Sunday 25 October 2009

The 'C' Word

Dare I mention Christmas yet? These are the potatoes which I'm growing in containers, hoping to get some lovely new potatoes for Christmas dinner. I saved a few of my Kestrel tubers which I bought in the spring and kept them in the salad drawer in the fridge. They've now been planted up in a container, and as you can see, are growing well. They've been earthed up as they have grown and the compost has now reached the top of the container. Now that we keep getting risks of frost I have moved the container into the greenhouse as it's important they don't get frosted. I've never grown potatoes at this time of year before so the results will be interesting.

I hate to admit that I still haven't got my hanging baskets planted up. I did start to make an effort today, but the weather was awful, it has rained all day. I thought I would bring everything into the kitchen and do them in there, but the plants were rather soggy after being out in the rain, so I have moved them into the greenhouse to dry out a little. I'm hoping to have some spare time this week as the kids are on half term, so I'll do them then. Watch this space!

Wednesday 21 October 2009

On And On And On......

As you can see, my runner beans are still flowering, though now that the colder weather is upon us I doubt if these flowers will come to anything. They're a variety called Scarlet Emperor and have been very productive. I have picked more beans today, they just seem to go on and on and on, hence the title of this post. There are still more beans maturing on the plants, but as soon as we get a proper frost it will be the end of them. I pulled up the French beans at the weekend. I had my last harvest from them last week when flowers were still to be seen on the plants, but the cold weather finished them off.

The area of the allotment which has been used this year is in much better condition now than when we took it on. It's so much easier to dig than the area which has been left untouched. That area is back breaking to dig over. I'm trying to get out as many of the stubborn weeds as I can, and then hubby is going to dig over the area getting the rest of the weeds out as he goes. Well, that's my plan, he doesn't know it yet.

Lots of seed catalogues have been dropping through the letterbox, and I have been pondering over which potatoes to grow next year. I wasn't very successful this year as alot of the potatoes had slug damage. Charlotte seemed to do well, and they're known as having a good resistance to slugs, but I wasn't over keen on the taste so I'm looking for alternatives for next year. I'd like to have a go at International Kidney, but apart from that I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Smiling Faces

Pansies always remind me of smiling faces. I don't often have them in summer, preferring the smaller Viola, but usually have them through winter as they hold up to the weather so well. I was supposed to have my winter hanging baskets planted up by now, but they're still not done. I managed to buy the flowers for them yesterday, but have been so busy that I never got round to that job. As you can see, I did buy some Pansies, but also chose some Violas for the baskets. I had wanted some really pale yellow ones, but didn't manage to find any so I've decided that I will grow my own next year so that I can choose exactly what I want. The pansies will go in other containers.

Another job I was supposed to be doing was planting my spring bulbs. I have got some Fritillary's which I thought would look nice around the pond area. I've got a few of them there already but thought I would add to them. I've also got some Narcissus - Minnow which are a multi headed variety, and fragrant. I want to finish tidying up the border before I plant the bulbs, but I will leave some old foliage there for insects to take shelter in during winter, after all, it is supposed to be a wildlife border.

One job which I did manage to do in the garden was emptying out all the containers which held the summer bedding plants. The contents were taken to the allotment and put on the compost heap there, as the bin in the garden is full.

A few weeks ago we visited Wyevale garden centre. They were advertising a bulb growing competition for children. They could take three tulip bulbs of either Pinocchio or Red Riding Hood and they have to plant them and record the progress in scrapbook form. The scrapbook should be handed in next year after the tulips have bloomed, and there are gardening related prizes. My daughter thought she would give it a go, so took three bulbs. The problem is, we can't remember which variety she chose. Still, it will be fun finding out when they eventually bloom. So this is another job on the 'to do' list. Obviously, it is a job which my daughter will be doing without help from me, but I still need to sort her a container out and get her some compost to use. I don't know where time goes.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Making Notes

I have always made notes about my garden. I make notes about when I plant seeds, what I have planted, how long they take to germinate, when I pot them on, when I plant them out etc. As well as making notes I keep any articles which I find interesting, or ones which I think I may want to refer back to at a later date. These are tucked inside my note book. This year I bought myself a second book to keep my garden and allotment notes seperate. The notes I have made this year will help me to plan for next year. I noticed that my allotment neighbour had alot of his plants out on the allotment alot sooner than I did, and he had a great harvest. As I didn't get my allotment until March I obviously was a little late in sowing things which could have been sown earlier, but my notes will help me plan the earlier sowings next year.

We spent part of Saturday at the allotment. I pulled up the courgette plant which has now given up the ghost, and picked more French and runner beans. There are still flowers on both of the beans but now that the weather has cooled down I don't think they will last much longer.

I enlisted my hubby's help to dig, whilst I dug out some of the more thuggish weeds from the top part of the plot. This is the part which hasn't yet been touched, but I'm hoping to get the whole of the allotment dug over before winter sets in so that the whole of it can be used next year. There's still alot to do, and now that the darker nights are here we don't have as much time to spend there as we did in summer. I'm hoping that the weather holds out a little longer as it will be tough going once the frosts are here.

Sunday 11 October 2009

The Last Of The Blooms

There isn't alot left flowering in my garden now. I seem to have a riot of colour in summer but as soon as the cooler weather arrives there isn't alot of interest. One of the plants which is still flowering is Cheiranthus Cheiri - Wild Wallflower. This was bought in April as a very young plant and it quickly established itself. It has flowered all through the summer and is still going strong. My Fuchsia's are also still flowering. I have quite a few Fuchsia's so these always give some late colour to the garden. I think I will have to look for some plants which flower a little later next year to add some blooms to the autumn garden.

I have cleared away my tomato plants. They hadn't quite finished fruiting but as the cooler weather has now arrived I need the greenhouse space to house my more tender plants. As my greenhouse is only 4x6 I can't afford the space for both. My tomatoes have performed really well this year and I'm really pleased with the amount I've harvested from four plants, certainly more than I would buy if I wasn't growing my own.

I had intended to get my winter hanging baskets planted up this week, however, I haven't had time to go and buy the plants so that hasn't happened. Last year they were just planted up with Pansies and I think I will do the same again this year. They go on blooming right through winter and they still look good in all weather, even snow.

I have started clearing away all the summer bedding plants, well, I say I have, what I really mean is that I enlisted hubby's help in doing this. Unfortunately, the compost bin in the garden is now full so that's something else which has been put on hold. The rest of the summer bedding will be pulled up during this week and taken to the compost bin at the allotment.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Halloween's Sorted

My son planted a pumpkin in the hope that he would have something good to carve for Halloween. The plant certainly grew well, sprawling out all over the place, but unfortunately it only produced one pumpkin and it grew in a sort of elongated shape rather than round, as you can see. If he does carve it for Halloween I think it will have to stand on it's side rather than it's end. We're going to have a go at growing a different variety next year. My daughter chose mini pumpkins - Hooligan. Her plant produced four tiny pumpkins which, according to the seed packet, can be microwaved. We haven't tried them yet but I will let you know what they're like once we do.

I had hoped to spend a good few hours at the allotment on Saturday, digging over the beds and generally tidying up, but the weather was against me. We had such high winds here, and also drizzle, so I decided on a day indoors instead. I was working on Sunday so I didn't manage to get down then either. There's so much to do before winter sets in, but now that the evenings are getting darker much quicker, I'm finding it harder to spend any time down there during the week.

We had a good downpour yesterday after weeks without any proper rain. It didn't seem to stop all day, so it will have given everything a much needed watering. Hopefully, it will have softened the soil ready to dig too, as it's been hard going trying to get the spade in.

I've been really pleased with my beans, both runners and French, as they've given us a huge crop. They're on their last legs now though, so they'll soon be coming out. I'll leave the roots where they are so that they can fix nitrogen in the soil.

The allotment bill dropped through my letterbox the other day. I'm charged £20.00 for the year which I don't think is bad at all. It's not a full sized plot, but I know of many other people who pay alot more for their allotment. We don't have water on site so we don't have to pay for that, but I think it's a bargain to be able to grow my own food.

Sunday 4 October 2009


I've waited such a long time for my peppers to ripen, and at last they are doing so. I have some yellow ones, and lots of green ones which are still on the plant, but showing signs of turning yellow too. They should ripen before the really bad weather sets in.

Speaking of bad weather, yesterday was so blustery that lots of my containers in the garden were blown over, and the bird table was too. We had a little drizzle on Friday, but haven't had a downpour for weeks now. I'm still having to water the containers in the garden regularly.

Most of the bedding plants have now died back so this week I will be having another tidy up in the garden and emptying all the annual containers. My winter hanging baskets have usually been planted up at this time of year, but I haven't even bought the plants for them yet. I think this will be another job for the coming week.

I'm experimenting this year by trying to grow some new potatoes for Christmas dinner. I held back a few Kestrel tubers which I bought at the start of the season, and kept them in the salad drawer of the fridge. These are a first or second early potato, depending on which supplier you take notice of as they're described as both. I've planted them in a container and they're growing already. I'm watching for frosts as the container will have to be moved into the greenhouse at this point. I've never done this before so I'll let you know how I get on. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
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