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I expect it’s a sign of things to come that we woke up to a good dusting of snow down here in South Wiltshire. I’ve lived here for 24 years now and only remember about 5 winters were we’ve had good snowfalls. Just south of the Plain means the lower ground and slightly warmer temperatures protect us to a certain degree. Last winter was probably the worst I’ve seen here and the recent cold temperatures don’t bode well for the months to come.
Most things in the garden have slowed down to a stop. Only the birds are busy making the most of the replenished feeders. Just Blue and Great Tits this morning plus the ever present Robin; he loves the fat-filled half coconut on the bird table. There’s always some clearing or tidying to do but today is not one of those days, it’s a day to be inside and get one or two important jobs done, the main one being to re-commission the woodburner for another winter’s use. On a cold winter’s night there’s nothing better than a roaring log fire, maybe a glass of sloe gin and a good book or film.
A few Brussel Sprouts and Parsnips to gather for dinner and one of the Summer Squash will come out of store for roasting. Rach has made bread again which will go nicely with the courgette soup thawing out for a reminder of summer.
Here’s a few photos of the garden this morning. Things are looking a bit forlorn now and there’s not much colour around.
And I’d like to leave you with a few well written words over at one of my favourite websites, this is beautiful writing which sums up my mood at this time of year very nicely.
Have a great weekend!
We’re having some work done at the side of the house and the scaffolding afforded me the opportunity to get a different perspective on the garden from just above the roofline.
There are a couple of veg beds in the front garden. The one by the front door you can’t see in this picture and it’s where the courgettes, squash, strawberries and raspberries live. At the far end by the road you can just see the newest bed behind the trees. In there are beetroot, brussels, sweetcorn, squash, pumpkins, celery, sprouting brocolli and cabbage. By the drive is the main flower bed and the rest is the girls domain with toys everywhere!
Most of the veg growing is in the smaller back garden where I have 3 beds and a greenhouse. Having just dug the onions and potatoes there’s quite a bit of space now, a month ago it was packed solid.
The aubergines are going mad in the greenhouse. I bought these two as tiny plants at our spring show so have no idea what the varieties are. One is producing a few standard looking egg-shaped fruits and the other is throwing out loads of long thin paler ones. Any ideas?
And so are the cucumbers, now we have more than we know what to do with.
I’m really pleased with the progress on the pumpkin front. These are Rouge Vif d’Etamps from seed Maureen kindly sent to me.
And the squash have been great this year.
There’s also plenty of colour in the garden, these are Asters, Appleblossom.
And the glads and the sweet peas are still going strong.
Lastly I’m really pleased with my first attempt at Dahlias, definitely going to grow more next year, I don’t think you can beat them for colour.
Well the countdown to the village show run by my local Horticultural Society has well and truly begun. It’s 6 days away so I’m going around the garden checking on progress and seeing what I think will be ready for the big day. For last years write-up click here.
The main classes are Master Gardener and Society Top Tray.
Master Gardener (display space 24″ x 24″) – One vase of flowers and 3 vegetables from the list. One from Sweet Peas – 9 of any variety, Gladioli – 2 of any variety, Dahlias – 3 of any variety, or Perrenials – 9 of any variety. And 3 from Runner Beans – 6, Cabbages – 2, Cauliflower – 1, Carrots – 3, Onions – 3, Peas – 6 (pods), Potatoes – 6 (one variety), Tomatoes – 6.
I didn’t enter this class last year as I wasn’t growing any flowers, it’s most likely going to be glads or dahlias with runners, carrots and potatoes I think. Or I don’t enter again this year and pool my best veg in the other classes. Decisions, decisions…..
Society Top Tray (display space 18″ x 24″) – 3 vegetables from the list:- Carrots – 3, Onions – 3, Parnsips – 3, Peas – 6 pods, Potatoes – 3 one variety, Runner Beans – 6, Tomatoes – 6. I’ll probably be relying on parsnips, runners and spuds for this one, possibly carrots if I have enough decent ones.
