Thursday 30 August 2012

Beetroot In A Bath

I haven't managed to get a single beetroot to grow this year. The seeds I sowed direct at the allotment must have been washed away in the rain. I tried again to no avail. In the end I decided that I would sow some beetroot seeds in modules and transplant them. At first, they were going to be planted out in the ground, but seeing as how the carrots which were sown in the old bath at the allotment got eaten by slugs, I decided to plant them there. In the meantime, three seeds have germinated in the ground. The plants in the old bath look ok, but I think it's a little late to expect much from them now. If they get to golf ball size I'll be happy.

I've been looking for some purple sprouting broccoli seedlings but the garden centres all seem to do big tray fulls and I only want a few plants. One of the local markets usually sell them, but they haven't got any this year. I'm missing my local nursery already.

My tomatoes are still refusing to ripen, it's been a terrible year for them. I've got more fruit on the plants now but nowhere near as much as usual. I've decided that I'm going to have another go at growing some outdoors again next year, I don't think the results I've got this year will be typical so I'll give it another shot.

Monday 27 August 2012

A Tight Squash

My squash plants are vying for freedom. They've put on lots of green, lush growth, I expect at the cost of fruit, and the bed is looking very full. The Uchiki Kuri squash has a couple of small fruits, but the Sunburst don't seem to be even trying to produce anything. Unfortunately, I think it's too late now for any fruit to come to anything so I shall cut my losses and try again next year.

The Birthday Rose which I bought in the local nursery sale last weekend looks to be coming in to flower. It's my birthday next week so that would be lovely if it's in bloom then. It's just in a black pot at the moment, but I'd like to get a nice glazed pot for it, though the problem with decorative pots is that they don't often stand up to the weather. I'll have to have a look round and see what I can find.

It's Bank Holiday Monday today, and right on cue, the rain is coming down in buckets. We went to Brimham Rocks yesterday and did a bit of bilberry picking, you can read all about it on my Through The Keyhole Blog. I'm glad that we went yesterday rather than put it off until today, the weather being how it is. I'm hoping that the weather bucks up for the rest of the week.

Thursday 23 August 2012

There's Still Hope

I decided not to grow runner beans this year. We all favour French beans so I sowed lots of them early on in the season hoping to get a good enough harvest to freeze some for the winter months. Unfortunately, the wet summer we've had has encouraged slugs and snails to come out of hiding, and they've munched away on just about anything I planted out. The French beans came to nothing so I sowed again, but the second attempt was also in vain. I decided enough was enough, I'd better get some runner beans started, they just might do better. I believe the variety is White Lady. This photo shows what they're like now. They've just reached the top of their wigwam and now have flowers. I might still have time to harvest a crop if we get some sunshine. Incidentally, I also sowed a third batch of French beans at the same time as the runner beans and they look to be doing ok too. It's a race against time now to see if the plants will produce.

I'm now getting a steady flow of courgettes. It's not the glut I've had in previous years, but I don't mind just so long as there's something there to harvest. I've got two varieties in the ground, Mikinos which is green and Soleil which is yellow. The Soleil hasn't produced anything yet, but again, I live in hope.

Hubby has a week off work next week so I'm hoping that we'll be able to spend a little extra time at the allotment. There's so much weeding and general tidying up to do, as well as getting a patch ready for the fruit bushes I bought last weekend. The back garden is also in need a good tidy so let's hope that the weather cooperates.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Bargain Hunting

Our local nursery is closing down. It's such a shame as I've used this family run business for years, and I don't know of any other decent nurseries nearby. We've got quite a few garden centres close to where we live, but I've heard that two of those are closing down too, a sign of the times.

We visited the nursery at the weekend and as they were having a closing down sale with 50% off marked prices, managed to pick up a few bargains.

I've been wondering about adding to my patio fruit tree collection, so couldn't resist picking up a plum tree. It's a Czar which is known as a culinary plum, but with a little research I've found out that it can be used as an eating plum if the fruit is left on the tree to fully mature as the flesh becomes much sweeter. I also added another apple tree to my trolley. As I bought a red apple tree earlier in the year, I've gone for a green one this time, Golden Delicious.

I don't have much soft fruit so I thought I would remedy the situation. I bought a gooseberry, Uva-Crispa Pax, which is a red thornless variety. Gooseberries can be extremely thorny so I thought this was the best bet to avoid my arms being cut to shreds when harvesting. I also got a Tayberry which is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, and a rhubarb crown, variety Stockbridge Arrow.

I've had lavender in the garden for a number of years, but it's gone really woody. I was going to take some cuttings from it but seeing a lavender plant at the nursery with 50% discount, I decided to buy a new one instead. I'm still going to take some cuttings though, as I'd like to have some plants at the allotment to encourage the bees.

Last but not least, I got an early birthday present. I've been looking for a rose which I could grow in a container for a long time but I've been very fussy and haven't found one at a reasonable price which I've liked. The nursery was selling their half standard roses at half price, and I loved the variety The Birthday Rose so Hubby bought it for me. I'm looking forward to it blooming to see it's true colour as I don't think roses ever look the same in real life as they do in a photo.

All in all, I think I did really well with the bargains and I'm hoping for plenty of fruit to come. I just wish the nursery wasn't closing down, it's such a shame.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Not So Sweet Corn

This year was supposed to be my Year Of The Sweet Corn. Before I had my allotment, I successfully grew sweet corn in containers in the garden. The pots I used were buckets which were just slightly larger than normal utility buckets, and I potted up two plants to each container. Sweet corn is wind pollinated so I stood all the containers next to each other to help with pollination. Since I've had my allotment, things have gone downhill. I haven't managed to grow any decent sweet corn for the past three years, so at the start of the year I decided that I would go all out to produce some decent cobs this year. Unfortunately, the weather has conspired against me and it doesn't look as though I'll be harvesting anything decent off my plants yet again. Although the pollen bearing tassels have been produced and silks are showing, the actual plants themselves are only between a foot and two feet high and the cobs feel empty. The better weather we've had just lately may bring them on yet, but it doesn't seem likely.

Hubby has been tidying up the front garden this week. It tends to get overlooked in favour of the back garden and allotment, so it was in a bit of a state, even though there's only a small flower bed. I've had some crocosmia here for a few years now, but it just doesn't seem to want to flower, it obviously doesn't like it's situation. My son got the electric shears out and gave the hedge a good trim, it was desperate for it as it was so overgrown. All that's left to do now is weed between the block paving, a job I hate.

According to some news reports, today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year. It's typical then that it's clouded over and we've already had a few spots of rain. It's not surprising though, my son is just on his way out to play cricket. It's been the norm this year for rain to stop play.

Sunday 12 August 2012

One Lovely Blog

I'm thrilled to bits to have been awared the One Lovely Blog award by Mum from Mum's Simply Living Blog. Thank you Mum, I'm so pleased that you enjoy reading my blog.

The award comes with a few rules.

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
Thanks again, Mum.

2) List seven things about yourself.

3) Pass the award on to fifteen blogs.

I've listed many things about myself in the past, but thought, as this is a gardening blog, that I would list seven facts about myself with a gardening twist on things.

1. My favourite gardening tool is my Felco secateurs. I managed to pick them up in Wilko's sale with a whopping 75% off. They only cost me £10.

2. Tomatoes are the thing which I enjoy growing the most.

3. My wedding bouquet had a lilac theme and included sweet peas and fresias.

4. I got my allotment in March 2009.

5. The only indoor plants I grow are orchids.

6. I always receive something in my Christmas stocking for my garden or allotment.

7. My allotment costs me £24 per year, which I think is a bargain.

I'm supposed to pass this award on to fifteen blogs but I'm going to break the rules and pass it on to just five.

Elaine from A Woman Of The Soil
Flighty from Flighty's Plot
Sharon from Wigglywoo and Chickens too
Liz from Suburban Tomato
Caro from Urban Veg Patch

I hope that you will accept the award, though I understand if you'd rather not. I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blogs.

Friday 10 August 2012

The Start Of A Glut

I'm hoping so, anyway. It will be the only glut we get this year as everything else has failed miserably. I can't believe that at this time last year, I was filling the freezer with surplus beans, mange tout and peas ready for winter. This year, the only beans which I've managed to grow are broad beans which I've never grown before, and therefore, I only grew a dozen plants. I haven't had enough off them to squirrel any away, though I did get another good picking off them this week. I haven't had any courgettes yet, but I've got a few plants and each is now just starting to produce so I'm hoping that this is something which will do well for me.

We popped to the allotment last Sunday to check on it after our holiday and it was even worse than we feared. The shallots and red onions have rotted in the ground, and the Bedfordshire Champion onions which I grew from seed are very small, I don't think we'll get much from them. Only three parsnips have germinated from three rows which were sown, and the carrots which were sown in the old bath have been eaten by slugs. The French beans and mange tout got eaten by slugs before they even got a chance to grow and the peas never took off at all. My squash plants are still hanging in there but haven't started to flower, never mind produce fruit. The whole place is covered in weeds and will take weeks to bring back under control again. I'm finally calling it a day as far as the allotment is concerned this year. I've decided that the majority of the plot can be dug over, it will give me a head start on the preparations for winter and hopefully, we'll get a better growing year next year and I'll be all ready for it.

I'm not giving up completely. I haven't managed to get any winter brassicas growing from seed as they're something else which have been devoured by slugs, so I'm going to buy some seedlings and get them in the ground. I've also got some dwarf French bean seedlings which are looking quite healthy so I'll also plant those out, I might just catch a late crop if I'm lucky and this lovely weather continues. Why couldn't we have had a little of this sunshine earlier on in the year? It might not have come to this then.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Don't Get Excited

We came home from our holiday yesterday after having a wonderful fortnight in Cornwall. We were very lucky with the weather, it was beautiful for the duration of the first week, and although we had some rain in the second week, it didn't stop us from doing anything we wanted to do. I was straight out to the greenhouse when I got home, expecting the good weather to have brought on my tomatoes. The plants have certainly grown, and I excitedly looked for signs of tomato growth but all that's there so far is the grand total of one tomato, and as you can see, it's still a tiny thing. All hope of a decent tomato harvest is now ebbing away.

I haven't visited the allotment yet so I don't know how things have fared there. The broad beans which I harvested before my holiday were eaten with bacon and home grown potatoes, and I shall definitely grow them again next year. I'm hoping there are more to pick when I venture down there.

The tops on some of my container grown potatoes have died right back, so a couple of containers were emptied out. I got a good haul, one load for us and another load for my parents. I enjoy sharing the fruits of my labour.
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