Sunday, 25 November 2007

Tidying Up

I cleared out the square foot garden of all the bean poles and carefully covered it up with netting, knowing full well that the local neighbourhood cats would be delighted with the large litter tray that had now appeared. And so they were. The netting didn't deter them in the slightest - they just did their business right on top of it.

Little b*****s

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sprouting Broccoli

Planted up my purple sprouting seedlings this weekend. Still pretty small so they have a way to go before they'll get planted out in the square garden.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Two Babies!

Things are even more exciting now - I have TWO baby squash developing. They have a long way to go before they get anywhere near maturity but at least they are recognisably butternut squash and proof that at least they 'can' grow - even if they were planted late. I'll certainly be trying them again next year but just make sure that I get them planted out earlier.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Baby Squash

I didn't spot it over the weekend but this morning out in the garden, I noticed this teeny, weeny baby squash just developing.

Will nurture it with loving care and hope it develops into something edible. What do you think the changes are - given the time of year?

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Squash Flower

Finally! My squash plant or rather plants - there are two of them - which have been sprawling across the patio, producing what appeared to be potential squashes has finally flowered. It's only the 19th of October, the nights are drawing in and the days are definitely cooler, most the leaves are starting to die back but one of the buds is just about to open up and display a flower.

I have no idea what will happen next but I'll wait with baited breath. It is up against a brick wall and faces south-east, so there might be some hope of a mini-climate to produce, maybe, one squash fruit.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Tidying Up

Spent the day clearing up the square foot garden and the rest of the vegetables plants. Took down all the bean poles and what was left of the bean plants which had been attacked by the snails. The plants in the pot by the back door survived better but they were planted later and not as easily accessible by the snails The cats of course are delighted with the large litter tray which I've now created for them!

The chard is still growing away and definitely didn't like the hot summer and it's looking much happier and healthier now. There are still a couple of beetroot in the ground which I haven't pulled yet.

The tomato plants didn't do very well. They look as if they've got wilt so all the plants have been bagged up to take to the dump rather than just putting on the compost heap. This also reduces the likelihood of me finding little tomato plants popping up everywhere next year.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Hens vs Plants

I was up at the Grand Designs Live event in Birmingham yesterday and the Omlet stand was there. I've wanted chickens for a while but always thought it would have to wait until my 'house in the country'. Now I'm not so sure and thinking - why not, even though my garden's not particularly big.

Buying the complete Eglu kit seems like a good starting point. Not only do you get their easy clean hen house with a fox-proof run and cover but you also get two (or three) chickens and training(!) with delivery.

It is fenced, so I don't think the local foxes or badgers should be a problem. I have ideas of a lovely snail and slug free garden - although if they're anything like the pheasants that roam around my parents garden - they will probably eat ALL my plants and vegetables and create dust baths on any patches of bare earth ... but at least I'll have fresh eggs!

Purple Spouting

Planted up some purple sprouting broccoli seeds - just to see what happens, if anything and have something to fill the gaps over the winter.

They've been planted in seed trays so that I can grow them on and keep them safe from slugs and snails until they're strong enough to be planted out and hopefully produce some delicious, home grown purple sprouts in the spring.

I'm also thinking about what I can plant in the SFG over the winter.

Monday, 1 October 2007

October Update

Well, I have to say that the vegetables this year haven't been that successful. My chilli plant has produced some minute chillies and a couple of them have now turned red. Although they're meant to be small, I think they're meant to be slightly larger than a cherry.

As I've mentioned the runner beans have been competing with the snails - although didn't do too badly in the end and I got some lovely straight bean, so I'll definitely be growing them again next year. Although I will put them slightly earlier and hope that I have more success growing them from seed.

The tomatoes took a bit of a battering with the wind and ended up being blown over and crawling rather than climbing. What tomatoes did ripen were mainly small, with only one bush actually bearing any standard sized tomotoes. The sungold variety in the hanging basket was delicious but suffered from the dry weather.

The courgettes have been a bit of a disappointment. After a promising early start with a few good fruits they suffered from heat, slugs and snails. Never seem to get the right mix of water and nutrients to keep them coming.

Salads were good and it's lovely to pop outside and pick a few leaves for lunch. They're coming to an end now and going to seed, although I'll keep picking.

This month is mainly going to be about tidying up the plants that have grown up over the summer, turning the compost heap - one of the bins is full with new stuff, the other has been rotting down over the summer.

Monday, 17 September 2007

First Cucumber!

Just picked my first cucumber! And a marvellous specimen it is too, even though I say it myself. Wouldn't disgrace any horticultural show, well maybe not quite that good. The first one is almost straight but the next two have interesting curves. Fattening up nicely.

