Monday, 28 December 2009

Summer Flowers.

Summer Flowers.

Some of the flowers from
the back garden which did well during 2009.

Did well and smelt divine.

Poppies: These were very pretty. I saved seed from these for next year.

Globe Thistle:
I saved the seed head from these at the end of the summer.
After removing the seeds from the prickly seed case, I decided to see if they would germinate. I now have a full seed try of seedlings which will go to the lottie when they are ready. I like the intense shade of blue and the fact that the bees seem to like them.

Talking of bee's, this one is enjoying the nectare from the head of a Sedum.

I planted several varieties of nasturtiums,
so I had lots of different colours.
We picked some of the blooms for Jess, for her art homework which was a collage made from petals of different flowers.
Nasturtiums did well and certainly brightened up the plot.

These were the night scented stocks and marigolds that a friend sent me up from Bristol for the allotment. Thanks Judy xx
I have saved the seed for next year.

Now that I have dug up black currant, red currant bushes and raspberry canes I can now sow more flowers for next year, as I have more space. The marigolds did much better on the allotment than they did in the garden, so I will plant them at the lottie again.

The only problem with getting a lottie ..............

Lottie Update.

The only problem with getting a lottie is that I haven't had time to post regular updates!

What a summer, the weather was ok, most of our time was spent at the lottie digging, weeding, laying paths, marking out, building raise
d beds, planting and putting in the new shed.

It has been hard graft but it has been worth it. The lottie is starting to take shape and I should be able to have a full growing season next year. All the beds (with the exception of 3) have been dug through the Autumn, alpaca manure has been added and covered with black polythene for the winter.

Although I didn't get the lottie until the end of June we managed to grow carrots, purple sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, beetroot, and chard. We have met a lot of the plot holders who have been very friendly and welcoming.

All the strawberries have been transplanted to the lottie and we built a fruit cage (21ft x6ft) which has black currants, red currants, loganberry, raspberries, and tayberries growing inside.
The picture on the left was taken whist we were building it, it is a wooden frame, the roof is covered in strong pea netting and the sides in scaffolder's net.

I have planted three varieties of Rhubarb: Timberley, Red Champagne, Victoria, and at the start of December managed to plant the bare rooted fruit trees that I ordered back in the summer. We have planted: Victoria plum, Opal, Pear: Beth, Apples: Bramley, Bountiful, Bleinham Orange, and Discovery. All trees are M9 root stocks. I am hoping to pick up a few more trees in the spring when the supermarkets have their offers on. We have planted three gooseberry bushes - green, yellow and red. The Goji bush has been planted towards the front of the lottie.

In October we build a leaf mould bin from wire mesh and stakes. We managed to collect a trailer load of leaves and the bin is half full, will have to get more for next year. The compost bin that we built is not completed yet but is usable. I want to modify the front so it has doors on it, which are the width of the wheel barrow. The bin is made from recycled pallets and has two bays.
In September we visited a factory which gives away free recycled wood. We managed to get a trailer load of wood which we have used to make raised beds down the other side of the path.

We have built an asparagus bed which has been planted along side the herb bed. I have planted Comfrey bocking 14 in a block leaving plenty of room for it to grow, this will be used across the plot as liquid fertilizer.

Blueberries have been planted in their own bed with special acid compost. We also managed to grow our first pumpkin!! It was one of the small varieties called Baby Bear. We used it to make soup. I was very proud of this little pumpkin as it was the first produce off the lottie.

We have planted broad beans as a direct sowing at the lottie. I tried these once before and didn't like them so picked a different variety to try. We ended up with Bunyards Exhibition. All the seeds germinated are about 2-3 inches high, and I have a few spares at home. I may risk another sowing later in the spring .

At the end of the summer I sowed some onions which I wanted to over winter on the lottie along side some Japanese onion sets that I picked up in wilko. At the start of the year I had ordered sets from a reputable company which let me down by sending mouldy onion sets, I threw them in not really expecting much from them, a lot of the onions were ok, but they didn't reach a good size. So I decided that from now on apart from the Japanese overwintering sets that I would try my own onions grown from seed. I planted a couple of varieties Hi keeper and one other that I have forgotten the name of. These onions grew very well and have been transplanted out on to the lottie, they have put on suitable growth before the weather started to change so I will see how I get on with these. I am planning to do another sowing of onions this week which I will keep indoors until they have germinated and then they will be moved to the utility room as its a bit cooler in there.

