Saturday, 4 October 2008

A Bean!

Finally, I have a runner bean!

After a pretty disappointing slug and snail laddened summer, my last remaining runner bean plant has finally managed to produce a couple of beans. The final sprig of flowers was far enough up the plant that the pesky little slimy critters having chomped their way through all the other foliage, probably didn't bother going any further so the plants that are left have a few leaves at the top.

Next year needs a concerted effort earlier in the year to stop them taking over.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Outdoor Cues

The cucumbers are again doing well although with what we had of summer pretty much at an end, I don't know how many of the small fruits are going to ripen up. They were worth the wait last year and there are more of them this year. Having prickly leaves they also manage to escape the rasping mouths of the slugs and snails even though they're going horizontal - much easier to let them hug the ground with all the wind we've had this year.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Slowly Ripening

Finally - with the wind blowing them free from their stakes at regular intervals and the rain meaning that I don't have to water very often, the tomatoes are finally starting to ripen!

All at once of course and the plants are looking pretty pathetic but at least something has grown this year.

The lettuce (those that weren't eaten by the slugs) have started to bolt, except the one that I planted up in the salad trough. That one also seems to have escaped the notice of the slugs and snails.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Most Successful Crop So Far

Is slugs and snails.

Last night I picked a variety of slugs and snails - various shapes and sizes from the really big, fat ones with orange stripes down the sides, leopard spotted ones, to little, grey-brown ones and then a whole host of normal garden snails - who were all munching away happily on courgettes, what's left of my beans and any that were working their way between or around the two.

I even pulled one out from the centre of what's left of a hosta that's been valiantly trying to regrow it's leaves.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Mean Green Chomping Machines

The Square Foot Garden is having a hard time this year - what with the wind, rain, cold and generally un-summer-like weather and then to top it all, I walked out this morning to head off to an early morning meeting to find an array of snails all over what's left of the runner beans. After I'd been away for a couple of days, I came back to find some of the plants had been reduced to just stalks. They've been slowly demolishing them and as fast as I pick them off, the quicker they appear. I spent a quick five minutes picking them off and added another dozen or so to the bucket and a few more when I returned a couple of hours later. It's going to have to be a daily vigil while I desperately try to coax enough to survive so that I get at least a few runner beans this year - but it's not looking too hopeful.

The mangetouts never got going and have totally disappeared. The lettuce I planted out a couple of weeks ago have amazingly enough survived quite well so far and are growing fast.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Two Days Away

Returned from a weekend in Wales to find that the garden has survived, (there was enough rain to keep it watered) although the snails have been at the runner beans and four plants have been reduced to nothing more than stalks and stems and the rest are looking bedraggled and a bit sorry for themselves. They've also had a chomp at the pepper plants on the patio - little blighters!

Only one slightly overgrown courgette and the rest yet to come. They really only look as if they're getting going now and are still very small.

Still picking spinach which is getting a bit straggly. The rocket went to seed ages ago but has some very attractive white flowers that I've just left, having planted some more seed which doesn't seen to have gone anywhere.

Picked a good half punnet of blueberries, which seem to be ripening up much more slowly this year and not in one great flush. Lovely big berries on one bush which seem to get large the longer they're left and it's more prolific that the other one.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Lettuce and Beans

Just planted up some lettuce in the SFG - probably snail fodder but we'll see. I think they're cos-type lettuce as they're unlabelled as I picked them up at a local show. Plenty of them but they'll all ripen at once, so I might be passing them round to friends and neighbours.

The SFG is a bit sparse this year. The runner beans are slowly working their way up the poles and the mangetout are having a hard time getting going and were a bit dried out when I got them but haven't totally died back yet.

Given the whole garden a good drenching as it's been dry and everything including the veg is suffering, although the veg pots and beans do get watered every day. I've lost one cucumber, it never really got going having been planted but the other two are growing well, although it will be a while before any flowers appear.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Fresh Blueberries

The blueberries are having a hard time making it from the bush into the kitchen. They're just so yummy at the moment and ripening up nicely in small batches, so I can easily pick a handful every couple of days for breakfast ... as I said, if they make it that far.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Pickings And Plantings

Lots more courgettes picked - all slightly misshapen. Planted up the chilli pepper and a sweet red pepper in pots which fresh compost. Now started feeding the tomatoes as they're starting to set although still pretty small.

Everything seems so much further behind this year. A combination of the weather and planting out later - again because of the weather, it was so cold, wet and windy earlier in the year.

Friday, 11 July 2008

First Courgettes

Picked my first courgettes of the year. The plants are actually looking quite healthy at the moment as it's not been as dry this year and I'm keeping up with the feeding.

Blueberries For Breakfast

Picking blueberries for breakfast straight off the bush. Not as many fruits as last year but the ones that are there are big, fat juicy ones.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Beans Are In

Finally planted up the SFG having cleared out the cat cr*p. They basically ignored the carefully laid trellis and just did their business right on top of it. Already picked the first of the mangetouts before they even got in the ground. They certainly live up to their name of sugar peas - nothing beats picking them straight off the plant.

Have also planted up two rows of runner beans. Let's hope they're more successful than last year and don't get blown about too much - mmm, maybe the wind will blow the snails off! The wind hasn't let up for almost two weeks but at least we've now had some rain as although the veg is looking OK, the rest of the garden is pretty dry. Sprinkled some cat pellets all over the area in an attempt to discourage them. I think barbed wire, search lights and an armed guard patrolling the perimeter is the only solution.

