Friday, March 30, 2012


new pics!

As I took the afternoon off yesterday I spent a good couple of hours working, in the warm sun. Fantastic.
It's difficult time of year though, even if the weather is near summer, as it is currently (well over 20 deg), it is still impossible to sow many things. So I had to be content with quite a bit of digging and tidying, sowing a few bits - more peas, including some seed swap ones - Goodlife from A4A sent me Champion of England climbers, and some Scandinavian peas (Skansk Margart, also climbers) - parsnips from my own saved seed, have to see how those go (I think they were either White Gem or Guernesey and it's a pity that I received some free parsnip seed this year when I bought my seeds) - some flowers (mixed seeds, some nigella and zinneas). I managed to shift the enormous manure pile that was cluttering up the top bed, digging in half of it and spreading half of it around to other places (my shoulders are sore today). Tidied up the flower beds and the edges. Watered as it is so warm. Actually took time to sit and admire :-)
And to take some pictures.

As usual the artichokes fascinate me. This is the 5 year old specimen - it has been divided up, then buried under a ton of manure then frozen solid in February's bid cold snap. But it's still there are going great guns:

I picked a load of sprouting broccoli, in a week it has given so many sprouts! It must be the warm weather. Unfortunately the plants are rather fragile, and have been damaged over winter, they are leaning very precariously depsite my efforts at earthing them up. I am going to try and get some seeds of this and sow more as this has been a marvellous crop, at a time when nothing else is around.

The fruit is also enjoying the sun: The raspberries have their first leaves - you can see the spiky gooseberries just behind them. A bit worried that I still have gooseberries in the freezer! Might be time to make a little jam and use them up, methinks.

First flowers on the strawberries - this one is part of 6 new plants planted last autumn.

I do like this bed, everything has gone into it bit by bit and some things accidentally! The rhubarb is in the foreground, coming up like mad now, and behind, through the cheeky white marcissus you can see the young artichoke plants. 2 were sown 18 months ago and the other one is a baby of the old plants. They look very healthy and with a bit of luck I might get one or two globes. I know that next year will be their peak and from then on I will get a lot of artichokes from them. This bed also has purple honeywort which the bumble bees love, and a rose and a lavender bush as well as wild growing mint and parsley. I sowed a little nigella and some zinnea into it yesterday too.

The rhubarb chard gave nothing over winter but it is a hardy little beggar and it's coming up again. It really was beautiful, the red veins showing clearly in the bright sun, I couldn't resist a snapshot. There are 4 plants but we've not eaten a stick of chard yet! Hopefully soon...

One last shot before going home time: The foreground (with my shadow!!!) shows the onion bed, brown Stuttgarters (or Sturon? not sure...) which are already up and the red Barons just starting on their left. On the right, you can see the garlic bed with its lush green foliage and over the back the ploughed up potato bed. One or two tiny potato leaves are coming through, once it is earthed up and mulched it will look the bees' knees. What you see on this shot is about 1/3 of the plot, the lower end, where the fruit bed is. This year it has alliums and potatoes.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Every opportunity

The sun is shining brightly and the evenings are longer and longer. While Smallest One was at music last night I popped down the lottie and in 45vminutes got a surprising amount of work done! Firstly I hoed and weeded the garlic bed, and scattered a few grains of fertiliser pellets, watering them in. The crop is looking marvellous, there are over 30 plants growing and all the shallots too have sprouted. There are less onions in this year than usual but I have plenty of other things to plant in their place!
Next, I watered the seedlings and young spring plants as it is so warm.
Then I attacked the flower bed where there is a rose bush, the lavender, some spring bulbs (narcissus) and the young artichokes. I took away the tiles that keep the side of the plot from eroding away (!), rebutted all the soil to a nice neat edge, pulled out all the bind weed I could see, and weeded thoroughly,pulling out lots of scrappy looking weeds and a few bits of plantain. There was also a fair bit of honeywort which self seeds each year. This year it is specially close to the edge and on the path so I shifted those plants around, back up properly into the bed and watered them in. There are plenty of bare patches so I will be sowing some blue nigella there later in the week, and I also have seeds of zinneas and marigolds that can go in.
I just had time to water the artichokes, tidy up the weed pile and put the tools away and it was time to go home. But time well spent!!!!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Glorious weather