We have had a great time getting the lottie ready and I am looking forward to starting a new growing season.

We still have lots to learn and it may not all be successful but here's hoping. Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Pea : Big Ben

Big Ben.

Type of Seed: Smooth, Green.

Type of Pod: Long and rounded

History: Unknown

Description: This is a very tall variety of pea which will grow to over six foot tall and requires support. I grew these peas in March and they had started to produce flowers and form peas in May. They are strong and sturdy plants which produce large white flowers, like the name of this variety everything about it is big!

They are quite prolific and produce pods containing 8 to 9 large peas. They taste like a marrowfat pea and are definately worth growing.

I would try this variety again and will save the seed.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Home Front.

The weather has been non stop rain this morning so time for an update.

These are the pictures of the hanging baskets that I planted up during May, they have put on a lot of growth and I'm really pleased with them.
They don't take much time to keep them in tip top condition, just a weekly feed and some dead heading.

Hopefully they will continue to flower throughout the rest of the summer.

So far things are going to plan and we have been harvesting lots of veg, no where near as much as I would like but now we have the lottie we are hoping to turn this around for next year.

These are some of thee views around the back garden, I have managed to pack as much in as we could.

Turnip's and Pea's have done particularly well. We had a huge crop from Ezeta's Krombek Blauwschokker. Clarkes Beltony Blue also did well.

The early tomatoe experiment has been showing dividends, so far we have harvested sun gold, stupice, balconi red. There are lots more to come as the plants are layden with fruit. I am hoping to make some spaghetti sauce with some of the harvest.

I think I would definitely sow tomatoes earlier as I did this year, I don't know if I would start to sow earlier than February though, as I did have a distinct lack of space before I could start moving the plants into the greenhouse. Next year I think I will do a few varieties of tomatoes along with the chili's which need a long season. Some of the chilis that were sown in february have started to produce fruit, currently we have Purple Jal's, Cveta, Chili Pyramid, Apache and Orangina . Something nasty (slug, I think) decided to have a munch on my lemon drop plant which is now starting to make a recovery! All the chili plants have been moved out of the greenhouse and are now on the patio, they don't seem any worse for wear but it has continually rained since so may have to move them back in temporarily.

Courgettes have produced a huge crop and if you blink you miss them and they turn into marrows.

The picture on the left is De Nice a fruit round, it should have been harvested when it was small sort of golf ball size instead I got a cricket ball! Golden Zucchini is just starting to produce fruit so looking forward to trying these.
We have harvested : Radish, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Courgettes, Strawberries, Cabbage, Kale, Peas, Mange Tout, French Beans with more to come.

Onions are still growing away, some of the red baron have started to bolt so will lift these and use first as they will not store well. The white onions seem to be doing the best. I am going to over winter onions this year for planting out on the lottie. I also managed to get a selection of shallots that I am holding on to for growing through the winter. The garlic that was sown earlier in the year is still in the ground as its not ready but the supermarket experiment produced a crop but rather on the small size. I'm going to keep some of the cloves to plant again in the autumn to see if they can be improved upon.
Next year I am hoping to be able to grow more flowers from seed to fill in the gaps in the back garden as I will be digging raspberries and blackcurrant bushes up to go to the lottie so can plan abit of a revamp.
And finally, my beautiful sweet peas, we have been picking them every few days, the fragrance is fantastic and they certainly brighten up a room and let you know that summer is here even if it is still raining.

Allotment News!!!!

I have been lucky enough to secure an allotment after a six month wait. This came as a lovely surprise as I have been growing lots of veggies at home and collecting bits and bobs for when I got one. I received the letter on the 18th of June. We managed to get our first choice in terms of site, which is only a 10 minute walk from where we live.
The site only has 42 plots in total and is situated on a south facing slope. Our plot is situated at the bottom of the slope and is second from last in the row. The plot is in full sun and hasn't been cultivated for some time.

