30 July 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Delicious Food and Forgot to do my Rain Dance

Good evening,

Well the rain didn't materialise - not enough to fill an egg cup, the water butts are nearly empty and it doesn't look like we're going to get any soon which is fine for the holidaymakers on the beach but not for my vegetables although the outdoor squash, gherkins and courgettes are doing very well

Monday - sunny and a starting temperature of 15C 59F, rising to 19C 66F and breezy all day. I was working most of the day but had time to check the trusses on the outside tomatoes and trimmed and secured the plants bamboo canes. I picked the peas that were ready

tidied up the stems and secured them to the netting, picked more raspberries and fed the fish a few times. I intended to sow the swede and turnips but ran out of time. Another job I need to do is tidy up the area behind the pottering shed where the tumbler composter is

Tuesday - 16C 60F and sunny to start then clouded over. The next crop of peas have broken through

I planted out the fennel seedlings and picked veg that was ready - beetroot, spring onions, fennel and swiss chard
I had the fennel for dinner with the peas and carrots. Did some deadheading but still haven't sown the swede or turnip seeds. Fed the tomatoes, cues, chillies and peppers and potted up the next batch of cucumber plants. I put most of them in the greenhouse and a couple outside to see how they go. There was a courgette amongst them so I'm going to grow it in the greenhouse to see if it is more productive than those outside.

Wednesday - 16C 60F and dull, sunny in the afternoon and reached 18C 64F. Still windy. Rain was forecast today but it didn't appear so I had to water the veg beds and pots this evening. Picked more raspberries and also the first cherry tomatoes - soooo tasty.

Thursday - started sunny at 15C 59F and only reached 20C 68F in the afternoon. Very windy. We had a silly little shower for about10 minutes that needn't have bothered, to be honest, for all the good it did. I took down all the finished pea and sweet peas plants and tidied the ones that are left; filled the bird baths with water, turned the compost tumblers and fed the fish a few times (always hungry). In the greenhouse the cucumbers and tomatoes are heading for a reunion across the roof. I've put in canes support them

I pulled up more onions to dry and also a carrot for dinner - back to normal!
The pea seedlings have doubled in size in two days

Errmmm...still haven't got round to sowing the swede and turnips.

Friday - 16C 60F, dull and breezy, breezy, breezy. First thing fed the fish then opened the greenhouse - I swear the cucumbers are doubling in size every day. The runner beans are forming
I tidied up the tomatoes in the greenhouse, taking off the lower leaves. I planted out the pea seedlings and sowed more. I did the butterfly count today. The garden has been full of them most days this week and I thought 'I bet when I go out to count them they will all disappear like the birds did' but they didn't. Have to say it was really, really tough sitting there in the sunshine counting butterflies for an hour but someone has to do it!! It was great to just sit, and watch the garden. Need to watch Gardeners' World, prune the blackcurrant bush and sow the swede and turnips.

Saturday - 16C 60F cloudy then sunny then cloudy then sunny...you get my drift. Did reach 80F 27C in the greenhouse mid afternoon. The garden was full of sparrows and blackbirds flitting around early morning. I watched Gardeners' World yesterday evening and jobs to do are water courgettes regularly (tick) - the leaves get a white powdery coating if too dry - deadhead flowers and cut back herbs (sort of tick, needs more attention next week). I sowed more spring onions and kaleidoscope beetroot. The beetroot aren't doing too well this year, I think it may be lack of rain and my lack of watering - oops!

I pulled up more onions for drying

and picked more peas. And (drumroll)...finally...sowed swede 'best of all' and turnip 'snowball'...yay! I have also sowed some in pots just in case they don't take. I went online to submit my survey results for the butterfly count and found out that I should have only counted for 15 minutes not an hour! So, yet again, I had to sit out in the garden relaxing and got it right this time...tough life (saw great whites and red admirals). I emptied the two troughs containing the chantenay carrots which haven't done too well
but the few that did were very tasty with my dinner which I roasted with fennel
and potatoes from the garden - very healthy apart from the addition of the steak and kidney pie!
Sunday - chillier start at 13C 55F. The forecast was for unbroken sunshine but, like the rain, that didn't materialise, more of a cloudy with sunny spells day. I was working all day but fed the fish early and watered the greenhouse then prepared a salad lunch from the garden to take with me...so fresh and tasty.  Back home this evening I fed the fish that were already waiting expectantly, anyone would think they hadn't eaten for days - I think it's great they are becoming more trusting. I watched Countryfile and rain is forecast for most of tomorrow and into Tuesday. I wait with baited breath. Not going to say 'heard it all before' but...
Anyway, that's all for this week and I'll leave you with a pic of my dinner - pasta cooked in home grown, home made tomato, garlic, fennel and basil sauce. Dee...lish...us!!!
Have a great week in your gardens and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

24 July 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - The List is Completed and the Garden is Flourishing

Good evening everyone,

I have to say it's been a very pleasant week with much achieved in the garden. Him indoors has had a week off and has been working on the list. The weather has been perfect (although very humid) and we've had a BBQ each evening bar one, accompanied with our own potatoes and salad veg.

Monday - started at 17C 62F with a cloudless sky warming up to 21C 71F although it felt much hotter. The garden was buzzing with bees all day, they especially like the yellow verbascum outside the greenhouse. I picked more gherkins and started on the second jar of pickling, and picked fresh salad veg for later. Him indoors brought the BBQ out of storage and cleaned it, then set out the patio table and chairs. Yep, it's definitely summer this week. We planted out the cottage garden plants bought last week and picked more raspberries which are ripening nicely in batches. The blackberries aren't quite ready yet.

Tuesday - a hot one which started at 19C 66F and rose to above 25C 77F, clear sky and no wind. This morning we visited Compton Acres near Poole, Dorset. The gardens are small but well maintained and definitely worth a visit, especially the rock garden
and the Japanese Garden

I'll put all the pics in a separate blog. In the afternoon I potted up the cucumber seedlings, sowed more peas - hopefully it's not too late as they are sweet and tasty and growing prolifically (hurst green shaft variety). We have more flowers on the runner beans

and the swiss chard is ready for harvesting

I pruned the plum tree then realised it should have been done in August...oh well, nothing I can do about it now. That's the problem with looking at the 'jobs to do this month' section of an August magazine received in July! Him indoors planted out and watered in the climbing roses we bought last week then we had a BBQ and sat out until nearly midnight.

Wednesday - misty start at 17C 62F rising to 27C 80F but at least there was a breeze. I was working most of the day but him indoors cleared the front drive and back garden paths of weeds - looking good until they start to grow again (ignore the weeds on the patio in the foreground, that's another project).
He made a new frame in the greenhouse for the growing cucumber plants, topped up the water level in the pond then gave the garden a good soaking.

Thursday - 17C 62F sunny and breezy. I tidied up the peas, secured them to the netting, dug up more shallots that were ready and put them in the greenhouse to dry with the mixed onions
Some aren't as big as I would have liked, I think it's because I've tried to utilise all the space we have and grew them under the pea frame, I don't think they received enough sun...although that hasn't bothered the weeds! I deadheaded the perennials and our new 'for your eyes only' shrub rose as the wind has blown all the petals off. Picked more beetroot and boiled it - so sweet and tender, staked up the pepper plants as the weight of the peppers can break the stems (didn't have that problem last year as they didn't grow!)
 and the first chilli has appeared

I sowed the next batch of little gem lettuce, pickled more gherkins then emptied a couple more potato bags as the foliage had wilted and died. The first was maris peer grown in a small bag in peat free and garden compost and grown outside. The yield was small, only 1.2lb
The second batch were also maris peer grown in a small bag in all-purpose compost and potato fertiliser - these were started off in the greenhouse then put outside. These yielded better at 5lb.
Both bags started off with two seed potatoes. There is still one more bag to empty but I'll leave it for a couple of weeks to hopefully improve the yield. Rain then stopped play for an hour or so which was fine as the garden needed it. Him indoors spent most of the day tidying and sorting his workshop. He's already made three trips to the recycling centre this week.

Friday - another 17C 62F start and sunny getting up to 25C 77F. Him indoors pottered with jobs on his list and I was working most of the day. I did watch Gardeners' World though and jobs to do were cut back the delphiniums to the base to encourage a second growth (done), remove lower leaves on tomatoes up to first unripe truss (done) and only let outside tomatoes grow to a maximum of four trusses (need to check). Prune the pears to one every 4" which seems a waste, but the remaining fruit will grow bigger (done). Monty also pruned back a sour cherry tree that he's training along a wall - not sure if it applies to all sour cherry trees or just the trained ones?? He also starting sowing turnip and swede seeds. I've never grown winter veg but I might give them a try as they are tasty in thick winter stews.

Saturday - foggy this morning and only 15C 59F. It stayed cloudy most of the morning then warmed up nicely in the afternoon. I decided today was my annual 'clearing out the pottering shed' day
As you can see, it needed it! It took me over an hour to empty everything out. Him indoors then cleared all the cobwebs for me then I scrubbed the shelves and floor with disinfectant before tackling the contents
I couldn't believe how much stuff was in there, I felt like a magician continually pulling items out of a hat!

It took me all day to sort through it all and threw away nearly three big bags of rubbish. I also disinfected all the pots before putting them back. I have to say I'm pleased with the result

Him indoors doesn't reckon it'll stay like that for long. Hmmm.....  During the afternoon I heard high-pitched squeaking/tweeting. When I looked up there were small birds zooming and zipping from right to left across the garden, frantically flapping their wings. It took me a few seconds to realise they were house sparrows fledging. It was a special, privileged sight to see. They all flew over the garden except one that did a U-turn...there's always one, isn't there. Now I know why the garden has been full of sparrows all week, they were feeding up the young.

