Monday, 28 May 2007

Toothache - ouch !!! 27.05.07

Well what a week that was, hot and sunny to cold and wet, and 3 days of severe toothache.
I'm on the mend now thanks to some emergency dental work today. As if that wasn't enough, I also had to call Roadside assistance when the car failed to start - flat battery syndrome!
The week started well enough with a trip to the local garden centre.
Heading straight to the "Hospital" rack ( can't resist a bargain), we picked up this small haul for under a tenner:
1 x Zinnia, 4 x Dahlia, 1 x Geranium, and 3 x trailing petunias in a plastic hanger !The petunias went into the hanging baskets and freed up the hanger for another desrving plant. The rest went into various beds/pots around the garden.

Sadly, my Broad Beans had to be removed from the raised beds on Tuesday, following the discovery of blackened stems and an ants nest at the base of the plants.
Luckily, I had planted some companion runner & french climbing beans which have survived the infestation, and the plot is therefore not completely bare.
It's not full either! Time to put my thinking cap on. Any ideas what I can add ?

On the other hand, the changeable weather has done some good.
My row of Maincrop spuds are doing really well, putting on tremendous growth this week.
I'm beginning to wonder already if I have left them enough room to flourish ? I guess I wont know for sure until I start earthing them up. That reminds me, I need to buy more gen purpose compost to do this.

Mind you , I'm gonna need a shed load of compost to fill / top dress my new raised bed.
I've taken the easy "weed kill" option as you can see, and will use the contents of one of my composters to form the base layer, and then the GC compost on the top.

I'm planning on planting this bed with winter greens, sprouts , cauliflowers etc.

Elsewhere on the plot, things are going well.
The shallots look great, as do the carrots and garlic.

This is my favourite plot, just because it looks so good.

Further planting of carrots and beet are planned for next week, along with some mixed salad leaves. So much to do, so little time!

And finally, a chance to stand back and admire the plot.

I've not done half of what I planned this week, but it still seems like progress has been made.

Ruby is due 22nd June, so there's plenty to keep me occupied.
Thanks for all your kind comments and feedback on my blog.

I'm glad you all like it. See you all next week.


Sunday, 20 May 2007

The birds and the bees! 20.05.07

Welcome visitors to the garden are the hungry birds. We have 2 bird feeders with peanuts, and another with sunflowers, as well as a couple of hanging fatballs.
Our regular visitors include a pair of Blue Tits ( nesting in a neighbours garden), a pair of Ring Necked Doves, Sparrow's, Starling's, Blackbird's, and the occassional Thrush. Not only are they a joy to watch, they can often be seen hopping through the veg patch in search of bugs - just what I need. We also get a steady stream of Bee's in the garden, something which we are keen to promote, as they are excellent pollinators. We are trying now to introduce more "colour" to try and increase the population, and we are also looking forward to the arrival of Ladybirds to do their work on the blackfly population!
My maincrop spuds (v. King Edward) that i planted at the start of the month began to show on monday of this week, and as you can see have put on a lot of growth this week. I have watered them daily ( reducing the risk of scab) and have weeded / hoe'd around them.
They are a way behind my earlies, but that is exactly how I planned them to be. This way I will get a successional crop to my earlies.
Talking of which, they too are coming on in leaps and bounds. The first earlies (v. Rocket ) are now in bud and I hope to see some flowers within the week.
I'm still checking them for leaf damage daily but, touch wood ( my forehead!), it seems they're ok at the moment.

My Runner Beans have now exceeded 5' in height, as you can see in the picture as they climb over the crossbeam and upwards!
There are plenty of flowers set lower down and many more buds appearing. I water these daily, and feed with a tomorite type liquid feed once a week.
Also, if you look closely you will see that I had to attach cable ties to hold the canes together, as the birds had pecked through my binding string - I guess for nest building!.

The broad beans (v. Bunyard Exhibition) are growing well too, and are in excess of 4' tall. Glad I put the canes in !.
Although I've regularly tied new growth in, some of it was covering the veg in a neighbouring bed, so I have trimmed back some of the growth, and tidied the plants up a bit.
Blackfly have returned, so I am washing the plants daily with a Fairy Liquid solution to keep them at bay!

As pic shows, I've started on the plot extension (Mark 2) as I had run out of room. I've used the same materials as before, but intend only to fill the beds this year with soil improver, then cover with a black mulch fabric ready for a late winter sowing.
I'll keep you posted on this.

The toms (v.Moneymaker) have settled into their new growing locations well. Despite a couple of cooler nights this week, their growth continues un checked.

Indoors, my seedlings for the Gardener's Delight are growing on well, and from today will be moved to a full light position in the conservatory.

