Sunday, 5 December 2010

The big freeze

Well, it's been quite a while since my last post and in truth, not much has been going on in my garden which is now white with several inches of snow.

I did however manage to harvest the last of my root crops before the bad weather which was lucky. Unfortunately, some of the results weren't great as you can see in the picture. The potatoes, which were really just an afterthought to fill some space in one of the shadiest parts of the garden, did relatively well, as did the carrots but the parsnips were a bit of a disaster with not many germinating and the few which did being very small. There again, I didn't really do much with any of these during the growing season so I suppose I should be greatful I got any produce at all.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

All Quiet

It's been a while since my last post as nothing much is happening in my little garden. Everything is beginning to look tired and nearing the end of its cycle. I am however still harvesting.

On Sunday we had a boiled Gammon joint so it was a good recipe with which to try the first cabbage of the season. They haven't done that well and I only have 4 on my tiny plot as they tend to take up quite a lot of space (relatively speaking) for quite a long time. I doubt I'll grow them again next year.

As can be seen from the picture, I also harvested a few carrots the last of the runner beans - they were actually a little stringy but still very tasty - and was somewhat surprised to find perfect new flowers on the bean plants but I know they won't come to anything as it's far too late in the season.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Signs that summer is over

Apart from the weather having turned much colder and rainy, my shady patch is also telling me that autumn is setting in. Very few tomatoes left, runner beans are on their last legs (though I did manage to pick a few this morning), broccoli is only shooting up very thin stems and despite having lots of new flowers on my pumpkin and marrow plants, there's no sign of the very little specimens left doing anything worthwhile.

Good news though is that my green cabbages are ready to be harvested. They are quite small (so just as well there's only two of us) and the outer leaves have been ravaged by caterpillars and snails, but the hearts are good and hard. No rush to harvest them as they should keep in the ground for ages.

Unfortunately, the red cabbages which I was really looking forward to, have not done well at all and I doubt I'll get any to eat but, being an eternal optimist, I'm leaving them in....just in case.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

My Marrow

Unlike the summer pumpkins, my pot grown marrow plants haven't produced an abundance of veg. In fact the one in the largest pot has only produced 1 large marrow and the other pot grown one now has a smallish marrow which looks as though it's ripening up and won't get much bigger. Even the specimen I grew in open ground hasn't produced anything noteworthy as yet.

All in all, I think it was a mistake to grow this variety and next year I will go for a variety of courgette which can be harvested throughout the season and then just leave 1 or 2 to get very big to use as marrows. I do love a stuffed marrow!

I'm hoping to keep this large one (it's about 30cm/12" long) for a few more weeks before eating it - just waiting for it to ripen up a little more before cutting it to store. Which reminds me of something interesting I saw on Gardeners World the other day. The chap on the program said when you cut marrows for storing, you shouldn't cut the stem close to the marrow to prevent it getting water in the stem and rotting the marrow. When he cut his, he managed to get a sort of T-junction of stems. They should then be left to ripen/harden up outdoors before storing.

Looking at my plant, I can't see how I can do that without severing the main stem although as there aren't any other marrows on the plant, I suppose it wouldn't matter and in any event, I can't see me storing one marrow for more than 4 weeks by which time I will probably have finished harvesting other fresh summer veggies.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

At long last - Tomatoes!

I think the few days of sunny weather last week definitely helped with ripening my tomatoes which are growing in a small terracotta trough (about 60cm/2ft long), even though they don't get that much sun in my shady garden. I must admit to having been of the opinion that they weren't going to do well, especially as they seemed very slow to ripen plus the fact that the first one which I harvested seemed very sour, but lo and behold I am finally getting lots of cherry toms turning red, luscious and relatively sweet.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Whatever happened to the plum tree?

Returning visitors may remember that back in October 2009 I bought a plum tree which I planned to grow in a large tub. I was planning on training it as a fan, but my new small garden couldn't accommodate that, so I ended up just pruning it back in May to keep it within the space available.

