It really isn’t a good idea to go on holiday when it is seed planting time. This year it was ‘needs must’ as my nephew would have taken a very dim view of it if I had missed his wedding in order to coddle my ‘darlings’. In any case in any normal year the end of April should not be too much of a problem.
I sowed my seeds in tiny individual pots this year
These seeds were sown in tiny individual pots in a heated propagator to give them a good start in life. However it was SO cold that I had to bring the thing into the kitchen to get any life out of them at all!! They were visited and watered and talked to, but to no avail until it warmed up a bit outside.
Then my ‘little star’ was born. Last year I’d had disasters with butternut squash, but there he was sitting there in the tray. Small but perfectly formed.
How come a delicate squash can germinate when tomatoes refuse?!
Quite how he managed to germinate first when the tomatoes and peppers refused to come above the soil I will never know!! Then of course I had the problem that I was going away.
Just before I left, the tomatoes and peppers decided to make an appearance after about 5 weeks of sulking. They were minute and I was going away imminently. I just had to ‘pot them on’ and hope with fingers crossed. My dear neighbour did his job and came and carried on the visiting and cajoling and watering and they have continued to grow – a little bit – though they are still definitely sulking and I am too embarrassed to show you photos of them! Pathetic is the description – but not dead. The hope is that with the marginally warmer weather and longer days and now I am safely back home again, I can actually coax them into behaving in a more normal manner. I’ll let you know how I get on in future blogs.
I can’t believe how long it is since I wrote about our new strawberry bed!! It was ages before we could get it planted up – but here it is!!
As there are still frosts about we decided to cover it up when frost threatens just to give the strawberries a good start in life.
I knew there would one day be a good use for my mother-in-law’s old net curtains! They are exactly the right size to quickly cover the beds.
I knew there must be a use for the mother-in-law’s old net curtains!!
Who would have guessed it would take SO long to do! Now we are relaying all the beds in the veg patch too. First heaving all the old bricks out (over several days) in the FREEZING cold, then persuading the gardener’s mate to go into the arctic conditions to build them …
The beginnings of great things
I hope that my nex post will show great progress … and SOON.
The sun is out and I’m off up the garden to my green gym.
Tags: old curtains·raised beds·strawberries
I’m so glad that I didn’t give up with the pile of planks that I reported at the beginning of the winter!! We’d been putting up with cracking, crumbly soft wood planks and by the end of last season there was almost as much soil OUT of the cold frame as there was inside!
I’m glad I waited for this to be made for me ….
We also made the beginner mistake of not making it anything like high enough, so the poor plants kept hitting the ‘glass’ and folding over in a very unhelpful way! Now with my nicely re constructed cold frame, not only have we good treated wood that should last a nice long time, but an extra plank height too.
Over on the open ground site, we’ve put in a new raised bed for the new strawberry plants. Our old strawberry bed was in a silly place and had out lived it’s useful life too. Not to mention that this winter half of it filled up with water!! This lovely new bed (yet to be painted green so it doesn’t look so awful from the neighbour’s house!) is filled partly with our ‘home grown’ compost and the rest is some great top soil that we bought from a local company that we discovered was almost barrowing distance from the house! It looks ‘good stuff’ so we’re hoping (again) for great things! It’s currently covered with weed suppressing fabric while the soil settles (and the weather warms up a bit!) and also to deter the local felines from developing a new litter tray … We will eventually plant through the fabric. The new plants are all lined up hardening off in the new frame of course!
The even better news is that there is some top soil left over from the raised bed which we will use to top up the ‘new’ frame and if there is yet more it will be used to enrich to old strawberry patch which is in great need of tlc! I’ll let you know how we get on … meanwhile I await with bated breath while the gardener’s assistant gets round to making MORE raised beds inside the veg patch so that I will not feel quite so ashamed of showing you wide shots of my veg beds!!
As I said before you can only dream!!!
Getting the seeds for the next season is always exciting
It’s so frustrating not being able to get out and garden. It makes me realise how much I rely on my ‘outdoor gym’ for exercise and therapy. The one lovely thing that helps me keep out of the winter blues is to plan my next season’s veg. First I sit down and log what I already have and work out which seeds may actually germinate if they are a bit ancient! Then I work out what I need and order it. While I’m waiting for them to arrive, I plan on the computer how I am going to arrange them in my veg beds. I have several small beds, rather than one big bed and I try my hardest to rotate the crops. Sadly we like beans and peas so much, that I sometimes (like last year) try to squeeze far too many beans and peas into the plot! We will be eating runner beans for several months to come.
