Archive for ‘Gardening: General’

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spuds!!

Excitement! My very first crop of homegrown potatoes!

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These ones were grown from potatoes left over from a bag bought in a shop – I also used ‘proper’ seed potatoes but this just happened to be the lot that I tipped out today. Grown in a flower bucket – the ones that are used in florists and some shops sell off very cheaply (in my case about 20 for 99p!), and this is the haul from one bucket.

I’ve also been harvesting courgettes (LOTS of courgettes!), radish, rocket, lettuce, a few peas, and lots of fresh herbs. No beans, as I planted them terribly late (I have hope yet), and the tomatoes are growing rather slowly for my taste – they are just starting to grow fruits now. I also have garlic and a few pepper (capsicum) plants in the plastic greenhouse which have begun to fruit, but whether or not they’ll ripen to red is luck!

This year I’m also hoping to grow a few basic veggies into the winter – I have leeks on the go and I’m about to plant (late) some chard and kale. I’ll also put in some spinach in September.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Break in the Garden

Well, so far my crossed fingers have worked and the weather has held up okay for me to work in the garden this week (I have two weeks off work). Mostly it’s just tidying up, washing pots, freshening up existing plants etc. For the rest of the week I’m aiming to get the patio tidy and all those random stacks of plant pots moved out of the way, peas planted, and the greenhouse up. We’ll see!

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Overall view of the patio – as you can see, a fair bit of tidying up to do! The green plastic over the table is my greenhouse cover, which I’m hoping to put together this week.

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A collection of pots on the patio: herbs (oregano and rosemary) – I’ve cleared this out ready to plant more so it looks a little bare at the moment; garlic (shop bought and saved from last year’s crop – to compare the two); and my little blueberry bush – it looks a bit forlorn to me, but it was pretty much just thrown in a pot, at least it’s still alive!

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My strawberry planters – before and after tidying up! I found a MASS of slug eggs and some other icky looking bugs in the pots last week so decided to uproot the lot, tidy them all up and repot in fresh compost. They look a lot better now, if a little thin on the ground, but they’ll fill the space quickly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grapevine Seed Swap

I got my grapevine ‘pass the parcel’ seed swap package today. The idea is that one package of seeds goes from one person to another in turn, each taking out what they fancy and replacing with an equal number of packets. It’s a fantastic idea and great for finding new things :)

Out of the package I got:

Courgette All Green Bush
Mizuna (salad leaves)
‘Exploding Cucumber’ (sold by realseeds… just gotta try it!)
Aubergine Rotonda Bianca
Chard White Silver
Cucumber Crystal Lemon
Runner Bean White Lady
Foxgloves (might do well in my north facing front garden?)
Tomato Red Alert

In return I put back 11 packets of varying seeds – some herbs, squash, beans and various other things. I tried to make it as interesting as possible!

This kind of thing is well worth a go if you ever get the chance :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Growing Season Commences!

It seems like I’m a long way behind on this this year, but really, it’s been so cold that I think many people have put off their seed sowing. I’m planning on sowing things straight into the beds outside this year, where possible, so have to wait a bit!

Over the last week I’ve been pottering around tidying up the garden – half an hour here and there. The beds have been weeded, dug over and fertilised with (boxed, not fresh!) chicken poo, the herb and blueberry pots have been tidied up, garlic planted, and pots retrieved from where they’ve been blown right to the end of the garden. Unfortunately bed 1 (next to the shed) is absolutely *riddled* with what I think is horsetail – I’ve as much chance of getting it all out as I have of finding every slug in the garden! So I’ll just have to try and keep on top of the weeding. Apart from that the soil is in beautiful condition – all that work 2 years ago paid off!

The next job is to rinse out all the pots (a job I hate doing.. spiders!) and make stacks of ones I’ll use, damaged ones to be thrown away, and some for freecycle as I have too many. I also have a plan to clear off a section of worktop in the kitchen to use for potting up / holding seedling trays when not in use. It’s in a corner, seperate from where we prepare food, and is a general dumping ground for things like boxes of cereal, alcohol/squash bottles, and lots of random bits and pieces, so it would make sense to give it a proper purpose.

Then of course, there’s the sowing. I meant to do some today but didn’t get round to it. The first to go in will be herbs – lots of them, as I want to establish a patio herb ‘garden’, and a few tomatoes and chillis. I also want to weed (that makes it sound like a delicate little sunday afternoon job where really it’s hacking away at triffids!) the front garden and sow some flower seeds. I’m still really not a flower ‘person’ but some colour would be nice – I do love sunflowers though :) I’ll be planting a few flowers here and there in the back garden too, to attract bees and whatnot, although it will be a squeeze as we don’t have flowerbeds as such, I just have my 2 small veg beds and the patio pots.

