Thursday, 27 August 2015

Coming To The End

We're coming towards the end of the potatoes now. This year, as in the past couple of years, I've grown Arran Pilot and Anya. I grow them in containers rather than at the plot as I find there's no damage to them whatsoever whereas there was always lots of slug damage when they were planted in the ground. These are the last two tubs, one of each variety. I have a few of this size container but the majority of my potatoes are grown in smaller buckets.

I've had a very good year with my potatoes, I'm wondering if it's because of the wet spring we had, they must have had plenty of water at a crucial stage. These Anyas were harvested from one of the larger containers, I'd planted three tubers in it. There's six pounds which I think is really good as they're small potatoes and I've never found Anyas to be a variety which gives a particularly heavy crop.

I do have one other tub left to harvest, that of Bonnie, a variety I'm trying for the first time this year, along with Sherine which I've just harvested but haven't yet tried.

I had quite a few seed potatoes left over this year so earlier in the season, as each container was emptied, I planted more. I don't know if they will come to anything or not but the tubers would have only gone to waste so I'm not losing anything by trying.

Perhaps I'll have some home grown potatoes on my Christmas dinner plate this year.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bloody Butcher

A local garden centre was selling tomato plants in spring. I don't usually buy plants as I grow my own from seed but I noticed that some of the varieties were heirloom varieties and when I saw the name of one, Bloody Butcher, I couldn't resist.

I didn't think the plant was going to be up to much because as it grew, it didn't seem to have very much foliage. I'm not sure if that's what these plants usually grow like or if it's an effect of our cold spring, we gardeners put so much down to the weather. Despite my earlier misgivings, the plant's gone on to produce a decent crop of medium sized tomatoes.

On researching this variety, I've found that the plant can produce fruits which aren't uniform in size, anything as large as a beefsteak to a small cherry size, however, I haven't found this to be the case with my own plant, they're all pretty much the same size with just a few smaller than the rest. I'm growing my plant in the greenhouse but apparently, it does well outdoors and is well suited to growing in cooler temperatures and short summers so ideal for the UK.

I think you can tell from this next photo how juicy these tomatoes are. They're beautifully sweet and have definitely passed the taste test. They've even been given the thumbs up by my dad, praise indeed.

I think this will be another tomato I grow again. I'd like to try it outdoors next time and see how it fares there.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Colour In August

In 2013, I followed the late Geoff Hamilton's advice and visited a nursery or garden centre each month where I bought a plant in flower. Doing this should ensure that I have something blooming in the garden every month of the year.

In August 2013, my plant of choice was Liriope - Royal Purple. Unfortunately, this is another plant which hasn't done very well, in fact, it didn't even put in an appearance the following year so it was very short lived. I've replaced it this month with Tradescantia - Charlotte. I expect this variety will be very popular given the birth of the new princess. You can see it was just starting to bloom a couple of weeks ago when I bought it but it had lots of buds.

I'm not familiar at all with tradescantia but I've found out that it's a clump forming perennial, just like the liriope, and is semi evergreen.

It looks like a good, strong specimen and its buds have burst since I bought it revealing these beautiful, three petaled flowers.

I hope this does better than the liriope.

Friday, 21 August 2015


I discovered Maskotka tomatoes last year. The plants I'd grown from seed weren't doing so well so I bought a couple of Maskotka plants from a local plant sale, I'm so pleased I did. This year I decided that I'd grow Maskotka from seed myself.

The plants are determinate, or a bush type, but they're not compact by any stretch of the imagination, they're very untidy and tend to sprawl all over the place. These are my three outdoor plants, I'm growing a further two in the greenhouse.

It's a heavy cropping variety so the weight of the fruit makes the plants very heavy, I find I have to stake them to give them a bit of support.

The fruit has a wonderful taste, sweet and thin skinned. I keep a tub of them on the worktop in the kitchen so that I can snack on them throughout the day, they really are delicious. They're a decent size for a cherry tomato too.

Gardener's Delight has always been my cherry tomato of choice. I've grown some plants this year but now I've tried Maskotka for a second year and my opinion is the same, I shall grow Maskotka in place of Gardener's Delight in future.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Harlow Carr In August

There was quite a change in the feel to Harlow Carr this month. You can tell that we're heading towards the end of the season as many of the bright hues of July are fading fast. This was most noticeable down by the stream where the banks are covered with mostly greenery and pale flowers with just the odd bright splash.

I like the frothy type of planting here, it makes you want to reach out and touch the plants as well as look at them.

The gunnera is looking splendid, it's hard to believe that this bank was bare at the start of the year, all this growth in just a few months.

The gardens have an Alice In Wonderland theme going on at the moment to coincide with the school holidays, there were lots of younger visiters. I loved this topiary, the White Rabbit, Queen Of Hearts and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. There were characters walking around the grounds too.

I couldn't get over the size of these flowers, they were as big as footballs. This is Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle.

Not all the areas are winding down quite yet though, this border continues to flower with hot colours.

I really like these echinops, apparently, they're great in a vase too.

One of my favourite flowers is astrantia, this one is Roma. I keep saying that I'll get one for my own garden but I still haven't.

The wildlife was enjoying this border, the bees were diving head first in to the Crocosmia Lucifer.

