Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Today was a belter - blue skies and a scorching sun - I now know why these Mediterranean types take a siesta! Anyway, on with this weeks update.
As per, here is a pic of the borders from the potting shed - and no, I still haven't bought a polarising lens for the camera.

Anyway, having finished weeding and running the soil miller over the two long borders last week, it was back to the fruit bed today - lovely lovely weeding. We had an upper canopy of nettles, thistles and willowherb with a ground cover of shepherds purse, dockens and creeping buttercup, with a couple of patches of ground elder thrown in for good measure. And to make matters worse, I forgot my gloves so the nettles were, quite literally, a real pain. However, persistence and a lot of sweat  gets the work done and here is a picture after I finished todays patch.

And just in case some of you out there in the ether think I might be over-exaggerating the weeds  that result from 24 years of neglect, here is what is on the cards for next week

The soil  miller is on the ground and the tip of the red handle is 6'4" high to give an idea of what awaits me.  However, it needs done so that we can get some bare root fruit bushes and raspberry canes in this Autumn.
Down in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are still green, and healthy and the fruits are beginning to grow a bit, the first two mini-cukes are ready to be picked, the chard is flourishing (both Richard and Sally are now converted to the Chard Cause), but the capsicums seem to have hit a wall as far as development goes. There were three tomato plants in small square pots, so I potted these up nto large pots today and they can join the rest of the plants in the greenhouse. There is a cell pack of lettuce ready to plant ou, another one just germinated and a cell pack of Florence Fennel that is gernminated but needs another few weeks before it is ready to go out. The aubergines are flowering but no fruits set as yet.
Richard, Sally and myself had a brief chat about rotavatorsa dnthey have asked me to research the various models available. Looking at the garden, you might think a larger model would be best, but given the longer term plans, I am currently favouring something like a petrol Mantis Tiller, as this could be used in all the borders, between plants, in the fruit bed, the veg beds etc and over time various attachments could be added. However, I will look further at other options.
On the what's new front, the purple buddleija is starting to flower
but the white one is at least a week away and the plants that were on the cusp of flowering last week are still on the cusp this week. I can report however that the various Scabious like this hot dry windless weather and even I have to admit that they do look nice when they are not being battered by Mother Nature. The sweet peas are beginning to motor too.
Sally has been asked to buy some slug pellets as the snails are sttacking the "SkyHigh" dahlias, but other than that, it was a perfectly pleasant day, and the plants seemed to be enjoying it too.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

July 20th - not very imaginative - but factual!

Quite a busy day today - though mostly spent on my knees weeding (again). Anyway there are quite a few piccies this week so on with the show. As usual here is this weeks pic of the borders from the potting shed
This was yaken first thing this morning and since it was taken, I have pruned the cherry tree, apple tree and one of the roses that are on the south facing wall, so the wall looks a bit tidier now with most if not all the outward facing growth removed.
To start with this week lets have a look at the veggies. If you recall I dug two 8' x 4' beds in the area reclaimed from the wild and these were planted up to take the spare veg that wouldn't fit into the temporary veg bed along the west facing wall. Here is what we have now

If you take a closer look (click on the photo and it will enlarge) you can see that the spray I applied recently is starting to take effect. Anyway, I weeded both these beds  and although the brassicas have suffered a little bit of pigeon damage, it's nothing that the plants can't handle now that they are bigger. The Runner Beans are climbing away and are starting to show their flowers, the bCrimson Flowered Broad Beans have nearly finished flowering and have begun to set beans and the beetroot is almost at an edible size. Elsewhere, the leeks are now settled in their home in what will eventually be the fruit bed

And the PSB that was absolutely stripped back to the leaf ribs by the flying rats is making a very healthy and speedy recovery

