Tuesday, 24 April 2007

A Full Week in the Garden 29.04.07

Good morning and welcome to my update, I hope you find it useful and interesting:

This week I wanted to illustrate how much you can get done by spending just 15 minutes a day during the week (if that) and a bit more time at the weekend in the garden. Sadly - most of us have to work - me included - so a little done often is the way to go.

Planted out new fruit bushes into the borders. Purchased from wilkinsons.
Potted on first of Pumpkin plants into its own container, to be kept in conservatory till early june.
Tied in runner bean growth.

Planted new row of Leeks(v.Mussleburgh) into raised beds.
Radish rows growing very fast-will need thinning out soon.
Beetroot (v.Boltardy) seedlings now appearing. Looking at the picture, left to right crops are:
Garlic, Carrot, Garlic, Shallott, Shallott, Carrot, Chive, Radish, Betroot, Radish, Parsnip.
Biggest problem is only now starting - weeding! At some point I will have to remove the netting so I can get to the weeds !

Rain started today - but not much of it.
Second sowing of runner beans started to show this morning. Planted as a successional batch in case plants in raised beds get hit by frost. Have just planted the seeds into toilet roll inners, that are packed with fresh compost / vermiculite mixture. If the mild weather continues unabated, I will need to site these elsewhere in the garden as no room in the raised beds.
Beetroot row now firmly extablished, and seedlings thinned to approx 1.5" apart. Further thinning may or may not be required. Will have to wait and see!

Tied in the Broad beans to the canes. This enables all plant energy to be channelled into cropping, and not self support of the plants.
Continued with weeding between rows.
Carrots and Chive seedling just starting to appear, the former will need to be thinned out at a later date.
Radishes thinned to approx 1" apart, in both rows.
Runner beans are growing fast, and have been tied in to their support canes on regular occasions.

Woke up to remnants of overnight rain. Much needed foot of water in the water butts, but I still want more !
More weeding being done now between the rows, keeping them down.
More broad bean growth tied in to canes. Flowers have formed well, and the absence of ants on the plants is good news too. No sign of blackfly yet, but keeping my eyes open! I planted some climbing french beans early - same time as broad beans as a bit of an experiment - and these are starting to climb above the broad beans. Planting dates are in the diary page - see earlier post.

Getting very low again on rainwater to water the plants, but still not resorted to the tap. We really need some prolonged rain to replenish the stocks, as being on a water meter I am loathed to resort to the hosepipe! Have attached pic of my toms - Money Maker, which are now about 6" Tall. I've had to use canes to support them as leaf growth is so fast the stems can't support the plants.
Had a rest day from gardening, opting instead to assemble our new travel system for the bab, due in 8 weeks. I'm sooooo excited!

Up bright and early as new raised beds boards are due for delivery 7.00am ! And they arrived on time !!
Blackcurrant bush planted last week is showing new leaf growth and looking healthy, whilst Gooseberry bush seems to be struggling. Both watered and fed with liquid fertilizer.
Again, had to tie in runner bean growth, some of the plants have grown about 8" in the last week.
TIP : To keep the kids interest up, I mark the canes each sunday morning with a marker pen. This lets you show the growth rate very easily - the look on faces is a picture!
Rhubarb root continues to grow at a pace, and seems now to be well established, plenty of new growth.
Spuds have grown so much, I have to push the leaves aside now to find the holes in the black plastic through which to water ! Maincrop will be planted out in the morning.
This growth rate is truly astounding, the only way I can get a handle on it is taking a picture daily. Even with my weekly posting pictures you can clearly see progress.
I put this down to the soil preperation prior to planting.

After posting this update, I need to get out and plant my maincrop spuds, before we nip over to the in laws for dinner!

I hope you've enjoyed your visit to my blog, and that you will come back soon,
Please leave your comments, using the "Comments" button at the foot of the page.

Luckily we managed to avoid any problems associated with the earthquake in Folkestone / Dover, but I hope that all those that have been affected get back to normal as soon as possible.

See you next week.


Saturday, 21 April 2007

Amazing ! 22.04.07

7 Days of sunshine and the garden looks very different.

Trees and shrubs have come to life - as if someone has just flicked a switch! My Silver Birch is gloriously regailed in fresh leaves, casting shadows across the lawn.

As for the veggies, i'm not sure where to start:

After my seed sowing last weekend, I now have 2 rows of healthy looking Radish shoots, which appeared Thursday morning. I will have to thin them out as I was a tad too eager with the seeds!

The Parsnips are now well established in the bed, 5 out of 6 plants going strong. I'll have to wait and see if the 6th is going to grow on.

Having marked the Runner Bean canes with a permanent marker pen, I can clearly and easily measure a good 6" of growth on these, very promising considering the very early planting. I think it was worth a gamble on the weather, but we're still not out of the woods just yet regarding the chance of a late frost. Successional indoor seed sowing last Monday has allayed any fears of losing a plant or 2 to frost. In the past where I've lost plants to frost, i simply cut them off at the base - leaving the nutrient rich root in place - and replant in the same position.

The Peas are coming on in leaps and bounds, at last count I had 14 out of 18 seed germinated, with about 2cm growth on each seedling.
Job for today will be erecting Pea sticks to support the growing plants. I hope to get away with not using netting but if needs be i will cobble something together.

Both rows of early spuds are flourishing. Photo shows the tremendous growth rate - compared to last week - which surprises me every morning as i water them, before leaving for work. The 3rd bed I prepared for the maincrop is still getting hoed on a regular basis, in an effort to thwart any weed growth. It seems to be working and there is now a finer tilth on the surface. This weekend I will rake in some powdered fertilizer as a last dressing, prior to planting these out next weekend. ( Windy - watch your postbag - I may have some spares ).

Indoors is busy too. I have 6 strong toms ( v. Money Maker) which I've moved to 3.5" pots from the seed trays. Watering the drip trays and not the plants, and they look very healthy. Next step on the toms is to plant some Gardeners Delight seeds, for a slightly later cropping.

Pumpkin plants are now well developed and will be moved to larger planters for final growing. These plants will be staying in the conservatory till well after the last frosts, as they are in no way hardy. Plan is to grow one fruit per plant, to try and maximise the fruit size in time for halloween.

I've potted on some Cineraria Silver Dust, 4 seedlings per 3" square pot. I intend these to act as low maintenance ground cover for the front garden, which is mainly ( unfortunately) paving slabs and concrete driveway. What little border space I have is well overgrown and in need of some tlc.

More seedlings to pot on include loads of Forget me not that are bursting from their seed trays.

Also need to prepare ground and plant out my latest additions of Gooseberry & Blackcurrant bushes that I purchased in the week.

All in all, its been a busy yet productive week. Hope you enjoyed the update. Keep the emails coming and post your comments too. Its always nice to hear from fellow enthusiasts.


Saturday, 14 April 2007

It's all happening ! 15.04.07

Crikey - it's been a busy and productive week. Where shall I start ?

Bank Holiday monday / time off work, gave me ample time to get on in the garden. I started off by planting out my Sweet Peas (V. Ancient Old Mix) in the raised beds with the Runner beans and the climbing french beans. In most cases I planted one per cane, with a few extra's thrown in for good measure.

I also soaked my Pea seeds overnight (V. Kelvedon Wonder) and planted these straight into the raised beds. I simply cut cross-holes in the weed prevention fabric and planted straight through them. Its Saturday now and already there is a clear sign of growth to them all.

The spuds i planted 2 weeks ago ( see previous post) have now got their leaves showing through the black plastic holes, and are being well watered nightly to promote development of the tubers. The spare seed potatoes I had have found a new home in Cornwall, hope they perform well there too! I simply donated them to a fellow enthusiast!
The shallots i planted are seemingly ok, showing their early growth at quite a rate. I had intended to send the spare sets to Cornwall too, but they had spoiled in storage. Instead I threw in some free veg seeds which I had accumulated.

In the conservatory there's plenty going on too. The Chilli Peppers seeds i planted 14th Feb have finally germinated, and are ready now for potting on. Same goes for the toms, more than enough have germinated! Guess we'll be filling the freezer again soon !

Jobs for Sunday morning included planting out of Parsnips, Beetroot, Carrots, Chives, and Radish ( See planting records post) straight into the raised beds. No lie in for me ! I was in the garden 7.00am. Also gave the rain water butt a clean out ready for the April showers !

Finally, I have a large job ahead potting on all the various flower seedlings that i sowed earlier in the year.

The Rhubarb I planted out last week is growing at a staggering rate, which I can hardly believe! Its only been in there a week ! Any worrying niggles about it being planted too close to the fence have long since vanished!

Thats about it really. If anyone knows how I can add a slideshow to this blog, please get in touch. See you next week .


Sunday, 8 April 2007

Happy Easter everyone 8.04.07

As you can see, there's plenty going on in the raised beds!
Spuds have been planted through the holes in the black plastic, and I'm just waiting for signs of growth. Only been in there a week so can't expect too much just yet.
Runner beans and French climbing beans have also been in there for a week, and with the unseasonally hot weather, are growing at quite a rate. The broad beans in the far bed are well established now, and were fed yesterday with a 5/5/5 liquid feed (normally reserved for Toms) to help them on their way. Plenty of other activity in the far bed includes planting of Garlic, Shallots and Carrots.

Although I have been growing some Rhubarb from seed, a shop bought root found its way into my border yesterday, as the seeds are not growing at such a good rate. This "Timperley Early" should get big enough to crop later in the year. The receiving ground was well dug, and the plant repotted with a good layer of MP compost.

The plot has been extended as you can see to provide a further small row plot for my maincrop spuds. These will be planted out late April for late summer / early autumn harvest. They will be planted in the traditional trench method ( earthing up ) to compare growth rates with the earlies planted under the plastic (no earthing up).

Finally, a top tip for all you recyclers ! These empty drink bottles rattle in the wind and scare the birds away from my tender seedlings !

Hope you all have a great day. Don't eat too much chocolate !


Sunday, 1 April 2007

Timing it right ? 1.04.07

So when is the right time to transfer your lovingly cared for indoor grown seeds to the plot? I took a gamble - figuring today is the right day - for me anyway.
It's very mild in this neck of the woods, and so far we've had only 2 frosts, and only one of those was very cold ! Last spring we had two frosts - and that was it. These strong runners were planted 3 weeks ago in toilet roll inners ( bit of an experiment for me ) and they've come on very strong. They've been hardened off overnight outside for a few days, and look good on it. I simply am amazed at the length of the roots protruding from the bottom of each tube, and so with pure excitement welling up inside, I planted them out.
Also planted today were 2 rows of shallot sets. Variety was Red Sun, a mild variety and a good cropper. Other planting included my "Irene" French climbing beans, and my early spuds: Rocket - First Earlies, and Nicola - Second Earlies. With the spud planting this year, I've opted for the "Carol Klein method", planting through holes in black plastic hoping to negate the need for earthing up - I guess we'll see.
My garlic sets I planted out 2 weeks ago are doing really well, and I appear to have some carrots coming up - Early Nantes - that I planted between the garlic rows. Thats about it for this week. Watch this space for more news from my garden plot : Reads Retreat.