Interesting thought for growing them upright, is that the weight of the growing fruits drags down the rest of the plant. Luckily they haven't got very tall and all the fruits are lower down and supported by the edge of the pot. What would have happened if the plant had actually managed to grow up a trellis, I'm not sure.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Overgrown Gherkins

Oh, I'm so excited.

I'm growing cucumbers for the first time ever! Nothing like the one's you get in the shops. There are at least three on just the one plant and they're a good size too. I was expecting something small and stubby. They have some very interesting shapes, so far a C, S and L.

All I need to is keep watering, hope the sun continues to shine and I could soon be harvesting and eating them!

Sunday, 2 September 2007

September Update

This month has started dry and sunny after a dry but variable August.

I'm starting to harvest the runners on a fairly regular basis now - they're growing rapidly but I'm also actively picking off all the snails - large and small, that I can find, to prevent them totally ravaging the poor plants to just their bare bones. The one's I planted in a pot by the house are also doing well and after Cliff's comment that 95% of what he's harvested so far is water, I'm making sure that I water every night, as we've not had any rain for days, although as it's now cooler, there's often a morning dew.

The chard in the SFG has recovered and is now growing properly, although I've not yet picked any. I get a bagful in my veg box each week. It was suffering from the sun earlier in the year (when we had some) and seemed a bit stunted.

The salad crop is still growing well, so lunch is an easy shopping trip across the patio, although the tomatoes are taking their time to ripen. They've taken a bit of a battering from the wind as I wasn't quick enough pinching out the side shoots and most plants have at least two main stems. Not exactly as the purists would grow them but then they're vine plants so I'm really leaving them to grow in a more natural way. The sungold that I was growing in a hanging basket is looking a bit sad as it dries out too quickly and yet another tomato seedling/plant is now growing in with one of the courgettes. These aren't doing too well. Surprisingly, falling foul of the slugs and snails, like most things this year, despite their prickly leaves.

My squash plant is finally taking off although no sign of anything that might be turning into a squash as yet. It's being allowed to start rambling over the old bench outside kitchen window. It's sheltered from the wind and might last well into the autumn.

The chilli pepper has lots of small fruits on it but they seem to be growing only slowly and are still green in colour. The whole plant is fairly small and I don't know if it's just a small variety or restricted by the size of the pot it's in.

I've now defrosted the freezer ready for whatever produce I may have left over, which will probably only be the runner beans, as the rest of the harvest is slow in cropping and just about enough for a meal every now and then.

Amazingly enough - my blueberry has a few flowers appearing. Must be as confused with this weather as the rest of us.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Freshly Picked Lunch

There's nothing quite like picking your lunch fresh from the garden.

- A few home grown mixed salad leaves.
- My interestingly shaped carrots.
- A handful of cherry tomatoes which just taste so sweet.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Pesky Snails

My broad beans have been savaged by slugs and snails - the mix of warm and wet weather seems to have brought them out in plague like proportions and they're happily stripping whatever plants they can fit into their hungry little mouths.

They can be found clinging to the leaves of both broad and runner beans during the day - lots and lots of small ones hiding in curled up leaves, those that are left and aren't full of holes, or stuck to the stems and poles.

I also bought a dwarf sunflower the other day - having failed to grow any of my own from seed only to find it stripped back to bare bones (or the plant equivalent) including the petals.

Carrots - Seeing Double

I wasn't intending to cultivate a crop (slight exaggeration) of double carrots but that's what I appear to have done.

My extensive crop of three carrots was plucked from the ground this evening, just before I watered everything this evening as their tops appeared to be extruding even further out of the soil, so I guessed they might be ready.

Highly amused to find I had three interestingly shaped carrots.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Rootin, Tootin, Beetroot

Finally decided to take a look at the beetroot, which I'd sort of forgotten about even though I've been watering it each evening along with the other veg and picked a very impressive one this evening, so feeling very pleased as I've not grown them before.

Not that they're very difficult to grow - just a matter of getting them to sprout in the first place. There are a couple more to go but they A decent size, nicely red and a good shape, if you ignore the split on one side (that you can't see). Lovely red stems too, which if the leaves hadn't got so burn't can be used like chard.

Friday, 3 August 2007

First Runner Bean

The square foot garden is bursting at the seams as everything is really growing with all the recent sunshine. I actually found my first, solitary runner bean but a fine, foot long specimen. The bean poles have taken a bit of a battering from the wind and although I'd placed the runners at the back of the bed, being the tallest, but now that they're bushing out, it hasn't made it easy to get to them now that the plants on the fence have also grown out. No wonder I missed the runner bean. I'd normally pick them a lot smaller. I suppose I could pull up the dwarf french beans - they've finished now. Not particularly successful, I have to say.

