28 August 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Him Indoors Comes Up Trumps

Evening everyone,

Well, this was a ground-breaking week both metaphorically and literally. Him indoors has been in charge whilst I was away (I arrived back yesterday in the middle of a thunderstorm that hadn't been forecast) and he's done a great job of tidying up the garden which had become overgrown in places. And...he remembered to take before and after pics.

His first job was clearing part of the side garden for new fencing to go up

He cleared everything over a couple of days and now with the new fence up it's looking good. 
I'm going to sow green manure over the winter to enrich the soil then we'll plant butterfly and bee friendly shrubs including buddleia which is a favourite of his.

The back bed was looking tatty - the sweet peas had died off and bindweed had taken hold and was suffocating everything
It's looking much better now

(beautiful miscanthus in the foreground)

Next on the agenda was clear the weeds and grass that's been growing vigorously in the paving cracks near the vegetable beds. He transformed it from this

to this
And, with that done he then started on the patio weeds
He scraped out all the weeds and crumbling mortar and refilled it...brilliant job
And the area next to the pottering shed is now clear and tidy as well

And...talking of the pottering shed, whilst I was away last week him indoors has arranged to have the roof replaced...exciting!

In between all this he fed the greenhouse plants, watered the veg (apparently every time he watered the garden it then rained!), watered the pots regularly, picked runner beans, cucumbers and tomatoes, froze the plums as they ripened and had the first of the pears. The runner beans, a cucumber and some of the tomatoes went next door to the neighbours and he froze the rest of the tomatoes for making soups and sauces. So the running total so far is: runner beans 1.75lb, cucumbers 19 and tomatoes 7.5lb - not bad and there's still plenty more to come. One thing he missed was the gherkins...
I think the big one will be in a jar of its own!

The swede and turnip seedlings are coming on, I'll pot them on next week.
The cucumbers are still growing well
and the recently planted cucumbers plants have doubled in size this week

I watched two week's worth of Gardeners' World this morning. Last week's jobs were don't cut back lilies, let them die back naturally (doing that), keep picking runner beans (doing that) and sow herbaceous perennials and store (need to do that). This week's jobs are remove fennel if it's gone to seed (need to do that), cut away old foliage from strawberries (need to do that as well) and pot on any cuttings (and also need to do that - next week). The onions have now finished drying in the greenhouse and are hanging up in the (still tidy) pottering shed - there's not as many as last year unfortunately.

In the little flower bed under the cherry tree was this half eaten pear - it appears him indoors isn't the only one to like them...a hungry squirrel maybe?
The autumn raspberries are appearing

And the colours in the cottage garden look stunning at the moment
As you can see, him indoors did a great job - he's now gone back to work for a rest! I watched Countryfile this evening and it looks like we're in for a dry and balmy week here in Dorset so I'll be out in the garden as much as possible. Hope you have good gardening weather and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

21 August 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Cooking, Freezing, Bottling and Pickling

Good evening all,

I hope you've had a good week. It's been a bit of a mixed bag with the weather, almost a heatwave and almost autumnal at times. There's been plenty happening in the garden but it's all mainly picking crops, cooking, freezing, bottling and pickling.

Monday - 17C 63F, gorgeous sunrise and sunny all day. I had intended to tidy the front garden but it didn't happen as I was working most of the day, but I did pick tomatoes, runner beans, cucumbers, gherkins, carrots, spring onions, fennel, swiss chard and blackberries. I froze the latter along with the plums that had ripened in the greenhouse, pickled the gherkins (jar no.4 started). Had the salad for lunch and the veg for dinner. I watered the flower pots and the veg.

Tuesday - a much cooler 14C 58F but developed into a hot and windy day. I was working all day so didn't get chance to get in the garden until the evening. I picked more cucumbers and tomatoes and fed the greenhouse plants and the garden tomatoes, gherkins and squash. The chillies are ready for picking later in the week. The pottering shed is still tidy (surprisingly)
but outside is a jumbled mess which I keep meaning to sort out. The 'for your eyes only' rose is in flower and looking good

Wednesday - another sunny day up to 21C 70F but felt hotter. Strong winds forecast for the next few days so the priority job today was to tidy the side of the pottering shed and secure everything. I stacked the bags of garden rubbish for him indoors to take to the recycling centre; put the soil from the potatoes into two of the large bags and a large container (I will dig this into the garden eventually!); sorted out all the flowers pots, threw some out and cleaned others. It's looking much better
I switched on the pond pump for a couple of hours to oxygenate the pond, the water is looking clear and the fish are happy and eating well. The garden was full of butterflies this afternoon, mainly red admirals and cabbage whites. Picked more plums to ripen in the greenhouse as they are still going mushy on the tree. The pears are coming on but not ready for picking yet. Picked more runner beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, gherkins and carrots - took the cucumbers and tomatoes round to the neighbours.

 The carrots are Amsterdam 2 amice grown in a pot
 The cucumbers are beth alpha
and one giant gherkin

Thursday - started at 15C 59F and developed into a hazy, autumnal-feeling day and humid. I went out the back to pick blackberries. It is becoming overgrown under foot so I put on my blackberry-picking clothes...where's the fashion police when you need them!
I picked just under a pound and froze them. More plums have ripened so they were frozen as well. The fish were very busy in the pond this morning (errmmm..where else would they be??). They obviously had their own agenda, darting about. I was mooching about thinking there's not much to do when I noticed that some of the leek leaves had garlic rust (a fungal infection). I removed the offending leaves but, as it's so windy, the spores had probably been transferred to the rest of the crop so I chose to pull them all up before I lost them. They are still small, unfortunately.

I blanched and froze them. I would like to have seen this one fully grown - wonder if it would have kept twisting

Friday - same temperature as yesterday, cloudy and drizzly then some proper rain. Humid again. I was working all day but I did pick the chillies and more tomatoes and cucumbers. So far the tally is:
tomatoes - 5.5lb, cucumbers - 17, gherkins - 4 jars, runner beans - 1lb and blackberries 1.5lb.

Saturday - 16C 61F and extremely windy. Sunny with intermittent heavy showers. I tidied up the leaves on the outdoor and indoor tomatoes

and the cucumbers
The late cucumber plants I re-potted a couple of weeks ago are not doing as well outside as in the greenhouse but they do have flowers on them

The next batch of lettuces are coming on
and the chilli and mini pepper plants are thriving
And talking of chillies, these are the ones that were ready for picking
and this is how they ended up - chilli oil

Sunday - 16C 61F sunny but still very windy. Him indoors out early working on his list. Next week I am away so he will be in charge!! He has two lists - his and the one I will be giving him later. He's under strict instructions to take before and after pics, when to water the pots, the veg, the greenhouse etc etc etc.

Well, I have run out of time this week, just not enough hours in the days. Watched Countryfile and it looks like a good week for him indoors to be out in the garden although thunderstorms coming in late Wednesday/Thursday. I didn't get round to watching this week's Gardeners' World so the jobs for this weekend will have to wait until next weekend.

But, before I go, here's a couple pics of the cottage garden - the colours and textures are blending wonderfully

and a meditating carrot
Well, that's it for this week, you can find out how him indoors got on next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

14 August 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Heatwave on the way and Reaping What I've Sown

Evening everyone,

I hope you've all had a good week. A chilly start here but it's ended gloriously and I've been reaping the benefits of all my hard work.

Monday - 16C 60F and partly sunny to start only rising to 19C 66F which is not good for august. It's also very windy again. First thing, I watered the greenhouse and fed the fish - the fishlings are growing rapidly. While I was in the greenhouse I heard the geese fly over, that's the first time I've heard them this year. I planted out the next batch of little gem lettuce then spent ages trimming off the excess leaves on the tomatoes in the greenhouse and in the garden

Watered the cottage garden this evening as it's looking a bit tired.

Tuesday - a chilly 13C 55F but a stunning sunrise. The forecast was for hot sunshine all day but by mid afternoon the clouds appeared and it was quite chilly in the shade. Jobs to be done are - finish clearing the path of grass that has taken hold and clear the beds on the right-hand side of the garden
and tidy up the top left-hand side beds which have gotten out of control

I decided to tackle the above which took nearly two hours to dig out the plants that had taken over. I've left some which I will shift around at a later date but it looks much better. I also emptied the small cauldron pond as, unfortunately, it has been neglected (slap hand) but I have plans for it. Something had died in it and a small part that was left rose to the surface...gross! But there's no point in filling it again until we have rain forecast which isn't this week. I'm going to put bee and butterfly attracting plants in the lower bed and shrubs in the upper. Looks much better already

I pruned the cherry tree (after reading up to make sure it was the right time, and it is) as I kept getting whacked on the head when I walked past. I'm quite pleased with my efforts

Picked more blackberries, two large gherkins and more runner beans - they are stringless (Desiree) and so much nicer to prepare and eat

Last jobs of the day were feed the greenhouse plants and outside toms, cues and gherkins and give the fish their supper.

Wednesday - a slightly warmer 14C 57F and cloudy. Stayed chilly all day - fish were hungry today. I deadheaded the perennials and collected seeds from the geum, ladybird poppy, delphinium black knight, flax and the burgundy Echinacea. Gherkin jar no. 3 now full! Noticed these chillies in the greenhouse...

Thursday - 16C 60F and cloudy. I think I mentioned that as soon as the plums start to ripen they go off? So, I picked some today and put them on the mesh in the greenhouse - hopefully because it's hot and dry in there they will be eatable when they've ripened. Picked more blackberries and put them in the freezer for jam making. I watered the greenhouse, pots and veg garden. I've tied up the parsnip leaves as they are spreading across the bed, suffocating other veg trying to grow.

Friday - turned into a balmy 21C 70F. Unfortunately I was unable to enjoy it as I was working. I watched Gardeners' World this evening and jobs for the weekend were: collect seeds (done), pull out peas as they've now finished (sort of done, some are still growing). Picked up some interesting tips though - pots only need a good soak once or twice a week; keep celeriac moist so it won't bolt and harvest between October and December when the size of a tennis ball; to maximise fruit on the tomato plants remove all the leaves that are covering the fruit (already done) and the side shoots (already done): put leaves around the base of the plant, this will feed them potassium; to break down clay soil plant potatoes in it. Amazing sunset
I stayed up to see if I could see any of the Perseid meteor shower. Although it's not totally dark here as we have some street lights, I did see a couple and the sky looked like it was studded with diamonds.

Saturday - 16C 60F started sunny then clouded over then started to drizzle after I'd watered the veg but it wasn't much, put together not enough to make one decent raindrop. I finally emptied the last bag of spuds (maris peer grown in peat free with added garden compost). The potatoes were bigger than the others but only 4lb yield

So, the best variety yield this year was the all rounder pentland javelin coming in at just over 14lb, with the maris peer at 13lb. 27lbs of potatoes from 12 seed potatoes...I'm happy with that! Whilst clearing away the dying peas I found more shallots. Some were big enough to keep, the others I'm going to dry and plant out next year to see if they'll grow. Picked gherkins, cucumber, tomatoes, runner beans, chard and beetroot. The beetroot isn't doing as well as last year but still, not bad

Sunday - 19C 66F start to the day - it's going to be a warm one. The squadrons of geese went over again, they're on a different flight path this year. I fed the fish. Not quite sure what ecological benefit pond snails have, but the fishlings spend their days playing with them. The sparrows are back in the garden and the 'for your eyes only' rose has recovered from the sawfly attack and is back in bud.

 Also...how did I miss this yesterday!
Two more areas that need working on are the pond area which I want to turn into an alpine garden
and the side of the pottering shed area which I want him indoors to help me clear...
The carrots are proving an anomaly - straight
not straight...
But...I do have a perfectly formed mini pepper
They are doing well along with the cucumbers and chillies

Watched Countryfile this evening and the heatwave is set to continue until the middle of next week then we may have rain but we need it now so I'm off to water the garden then have an ice cream. Have a great week, hope the weather stays good and catch up next week.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga