13th December, 2010

It's been a long time since the last post. It's been hectic and haven't had too many free weekends. The weather hasn't helped either. I've haven't even had a chance to clear out the greenhouse of the tomatoes and chillies. The broad beans have survived despite prolonged sub zero temperatures. It looks a bit dark in there due to the thick layer of snow on the greenhouse roof.

I'm not sure how well the winter vegetables have survived. The chard looked like a mushy mess. The garden did look nice with all that snow. But precluded any ideas of digging or weeding.

Come spring all these plants will burst into life again (I hope).

My veg cage has collapsed through the weight of snow. I've not investigated if I have any Brussels for xmas.

The snow has also revealed the frequent visitors to the garden. A fox's footprints are fairly obvious and he/she clearly follows a similar route each night. I don't know how they survive in such conditions, so we have been putting out some dog food for them.

The snow melted and refroze and made some beautiful patterns.

The snow has finally melted and I've been able to get down to the bottom of the garden where I was able to inspect the frozen compost bins; the smaller furry friends have been trying to keep warm in them! I managed to collect a nice lot of leaves though.

25th October, 2010

There have been some glorious sunny days of late but this has been tempered by the first sharp frosts. The freezing temperatures should improve the flavour of the winter veg. So I have harvested the first of the parsnips. The one I dug up had a nice neck but the root was split which I attribute to the clay soil. I think the root expanded within the loo roll but didn't go downwards much. More compost needed to improve soil structure.

I also tried some young Brussels sprouts which were also very nice.

Other harvests: beetroot, Swiss chard, spring onions, raspberries, sweet potato, tomatoes, green peppers, last of the aubergines, chillies.

The sweet potato bucket was emptied finally. Not a good yield. I probably anticipated this and won't try again, I think I am too far north to get a long enough growing season.

I also uncovered the celery growing inside the Pringles tubes. One or two will provide a few edible stems but again I'm unlikely to try this again. But never say never.

My Thompson and Morgan seeds arrived so I have sowed 30 broad beans (Claudia Aquadulce) in individual pots which are now in the greenhouse.

I also planted out the overwintering onions (Thompson and Morgan first early) which I grew last year with good results.

I've started collecting leaves, always a worthwhile activity.

13th October, 2010

I've been remiss in not posting in September, despite it being the main harvest time. The reason partly is that I have been busy putting up the fence to replace the Leylandii hedge. I'm quite pleased with the result.

I have been able to do some other work.

Sowing: coriander (for indoor growing through winter). Winter lettuce (my dad gave me some).

Planting: strawberries (I decided to get the new plants I propagated into their final spots before winter set in)

Harvesting: apples (lots of them!), raspberries, turnips, beetroot, Borlotti beans, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers and runner beans.

Yes, runner beans in mid October! Here's the proof.

The aubergines have had a growth spurt just to prove me wrong when I thought I wouldn't get any. Mind you three plants did not produce any fruit, so only a partial success.

And there are some more on the plants.

The chillis are also latecomers. These are the usual cayenne peppers I grow.

These are Bolivian rainbow, given to me by a work colleague who is a keen chilli grower.

The greenhouse is also producing the peppers finally and there are still plenty of tomatoes. Despite my concerns that they are not Gardener's delight, they have a delicious taste.

The Swiss chard has grown very fast in just over a month.

These are just some of the apples. A good harvest.

And seven pumpkins for Halloween and pies.

Finally, this is the very large heap of hedge shreddings and grass mowings that will make some lovely compost next year. Yes, you read correct, grass mowings! I'm still mowing the lawn in October.

The compost makes the soil go much darker and I'm really impressed with how it is transforming the clay soil.

31st August, 2010

The rain has returned and we take our family holiday. Typical. We went to the Forest of Dean which is very nice and it would have been lovely if it was sunny! I don't know how people can do camping in that weather.


Still not sown any winter lettuce.


My dad gave me some spring cabbage.


Potatoes: all dug up since the soil was softer due to the rain.
Dwarf and runner beans
Sweetcorn: deliciously sweet and large cobs too.
Raspberries, blackberries and plums: the plums are fantastic.

The spring sown onions have dried out nicely.

Inside the greenhouse, everything looks lush but it's been a bit of a failure. There are no melons, the aubergines are only just showing fruit and most of the peppers have not fruited. The chillis seem to be late too, but I'm not so worried about them as I still have plenty that I dried from last year.

This is a green pepper forming on the smallest plant. I think the problem is due to low light levels under the greenhouse shelving.

Another disappointment, the butternut squash just doesn't seem to have taken off, there should be a lot more leafy growth.

The swiss chard and purple sprouting broccoli are growing quickly under their protective netting. They will soon outgrow it so it will have to come off but by then there shouldn't be any white butterflies anymore. In the spring I should be able to use the veg cage that is currently covering the sprouts since I should have eaten them by then.

