Tag Archives: raised beds

Been Plantin’ Already!

Following yesterdays rather delayed post and review, a sunny but cold day led me to spend a bit of time in the garden and actually get on with some of the planting that is overdue.

I bought some garlic cloves online recently and one batch of autumn sowing garlic arrived the other day (variety ‘Marco’) so they were making me feel guilty. Also, a few days ago I bought a bag of tulip bulbs and a bigger bag of narcissi so I felt I ought to make a start planting them.

The garlic went into half a raised bed:

Bed with garlic in top half

There should be another lot of cloves arriving soon – hopefully still in time for me to plant.

The tulips and narcissi (well some of them) I put into one of the long containers we originally had annuals in during this year.

Of course the Robin appeared within a couple of minutes of me starting work in the garden. I initially was raking the bed where the potatoes were, and the Robin was being pretty bold almost getting raked itself! After I’d planted the garlic  needed to go into the greenhouse, only to find the robin had followed me in! Cheeky thing.

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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!

 

 

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.

Raised Beds All Ready To Go

Today I finally got the last raised bed cleared of weeds and forked over. A couple of course, are already in use, having garlic and broad beans growing in them and one is full of strawberry plants. but all the rest were just a bit weedy and needed forking over.

To some of them I’ve added the spent compost from the tomato growbags of last year where there is space to do that. I’ve still got two more growbags full to put somewhere though – probably onto some of the flower beds.

The raised bed I use as a sort of cold frame with an old door propped over it needed a bit of work as the soil was leaking out thanks to a ground level change so there was a space underneath one edge (it’s been like that since I built it but I’ve ignored it so far). So I finally put another board inside the bed to plug the leak – then re-spread all the contents along with a growbag of compost.

In the greenhouse most of the broad beans are now showing shoots – need to wait a bit longer to see if there any failures and if so I’ll stick some more beans into pots.

‘The Sutton’ shoots a few days ago so there are more now

There is still plenty of clearing up to do and I have still some flower plants in pots to plant out yet – they have been hanging on all winter so they must be hardy!

Inside the house,  the sweet peas I sowed a couple of weeks ago are now shooting. No sign yet though of the tomatoes and peppers in their plastic bag covering.

The daffodils in the main flower bed area are in full bloom now and odd little clumps are popping up in the flower borders. The first primroses are in flower in the ‘wild’ part of the garden so spring is really here…

Daffodils in flower

The first Primrose

Wildlife

Not too much to report, just the birds, and the most notable point is the way the robins seem to appear as soon as I start work on a raised bed – once they gain confidence they are happy enough looking for food around me while I’m digging.

Friendly Robin

Maybe next time I’ll have something to report from the trail camera which has been out a few weeks now.

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!

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.

Seasons Still Confused – Have Done Some Work

Yes the seasons are still coming and going. We have had temperatures of around zero and plus 13 degrees within the last week! It’s just ridiculous.

However, in between the showers and frosts I have managed to get into the garden and do a bit. Tidying up being one of the uncompleted tasks – in particular in the ‘flower’ part f the garden – old stems, and annuals that have hung on, cutting donw a whole bunch of penstemons – which because of the weather had not ‘died off’. They are under-planted with a load of daffodils and some tulips, which to my surprise were almost ready to flower when I cut down the penstemons! The penstemons are now covered with some compost to make sure they survive any winter that we may eventually have.

Daffodils in flower already

Daffodils in flower already

In the veg section I’ve cleared up most of the raised beds now, adding compost from the growbags as needed and liming a couple as well as adding some pelleted chicken manure.

One bed has been dedicated to strawberries this year – I ordered up 24 plants of various varieties (they were on offer!) and the intention was to plant them in a hedge border which is rampant with ‘alpine style’ plants as well as some ‘proper’ strawberries after clearing it out completely and improving the soil. However, the plants turned up quicker than expected and when I started on the bed it was clear that it was going to take far too long to tidy it up – so they have gone into the nearest raised bed instead – most seem to be producing new leaves – see below

Strawberry plants just getting established

Strawberry plants just getting established

I did try to buy some new garlic bulbs before Christmas, but the garden supplier I was at had sold out. That’s how it stayed until the other day when I finally had a look at the bulbs stored from last year – which we have been gradually working our way through in cooking. Some were staring to sprout – so it seemed a good idea to use them as new plantings for this year. We seem to go through some much that I’ve dedicated a whole raised bed to them – I’ve planted around 30 bulbs – and they occupy a whole raised bed, so if they all produce we may have enough to see us through to the next harvest. Meanwhile there are still enough bulbs to see us through a few more months I think.

Bed planted with garlic - mesh protection to stop birds pulling them up

Bed planted with garlic – mesh protection to stop birds pulling them up

The ‘winter green manure’ has grown ok on the beds it’s been planted in – won’t be long before I dig it in.

'Green manure' bed

‘Green manure’ bed

Some seed potatoes turned up as well (a ‘free’ offer added onto another garden order) – they are ‘charlotte’ and currently in the greenhouse waiting to ‘chit’.

Charlotte potatoes - soon to start shooting I hope

Charlotte potatoes – soon to start shooting I hope

Wildlife

A trail camera watching a bird ground feeding station near the house captured some movies of a mouse nipping backwards and forward to collect some scraps in the middle of the night.

The birds have been a bit more active, the robins seem to be arguing about territory now for instance but there haven’t been any unusual bird sightings – we have the ‘great garden birdwatch’ this weekend – an annual survey in which all who want to participate are asked to spend a certain amount of time watching for birds in one location (garden usually) and noting the species and numbers of birds – the results help to identify declines or increases in the common species.