28 June 2015

Some overnight rain would be good...

Evening fellow diggers,

Hope you've had a good week. Been another busy one here culminating in coming home from work and having to water the pots despite rain in the area this morning - obviously not over my garden!

On Monday I noticed the first flowers on the runner beans from the seeds of last year's crop but nothing yet on the bought in seeds. Sweet peas also have flowers and more appearing on the squash plants.

Tuesday I made the decision to pull the shallots as the leaves were yellowing and starting to wilt. Amazing how many have grown - looks like I'll be pickling for a while. Also pulled the red and white onions that were ready. These are all now drying out in the greenhouse and potting shed.

As you can see on the pic I have also delved and found some new potatoes. They are so sweet, so delicious and a delightful accompaniment to the BBQ we had. I am so glad they have grown, I was worried the stems and leaves were too tall. I've nipped the top off half the plants and left the rest as they are and I'll see which fares best. I won't root around (no pun intended) for a week or so to give the rest time to grow...and if you believe that you'll believe anything!
Wednesday - the next batch of gherkins I sowed last week have shot up and yes, they are definitely gherkins, all eight of them. They are now repotted into their growing space so hopefully there'll be more pickling to be done later in the year. The one remaining courgette plant is in flower, the others, sadly, wilted away...I think I killed then with kindness. Him indoors has assembled my new composter and it's all ready to go once I have filled the temporary one.
Thursday and more onions pulled and racked and more spuds (Maris Piper early) retrieved and eaten. I have also picked quite a few peas but they never make it to getting cooked, too yummy raw! Also picked and had in salad radishes, spring onions, spinach, beetroot and young kale leaves. Peppers and chillies doing well and cucumbers, well...I tied them loosely to the frame on Monday and they've now grown nearly a foot (or just under a third of a metre for younger readers).
Meanwhile, the pond water is still looking good. We cleared away more blanket weed and a couple of baby fish were caught up in it so we (well, not me but him indoors) put them back so at least it proves the fish are still in the pond...somewhere!!
Had a few more raspberries, three actually but they're getting there bless 'em. The Autumn raspberries are nearly catching them up. Leeks, parsnips, fennel (greenhouse grown) and beetroot all flourishing. Covered the runner beans with netting to protect the flowers from the birds. Also started to dig over the shrub and cottage garden bed that I'd started on the previous week.
Friday - and by this time we could hardly move - we finished clearing the bed and covered it polythene until I have planned what's going in it and where. The cucamelons  are coming along nicely and so are the geums. We dismantled the cloche tunnel over the fennel and carrot seeds sown a couple of weeks ago as, finally, they are starting to grow. This afternoon I took some garden rubbish that wasn't really good for home composting to the recycling centre and on the way back, decided to pop into the local supermarket to get a couple of bits as couldn't be bothered to come home, change and go out again. And yes, I bumped into someone I haven't seen for a while, which always happens. Despite the 'garden clothes' and bits of garden adorning me she said I looked well. I thanked her and returned the compliment, as she actually did. I also wanted to add that I don't, as a rule, go shopping looking like this but the moment had already passed. Oh well.
Here are a couple of pics that I promised from last week.

Well that's all for this week. Haven't had time to watch Monty yet (slap hand) but off to do it right now. Have a good week and don't forget the sun tan lotion.

22 June 2015

A busy few days ahead...

Good evening fellow diggers,

Apologies for posting this a day late. I was going to do a brief resume yesterday but decided to delay until now so as to maintain the high standard you have all become accustomed to!

Well firstly the pollen count is very high here so excuse me if I sneeze all the way through. I forgot to mention last week after my marathon weeding and digathon that I filled seven 50litre compost bags which are now residing at the recycling centre - thank you to the kind gentleman who helped me when the contents of one bag defied gravity when upside down and refused to be shaken out. And talking of recycling, I have a compost bin behind my back fence which is sometimes awkward to get to as, depending on the weather, the gate sticks. I managed to get to it this week and have put some composter in it and forked it round so hopefully that will hasten the process. In the meantime, I ordered (and have arrived) two more composters for inside the garden. One is just basically a tall cylindrical heavy duty plastic container with holes in, a flap at the top for putting the composting materials in and a flap at the bottom for removing the composted compost. The other is a tumbler composter which has yet to be assembled by him indoors (yes, I know I can do it, but...). The cylindrical composter is already nearly half full as I now bring home recyclable waste food and cardboard from work.

