26th April, 2011

The excessively dry weather has necessitated a disciplined approach to watering with a good soaking every evening. Fortunately I have had several days off work due to a combination of bank holidays and a royal wedding which has allowed me to do the vital watering and get on top of the gardening (almost). The dry weather has been glorious though and it's been lovely working outside.

So it's been a very busy time.


In seed trays

Dwarf beans
Runner beans
Wild flowers

Nice green seedlings in the greenhouse.

The picture below shows the 3 home grown peach trees; they are the tall plants at the back and growing very well.

Beetroot and kohlrabi.

I have plenty of sweetcorn this year, about 30 plants.

Despite my initial optimism about the fig, it looks like only one will survive. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I'm hoping the plant is still young and needs to bush up more.

Sowing outside

I'm trying direct sowing for parsnips this time



Onion sets

The onion sets are up already.

Sadly, I have run out of last year's onions and will have to buy some (the shame!), but I have planted a lot of onions this year and the overwintered onion sets are beginning to swell so I may only have to use supermarket onions for a short while.

The Kestrel potatoes are through and I've earthed them up in case of a late frost, which doesn't seem likely with the past weather but it's never worth the risk.


Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The pigeons never attacked the purple sprouting broccoli and we had several nice meals from the 4 plants that did survive the winter.

Also around the garden, the broad beans are starting to flower and the mulch of my sieved compost is working well in keeping the weeds down and holding the precious water in the soil.

Sieving my compost was becoming hard work so I had a light bulb moment after watching soil sieving methods on youtube. I converted the old guinea pig hutch into a rough and ready siever. It works by me pushing the sieve backwards and forwards and the compost is collected in the old hutch; so still hard work but less strenuous.

Any new plantings are treated to a freshly dug bed with plenty of the compost, plus a mulch of the stuff.

The sievings get recycled into a heap that is about at its limit now. I've resolved that any further sievings which are essentially the shredded wood of the Leylandii hedge will be sent to the brown council bin where they can be better processed. Otherwise I'll be sieving them forever I think.

Also around the garden, the strawberries have plenty of flowers.

The runner beans are hardening off in the coldframe.

I've erected a more sturdy frame for the peas using some spare wire fencing. It's difficult to get it looking nice with the slope of the garden but it should do the job.

Finally for now, the blackberry and tayberry have nice new growth and I need to weed and feed them with a good mulching.

The raspberries have spread and filled their area and now that the hedge has gone I can properly set up their supports.

5th April, 2011

Finally, I have been able to get out into the garden. My weekends have been pre-occupied with decorating the lounge which I naively thought would take a week to do and took time off at half term in February. It's now April and I still haven't quite finished it! The problem has been the plasterwork which fell off the walls as I stripped the wallpaper and it's been a long job repairing the holes. My kids are are members of the local swimming club and there have been galas and swimming competitions at weekends too so time has been precious. The garden has taken a back seat therefore, but last weekend I eventually did a bit of sowing and weeding.

I thought I may have been too late for some seeds but I checked the packets and I'm OK. So what has been sown?

Beetroot (Boltardy) in modules
Spring onions (White Lisbon) in modules
Leeks (Musselburgh) in 8" buckets
Kohlrabi in seed trays
Spinach in seed trays
Tomatoes (Tigerella) in 3" pots
Pepper (Gourmet) in pots
Parsley in seed tray
Peas in a gutter
Aubergine in 3" pots
Melon in 3" pots

Still got plenty more to sow of course. I need to sow chillis and more tomatoes.


Rhubarb - I forced one crown this year and had very tender stems. I have 5 crowns so the idea is to force each crown every year in rotation.
Leeks (despite the leaf miner damage)
Parsnips - I have dug them all up and made a parsnip cake and froze the rest. This is the recipe for the cake, which was lovely and I recommend it.

The vegetable beds are very neglected and weedy.

The home made compost which I dug in when I planted the garlic does have a lot of weed seeds in it, but a quick bit of hoeing soon sorted that out.

Also weeded were the overwintering onions which have strong green shoots now.

And the asparagus is showing! I reckon there's enough for a meal at the weekend.

The leeks look better than they did a few months ago and there are maybe 2 or 3 meals left in them.

Four purple sprouting broccoli survived. I need to repair the veg cage before the pigeons discover them.

The fruit is coming along with plenty of blossom on the plum tree....

and the greengage...

and the redcurrants have flower buds.

This is the rhubarb. In the front is the forced crown with the small leaves and the unforced larger crown behind it. The crowns are getting to be a nice size now.

There are plenty of buds on the blueberries too. I must remember to feed them as they are in containers and will need help.

In the greenhouse, the seed trays are filling the shelves - a good sight!

Finally, I was really pleased to see green shoots coming from the peach stone I stuck in a pot last year.

I did buy a peach tree a few years back at great expense and I managed to kill it before it really got established. I hope I can do a better job with this much cheaper plant.

My lemon tree lost all but about 3 of its leaves over winter despite it being under a fleece cover. It was left to its own devices in the conservatory though, so it probably did well to come through. There are lots of new green shoots appearing now; however there are some dead bits which will need removing. Another victim of the cold spell is the bay tree which I was maintaining as a lollipop shape, but the top growth has all gone brown. At the bottom though there are green leaves so I will cut it off at the base and grow it as a compact bush.

This weekend we had some beautiful cloud formations and deep blue skies. The winter is fast becoming a distant memory and I'm looking forward to some warm summer days.