Then then the really exciting moment comes and the packets of seed drop through the door! I lay them all out as if they are precious jewels and savour each packet. Each year I try at least one new type of seed. You win some and loose some! Last year I had several ‘failures’ but let’s face it, it wasn’t the best season for experimenting, so I am attempting one or two of my ‘failures’ again!
I hope that the contents of many of my vegseeds above will feature in my monthly blogs ….
It may not look to you ….
A pile of old wood sitting in a concrete passageway may not seem much like a veg blog to you, but to me it is the promise of things to come … You see I have long been asking the Gardener’s Mate to build me a raised strawberry bed in a rather nice south facing patch of our our property. Since making this decision, I’ve discovered that the original creator of the garden also thought this was a good spot and that’s where she grew all her soft fruit, so it’s not such a silly idea. Currently the strawberries are languishing in a soggy corner of the veg plot and I really do need to dig them out, sort out the soil structure and plant something else in there for a few seasons.
It’s all part of a complete overhaul plan for the kitchen garden, built probably 40 or 50 years ago. It’s a great site nicely sheltered from the prevailing winds and parts of it are really well worked soil, but where we’ve squared it off or made new beds, it’s flinty clay over chalk, so growth even within a bed can be very patchy. By the time we’ve finished, there should be neat raised beds with sensible weed free paths between. Right now I’d be embarrassed to post a photo of it!
There are even wild dreams of a western wall instead of a nasty Leylandii hedge (inherited – wouldn’t dream of planting one) so I can indulge my fantasies of training fruit along it. We have a fence down most of that side of the garden. It is already home to summer fruiting raspberries, an ancient row of loganberries, Japanese wine berries and a recently created space for a new addition : possibly a peach tree. Elsewhere in the garden we have a autumn fruiting raspberries, black and red currants, gooseberries, a fan trained apricot and a lovely grapevine plus quite an orchard of established hard and stoned fruit. But the dream of a wall is still there waiting to be fulfilled.
I hope that one of my summer blogs will be able to show you the finished fruiting of our labours this winter and after all winter is the time to dream about things to come.
Tags: raised beds·west facing wall and fence
GETTING READY FOR THE BIG CLEAN
I suspect that I am not alone in that I hate the task of cleaning the greenhouse at the end of the season!
Last year I wasn’t well in the autumn so I left it to the Gardener’s Mate. Now he isn’t really a gardener, though terribly willing and when I eventually got back into the greenhouse, it wasn’t exactly ’clean’. It was beautifully tidy and the floor was neatly swept, but ‘the’ big task had not been done. The seasons flew by and here I am in Autumn again and I can’t put it off any longer. It must be scrubbed and de-greened!
One of my gardener friends said how much she loved the smell of Jeyes fluid. I can’t stand it! Even a drop of it seems to pervade the air for weeks. It doesn’t help that a very old can of the stuff rusted through and flooded the adjacent shed removing the surface from the shed floor and drowning some precious things including our beloved gazebo! Surely someone can come up with a ‘safer’ and less evil smelling compound. Come on fellow gardeners help me here: what can I use to that will kill the bugs and not me! I do have to admit that it is very effective and has done a brilliant job.
So our once green green greenhouse is now sparkling and I trust bug free. The winter lettuce is settling in and the tender bulbs are in there too. The peppers are still producing and I even harvested an aubergine this week, so they can remain for a while yet till I need the space. It’s rather sad saying goodbye the summer plants but very satisfying to see it fresh and clean and ready for another season.
Tags: cleaning fluids·cleaning greenhouse
It’s been a strange old year for my beans!! We love ‘em, so I planted plenty of them. Two varieties of runners (Moonlight and Scarlet Runner) and also several varieties of climbing French beans as they seem to freeze better and we love the flavour. I tried a new method of poles. I just put very long poles in a line deep in the soil. No string, wire or twine. ‘It won’t work’ said one of my best gardener friends. Well she was wrong! It worked really well, saved me ages tying them all together in wigwams or rows and has withstood the recent gales very nicely thank you!
