30 August 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - A Soggy Bottom Week


Another week of rain and strong winds, more autumnal than summer and also been quite chilly some nights. Today is cloudy and dull but warm, hopefully the Countryfile weather forecast will be predicting sun next week.

Monday - and I have a bucket of water containing what looks like micro tadpoles. At first I thought it was just debris in the water then, on closer examination, I saw the debris wriggle and swim. I have no idea what the tiny creatures are (nothing horrible I hope) but I've put the bucket to one side and we'll see what develops. Thankfully I didn't water the garden with them!
Not very clear but you can just make out the tiny creatures

Tuesday - so much rain yesterday and overnight. The bucket of unknowns is now nearly full of water and the water in the pond is practically up to the rim and there is more rain forecast. Alas, the plastic heron that is supposed to deter a real heron is no more. The strong winds have blown it about and the body ended up at a weird angle to the legs. I tried to salvage it but the body snapped off (oops) so all I have left guarding the pond at the moment is a pair of heron's legs nailed to a piece of wood! The netting over the pond was dipping in the water again this morning so I've stretched it tighter on the frame. Started raining yet again this morning so garden work was abandoned and I had a lazy day instead.

Wednesday and absolutely tipping it down. I fed the fish and but couldn't tell whether they were feeding or not and the water has risen quite a bit more - lovely and clear though. Finally stopped raining this afternoon so I picked runner beans, peas, tomatoes and loads of beetroot which I boiled, cooled then froze.

Thursday and guess what? Yep...raining! I dashed out and checked the pond netting and all was ok. I went to one of the local 'if you need it we have it' shops and bought some more green manure seeds then went outside to the garden centre and bought an echinacea (double scoop cranberry) for the cottage garden.

I also rescued a pineapple mint and an aster (Henry purple) which had been neglected on the bargain shelf. Garden centres - please don't neglect plants. Sell them off cheaply by all means but at least water them! Anyway, they have now been rehydrated and are safely tucked up in bigger pots.
I went into the potting shed and there were a couple of spiders hanging down from the ceiling. As you know I'm not keen on spiders so I quickly grabbed what I needed and left. Thankfully the next time I went in they had hauled themselves up out of sight. I noticed some green where the bulbs are stored. I pulled out the tray and the lily bulbs we bought from Hampton Court Flower Show have started growing so I had to abandon my immediate plans and get them planted. I've put some in the cottage garden, some in the front garden and a few in pots, we'll see how they all grow.
And...finally...there is a cucumber growing:
This evening I made a very tasty stir fry with kale leaves, onion, carrots and fennel fresh from the garden.
Friday - the fishlings leapt on the food as soon as it hit the water and they are growing rapidly and the unknowns in the bucket are still wriggling around. The seedlings in the greenhouse are also growing rapidly so I put them outside to harden off, they are mixed summer perennials.
Watched Gardener's World this evening when I got in (went to an Abba tribute show - lots of singing and dancing and yes...I know all the words and all the moves!). Amongst my perennial seedlings are verbascum and I had no idea what they looked like until Monty showed me. I think they are going to be too big for the garden, I'll have to see. He also said that he has had a low tomato crop this year and, to be honest, so have I. There are lots of tomatoes on the plants but they are tiny, not filling out at all, although still very tasty. Apart from taking the leaves off the tomato plants and cleaning the secateurs to stop the possible spread of blight there were no jobs for the weekend for me so...lay in!
Saturday - not raining although very cloudy and humid. As I neared the pond to feed the fish a small flock of sparrows flew up from one of the veg beds, they'd obviously found a yummy breakfast in there. Nothing of much significance done in the garden today. I fed the fish in the evening and they pounced on the food - I'm growing monsters!
Today, Sunday, cloudy and humid again but thankfully no rain but the wind has picked up. Went out the back to see if there were any blackberries to collect but they have all rotted in the wet weather which is a shame. Never mind, the insects can have a feast. I picked the few gherkins that were large enough and pickled them. I'll add more as they become ready. One of the begonias we inherited when we moved in has finally decided to flower.
And so has another of the hollyhocks I planted:
The leeks are coming along well and are ready to pull but I'll leave them for another couple of weeks:
Except this one - tonight's dinner (and amazingly a normal shaped vegetable for a change!):
And, for a change, a carrot-shaped carrot:
So dinner this evening was steak and ale pie with home grown runner beans, peas, leeks and roasted carrots...delicious!
Well, that's it for this week. I have been trying to find out how to store root vegetables as I need to empty the veg patches by the end of September so I can sow the green manure. It is becoming very confusing as everyone has their own way and opinion but I'm going to RHS Wisley in a couple of weeks so I'll ask the experts.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, have a good week and catch up next Sunday.


