Monday, January 29, 2007

2007 ahoy !

My last post was in July 2006 and quite a lot has gone on since then, I'll round up 2006 and then my plans for 2007.

The sweetcorn failed with sweetcorn smut but the cabbage and potatoe crop was great. The very high temps in the summer dented the potatoe crop a little but it was still a good crop. The cabbage was home to a great deal of white butterfly catpillars, even a derris powder did'nt stop them but the crop was great all the same. I got a mass of chilli's, my storage skills are poor and I despite drying them lost a great deal to rot, you live and learn. I had a great crop from the raspberries, stawberries and a bumper crop from the blackberries. The tomatoes all cropped very well, watering was a big problem and I did loose some to splitting but we had a constant supply of toms through late summer. Rounding off I had an amazing display of foxgloves and lupins.

So onto 2007, my plans include more chilli's, more toms, different fruits and a improved flower border and display.

Already sown include 5 different chillis, 4 different toms and the all new upright foxglove from T&M. Learning from my mistakes from last year, I am only sowing 1 per type to avoid over crowding. Sowing this early in the year means that I am using the heated propagtor to germinate and then transfering to a non-heated propegator container, all of which live on a windowsill (which also keeps mess down and my wife happier :)).

I am sowing new fruits this year, more on this in a later post. At the moment I am trying to get one of these to germinate, I had to soak the seed and then slice into the seed outer very thinly so to expose the seed to heat and water to begin the germination process. I am concerned my basic heated propegator won't raise the temp enough and might need to look at investing in another model that can push the temp higher.

On order and due any day is a new border collection, I am collecting flower seedlings at the moment too to help boost this years display.

Sown in autum and ready to go out in spring are some sweet peas that are some 8 inches now, sown in november are some hardy peas, both of which are being overwintered in the greenhouse, I'll post on that at some point too. Sown also in the autum are some onion sets and garlic cloves, all of which are doing good.

Boosting the fruits for this year I also added in the december window two bare rooted apple trees and a cherry tree. I also have a kiwi overwintering in the greenhouse.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Two heat waves this month with temps of high 30c, it means everything is in full swing now and although I'd rather not I am thinking about the end of the season.

I have planted a gooseberry and redcurrant this weekend. Mid July is really not the month to be planting new fruit bushes but I have a theory. My soil can suffer from being over wet and cold standing, despite my attempts to improve drainage it can in parts be troublesome. During late winter which is the normal time to plant fruit any new bushes can rot out and either be stunted or fail. So my theory is two fold, I have raised the border to increase drainage and planted now so the root ball has time to establish before late autum and winter when it becomes dormant. Thats the plan anyway, mother nature will no doubt dash my plans.

My toms are full size and green but now need to ripen, to try and tempt them into this I took them out of the greenhouse for a days worth of dunking in a bucket (with some added tom feed and nettle liquid manure) so the root ball was soaked (when the air bubbles stop they come out). I also cut off any wayward tress's to keep to the 4 mark, it pains me to see young toms got to waste but for the sake of bigger and ripe toms it's worth it.

My chilli's are coming on and starting to set, I think that these will be the last of the croppers but I do still have the cape gooseberries, sweetcorn and cabbage to go. I faced a battle with catapillars on the cabbage, swifty dealt with using derris. Derris is classed by the organic crowd as non organic due to the fact it could kill other insects like ladybirds. It's a natural insecticide that does'nt effect the soil and I have yet to see something other a white butterfly want to climb inside my cabbage. Organic I am, silly about it I am not.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Since my last post at the end of April things have come on leaps and bounds. June is by far the busiest month in the garden year, when I look back at last year it is no different to this year. Some of the things that have gone on (starting with the Strawberries).

Strawberries are marching on, with straw now keeping the berries off the ground it's now really down to nature to complete the job. I have added a few marigolds to help fight the garden nasties.

This is the first of my half moon borders, growing here is cabbage and sweetcorn (both from seed) bordered with marigolds (carboot); I have added french marigolds (seed) into the bed as well. I have added a log-roll border liner to both borders to finish them off. In the background is my two lemon balms, flat as a pancake through winter and now look at them!