The pond; apparently I have my own version of 'The Great Escape' as some of the baby frogs have made it into my neighbour's garden - I  wonder how far they'll travel (the frogs, not my neighbours!).  This year the water lily has produced two flowers, white with a pink centre. Still no sign of the fish I'm still feeding.

On Tuesday one of the fuchsias and a couple of the sweet peas began to flower; The snapdragons continue to flower in a delightful spread of white, red and yellow and there is a double coloured one - red on the outside and yellow on the inside. The squash plant in the veg bed has three flowers and now the one in a pot has started to flower.  For my salad lunch on Tuesday I picked some peas (really sweet tasting), radish, baby spinach, beetroot and kale leaves, spring onions and mustard and cress.

Thursday...and it appears that the gherkins I sowed after losing the last batch have turned into fennel -  they sure look like fennel seedlings! So I have planted yet more and yes, the seeds did come out of the gherkin seed packet and yes, they do look like gherkin seeds so we shall see. Lucky I like fennel.

On Friday I picked my first raspberry. Just the one, but there's more to come. The peas I sowed last week have already sprouted and are doing well. Bought another couple of fruit trees - gooseberry Hinnomaki Red and a goji berry which are now planted out. I have also potted on more peppers and chillies. The strawberries appear to have come to a halt at the moment.

Not long home from a couple days away and because we had some rain this morning everything has shot up. I really must dig up the early potatoes this week although I don't think it will be digging as they are in potato bags so it will be gloves on and hands in. I did have a bit of a root around last week and definitely felt something hard...

Also I think the onions are ready to come up this week - especially the shallots - although Monty hasn't said anything about them yet nor the potatoes and my book says beginning of July but, we are nearly there.

Apologies no pics this week as they are not yet on my laptop but I shall delight you with them next week. Have a good week - getting exciting isn't it!!


14 June 2015

What's The Best Thing in the World?

Answer: Soaking an aching body in a hot bath after six hours of gardening - at the moment anyway. Although I'm sure the cold glass of something I'm having later will come close!

Anyway...welcome and hope you all had a good week. As usual, lots been happening. Potted up the peppers and chillies. Potted on four seedlings labelled 'tomato' but they definitely aren't so a lucky dip there then. Also potted on yellow alyssium, parsley and watercress. Had to cover the runner beans, peas, squash and courgettes with fleece Monday and Tuesday nights as temperature nearly down to freezing and I didn't want to lose anything.

On Tuesday I started a fresh batch of mustard and cress and some radish and coriander micro seeds. All but the coriander growing swiftly.  I bought some aquatic compost, planting pots and hessian to re-pot the pond plants which I did this afternoon. Tentatively, I removed the plants from the pond in case their was anything lurking in them a) to give it a chance to get back into the pond and b) to stop me screaming if something appeared as I was re-potting! The smell was, well, let's just say don't know how long I'll have to keep the potting shed door open for. Did the first one and lowered it back into the pond, went to start the other one and thought 'now where did I put that other pot, it was here'. Yes, it was, but now it was in the pond underneath the other pot. Note to self - separate pots before planting. So I had to go and retrieve it from the pond. As I tried to separate them the plant fell out! Both plants now re-potted and back in pond.

