Saturday, 22 August 2009
Friday, 7 August 2009
We dug up the early potatoes last week. These are Arran Pilot which has cropped well. We also dug up the Charlotte potatoes, great taste, definitely one to grow again and a single line of Ratte which we had from Emma and Ian and which produced a heavy crop, though with perhaps not the most interesting taste.
I lifted the garlic a month or so ago. Goodish crop of Cristo, fine crop of Arno, nothing much from Marco. The red onions produced a very disappointing crop but the white onions are spectacular, big onions, very little damage of any kind. They are drying on the slatted bench in the wooden greenhouse. Need to check the variety and consider growing again.
The sweetpeas are better than ever. These are the sweetest smelling. I am particularly pleased that I grew these myself from seed. They include some Sarah Raven seeds given to me by Zoe which I think are these deep coloured ones.They all have lovely long stems and are ideal as cut flowers - just what the cutting garden is supposed to be doing!A rather bleached out picture of some of the new bed in the side garden. The euphorbias really earn their keep as do the erysimum bowles mauve. The clary which I grew from seed has also been a good and tough addition. The white foxgloves have been a lovely flower but really suffered from the wind tunnel effect at the side of the house.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
The tomatoes are planted out now, with only one solitary pot still languishing in the greenhouse.
Yesterday I planted out nicotiana and cosmos in the side garden in front of the warzone which is the cut down oriental poppies. I have tried to weed the side garden today too but the stony soil and the prolific weeds which have sprung up from the mulching (moral, use compost to fill planting holes, not as a mulch) makes it a thankless task. Still everything looks green and fresh and growing again after the cold start to spring.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
The garden is slowly returning to its usual state of semi-wildness as opposed to the total overgrown mess it was when I got back from my long walk. One of the problems with a naturalistic garden, full of self sown seedlings and every thing jostling for position, is that it easily tips over into chaos. Three weeks of neglect had left it so overgrown it made me want to cry. Now a week of hours of cutting back, weeding, taking out some of the thousands of opium poppies threatening to drown out everything else in the new bed, has just about returned it to something which looks as if it is meant. Not great, not perfect, but in the loosest sense a garden rather than a mess.
I must must must remember next year that the oriental poppies and the foxgloves need staking. Every year I am seduced by how sturdy they look in May and every year we get a ferocious wind slicing along the valley which leaves everything tipsy and twisted. I have also cut back the huge amounts of growth on the poppies as the flowering finishes and am left with a lot of bare soil and mess. I am wondering about zinnias or more cosmos. I suspect zinnias would be better. next year I should try growing some from seed.
Sow more lettuce and other salad stuff - done
Sow more carrots and beetroot - done
Finish cutting back poppies - done
Weed poppy bed - started
Plant annual succession (??)
Move marguerites - done
Weed behind new bed
Mulch path with wood chippings
Tie up sweet peas -done
Weed side bed - started
Dig up lavender - done
so much to do
Friday, 17 April 2009
A lot has been happening over the last week or two. Last weekend we planted the potatoes, at Easter as tradition dictates: Arran Pilot (first early), Charlotte (second early), Pink Fir Apple (maincrop). We also planted a couple of rows of samples given to us by Emma: eight Ratte, five Belle de Fontenay, and six Rooster. All these went into the new bed in the field between the raspberry rows where there will eventually be rhubarb, and in the new lower half of the cutting bed where there will eventually be flowers.
The first sowing of broad beans, peas and mangetout are coming along well in the greenhouse and will soon need to be planted out. I have also sown carrots (just showing today), celeriac (no sign) and beetroot (up and growing strongly). Yesterday I sowed chard and a couple of days ago two sorts of cabbage, Greyhound and Calibos. A couple of weeks ago I sowed some Little Gem lettuce and some mixed salad leaves and they are growing quite strongly.
Ian has sowed more tomatoes this week, together with cucumber and courgettes. So far there is very little outside except for the garlic and onions, all growing well.
I need to weed and rake the slice of the cutting garden which will have to take root veg. There is just no room in the kitchen garden.
I have planted out the three fennel plants that I grew from our own seed, sown in October of last year and overwintered in the greenhouse. They are in the sunnier of the two beds in the side garden. I also planted out seven dianthus, also grown from seed and looking a bit sad and straggly having been in the coldframe for a couple of months, three pulsatilla and three more white foxgloves. Into there also went a phlomis from Great Dixter and three eremurus.
In the shady bed went the other three eremurus, three smyrnium perfoliatum , five arum creticum (these last two also from Great Dixter) and the other three pulsatilla. I know the eremurus really like full sun, but there is sun for a fair part of the day and just not enough room in the other bed for all of them.
