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Naively I thought the garden would really struggle without my expert attention whilst we were on holiday for the last two weeks. How wrong I was, it quite happily looked after itself, everything has come on in leaps and bounds, basically a big two fingers up to the landlord – sod off we don’t need you!
Apart from friends watering and taking whatever fruit and veg was available nothing was done. But other than harvesting the last of the caulies and spring cabbage when we got back there wasn’t much to do. So here’s a quick catch up on progress so far.
The runners have come on well, at the top of their canes now.
The courgettes are well away, a bit of blackfly but nothing to worry about. This is F1 Orelia and the Black Beauty plants are also fruiting nicely.
The greenhouse is full. There’s a couple of cucumbers at the end, tomatoes down the side edged with salad bowl and french marigolds. On the staging are chillies, peppers and aubergines.
Harvested a few courgettes, broad beans and squash.
And the first tomatoes, these are Brasero.
The first raspberries were ready as well which were fantastic. The strawberries keep coming to, we only have a dozen plants and are into our fifth week of picking now, they have gone mad this year.
And the chillies are getting big. This one is Fresno Supreme, I also have Cayenne, Jalapeno, Californian Wonder and Scotch Bonnet growing.
The front garden flower bed is in full bloom. The Red Orach that I grew from the seeds Maureen sent me are now 7 feet tall, I love the coulour which is a great backdrop for the sweet peas.
I grew the carnations from seed last year from a Woolies flower selection pack that work colleagues gave me for my birthday. They didn’t do anything in their first year but are now making up for it. The Sweet Peas are over 4 feet high on the wigwams. Just after taking this photo I cut most of them to encourage more flowers.
Finally the Dahlias have started flowering. This one is my favourite so far, Atika. More on the Dahlia progress next time.
So everything has pretty much run to plan, I should go away more often!
Harvesting: Spring cabbage, Cauliflower, Calabrese, Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Tomatoes, Courgette, Broad Beans, Squash, Strawberries, Raspberries.
We’re off to France very soon and are taking as much veg as possible with us in the cool box. I’ve cut the first cauliflower and broccoli today which I am really pleased with. Pretty much the same size as the supermarket but I bet they taste better!
There’s loads to follow so I’m hoping the rest will develop over the next two weeks and I’ve told our friends who are looking after the garden to take what is ready. There’s never a good time to go on holiday when you have a garden (although I say anytime is a good time for a holiday!). I’m sure there will be loads of veg coming to harvest just when we are away but it means I’ll be back to man the defenses against the cabbage white invasion later in the season. I’ve just cut the main head off the first broccoli so it should now sprout more heads to follow on. It’s the first time I’ve grown them so it’s all new but I am very happy with the results so far!
Elsewhere in the garden the rambling rose is in flower.
And the first cornflower.
The Red Orach are between 4-5 foot tall now but the Sweet Peas are catching up fast.
And the Dianthus dotted around the flower bed are in full bloom.
One thing I think I’ll miss in the next 2 weeks is my first Dahlia flower as there are quite a few buds on the ones I started in containers in the greenhouse back in March.
Fingers crossed we’ll all see some good weather over the next two weeks, it’ll be “cracking the flags” as I would say.
I’m also starting a footnote on posts to keep a record of what I’m harvesting.
Harvesting: Spring Cabbage, Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Courgette, Squash, Calabrese, Cauliflower, Strawberries.
The plot is full so it’s up to various containers to take the strain of the remaining planting. The first job was to get the rest of the tomatoes out. I used a couple of growbags with three tomotoes in each (Brasero, Moneymaker and Gardener’s Delight) grown in bottomless pots. I also stuck a couple of old squash bottles in each growbag for easy watering. The Brasero have started to fruit already. I’m hoping there’s no blight this year, we have enough green tomato chutney!
The long carrots in dustbins. They don’t look up to much but I thinned them out this weekend and the thinnings had 3-4 inch tap roots as straight as an arrow. I am cautiously optimistic.
I pulled out the last purple sprouting broccoli plant which had gone to flower and harvested the first of the spring cabbage.
