Tag Archives: hedgehog

Feels Like Spring – Again

Now as I write this (Thursday 29th) it feels like spring, it is sunny right now, but we had -1degC last night and this weekend promises to be cold again, though not as bad a previous events!

All this meant that as I had put the cucumber seedlings into the greenhouse the other day, I had to move them onto the bench with a tube heater under to make sure the frost didn’t zap them. This morning they ;looked a little sad but did seem to have survived.

Well whats been done since my last post? Starting with the last couple of days I’ve been busy potting on 72 bedding plants (gazania & bidens) which arrived as tiny plantlets in their little plastic holders and had to be potted into something pretty much straight away.

Since only 2 cucumber seeds germinated, botth the same type (baby), I’ve planted the remaining seeds from the ‘burpless’ variety in a pot (in the kitchen) to see if I can persuade them to produce.

The flower seeds in one of the heated propagators – 4 pots of various sweet peas and 4 pots of various sunflowers haven’t produced much unfortunately. there are  only 7 sweet pea seedlings (out of a possible 16) and no sunflowers. So I’ve sown some more sunflower seeds (teddy bear) and they are in the kitchen with the cucumbers in a plastic bag – hopefully a better environment.

Sweet pea seedlings at the back – sunflower pots nearest with no seedlings!

It’s not the only failure, a half tray of cosmos (2 varieties) in the lounge near the french window have not produced anything. A second half tray, split between nicotiana and rudbeckia, has produced just 8 rudbeckia seedlings – not very good at all.  new batch will need to be sown pretty soon though and I think I will need some new seed.

Also, I’ve sown some coriander in a pot in the greenhouse to see if they produce (oldish seed so not sure of the viability). Plus a pot of mangetout peas (oregon sugar snap) so hopefully to get peas soon…

Also, I’ve now plated out the remainder of the broad bean seedlings into the bed, which is now full (see below)

Broad bean bed now full – mostly ‘De Monica’ nearest and ‘Aquadulce the further half

Last week I had a good go at the ivy and branches of the old pear tree in the middle of the veg garden, hopefully before any serious bird nesting has occurred (the ivy is pretty thick around the trunk and is nested in every year) – it needs to be kept trim so there is less shadow over the beds in the summer.

The garlic bed is now looking pretty good now I’ve filled it up:

Garlic bed – 2 types, bigger plants were planted last year

Finally, I have taken the time to try and properly plan the raised bed contents so I have an idea what other seeds to buy, if any. More on that later when I’ve had time to properly document it.

The very first raised bed I constructed (from a kit, had kale in it last year) suffered some damage to one side over the winter, basically one side has rotted enough to more or less fall off, so I’ve mad a start at moving the soil away so I can add a new side, just needs me to buy the wood now!

Broken side of raised bed

I found some rather large fancy cloches/cold frames in a local shop recently – unfortunately slightly shorter than the raised beds and slightly wider than half the width, but they were a bargain and are over a couple of the beds now – we’ll see how useful they are.

New cloche/cold frame (green) with my old cloches nearest

I think I know which bed the potatoes will go in, and the ‘chitting’ potatoes (desiree) on a tray in the greenhouse have shoots on, but still pretty small, with the weather still pretty poor I guess I won’t plant until after Easter any way.

Wildlife

A review of one of the trail cameras at the bottom of the garden revealed that at least one hedgehog is active. which is encouraging

Another surprise turned up on the bird ground feeder the other day – I took some photos of a bird with my zoom camera, not because I recognised it but it just seemed to be behaving differently from the usual robin or dunnock. Then when I looked at the photo  I could see it was a blackcap (after I’d consulted my ‘bird book’) – as the photo was taken through the kitchen window it isn’t as sharp as it could be but here it is:

A surprise blackcap

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

Bean Harvesting Plus

The climbing beans have been producing like mad and I harvested a huge amount the other day plus several cucumbers and a large courgette – it had managed to escape my gaze somehow despite being bright yellow……

Climbing beans (3 varieties), cucumbers & courgette

Meanwhile the tomatoes are coming to an end – the ‘tumbling tom’ variety is still producing, and one plant at the bottom of the garden in a container (planted late as I couldn’t decide what to do with the seedling) is just starting to fruit. The bigger fruit varieties however have only a few tomatoes left to ripen.

Tomato plants in greenhouse – almost finished now

As mentioned the courgette plants are producing and I’m trying to avoid the usual glut by picking them quite early. Most are ending up in stir-fries along with some of the climbing beans.

The pepper plants in the greenhouse now have one or two peppers almost ready for harvesting.

Pepper plants

The cannellini bean pods are quite big now but are they ready I wonder?

Cannellini bean pods

Wildlife

Finches are working through the bird seed like mad and the trail cameras have revealed that the fox with the thin tail is still around plus several (more than one you can tell by the size) hedgehogs wandering backwards and forwards. Plus of course the usual cats of course.

