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!