Work can be busy and I find myself juggling various tasks, but get out in the garden, even just to water the greenhouse plants, and I feel calm restoring. Without a doubt it is one of my places in the world.
I thought I was behind in my gardening jobs but reading back over my garden notebook I see that I have been here before.
24th May 2009
Still very little done outside. May has continues wet and windy. Planted some main-crop potatoes today (golden wonder), Robinta still to go in
12th May 2013
A wet spring and now May continues wet and windy….Lots of things germinated but still very small and too cold to put out. Outside I have planted some broadbeans which are getting battered by the wind………….
I keep a notebook mainly to have a visual plan of my garden beds so that I can rotate my crops each year. Things don’t always work out the way I planned them but it is still good practice.
I have been working at clearing weeds from the vegetable plots, as the wet autumn and winter meant that these were left pretty much untouched since last September! So now I am struggling to remove well-rooted grasses and creeping buttercup.
We have garlic and onions growing in a part of the chicken field and I had enough space to add some parsnip and carrot though there is not much sign of seedlings yet. Some, but not all the potatoes are in too.
In the greenhouse, plants such as beetroot, cabbages, beans and squashes are growing and will hopefully be ready for planting out in a few weeks. We are harvesting salad crops, spinach and leaf-beet from the greenhouse and outside we have a small enough crop of sprouting broccoli.
The blue fence around the flower garden has been repainted and we are half way through treatment the wood on the greenhouse.
There are always jobs in the garden, but they are jobs I don’t mind doing!
Wishing everyone a lovely Spring Equinox.
I hope more spring like temperatures will follow. There is the odd bumblebee flying through the garden, but things really need to warm up a bit for them. There is no point planting any seeds outside as night time temperatures are still falling below freezing, though I am trying some salad crop in the greenhouse. Fingers crossed they will grow!
July is fast coming to an end so I thought it was time for another garden update. It is not proving to be the best of summers. There has been lots (too much) of rain but thankfully temperatures are not as low as last summer, but it is not looking like we will have bumper harvests.
In the greenhouse, tomatoes and cucumbers are producing but not in big quantities so there has not been surplus for pickling. My cucumbers (and also the courgettes and squashes) have all got this strange virus – it looks like mildew, but starts as perfect circles and increases and multiplies till the whole leaf is covered. I keep taking off the affected leaves and so far the plants are surviving. One variety of cucumber (marketmore), shows no sign of the virus so I may concentrate on growing that variety next year.
In the polytunnel, the early broadbeans did well as did the Charlotte potatoes which we are about half way through. I have some beetroot to harvest and also started harvesting these purple kohlrabi. We all prefer them raw to cooked so will probably have the rest with salads. I just planted some more seed in the hope that I can get some to crop in late autumn or over winter for next spring.
Outside the first of the runner beans are appearing ( I put five plants in the poly on a wigwam and they are really not happy, and I don’t know why), and I am hoping for a better crop than last year. The dwarf beans are really suffering, probably because it is not warm enough. I did plant a couple in the greenhouse and it turns out this was a good idea because they are cropping well! Cabbages do seem to enjoy the wet and we’ve been enjoying the first (variety Greyhound), and I am hopeful that we will get a decent crop of red cabbage. Courgettes are small and slow.
We’ve had a few nice summer raspberries but the loganberries are proving very popular with the blackbirds!! We’ve picked over 2kg of blackcurrants and there are still some more. The kids are enjoying blackcurrant cordial and it’s a “bribe” to get them picking some of their own! Blackcurrants are always one of our best croppers.
Well things are busy in the garden this month but at least we are reaping some of the benefits. We’ve been enjoying broccoli from the greenhouse from over wintered plants, which are being gradually cleared out and replaced by cucumbers and tomatoes, and also a few early beans. We’ve also had a few early strawberries, and the first courgette is just coming.
Dwarf french beans
In the polytunnel things are getting a bit overgrown, as the early potatoes need to start coming out. The broadbeans have cropped well and we are enjoying them for dinner. The mange tout seem to have suffered from our recent dry and sunny spell as I think they prefer cooler conditions, so leaves are looking a bit yellow but they are still producing peas.
Outside plums are forming as are some pears and apples – though I am a bit concerned that the pears are already looking a bit scabby.
In the vegetable garden things are a little slow. Cabbages though have benefited from the warm weather as there has been minimum slug damage. Beans and onions are just coming slowly. I am gradually catching up with weeding but they seem to continue to grow!!
It’s been a while since I did a garden update. Spare time these days is spent either in the greenhouse or the polytunnel as outside the ground is still too wet to do much with.
It’s exciting to see things germinating in the greenhouse. Here is just a sample.
Broadbeans for planting out
Salad leaves germinating and in the background some lupins
We are enjoying some salad crops from the greenhouse and the overwintered spinach is also coming on nicely.
