Tag Archives: butterflies

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.

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!)

Weather Lousy Again

We have northerly winds and rain – not good for the garden.
But progress has been made and plants have grown regardless

The last tomato seedlings are now planted out – so there are now three growbags outside the greenhouse (pomodoro & marmande), but three plants are just in pots in the greenhouse for the time being as the weather is so crummy.

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

I have been planting out a lot of flowers though – mostly bedding plants but a few perennials. It has been a struggle making sure the slugs and snails don’t get them – I’ve even had to sacrifice some beer to put into pots put into the ground to capture some of them. The pigeons have also mad a nuisance of themselves – I had somne phlox plants in one of the raised beds temporarily until I had sorted out space and they were shooting ok until the pigeons found them. I’ve now tried to protect them with shiny CDs and a partial cover.

The pigeons have also had a go at the lower leaves of the climbing beans but hopefully they should survive as it is only the lower leaves they can get at. The problem is I have three more small bean seedlings which I need to get planted out as soon as possible and I suspect they will need some protection if they are to survive the pigeons.

The climbing beans

The climbing beans

There are also another set of pea seedlings to put in as well but they seem less prone to damage. On the other hand I have a whole tray of dwarf beans (bought) and they may well need protection when planted out in the next few days.

The mangetout peas doing well...

The mangetout peas doing well… (that’s sunshine on the right)

All bar one of my pepper plants – both sweet and chilli are now in pots in the greenhouse although some may need re-potting in bigger pots when they have grown a bit.

The spinach has grown enough for us to have a harvest from it although there has been some damage from either slug or pigeons.

Spinach - you can see some damaged leaves

Spinach – you can see some damaged leaves

Meanwhile the potato plants are well through now and I have have earthed them up as far as possible.

The potatoes have sprung up!

The potatoes have sprung up!

Some of the broad beans had grown quite tall so I’ve had to add canes and string to support them – not added the polystyrene ‘eye protectors’ yet though.

 

Broad beans with support now

Broad beans with support now – though before the string added.

The resowing of the carrots has paid off, most of the seeds seem to have germinated, though I have kept a glass cover over the ‘tank’ to protect them.

Wildlife

Not much to say – though I think I saw a goldfinch on the nyjer seed feeder today which would be a first for this year. Also, many ‘small blue’ butterflies about.

Sunny – so bin gardenin’

Yes, temperatures over 12deg. and sunshine tempted me outdoors today. Even the greenhouse automatic skylights were open and the temperature inside was over 30deg. – I know as I was sowing seeds  in there!

Quite a few jobs done today. Firstly, dealing with things in the greenhouse, some of the flower seedlings out of the propagators (which I unplugged) which made room for a half-tray of gaillardia and tagetes (tray split down the middle). I have reasonable numbers of geraniums that have germinated, but in the tray of nicotiana seeds although many germinated a few have keeled over as I think the compost got too dry…

I also sowed some more sweet peppers in a small pot as well as some sunflowers (paquito & teddy bear) which are now on the kitchen window sill.

Some of the tomato seedlings – especially the ‘pomodoro’ are now big enough to consider planting on – I’m going to have to buy some growbags next week I think….

I finally got the remaining polyanthus and bellis seedlings planted out as well in containers and the front garden.

Big news – the first broad bean shoots have shown through in the raised bed! So we’ll see over the next few days how many have germinated and avoided being taken by birds etc.

First broad bean shoots!

First broad bean shoots!

Next to the bed with the broad beans is the ‘garlic’ bed – and they are coming along fine except for one which has gone missing in one corner….

Garlic growing well

Garlic growing well

I checked on the rhubarb- normally covered with an old water tub and it won’t be long before we can have a rhubarb pie hopefully.

Rhubarb coming on nicely

Rhubarb coming on nicely

The fruit bushes near to the rhubarb are low coming into leaf – here is a pic from one of the blackcurrant bushes:

Blackcurrant just coming into leaf

Blackcurrant just coming into leaf

The sweet pea seedlings delivered recently are now all planted in the garden as well.

The container for carrots has been ‘refreshed’ with some more compost with some plant food mixed in.

Carrot container (an old cod water tank supported well off the ground

Carrot container (an old cod water tank supported well off the ground)

I also had to do some hedge cutting and finished cutting up the Christmas tree to go into the garden ‘green’ bin along with the hedge cuttings.

Just to illustrate the spring time in the garden here is a picture of the primroses in flower in the ‘wild’ part of the garden.

Primroses in full flower

Primroses in full flower

Mind some of these have been in flower for at least 6 weeks!

Wildlife

The birds have definitely upped their feeding and I have seen a couple of house sparrows around feeding on seeds – we used to have a large population of house sparrows but they are a rarity now sadly. Long tailed tits have been around as well plus the usual great and blue tits. The blackbirds may have started to try and delineate their territories as I have seen some disputed breaking out on the lawn.

Other than that there were a few butterflies around during the sunny days – brimstone and a darker one that didn’t hang around long enough for me to identify it.

Tomato & Courgette Armageddon Is Upon Us!