The runner beans and Borlotti beans have produced lots of beans. I did water them a lot during the dry spell and they had a good mulching when they were planted.

A general view of the side bed.

I have been sieving the shreddings from the Leylandii hedge to remove the twiggy stuff. The result is a lovely soft, black compost which breaks up the heavy clay soil giving it a wonderful open structure with good moisture retention. Maybe I have found the solution to my soil problem. I did the same to my regular compost with equally pleasing results. The twiggy stuff got returned to the compost bins and will get mixed with the green stuff.

2nd August, 2010

The dry period continues. There has been some rain which has been just enough to keep the veg in reasonable condition.


No sowing, I forgot to sow some rocket.


Turnips: we make a lovely vegetarian chilli with these.
Lettuce, beetroot, cucumber, tomatoes, and spring onions for salads
Potatoes: the first of the Kestrel were dug up and taste great with no signs of slug damage. I think I'll stick with this variety.


Swiss chard.

I have continued to chop down and shred the Leylandii hedge which has taken some time. Fortunately the veg need little maintenance now with just the mandatory weeding.

The greenhouse tomatoes are forming nicely. They should be gardener's delight variety but the trusses have only a few fruit on them. Last year there were up to 50 per truss. I'll have to check the seed packets.

The aubergines are starting to flower.

I may actually get some red outdoor tomatoes this year; the hot weather has kept the blight away.

There will be some good pumpkins too. I've got about 3 per plant and I must remember to pinch them out to prevent any more developing.


Lots of apples this year, the branches are bending under the weight.

I cut the old leaves off the strawberries and cut the runners back to one plantlet. I think this is the last year for these plants , then I'll replace them with the new ones.

This is my attempt at growing Pringles. Actually, it's my attempt to get long white celery stalks.

The sweetcorn is nearly ready. I could and should have grown twice as many plants in the same area. The field down the road has them spaced much closer together.

12th July, 2010

Hot, hot hot! Fortunately with a vegetable garden I can water it readily and don't they need it.


Radish, spring onions, purple sprouting broccoli, swiss chard.


Lettuce: of those that have hearted up, these have been delicious. But of course, in this heat they need regular watering and a few have bolted.
Broad beans and peas: these have finished and I pulled them out. Must grow more next year, we definitely prefer the variety Celebration which are much sweeter than the early variety Meteor.
Strawberries: we've been making smoothies with these and some jam with the tayberries. I have to say the jam is wonderful.
Runner and dwarf beans: the first of the season and nicely tender.
Onions and garlic: drying out in the shed.
Spring onions: big and hot.
Beetroot: delicious warm.

As you can see from that list we had a nice salad at the weekend sat on the patio. We watched the many birds on the feeders we have. There are a lot of young birds this year so the parents got their timing right when all the caterpillars emerged.


Leeks, butternut squash, beetroot and spring onions

I potted up the sweet potato into a bucket and it is showing good leaf growth. The pots around it contain celery. I heard somewhere that the pot method can give you nice stalks so I'm giving it a go.

In the greenhouse, everything is in its final pots:

Leafy aubergines


Tomatoes with fruiting trusses

and young melon plants:

I'm growing the cucumbers outside this year because I don't have enough room in the greenhouse anyway. With this hot weather maybe a greenhouse isn't necessary after all. These are gherkin type cucumbers but they are perfectly tasty and edible; They are better without the tough skins though.

The outdoor tomatoes are fruiting too, these are the lovely stripey Tigerella variety. No sign of blight as in the previous years.

The courgette glut is just about to start. A lot of the early fruits have yellowed and it seems the plant has to achieve a certain size before it can sustain the developing courgette.

There are lots of flowers on the runner beans

This year I topped and tailed the leeks which I did find made them sit in the holes much better. I also got nice sized plants of the desired pencil thickness (mostly) which I put down to them being grown in large pots.

I've also cracked how to grow spring onions. These are great!

It's nice to see pristine Brussels sprouts not ravaged by the cabbage white caterpillar.

More kohlrabi on the way, this is a white variety.

an this is the purple variety which are possibly getting too big and woody. We make a very tasty and easy casserole with them which we can't get enough of.

These are the spring planted onion sets that are swelling up. I have deliberately planted them close so that the bulbs don't get too big. But notice the large cracks in the soil due to the hot weather. I still have along way to go to improve the structure.

The overwintered onions and garlic have produced nice fat bulbs.

Parsnips; I listened to Terry Walton's podcast and he advised not to water parsnips as this encourages the tap root to lengthen for water. But I've watered mine a bit as I know the soil will be bone dry if not. Surely they need some water?

The sweetcorn must be loving the sun. Top flowers are showing.