Tag Archives: birds

Lots of planting and growing

In the interim since the last post things have moved on a lot as you might imagine. Several times I’ve intended to post, and even taken photos but finding time to actually write the post has proved difficult.

Anyhow, here is a more or less up-to-date review.

Almost everything grown form seed or purchased as seedlings is now planted out. The only exception now really are the courgettes and they should be in during the next few days.

So, how are things situated?

Well, starting at the furthest end of the cultivated part of the garden – the garlic in bed 5 is now at the point where the ‘autumn’ garlic (remember it was transplanted from last year’s bed) is now almost ready for harvesting. The spring planted variety has a bit longer before it will be ready.

Next to that bed are containers in which carrots are supposed to be growing, but I’ve only just got round to sowing seed in one of them so nothing is up yet.

Next in bed 4 are the potatoes, ‘Mayan Gold’, all the plants are up and earthed up as far as they can be.

Bed 6 near the greenhouse, has the ‘excess’ tomato and pepper plants in it. In particular three tomato plants ‘Alicante’ (x2) & ‘San Marzano’. Plus five pepper plants, some bought as seedlings (when I was paranoid about any of my seed germinating), and some from seed. The varieties are ‘Bendigo’ x2, ‘Capino’ x2, plus my seed grown ones planted since the photo was taken. The remaining space I’ve yet to fill.

The ‘extra’ pepper plants & tomatoes

Alongside the greenhouse there are the usual grow-bags with tomatoes (see below) and from right to left the tomato varieties are:

Sparta, Alicante, San Marzano in the LH bag and then Gardeners Delight, Cherry Cascade x2 in the RH one

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

Next to bed 4 is the area with the blackcurrant bushes, the new ones planted at the end of last year are all sprouting bar one, which so far hasn’t produced a shoot – so it’s looking like I’ll need a replacement. There will be no blackcurrants from theses bushes this year of course.

Next, bed 3 has the broad bean plants, now very much all in flower or with small bean pods already.

The broad bean plants in bed 3

Bed 2, the next in line has only just been aroused from its winter sleep, covered with an old blind. It is destined to hold courgette and squash plants, and I’ve forked it over to incorporate some bonemeal and chicken dropping pellets ready for planting. The courgettes are just about ready and the squash plants should be ready by the end of this week.

Bed 1 is for beans and the picture below is a few days old and shows the dwarf/french beans, mostly ‘Tendergreen’, some bought as seedlings and some I’ve grown, plus a few ‘Safari’ which are also home grown. Since the photo was taken I’ve planted four climbing beans and another four are ready to go in.

Dwarf/french beans, mostly ‘Tendergreeen’

Moving across to the other side, bed 9 has the brassicas. There are cabbage (far end), cauliflower (near end) and broccoli in the middle. However, the cauliflower and broccoli have been heavily attacked by pigeons. I had them covered with chicken wire at first but took that off when I thought the plants were big enough, only to find all of them, except the cabbage plants, with leaves that were almost shredded in the last few days, so I’ve put the wire back over again!

The brassicas – before the attack of the pigeons!

Next, bed 8 is the one that acts as a kind of cold frame with the old door covering it. At the moment only one cucumber plant is planted and the rest is taken up with various seedlings in trays and pots. A courgette (Atena) is ready to go in though.

Bed 7 nearest the greenhouse has salad crops in it, and I need to sow more seeds really. At present there is only some lettuce plants (bought as seedlings) and some radishes I sowed and now ready to harvest.

Bed 7, radish plants nearest and lettuce at the far end

The mangetout are in bed 10 across from bed 7 and are varieties I haven’t grown before. Both of them seem to grow much higher than the varieties like ‘Oregon sugar snap’ that I’ve been grown before. They have at least now started to flower so I guess they won’t get much higher now. It’s now about the time I should be planting some more, which I’ll start in pots like all those in the bed.

Mangetout peas  – much taller than I expected!

Next to that bed is the bed with strawberry plants in and there are lots of berries waiting for some sun to help ripen them.

Strawberry berries – nice when ripe…

Lastly, outside the kitchen is the pot with more tomatoes in it – there are tow Red Cherry and two Cherry Cascade plants, so hopefully later on they will provide us with lots of small tomatoes during the summer.

