26 July 2015

Fluorescent Green pond, Gardener's World and..at last...RAIN!!

Evening Fellow Diggers,

Firstly I have to say that I recorded Gardener's World on Friday and watched it last night. How amazing Elizabeth is, how she creates and manages the flowers and vegetables in her garden. The programme also offered advice on growing acers which was enlightening as, apparently, they do not need ericaceous soil and do not need to be kept out of the wind  and, as with the purple leaved acer I have, they are best suited to full sun so I have moved the pot and watch this space.

Monday, and the week kicked off with a blocked drain and professional assistance was required. All sorted and cleared and for once I was grateful for the long, dry spell we've had otherwise...yuk...shudder!!

Him indoors has finished the cottage garden and I must say he's done a marvellous job (and it hasn't cost us too much in bad back and strained muscle lotions and potions!). I do have pictures but I can't find them at the moment, bear with me and I'll have another look.

In the meantime - on Wednesday the pond looked like it was radioactive, having turned a fluorescent lime green. I know it's healthy because the frogs are still practising breaststroke across it but it looks the colour of a weird cocktail you get in a nightclub (not that I've been to a nightclub for a while, in fact a long, long while). I topped it up which diluted the colour a little...we need rain. I trimmed back the tomatoes which are doing marvellously. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Japanese squash. The fruit starts to grow then just shrivels away to nothing and the one cucumber that was growing last week has done the same - not good. I planted more kale seedlings in the garden and the little gem lettuce seedlings are doing magnificently.

Thursday I popped down to the local pond shop to enquire about more fish. The pond isn't the same without fish and the orphan fishlings aren't surfacing. We were wondering whether it would be a good time to drain it, clean it and refill but then realised this isn't a good idea because of a) the orphans, b) the frogs and c) the pond seems to have found it's natural balance. The helpful assistant said they will be happy to test the water for me so next week I will be heading that way with a sample.

The rose of the year now has four flowers in bloom.
The bee house is still empty so once the back fence has been repaired we will move it. Picked some blackberries today which looked delicious but were actually quite bitter so will leave them for another week.
Saturday, came home from a couple of days away and the garden was totally refreshed from Friday's torrential downpour. The rain was so heavy a couple of the courgette flowers broke off and a pot containing more overflow beetroot was totally waterlogged. The pond is now topped up, the cauldron pond is just short of overflowing and the water butts are replenished...all is well with the world. In the greenhouse the peppers and chillies have started flowering, the cucumber has gone totally mad and out of control so a bit of pruning was needed. Also, in the seed trays containing the little gem lettuce and the cottage garden flowers, mushrooms or toadstools have also started to grow - I don't remember planting them!
Excuse me a minute, just need to switch go and turn the oven on - pie with potatoes, green beans and peas from the garden on the menu.
 In the garden the geums and coreopsis are in full flower and looking very pretty. Forgot to mention earlier, a few days ago I was visiting a friend and we were watching a female blackbird on the lawn. There was an ants nest and the blackbird was trying to eat the ants but they were obviously biting the blackbird's legs as it kept jumping and hopping around. In the end the blackbird flew off - the ants won.
Today it has been pouring down until mid afternoon, so I started on the planting plan for the cottage garden; this consisted mainly of browsing through a sale catalogue from a plant supplier, but it was all educational. Surprise, surprise, three Canada Geese flew over in formation at 15.15 hours, the first one's I've seen this year. I was only thinking the other day I ought to email the RSPB as none have been seen. I've weighed out a kilo of shallots for pickling which I will do tomorrow and I've strung up the rest for storing.
Not as aesthetically pleasing as I hoped but I did get better as I progressed. Next week I have to do the same with the red onions.
I've found the cottage garden pics:
Not bad eh?
Well that's it for this week - at least I don't have to water the garden this evening!
Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.



19 July 2015

What Happened to the Fish?? Reward Offered for any Information

Good evening Fellow Diggers,

Well, as you may have guessed from the title, the fish are definitely confirmed as missing. It is obvious now that they disappeared the night before the morning I found the pond netting resting in the pond. As to the culprit, I have no idea, although various theories have been banded around including a heron or some small animal; apparently stoats go after fish. So yes, I have been feeding nothing for the past few weeks. And how do I know this? We had a pond situation yesterday where the water level was dropping quickly. Him indoors dashed to the rescue and found that instead of the water being pumped through the filter and back into the pond it wasn't going back into the pond but everywhere else instead. Apparently there was too much pressure from the pump. Way too technical for me, and the cause? A snail blocking the filter output! The frogs looked on with interest as him indoors was soaked with pond water. Anyway, all sorted now and normal service resumed minus the fish although we did discover a couple of tiny orphan fish that have escaped the kidnapping so I can carry on with the feeding.

