Tag Archives: strawberries

I’ve Bin Plantin!

Yes, progress at last. Weather is still all over the place with rain, wind, some sun and this morning a frost (first for a while) and temperatures varying from 0 to +13degC in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, I was finally prompted into action by a bit of sunshine and planted a whole raised bed with broad beans. I should have planted some last autumn really but  somehow I missed that opportunity. Two varieties – ‘aquadulce’ and ‘the sutton’ – about half the bed each. Planted, as usual, much closer than recommended but who has the space they want you to use? This is more space dedicated to broad beans than usual but I do have more beds to fill!

The garlic plated a couple of weeks ago is now just producing shoots although I notice the tops of some have been nibbled – I suspect pigeons!  The strawberry plants are now coming on – apart from a few (see bottom LH corner of pic below) – I will be talking to the supplier about them!:

Strawberry plantlets mostly growing now

Strawberry plantlets mostly growing now

Just today I’ve had to cut the holly hedge on one side of the garden – which has been growing regardless of the time of the year, plus I’ve pruned some of the blackcurrant bushes – though there are still more to do….

Just to illustrate further the way things are growing here are the daffodils in my lawn – they have been in full flower for more than a week now (compare with last post):

Lovely daffodils!

Lovely daffodils! Now fully out

Wildlife

The trailcam at the bottom of the garden has revealed that at least one hedgehog is still active thanks to the warm winter. Also I’ve spotted a different fox from our regular visitor – which is easily recognisable by having a very thin tail, not very brush-like. The new one has a proper ‘brush’, the the ‘thin tail’ one is still around.

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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.

Fresh Strawberries

Sure sign of summer – some of my strawberries – the ‘climbing’ ones in a container had ripe berries – so I picked two to cut up and have with my breakfast cerial

Two strawberries - yum

Two strawberries – yum

Strawberry plants - looks like a few more will be ready soon...

Strawberry plants – looks like a few more will be ready soon…

 

Sunshine at Last

Well a couple of days of sunshine at least – after more windy days which didn’t help things in the garden at all. We have had a couple of days of rain as well so the garden isn’t too dry  – yet. Another couple of days of sunshine will prompt me to deploy the hosepipe I think – too many flowers and crops at risk!

Once again my my main emphasis has been on the flower section and planting many, many plants –  but that is almost done now.

In the veg section all the raised beds are in use now and will soon be full (though that depends a bit on seeds producing something). The main advance has been planting the excess tomato plants – still in large pots – into the end of one bed. A bit of an experiment really since I had all the excess plants. So I now have around 20 tomato plants of various sorts out in the garden plus the 9 in the greenhouse – we are going to have a freezer full of tomato sauce at the end of the season!

Elsewhere I have sown rows of radish, spinach & radish in the same bed as the lollo rosso. I need to sow some more lettuce now really as well.

The pak choi is already threatening to flower and we haven’t used any yet! Must sow some ore of that as well. I did harvest a couple of the ‘rats tail’ radishes the other day to add to a bowl of salad though.

Broad beans - just about ready

Broad beans (middle of picture) – just about ready

The ‘cut n come’ again salad leaves (in the long container) are now waiting to ‘come again’, and I’ve removed the salad leaves occupying half of the container as they had gone to flower and I’ve reseeded with some more salad leaves (they are just starting to come up). The nearby row of rocket has burst into flower, but there is another row with seedlings about an inch high next to them.

Salad leaves - and section recently seeded

Salad leaves – and section recently seeded – some seedlings jut appearing

All the potato plants are up in the original potato bed, and another bed (the one that had perennial in) now is full of rows of a mixture of ‘charlotte’ and ‘maris piper’.

On the tomato front the container near the kitchen seems to be working well, and the ones outside the greenhouse are coming on fairly well ( I’ve removed the protection now). Meanwhile the plants in the greenhouse are flourishing  so much so that checking for side-shoots and watering is now fairly tricky – I will have to remove some of the lower leaves soon so that I can see what is going on.

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse

In the greenhouse the peppers and aubergines are in big pots now and probably in their final location. Some courgette seedlings are just coming through, and more beans, both climbing and dwarf should be through soon.