Come on, Spring!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seed Swaps List 2009

Offer:

Basil: Ararat U
Basil: Cinnamon U
Basil: Greek U
Basil: Lemon U
Basil: Lettuce Leaf U
Basil: Purple U
Broad Bean – Bunyards Exhibition
Broccoli: Calabrese U
Broccoli: Early Purple Sprouting U
Broccoli: Early White Sprouting U
Bush/Dwarf Bean – Brittle Wax (yellow)
Bush/Dwarf Bean – Cobra
Bush/Dwarf Bean – Ferrari
Bush/Dwarf Bean – Kinghorn Wax (yellow)
Bush/Dwarf Bean – Kitchen Favourite
Bush/Dwarf Bean – Purple Teepee
Bush/Dwarf Bean – the Prince
Carrot: Chantenay Red Cored U
Carrot: Fly Away F
Cauliflower: All Year Round F
Chilli: Cayenne U
Chives: blank foil pack F
Chives: Garlic F
Coriander (blank foil packs, one U two F)
Florence Fennel: U
Gherkin: Parisian Pickling F
Gourds: small fruited mixture (no idea if these are edible or not – decorative squash) F
Lettuce: Lollo Rossa F
Melon: Emir F1 (RealSeeds: suitable for UK) U
Melon: Minnesota Midget U
Parsnip: Hollow Crown (last year’s) U
Pepperoncini U
Radish : Scarlet Globe U
Radish Ostergruss Rosa 2 (purple) F
Radish: Flamboyant F
Radish: Icicle (white) F
Squash: Butternut U
Squash: Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato (acorn) U
Squash: Waltham Butternut U
Sweet Pepper: Corno (blank foil pack F)
Tomato: Costoluto Fiorentino U
Tomato: Sub Arctic Plenty F

Wishlist:

Edibles/Herbs:
chamomile
perennial herbs (not rosemary/mint/thyme/oregano)
mixed salad leaves (not spicy/bitter ones.. just the basic stuff)
red spring onions
‘calliope’ or ‘mini bambino’ aubergine
elephant garlic (will swap more for this due to postage, obviously)

Flowers:
Platycodon grandiflora Fuji White
Sempervivum
Silene colorata Dwarf Pink Star
african daisy.. and similar ‘daisy’ looking plants
cactus/carnivorous plants/other spikey things
any other easy to grow, throw on the ground and leave to it flowers!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Garlic, and other musings.

I finally made it out into the garden today to plant my garlic. The bulbs from last year did well, and I still had 2 hanging in the kitchen (still absolutely fine to eat, I’m happy to say) so one of those got split up and replanted, along with 1 bulb bought fresh from Wilkinsons (and I have some left over). They just went in large pots (reusing the same compost from last year that had held carrots and onions), with fleece to cover.

At the same time I noticed a few familiar looking shoots amongst the self-propagated strawberry runners that had made their way into last year’s garlic pots – 2 bulbs from last year had somehow escaped harvest and were growing well. One of those I split up carefully and popped into a barely-used growbag (from a courgette that decided it just didn’t want to grow), the other I’ve popped into a pot whole to grow on indoors – I believe you can use the young shoots for cooking, and it’ll be interesting to see how it grows anyway :)

Finally, I tidied up my herb pot a little – rosemary and oregano have both survived the winter, and are starting to regrow, so I got rid of the dead bits to give them a bit more room.

This year I’m actually planning on scaling down the garden, but doing it in a more carefully planned way. Carrots and onions I won’t bother with as they both need too much room for their yield. Courgettes and tomatoes I’ll definitely be growing, as usual, as buying decent ones in the shops is expensive. Fresh beans and peas are another thing I love, so they’re another definite. I need to look through my notes from last year to see which variety of cucumber it was that I was impressed with, and I might grow one or two chilli plants – and only one or two! I love how they look but I really don’t use chillis much ;) The main thing I want to do this year is to see if I can get a decent salad crop, as last year was disastrous – it’s *so* cheap to grow lettuce leaves, baby spinach, spring onions etc and so expensive to buy them!

And finally, indoors I hope to get myself a venus fly trap plant and a bonsai tree. I love them and have been yearning for one for years, so this year I might treat myself!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Garden Roundup 2008

I’ve just had a quick nosey round the garden, as the season is coming to it’s end.

The courgettes have produced well, and would most likely have done better if I had harvested more frequently. I’d be happy to use these same varieties again next year.
Varieties: Tricolour (lots of round fruit, not much tricolouring going on though!), Gold Rush (nice tasting yellow fruits), Black Forest (climber – did okay but didn’t climb!)

The tomatoes have been producing small amounts, and now every plant is laden with unripe fruit. I’ve taken some fully grown but unripe tomatoes to ripen indoors on a windowsill, the rest will be left for another couple of weeks and if not ripe by then will get the same treatment.
Varieties: Gardener’s Delight (prolific, and I like the taste), Golden Sunrise (pleasant surprise – large fruits ripened well even in poor weather, taste good), Gartenperle (look nice in pots, but taste of nothing), Ildi (millions of unripe fruit on the plant at the moment!)

The beans did quite well too , again could have done with a bit more frequent watering and harvesting. Unfortunatly I can’t remember which of the french bean varieties I planted! Borlotta ‘firetongue’ is currently laden with beautiful purple-speckled pods, this is probably one you’d need to grow in large quantities for any real harvest of beans).

The chillies did fabulously as indoor plants – a couple of plants produced more than enough Jalapenos, while my single Bolivian Rainbow plant has just been brought indoors, covered in tiny bright purple chillies.

The cucumbers did okay in the end, despite my poor handling – the ‘keeper’ was definitely Mini White from realseeds, which produced tasty, juicy fruit. Crystal Apple produced some nice looking fruit, but I didn’t get round to removing the male flowers, so they were inedibly bitter.

The real surprise of the summer was aubergine Calliope, which produced loads of small, beautifully coloured, tasty aubergines – grown in patio pots in an appaling summer! I also had Mini Bambino, which looked promising – the plants are covered in tiny fruits, so with some proper care and ‘thinning’ to concentrate the plants energy, I’m sure they’d do really well.

I tried several varieties of peas, the most prolific being Meteor and Kelvedon Wonder. I also grew some sugar snap peas, but didn’t plan the planting position quite right so they never thrived.

Finally, I surprised myself with decent harvests of onions, grown from Wilkos cheapest sets, and garlic, the same. The garlic was planted late but still formed nice heads with lots of cloves, and the onions spent their entire lives in ‘temporary’ cramped pot accomodation, yet still did well!

As for the non-successes… well… I never expected melon Emir to do well, and gave up on that after the greenhouse blew down for the second time. Tomatillo ‘de milpa’ produced huge, strong plants – which I abandoned to dry out in their pots. I gave up on squash due to lack of room, and the carrots grew verrrry slowly. The various salad leaves did okay, but were attacked horribly by slugs – next year I’ll stick to containers.

And that’s it for another year of garden veg growing. The allotment was a non starter and as soon as I can be bothered to return the key (to the miles-away-from-anywhere office) I’ll give it up for someone else.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Harvest

Veggies harvested from the garden, 28/07/08.

Despite my neglect, I managed to collect this little lot yesterday – green and yellow courgettes, fine beans, red and white onions, garlic, mini red peppers, cucumbers, baby carrots, large chillies for stuffing, and small aubergines. Everything has been grown in containers on the patio, which I think proves that with some proper care you could get some great results from container gardening.

The aubergines (‘Calliope’) have to be the most impressive – growing in this summer’s terrible cold, wet weather, sometimes indoors, but always in far-too-small pots. I’m going to try and pot them up this week, but no promises!

(unfortunatly, the cukes turned out to be bitter – I’ve now been educated about taking off the male flowers!)

And, from last month, the first jalapeno harvest – pickled with onions, carrots, spices and vinegar for some hopefully delicious ‘nacho rings’. I’ve never bottled anything before so hopefully I’ve done it right!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I haven’t posted in a while, as frankly I haven’t felt I’ve anything to post about! But…

The greenhouse has been re-erected, with the help of a spare frame from freecycle. I actually ended up using many of the donated poles as they were stronger and less inclined to bend! It’s now filled with 6 ot 7 chilli/pepper plants, 2 huge tomatillo plants (in flower, but not seeing fruit yet), 2 large aubergine plants, some tomatoes, and some more aubergines which were ‘spares’, but I might pot them up if i have room, as they seem so healthy.

