Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sowing time begins

So having failed dismally to get any really early tomatoes sown over the Christmas and New Year period (I have done this for 2 years running and have been harvesting tomatoes from early June), I have today sown:
tumbling, marmande, moneymaker. I chose these for the simple reason that it meant the packets could be thrown away! I don't like to have too many opened packets. I shall sow a few more in a couple of weeks.

I also sowed a few chillis (bulgarian carrot which have done well for me in the past, cayenne and jalepeno), and a few sweet peppers (yellow bell and californian wonder), although this is the last year I am going to try as I have not had any great success with them.

I have not sown any aubergines, I might get a plant from the garden centre later in the year, as they have not produced for me 2 years running.

I have also sown some alpine strawberries and some cape gooseberries.

All seeds have gone into the heated propagator on the east facing windowsill upstairs.

I have also sown a few herbs - parsely, oregano (or dust, as that's how small the seeds are) and basil.

I am still pulling parnsips and leeks. I pulled the last of the carrots last week, they had survived the awful december condidtions really well! Managed to clear out the greenhouse the other week too, as this did not get done late autumn as it was too cold and snowy and icy for so long. I need to give it a wash -out too.

No pictures as pictures of bare soil in the propagator wouldn't be very interesting!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Where is Summer?

I am a bit confused... Summer is generally meant to be the bit between spring and autumn. But somehow it has passed us by this year.
It has been a poor year for my cucumbers, only had a handful. But the tomatoes are still going strong and it's mid September. I am now officially fed up of tomatoes!

The potato harvest has been a poor one with them mostly being small and not such a large amount from each plant. The ones in buckets did the best -warmer conditions maybe?

The runner beans were also poor compared to last year but the French beans are still coming.

The hooligan pumpkins have come into their own at Nanna's garden, although they are a bit too small to do anything useful with. The sweetcorn there (last chance for me as each year I have had no success) was OK, but don't think I shall bother next year.

The onions bolted just after out holiday in June so had to be pulled - I have already used them all. I have a few shallots left but need to plant different varieties next year maybe?

I have been making loads of home brew and have lots of wine on the go - marrow, apple, apple and blackberry, sloe, blackcurrant, plum and loads of cider. Marc actually managed to break the press this year as he was a bit too gung-ho with the jack! Our apples were late and quite poor so we managed to scrump loads from a local farmer. Some time next spring the cider with be ready as it has to go through a secondary ferment to make it smoooooth :o)

Peppers and aubergines and chillies were poor. Again, I shall be more selective with the varieties next year.

The raspberries were all in large pots and have been fantastic this year, so they have been cut down and given a bed of their own in the garden. We had loads of early strawberries then they seemed to wear themselves out and by the time we got back off hols in late June they were few and far between. I will move them in with the raspberries and get some new ones for next year.

Still pulling carrots, they are lovely and fat now. Yet to pull any parsnips, will wait a bit as want to save some for Christmas dinner. I have mini-sprouts coming too - Marc will be delighted they are his absolute fave vegetable..... oh no, I am lying he hates them!

I have got 150 leeks in the bit of land next to the house and some onions. The bloody weeds love that bit of ground :o/

The brassicas cover was accidentally mowed and has got a massive hole in it so will need to invest in something else next year. The cabbage whites were mental this year but the chickens have benefited from any manky looking plants. They don't care what they eat!

One of my girls was poorly and had to have a tip to the vest - a proper James Herriott type with cow poo up his arms! We had said no vets for the chickens but as we didn't know what was wrong with her we couldn't just dispatch her, and turns out she had a parasite. Something my regular wormer doesn't cover. She has perked up since then but hasn't laid for a few weeks as went into a moult. I also have Daphne, my favourite chicken, in a moult so egg laying has been down lately.

We have been having a big push to get the house finished so less time has been spent in the garden. The awful weather ensured this was no hardship really. I have had 2 large areas of the garden gravelled to cut down on my weeding duties.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Buckets of fun!

