Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Scorchio !

Well, today is my birthday and what a cracking day - clear blue skies, baking hot sun, not a breath of wind (at least within the walls). As it has been dry for quite a few weeks now, I thought I'd try getting a fire going to burn a lot of the cotoneaster hedging that I cut back -well, it's all gone now, as is the largest burn pile that was situated in the proposed permanent veg area.

So above is a pic of the proposed veg area as it is at the moment, with the residue of a small bonfire in the foreground and the larger one behind that - still a lot of work to do to get it all cleared and formalised for next season though !
After the various fires, I returned to this years "temporary" veg patch, which I have been clearing and preparing using the Mantis Tiller, garden spade and fork and loppers. It is now all cleared and I semi-formalised the edges but as I forgot my builders line, I'll straighten them up next week. So this years veg will be in an area 20m long by 2.5 m wide, which will hopefully be enough - pictured below...

Still on the subject of vegetables, I started sowing some of the seed today. So now, to add to everything else in the greenhouse we have 12 x "Hispi" Cabbage, 12 x "Nelson" Brussels Sprouts, 12 x "Red Arrow" PSB, 6 x Perpetual Spinach and 6 x "Cheesy" Cauliflower. In addition to these I have leeks Lyon Prizetaker and 4 varieties of tomato - Black Cherry, Gardeners Delight, Golden Sunrise and Tigerella, all of which I have started at home and will take over to the garden when they are ready.
The self saved lupin seed that I sowed last wee has already started to germinate and at the moment we have about 40 through. There are also another 2 Tree Peonies through (that makes three in total) - again from self saved seed. The Sweet Peas also had a bit of work done as most were at the right stage to have their main stem cut back to encourage the growth of side shoots. Apparently (and this was new to me, the original main stem of most sweet pea plants is "blind" (in that it will not produce any or very few flowers)

This photo of the greenhouse will give you an idea of how warm it got today - at about 3pm this afternoon, with the double doors and both sets of side louvres being opened on my arrival this morning, the 5 greenhouse vents were still wide open to control he temperature. I dug over the soil in the larger bed in preparation for the tomatoes etc but the smaller bed is still home to some Rainbow Chard and I thought the Red one looked particularly nice in the sunlight

Elsewhere in the garden, the Cherry blossom is just beginning to open and both trees (a variety called "Governor") have more blossom than I have seen before, albeit most of it has still to open - and hopefully the winter wash will have further depleted the pests so that we might actually get a crop !

Everything continues to green up and new shoots are appearing all the time, but at the moment, the main splash comes from the daffs and there are quite a few different varieties within the walls...

The only one I can be sure of naming correctly is the third photo down - this is a variety called Ice Folly - I know cause I planted these ones !
So that's about it for today. Back next week but before I go, here is this week's pic from the Potting Shed

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Weeds, Weeds, No more weeds

I spent almost the entire day on my knees, hand weeding the remainder of the long borders and not a moment too soon as some of the weeds had flowered and would no doubt have set seed before next week, starting the whole cycle off again. As it is, both the long borders are now completely weeded and looking good, especially as things begin to green up and send up new shoots, The daffies are beginning to flower too, which helps add a bit more colour, the geraniums that were divided many many many times at the end of last season and replanted along the inside of the box hedge are starting to put out leaves, the oriental poppies are beginning to bulk up, the campanulas against the wall are beginning to do the same, in fact the whole border looks completely different from the way it looked not so long ago. And there are somewhere in the region of 100 more perennials in the greenhouse to fill it up even more, not counting the tray of lupins I sowed last week (two of which are already up)
Anyway, after watering the contents of the greenhouse, I didn't do much bar weeding, so not really a very exciting week to report, so I'll just show you some piccies and be done with this week.

First off, the clump of daffies by the door into the garden

followed by the contents of the greenhouse

The Rhubarb is really starting to motor (it'll soon hide the remaining Ground Elder!)

And another ariel shot of the long herbaceous borders (okay, not quite ariel but taken from the top of the potting shed)

And finally, a weekly report wouldn't be the same without the view from the potting shed.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Mid March

Well, here we are in the middle of March and things are still threatening to burst into life in the garden, but are not quite there yet. The Pulmonaria which has been in flower for the last two weeks is looking more spectacular with each passing week......

Whilst the daffodils that are in the long borders are just on the point of bursting into flower.......

.....there are a couple that already have. This first one is a dwarf daffodil planted in the small bulb bed by the summerhouse......

and this is one of the original doubles that are located along the line of the path just below this years veg patch under the large holly tree.......

Elsewhere in the garden, there are buds appearing everywhere, as well as weeds, so I started my day by hand weeding the top long border and got about one third of it's length done. I then got the Mantis out and rotovated some more of the ground that will be used for this years veg. There are still a lot of roots that need to be dug up before the Masntis will look at the ground, but once it gets going it's a great machine, and it doesn't wreck your body in the way the large rotovators do. Anyway, some more ground has been blackened and I will do a bit more again next week if it stays dry.

I also sowed some self saved lupin seed as Sally would like a wall of lupins just below the hedge of the lower long border and there aren't as many self-seeded plants in the border this year.
The greenhouse continues to flourish with everything greening up nicely and most of the sweet peas are through.
And just to prove that patience really is a virtue, I sowed some tree peony seeds that I gathered at another garden I work at,  about 18 months ago - left them outside for the best part of that time and today,,, look what I have... a baby tree peony !!!!!

To finish the day off I lifetd some more leeks and cut some PSB for Sally.
And finally, here is this weeks piccie of the borders from the potting shed. See you all again next week.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dave's Got A New Toy !!

But first.....
Having bought the veg seeds for the year (with the exception of tomatoes and seed tatties which Sally is going to organise, here is what we intend to grow in the garden this year....
Leeks - Musselburgh
Cabbage - Hispi
Spring Greens - Offenham Flower of Spring
Savoy Cabbage - Tundra
Cauliflower - Cheesy
Runner Bean - Achievemnet
Climbing French Bean - Cobra
Beetroot - Bolthardy
Parsnip - Gladiator
Carrot - Early Nantes 5
Onion (from Sets) - Centurion & Sturon
Perpetual Spinach
PSB - Red Arrow
Kale - Black Tuscan
So enough to be going on with.
Anyway, upon getting to the garden this morning, I planted up the onion sets of Centurion and Sturon (50 of each) into 10 cell packs. They were just planted into straight, unadulterated MP Compost and then placed in the greenhouse, alongside all the perennials and sweet peas, all of which seem to be coming along nicely.

Then, unable to resist the temptation any longer, I set about assembling the new 4 Stroke (Deluxe) Mantis Tiller. After a bit of confusion over the handle configuration, it was up and good to go.

Having assembled it, filled it with oil and petrol and starting it up, I gave it a go on the small area at the far end of the lower long border. After a few false starts (it doesn't like stones !!) I mastered the technique and I have to say that it is a very impressive piece of kit. I have used one before on well cultivated soil but never on weed-ridden, root-infested virgin ground, which is what I decided to break it in on. Well, it's gotta start somewhere !
So it was off to where the veggies will be this year. Now this area is littered with the buried roots of a lot of the scrub trees that I cut down when I started the initial clearance, so I also took a fork, a spade and some loppers with me. The roots that the tiller got jammed on, I either dug or pulled up and the tiller did an admirable job on the rest of it. A big rotavator mgiht have been quicker but after the initial sod-busting, it would be redundant, whereas the Mantis will be a useful tool throughout the various  garden areas, even when they are fully planted up.

These piccies above show the area under cultivation for this years veg crops - there is about the same sort of area after the pile of black polythene, so that should be sufficent for this year, whilst I work on clearing what will become the permanent veg patch.
The daffies in the border still aren't in bloom but are damn near to it -there are a few out under the holly tree down the bottom of the garden, but I reckon another fornight and we should have a decent display to photograph.

The rhubarb is going mental - the following pic is of three (yes only three) crowns that I transplanted
soon after I started in this garden - look at the number of heads coming through - ridiculous! (And please ignore the Ground Elder and Couch Grass - these plants obviously had troots that were entangled through the actual crowns themselves, hence the reason they are still there !!

So that's about it for this week, just one final thing to do - this weeks piccie from the Potting Shed...
See you next week.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Garden Plan

For those of you who follow this blog, whether a registered follower of not, I think that it might help your understanding of what is happening where if I drew up a rough sort of plan for you, so here it is. It was done on Powerpoint and converted so I hope it's ok.

This will let you see where all the major areas of the garden are/ The green circles are fruit trees, the red circles are the holly trees and the areas still in white are as yet not fully reclaimed or don't have a final use determined. The small black square (top centre) is the Summerhouse. If you would like more detail I can supply rough dimensions fo all the areas.