The ‘kitchen’ tomato plants

The other major development is that I’ve extended the ‘open compost’ heap which is handy as I’m pulling up lots of weeds at the moment and all my compost bins are just about full – I’ll add a photo when I update.

Wildlife

The birds have been busy, partly I guess because they are feeding chicks. Lots of mealworms being eaten as well as seeds. There have been a bunch of house sparrows which is good news, plus the usual blackbirds, great and blue tits, dunnocks, and the odd greenfinch. The more worrying activity I’ve noted is that magpies have been visiting the feeders and scaring off the small birds, plus I’ve seen a jackdaw as well.

Meanwhile the trail cams have shown that hedgehogs are active along the ‘highway’ at the bottom of the garden but a camera at the front has picked one up crossing the front garden as well! I suspect it is also moving along the side of the house from our garden and I have a camera now watching that route to check.

The trail camera has also picked up a fox crossing along the ‘highway’ as well.

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The End of 2018

A last post from 2018 and a kind of review of the year plus what’s been happening in the garden recently.

Well the year has been ok, though successful in the ‘flower’ part of the garden I feel there were a few less than perfect beds in the vegetable area.

There was a very good show of annuals and perennials in the flower beds, with the cosmos (mostly from seed) and dahlias (that survived the winter) being the stars I guess, the the geraniums were pretty spectacular this year and they lasted well into November as well.

The penstemon bed was reasonable, though I had to plant plenty of new ones in the spring  as many hadn’t survived the winter, even though it was mild. They are still growing well, though not flowering, even now thanks to the mild weather so far this winter. It’s a bit annoying really as they will need to be cut down soon to allow the under-planted daffodils etc. to flower.

In the vegetable area the garlic was a bit disappointing, especially the autumn planted ones. Having said that, around a dozen garlic plants have sprung up in the bed during the autumn from garlic bulbs I must have missed! I have now moved them to the designated bed for garlic this year.  Perhaps just as well since one of the online garden companies I had ordered garlic from for autumn and spring planting recently cancelled the autumn garlic part of the order….

The salad bed was disappointing, although we did have some meals with salad leaves from it some of the rows planted had a poor germination rate. The best was a row of ‘lollo rosso’ bought as seedlings. However, there are still some usable leaves available from a few plants even now.

The strawberry bed produced a good crop for a couple of weeks but the dry summer really had an effect and there were very few berries after the first flush.

Right next to the strawberry bed (towards the greenhouse) was a bed with cucumber, squash and courgette plants. The cucumber produced ok, in fact with all the cucumber plants we had a real glut and gave away more than we ate. The squash was a disappointment though, despite the wonderful summer, On the other had, the courgette plant – a short ‘tubby’ variety – produced well.

Next to that bed, partly, is the part covered bed which I use as a cold frame in the early spring. This had two cucumber plants and a courgette growing in the bed, all of which produced well and of course along with the other courgette and cucumber plants produced a glut. Bear in mind there was one more courgette, in the end of the garlic bed (the ‘spring’ garlic had been harvested) planted into the bed still in a pot.

Next to the salad bed I had mangetout peas, and again they could only be described as poor to moderate, with the early planting producing well and not too much after that. As with other years I grew the peas from seed in the greenhouse before planting out.

The next bed had one lonely squash plant and a few pots with bulbs in compost being kept over the summer. Although like the other squash plant it produced plenty of growth only one usable squash cam from this plant.

Beyond the blackcurrant bushes (now replaced) the next bed had beans, climbing and french/dwarf beans. The climbing beans were from seed but the french.dwarf beans were from a pack of around 20 seedlings. They were planted as a ‘border’ round the bed with the climbing beans in the middle. The dwarf beans did produces quite well, a contrast with other years when they have tended to produce a few beans then stop producing any. The climbing beans, while they did grow ok, weren’t quite as prolific as other years so we haven’t ended up with much in the freezer.

The last bed in  that sequence had potatoes in (??) and these produced as well as expected in a small bed and provided a number of meals worth of potatoes along with those planted in growing sacks kept nearby.

Near the east side of the greenhouse were the brassicas in a bed, some cauliflower and some cabbage. We had two or three cauliflowers and also cabbages, in fact, thanks to the mild autumn, there are still cabbages in the bed and we finished one only yesterday.

Next to the greenhouse was the bed with broad beans – I think I have made the comment earlier that the autumn planted beans didn’t grow or produce any better than those grown for the bean in spring – the bean production was around average I guess.

Inside the greenhouse and outside the tomatoes did quite well and kept us going with tomatoes well into the autumn plus of course the plants outside the kitchen. Another cucumber in the greenhouse also produced well. The peppers were split between the greenhouse and outside. One outside in the garlic bed, plus three in a growing bag perched on the end of the brassicas bed. All produced well and we had a good supply of peppers from late summer into autumn.

Situation Now

Most of the beds are clear and the majority have been forked over and had compost or the contents of one of the growing bags added. Three are covered with old blinds to suppress weeds over the winter. As mentioned above one has the ‘accidental’ garlic plants moved from another bed See pics below:

Worked over bed in foreground with added growing bag compost

Covered raised beds, salad bed in the foreground.

 

Wildlife

Not too much to say. The birds have stepped up their eating from feeders and fewer from  the ground just now, although some seed is eaten from the ground tray. Few squirrels and hedgehogs as autumn has progressed. I haven’t checked out the trail cams for a while but will report in the early New Year.

 

 

Basking in Spring Sun (mostly)

Gosh – is it a month since I laast posted – that’s terrible.

Anyway as you might imagine there have been a lot of developments over the last month especially as the weather has been mostly good, with a few exceptions. Indeed it’s been so sunny especially the last couple of weeks I’ve had to get the hose out and it has been used in earnest a few time. Having said that, we’ve had rain today (quite welcome actually) and it has been mostly cloudy the last couple of days, and tomorrow doesn’t look to be much better.

The really big effort has gone into the flower beds with loads of annual bedding plants going in and a fair sprinkling of perennials as well, especially as quite a few didn’t make it over the winter.

A couple of pics of the flower borders – it was cloudy so colours a bit dull

Right now the lupins are just coming into flower, which is good as it’s the first winter I’ve had lupins survive so well (after several previous plantings), and of course lots of the bedding plants are in flower.

Lupins really doing well this year

Meanwhile on the vegetable front I’ve just about recovered from the terrible germination period, only in some cases by buying in seedlings. Laughably, I now have too many courgette and cucumber plants as many of the second sowings germinated! Only one more of my tomato seeds produced though, a ‘gardeners delight’. Also causing me much embarrassment is the germination of several sweet pepper seeds after I’d already bought some seedlings – I’m trying to work out where I can put them and the courgettes/cucumbers since there isn’t room in the greenhouse.

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse – just the ‘gardeners delight’ to add…. (it’s in front of the blank opening

 

Tomato plants in the greenhouse – note the courgette/cucumber/squash plants in front, still to be relocated somewhere. There is a pepper plant and a cucumber growing to the left of the tomatoes as well (they are staying)

It’s the same story with dwarf/french beans where I’d bought a pack of seedlings then plenty of ones I’d sown (second batch) decided to appear so they are in two other beds now. At least the second sowing of the climbing beans produced seven seedlings, and they are already out in one of the beds. A third sowing looks like at least two more plants might become available.

Dwarf bean (bought in as seedlings) and climbing beans in the middle – just starting to climb

More dwarf beans….

More dwarf beans – the ‘tent’ on the right covers some courgette and cucumber plants just put in)

The mangetout peas have been a bit better and around ten plants ore out and already climbing up twigs, with another four or so almost ready to join them. I really need to plant another pot full now to keep things going.

Mangetout peas – two varieties – ‘Oregon sugar pod’ & ‘Sweet Horizon’

The salad area didn’t look too good, particularly as I couldn’t seem to find the time to do any sowing initially. So again I bought in some ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce seedlings to mean that I would have something at least, and now they are just about big enough to start harvesting some leaves. Subsequently I did plant three rows of mixed salad leaves from three different packets, and of those two have produced but the third nothing. Just the other day I sowed a row of ‘pak choi’ from an old pack of seed so we’ll see if any of those come up. A couple of rows of ‘rocket’ near the kitchen have produced one plant! I’ve resown one of the row to see it I can get some more…

Lollo rosso lettuce and two rows of ‘cut n come again’ salad leaves

The broad beans are now producing pods so some of the early ones should be big enough to eat in the next few days (the whole pod)

Broad bean plants – you can just see some small pods…..

My potatoes (desiree) are through now and have been earthed up as far as I can in the restricted bed:

potato plants looking good

Not pictured above are the courgettes and cucumber plants under the ‘cold frame’ (door), one of the plants has baby cucumber already.

Wildlife

The last review of the trail cams a couple of weeks ago revealed (apart from the cats) that hedgehog activity is pretty intense now, with at least two and probably three going backwards and forwards plus one sighting of a fox.

The birds have been active and there are at least two robin nests in the hedges, as I could hear the chicks and the robins were pretty keen to collect food from around me when I was gardening. The dunnocks seem to have nests as well somewhere in the hedges. No ‘unusual’ birds have appeared recently though but the dunnocks, tits and robins are all going through mealworms at a great rate.

 

Not much gardening outside just now!

We have been hit by the ‘beast from the east’ so gardening outside is a bit tricky just now! The picture bellow illustrates the situation.

A snowy garden!

You can just see the garlic shoots….

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, the germination rate of the broad beans doesn’t look too good – as you can see below so far only a few are through (2 beans per pot planted). Bearing in mind this weather (-5degC overnight and not above zero during the day) is going to continue for a few more days I’ll try and plant some in pots and keep them on the kitchen window ledge otherwise I’m going to be a bit short of plants once the weather clears….

There are loads of other seeds I should be planting but it will just have to wait until the cold snap ends.

Broad bean seedlings in the greenhouse – still some to appear

Wildlife

The birds are finding it hard of course – I’ve had to go out twice today already to add more mealworms and seed – most of of first lot were eaten, but some on the ground feeder were buried by more snow. One of the blackbirds was so desperate it worked out how to get into the ant-squirrel cage (see top pic) which up to now hadn’t managed to do.

November Catch Up & Review

I feel very guilty at not updating the blog for so long. I could give the excuse that I’ve been very busy but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I just keep forgetting when I get in front of the computer even after working in the garden.

To be fair, over the last month I haven’t spent that much time in the garden. Most of that time has been spent cutting hedges or removing dead plants and carrying out the last bits of harvesting.

So, all the tomato plants are now in the compost bins and the growbags are now stacked on one of the raised beds ready for the contents to be used to bulk up some of the raised beds. The only plants left in the raised beds now are some lettuce which has managed to survive the couple of frosts we’ve had, some beetroot in the same bed which just hasn’t been harvested and are probably become too woody to use now, and the bed of kale, (there is just too much to use).

Having harvested the bed of potatoes a few weeks ago, I noticed the other day that one of the ‘potato bags’ hadn’t been emptied, so that may be a few more spuds! The ones harvested have been very welcome in the kitchen and quite a reasonable crop.

Overall I would say it’s only been an ‘average’ sort of year from the point of view of produce from the garden. The tomatoes were really only ok, no glut this year, and no big glut of courgettes, though that was partly because I missed a few and they became huge while hiding under leaves. The climbing beans were ok, though didn’t produce enough to fill the freezer, the dwarf beans didn’t produce too much and the broad beans were pretty poor. The sweet peppers in the greenhouse weren’t bad – kept us in peppers for a couple of weeks. The mangetout peas also weren’t as prolific as previous years, but did produce enough – in fact there are a couple of plants of a second sowing still alive!

No carrots survived this year, despite several plantings and the salad crops were pretty poor as well with the exception of the cucumber plants which produced enough to keep us going through the summer and into the autumn.

Now I have to clean up the beds, a couple are covered with old carpet so at least the weeds will be suppressed, and the potato bed has been dug over of course but the others will all want de-weeding and probably compost added.

There is also some planting to do of course. Broad beans and garlic in particular, once I’ve decided which beds (the garlic harvest wasn’t brilliant either this year). Plus I’ve a load of narcissi and tulips to get in as soon as poss, though they will be mainly going into containers.

Wildlife

The trail cameras have turned up another fox, different from the one seen a couple of years ago with a very thin tail. The hedgehogs have been active until recently as well.

The birds  have not been very active just recently, though a robin seems to think I’m only in the garden to produce food for it – it appears a feet away from me within minutes of me working in the garden and will keep ‘chuntering’ at me until I stand still and allow it a few minutes to collect any worms & grubs I’ve revealed.

Plus my usual battle with mice in the greenhouse has kicked off…..

Photos next time!

 

 

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 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.