Although it survived the house move in tact, throughout the season it began to look more and more poorly. I wasn't expecting many fruit as it's a young tree, but the leaves began showing signs of stress, browning badly at the edges, and of the 5 or 6 fruit which did set, all but 2 fell off. I couldn't find any insects or bugs and it wasn't the dreaded silver leaf disease. I have come to the conclusion that, despite being in the shade for much of the day, I wasn't watering it sufficiently. Something for me to bear in mind next year.

Be that as it may, the remaining two plums have ripened up well and are ready to harvest. According to The Met, it's supposed to be sunny for the next 2 days so I am going to leave them for a couple more days before I pick and eat them. Looking forward to that.

Am still harvesting (and freezing) lots of runner beans although the dwarf French beans seemed to have given up the ghost. Still lots of Swiss Chard and the tomatoes are beginning to turn by one. Lots of mini pumpkins too but still only one marrow :( and a couple of my cabbages have been mercilessly attacked by something despite my other half having religiously inspected them every day and picked off cabbage white eggs, caterpillars and little snails.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

More tales from the shade

I planted two pots' worth of parsley right outside my kitchen door in the main garden bed. It's one of the shadiest parts of the garden and it only gets sun for an hour a day... possibly less. One of the pots I had bought earlier in the year from the supermarket: the type you're supposed to keep on an indoor windowsill. The other was a small pot in which I sowed some parsley seed back in early May.

By June Both were looking a bit tired so I just transplanted them to the only spare bit of open ground I had left. After 2-3 weeks they had both perked up and I have been harvesting lots of fresh parsley ever since. As you can see from the picture, both are still going strong and I anticipate harvesting for many weeks to come.

This is possibly the best parsley I've ever grown. And all just as an experiment. I also planted a similar supermarket basil plant in the same position which has survived and better still, sowed some coriander seeds (just out of view) a few weeks ago which have germinated and whch I should be able to start picking soon.

Another 10 out of 10 for my shady plot.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Bumper crops

At long last I have gluts of some veggies which is great considering how small my patch is. I've already given away some brocolli, baby pumpkin, chard and green beans to my sister-in-law (Vivienne) and still I have enough beans to start freezing them for winter use as well as eating them fresh. I'm going to have a go at freezing some chard too as there's so much of it.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Whatever happened to that Rhubarb plant?

I bought a rhubarb plant back in the autumn of 2009 which I wanted to grow in a large 30cm/12" pot. In one of the earlier posts this year (1st March), I wrote that it was beginning to show signs of life with a lovely fat bud just beginning to poke through the soil.

I'm not sure whether the house move in April had anything to do with it, but it didn't seem to be doing very well for quite some time. I had already decided that I wouldn't get to harvest anything this year however over the last 3 weeks it's gone berserk, so I've decided to cut, or rather I should say "pull" 3 luscious stems - you're not supposed to cut the stems but pull or twist them off. Also it's recommended to leave at least 2 stems on each plant when harvesting to ensure the crown can build up for next year's harvest.

I would also mention that the pot isn't in full sun as is recommended by many gardening literature. In fact, in my semi-shady garden, it probably only gets sun for a maximum 2-3 hours a day.

Believe it or not, just these 3 stems weigh 350g/12oz which is more than enough to make a rhubarb crumble to serve 2 people, so guess what we'll be having for dessert tonight.

WARNING -I know the leaves look fantastic, but they are poisonous and should NEVER be eaten.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

A harvesting mistake?

In an earlier post I said I'd cut the first broccoli heads and that the plant would then shoot out more spears. I think I may have done that incorrectly.

I left one plant just as it was - no cutting at all (on the left in the picture)- just to see what happened and it would seem that there was no need for me to cut the others to bring on more spears as the one that's left is doing ok as it is and looks as though it's going to break into tenderstems by itself.

Oh well - at least I got to eat some early broccoli with the added bonus that I'll be getting more spears in the near future as can be seen from the picture on the right.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Coming soon . . .

Once again, I am over the moon at what my shady garden is allowing me to grow.

As the sunniest part only gets sun for a maximum of 3-4 hours, when I planted some cherry tomato plants I really wasn't expecting too much as these types of fruit bearing plants should really get sun for quite a few hours...or so we are led to believe.

