Wednesday, July 17

The enemy

Monday, July 15

Peas and beans take over centre stage

In the garden we have now planted up the bird bath bed. The week before last we replanted the ferns and astilbe that were already growing there. They all appreciate the moist conditions produced by the splashing birds. We decided to add another astilbe and then plant annual plants towards the front of the bed. We bought a couple of different colours of impatiens and a couple of pansies. This was mainly determined by what was available in the garden centre that will tolerate partial shade. In autumn I want to add some spring bulbs. The birds seem happy with everything.
The garden contributed towards last week's harvest. The ripe cherries were thoroughly enjoyed
 We also harvested our first Mini Munch cucumber.
On the allotment we planted more winter brassicas. This time it was purple sprouting broccoli and a cabbage called Cendis. The plants had been attacked by, what we suspect was, wood pigeon whilst in the cold frame but the central growing point was undamaged so we are hoping that we will get away with it.
Martyn provided supports for the outdoor tomato plants which seem to be appreciating the extra protection afforded by the skeleton cold frame. In light of our contaminated compost problem we may be looking to these plants to provide us with our main harvest.
The salad leaves, radishes, spring onions and spinach that I sowed the week before last germinated quickly and so have been covered with enviromesh to protect against various kinds of pests. I also sowed some coriander in a fourth trough. (Video here).
I'd removed runners from the new strawberry plants once but they continued to pump out a tangled web of shoots and so I've removed runners yet again. I want the plants to build up their strength rather than waste it on making babies.
In between these and some general tidying up we have to leave time to pick berries, which can be rather time consuming.
8 July
We cut some small cauliflowers and cabbages left in our first brassica bed.  Martyn has sown some dwarf French beans in module trays to plant in the bed once it is cleared.

The plants in our second brassica bed are growing well.
11 July
We are continuing to dig early potatoes as we need them.

The first sowing of Onward peas have produced lots of pods which are now filling up and we had our first picking last week. The second lot sown are just starting to flower and the third lot should follow on. We sow our peas thickly so one job needed to keep the peas happy is to give them plenty of water. We are now back to very dry conditions and so back to regular watering duty.
12 July
The pods of our first lot of broad (fava) beans - De Monica are filling up quickly. They have grown really well this year unlike last year when they struggled. I guess we will have to start freezing them soon.

Our potato harvest included our first root of one of our trial varieties - Premiere. Due to some bad planning - see video - we may not have harvested all the tubers from the root but they certainly passed the taste test. With another early variety - Athlete - still to harvest, choosing our favourites to grow next year will be difficult as all have been extremely flavoursome.
The courgette and squash plants have, at long last started to grow. The courgettes have begun to set fruit although some of the fruits are oddly shaped. Two small fruit seemed to have an identity crisis and wanted to grow ball shaped. This is often caused by poor pollination which is probably a consequence of the poor weather this summer. I managed to cut a couple of small fruits. Now the plants have produced more flowers, hopefully the real courgette harvest will kick in.
14 June
Finally we picked cut flowers which included the first sweet peas. 
The dahlias are flowering on very short stems which doesn't really lend them to use in a vase. I also picked some godetia and achillea.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.

Saturday, July 13

A quick peep inside our garden greenhouse

It's been a while since I gave you a peek inside our garden greenhouse so as we enter a less frantic time as far as planting out on the allotment goes, I thought that we would step inside the greenhouse for a change of scene.

Just outside the greenhouse door we have planted up a couple of large tubs. In each is a salvia Amistad and an agryanthemum. These are surrounded by white impatiens and purple and white petunias.
From the doorway, we can see a row of tomato plants on the right. They are growing in the same brand of grow bags as those in the allotment greenhouse, but so far appear not to have fallen victim to herbicide contamination. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.
In here we have three grow bags each with three plants of the same variety. We have Shirley, Albenga and Sungold.

Right down at the end of the greenhouse on the bench are pots of miniature tomato plants. These are a variety called Red Robin which produces cherry tomatoes. The plants will be happy in smallish pots; all they need is to be fed and watered and require no further attention.
Just in front of the bench on the left of the path are out apricot and peach trees; sadly the nectarine is no more. In front of these is the banana plant that was infested with ants. If you're not squeamish a video is posted here. We suspect that ants have set up home in the apricot tub too and have yet to deal with this. The banana plant isn't growing as quickly this year - maybe as a result of its upset.
The peach tree has quite a few fruit ripening but they are fairly small as we probably didn't thin them out enough but it's hard to convince yourself that you should remove so many fruits.  There are no fruits on the apricot which is resting after a prolific crop last year.
 Trailing along the foot of the trees is a Mini Munch cucumber.
This year we have decided not to grow any peppers or aubergines. To be honest the amount that we crop doesn't really justify the space and attention that they require. Instead we have decided to devote the left hand staging to flowering plants. We just bought plants that we liked as we saw them - there's no real design plan other than to make it look attractive and it's working well.
Just inside the door on the left we have a column of jasmine which adds a lovely perfume when on flower. The perfume even leaves with you when you leave the greenhouse. It's growing fast and so will, soon, either need trimming or given more support. 
Just inside the door to the right we have an odds and ends area. Included here we have some modules in which some French beans have been sown and a self sown tomato plant. Martyn found this growing in one of the pots. It must have resulted from a fruit dropping off one of the plants. It was left to survive at a time when we wouldn't have considered even thinking of sowing tomato seed. It survived and so was potted on and has been left to 'do it's own thing'. We have no idea of the variety so if it bears fruit it will be a surprise.
Overlooking everything, growing in the roof space ,we have a Himrod grapevine. This fruits well every year and the vine would literally fill the greenhouse if it was allowed free rein so it has to be regularly kept in check. It produces an abundance of sweet seedless grapes which we don't bother to thin. They actually seem to have fruit well spaced out which makes thinning unnecessary.
Finally on leaving the greenhouse we must remember to put the wire screen in place to try and keep the birds out.
If you'd like a closer look around our greenhouse, Martyn has posted a video here.

