Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Rain Finally

 The pond plants are flowering and we have had a lot of overdue rain which is most welcome.
Picked this monster beefsteak tomato which will certainly last more than one meal!

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Heatwave harvest

 This frog has been enjoying the cool water in our pond, as have the newts which have also taken up residence. The rest of us have been sweltering in the heat and, in my case, spending large amounts of time watering plants.

 The effort is paying off with the courgettes producing great fruit despite their extremely sunny location. By contrast, the early peas and beans struggled and have now died.
 The tomatoes have been loving the heat and the crop is set to go on for months, best year we have ever had, thanks to my little greenhouse.

This year I switched to a hardneck garlic, Lautrec Wight, instead of the softneck I had grown for years. We have had great weather so I might just have been lucky, but it is an excellent crop. Clearly at our northern latitude, hardneck is the way to go.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

First Harvest 2018

Although I have been picking small quantities of fruit and veg, the first true harvest is the shallots.  They are in the greenhouse to dry out now. I've not done these in years, and they look good so I'm looking forward to eating them.

The unusually dry summer is having a positive effect in some veg, no slug holes in these leaves!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Making a New Flower Bed

This is a flower on an old bush rose which I inherited with a small parcel of land across from my house.  It was in a poor state, but I pruned it and it picked up a bit.  It was overshadowed by a lot of trees but all that changed a few years ago when the trees were removed to put a temporary bridge in place while the old bridge was rebuilt.

Here is the bridge, the rose is just out of shot to the left.

One year ago the temporary bridge was removed, trees are not possible here now due to the concrete foundations left behind which you can see here.  They cleaned it up, rebuilt the river wall and filled it with soil.

So I set about replanting, replacing plants which I had moved out into pots during the work, supplemented by bulbs and some donations from neighbours.  The surprise was how well the rose did once the trees were removed.  It got rather overgrown by weeds during the works and I did very little other than remove dead stems.  But this year it has quadrupled in size, surprisingly, and is covered in flower buds.

This is a shot of the replanted bed.  Along with the rose, other plants I moved in here have done surprisingly well.  The bed gets a lot of sun in the summer and most plants seem to love it.

However, the soil is not great.  It was builders soil and so had no worms or life in it.  I have introduced worms with the relocated plants so I hope they will work hard this year.  During the winter the soil got very wet, but now it has baked hard and there has also been some settling in the hole.  So I intend to bring in more soil over the summer.  I will post updates on progress this year.

Spring at High Speed

After a long, very cold and very wet winter, spring came late but now, a month later, we are in summer!  High temperatures and low rainfall are now creating their own challenges.  The rhubarb this spring is enormous.  I manured and mulched the bed in December, it was the last thing I did before the cold and it has paid off.

The broad beans took a long time to get going but germination has been 100%, they's growing on well now.

The onions and garlic (beyond the rhubarb here) are enjoying the weather.  But with so little rain (1 day in last fortnight) we are now watering them occasionally.

The greenhouse has been doing well, with a great crop of chillies so far.

The tomatoes are growing on strongly now.  I have planted out most of the seedlings remaining in the greenhouse, so have now removed the staging and staked the plants to bring them on.  As it is the first year of growing tomatoes in here, I have bought 6 different varieties to see what does best.  I also have some radish, spring onion, lettuce, parsley, cucumber and small sweet peppers in here.  It's a small space but with no need for a path down the middle, every inch is usable.

When I rebuilt the greenhouse after the storm, I removed the roof window to improve stability.  But as it still needs ventilation, I cut the side polycarbonate in half on both sides so I can remove them in warm weather (this photo is taken through one side and shows the other).  The prevailing wind then blows straight through so no damage, but I can leave the front doors shut to maintain a good temperature.  It gets the sun all morning and then again late afternoon.  Without ventilation parts of the greenhouse get to 35 degrees C, but with it, it seems to maintain a fairly constant daytime temp of 20 degrees plus.  So far, so good.