Tag Archives: gardeners delight

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!)

April and it’s Not Raining – at the moment

I’ve been able to get into the garden on and off over the last week or so there has been some progress.

Today, for instance I planted out the broad bean seedlings grown in the greenhouse – so the raised bed of beans is now full.

Broad bean bed – now full

I also planted potatoes into bed 7, just in front of the greenhouse. They are ‘King Edward’ main-crop. Only a dozen potatoes could be fitted in, and I have at least another dozen left, so I’ll probably try planting them in the bags I’ve used before, although they weren’t all that successful.

Potato bed after planting

Meanwhile the pigeons and/or slugs have found the cauliflower seedlings and most have been nibbled, and some quite badly damaged. So I’ve had to put mesh over the whole bed and I’ve spread some slug pellets around as well. Some of the plants are so damaged that I’ve put plastic bottle halves over the top to protect them and act like mini-greenhouses while they recover.

Cauliflower seedlings – and mesh cover plus protective ‘bottle covers’

Damages to cauliflower seedling

Inside the greenhouse the one ‘gardeners delight’ tomato has been re-potted into a 4 inch pot. Reminding me every day that I need to get some growbags… Also, the first cucumber to germinate is now in a much bigger pot and waiting for some decision as to where it should go – too likely for a frost to go outside certainly yet.

Gardeners Delight tomato seedling & Cucumber plant

More tomatoes have germinated so I now have enough in theory to fill my inside and outside growing points. In total there are two Pomodoro, two Zuchero, 4 ‘Rainbow Blend’ and 4 ‘Tumbling Tom’.

The Kale seedlings are just growing in their original pots for the time being before I can plant them outside.

Tomato seedlings (front) and Kale seedlings (behind)

The mangetout peas germinated in the greenhouse are now big enough to be planted so as of today they are outside the greenhouse hardening off.

Inside the house on the kitchen windows ledge I now have two more cucumber seeds germinate plus a second one in the greenhouse from the same pot as the re-potted one – so I may have too many cucumber plants now….

One disappointment – no sign at all of carrot seedlings in the container two rows were sown in several weeks ago – I think I need to sow some more……

Oh and I noticed that the blueberries and gooseberries are just coming into flower now.

Flower seeds and seedlings are doing well also.

Wildlife

Not much to say here although I did see a Goldfinch one day and I haven’t seen any of those for quite a while.

The trail camera near the bird table didn’t show up anything out of the ordinary so it’s now been relocated to the bottom of the garden.

No squirrels! but mice in the greenhouse again!

 

More Sowin’ and Plantin’

The weather has been a bit variable with showers and some sunny periods so it’s been a bit of a lottery whether I’ve been able to do much in the garden.

However, have managed a few jobs in the flower and vegetable areas.

First, the flower beds – I’ve had a dozen or so osteospermum plants in pots over the winter and I finally managed to get them all planted scattered around the beds.

I took the risk and went to my local garden centre last week as well, always a dangerous thing to do as I inevitably come away with more than I intended. So it proved, though in a relatively restrained way. My objective was to get a couple of Clematis plants for a container that lives at the front of the house. Only one of the plants had survived the winter and that was a plant that was rather disappointing. So two I found two plants – a red flowering and a white flowering plants, both of which might have two flower flushes in the year. They are in the container now and growing well. The old Clematis has been taken out and planted next to the arch that divides the flower area from the vegetables – I needed another climber there so it will be useful.

However, I was distracted at the garden centre by seeing a Dicentra plant – now I’ve tried several times to get Dicentra to flourish in the garden but they only seem to last a couple of years at best – so we’ll see. It’s already planted and seems ok so far.

On the way to the cash desk I passed a stand with trays of brassicas and salad plant – and was intrigued by a tray of a dozen mixed type of cauliflower seedlings. I’ve never had too much success with brassicas in general but haven’t tried cauliflower seriously before so I bought the tray – and they nicely filled one of the raised beds. I think they are hanging on….