23 August 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - Be Careful What you Wish For

Good evening everyone,

Hope you've had a good week in the garden. My week got off to a good start. Monday morning 7.30am. I fed the fish and the large goldfish were just below the surface for a change waiting for food,so they  are getting braver. The fishlings were there in seconds, as always.  They make a sort of watery popping noise as they eat the food. I then donned wellies and thorn-proof attire and picked another 4lb of blackberries, this time I had competition from bees, wasps, flies and something I knew I should know but couldn't place. As luck would have it, later in the day someone posted a pic on Twitter of one in their garden, it looked like a praying mantis...in Dorset? The blackcurrant sage has started to flower, so has, finally, one dahlia. I took some more hot lips salvia cuttings, re-potted what seemed like hundreds of verbascum seedlings and planted out the spinach tree seedlings. No idea how high they grow so could be interesting. A friend gave me a bag of windfall apples which will go nicely with the blackberries. And talking of blackberries, some of next door's blackberries have crept over the dividing fence - as if I don't have enough already, but thank you anyway!

Tuesday - and another good day in the garden. I started to clear out the weed in the cauldron pond and a small frog leapt out so I've left it for the time being. I tidied the peas, cutting off the dead stems and leaves, collected the dried peas for sowing next year and tied up the new growth. I took out the sweet peas as they have now gone to seed and I tied the two gherkin plants that were growing in front of them onto the trellis. These two plants are an experiment (part sun) and appear too be doing ok, probably on a par with the plants in the greenhouse (full sun). The other two gherkin plants are also in the garden on trellis (full sun) and are doing magnificently.

I picked a carrot to see how they are doing and glad to see they are growing true to form!

And it appears the parsnips are attempting to following suit:

All day the garden was active with bees and butterflies, which is a good sign. Finally got round to watching last Friday's Gardener's World and note that irises are good around the pond for dragonflies so I'll move some for next year. I made good use of the blackberries I picked yesterday - over two litres of spiced blackberry liqueur bottled and stored for the end of year festivities...hic!

Wednesday and Thursday were, unfortunately, non-gardening days due to work commitments.

Friday - woke up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep. My brain was planning the cottage garden, amongst other things, so I ran with it and I now have a plan. Out in the garden early, fed the waiting fish and then had a stroll round. There are nine new buds on the rosebush (For Your Eyes Only) we bought from RHS Rosemoor which is encouraging. Elsewhere in the garden flowers needed deadheading. I accidentally dropped a couple of the stems into a patch of campanula growing against the low wall. As I bent to pick them up, there was a rustle and a frog leapt out inches from me. I'd like to say that I thought 'wow, that's cool'...but I didn't. I screamed and ran away as it dived for cover into more campanula! All I could think of was glad I didn't have flip flops on. I did go back and take a pic though.
Hope you can see the frog in the undergrowth

After that, on my way to the pottering shed, I was dive bombed by a wasp, pesky thing. It followed me into the shed and I managed to flick it away and it flew into one of the spider webs I keep meaning to remove. As the wasp struggled to get free, a chunky black spider scuttled out from wherever and encased the wasp. Thank you spider, I will leave your webs alone in future. All this before 7.30am. Went out the back to pick more blackberries. At first glance the bushes looked full of them but on closer inspection most of the berries had rotted in the warm and damp conditions over the past couple of days. I did manage to salvage just over 1lb though.