We viewed the plot the same afternoon as we received the letter and went in to sign the tenancy on the Saturday morning. The plot had been overgrown with couch grass, bindweed, brambles etc but the Council has cleared and sprayed the plot, as the previous plot holder was allowed to have seven plots and created what she saw as a nature reserve, this unfortunately was allowed and she didn't cultivate any of the plots but dumped her rubbish on them.

The soil is heavy clay and very compacted, and requires lots of weeding and digging. Due to the recent dry and sunny weather the surface is as hard as nails and is tough to dig, but we have made a start.
We started by digging out a lot of dock leaves and racking the weeds and debris off the plot, took away about 10 black bags of rubbish. Because the soil was sun baked and hard, we hired a cultivator for a day to break the ground ready for laying out and digging.
This is a picture of my OH cultivating the plot. Over the last few weeks we have managed to get a load of carpet off cuts which we have used to cover the banks to either side of the plot after we had cut them down. We also sourced some lengths of wood which we have used to mark out and make a central path; which was covered with weed suppressing membrane and covered in wood chippings.

We brought a new shed to go on the plot which had to be laid on concrete as part of the tenancy, so we got the slabs and started to level the ground, unfortunately we had not finished before we got the call to say they wanted to deliver the shed, so it was a mad dash to get this completed and take delivery of the shed. We erected the shed the same evening as it was delivered and finally got home about 9pm. Since then we have put in one water butt and put up an off strip of guttering we manged to pick up. We have built a compost bin from old pallets courtesy of my Dad. Gradually the plot is starting to take shape and looks like an allotment.
We have started to dig and weed one side and have started to lay out the beds with carpet paths in between. The left hand side of the plot will be home to most of the fruit, we have planted gooseberry bushes, rhubarb, black currant bushes, tay berry and logan berry bushes so far. We have erected the posts for where we are planning to grow summer and autumn varieties of raspberries.

I have used a few of the beds on this side for cabbages and purple sprouting broccoli. The right hand side will be used to grow spuds next year with other beds for roots and beans. Looking forward to sitting down in the winter months and planning what will go where as before its been a case of just cramming things in. I have some raspberry canes and a black currant bush that I will be digging up in the autumn which will go to the lottie along with a plum tree which is growing in a large pot. I am also hoping to source some bare rooted fruit trees over the next few months which I can plant out in the winter months.
Now that we have marked out and started planting the fruit area, we will be building a raised bed for the strawberries which I have at home in the flower planter, they produced a good crop this year for a small amount of plants. They have started to produce runners so hopefully we will have even more for next year.
The fruit area will be caged off at a later date as I have noted that pigeons frequent the site and hide in the trees at the end of the slope.
I have directly sowed beetroot, carrots and turnips - so lets see how they do.
Lots to do and plenty of plans to make, exciting isn't it.

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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Sunny Days and Bank Holidays.

The last few weeks have been busy with weeding, watering and feeding.
The weather has been glorious especially over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

I have managed to plant up hanging basket and trough's for the front of the house.

The basket has: Trailing Geranium - Purple Flamed, Surfinia - Burgandy, Calibrachoa Caberet - Cherry Rose, Petunia Tumbelina - Clara, Dichondra - Silver Falls, Lamium - Beacon Silver.

The trough's have: Helichrysum, Ivy Leaf Geranium - Toscana Maxima, Petunia Tiny Tunia - Violet Ice, Verbena Twinkle - Crimson. Plants have settled down and are starting to flower.
I have planted Armeria - Joystick, Papaver - Royal Wedding, Gaillardia - Sundance, Scabiosa - Misty Butterflies, Verbascum - Sixteen Candles, Polemonium - Stairway to Heaven, Thungeria - Lemon & Orange Beauty, Lupins - Pixie Delight, Dahlia - Bishop of Llandaff, Cornflower, Night Scented Stocks, French Marigolds & Thrift.
This is a picture of the new raised beds that we put in this year.

They are situated at the bottom of the garden and have been planted out with pea's, radish, lettuce, beetroot, shallots, onions, climbing french beans and garlic.
In between all the vegetables I have grown, corn flowers, nasturtions, viola, calendula. I am really pleased with how they have turned out.

So far I have harvested mixed salad leaves, radish and mint. I have picked my first pea!(meteor)

Today I have harvested some mange tout. These are my husband's favourites. I have been growing them a big pot and will sow somemore so we can still enjoy them later in the season.

