27 August 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Phew It's Hot!! Summer's Here

Hi everyone,

Summer has officially arrived. Most of the week has been hot and sunny and perfect gardening weather.

Monday - first thing we went to the recycling centre with a boot full of garden rubbish then we came back and pottered. Him indoors mowed the lawn - always looks better after a short back and sides,

emptied one side of the tumbler composter and I made chilli jam...already tastes delicious, sweet with an after kick to it.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were non-gardening days apart from picking more tomatoes and carrots. I do like growing carrots - you never know what you're going to pull up. This one came out very fast -  Carrot Bolt

the one at the top broke in half trying to pull it out.

Friday - hot and sunny and set for the whole weekend which is unusual as it's bank holiday! I mixed up the pond clear solution but when I went to pour it in the fish swam towards me expecting food -. they're too well trained. I had to wait until they realised there was no food and went under water so I could put the solution in. It's supposed to be harmless to them but I don't want to put it near them.

Saturday - hot and sunny! I had the pond pump on all afternoon to aerate the water. Some of the fish kept swimming underneath the mini waterfall. I took down the pea frames and emptied the runner bean, French bean and courgettes containers. None of these have been prolific this year, but the French beans were very tasty so I will grow the climbing variety next year instead of runner beans. I picked more tomatoes - don't think they will be lasting much longer and...we finally have another cucumber

so that's makes four from four plants, not good. They all keep dying off just as they start to grow (middle of pic)

Another failure are the pears, as far as I can see there are only these two and they don't look too healthy. Maybe I over-pruned it last year or it could be the salt air - it has been windier this year.

Last job of the day was much needed watering of the pots and the greenhouse.

Sunday - hot and sunny! Applied weedkiller to the pesky weeds that appear to spring up overnight and deadheaded some of the perennials. I filled the bird bath last night and this morning there were dozens of sparrows clambering to have a good soak. I picked radishes for lunch, these are icicle long white and I will definitely be growing them again, they're delicious
There was a small amount of duckweed in the cauldron pond which I cleared out. The water is still clear from the dose of pond clear earlier in the year.

The gardenia is still flowering, smells amazing
the alstroemeria is having a new lease of life
the miscanthus in the cottage garden just keeps getting better and better
and, I know I shouldn't have favourites but...
this is one of them

Just noticed the duckweed is already growing again
And whilst taking the above pic, I noticed how beautiful this fern looks from underneath
Well that's it for this week. Watched Gardeners' World and no jobs for me this week and just watched Countryfile...tomorrow is another scorcher then it starts to get cooler but no sign of rain. Just as well it's not the beginning of the growing season and everything needs watering regularly. Have a good week and catch up next Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

20 August 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Exciting...A Hummingbird Hawk Moth and A Good Potato Harvest

Hi everyone,

The thing with gardening is that no matter what the weather, the weeds will grow more quickly and profusely than the flowers, shrubs and vegetables. Well they do in this garden! Another gardening fact is that vegetables and fruit will take their time growing and then you wake up one day and they're all ripened and ready for picking. Except the cucumbers. This is only the third one (the other two weren't much better) from four plants. Honestly...it's a cucumber.

I didn't have much chance at the beginning of the week to get out in the garden but on Monday, on my way to feed the fish, I saw something big hovering around the verbena bonariensis. I peered closer (didn't have my glasses on!) and, to my delight, it was a hummingbird hawk moth. It's the first one I've seen. I was mesmerised as it hovered above the flowers then it's long tongue came out to get the nectar. I took these with my phone then dashed indoors to get the camera, but it had gone. I hope you can see it clearly.
Thursday - sunny and windy. I picked the peas that were ready and then pulled out the finished plants, there's only a couple left now and I don't think there will be many more peas to harvest. The same with the french and runner beans. I finally got round to making the chilli oil. It certainly has a kick to it.

I have enough chillies to make another batch and also chilli jam. Chillies are one of my successes this year. I picked the last of the plums and froze them and picked a couple of carrots for dinner - these were growing next to each other

and I picked another pound of tomatoes - the freezer's getting full.

Friday - we had a few heavy showers and, in the words of the weatherman, there was a strong breeze. That was more than a slight understatement. It felt like gale force all day. One of the jobs for the weekend is to clear the area by the side of the pottering shed

Saturday - warmer but still 'a strong breeze'. Him indoors cleared the area at the top of the garden where (hopefully) the new shed will be going
then he expertly de-weeded the path next to the cottage garden (looking good)...
 and tied back the goji berry which we've had for two years and no fruit yet

We went out the back to check on the compost bin and the blackberry bushes have taken over

...it's in there somewhere!

I tidied the greenhouse and cut back the yellowing leaves on the tomato and cucumber plants then I emptied all pots where the veg had finished producing. We emptied another of the pentland javelin potato bags and there was another 4lb
I then dug up one of the king Edward plants that has died off and they weighed in at a couple of pounds.
There's five more plants but they're not quite ready. Overall it's been a good year so far with the spuds, we've had a total harvest of just under 24lb. We also picked more (yes more) tomatoes and blackberries. At first glance there appeared to be an abundance of blackberries, but on closer inspection most of them had withered or gone mouldy. We were a couple of days too late.
Flower of the week has to be this viola with its cute lion faces.
Him indoors cleared the area by the pottering shed...then we sort of ended up with more -
that's now a job for next week.
Rain came in late afternoon which is good for the garden after the wind drying it out. We watched Countryfile this evening and it's going to get warmer over the next couple of days then cooling a bit for the rest of the week but no rain...as yet. Tomorrow we have a trip to the recycling centre to look forward to and hopefully stop at the garden centre on the way back! Have a good week and catch up next weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

13 August 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - The Week of the Tomato

Hi everyone,

We have an abundance of veg this week including tomatoes, chillies, carrots and potatoes. The runner and French beans have rallied a bit but they're not doing what it said on the packet.

Monday - bit chilly for August although the sun did make an appearance at times. I dug up the last two Charlotte potato plants that have finally died off. The spuds were quite big for Charlottes. The first yielded just over a 1lb and the second a whopping 2.5lbs. Really pleased with them. I picked a few of the plums that are ripe then pruned the tree to let in more air to stop the fruit rotting (smaller tree)

Next, I had an aromatic pruning session with the rosemary, lavender and the curry plants. Hours later I still smelt of curry! Planted out more violas in the pond garden bed, a moss rose near the pond
and a Santa Cruz begonia near the cauldron

I then did some deadheading. The bees were following me as if they were watching what I was doing.

Tuesday - cool and cloudy. I picked more plums for the freezer. The top of the garden was Sparrowsville today, they were everywhere - hanging off the feeders, rummaging along the paths and stalking through the cottage garden...great fun to watch.

Wednesday it rained, a good day to go to work and Thursday was warm and sunny - not a good day to be working. When I came home the fish were hungry and another container of tomatoes was waiting to be picked

Friday - started sunny then the rain came in late afternoon. Chilly for August. I picked white radishes (hot and tasty) for lunch and carrots and parsnips for dinner
The parsnips need to grow a bit more but they taste divine. Took tomatoes, carrots and spuds round to next door as we can't eat it all. Picked razzmatazz chillies and hot padron peppers to make oil and maybe chutney

Only fed the fish in the morning and evening today as I put the next dose of pond clear in to get rid of the blanket weed. It appears to be working. I put the pump on for a couple of hours during the week but all it did was stir up the sediment from the bottom.

