Saturday, 23 February 2013

Seedy penpal update

Morning all. look what I received in the post yesterday.

There was a lovely padded envelope on the mat when I arrived home from work last night. Full of seeds, you can't get much better than that. I received from  Carole

Aubergine - Calliope. Cream streaked purple aubergines.
Tomato - Tumbling Tiger. Striped plum shaped tomatoes.
Pak Choi - Red Choi. Red purple leaves which are green underneath.
Strawberry - Sarian. Sweet, juicy large fruits.
Bronze Fennel - Home saved seeds from Wales.
Rainbow Chard- Home saved seeds from Wales.
Aquilegia - Bright red & yellow double. From the Aquilegia collection in Swansea.

I'm very excited & pleased. I shall be sowing the strawberry seeds tomorrow afternoon along with the aquilegia, the aubergine & tomato next month. In April I shall sow the bronze fennel, swiss chard & pak choi. That's the plan anyway.

It has been a lot of fun taking part in the Seedy penpal swap. I shall be signing up again for the July 2013 swap. Seedy penpal July 2013 sign up

Enjoy your day 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A day in the garden

The weather was perfect yesterday, as perfect as it was going to be for February. I spent a good chunk of the day in the garden.

I weeded & pruned the fruit bed. I weeded my garlic/shallot patch. I also weeded the tulip border & the raised bed in the front garden.

The compost bin has been well fed. Such a satisfying job when it has been completed. I hope the weather is as good this coming Sunday, after clearing my dads conservatory I would like to be -

Potting up my new fruit tree purchases. I shall need to buy some John Innes No 3.
Planting shallots in troughs
Weeding the main beds in the front garden.
Sowing some more seeds in my dads propagator.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 18 February 2013

Start of the growing year

Well I have made a start. I spent a lovely couple of hours in the garden yesterday morning.

I potted up some strawberry plants
I potted up my new blueberry, I refreshed the soil in the other two blueberry pots. I have a big of Ericaceous compost because as you know Blueberry bushes hate lime & need to be planted in a lime free soil. As I have a fair bit left over I might have to invest in some of those fancy pink blueberry bushes. Shame to waste the compost.
Broad beans have been sown in the large greenhouse along with some sweet peas. I have sown the broad beans in fibre pots. When they are big enough I can then transplant them straight into the garden. The sweet peas have been sown in toilet roll tubes so they can get a long root run. For ease I placed each tube in a fibre pot.
In the little greenhouse - a trough of early carrots have been sown. After these have been harvested I shall re use the trough for some dwarf beans. I have also sown a tub of mixed salad leaves, a winter blend & some radishes. I am keeping these tubs under cover for an early harvest, I will be sowing some early spinache & spring onions in the same way.

The propagator is full. All chilli seeds have been sown along with some sweet peppers, celery & cauliflower. The celery I am going to grow in tubs. I'm aiming for six plants, if I keep them well fed & watered I'm sure it can be done. I have space for four cauliflower plants maybe five. I have chosen the variety 'Snowball', these can be planted closer together.

I have been given another propagator & some fancy pots 'self watering ones'. My dad has decided that he won't be growing anything anymore. As many of you know he is registered blind & waiting for a guide dog. He wants the conservatory cleared so that is a job for Mike & I this weekend. As long as I keep him supplied with tomatoes & my mum with fresh lettuce he will be happy enough. It is a rather fancy propagator. It has a variable temperature not fixed like mine, I'm sure it will also be full next month.

So hopefully soon the garden will begin to look like this again.Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Plans for the weekend

I shall mostly be sowing seeds on Sunday. I say mostly as I am pretty sure we may be going to visit Mikes family as one of his nieces has a birthday this weekend. Present has been bought & I just need a card, with luck Mike may visit with the boy on Saturday whilst I am in work. This will leave me free to sow seeds & sort out the greenhouse on Sunday - awful person I am.

A pot/window box each of carrots, salad leaves & radish. I shall be leaving these under cover which if it goes to plan I shall have an earlier harvest. I may even have a bash at some successional sowing & scatter a few more every three weeks.
Spring onion - I shall sprinkle some seeds in small pots I'm after clumps of spring onions as if I had bought them from the supermarket. I hope to plant these straight into the garden after they have started to sprout.
Broad Beans - I will be sowing in pots & when they are big enough I will plant them in the ground.
Sweet peas - I hope beyond hope that I have sweet peas this year. I love cutting them for the house, in 2011 I was cutting them well into October last year they never got beyond 5 inches from the ground.