In the main bed, the onions continue to bulk up, although one had bolted today so I removed it to stop any others getting the same idea. The Tenderstem broccolli continues to produce side spears though maybe not as many as had been hoped for. The Petit Posy look really healthy though there one plant that is definitely a throwback to the parentage and is very close to (if not actually) 100% kale. The potatoes are okay but nothing fantastic in terms of yield for earlies, and the carrots are looking good too. Unfortunately, the three courgettes are really struggling to get going and the recent spate of really cold nights are not helping it at all.. In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are in the rudest of health, the capsicums are beginning to busg out, the aubergines are still flowering and there are lots of cucumberettes on the Pepita cuke.
So onto the rest of the garden. As I mentioned you can start to see the Glyphosate working on the centre area of the garden

I reckon another dose in about three weeks should see us okay and then we can start to get cracking on the vegetable beds along the bottom of this area. And whilst I might not always think that rotavators are a good thing, I shall definitely be speaking to Richard and Sally about either borrowing or hiring one for this task.
Now I hope someone out there can assist me with  this next one. There is a tree by the end of the Rose Bed which doesn't really do anything exciting but it is home to a lovely old climbing rose. Thr trouble is this - it is riddled with the pox!!

I am not a fan of this tree ( not sure but I think it may be a viburnum of some sort) and if it going to be home to 1001 pests and diseases then I shall be happy to let it say hello to Mr Husquvarna!. So can anyone enlighten me to as to what this tree is, and what is causing the deformed leaves - there are no aphids or scale or other beasties visible on either side of the leaves. The sweet peas that were put out in the border are all looking helathy and are climbing up their natural cane supports and have started flowering now

However the ones that I planted up in a large pot to climb over the potting shed arch along with the runner beans (which are doing really well) were not looking too happy this week so I have now transplanted them into the border in the hope that they will start to pick up.
Elsewhere in the garden, we have the folowing new faces

Phlox Paniticulata

A large and original rambling rose (variety as yet undecided!)

The last of these is a bulb and is planted under the Garrya elliptica tree by the summerhouse. Due to the excessively heavy rains and strong winds the tree seemed to drop it branches lower and lower and the Ipheom is growing almost horizontal with the soil in an effirt to get to the light! Some pruning of the Garrya may be necessary to let the light back into this bed. On the other side of the summerhouse, the honeysuckle has started to grow away again after being chopped right back.
That's about it. I staked some more plants that had taken a beating from the recent rains and there are sevaral plants just on the cusp of flowering, including the Verbascum hastata, Verbascum bonariensis, Centaurea and the Eryngiums.
The two long borders have now been weeded, dead headed and the soil miller has tidied them up so next week I should be able to get back to reclaiming the fruit bed.
That's all folks - see ya next week.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Better weather (for a bit anyway)

Well, for the first time in a few weeks I had a decent day of weather in the garden, so there was lots to catch up on but as always before I begin here is this weeks photo from the potting shed.
Apologies for the poor quality but as before this camera doesn't like bright sunlight - I really must buy a polarising filter for the lens.
So, what happened this week. Well, Richard and Sally have been busy bees - the gravel floor is now in the greenhouse and there is also gravel on the steps down to the greenhouse - Sally is not too convinced about the latter but I think after it gets washed by the rain and when the alchemilla, lavender and Nepeta all start to bush out over the edges it will look just fine - there's too much of a contrast between the light colour of the gravel and the dark soil at the moment.

In the greenhouse, the tomatoes have fairly got a shift on with the warm weather recently and the first fruits have now formed. The three aubergines in 5 litre pots are flowering, the cucumber Pepita is producing baby fruits like a plant possessed, the chard is now ready to harvest for the colourful stems as well as for the leaves and the peppers are starting to bush up a bit, albeit still quite slowly.
Elsewhere on the veg front, I dug up some new potatoes (Charlotte and Belle De Fontenay). These are still quite small (though definitely edible size) but are all nice and clean. The runners are starting to climb quite vigourously and have produced their first flowers, the Crimson flowered broad beans are now setting their beans, the beetroot is almost at edible baby beet size, and the onions are looking good - starting to bulb up well and the foliage is still strong.
On the brassica front, the PSB plants that were ravaged by flying rats and are now residing under a net have all produced new growth from the centres so they should come okay, and the leeks are settling in well.
In the borders, the sweet peas are stll clambering up their supports and the first blooms have just opened, the campanula growing in clumps along the south facing wall is flowering