The side garden is starting to look a bit more garden like now, although still with patches of bare soil. All these plants sound great but they are tiny! Once the alchemilla and the hardy geraniums have filled out it will be better. The grass seed on the resown lawn is a bit hopeless. Perhaps it will need to be done again.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Saturday, 28 March 2009
We bought some new rhubarb in the autumn. We ordered some very cheaply with our bare rooted plants for the hedging from Buckingham Nurseries and also ordered a collection. The plants were all very small, some laughably so, in 3 in pots and looking totally unlike anything which would ever provide a crop. We heeled them in one of the raised beds while deciding what to do with them. The plan had been to put them into the new bed in the field with the new raspberries but they are so tiny, and we have so many seed potatoes clamouring for space, that we have potted them up today in pots of mixed soil and well rotted manure. We will let them put on some growth over this year in their pots before they go into their permanent home. Ultimately each of these crowns will need about three foot of space. Hard to believe.
3 Sutton, all of a decent size, one smaller than the others,
3 decent sized Victoria
2 small Victoria which came in 3 in pots and don't look much bigger for having spent three months in the ground
3 reasonable sized Timperley Early
1 mingy little Glasnevin Perpetual.
We also raked and riddled the bank in front of the workshop which now contains the soil from the spoil pile after the utility build. The ground breeds stone, it wells up like water in a spring. We have bags and bags of stone which we have removed. With luck this bank will take grass seed now and will soon be part of the field again. I also want to reseed the side garden.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
This afternoon I split each packet in two and put half of each packet into water to soak overnight. The other halves I sowed in three inch pots and put into the propagator. I have read contradictory things about the value of soaking sweet peas so I thought I would do a mini trial. Sweetpeas should germinate within seven to twenty one days so there is plenty of room for manoeuvre there!
Saturday, 21 March 2009
I have also sown beetroot in the greenhouse in guttering and two seedtrays, one of Little Gem and one of mixed salad leaves.
Ian built me another cold frame so now all the foxgloves, the tulips in pots and the eremurus are out of the greenhouse leaving more space for starting vegetables. Ian also sowed some tomatoes which are in the kitchen on the windowsill.
Friday, 20 March 2009
This afternoon I sowed some sweetpeas in the greenhouse, split snowdrops for nearly three hours and began planting out the new bed in the side garden. I have so many white foxgloves that there are 12 out there already and loads still to put in. The soil is only about six or seven inches deep though, stony as always round here and laid on a bed of rock. Will my bed grow? I hope so. I have tried really hard to avoid the temptation to grow things I love which need moisture and rich soil and to focus on the kind of plants which I know thrive here. However this is my first attempt at making a bed which is in sun for the morning and then in shade for the rest of the day. Most of the beds here are in full sun and the oriental poppies, lavender and penstemons which thrive in them are not likely to be happy in half shade. The hellebores seem to be ok in the other bed so I have risked quite a number of other hybrids. I must remember that they should be fed after they have finished flowering and again in September. There are hardy geraniums and some more to move and put in. There are lots of self seeded alchemilla mollis in front of the house which I shall lift and move to the new bed.
Monday, 16 March 2009
It is still far from finished. The grass needs to be reseeded, paths need to be laid and a piece of trellis erected to hide the oil tank for the cottage. It is not currently a lovely spot. It is also not a piece of garden that will be easy to create: the soil is stony and thin, some of the garden gets sun for most of the day but some is in shade for a good while. In the winter the wind is funnelled past the house.
In its favour: the utility is a stone building under a slate roof and you enter the garden by walking under a really noble yew tree; one boundary is a ramshackle stone wall topped by a hornbeam hedge, one boundary is a tumbledown wall and one is a thick, properly disciplined Leyandii hedge. There is a glorious pink rhododendron which has singlehandedly cured me of my dislike of rhododendrons and a Viburnum bodnantense which is lovely but needs a bit of restorative pruning. Many plants just won't grow here at all but there are some already that will: oriental poppies, day lilies, hardy geraniums and crocosmia Lucifer and some daffodils. There are snowdrops along the bottom of the horbeam hedge and wall.
This makes it sound rather more prepossessing that it actually is. At the moment it looks bare, stone filled and totally unpromising.
I have made another big bed, quadrupling what was a narrow bed, perhaps four foot wide, which I dug out and treated with manure a couple of years ago. That strip has been fertile enough to support foxgloves and penstemons so my hope is that with a little cosseting with compost and watering in the first season and careful plant choice, I might be able to create something which will last and look beautiful from the kitchen window.
This is the new bed, at the end of February, to prove the unprepossessing point! The blue thing at the back is a small tree fern under its winter protection.
Plants to go in:
Euonymous Fortuneii Emerald and Gold (H 4 ft, S 5ft 6ins)
Snakes head Fritillaries (7)
Pulmonaria Blue Ensign
Pulmonaria Diana Clare (2)
Euphorbia martini (2)
5 Hellebore orientalis, 4 single, 1 double
another five white foxgloves