Monday, August 3

A bit of a lull

This week our harvests have been much reduced for two main reasons. The first is that the rain though very welcome has meant that we haven't made as many visits to the plot and the second reason is that we have entered into a lull between two heavy cropping periods.
The midsummer fruit crop is winding down - the summer raspberry canes that have fruited are just about ready to be cut down but happily the autumn raspberries and blackberries are tiptoeing onto the scene.
The flower harvest is stepping up with regular pickings of sweet peas. Having grown named varieties this year I want to try and keep track of which perform well so I can decide which will earn a place on next year's list.

The annual flower bed is now also providing additional cut flowers. For those of you wondering cutting back the sweet Williams didn't result in more flowers.

The first batch of peas are now finished and the next lot are not yet ready but the Carouby de Mausanne mangetout are filling the gap. We have optimistically sown some more peas as if the weather stays as cool as it has been it may well suit them.
Other than the odd pod the broad beans have finished, the climbing French and runner beans are well behind with a sprinkling of tiny beans just setting.

So far we are keeping up with the courgettes and picking them small but in anticipation of a glut, I have resurrected my "ways to use up courgettes" page on the blog sidebar.

Finally we had a little treat from the greenhouse - a few more figs.


Saturday, August 1

There's the correct way and then there's my way

Regular readers may remember seeing photographs of the lavender hedges that I have planted around a couple of our fruit beds.
I planted two sides of each hedge about six years ago using small plants raised from cuttings that I took from plants that I had originally grown from seeds collected from a couple of plants in the garden. The hedges really came about as I needed somewhere to plant all the lavenders that I had ended up with.

At the time I only had enough plants to edge two sides of each bed but recently I have raised more plants from cuttings to add to the hedge.
The only maintenance I have carried our is to clip the hedge every year and remove (or try to) the grass that has infiltrated the space between the plants. I'm hoping the weed control fabric used with the latest plantings helps to prevent this.
With this in mind you can see why I was interested when on last week's Gardeners' World, Monty Don described how he was going to plant a lavender hedge.

He was planting on heavy clay like me and so he had to improve the drainage by adding lots of sharp sand. He also suggested planting in a raised mound again to improved drainage.

He seemed to go to a lot of trouble planting his hedge. So how did I plant mine? I just dug a hole in the clay soil and popped a plant in. The plants didn't seem to mind that I had not gone to a lot of trouble and the bees seem to approve of the end result.

There is a piece of the hedge that is becoming straggly so I need to take and grow on more cuttings.

So when it comes to replanting will I do it the correct way? No- I'll do it my way

Wednesday, July 29

RHS Harlow Carr

 More photos of our visit here and video here

Monday, July 27

A couple of surprises

I really dig up the garlic the week before last but it has been drying and I only cleaned it up last week. We grew elephant garlic and a variety called Marco as this was the only varoety at the nursery when I went to buy it.

Marco has done very well and produced good sized bulbs. The opposite is true for the elephant garlic which has produced bulbs smaller that I would expect. The photo above on the left shows an elephant garlic next to  a bulb of Marco. If anything Marco on the right is the larger of the two.

One issue is that the cloves in some bulbs have split apart as shown in the photo above on the right. I'm not sure why this has happened bit the cloves still look useable.

Tuesday's harvest
We pick salad leaves and a mini cucumber each day. We also like to add a sprig of mint to our salads and sandwiches. We've found the salad leaves more useful than the whole lettuces and so have bought some more varieties of seeds to sow in the salad bar.

We almost mossed that some of the figs in the greenhouse had ripened. We actually picked ten fruits but six aren't in the photo as we thought they were over-ripe and probably useless. Happily we were wroing and they were fine.

Wednesday's harvest
The sweet peas and courgettes are now getting intto the swing and providing regular pickings.
 Friday's harvest
Friday's harvest brought a couple of surprises. Some of our berry fruit is either starting to either wind down or we have picked plenty to store in the freezer but I noticed the first few fruits had ripened on our thornless blackberry - Loch Ness. This variety always seems much earlier than the thorny varieties but the ripening of the first fruits always takes me by surprise.

In an earlier post I mentioned that the blackcurrants were smaller that usual, well now the later fruit us a much better size.

The second surprise fell to Martyn. He was clearing weeds from the concrete bed destined for planting our winter brassicas when he came across a crop of volunteer potatoes, They had produced quite a good crop of unblemished potatoes especially surprising considering the bone dry rock hard medium that they were growing in. (We are desperately hoping for some rain now to give us half a chance of planting the brassicas).

Peas and climbing beans are also struggling through lack of moisture. We try to prioritise them when watering but to give them enough would require an agricultural water cannon. 

We did manage a picking of peas and some yellow - Golden Sweet - (More pale green to me)  and green - Carouby de Maussane - mangetout.

Saturday's harvest
We lifted some of the autumn planted onions which have done really well being one crop to have thrived in the dry  conditions. Even the red variety that can be a bit temperamental have  produced good bulbs. They haven't been watered at all but still haven't died down completely. In fact this year it is hard to distinguish between the autumn and spring planted onions

Saturday, July 25

Not according to plan

Back in May I wrote a series of posts entitled "Come into the garden". The aim was to give readers an idea of the layout of our garden so I drew a little plan.

Already the plan is out of date! Note the red cross on the now outdated plan - well something has changed here. 

If you read this post that Martyn wrote then you will have some idea of what I am referring to. If you are interested he has some 'before' photos and explanations how the bed was made.

We now have a mini pebble bed at the far side (from the house) of the pond. It's been dubbed mini pebble bed as we also have a larger version at the house end of the pond.
 From the bedroom window we can just catch a glimpse of the new bed.
And here is the view from the lawn.
It isn't fully planted up yet as we want to fill it with plants that we really like rather than just buying plants for the sake of filling the space.
The first plant that we bought was  Rhodoxis - Fairy Tale and earlier this week week we visited an alpine nursery and came away with:
Oxalis - Jay
Rhodohypoxis - Slack Top
Potentilla - Eriocarpa
Campanula -  Arvatica
Corydalis - Kingfisher
Rhodohypoxis - E A Bowles
Some of the plant labels specified free drainage was important so we added a bag of grit into the top layer of soil and also popped a layer of grit in the planting hole of the plants needing good drainage.

There are not many alpine type plants flowering at the moment and we would like to see the flowers before buying so we will be on the lookout for one or two more plants, when we visit nurseries over the next few weeks.

Any suggestions for what to look out for?

Wednesday, July 22

Spots and stripes