Saturday, 25 August 2012

A happy ending.

Coming back off our holiday, I had never imagined that the garden wouldn't get watered.
The whys and wherefores don't matter, it just didn't get watered.
When we got home and I saw the state of the plants I just felt gutted.
Instead of a lovely bulbed fennel, it's tall and flowering.
I think the romanescu broccoli has bolted, either way it doesn't look good. The other broccoli looks terrible only the kale is passable.

My poor strawberries!

I think the rudbeckia affected me the most, it was just so sad to see it all dried out and the flowers all withered.
Everything in the garden was drooping or looked like it was barely clinging to life.
Not to be dramatic but I saw it and just wanted to cry.

Today was a new day.
This morning, we passed by the post office to collect a parcel that couldn't be delivered while we were away.
I had no idea what it was going to be.
This is what it was.

You could have knocked me down with a feather.
I had entered a competition on Waterstones website back in February and I won second prize.
I waited  for weeks and then months and nothing came. I sent an email  reminder 6 weeks ago with little hope.
So it came and though they don't send out the plug plants until April, it made me feel a whole lot better.
Great timing!

I doubt very much that I will use this many plants, I will find homes for many by sharing them around.
I like growing from seed myself and I have plenty of seeds.
Still, it's something to look forward to.

We did have a nice harvest of tomatoes after such a hot week.

With so many and more almost ripe,  I decided to turn them into sauce.
The question was, which recipe do I use?
A year or two ago, I tried a Jamie Oliver recipe which turned out strong on vinegar or maybe I just didn't cook it down enough.
I don't want to replicate Heinz ketchup. Homemade is good.  I'm happy to go rustic.
I just want to use the tomatoes in a tasty way and not waste them.

I went for a recipe from Tomasina Meier's book.
It seems tasty enough but will leave it a week or so to mature a bit.

Gardening can be about highs and lows but it sure isn't dull.


Friday, 24 August 2012

A week is a long time in gardening...

We've just got back from a wonderful week in Cornwall.
We left the cat and the garden in someone's care and things just didn't work out as I'd hoped.
Things aren't great in the garden, but I'm sure they could be worse.
I'm not going to go over my losses now, I'm going to sleep on it and give it a day or two. You never know, a few days of TLC, plenty of rain and things may not be as bad as they seem at the moment (fingers and toes crossed!).
I'll let you know in a day or two.

I do feel very lucky to have spent the past week in a lovely place, with my lovely family.
We stayed in the most stunning cottage near Liskeard, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland.
A little house with a stable door!
 I could barely contain myself when I saw this and this was the view from our back door.
Lavender Cottage was the name of ours.

I really do feel blessed to have spent time pretending to own this amazing garden. To me, it was the stuff of dreams.

I also managed to persuade everyone we should go to the Eden Project.
Their veg is an inspiration.

And what I loved the most was just before we sat down to have our picnic, I was admiring some veg and herbs and one of the staff said "please, help yourself. Have anything you like to go with your lunch"

Even Dave was bowled over by the idea of being free to just help yourself.
Such an amazing place.

This was something that struck me.

A wonderful week but great to be back to my garden, just hoping it is forgiving.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gathering seeds.

I absolutely love alliums. I am smitten.
I left them to go to seed and they really are the gift that keeps on giving.

Gardening really has turned my head. I wouldn't consider myself a wasteful person but since I'm taking my garden a bit more seriously, I don't like to waste anything.
Yes I have allium bulbs on order and to grow alliums from seed takes a good while from what I understand but still I found myself popping a brown paper bag on the seed head (like I've seen Carol Klein do on Gardeners World).

I cut the stem and then shook out as many seeds as I could.
I gathered the seeds in a small envelope for future use and I've sown three seeds for a start and popped them in the cold frame.
I shall just wait and see.
I've also got some coriander that has gone to seed and I'm thinking I will gather it either for sowing or cooking, either way they will be put to good use.
Six months ago I would not have even considered doing this, yes gardening does change you.

And finally, just wanted to share a couple of pictures. I went with the kids to visit family in Ruislip. A trip to the park and we came across several areas where they were growing wild flowers.
Just lovely.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Ups and downs

Things have been ticking along nicely on the whole.
The blight that has been threatening for weeks has not taken hold and we are enjoying a slow but steady and very tasty supply of tomatoes.
We've had not a lot of luck with the radishes, after our first harvest we've only had one or two that have actually swelled up. On the whole they have just stayed thin.

My last sewing of peas has developed mildew.

As there was only one pod and no flowers I pulled it up, I have some mangetout seedlings in the same bed so I wanted to avoid it spreading.

Leah's corn has been one of this year's success stories.
These are mine.

They are mini! They're not meant to be. They are doing everything that Leah's corn has done, just on a much smaller scale!
Still, if they produce and it's tasty then that is all that matters really.

After the disaster of mistakenly chopping off my two viable pumpkins I've been waiting and hoping.

There have been male and female flowers just not at the same time.
It's so disappointing to watch a female pumpkin or squash whither and drop off because it never had the chance to get pollinated.
I've decided to give them a couple of weeks and if nothing happens I shall pull them up.
This bed, I plan to sow with green manure. It needs a rest as it had broccoli and kale previously so in the interest of crop rotation to prevent any nasties lingering in the soil I'm going to let this bed rest over the autumn/winter.

And here is the promise of some broccoli romanescu.

The cosmos and my trusty perennials have been wonderful this year.

When I'm standing at my kitchen sink washing up, it really is a joy to look out the window and know that I played a part in making this happen.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Maybe once a week, I have to rescue butterflies from the grow house who have been after my young cavolo de nero plants. I had left them unchecked for a few weeks, which of course is a big mistake.

Yes, the result of my neglect. Leaves with great holes and others stripped bear. Your basic caterpillar attack. Decisive action needed. I used this as an opportunity to re pot the plants as they clearly needed it so took out all the plants and brushed off the eggs and because I'm not completely heartless, I re homed the caterpillars to leaves on the tree.

This was a relatively small one. I picked a massive one off my broccoli, popped it on a leaf, watched it for a little while and then it did a poo which I was quite impressed by.
Next on the agenda was to make the grow house butterfly proof.

It's surprising how useful clothes pegs are in gardening. Two layers of netting, if any butterflies get in I will be mightily impressed.

Have an immense sense of pride over my aubergine.

I hope I haven't jinxed it by saying that.

And finally my lilllies are looking amazing....

in the rain.


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Sometimes the books don't tell you everything...

Growing sweetcorn for the first time has been a bit of an adventure into the unknown.
 The books said, plant or sow in groups as sweetcorn flowers are pollinated by the wind. We did this.
 As the sweetcorn got taller, I just did not know what to expect next so when we discovered this the other week....
I assumed this was the cob forming.
I was wrong.
This (above) now looks like this (below)

For several days I was thinking I just couldn't see how this was going to turn into a cob. Well, of course it wasn't going to!
So the other day I spotted this...

So, this is where the cob forms.
Boy, do I feel a bit silly!
But, now I know.
So, all we have to do now is wait for the "tassells" to turn brown and then the cobs are ready.

Elsewhere in the garden....

the first crop of peas have been and gone so I cut them down and left the roots in the soil (like they do tell you in the books) and sowed some mangetout.

And finally, my first tree lily to flower.