And what about the rest of the weekend? We’ll be off out with the girls of course. But if I get a few minutes to myself I’ll be drinking a couple of beers. Tribute from St.Austell Brewery and Gem from Bath Ales, which I tried on a recent visit to Bath, are my favourites from the south-west.
Looks like the rest of the weekend will be warmer now the rain has passed through. Hope you have a great Bank Holiday!
I thought I’d take a few photos of all the lovely flowers in bloom in the garden and give you an update on veg progress.
The front garden bed is now fully planted with courgette and squash. The gladioli along the wall of the house are starting to show. We should get dozens of strawberries and raspberries as well, I must get the netting organised to keep the birds off them!
I took a gamble on this sweetcorn planting it out over a month ago, now it’s come through the plastic bottle cloche, so fingers crossed it was worth the risk. It’s the first time I’ve grown sweetcorn so we’ll see how it goes.
The onion bed looks a lot tidier now, I’m hoping that the ‘visitor’ doesn’t return, I lost 8 onions to the burrowing but I’m hoping the rest settle down and fatten up over the summer.
Finally I don’t know about you but I’ve been watching the Chelsea Flower Show in awe of what these people can achieve. It was great to see Medwyn win the President’s Award at Chelsea, how does he do it? Amazing veg display! One day I’ll get there!!!
There’s lots growing in the garden and on the veg plot so following Flighty’s guidance I’ve set up a quick slideshow to keep you all updated. I’m off to Cambridge and Newmarket races for the weekend tomorrow so the garden jobs will have to wait again. Given the neglect most things seem to be looking after themselves. The photos include the rockery, mini-greenhouse, cauliflowers, broad beans, calabrese, spring cabbage and lettuce from the plot and some herbs and mixed salad leaves in the greenhouse.
But not all in the garden is rosy. I think I’ve lost three cucumbers that I transplanted to the greenhouse the other week. They look in a pretty bad state, I think the unheated greenhouse has been too cold for them at night, my own fault I moved them too early. I’m hoping they recover but I’ve just sown a couple more as emergency replacements. On the plot the frost has also caught some of my spuds, and a rogue slug has been nibbling at the bedding plants in the mini-greenhouse. To top it all off I think Polo has taken a fancy to digging in the onion bed and has made a bit of a mess of things so I’ve now got a temporary fence around that to keep him out.
But all in all despite the cold nights most of what has been sown is coming on in leaps and bounds and the photos give you a flavour of what’s happening. Hopefully it’ll all survive another weekend of neglect!
Now is the time of year when everything on the plot comes to a head. The weeds are growing, space in the greenhouse is at a premium, plants need hardening off, watering if it’s hot, keeping an eye on the cold nights still to come, successional sowing, potting on, the list is endless. So whilst I’m indoors keeping an eye on the girls whilst Rach is out I thought I’d take stock of where I am and what needs to be done this weekend.
The large bed is full up. The front half is potatoes, Charlotte, Anya and Desiree. Then cauliflowers and calabrese, broad beans and, at the back, the purple sprounting brocolli plants which will be replaced with runner and french beans eventually.
The shallots and onions are doing well. Some of the garlic didn’t come up so I’ve filled in the gaps with onions that I grew from seed.
The front garden bed gets full sun most of the day. Strawberry plants line the edge and are in full flower. There’s some raspberry canes at the back and I’ve planted gladioli all along the house wall. There’s also a gooseberry and balckcurrant (I will be getting a couple more of these to put in). This will also be the courgette and squash bed, there’s one courgette already in and it’s protected at night by the water cooler bottle.
In the middle bed the spring cabbages are coming on, I planted them out quite late so they are not as big as I’d hoped yet and I desperately need the space for other plants that are in the greenhouse.
I’ve not been very successful with carrots so this year I’m growing some in containers, these are Amsterdam Forcing.
The purple sprouting is in full flow now, eating it pretty much every night.
The lettuce are coming on well, there’s a mixture of Artic King, Winter Density and Little Gem here. I’ve also sown salad bowl, lollo rosso and red deer’s tongue.
The greenhouse is full to bursting point as always!
