Friday, May 30

He says he wants a revolution

For a recent birthday, Martyn bought 'us' James Wong's Homegrown Revolution. We haven't bought any gardening books for a while but we first saw this book when we visited Jayne at Bagend and since then James Wong has been cropping up in various magazines. Inevitably we were drawn in and this year we decided to try something from his range of seeds.
Cucamelons seemed quite popular so we decided to have a go at them and rather than just order one lot of seeds we ordered some Inca berry and garlic chive seeds. 
We've always liked to try growing different things. Back when we first started on our allotment journey we were viewed as a bit eccentric (odd) when we grew herbs and Jerusalem artichokes.

On browsing Homegrown Revolution, it turns out that we have been revolting for a while as we have grown two of the above before but under different names the Inca berries were cape gooseberries when we grew them ages ago and we have a small clump of garlic chives  which we now know is another name for Chinese chives in a herb box. Having read James description obviously they are not sufficiently content in such a restricted position to achieve their full potential.

Looking through the book we also seem to be growing, or have grown in the past, quite a lot of the plants mentioned although not always to eat!
We have also tried growing Goji berries but threw the plants away when there was some sort of problem reported in the media in growing them from uncertified stock - our plot neighbour grew them from seeds taken from shop bought berries. In the past we dabbled with tomatillos but seem to remember we weren't too impressed with them. 

I'd like to add three more of our plants to the the revolution, honeyberry and Japanese wineberry - although as yet these are unproven and may turn out as not worth the effort ...
...and jostaberry - which has provided us with fruit for several years.
Also thanks to a giveaway last year by Jo at - The Good Life we are growing some Mini Munch cucumbers - a first for us - which we look forward to tasting.
So James, you say you want a revolution. We say, bring it on!

Wednesday, May 28

Raindrops.- Wordless Wednesday

Monday, May 26

Winged Vandals

Do you remember last year when my living roof was trashed? We thought the culprit could have been a wood pigeon as we set up a wildlife trap camera and the birds most likely were a wood pigeon or blackbird. The camera caught both stomping across the plants. This year we have conclusive proof as Martyn spotted the wood pigeon poking about and turfing bits of plant aside.

When I planted up the lid all the plants had their own space

Now thanks to our winged vandals the plants are an intermingled mishmash. As pieces have been scattered they have either taken root or I have just poked them back into the gravel.

Some plants have been left hanging on by a thread and others left with patchy holes in the middle.

It would seem that the fleshy leaves of sedum and sempervivum are just too much of a temptation for the birds to resist.

We even found one piece of sedum in the birdbath.

This hadn't been flicked in as the birdbath is some distance from where the sedum is planted. It must have been taken there and popped in the water with an aim in mind.

I've seen birds such as magpies bring stale bread from someone else's garden and pop it in the water to soften it so was this what some feathered thief had in mind. If so has the wood pigeon learned this trick or do we have more than one type of winged vandal.

Whatever the case the perpetrator was either not impressed with the result and left the sedum or it was disturbed and fled the scene of the crime. 

I just hope that as last year this period of vandalism will pass and the living lid will go on to flourish. 

On a positive note, I quite like the mishmash of plants!

Sunday, May 25

The ultimate wood pigeon deterrent?

If you read Martyn's blog you will know that the wood pigeons on our site are not content with devastating brassicas but have now set their sights higher - a lot higher. They have decided to snip the immature fruits off our plum tree and they may even have had something to do with the sorry state of our cherry tree.

On a recent visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park I think we may have come across the ultimate deterrent.
Not only would it deter wood pigeons but any would be watering can thief would be dispatched with impunity.
Other than the obvious pitfall of having this beautiful creature on our plot, and the fact that I doubt that the council would give the extra permission needed for keeping animals other than rabbits and chickens, we would have problems tracking down such an animal.

This is an Amur or Siberian tiger is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Yorkshire Wildlife Park houses three tigers in what it claims to be the largest tiger 'enclosure' in Europe. It's hoped that the tigers will become part of a breeding programme.

Friday, May 23

Replacing the missing watering can.

Do you remember that I mentioned that a watering can had gone missing from our plot greenhouse? As we had started to need to water regularly on the plot and carrying two watering cans is more productive and balanced that one, we decided to pay a visit to a local garden centre to buy a replacement.

