30 April 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - A Frosty Start Then Much Needed Rain

Evening everyone,

It's been a strange week and no doubt confusing for the plants - warm by day and frosty at night in the middle of the week, but thankfully everything has survived.

Monday - colder today and windy. A frost was forecast overnight and a chilly day tomorrow so I moved the charlotte potatoes, freesias, radishes, spinach and the jasmine into the greenhouse
and covered the other potatoes, carrots and peas with protective fleece

There was a speckled wood butterfly in the greenhouse, I've no idea how it got in there as the door was closed. I put out my hand catch it and it flew onto my finger and let me carry it outside, then sat there for a few seconds before flying off.

Tuesday - there was no frost overnight but this morning it was only just above freezing and very windy. I sowed more spring onions, beetroot and radish and potted on the previous sowing of radishes and the opera runner beans. I checked the fleeces were still intact. We had a short shower this evening, about two minutes worth that didn't even soak the concrete let alone the garden.

Wednesday - woke up to frost this morning. There was a lot of bird activity in the garden and the blue tits were in and out of their nesting box for most of the morning. I potted on beetroot and spring onion seedlings. The parsnips are starting to sprout, they are always slow to germinate
and also the black cornflowers, I'm looking forward to seeing these in flower
Whilst I was watering the potatoes, peas, carrot and the small pots I saw an orange tipped butterfly - not the best of days to choose to fly around.

Thursday - a stunning sunrise and frost again this morning. The blue tits were active again, I'm wondering if the chicks have hatched. I cleaned and refreshed the bird table and adapted the hanging bird feeder so the birds (hopefully) can't throw the seed everywhere...we'll see. The perennials I'd ordered arrived at lunchtime, twelve each of poppy 'ladybird', lavender 'munstead', geum 'mrs J bradshaw' and Echinacea 'pink parasol'.
I left the fleeces on again today and overnight just in case there is more frost.
Friday - cloudy but warmer today. I moved the lodgers out of the greenhouse back into the garden and removed the protective fleeces. I potted up the poppies and the geums. Despite the frost, the yellow alyssum is brightening up the garden
and the first of the yellow poppies
Saturday - cloudy, windy and warm when the sun decided to come out. I potted on the lavender and echinacea then put the next batch of peas in and sowed more
potted up the chillies (left) and put them in the greenhouse next to the peppers
and the iceberg lettuce. Deadheaded the daffs, weeded a couple of the beds and earthed up the duke of york potatoes

The charlotte potatoes are flourishing after their spell in the greenhouse
the Hestia beans are nearly ready to be planted out
as are the courgettes
there is fruit developing on the blackcurrant bush (although they look like tiny gooseberries at the moment). I'll have to cover it with netting next week to stop the blackbirds eating them

the cucumbers are finally growing
as are the second batch of carrots
and the white azalea is on the verge of flowering
Sunday - and I caught the tail end of the sunrise before the cloud took over. And, joy of joys, it's raining properly for the first time in a month. It's dull and dark and delightfully wet...very happy (sorry holidaymakers). And it's rained for most of the day so I've had a duvet day!  I watched Countryfile this evening and there is more rain forecast overnight and on and off tomorrow then it gets drier and warmer from Tuesday here in the west.
That's it for this week and I'm pleased that everything is coming along nicely and the water butts are being topped up. Have a good gardening week and catch up next weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

23 April 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - And Still No Rain...The Water Butts Are Nearly Empty

Hi everyone,

Spring has taken a grip and it's all go in the garden. The perennials are re-surfacing after the winter and the newly sown veggies are shooting up, apart from the cucumbers for some reason. Only one of eight sown has surfaced. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the weeds, it's a battle at the moment. And still no rain.

Monday - a cloudy day to start then the sun came out. Him indoors made a new frame to cover growing seedlings to keep the pigeons off.
At the moment it's covering the Duke of York spuds, which are doing nicely thank you very much.