The tomatoes are going equally potty. As usual I missed pinching out a few of the side shoots so most of them have two growing stems, as you can see. I'm feeding them like mad to make sure they have enough water and nutrients to get a decent crop out of them later in the year. Won't be too long now, as there quite a few green tomatoes forming and the ones in the hanging basket are starting to get some colour. That one really has been left to it's own devices with no pinching out as I thought it was a hanging variety and then realised it wasn't!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Odds 'n' Sods And Exotics

I've had a few pots hanging around for a while and finally got round to planting them up in a mixture of peat-free compost and the contents of a spare grow-bag. I've now added a cucumber, chilli-pepper, squash and some more runner beans to the vegetable garden.

The runner beans were left over from the ones I planted in the SFG last month. I was going to put them with the rest, as I have a gap but as they seem to be being attacked by the dreaded snails, I thought an alternate location might give them a better chance, so they're now in a large pot by the back door.

The cucumber is a ridge variety which has a much better flavour than the usual greenhouse variety. Not that I've ever grown them before so this should be an interesting challenge - especially as it's late in the season, so I'll be hoping for a late summer to help ripen them up.

The squash are all butternut and are what's left having not been ravaged by the snails from the one's I grew from seed. I've planted up three small plants but I'm not expecting them all to grow and will just pick the strongest one. I think I actually ended up giving the best ones away.

As for the exotics - the chilli-pepper is a jalapeno - I don't eat a lot of chillies but assuming any of them grow - I'll attempt to dry them and perhaps even use some fresh in cooking. I've never grown them before but saw several different varieties being grown by a friend, so thought why not. Not having a green house I haven't gone for the bell peppers.

Even just after a couple of days - they've all suddenly grown - shows just how restricted they were left in their pots.

My neighbour has also carefully nurtured three tomato plants that appeared in her flower-bed - having been smuggled over in my compost. She's now returned these to me ready planted up in pots, so I'll be inundated with tomatoes at some point once they all start ripening, especially as I've already got four plants growing well. Of course, I've no idea what variety the 'home-grown' plants will turn out to be.

Better start collecting those jars for chutney.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

... And My First Beans And Courgettes

Yes, despite all the fits and starts and hardships in my endeavours to grow beans this year - I have finally picked my first Dwarf French Beans. Having trouble standing upright (they're meant to be self-supporting) which would be hard to do with all the recent wind doing it's best to keep them horizontal but at least the slugs haven't got to them. Not even a handful, just about enough for a salad nicoise, if not enough for a full blown meal yet but these are just the first. Hurrah!

I've also just picked another couple of courgettes and they're coming along well with at least two being picked every few days, helped by all this rain. They're certainly not going to win any prizes at the local village fete - here's the haul so far. Sadly with the rain the flowers don't look their best - the one's that don't get knocked off.

Once the tomatoes get going (there are small green ones forming) I'll be able to get the ratatouille going.

Freshly picked blueberries for breakfast!

Well, you can't get much better than that. My blueberries have suddenly started to ripen in quantities. One or two have been ripening slowly but with the sudden spell of sunshine they are all starting to ripen at once.

I popped out this morning and picked a good punnet full of blueberries already washed by the morning showers, to have with my breakfast cereal - plus a handful of raspberries (sadly not my own).

The Blue Crop variety seem to be larger and ripening more slowly while the 'general' variety are smaller and have ripened in bunches.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Salad Pickings

Two more courgettes picked today and they're growing well so I expect to be cropping them regularly soon.

I've just started picking the first of my salad vegetables. Just a few spinach leaves and a couple of rocket leaves. Only a couple because that's about all there is! Mixed in with my basil and the lettuce and tomatoes provided by the Veg Box scheme.

Gosh, isn't there a difference between a freshly grown, freshly delivered lettuce and one brought in a supermarket, presumably grown in a controlled, pest free environment - they don't come with earth, blackfly and slugs but it's nothing a good wash in a bit of salty water won't get rid of and besides ... it's added protein.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

OK - You Can Stop Now!

Call this July, not only is it still raining but it's windy out there too. I returned from a few days in Cornwall to find that with all the rain, although the garden was flourishing it has also taken a bit of bashing from the wind and of course with all the damp weather those slithering pests have been having a field day.

I picked two more courgettes just in time, while also cutting off a few of the first stunted fruits and with plenty left to come. Despite getting blown about both plants are now growing well. The runner bean that had been munched just before I went away is fighting back and attempting to climb back up the pole. I was sure I was going to have to replace that particular one. Most of the others are managing to cling to their supports, although a couple have been unwound by the wind and the dwarf French beans are having a hard time trying to stay upright but actually have some tiny beans on them. I didn't even notice the flowers. The broad beans have surprised me and seem to have shot up by at least a foot since I went away. No sign of aphids yet but they've probably been blown off!

