30 October 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Triffid Sweet Peas and More Experiments

Evening everyone,

Summer came back mid week and the plants are getting confused. I'm not complaining though - it saves on the heating bills.

Monday - no gardening today as we had much needed rain, lots of it. The ground had a good soaking and the water butts are full again.

Tuesday - thick fog this morning, couldn't see the end of the garden. It cleared and left a gorgeous day (t-shirt weather in October) and at 2pm it was 78F 25.5C in the greenhouse...no wonder the plants and seedlings are baffled. Some birds have been eating off the bird table but not much has gone. I put suet pellets out to see if that will attract more but maybe not at the moment as it's unusually warm for October.

The fish are hungry and like their new food, it's gone in seconds. I've taken ivy cuttings which are in pots in the greenhouse. The greenhouse garlic is already showing

and I re-potted the sweet peas

I've put them in him indoors' workshop as it's the coolest place. I planted more iris reticulate bulbs (free with plant order) underneath the fruit trees and around the miniature cauldron pond. There is still a problem with blackberry suckers where we had the new fence put in earlier this year so I doused the leaves with neat, extra-strength weed killer.

Wednesday - warm, humid and cloudy. I made a slight adjustment to the bird table to encourage the smaller birds. I was working today but I did manage to dig over the bed at the back of the greenhouse by the pond and dig in garden compost and coffee grounds.

Thursday - and another nondescript, muggy day. Him indoors carried on working through his list - he dug out more compost from the large bin, it's really good stuff. We both then worked on clearing the outside of the greenhouse of all the summer climbers. I was being watched - probably doing a time and motion study

then him indoors cleaned out the gutters. It's looking much better

Now, I  think I've said this before, I don't like hydrangeas. In the summer this one is normally a nondescript pale pink but now the flowers have darkened and the leaves are turning burgundy I think it looks much better. After that we filled the large compost bin with garden waste (well, him indoors did), emptied the soil from the pots and troughs onto the garden and I dug it in while he loaded up the car for the recycling centre. Team work.

Friday - apart from feeding the fish there was no gardening as we were out all day.

Saturday - warm, humid and cloudy and looks set to stay that way for a few days. I noticed this lovely grass in the cottage garden in it's autumn colours

I am experimenting with seed sowing. I've sown a couple of trays of perennial seeds saved from the garden and I'll see if they grow now. If not I'll re-sow in the spring:- lupins, rudbeckia, dahlia (yellow), achillea yellow and summer berries, verbena and sunflower. Also sowed calendula 'art shades' from a free packet and ragged robin
These are the greenhouse garlic which have come on better than the outside garlic.

The greenhouse sweet peas are emerging
and...these are the propagated sweet peas that I potted up on Tuesday!

If we don't get some cold weather soon they'll be ready to plant out in a couple of weeks...how am I going to keep these in pots until the spring?? I picked the chillies that are ready, one of these is destined for the stir fry tonight.

I dug over the side bed by the greenhouse and dug in some of the soil from the potato bags to loosen the clay then sprinkled coffee grounds on it. I then moved onto one of the veg gardens and dug in garden compost, potato soil and coffee grounds ready to plant the onions tomorrow. Last job of the day was to sort out the odd lengths of string that are reusable and are now put tidily away...yes, I know, get a life!

Sunday - misty and sunny early this morning then developed into a balmy, autumnal day which I've made the most of (and the extra hour). And before I forget, those chillies certainly pack a punch, that was one hot stir fry. The fish were waiting for their food this morning and, yet again, it was gone in seconds. The fishlings are a decent size now and starting to turn orange. I wiped the leaves of the lemon tree with a mild soap solution to remove pests like scale insects. I don't need to put it in the greenhouse yet as it's still mild. I put grit on top of the iris reticulate pot for drainage then cut down the raspberry canes. Next I raked the leaves off the lawn. I was going to do it yesterday but I ran out of time. Yesterday was calm, absolutely no wind. Today wasn't calm. The job took me twice as long as the leaves kept blowing away and more kept dropping off the trees, but it was quite therapeutic raking and it's good for the lawn. I've put the leaves in a black bin bag and aerated it. This time next year I will have quality leaf mould. That's the plan anyway. That's what I thought last year but him indoors threw it away thinking it was rubbish!
and not 10 minutes later...oh well.

My final job of the day was to plant the onions. I've been putting this off for a week or so but, today's the day. I raked in more garden compost and levelled the surface. I planted 10 shallots (yellow moon) and 62 troy union white onions. I've mulched the area to keep in the moisture and to stop the birds pulling them out. This is the first time I've planted onions in the autumn.

I've also planted a dozen or so troy union in a large trough to see how they grow. I'm becoming quite experimental.

That's it for this week, I'm pleased with what we've accomplished. I watched Countryfile and the weather for this week here in Dorset is getting cooler by midweek, maybe rain on Friday but before that we could have summer temperatures. Maybe I ought to stop planting and sowing, it's all going to be growing too early.

Have a good week, hope you have good gardening weather and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

23 October 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - New Pottering Shed Roof and a Tidy Up

Evening everyone,

Definitely colder this week, especially at night but thankfully no frost yet. It's been quite warm at times during the day but only for a couple hours here and there.

Monday - I had to work today so unfortunately no gardening but I did make a list (I do like lists - they stop me forgetting things!) of the jobs for this week and we did go shopping for DIY and garden essentials. I also popped into the supermarket café for more coffee grounds.

Tuesday - the pond netting was dipped in the middle this morning. I'm thinking it could be a frog trying to get into the pond, not realising there's a gap under the netting frame. The fish are still willing to feed but appear to be struggling with the food now it's got colder so I'll have to buy the food for under 10C 50F. Again no gardening today because we had builders in to replace the flat roof on the conservatory and my pottering shed...all routes up the garden were blocked with tools and ladders and workmen.

Wednesday - cloudy with a cold wind, glad I wasn't working outside. I bought the winter fish food, scrambled around to the pond and fed them and it was gone in seconds. Perfect.

Thursday - started cold but warmed up nicely and sunny all day. I was starting to get twitchy with withdrawal symptoms from not being in the garden but the workmen finished today. They've done a good job and tidied up as if they'd never been here - very important.

Conservatory before
Conservatory after

Pottering shed before
Pottering shed with no roof
Pottering shed with new roof

Him indoors dug up a couple of parsnips for dinner - these were sown at the same time so no idea why the one on the right is so small

He then removed the pond pump for the winter, gave it a clean, wrapped it in bubble wrap and covered it with a pot in case we have a cold winter (although we haven't for a while). Also, I read that it's better not to use the pump in the winter because it disturbs the warm water at the bottom of the pond where the fish over-winter. He took out a third of the oxygenating weed and we trimmed back the potted grass. When we put the net frame back we raised it a little more on bricks so the frogs can get in and out easily.

I replanted the fritillaria (snakes head) bulbs into the garden and some alliums that were growing in a pot. I planted the garlic, splitting one bulb and putting the cloves in a big trough outside and the other cloves I've sown in small pots in the greenhouse - another of my experiments.

Friday - the hedges and shrubs were full of small birds this morning and there was one fat wood pigeon waddling up the lawn. The food on the bird table hasn't been touched. I'm sure the gaps are big enough for the sparrows etc., I'll give it another week. Him indoors cut back the blackberry thorns coming over from next door (I asked the neighbours if they could be cut them down from their side and they said yes) and the wild rose and passionflower. Before...

and after...looking good

I checked on the sweet peas which take up to 21 days to germinate. This is 6 days later just pushing through! Not much difference between the soaked and non-soaked seeds. The greenhouse sweet peas are not showing yet.
I dug up the rest of the parsnips, disappointing. It's not been a good year here for root veg - they do taste lovely though.
The fish are loving their new food and fattening themselves up for winter.

Saturday - fed the fish this morning and there was a large red admiral butterfly on the fence. I tried to get a pic but it flew away. A bit late for butterflies I would have thought. I intended to plant the onions but domestic chores took over.

Sunday - and these are the sweet peas after 8 days
I need to go to the garden centre tomorrow and buy some special pots for them. I watched Gardeners' World (last one until next March) and Monty said to plant daffodil bulbs at least there own height below the soil. I planted half of the free daffodil bulbs in the front and back gardens, I'll do the rest next week.  And just remembered, every morning and every evening formations of geese have been flying over on their way to the RSPB reserve and back.

Watched Countryfile this evening and the weather is staying chilly for a couple of days - hopefully we'll have some much needed rain - then it's warming up again from mid week. Have a good gardening week and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

16 October 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Rain, a Double Rainbow And No More Tomatoes

Hi everyone,

Hope you've had a good week in the garden. It's been a quieter week here but there's still plenty to do The weather alternated between autumnal balmy and just above freezing in the mornings.

Monday - 1C 33.8F at 8am this morning, thankfully no damage to the plants. I picked the remaining tomatoes (just under 2lb) then removed the plants as a) the outside tomatoes were becoming wind damaged and b) I wanted to clear out the greenhouse and disinfect it before storing delicate plants and cuttings over the winter. I also pulled up the green pepper plants (despite more flowers appearing) as the peppers haven't been successful this year but I've kept the chilli plants as they are flourishing. It took me all morning to empty and clean the greenhouse. I misjudged cleaning the roof panes and had a dousing of Jeyes Fluid - not the nicest of perfumes. Anyway, it's looking good
Next job was to pot up the Viburnum Kilimanjaro.
I've been leaving it outside during the day and in the greenhouse overnight as I don't want to lose this one as well. I checked the celeriac and it doesn't look as if the bulbs have formed but I'll leave them in for a few more weeks. Late afternoon the mozzies/midges were back with a vengeance in gangs dotted around the garden.

Tuesday - the day started with a stunning sunrise. I sat in the conservatory having breakfast and the garden was full of small bird activity. Sparrows, blue tits, great tits and blackbirds were feeding and flitting all over the place. Unfortunately I had to work so no gardening today.

Wednesday - and this morning not a bird to be seen! I dug up the pea and runner bean plants and dismantled the frame. I then dug over the veg beds (digging round the celeriac and the remaining parsnips) then I sprinkled over the coffee grounds which are good for the soil and, hopefully, will keep any cats off...think I read somewhere they don't like the smell.

Aubretia had rooted itself along the edge of the veg garden next to the cottage garden so I dug it up and planted it in a trough for the time being and there was also a Japanese anemone growing so that's been potted up as well.

More mozzies/midges late afternoon, especially over the pond.

Thursday - I deadheaded most of the rudbeckia in the front garden in the hope it will keep on flowering. I left some seed heads for the birds. I re-potted the Lantana Miss Huff into a bigger pot and then pottered in the pottering shed. Amazingly, it's still reasonably tidy
which is more than can be said for the area outside the pottering shed.

This has been nicknamed the 'holding area' or the 'him indoors' area. This is where everything for the compost bin out the back and the recycling centre gathers. It's on the list. Since we had the new fence put up I've noticed this tree which was previously hidden amongst the brambles in next door's garden, I think it might be a fig tree.

Friday - another nice day albeit windy. I finally emptied one side of the tumbler composter - it looks good stuff. I left some in to help with the next batch composting down. I had another plant delivery - buddleia sungold. It's for the top bed by the back fence. I had to dig up the wild marjoram, which wasn't easy as the roots were determined not to budge. I split it and moved it further to the right plus planted some cuttings for new plants. I dug a hole for the buddleia, put in a spadeful of the compost to give it a healthy start then gave it a good water as we haven't had any rain for over two weeks. I noticed the dahlias are still flowering so I picked a few together with verbena and brought them indoors to brighten the lounge.

Saturday -another warm day and rain forecast...we'll see. I part-tidied up the front garden, dug up a couple of plants (no idea what they were, don't remember planting them) as they were starting to take over and lightly pruned the miss ruby buddleia. Unfortunately, the front isn't very colourful at the moment.
I collected seeds from the spent perennials and removed a load of bindweed. Next job was dig in the garden compost into the veg beds so hopefully the veg will be prolific and huge next year! I am conducting an experiment with a free pack of sweet pea floral tribute. I've sown half the pack straight into the propagator and the other half I'm going to soak overnight then sow and see which grows the best. I shifted some bits under cover in the pottering shed in case it does rain as the roof leaks.