Our garden chairs had a new lease of life yesterday, as Jen & Sammie gave them a couple of coats of preservative.

They look brand new, with a lovely rosy hue. The preservative was only £5 for 5 Litres so well worth doing. Table next !!!

I captured this image at 7.00am this morning.

Just thought it looked lovely, so decided to share it with you all.

All crops are still looking healthy, and I'm slowly reaping the rewards.

And so to the final picture for this week, me standing back and admiring my handiwork!

There's is still a multitude of things to do, but doing a little on a regular basis seems to be having the desired effect.

Cant wait to dig up those veggies !

Take care folks, hope you enjoyed my update, and keep your comments coming in.

See you next week.


Sunday, 13 May 2007

Rain, rain, and more rain ! 13.05.07

Well, we did moan about the lack of the wet stuff, and now its here I hear more moans that water butts are full and overflowing ! I guess that's one of the joys of gardening in the UK !

Weather aside, I've had what can only be described as a busy week, combining 4 x 12 hour shifts with a bit of gardening. And next week will be just the same!
As you can see, the weather has done the spuds no harm at all.
The foliage is thick and lush, and aside from the wind which has battered the plants about, they're looking great.
I have been checking the leaves daily for any sign of disease and will continue to do so over the next couple of months.
Anything that is untoward can easily be checked with reference websites that provide plenty of useful info and pictures. The Royal Horticultural Site is my favourite, and there's a link to it on my blog.
My maincrop have been in 2 weeks now, and the first set of leaf growth appeared just this morning. Watch out for some pictures next week!.

I planted out my toms yesterday - (v. Moneymaker) into their final growing positions in the garden. There's a brick built trough for 3 of them, and 3 in the B&Q buckets I told you about last week. I need to get some sturdier canes soon as the ones I had are too thin / fragile to support the toms when they have grown on a bit.
These were sown as seed on 22nd March, so I am very pleased with their progress to date.

Making the whole veggie plot worthwhile, I harvested my first plate of Radish (v. French Breakfast) on Wednesday, with further quantities picked yesterday.
Once they have been washed & top&tailed, they will easily store in the fridge for a week to ten days - if I dont eat them before that ! They taste so good, i cant wait to harvest the rest of the row and re-plant. The second row (v. Scarlet Globe) are not quite ready, tho' i must admit i tried a couple yesterday!

Runner beans are; true to form, running up the canes. Another good set of growth this week. I had to tie in the tops as the wind was playing havoc with them this week, but all in all they seem to be ok.
There's an abundance of red flowers all over them, so I'm looking forwards to the first crop!

The Peas (v. Kelvedon Wonder) are coming on in leaps and bounds, and very soon will need some taller support sticks. Oh no, not another trip to the gardening centre !!

Broad Beans (v. Bunyard Exhibition ) are doing just superb, with some of the plants adding 4" of growth this week.
As some of the flowers begin to fall, there's a delightful sight of the first pods formimg.
Really cant wait to get these on the plate. Once harvesting starts, I will have to freeze some as I won't be able to eat them all too quickly!

As you can see, half the row of radishes have gone ! Some to my tum and the rest in the fridge. Just to the right of the shallotts, you can see the new emerging row of Carrots, and on the far right of the picture, the Parsnip tops are just visible.
The main problem now in this bed is the weeds, are there's loads of them. I must get cracking on these !

Elsewhere in the garden, we've turned our attention to the flowers! Mum ( Top - Up ) has been staying this week, and managed to fight back the flies and mozzies to weed a border for me, which is now planted with Gladioli bulbs. Thanks mum - come back soon!
Mum as always came bearing gifts, and we now have a plethora of pots on the patio with Marigolds coming to life. These will look great very soon, bringing the much needed colour along.
I've added another hanging basket to another fence post. Not only does this give an attractive backdrop to the veggie plot, but it also attracts the bees etc to the area, helping with all the required pollination.

Amongst the trailing plants purchased this week, i found a lovely Blood Red trailing Petunia, which I just had to get. It really is the most intense colour and is simply striking.

I had to brace another fence post too, as it had broken at the base. This fence is a project for the autumn - no time now!

Talking of "time", we finally managed a quick visit to Sally & Teds, less than half an hour away. Was really nice to see you both, having not seen you since last year ! And only 30 minutes away !!!! Nice too to see Sally's veggies coming along, and her addition of a greenhouse. Plenty of mini projects to keep her busy! After all, Ted has "his" projects ..... 4 bikes, pickup truck etc etc !