This is the second of the half moon borders. This is my "come again" border and I have planted a group of more mature series of plants such as Lupins and Echinacea. I have a younger series in the greenhouse for planting in the autum and the seed from the lupins I will grow for autum planting as well. To help fill the border for this year I have added marigolds.

My raspberries are now forming berriers from the side laterals that sprang from last years canes, a set of canes that I planted 2 years ago (and I had thought were dead) suddenly sprang to life and as such I am going to scrap my current support system and create a new one that allows for hight. Since taking this pic I have added cane supports across some of the laterals as these are very prone to breaking and as the berries develop the weight snaps them off.

Not a great pic as the light was going on me at this point but my greenhouse is rammed to the rafters, the tomatoes were a huge success and here you can see the larger toms that were sown in march. The april toms are smaller so I am not convinced that they catch up after all and the earlier (and out of season) sowing really paid off. In total I have 13 plants with a total of 20 toms now forming, most have a mass of flowers so I should get a really good crop. One of the toms I picked up from the garden center but the rest are from seed.

I have 4 sweet basil (3 from seed), 2 lemon basil (1 from seed), cinmon basil, 7 chilli plants (seed), sweet pepper, 2 lemon grass (seed, yes I finally succeeded), lemon verbanna, 2 cucumbers and 4 peas (both from seed). I also have the odd marigold to help confuse pests. The peas have since completed the cropping and it was a lot of fun to pick and eat them right from the pod.

The potatoes are cropping well and in flower. The blackberries have cropped really well and will be ready any day. The garlic is now ready and today I earthed them up, tied and now left to dry in the greenhouse (and stinking the place out). It was a bumper crop and although it took neally 9 months it was well worth it. The beetroot cropped well and I had just enough to make a jar of pickle with them (just the thing for winter).

Shot I will sigh off with is my patio pots, towards the back is a pot of lemon tyme and mint. Since this shot was taken I have cut it down to help generate new growth and to start making use of the crop. The mint makes great tea and I intend to use the tyme dried with lemon balm, lemon basil, lemon verbanna and lemon grass to make a really fruity tea.

Some of the herbs I have mentioned I obtained as young plants, back in May I went to three counties show again (and loved it) and picked up a few herbs on my "want list". How these fair over winter (the lemon verbanna for example) might be tricky but hopefully this will be ok, it's not an easy plant to find early in the year.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Almost May

A really busy time of year now, pottting and repotting plants as they grow, watering, feeding and mantaining. A spell of great sunny weather here as ment everything in the greenhouse as marched on, my sweet pea's are now some 3 feet at the top of the oblisk support and a second set sown a few weeks ago 4/5 inches and going fast. I had mixed success with the seed's, in the growpot's the sweetcorn and pea's failed but sweetpea's worked. In the peat cells several different flowers and herbs failed but others are doing fine. My tomatoes, chilli's and mini runner beans are now on the 6/8 inch pots with 1 or 2 in the set growing quicker than others.

My blackberry has burst its buds and formed its fruit groups, the raspberry and gooseberry has burst its buds (the goosberry has formed its blossom). The blueberries are still in bud with one or two now burst. The cherry is still in bud and yet to burst, as the weather gets warmer and warmer I hope that it will burst.

I have moved a mint plant and pineapple sage outside to grow on after spending the winter in the greenhouse, they have gone from sticks to fully green in only 3/4 weeks. This frees up much needed staging space for everything else thats coming along. I have planted up the strawberries into a pot (along with flowers) and obtained some more strawberries to replace the winter looses in the patch.

The sweetcorn I have planted but I prehaps should have waited for them to get bigger, despite softdrink cloch support they are getting damaged by slugs or snails. I am going to start a new group using toliet rolls and grow them on in the greenhouse until the end of may (should I loose the first group to the slimey pest I have backup). The cabbages are ready to go in and I have aquired some marigolds to ward off the slimey pest as these will surely enmass when the cabbages go in.

