26 June 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Garden Under Attack and a Plethora of Cucumbers

Evening everyone,

The week started off with plenty of rain. Proper rain, not the drizzly stuff, and gradually cleared as the week went on. Both the veg and flowers have put on a spurt and the garden is looking full.

Monday - the day started at 14C 58Fand with driving rain, finally clearing late afternoon which didn't leave much time for gardening but the garden definitely needed it. The fish are still eager feeders, it's like having a pond of piranhas! I picked the first lettuce for my salad - it actually taste of lettuce not the tasteless leaves you buy from the supermarket.

Tuesday (summer solstice) - 14C 58F again and sunny but still only reached a high of 17C 62F. I need to spend some serious time tidying the garden after all the rain we've been having but a) there's not enough hours in the day and b) see below.

Wednesday - a bit warmer today at 16C 60F and thick fog. It lifted mid morning but then came back again early evening. Very humid. Didn't have that much time for gardening today but I did pull out all the bindweed (or most of it) in the front garden, it had wrapped itself around the flowers especially the irises and the white daisies. I nearly filled a dustbin bag. There are snails clinging to most of the flowers and shrubs and every time I disturbed the soil an army of ants surface and run around trying to regroup. It's the same in the back garden. I've never known this many snails and ants, they're everywhere - must be a result of the warm wet winter.

And they aren't the only pests. A couple of weeks ago I was watering the garden and saw movement out the corner of my eye. When I looked I thought, at first, it was blackbirds on the lawn then when I looked closer (I didn't have my glasses on) I saw they were baby rats...aaarrgghhh!!
They were only tiny but still... I turned the hose on them and they ran into the undergrowth. I then wondered how long they had been in the garden. The thought of having come across them when I was weeding doesn't bear thinking about and now I'm reluctant to do the weeding until I know they've gone (hence the overgrown jungle). I came back in and changed out of my flip flops into thick boots and went back out to remove the bird feeder, much to the sparrows' disgust, but then it's their own fault - they should eat the seed, not throw it everywhere! The day before I had been sat by the pond and there had been a rustling and scurrying noise behind me in the bushes and I caught a fleeting glimpse of something but didn't realise it was a rat. Anyway, I rang the Council pest control and the earliest they could send someone out was today. Because I'd removed their food source I haven't seen them for over a week. The officer said they are still around but it's not an infestation. Their nest is in him indoors' top shed so when the traps are removed so will the shed be - it's dilapidated and falling down anyway. The man comes back in two weeks. Pleasant man, strange career.

Last job of the day was to remove the netting cage over the veg patch. I went into the greenhouse to check on the tomatoes and cucumbers and guess what? Not only are there cucumbers ready for picking (beth alpha and passandra mini) but I counted in excess of 30 more growing!! Had one with my salad - delicious.

I also have the first gherkin. Only one so I'll start the pickling process and add the others as they grow

Thursday - 15C 59F this morning (a centigrade warmer, makes all the difference), cloudy and humid and reaching a maximum of 20C 68F. I fed the fish first thing and the water was frothing with them feeding. There has to be at least a couple of dozen and last year's fishlings have now turned orange, it's great. Later this afternoon I started tidying up the pots and around the side of the shed. It doesn't look like I've done much and no-one else sees them but I know they're there!

Friday - 14C 58Fcloudy and humid but then the sun came up and the wind got up. There are tiny flowers on the peppers and chillies but too small to photograph at the moment. I planted one of the salvia hot lips cuttings in the cottage garden, removed the big daisy plant as it was taking over and replaced it with a cutting from last year, planted out aquilegia chocolate soldier seedlings and moved a plant as the dahlia was starting to overpower it. I then planted out the rest of the parsnip and spring onions seedlings. In the last couple of days the leaves on the rosebush have started to turn brown,
I've tweeted to see if anyone can explain why. On my way back from town lunchtime this caterpillar crossed in front of me moving at quite a pace, again tweeted to see if anyone knows what it is.

 Greenhouse 78F 25C at 4.30.

Saturday - again 14C 58F - I might as well cut and paste this every day. I was woken at 5.45am by the seagulls causing a commotion and thought 'I recognise that noise', went to the window and after a  scan of next door's garden there it was...the heron! It was well camouflaged (can you see it?)

and wasn't bothered that the seagulls were dive bombing it. It stayed there for over half an hour and caught at least one fish. I'm definitely keeping the netting securely over our pond! I didn't get out in the garden today apart from feeding the fish. I noticed in the pottering shed that Roger the spider who took up residence on my hand towel has passed away and has been superseded by Roger 2 who is bigger, menacing and has attitude - reminds me of the Terminator! Apart from leaving the clover on the lawn for the bees, he's the other reason I'm not mowing the grass as he sits above the electric socket!