Very excited today as my boys have helped to unearth the first spuds - this was a new experience for Dominic who looked completely fascinated although he wasn't too keen on the actual dirt! I had couple of buckets of Lady Christl in the greenhouse and they are now ready.

Some of the 'chancing my arm' squashes etc at Nanna's got caught by a really late frost - I thought they were all dead - re-sowed them and lo and behold they have come through again. My spuds here in the garden suffered but have recovered well. I now have to find enough room for another 20 or so squash, courgette and pumpkin and marrow. I have planted out 24 sweetcorn at Nanna's too, last year of trying for a harvest with them or I am giving them up.

I have started picking off the first lettuce leaves. I never wait til they are whole and always do the 'cut and come again' method as we only want a few leaves a day. I have also had some baby spring onions.

The first tiny tomatoes are forming, bizarrely not on the greenhouse ones but on one of the tumbling ones in a hanging basket.

I have less peaches forming than last year but the ones that are coming along are doing a grand job. I think the harsh winter did not suit them at all.

The boys have had the first few strawberries from the greenhouse, arguing over who gets them! And they also shared the first couple of peas too. These were sown back in the autumn and planted out in spring.

I have finally covered the brassicas with netting - hope it wasn't too late...

We are currently experimenting with sprinklers in the greenhouse for when we go away late in June. It's not totally sorted yet but hopefully will be in the next couple of weeks.

The weather is being totally random - frost one night and then blazing heatwave for a few days. I have no idea what next week will bring :o)

ooh ooh ooh edited to sayI have lots of mini mini cucumbers on the mini cucumber plant!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Busy Busy...

Spring finally appeared and now we are having another horrible cold spell. It's been really wintry and horrible, not my kind of gardening weather at all. And yet 2 weeks ago it was blazing hot and shorts weather.
So it's been a long time since last post and lots has happened:

Shallots, onions and garlic are all doing well. The cats like to lie on them so some are a bit wonky but am sure they will be fine.

Planted out a half bed of asparagus grown from seed last year. Also a few in some large pots to see how they do. Been earthing them up and they are all looking healthy. I LOVE asparagus so excited to see if they develop, and SO impatient to wait for them another year or two.

Put some summer raspberries into large pots as I haven't yet decided where to have a proper fruit garden. All my fruit is in pots. Blueberries, raspberries, red and white currants, a gooseberry and loads of strawberries. There are tiny peaches on the tree even though it got left out this winter and some of the branches had to be removed due to frost damage. The fleece kept blowing off. It is shwing signs of leaf curl again but I have pulled off the affected leaves and hopefully we will still get a few peaches. I did spray with bordeaux mix in the autumn.

The tomatoes were moved into the greenhouse about a month ago. They have now been hardened off and I have some inside and some outside. I also donated some to friends and the local pre-school. I am growing sungold, marmande, black cherry, outdoor girl, tumbling tom, sweet million, tigarella, big boy, roma and red cherry. Think that is all of them. I have about 30 plants, but make sauces with them and chutneys so can't really have enough :o)

The broadbeans planted from loo-rolls are doing great. They were planted out about 3 weeks ago. The ones sown direct are a no-show. I may pop some more in tomorrow to see how they do.
The peas are looking good too, even though the pesky pigeons have had a nibble.
I have planted out some parsnips in kitchen roll holders and sown some direct. Too early to say if they will poke their heads through. I find them a bit hit and miss if sown direct.
I have sown 2 rows of carrots and had almost given up hope when hoorah! they are coming though.

I have got all my early potatoes in the bit of overgrown land next to the house - I dug some over- and the rest went into buckets. The main crop are at Nanna's and salad ones in a bed here. The greenhouse ones are almost ready for a furtle... salivating at the thought of new potatoes now! (growing lady christl, king edward, blue danube and charlotte this year). All been earthed up once so far.

