22 June 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - The First Potatoes and the Second Fledging of Blue Tits

Evening everyone,

Well, the week before last was an absolute scorcher. Unfortunately, two of the fish died even though I had the pond pump on from early morning until late at night and I topped up the water three times. Apart from one of the larger fish, none of the others surfaced for most of the week. When it cooled on the Thursday a few came up briefly for food. We've had a visit from the heron some mornings and I think it might have scared them (even though it can't get to them) as they weren't staying on the surface to feed, more of a grab and dive.

I thought the blue tits had fledged but then the adults were back in and out of the box again. The  summer solstice was a gorgeous sunny day with a welcome breeze and an amazing sunset. I pottered throughout the week, sowing seeds and planting out seedlings including more beetroot. Fingers crossed the slugs and snails won't get these. Thursday morning dawned foggy but the wind soon cleared it and it was much cooler thankfully. Thunderstorms were forecast but they didn't materialise. I tied back the tomatoes and cucumbers, picked peas, courgettes and raspberries and some of the onions were ready for lifting
But mainly it's been a week of watering and dousing the greenhouse plants.

On the Friday, him indoors adjusted the pond pump so water isn't spraying out of the pond, weeded part of the front drive, pruned and re-shaped the conifer out the front

and put my new working table, that he made, in situ

...thank you! He also adjusted one side of the tumbler composter as I couldn't get it open. I planted up the next batch of courgette seedlings and noticed the French beans have started growing

This Week
Monday - the first thing I did when we arrived back was check the pond, the water level was low but thankfully no dead fish. I picked French beans, peas and raspberries (the latter we had with chocolate parfait ice cream...yummy)

 Out of curiosity I lifted the first of the charlotte spuds grown in the small bags

There was only about 1lb, not as much as last year when I grew them in larger bags. The peppers have grown bigger

and I picked some of the shallots and left them to dry in the greenhouse

The blue tit chicks were vocal this afternoon. I picked more sweet peas for indoors, this year's flowers are stunning

Tuesday - humid and raining so nothing done in the garden today.

Wednesday - dull and damp. Yesterday's rain has topped up the pond but it's still low. Picked more peas, beans and more onions to dry out. Cut the tops off the tomatoes (after four flower trusses), planted out a flower I found on my way home from a walk

emptied another bag of charlotte's - another 1lb - and picked a couple of carrots to see if they are ready
at least one of them is carrot shaped!

The lilies in the front garden are in flower - no idea what they are as they came with the house

and I'm pleased with the black cornflowers I've grown from seed.

Thursday - humid and raining again. The blue tit adults were in and out of the nesting box regularly all day.

Friday - cloudy, damp with a bit of sun now and again. Hard to believe the difference from last week's heatwave - it's official, temperature above 30C 86F for four consecutive days apparently. The highest temperature was 35C 95F which unusual for the UK.

Saturday - a bit warmer and dry. I fed the fish, they are getting back to their normal selves - they've been acting strange lately, not surfacing and still snatching at the food instead of feeding on the surface. I pulled more onions and hung the garlic to dry

Every year I forget how to do it - not aesthetically pleasing but as long as it works and it's my best crop to date. I fed the fish again lunchtime and there was a blackbird sat on the concrete cat! The garden was busy with butterflies and birds and...the blue tits fledged late morning. It was fascinating and entertaining to watch as they flitted around the garden getting used to flying. This is the first year there's been two lots of fledglings. The damper on the day was another dead fish surfaced. It must have been dead for a while (no description necessary). Strange it's only just surfaced. I hope there's no more lurking in the weed.

The cottage garden is filling out nicely, I'm pleased with the ornamental grasses (potatoes in the foreground)

And talking of grasses, the ornamental grass in the pot we moved from the greenhouse bed to the pond bed has come into flower for the first time
it's obviously happy where it is. And I'm now wondering if it is a grass??

Sunday - warm and sunny with a breeze. The first thing I did was check the pond and thankfully all ok except that, with the pump being on all night the water level is down about an inch so I turned it off. The fish are happy and were even on the surface for a while like old times. I pruned the pods on the sweet peas, trimmed the clematis and pruned the cherry tree
I planted out the outstanding seedlings to go in the garden and the lovage I got free with my purchases at the garden centre. It's quiet in the garden without the blue tits in and out. Last job of the day was water the pots.

