Behind with Garden Posts and Holiday Posts!

Now I look back at the shots of my plants in previous years and I realise just how late I have been with planting things this year. With us being away for 3 weeks in Hawaii and then me suffering from a severe bout of post holiday blues I just couldn’t get going. Yesterday I only just planted my spinach, beetroot and bulls blood seeds in the root bed. I transplanted 3 tomato plants which have looked a bit small and pathetic into a grow back and hope that as we appear to be having a good summer so far that they’ll make a sudden burst and will grow fairly quickly. As my asparagus appears to have died over the winter I have transplanted one of the courgette plants into the top of the container. I’m not sure if the cucumbers are growing much – they are in the greenhouse still, I’ll see how they get on but may need to move them into the sunroom to get some real progress on them. This has been a busy weekend with a lot of transplanting, planting, topping up compost, we’ve taken out the dead tree and the half dead conifer from the inside garden. And trimmed all the grass around the edges of the house and fences, what a difference it makes when the edges are all trimmed. This evening I’ve started to have a look at ideas for our Pacific Northwest Road Trip. That makes me realise I am ridiculously behind with sorting out all the photos from our Hawaii trip in March and I really need to go through them and get some of the posted and enter the details. Whether anyone reads them is less important than me having the record for myself. It really was a truly magical trip and having the ability to review the highlights and photos from any computer anywhere in the world is worth investing the time in getting them on here.

After work gardening session

Now that I have deleted Candy Crush from the iPad and phone I have my time back to do more constructive things…so this evening I washed my car and then did some weeding, set up my pea pole support I got for my birthday last year but don’t think sweet peas are big enough to put in ground yet. I am not growing edible peas this year. I planted the tender bed with Mezuna, rocket and 2 types of lettuce. Planted some additional lettuce seeds in green house and cut back some of the grass which is crowding my perennial sweet peas. This year I need to put a proper support up.

Beautiful sunny day in the garden

So rather than planting seeds, which I can now start doing in the lighter evenings, I thought I would do some weeding today. We had such beautiful weather. So this morning I tackled our front border on the fence line and I pulled out a huge amount of grass, clover and buttercups.

Allistar came out to help with some of the weeding and then we cleaned all the gutters on the house and garage, I think for the first time since we moved in nearly 5 years ago.

Busy day in garden

Today I dragged Allistar to the garden centre so he could help me with the lifting of compost bags. I bought him lunch there as a reward for coming with me as he hates gardening jobs.

I bought some manure, various compost bags and lime. When we got back I transplanted my 3 blueberry bushes to some bigger pots, planted my jostaberry plant (which is a cross between a gooseberry and blackcurrant). Repotted my mint, rosemary and one of my peris bushes which has been looking a bit miserable. I lost two shrubs this winter so had two large empty pots. I have smashed up some frost damaged pots for crocks to use.

This doesn’t sound like I have done very much when you write it but it feels like I have had a busy afternoon. The weather has been nice today, blue sky, warm when the sun is out and only occasional drizzle.

I need to start making plans for my shed. How big it needs to be, exact location, I want it to be wide enough for a nice long work bench and plenty of space for my tools, compost bags, pots etc. at the moment I do my planting in the garage as if I work in the greenhouse I have to wheel all the bags and tools around and then wheel them all back again. A nice sunny shed will be a great addition. Plus it may free up enough space in the garage to actually fit my car in next winter.

2012 Garden Plans

Today I have ordered some new seeds. I still intend to plant remaining seeds from last year, plus some I got from my mum at Christmas but I just couldn’t resist buying some new ones too.