I have a few cucumbers (marketmore, and crystal lemon), peppers (golden wonder) and chillis (cayenne), in the greenhouse but they seem smaller than last year. I also have cape gooseberries, and a couple of melons in there too. And a couple of aubergines. I don't like the spines, they always catch me out!

I have planted out marrow, courgette, pumpkin and squash at Nanna's today - a bit early maybe but they are hardened off and it's quite sheltered there. I also have my runner beans and borlottis there too. Again planted out today.

Up the wigwam here I have planted out yesterday some climbers and french beans.
I have lettuces in the greenhouse we have been picking from, salad leaves and rocket etc. Been having fresh salads from the greenhouse now for over a month. Yum, so nice after all the cold weather! I have lettuces just planted out in the garden too.

Planted out 2 weeks ago my brassica bed - cabbages, caulis, sprouts, kale etc - the pigeons have kept away so far (crosses fingers). I will try and get the netting up before the first cabbage whites appear. Just my luck they will arrive as we go on holiday.
been harvesting lots of PSB but it's just about finished, shan't plant it out at Nanna's again as it does better here.

Spring onions are coming up nicely have got clumps of them planted out with the lettuces.

One compost bin has been emptied on one of the beds - lovely stuff :o)

Flower wise, I have sown some nasturtiums for eating hopefully and have got loads of sunflowers ready to go out. I am hoping the slugs keep off them this year. we had one side of the garden (shady and weedy) gravelled last week so I have had a lovely time arranging all my pots on it. It will mean less time weeding it and more on the veggies :o) All the herbs are now on the decking (mint, rosemary, **marjoram**, parsley, chive, garlic chive, curry plant, sage). I have purple basil, sweet genovese and a miniature basil on the kitchen windowsill.

** Bought the wee marjoram plant to go with the deer that committed suicide in the garden and is now in my freezer in the garage!

And we have a new coop - the girls and me love it :oD Thanks Marc xx

Friday, 19 February 2010

Spring is on it's way...

No really, it is. Despite the fact that we have had MORE snow today and over the past few weeks. I am sick sick sick of snow. It's too cold to go out to do anything useful. I manage about half an hour before having to come and thaw out. Even with so many layers I look like the Michelin man. Blame it on poor circulation!

I wound the veg garden down over the winter, and am now planning and have started sowing for this year. I managed to clean the inside of the g/h thoroughly the other week and it is now probably cleaner than my actual house!

I have been harvesting, kale, cabbage, jerusalem artcichokes, leeks and sprouts. The latter two from Nanna's garden. Still got plenty of garlic to use up.

I have been sowing, ito the heated propagator, tomatoes, aubergines, alpine strawberries, chillis, sweet peppers and cape gooseberries. Herbs are on the windowsills.

I have also sowed into the greenhouse: cabbage, calabrese, caulis, kale, leeks and lettuce and salad leaves. I have planted 2 rhubarb crowns into the greenhouse, and two bluberry bushes and a gooseberry bush.
I have moved some strawberries inside to give them a kickstart.
I have sowed some sweetpeas in loo rolls, again in the greenhouse at the moment. The overwintering peas and broadbeans in the g/h are on flower! Not sure they will come to much as can't imagine there are any insects in there at the mo.
I also have some raspberries in a temporary pot until the next bed can be made for them.

Put some shallots in today and admired the onions and garlic that have survived the awful winter and are about 7 inches tall. Weeded the bed. Sowed some broad beans direct too as the ones that have overwintered have gone black and I am not holding out much hope for them now. If I get a glut I will just freeze some. Sowed some spring onions in a pot too, and some carrots.

Have covered a bit of the wasteland next to the house with black plastic so all the spuds will go there. They are chitting in the garage.

Looking forward now to some warmer weather so I can get out a bit more and DO stuff :o)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Winding down...

Well it's been a glorious September with no rain at all that I can remember. All the water butts are empty and the poor lawns and flower beds are dry dusty and in very poor condition.

