling now for cooking I think – there are still lots left as well. I suspect my son is going to get pleny of shelling practice!

The french beans grown in a pot in the greenhouse seem to have finished really, they aren’t producing many flowers after teh harvest – but I’ll leave them for a while just in case. The bush french beans outside are more or less at the end of harvesting, but the climbing ones are just getting into full production.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the sweetcorn is quite variable in height with the ones nearer the hedge being the smallest – not sure whether this is a result of dryer soil or shading I’m not sure – we’ll just have to see what ind of cobs the smaller ones produce.

For some reason all the newer salad clops don’t include lettuce, I’ll try and plant some more but I think there will be a hiatus – although the current lettuce crops aren’t bolting much yet so should last a week or two more. Rocket and other salad leaves are now harvest-able from inside the greenhouse – but the outside ones aren’t so good yet.

The peppers in the greenhouse seem less well developed than in previous years, though they are flowering now – but not as tall as I would expect at this stage. Still we’ll see.

Although the last courgette planted outside has finally started to produce a crop (thus adding to the glut…) – the one in the greenhouse is still producing male flowers only – why?

The weeds are really looking good now around the beans and sweetcorn – I really must have a weeding session I suppose – however the hedges and lawn are higher in the queue, plus the blackcurrants are almost ready- that’s an entire family picking session – then coolie or blackcurrant ice-cream – yum.

Anyway, another dry day so I had to use the hosepipe tonight, and give all the tomato plants a feed – and it looks like another sunny day tomorrow – it’s beginning to feel like summer at last…..

I feel a glut coming on…

We’re stll having rather variable weather with rain forecast for the next few days – still it saves doing a lot of watering – though I’ve had to the last couple of nights.

Of course the intermittant raiy days and sun have kept things growing well and now harvesting is in full swing. We’re having lettuce most evenings – but hardly making a dent on the crop – I just cut a selection of leaves plus some of the older ones for the guinea pigs – but you’d hardly know. They’ll be ‘bolting’ next of course…then only the guinea pigs will benefit. Still there are some seedlings coming up as well.

The courgettes are in full production we’re going to have to start being inventive over usingthem. I think my wife was considering a ‘mixed veg’ quiche or omelette over the weekend to take care of some of the production – if only she could see the rate they are coming on (not a part of the garden she visits too often though….). On top of that the broad beans are in full production (we did have a few in our salad tonight). The french beans in the greenhouse have enough ready to use in a meal as well and the ones outside aren’t far behind.

The runner beans are flowering like mad and I can see small proto-beans already – the climbing french beans are in flower as well but a bit behind the runners. The tomatoes are flowering everywhere but their production is a few weeks away.

Growbag tomatoes outside greenhouse
Tomatoes outside greenhouse

All the salad crops both inside the greenhouse and outside are growing well now – even a row of Kohl Rabi planted as an experiment seem to be coming on. The peas are just starting to flower and almost all have now got the idea that they should be climbing up the twigs.

Pea rows - coming on...

The pea rows – just about finding the twigs

The weeds of course are also growing well and I’ve even managed to pull some of them up but most of my time over the last few days has been spent on dealing with an overgrown bush, the lawn and other clearing up jobs in the garden.

Meanwhile the hedges at the front and other bits at the back are just about ready for cutting again. That’s the trouble with the plant world in summer – they will keep growing – especially the ones you would rather they didn’t.

I Knew the Wind was bad….

Yes that windy day left its mark – when I got down to the bottom of the garden yesterday I thought ‘that’s funny there’s a lot more greenery now’ – and there was – it was one of the lilac trees which had decided that lying down was better than standing up! So I had to spend a while yesterday and today cutting and sawing branches – and creating a large pile of bits. Now they will have to stay in a pile until autumn as there is nowhere to hold a bonfire in the garden at the moment, and there is the equivalent of several of our organic recycling bins full – which is full of hedge cuttings right now anyway – and I have other piles waiting to go in….

On top of that today I had to move 52 paving slabs from the front, where they had been delivered, to the back –  some of them are going to go under the shed, and others to be laid as paths in the veg beds.

So, not much actual gardening was done – mind I did put some plants (impatiens and petunias) into the front garden while waiting for the delivery. I did sort of weed a bit in the vegetable patches, but as the photos will attest, weedng is not my forte – I tend to leave it until I really have to do something about it, so my garden won’t ever be a ‘tidy’ garden.

One point has been running through my mind – I saw an article on another garden blog (sorry can’t remember which one) asking why we as gardeners grow veg that we don’t necessarily like. I was trying to think of examples in my case – but can’t really think of any. On the other hand growing too much of something – now that’s a different matter. We’ve still got runner beans in the freezer from several years ago and yet I have more growing now….. Hmmm – yes I know it’s better fresh, but runner beans in particular always seem to be in excess.