Sunday - bright start 17C 62F the clouded over, much cooler only 19C today and we had drizzle this afternoon. When I fed the fish this morning something small scuttled into the undergrowth but, thankfully, it was too small for a rat, maybe just a mouse. After the fledging yesterday the garden was full of sparrows again feeding off the plants and shrubs. Plants loving the hot and sunny days are the pond lilies

the fuchsia
the cottage garden
and the tomatoes are ripening
I went for a walk into town at lunchtime and bought turnip and swede seeds which I'll plant out next week. Late afternoon I fed the fish, watered the garden and greenhouse and unpegged the pottering shed towel from the line to hang it up and discovered this lovely fella resting on it - look at those gorgeous eyes.
Well that's it for this week. Just watched the weather on Countryfile and thankfully we lose the humidity this week, it's going to be slightly cooler with a mixture of sunshine, cloud and maybe a few showers. I hope you all have a good week and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

17 July 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Summer's Here, Well Nearly and Reaping What I've Sown

Evening everyone,

After a soggy start the week has dried up, warmed up and summer is beginning to make an appearance. We were away until Wednesday afternoon, visiting Kew Gardens (I'll do a separate blog on that...it's a definite must-see) and we also popped into RHS Wisley for two climbing roses - Ena Harkness (red) and Rosa Mermaid (white) - for the back fence, another rose 'for your eyes only' for the front garden, an Iceland poppy, cosmos and lychnis white robin.  The weather wasn't too bad, warm with some heavy showers.

Wednesday - amazing how much the garden grows while it's not being watched. Before we left on Sunday him indoors laid grass seed on the bald patches (not his) and immediately the birds came down for a feast but some seed had survived and he was pleased to see it has taken. I don't think it rained much here while we were away but there was a heavy shower before we arrived back. The tomatoes had reached the top of the greenhouse so I trimmed those back

and the cucumbers are now trailing across the roof
plus...you don't see cucumbers like this in the shops anymore
I gave them all a good watering. The cucumber seedlings have broken through and the 'definitely not a gherkin' turns out to be a budding sunflower!
The sweet peas have also gone a bit wild
so I picked some for vases, this one is especially pretty

The fish were pleased  to have us back and attacked the food with relish. The fishlings started playing their own version of apple bobbing with a water snail.

Thursday - 13C 55F sunny and windy. I sowed more courgettes but not sure if they will take as it's a bit late in the season. I think I may have lost the ones that are already in situ - they dried out while we were away. Picked a couple more gherkins and prepared them for the pickling jar.

Friday - 14C 57F sunny then clouded over. Not windy today so I took the chance to spray the rose with the sawfly deterrent. I watered the greenhouse and gave the garden a good soaking and generally tidied up. The spray head on the pond pump has dislodged and rather than releasing a fine spray it's shooting a stream of water into the pond...added to the list!

Saturday - started at 15C 59F and by 9.30am it was 19C 66F and blossomed into a glorious day. I spent a few hours pottering. I emptied one of the smaller potato bags that originally contained 2 maris peers in ordinary multi-purpose compost and shop bought potato fertiliser. The yield was small at 3lb but better than nothing
I tidied up the outside tomato and gherkin plants and secured them where necessary and re-potted the cucumbers that had come through while we were away
Chillies and peppers and doing very well. The bee house we put up last year is still unoccupied but I noticed this little fella prefers a bamboo cane in the greenhouse
Dinner included peas, swiss chard and spuds from the garden.
Sunday - 16C 60F and rising to 21C 70F (officially) but felt a lot warmer. Greenhouse reached 82F 28C mid-afternoon. I started the day feeding the fish who were eagerly waiting. There were sparrows everywhere today flying around and over the garden, landing on everything for grubs and insects. I secured the greenhouse cues then moved the two arctic verbascum from the cottage garden as they are not flowering and leaves are huge. I replaced them with a salvia hot lips and an orange geum. After I'd deadheaded the wild basil I noticed these...the first blackcurrants on the patio bush.
I then picked more raspberries - guess what's for dessert today! I re-potted the aster henry purple, a blackcurrant sage cutting and took another, and the buddleia cutting. I started weeding the veg beds and came across these mixed onions ready for drying
There's plenty more still growing...I've hung them up in the greenhouse
I carried on weeding and there were a couple of carrots ready. At last...my first proper carrot-shaped carrot
and then it was normal service resumed!!
I also picked more peas that were ready. I finished weeding the veg beds, this one has the celeriac, fennel, swiss chard, lettuce and beetroot
And these are the peas and runner beans
I then made a start on the cottage garden - it was getting quite warm by this stage. I came across this lovely flower that had been obscured by the weeds
This is the sunflower today
And, whilst I've been pottering I've noticed that the flowers on the achillea and the curry plant are very similar. Achillea
Curry plant
And spotted this afternoon, two more gherkins for pickling tomorrow
Well, after all that I decided to reward myself with a cold beer and an hour on the sun lounger! I watered the garden this evening and liquid fed the veg. Couldn't reel the hose in as the handle has broken - added to the list!
Well that's it for this week, I've enjoyed my pottering. According to Countryfile over the next couple of days we're going to have a heatwave in the 30's, a thunderstorm, then it's getting cooler although, looking at the weather map, the storms didn't apply to here so could be a dry week - I've put 'mend the hose' at the top of the list! P.S. the maris peers are very tasty.
Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga