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I mentioned in my last post that this blog would start to diversify a little as the garden winds down for the winter. One of the things I’ve been interested in for a while now is foraging. Now I’m not talking running the gaunlet with wild mushrooms just yet but simple “get out into the fresh air and fill up some plastic tubs with stuff” type foraging.
So off we went for a drive and stopped in the first likely looking spot by a track alongside a lovely looking hedgerow.
Chloe spotted them first, although Emily didn’t seem too interested……….
Whilst the girls sat down to share the blackberry spoils I went about stripping a couple of kilos of elderberries from the hedge. A batch of wine was the goal, more on that next time.
We spotted a nice patch of teasels and lots of sloes and rosehips we’ll be back for.
On the veg plot I decided to tackle the front bed which I’ve been neglecting for a while. The sprouting broccoli are getting quite large now so I earthed them up and staked them to protect from rocking. This year I’m growing early white and late purple varieties. The sweetcorn came out, I’ll be growing more next year as it was superb. The last of the cabbages will make some more coleslaw.
Still not sure what I’m doing with the celery, it must be a self-blanching variety as it tastes quite good.
I tidied up the brussels and picked the first handful which the girls loved with their roast dinner. Elsewhere in the garden I belatedly staked the raspberry canes, took out the sweet peas and red orach and started to pot up 120 strawberry plants! After which I deserved a sit down with a beer. More foraging and brewing to come!
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.
We’ve said goodbye to strawberries, raspberries, broad beans, cauliflower & calabrese but what’s next from the plot? In full production are the potatoes, courgettes, squash, runner and french beans, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and rocket but there are one or two delights left this summer before we get into the true winter veg.
The first are the cabbages, not a classic summer veg in my book, but will go nicely with a Sunday roast. These are the first I’ve grown successfully and I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out. I daren’t lift the mesh tunnel as I’d never get it back over them!
Then there’s the sweetcorn, my first, and from the near fever-pitch sense of anticipation from other bloggers’ posts it’s going to be fantastic. I can’t wait!
On the flower front there’s the promise of the Dahlia patch reaching full bloom and yet more sweet peas (keep on cutting them!).
And the wonderful gladioli, the Dame Edna Everage of flowers according to one of Edith’s recent posts and why not? Being a bit over the top sometimes is a good thing!
So a nod to what’s already been and gone and a look forward to the delights still to come. That’s what it’s all about!
Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched on Sunday. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here.
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!
Here’s a selection of my favourite flowers from around the garden this weekend. Everything seems to be in bloom at the moment, a great time of year to sit back and enjoy all the hard work!
The Sweet Peas are still going strong, around 6 foot high now. I am keeping up with the cutting just about, only seen a couple of seed pods. As I’m allergic to them they stay in a vase on the garden table or I give them away.
And next to the Sweet Peas is a patch of Cornflowers in various colours.
There’s also a couple of groups of Carnations that I grew from seed last year.
And in the same bed are Nasturtiums and Marigolds grown from seed.
Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus) growing amongst the Marigolds.
I think this one is a Phlox.
Pansy ‘Joker’ from seed.
I love the striping on the Gazania flowers.
This Mallow hides the drainpipes coming down this corner of the house and gives off loads of flowers.
The Hydrangea by the kitchen door is now in flower.
And finally the clematis against the back fence is in full bloom.
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!
Well I survived the latest leg of our Pennine Way walk with just a small blister on my left foot. 3 days and 42 miles of hard walking from High Force in County Durham to Knarsdale in Northumberland. This is one of my favourite photos from the trip of Cauldron Snout waterfall. We had superb weather as well, if anything it was too hot! I will be updating the Pennine Way page soon.
And the garden has survived my absence. The Peonies are now starting to bloom, these ones are a lovely light pink.
And the sweet peas are coming thick and fast now.
As I’m recovering I haven’t done any work in the garden just gave it a good watering. I’ll post some progress pictures next time.