Whilst we were there we decided to have lunch in their café after which we had to look around the plant area. It's compulsory isn't it when at a garden centre? Actually I did need (yes really need) some more plants for the pebble garden. There was still the lower 'shelf' to plant up.

The small 'alpine' type plants were priced as an offer if you bought six and so we chose six small plants. Then I remembered that I needed to replace the laminum that died off from the base of the birdbath in the blue and white border. I decided a spreading campanula would work. I decided I'd buy one of the larger plants for this area but when I found the campanula it was sitting close to an ajuga which would also fit the bill. I couldn't decide on which one so bought both. Then I noticed that these plants were on offer if you bought three so - you've guessed it haven't you?

Nine plants in our baskets we headed into the shop for some other bits and pieces and then quickly escaped.

We bought Achillea Tormentosa, Ajuga Rainbow, Arabis  Blepharophylla Rose Delight, Campanula Garganica, Erodium Bishops Form, Geranium Vision Violet, Mimulus Highland Red, Pulsatilla Vulgans White and Saponaria Ocymoides 
The six small ones have been added to the pebble garden 'shelf'.
As these won't really get sunlight for the whole day and also if the pond fills with too much water some does trickle down and wet this area. I am hoping they will survive and grow well. The mimulus is in the bit that will potentially suffer most from pond trickle.
Can you see the brown dry plant third from the left on the upper area. Birds have now decided to pull this out for nest building so the tiny spark of life has been snuffed out. I think I'll need something to replace it. I also wonder whether I 'need' another plant for the far right of the shelf? Oh and don't you have to buy six plants as they are on offer?
The upper area of the pebble garden is filling well.
Guess what we forgot to buy during our visit? That's right - we came away without a watering can, however, Jan a plot neighbour found our missing can three plots away, seemingly just thrown on another plot but missing the rose. It must have gone exploring - isn't it strange how inanimate objects can do that?

Update: The watering can, Jan found wasn't ours - the plot owner hadn't put it away and so it has been returned and ours is still on the run.

Wednesday, May 21

Plot in pictures

Tuesday, May 20

A peep inside our Garden Greenhouse

I thought it was time I let you have a peep inside our garden greenhouse - although by now it will probably look a little different as things are moving on all the time. As soon as I had taken the photos there was pricking out, potting on and planting out to be done.

The first two photos are just general views - the first from the door and the second from the far end looking back towards the door.
We have decided to bring in our peach and nectarine trees to try and avoid peach leaf curl. They will sit where the pile of black air pots are at the moment.
Tomato and pepper plants can be found all over the greenhouse - there are some good looking plants which we hope will stay that way once they are planted in their final pots. 
There are no shelves on the right of the greenhouse as you enter so trays and pots are arranged on the floor. At the end by the door are our fig plants - the baby fig has grown considerably since I last mentioned it. The two large ceramic pots are planted up with osteospernum that overwintered in the greenhouse and are now ready to spend summer outside by the summer house.
Trays and pots contain various seedings and small plants. You may be able to spot the dianthus cuttings that I took from cut flowers bought from the local greengrocers. These have rooted and hopefully will produce home grown cut flowers. In the small black pots are annual flower seedlings which are destined for the plot.
The large plants at the back in the photo below are dahlias ready for the plot and the young plants on the front right are Inca berries - one of our first- timers this year. You may also be able to spot the tray of tiny alpine strawberry seedlings.
Moving to the other side of the greenhouse, on the trays below as well as tomatoes we have viola with a tray of aubergines tucked in behind them. There are more annual flower seeds which were sown once the ones shown in the previous photo had germinated. Behind the pots are some young hellebores growing on before being planted in the garden. These, dark purple and yellow varieties, are to boost the colour range in our hellebore area. Also below are small Crown Prince squash plants and the cyclamen that I grew from seeds taken from my plants last year. 
In the large terracotta pots are basil, Chinese chives and spring onions. Alongside them are sweet peas.
The grapevine is growing well and producing bunches of flowers which hopefully will translate into bunches of grapes.
If we pop outside you can see the new coldframes are already in good use containing lettuce, sweet peas brassicas, sunflowers and courgettes. 
In the old cold frame are leek seedlings, lettuce and more sweet peas. There were some erysimum  when the photo was taken but these have now been planted out in the garden.
In a short while things will look very different.

A full list of seeds sown and plants bought this year  is here and our monthly sowing and planting schedule is here.