The sun is shining, the trees and shrubs are putting out new leaves, the birds are singing. Spring is here with a vengeance!
Last night I popped down to the lotty, emptied the highly odourous kitchen scraps into the compost, sowed the first row of Alderman tall peas and netted them (rather casually but they will be all right to start off) and also a row of spinach before it gets too hot for it. The radishes are almost ready to pick, they got a good soaking last night and they will get another this evening. They started off with cool damp weather but now it has turned balmy they will go hard and have too much heat without a lot of water.
The shallots are romping away and the garlic looks great (needs weeding). Disappointed again by the seed onions, a few have come up but not really many. Maybe the warm spell will help them on. I would like a few to work, if only for spring onions...

Indoors, the tomatoes need pricking out, they are tall with true leaves now. The peppers and aubergines are looking really healthy! They are now several centimetres tall, and lush. It would be so nice to have a good harvest of them this year, peppers are one of my favourites. Those strange Red Egg aubergines are doing better this time, hopefully we might get to taste one this year! They are spectacular to see too.

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Monday, March 26, 2012


Hot weekend

Unusually warm weather for March, over 20 deg!!! The plants are romping away, needless to say. The onions have their little green tops, and the shallots too, bless 'em. The strawberries are getting a few leaves and even a couple of flowers here and there. Green shoots on the raspberries and gooseberries and rhubarb.
The artichokes are struggling on, I found that the other Italian artichoke, that I had thought lost, is also pushing up small shoots. It is growing in almost pure manure! Who knows whether I will get 'chokes from it but I think they will be quite something if I do!
I didn't do much as of course it was a gorgeous weekend and the family wanted to go out. But I planted the purple vitelotte spuds, that's all the spuds in now, and shifted a bit of manure about and watered a little. I need to go down later today to hoe and water and empty the very smelly compost box under my sink, so I will try to take some pics. Went over to summer time this weekend so the evenings are much longer and brighter!
Only harvest was the sprouting broccoli (delicious) and some parsley. But I have high hopes for the radish although it will need a lot of water this week before it can be picked.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012


new pics

Unfortunately these were taken Tuesday night at about 7pm so a bit dark but I just felt that pictures were long overdue.
Here is the poor artichoke, that got a ton of manure dumped on him then completely frozen. But he is a stalwart! He's still got life in him!

Then there is the purple sprouting broccoli which is actually yellow. White Eye variety:

The garlic is doing very well: planted in November this year. In the edges are shallots which are just peeking through.

And an overall view. Fleeced on the right are the radish and turnips (Snowball), netted in the foreground are the early peas. You can see the PSB in the middle there. There are various bits of cardboard thrown down to smother the weeds, probably not that effectively as I did it quite quickly before the downpour on Tuesday.

When I think that in 2007 when I took it on it was completely bare. It's come a long way.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


A quickie

A friend kindly gave me some hollyhocks from her garden, in a little tub, so I raced down after work to plant them. There was a beautiful red sunset, gorgeous. After seeing to the hollyhocks, which I have put in the herb bed for want of a better place (at least I could attach them to the wall of the shed), I also sowed some sweet peas and cloched them, sowed another row of Early Onward peas (I will put the Alderman tall peas in this weekend as I need to hammer in the stakes for those) and some more radish. The first lot are coming on well as it has been rainy and cool, they are snug under their fleece and growing nicely. The turnips beside them have also germinated very well - can you transplant turnip????
And to top it off it was the first day of spring!