I have had to plant all my spring bulbs in pots as the ground is so hard I cannot get them in the ground. I have also planted a fig tree and 3 patio apple trees in pots.

The runner beans are all but finished here and at Nanna's. I still have cabbage, kale and the leeks are just starting to be ready as are the parsnips. I am impressed with how straight they are - they were sown into loo rolls!

Still got spuds in the ground at Nanna's but they will be coming up this week. I have been harvesting celeriac and making mash potato with celeriac mixed in. It makes a nice change from 'ordinary' mash. The Jerusalem artichokes are on flower so looks like the wind will be starting soon ;o)

Not sure if we will get any sprouts for xmas as they look a bit funny and not very big. Nobody likes them anyway but we need them on our plate!

I am still getting peppers and tomatoes and chillis from the greenhouse but it is only a matter of days I think before they will also be finished.

The courgettes are just about finished as are the summer squash. I have had a few Invincible' pumpkins and butternut squashes and I have 3 whoppers (well relatively speaking) which I hope will be ready for Halloween. Be great to carve our own! I have also dried the borlottis from Nanna's garden and am looking forward to making things with them over winter.

I have been planting onion sets (red and white) earlier in the month and have just got my garlic in yesterday. A bit early maybe but the opportunity was there.

We have been going crazy with the home brew - as well as about 10 demijohns of cider on the go, there is also apple wine, blackberry and apple wine, 2 types of plum wine, sloe wine, blackberry and sloe wine and a kit wine (to see if they are any good). We managed to acquire another 12 demijohns from a lovely lady on freecycle and I am slowly cleaning them all up as it was like they had been filled with pond water!

In the garden we have had hedgehogs (one poorly who we took to the vet), squirrels, woodpeckers... and the dreaded D word is back - got to check all the fencing again. Just glad there isn't much around for them to destroy at the mo.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Not much occuring

Except for runner beans coming out of our ears at home and at Nanna's. I cannot give them away anymore, we are all beaned out!
I have even started off some elderberry and runner bean wine to try and use some up.
In fact homebrew is what has been happening most here.

On the go I currently have: apple wine, plum wine, cherry plum wine, elderberry & runner bean. I also have 4 lots of cider on the go using various combinations of our apples and those I have pinched from other people. Marc has made a press to get the juice out of the apples but it still needs tweaking to be really efficient. We are hoping to be more professional with the cider this year and do some blending after fermentation has finished, also stopping some fermentations to ensure some of them are not too dry and also add some sugar to some and kick start a second fermention for a smoother cider - Watch This Space. My mother says I will kill myself with all the homebrew (surely not, at the very worse gut-rot I'd have thought!) but at least I will go with a drink in my hand...

I also have plum brandy, plum vodka and blackcurrant vodka 'stewing' hopefully ready for Christmas.

I have aslo been harvesting loads of tomatoes and making passata type sauces and soup. Also harvested chillis, baby sweetcorn, loads of lovely carrots and courgettes from Nanna's. And squahes and mini pumpkins. Will be roasting them later with rosemary couscous... yum.

The florence fennel has bolted (not unusual I am told), and the potaoes (Golden Wonder) are ready for lifting. I have also picked the dried borlottis left on the pants for stews etc over winter.

Stil harvesting cabbage and kale from our garden.

At Nanna's I have lifted the netting from the brassicas as it was a bit ineffective and there is a huge problem with little jumping bugs. I think they are flea beetles. The crop seems to be coping though and I am picking off and squishing regularly. The sprouts see little affected and these are the ones I want most for Christmas! Fingers crossed for them...

We rescued a poorly hedgehog from the garden the other day and took him to the vets who will decide if he can be rehabilitated. They suspect lungworm which I think is not good news for hedgehogs, but at least we gave him/ her a chance.

Other than that... the weeds are definitely winning at the moment.