Apart from that it's been a good week in the garden. Still no rain and four out of the six water butts are now empty. The new crop of peas are podding and the runner beans have started to grow on both crops. On one of the runner bean plants there are loads of blackfly in just one section despite having sprayed the leaves. There are also plenty of ladybirds so hopefully the ladybirds will dispose of the blackfly. Not sure if this is what was actually happening, but it looked like ants were herding all the blackfly together onto one stem...do ants do that?

If I have mentioned this previously then please forgive me - my mind isn't what it was - but I have a new white wipeboard in my pottering shed. This is so I won't forget what I have to get done during the week, that is as long as I remember to write it down! This week I have managed to wipe off quite a few completed tasks but there's still plenty to do. I responded to an advert for free rockery stones and drove round to collect them on Monday. The man, Mick, has dismantled two rockeries so there were stones of various shapes, size and weight everywhere and all to be taken, except I couldn't lift most of them. I filled the boot with smaller ones and hopefully him indoors is going round tomorrow to collect some of the larger ones, if there's any left, fingers crossed.

Tuesday I spun the new composter eight times as per the instructions (every two or three days). It's filling up nicely thanks to donations from further afield.  I also sowed seeds for my new cottage garden that him indoors has been working on today (unless he's been watching the golf, I'll find out when I get home). He's putting down gravel paths so when it's all grown I can walk amongst the flowers to prune etc. Seeds sown are quaking grass, viola 'chicky chicks', verbascum mixed and arctic summer, perennial summer mix, achillea summer berries and tree spinach. I also sowed some more little gem as the last sowing has disappeared somewhere. Disappearing seems to be a theme in the garden recently! The gypsophilia has grown about 3 inches and the cucamelons have tiny yellow flowers and some of the tiniest fruit I have ever seen. They look like microscopic cucumbers. And following on from my purchases at RHS Rosemoor - every time I walk to and from the greenhouse all I can smell is curry!!
This is the cucamelon fruit, it's in the middle of the green cross bar.

Thursday - when I came home from work I was greeted with the first passionflower on next door's overhanging plant, the first cucumber and the new rose (for your eyes only) in flower. I had to give the garden a good soaking which took over an hour and I also topped up the pond which I now realise wasn't necessary. One of the baby frogs has taken up residence in the cauldron pond normally occupied by Fred/Freda so there could be a turf war looming...watch this space.
The first cucumber
For Your Eyes Only, Rose of the Year

Friday morning, whilst I was sat in the conservatory eating my oatiflakes and almond milk, a sparrow flew down to the patio and hopped over to the pot containing some of the overspill beetroot plants. The sparrow hopped into the pot and started rustling around amongst the leaves, bobbing it's head up every now and then. Also, there was a huge bumble bee feasting on the 'hot lips' salvia. I could have sat there all morning but I had to go and make my toast.

Yesterday him indoors treated me to some new secateurs; you certainly get what you pay for, they are amazing, cutting through branches like a knife through jelly. I sort of got carried away but I did do a good topiary job, if I may say so, on the cherry and plum trees. I resisted the temptation to tackle the apple and pear trees but as soon as November comes I'll be straight out there, secatuers a'clicking! I had a recce of the 'estate' and the leeks and beetroot are doing well although the beetroot are all leaf and not much underneath at the moment. The fennel has put on a spurt as have the carrots and one has even broken through the surface - just the one. I potted up the herbs I bought last week and yes, I ended up smelling of curry...tell me again the reason why I wanted a curry plant??? I also dug up the Maris Bard potatoes, the ones I should have dug up last week. Quite a good crop, around 50-60 which I'm pleased with for a first attempt. We had some with our BBQ last night - yummy! I picked a few blackberries as well but they're a bit sharp at the moment.

I am now on Twitter @daisydigga and on Facebook - but still getting to grips with that at the moment.

Time to go...enjoy your garden and catch up next week.



13 July 2015

A Cornish Delight - The Eden Project and RHS Rosemoor

Good evening from a damp and windy Dorset...and quite chilly for summer. I'll just bring you up to speed on the garden:-

Monday, to be honest, was a bit of a lazy day. I had a quick root around in the potato bags and was pleased to feel potatoes in all four bags.  The leaves have been dying off as I mentioned previously (I thought it was because I hadn't watered them enough) but all is ok. Apparently when this happens stop watering them so that the skins can harden, wait 10 days then dig them up. Monty Don says he traditionally digs up his first early potatoes on his birthday so...