New Buys
Beetroot Bulls Blood which is a salad leaf that is supposed to taste of Beetroot.
Watercress Aqua, they say it doesn’t need running water just a pot sat in water, so I’ll give it a go.
Honey Bear Squash, I don’t know why I keep trying to grow squash when I have had years of failure in growing them, but for £1.29 for a pack of seeds I am going to give a different variety a go.
Green Globe Artichoke, never grown artichoke before and not sure how well it will do this far north but we’ll see.
Cara Potatoes, hopefully they’llbe tastier than last years Desiree which were so floury dry.
Porbello Leek seeds came free with my orderso I will plant these. I haven’t grown leeks for a couple of years.
I have also treated myself to a Jostaberry plant which is a cross between a gooseberry and a blackberry, sounds interesting.

I also got some free seed packs during the year including Carrot Mini Finger!!

Gift Seeds
Broccoli purple sprouting
Cauliflower purple graffiti, I will try one seed as I don’t like cauliflower but I will try and see if this variety can change my attitude to it. Anyway it being purple will look pretty at least.
Strawberry Florian, it says great for baskets so I am going to do strawberry hanging baskets this year!!!!
Tomato Gourmet, last year I only did cherry tomatoes, this is a medium sized fruit so will hopefully be ok for making sauces etc.
Pepper Diablo and Ringo, last year I did masses of Hamik peppers and they didn’t ripen. This year I will grow less pepper plants but the two varieties.

Last Year Repeats
Brocolli Tenderstem
Carrot Sugarsnax
Beetroot Boltardy
Chinese Cabbage F1 Tip Top
Courgette Best of Brittish
Cucumber Superbel
Peas Sugar Pod and Quartz
Pepper Hamik
Pumpkin Hundredweight
Squash Cobnut and Sweeit Dumpling
Tomato Gardeners Delight
Mix of various varieties of lettuce, rocket, spinach beet, herbs.
I also have my asparagus bag that I bought last year which will hopefully have a harvest this year.
Big plans, busy sprung and summer lined up. Time to get dressed and get planting some seeds.

Photos taken 26th August (what happened to my end of July shots …oops forgot to take them)

 

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We’ve had loads of sugar snap peas and mangetout, and shared lots with our next door neighbour.  Unfortunately when I was away for 4 days they didn’t get watered and so a batch got blossom end rot…or whatever you call it….but after clearing those off the others will hopefully be ok.  Haven’t tried blanching and freezing any yet….maybe give it a go though.

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I can just see the start of where the brussel sprouts will…..sprout from.  In between there is some tenderstem brocolli.  Fingers crossed my netting on the top and sides seems to be keeping away the cabbage white caterpillars.  Last year I had thousands of them and I didn’t like to kill them so I put them all in our brown bin.  When Allistar came out the next morning there were loads of them crawling down the bin and down the path in an effort to get back to what was left of the cabbages.  I’d been given the cabbage plants by a neighbour…even though I don’t like cabbages I grew them but we ended up not eating any or giving any away …well except giving to all those caterpillars.

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Hard to see through the netting but this is one of the tenderstem brocolli stalks, this is the perfect brocolli plant as Allistar doesn’t like it so there is just enough for me and I can pick a few thin stalks like this and then they kindly pop out a few more a week later when I’m ready for a bit more brocolli.

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Here are my spuds, maybe have a dig around and see how big they are this weekend.  We left a few spuds in the ground for over 12 months by mistake and they ended up being the size of a dinner plate!  Hopefully I’ll manage to dig out all the ones from this bed, this year, as next year it will be rotated to a different crop.

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This is such a pathetic border, in here are supposed to be shallots (far left), carrots, beetroot and some pak choi.  I snuck in the pak choi seeds last minute because slugs ate all my other ones that were in the brassica bed.  This is supposed to be my root vegetable bed but it has truly been pathetic.  I think I’ll just end up with one decent beetroot and that’s about it.  Not sure what the problem has been.

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This is my much improved tender bed.  In here I have 2 squash plants, a courgette plant with tiny courgettes on, about 1/20th of the size they are growing to in the greenhouse. Also in here is some spinach, rocket and cos lettuce…oh and a flower that I ran out of room in my hanging baskets so stuck it in here.  Plus my rather lovely ladybug wind thingymebobby that my mother in law, Pam, bought me. 