As for the rest of the garden -strawberries are growing, though not ripe, peas have started picking, beans are growing (still need to plant some dwarfs), onions and garlic are growing away, carrots too, though slowly, and need thinning which im scared to do ;) I’ve also got courgettes which are getting pretty big and about to go into their final pots/growbags, tomatoes (some in their final position looking a bit sickly =/ and more to put out into big pots). I’ve had plenty of salad leaves and radish, time to put some more in.

I’ve also decided to (re)learn to sew with a machine. I learnt in school but have probably forgotten all I knew! We managed to pick up a decent looking Singer machine for £18 at a carboot sale today… on the basis that it works we’ll both be very happy: Chris does live action roleplay, and loves making costume – and I’d love to make things like cloth sanitary towels. I’ve decided to start with a shopping bag – it should be quite easy, and I have some fabric in the shape of a charity shop tablecloth i nabbed for £1.

On the subject of cloth sanitary towels… my period is kicking my arse at the moment. For a couple of years taking the pill got rid of 95% of the symptoms I used to have (mostly tiredness/dizziness.. feeling like I had the flu)… but they seem to be returning. I’ve been using my mooncup less simply because using anything internally makes my cramps worse, but normal pads are both rather uncomfortable when it’s hot, and horrible contributors to landfill. Which is why im hoping to make some cloth ones. These days my flow isn’t all that heavy anyway, so it won’t have too much ‘ick’ factor. It also means I can customise them to my body shape – at the moment I generally buy the ‘night’ ones for the length, but the absorbency is way higher than I need and I frequently throw away towels with just a few spots on them, which seems really wasteful.

And, leading on from that again – today I went on a bike for the first time ever! I’m hoping to learn for both environmental and health/excercise reasons. It was rather scary but I think I did okay for a first time – using Chris’ mum’s bike with a lower crossbar (‘step through’ frame) meant most of the time I could hop off the saddle and just about remain standing, rather than falling off and hurting myself ;) However, doing this, and thus repeatedly banging your most sensitive parts into the front of the saddle, while having period cramps anyway, is not a good idea *winces*

I’m off work tomorrow so I think I’ll be popping into ashby for bag lining material, playing about with the sewing machine, working in the garden, and playing Guitar Hero on the playstation2 ;)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Few Things…

On Tuesday (06/05/2008) my sister had another baby boy, named Billy, by c-section. He was very (6 weeks) early, like his brother, but seems to be healthy. My mum hasn’t seen him yet as due to hospital infections etc only the parents are allowed in the room ‘o’ babies. I’m going down to Brighton on the 22nd, hopefully he’ll be out by then.

On Wednesday, we had an attempted fraud at work. As I was the cashier who dealt with the guy, I got to stay almost an hour late to give the police a statement. Bah.

On Friday, some numbskull asked for a receipt at the paying in machine. The receipt was then left lying around for anyone to find – it included the persons name, account number, address, signature, and the fact that they’d paid in a 5k cheque. No wonder we have so much fraud.

On the bright side, however, I’m off work for the next 15 days, it’s hot and sunny, and the plants are doing fantastically. The peas have all burst into flower, as have the strawberries, and the tomatoes are developing their first trusses so need putting in their final pots ASAP. Despite not having a greenhouse, heated propagator etc, I’ve managed to get EVERYTHING to germinate this year – including chillies, peppers, squash, cucumbers and melons. The challenge will be to actually grow them… and to find space!

I’ve just started planning my time off as I don’t want to waste it doing nothing.

Sun 11th – Plant out sunflowers, cut grass edging bed, mow? plant more peas?
Mon 12th – Various errands to run in town
Tues 13th – Driving lesson
Wed 14th – Driving Exam
Thurs 15th
Fri 16th – My birthday! Kethry arrives, out for dinner
Sat 17th – with keth, out somewhere, possibly the seaside, possibly Lincoln
Sun 18th – as above
Mon 19th – keth goes home :(
Tues 20th
Wed 21st
Thurs 22nd – Travel to Brighton
Mon 23rd – Back from Brighton

I’ve been offered a new allotment, which I have yet to even look at. So tomorrow I think I’ll head down there to check it out, and then up to the council office (which is in a rather out of the way place and only open mon-fri, 9-5. Handy for those of us who have full time jobs) to sign for it. At the moment, I don’t really have any enthusiasm for it .. the thought of starting over now it’s hot and things should have already been planted is horrible. I don’t know. I might end up covering the lot in plastic and just planting spuds or something this year, and gradually working bits over.