Sunday, June 5

You may not believe it but …

Looking at the contents of our plant waiting room (cold frame) at the moment you could be forgiven for thinking that we haven't made any effort to plant out anything yet. It’s still looks crammed full with plants but what you have to realise is that these are different plants to the ones in the last photo.
We seem to be missing any rain that comes towards us from any direction - we’ve had some slight dribbly stuff but nothing to change the fact that our soil is bone dry but the wind at least has granted us a bit of a respite so we decided to get planting.

The planting method that we are employing at the moment is to dig a hole as quickly as possible with the trowel - quickly because the hole fills up almost as quickly as we can dig it, then to pop in the plant and fill the planting hole with water. Then the hole is refilled with soil and the plant firmed by which stage the water has been absorbed enough to prevent my gloves becoming a soggy mess. Hopefully this way the plants have access to moisture at root level and not being on the surface the moisture shouldn’t evaporate as quickly.

So what have we managed to plant? First was a selection of cabbages and sprouts. As these like to be in firm ground I made sure I firmed them in really well. These were also covered with insect mesh netting to hopefully foil the wood pigeons that sit on the telegraph wires waiting for us to leave so they can swoop down and devastate any choice greens. Being insect mesh this also doubles as protection against the cabbage white butterflies which will try to invade anything left by the wood pigeons. Unfortunately it doesn’t keep off the clouds of whitefly that no doubt will soon descend.

While I was busily dealing with the brassicas, Martyn planted the first of our courgettes. He did do lots of other things too like tilling the bed where the dahlias were to be planted.
Once the bed was prepared the 30 dahlias that we grew from seed this year were planted alongside the dahlias that had survived the winter. Originally we thought that we had lost all last year’s tubers. Last year we planted one tuber of each of our dahlia varieties in the ground and we piled all the duplicate tubers on top of them and covered with a pile of straw and black polythene. We weren't too bothered about the duplicates as we wanted to plant some different colours. When we first uncovered the pile we thought as Martyn reported in his blog that all the tubers had rotted but we later discovered that most of the ones that were planted are producing shoots.

Another lot of broad beans have been planted out. These are the third lot - all the other broad beans are flowering and I planted surrounded by the beautiful scent of those planted earlier - no wonder the bees love them. Don’t you think that the flowers look a bit like bumble bees? The crimson flowered ones have also attracted the attention of some of our plot neighbours.

After erecting the great wall (well bamboo thingy) of Green Lane I planted dozens of sweet peas. I didn’t intend to have dozens - it just turned out that way. I usually buy a couple of packets but this year decided to also try a  short growing variety. As these were unavailable the seed company substituted some tall ones and we found another packet in a magazine. Then my plot neighbour ran out of room and gave me her leftovers too. If they all grow we will have a beautiful wall of colour - must keep them watered.
While I dealt with the sweet peas Martyn planted our first lot of runner beans and lots of lettuce.
Back in the garden I planted out the penstemon collection that had grown on in the greenhouse so the bed at the front of the house, although not fully planted yet, is filling up nicely.
Martyn has also planted up some tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and melon in some air pots that we are trying for the first time. We are going to risk some tomatoes outside in the garden and hope we don’t have a blight problem there.
Just a quick update on the new fruit
The nectarine fruitlets are hanging on and growing and the Issai kiwi seems to have set fruit. More on this later.
And another bit of news
We spotted a new bird to our garden this week - a male bullfinch - we have seen it twice - once when we were outside without a camera to hand and then yesterday when we were looking out of the house window. We had a camera this time but the bird wasn't very accommodating and hid behind a branch so the camera focussed on the branch - click here for one shot we managed. Hope if he becomes a regular visitor he doesn't cause trouble by pecking off our fruit and flower buds. Forgot to mention it's RSPB Nature Count week.


  1. You've have loads of veg going in now, hope we all get some rain soon!

  2. Hey, you HAVE been busy! The weather / soil conditions here have been much the same as you describe: only one or two spits and spots of drizzle - not enough to wet the ground, so I have been out with the hose-pipe again.
    The crimson-flowered Broad Beans look great. I've heard that the yield is not as good as that of the "traditional" ones, but that may just be a myth. Those air-pots look wierd. Are they like heavy-duty bubble-wrap? What are their beneficial features?

  3. Your allotment must be very big. So many plants to transplant.Here I am getting lazier each season, I just do direct sowing and thinnings later. Well, I don't even thin them;-) too lazy. Do you plant according to the moon phase?

  4. You have been a busy bee! Now, do you sell or preserve your harvests? I like the idea of your watering method for the new plantings. With the lack of rain you've had, it makes sense. I love checking out your blog and seeing what new types of veggies you are growing, it's very inspiring!

  5. My mum and dad get bullfinches in their garden, both male and female. They had a woodpecker a couple of weeks ago. It's the first time in 40 years of living there that they've seen a woodpecker. It came the whole time there was a suet block hanging, but hasn't been back since the suet ran out. Finicky thing. It's good to be able to get some things planted out. It so dusty though, you dig a hole and it fills straight back up again. I'm hoping to get lots more in the ground this coming week. I don't have a coldframe, but my greenhouse is full to bursting and I need to get my tomatoes set out.