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These are my rhubarb plants ….bearing in mind that these were planted from seed earlier this year I think they are doing pretty well.  At the moment I have 3 crowns in one pot but it is likely that I’ll try to split them out in early spring.

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This planter has been my most successful for growing tomato plants in.  I am going to treat myself with a couple more of these same planters next year as they don’t take up much room and out of the different containers and supports I’ve got for my tomatoes these are the ones that are doing the best.  Just look how many there are growing on the vines.  Yep very happy with this…

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I tried growing 3 tomato plants per flower planter but I just don’t think they hold enough soil or water.  One of them dries out really quickly and I think that is the one that I remembered to put gravel in the bottom to improve the drainage, clearly I put too much in as the drainage is too good.  Next year I’ll use these planters for growing lettuce in, instead.

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My sweet peppers seem to be doing ok, still a lot of flowers that haven’t yet developed fruit but the tiniest of signs are there on some.  My jalapenos are way smaller than the sweet peppers and the weather is already starting to get much colder with it only being 6 degrees Celsius last night….need to get some fuel for my greenhouse heater just in case.

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At the weekend my pathetic looking cucumber plant will move into the sunroom.  I have just been having a total disaster growing cucumbers this year and I think I’ll just have to grow them indoors.  Autumn is already coming and I think it is just too high a fluctuation in temperature for them to grow.

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This is a Cobnut Squash……Bearing in mind I have two squash plants in the greenhouse which are growing out of control and up the bars of the greenhouse, I only have this one squash to show for it all.  I am hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that this continues to grow and ripens.  Even if I just get this one it will still be the first success I’ve had in growing squash, despite years of trying. 

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My courgette plant in the greenhouse has been a great success, I think we must have had between 12-15 already and they are still growing, although there’s a funny looking one that looked like it was too dry last weekend when I was away.  Probably didn’t get fertilised either.

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The asparagus which I planted and which said to not pick is now like a forest.  The instructions didn’t give me any direction as to what I was supposed to do with the stalks…I’ve left them to grow but need to know what to do with them if they don’t end up dying back on their own.

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These are just some shots of looking out of the greenhouse, looking into the greenhouse and then my gardening helpers keeping a watch out for any mice that may fancy a nipple of a courgette or worse my squash!

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Mama’s baby boy! 

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Shame about the dead tree in the foreground but hopefully we’ll put some sparkly lights on it for Christmas and then maybe chop it down next year….very depressed over all my dying trees….not sure how to tell what is killing them as they seem to have different symptoms. 

Anyway, that’s enough for today.  It’s a shame I didn’t do end of July pictures, as the whole point of starting this blog was supposed to be a record for myself as to how things were doing and where, but hopefully this’ll still be useful for next year.

Latest photos from Vegetable Garden–taken 24th June

 

 

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I think I’ve planted out my sweetcorn too early, it hasn’t grown much since it left the greenhouse.  The mangetout and sugar snap peas seem to be doing well.  We had a hail stone storm yesterday which knocked them down a bit but hopefully they’ll recover ok.

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First 6 brussel sprout plants seem to be doing ok, I have some more and some brocolli to plant at the weekend, I’m hoping that if I squeeze in more and then cover with a net I’ll limit amount of pest damage and at least end up with one sprout and one brocolli by winter.

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Potatoes are doing well, the hail yesterday went straight through some leaves, I couldn’t work out why there were tears throughout leaves, yet no bit munched…the collection of hail stones under the leaves were the clue.

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This is my rather pathetic looking root vegetable bed…Sad smile  Believe it or not there are supposed to be carrots, onions and beetroot growing in this border.  There are the tiniest, teeniest seedlings popping up but they are taking an awfully long time, not sure I’ll get anything very exciting from this bed unless the weather improves.

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My tender bed is ….. beyond pathetic.  I planted out 3 courgettes and then we had a turn of really bad weather.  Bottom left one will come out of bed tomorrow and I’ll try giving other one a bit more TLC and we’ll see how it does…not too hopeful though.