There has been a lot of activity in the pond this week, all frog related. I'm starting to wonder if the fish have moved ponds. There are loads of tiny frogs that are getting braver each day. I spent quite a bit of time this week trying take pics but as soon as I approached the pond they all dived for cover - I didn't realise I was that scary! Anyway, I did manage to catch one sunbathing on the lily bud,
hope you can see it. Late yesterday afternoon I sat by the pond enjoying a well earned refreshment and a tiny frog came a'hopping and a'skipping along the path by the pond, definitely not looking where it was going as it bumped into all sorts and ended up on it's back a few times. I kept my eye on it as I didn't want to tread on it. It disappeared, then a few minutes later came hoppity hop back down the path again...fascinating and a joy to watch. A little froglet is in the cauldron now as well as Freddie/Freda.
On Wednesday I decided to sow more fennel and carrots as no sign of the previous batch growing. And I also decided to cover them with a polytunnel in the hope they might actually grow. Another note to self - do not assemble and erect a polytunnel outside on a windy day; over an hour later... All I can say is thank goodness for tent pegs (amazing I have tent pegs but never go camping lol).
There is a very friendly and, quite frankly, very forward, blackbird in the garden. He sings to me from the fence, he walks along the paths and across the patio and, for some reason, seems to think he belongs in my kitchen. Three times this week I've had to shut the door as he was heading for indoors.
It's also a week of loss; three courgettes gone although I think it was probably me over-watering them and, unfortunately, after the garlic rust I was unable to save the crop - nothing. Thankfully the onions and leeks are doing really well. The onion leaves are starting to yellow and wilt so won't be long now. More flowers on the potato plants but...not on all of the plants in the same growing bag so, do I harvest the flowering ones at the risk of disturbing the others or do I leave them until the rest have flowered?
Thursday into Friday we finally had some heavy, steady rain which topped up the butts nicely and saved me having to water for a few days. And after the rain, two flowers appeared on the squash in the garden, the one in a pot has yet to flower.
Yesterday I got up early and went to B&Q to get some more courgette plants in case all mine failed but there weren't any left. I also wanted some begonias but I think it's too early (not 8.30am but too early in the year!). I then went to Morrisons for a few bits and also came away with some plants as they have a good deal at the moment so I bought cottage garden perenials Chiastophyllum Oppositifolium and Manorda Red Shades, and wildlife garden perennials Eupatarium Maculatum Pink and Palemonium Caeruleum (Jacobs Ladder) - two for £3.  When I got back I started clearing the top of the garden as we are having a new fence along the back plus I need to clear the intended shrub/cottage garden bed. Four hours later I found one of the rhubarb I planted last autumn so glad that's coming on. Also, since last year there is now cow parsley and lots of clover in the garden (and in the lawn - clover not cow parsley). I think it must have blown in from the fields on the high winds we've been having. I'm glad about the clover as the bees love it. Also, cornflowers seem to have seeded and are growing everywhere. I have to say, although it was back-breaking work, it does look much better.
I checked the fruit trees; there are some cherries developing, no plums as yet this year, still no apples (none last year) and three pears - two more than last year so result!!
Well, I think that's all for this week. If I sit here for much longer I won't be able to move. Have a good week.
This morning I woke at 3.30am thinking I have to move the digitalis I planted yesterday as I want to put the cucamelon there and then that was it, my brain took over planning. I did manage to fall asleep around 5am but felt worse for it - I should have got up.

7 June 2015

Growings and Leavings...

Evening to you all,

The blue tit chicks have flown the nest. I was watching Springwatch Tuesday evening and they had a camera watching some chicks ready to fledge but they said it was probably too windy. Not for mine. Been blowing a hooley all week but they weren't deterred. I came back on Wednesday to silence, no chirping. Gone. I felt a little sad.

As for the frogs... As I said above, it has been unseasonably windy this week and on Tuesday two of the pond plants that are in pots had blown over. I reached in to set them upright and a mass of tadpoles and frogs scurried and fell out. I only had flip flops on and was thinking "please please please don't land on my feet!" Thursday was still windy but quite warm so I decided to sit at the table by the pond and have my lunch. Movement caught my eye and something small and black was wriggling on the path. A baby frog. It had launched itself out the pond and landed on it's back, hence the wriggling. Once upright it started to leap about on the path. Again, I only had flip flops on so beat a hasty retreat. It's not that I'm scared of them, it's the fact they move so fast you can't see where they land. I have thought about putting my wellies on but what if one leaps and lands in one...shudder!!!

Fred/Freda is back in the cauldron pond...quite cute. On the other hand, a frog has appeared in the big pond (well, not that big but big compared to the small pond!), or it could be a toad. It appeared from under a lily pad when I fed the fish that I don't seem to have at the moment. Later that day it was just 'hanging' in the water, all puffed up. It looked like a tennis ball with a head and legs.
The Canada geese are back, they flew over in V formation on Friday and yesterday morning I saw a heron flying away from next door's garden.
The garden - still no sign of the fennel growing but the onions and leeks are doing well as are the runner beans and peas - this morning I saw 3 pea pods. I am hoping that the upcoming cold nights don't kill off some of my plantings, e.g. the courgettes and squash. I will have to put them in the greenhouse overnight. I have already put the outside gherkins in there as I've lost one and the other  two don't look too healthy. Beetroot, tomatoes and cucumbers doing well. I have potted up the cucamelon, they are small grape-like fruit that taste of melon and lime so the packet tells me...we'll see. Flowers on the strawberries but no fruit yet. Yesterday I planted out my cottage garden plants - geum, delphinium, corepsis and digitalis. I also spent over 3 hours clearing weeds.
Well, that's about it for this week. I'll leave you with Friday's sunset.
Have a good week...