The climbing and dwarf beans outside have had a hard time though with the winds and lack of sun so haven’t really grown much, but maybe the last few days of warmer weather will get them going. However, there are broad bean pods now – I think we may well be having some young tender beans this weekend! Needless to say the blackfly have appeared as well, though only a couple of plants affected so far.

Broad beans just about ready

Broad beans just about ready

The first two rows of mangetout peas are now really high and just staring to flower – the more recent plantings haven’t grown much thanks to the whether but as with the beans should get going now. I must plant more of both mangetout and ‘normal’ peas in the greenhouse this weekend if possible though.

Mangetput peas - in flower now and one or two small pods

Mangetput peas – in flower now and one or two small pods

One cucumber plant is now in the ‘covered’ bed along with a couple of aubergine plants – not sure if they will produce there but we’ll see. I’ve got a couple more cucumber plants – one will go in the raised bed next to the covered one and the other probably in a pot – so we’ll see how the different approaches work.

One the fruit side, apples are set and growing ok, plenty of currants of all types, and the ‘climbing’ strawberries are producing = some will be ripe this week I think.

Strawberries - just starting to ripen now

Strawberries – just starting to ripen now

Wildlife

Well I’ve evicted three squirrels in the last month but another appeared a couple of days ago – have seen it again since though.

There have been a lot of baby great tits around the feeders the last few days, freshly fledged but still expecting to be fed. A couple of baby blackbirds have been around as well.

Raised Bed Progress

A burst of activity the other day while it was fine saw me construct a new raised bed farm from the wood I’ve had ready for a while now – months in fact. The need to use some of the soil I had delivered ages ago as well drove me on.

So having put the frame together I had to clear the area I’d identified as the location which meant a session of weed removal, then some levelling of the ground – which was slightly tricky as part of the area was covered with the remains of turves (upside down of course) taken from my lawn when I created a new flower bed over a year ago.

Once the frame was in place then I had the hard work of filling it with soil  – multiple barrow loads of course. See pic below of work in progress:

New raised bed being filled

New raised bed being filled

Now I have to buy some more wood for more beds – three are planned for plot B and sort out the paths around the new bed.

I also managed to do odd bits of work elsewhere, and finally chopped down the tomato plants outside the greenhouse and consigned the bits to compost. I also tackled the ones inside the greenhouse – though one plant is left in the optimistic hope that the tomatoes left on it will fully ripen. As that has created some room I moved the climbing strawberries (which are in a container) as they were still producing in the hope that I might get a few more strawberries from them. Incidentally, there was an illustration of the warm autumn weather when our corner shop still had punnets of locally picked strawberries for sale as recently as just over a week ago!

I managed to give the empty raised beds a bit of weeding and forked the soil over so they now look quite tidy, unlike their surroundings….

There is still plenty of hedge cutting to do and lots of annual flowers to take out from the flower part of the garden, apart from all the weeding that needs doing. Then there are the fruit bushes to prune and the greenhouse to tidy….

Not really any harvesting now but there are a few carrots left (had some with Sunday lunch) and amazingly a few raspberries still.

Wildlife

The seed feeders, though mostly the one with sunflower seeds in, are being visited regularly. The ground feeder station is also quite popular, at least judging by the fact that the seed is consumed fairly rapidly, mostly dunnocks and robins visiting I think. I haven’t put any more fat balls or bits out recently as the ones I put out earlier in the year seemed to have been ignored and just went mouldy – I’ll wait until we get a few frosts as I suspect there is plenty of natural food still available.

I’ve also recently had trouble with cat(s) digging in the raised beds and crapping there – up until a few months ago there hadn’t been a problem so new cats must have appeared in the neighbourhood. I’ll need to redeploy the ultrasonic cat scarers but it’s hard to cover the raised beds effectively.

I took another squirrel away for a holiday the other day, but rather irritatingly another has appeared and in fact I’ve put the trap out even while I type this post – the squirrel cam back, ignored the trap and climbed the feeder pole to get at the sunflower seeds – so I had to go out again and re-grease the pole with vaseline with chilli powder mixed in – not only does it make it hard to climb the poles but it puts them off the whole idea if they lick their paws.

Summer – the Return!