Saturday - weather looking more promising in time for the weekend. I emptied one of the potato bags and there was 4lb of Duke of Yorks - a much better yield than in the garden

Then I picked peas, runner and French beans and carrots for dinner

And more tomatoes! I replenished the bird feeders and the bird table then pottered, tidying up and deadheading. One of the 'for your eyes only' rose is back in bloom

there are flower buds on the lemon tree

plus the lemon plants grown from seed are coming along nicely in the greenhouse
There's fruit on the olive tree but I doubt they will come to anything
Sunday - warm and sunny today with no wind. Perfect. I went for a walk this morning and spent the afternoon in the garden...but not working! The carrots and parsnips are doing well
there is a tomato plant (with tomatoes on) in one of the flower beds - not intentional
This is looking up the garden from the pond area
and my favourite plant at the moment is the miscanthus (you've probably guessed!) and it's now flowering - stunning
Watched Countryfile this evening for the weather and their graphics crashed. Anyway, it looks changeable, still warm at the beginning of the week then becoming cooler. Have a good gardening week and catch up next weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga

6 August 2017

Dorset Garden Diary - Garden Wildlife Encounters and Harvesting

Hi everyone,

Over the past two weeks we've had March winds and April showers - welcome to August. The weather has given the garden a spurt and coupled with a few days away it's a case of playing catch up. One thing I have noticed since we arrived back is that there are less small birds in the garden and more butterflies and bees.

The tomatoes have gone from just starting to turn at the end of last week
to rapid ripening mode

to date I've picked over 3lb. Next door have had some and there's some in the freezer. Still plenty left to pick.

Him indoors tried to get out the back to pick blackberries but this is all he could get.
The bushes have grown right up to the fence and he couldn't get through. These are destined for crumble! Another harvest doing well is the peas but I think they are coming towards the end now. I'm disappointed with the pot grown runner and French beans. The packets said there would be an abundance...not so. I won't be growing these again. They look as if they should be doing well...
something's obviously lost in translation. I'm impressed with the carrots though. Not only have they grown well but for the first time the majority of them are straight...but not all!


Him indoors mowed the lawn inbetween the showers, tied back the goji berry and cut back the intrusive rambling rose from next door that runs unchecked.

I dug up the last of the Duke of York spuds. This is the first time I've grown them, not a great yield but they make wonderful mash. Other disappointments compared to last year are the beetroot which refuse to grow this year and the cucumbers which are all flower and no fruit. There's only been one proper cue. These are the other two so far

Last Thursday we had gale force winds which blew down the trellis by the greenhouse with the sweet peas growing up it. I tried putting it back up but the wind was too strong. I had been thinking that the sweet peas were past their best - it seems nature decided they were! I pulled them all out then staked

up the other plants in the flower bed because the trellis had fallen on them, but it's looking ok.

The previous week I was bringing in the emptied rubbish bin and saw what looked like a small pile of dog poo on the driveway (I didn't have my glasses on). I was puzzling as to how it got there when it started to move towards me! It was a small black toad, moving towards the electric garage door that was coming down. Thankfully it made it. I raised the door and left it open so the toad could get out. If it's one of the toads from our pond I'm wondering how it got out the front??

And then yesterday I was rearranging the planting and dug up an elephant hawk moth caterpillar. It's not small! Thankfully I didn't harm it and I scooped the earth back over it. I couldn't get a pic of it but this is what they look like. It was a good 5/6 inches below the surface. Amazing and actually quite cute, it looks like a miniature baby seal.

Whilst we were away we bought these to brighten up the pond garden - yoga frogs
Yesterday would have been a warm day if it hadn't been for the north westerly wind. At 6.30pm the temperature outside was 18C 68F and in the greenhouse 27C 82F! There was a huge dragonfly flitting around the garden, it was the size of a small bird. The fish have been pleased we're back and being fed again, although I'm sure there's more than enough natural food in the pond for them.
Well that's it for this week. It's been a much better day than forecast and I've spent a few hours tidying up. The forecast for the coming week is unsettled (their words) - doesn't look like much of the 'unsettled' is coming our way except maybe rain on Wednesday so it's back to watering the garden.
Hope the weather's good where you are, catch up next week.
Follow me on Twitter @DaisyDigga