Monday, 12 November 2012

Just getting on with it!

It's been a while. I know. I'm sorry.
It's that time of year, not a lot happening in the garden and not alot to blog about.
To be honest, stuff needed to happen in the garden but I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm necessary to do what needed doing.
Yesterday was a lovely day, the kind of day that would be criminal to spend inside.
 So, we came home from church, I changed into my gardening trousers, left instructions with Dave to prep the chicken and spuds for roast dinner for later and rolled my sleeves up ready to get dirty.

This bed needed lots of attention. One of the Romanescu broccoli and the curly kale had really taken a beating from the white fly. I seem to have managed to get rid of the white fly after several doses of soapy water spray, one broccoli looks tatty but I've cut it back a little and will just see if it improves and the kale mostly just looked really ropey and diseased, so three plants got pulled. This was a bit of instinctive gardening on my part, sometimes you just have to do what your gut tells you.

This was the aftermath.
The purple sprouting broccoli at the back are coming on and the cavolo nero are maturing.

Growing broad beans is bit of a journey into the unknown for me.
Will they last the winter? Have I given them enough support? Will the kids eat them? (I know I will, so not a major concern)

Buoyed by the success of the plants in the grow house, I sowed some more. I started some off a few weeks ago in peat pots and now seemed a good time to plant them out under bottle cloches.

These plants are edged by green manure. Broad beans take approximately 5 months to crop so hopefully I'll get some broad beans before I need to dig over the bed ready for Summer planting.
I also sowed some beans in the Ikea bag where I had grown carrots, this I've covered  but it doesn't get much sun  in this part of the garden at this time of the year so this will be a case of wait and see.

Doesn't everything look so much better with the sun shining on it?

The herbs and the other plants are happily protected and coming along. We've only had one frost, last week so they haven't really been tested.

Most days, I try and open up the grow houses, even a little just to let the air circulate a bit.
On days like yesterday, it's a case of flinging open the doors. It is surprising how warm these grow houses can get in full sun.

By the time I had got most of the necessary jobs done, the garden was in full shade, about 3.30. Time to wash up, check up on dinner and take the kids for a short walk to the park.

Such a beautiful day and  much needed to lift the spirit and motivate the body.
A few more like this would be lovely, thank you very much.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

The temperature has certainly dropped over the past few days. No frost here as yet so there is that to be thankful for. And there is more positive  goings on in the garden.
The scourge of white fly seems to be coming under control. I've given it a couple of sprays with the solution of  washing up liquid and I can see the difference. Whereas before, just one touch would disturb a whole host of white fly and sending them crazy. They had spread to the cavolo nero as well. Now there are hardly any, and the kale may possibly be saved. Will do another treatment or two and keep an eye.

After what is probably just a few weeks, the onions are producing green shoots. Having not grown onions before, I'm hoping things are all as they should be. The netting and shelf from the grow house seemed to have worked in keeping the squirrels at bay.

I've also planted up more garlic and another 2 elephant garlic cloves.

I do go on about my grow houses, I have a couple now and they are useful for gardening on a small scale but I had caught sight of a small lean to wooden greenhouse which seemed like a good price
I've bought a few things from them now and have been pleased with the quality.
It took me just under an hour to put together even with very basic instructions. I think one of the selling points of this is that, unlike the pvc grow houses, this is flush on the ground and so the snails can't get in.

I've grown on some plug plants perennials for some friends and I'm hanging onto them until the spring and there's still room for some of my cuttings.

And I look forward to filling it with a new seasons seeds come the Spring.
This is the hope that gets us through the coming months.


Monday, 22 October 2012

The Autumn blues

It's been a while since my last post. I haven't actually been out in the garden, I've been suffering with "policeman's heel" for a while but after a busy few days of almost constantly being on my feet lead me to having my worst ever bout. Have been shuffling around like someone twice my age. Thankfully it's improved no end over the past day or two.

Today I braved the dank weather and grey skies and had a mooch around the garden.
I am beginning to wonder if the squirrels know something we don't and are preparing for a really harsh winter. Either way, they have trashed the garden even digging massive ditches in the hanging baskets. I'll say no more on the matter.

Time to celebrate the great colours in the garden.

The blueberry bush's Autumn blush.

Pink lemonade blueberry, from Thompson Morgan, a new addition to the garden. Just need a trip to the garden centre as it needs ericacious soil.

Jalapeno. both plants that I've bought in doors have fruits ripening. As with chillis, I hear you treat them mean so I water  only when it looks sorry for itself. We shall see if it lasts to the Spring. I'd like it to.

This cosmos has done nothing all Summer long, no flowers or buds, until now! Can't complain really, it's lovely though it probably has no business to be doing so well at this time of year.

While my back has been turned and my feet have been up, the wildlife has been feasting on my garden.

I was feeling charitable to this one and left him be.

Whereas there were so many of these little guys (this was just a small patch, there were loads!) that I just chopped off the leaf and slung it in the compost bag.