The next job was...try and magpie and pigeon-proof the bird table yet again. This is the latest attempt, let's see if it works.
My weather app said it was going to rain at 3 o'clock. It started to rain at ten past. Impressed. And yippee!
Followed a couple of hours later by sun and a brilliant double rainbow. The pics don't do it justice but trust me, it was superb.


And then, this evening, there was another treat in store. The clouds cleared and an almost full Hunter's Moon (also a Super moon) appeared. It was spectacular (I'm running out of superlatives today) but trust me, it was. Bright and appearing to fill the sky.

Sunday - awake early so looked out over the garden before making a coffee and the treats just keep coming. Looking out to the west there was a break in the clouds and there was the moon again. What better start to the day. And tonight it's full so let's hope it's a clear night. I sowed the soaked sweet pea seeds in the propagator - the experiment begins.
There were seeds left over so I've sown them in a couple of pots, put them in a plastic bag and they are in the greenhouse, another dimension to the experiment. I watched Gardeners' World and the only job relevant to me was to mulch the celeriac.

Well, that's it for this week. The weather looks pretty settled over the coming week, not too cold hopefully. Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

9 October 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - Tomatoes Anyone?

Hi everyone,

Well, as you can imagine it's great to be back after two hot and sunny, all-inclusive weeks of nothing to do! It's been quite nice here as well apparently, but turned cold and miserable on Wednesday.

Mr and Mrs Digga senior did a great job of looking after the garden. They tried to keep on top of the prolifically growing tomatoes but in the end they admitted defeat and stopped eating them with everything before they started to look like one. Arrived back on Tuesday afternoon and have picked over 3lb so far.

Also, to my surprise, there were three gherkins (one huge) and a cucumber

In the garden the runner beans are still flowering but I doubt if they'll produce anything now

and there were five pods on the peas (still tasty). I've dug up the rest of the carrots, spring onions and beetroot and started to dig over the veg patches. The swiss chard is growing well and the celeriac's looking good

There is an abundance of pears even though the squirrels and crows have been eating them.

Despite not having much rain over the last couple of weeks the garden is looking good. The grasses in the cottage garden look amazing

and the aster (henry purple) has come into flower. I'm going to plant it out in the garden when it's finished flowering.

Two weeks ago this rockery plant - whose name escapes me - had one flower head now it has multiple.
This is the surprise flower that had appeared the weekend before we went - a beautiful lily. Shame there's only one.
The sweet peas are still flowering albeit sparsely.
And this gorgeous plant has crept over from next door

I need to start cutting back the herbaceous shrubs and perennials next week plus sow the perennial seeds. Whilst we were away the replacement viburnum Kilimanjaro arrived. The plant supplied last year didn't come to anything so I spoke with the supplier and they replaced it free of charge.

My main plant order has started to arrive. Received so far are 25 winter aconite bulbs plus (free of charge) 50 mixed double daffodils and 50 iris reticulate. Very nice to have but I also had a free bag of daffodil bulbs from the garden centre and it's finding somewhere to put them all. Plus, I can't put them in yet until the rest of the order arrives with the ground cover plants. I suppose I could put some in pots this year.

I'd like to say the fish were pleased to see us back but they just showed indifference. The double layer of netting over the pond has worked to keep the majority of the falling leaves out. The blue tit came down to say hello though. Thursday evening I saw movement about 3-4 feet above the patio and it was a huge swarm of mosquitos, they were there for over an hour. Thankfully, they haven't reappeared.

Yesterday I popped to the garden centre to get the garlic and onion bulbs and received a free primrose - pretty.

I also went to the local supermarket and the café is now selling off the used coffee grounds (proceeds to charity) so I bought some and I'll dig those in next week.

Today is warm and sunny - quick, get out the sun lounger and cocktails! Although showing some signs of autumn the garden is not looking too bad.

I'm unable to watch Countryfile this evening for the weather but I think it's going to get colder this coming week but no sign of rain, so I've had to water the garden. Enjoy your gardening and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga