Thursday, April 29, 2010


Rain at last!

Just when I was scraping the bottom of the water barrels it has finally rained. Phew. the lettuces are just starting to take so this will be a blessing for them.
Last night I was off work early so I went down with Smallest One and we pottered. Yeah, for an hour and a half! I hadn't seen the time go by! we were all running round like chooks with their heads off after that. Still, it was a very productive time - I earthed up the potatoes, harvested our first radishes (small but tasty, I will pick others after the rain), Then went around with the hand trowel and had a good attack at the bindweed which has come up just this last week and is already rip-roaring through the place. I have found this is as good a method as any to get it out. I have a bucket beside me and I just dig down with the trowel then pull out as much of the root as I can. It will come back but this will hinder it at least. I did that through the potatoes, down the sides, through the strawberries (where I got visiously stabbed with a gooseberry spine from a dead branch on the ground) and through the herbs and flowers. They are looking really nice just now. My little flower "wild" bed has a rose bush, a lavender bush, daffodils, honeywort, Californian poppies, a lemon balm (which I am trying to tame), and later usually pop up cornflowers, marigolds and various self seeded things :-)
So small periods of time well spent can be more productive than whole days slogging in the mud!

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Monday, April 26, 2010


Sowing pumpkins

Oh I nearly forgot to note down the pumpkins I had sown! Quite a motley lot this year, I have done:
About 8 Hooligan mini squash, I will probably give away a couple,
Harrier Butternuts,
Australian Butternuts
Queensland Blue big pumpkins
and also many yellow and green courgettes and some Aussie patty pan squash, which I particularly love.
No sign of growth yet, except for the courgettes, but they will only be indoors a short while, by early May they will be outside to romp over the hills and vales....

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Success in the garden, less indoors

Despite a very dry period that has sent me down there watering frequently, everything is going very well on the lottie. I think in fact the frequent watering has made me succeed better with the seeds than in previous years, obviously something I was not doing properly last time. The carrots are actually growing!!!! yay! And so are the radishes! In a few days I will actually be able to eat my own radish, something that has usually always failed.
Spring onions - tried two different things, growing in pots then pricking out and direct sowing. Well this year, both methods seem to be working! :-S how bizarre, I have never succeeded them before.
Potatoes - all are coming up very well. great. I will be eating those Ratte potatoes before I know it.
Now will come the hard work, digging the ground for the melons, Three Sisters and tomatoes. I am also hoping for rain as it is pretty dry out there...

Now, indoors, many things are working well, except the peppers and aubergines! They are looking yellowing and sickly! Tonight I will repot them into new pots, with new home made potting mix and see if that makes a difference. Otherwise, the tomatoes, corn and squashes are going great guns.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Seedlings - still going

I am still going on with the pricking out. Today I transferred about 20 tomato plants - there are still a fair few to do. Ideally I want to plant out about 5 rows of 6 plants, so I need about 30 plants. As I have about 6 varieties (Marmande beefsteak, Totem, Moneymaker, Pannovy and Harzfeuer salads, gardener's delight cocktail tomatoes and large yellow beefsteaks), there should be a few of each and the spares I give to friends.
The corn has come up, now just have to make sure the household feline doesn't snack on it, and I am still waiting for the courgettes and melons to come up. At the end of the week, I will start sowing the pumpkins, last home strait!!

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Hot and sunny

Unseasonally hot for April in fact - I had to wear a bleedin' HAT!
Had a few chances to tidy up well this wek, the warm weather makes everything spring up though!
I have been planting lettuce (grown from seed in my own little seedbox!!), and spring onions and sowing beetroot, spinach and parsnips. And watering a lot all the rest!. I managed to put together the other seedbox, which is now half full of brassica seedlings, more lettuce, broccoli, flowers and spinach. Nice.
Today I did two important jobs, prepared the courgette bed (just to get ahead of things): it's been spread with loads of manure and today I forked in a few shovelfuls of compost too, then covered with black plastic. Then I just have to plant the courgettes and squash straight in once they are ready! Later in the week I will do the same thing opposite it, for melons.
Other job was mulching the fruit bushes with shredded paper. That amused the neighbours...
Otherwise, it's all going swimmingly, the herbs, strawberries and rhubarb have sprung back after our harsh winter, the potatoes and onions are growing well, I have a lot of radishes that will be ready next week.
Next job: take some pictures, then tidy up the lower border and use the planks I managed to scrounge to edge them off (all the soil keeps running off otherwise), earth up the spuds which are growing vigorously now, make the melon bed I just mentioned, and go get some stable waste so I can mulch the aubergines and peppers when they are planted in a couple of weeks time. I should also be able to start sowing the early dwarf beans.

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Friday, April 16, 2010


Pricking out

What a rude word...
Anyway I spent ages last night doing this, transferring all the aubergine and pepper seedlings from trays into bigger modules, so they can grow bigger. Haven't done the tomatoes yet and I think I might need to go get some of my home made compost to do the job! It will be a big one, I have dozens of seedlings, many of which I give away (I usually plant about 30 tomatoes in season).
I also started the sowing of the tender plants:
Just got to do the pumpkins now, but as they are so invasive so quickly, I will do them next week methinks.

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Monday, April 12, 2010


Slowly improving

A good work session yesterday. Weather sunny but cool, in the end I left my coat on.
In an attempt to make it all look less unruly, I have decided that small sections are easier to look after. Little beds, set out with rocks etc seem to look much tidier. So as planned, I took some old wall tiles and made a little bed next to the water barrels. First I dug out a whole load of couch grass, bloody bastard it is too. Then I mixed some manure into the soil and then laid out a little square, not so big, about 60cm square. I then planted a few pot marigolds that have self seeded all round the place, and sowed some rocket and landcress, and there is room for some hollyhocks and a few chives. that will make a pleasant decorative corner and gets rid of all the dandelions that were squatters there.
Next, looked at the peas. They are sprouting well, those sweet little green seedlings. There were however lots of gaps in the relatively large bed (about 1/2 m2) so I filled them in by hand planting more pea seeds, one by one, hopefully that will keep me in peas for a couple of weeks at least.
Still spreading shit. No, not rumours about the Sarkozys, real cow poo :-) Creating several little mounds for squash, here and there, where they can run down the edge of the plot or along the paths.
I also:
I love spring!

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Thursday, April 08, 2010


Little by little

It is amazing what you can do in half an hour. As the weather has finally turned clement, I decided last night to go down and water the new sowings. I spent half an hour down there and managed to do all this:
Perhaps weeding like this could turn out to be time better spent than huge blocks of time, where you get frustrated and tired pulling out huge amounts of weeds?
I also looked around the top end of the plot. This is where I have sundry items like the herb bed, the water containers, and a few random flowers (lavender, a rose bush, some daffs, some mint, some annuals that pop up each year like Honey wort, marigolds and lemon balm, mostly to attract insects). It tends to get infested by grass, and the soil is gradually falling down over the path. I was wondering if I wouldn't try to make a much clearer well defined bed, with some tiles or wood to prop it up, and I was thinking of digging over a small patch (about 50x50 cm) next to the water barrels that generally just goes wild, but where I could establish a small square bed. I was thinking a mixture of flowers, like hollyhocks that could lean against the corner post, zinneas, and small crops like cress, radish (again! my radish obsession!), chives, rocket, which would create a nice "corner" to the plot and prevent soil movement all at the same time. hmmmm...

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Spuds are in!

I finally finished putting in the potatoes on Sunday morning. I had just enough space! Although I think that probably they are a bit too close together. Oh well I will just have to feed them well and mulch them so no spuds grow through the soil. The very first ones I planted back at the end of February are just peeking through, so I shall soon be earthing them up.
I sowed some more carrots (Flyaway variety), after having dug up some couch grass that is really being a nuisance along the top path. I got some of it up, I will have to persist with that over the next week or so. I surrounded the carrots with a few spare onions, since they say to do that, and I can't bear wasting even a dozen onions.
I noticed that there is quite a big space between my garlic and the onions, I obviously didn't mark them out right. So I have sowed a few spare white spring onion seeds I had left (they never seem to take! But I am eternally hopeful). There will be room there for a few lettuce probably as time goes on, so I shall leave it empty I think.
That was all I really had time for. It was still quite cold, but many things are taking off, like the artichoke and the rhubarb which are looking splendid, I think the cold winter did them a world of good.
My next challenge is to dig over and black-plastic the future courgette bed, that will be less work in May then, and to prepare the small melon bed that I am trying. I will get some fleece and try and grow some melons under a bit of cover, as I still have all that cow manure, seems a shame to not to try some greedier plants this season. I also have to get the "real" cold frame up and built so I can move all the tenders into it soon, to avoid cluttering up the house.

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