The glut has started – a slow build-up but now we have more courgettes and tomatoes than we can eat already and it looks like it is only going to get worse. The tomatoes I expected, after there are too many plants but there are only two courgette plants but they are a variety with yellow coloured courgettes so they can’t hide as easily – and I am harvesting them early as well.

Tomatoes and yellow Courgettes

Tomatoes and yellow Courgettes

This of course not to mention the cucumber, which we are just keeping up with, the climbing and ‘dwarf’ beans which we aren’t – there are a load to be harvested just now. The blueberries, still being harvested, the blackcurrants I’ve just started harvesting and there are loads!

Blackcurrants - from half a bush!

Blackcurrants – from half a bush!

Climbing beans waiting to be harvested

Climbing beans waiting to be harvested

Also, I’ve only dig up a couple of rows of potatoes so there are plenty more of them to come.

Potato plants - how many potatoes underneath?

Potato plants – how many potatoes underneath?

Apart from the harvesting needed fortunately the weather has settled down a bit at least for a few days, so much so that I had to use the hosepipe on the garden the other day and may well need to tonight!

And oh yes – the carrots are ready as well…..

The only harvesting complete is the garlic – all up, dry, and hanging in our utility room now.

I’m still suffering a bit from ‘open garden’ depression and haven’t been able to get down to planting some more salad leaves since the last lot was attacked by caterpillars (cabbage white I suspect) and has gone to the compost heap.

Wildlife

Speaking of caterpillars, I’ve only seen one small batch on the nettles this year and they moved so rapidly out of sight that I couldn’t identify them.

The birds have been eating the sunflower seeds, mostly greenfinches I think with a few great tits but the odd house sparrow has appeared on the feeders nearest the kitchen as well.

Butterflies are more in evidence now the weather is a bit more sunny, many peacock butterflies on the buddleia (I counted 5 at once the other day) a few comma and many small whites as well as the odd ‘small brown jobs’ that haven’t hung around long enough or have kept their wings closed (very annoying).

That’s all for now – I may have to sit down and ‘top and tail’ the blackcurrants as it looks like they will be going straight to the freezer…..

So What has Been Happening With The Veg?

Well they have been growing and I’ve been cropping – but not all and not all successfully.

First, the broad beans are finished now, the last beans were harvested today and some of them too old to use but all needed peeling before uses (they are going to be used later this week). they have been pretty good and have produced a reasonable crop. Cant’t really say that the De Monica produced better than the Aguadulce, both seemed pretty good.

Broad Beans - all picked and waiting for the chop, with Garlic in front ready to harvest

Broad Beans – all picked and waiting for the chop, with Garlic in front ready to harvest

The mangetout peas are also almost finished (although there is a small number of plants I planted after the others in the beans bed still not flowering yet). and they have also produced well, still a few pods to come though I think.

The climbing beans are producing now (we had some today) but not really well and they still are pretty reluctant to climb properly. Even allowing for the poor weather early on after they were planted it’s still pretty disappointing- so I don’t think I’ll grow the variety (Fasold)again and will return to the previous variety (Blue Lake) grown over previous years.

The reluctant Climbing Beans

The reluctant Climbing Beans – note the amount of growth at the base

The ‘dwarf’ beans have been misbehaving as well – not being dwarf and pretending to be climbing beans so they have needed support – all a bit weird really – still they have produced a few beans.  (we had some today).

The 'Dwarf' Beans not being dwarf!

The ‘Dwarf’ Beans not being dwarf!

The peas (Hurst Longpod) are close to harvesting and the pods are filling out well so next weekend I think we’ll be having them.

The 'full size' peas

The ‘full size’ peas

The ‘climbing’ strawberries have finished their first crop but there are one or two new flowers so there may be more coming. While on the fruit, one of the raspberry canes planted last year which is supposed to be an autumn variety has been producing for the last couple of weeks, just enough to go with my breakfast cereal, and very nice too. Meanwhile, the blackcurrants are ripening up and looks like we may be harvesting next weekend.

Raspberries - great with my breakfast cereal

Raspberries – great with my breakfast cereal

The salad cops haven’t been as good. A container of salad leaves is currently being harvested and a row of radishes is also ready plus a row of lollo rosso lettuce is also ready. However, other crops like beetroot, leaf beet, and mini-celery have either failed or are struggling with a few plants. Partly this is down to pigeon damage and partly to failure to grow at all. As an example, tow rows of lettuce germinated but after a couple of weeks half of each row had gone as a result of pigeon or slug damage.

Lollo Rosso lettuce with

Lollo Rosso lettuce with radishes behind

Turnip, with Pak Choi behind and Calabrese at the back (plus plenty of weeds!)

Cos lettuce, Turnip, with Pak Choi behind and Calabrese at the back (plus plenty of weeds!)

The Courgettes are of course trying to overwhelm everything else – below is an example – there is a cucumber plant left of it (completely hidden)and the climber is a ‘cucamelon’ donated by my neighbour (who is growing one as well) growing as an experiment. I have harvested two cucumbers already though.

Courgette taking over!

Courgette taking over!