  6. No doubt when the rain comes it won't stop for ages and we'll be complaining again Damo.

    The air pots have an inside and outside surface that looks a bit like an egg box Mark. They come flat pack and you have to clip them together. The idea is that the design encourages fibrous feeding roots to develop and so the plant should be more vigorous. They are quite expensive so we hope they work.

    It's just a case of all or nothing with our weather Diana too wet or too dry or too cold or too hot (well by our standards anyway). We don't plant according to the moon just when we can and our plot is big.

    Thanks for the lovely comments Jenni

    We had a woodpecker a few years ago but haven't seen it for ages - fortunately for our blue tit chicks as they break into nest boxes and steal the chicks! It certainly is dry Jo it's hard to decide whether to plant more things or water what is already planted.

  7. Crimson Flowered broadies are gorgeous. I sow these at home and the rest at the allotment to keep the seed uncrossed.

  8. Oh wow that is some planting! That sweetpea wall is going to look and smell gorgeous! Can't wait to see it all in Summer!

  9. The crimson broad beans look beautiful. Do you get problems with aphids? We try to plant our broadies out as early as poss to try and avoid them. Hasn't worked this year! Love your little hedging of strawberries near your courgettes.

  10. And they do have the same perfume as the white ones VH - I wasn't sure but smelled them today as I hoed around them

    Oh Mrs Bok the pressure is now on for them to perform so you are not disappointed!

    Hi Emma - we don't normally get many aphids although our later planted ones suffered last year for some reason. The hedging is of alpine strawberries we have them all over the plot.

  11. You are so generous with your spacing (and quantity) of broad beans. I hope they appreciate how lucky they are!!!

    As ever you're well on top of the challenge.

  12. Wow, everything looks soooo good! Well done! I'm aiming for a similar brasica bed with the netting etc, tis my job for next weekend, weather permitting... :)

  13. The broad beans are nearer together than the 'experts' recommend Mal. Maybe the photo makes them look further apart.

    Netting is an absolute necessity on our site P&M what the pigeons don't get the caterpillars will.

  14. Wow, you've been busy! I'm having trouble just keeping up with the few vegetable beds I have, especially with watering this very dry spring. I, too, am intrigued by your air pots. On my outdoor potted tomato plants there are already signs of blight on the lower leaves, so I'm not too optimistic about this year.

  15. That's early for blight Barbara - I'll update on how we get one with the air pots. We are hoping blight isn't a problem in the garden and will be trying a few spare tomato plants outdoors there - no point on the plot though.

  16. AnonymousJune 07, 2011

    It's so exciting seeing your photos. It's very like my plot, in terms of soil and what you're putting in, so although I'm miles away in Sussex, I feel very connected to you.

  17. Boy you two have been very busy! Everything looks great! I just love the crimson flowered beans.

    We are having a very dry spell here too. It hasn't rained in a long time.

  18. And I'm a Taurus too Elizabeth. I popped to have a quick look at your blog - are you just starting it up?

    The crimson beans are pretty Robin - just have to see what the beans are like!

  19. You should have a big plot to fit in all the vegetables and fruits!
    Your cabbages look so green!
    It's very intersting to visit your blog!

  20. Well everything is looking great...and I really feel that you are putting me to shame nut I fully intend on spending a whole day over the weekend down the plot so i will make myself feel much better then...there is so much to do this time of year...i can see a very early start with the birds at the weekend!!

  21. It's probably stating the obvious - but air pots require a very different watering technique to anything you'll have used before...being full of holes, much of the water simply pours out of the sides, so be aware that you need to be much more generous with your irrigation!

  22. Glad you find the blog interesting Malar

    There are two of us Tanya and we have more time to spare on the plot than you do so I don't think you should be put to shame.

    Hi gnman Thanks for the comment - one reason we have the pots sitting in the tray is to catch any water that drains straight through and hopefully reabsorb by capillary action. I don't know whether you are familiar with the newer style pots. Apparently to stop water running straight off at the top which was a problem with the old design the first three rows of egg boxy bumps are filled in. But I do take your point about more care in the watering.

  23. Hi, most impressed with all your seedlings they look very healthy.Lack of rain can be a challenge,I find watering new seedlings in with a little worm juice helpful.Cheers.

  24. Wow, that is a lot of work to do, and I feel overwhelm by a small 2 by 1 meters balcony. I am sure all your hard work will be compensated with an amazing harvest!
    I hope you get some rain soon.
    And also hope to see those dalias when they bloom, they must look amazing!

  25. Hi Andrea - we have considered getting a wormery but haven't yet come to any sort of decision. I'm not sure how the worms would are if we continue to have such cold winters.

    We are looking forward to the dahlias Fer as the seeds were a mixed packet we don't know what colours we will have.

  26. Sue, I wonder if you have had the long-awaited rain today? We have had a fair bit of rain this last week, and today it has rained for several hours in a row.
    Isn't it just typical that the whole of the contry is carpeted with rain two days after the announcement of a Drought order?

  27. It has rained today Mark but it's the first rain this week. It started around lunchtime and is still raining now at 8:20 p.m. just steady really most of that time so hopefully the things we planted this morning and yesterday as told of in Martyn's blog here will have enjoyed it. Not as much as for the Canadian Grand Prix though!

  28. You have such a beautiful gardening space!

  29. Hi Shannon Marie - Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment.


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