Next on his list was mowing the lawn then tidying up, of which there's always plenty to do. I potted on a couple cosmos tango, the two apple saplings that I grew from seed last year and the spinach which I'm keeping in a pot this year as it doesn't do well in the ground. Here it is (black pot) with the lettuce, kale, radishes, onions and swiss chard

The apple saplings look like twigs at the moment but there small leaves are appearing...I'm quite chuffed they've taken. I then sowed carrots Amsterdam (which can be grown in pots) and icberg frisee de beauregard. Final job of the day was to put netting on the trellis for the sweet peas to grow up. The cornflowers have started to grow

 and the freesias are in bud  - interesting colour
they always flower early.

Tuesday - another dry and sunny day. Him indoors did a recycling centre run with all the garden rubbish accumulated over the weekend. The dwarf runner beans (Hestia) are coming along nicely and I've potted them up

I covered the Duke of York spuds and the carrots late afternoon as we could get a frost tonight.

Wednesday - amazing sunrise leading into yet another dry and sunny day. As lovely as the weather is, we desperately need some rain - the water butts are nearly empty. I watered the greenhouse (the peppers, tomatoes and chillies need potting on)

then watered the veg pots and the spuds and carrots.

Thursday - aha...cold and cloudy today, maybe it'll rain. Nope. The birds were frisky, flitting about the garden - even the pigeons had a spring in their waddle! I topped up the pond water, the fish are still in hiding and the tadpoles are still rippling the water. I planted out a couple of verbena bonariensis seedlings and potted up the courgettes as they are growing like triffids
next to them are the peas that need to go out soon. I also potted up the peppers which I'm keeping in the greenhouse

I sowed more cucumbers, they are just not germinating this year, then watered the pots. Another azalea is coming into flower, they are so spectacular

and the grass pond is looking pretty good as well

Friday - another cloudy day but temperature up to 13C 55F. The blue tits were in and out of their box and a robin was hopping around the garden. On my walk round the 'estate' I saw that something has been in the cauldron pond. One of the small pots with ornamental grass in it had been knocked over and the grass had gone, there was an indentation in the soil near the pond and some of the plants were squashed. I'm hoping it's just a frog. I put more weedkiller on the Spanish bluebells, watered the greenhouse and the carrots. I think I can see some emerging and also one of the charlotte potatoes. Also starting to emerge are the flowers on the delphinium black knight

one of the rosebuds on the climbing rose
 the lilac buds
and the freesia is now blooming

Saturday - cloudy again but warm-ish. Too warm for a fleece but not quite warm enough without one. The pot I removed from the cauldron pond yesterday morning was knocked over this morning. I have been in two minds whether or not to plant out the peas as there could be a frost early next week, but they are becoming straggly in their pots so I made the executive decision to plant them out.
I've mulched them to protect the roots and hold moisture. I can always cover them if frost is imminent as well as the potatoes and carrots. I then planted the tomatoes in grow bags in the greenhouse

and made a start on tidying up the area next to the pottering shed - after a couple of hours got bored so I'll finish it tomorrow. Last job of the day was hose the garden. The bed near the shade garden is looking full and lush

Sunday - started cloudy then the sun came out but a chilly wind kept the temperature down. To be honest I've had a lazy day. I finished tidying up the side of the pottering shed. Before
and after
and...breathe! Much more calming...

Two plants that are doing well this year are the lemon - it obviously likes the new greenhouse
and the acer I bought a couple of years ago that hasn't been happy...until now
lovely isn't it.

It's clouded over now and there's a mist forming over the RSPB reserve. According to the weather forecast tomorrow is remaining warm then we have a cold front coming in with the possibility of wintry showers and night frosts so I'll be covering up new growth. Then it's getting warmer from Thursday with maybe...and it is only a maybe...some rain. The last time we had rain was 31st March!
Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

16 April 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - All The Jobs On The List Completed

Happy Easter...don't know about you but I started on the chocolate early this morning!

It's not been as warm as last week but we've had some nice days, still chilly at night though. As usual it's been a busy week - there's always something that needs doing!