I was beginning to think mine were very late and that the lack of sun was affecting their growth, but having checked back on when I sowed them, they are still within the 20 weeks from sowing to harvesting time and as you can see, they are well on their way to producing a reasonable crop.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the current dull weather is only temporary and that I'll get a good many more sunny days to help them ripen up properly during August.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

First Lillies

I have been waiting for my lillies which I have in pots to bloom. I could have sworn they were all out by June last year and was beginning to think my semi-shady garden was having a bad effect on them. But after speaking with a friend who also has them, he said his weren't out either.

All of a sudden, there they were - beautiful slightly scented white lillies. I thought they were deep pink heavily Stargazers but my memory must have mis-served me. No matter - they are GLORIOUS !

Am now eagerly awaiting the stargazers which are just beginning to show the tell-tale colour in the large buds.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Well that didn't work

When I saw my first cabbage white butterfly a while back I decided to net my brassicas in the hope that it would deter future cabbage whites. It didn't. I've been finding their eggs on the underside of leaves for many days now....on and off...and have resorted to inspecting the plants every day and squishing any new batches found.

Although they are very small, because they are bright yellow, they stand out very well against the dark leaves so are easy to spot. A bit laborious but as the little blighters are quite capable of stripping a leaf completely, well worth the effort. In a weird sort of way, it makes me glad that I only have a small patch to contend with. Never thought I'd hear myself say that!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Exciting times

For me, this is one of the most exciting times in the veggie garden because I can see the fruits of my labour.

In an earlier post about brassicas, I was waxing lyrical and said by Autumn I hope to be tucking into some great produce. Well by the looks of things, I think I will be harvesting the first of my broccoli in a week or so.

I'm not that keen on normal big broccoli - to me its too much like eating a bunch of immature flowers which, of course, is exactly what they are! I grow the "tenderstem" type which has long edible tender stems (as the name implies) attached to a smaller floret-sized head which, as far as I'm concerned, cook up much better than the normal kind. It also has the advantage that once you've picked the main centre stem, it breaks out into lots of extra stems which go on producing for ages providing you pick them regularly.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

First Bean

Yes - I do mean bean in the singular....but not in a bad way.

I didn't really look at the plants closely for a couple of days and in that time, many of the lovely red flowers on my runners are bringing forth beans. Most are still tiny but there is a rogue one which seems to have been on steroids or something as it is much bigger than all the rest (you can just see it in the bottom right hand part of the picture).

I know from past experience that if I wait until the others are large enough to harvest, this one will have become much too large so I'm afraid it had to be sacrificed for the good of the other beans and the plant on the whole. I reckon it won't be long now before my first good crop of tender young runner beans.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Better than spinach

Yesterday I harvested (and ate) the first of my Swiss Chard crop. It was so delicious. As far as I'm concerned, better than spinach and much easier to grow plus you get the edible stalks which, once they've grown large enough, can be served as a vegetable in their own right.

I had serious doubts as to whether it would grow in my shady garden - the chard bed which is about 2ft wide by 3 ft long only gets sun for a couple of hours a day - but they don't seem to mind at all. Better still, the plants are very close together so I have around 24 plants which, judging from the first harvest, will feed the two of us throughout the season and, possibly even have some to freeze.

This is a great crop as you only harvest a few outer leaves from each plant at a time, and the plant just keeps on putting on more leaves.

Although the leaves look very pale, they darken up when cooked and look just like spinach. The taste is similar too.

Of course, when growing so intensively, they need a feed every week but that's a small thing to ask in return for such a wonder vegetable.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Friends and Foes

I spotted my first ladybird a couple of days ago. A welcome sight indeed especially as I've also spotted some aphids and blackfly.

I also unfortunately spotted what seemed to be a lone cabbage white butterfly. I was horrified as, from past experience, I know what immense damage their offspring can cause to brassicas and with mine doing so well, I immediately started chasing it around with the first thing that came to hand...a 30cm/12" pea stick. Must have looked hilarious.

I really am against spraying my crops with pesticides, so in an attempt to lessen the threat, I've netted my broccoli and cabbages. There are gaps at the sides, but I'm hoping the cabbage whites in this area aren't very bright.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A promise of things to come

My runner beans are romping away and the original ones which were sown indoors at the end of April have well passed the tops of their canes. The "runner ups" which I sowed directly in the ground in June are also doing well, having now grown to about 60cm/2ft, so I think my plan to extend the harvesting period by sowing some indoors and some outdoors may work out well.

The flowers started appearing at the beginning of the week and every day more and more are coming out. If you click the picture it will enlarge and show the beutiful red blossoms more clearly. Fresh green beans....YUM.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Eat your heart out Cinderella

I am so excited. One of the original pumpkin plants not only has flowers but also a few teeny weeny pumpkins on it. No doubt some will fall off as it grows bigger, but it is most gratifying to see, especially in light of my previous pumpkin troubles.

I potted this plant up to its final pot which is about 30cm/12" wide and will be feeding it on a regular basis. I've never grown this variety before - Summer ball - but hopefully it will do as it says on the packet and I'll be able to harvest baby ones to use as courgettes. Just as well because my courgette/marrow plant is way behind, despite having sown all the seeds at the same time.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Brassicas Galore

I meant to do this post back on the 6th June but my pumpkin troubles took precedence.

Turned out quite well anyway, as I just compared the two photos of my transplanted brassicas - 1st taken on 6th June, 2nd taken yesterday - and I am really pleased with how much growth they've put on in just 12 days. Amazing what a little warmth and water will do.

If things go on this way, my concerns about the garden being too shady to grow decent crops will have been unwarranted and come the Autumn, I will be tucking into tenderstem broccoli, red and green cabbages.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Pumpkin Troubles

I was doing a little experiment growing a summer Pumpkin called Summer Ball (Sahara). I had planned to grow one in a container and one in the open ground to compare how each of them performed.

I was already having trouble with the one in the pot - not sure if it was snails, but something was chomping the leaves with one leaf completely gone. Then to make things worse, when I went out to see how they were doing yesterday, the one in the ground looked all limp and lifeless. On close inspection, I found the stem was completely severed.

I suppose a gust of wind could have just caught it and snaped it off, but it hasn't been windy and I would have though the top bit would have blown away, so I am resigned to the conclusion that something ate it through, even though there wasn't really any damage to the leaves.

Very disappointing.

I have re-sown 3 seeds directly in the ground in the hope they will germinate relatively quickly and catch up.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Training climbers

Things seem to be growing at aan alarming speed. So before they all got out of hand, I decided to start training my honeysuckle and clematis plants, both of which are in pots which I brought with me from my last place. At least these two don't seem to mind the lack of full sun.

They are both against a wooden fence next to each other - probably a bit too close if I'm honest. I did start them up canes, but they outgrew those in a matter of a couple of weeks so now I'm tying them to a very basic support I bodged together by hammering in nails at either end of the fence and tying string between them. Worked out fine and didn't take any time at all to put up. The hosta is also doing better than it has done for years.

I'm particularly pleased with the honeysuckle bought last October, which already has quite a few flowers ready to bloom. Looking forward to that wonderful scent.

Friday, 4 June 2010

1st Setback in new garden

I sowed some peas in a trough and was somewhat dismayed that not many germinated - only 3 in fact. I thought perhaps the seed was old but not to be put off, I put some more in the gaps and yesterday when I looked, a new one was popping up.

Today when I looked I was horrified to find a snail chomping on one of the larger seedlings.

In my other place where everything was grown in pots, I managed to get a relatively slug/snail free zone. I don't like using chemicals on my edibles, but did use pellets just around the pots so none of the nasty stuff got into the soil.

I did the same here but obviously, it hasn't worked too well. Now I know where all the other seedlings have gone. GREEDY SNAILS! This one even clung onto the bit it was feasting when I pulled it off.

There again, strangely, as you can see in the bottom picture, the trough with the lettuce hasn't been touched at all.

I was planning to train my clematis and honeysuckle later today which would mean having to move the pots so I'll put down some more pellets and keep my fingers crossed.

The other strange thing is, the seedlings in the proper garden bed don't seem to have been affected by slugs/snails at all and I certainly didn't put any pellets on that ground. There again, none of my parsnips have germinated so perhaps they started on them first.

I'll have to get some beer in and lay some traps. Slugs love beer so if you sink a container to soil level and almost fill it with beer they plop in and die a merry death. Looks gross though and you need a strong stomach when emptying the container.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hot 'n Cold

Having had a few days of remarkably warm weather today started off very miserably. Cool, dull and rainy. Good job I set aside last Sunday for gardening. I worked solidly for a few hours and managed to get everything planted out, potted up and thinned out. Today all is looking very well indeed, particularly my runner beans which are winding up the canes with no problem whatsoever.

I decided just to thin the cabbage and broccoli seedlings which have come up in the main garden bed as they seemed a little too small to transplant. Carrots have germinated too but no sign of the parsnips.

Once I'd done all the hard work, I sat to survey my handywork when something caught my eye. Could it be....really...YES! A teeny weeny plum. On closer inspection not 1 or 2 or 3 but 4 tweeny weeny plums on my new plum tree. I will be very interested to see how they develop and ripen in their semi-shaded position.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

No has-beans here!

I have been very naughty.

I twisted my ankle in bed on Sunday night. NononononoNO - the naughty bit is that I left my indoor raised beans out all day on Monday and...last night, albeit semi protected with some glass panes, because I was hobbling around and I just knew if I tried to bring them in I'd probably drop them.

The good news is that, so far, they seem to have survived the experience and are doing extremely well. In fact, I'm sure if I watch them carefully, I can see them growing right before my eyes. I've even had to put peasticks into the pots to keep them from tangling themselves together.

I'm not sure if it was the very weak feed solution I gave them on Sunday or just being outside, but whatever it is, I am thrilled at how they have perked up. With the weather forecast being so good for the next few days, I am hoping to get them out into the open ground before long.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Taking a chance

My indoor runner beans are showing signs of.....something. And it doesn't seem to be a good something either.

The leaves are drooping inwards. There are no critters on them and they don't need water so I think it's the delay in getting them outside.

So I'm going to take the chance (as it's such a lovely day) and put them outside for an hour or so a bit later once the sun is out and it warms up a bit, in the hope that they will realise there are better things to come for them once the weather perks up permanently.

I'll try giving them a talking to as well.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Leggy plants

My indoor sown plants have been a little too successful. They are romping away with many having sprouted their first true leaves. Problem is with the weather having turned quite cold, I am concerned that I won't be able to start putting them outside to harden them off for a while, which might make them go weak and straggly. Having said that, although the forecast isn't looking good, it is lovely and sunny here today and not too cold.

In the meantime, I've started warming up the soil where the runner beans are going to be planted against the fence. I'm using some old double glazing panes which I found in the garden when I moved in and have just leant them against the fence in the hope that the little sun I'm getting will warm up the soil a bit.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm going to plant out the indoor raised beans once it gets warmer and at the same time, sow some seed direct in the soil so hopefully, my warming attempt will help those to germinate more quickly.

As you can see from the picture, the indoor sown beans are going mad and are already over 30cm/12" tall.

Come on Spring!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Too wet for gardening

We've had heavy bouts of rain from Friday - not that I'm complaining. In any event, there's not much to do in my tiny plot at the moment and it stops me going out every 5 minutes to see if any of the seed I've sown has germinated.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've designated a strip against the fence to grow some climbing green beans. I decided to give half of them a head start by sowing some in pots indoors. My plan is to plant them out after all risk of frost and, at the same time, sow some extra seeds direct in the ground so hopefully, I'll get an extended cropping season with the outdoor ones producing beans a little later than the indoor sown ones.

I am delighted that the beans I sowed in pots a week or so ago have started germinating.

I also sowed some pumpkin (shown in the picture below) courgettes, coriander, parsley and cherry tomatoes which have all started germinating too.

Am now looking forward to the weather getting warmer and sunnier although it will take a number of days to harden the indoor seedlings off before planting out in their final positions.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Sowing seeds

Yesterday I finally got to sow some veg seeds in my newly dug garden bed.

Having not had a proper garden for many years, I found myself automatically creating small beds which worked out quite well as I'm not sure about the condition of the soil much further down than 30cm/12 inches, so the creation of the mini beds has meant I've increased the workable soil depth by about 15cm/6 inches.