Watched Friday's Gardeners' World and the only job relevant to me was trim back clematis (done) and watched Countryfile and the weather for the coming week is dry, becoming warmer then thunderstorms coming in on Thursday, apparently. Have a good gardening week and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

18 June 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - It's Definitely June and the Garden is Flourishing

Evening everyone,

Summer has arrived. It hasn't crept up on us, just hit us with a bang, 16-26C (59-78F) in three days. The garden is loving it. I think I have solved the blue tit conundrum...someone told me they have probably laid another clutch of eggs which explains why the adults are still in and out of the nesting box.

Monday - I picked the first raspberries (sweet and tasty) and blackcurrants (sour!). I'm a bit concerned that the Charlotte potato plants aren't flowering as they are due to be dug up soon - the leaves are starting to wilt. I weeded the veg beds then topped up the bird feeders. Every time I walked past the pond the fish surfaced expecting food...I felt guilty and fed them. There were loads of flies hovering just above the water. I picked one of the courgettes although it doesn't look like one
and some flowers for the conservatory

Tuesday - no cloud today and we were treated to an amazing sunrise and a warm day with no wind (for a change). I was by the pond and saw a squirrel on top of the fence. It stopped when it neared the stone cat on top of the pump housing. It looked at it, took a couple of tentative steps, then dashed past. I heard somewhere that squirrels don't like cats. They obviously go by sight because it recognised what it was. I topped up the pond water, filled the bird baths then watered the garden. There was a blackbird sat on the bird table, not eating, just watching me. It stayed there for ages. The pentland javelin potatoes are flourishing
and the cottage garden is filling out

Wednesday - another glorious day with a gentle breeze and a cloudless sky until late afternoon. I pulled up the garlic and hung them to dry

This is my first successful harvest. I planted out spinach and fennel seedlings and put marigolds in the greenhouse near the tomatoes and the rest in the flower beds. I mowed the lawn (not in straight lines like him indoors - oops). There is a lot of clover growing on the lawn again this year so I've left a patch around the pear tree for the bees. Spotted this little ray of  sunshine amongst the ornamental grass

I cleared the algae out of the cauldron pond and a bit later I was pottering and saw little flies on the water - you can see on the right the star-like reflection in the stone

Thursday - at 5.30am we had thick fog. A couple of hours later the wind had cleared it. No gardening today.

Friday - sunny and windy. I fed the fish, replenished the sweet peas indoors, sowed more spring onions and planted out carrots and lettuce. The chantenay carrots are coming along nicely

Looks like we're in for a hot weekend if the forecast is correct.

Saturday - sunny, clear blue sky and 20C (68F) at 8.30am. I fed the fish, there were more this morning near the surface. I then noticed that the big one has surfaced and I caught sight of some small black fishlings so I'm pleased about that. I ran the pump for a couple of hours to oxygenate the water. I moved a couple of plants in the cottage garden that had become squashed by the ornamental grass then planted out three hollyhocks (peaches and cream) that I've been given and a fuchsia. I tied up the cucumber plants in the greenhouse - saw this little one forming

and there's flowers on the pepper plants

I picked more raspberries and blackcurrants, the blackcurrants are still a bit sour. I gave the garden a  good soaking and filled up the bird baths.

Sunday - 18C (65F) at 6.30 this morning and another scorcher of a day. The fish were on the surface when I went to feed them
but they didn't seem that interested, maybe it's too hot. The garden was full of sparrows, some were having a bath - you can just about see (I couldn't get any closer without them flying away)
and on the patio an adult was feeding a newly fledged chick. Made my weekend! I had a stroll round the garden as it's too hot to do much work although I did do some weeding. The jasmine is in flower
the boogie woogie hydrangea is in full bloom
a rather large courgette that is for dinner
one of the new potentilla I put in earlier this year
the sweet peas are still stunning
and the lionheart lillies are beginning to flower

A lot of the fish were on the surface of the pond and weren't moving much which was a bit disconcerting, especially as they hadn't been interested in the food. I put the pump on although the pond is oxygenated and I topped up the water. It was then I saw why - one of the fishes had died. I scooped it out and, after a short while, most of the fish disappeared under water. I'm hoping it's just died of natural causes rather than something being wrong in the pond. I kept checking the pond throughout the day and one of the bigger fish was permanently near the surface which is unusual but when I looked this evening all seemed fine. By the way...it's 8.15pm and the temperature in the greenhouse is 26C 78F! I thought I'd have an hour lying in the sun this afternoon...and a pigeon pooped on my shoulder...thank you!

It's been a busy and diverse week in the garden and we're starting to reap the benefits of our sowings. I watched the Countryfile weather this evening and tomorrow is going to be even hotter then it's going to cool slightly (but not much), maybe some rain and a thunderstorm Wednesday but probably not. Yep...summer's arrived. There won't be a blog next weekend (things to do) so catch up in a fortnight. Enjoy this lovely weather!



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

11 June 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Are you SureThis Is June

Hi everyone,

Well once again we didn't get the forecasted rain but it was enough to fill the water butts and save me having to water the garden for a few days.

Monday - a humid day with gales. One of the ladybird poppies has come into flower (in miniature)

and the sweet peas are putting on a spurt

First thing, I planted out parsnip and carrot (amsterdam and large) seedlings before the rain came but I needn't have hurried, it didn't arrive until the evening. The blue tits are back and in and out of the nesting box...one nearly collided with me as I came out of the greenhouse!

Tuesday - well that was a wild night with gales and lashing rain. This morning there was a rainbow stretching across the garden. I was out all day so I checked the garden before I went and when I came home. The patio table and BBQ covers were flapping about so I re-tied them and supported the sweet peas to the netting. The sweet peas in the pot had blown over so I moved it to a more sheltered spot.

Wednesday - another wild day but at least it was sunny. The blue tits were in and out of the nesting box. We still can't work it out, maybe we'll have to rig up a camera for next year...it's on the list! Sparrows and blackbirds were rooting around the garden and in the pots for food and the fish were lurking just beneath the surface waiting for food. I opened the vents in the greenhouse and left the door open halfway, I didn't want to leave it fully open because of the gales. I potted on coriander and lemon basil and put the pots on the kitchen windowsill (otherwise I forget to use them). I planted the remaining tomato and cucumber plants in pots. I've left them in the greenhouse until it warms up a bit and the wind dies down. The greenhouse is filling up

There are flowers on the cucumbers

the pentland javenlin potatoes

and the runner beans

The courgettes are doing well so far and very tasty

Thursday - heavy rain for part of the day but at least we have been downgraded from gales to very windy! Apart from opening up the greenhouse and feeding the fish I didn't venture out.

Friday - and yet another windy day but with some sun. The wind has dried out the top of the soil and the pots even after all the rain we've had. I picked some of the sweet peas for the kitchen windowsill

Saturday - still windy, sunny then clouded over. So much for flaming June. I thinned out the tomatoes, planted out the next batch of peas and the cosmos tango I've grown from seed. The soil is like dust. The beetroot have all been eaten by the pesky slugs and snails so I planted the next batch in a trough. I also planted out the spinach seedlings, cut the seed tops off the onions and garlic (I think the garlic are nearly ready to pull up) and some of the onions aren't far off

I fed the veg in the greenhouse and pots with liquid seaweed and the fruit bushes with a high nitrogen feed. There's more raspberries this year (the plant is in its second year), I'm just waiting on some sun to ripen them

There's peas

and flowers on the French beans
On a stroll to the top of the garden I saw this poppy that has seeded itself

one of the new climbing roses is in flower (looks like a fried egg in this pic!)
as is this shrub that I can never remember the name of (has yellow flowers and red berries)

Sunday - sunnyish and cloudyish...needs to get warmer. We had rain overnight (the best time to have it in my opinion)

Saw this little fella on one of the charlotte potato leaves
and the boogie woogie hydrangea is slowly coming into flower

Well that's it for this week. Looking at the weather forecast for next week I think the sun may put in a surprise, prolonged appearance fingers crossed. Enjoy your week and catch up next Sunday.



Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga