Sunday, 31 May 2009

Red Hot Chili Peppers

OK, so it's not a chilli pepper it's a sweet pepper, but hasn't the weather been red hot? Unfortunately I've missed most of it as I've been stuck indoors most of the time with a poorly child. Typical! I have kept nipping out into the garden though trying to get bits and bobs done.

As you can see, my pepper is now starting to produce fruit. There are lots of flowers on the plant so hopefully there will be more to follow. As we don't eat many peppers and also due to lack of space in the greenhouse I only have one plant so I'm hoping it does well.

The blueberry bushes have lots of berries on them. I had one plant last year and it didn't produce anything so I bought a second plant at the back end of last year. It certainly looks like it's done the trick and I'm just waiting for them to ripen now.

Also at the back end of last year I bought a Stella cherry tree. It has been grown on dwarf rootstock and as I don't have anywhere in the garden to plant it, it is being grown in a half barrel. I was expecting lovely blossom to appear on the tree, but all I got was one flower. At the moment there is the huge amount of one cherry growing on it. I hope the weight doesn't make it keel over! I'm hoping that it's just because it's a young tree and that in future years it will produce much more fruit.

The Dicentra Spectabilis - Bleeding Heart which I bought earlier this year has come into flower again. It had flowers on when I bought it and as they faded I thought that would be it for this year. I just love this plant so it's nice to have a second flourish.

The bamboo which I bought at Easter has now been planted up into a nicer container. As I removed it from it's pot I could see shoots growing up in the roots. I'm presuming that these will eventually push their way through the soil to give a denser clump.

The allotment is now producing it's first harvest. Over a dozen strawberries have been picked and eaten, and there's plenty more to come.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Ooh La La

We've had some lovely weather over the last few days which has enabled us to get lots of things done at the allotment. Firstly, the dwarf French beans - Safari have been planted out. I thought that there might only be stalks left if the slugs had taken a liking to them and had a gourmet meal, but I shouldn't have worried as they were all accounted for when I returned the following day.

It's looking a little more like an allotment now as some structures have been built. We have made two wigwams out of canes for the climbing French beans and runner beans to climb up. I have sown seeds of climbing French bean - Blue Lake and runner bean - Scarlet Emperor, so hopefully it won't be long before the wigwams are in use.

My hubby has made a great brassica cage out of canes and some scaffold netting which was given to him by someone at his work. This has saved us some money as we needed quite a bit of netting. Hopefully this will stop the Cabbage White caterpillars from decimating the crop. I will be planting the brassicas out later in the week, weather permitting.

I'm hoping to get some flowers growing on the allotment so that I'm able to cut them and bring them home for the house. This week I have planted some Gladioli - King's Lynn and planted out some Carnation - Triumph Mixed, which I started off from seeds.

The root bed has now been prepared and I have sown some carrot - Autumn King 2 and some beetroot - Boltardy. I have lots of parsnip growing in toilet roll inners at home so these will be planted out shortly.

The sweetcorn is growing really strong and their bed has been weeded. It just needs digging over now and then they will be able to be planted out. I'm going to plant some squash in the same bed as the sweetcorn using part of the three sister's planting plan. The three sisters is where sweetcorn, squash and climbing beans grow together in one bed. The sweetcorn gives support to the beans, the squash gives ground cover which in turn suppresses weeds and the beans fix nitrogen into the soil. I will be using two thirds of this method, but as I haven't tried this before it's a bit of an experiment. I will let you know if I recommend it at the end of the season.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Third Time Lucky?

I've tried to grow aubergines for the last two years, however, I haven't been successful at all. This is the stage that this years effort is at, and it's more advanced than I have managed previously so I am keeping my fingers crossed. It has now been moved out into the greenhouse where I am hoping it will flower and fruit.

There was lots more rain at the back end of last week but the weather over the past two days has been glorious. We are all on holiday from work and school until next Monday so I am hoping that this sunny spell continues.

Yesterday I potted up my tomatoes into their final containers and they have been moved out into the greenhouse. I am only growing one salad tomato - Ferline, and the rest are cherry tomatoes - Sungold, Gardener's Delight and Sweet Million. I am the only one in our family who eats salad tomatoes so I tend to grow more of the cherry variety. I am also growing a Micro Tomato, which as the name suggests is a very small variety.

Today I have been concentrating more on the flower side of things and have potted up my hanging baskets and an ornamental wheelbarrow which my hubby bought me for christmas. I have used the usual bedding plants including Nemesia, Impatiens, Petunia and Violas.

I have now cleared out alot of my greenhouse moving lots of things into the 4-tier plastic greenhouse to make room for the plants which will be housed in there over summer, such as the tomatoes, aubergine and pepper. It's only a 4 x 6 greenhouse so it can get rather crowded at the start of the growing season with lots of seedlings and overwintered plants in there.