As I mentioned before, most of the bed is in shade for much of the day and as planned, I sowed a few short rows each of parsnips and carrots in the shadiest part (on the right towards the back). In front of that bed, I've sown some green and red cabbage and some tenderstem broccoli in a makeshift seed bed. Once they have grown to 10cm/4 inches, I'll transplant them to their final spacings.

To the left in the picture, I've sown Swiss chard seeds and the space I've left between that bed and the fence on the left is for some climbing runner beans which, I am pleased to report, have already started germinating in pots indoors.

Although I've sown "in rows" the rows are short and close together so that once the seed have germinated, I can space them in such a way as to grow all the veg in blocks rather than rows. More about what I'm going to grown in the remaining space in a later post.

The picture below is of some of the pots I brought with me - in particular the lilies seem to be doing well.

Good job I watered everything - as usual the Met's forecast for rain was wrong.

Monday, 26 April 2010

All dug and ready to rrock

On Sunday I really thought the weather was going to get the better of me, but it only rained lightly in the morning and held off long enough in the afternoon to get the final digging done. Must be honest here, my old man did most of it.

It's the sort of garden bed which one could keep digging from now until next year and still keep finding roots and stones, so rather than delay any longer, we got some of the offending articles out and I'm going to take the chance and sow some seeds in the next couple of days. Still, a vast improvement on what was there (see last post).

As I mentioned in my last post, it's a very shady patch. I had some potatoes which started to sprout so I've put those in the furthest corner as an experiment.

The picture(s) above show the basic layout. All the pots and containers were brought from my last place - including the plum tree which, incidentally, has had a very few blossoms on it which I'm pleased about - and there is room for more containers, in particular the two large pots which will hold a pumpkin and a courgette plant.

I'll have to wing it a bit when it comes to sowing seeds but I've decided to try the root crops (carrots and parsnips) towards the back of the garden bed which gets the least sun, and other goodies towards the front. Haven't decided exactly where yet, but I must get my skates on now the weather has warmed up.

Oh, just in case you are wondering, that strange upright structure in the 1st picture is a "built-in" BBQ - don't know what twit put it there but it's a total waste of space.

Friday, 23 April 2010

New beginnings

Returning visitors may be wondering what on earth I've been doing as I haven't posted anything for a couple of weeks. The answer is that I've moved.

I am still an urban girl with no car, but I now have a postage stamp garden. There's still a patio area for my containers but there's also a "proper" garden bed with "proper" soil.

As with many things in life, it's not by any means perfect.

Firstly it doesn't get the sun for much of the day at the moment. I'm guessing that as the days get longer, so will the amount sun on my little patch, however I think it is going to take quite a lot of experimenting to find exactly the right spots to grow the various fruit and veggies I have in mind.

Secondly, the garden bed is not only full of weeds and tough grasses at the moment, as can be seen in the picture, but there is a huge confifer in one of the adjacent properties - possibly +100ft - whose roots have invaded my little patch with a vengence.

Hoping to get that all dug over and relatively root free this weekend ready for some serious seed sowing next week.

In the meantime, I have sown some pumpkin, courgette and tomatoes indoors this week and also some lettuce and peas in troughs outside on the patio.

More soon.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

What's going on with the weather forecast?

I know they say they can't accurately predict the weather more than 3 days ahead but really...even up until yesterday the Met's website was showing that it would be sunny today, tomorrow and Friday so I had planned to do some serious stuff on my terrace today. It's been raining ..... practically ALL DAY. So, nothing doing. Most disappointing.

On the TV earlier this afternoon, they have said it will be sunny tomorrow. We shall see.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Green shoots

In my last post a week ago, I wrote about the lateness of daffodils. My dafs are now completely out: it was just a matter of 2 days before they started showing lots of colour. Great that they are in pots as I have moved them to a position so I can see them from my bedroom window every morning when I open the curtains - so cheerful.

The rhubarb is also coming along leap and bounds and there's a couple of inches worth of deep red stem now showing.