The tomatoes are growing nicely too but needed to be tied to their stakes as they'd collapsed and were growing at right angles to the way they should have been. The variety I thought was tumbling - but isn't, is doing it's own thing and going off in all directions, so I haven't bothered pinching out any shoots (as you're meant to do). I do my best but I usually manage to miss one and then end up with two main shoots. Not doing too badly this year. I'm impressed with my home grown seedlings which are doing pretty well. Even the Ailsa Craig plant is now looking better.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

And Even More Rain ...

Another downpour this weekend has given the garden a good soaking. Fortunately, not as much rain as they've had further north where they've had severe flooding. A couple of heavy showers and there's plenty of water to fill all the barrels and top up the pond.

Unfortunately the slugs and snails are now starting to have a go at the runner bean plants and two of them have been almost totally stripped. Hopefully the others are growing fast enough to withstand the onslaught - or the blue pellets will have to come out again.

The beetroot - such as they are - are growing well, even the chard is starting to look more chard-like but the carrots and radish are barely there - in fact I can't distinguish anything that looks vaguely like a radish seedling, so have given up on them.

Have now planted up a chilli pepper, cucumber and squash and will keep fingers crossed that they don't get devoured either. Out with the garlic spray again.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Cheating ... (Just A Bit)

I've had to resort to a veg box this week, as obviously my veg is either getting munched, not emerging or not nearly ready for harvesting. A lovely selection of home grown veg turned up - surprisingly no courgettes but a lovely cucumber, pepper, spinach (complete with ladybird), beetroot, a few carrots and tomatoes.

I did however, pick my very first courgettes!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Rain At Last!

I've been expecting rain every day for about the last week at least. It's been forecast every day but other than a very light shower last week which hardly wet the ground - there's been nothing. The rest of the country has been deluged by rain with heavy flooding but nothing down here.

Last night we finally got rain a whole bin-full of it. Having emptied out the compost, I've now got an additional bin of water for the garden. More expected, so by the end of the week I'll have a full supply.

I've been watering every couple of days and now watering the courgettes daily as there are some good courgettes coming through on the plants. I always find the first ones are never that great until they get going.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Admitting Defeat ... At Least With The Beans

Well, I've finally give up on the idea of growing my own beans from seed and last weekend I bought a selection of plants to replace the failures, my 'Last Man Standing' finally got munched in the week. It was either that or miss out having anything this year.

Due to the restricted space within the one foot squares - it makes for a bit of a squeeze when planting. This is something to consider when creating your SFG in the first place and when planting it up. You need to be able to get to each of the squares fairly easily, so need access from all sides. Either that or practice your flexibility and balance by stretching across from one side to the other or standing on the edge boards.

It's now planted up with Runner beans and French beans I got from the Springwatch Event last weekend. It's a bit blustery out there, so they'll need a little persuasion to climb up the poles as they get started but once that's done, they should be off and climbing. I've got all of three beetroot seedlings and just three tiny carrot seedlings, oh and I think there's one Ruby Chard emerging.

I don't know whether it's just not been a good year for seeds, with a mix of sun, rain, wind and cold or if I'm just not good at seeds! I also realised that the purple sprouting broccoli haven't emerged either. Probably too late in the year to plant more of them now. I think I'll definitely start seeds off in pots first next time.

There are a few hopeful looking plants coming up in the salad trough, in the sections where I planted salad, rocket and spinach. Time for the next lot to go in to keep the succession going - not that there seems to be much for them to succeed.

There are two lovely new flowers on the larger of the courgette plants and lots of small courgettes coming through pretty quickly, so I'll be keeping an eye out for those pesky snails

I've had to move the tomato plants around. The Ailsa Craig was looking very sad so I've replanted it in a separate pot and replaced it with one of the rapidly growing seedlings of unknown variety. The two of them are looking far healthier than the one's I bought at the garden centre.

More snails collected and dispatched to the park.

Friday, 15 June 2007

It's War!

Last night I donned the tin hat and armed with a torch went on the warpath. With everything growing like mad, I need to protect my plants from further damage so some action was needed.

First pass - just 10 snails and four slugs, it was still early in the evening and not quite dark yet. One even had the temerity to be munching away at my hosta, having by-passed the copper tape, egg-shells and other barriers and obviously preferring the added piquancy of the garlic flavoured Nasty Niff spray. Most of these were lobbed over the fence onto the road. I wonder what the dog walkers must think the following morning, at all these semi-crushed snails lying in the road. Either that or they'll make a tasty morsel for a passing fox or badger on night patrol.

