Monthly Archives: April 2010

Accrington Stanley who are they?…….Exactly!

Do you remember that classic advert from the 1980s with the two young Liverpool lads? Well this post is dedicated to the power of milk! Yes we all know it’s good for us, nutritious, loads of calcium etc, but do you know how good it can be for your plants? If not read on.

So I’ve just moved my tomatoes from the windowsill to the greenhouse and like any doting father I’m worried for them as they take their first tentative steps into the big, wide world. I know there’s danger lurking round the corner, it won’t be long before the hordes of whitefly are out to prey on my young and innocent tomato offspring. What can I do to protect them when I first see signs of trouble?

A word with the local milkman or a trip down to the supermarket will do. I’m after some full-fat (6%) non-homogenised milk, you know the stuff they used to call Gold Top, or Jersey milk where the cream separates out from the milk. I mentioned milk in a previous post and last night I attended another talk by expert Ray Broughton this time courtesy of the Laverstock Gardening Club. The talk was on Pests and Diseases and was great timing as the recent temperatures means the risk of attack gets greater day-by-day. Milk is a perfect weapon against any soft bodied pest like whitefly, aphids or mealy bugs as the fatty acid attacks their bodies and kills them in about an hour. Just syphon off the creamy milk part of the bottle into one of those mist sprays and blast the blighters as soon as you spot them (don’t wait until the plant is covered in the things as with all pest control it needs to be done at the first sign of trouble).

If you’re worried about the smell if spraying indoors just follow on by spraying some tepid water after three hours to wash away the milk spray before it has time to go off but out in the greenhouse or garden this will not be as big an issue.

I will definitely be trying milk spray as soon as I see any aphids or whitefly. It also works on mildew as well. Why not give it a go?

Wig-Wam bam

Spent the morning planting my sweet peas out. I made a couple of wig-wams, not perfectly geometrical by any means but I like that, very simple just bamboo canes and string. I’ve got around 60 plants so there was plenty to go in the main flowerbed around the wig-wams, some have gone into a big pot and the remainder are still in the coldframe. The varities are Appleblossom, Janet Scott, Princess Elizabeth and some seeds that Maureen kindly sent me. I’ve never grown sweet peas before so have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve pricked off any sideshoots so there is just one main stem and planted 3 per cane, hope that’s right!

Following my charity plant sale there was some space to fill up in the greenhouse so I sowed some runner and french beans. I also pricked out 20 or so Asters and about 50 pansies to grow on before planting out. So that’s the greenhouse full again!

The Red Orach are doing well.

I should really get the cucumbers in the greenhouse as they are getting quite big now on the bathroom windowsill.

In the conservatory are the squash, courgettes and tomatoes.

And the Chillies and Peppers are doing well, more space in the greenhouse required!

Charity Plant Sale

Had a good day today raising £88 with my charity plant sale and overall we raised over £700 for The Stroke Association. I sold over 100 plants that I’d grown plus a few donations from other members of staff and Rachel’s Mum.

The list included Geraniums, Lobelia, Sunflowers, Lettuce, Courgettes, Squash, Cauliflowers, Onions, Dahlias, Tomatoes, Aloe, Bamboo, Sedum, Spotted Laurel, Calabrese, Chilli, Foxglove, Lupin, and Aqualigia. It was great to raise some money and get a little space back in the greenhouse!

A Tale of Neglect

When we moved into this house 3 years ago I inherited a stump of a plant in a half barrel covered in bindweed. From the few leaves on it I guessed it was a Camelia. Not knowing anything about them and needing to move the barrel to make way for my veg bed I carried it round to the side of the garage and dumped it. And there it has stayed. Last year I felt sorry for it and removed the bindweed and started watering it from time to time (as it was underneath the outside tap anyway!). So not really nurturing it at all. And here it is three years later and it’s flowered!

Here’s a close up of one of the flowers, there’s a few blemishes but I’m not complaining. There’s half a dozen or so flower buds to come. So a tale of neglect that has paid off, sometimes you just have to leave well alone. Problem is now I have a half decent plant I am bound to start meddling!!

I really like this daffodil flower I planted in Autumn, quite a fancy one.

This Periwinkle has grown up around the bottom of the wall, lovely bluey-purple flowers.

I can’t believe I’ve started watering parts of the veg plot in mid-April and the forecast for the next 5 days is sun, sun, sun! Can’t wait to get out in the garden this weekend.

At last!!

Well 12 months after it was sown the very late purple sprouting broccoli has finally born fruit. Was it worth waiting for? I would say yes for two reasons, great flavour and it’s come in at a time when there is nothing else coming off the plot. I thought 12 months effort was worth a couple of photos. And I’ve warned Rach that with half a dozen plants PSB will feature heavily on our dinner menu for a while!

