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.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Fruits of our labour.

I've really noticed these past few weeks how the evenings are drawing in. To think, this time last month, I would have still been pottering in the garden at this time. No chance of that now unless we get some floodlights.
At least it's gloriously warm at the moment, though we did have a few chilly nights towards the end of last week.
 I have now taken to zipping up the grow houses at night, one zip for a mild night and both zips when there's a chill in the air.
I've invested in a cheap thermometer (99p from Tescos) and popped that in the grow house so I have one eye on that and the other eye on the weather.

In this growhouse I am growing pea shoots for salads, a salad mix, a stir fry salad mix and some radishes. I am also playing nursemaid to 72 plug perennial plants for friends who I am trying to help with their garden. And finally, I'm trying to grow some bay from cuttings from our tree.
It is nice that even though things are winding down I've got a nice full growhouse.

Some of the tomato plants have been looking a tad shabby and showing signs of blight really taking hold. The blight has been slow to develop, mainly black patches on stems. Now the odd tomato are showing signs of blight.

I've stripped a few plants of tomatoes, whether ripe or not, and cut back a fair bit. There are still 4 plants that are showing warning signs and somehow the two plants in one of the beds by the back wall have no sign of blight whatsoever. I count myself lucky.
So tonight, there is a large pot of green tomato chutney bubbling away down stairs and we are well stocked for chutney for the foreseeable future.
I must also mention that I haven't needed to buy any tomatoes for about a month now and if the blight doesn't take hold I could have another 2-3 weeks of tomaotes from what I think of as my outdoor larder.

Yesterday Leah picked one of her corn.
Her face says it all really.
I let her pick it and strip it. She loved it!

Okay, so it could have probably done with a few days more but we cooked it and it was the sweetest, tastiest corn I've ever had (and we all had a taste). Sweetcorn is a must for growing next year!

I'm learning that a sense of humour is essential for gardening.
This morning, Squirrel had been back. With avengence.

When I saw this I just laughed, thankfully it was the sweetcorn that was mini. It made me laugh because it looked like he really went ballistic over it. 
We have now netted up Leah's corn. We are taking no risks there.

My chutney is almost done and I need to sterilise my jam jar lids so I'll finish up here.
Good night.



Saturday, 1 September 2012

In my happy place.

It has been a busy couple of weeks and moments in the garden have been few and far between.
We just had a lovely week with my nephew staying with us and I had little time and no energy left at the end of the day.
Yesterday I was feeling a great need to detach from everyone and just be in the garden. Sometimes I'm not so good with people.
Today I was so thankful to finally get a few hours on my own to potter and catch up on some areas that needed my attention.

My second year of trying to grow a pumpkins and another fail.
I finally made the decision to cut it back and pull it up which meant I could prepare that small area to plant up some strawberry plants in a few weeks.
I topped up the soil with compost and organic manure and covered it with wire mesh to make sure the cat doesn't use it as a toilet.

There was a nice surprise, despite the plant seemingly putting out male and female flowers at completely different times the squash has two apparently viable fruit!

How and when it happened, I couldn't tell you but I'm not knocking it!

My one good aubergine is still hanging in there.
The two plants I have keep putting out flowers. I gave one long enough to see what would happen.
This seems to have rotted on the plant, as some of you have warned me of.

I'm now chopping back leaves to give this precious aubergine all the help I can give it.
I'm getting to the point where plants that have passed their best or done their job are being composted so I can allocate their space to something else, no room for sentimentality in this garden!

Big banana pepper
My peppers have really started to give me lots of fruits, at this late stage, I'd be very surprise is we get anywhere beyond green. Fortunately, they are all in pots so I can bring them inside if necessary and try and ripen them on a sunny windowsill.

There will be plenty more to do over the coming days and weeks and I'm rubbing my soil ingrained hands with glee at the thought of it.