The next crop of brassica seedlings and lettuce are coming through. I’ve not sown direct as I don’t have the space at the momemt. At the back are some more sweet peas and various pots with the mixed salad leafs from the BBC DigIn packets coming through. To the right are pansies ‘Joker’ that I’ve grown from seed.
The squash and tomatoes are coming on nicely.
It’s the first time I’ve grown Red Orach, they are ready to plant out now.
The chilli and peppers need potting on too.
And finally the dahlia tubers I put in pots have sprouted.
There is so much to do, here’s my list, I’m sure I’ve missed something!
1. Plant out / pot on courgettes and squash.
2. Pot on brassica seedlings (space not available yet).
3. Move beans into bigger pots until space becomes free on plot.
4. Tie up sweet peas and plant out remainder.
5. Pot on greenhouse tomatoes into final bottomless pots which will go on top of the gravel bed.
6. Plant cucumbers in their final spaces in the greenhouse.
7. Plant more gladioli bulbs.
8. Plant out unsprouted dahlia tubers.
9. Harden off and plant out rest of bedding plants that have been growing on in the greenhouse.
10. Mow lawns and tidy up edges.
11. Weed everywhere.
12. Sow successional radish, lettuce and beetroot.
13. See what is surplus to requirements for the Horticultural Society plant sale on May 22nd.
14. Pot on chilli and sweet peppers.
15. Plant out Red Orach.
16. See what containers are available and what I can plant in them to save space.
17. Get last of salad potatoes into compost bags.
Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend whatever you’re doing and we get some sunshine in between the showers.
Finally got some plants in today and a tour of the veg plot is showing a very healthy position indeed. I’ve planted out a row of broad beans that I grew in toilet rolls next to the couple of rows that I sowed direct that are starting to come through. Next to them 18 cauliflowers, (Snowball), and 6 calabrese (Aquiles) have gone in. The rest of the bed is now full of spuds, Anya and Charlotte and a couple of rows of maincrop (think they’re King Eddies). At the other end of the bed are half of dozen PSB, my nemisis, but a close inspection revealed loads of tiny purple heads so it’s getting quite exciting now as I should be picking PSB in the next couple of weeks! Only 12 months after I planted them, they better be good!! As soon as they are harvested the runner beans and climbing french beans will take their place. So that’s the large back garden bed full up.
In the medium bed there’s the long carrots, a few spring cabbages, some salad crops (lettuce, salad bowl and red deer’s tongue, spring onions Lillia and white lisbon and a mix of radishes) and finally parsnips, which have germinated! So that bed is full up as well, I will just replace the spring cabbages with something when they are ready. The small bed is full with onions, shallots and garlic which have all sprouted nicely.
I’ve also dug over the front garden veg bed and flower bed so they are ready to plant up. More tulips have come out today which is great to see.
I’ll be planting dahlias in the front flower bed in a few weeks.
The BBC DigIn seeds arrived today so more sowing to be done!
I also managed to mow the lawn and Dad popped up and jet washed the patio and conservatory for me so all in all a good few hours work. It’s great to see some nice warm weather at last. Grand National and FA Cup Semi Final for me from 4 o’clock and a family day out somewhere tomorrow.
It poured down for about 12 hours last night through this morning and the garden is like a bog so nothing done on the veg plot today. I would have planted some spuds as the tradition goes but no chance with all that rain.
I got a few indoor jobs done in the morning and by 2 the sun started to poke through so I grabbed a couple of hours out in the garden. The daffs are finally in full bloom and looked great in the afternoon sun (you can see the tulips in the background, they’re some way off yet).
The greenhouse is getting full so I set up the mini-greenhouse that I bought last weekend. I put it against the back fence which is south facing and gets full sun all day. It’s tied to the fence and I’ve also driven in two iron rods which I’ve hooked over one of the tiers so there’s no chance of it blowing away (famous last words!).
I potted on some Arabis, Erysimum, Gazania, Antirrhinum, Impatiens and Sweet Peas which pretty much filled it up. In the greenhouse there’s calabrese, cauliflowers, leeks, broad beans, red orach, nasturtium, french marigolds, more sweet peas, sunflowers, dahlias (from seed and tubers in pots), primroses, a blueberry, onions, little gem lettuce and carrots (Amsterdam Forcing) all coming on nicely.