Second foray - yielded a good quantity of slugs in the slug pub - lots of big juicy ones as well as the small ones - a slightly greenish/yellow mottled array. However, this time there was a troop of snails stampeding up the sides of the SFG having ignored the band of vaseline (ok, it probably needs frequent replacing to keep being effective) and heading for my newly planted French beans. Now I'm NOT having that, having already lost the previous eight, so I'm afraid I resorted to the good old blue pellets. Liberally sprinkled around the SFG and the two courgette plants which are losing their flowers to the hungry hoards.

The final foray this morning when I returned from my run - yielded about thirty to forty snails - some had been attracted to the blue pellets and most of them were picked from the foliage nearby. I didn't quite have the heart to dispatch them in the water barrel, so having collected them in a large flower pot I've just taken them over into the local park on a central island of vegetation surrounded by grass and gravel paths, so less chance of them finding their way back - either into my garden or someone else's. Again, a meal for a fox, badger or thrush. Better that than making a meal of my garden.

Thursday, 14 June 2007


My strawberries are starting to ripen up - just a few of them starting to turn red and plenty left still to ripen. However, I think I'll be lucky to get a punnets worth out of them this year. Not bad at least it's one less to buy and less food miles getting from the door to the strawberry pot and into my mouth. There's a good chance they won't even make it to a bowl.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

A Good Night At The Pub

Well, for me. Not such a good night for the slugs! At least they died happy. I'm guessing feeding them to the birds might not be such a good idea.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Nasty Niff

I was helping out at the Springwatch Event up at Stanmer Park yesterday and came across a stallholder selling, amongst other things, something called 'Nasty Niff - Slug Repel'. Her own secret recipe which you spray on susceptible plants and they won't get eaten. Not sure it comes with a money-back guarantee but anything's worth a go.

Will report on it's success - first off that poor hosta which is still being eaten and then my veg patch.

It smells strongly of garlic - so there's a clue to one of the ingredients, oh and another one will be water, it comes in a 1.5lt container.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

June - What's Happening In Pots?

My courgette is in flower and looking pretty healthy. At least one of them is. The other is still growing and also has a flower but it's not looking as good. It's been plagued by black fly and I've been relocating a few of the newly hatched ladybirds (which are all over the garden) to have a quick snack - slightly gruesome to watch but I'm not that squeamish.

I've been watering them regularly since planting out, just to keep them as healthy as possible and ensure that suffering from a lack of water is not something they're goi
ng to succumb to. I'll also start feeding along with the water.

My tomatoes are sadly not looking that happy - probably doesn't help that they were battered by strong winds shortly after being planted and then drenched by rainfall so probably suffering from being water logged. The plant on the left is one that seeded itself when I planted up my blueberries and is the healthiest of them all. I have no idea what variety it is so will wait and see.

There's a tumbling tom version in a hanging basket which is currently hidden away behind the flowering current but is also looking healthy and has several flowers on it.

The blueberries have a reasonably healthy crop forming - not bad for the first year. The berries are still very green but just starting to turn a shade of blue. I have a few strawberries coming on nicely but again it's not exactly going to be a massive crop. I have no idea if the birds will venture this close to the house to share in the crop - depends how tempting they are. The gooseberry twiglet is growing well but it will be a while before it produces any fruit.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

A Lovely Pair

... of pears. The last of three remaining on my small fruit tree. Well, they've lasted longer this year than most of them do. Having been moved to a slightly more sheltered spot as the rest of the sets had dropped or been blown off in the wind earlier this year. I'm also ensuring it gets regularly watered. I can't remember having actually had fully grown, ripened pears from this for years.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Last Man Standing

My one remaining French Bean plant. I'll try hard to preserve this one and hope that the replacement seeds that I planted out come up soon or I'm going to have lots of space in the square foot garden. I've just liberally sprinkled Slug Stoppa around it to stop the slugs or snails munching the poor thing to pieces.

The beetroot and carrot are finally poking through and there's a variety of seedlings in the chard, radish and salad plots but I haven't worked out what's what.

Still no sign of the runners and mangetout ...

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Seedlings, Weedlings, Wind & Rain

At last my beetroot seedlings have started to come through. How do you tell all these seedlings apart when you've planted them in bare soil? If your compost/soil is anything like mine, all those dormant seeds decide to start sprouting about the same time you plant your seeds, so I've been peering at these little seedlings and wondering which of them is the beetroot, carrot, radish, chard ... or just another weed. The beetroot are tiny thin leaves, with dark-red veins, the carrots I haven't quite spotted yet.