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Mixed lettuce outside, doing well – rips from the hail stones but otherwise looks good and tastes yummy.

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Cold frame (well kind of as there isn’t really a lid for it.  But it is storing my remaining sprout seedlings, my brocolli and even a couple of different squash.  Tomorrow I need to cut off the runners for my alpine strawberry plants and hopefully will get some extra plants out of the cuttings, but main reason is to concentrate it on producing fruit.  I need to put them in my strawberry planter really.  Other 2 pots contain some herbs including Chocolate Mint, oh and some borage I need to find a home in garden for.

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Couldn’t resist this little fella in the garden centre the other day.  I was looking for pots for my blueberry plants and ended up with just him….back to garden centre at weekend to pick up some nice pots for blueberries.

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(Left to right)  4 rhubarb plants I grew from seed this spring, they are doing great, need to find home in ground for them.  2 new cucumber plants, still not doing that great….maybe no cucumbers this year.  Jalapeno and Sweet Pepper plants.  Blueberry mini bushes.  Some more chillies and peppers.

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Two varieties of tomato, here are 3 plants per long thin planter, they all seem to be doing well and have at least one truss that has flowers on.

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In the corner are 2 more tomato plants, plus 3 chilli plants and 3 sweet peppers. 

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(Left to right)  3 more tomato plants!  Ok so I went a bit nuts with tomato plants…but hey look at my cucumbers which I was conservative with and looks like I won’t have any…you can’t win.  Then a Squash, some Cos Lettuces, a very successful and healthy looking courgette plant, some flowers (I thought would attract in the bees to pollinate stuff, some more lettuces and another squash.  Then in the right corner is my asparagus plants (x3) which are new this year, so no crop until next year.

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Finally a view of how things look all together.  Hopefully when I take photos at the end of July we’ll be a lot further on.

Uh oh!

I transplanted my sweetcorn outside earlier today and now it is blowing a hoolie outside, I hope they don’t end up snapping.  I’ve planted out 2 courgette plants as well, and one of them the main stalk is snapped, I don’t know if it’ll still grow or die, but we’ll see.  I’ve still got 2 more in the greenhouse, so if they fail because it is perhaps too early then I’ll have my back up two. 

I planted 2 more cucumber seeds today and brought them in the house as 3 out of 4 of my cucumber plants have died in the greenhouse.  I suspect it is just too cold at night for them.

I had hoped to plant carrot and shallot seeds today but the weather has been crazy. 

So instead I’ve been scanning in old slides.  Who knows perhaps I’ll put some of those on here…or maybe not.

Vegetable Garden–photo at end of Day 5

 

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The structural work is finally complete.  At the moment I am trying to measure the temperatures in the greenhouse.  And as I had a part missing that only arrived yesterday (4th May), last night I was able to fit the second auto-vent to the other roof window opening.

Seedlings are well under way in the sunroom at the moment, and spent a day out in the greenhouse yesterday, but were brought back in last night.

I can’t wait for this weekend when I can start planting in the raised borders.  Roll on weekend.

Old Seeds

Well my sweetpeas have been a disaster in the toilet tubes, the cardboard has gone all fuzzy and no seedlings have appeared, the same old seeds are also in normal pots and they’ve not germinated either yet, so I think those old seeds were just too old.  I’ve never had much success with sweetpeas though.

I can see a difference between the old and new seeds of the tomato seeds though.  I sowed the same number of seeds on each side of the tray, one side old seeds and the other side new seeds.  The new seeds have a lot more germinating seedlings so trick I guess is to use all the seeds up before they expire and share them if you have just too many.

Courgettes, Cobnut Squash, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Sweetcorn, Rhubarb and Sweet Peppers are all doing well.  Chilli peppers…hmm need to check on those.  The sprout seedlings are getting very long and falling over, I’ll plant some directly outside as well, not sure these leggy ones will do much good.