Tuesday - what's good enough for Monty is good enough for me so as I was going to be away on my birthday I decided to dig the first batch up today or, to be more precise, empty the bag. There were quite a few (around 40/50) but not as many as I'd hoped but then this is my first year of growing them. I cleaned them off and put them in a hessian bag to store, sieved the soil, put the roots in the compost bin and saved the remaining soil. Patting myself on the back for a job well done and folding up the now empty bag (I can multi-task!) I realised that I'd harvested the wrong potatoes, early Peer instead of Bard - what a dipstick!  The runner beans are coming on well, the ones grown from seed from last year's crop have bright orange flowers and the ones bought in have orange and white flowers. The gherkins are marching on and the cucumbers are like triffids, they've nearly reached the top of the greenhouse. Raspberries are coming along, although for some reason the autumn ones are further ahead than the summer crop. Planted out the remainder of the yellow alyssum plants in the front garden, pulled the rest of the onions and hung to dry - the early pulled onions and shallots are nearly ready for storing and pickling.

Wednesday - went out the back of the garden to check on the blackberries (nearly there but not quite, a bumper crop though) and to check on the large compost bin that doesn't seem to be composting and put some more water in to help it on it's way. As I was locking the back gate something caught my eye and it was one of the baby frogs leaping along the path before disappearing under the shed. The early peas have finished and the second phase is up and running. I planted young kale plants and lettuce seeds where the onions had been. The gypsophilia is battling valiantly and..at last...the ginger has just started the peek out of the soil (my second attempt). I gave the garden a good soaking this evening as it appears that my Dorset garden is exempt from rain...I'm sure I've paid my water bill!

Thursday - off to Cornwall for a few days. I soaked sponge disks in water for three hours, put them in the cucumber, gherkin, pepper and tomato containers and covered them with soil and tree bark to try and keep the plants watered. I moved the peppers and gherkins into one of the sheds out of the sun.

Friday and my first trip to the Eden Project. We arrived early after a couple of mishaps with a suitcase and the car keys and strolled down the winding path to the domes - it does look impressive as you can see.
We decided to go round the rainforest biome first before the day heated up, we had plenty of water with us. Halfway round there is a 'cool room' for anyone struggling with the heat and humidity and a chance to leave the dome rather than continuing. We chose to carry on and covered it all except for the viewing platform high up in the middle of the dome - my vertigo wouldn't let me! We saw these delightful roul roul partridge chicks that live in the dome, they are friendly but not to be touched or fed.
The Mediterranean biome was much cooler and a lot of the plants in there I have in my garden but my favourite was Throatwort Trachelium 'Pandora', they look like they've been sprinkled with glitter.

Outside we walked through the scented gardens and vegetable garden which I have to admit I was quite jealous of. There is a land train to take you round the site if walking isn't your thing.
Saturday and another full day of walking, this time visiting RHS Rosemoor. Now this blew me away, it is incredible. There are walled gardens, a lake garden, woodland walks, vegetable and fruit gardens, an arboretum and Lady Anne's historic garden. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we went back on Sunday morning - and to buy some plants, of course. Here are some pics:-

It is definitely worth a visit! We bought the 2015 rose of the year 'For Your Eyes Only', blackcurrant sage, salvia hot lips, lemon verbena and a curry plant. Him indoors is not impressed with the latter as the interior of his new car still carries a hint of takeaway!!
Back home Sunday afternoon and was pleased to see the sponge disks have done their job, in fact none of the plants were wilting so I definitely recommend them.
Well, have a good week everyone and catch up next Sunday.

12 July 2015

Interim Bulletin

Hi Fellow Diggers,

Just a quickie to say that I am away at the moment - been visiting the Eden Project and RHS Rosemoor - so blog will be going out tomorrow evening instead of tonight with lots to tell and share.

Until tomorrow.....DD

5 July 2015

An exciting week...

Hello Fellow Diggers,

What a week it's been. The garden survived the heat wave which is actually still continuing in my part of Dorset. Whilst the rest of you had your garden's thirst quenched on Friday night, we had about 5 minutes of torrential rain and that was it apparently, as the ground was bone dry Saturday morning and today it appears to be raining all around but not here so out with the watering cans later.

On Monday I gave the garden a good drenching and fed the veggies in the greenhouse. The new solar lights look good and the lighthouse one on the rockery near the pond flashes on and off (I've just realised how apt it is to have a solar lighthouse on a rockery!).

