Sunday, 29 March 2009

Broccoli and frost

Today I harvested the first purple sprouting broccoli of the year - only a small amount, but there's lots more to come!

As predicted, the weather last week was appalling - windy, cold and wet with hail.  I didn't have the courage to get out there.  And I didn't spot that the wind had blown the cover of the lettuce plants.  So by the time I got to it, the weather had done for some of the plants.  C'est la vie - I did plant loads in the expectation I would lose some, and I do have lots of seed left.  So in the next couple of weeks I'll infill the gaps.

One of the broccoli plants was also blown over - I've never seen that before, so it must have been extremely windy.  I've propped it back up with a cane and some string, it should be fine.

Anyway, my resolution for this gardening year is to record absolutely everything I harvest, so I can identify the retail value of the crops I grow.  It should be interesting adding it all up by the end of the year.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Peas and Potatoes

The weather is forecast to be wetter and colder next week, so today I decided to get the potatoes and peas in, in case it is a week or so before I can get back to it.  I'm soft and don't like gardening in the cold if I can avoid it!

Here's one of the three potato beds before I covered them over.  The soil here is really good now, thanks to a large dose of horse manure and cat compost last year.  Planting potatoes is always hard work, digging them up is heavy work too - why do I do it?  I must be mad.  But we did have potatoes for two of us to eat for 5 months last year, am aiming for six months this year!  Varieties are Pentland Javelin (first early) and Cosmos (second early).  Pentland Javelin are completely resistant to slugs, Cosmos are semi-resistant.  I don't do maincrop as if the summer is wet both slugs and blight consume more potatoes than I do!

The peas are rather easier, shallow trenches, sown liberally as some of them always fail to grow.   The variety is Alderman, one of the old tall ones - the short peas which are the most common ones grown these days (as farmers like them) only feed the slugs in this part of the world.  These peas were fantastic last year, so I am hoping for a good crop again this time.

Finally, a bit of nature.  This is a photo of one of my starlings.  I say 'my' starlings because they nest under the ridge tiles of my roof every year.  Today, having cleared out the remnants of last year's nest over the last month or two, they started building this year's, using moss collected from a wall nearby.  This is the female, who I managed to snap leaving after depositing her moss.  You can't see the ridge tiles from this angle, but the nest sits on a beam which runs through my bedroom, and I hear the chicks hatch in the spring.  Last year they raised 5 youngsters, not sure how they fitted in the small space!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Another sunny day...

Scilla (sibericans? not sure) - small but pretty and a cheerful shade of blue.

Today was broad bean planting day - the variety is Super Aquadulce.  The ground was already prepared, so it was a 10 minute job to put them in.

Then it was on to the strawberry bed.  It's difficult to weed the strawberries after July, as once they have fruited they send out runners to make new plants, so I don't like to disturb them.  So the bed is full of grass and dandelions, covered over with dry leaves which fell from the tree in the winter.  Once a year I get down on my hands and knees to weed and mulch them.

So here's the recipe:
2 parts dry leaves from the strawberry bed, crushed
1 part good quality home made compost
1 part well rotted horse manure
Mix all together well, spread around the plants.  In addition, you will need:

1 comfortable kneeling pad
1 half decent back which is not protesting too much at excessive spring gardening
1 trowel

Got that?

I have done at best one-fifth of the bed, if you look at the top right of the picture you will see an unweeded bit for contrast.  It's gonna be a long job...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

More crocuses

I saw these as I walked past the church yesterday so today I took my camera.  I don't think there's anything more beautiful than crocuses naturalised in grass.  To appreciate them better, click on the picture.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Spring has arrived!

Finally, a lovely warm, sunny day with a light breeze - just perfect for gardening, and this weather is forecast to last most of the week.

It's amazing what a difference a week makes in the vegetable garden at this time of year.  In the last few days, everything has grown apace.  The garlic has come through well and is growing very fast, the onions are starting to show now, the leeks are fattening up and there are flower buds on one of my apple trees.

The rhubarb is growing well...

The purple sprouting broccoli will be ready to eat in a week or so...

So I had to get out and get on with preparing the ground.  This morning I finished weeding the apple tree beds, then manured them, the plum tree, all the raspberries, the gooseberries, the blackcurrant, redcurrant and whitecurrant.  That's all the fruit manured now except the strawberries, which need a kneeling down hand weeding and feeding.  Maybe later in the week.

Then I finished preparing a bed for the broad beans and peas - composted and manured it, then covered it with a cloche to warm the soil.  After that I composted one of the potato beds as the potatoes will be ready to go in the ground in the next few weeks.

After all that, every muscle in my body ached, so I decided to call it a day.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


The daffodils which I keep in a pot at the side of the house are now in full bloom and they are a very cheerful sight.  Not easy to take a photo when the wind is blowing strongly, but I managed to get one decent one out of three attempts.

Lots of rain and wind here over the last few days, the weather is forecast to improve tomorrow so I hope I can get out to do some work then.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Crocus and Primrose

The crocuses and primroses are in full bloom now, the daffodils not far behind - in the sheltered areas anyway.

The weather here has turned cold, wet and sleety so little work has been done.  I did manage to finish a winter job, which was to move my teasel plants to a new place - a formerly derelict area which I cleared and composted last summer in preparation.  But that's all - the weather turned after that.

Friday, 6 March 2009


When I took this picture, I didn't realise that the camera had focussed on the stamens of the plant, blurring the petals.  It's an unusual effect, not sure if it is a good or bad photo!  What do you think?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009