Sunday - 14C 58F...boring I know. The day of high cloud and warm spells didn't materialise and we had low cloud and drizzle. I fed the fish his morning and it appears we have an albino - it's silver! It's either a throwback from generations past or the heron dropped it when flying over - I'll go for throwback.

The lionheart lilies are not far off flowering
the greenhouse tomatoes are thriving although I think there is an ants nest in one of the grow bags

I'm wondering if someone at the seed packing factory has either made a mistake or is having a laugh because the 'definitely not a gherkin' is definitely not a gherkin - looks more like a sunflower to me which should be interesting the in the greenhouse!
The outdoor tomatoes, gherkins and squash are doing well

the sweet peas are adding colour to the pond area
and...since I removed the netting from over the veg bed something (pigeons - you will be nameless!!!!) has eaten all the kale leaves which is not good but, I'd rather the kale than something I really like
One last thing - since we moved in nearly three years ago the apple tree has failed to deliver not only in apples but foliage, so last autumn I gave it a number one prune and said this was it's last chance otherwise out it went. Well, look at it...there may not be any fruit on it (not surprising after the harsh prune) but it's blossoming with leaves and looking very healthy (note the intentional clover in the background!).

There was no Gardeners' World on Friday because of rugby this time but the BBC did manage to fit Countryfile in today in between the football - thank you, I'm so grateful. So...the weather for the week ahead is the same as the weather for the week ahead for the last three or four weeks minus the thunderstorms, which amounts to sunshine and showers and no great surge in temperature. We now need the sun to ripen the fruit and bring on the veg. Hope the forecast is better where you are, catch up next Sunday.

Kind regards,


Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

19 June 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - And the Stars of the Show This Week are the Cucumbers, Gherkins and Tomatoes

Good evening everyone,

So...the forecast for this week was heavy thundery showers. I was away from Monday lunchtime until Thursday afternoon so, before I went,I watered and fed the plants in the greenhouse then decided to give the pots and the veg beds a quick water, just in case. I'm glad I did...when I arrived back the ground was dry and the plants in the pots were wilting. I did a recce of the garden, it's amazing how quickly the plants and veg grow in three days. The lawn needs mowing and has clover growing in it but I'll leave it for a while as the clover is good for attracting the bees. I fed the fish, they sulked for a few minutes then they were all scrabbling to feed. I watered the tomatoes in the greenhouse and was just about to water the garden when there was a rumble of thunder and the heavens opened.

Friday - 61F 16C, cloudy and muggy. In the afternoon we had more thunder and heavy rain but not for long. I didn't have much time to do anything in the garden apart from feeding the fish three times - each time they were on the surface within seconds.

Saturday - 61F 16C again this morning and sunny, but the promise of a summer's day didn't materialise as it clouded over and didn't get any warmer. But despite that, much accomplished today. First on the agenda was to collect my mobile phone which has now been repaired, everything has been wiped off it except, surprisingly, my pics which are still on there. When I came back I had a list of jobs to get through. I pruned the horizontal shoots on the greenhouse cucumbers so they will put all their energy into growing the cucumbers which are doing extremely well...very pleased.
Next I tweaked out the cordons on the tomatoes (I must be psychic as this was one of the jobs to do on this Friday's Gardeners' World!), these are the tiny shoots that grow in the right angle gap between the main stem and the horizontal leaf stalks (again so the plant can put all its energy into the tomatoes) and I secured them to the bamboo supports. And...the first tomatoes are forming

I added more grass seed to the trays already growing as it's a bit sparse but it has come on well.

Potted up the hot chilli pepper plant that is lagging behind the rest of the crop, cut away all the yellowing leaves from the courgette plants (there are more flowers appearing) and I planted out another courgette seedling that has just surfaced.

In the cottage garden I planted allium bulbs that I had over-wintered in pots, put in the verbena that I've grown from seed and pulled out some of the white daisies as they are starting to take over. It's looking good

Picked more sweet peas for indoors, they smell delightful and look great

Secured the runner beans (still not growing well) and the peas to the netting - we have pods

and my final job of the day was to weed the veg beds then plant out the remaining carrots, parsnips and leeks.

Sunday - 58F  14C, cloudy, dismal and damp and by late morning light rain started which is good for the garden but not me and by late afternoon we were shrouded in sea mist. When I feed the fish I always put the food in the same part of the pond (the 'dining' area) and today they were there waiting...it's not just Pavlov's dogs that can be trained! I checked the spud bags and tied up some of the falling stems then started to tidy up the small wall by the cottage garden. This is before
The earth filled with big black ants, indignant that I'd disturbed them. I also disturbed a bee that must have been sheltering out of the rain and a frog (good to know there are frogs in the garden because I haven't seen any in the pond since the spawn). It's looking much tidier now, I have trimmed the aubretia and hopefully it will come into flower again.