The Heritage pea's are happily growing away and have lots of flowers.

The picture on the right is of Ezeta's Krombek Blauwschokker variety which is purple podded. Over the next few months I am hoping to write up some reviews of the pea's that I have grown this year, I have completed the first one which was Clarke's Beltony Blue.
Tomatoes And Tomatillo's.
On the left is my first tomatoe of the year. The variety is Stupice, which was given to me by a friend. All the other varieties are starting to flower. The Heritage tomatoes seem to have bigger flowers than the modern varieties. I have moved the tomatillo's outside of the greenhouse, they are starting to get quite big and have lots of yellow flowers.

This is a picture of Melon - Canteloupe, I have grown two from seed and I am training them up string which is attached to wires across the greenhouse. I have also grown a variety called Emir which apparently can be grown outside and produces fruit in our climate. This remains to be seen!
I may leave one in the greenhouse and move one outside and compare how they grow.
I have also planted up a pea salad bar - Kelevdon Wonder, Hurst Greenshaft & Sugar Snap. Sown Swede - Magres, Silene - Shell Pink. Need to check seed box to see what needs to be done next. I have also made the first batch of compost tea from the wormery, it has been diluted with water and feed to the veggies.
Happy Gardening

Heritage Peas - Clarkes Beltony Blue.

Clarke's Beltony Blue.

Type of seed: Wrinkled

Type of pod: Purple Podded

History: Heirloom variety was donated to the the Heritage Seed Library by Mrs Anderson, this variety has been grown on her family farm in Co.Tyrone since at least 1850.

Description: A tall vigorous pea that produces beautiful pale pink and maroon flowers on long slender arching stems, followed by purple pods that develop a green mottling when mature.
The leaves are 2.5 inches wide by about 4.5 inches long. The leaves are green with white mottled markings and have the tell tale sign of a splash of maroon where the stem meets the leaf indicating that its a purple podded variety.

The pink half of the flower has thin purple veins running through it, whilst the maroon petals are a full bodied colour.

When the flowers are starting to produce the pod, the flowers fade to a beautiful baby blue colour. Shortly after the purple pods start to form.

My pea's were sown on 21st February, and have been flowering for the last week, they are just starting to form purple pods.

This variety has been a joy to grow, it needs support as it can grow upto six feet tall.

Once the pods have filled out I will update this post to record how they taste. I am also hoping to collect seed from this variety to share with others.
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Saturday, 2 May 2009

May - Update

Runner Beans.
I have sown two lots of runner beans this year. I usually grow Scarlet Emperor which are very good and produce a prolific crop.

This year I wanted to try a new variety so I have sown 4 seeds of Best of All. The Scarlet Emperor were planted out this weekend and Best of All are just breaking through the soil. Just need to think now were they are going to go. Last year 4 plants supplied enough beans for a family of 4, two neighbours and my mum and dad. This year I want enough so I can pick them a bit younger.

Teasel & Lemon Balm

Earlier this year I was fortunate to receive some Teasel Seeds and Lemon Balm cuttings and seeds.

The picture on the left is the teasel which was planted out last weekend, I have dotted them around the garden to encourage the birds who like to feed on the seeds, however they will have a bit of a wait as they are biennials. The lemon balm has put on a lot of growth and the seeds I received will be sown as I want to grow another pot in hope that I may get an allotment some day. The lemon balm I an going to use for pot pourri and I want to try it as a tea. Will let you know what its like!
Potatoes In Flower Pots.
The potatoes that were planted up back in March have been growing well. I chitted them throughout February and early March and they sprouted and were planted up into flower pots. I drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. The varieties I am growing are Pentland Javlin, Charlotte and Pink fir apple. I planted two seed potatoes to a pot. At the moment they are sat on the patio step which gets a lot of sun as its south facing. At night they are covered up with fleece just in case of frost. Last year I did some potatoes in a grow sack and this method worked quite well although one of the varieties that I did turned out really poor so hoping these will perform better this year.
Blueberry Bushes.

I planted two blueberry bushes last year which I have been growing in pots of acid soil. They have been flowering for a few weeks now. I don't expect a huge crop from them but would like enough just to try home made blueberry muffins!