Wednesday, July 10

Lovely new hunting ground


Monday, July 8

Enjoying a strawberry feast

Firstly an update on our tomato problem. The garden greenhouse tomatoes are as yet unaffected by the suspected grow bag contamination, but several plants in the allotment greenhouse are showing symptoms of varying degrees. I contacted both the manufacturer of the grow bags and the manufacturer of the weedkiller suspected to be the source of the contamination. The compost makers initially asked for photographs which I would have sent on first contact but online forms don't allow for this. These were emailed along with a link to the video that we have produced. The video can be viewed here. This was followed up with a request for a sample of compost for analysis which we are providing. This isn't as simple as it seems as the contamination could be present in a certain part of the bag which we could easily have missed when gathering the sample. Also previous information from the RHS and other sources state that testing is extremely difficult as a tiny unquantifiable trace can affect plants. 

The pesticide manufacturer, that now trades under the name Corteva, also requested photos and state that they will be in dialogue with compost manufacturers. They have asked me to keep them informed of any dialogue that I have with the compost company and have also offered a visit from one of their senior biology experts. We intend to take up their offer. I would urge anyone who suspects that they have been affected in a similar way to contact the companies concerned as it is the only way to make them understand that there is a problem.

Anyway enough of that and back to 'proper' gardening matters.

Work levels are easing off a little on the allotment so we are able to concentrate more on the garden. We are going through a phase of needing to renovate parts of the garden. One main border has been completed and shown in a video here. Next in line is an overgrown shrub border which is being cleared.
Martyn also cut back a garrya that had become too big and was casting too much shade.
We have a small bed which we refer to as the bird bath bed that is situated just outside our dining room window. It was starting to look very boring throughout the year. It used to be a mass of small daffodil flowers in spring but the bulbs seem to have disappeared, an overall was needed. Everything was dug out and the soil replenished. The bird bath was moved slightly and the ferns and an astilbe replanted. Now all we need is a garden centre visit to acquire more plants to complete the job.
On the allotment other than some general tidying and of course harvesting which we will come to later, we have focused on a mini project. Despite, Martyn managing to dig over our old strawberry bed which at the beginning of the season looked like this.
The soil dried out again and still wouldn't break down, so we covered it with weed control fabric topped with a thick mulch of partially decomposed wood chippings. The mulch will be incorporated into the soil when the fabric is removed come autumn/winter time. We still wanted to make use of this area so we decided to grow things in containers and grow bags placed on top of the mulch.
So far we have sown, beetroot, swede, parsnips and spring onions in the crates and radish, spinach and various salad leaves in the bags. We already had troughs of alpine strawberries elsewhere on the plot and intend to sow coriander in another trough.

I sowed more salad leaves in our salad bar in the garden. This is handy for when we decide at the last minute that we want some leaves for our lunch.
On to the harvesting. Other than a regular supply of salad leaves and herbs, we  had one small treat from the garden, just a taster of ripe cherries provided by Stella - our ghost of summer's past tree. They were a delicious treat and there's more to come.
The ever present wood pigeons are always watchful, waiting for us to forget to protect precious crops both in the garden and, in greater numbers, on the allotment.
It's berry picking time at the allotment and the recently planted strawberry bed is the star performer. The raspberry harvest is down on last year as is the jostaberry harvest. I don't think I can blame the wood pigeons although jostaberries are one of their favourites. I just don't think they have produced as much fruit as usual.
2 July
 The overwintered onions are variable in size but all usable.
4 July
We are still harvesting cabbages and cauliflowers. The cabbage above was destined for an Ethiopian Cabbage recipe.
6 July
We had four firsts of the season in last week's harvest, black raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and broad beans.
By the way, if you fancy a look around our garden greenhouse, Martyn posted a video here

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

By the wayWalton's are running a competition to win a shed which you may be interested in entering - if so it can be found here.

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.