Chillies - I will sow the remainder of my chilli varieties.
Sweet pepper -  I will also sow these. I only want a few plants.
Herbs/Spices - I have some flat leaf parsley seeds to sow, I may also start of some Coriander & Cumin. I need Dill seeds also but I am not allowed anywhere near any establishment selling anything related to gardening. I will be confined to ranks.

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A surprise in the garden

The sun was out yesterday afternoon, naturally this encouraged me into the garden. It was that or the four eleven year olds pounding round like a herd of elephants that made me go outside.

It really was lovely outside, at first I didn't need a jacket but that soon changed, it is still winter after all! Armed with a jacket & hat I set off on a little stroll. I cut my Autumn fruiting raspberries back & also my blackberry bush. There were signs of new raspberry canes pushing through the ground which is always a welcome sight.
Before chopping back, I forgot to take an after photo

New canes appearing
 My raspberries are set at the back of the garden behind the veg beds. They are against the fence that separates the garden & the field. It is a fairly narrow path but there is still enough space to walk & gather raspberries from one side & veg the other. The path is covered with bark & in the next few weeks I will top it up. The last lot of bark was put down when Mike built the raised beds. That was about four years ago so it really needs to be topped up again.

Pruning the raspberries was a job I had planned for a while & I'm glad it is now complete. Anyway before I went back indoors I checked the fruit bed & look what I found .
Blackcurrent bush infected with Coral spot.
I thought I knew what is was but I googled 'orange spots on blackcurrent bush' to make sure. It was indeed 'Coral spot'. It normally affects dead wood so my poorly blackcurrent bush has now been pulled up & set aside to burn. I will now have to take myself off to buy another Backcurrent. I have another one but I need two. For jam & Cassis you understand. Enjoy your day!

Monday, 11 February 2013

New fruit trees

I went to Aldi yesterday morning. I like Aldi, my local one always has a good selection of fruit & veg & I like the 'super six offers' Aldi have every two weeks. This week it was 'Garlic, Mango, Pineapple, Kiwi, Cucumber & forgive me if I am wrong mushrooms all at 59p.

We bought the first five, the boy eats a lot of fruit & it is half term this week so he will be making a fruit salad. He will also be making a mess of my kitchen as he & his cousin will be making turkey burgers this evening, the boy Harry is 11 & my boys have been taught at an early age how to prepare & cook food.

It isn't as impressive as it sounds, I have turkey defrosting now. This afternoon it will be tipped into the magi mix along with a red onion, breadcrumbs, herbs, an egg, some cheese & seasoning. Some will be shaped into burgers, the rest into meatballs. As long as they know where food comes from & how to make a few things I'm happy. Indeed when we packed the eldest off to uni last year I made sure he had a well stocked pantry. Well in his case a well stocked cupboard. Judging by the amount of fish finger sandwhiches he eats I think the cupboard is still well stocked. I digress!

As I skipped happily across the car park towards the fruit trees Mike grabbed my arm & said no, we had no time. Really I need to be fitted with child reigns when we go out. We picked our few items from the shop & while Mike paid I stood outside & gazed wistfully at the fruit trees which were priced at £3.99. Very healthy they looked too. I also had time to look at what types were on offer, they had peach, pears, apricots, apples (cooking & eating), cherry, plum & greengage. They also had raspberry canes. Lots of named varieties all growing to 8 - 10 ft when kept pruned.

As I was steered across the car park to put the shopping in the car Mike looked at me & said you really want some trees don't you. Silly question really! To cut this long story short I was bought two pear trees 'Concord & Bon Chretien & a Greengage the name I can't remember now but I will update you. Naturally my trees will be grown in large tubs & I will be off to buy two half barrel planters for the pear trees next weekend. I have one ready for the greengage.Enjoy your day!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Chitting potatoes

When do you set your potatoes out for chitting? You would think with a pile of magazines, books & internet access I would know.

Anyway this morning, 9th Feb 2013 I set my early, 2nd early & salad potatoes out to chit. In fact when I opened the bags they had already started to sprout.
Ta da - First Early - Rocket & Vales Emerald. Second Early - Bonnie & Charlotte. Salad - Anya.

All to be grown in tubs in the garden. I have three maincrop varieties also but I'm not going to chit them. I've read there is no need as maincrop potatoes stay in the ground longer they don't need the early start. I have also read there is no need to chit any potato but it is a process I like doing. It makes me feel like a proper gardener & it is a nice job to do.