It helps if you've planted them in rows or some specific pattern, as if they come up at regular intervals there's a good chance that this is what you planted and not a 'rogue' weed. You can then pick out all the other seedlings. Still waiting for the other beans to make an appearance.

It's been incredibly windy this weekend and as well as the rain, everything is looking very battered. The broad beans have stood up well, although looking a little bedraggled but the French beans took a real battering and the general consensus seems to be that they were too weak when I put them out. I should have hardened them up in a cold frame before planting them out - if I had such a thing. Lesson learned for next year - plant them earlier and plant them directly in the soil.

We had at least four inches of rain over the weekend here in Sussex - every empty container that was left out has been filled up and all the water barrels are full again. The ground is very waterlogged but it makes for easy weeding.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Wilting French Bean

Well apart from the aubergines and cucumber, which were demolished by slugs - I've had my first failure. One of my french bean plants has keeled over. I thought that it was just wilting but despite watering it last night, it hasn't recovered. No doubt some nasty has attacked it below ground level. I will investigate tomorrow.

As I've got several other plants in I don't think I'll replace this one just hope that none of the others go the same way.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Chelsea Gardens 2007

It's that time of year when the ultimate Gardening show takes place at Chelsea. Somehow these gardens are created for just a few days and look as if they've been there for ever. It's taken me almost a decade to make my garden look ... well, not exactly perfect or neat and tidy, more of a naturalised, 'leave it to it's own devices' space. I'll be keeping an eye out for anything that has a slightly edible nature or more likely a sustainable, eco-friendly design of which there seem to be quite a few.

Anyone going to Chelsea this year? Let me know how you get on and which is your favourite.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Salad Veg Planted Up

A short, early morning burst in the garden and I got half a trough planted up with salad, spinach and rocket seeds. Just a few as I don't want them all coming up at once and being overwhelmed by greenery in a few weeks time.

I've only planted half the trough, so that in theory I can plant the other half in a few weeks time and have a succession of pickings.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

First Transplants

Planted out the French bean and Broad bean seedlings into four of the squares. Two squares each. Also planted out some Swiss Chard seeds and Radish in two other squares. All squares now planted up.

As the slugs and snails will have a field day with the new seedlings to say nothing of the other things that will be breaking through at any time - I've spread a band of vaseline all round the side of the SFG box and just to stop the pigeon's also thinking dinner has been served, I've rigged netting over the whole thing which can be moved up as they grow.

I also planted out four purple sprouting broccoli seeds between the French bean seedlings. When these pop up I'll transplant these elsewhere in the garden ... somewhere. There are bound to be a few gaps around.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

More Beans - Second Attempt

Took advantage of a break in the showers and planted out some more runner beans and mangetout. Directly into the soil in my square foot garden, replacing the ones that never germinated.

The broad and french beans are shooting up at a fair rate and will soon be ready to plant out. Time to dust off the bamboo poles.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Seeds, Glorious Seeds

Returns triumphant from the garden centre, through the mist and rain, clutching several packs of seeds. Probably being over ambitious as I'm not really sure where on earth all these plants are going to go. However, I'm full of enthusiasm for my newly planned and planted patch.

Runner bean and mangetout seeds, to replace that which hasn't sprouted so far. Ruby Chard, cucumber and purple-sprouting broccoli. I think the chard and broccoli are likely to get planted in the flower beds as the broccoli in particular seems to need plenty of space and would quite happily take up a whole SFG on it's own. Not that I really need to grow that much just for my own needs. I can see a vegetable stall being set up at the local farmers market to sell my overly enthusiastic produce .... :)

Monday, 14 May 2007

More Shoots

Well, the broad beans and the dwarf french are just starting to poke up above the soil, so the runner beans and mangetouts are unlikely to emerge now. In fact they almost seem to be growing as you look at them.

There are a few tiny shoots starting to come up in the basil and mint pots but as my compost tends to be particularly 'fertile' for seeds, they could be anything. I'll wait to see what they develop into before I pick them out or plant them on.

Off to the garden centre for some more, before it gets too late in the year for planting them out - particularly the runner beans.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

It's War - Snails

Realising that this is going to be a tough year and the snails, I'm sure are going to be very grateful for all my planting, I've taken precautions - or at least I'm starting to. They've already totally demolished one of the cucumber seedlings I got the other week and have a good nibble at the aubergines, so on the way home today, via the local garden centre, I found some copper tape and an organic pellet that prevents slugs from attacking plants.

It's one of the few creatures that I'll resort to pesticides for - those blue pellets are very effective not that I use them very often. This time, having heard good things about copper and seen my Mum use them around her hostas, I'm being good and going for the organic option, which of course I do with most things - letting the garden fend for itself, encouraging a variety of wildlife.