Eventually we have had a bumper crop of runners. I was trying to decide which variety faired best on our soil but both have had their strengths. The Moonlight have produced well consistently and have not become tough towards the end of the season, but the Scarlet Runner has cropped more heavily especially towards the end of the season, though with a tendency to quickly get too long and tough if you don’t catch them young. So perhaps I’ll grow both again.
On the other-hand, my French bean were all a complete disaster. Most of them were chomped early season by an army of slugs and snails. Something was even eating my eco friendly slug pellets with gusto. We tried beer traps with a modicum of success, but as the gardener’s mate drank the remainder of the beer with as much enthusiasm, we didn’t keep up the experiment!
The French beans are far too nice to give up on yet. I can see I’ll plant just as many next year and hope that this time I can catch the munching mini beasts before they demolish them all.
Ahh the joys of gardening …..
My entire crop of French beans!!
My vertical poles did the trick nicely!
Well this has not been the best of months for me as a gardener as I’ve spent rather more of it than I would have liked lying flat in hospital! I was so aware what needed doing out there in the veg patch and among the soft fruit bushes that I began giving instructions to the Gardener’s Mate. Reports began arriving of various jobs achieved around the patch and I actually began to get quite nervous about what may be going on! The last of the early peas were harvested and eaten; the beans were watered and tended; the cucumbers obviously began cropping big time and so on. But one of the things that really got the Assistant excited were my hanging baskets of tomatoes! You may remember my blog on how to make one really cheaply using home grown ‘ingredients.’ I’m delighted to report that it seems to have worked really well again this year and they are producing by far our earliest ripened tomatoes. See for yourself!I’m delighted with them.
Our only major pest is in the greenhouse . The Gardener’s Mate didn’t notice the march of the white fly on the Aubergines, which are looking very dodgy though still productive. Out with the sugar soap tomorrow I feel. Unless of course you have a better idea perhaps?
Loads of early ripening fruit and another six or so plants the same!
Now I don’t want to state the obvious, but it’s not been the best of gardening weather has it? We made a big mistake. We went on holiday just as the drought ended and the heavens opened. Not a good idea. Our house sitter has a beautiful garden and was left full instructions. However on return there were trifid like growths all over the place and some veg were looking distinctly as if there hadn’t been ENOUGH rain … On enquiring a bit about what had transpired we discovered that it had rained so hard most of the time that they had never ventured out into the garden at all. Great … so we are now in a stage of damage limitation. Days of weeding and not a lot of harvesting. How depressing … It doesn’t make pretty pictures so I won’t bore you with pictures of lots and lots of holes in leaves and the biggest dandelions you have ever seen.
So instead here’s a cheap way of preparing hanging baskets!
First get everything ready. You will need and a hanging basket
Get everything ready
and some grass cuttings
Pack the grass cuttings into the hanging basket
Put the grass cuttings in the basket
Line the basket with plastic with holes punched in it and add a saucer or small bowl to help retain moisture
Line the basket with plastic
Fill with compost and moisture retaining gel
- Fill up with compost
Add some slow release fertiliser
- Add some slow release fertiliser
Add some plants, water very well and hang it up!
Plant up, water well and hang it up
Tags: hanging baskets·snails
Doesn’t it seem a long time since we planted the seeds! All that pent up hope and potential. March was wonderful and everything grew so fast, but whatever has happened to April and May? At long last I ventured to plant out my ever elongating beans.
I’ve tried a slightly different configuration for the poles this year. As you can see we really like beans! (There are other things growing there honest!) It can be quite windy up there – we are on a hill – so I’m trying out having deeply sunk poles that flex with the wind. One of my friends thinks it will be disastrous, but so far so good. The beans have settled in and are behaving themselves nicely as they climb the poles. I must admit that they are not growing as fast as I would like, but them it has been incredibly cold some nights. We’ve been saved from frosts since the middle of April but the slugs are still extremely active.
The courgettes and squashes are doing well
I haven’t quite been brave enough to put the courgettes, marrows and squashes out one their own yet. I don’t think they are quite ready to be ‘home alone’ in the open ground yet. They have now been moved into the cold frame and perhaps, just perhaps I will put them into the ground next week.