Saturday - and up early for a trip to B&Q purchases: wood for him indoors, bags of compost for me and three plants for the cottage garden (Penstemon Phoenix(TM) Red, Shasta Daisy Broadway Lights and Dahlia Dark Leaf Happy Smile Party). Back home I dug over the cottage garden once more to remove the small weeds that had appeared then planted my purchases. I also planted Elegia Tectorum (a type of grass), yellow Achillea, Coreopsis Sunrise and Delphinum Black Night. It looks a bit bare at the moment but when we go to RHS Wisley in a couple of weeks I'll get some more plants plus I have seedlings in the greenhouse to plant next Spring.
Shasta Daisy Broadway Lights

 A squadron of geese flew over on a slightly different flight path but we still heard them in the distance. The chillies are coming along nicely - not sure when I should pick them though.

Him indoors finished off the bottom of the new fence and moved the big compost bin to it's new permanent position. He also cleared the pond of excess weed (and left it on the side of the pond so any creatures caught up in it to could get back into the water). He then pruned the top of the non-flowering, non-fruiting apple tree for me then mowed the lawn and not a minute too soon. As soon as he'd put the mower away the heavens opened! That was my cue to come indoors and bake a yummy blackberry and apple crumble.

This morning it's absolutely piddling down again, and the forecast for the next few days is the same. Did I really say earlier in the summer I wish it would rain???? Yep, I know, be careful what you wish for. Went out to feed the fish and the net was dipping in the water again. I'm sure it has to be a frog. Him indoors will come up with a solution to stop the net dipping, I'm sure.

Sunshine! The rain stopped earlier this afternoon so we have been able to potter. I collected all the rainwater from various receptacles around the garden and filled nearly three watering cans. I then picked some runner beans and some of the bigger beetroot which I'm not sure whether to pickle, make into chutney, freeze (apparently they freeze very well) or use them to bake a beetroot and chocolate cake. Hmmm...the latter sounds good.
And a rosebud has opened:
Well that's it for this week from a very soggy Dorset. I hope your week goes well and catch up next Sunday.

16 August 2015

Dorset Garden Diary - New Fence and Harvesting

Monday - came home from work and the new back fence had been erected. Apparently the men worked through one of the wettest days we've had for a while so thank you guys at John Bright Fencing, it looks great. From the garden perspective it certainly makes the quince tree stand out (although you can't really tell in the pic, top right hand corner). Now I can concentrate on filling the cottage garden - I'm thinking reds, yellows and orange with a hint of purple verbena dotted around.

How spooky is this, as I was typing the above paragraph someone from John Bright Fencing rang to ask if I was happy with the fence!!!

Him indoors had to move the large compost bin on the other side of the fence. He managed to fill a 25litre bag with our home produced compost. I was surprised we had so much because it didn't look as if what we had put in was composting down. Once the bin is in it's new position I'll start filling it again. Meanwhile, the tumbler composter is thriving and filling up nicely thanks to donations.
Tuesday - I fed the fish and watched them for a while (fascinating) then did a recce of the garden. I picked runner beans, peas (the second sowing is coming along nicely now), beetroot, spring onions, lettuce and mustard and cress. The chillies are coming along and so are the seedlings I transplanted a week ago.

This is tree spinach. Oops - I've sown far too many again!

