Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday's post

I, quite frankly, rarely think of a relevant title for my posts but I have realised that most of my posts seem to happen on a Monday probably because it coincides with Dave going off to play football. So today's post gets a title, ok a bit of an unimaginative one but it's something I may work on.

I was saying to another blogger (Niamh at that one of the great things about blogging is how you can look back and see how things have progressed and come on. I look at photos I took 2, 3and 4 months back and then realise that those little seedlings that took up space in my kitchen during February, March and most of April are now sitting proud and bushy in my garden with the promise of something good and tasty just around the corner. In the words of Jamie Oliver, "Happy days".

I'm really pleased with the nasturtiums, they are serving me well as this picture with a whole bunch of black fly will testify. I have not used any bug spray this year and I'm glad for it. I've found that I haven't needed to, the only significant infestations have been these black fly which are also on some of the cosmos and the sunflower, all of which I can live with if they're staying off my edibles.

A week on from separating the 3 maskotka (must check the spelling for that) toms whose leaves were a blotchy yellowy green, all 3 plants are doing well and looking a much healthier shade. They survived the manhandling and re homing, just goes to show that some plants can take it.

Elsewhere in the garden.......

The "June drop" must have happened in May for us because we still have 4 apples. Here are 2, well protected from that darn squirrel!

Leah's corn is looking fabulous, one got fairly battered over the weekend but I firmed it down and gave it a bigger stick for support and hopefully it will be ok.

Still waiting for flowers to happen on my chillies and aubergine, have prepared myself for the fact that it may not happen this year.

I had a really good sort out of the grow houses, one of which is really more of a store house, I wasn't going to include this photo but the eagle-eyed among you may be able to spot the robin in the tree watching me as I took the photo.

And here is what he was really interested in......

This is my sunflower, I'm just hoping he survives any potential squirrel attacks.

Thanks for reading my blog and letting me share my garden with you, such as it is.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Yesterday, knowing how bad the forecast was for the rest of the week, I decided to spend an hour in the garden doing some weeding and odd jobs. So, an hour turned into 2 and quite a bit hours. I only stopped as, being of the freckly persuasion I didn't want to catch too much sun and decided to carry on in the evening. Having said that, it was a lovely morning and the time just flew.

Not too many weeds really, the nastursiums were going a bit crazy so I pulled one or two up as they were starting to crowd the corn and pumpkins.
The tomato sideshoot I managed to get to root is coming along really well, I've moved it into a bigger pot and it looks like it has potential. Will definitely do more of these next year, it's easy now I know how.

We've had a few peas just about fat enough to pick, even managed to pop a few in Leah's lunch box. I love peas!

My impatience got the better of me and I pulled the carrots that had been growing in the Ikea bag.

So, I could have waited a couple more weeks but I really wanted to move the bag so I could do a bit of reorganising and they did taste really sweet. Have already sown some more carrots in the bag, will try and be  more patient next time.

This afternoon, I had just stepped into the garden when I heard a rattling by the fence. There was our friendly neighbourhood squirrel biting off the head of yet another one of our sunflowers. The little so-and-so just picked it up in it's mouth and legged it then sat on our neighbours shed nibbling it down to a more portable size.

Now, if only squirrels could be trained to eat snails so voraciously we would get along famously.

I'm off to grab a torch and do a quick snail patrol.

Night, night.


Monday, 18 June 2012


After a few days of seemingly not a lot happening, mainly due to the weather, it was becoming apparent that some plants weren't looking too great. That can get a bit depressing to me, you think you're doing everything right, putting in a lot of time and energy and still things don't seem to work out.

 I know to some it's only gardening but the thing is, to me it's also about nurturing. I want to grow stuff and I want to be good at it! There are going to be things that are beyond my control and I have to live with that, but the things that are within my sphere of control I have to be good at or find out how to get good at.

My first and largest tomato had been looking spotty. Initially, I thought it was just a water mark. A week later, more spotting. Time to get out the gardening books.

Plants in grow and greenhouses need ventilation and because the weather has been so bad I haven't really been able to leave the grow house even slightly unzipped for fear it would fly off. And so my poor tomato plant has suffered and we have our first fatality, one tomato. Thankfully, with a slight improvement in the weather I've taken off two leaves that were affected and removed the tomato, now I can leave one zip undone allowing for ventilation. I hope I caught it in time to avoid major problems and the plant will be ok.

The grow house had seemed like a good way to get the peppers, aubergine and the odd tomato plant to come along faster. The plants haven't been doing as well as I thought they would, but with some better weather hopefully things will improve. Because I haven't been able to unzip the growhouse very much, there's not much evidence of pollination on the tomato plant, where as the outdoor tomatoes are thriving despite being lashed by wind and rain.
Outdoor tomato plant

I am definitely on a steep learning curve as far as tomatoes go. My other cause for concern was the maskotka toms I had planted up in a hanging basket.

I had noticed that the leaves were a very pale looking green. After looking in my trusty book, it became clear that I'd overfilled my basket. I had planted 3 tomato plants with a marigold thinking this would be ok. The basket wasn't that big, the marigold thrived and was clearly taking up valuable space. I had severely underestimated the space needed. At the risk of losing all three plants, I very roughly separated the plants whose roots had all intermingled and were pretty chocker block so I had to be quite ruthless. All the four plants are now planted singly. One in an old colander, one in the hanging basket and this one in the old grow bags that had been waiting for something to fill it. Hopefully these too will recover and go on to crop.