The kale has huge patches overrun with white fly, these have moved onto the sprouting broccoli. I've had a look and I'm going to trying spraying with water with a few squirts of washing up liquid. I doubt I can get rid of them fully but I'd settle for being able to control the spread.

I'm thinking of making a couple of cages for next year, something to keep me busy over the coming months.

Growing in the tomato grow house are some broad beans, and boy are they growing! Not bad for a freebie seed packet from a gardening magazine.

Nice to end on a positive note.

Really hoping for some sunny days.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

When everything conspires against you....

blogging is not easy.
The weather has been wet, the computer has been uncooperative and I'm trying not to succumb to a cold..
Thankfully, we had a some good weather over the weekend and so I spent several hours in the garden.
I finally managed to empty the last of the pots from the tomatoes and aubergine. It was very satisfying to finally get that done and see the garden looking far tidier than it has in a good month or so.

I pulled up the last of the radishes which we had with the juice of half a lemon, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Not something I've tried before but it was really lovely.

I ordered some "Tornado" onions and "Wight cristo" garlic from Thompson Morgan and they finally came through last week.
I've not grown onions before so this is a first for me.



I planted up with a good amount of fertiliser and some squirrel protection. These will not appreciate being dug up by my little furry friends.

The Cavolo nero is coming along well, in fact we had some on Sunday cooked with pancetta and cream. Yum!

This is my most successful looking chard so far and I love the colours. I had some others that were coming along nicely until the bed was ransacked, hence the netting.
I've planted 3 garlic in this bed but I'm sure I could have filled this bed a bit more. I also lost 2 Cavolo nero to caterpillars and I think I just didn't plan ahead very well.

And finally, some success.
I tried a couple of times to grow on cuttings from my bay tree but to no avail.
When it was featured on Gardener's World, I watched closely (and twice).
Off to the garden centre went I to invest in some organic rooting powder and some seed and cutting compost. I wasn't particularly hopeful that I could make anything happen but dipped my cuttings in the rooting powder and bagged up the pot like Monty Don did with fingers crossed.

Lo and behold, over a month later and it looks like the cuttings have taken.
Rooting powder is my new best friend, I had to pot on some plug plants and one or two looked a bit tragic but the rooting powder has made a real difference.


Sunday, 30 September 2012

A harvest, of sorts......

I really am trying not to let the Squirrels get to me.
This is easier said than done. Each morning I go into the garden to find more Squirrel sized craters...everywhere.

It's not a problem when it's beds and pots that aren't in use but the Squirrels aren't very considerate and the red mist seems to have descended and all they want to do is dig. Really hoping this doesn't go on too much longer.
So distracted was I by the whole Squirrel business that I didn't even notice my jostaberry plant was suffering.The leaves were being stripped!

It was only on really close inspection that I found the culprits.

I've harvested at least fifty so far. They are difficult to spot and I'm sure it will probably take me a few more days to get them all.
From what I could find out on the internet, they are sawfly and if I don't get rid of them I could lose any chance of a crop next year.

Yesterday, we went to Dulwich park, which is a lovely place. I just thought that the colours of these leaves against the sky was stunning.

It is a beautiful time of year.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

So, it's been three days of near constant rain.
Looking at the photos of houses, fields and gardens underwater around the country, I feel grateful not to be in the position of so many people so I'm not going to moan about the weather. It is what it is.

I am going to talk on radishes.
My first batch of radishes, back at the start of the season, were great. Round and lovely as they should be.
Every other batch I grew after that were long and string like.
In a last ditch moment of optimism, I sowed one last batch.
They germinated and once the true leaves came through, I thinned out the smaller ones and placed each seedling deeper into the soil.
Lo and behold the result was
it worked!!! Just one or two have failed but most are lovely and perfectly bulbous little radishes.
Now, it could be that there has been more rain but I had watered the others well over the Summer. I do think there maybe something in the container, it's washing up bowl from Ikea, made about 6 holes in the bottom, a layer of broken up polystyrene for drainage and then soil and manure.. I lalso think the replanting the seedlings deeper helped.
May have to do some experimenting in the spring to find out what works best.
Anyone out there have a technique that works for them?

The brassicas had been looking really ropey so I gave them a good layer of compost, manure and fish blood and bone about 3 weeks ago and they are looking a much healthier shade of green and putting on alot more growth. I've been able to pick some kale and cavolo nero to have with  dinner which has been nice.

These are Kennedy variety mangetout that I sowed some time in August I think and have been producing enough for a handful every few days. I picked these mainly because they were mildew resistant I've been lucky for them to be still producing.

Finally, today we had a visit from Mrs Squirrel.

Very bold she was, I'm sure, had the door been open she would have come in.



Sunday, 23 September 2012

Picking battles

I am a believer in picking your battles. A person can expel an awful lot of energy fighting a battle they have little chance of winning.
I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to get one up on Squirrel at the moment, or anytime soon for that matter. His constant digging around and ransacking my beds has been driving me potty. I can see hm from my kitchen window, throughout the day, usually with a conker in his mouth.
There is no winning and so from now on I shall ignore his constant invasions, he's mostly just uprooting green manure and I can learn to live with that.