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Monday, March 19, 2012


Spuds in

In a great big hurry before a downpour on Saturday morning. All the Pink Fir Apple and Claustar maincrop are in. Just have to reserve a little patch somewhere now for the purple Vitelottes that I am trying.
The Red Baron red onions also went in. Can't help feeling that there are less onions than usual. Oh well, more room for other stuff I guess.
I also sowed some beetroot and leeks (Musselburgh). As the weather is mild I am hoping they will be successful. I wanted to put in some more peas but ran out of time. I will do the main pea bed next weekend.
Spring is fast approaching, rhubarb is peeking through, even the artichokes that I had thought a hopeless case have tiny little shoots, but I think they will not be restored to their former glory this year....
The radish and turnip I sowed are doing well but the radish is not big enough to eat yet. I will plant out the turnips in a couple of weeks.
Indoors, the peppers and eggplants were pricked out into their permanent pots, they are doing very well. A little longer and the tomatoes can also be pricked out, I prefer them to be a little larger yet. As there are so many I can afford to be ruthless and only keep the best ones.
The only harvest is leeks and the white sprouting broccoli which gave use a delicious risotto on Saturday. It toughed it out over winter and is now full of sprouts of yellowish broccoli. Yum!
Soon it will be time to sow

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Monday, March 12, 2012


Spuds in!

By a grey Sunday morning the early spuds went in. Bugger - too many of them! I am going to have to squish up a bit the maincrops or there won't be enough room for everyone.
The plot is slowly waking up - the strawberries are sprouting tiny bits of greenery, the rhubarb is peeking through the ground, tulips are coming up here and there and white daffodils. The garlic is looking exceptional, very good growth. The radishes and turnip sowed 2 weeks ago have germinated quite well. But 18 day radish - it's bollocks, they are only just getting true leaves!

Anyway I fleeced a small corner and sowed Little Gem lettuce, some oak leaf lettuce, chinese cabbage and cauliflower (all year round).
2 rows of peas - Early Onward and Kelvedon - also went in under nets.

And goodlife's seeds have come through - the cabbage I was taking for kale all winter is actually purple sprouting broccoli!!! Or in this case, white. Small sprouts are poking out all over them, and I think in about a week we will have a lovely harvest of the first spring veg. I have only grown them once, but really I should do it every year. Still eating the last of the leeks too.

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Monday, March 05, 2012


rain stops play

A miserable weekend, grey and rainy. That put paid to any ideas of planting more spuds. Still, no frosts, so can't complain too much. Signs of spring are present - daffodils, crocuses, and the wild cherries are getting blossoms.
I suppose I should have checked up on the radishes and turnips, but since it's been warm then rainy, I figure that they are probably doing all right by themselves! I will pop down one morning to empty the compost box and have a mooch...
Days are getting longer too... it's light till almost 7pm now...

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Thursday, March 01, 2012


Sowing tomatoes

Finally got around to it, but it's OK, the time frame is still good. I sowed loads of the exotic tomatoes that Anja sent me in a seed swap. No ordinary ones this year! All specials! I think once again that I have sowed too many... I also did a few Gardener's Delight for friends that always want cherry tomato plants off me and a "surprise" pot from a batch of mixed seed :-)
So the list is looking like:
Bloody Butcher (extra early salad variety, 55days)
Osu Blue (a real purple blue tomato developed by Oregon State University)
Golden Beauty (Small yellow US tomato)
Golden Queen (Orange American tomato)
Yellow Butterfly (Yellow pear shaped tomato)
Mexican (Pink US variety)
Daffodel (yellow cherry, cousin of Gardener's Delight)
Green Bell Pepper (green beefsteak)
Nebraska Wedding (great name, large orange US tomato, late ripener)
Noire de Crimée
Sungold (at last!)
San Marconi Long Italian
And in my own saved seeds:
Green Tiger
Green Beefsteak
Red Beefsteak
Red and yellow beefheart
Red beefheart

Now must prevent the cat from eating them and try and get them to germinate.

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