Another border with lots of colour still on show.

The Kitchen Garden has just come in to its own where colour is concerned. The dahlias are now blooming and many other types of flowers are dotted around growing amongst the veg.

There's a huge difference in the vegetables since my last visit, everything seems to have grown so quickly. This pumpkin is Atlantic Giant, there's some way to go until it will be harvested.

The squash are growing nicely. There's lots of different types sprawling in the bed.

The sweetcorn has its silks. I haven't grown any this year, I did buy the seeds but I never got round to sowing them.

They're going to have a great apple harvest. The trees are trained as espaliers against a framework bordering the paths.

No kitchen garden should be without sunflowers. These four beauties give a different meaning to Pretty Maids All In A Row.

The border I'm following has taken on yet another look. It seems new things pop up and flower each month.

Outside the Alpine House is a Pictorial Meadow, an annual flower meadow with a mix of plants which flower in summer and then die. A traditional wildflower meadow is perennial and flowers repeatedly year after year.

I like the use of cosmos, it's feathery foliage fills any bare spots giving the meadow a more fluid appearance.

I expect my next visit will see many of the vegetables in the Kitchen Garden being harvested and many of the flower beds starting to wind down ready for winter, however, I'm sure there'll be a few surprises too, there always is.

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Harvests Keep On Coming

At this time of year there's always something to harvest. Some things may be coming to an end but others are just starting.

My carrots have done brilliantly this year, I put the success down to the WoodBlocX raised bed. It's nice and deep so it allows for a good root run. These are a combination of Nantes and Tendersnax.

The courgettes have started to produce in earnest. I'm growing Dundoo and Tricolour this year. There's also a patty pan squash, Custard White, one of which didn't make it on to the photo as it was prepared and popped straight in to the oven to have with dinner.

I didn't think my cucumber plants were up to much this year, actually they're not, they've never really recovered from the cold spring, but the Mini Munch are still producing well. The misshapen one at the bottom grew pressed against the cane which is supporting the plant, it's left the imprint of the cane in the fruit. I'm also growing Crystal Lemon, I'm not keen on this variety myself but my dad enjoys them so I grow them for him. The fruits are only just beginning to grow, much later than Mini Munch this year.

Mick popped to the allotment last night and came home with a trug full of goodies and at last, my beans are ready.

These are Cobra and Blue Lake French beans and the first few St George runner beans at the bottom. He brought another beetroot home as well as more courgettes and patty pan squash. The carrots at the bottom are the first of the Chantenay carrots we've pulled, I think Mick said the others are Tendersnax. Chantenay are a smaller, stubbier carrot and are particularly sweet.

We're spoilt for choice with so much fresh food available at the moment. There's no doubt that we're getting our five a day.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Spring Onions

Over the years that I've been blogging, whenever I've mentioned spring onions I've had so many comments saying how hard people find them to grow. I've had very few problems growing spring onions myself so I thought I'd share with you how I grow them.

I grow my spring onions in wooden troughs filled with multi purpose compost. I usually grow White Lisbon, a variety I've found reliable and tasty, and once sown, apart from watering, they get no further attention.

I find spring onions very slow growing, especially as I like them to bulb up, so I sometimes start some seeds off at the end of the growing season and allow them to stand over winter inside the cold greenhouse. They don't really grow through winter but they've got a head start ready for next year.

I always make sure that I sow plenty as I like to share the ones I grow with my dad, he's very partial to a spring onion. These are a few I pulled just before going on holiday to take with us. Neither Mick nor Eleanor eat them so there were enough here to make a few cheese and onion sandwiches for lunch.

I shall be sowing some more soon which will germinate and put on a bit of growth before the weather turns much cooler. They'll give me a harvest a bit earlier than the ones I sow at the start of the season next year.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Wentworth Garden Centre Gardens In August

We last visited the gardens at Wentworth Garden Centre in January last year, you can read about that visit in my Garden Visiting In January post. When we visited last time, there was frost on the ground so I knew that the visit I made this month would be very different.

One of the things to strike me was how green everything is. There's lots of evergreen plants so it wasn't devoid of leaves when we visited before but it doesn't make up for the lack of leaves on the trees. It's looking lush at the moment.

I had actually expected to see more colour at this time of year than there is, though there's the odd pop here and there.

The garden is essentially planted up with shade lovers, ferns and hostas amongst them.

Water runs throughout the garden, ponds, streams and rills with one or two waterfalls too. The trickling water sounds make it so tranquil.

There's areas on many different levels which are cleverly brought together. This is an old bear pit, the chamber within has contained bears, very sad I thought, but it is now a quick way to get from one part of the garden to another. This is the entrance in an elevated area of the garden.

Within the bear pit is a spiral staircase. Decending these stairs and exiting through the lower level door brings you out on another level.

This part of the garden is sunken, again there's water here as there is in most areas.

Statues play a big part in the garden too.

I love seeing troughs planted up, I don't think I've seen one so big before.

An arrangement of troughs.

This area is planted up more formally with topiary and it's more open than other areas.

The gardens aren't huge but there's plenty of interest here.

It was another lovely visit to this garden but I have to say that I did enjoy it more last time, I think the frost which had settled on the ground gave it a magical feel as we wandered round.
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