The bedding program seems to have failed despite the supplier advice to plant them stright in the ground, the winter has claimed the lot. Faced with two bare borders I have found another planing scheme and await it's delivery to hopefully get this moving. I am a little annoyed that they recommended this when really it should have been over wintered under glass and planted in the spring. I guess nothing can be done about the weather but my advice should this ever happen to you is to not do as they say and grow them on under protection. I have also sourced the planting schemes for the hanging baskets and either await delivery or I am waiting to get it planted (the wall baskets are now used up and look rather bare until I can plant them all up with the summer bedding) . The front wall border is growing really well with the tulips almost ready to flower. The front lawn has seen two cuts and I needed the to leave the lawn circle in place for the tulips to come up, it does mean I have rather interesting looking patch of dense grass on my lawn :)

The garlic is doing well as are the potatoes which are now some 6/7 inches. The onions I have planted out into a big pot but still don't seem to be doing much beyond looking like chives, it will either work or be a failure. Here's to what May has in store.

Saskatoon and Chokecherry

After repeated failures trying to get the Saskatoon to germinate I finally found another answer. Today I planted up a 6 inch Sakatoon and Choke Cherry. I finally found a nursey that stocks these in the UK. The nursey is called Kore and is on the net It's mail order only but I can speak from experince that service and delivery times are great and I recommend it if (like me) you fancy growing something different. Pleased as punch that I finally have my Saskatoon and Choke Cherry !!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Last week was a warm week and over the weekend I completed my seed sowing. In three peat cell trays, four potting trays and root trainers I sowed 90 seeds. The following Monday we had a frost, just my luck. Starting to cover my cherry tree with fleech now, its buds are developing and getting ready to burst, any frost damage now could wreck the crop. After packing away the fleech and heater during the warm spell, it was all unpacked and fired up again. I also tied up the garden, redug the borders and top dressed my orange tree and gave it some gentle pruning. I also picked up some strawberry plants, growing them on in the greenhouse until after the frosts have passed. Who knows, might even fruit early :) I sowed some lemon grass again, second attempt at this. I also bought some ginger for a second attempt, potted up and housed in my propegator who knows that might work as well.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Almost April

Just a few days away from April and already its been mild (but windy) and the clocks have gone foward. This means more time in the garden and the real start to the gardening year. The March sowing was complete disaster, my propegator is too warm for indoors at this time of year and it just forced everything up. I ended up with leggy, weak seedlings and pretty much lost the lot.

I sowed some more Cape Gooseberries into pots and left them in the greenhouse, I am pretty much at the end of the sowing time for this but I should be ok. Over weekend I bought a new blueberry tree and have rehoused my cranberries into its pot. I added coffee grinds and chicken manure into the compost to raise the acid level (which both plants love) and nutrients. I also planted my second early potatoes out, using my planned general purpose compost with grit this should be light enough for them to grow. Using second earlies means they will be ready by July, I'll add pictures for next time.

My April sowing will start this weekend if the weather remains mild, if we get a cold snap forecasted beyond this then I will wait another week. My local scouts are offering bedding plants for 2 pounds for a box of plants, going to order a couple.

Monday, March 06, 2006

March and the sowing really starts

So into March we go and this month really marks the start of the Gardening year. My lemon grass sowing from last month failed, I suspect light levels were so poor that it caused this. Not one to give up I will wait until the end of March when BST is neally here and try again. My onions, tomatoes and chilli have all been mostly potted on and starting to get a feed to encourage growth through March. I have also started the first of the flowers for this year, 2 different Petuina species and a Salpiglossis. I have also set a Golden Berry (cape goosberry) going. This completes my March sowing and by the end of the month will have reached germination ready for the April sowing (which I will need to time right to start the more demanding species off in the propegator).

Last weekend I gave up on the idea of a wild garden and scrapped it, in its place is a the same bed but now redug with grit and manure throw in. On it I want to grow sweet corn, cabbage and for a bit of color something else. I plan on starting this off in April, as it stands I dug this before a nasty cold snap set in across the UK last week so the hard frosts and snow will have done wonders to help break up the bigger clods.

My potatoes are now set to chit and doing well, I will wait until the end of March before I plant them as the weather has so far been a little too hard for them to cope with. The saskatoon still shows no sign of life, looks like I am in for the long haul with this after all.