With temperatures today back as high as 19 degC this is not like Autumn! Although we’ve had some rain recently, and the odd night that has been cold temperatures `mostly we’ve had temps in the teens, and it looks like being warmer over the next couple of days. Even as I type at 9:30am it is 15.5degC.
Some ideal weather for getting out in the garden and getting on with all the jobs that need doing you would think – except – other things have got in the way so progress has been slow.

The clement weather has meant that there are still strawberries and raspberries ripening, and the tomatoes that are left are still ripening, though some plants are finished now.

Ailsa Craig ripening outside greenhouse

Ailsa Craig hopefully ripening outside greenhouse

Pomdoro tomatoes still ripening in the greenhouse
Pomdoro tomatoes still ripening in the greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The salad leaves I planted in a container a few weeks ago are growing well, and I’ve moved them into the greenhouse – though with the current weather that now seems unnecessary!

I have started some clearing up though, the courgette and cucumber plants are all in the compost now along with the remains of the peas and climbing beans. I have started  to weed the raised beds as well, though there is more to do.

Raised Beds - still need weeding!

Raised Beds – still need weeding! (and the remains of the mangetout peas in near bed to be taken to compost)

I have managed to finish planting out all the winter bedding plants I had, except for a few wallflowers. Most went into containers and others into the front garden. I’ve still got some bulbs to plant out though.
Mentioning bulbs reminds me, the garlic I planted a couple of weeks is already sprouting, what’s embarrassing is that I have more garlic cloves to plant out – must try and do that in the next few days. I suspect the sprouting has been encouraged by the mild weather – should be interesting to see how well a second batch does in comparison.

Garlic sprouting already

Garlic sprouting already

There is still pruning and hedge trimming to do – I may even have to cut the grass again if the weather keeps being warm.

Just as a sign of the contrast between the season and the actual weather – as well as having the nasturtiums in full flower, the winter flowing jasmine is also out now.

Wildlife

Still plenty of frogs and toads around, lets hope there isn’t a sudden very cold snap to catch them out. Also, judging by the few birds taking advantage of the bird food, there must still be a lot of natural food around. Also, v few pigeons have visited the garden recently, whether that is because the ground food is less available thanks to the ‘cage’ (see previous post).

More worrying a black cat has a appeared in the garden a couple of times – so I need to boost and relocate the ultrasonic cat scarers I think.

Having taken a squirrel on holiday a couple of weeks ago – another turned up the other day so I’m on the lookout now…..

Climbing Beans A-Plenty

Just thought I would harvest some climbing (and dwarf) beans for our dinner this evening – and this is what I came up with:

Plenty of Beans!

Plenty of Beans!

Only slightly deceptive as there is a courgette and a few mangetout peas lurking at the bottom of the basket – but nevertheless more than we can eat today or even tomorrow, or the day after…

The broad beans were dying back so I pulled them up today and rescued a few pods left over.  I always feel slightly guilty as some of the plants were shooting and flowering from the base and yes I know you can cut the tops down and maybe get a few more beans – but in my experience it doesn’t work too well. Anyway this many beans are to be incorporated in our meal:

The last broad beans...

The last broad beans…

Plenty of small tomatoes are now in the fridge as well as four courgettes at the last count – another surplus building up I think. Also, the cucumber are being more successful this year, only two plants but looks like they are going to produce faster than they can be eaten as well, already had a couple with more growing on the plants – not so easy to store either.

Raspberries are still producing well, but I noticed this morning that the birds (I presume) have had all the blueberries now, even the ones not quite ripe, so that’s a lesson for next year – they need netting!

Other fruit – well I’ve picked around a pound of brambles (blackberries) and there are plenty more waiting to be picked. The climbing strawberries are still producing, though only the odd one or two at a time – still they are good to add to my breakfast cereal when available.

Weather

We’ve had some showers over the last few days which have been quite welcome as it has meant I haven’t had to spend so much time watering – especially as I wanted to rush in as fast as possible to watch the Commonwealth Games…. Still quite warm though, and sunny and dry again today.

Wildlife

Not much to say, the buddleia has still been alive with Peacock butterflies, I counted over a dozen at one point, and I spotted a couple of Red Admirals today.