Sunday 28 June 2009

Aubergine Flower

After three years of trying to grow aubergines, this is the furthest I have ever got. In previous years, my aubergine plants haven't even flowered, so I'm really hopeful this year that I will get some fruit. There is currently one flower on the plant, and another bud is getting ready to open.

My tomatoes are flowering like mad, but still no sign of fruit, except for the micro tomato plant which has about six ripe fruit on it and more still ripening. I have never seen such a small tomato plant before, and the fruit is the size of cherries.

The courgette plant which I have in a container in the greenhouse is flowering so I'm hoping for fruit to follow. The courgette plant which I have planted at the allotment hasn't got any flowers on it yet.

The plants in my wildlife border are flowering like mad and attracting lots of bees and hoverflies, but sadly no butterflies. I haven't seen many butterflies around at all this year. Last year I grew some Nasturtium in the border and I'm forever pulling out seedlings which have self seeded from last years plants. They're even growing in the cracks between the paving.

The first of my lilies which are planted in containers has burst into flower today and there are lots more buds on the plant so there will be lots more flowers to come. I have planted lilies on the allotment to cut and bring home for the house, but although they have plenty of buds on them they aren't yet flowering. Perhaps the warm weather we have had forcast for the coming week will spur them on.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

French Marigolds

I have planted French marigolds in different beds all around the allotment. Apparently they produce a pesticidal chemical from their roots, and are good at deterring whiteflies. Alot of people grow them in the same area as their tomatoes. I think they are colourful and lovely to look at, but I'm not too keen on their scent.

The weeds are making a bid to take over the allotment. I spent an hour up there last night and made a start, but there's still loads of weeding to do. I don't mind weeding, in fact I find it quite relaxing, but when you're aware that you don't have all the time in the world to get it done, it seems a little more like a chore. I think I'll have to make an effort to get to the allotment more just to do some weeding. The problem is that when I do go, there are other jobs which also need doing and I end up getting side tracked. I'm going to have to be more blinkered and just do the jobs I have gone to do.

Joy of joys, my carrots have germinated. I sowed these quite a few weeks ago and thought the seeds must be dud as nothing had happened. Of course, my soil hasn't been worked and therefore contains alot of stones at the moment, so they'll probably end up looking like something you see in the mis-shaped veg category at the local produce show rather than the specimens you see being judged for most perfect carrot, but we shall see. The carrots which my son sowed a while ago are looking good, but again, only time will tell what is going on underground.

My daughter's patch is looking more like a little garden rather than a bed on an allotment. She's got alsorts of things planted and she has dotted them around in a very girly, pretty way. I thought it best to let her get on with it in her own way as I think this is what gardening is all about. In her bed she's got a pumpkin, some mini sweetcorn, beetroot, French marigolds, borage and a tomato plant which she was given at the Gardener's World Live show.

My peas are now filling their pods and it won't be long before they're ready to pick. I'm looking forward to eating them uncooked. I'm sure they'll be as 'sweet as the moment when the pod went pop'.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Bombus Lapidarius

...or red-tailed bumblebee to you and me. I'm pleased to see that the wildlife border which I created in April is springing to life and attracting beneficial insects which it was intended to do. This bee has landed on a Cornflower - Centaurea Cyanus. I'm not very good at distinguishing between the different bumblebees, but Gardener's World did an article in their May issue and I now use this as a reference. The red-tailed bumblebee has a mostly black body and red tail. It nests underground or in holes in stone walls. I'm always on the lookout for more bee and butterfly attracting plants to add to my garden so I'd be interested to know which plants work for you.

Seed sowing, potting on, and planting out seems to have slowed down at home at the moment. My window ledges are now free from plants as they have either been planted out at the allotment or moved outside. My thoughts have now been about getting some biennial seeds sown, such as Foxgloves and Wallflowers. It seems early to be thinking about flowers for next year, but if I don't get them done now the schools will have broken up for summer, summer holiday's will take over, and I'll have missed the boat completely.

My tomatoes are now flowering, but still no sign of any fruit. The cucumber plant - Bush Champion, however, has formed a small cucumber. I have never grown this variety before and the fruit looks rather 'nobbly'. Sadly, there is still no sign of any flowers on the aubergine plant, but it's producing lots of new leaves, so it's still happy at the moment.

The blueberry plants now have lots of lovely berries on them. They're already turning from green to a pinkish colour, so I'll have to wait a while longer before they will be ready to harvest.

Wednesday 17 June 2009


I'm really pleased with how my strawberries are performing. I chose three different varieties which fruit at slightly different times to prolong the harvest, Honeoye, Elsanta and Alice. In total I've got about 25 plants and they are sufficient to provide strawberries to pick each time I visit the allotment, which is delighting my daughter who is strawberry mad! I'm especially pleased as my next door plot holder (who grows just about everything) told me that he had planted strawberries but dug them all up as he didn't get a single strawberry off his.

The brassica plants are starting to put on lots of new growth now, however, two of the cabbages have been eaten. I presume it must be slugs which have taken a liking to them as they are well protected inside the brassica cage from birds. I have some spare plants so I will replace the ones which have been eaten on my next trip.

I planted my runner beans against the canes of the wigwam which my hubby erected for me a few weeks ago. I planted the seeds in plantpots and they have made nice sturdy little plants so I hope this has given them a good start. I've also got some climbing French beans which were also started off in plantpots and these will be planted out the next time I go to the allotment.

The lilies which were planted in the flower bed at the allotment now have buds on them. They do still seem a little way away from flowering but I'm looking forward to having flowers to bring home for the house.

My son has planted a pumpkin on his patch. He made a nice deep hole and filled it with lots of home made compost before planting the pumpkin and watering it in, as pumpkins are very hungry plants. He also gave it a mulch of home made compost. He's hoping for a pumpkin to carve at Halloween!

Sunday 14 June 2009

Hot Lips

Last year when I went to the Harrogate autumn flower show I saw a Salvia 'Hot Lips'. When I got home I regretted not buying it. I have been looking around for one ever since, but haven't come across it again. That is, until yesterday when I went to the Gardener's World Live show at the Birmingham NEC. I snapped it up! It has aromatic foliage and can have flowers in red, white, or a mixture of both. I don't really go for red flowers but I think it's just so pretty. I also bought a Nymphaea Pygmaea Helvola - Water Lily, which is a small specimen and ideal for my small pond. It already has a flower bud on it so it shouldn't be too long before it opens up.

The show was great and I really enjoyed it. The weather was fantastic so we didn't have to dodge any rain showers. It's the first time I've been to the show, but I have to say it was really well organised. The show gardens were lovely, there was something for everyone with 'grow your own' gardens, cottage gardens, herb gardens and even a nursery rhyme garden with a cat peeping out of a well (ding dong bell, pussy's in the well), roses in a ring (ring o ring of roses), you get the gist. This was my daughter's favourite. The floral marquee had some stunning displays in it and there were plenty of plants on sale. There were lots of areas where talks were held by the Gardener's World team and my daughter managed to get a photo taken of herself with Joe Swift. We all enjoyed the day.

My pond has a new resident. My hubby spotted a frog in there the other evening, but it was well under the water and hiding in the plants so we didn't get a good look at it. I'm really pleased that the pond is doing the job for which it's intended.

Disaster has struck my pepper plant. Three fruits have formed but each one has a hole bored into it near the stalk. I need to look up what may have caused this. Does anyone have any ideas?

Wednesday 10 June 2009

I've Sprung A Leek!

These are the leeks - Carlton F1 which I sowed at the end of March. They're just about ready to be planted out, but they will have to wait a little while longer as they are going to go in the bed where the potatoes are, once they have been harvested. Alot of people sow their leeks in cell trays, but I have found that sowing them in deeper plant pots is better if they are going to be hanging around before being planted out. Their roots do get a little tangled doing it this way, but so long as they're well watered before being tipped out and separated it doesn't cause any problems. A deepish hole should be dibbed in the soil and the leek placed into the hole. Instead of backfilling the hole with soil as you generally do when planting something, you just water well and then leave. As the leek grows the soil will fill in the hole itself. Remember to plant deep so that the soil will blanch the part below the ground and you end up with more of the leek being white than green.

The strawberries are coming thick and fast now much to my daughter's delight. The plants were bought at the back end of last year, so they're doing really well for their first year. Because of all the sunshine we had in May followed by heavy rainfall, the weeds in the strawberry bed have threatened to overtake the strawberry plants, so the bed has now been given a good weed and it's all spick and span again allowing lots of light to get to the strawberries to ripen them.

At last the sweetcorn has been planted out. I have followed my plan which I posted about earlier and have planted up a two sisters bed. A courgette plant and a squash plant are in the same bed as the sweetcorn, so we will have to see how they do.

The potatoes have been earthed up again. They're putting on lots of growth, so I hope things underground are going just as well. They were planted on 11th April, so they should be ready around the end of June or beginning of July.

I have flowers on my peas now and the pods are just starting to form so it won't be long before they'll be ready to pick. I have a follow-on crop which I have planted at home in toilet roll inners so they will be going in shortly.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have planted runner beans and climbing French beans at home and they're all through now. The wigwams for them to climb up have already been built at the allotment so again, they will be going in shortly.

The lilies which I planted in the flower bed at the allotment are all through and growing well. I love lilies so I'm looking forward to being able to cut them to bring home for the house. They will certainly brighten up my room!

Sunday 7 June 2009

Monkeying Around

As you can see, the Monkey Musk - Mimulus Luteus is now in flower in my small wildlife pond. You can read about my wildlife pond and setting it up in a post I made in March. Since then it has become more established and although I haven't spotted any amphibians around the pond there are plenty of insects swimming around. The Marsh Marigold - Caltha Palustris flowered almost as soon as the pond was set up and the Mini Bulrush - Typha Minima and Oenanthe Japonica Flamingo - Variegated Water Celery has put on lots of growth.

The weather over the past few days has taken a turn and we've had lots of rain so I haven't managed to get much done in the garden. The plants however have benefitted from the rainfall and everything is springing into life. In the wildlife border the Cornflower - Centaurea Cyanus, Bladder Campion - Silene Vulgaris and Lavender Munstead - Lavandula Angustifolia are flowering. I have various Fuchsia's planted in containers in the garden and most of these are now in flower after putting on lots of growth after a spring prune.

Yesterday I went to Wyevale Garden Centre and bought a Heliotrope 'Butterfly Kisses'. I have tried to grow Heliotrope from seed, however, I can't get the seeds to germinate so I've cheated. This plant is good for attracting butterflies into the garden. I also bought a Nemesia 'Vanilla Scent' which again, is good for attracting butterflies. Both of these plants are usually grown as annuals, but they are in fact tender perennials so I'm going to have a go at growing them in containers and overwintering them in the greenhouse.

The first trusses have now formed on my tomato plants so now is the time to start feeding with a high potash feed to encourage more flowers and fruit. More fruit has formed on my pepper plant, however, there is still no sign of any flowers on my aubergine.

Today has started out dry although a little dull so I'm hoping that I can manage to get to the allotment before we get any rain as I still have lots of young plants waiting to be planted out and also lots of strawberries to pick.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Brassica Cage

I'm really pleased with the brassica cage which my hubby built for me. We were lucky to have been given some scaffolding netting and the cage itself was built using canes which fit into corner joiners which we bought at the local nursery. I have now planted my cabbage - Greyhound, cauliflower - All The Year Round and brussel sprouts in this bed. I also have some broccoli and calabrese which will be planted in a seperate bed.

This lovely warm weather is doing wonders for my strawberries and they are ripening day on day. Each time we go to the allotment there are more to pick. I have an early season variety and also some which ripen later in the season so hopefully we will continue to pick them for a while now.

The sweetcorn bed is now prepared so they will be planted, along with the squash the next time I go to the allotment. My daughter wanted to plant some baby sweetcorn in her patch so she has grown some at home and they're also ready to be planted.

I chitted my parsnip seed before planting it into toilet roll inners, and they have grown well. They have now been planted at the allotment and seem to be doing ok so far. The soil contains quite alot of stones so I don't know what they will be like when they're ready to be lifted. I'm guessing that they will probably fork due to the condition of the soil, but we will have to wait and see.

The downside of this warm weather is the amount of watering I'm having to do. It doesn't help that there is no water supply at the allotment so each time we go we're filling up loads of pop bottles with water and emptying them into the water butts. It's managing to keep us in water, so far!
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