Tag Archives: potatoes

Seemed Like Summer – Briefly

Temperatures last week got into the mid-20’s degC for a couple of days and for most of the week it was really too hot to spend a lot of time in the garden during the middle of the day and the greenhouse was unbearable! Previously since my last post the weather had been cold and rainy so it was quite a dramatic change.

Despite all that there has been progress, though not as much as would have normally taken place by this time of year and some aspects are really behind.

So, what’s been done? Well the tomatoes that had germinated are now in a grow-bag in the greenhouse, rather three are in on and one in a second. Until today that was the sum total of vegetables planted in their final place. However, a burst of activity today saw me planting potatoes (‘desiree’) in the furthest bed and some cabbage and cauliflower seedlings in the bed alongside the greenhouse. I’m sorry to say I bought the brassicas from a DIY centre, well I’ve never had a lot of success with brassicas but last years cauliflowers gave me some hope. Those plants came from seedlings bought in the same place, so when I saw some this year I though they might be worth a go and they mostly fill a bed up. I’ve put one of my new larger cloches over most of them and those that didn’t fit under have clear plastic bottle halves over them to act as mini-greenhouses.

Three of the tomato plants safely in the growbag  (the fourth one is now in the bag in front)

Apart from that the seed germinating situation hasn’t been going too well with so far not too many of the vegetable seeds I’ve planted over the last month showing any signs yet. Some of the seeds sown a while back have produced though, the coriander (in a pot) is through and one! mangetout pea has appeared. The same sort of story is true for the flower seeds, though I do have some cosmos seedlings which were in a tray and now transplanted into individual pots. A second sowing in a half tray of sunflower ‘teddy bear’ (new seed) has produced a few seedlings.

Rather sadly one of the two cucumbers that had germinated and been re-potted into larger pots didn’t make it through one of the cold nights in the greenhouse so only one now. More seeds have been planted, and some from a new packet (‘cornichon’ baby cucumber ‘vert petit de paris’ – one has just germinated) plus I’ve planted squash (butternut F1 hunter) which I haven’t tried before and some french/dwarf beans as well as a couple of climbing beans. More tomatoes seeds also mostly of the smaller types (‘garnet’ & ‘sweet aperitif’) and some ‘gardeners delight’. Also sown and waiting for some to show are basil, russian tarragon. I’ve also, sown some carrots in the old tank I’ve used before (Nantes & )

The broad beans now – the slowest growing are the ones sown in the Autumn! (the furthest away)

Meanwhile the bedding plants bought online and at the DIY centre are piling up. I keep being surprised by deliveries of plants arriving at the house that I forgot I ever ordered – then having to hastily pot them up into big pots or matrix trays (which I had to do for 36 geraniums in the greenhouse heat last week!). I have made a start on clearing the borders ready for them now. It’s a shame but I’ll be pulling up a load of self-seeded forget-me-nots during the week. Normally they would be just about finished before I needed to clear them out but this year the weather has delayed them somewhat but they will just have to go.

A selection of flowers and veg seedlings under the ‘cold frame’

I did finally get round to mending the damaged raised bed at the end of last week so that’s now ready for action – though on my plan it has ‘TBD’ against it….

The repaired raised bed. The lone plant is a phlox which somehow managed to escape replanting last year – now planted in the flower border. Note the replacement side is higher quality timber – more or less accidental but there wasn’t much choice

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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

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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.

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!

 

A Little Progress

What’s been happening over the last few weeks you ask? Well not a lot really in the garden – mostly because I’ve had plenty of other things to do.

I can’t even use the weather as an excuse, it’s been mostly much milder and dryer than it should be – which has meant that in the flower beds plant have been flowering when really they should have been ready for composting.

However, gradually I have cleared all the raise beds bar one with some turnips left in it and the one with strawberries of course. All the potatoes have been dug up (well I’m sure there are some small ones left that will produce annoying shoots next year). Indeed all the potatoes – for there weren’t that many – have been consumed and they were pretty good.