Razzmatazz Chillies
I also picked 5lbs of blackberries! And...the excitement of the day was not one, but two large squadrons of Canada Geese honking overhead on their way to the nature reserve. I heard them way before I could see them. This evening I was looking down the garden ,and because the new fence is slightly higher than the old one, I think it makes the garden look shorter but, on the other hand, it also makes the garden look wider.
Wednesday - I finally got round to sieving and storing the spud soil in the original potato bag then had a sort out in the pottering shed. When I buy in compost I tip it into a large container as it's easier to get to. The compost container is kept under the workbench and I hadn't needed it for a few days. This is what I found:
It didn't say on the packaging that every bag of J Arthur Bowers compost comes with free fungi!
Him indoors has made a new frame for the netting over the pond, just in case of intruders although the heron hasn't been seen for weeks. The morning after it was installed over the pond he noticed a small hole in the netting (yes, I know netting is made of holes but this hole wasn't a manufactured netting hole, it was a thread broken hole). Anyway, he tutted and patched it up. This morning when I was feeding the fish I noticed another 'not manufactured' hole in the netting. On closer inspection I noticed that there were still frogs in the pond...the culprits! I thought they had all moved on. I raised the frame a couple of inches to hopefully give them easy access for their nocturnal jaunts!
Thursday - when I fed the fish this morning there were no more extra holes in the netting. Very weird weather today, extremely close and humid but unlike the rest of the south, no sign of the rain and storms that had been forecast - although it certainly looked like it was going to. If it doesn't rain tomorrow I will have to water the garden. Even the water butts are nearly empty. Today I made use of the blackberries I picked on Monday and made some blackberry cordial (makes a delicious addition to sparkling wines, like Kir) and I also cooked up a batch of spiced blackberry jam which is mighty yummy (I had to taste it at every step to just to make sure,as you do!).
Friday - and it's raining proper rain. None of this silly misty in the air type stuff but proper stair rods and continued until late afternoon which is great news as the garden doesn't need watering for a few days and the water butts are now full again. Went for a stroll around the garden early evening and the rain has certainly encouraged the veg to grow. I picked another tray of runner beans and spied the first gherkins on the outside plants (they weren't there yesterday).

These are doing much better than the gherkin plants in the greenhouse.

One casualty of the rain is the lovely delphinium. The rain was too heavy for the flowers and the stem was bent over nearly to the ground. Thankfully it didn't break so I raised it and let the flowers lean against a bamboo cane for support. Watched Gardener's World this evening and in the 'things to do this weekend' section was remove the lower leaves from tomatoes. Ermmm, way ahead of you on that one Monty! And it's time to sow parsley seeds which I'll do next week.
Sunday evening - been away for the weekend and the first thing I did when I returned was feed the fish. It took a little longer for them to surface (probably sulking as not been fed since yesterday morning) but they eventually appeared and devoured the lot. I had a quick tour round the garden and I can see there is a lot to pick tomorrow. Re the delphinium, the stem of flowers is now standing upright of it's own accord - nature's amazing resilience. Watched Countryfile this evening (as always) and also followed the diverse viewer comments on Twitter. I also follow Kew Gardens and the RHS on Twitter, both of which are informative.
Well I think I'll close for this week. I'm looking forward to some more bottling and preserving, probably blackberry based hehe. A friend of mine grows cooking apples so maybe she'll trade. I think also, from checking the garden this evening there could also be something beetroot based.
Have a good week, weather looking reasonable for most of the country.


14 August 2015

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens - Dorset

These splendid gardens are situated on the stunning Dorset Jurassic Coast between Weymouth and Bridport. The first Countess of Ilchester established the gardens, initially as a kitchen garden for herself, and it is now a 30 acre site filled with the rare and exotic. It's also possible to walk from the gardens to a lookout where there are fabulous views along the Jurassic Coast.

You can either follow the white arrowed pathways or go exploring 'off piste' along smaller pathways throughout the gardens. A laminated map can be hired for £2 (refundable) from the ticket office (which I did) although it isn't really necessary as there are plenty of maps at intervals around the gardens. Some of the smaller pathways are a bit winding but the main pathway is wheelchair friendly.