Salad crops – endive and rocket
In the polytunnel, the broad beans set last November are flowering and we are enjoying some broccoli sprouts from broccoli that over wintered. Purslane seeds itself all over the tunnel so what we don’t eat, I try digging in as green manure or feed to the chickens. The over-wintered leaf beat is a great addition to stews and stir-frys.
Broad bean in flower
Broad bean flower
purslane and leaf beat
In last week’s post I was bemoaning the lack of success in the vegetable garden and while things were not as productive as I’d like in the polytunnel and greenhouse, in general plants fared better and produced more there.
We’ve had a pretty constant supply of lettuce and greens from the polytunnel. The cool temperatures made it a perfect growing environment for them, and it is only in the last week that we are a bit short of lettuce though still doing well with mustard greens and rocket. There are more lettuce plants on trays waiting to be planted out – endives and winter destiny lettuce.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes have actually done pretty well, and though they weren’t enough cucumbers to pickle there have been plenty to eat fresh each day
Tomatoes – Gardeners delight
Tomatoes – Green zebra
Black tomato (possibly blackberry)
With our beans doing so badly outside I planted some late in the greenhouse and polytunnel. Some are already producing – not many, but a nice bonus.
According to the packet these are supposed to be dwarf beans but they seem happier climbing up some bamboo canes!
This week’s rain has confined me mostly to the greenhouse and polytunnel, both of which needed attention anyhow! Yesterday I cleared out the last of the mangetout plants (the outside ones are now cropping). We’ve been enjoying the Charlotte potatoes, broad-beans and purple kohlrabi all from the tunnel.
In the greenhouse, some of the tomato plants have set their first fruit and there are a couple of tiny cucumbers too, though the plants are still small. The purple dwarf beans have cropped quite well and the courgette plant is looking great. I need to take it out as it’s taking up too much room and I have more plants outside (looking very small and miserable) and one in the polytunnel. As it’s cropping very well I’m going to leave it as long as I can. So for now I’m removing some of the leaves.
Courgette in polytunnel
Today, it had stopped raining so I had a chance to do some weeding in the vegetable plot. I am leaving the strawberry bed (it’s full of weeds), as the damp weather has resulted in lots of slug damage and those the slugs aren’t eating the birds are. My plan for next year is to put the strawberries in pots in the blueberry fruit cage.
Slug eaten strawberry
Today, my son did manage to find a few nice ones. He decided he was going to eat a lunch that he himself picked. This was the result. (He did take my offer of a freshly cooked pancake too!)
My son’s lunch plate
Yes, we have some nice black and red currants ripening. They are one of our most reliable fruits. The green bean like pods are actually the seed pods of some of my brassicas. I leave some plants to get seed for next year but the kids and I find them quite tasty too.
We’ve had the most amazing weather for the last few days, lots of warm sunshine. Everything in the garden seems to be rushing on and the jobs are mounting up! The first fruit tree to flower was the plum.
Blossom on the plum tree
The pear is not far behind it and I expect the apples will be after those.
The greenhouse is packed with seed trays. And both the greenhouse and polytunnel are providing plenty spring greens. While outside there is lots of purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflowers to enjoy. In the tunnel, broad beans and mangetout peas have been planted out and more planted in pots to be planted outside in the coming weeks.
And we’ve been working on the new flower and herb garden. There is still lots to do, though the first plants are in. The miniature daffodils have given a lovely display. The weed membrane will be covered with small stones which we are still waiting to be delivered but the main hard landscaping is done and the fence is finally all painted.
New flower garden
New Flower garden
I just love this time of year. There is so many new things to admire, so much to see and enjoy.
I’ve even seen my first pollinator of the season – not a bee but a dronefly, a type of hoverfly. It was feeding on the willows which are thick with pollen at the moment. I’ve included a photo from last year as this week’s dronefly was too high up the bush to get a decent picture. Like bees, hoverflies are very important pollinators. Willow is one of the best plants to provide pollen early in the season. Pollen is a vital source of protein for many of our pollinators.
Dronefly on celendine
Despite some nice spring sunshine, we’re getting some very wet weather too. The soil is sodden, which is preventing me getting into the garden, but I’ve been trying to do a bit in the greenhouse and polytunnel. The first seeds and potatoes are planted and some are germinating, which is always exciting. This is my first spring with the greenhouse and I’m amazed how warm it can get in there during the day, though obviously at night it still cools significantly.
We’re enjoying some fresh cauliflower too. I was dubious that the plants would come through the winter but they have and though the cauliflowers are small, they are tasty. The first of the purple sprouting broccoli and the perennial nine-star broccoli has also been harvested. You just can’t beat fresh vegetables from the garden!
As 2014 draws to a close, here are just a few of my highlights of my growing gardening year.
Lots of little gem squash
And some big squashes
First pears from garden
Apples – James Grieve
First plums from garden
Great Onion harvest
Great raspberry harvest
And new greenhouse