Monday - all of the Duke of York potato plants are now showing. I don't need to start earthing them up until they are about  8" high. I sowed more spring onions and radishes and had intended to start hardening off the peas and courgettes but there was a cold wind and didn't want to risk it. I watered the greenhouse then emptied one side of the compost tumbler. I think I may have seen the culprit that has been flattening the Spanish bluebell leaves - a big ginger cat has been wandering between the gardens. And talking of the Spanish bluebells, they are becoming too invasive. I've tried digging them out but more just keep appearing so I'm going to have to try weed killer as they are smothering other plants. Oh, nearly forgot, the birds I saw the other week were goldfinches, the book describes their flight as fluttery (like a butterfly) and that's what drew my attention to them.

Tuesday - no gardening today as I was working but I did spend some time in the conservatory this evening watching the blue tits in and out of the nesting box.

Wednesday - a spectacular sunrise contrasted with a dark sky in the west. Much chillier. I removed a few bits of duckweed from the pond (it looks like lime-green cress) then watered the carrots and potatoes. Again it was too cold to harden off the peas and courgettes. The cress is growing well
 and the beetroot seedlings are starting to appear
In the front garden one of the new potentilla plants has started to flower (with yellow allysium)
and the rockery is starting to fill out
Thursday - the sun appeared at times today and it was warmer. I finally started to harden off the peas and courgettes in the portable greenhouse that him indoors erected
I'm very impressed with it, we'll have to get another one. I'm going to use it for the overspill of tomatoes and peppers in the summer. Re-potted the winter jasmine cuttings I've taken, they will be going along the back fence and moved the Charlotte potatoes and garlic troughs to the side of the house which gets the sun for most of the day as I'm running out of space around the greenhouse and patio area. Him indoors started on another plan for magpie-proofing the bird table

The bees were busy gathering pollen

and a lone tulip was enjoying the sun

In the evening we had a BBQ which him indoors was in charge of. We had our first radishes, lettuce and baby spinach from the garden plus parsley and chives.
Friday - sunny and warm and perfect for gardening. Him indoors' first job was to clear out the cauldron pond. Unfortunately, the frog spawn was decomposing and no tadpoles. If we get frog spawn in there next year I'll move it into the big pond. Such a shame. He then tidied up the brick edging around the flower bed and dug out some of the compost from the back bin - it looks lovely and rich. I started on weeding the top beds as all of a sudden they've become overgrown

I managed to clear most of it but there are some thorns that will need weed killer. It's looking much better now

The quince tree is in flower, looking good for it's second year (check out that blue sky!)
both the new buddleias have settled in and the irises we moved a couple of weeks ago are in flower

We then spent the rest of the day pottering and tidying.
Saturday - not as warm today and there were a few spits of rain. It was supposed to rain overnight but it never happened so I gave the back garden a good soaking. I meant to do the front as well but we went out and I forgot! Him indoors started on the new frame for the pond netting and I dug over another part of the vegetable garden ready to put in the pentland javelin potatoes and the peas. I dug up two large spring onions and a radish left over from last year's crop! The soil is looking good from the compost dug into it in last autumn. I planted one row of potatoes and put the others in a potato bag so I can compare which grows best. I have a high-tec plan of what's planted where and when, and when to feed!
The cherry blossom is brightening up the garden - Morello cherry
 and artificial cherry
the clematis never fails to delight
 I put weed killer on about three-quarters of the Spanish bluebells, let's hope it works.
Sunday - it looks nice out but it's cold in the wind. Him indoors finished the pond frame and it's in situ
I erected the pea frame. I think the chocolate must have affected my brain because I spent ages faffing over putting the netting around it
The radishes planted at the beginning of the week are already growing
plus one of the Hestia dwarf runner beans
Him indoors was hammering away on something in his workshop whilst I watered the front garden - don't know what these are but they are quite striking
The Spanish bluebells are showing no adverse effects to the weed killer so I may need something stronger. The weather for the coming week is warmer during the day but going down to freezing at night so I won't be able to plant out the peas that are raring to go and we'll have to cover up the newly sprouted potatoes. Still no decent rain forecast.
Well that's it for this week. We are absolutely shattered but in a nice way... time for a drink or two! Have a good gardening week and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga