Tag Archives: brambles

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….

 

 

Almost Finished Harvesting

Now that Autumn is officially here things are winding down in the garden of course and harvesting of produce is running down – apart from the tomatoes that is!

Tomatoes outside the kitchen

Tomatoes outside the kitchen – notice how some have split and aren’t really much use now

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse - pomodoro

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse – pomodoro

The pomodoro seem rather more prone than others to various ailments as you can see. Still they are good for making tomato sauce for pasta..

I must admit I haven’t been doing a lot in the garden over the last few weeks, partly because I’ve been busy with other things, but also apart from the harvesting it is the time of year when most of the work is tidying up and pulling stuff out of the ground or pruning rather than planting.

That said I do have a collection of ‘spring flowering’ plants in the greenhouse which I need to put in place before too long and I have some bulbs to plant so it’s not going to be all tidying…..

The climbing beans are past the point of being collected though there are plenty of pods still on the vines. I may save some of them for next year – but I’m not sure if they are F1 hybrids. Anyway, I think I have some left in the packet…. They were better than the variety from last year, though one of the vines that grew purple coloured pods produced very few pods. As the beans are a mixture it will just be pot luck next year unless the saved beans germinate….. The dwarf beans are also past their best and I don’t think there are any worth picking now.

Climbing Beans - past their best

Climbing Beans – past their best

The mangetout peas lasted until the other day and I didn’t get round to planting any more during the last few weeks.

Mangetout ready for picking

Mangetout ready for picking – since eaten!

The courgette plants as usual were far too fecund from two plants. Even though the variety produced yellow courgettes and were easier to spot some still managed to hide until they were massive – so I’m sorry to say some went straight to compost. Well there were plenty of other small ones to eat and there is only so much that can be done with courgette….

One of the smaller courgettes....

One of the smaller courgettes….

We also had just enough cucumbers – there were two plants, one bought as a seedling and one from seed. The bought plant, grown under the ‘door’, produced several cumbers and the died a few weeks ago for no apparent reason. Meanwhile the plant grown from seed, which I planted  in a container, barely survived attacks from slugs and pigeons and had to be protected under plastic for a few weeks. Eventually though it thrived and produced a couple of cucumbers, and is still alive though may not produce any more but we’ll see.

Sweet peppers in the greenhouse - the big one is turning red now

Sweet peppers in the greenhouse –

The peppers in the greenhouse are doing ok. The sweet peppers have fairly chunky peppers and the chilli variety plants have quite a few peppers, but not yet ripening apart from a plant in the kitchen.

The raspberries I planted produced until a couple of weeks ago – enough to keep me with some for breakfasts and for some to be frozen. The ones growing in the hedge near the greenhouse are producing just now – I had about a dozen with my breakfast this morning.

There is still the odd strawberry ripening – if I can get to them before the slugs or birds they are a handy addition to my breakfast.

A couple of the strawberrie

A couple of the strawberries

Meanwhile the grapes in the greenhouse are just about ready. The plan is to produce grape juice this year, I just need to get the bits and pieces together ready.

Bunches of ripe grapes - I've picked them just this evening to make grape juice

Bunches of ripe grapes – I’ve picked them just this evening to make grape juice

There is a big chunk of work coming up dealing with the hedges though – especially when the brambles have finally stopped producing (I’m still hoping to harvest some more) but most haven’t been properly cut since late spring and some have really grown.

Some of the remaining brambles

Some of the remaining brambles – there are better ones elsewhere though

I must get round to digging up the potatoes as well – the tops have died back almost completely.

Wildlife

The trail cam deployed recently on the lawn showed two hedgehogs together and a young hedgehog has been wandering around in daylight as well – and it is small enough to get through the protection cage around the ground feeding station so the camera caught it inside a couple of times.

There have been ‘visitations’ of greenfinches to the feeder with sunflower seeds a few times recently and they can empty it in a couple of days. It also rather annoys the great tits who can’t get near the seeds for the greenfinches and they regard the feeder as theirs normally.

I have seen a squirrel around the garden a couple of times but not round the bird feeders as yet so it is safe – for now….

 

Clearing Up Started

Yes, finally I managed to spend a bit of time in the garden clearing up.

I know the broad beans were finished a long time ago, but I did leave the roots and a short stem in to see if they would produce a second crop, which sometimes happens. Well, they didn’t so I had to tackle the job of clearing up all the string and canes plus pulling the roots up. Interestingly, the roots of the ‘De Monica’ had a tap root up to 6″ long in some cases, quite different from ‘The Sutton’ and other varieties I’ve grown.

At the same time I cleared away all the pea plants from the bed near the greenhouse, most of the plants were dead in any case.

So at the end of it all I had three beds clear. No real plans for them as yet, except that the one which had the peas I’ll probably plant a green manure crop – I think I still have some seed.

One bed clear -not the tomatoes still ripening behind

One bed clear (ex broad bean) – note the tomatoes still ripening behind

Speaking of seed, it won’t be long before I have to start thinking about next years crops – already the online nurseries are sending me offers for spring plants….

Still haven’t finished picking the blackcurrants though, nor started tackling the brambles – still a good excuse just now, it’s raining….

Still plenty of tomatoes – had to make a batch of tomato sauce yesterday to consume several pounds, and even more were taken to Belgium the other day but that’s another story.

 

Winter Arrived with Snow!

Not quite a white Christmas but a white end to Boxing Day – we had about a couple of inches of snow as it snowed through the night – causing the usual transport chaos. Then it froze of course. As I write (Sunday) it is still just below zero outside but the sun is shining so it will get to a few degrees above zero today.

Garden plus snow

Garden plus snow

Snow capped greenhouse

Snow capped greenhouse

Raised beds plus snow

Raised beds plus snow

 

Meanwhile, in the few days before Christmas when we had autumnal temperatures I finally built another raised bed and got it filled as well.

New Raised bed

New Raised bed

The next couple to go in will require a bit more work to prepare the area and it will need some better weather, but I want to get them in action in the spring. I have the bits to make one more so it will require another visit to the DIY store before I can complete the set – the next two should be the last though.

I also managed a bit of hedge cutting before Christmas and managed to remove all the bramble branches from the hedge on one side as well as the excessive growth at the bottom of the garden – bit of a fight as there were some rather long and pretty thick branches – the struggle is still reflected on my arms where despite having gloves on and long sleeves I still managed to be scratched (and my nose!)

Not much garden progress to report and the snow is going to prevent much action until it goes but not the weather has really turned into winter I really need to cut the perennials down – up until the snow there was at least one penstemon still in full flower!

Wildlife

Well finally at least one blackbird has worked out how to get into the ‘cage’, however I spent an amused 5 minutes the other day watching it trying to get out – it had clearly forgotten how it managed to get in and went round and round for a few minutes and I almost went out to release it (but that would have caused more panic of course) until it manage to work out where the bigger holes were and escaped. There has bee an increase in bird visits to the feeders of course since the snow and I’ve put out bread for the blackbirds – outside the cage mostly as only one has worked out how to get in I think.

Blackbird in cage - but not trapped!

Blackbird in cage – but not trapped!

More worrying I spotted a squirrel this morning going across the garden – so I’ll be keeping a close watch on that situation.

Autumn Already!

The weather over the last week or so has been pretty dreadful for August. We’ve had wind, rain and temperatures overnight less than 10degC! So bad I’ve been running in my long running tights rather than shorts, and with two layers on top as well.

The upshot of course is that although the garden is well watered, it is a disaster area with weeds growing like mad and getting away with it as I haven’t really been able to work in the garden for any reasonable time.

All I’ve managed to do is to carry on harvesting when I can – raspberries (for my breakfast cereal) the odd strawberry and courgettes of course plus some cucumbers. I’ll swear the courgettes disguise themselves as leaves until they are huge – I spotted one this morning – almost a foot long and I’ll swear it wasn’t there yesterday!

Some harvesting is going by the board as I haven’t had time and even if I have the weather has prevented me, so brambles, damsons (at the bottom of the garden – which is a shame as they only produce about 1 year in 5), and grapes in the greenhouse are all crying out to be gathered in but…. Have managed to keep collecting tomatoes though.

I did spend some time in the greenhouse – because I had to – when deliveries of pansies (24) and osteospermum (15) turned up as plantlets and had to be potted up more or less immediately.

So no pics at the moment – I don’t think a group photo of courgettes lurking in my fridge would be very exciting. Must do some cooking….

Summer temporarily missing

Over the last couple of weeks the weather has taken a turn towards autumn with cooler temperatures, wind and rain. We’ve had some storms as well.

The main activity has of course been harvesting. As predicated, there is now a courgette glut and I have too many cucumbers. The tomatoes are building up as well, despite my efforts to eat through them. I’ve been incorporating courgette into stir fry, together with climbing beans (now coming to an end), and mangetout peas (also nearly finished). The tomatoes and cucumber have been incorporated into salads together with the cut ‘n come again’ salad leaves still growing well.

I have now picked all the blackcurrants, but am still working my way through the brambles – still loads I could pick, it’s just finding the time…. Then there are raspberries, a useful addition to my breakfast cereal, plus a few strawberries form the ‘climbing’ plants I got a while back.

Basically I just haven’t had the time to much more than harvest stuff, even the weeds are winning right now – especially after the rain. I’ve also been rather distracted by dealing with flowers as well.

The only thing I’ve planted recently has been some parsley as we never seem to have enough, and unusually it seems all the seed in three pots sown a few weeks ago have come through.

Wildlife

One or two red admiral butterflies appeared on the buddleia over the last few days, but the flowers are just about finished now. The other big event is the return of the goldfinches – just in the last couple of days I’ve seen some on the nijer seed.

Climbing Beans A-Plenty

Just thought I would harvest some climbing (and dwarf) beans for our dinner this evening – and this is what I came up with:

Plenty of Beans!

Plenty of Beans!

Only slightly deceptive as there is a courgette and a few mangetout peas lurking at the bottom of the basket – but nevertheless more than we can eat today or even tomorrow, or the day after…

The broad beans were dying back so I pulled them up today and rescued a few pods left over.  I always feel slightly guilty as some of the plants were shooting and flowering from the base and yes I know you can cut the tops down and maybe get a few more beans – but in my experience it doesn’t work too well. Anyway this many beans are to be incorporated in our meal:

The last broad beans...

The last broad beans…

Plenty of small tomatoes are now in the fridge as well as four courgettes at the last count – another surplus building up I think. Also, the cucumber are being more successful this year, only two plants but looks like they are going to produce faster than they can be eaten as well, already had a couple with more growing on the plants – not so easy to store either.

Raspberries are still producing well, but I noticed this morning that the birds (I presume) have had all the blueberries now, even the ones not quite ripe, so that’s a lesson for next year – they need netting!

Other fruit – well I’ve picked around a pound of brambles (blackberries) and there are plenty more waiting to be picked. The climbing strawberries are still producing, though only the odd one or two at a time – still they are good to add to my breakfast cereal when available.

Weather

We’ve had some showers over the last few days which have been quite welcome as it has meant I haven’t had to spend so much time watering – especially as I wanted to rush in as fast as possible to watch the Commonwealth Games…. Still quite warm though, and sunny and dry again today.

Wildlife

Not much to say, the buddleia has still been alive with Peacock butterflies, I counted over a dozen at one point, and I spotted a couple of Red Admirals today.