To finish off – one tomato (a ‘Gardeners Delight’) is just starting to turn (see below) – so soon we’ll be harvesting by the ton…..:

The first tomato to start ripening

The first tomato to start ripening

Wildlife

A rather annoying squirrel has been about which mostly ignores the peanuts I put out to entice it into the trap, and goes straight up the pole to the seed feeder – which it has almost destroyed. Drastic steps were needed – so I bought an anti-squirrel baffle to put on the pole – which I’m please to say has ‘baffled’ the squirrel (I watched the other morning go up the pole then wonder what to do next). So I’ve now got a new seed feeder in the hopes it will last longer.

The trail cam has been located on the lawn for a while recently and revealed a hedgehog wandering about and was itself knocked over by magpies – 3 of which appeared early in the morning looking for trouble – one marched up to the camera pecked the lens then jumped onto the top and knocked it over!

I noticed over the last couple of days at least one house-sparrow on the feeders which is encouraging, but I wish there were more. There have been greenfinches on the seed feeders as well recently and the usual tits, though most look pretty scruffy so I think they may be youngsters.

A few butterflies about, the buddleia bushes are just coming into flower so I expect to see a lot more butterflies soon.

 

Some Proper Rain At Last

The last few days have been punctuated by showers of rain, and some long enough to really get the garden wet and recharge the water butts, so quite appreciated rally. Also, most of the rain came overnight so didn’t interrupt the daytime activities too much – which is unusual as it was a Bank Holiday here yesterday and that usually means poor weather – instead we had relatively fine weather, at least in this part of the UK.

However, for various reasons, including running a half-marathon and spending hours in a boat, I couldn’t spend as much time in the garden over the Bank Holiday weekend as I would have liked. As a result all those seedlings waiting to be planted are still waiting….

On the plus side I did harvest some rhubarb for the first time this year (just removed the cover the other day) which we’ve had in a ‘sponge and rhubarb cake/pudding’ with cream – yum. Also talking about harvesting, the salad leaves in the long container are now big enough to harvest handfuls. The row of rocket outside the kitchen will be ready soon as well.

Salad leaves - you can just see the rocket behind the container

Salad leaves – you can just see the rocket behind the container

In the greenhouse I’ve repotted some of the pepper seedlings (‘Gourmet’) – there were three in a pot so they are now in individual pots. I’ve shifted three more growbags into the greenhouse and cut the holes in one and watered ready for some more tomato seedling – well they are getting out of hand now and although I can’t grow them a ll in the greenhouse I really need to get them into growbags. One of the bags will be used for pepper plants though.

Many tomato and flower seedlings

Many tomato and flower seedlings

The three tomatoes already in the growbag are flourishing:

Tomatoes - Ailsa Craig, Pomodoro and Gardeners Delight

Tomatoes – Ailsa Craig, Pomodoro and Gardeners Delight

I’ve also had to sit and prick out a load of antirrhinum seeds into pots – and there are still loads to do not just them but also- including mesembryanthemums of which there seem to be hundreds…

Outside I’ve taken a bold step and planted out the dwarf beans – and I need to sow some more now just in case!

Dwarf beans now in raised bed

Dwarf beans now in raised bed

The ‘Lollo Rosso’ lettuce seeds I sowed a few weeks ago are now popping up, though not in the precise row they were sown in – I suspect birds have been disturbing them. The radish, pak choi and turnip seedlings are all coming along nicely, but no sign at all of the chard so a resowing is now on the cards.

Lollo Rosso seedlings

Lollo Rosso seedlings

The ‘old’ apple tree (Lord Lambourne) is in full flower, as is the new and still small Braeburn. The plum planted last year looks like it is still concentrating on growing and hasn’t produced any flowers.

Oh yes and my nicely planted carrot ‘tank’ (which is standing on bricks so the top is about a metre above ground – to avoid carrot root fly) – where the seedling were all coming on nicely, was raided by something ?magpies ?cat and all the seedlings disturbed and moved about – too late I covered it with an old fire-guard, and most of the seedlings are making a valiant attempt to recover, but there is a rather blank parch in the middle which I’ll need to resow. Really annoying and unexpected.

Wildlife

Some amazing developments – I had a trailcam in place at the bottom of the garden for a few weeks and when the results were reviewed a few days ago we discovered the following passing through the garden:

Three different cats

A rather scrawny fox

A hedgehog

And – a big surprise – a badger!

No idea where the badger is coming from or going to but it appeared on several different nights so clearly is a regular visitor. I haven’t processed the pics and movies yet, but when I sort them out I’ll post here.

Many butterflies in the sunny weather as noted in previous post, plenty bumble bees on the flowers that are out and many ‘beeflies’ arguing over their territories while hovering over the lawn. One smooth newt turned up in some compost from one of the compost heaps – I was mixing it with some bought compost (by hand) when I suddenly saw movement – so I let it go close to where it came from. Also a ‘froglet’ appeared after the rain, possibly one of this years tadpoles as they hatched early this year.

I refilled all the bird feeders a couple of weeks ago with fresh seed,peanuts and fat-balls and the tits and robin plus collared doves have been visiting recently – I would guess they all have chick somewhere nearby.