The Dahlia bed is looking good. I should be able to enter some of these into the show. The varieties I’m growing are Shooting Star, My Love, Firebird, Hayley Jane, Kennermaland, Vancouver, Black Cat, Le Baron and Pompon Flow Mix (various small ball types). In containers I have Bristol Stripe, Babylon Bronze, Atika, Kenora, Purple Gem and Kelvin Floodlight. For more Dahlia posts click here, here and here.
This is Shooting Star.
The Gladioli are looking good, should have some ready at the right time.
Courgettes are a tricky class as I need three around 6″ long with flowers.
I need two cucumbers, they have their own class and can go into the salad veg selection.
The squash will go into the any other veg and selection of veg from my garden categories.
Peppers will go into the selection of veg category. Possibly some of the aubergines and chillies too.
The pumpkins are doing well. I’ve grown a couple of plants from the seeds Maureen sent me, the variety is Rouge Vif d’etamps.
And Chloe and I were in the garden harvesting the plum tree which produces hundreds of these tiny plums. Chloe loves them!
Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched earlier this month. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here. I’ll be drawing the gift voucher winners and despatching the seeds towards the end of the month.
At this time of year there is one family of plants that starts producing serious amounts of veg on the plot. Cucurbits include cucumbers, squash and courgette which are all in full production now.
I finally cut my first cucumber of the season today. It’s been a bit of a disaster after the first plants (Carmen) sucumbed to a greenhouse move when it was still too cold, if I’d have waited another week or two we would have been picking them a good 6 weeks ago. Last year two plants produced over 40 cucumbers from the end of May to the end of October, Carmen is a great all female flower variety that I will definitely grow again. But it wasn’t to be and my back up is not all-female, I think it’s called burpless tasty green or something like that but it’s nowhere near as productive. Still there’s one in the fridge now so can’t complain.
I’m leaving this squash to grow on but cut the rest when they are fairly small. One or two rot off but most make it to the oven.
The variety is Mixed Scallop, a packet of seed I’ve had for three years now, some plants produce yellow fruits and others are a light green colour.
The courgettes are flying along, this one is Black Beauty.
And this one is F1 Orelia.
The girls love picking courgettes!
The Sweet Peas, Cornflowers & Red Orach are still going strong.
Whilst I’ve been trying to grow more exotic flowers this year the old stalwart the pot marigold is still one of my favourites. These two pictures do it some justice, great colour.
Off to the village music festival tomorrow, fingers crossed that the weather will hold out. Hope you are having a great weekend!
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.
This time next week we’ll be in France so today is all about getting the jobs done so when we get back in early July the garden won’t have run away with itself too much!
The Sweet Peas are going mad after the rain we’ve had and I’m cutting most of them to induce more flowers. They look pretty on the windowsill and give off a lovely scent.
First job was weeding the new bed that I built earlier in the year. From front to back there are cabbages, early white and late purple sprouting broccoli, celery, sweetcorn, squash, beetroot, brussel sprouts and pumpkins. It’s all looking pretty good so fingers crossed we’ll have a bumper harvest from this bed. It’s the first time I’ve grown corn, celery or pumpkins.
I’m really pleased with the corn.
The other tender veg are coming on as well. Here’s the first courgette. This one’s from 3-year old seed and appears to be a bombproof variety – the packet just says Zucchini – and it’s been a reliable cropper.
I’ve also got some yellow courgettes showing, these are F1 Orelia, again pretty reliable although I had more trouble germinating these. The other variety I’m growing is Black Beauty from the BBC DigIn free seeds.
And the first squash has appeared, this is old seed again, it just says mixed scalloped squash on the packet. But it hasn’t failed me in 3 years. I normally pick them quite small and roast them in the oven with courgettes etc but I leave the odd one to grow on, one of which won 1st prize in the Any Other Veg category in our summer show so you can see how big they get!
We have two mature cherry trees in the garden and I noticed some fruit, I think this is the first time in the 3 years we’ve been here that they’ve survived the woodpigeon onslaught. So we may be picking cherries in a few weeks.