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.

Some Rain after a Dry Spell

Apologies for this post – started on the 20th May but then after problems with uploading pictures it never was finished…….

Over the last few days we’ve had a fair amount of rain, which was needed as previously we’d had a long period with virtually no rain so the garden really needed it. In fact I’d been driven to getting the hosepipe on the garden – and a day later it started rain of course!

There has been some progress – a few things have made their way out of the greenhouse into the garden.

Four climbing beans – different varieties – are now in the garden. Probably a bit early but they were getting rather leggy in the greenhouse.

Climbing beans – after a few days.

One of  the cucumber plants is now under the ‘door’ protection – again it was getting too big for its pot in the greenhouse.

Cucumber just getting going.- it is a ‘burpless’ I think

Meanwhile the kale is hanging on ok and hasn’t been attacked too much:

Kale plants

The potatoes are coming on well:

Potato plants – earthed up already

The cauliflower plants are ok – one or two leaves have been attacked ?pigeons?

Cauliflower plants – still with ‘CD scarers’

and the broad beans are in full flower but I still haven’t ‘strung them’ yet but being ‘The Sutton’ they aren’t very tall and have managed to survive so far.

The Sutton beans in flower

The mangetout peas are thriving (a mixture including ‘Oregon  Sugar Pod’) and now need support canes

Mangetout peas

The one real disaster is the carrots which after only a few germinated the seedlings were all destroyed – slugs or pigeons – I’m not sure. So yet another sowing will have to go in….

Wildlife

On the bird front, not much to report. The robins have a nest in one hedge – I can hear the chicks when I’m working nearby. Not much variation at the bird table – just the dunnocks (on the ground), robins and blue/great tits plus the odd blackbird. There is a pair of magpies nesting in one tree alongside the garden which is rather annoying, I just hope they done’ have a go at any of the chicks that there must be in addition to the robins.

At the bottom of the garden the trail camera has shown the hedgehog(s) to be active and even coming into the main garden at least once.

 

Peas & Tomatoes Plus

(Actually written 14th April but not posted until now)

Yes I have enough tomato seedlings already although at least one variety hasn’t produced any seedlings – perhaps just as well really. I’ve now got the growbags ready to put some of them in – most have been re-potted from their original pots to give them room to keep growing in the meantime.

My first batch of mangetout peas are now in the raised bed 6 making up almost 2 rows. The second batch germinated in pots is now acclimatising outside the greenhouse and I’ll plant them in the bed in the next couple of days. The peas were originally protected by some mesh as they are a favourite for the pigeons when young. Now though I’ve created one o f my CD bird scarers to keep them off.

I bought some trays of bedding plants during the week and while buying those I noticed a tray of cauliflowers which I bought so I have some replacements for the ones that may now survive in the raised bed.

Wildlife

I went through  the pictures on the trail cam from the bottom of the garden and found, apart from a number of cats, that the hedgehogs are active now – quite busy going backwards and forwards in fact. Plus a squirrel – which hasn’t invaded the rest of the garden yet though – at least nor while I’ve been looking.

 

A New Year – Not much goin’ on

Well here we are in February and the garden is a wasteland – full of weeds as the winter hasn’t really been that cold (9 degC on Thursday!) so they have kept on growing and the lawn is muddy as we’ve had enough rain just to keep it wet.

All in all I’ve not felt much like working in the garden and there have been more important things to deal with inside in any case. I’m also missing encouragement  from my neighbour (no longer here).

All I’ve done recently is a bit of hedge cutting – particularly in the flower border area as it’s the best time to give it a good cut (the section is mainly holly) while the perennials etc. aren’t growing. I’ve also chopped down the remains of the nettle patch at the bottom of the garden. I’m hoping to insert an open composting heap into that area this year as I seem to be generating so much compost now – three bins on the go!

Regardless of my efforts things are growing – the garlic is coming along nicely and the two rows of ‘The Sutton’ broad beans are now up (see below)

Broad Beans just appearing

Broad Beans just appearing

The fact that the Autumn planted beans are up highlights the fact that I should be spending some time in the greenhouse getting some more beans planted into pots – I’ve just restored the WiFi connection in the greenhouse in anticipation – well sitting in there planting needs a bit of entertainment!

Bulbs are springing up all over the place of course and soon there will be daffodils appearing in flower all over the garden – but first of course are the snowdrops – not quite open yet though (see below) but this year there will be more patches of snowdrops thanks to some planting a couple of years ago.

Snowdrops - not quite open

Snowdrops – not quite open

Wildlife

A recent review of the trailcam set on the lawn watching the bird ground feeding spot near the house revealed a fox having a good look round, as well as the usual cat etc. Some good pictures of robins and dunnocks but strangely no mice at night. No hedgehogs either so maybe they are actually hibernating just now.

A couple of squirrels need to be evicted during the last month as well…