First Batch of Planting Seeds

Vegetable Variety Date planted Where planted
Brussel Sprouts Bitesize F1 Hybrid 10/04/11 Seed tray in sunroom
Chilli Peppers Jalapeno 10/04/11 Pots in sunroom
Courgette Best of British F1 10/04/11 Pots in propagator
Cucumber Superbel F1 10/04/11 Pots in propagator
Chives Garlic 10/04/11 Pot in sunroom
Thyme Orange Scented 10/04/11 Pot in sunroom
Pepper (Sweet) Hamik 10/04/11 Pots in propagator
Rhubarb (seed) Early Red 10/04/11 Pots in sunroom
Squash F1 Cobnut 10/04/11 Pots in propagator
Sweetcorn Bodacious RM F1 10/04/11 In pots, loosley under a closh in sunroom
Tomato Gardeners’ Delight AGM 10/04/11 Pots in propagator
Tomato Favorita F1 AGM 10/04/11 Pots in propagator

I’ve also planted some sweetpea seeds which were quite old, I’ve tried them in pots and some in toilet roll tubes!  I’ve never really been too successful with sweetpeas so I’m willing to give anything a try to get them working, as they are great to cut and have around the house.

I’ve also put a few herb seeds into a box on the windowsill, again quite old seeds so not sure if they’ll germinate.

Contractors are booked!

Work starts Tuesday 19th April.  Hopefully will be finished before Royal Wedding Bank Holiday weekend.

I’ve changed my potatoes order as I realised Santé potatoes are floury – yuck!  So I have gone with Desiree which I think are more waxy, so I’ll see how we like those.  Next year I must remember to order earlier as there are potatoes which are so buttery you don’t need butter or marg. on them so they sound healthier.

Seeds have arrived so I can start those off and put them in our North facing sunroom – how ironic.  Hopefully they’ll be able to start germinating in there whilst I wait for my greenhouse to be completed.

Location of Vegetable Garden – Pre-Work

I had already purchased these raised borders (£12 per level) two years ago and they’ve worked well for planting, especially for potatoes.  As they are easy to split and have as single layer, it seems wiser to have them split so I will have 6 raised borders.

Garden Plans are underway

Greenhouse kit is ready and waiting.  I have found a contractor to do the ground work, construct greenhouse and move/fill raised borders, so just need to confirm work order with them tomorrow.  Hopefully they’ll be able to do the work soon as I’ve just ordered my seeds from D.T. Brown!  I will be using these seeds, plus some seeds I have left over from previous years.  Some seeds date back to 2005!!! But I’ll give them a go and see if they manage to sprout.

I was going to keep my notes in a notebook, but hey it is 2011 so why not Blog it.

Today’s Order:

Description Of Product Qty Seeds Price
Courgette, Best of British F1 1 10 £1.49
Pea (Mangetout), Oregon Sugar Pod AGM 1 100g £1.79
Pea (Snap Type), Quartz 1 100g £2.19
Broccoli, Tenderstem Green Inspiration F1 1 40 £2.99
Carrot, Sugarsnax 54 F1 AGM 1 500 £1.79
Cucumber, Superbel F1 1 5 £2.69
Herbs, Orange Scented Thyme 1 500 £0.99
Lettuce, Little Gem AGM 1 1250 £0.89
Lettuce, Salad Bowl Mixed AGM 1 1200 £1.19
Shallots (Pickling), Ambition F1 1 150 £2.49
Pepper (Sweet), Hamik 1 25 £1.39
Squash (Winter), Sweet Dumpling 1 10 £1.29
Tomato, Favorita F1 AGM 1 10 £1.99
Tomato, Gardeners’ Delight AGM 1 50 £0.99
Potato, Sante 1 1.5kg £3.95
Biodegradable Leaf Sacks 1 3 £8.95
Grow Bag Cane Supports 1 3 £6.95
Herbs, Garlic Chives 1 500 £1.09
£45.10