Tomato plants have been mostly lifted now and just need cutting up and bagged up in the council compost bags. I've cleared one bed completely.

All cleared and swept. The one part of the garden that looks tidy!

I've sown some broad beans, which I've not grown before and planted out some coriander and parsley along side some salad leaves. These I'm going to keep under cover and see what happens.
Around the outside I've sown two types of green manure so come the Spring I can dig the whole bed over and spread the nutrients throughout.

I've cleared out the tomato grow house.

I've also sown some broad beans here but mainly I'm hoping to bring on some cuttings. I took three cuttings of the rudbeckia and two new strawberry plants from runners. I'm hoping that the peppers might just ripen.

I'm going to try overwintering this jalapeno plant.
The idea of overwintering is that the plant is just bought indoors and should it survive, it will flower in the Spring meaning an earlier crop. From what I have read, jalapenos don't always survive but I'm going to give it a shot. It's had a feed and I shall leave it be.  My neighbour has a chili plant that I gave her last year, so it can work.

The rest of the garden still needs work, pots to empty and clean.

By chance, I found this cocoon hanging from some broccoli a few weeks ago and I kept an eye on it. On Wednesday, I looked at it and could see the wings had formed. Exciting!

I cut the leaf and we put it in this jar for Leah to take to school.
Some time between the end of school on Thursday and Friday morning, the butterfly emerged ready for all of Leah's class to see and then they set it free. I know to many gardeners, we committed one of the ultimate sins, all I can offer in my defence is that I 've scraped my fair share of eggs off leaves in the garden this season. Hope that goes some way to even things out a bit.
Somethings are harder to squidge than others.

The cosmos are still going strong.

The past week, whilst the weather was good, I took this photo with at least 6 bees and hover flies buzzing around collecting pollen.  It was great to see. Cosmos really are my favourite flower, at the moment.

Now it's time to batten down the hatches and dig out the water proofs.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

One job among many

The garden really is a mess at the moment. Progress is slow and steady.
A few weeks ago I put a grease band on the apple tree.
The whole point of grease bands is that bugs that lay their eggs at the base of the tree, they hatch and crawl up the trunk and then do horrible things to the tree..
Grease bands are really sticky and traps the bugs as they climb up.

It was a horrible messy job and I made a horrible messy job of it.
Sticky stuff all over my hands that was a nightmare to get off.

I decided to give it another go a few days later, with gloves on.
Much more sensible.

The box (once I'd finally read the instructions) recommended putting a band on the supporting cane which will also stop any that should climb up that.
Just one of those simple little jobs that will make a huge amount of difference.

Just wanted to say a quick word of thanks to you lovely people, seen and unseen, who put up with my ramblings and meanderings.
Thank you for listening.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Goodbye Summer.....

It's been a busy week or so, with the kids back at school I've been busy catching up on indoors jobs that had fallen by the wayside over the Summer. Unfortunately this left me with no time or motivation to blog. Thankfully, I'm getting on top of  my jobs and life is becoming more routine again *sigh*.

Squirrel returned and, despite our netting them, savaged two more corn. This meant we just had to go ahead and pick the last two or risks losing them. This did mean I could pull up what was left.

I topped the bed up with some compost, manure and fertiliser and in went a couple of young rainbow chard plants and then 3 cavolo nero. My brassicas have been pretty ravaged by caterpillars so I decided to cover this bed up to avoid these getting damaged.

I  now regret not getting finer netting because what I bought  over the Summer really didn't keep the butterflies off. I will buy the proper stuff next year. In the meantime I cobbled this together and layered up several nets in the hope that this might work. Sometimes cutting corners doesn't pay off.

The beds are going through a gradual transition into their Autumn/Winter incarnation.
Whereas the other two beds have or are being planted up with greens for the winter, these two beds are being wound down.

The one on the right has a squash that is coming along, fennel that I have left to flower and cosmos that almost dominates the whole bed (is actually just one plant!). On the left, I'm waiting for some tomatoes to finish ripening.

Once empty, I will sow green manure in one. Mainly to try and keep the weeds from overrunning the bed.
In the other (my experimental bed, experimental because I haven't a clue as to how well things will grow). I have sown half of the bed with green manure and half has got mixed salad leaves,  a very late (and cheeky) sowing of chard and parsley. I'm keeping them covered up at night and they seem to be coming up nicely.

I had planted these strawberries quite late really but had planted them in pots where I had cut out the bottom (a bit cheaper than the shop bought bottomless pots). The benefit has been that I could just move them from the raised bed and pop them onto this grow bag without making a mess or needing to re pot.

The night times are cooler, the conkers are dropping to the ground and the garden is winding down but boy, there is lots to do! It shall be a busy few weeks.