Friday, 4 July 2008

What's In My Veg Box - This Week

A tiny artichoke, an aubergine, potatoes, carrots and a bunch of salad leaves - a mix of rocket, cos, chard, parsley. I've switched to a smaller box, which actually came in a carrier bag (paper) and finally, after a bit of confusion, think they've got the order sorted out, as boxes were turning up when I was away or not expecting one. Still have plenty of onions from previous deliveries but at least those keep.

Depending on how successful my crops are - will probably stop the order over the summer months (if we ever get a summer this year).

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fresh Lunch

Picking spinach leaves for lunch - fresh from the garden. The tomatoes have started to set but it will be a while before I'm picking them for lunch.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Preparing The Ground

Cleared out the SFG this afternoon and sifted a few barrow loads of compost to mix in and top up the soil. I've covered the whole lot with plastic trellis in the hope that it might discourage the cats.

Still very windy today, so I haven't planted out the beans and hope it drops in the next couple of days.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Need More Beans

Well, four runner bean plants isn't going to give me much of a crop, so I've just picked up some more from Louvain Nursery just up the road, together with some mangetout plants. The SFG needs clearing as I haven't had anything to plant in it up until now and was hoping that leaving the existing plants gone to seed and weeds would at least discourage the cats.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Runner Bean Seedling

Well, so far one of the runner bean seedlings is starting to force it's way to the surface. Fingers crossed that it's not going to be the only one! I'll then decide where to plant them, back in the square foot garden again or in one or more of the pots/tubs. The SFG will be better as there's more room for them but I'll need to cut back a lot of the surrounding vegetation to make it easier to get to and hope that they don't suffer as badly from snail attack as they did last year.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Success With Seedlings

All the cucumber seedlings have germinated and the mix of salad seedlings are growing quickly in the salad trough with the recent warmth and rain. More of the spinach seeds have come up but there are a few salad and rocket seedlings which can be pricked out and ready to sow the next succession.

Have now sown up some more runner beans to see if I can actually get some to germinate this year before giving up and going off to buy plants.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Planting Session

Planted up this year's crop of courgettes, plenty of home made compost in the same tubs as last year but hope to have a better crop this time, plenty of feeding and watering.

Tomatoes also got planted up - four varieties - three small plants bought at the Plumpton Show - Money maker, Ailsa Craig and Gardener's Delight. I have no idea which one is which as none of them have labels so will find out when the fruits develop. The other one from Stanmer Nurseries is a beef tomato variety, now in it's own pot.

After last year's success with cucumbers, I've also planted Ridge cucumber seeds.

The salad seedlings are coming through. The rocket came up first, followed by the spinach and I was about to give up on the lettuce but those too are coming up. I'll thin them out when they get a little bigger and sow a few more seeds every couple of weeks.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

First Seeds of the Year

I've been a bit slow getting things going in the garden this year. Had intended to stuck in after Easter but the next month just disappeared with getting my book writing finished and mixed weather (snow). Finally picked up some tomato plants, having failed to find any at last week's car boot and got the seed packets out this weekend.

Three tomato plants - Alicante, Money-maker and gardener's Delight to get things started, although as the plants are small and unlabelled - I have no idea which is which.

Replenished the soil in one of the troughs and planted it up with a mix of spinach, rocket and Salad Bowl salad. A variety that you just pick the leaves as you need them.

Went to plant out some of my beans and found that the packet of mange-tout seeds was empty. Not a trace - just a small hole in the bottom. The same for the runner bean seeds but these were obviously not as tasty as they hadn't been eaten.

Friday, 2 May 2008

What's In My Veg Box?

Some yummy leaves. Yes, doesn't sound exciting but they're great - a mixture of different salad leaves. Onions the size of footballs. Fresh tomatoes and a bunch of carrots.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

What's In My Veg Box - This Week?

My veg box has just started including salad leaves, even though it's not yet salad season. A mixture of spinach, rocket and various other leaves and this being a small world they're from Fletching Glasshouses - owned and run by a business colleague I met a couple of years ago who has recently moved down to the area.

What's In My Veg Box?

I never quite know what's going to turn up in my veg box each week and sometimes there's a surprise or two. A strange looking vegetable or a bag of leaves which I either have no idea what it is or what to do with.

Thank goodness for the internet and Veg Box Recipes. It's usually possible to track down a photo that matches and find out the best way to cook it.

Monday, 25 February 2008


I've been making marmalade. Very satisfying pouring the lovely sweet smelling, unctuous liquid that has been filling the house, into a variety of glass jars. All done according to Delia's best recipe and in two stages.

Yesterday was the initial slow boil and chopping up of the oranges and lemons. Removing the pulp and then extracting every little last bit of the pectin. Boy did those scratches sting with the ascorbic acid.

Now I have several jars of lovely, thick, dark marmalade to keep me going over the next year. Mmm - what's next ... chutney

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Early Sprouting Rhubarb

The rhubarb is starting to sprout. I saw small pink shoots emerging a few days ago and had thought about forcing it until I was listening to GQT (Gardener's Question Time) and heard that if you force it, you need to rest the crowns the following year and maybe even the second year as it takes a lot out of energy out of the plant.

It's been so mild that things are starting to sprout and even the rosemary has flowers on it.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

January Update

There's not a lot happening out in the garden at the moment. My purple sprouting broccoli hasn't sprouted or at least the little seedlings that emerged haven't grown any further, so no luck there.

The baby squash remained babies and the cold, wet weather has now put paid to them. Will certainly get them planted out earlier this year.

The cats are continuing to use their large litter tray but at least it keeps them out of the rest of the garden. I finally picked a handful of the small red chillies but haven't used them yet. Tiny but they could pack a punch.

Now - I suppose I should be starting to get some of those seeds planted.