Tag Archives: raised beds

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.

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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.

Still Not Really Winter

Despite a couple of nights where the temperature did actually get below zero, it’s been pretty mild since the last post. It’s around 10degC today for instance, though quite windy. We have had a reasonable amount of rain though, enough to curtail work outside on several days.

I have managed to get out and work a few days since the last post – so now six out of the eleven raised beds are clear, and two and a half are seeded with winter green manure – though only one is showing seedlings at the moment.

Green manure sprouting

Green manure sprouting

All the crop plants from inside the greenhouse are now being composted, so what’s left in the greenhouse now are the winter bedding plants from a plant supplier, at various stages.

Speaking of the bedding plants, I did get round to planting some of them out today into containers – all of which are underplanted with bulbs as well so now there are some pansies, bellis and sweet williams learning how to cope with the weather outside the greenhouse.

I have been puling up some of the dead and dying annual flower plants from the borders as well as I spot them, though the way the weather has been they’ve hung on rather longer than they should.

Wildlife

No a lot to report really, I’ve had trail cameras at the bottom of the garden and watching the bird feeders. The first has shown that the hedgehog(s) have probably gone into hibernation as there weren’t any sightings in November, the only thing of not beside the multiple cats was a visit from the fox we’ve seen before (it has a rather non-bushy and ‘bent’ tail).

The bird feeder camera revealed visits from green-finches and long-tailed tits as well as the frequent great tit and robin visits as well as some desperate attempts by magpies to hang onto the fat block feeder. The speed that a great tit can land on the feeder with sunflower seeds, grab a seed and fly off has to be seen to be believed! The feeder needs refilling at least once a week as a result.

Maybe Summer Is Here?

Well a couple of days where temperature have topped 20DegC, maybe – but we still had high winds and morning temp of less than 14DegC only the other day so I’m not yet convinced – and neither are my plants, particularly the climbing & french beans.

However the big emphasis over the last couple of weeks has been planting out lots of flowers, both perennials and annuals as in just over a week our garden will be open to the public for a coupe of days! So panic… The other major task has been sorting out the paths between the raised beds which of course I’d not bothered with when I put the beds in since there was only me wandering between them – still it’s a good thing to have got them done – almost.

Meanwhile I’m harvesting mangetout peas and broad beans plus strawberries (just enough to go with my breakfast cereal).

Broad Bean & Mangetout Harvest

Broad Bean & Mangetout Harvest

One or two minus point – I planted a half row (along the length of a raised bed) of ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce, which germinated nicely along the whole low, then I sowed the other half with a different mix of lettuce, which also germinated along the whole length – until…. a few days later half the row disappeared! Either slug or pigeons, so I covered it with an old fireguard and scattered a few slug pellets around. The lollo rosso is ok I thought – and then half that lot went! So more slug pellets and a covering – so we’ll see.

I do have one cucumber on one of the plants but the others (2 of them) don’t look like producing anytime soon. I have managed to plant two courgettes at last though.

Some other sowings have been a bit disappointing as well in particular some ‘baby leeks’ which I’ve grown before, to be fair the seed was a bit old but also the cos lettuce (maybe also got by pigeons?), leaf beet, beetroot and spinach only have produce a few seedlings.

The french beans and climbing beans really haven’t groen much at all over the last few weeks thanks to the weather – so if we do get some more sunshine now maybe they will take off – I’ve still got a few more dwarf bean plants to plant out.

The tomatoes are all going well and I’ve ‘stopped’ all of those in growbags in the greenhouse as they gave 3 or 4 trusses now and all have the first truss set at least so I’m feeding them. Those outside the greenhouse i growbags aren’t quite as advanced as you might expect but some have tomatoes on already as have the ones in the raise bed. The plants near the kitchen don’t seem quite as happy, not sure why as they get the best of the sun.

Wildlife

Plenty of frogs after rain last week and a few toads, and as usual they are occupying some of the growbag holes in the greenhouse – so whenever i water it creates a bit of chaos as they all seem to bject.

The robin (or a robin?) has appeared whenever I’ve been working in the garden – so keen that I as was kneeling and clearing some weeds it hopped right in front of me to investigate – so now I’ve learned just to stay still when it appears and it will happily hop around my feet collecting morsels. I suspect it is feeding chicks (again?) as I can hear them calling in the hedges when it flies off.

Dried mealworms are still very popular on the feeders and on the ground station plus sunflower seeds are going at a fair rate from the seed feeder and a ‘fat block’ is being pecked through with enthusiasm. It’s been encouraging that some of the birds are house sparrows feeding chicks so maybe a few will stay around.

The trail camera shows hedgehog and fox still around but no new sighting of the badger. I’ve been working in the area that they pass through so maybe the changes have put the badger off for the time being.

A new squirrel has appeared and seems not to like peanuts so can’t be tempted into the trap for now – keeps climbing the bird feeders and wrecking the feeders trying to get at the seed etc. – I’ll need to keep an eye on that situation.