Around the garden:-  the achillea when it starts flowering is white then changes to yellow
The lionheart lilies are in bud

The apple tree seedlings are growing quickly

This is the picture of the gingko biloba tree mentioned last week
This is the makeshift netting frame over the raspberry bush to keep the birds off
And...I've just been  in the greenhouse to water the tomatoes and look...the first gherkins, him indoors will be delighted!
Countryfile was back this evening and the weather is very wishy washy for the coming week...flamin' June it isn't. Lukewarm temperatures, cloud, rain and drizzle. The upside of this being I won't have to water the garden. I hope the weather is better where you are this week, catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

12 June 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - The Potato Bags Look Full and the Start of Odd Shaped Vegetable Season

Evening everyone,

It's been a bit of a disjointed week with the garden as I've had other commitments, but I still managed to cram in quite a lot.

Monday - one of my days in the garden started at 56F 13C and only reached 68F 20C and cloudy most of the day. I planted out the ragged robin seedlings (good for bees), a clematis and split some of the primulas and re-planted them around the garden. I moved the acer (Japanese maple) out of the greenhouse and put it in a sheltered spot in the garden, hopefully the leaves won't fall off like they did last year. I pruned the rosemary to a third of it's size and planted herbs and primulas in the bed. Watched last week's Gardeners' World and Monty had an ingenious way of repairing patches of grass - grow the grass seed in seed pots then, when it's fully established you can repair the lawn where necessary. It also stops the pigeons eating it all.

There was some greenfly on the chilli and pepper plants in the greenhouse

so I sprayed them then planted up the rest of the marigold seedlings into small pots and placed them around the plants to hopefully stop the greenfly coming back. One of the outdoor cucumbers has finally emerged but it's too small to plant out yet and we have the first flowers and mini cucumbers on the greenhouse plants

and also on the gherkin
plus...this is definitely not a gherkin plant growing with the gherkins - another one of my mysteries.
Next on the agenda was to start clearing the pathways of weeds and in the front garden the bindweed has taken hold and entwined itself around other plants. I wondered how I could put weedkiller on it without killing off the other plants, then I had a brainwave...a cotton bud - I dabbed the weedkiller on the bindweed leaves. The pots needed watering this evening as they were drying out, rain everywhere but here as usual.

Tuesday - at 5.30am it was 56F 13C with the sun rising through the mist and reflecting orange on the water in the RSPB reserve. I turned the compost tumblers, fed the greenhouse plants, sowed more courgettes although I think it might be too late for them to germinate. The runner beans don't seem to be doing too well but the peas are in flower.

The next sowing of carrots have sprouted, I planted out half of them - think I may have sown too many (sound familiar?). I lifted the garlic bulbs as the leaves were developing garlic rust (I had to throw away last year's crop as I didn't catch it in time). I've put them in him indoors' workshop to dry out so they don't contaminate other plants...they do smell strong!

And the last job of the day was to plant a dahlia and echinacea in the cottage garden.

Wednesday - 59F 15C and sunny. One of my non gardening days but I did feed the fish in the morning and evening and they were splashing and leaping around to get to the food. I cleaned all the bird feeders and the bird table as there is enough natural food for the birds in the garden at the moment, especially for the sparrows that have been rooting through my seed pots.

Friday - 56F 13c (consistent temperature this week) and cloudy. Yesterday was foggy and took most of the morning to clear into a humid day but no rain. It made a change to watch Gardeners' World this evening rather than recorded. Only one of the jobs for the weekend was applicable to me and that is to re-pot citrus plants (lemon in my case). They need good drainage so lots of crocks in the bottom and trim the roots before planting. Let them dry out between waterings with tomato feed and when pruning, the centre should be open. I have a small gingko biloba tree (sorry no pic see explanation further on) and apparently they are one of the most ancient plants on the planet and the water lilies (now flowering)
were one of the first plants to evolve. Only three jobs today - give the garden a good soaking, modify the netting over the pond to make it more secure and tie the cucumbers plants to the frame

Sunday 56F 13C (wondering if the thermometer has stuck), rain to start, windy but humid and stayed cloudy most of the day. First job was to make a net frame to protect the raspberries (now beginning to form) from the blackbirds
I do have a pic of the frame but I had a technology malfunction in the week, my mobile decided to develop a mind of it's own and start taking pictures and writing gobbledy gook texts without my assistance (as if I'm not capable of writing my own gobbledy gook!) so I am using one of my old mobiles and my laptop won't let me upload the photos so you'll have to bear with me until I get my phone back.