I spotted a few ladybird bugs around the garden this weekend - rather ugly looking black bugs with yellow spots. Very good for aphids.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Weeds, Shoots And Leaves.

My squash seedlings have just pushed their way up through the soil. Two initially and now seven of them are showing.

The garlic bulbs have already sprouted where I planted them out in the garden. I counted five of those. In fact, three in one place where I only planted two, so I could be counting a rogue 'plant', will have to see what it turns into. Pleasantly surprised by these as I wasn't expecting much to happen. It will be interesting to see what size the bulbs finally grow to.

There is no sign at all of the runner beans and mangetout seeds I planted up two weeks ago. Perhaps I was being too optimistic with such old seed. I've put some more beans in to soak - if those don't sprout or the others don't pop up within the next couple of days, I'll be off to buy some more seed.

I started planting up the SFG veg box. One square with beetroot - sown in three rows and one square with carrot in two rows. I sowed as thinly as possible which is a bit difficult with the fine carrot seed and the strong wind that has been blowing all day.

With all the recent rain, it's a lot easier to weed at the moment. Bindweed is having a field day but it's easy to pull up and very satisfying to do so. Any bindweed gets bagged up for the dump - I don't trust that in my compost bin.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Full To The Brim

Returned from a day in London to find one of my water barrels overflowing, full to the brim. I switched the outflow to the new water barrel and a day later this is almost full too. One dustbin to fill and then that's it.

That will be three full water barrels and a dustbin full of rainwater to keep my garden watered as and when it needs it.

The pond is now full as well.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Vegetable Box - Phase 1 Complete

Finished topping it up with the contents of a growbag, coir block and finished off with the planting squares.

Now it's already for planting.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Hurrah! It's Raining

Not much it has to be said. There was a light shower this morning and it's just about dampened the ground but better than nothing. More forecast for the rest of the week so it will save me having to water by hand and hopefully fill up one of the water butts.

Turned over the compost heap today. It's a bit slow breaking down but hopefully a good stir will speed things up a bit. Don't think it will be ready for this year somehow.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Beans, beans are good for the heart

... well I certainly hope so as I will be harvesting several different varieties later this year, all being well.

As the expected showers haven't yet appeared, I managed to get out into the garden to do some more planting and seeding. I've now planted up five strawberry plants that I bought last weekend some of them are setting fruit already, although I'm sure I'll be competing with the birds for those.

I spent a jolly hour or so sifting compost and topping up the new Square Foot area. Extremely hard work on the back, bending over to dig out spadefuls from an old dustbin which I filled up last year when the two compost bins were full. A mix of compost, coir and vermiculite this time. One more load should do it, although I've now run out of compost, until I turn one of my compost bins over.

Earlier today, I spent some time planning out what's going to go where, in which grids in my Square Foot garden - taller plants at the back - like most of the beans, root vegetables and salads at the front

I've also planted up some more beans - Broad and Dwarf French this time, which now makes four different types so far. Using old toilet rolls filled with compost, so I can plant them directly into the ground when they come up. No sign of anything appearing in the 'pots' I planted up last week - early days I guess, if indeed they sprout at all, being pretty old seed.

The first herbs of the year have also been started off - coriander, mint and basil. I transplanted some chives earlier in the week from where they'd seeded themselves on the patio. Lots of tiny little bulbs with roots and the start of flower heads. Replanted them by the back-door for easy access for salads etc.

A few nasturtium seeds have been planted in with the courgettes and the gooseberry. I've just read that they're good companion plants for beans, radish, apples and brassicas, so a few more will get planted when the beans go out.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Vegetable Box - Building Phase 1

A happy co-incidence, when I was out volunteering on Thursday this week, we were repairing a stile. The old wood was going to be dumped onto a pile, where it would be chopped up and probably chipped, so having asked first, I rescued a few appropriate planks which looked ideal for my square-foot plot and turned out to be just the right length.

Today, after putting together a new bench, I created a simple box frame 3ft x 4ft and placed it at the end of the garden, which gets the sun until late in the day. Having broken up the very dry soil where it was going to placed and dug out as much of the bindweed roots as possible, I lined it with dampened newspaper then filled it with a mix of compost, vermiculite, the remnants of a bag of manure that was lying around in the shed and a handful or two of pelleted chicken manure. It's only half full so will need another barrow load or two of compost and if I can get hold of it some well-rotted manual before adding the planting squares.

From what I've read recently the wet newspaper will suppress the weeds. Whether it will have any effect on the rampant bindweed will be interesting to see. As the local cats will think Christmas has arrived early - I've covered it with netting to keep them off.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Waiting For Rain.