Although warm, it was quite a windy day and, along with the wind blowing through the trees and the constant noise of birds chirping and foraging in the undergrowth, I could hear the waves on the pebbles of Chesil Beach.

The first 'off piste' glade I came to was home to this beauty:
And on the way back to the main path I spied this lovely bird out for a morning stroll

This was a sight to come across amongst all the greenery. I am not a huge fan of hydrangeas, but I have to admit the copse did look stunning.

I partly followed the arrows and partly ambled around which is what most people seemed to be doing, spotting an unusual tree or a bright flower down partly hidden pathways. It's very easy to lose your sense of direction but that adds to the fun.

One of my favourite places was the 36 metre Burma Rope Bridge that spans one of the ponds. The bridge is a new edition for this year, the 250th anniversary (1765-2015) of the gardens.

I had a brief conversation with a gentleman from New York who was enthralled with the gardens, especially the Sino Himalayan Garden. This, to me, was reminiscent of Monet's garden with the small bridges, but without the water lilies. The water lilies are actually in a couple of purpose-built ponds near the end of the trail. As you can see they are full of goldfish; you can buy fish food and feed them.

A family asked if I would take a group picture of them. I said yes and they all stood stiffly by one of the ponds. I suggested that maybe it would make a nice picture if they all sat on the long, curved stone seat at the end of the pond area. They were all happy with this and the photos came out really well. They thanked me and said I obviously know what I'm doing. I just smiled...if only they knew!

It's a friendly place, with plenty to admire and chat about with other visitors as you walk round.

The Gardens have a restaurant, a gift shop and a specialist plant nursery. My credit card managed to emerge relatively unscathed from the latter, but I have made a note of the plants I will be going back for. Abbotsbury Gardens is also licensed to conduct Civil Ceremonies on site and, in my opinion, makes the perfect setting for your special day.

I won't give too much more away. I'll just say it's well worth a visit and you won't be disappointed. I'll add just one more thing though...make sure look in the aviary on the way out.

10 August 2015

A Good Week in the Garden -Then a Sense of Humour Failure

Evening Everyone,

Firstly, my apologies for the delay in posting this week's blog, I had a broadband failure which resulted in a sense of humour failure but here I am now, back on track.

Monday - and I have to say that I was still on a high from discovering the fish are still in the pond. Every morning I feed them and within seconds the fishlings (there has to be at least 10) are on the surface head butting the food sticks and nibbling at them whilst the older, wiser goldfish hover a few inches below keeping a watchful eye.  This is a good sign as the fishlings are already expecting food so hopefully they will soon get used to us and not dive for cover when they see us (which is more than can be said about us in other situations hehe). There were a few comments that myself and him indoors should've gone to Specsavers regarding the non-sighting of the fish all these weeks! But in our defence, as previously stated, the man in the pond shop said it was unlikely they were there if we hadn't seen them for a few days and we hadn't seen them for a few weeks!

Tuesday - and a friend over for lunch. We had a pork pie and cheese ploughmans with home grown new potatoes, beetroot and salad followed by a blackberry mascarpone fool - delicious! I conducted a tour of the 'estate' then we sat in the conservatory chatting and staring out into the garden. I was hoping it would be nice enough to sit out; the sun was shining but the wind was strong and quite chilly. Later in the day I picked, cooked and pickled some baby beetroot. The garden is full of them, as is my habit of over sowing everything. I also took these pics of first buds flowering:
Hollyhock - apologies but can't remember which one as the name tag has faded.

But this one is Delphinium Black Night and I have to say, the pic doesn't do it justice, it's stunning.
Wednesday - spent a few hours tidying up although it doesn't look like it and took another couple of pics:
A vibrant clematis that I think has emigrated from next door, it certainly brightened up the dull August afternoon.