Next job was re-pot a cutting off the pineapple sage, it has good roots so hopefully it will take and grow. Fish ecstatically happy to be fed again. The rose is looking splendid
and the potato bags are bulging out, hopefully with a good crop. Still waiting for the pentland javelin to flower.

The cottage garden is filling out. This was taken at the beginning of the week, it's filled out even more now, hopefully I can show you next week.
There was no Countryfile this evening because of the football. Hmmm...are we supposed to put our gardens on hold during the Euros? So instead I watched the news for the weather this week which wasn't as comprehensive but basically, it's not going to be as warm but humid with showers and thunder.
Ah...nearly forgot...it's the start of the odd shaped vegetable season, starting with a courgette
I hope you all have a good week and can get out and enjoy your gardens. Hopefully, I will be technologically repaired by next week. Catch up next Sunday.
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5 June 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - The Blue Tits have Fledged and the Garden's in Bloom

Good evening everyone,

I hope you've all had a good week. The weather started off lukewarm and has ended on a high, quite hot in the garden this afternoon. It's been a busy one:-

Monday - cloudy, windy and 52F 11C and only reaching a high of 65F 18C (greenhouse 80F 26C). I potted up the next batch of fennel seedlings and planted the larger ones in the garden, sowed more leeks and carrots and put the plants I bought from the garden centre last week into the cottage garden. The flower that was growing at an odd angle has now flowered (still no idea what it as something ate holes in my cottage garden plan but it looks great)
I then had a good sort out and tidied up the pots - I found this carrot growing in one

The baby's breath (gypsophilia) has started to grow again this year (thank you) but I'll leave it in the pot for a couple more weeks and the same with one of the dahlia bulbs. The blue tit parents were busy today, in and out from dawn until dusk.

Tuesday - a warm start at 58F 14C, sunny and windy. Went to the garden centre to buy more winter flowering heathers as ground cover for the cottage garden plus they will give it some colour in the winter months. I also put a few out the front. I saw the owner of the spider webs in the pottering shed this morning. It has the whole of the shed to reside and where does it sit...on my hand towel that's hanging up. I'm glad I've seen it, I shudder at the thought of reaching out to wipe my hands and.....no!

No sign of the blue tit parents today and the nesting box is silent, so the chicks must have fledged early this morning. Just like last year (3rd June), they chose one of the windiest days. I feel quite sad they've gone, I enjoyed watching them. I picked more radishes (they're growing big this year) and the first of the courgettes

We had some rain this evening, not enough to wash the seagull poo off the car, but it was enough not to have to water the garden.

Wednesday - 55F 11C windy and cloudy and only a maximum of 60F 15C. I potted more fennel seedlings (think I may have overdone it with these as well!). Still no sign of the parsnips, there's not many growing this year. I replaced the ornamental grass I pruned in error with another one and have potted up the pruned one. There seems to be a bit of life so hopefully, fingers crossed, it might recover. I won't make that mistake again. Seems strange not to have the blue tits flying around, the garden feels empty without them. We still have the fat pigeons waddling around though.

Thursday - 52F 11C and drizzling at 6.30 this morning. I was woken by the seagulls screeching, when I looked outside the heron was back and sitting on top of the back shed, The seagulls kept dive bombing until it had enough and flew off. I will have to keep an eye on the netting over the pond just in case. I planted out the next batch of radishes and the few fennel seedlings that are big enough. The honeysuckle and clematis have come into flower on the arch

I think one of the jobs for next week is tidy the pottering shed - so look out spider!

I was away from Friday morning until lunchtime today (Friday morning a chilly 49F 9C). The first thing I did when I arrived back was, as usual, feed the fish and check the garden. This is what has appeared since Friday morning:
For your Eyes Only buds opening
three more courgettes
carrot seedlings
raspberry bush flowering
a bud  on the water lily
first flower on the peas
poppies and sweet peas at the top of the garden

lupin bud
and...the first cucumbers are appearing - really pleased about this as I didn't do too well with them last year

The week has ended with a gorgeous day, 82F 27C in the greenhouse this afternoon and 75F 23C in the garden. I belatedly watched Gardeners' World for jobs to do this weekend and one of them was to plant out courgettes (did that weeks ago) and squash (did that last week). I also need to remove raspberry suckers. I have fed the fish three times today and each time they were pouncing on it like piranhas - I think they were hungry.

The weather for the coming week is, and I quote "warm and humid, some heavy thundery showers"...sounds like perfect growing weather to me although I'm not too keen on the thunder bit. I hope you all have a good gardening week and the weather is warming up where you are. Catch up next Sunday.



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