Sunday, 22 April 2012

The potatoes are in.... (and other things)

Well after cleaning and treating the wall last weekend, I was really keen to crack on with the planting.  The weather forecast hasn't been looking good for but on Saturday I managed to dodge the showers and still manage to achieve what I wanted.  Started off with digging it over a bit and turning in a bit more manure, then it was time to work out where everything was going to go.
I'd already made a list of all the plants I had available along with their height and spread - I'd been collecting them over the last year - some grown from seed, others bought as plants (in the sales if possible!).  Pretty much all of them are perennial.... Well annuals aren't really an investment are they!

That was pretty much all I did on Saturday, as in the morning we went round local builders merchants looking for wood to shore up the polytunnel excavation.

Sunday's activities included planting the early potatoes - think they should be ready by July.  Also planted one row of peas, and am trying out the cloche to give them a boost.

Popped around to the Grosvenor to get some more compost and as always I checked out the bargain bin! Picked up half a dozen small herb plants so I've put them in one of the wooden troughs.  They look quite healthy so I'm confident that they'll take.  What I was most proud of was the Alstromeria in the 3ltr tub that I picked up - £4 instead of £10!  Looks a bit sorry for itself now, but I've potted into a bigger tub so hopefully it'll perk up.  Eventually it can go in the second flower bed (when it's built/cleared).

Few other things of note from the weekly garden tour.....

  • There are four pots of heuchera under a tree in the copse - and something has made a nest between them.
  • My apple trees have pretty flower buds :-)

Monday, 16 April 2012


Looking back now (and I really should go to bed instead of writing this) I can't remember what we did this weekend.  Most of Saturday was taking up with the first full day of the Beekeeping course (more on that next month), then it was out in the garden for Sunday.  I did skive off for the morning to go out on my bike and visit the bike shop and whilst I was out Mal got stuck in to burning stuff and scarifying the rest of the garden lawn (as opposed to the straggly meadow). He'd also done more digging/clearing of the polytunnel excavations on Friday.

So I got stuck in to cleaning and proofing the bricks on the patio wall above where the cottage garden is going to go. I got a big pile of plants in pots on the patio - either from seed or cheap offers, and somehow they're all going to fit into the one small flower bed!  Maybe I'll have to save some for the next bed.

I'm really happy I got that done as I've been so keen to get that area planted up (for the last year!) so next weekend I can get stuck in.  Good timing as the plants are starting to break free of their pots....

Then I planted some seeds - I think it was Tom's, Peppers, Squash, but I can't remember what the forth thing was... oh well. Bed now.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Rainy days and Mondays

From the hard work and impressive progress on the polytunnel and new vegetable garden, it looks like we'll have more raised beds in production this year. So as the weather was so good for filling up water butts today, I stayed in and did a stock take...

The programme manager in Mal couldn't cope with my handwritten notes, so I had to draw him a picture:

Have to say it's been quite nice today to not really do anything. Usually I'm rushing around trying to do everything at once....

Sunday, 8 April 2012

No stink at all

Well I finally did it. Something I'd not been looking forward to but knew needed doing (I had Monty in my head telling me off). I dug over the compost bed! Mal built two fantastic compost bins from pallets last year - one he put more rotten stuff in, and the other the really fresh stuff. We've been filling the fresh one with all the kitchen waste (but not grass clippings). As the lawn area is so huge, the grass clippings would fill up the compost bins in one go, so they all go in a separate pile at the top of the garden.

So I took all the top fresh material out of the bin and into a pile, then the more rotten material out and into another pile. We'd just cleared last years Brussels Sprouts out of their bed so the waste from them went into the bottom of the bin, then I tried to layer in fresh and rotten material with some wet cardboard (Monty say's that's a good idea). I was really impressed with how much everything had already rotten down, even though we'd done nothing with the compost bin - and there was no smell! Hopefully turning it over will improve things even more.

Last year's new blueberry plants (3 - all Top Hat variety) were starting to outgrow the trough that I had them in, so they've been separated into individual pots - containing a mixture of the soil from the trough and fresh ericaceous compost. Hopefully there'll be lots of blueberry pancakes (with maple syrup!) and blueberry muffins this year....

Next job was tidying up the front yard. We'd bought some box cones last year but failed to pot them up and water them properly so one has died.  Trying not to make the same mistake again, Mal potted up the new box balls, and while he was there I tidied up a few other pots - getting rid of weeds and leaves, and top dressing (adding more compost) to a few that looked a bit low.  All the pots had been grouped together for warmth over the winter, so we spread them out for the summer.

As well as all that, we dug over two of the veg beds behind the shed as they'd been given more soil (dug out from the polytunnel excavation).  One of the other beds there already had red onions planted, so we put white onions into the other half of the bed and covered with fleece and netting.  Hopefully there will be no little creatures digging them up this year.

Have to say it was really nice to have help doing all the little jobs today.  Usually Mal is so busy with digging something (a ditch, or more recently a polytunnel platform).... I've realised how much I've learnt over the last 18 months, as he's been asking questions about planting and stuff!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Moss and sneezing

Mal had a bit of help from Alice (my cousin-in-law) last weekend and has made a real push this weekend, so the digging out for the poly-tunnel is pretty much complete! I think he's not happy with the down-slope edge as he took a bit too much soil out, so is planning on putting a bit back in and stamping it down. He also wants to put a small drainage channel around the down-slope and new fence sides, so it can drain to the bottom corner and into a new drainage ditch!

My contribution to all this effort was to suggest that he starts building the new vegetable beds for this area, so that he has somewhere to put all the excavated soil.

I like to do a tour of the garden when I haven't been out there for a while (week), just to see how everything's growing, what need care, what's taking over etc. This time I found an interesting hole in the grass pile. This is last year's pile of grass behind the conifers.

The hole is about 10 inches across and is at the back of the pile, facing out to the field. I think it's either a fox or a badger, but probably a fox.

I thought it was time I got cracking with the vegetable planting for this year (I have been a bit slack, everything is a bit late). So the tomato seeds I planted a few weeks back have germinated so have been potted on to 3'' pots. They do look a bit lost now.

The leek and chili seeds have germinated and are doing well, but I'd like them to be a bit more established before I do anything with them.

I've also planted seeds for more chili's (different variety), sweet peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

I spent most of the afternoon walking slowly backwards and forwards across the lawn with next-doors borrowed scarifier. Very tedious! Got loads of moss and rubbish out of the lawn though, enough to fill the tractor up six times.... Hopefully, I'll get a chance tomorrow to do the rest of the lawn area then we can think about putting some seed down.
Oh, yeah. Sneezing. I suspect scarifying is not good for those of us that are allergic to pollen.