Who says you can't fit a quart into a pint pot. My most recent purchase in preparation for the rain forecast for this weekend ... which probably guarantees there won't be any!

Monday, 30 April 2007

Lack of water

It's only April (just) and I'm already decanting water out of the bath onto the garden. Second time so far. Saving the rainwater for the vegetables but the garden is looking so dry and parched already. The lawn which got mowed this weekend already looks much as it does in July.

The early sunshine is all very nice but not so good for the garden. Just my luck that I've decided to have a more productive patch this year and it's the driest so far.

Determined to get some pears on my pear tree this year as in previous years I've lost most of the pearlets (?) to wind or lack of water.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Plant and sow

I took a quick look at the lunar planting calendar this morning having heard great things about how it can improve the success rate of planting, propagation and cropping. Not going totally by the book (as I don't have one) but will see if I can follow the principles.

That said, today's effort ...

Planted up two courgette plants in a mixture of well-rotted (and pretty old) manure, bonemeal (ditto) and home-grown compost.

Tomato plants - Sungold and Ailsa Craig planted up in a grow bag.

Seeds planted - runner beans, mangetout, butternut squash.

Lawn mown, weeding, topped up the pond, shed cleared out a bit - found the mouse that has been hiding away in there and eating the birdseed.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Shopping spree!

Off to the garden centre this afternoon and stocked up on grow bags. Have also bought:

Tomatoes - Ailsa Craig, Sungold and Sweet Million.

Courgette - love growing these but don't have much success as they're thirsty and hungry plants.
Cucumbers - standard long, straight greenhouse variety but it says you can grow them outdoors
Aubergine - wasn't on my shopping list but they were in a multi-pack with the above two, so I thought why not!

Strawberries - Cambridge Favourite - supposedly, juicy, full of flavour and disease resistant, if the birds don't get them.

I also dug out my packs of seeds from the shed earlier this week - viability dubious but I'll plant them up and see what pops up.

Soft Fruit

Already planted up:-

Rhubarb, blueberries - two plants and a gooseberry offshoot.

The rhubarb and blueberries I bought at the beginning of April and have planted up in containers. The blueberries are already in flower and looking pretty healthy. I'll need to cover them in netting to keep the birds off any fruit when it appears. The gooseberry was not much more than a twig which I brought back from friends I stayed with over Christmas. It had a small bit of root and amazingly it was sprouting this spring, so it's also been planted up in a larger terracotta pot. I'm not expecting any fruit from it this year as it's so small but you never know.

The rhubarb was looking a little worse for wear after the Easter weekend but recovered with a good watering and is now growing well.

Thursday, 26 April 2007


OK, I know you're supposed to plant these in the autumn for the best bulbs but I thought I'd plant a few bulbils and see what happens. I've planted out six in three different areas of the garden - two in full sun and one in partial shade.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

In The Beginning

Having recently returned from a trip to Slovenia, I'm feeling even more inspired to turn my humble garden into a productive area. Most of the villagers have their very neat vegetable gardens close to the house. I'm not sure I could take on a full blown allotment and they're in such high demand these days but have often planted tomatoes, courgettes and a few salad vegetables over the years.

This year I want to plant even more, so that I have a good supply of vegetables and maybe even fruit throughout the remainder of the year. I intend to outline my progress in this blog with information on what I'm planting when and how I get on. I'm not going to grow any major crops but want to plant fairly intensively and productively.

I live in Sussex so the soil is pretty chalky but enriched with my own home-made compost which gets all the prunings, weedings, clippings and cuttings from my garden as well as all the vegetable waste from the kitchen. Waste not want not. Last year I gave most of one heap to a friend for his allotment as I didn't need it all. He grows a huge variety of fruit and vegetables, so I'm not even going to try and compete on that scale. I have a double compost bin and cleared out one side earlier this year by giving most of it to a neighbour and shifting the rest into two large dustbins. One side of the composter was filled a few weeks ago and is now being left to rot down and the other side is filling rapidly but fortunately settles down just as quickly.

There's a large population of slugs and snails with which I'm going to be competing. I expect to be battling with them most of the year as well as the visiting cats, which take great pleasure in using any new areas of soil as their toilet! However, I'll be using environmental pest control as much as possible.

I've been reading a few articles about square foot gardening, so my idea is to have a 3ft x 5ft square (ok, rectangle) as the main veg growing area, maybe some smaller squares and several pots. The garden faces east and gets sun for most of the day from early morning until about five or six in the evening. The patio area where most of the pots will go is in sun until early afternoon - around 2pm.