What a glorious weekend it was. Here’s my little helper watering the daffs for me. We had friends round on Saturday night who are vegetarian and I cooked the starter, stuffed Romano peppers with baby plum tomatoes, mozarella, puy lentils and basil, and the main of butternut squash, goats cheese and spinach rissotto (both Waitrose recipe cards). Rach weighed in with a James Martin Sticky Toffee Pudding, not very Italian but very, very yummy indeed! On Sunday we had our first BBQ of the season and spent ages chilling out in the garden which was perfect. Hope you all enjoyed the weekend whatever you got up to.

New bed

Having run out of planting space already I built a new bed this morning. I’ve been looking for hidden away and unloved areas of the garden to dig up for veg growing. The area I chose would fit a 12′ by 6′ bed with enough space to walk round all sides. Here’s the spot.

First I removed the turf (well mainly weeds!) and stacked it up in one corner to rot down over the next few months. Then using 6 stakes and 6 six foot long gravel boards I bought from Scats I made the frame. Then I dug the whole area to one fork’s depth and removed any tree roots and stones. Finally I filled up the bed with about a 1/10th of the chicken manure I had delivered a few weeks ago and some leftover top soil. Here’s the finished bed.

It’s position is not ideal as it’s the other side of a 5′ high fence which runs parrallel to the road but it is south-facing. At midday only 1/5th of the bed was in shade from the fence so by the summer the sun will be high enough to get to the whole bed. Straight in went the Brussel Sprouts which were followed by sweetcorn. I sowed some beetroot, radish and rocket to intercrop between these and squash plants will join them in a few weeks.

Elsewhere in the garden the tulips are in full bloom.

I love the deep red colour of these tulips, there’s some purple ones just about to come out too which will give some fantastic colour to the garden. It’s been a glorious day today, not a cloud in the sky.

50 not out!

Well 6 months into this blog and I’ve made it to the 50th post. It’s been great sharing my thoughts with you all and thanks for taking a look and giving your comments. Now the season is really getting going and the next 6 months will be very hectic, packed full of veg and flowers from around the garden.

I’ve gone a bit mad on the sowing and potting on over the last few weeks so I did a stock take to see where I am. Looking at the list I’m not sure where this lot is going to go but I’m determined to find room somewhere. I’ve also sown a few extra of some of the veg to give to family & friends and for the local Horticultural Society plant sale in May.

Greenhouse
Lettuce – Salad Bowl, Little Gem, Lollo Rosso, Red Deer’s Tongue
Various mixed salad
Leek – Carlton F1
Herbs – Dill, Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Chives, Sage
Early White / Late Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Onion – Globo
Kale – Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet
Carrots – Amsterdam Forcing
Swiss Chard – Bright Lights
Cabbage – Golden Acre Primo (II)
Celery
Sweetcorn – Sweet Sensation
Tomato – Brasero
Red Orach
Dahlia – Mixed, from seed
Dahlia – Various from tubers
Aster – Appleblossom
Primroses
Chinese Lantern
Pot & French Marigolds
Nasturtium
Sunflowers
Sweet Pea – Janet Scott, Princess Elizabeth & Appleblossom
Impatiens, Antirrhinum, Arabis, Erysimum, Gazania, Petunia

Windowsills
Chilli – Cayenne, Jalapeno, Scotch Bonnet, Californian Wonder, Fresno Supreme
Sweet Pepper – Bell Boy, Tasty Bell, Denver F1, Etudia
Cucumber – Carmen F1
Pumpkin – Rouge Vif d’etamps
Courgette – Black Beauty, Zuccini, Orelia F1
Summer Squash – Scallop Mixed, Sunburst F1
Climbing French Bean – Blue Lake & Cobra
Dwarf French Bean – Ferrari
Runner Bean – Scarlet Emporer & Streamline
Tomato – Garderner’s Delight, Moneymaker, Tumbling Tom
Pansy – Joker

Veg Plot
Onion Sets – Radar
Shallots Sets – Golden Gourmet
Garlic – Purple Wight
Parsnips – Exhibition
Carrot – Javelot Long carrot (dustbins / raised bed)
Spring Cabbage – Pixie
Spring Onion – Lillia & White Lisbon
Radish – Mixed, Albena, French Breakfast
Lettuce – Winter Density, Little Gem, Salad Bowl, Red Deer’s Tongue
Wild Rocket
Jerusalem Artichokes
Globe Artichoke – Green Globe
Potato – Anya, Charlotte, Desiree, King Edward (chitting Charlotte & Juliette)
Calabrese – Aquilies F1
Cauliflower – Snowball
Broad Beans – Sutton
Late Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Strawberries, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Blueberry, Blackcurrant

Have I missed anything?? I hope your sowing is going well. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few months. Best of luck!