So, I now know a bit more about what tomatoes do and don't like. There is nothing like learning on the job!

And so to end on a success, my first cosmos to flower. I'm very proud of having grown it from seed (though it was straightforward to germinate and grow) and it's such a lovely variety.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Sunshine! Finally!
Okay, so it's unlikely to last for more than today but ho hum.
Time to get a few shots.

I managed to get some netting over the brassicas which on the whole are looking great. I've come to the conclusion that netting should only be tackled by two people, it is just too much hassle to do on your own. Despite pegging the netting in place, I found a very singleminded snail on the inside of the netting.

I've only planted one pumpkin and one squash because of space. Last year I tried growing pumpkins and found that despite growing 4 plants, I only managed to get two very small pumpkins. I just didn't seem to get male and female flowers at the same time. So I know that growing just one plant is a big risk, it will either pay off or it won't. At the moment, I seem to be in luck as I have one definite female flower and a few males emerging and they are similar sizes. Obviously, nothing is guaranteed in gardening.......

I have to admit, I don't seem to have much luck with hanging baskets. It's not really a case of luck, more a case of they never seem to look as good in reality as they do in my imagination. This one looks promising but like everything else in the garden, it would benefit from a bit less rain and alot more sun.


Saturday, 9 June 2012

I was thinking how confusing it must be for the plants. After days of incessant rain and being battered by strong winds, we have a Saturday of sunshine and warmth (with strong winds for good measure) which was a welcomed change. They really must not know if they are coming or growing. I'm thankful that most everything is still intact as it should be, except for the corn, which had been getting tall......
this morning they were all leaning at an improbable angle, but as that is the worst of the damage the garden has suffered I count myself very lucky. I've now given each one a stick for support and am now hoping for the best.

It seems like the squirrel has struck again (though it could well have been a mouse I suppose), this time an unripened strawberry got nibbled. Last year I got my hands on a couple of squirrel-proof bird feeders that have proved really effective. It seems like the squirrel has now moved onto easier pickings. Tonight I've sprinkled a mixture of pepper, curry powder and cayenne around the strawberries. I'm hoping this will work as I don't want to go down the route of buying sprays or stuff.

I noticed one of the garlics had started to flower, it's the only one to do so far, so I've left it to see what happens, although it does mean the bulb will stay small I have plenty of others so I can spare one. Even if it doesn't do much, I love the way it looks. Apparently you can eat them, sauteed with butter is supposed to be good which is what I'll do if I get any more.

The slugs and snails haven't been too much of a problem and I've been mainly sowing some successional sowings of lettuce, radish and herbs. I should imagine with the football now started, weather permitting, I shall be in the garden quite a bit and I don't mind one little bit.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

We were away on Saturday and Sunday. It was lovely to step away from everyday life and disconnect from the world for a bit, so much so that we were oblivious to the fact that it had rained so much. We were staying around Sussex and managed to dodge the rain almost entirely. We came back late Sunday night and I was straight out back to see how the garden had faired so it came as a surprise that both water butts were brimming over with water and the garden was invaded by snails taking advantage of the dampness.

Leah's sunflower had opened last week and was looking lovely. Just to the right of it was Chris's which was along way from opening but was far taller.

Thursday morning I suddenly realised Leah's was missing it's head, it had been cleanly bitten off and the remains of it was sitting on top of the wall. A squirrel had had a good breakfast that morning. The next day, Chris's sunflower fell victim to the squirrel. Some harsh gardening lessons for the kids, you win some and you lose some. We have currently have 3 really robust looking sunflowers left, (touch wood) hoping they survive and we get to enjoy them.

Most people won't deny they love a freebie and I don't deny it either. So, when I saw an article in Gardeners World magazine about growing tomato plants from the sideshoots I had to give it a go. In my ignorance, I tried this last year, just sticking a sideshoot in a pot of soil and of course nothing happened. If you're a newbie to gardening or like me (quite often) a person who wings it and hopes for the best then you might find this helpful and informative.
Take a sideshoot, remove most of the leaves and place in a glass of water in a sunny window or growhouse. After about a week or so, the small hairs on the stem form into roots.

 I've planted it up and hope that it will take. I've popped it in the tomato growhouse and hopefully it may provide a late batch of toms. I'll let you know how it progresses.

We have a some blackberry canes that having been going for about 6/7 years. The past two years they haven't cropped so well so I'm trying this that I read about. Take some good new growth and just plant it in some soil and leave it for a good few weeks and roots will have formed and I'll have a new cane to add in.

I've also been giving it a six weekly feed of potash and that really seems to have kick started it.

I'm slightly concerned about my chillis and the fact that nothing much is happening! No flowers at all yet so when I was in the supermarket and they were selling peppers reduced to £1.05 I got tempted and bought one as a backup. He was just a bit floppy and needed repotting and pinching out. I also realised he was quite a bit further on than my peppers, sweet or chilli. Just hoping that at least one of them will come through for me.

Elsewhere, fruits are forming and getting plump....

Apple tree with 3 varieties grafted on, its first year and we have 6 apples
Moneymaker tom

Blueberry, first year cropping.

So, the kids are off school and there is much more rain forecast so it may just be a case of dodging the rain to pick snails off my plants and sending them to a better place (the compost bin).