Cauliflower seedlings – the CDs are to scare off the pigeons!

The bed with the cloches over (2) is intended for salad cops and I planted a part row longways of ‘Leaf Salad’ (mixed lettuce) under one cloche and a similar row of Swiss Chard (Bright Lights) under the other cloche. I’ll hopefully add more of the rows in a month or so to extend the cropping. Once the cloches come off I should able to plant more salad crops. At least the cloches will keep the birds off for now.

No sign of any of the mangetout peas planted in bed 6 yet, and I’ve planted up a couple of pots in the greenhouse in one of the propagators with ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ peas as a backup.

In the propagators the flower seeds planted a couple of weeks ago (malop & cosmos) are germinating now and in the same propagator there are more tomato seedlings through (‘Jon Rainbow Blend’ & ‘Marmande’). Also in another propagator some Kale I Planted a couple of weeks ago are now just appearing.

Tomato seedlings and more

 

Kale – just coming through

Still on the kitchen windowsill are the pots of tomato seedlings (still only 3 seedlings – 2 Zuchero & 1 Gardeners Delight), peppers (none yet) and chives (most germinated). Also in a seed tray by a window is a half tray of Marigold and Nicotiana flowers for the flower beds. One cucumber seed has germinated as well on the windowsill.

Still a few overwintered perennials to plant out – mostly Doronicum and a few spring flowering plants as well but it’s beginning to get under control. The main plants to get into the ground are the broad bean seedlings – looking very much ready now.

Broad bean seedlings ready to go in

Just to show spring is here – here is a picture of one of the Kerria plant – it is actually in the veg area as well…

Kerria coming into full bloom

Wildlife

Nothing much different, the Robins still appear if \i’m doing any work on raised beds. The great tits, dunnocks etc. still visiting the feeders and fortunately no squirrels have appeared  – yet.

More Planting – and Some Preparation

Well the weather was reasonable around 8degC and dry so I felt compelled to get out in the garden and get on with something….

Firstly some work in the greenhouse – and a check on the mouse traps. I’ve been afflicted with mice for a couple of weeks – they eat most of my first sowing of broad beans – but a couple of traps seem to have sorted that problem out.

I have resown my broad beans – now they are all ‘The Sutton’ since the mice seem to have preferred the ‘Aguadulce’. I noticed this morning that one bean was just through – I guess one of the original sowing.

Also, while in the greenhouse I thought I would sow some tomatoes and peppers for germinating inside the house (my heated propagators are full of broad bean pots – not with heating, just because the covers keep any mice away). So some ‘Gardener’s Delight and ‘Zuchero’ tomatoes are in pots plus some Sweet pepper ‘Blockie’ and some chives (the garden clumps are looking a bit thin).

Then some work in the garden, I cleared one of the raised beds (no. 2) and added one of the bags of compost from last years growbags giving it a good fork over.  Then I put a couple of cloche tunnels over ready for – well I’m not sure yet.

Cloches and broad beans beyond

Cloches and broad beans beyond

Then cleared another bed (6) and half of one (it has some plants waiting for transplanting to the flower beds in one end). Still several beds to go but t’s a start.

I’ve put the cover over the rhubarb now as it was just starting to shoot – makes me think of rhubarb pie (and custard) mmmm.

Daffodils are mostly out now and the snowdrops are m mostly over flowering now. One or to other flowers are out such as some cyclamen!, pulmonaria and ‘elephants ears’ (Bergenia cordifolia)

Daffodils (this bed is undeplanted with  perennials

Daffodils (this bed is underplanted with perennials)

Pulmonaria of some sort I think

Pulmonaria of some sort I think

'Elephant Ears' -

‘Elephant Ears’ – Bergenia

WIldlife

Robins always in attendance when I’m gardening and anxious to get any grubs they can find. The blackbirds are also very busy but I haven’t seen any territorial disputes yet. Also, long tailed tits keep appearing on the feeders as well as the usual blue & great tits.

No more squirrels so far!

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.