My potatoes are now living on my bedroom windowsill next to my propagator, set up nicely in some egg boxes. They shall stay there for approx 6 weeks & then I shall plant them.

Traditionally Good Friday is the day to plant your potatoes. This year it falls on the 29th March. So this falls in nicely with my planting plan but that also depends on the weather.

This year I will be growing my potatoes with the following method -

A good layer of compost in the bottom of each container.
Three seed potatoes placed equally on top of the compost & covered with more.
Two more seed potatoes placed on top & covered with more compost.

The only potatoes I will be earthing up are my maincrops. These will also be grown in tubs, though the tubs are large plastic dustbins.

I shall be growing some of the early potatoes in the greenhouse. I shall be planting one potato in some smaller tubs. I'm hoping to get a slightly earlier harvest this way.

Anyway that is my potato plan for this year & it is another job off my list. Enjoy your day all!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Lack of motivation

Is anyone else suffering from a lack of motivation? I have so much to do in the garden but it has been so cold & windy lately that each time I have gone outside I have made a hasty retreat back inside.

Whinge over, this Sunday even if I am under 3ft of snow I need to prune the Autumn fruiting raspberry canes down & the Buddleia. While I am out there I shall prune back the Hyssop also.

Fabulous plants Autumn fruiting Raspberries. None of this sorting through the canes, keeping the new ones & cutting out the old ones. No battling through thorns & being ripped to shreds by tying in canes.
With my Autumn fruiting raspberries I cut the whole lot down in Feb each year. New canes start growing & I am picking fruit come August. I mainly have Autumn Treasure, there are a couple of Polka & I did invest some of Mikes money in two extortionately priced pots of yellow autumn fruiting raspberries last year. They fruited very well except they were red!
My hyssop bush is covered with blue flowers each year & smothered with bees. That is the main reason why I bought it. You can use it in cooking I believe with beans but I'm happy to be wrong. It has I've read a bitter taste to it. Anyway the bees like it that's the main reason.

I hope you are all feeling much more productive than me, enjoy your day!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A promise of things to come.

The sun didn't last. The rain came in the afternoon, drizzle really but the sky was quite grey. After picking the boy up from school yesterday I peered through the french doors & thought I saw a bit of purple in the veg patch. Naturally I had to investigate.
The broccoli has started sprouting
I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am. I grew these plants from seed. Nurtured them & planted them. They have been protected for months now from cabbage white butterflies & pigeons. I have six purple sprouting broccoli plants in an overcrowded brassica bed. I shall feed the plants in the next few weeks just to give them a boost. Also in the brassica bed the spring greens are on the move, more like cabbages really but still, I grew them It is almost like having another child!
Slugs have nibbled the outer leaves but look at the middle.
 A stroll round the garden revealed more treasures
One of the primrose plants from last mothers day

A baby fig, I think I have 10 on the plant

& lupins in the greenhouse.
Enjoy your day all!

Friday, 1 February 2013


February all ready how fab! Nearly proper seed sowing time. I can't wait.

I have updated my complete seeds in the tab at the top of my blog (Veg Garden 2013). You are more than welcome to read the list & laugh.

According to my ye old Practical Gardening book the weather for February is likely to be wet. Really! Trust the good old british weather to be sunny today!

Practical Gardening (printed well I don't know, but around WW2 I think judging by the chapter on turning your garden into a wartime one.)


Weather - Wet
Work - Prepare ground for March seed sowing. Get ahead with sowings under glass, begin to use spring fertilizers & my favourite - Keep soot swept from domestic chimneys, it darkens, and so warms the soil, it destroys pests & it possesses a little food value.
Food plots - Clean with hoe plots left vacant through the winter. Plant artichokes, shallots, and if liked garlic. Sow broad beans if sown in autumn.
Fruit garden -Finish pruning orchard fruits. Prune gooseberries, red & white currants.
Flower patch - Lift & replace herbaceous plants, do not divide the roots of slightly tender subjects unless the weather is mild & open. Sow sweet peas under cloches.
General maintenance - Roll & sweep lawns as sson as weather allows. prune late flowering shrubs.
Under glass - Sow carrots, lettuce & radish on hotbeds. Raise seedlings of flowers, leeks,cucumbers, aubergines, onions & tomatoes. Start dormant tubers off all kinds.

I shall be attempting some of the above on Sunday. I'm off to do some baking. Enjoy your weekend all!