My dog "Billy" protects them from the birds but may have to consider putting a net over them for when he's not about.

My Sister brought me this Azalea last year as a gift. This is the first time it has flowered and its beautiful.
The flowers are a soft purple colour, later in the season and after it has finished flowering I will pot it up and move it into the shade.
This is the first time I have grown azalea, and its nice to see some spring colour as the daffs and tulips have gone over now.
Beetroot and Chard.
My beetroot and chard have been growing well in the pop up cold frame. They will be ready to go out in a few weeks time. I have been leaving the top vents undone all day and night. I still need to harden them off properly so over the next week they will be left out during the day for one week and then all night the following week as long as we have no frosts forecast. Our last frost date for my area is mid may. Although some years ago I can remember a frost in the first week of June, lots of disappointed gardeners that year as lots of people were caught out. Always a risk of when to plant out but will keep an eye on the weather forecasts and a hand on the fleece!

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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy.

April is a busy month for sowing and so the veggie-patch is starting to come to life. Over the Easter holidays I have spent some time weeding, tidying up and sowing, around completing some diy.
Here is a picture of the daffodils and pansies that have been in flower in my garden

The garlic that I started back in February has put on a lot of growth and all look healthy. The green shoots are about a foot high and have been under planted with lettuce as a catch crop.


These are the carrots that I grew in a trough, they aren't ready yet but this is the first time I have had success with carrots. Buoyed on by this, I have sown a row in a tall raised bed and they have germinated. So hopefully we will have some home grown carrots this year. I am going to sow another row in a few weeks time.

Heritage Peas
These have been a joy to grow so far and are doing better than the meteor peas that were an early sowing. All the peas have been planted out and are scattered around the garden. They are looking great and I'm looking forward to seeing how the different varieties perform. At the moment they are looking very promising.

Chili Plants
I've had a count up of the chili plants in the greenhouse and ended up with 36 plants in total!
I have grown the following:
Purple Jals
Chili Pyramid
Scotch Bonnet
Chinease Five Colour
Garda Hocus Pocus
Brazilian Bonnet
Numex Twilight
Lemon Drop
Prairie Fire
Patio Sizzle
Black Pearl
Friars Hat
Red Missle
A few failed to germinate and some of these will be going to new homes. I have also sown pimento pepper which has shown up over the last week. The sweet peppers all germinated and I have Pepper mini bell, big banana, asda pointy peppers, summer salad and patio red.
A few weeks ago I have sown lettuce - All the year round, chartwell, radichio, mixed leaves and little gem. The mixed leaves have been transplanted into containers and the rest pricked out into modules. I had far too many so have given some to a friend, the rest have been planted amongst the garlic and into the raised beds, if they don't grow I have some more to plant out later. I will wait a month before I do another sowing and this time be a bit more careful with the seeds. Radish has germinated and has been planted into the raised beds. These seeds were from Poland and given to me and so far they have sprung up within a week and been planted straight out.
Early Tomatoes.
So far so good, all the plants are in the greenhouse and I have only used a bit of heat for about a week. They are growing well and are green and healthy, they have about five sets of leaves each and I may have some flowers soon but I want to get them into their final pots before this happens. Again I had too many plants so some have gone to new homes. I tend to sow a few of each variety and instead of oinking out the weakest seedling, I grow them on and give them away. All the seedling/plants are healthy but just can't bear to throw them away.
I have the following varieties in the greenhouse:
Yellow Butterfly
Super Cherry Sweet
Essex Wonder
Money Maker
Brown Berry
Green Zebra
Balconi Yellow
Balconi Red
Black Russian
Super Snow White
Brandy Wine
Kellogs Breakfast
Paul Robeson
Morgage Lifter
Garden Pearl
Gardeners Delight
Some of these will be grown outside, in hanging baskets, and some in the greenhouse
Over the last couple of weeks, I have sown:
Peas - Hurst Green Shaft, and Kelvedon Wonder, Sugar Snap Delikett.
Flowers - Dahlia - Black Beauty, Corn Flower - Dwarf variety, Calendula - Candy Man, French Marigolds - Bolero and Orange Flame. All have germinated and are ready for pricking out.