Tag Archives: lettuce

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.


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!




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


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.

Harvesting Now Fruit & Veg

Both vegetables and fruit are producing just now and the weather has been genuinely summery with temperatures in the upper 20’s for most of the last week.

The fruit harvest has been red currants a couple of weeks ago over 1.5 pounds, and currently raspberries, close to a pound now in the freezer and the bushes are still producing.



The gooseberry bushes have berries on that look to be ripe now – and since starting this blog I’ve picked them Over 2lb of the red berries and about half a pound of green ones.

Red gooseberries  - nice and sweet

Red gooseberries – nice and sweet

Green berries - not as many of these

Green berries – not as many of these

and the blackcurrants are close to being ready.

Blackcurrants - not quite ready

Blackcurrants – not quite ready

The strawberry plants are just producing a new set of flowers so it will be a while before any more strawberries. Some of the blueberries look to be ripening, though it doesn’t look like there will be as many as last year.

Meanwhile I’m harvesting climbing beans, and one of the varieties is producing yellow beans (don’t know the name as it was a pack of ‘mixed’ varieties)

Yellowish climbing beans - they are quite tasty though

Yellowish climbing beans – they are quite tasty though

The ‘dwarf’ beans are just at the point of producing, there are tiny beans at the moment but it won’t be long…

The broad beans have been pretty poor in contrast, we’ve only had a couple of helpings of beans and several plants didn’t produce a single pod.. I can only blame the weather, no idea what caused the problem apart from that as the plants seem healthy enough.

The mangetout have been producing for over a month now and are still producing, mainly because I have planted new rows at intervals.

Mangetout  ready for picking

Mangetout ready for picking

Also the courgettes are now producing pleant – I’m trying to pick them while small to avoid the usual glut – but i’m sure we’ll eventually be overwhelmed….

Small courgettes

Small courgettes

and I’ve already picked a cucumber:

Cucumber - a few days before being picked

Cucumber – a few days before being picked

Plus tomatoes are beginning to ripen – just the small ones at the moment but it won’t be long before some of the larger varieties are ready

Ripening tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes

The salad crops I planted a while ago haven’t been terrifically successful – the radish are ok but the salad leaves and lettuce rows are rather sparse, but there may be some leaves worth harvesting.

I’ve now dug up the garlic bulbs and they are just drying on the bed but they don’t look to be as good as last year but perfectly acceptable.

So that’s the harvesting situation just now..

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


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.


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.