The plum tree on the other hand, is looking remarkably bare. It began to worry me as other plants are showing signs of waking up including my clematis and honeysuckle. I decided to make a really close inspection and found (to my great pleasure) one bud which is just beginning to show green (picture inset). Hope springs eternal.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The sun has got his hat last

Dare I say it....has spring finally sprung? The BBC's One Show had a short piece about the fact that daffodils have been very late to flower this year resulting in a shortage for mother's day. So much for global warming.

Indeed, despite being in a really sheltered spot, even my dafs haven't quite bloomed yet although I reckon another couple of days should do it - same with my hyacinths.

And just to prove that spring seems to be well on her way, my rhubarb is throwing out her first main leaves. Come to mama !

Monday, 1 March 2010

Everything's coming up....RHUBARB

Well ok, not EVERYTHING is coming up, but my new rhubarb crown (bought last October) certainly is. There's a lovely fat bud poking through the soil surface.

Monday, 8 February 2010

No pictures

It's been snowing lightly here all morning (now into the afternoon). Definitely no gardening going on. In fact, the weather just makes me feel like curling up on the settee with a cup of something hot and a DVD. Pity I have work to do on my websites. Although I have received a new gardening catalogue in the post recently, so perhaps I'll take a break and leaf through it ... just as a reminder of more promising times to come in the spring.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Welcome Sunshine

It's so bright and sunny here I should really be doing some stuff on my terrace but it's soooooo cold I decided against it. The most I could manage was a 5 minute stint just to see what's happening and take a couple of pictures.

With the albeit light but unexpected snow on Friday night, plus the heavy frosts, my over-wintering onions are looking decidedly flat however, my pansies have perked up!

Better still, there is real hope of spring on its way with the daffodils showing good signs of strong growth. A little bit of an experiment this year as I re-potted all of the bulbs last October but have tried an old method of planting more bulbs in each pot but at different depths. The aim is to get a container to hold more plants.

I planted some around 12.5cm/5-inches deep - covered them with a good layer of compost, then put more bulbs on top (about 7.5cm/3-inches deep). Not only do you get more plants per container but, with a bit of luck, the ones which were planted deeper will come up just that little bit later so extending the flowering period. Great idea.....if it works.
Yes I know the pot needs weeding but truly, it was so chilly out there it was as much as I could do to take the picture.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Forward thinking

With all the snow gone from my terrace, it's making me feel a little more like planning where I'm going to grow all my goodies this year.

I have already ordered and received all my veg seeds - went a little mad due to the increased growing space I'll have with the purchase of a new raised bed frame and extra troughs - and mentally plotted it all out before I ordered so I'm sure I'll get it all in.

I've had some limited success with growing butternut in containers. I say limited because I've only managed to get 2 butteruts from any one plant. So this year I'm going to try what seems to be a new variety of pumpkin which is supposed to be ideal for containers.

It's called Summer Ball and has the added advantage that you can cut the fruit when they are very small and use them like courgettes, then leave some to mature into pumpkins. Hopefully I'll also get lots of the flowers which can be deep fried.

So, all-in-all this is a great choice where space is limited as you're not taking up an area or container with a plant which only produces crops late in the growing season.

The seeds can't be sown until April (indoors) but I'm looking forward to growing this new variety and will, of course, report throughout the coming season on how it goes.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

No gardening

As with much of the country, there's still lots of snow here. Not much point in going out to look at how the plants are doing. But rather than not write anything, I thought I'd go back to something I mentioned in an earlier post, namely coir.

Coir is wonderful stuff, especially if, like me, you grow in containers. It comes from the outer husk of coconuts and is often sold in small dehydrated blocks - excellent if storage space is limited or if buying heavy bags of compost is difficult.

Although there's not much nutrients in coir, it is light and clean to handle and can be mixed with soil or compost to bulk it out. And if you grow in containers, you will have to feed your plants regularly anyway so the lack of nutrients won't be a problem.

The blocks are usually about 20cm/8 inches x 10cm/4 inches x 7.5cm/3-inches deep and once reconstituted, make about 7 litres of compost. It only takes about 20 minutes to reconstitute the blocks. It can be used much like peat except it's obtained from a sustainable source.

I've found the easiest way to reconstitute is to place it in a thick plastic carrier bag - make sure there are no holes in it - then add the water and leave it. It's made my life much easier - I love it.