So today I finally removed the tomato plants and growbags from inside the greenhouse – I’d been hoping some remaining green tomatoes would ripen but no luck. So that’s cleared some space in the greenhouse now. The chilli pepper plants are just about hanging on – some chillies are ripe but I suspect not many more will ripen fully. We have one plant on the kitchen window, on which most of the peppers are ripe, and they have been used in our cooking already. I removed the last sweet pepper plant today, it was only there as I hadn’t got round too it since I had harvested the last pepper a couple of weeks ago. I also moved a couple of lemon grass plants (growing in small pots) into the kitchen before they could be zapped by frost (one plant was already in the kitchen).

The big news though is that some planting happened today! Yes one of the raised beds is now planted with garlic (White Casablanca) – in fact in the ex-potato bed. Plus three cloves in a large pot (I’ve grown garlic successfully in it previously.

The only other work was to plant the last of the pack of 50 daffodils at the bottom of the garden. There are a fair number of daffodil bulbs there already, but most are ‘blind’ so a few more flowers will look good in the spring.

No pics this time. but I may add later.

Wildlife

The trail cam revealed hedgehogs still active into October and greenfinches have been active on the feeders.

Only one squirrel has been seen round the feeders in the mast coupe of months – and that one has been evicted!

Pulling Up Stuff

It had to come – I have managed to get into the garden and clear some of the raised beds. So a couple of weeks ago I got rid of what was left of the broad beans, since then I’ve cleared out the mangetout bed, and taken up the three tomato plants growing in one bed. The garlic bed was cleared a few weeks ago (see below) and I have begun to harvest the potatoes – just 2 of the rows so far and we had some for dinner on Sunday.

The garlic bulbs hanging ready to use

The garlic bulbs hanging ready to use

First harvest of potatoes (though some had been cooked already before this picture)

First harvest of potatoes (though some had been cooked already before this picture)

The dwarf beans and climbing beans will be next (actually since writing this I’ve pulled up the dwarf beans, so that’s another bed done).

Where the mangetout peas were...

Where the mangetout peas were…

The tomato harvest is mostly over and we’ve had to prepare only one batch of tomato sauce, mostly based on the ‘pomodoro’ variety. Altogether though I don’t think it has been a brilliant year for the tomatoes but they haven’t overwhelmed us. Can’t say the same for the courgettes – still producing and I have four in the fridge and several more on the plants – and a few massive ones that escaped attention until they were too big just went straight to the compost. Dreadful I know but there isn’t too much that can be done with courgettes. Oh and I found one more cucumber (‘burpless’) today – though I suspect it is the last.

Greenhouse tomatoes now a bit bare

Greenhouse tomatoes now a bit bare

The grapes I harvested have now been converted into grapes juice, very nice too, I had some with my meal this evening.

I’m now harvesting sweet peppers from the greenhouse, better crop this year we’ve already eaten on large pepper which had turned orange. The remainder aren’t quite as big and are only just starting to turn colour but are good enough to use. Meanwhile the chilli peppers are still turning red, and the variety doesn’t start green but a sort of greenish-white.

Sweet peppers - waiting to ripen

Sweet peppers – waiting to ripen

Chilli peppers (prairie fire) ready to ripen

Chilli peppers (prairie fire) ready to ripen

Chilli peppers - becoming ripe!

Chilli peppers – becoming ripe!

I’ve been finding a few raspberries and the odd strawberry to add to my breakfast cereal, but I don’t think there will be many more now.

I’ll have to do some planting soon though, mostly spring flowers pansies and suchlike as the tiny seedlings are now big enough. Also, the containers some of them will be planted in are now at the end of their flowering period so I’ll be emptying them soon.

Spring flower seedlings - ready to go in now

Spring flower seedlings – ready to go in now

Just to show that flowers are still hanging on in the garden, here are a couple of pics taken today:

Nicotiana

Nicotiana

Penstemon

Penstemon

Wildlife

Just birds to report – greenfinches still going through the sunflower seeds, and I can hear long-tailed tits quite often plus the odd house-sparrow on the seed feeder. Also while I’m in the garden I can hear robins complaining with their alarm call all the time from the hedge nearby.