Tuesday I had to top up the pond as the level had dropped quite a bit, not that the miniature frogs minded, they were all sunbathing on the lily pads. Keep feeding the fish in the hope that they might surface. But I suppose it means the pond is healthy if they don't need to come up for oxygen. The first tomatoes have started forming, unfortunately the slugs have eaten the cucamelons I planted in the garden but the ones in a pot are doing well.
These have grown over a foot since the beginning of the week. The poppies have been busy re-seeding and are flowering in a variety of colours and locations (like in the middle of the beetroot patch) and today a lovely lilac one blossomed.
Wednesday - today the heat wave intensified. I came home from work and it's amazing how much has grown since yesterday. One set of runner beans are full of flowers whilst the others are lagging behind somewhat. The fennel (finally) and the carrots are coming along nicely as are the raspberries, strawberries (not red yet), peas and beetroot.  I watered the garden this evening and halfway through giving it a good drenching I noticed dark clouds approaching and the wind picking up and the first thing that went through my senior moment mind was 'I hope it doesn't rain until I've finished watering the garden!!' There is one flower on the plum tree - a little disappointing as last year it was laden with fruit as my waistline could testify due to the amount of plum crumble I made and I still have jars of spiced plum chutney in the cupboard.
Thursday - and last minute watering of pots and the greenhouse before I went London. No rain for ages and as soon as it's time to walk to the train station...it rains! Not much, just drizzle, but enough to get wet and yes, you've guessed it, as soon as I got to the station it stopped. The first courgette appeared this morning, the first strawberry going red and picked more onions and hung them out to dry. I'm a bit concerned about the spuds as the leaves and stalks are starting to wither. I've grown them in potato bags so wondering what I've done wrong as other people's are still looking healthy.
Friday - Hampton Court Flower Show! I have been looking forward to this for weeks and my credit card has been dreading it! Stayed at a hotel nearby. On the walk through the gardens we saw a heron poised on the river bank, I had to look a few times to make sure it was real. We arrived just as the show opened. I will say now that I was the proverbial pain in the whatsit because it was so exciting to be there. My day was full of decisions - where to go, what to buy, what have we missed, should we have gone left not right. It was an amazing day. The weather was hot and sunny so it was good to go into the marquees as the temperature soared to over 30 degrees. I steered us towards the floral marquee advertised as the best place to buy plants. The WHOLE show is the best place to buy plants!!  My first purchase was Elegia Tectorum which is a stiff type of grass with red and yellow running through it. I also bought a Lantana Miss Huff which smells like exotic fruit juice, Lionheart Lilies and some other bulbs that I can't remember the name of and forgot to take a pic of the label, some succulents from some very nice and helpful people, Achillea 'Sunbeam' and numerous packets of seeds including spinach tree. There were hundreds of stalls and after a while it all began to morph into one. It was nice to see the show gardens, they are actually smaller than when you see them on TV. By mid afternoon we were brain dead and tired and couldn't carry anymore so reluctantly decided to call it a day. But...we'll be back!

Pics from the show. Above is the 25th anniversary cake constructed from flowers. Above that is an amazing orchid display. Unfortunately, orchids are one of the two things I cannot grow, the other being dahlias. The top pic is a water fountain display which, to be honest, if I bought one of those it would fill the pond!
This is the beautiful Achillea 'Sunbeam' I bought. I also bought a packet of mixed Achillea seeds for my cottage garden bed.
Late Friday evening back home and totally exhausted but pleasantly so. Straight out into the garden and picked 8 cherries that the birds hadn't eaten (they have no fear of spinning cds), a couple more pears are forming, the sweet peas blossoming well and there are flowers on the cucumber plants that seem to be growing a foot every couple of days.
Yesterday - still tired from Friday but nothing stops in the garden. We dug over the cottage garden bed. I have to now plan what's going in there. I planted out some of the yellow Alyssum. We went to one of the local garden centres to check out the price of rocks for the rockery I want to build in the front garden. Having checked in my RHS garden book it appears I have plenty of time to organise it as the best time to plant a rockery is in the Spring.

Today I had planned on taking it easy, a sort of mini duvet day, but as usual the garden overruled that. I pruned the rosemary and thyme and hung bunches in the greenhouse to dry along with the sage. I had to re-pot the delphiniums, digitalis and achillea for the cottage garden as they were outgrowing their pots and I'm not ready to plant them out yet. I planted some of the gherkins from the greenhouse outside to see how they go.  I have also been collecting seeds from plants that have finished flowering for next year and are safely filed away in the potting shed in envelopes. Foods that I have picked this weekend are: new potatoes, peas, courgette, radish, spring onions, kale, spinach, beetroot, raspberries, strawberries and morello cherries (very sour).
Well, that's about it for this week. Time for me to feast on the fruits of my labour, accompanied by a cold glass of alcoholic grape juice. Have a good gardening week and catch up next weekend.