On the plot I noticed that my long carrots have started to germinate. They’ll now grow on for a while before I thin out to the strongest seedling. The onions, shallots and garlic are all sprouting. The spring cabbages are showing signs of life and the salad veg has all germinated. Still nothing from the PSB, how much longer do I have to wait? The overwintered lettuce is starting to thicken up, I’m sure if I’d have deployed the plastic bottle cloches before the snow it would have been ready to pull up by now!
My chillies and peppers have germinated but it’s slow going, no true leaves yet. I paid a visit to B&Q last weekend to see what they had and bought a Scotch Bonnet plant marked up at 78p. When it went through the till it came out at 21p so I went back and bought another 10 plants, yellow bell pepper, Californian Wonder and Fresno Supreme. At that price I thought it was good value as they each have half a dozen leaves on them.
Indoors the plants are coming on well. Chillies, peppers, courgette, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, pansies, asters, marigolds and sweet peas. Just waiting for Cerinthe to germinate. And last of all I love the flowers on this Fritillaria meleagris.
Hopefully the plot will dry out soon and I can get those spuds in!!
Time for an update on what’s growing………..or not.
On the plot the overwintered spring cabbages and lettuce seem to be growing but no sign of the broad beans, garlic, onions or shallots yet. The 1 rhubarb crown I have is poking through though. I sowed carrots and parsnips last weekend so not expecting anything from them for a while.
In the greenhouse there’s cauliflower, onion, leeks, little gem lettuce and sunflower seedlings growing on. Sweet peas still yet to appear and the containers of carrots and dahlias which I made up on Tuesday night.
Indoors there’s calabrese, tomato, pepper, chilli and french marigold seedlings growing on. Waiting for more peppers, some back-up broad beans, tomatoes, squash, courgettes and cucumber to germinate.
It’s a really exciting time in the season, loads of potential and expectations are high. Can’t wait to start planting these out, patience is a virtue though, go too soon and pay the price.
Plans for the weekend. I’ll re-build the two cheap plastic cold frames I bought last year and place them straight on the plot and sow some salad crops in them, lettuce, radish and spring onions. I need to prep the two dustbins full of sand and sow some carrots which I’m hoping will come good for a couple of shows this year. The remainder of the beds need to be dug over and I’d like to start work on some compost bins. So much to do!
Well last night was the first real storm we’ve had for a while and I’m glad to say the veg plot survived pretty much unscathed. The purple sprouting took a bit of a battering and are now leaning slightly but as they were packed in pretty tight together they seem to have held each other up. The fence panel by the small bed came down, luckily this is were the beans were this year and I had just cleared it a couple of weeks back so no damage done. By 10am a new panel was in place (I have a few spares in the garage as our garden is fenced on three of the four sides).
You can just see the new panel behind the small bed.
The large bed was mainly brassica’s this year and is still pretty full. From front to back there 3 rows of parsnips (tender & true), a couple of rows of brussel sprouts (think the variety is maximus hybrid?), 2 rows of swede (virtue), a row of chard (bright lights), a row of cabbage (golden acre), 2 rows of kale (dwarf green curled and scarlet) and then about 8 purple sprouting brocolli plants (mix of early & late). It’s all packed in there but we’re now starting to harvest the winter veg as the nights are drawing in and turning colder.
The leeks have been poor again this year. I’m going to try a different variety next year. These are Musselburgh and are not as big as I expected.
I’ve planted out a few spring cabbages about a month ago that I’d sown in trays in the greenhouse and they’ve started to grow on. The variety is Pixie and they are dotted about wherever there is space.
I’ve also put in a couple of varities of lettuce over-winter (artic king and winter density) both in the greenhouse and outside, first time I’ve tried this so I’ll see how it goes.
The next job is to clear the front bed of squash and courgette, the courgettes in particular have been amazing this year, I had 3 plants (2 yellow and 1 green) and estimate around 40 courgettes per plant from mid-May to end of October. The strawberry plants have run amock and need sorting out and the last 2 or 3 butternut squash will soon succumb to the oven!