The first lemon
Thursday - and I visited Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens which, I have to say, is a must. (I will write a separate blog as there was so much to see and photograph). Back home I watered the greenhouse (still concerned about the cucumbers) then I pruned a bit more off the pear tree as some of the leaves looked withered then I started on the apple tree. Not sure when I should be pruning it as some books say summer and some winter, but as it hasn't fruited for the last two years and only a couple of flowers this year I decided to go for it. Him indoors will have to cut some of the thicker branches but it's looking good with it's number three cut. I pulled out some of the deep blanket weed and left it on the side of the pond for any creatures caught in it to get back into the pond. There was one strange amphibious creature - long, thin, bright green newt shaped, that slithered straight back in. And then, as if that wasn't enough, I donned blackberry-picking garb (wellies and thorn-proof coat) and picked over 3lb of blackberries. I'm thinking by the end of the season there will be far too many for crumbles and jam so...how does blackberry wine sound?
Friday - and I'd like to make a correction to my previous tally of fishlings - it's more like a couple of dozen. Within seconds of the food hitting the water they are up to the surface. And...looked like we had an alien in the pond this morning...
When I first saw this I thought it was some sort of frog then when I looked closer it was two pond creatures on a decaying lily pad!
Today is flying ant day. There were literally thousands of them gathering throughout the day then, just as we sat down in the early evening sunshine for some nibbles and a beverage, they rose from the ground like a mist and swarmed everywhere...nice!
The second sowing of peas isn't doing too well and the cucumbers are still a concern and I probably haven't helped matters by pruning the wrong stalk (it was the equivalent of a structural load bearing wall - oops) but hopefully, now there are less flowers to nurture the plant may just concentrate on the other stem and produce some amazing cucumbers. I have been marvelling all week that the garden has been full of bees and butterflies and then today discovered that the pesky caterpillars have eaten all the kale leaves so I have dug them up and they are now fodder for the composter (which by the way is absolutely brilliant and one of my best buys). I also discovered that the pear tree is bearing more fruit than I realised which is great news.
I dug up/emptied the Maris Piper bag today. Not as many as I would have hoped but between the four bags I have grown this year there are enough spuds to last for a few months and I am well pleased for a first try.
Saturday - gorgeous day looming and turned into a hottie. I dug over the cottage garden in preparation for the plants going in next week and also dug over the top garden by the fence that is being replaced on Monday, so now it is obvious which herbs and fruit trees must not be trodden on!!! I thought I would sow some of the laburnum seeds I gathered. A bit of a trial and error as I don't know when to sow them. As I rummaged through the seed box I noticed that some of the envelopes containing the seeds were damp so I had to go through everything and throw away seeds that had rotted. Lesson learnt - don't store until the seeds are totally dry! The seeds that need drying are now in empty yogurt pots and the yogurt pots are now stood in the plastic yogurt pot trays I purloined (legally) from various supermarkers in the area..good forward thinking eh??
The delphinium buds opened today:

And I picked a couple of beetroot - these both came from the same seed packet, grown in the same seed bed and same veg bed:
Right, well that's about it for this week. Although technically today's activities should be in next week's blog but will mention that we have had some substantial rain today so no watering the garden for a while.
Enjoy your week and catch up next Sunday,

2 August 2015

Fish in the Pond and Memory of a Goldfish

Good evening everyone,

Well, the breaking news of the week is that we have fish in the pond. Not the new fish that I 'd planned to buy this weekend, but the re-emergence of the fish that we thought the heron (or something else unknown) had taken. I was out in the garden Thursday afternoon and stopped by the pond, as I always do, to peer in (which thanks to some decent rain the previous week is now crystal clear - all the blanket weed has gone and so has the dayglo phosphorescence).