We have spent quite a bit of time at the allotment this weekend, more on this later in the week.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Rain Stops Play

Well, what a week we have had. It started off blustery, then it turned to heavy rain which changed to thunder storms, and just as the weather started to improve again I was back in work! I haven't even been able to get down on an evening because of commitments I had. I thought I might get down yesterday evening but a letter was waiting when I got in from work inviting me to an 'Oscars' ceremony that my daughter's guide pack were holding. It was a hard decision but I couldn't very well leave my daughter without any support.

The brassicas which I mentioned in my earlier post have most definitely given up the will to live so I have cheated and bought in some plugs of cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprout. They look nice and healthy so are already way ahead of my own attempts. Lesson learnt, I will try to grow them a different way next year.

As you can see from the picture, my strawberries are all tucked up in their bed and are covered with netting to stop those pesky birds from eating the fruit. They are all in flower and some fruit is already forming. I don't know what sort of crop I can expect really as they were transplanted a bit late. I suppose this might have upset them a little.

My potatoes have at last started to show some foliage and seem to be romping away. They will need to be earthed up the next time I go to the allotment. I'm looking forward to those very first early potatoes covered in butter and mint. There's no better taste, well apart from home grown sweetcorn, home grown strawberries, home grown tomatoes. Well, I think you get the picture.

The schools break up for Spring Bank Holiday on Friday. Both myself and my hubby have also taken annual leave from work, in fact I finished yesterday as I only work Monday, Tuesday and every other Sunday, so we will all be off until the 1st of June. I'm praying for good weather as this will be the perfect opportunity to spend lots of time at the allotment and really get it licked into shape. We're all raring to go so the only thing to stop up will be the typical British weather!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Veg Boxes

I have made a decision that I am not going to grow my lettuce at the allotment. The first reason for this being slugs. They always seem to make a mad dash for lettuce and it's so hard trying to keep them off. The second reason is that we don't actually eat a lot of lettuce so I don't really need a lot of room to grow them. So I made a trip to Wyevale Garden Centre yesterday and bought a couple of these wooden containers. I've already got two and they're ideal for the garden. As we don't eat much lettuce I am growing a cut and come again variety, Salad Bowl, so that I can cut the amount I want and leave the plant to grow on. I also like Little Gem which is a nice compact plant.

My tomato plants are growing like nobody's business and they're now ready to be planted into their final containers and moved into the greenhouse. This is a job for this coming week. I also need to plant some more peas so that I can get a successional crop from them.

The sweetcorn which I planted last week are now growing away. I planted 28 seeds and 27 have germinated so I'm happy with that. Some people chit their sweetcorn seeds before they sow them but I don't seem to have any problems with germination so they just get planted straight into toilet roll inners.

Alot of my brassicas seem to be on the way out. They were growing really strong but seem to have run out of steam. Some of them have been in the greenhouse and some have been lifted out during the day to harden off, but some look to be wilting and their leaves seem to be dying. I think perhaps they've been too warm. We'll have to see how they go on.

I haven't got much done either in the garden or at the allotment this week due to the weather we've been having. There's been a couple of thunder storms over the past day or two and it's rained really hard. Obviously it's perked up today and the sun is shining just as I'm about to set off for work!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


I have a huge patch of chives at the allotment which are all around the old bath. As you can see, they have now come into flower. I'm hoping that these will attract lots of bees which in turn will help with the pollination of my veg crops.

We've spent lots of time at the allotment this week. It's still very hard going though. It seems to be taking longer and longer to get a bed ready for planting as the weeds are now growing so fast that we can hardly keep up. I'm managing to keep on top of weeding the beds which have already been prepared as there are very few weeds growing in these at the moment.

My son's carrot seed has germinated. He's keeping them covered with fleece to try and prevent an attack from the dreaded Carrot Root Fly. My daughter planted some beetroot seeds and they are just starting to germinate.

I have sown some seeds of Sunflower - Velvet Queen and Calendula - Art Shades Mixed directly into the flower bed. I'm hoping that they manage to germinate as they will attract lots of beneficial insects onto the plot before I cut them for bringing home.

The brassica bed is now prepared. I have incorporated some chicken manure pellets into the soil to encourage leafy growth. I have lots waiting to go in, but I'm waiting for hubby to build some sort of protective cage as I don't want the Cabbage White Butterflies to lay their eggs on them. I'm undecided whether to go with a wooden framed sort of cage or just use some plumbing pipe and drape the netting over that. What do you think?

My French beans are now ready to go to the allotment. I think I'm going to make wigwams with canes for them to grow up rather than planting them in a straight row.

My sweetcorn was planted on Saturday and they are starting to germinate already. They are on a sunny window ledge at the moment but they grow quite quickly so they will be ready for planting out at the beginning of June. Better get that bed prepared!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Panda'ing To My Bamboo

On my recent visit to The Yorkshire Garden Centre in Brough I bought a bamboo, Fargesia - Jiu. This is a new generation of bamboo which is evergreen and very hardy. It doesn't produce shoots so it isn't invasive, but I'm going to grow it in a container all the same. It came in a smallish pot so I'm now on the lookout for a suitable container in which to repot it. I just love the swishing motion and noise that bamboo creates and I thought it would make a nice addition to the garden.

The weather has improved over the weekend so I have been making the most of it. I spent yesterday potting on seedlings and resowing various seeds which I have lost or haven't germinated. The calabrese germinated really well and were growing really strong, but a slug decided that it liked the taste of them and I am now left with only two seedlings. I have sown some more seed so hopefully they will catch up.

The Micro Tomato is growing really well and already has some tiny tomatos on it. I have potted this into it's final container and it has been moved out into the greenhouse. The pepper which I am growing is in flower and has also been potted up into a container and moved into the greenhouse. I am really pleased with my aubergine plant. I haven't had any success with aubergines previously, and although a little premature to be crowing about this year being different, it looks to be doing really well. It's growing really strong and has lots of leaves. Time will tell!

I have finally got round to planting some Lettuce - Salad Bowl. We don't eat a huge amount of lettuce and I find that the cut and come again varieties are much better as we can just harvest the amount that we need without taking the full plant.

Today has been spent at the allotment. We spent a good few hours down there and more beds have been weeded, dug over and prepared.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


I haven't spent alot of time at the allotment this week due to all the rain we've had so instead I have been sowing more seeds. I planted 30 French Bean - Safari and 30 have germinated. They won't be kept in their pots for long though as their bed at the allotment is already prepared. I have also planted up my Parsnip - White Gem seeds which I chitted on damp kitchen roll, into toilet roll inners. They won't stay in these for long as parsnips have a long tap root which grows quicker than the leaves. If the taproot hits the bottom of the pot it will cause the parsnip to fork. Some of the seed leaves are just poking through the compost now so as soon as they are all through they will be going to the allotment.

All my strawberries are now tucked up under netting away from the beaks of birds which will be eager to feast on the crop before we get the chance. My peas are also under netting, but I have used a finer mesh for these as I want to keep the Pea Moth away from them. There's nothing worse than finding maggots in the pods. Yuck!

I have decided to create a patch for flowers at the allotment as I can't bear to cut flowers to bring indoors from the garden. I have planted some Asiatic Lilies which I got from a Gardener's World offer, Lilium - Black Out, Brunello and Pisa. I have also got some Carnation's and Dahlia's on the window ledge which I am growing from seed. I'm going to have a look for some smallish Sunflower's to grow too.

I give some of my surplus veg plants to a lady at hubby's work. This week she has kindly repaid the favour and sent some trays of Love in a Mist, Nemesia and Viola. They will be sure to make my garden look colourful this year.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Coming.....Ready Or Not

No, Monty, my son's pet rabbit wasn't really playing hide and seek. I think what he's really trying to tell me is that he can't bear to look at all the bare patches on the lawn. Now that we're getting some sunshine the kids are using the grass again and already it's getting worn. In winter the grass holds on to the rainfall and it ends up in a boggy mess. I have recently bought one of those pronged grass tools which you stick in to the grass and it channels out holes in which to put sand, in the hope that I can get some drainage. I will give it a go this year and see if it helps.

I have created lots of space in the garden this week having taken 28 strawberry plants which were in pots and all the peas down to the allotment. I have also moved more seedlings from the window ledges into the greenhouse which gives me some room to start off more seeds. I have started off my French Beans - Safari in pots and these have germinated already.

The small wildlife pond which I set up a while ago is now starting to establish itself with the water plants spreading, however, I have to say that I haven't noticed much wildlife around it. Hopefully this will come later. The plants which I put into the border are beginning to grow and spread and the Aquilegia Vulgaris - Columbine is already in flower putting on a lovely show.

I have given the bird feeding station a good wash down and refilled all the feeders. I find that the seed feeders stay full and that the birds prefer the suet cakes and fat balls. I don't know why they don't go for the seed in the back garden as I'm constantly having to refill the seed feeders in the front garden which contains exactly the same seed mix. We had a pair of blackbirds build their nest in the hedge in the front garden last year and I was hopeful that they would come back again this year, but they haven't.

I haven't got much done in the garden this week as it's rained such alot. Any sunshine and I've been at the allotment. The Met Office have announced their long range forcast and apparently it's going to be a good summer. I'm hoping that this is the case!
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