The Alastromeria which last year had a lot of gren growth and absolutely no flowers was divided into clumps and planted throuhgout the borders is now flowering quite happily - every clump bar one has flowers this year

And the giant rambler rose is flowering - it looks quite spectacular in full bloom -I did take a couple of pics but due to the cameras dislike of bright conditions, they were very indistinct, so hopefully next week I'll get a better photo that will show this in it's full glory.
Of the three redcurrant bushes that we planted last year, two now have berries and one does not. It should be mentioned that all three bushes are alledgedly the same variety but all three have very different growth habits, so I think we'll take cuttings from the best one this year to multiply the numbers.

What else did I get done? I managed to finally get the section clearad by the digger sprayed off with Glyphostae again, so hopefully this will help eliminate a lot of the weeds before I can start working the ground properly.
I also got up on the south facing wall and cut back the new growth on the two cherry trees and also on the big rambling rose I mentioned earlier. I continued to weed the border against the wall, removing two shrub roses which have failed to deliver, and ran my Wolf Soil Miller over the lower border, trying to avoid as many of the self seeded lupins as possible. This really does make the borders look well, especially when there is still a fair bit of bare ground on show.
I also sowed some Florence Fennel and another batch of lettuce - Red Iceberg this time.
I'm sure there was more but my brain isn't working - Maggie and the girls have been at Embo this week and I've been going over in the evenings, and so far I have had about 14 hours sleep in the last four nights -I don't know if it's the sea air but I have been waking up between 4am and 5 am every morning. I even went out to watch the sunrise this morning!
Anyway, catch you all next week, when things should have returned to normal and the blog will be updated in a more timely fashion.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rain Rain Go Away (Please!)

Another wet day in the garden - especially this afternoon. So it was just a case of weeding, weeding and more weeding - the weeds seem to be the only things that enjoy this weather. Before I start on about what other jobs got done or need doing as soon as the weather picks up, here is todays piccie of the border from the potting shed

All the PSB that I had planted out last week was munched sometime on Sunday night / Monday morning - wood pigeons are the prime suspects. Sally went and bought some net and they are now netted, so lets just hope the flying rats have left the growing tips intact, if not on all the plants then on the majority. The plants have been eaten right back to the ribs, not a single patch of main leaf remains, so I have some doubts, but we'll wait and see.
All the other brassicas are fine and Sally has been picking the Brokalli for the last couple of weeks. I lifted a couple of tattie plants today to have a look see, but they are still a bit small, though they looked nice and clean from what I could see.
In the greenhouse, pinched out the tomato sideshoots, tied the new growth onto the canes, and did the same with the cuke. Thr Capsicums haven't put on as muich growth as I would have expected as yet - maybe they are still settling in. The chard is looking good, and both Richard and Sally had some the other night which they both enjoyed, which is good.
The aubergines in 5 litre pots are beginning to flower too, so all in all the greenhouse is doing okay.
The Campanula clumps planted against the south facing wall are now about 6ft high and so I tied them all back to the wall wires to stop them leaning too far into the garden and collapsing. I also staked the sea hollies as these were prone to collapsing last year.
The only new arrivals in the border are the Achillea Summer Pastels, which had started to flower last week but looked better this week.
Richard collected a load of gravel from the local quarry this afternoon, so next week I'll barrow it down to fill the greenhouse floor and also put some on the log steps down to the greenhouse. Also on the list for next weekend - clear last of the poppies, stake whatever needs staked, deadheading, weeding (no suprise there) and if we get a dry Wednesday, another blast of glyphosate on the area cleared by the digger a while back -it's getting a bit too green again.
That's it - not a very exciting day today thanks to the weather but if it was hot and dry all the time I'd be moaning about having to water everything.
Til next week