I saw something orange amongst the pond weed and initially thought it was a piece of terracotta pot but when I looked closer I saw another orange something, then another and they were moving (unlike terracotta pot fragments). "The fish!!!" I exclaimed excitedly to a couple of frogs sunbathing on a lily pad. I couldn't believe they were still there, and they have tripled in size, at least. They were a bit skittish when my shadow fell across the water and they dived for cover. They weren't like that before the sinking of the netting incident and presumed kidnapping - so, maybe, goldfish have longer memories than we give them credit for??? Also amongst the weed, were the black fishlings frolicking around. Ecstatic. Me, not the fish - although they did look happy. I then thought back to a couple weeks ago when a good half of the water drained out of the pond covering him indoors (hehe) and how we had considered totally draining it. Thank goodness we didn't, and thank goodness we immediately topped it up. Anyway, I fed the fish and left them to their own devices for a while. When I returned the food had gone...yesss!  Him indoors is going to make a firmer netting cover for the pond and I'm just hoping the heron doesn't appear in the meantime, although my early rising neighbours assure me it hasn't been around for a while. As of this morning the fish are still there...along with hundreds of pond snails for company. And I get to keep the reward money!
It's not the clearest of pics but it is definitely a fish

So onwards - as I've taken a break with the usual format this week I think I'll continue being a renegade and wing it. I was up before 7am Monday morning to finish pickling the shallots (I'd left them marinating in salt overnight). There are now three big jars fermenting away which should be very tasty at Christmas, if they last that long. I then went into the pottering shed and strung up the dried red onions which are now hanging next to the strung shallots. Bet you can't guess what the pottering shed smells of... I also wanted to empty the growing bag of Charlotte potatoes but it was too wet so I had to wait until Tuesday. I am pleased with the bounty and they are now in a large hessian bag in a cool, dark place. Nearly did my back in sieving the soil for re-use. Just the Maris Pipers to go now but I think I'll leave them until mid to late August.
Some of the Charlotte bounty.

Part of the back fence came down in the high winds over last weekend. Him indoors was concerned about the panel being broken and I was concerned that it had landed on my blackberries and was squashing them. I managed to temporarily bodge it, oops, sorry, fix it (new fence going up next week) and then picked nearly a kilo (or 2lbs for us oldies) of blackberries which have been frozen in readiness for crumble and jam making. Friday morning I picked another 1lb and another yesterday - it's a bumper crop this year by the looks of it.

Whilst I was stringing up the onions I kept hearing a strange noise in the pottering shed, it sounds like a frog croaking. I've heard it a few more times this week. I'm sure it can't be but I'm not brave enough to actually check it out!

Yesterday I spent about 6 hours pottering in the garden, deadheading to encourage more flowers and then I put all the saved flowerhead seeds into labelled envelopes for storage until ready to sow. There are quite a few perennials which will look good in the new cottage garden. I potted up the seedlings I showed you last week. They've all put on a spurt and it took me over an hour as yes, yet again, I sowed too many, especially the tree spinach and little gem lettuce. More is definitely more.

Just a fraction of the seedlings to show how much they've grown.

I also picked runner beans which are now in the freezer; tomatoes are starting to turn red although some of them are still quite small. A few more cucumbers have withered but, fingers crossed, some have actually passed the withering stage and doing well. A few of the beetroot are like tennis balls (but thankfully not furry and fluorescent lime green), the leeks are enormous and the fennel and carrots are finally in the race.

Yesterday I picked the first cucamelon, although I think it was a little under ripe. Intriguing little things. They look like melons, are the size of grapes, the skin tastes like cucumber, the inside looks like a cucumber's seeds and colour but it tastes of melon with a hint of lime - confusing to the tase buds but quite refreshing.
This is the cucamelon and my little finger (just to prove I do exist!) to show how small the fruits are.
Watched Gardener's World on Friday and yesterday trimmed back the thyme and have potted up the cuttings as I want to use them for the cracks in the pathways. A very interesting episode and I took notes, unfortunately in the dark as I couldn't be bothered to get up and put the light on, so yesterday it took a while to decipher what I'd written. Today has been the best day of the week weather-wise and guess what...I was working, which in a way was probably just as well as I didn't need to soak in a hot bath and apply muscle rub moisturiser this evening.

Well that's it for this week. Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.