And we’ve been picking strawberries for a week or so now, not that I can get anywhere near them, the girls are wolfing them down. It’s great to see them loving the home grown fruit and veg as it’s the main reason I started the plot just before Chloe was born.
We’re having a barby later so I picked a selection of salad. There’s lettuce (Winter Density, Salad Bowl and Red Deer’s Tongue), Wild Rocket and Radish. This afternoon I’ll mow the lawn, then it’s a couple of bottles of Black Sheep and Come on England!!
Tomorrow we’re off to the River Bourne Community Farm Open Day in Laverstock, Salisbury. Should be a fun day with loads to do for the girls, and nice for me to have a day off from the jobs too!
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!!!
With temperatures soaring into the high twenties I decided to go for it today and get everything planted out. So in went the courgettes, squash, celery, runner beans, french beans, cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale.
But first I had to mow the lawn and then get some of the bedding plants in. I started by emptying 3 stone baskets we have on the front verge by the road. I filled them up with fresh compost and planted a mix of bedding plants in them. Petunias, Busy Lizzie, Gazania, Pansies and Antirrhinums all went in which should give some nice colour and make the front a bit more presentable. The rest of the bedding will go along the edges of the drive entrance and wherever I can find a space in the flower beds.
Next it was onto the front bed which I built recently and was half full with brussel sprouts, beetroot and sweetcorn. In went some squash (Scallop Mixed and Sunburst) around the sweetcorn (Sweet Sensation), about 10 celery plants (never grown celery before), a couple of rows of cabbage (Golden Acre Primo) and some early white and late purple sprounting broccoli.
Then onto the other beds. The kale (Scarlet and Dwarf Green Curled) went in alongside the spring cabbages (as soon as they are ready for harvest I’ll start replacing with another batch of calabrese and cauliflowers). I earthed up the spuds and ripped out most of the sprouting broccoli at the back of the large bed. It had started to flower. As you can see from the photo they were huge, this one is 7 foot tall.
This is were the beans were to go. Not ideal as you’re supposed to have a trench running over winter getting filled with kitchen waste. I dug a trench anyway and chucked my last bag of well rotted chicken manure in along with some pellets, I’m hoping that will be enough to feed the beans. Up went the A-frame of 8ft bamboo canes and in went 4 runner beans (streamline) and six french beans (blue lake). I planted a runner per cane and 2 French beans per cane. Around the spare canes I sowed some more french beans (our house prefers them to runners).
In the front bed there are strawberries, raspberries, a gooseberry and blackcurrant bush. Along the house wall I’ve planted a row of gladioli (Mexico & Passo) which are starting to poke through. The rest of the space was filled with Squash (Scallop Mixed) and Courgettes (Zuccini, Black Beauty and F1 Orelia).
Then I turned my attention to the onion bed which has been subject to some unwelcome visitor over recent weeks. I’ve narrowed it down to a rat, next doors cat or my dog Polo, so I fenced off the bed last weekend to fend off the cat and dog and some rat poison went down under next door’s shed. Some of the onion sets have been dug up so I chucked them and made sure the rest were well in and had some fresh soil around them. I also removed the soil around the shallots which are coming on really well. This will allow them to form, I may also remove some to allow the rest to grow bigger.
I thinned out the parsnips.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are in their bottomless pots on a bed of gravel (ring culture) and some will go outside in grow bags next week. There’s also chillies and peppers, aubergines and my back-up cucumbers are coming on, the first batch sucumbed to the cold.
The herb area is looking good. It’s handy having it by the back door and I also put the mixed salad there so it’s easy to get to. There’s flat leafed parsley, basil, chives, rosemary, bay, oregano, sage and thyme which will brighten up our cooking over the next few months.
I really pleased with these dahlias. I’m growing these in pots, I have some more tubers in the front flower bed and some grown from seed to go in.
Elsewhere in the garden the clematis are starting to flower.
And the rockery is in full bloom.
So a busy day. All the beds are full now until the spring cabbage come out and I’ve still got leeks and pumpkin to plant out and swedes to sow. A friend up the road has some space so I may have to plant them out there. Now time to put my feet up and enjoy it, barbie tomorrow I think!