I'll leave you all with a view of the plot. I think you'll agree it's looking good.
Still plenty more to do, and then there's the imminent arrival of our darling baby, due in the less than six weeks!

Time eh ! Where does it all go !

Keep up with your plots - however large or small - and its all worth it in the end .
Please post your comments / questions at the base of the page. If I can help you I will.

Thanks for visiting.


Sunday, 6 May 2007

Crikey! - It's May Already 6.05.07

Where does it all go - Tempus Fugit as Grandad used to say.
I've had a busy week, juggling the garden around working night shifts, but still managed to get quite a bit done.
The veg plot is looking great, a true reward for all the graft that has been put in - someone once said "you only get out what you put in" and how true that is.
As you can clearly see, the careful nurturing of the spud bed is very rewarding. It's quite hard now to direct the watering can at the holes in the plastic, as I can only just find them! The plants are looking very healthy, and now stand approx 8 - 10 inches tall.
I'm glad I used a marker pen to write on the boards the varieties as any plant labels would now be lost !

Did I tell you, my nickname is Spud - re-christened by my mum as i used to raid the spud rack in the larder many moons ago!

This bed is filling up nicely too.
The shallotts are doing very well judging by the top growth, as are the radish rows and the carrots. The Beetroot row between the radishes is putting on good growth, and my second row of Early Nantes carrots are steadily coming on.
The Parsnips seem to be taking a bit longer to get established. Is that because I started them in toilet roll inners ? We'll have to wait and see. Andrex have a lot to answer for!

The Broad Bean growth just amazes me every day, with both new flowers and vertical growth clearly visible on a daily basis.
I plan to pinch out the growing tips soon to promote the development of the beans, but we are still early in the season, so while they want to get taller - I think I'll let them carry on a bit.
I planted climbing French Beans around the Broad Beans and they are now just climbing above, so I should get 2 crops from the one bed! Hopefully.

Aaaah bless ! My little Pea patch ! I just love the way they reach out their "arms" ! and hang on to the supprt sticks. I've not grown these before, and have only allowed for a small crop. Maybe I will plant more - If i can find the room.

I've mentioned before that I mark the runner bean canes with a marker pen to get a measure on new growth each week. This particular cane has the least associated growth - a whopping 9" !
Closer inspection of the plants reveals the setting of small flower buds all over the place, so hopefully the combination of my early planting and the recent spell of good weather ( long may it continue ) will result in some early crops.
You cant beat that fresh picked taste. I know a certain Tigger is just waiting to munch on the crop!

In my post last week I mentioned my Pumpkin has been planted on into an individual pot, I was greeted this morning by the lovely flower you see. I have also planted my other 2 p-kins into a neighbouring pot, one of which also flowered yesterday.
The plan is to remove any other flowers that form, to channel all the plants energy into setting single fruits, which can then be lovingly cared for, prior to hacking them to bits for halloween !

Elswhere in the garden, I've got a fair few things done:
The Fence panel that was flapping in the breeze has been sorted - by putting in a brace.

Not the best solution but by far the cheapest ( i.e. free ) and should be sufficient to get me through the summer.
With the baby ( Due 22nd June ish ) on the way, I'm watching my pennies !Watching them; that is, fly out the door !

Instant gardening took hold yesterday ! A couple of hanging baskets to provie some much needed colour! I've hung these brackets / baskets on the fence posts as I had nowhere else to put them. The rear aspect of the house at ground level is all UPVC double glazing, so there is no wall space. Hopefully these will be ok. I love planting them up - it's the only time we can really squeeze plants together and know we'll be ok. I love the trailing Lobelia when it gets going. I've planted one in Red, White, and Blue, whilst the second is Yellow, White and Blue. Rhubarb is going well too!

My maincrop spuds King Edward have been in the ground for just a week now, so no growth to report from there.
Other things that have taken up my time include :
Sowing of my Gardeners Delight Toms, potting on of Forget me not, Chilli's Winter Warmer and Courgette.
I've also taken some time on tidying up some of our many patio containers, before giving them a fresh top dressing of fertilizer enriched compost. Makes them look neat and gives them a boost too !

Even managed a trip to B&Q in the week. We wanted some sturdy pots to grow our Toms in. There's a plethora of outlets selling an even greater varieties of pots for a couple of quid upwards each, but instead we opted for Bright Orange B&Q Buckets at 98p each. These will also adda bit of colour on the patio. I simply drilled holes in the base for drainage, and by leaving the handles attached, we will be able to move them fairly easily, even when filled with soil.

That's about it for this week. I hope you continue to find this blog informative and interesting. Don't forget to bookmark the page and come back soon.
Thanks too for all the lovely emails and comments.

See you soon,