25th June, 2012

I had a productive weekend planting out the plants that had been hardening off outside.

The sweetcorn went in easy enough since the soil was still wet and easy to dig with a trowel. Behind them are the runner beans which I grow up the fence.

I was going to try the climbing French beans for a change but I decided to stick with what works.  Now I have the dilemma of finding somewhere to put them, especially since I don't have a support frame.

I love runner beans so I also grow them up a wigwam and add plenty of compost in the planting hole and as a mulch.

I planted 2 courgettes and gave them plenty of space as they will get very big.  Let the glut begin, even from just 2 plants.
Also planted were four rows of Dwarf French beans again with plenty of compost.
Keeping with the bean theme, I started to harvest the broad beans.  Despite my misgivings, there are plenty!
The spuds look lush, the wet weather must be helping although blight might be just round the corner.
The flowers are lovely to look at, the purple ones confirm they are Kestrel.
Although the plum tree is bearing less fruit, it's in good health and the scar where the branch broke off is healing well.  The edges are healing over well.  I'm going to leave the branch that has grown from the base as this should feed the area and encourage recovery.
Plenty of peas coming.
In the greenhouse, I pinched out the tops of the aubergines.  I forget to do this normally, but they are bushing up nicely and making flowers.
 The tops of the sweet peppers were also pinched out.  The leaves are not looking good and on closer inspection were covered with aphids on the undersides.  I resorted to some localised bug spray.

I feel I'm on top of the jobs now and will be able to do more housekeeping jobs such as weeding and tidying up.

18th June, 2012

The strawberries are beginning to ripen and that means it's time to protect them with netting.  I also think this thickness of netting probably keeps the wind out and therefore produces a favourable micro climate inside.
I made a cloche for the smaller strawberry bed too.

The green is a bit striking and quite obvious in the back garden, I may invest in some black netting to tone it down a bit.

I had a change of mind with the tomato plants and decided to have four plants rather than the usual five and in the space I have squeezed a cucumber (right) and melon (left).

There are flowers on the tomatoes so I should get some fruit.
I tend to forget to pinch out the aubergines which will produce a bushier plant with more flowers; this year I remembered.  I've not been very successful with aubergines, let's hope this does the trick.

I pricked out some marigolds which I always find therapeutic.  These will be planted in a bed outside and some in the greenhouse.

Outside I have the runner beans and French beans lined up and hardening off for planting in the side bed.
The peas are flowering but I found a rogue one with a crimson flower.

16th June, 2012

What happened to my tomatoes? (click on the pictures to view them in a higher resolution).

This is what four of my tomato plants look like after I potted them on into their final pots with new multi-purpose compost.  So what has gone wrong?  Now I admit that they were overdue for repotting and normally I pot from 3" pots into slightly larger ones before they go into their final large pots in the greenhouse.  This time I ran out of compost and just potted straight from 3" pots to the final ones.

As you can see from the picture below, they looked fine when I potted them up.

Even more intriguing is that three other plants that I had potted into intermediate sized pots look fine. In the picture below they are to the left in the black and orange pots. Towards the back on the right in the white bucket is a plant I potted up from a 3" pot using a different batch but same make of compost and that looks fine too.  So I don't think it's the compost.

Or is it that the plants were slightly undernourished and the repotting did them in?

The three plants I potted into intermediate sized pots can be used to replace those that have died.  There was a reason why I decided to keep them after all!  I didn't 't really have space for them but I do now.  It does mean that I only have one gardener's delight plant now; the three replacements are of unknown variety as I got them as a gift.  I will retrieve one more plant from the garden for the fourth replacement.

12th June, 2012

How come a month has passed since my last entry?  Well, my parents visited one weekend and then there were some swimming galas for the kids and of course the inclement weather. So not much time for getting the garden in shape.  However, I have had some time at home with the half term break and managed to get fairly well up to date.

Checking back on my last posting, there has been a good amount of growth. 

First thing I noticed was how much the broad beans have grown and I shall be picking some this coming weekend.  This picture shows the beans in the background of the middle bed with the spuds in front of them.  I've earthed up the spuds when the soil was damp as it was very lumpy during the brief dry spell. to the left in the other bed you can see the stakes to support the tomatoes.

 The bases of the kohlrabi are beginning to swell.

And the peas are flowering.

I laid down straw for the strawberries, looks like a good crop this year. Although I did replace six with new young plants because the existing ones were distorted and produce odd shaped fruit; is that due to a virus?
The black and redcurrants have grown very well too.  Behind them I transplanted two summer fruiting raspberries from the bottom of the garden where it was too shady and the never produced much fruit and because I had opened up the space by removing some of the hedge, it seemed a good spot for them.
The asparagus has been very disappointing.  It was knocked back by a cold spell and then it got badly infested with asparagus beetle, so I cut off the effected spears and sprayed with a bug killer. I don't think I'll be eating much of it this year and anyway it seems as if the beetle has come back.  I notice that when the spears are handled the beetles drop off quickly and then disappear into the soil.  I have to admire them for that as well as their beautiful markings.  But could you just leave my asparagus alone please?
In the greenhouse, I have potted up five tomatoes (Gardener's delight) into their final pots along with three guest plants that were given to me but of unknown variety; they look strong and healthy so I couldn't bring myself to throw them out.  The rest of the tomatoes (Tigerella and Cristal) have been planted outside and tied to stakes.
The aubergines and peppers have also been potted into their final pots and look very vigorous on the greenhouse shelves.  I'm growing six of each along with some chillis, cucumbers (for outside) and melons.  I haven't really got space for the melons but I couldn't help myself and the seed needed to be used up.

On the lower shelf there are chillis, French beans and runner beans.  I'm also trying climbing French beans for the first time this year.

I have a lot of spare plants such as tomatoes, basil, parsley, courgettes that I am taking to work for a plant sale and swap. Also, a small allotment bed has been dug at work as part of a green initiative; there are about twenty of us who are involved.  We spent several lunch times removing stones and rubble after the work's gardener had removed the turf, rotavated it and dug in some compost which he makes on site;  I'm glad he did the initial digging, that's hard work. The beds have all been planted up and sown with seeds which just goes to show how eager we all are to make it a success.  I'm not sure how the produce (if we get any) is going to be divided between us.  I'm providing some spare raspberry canes and strawberries for the fruit bed. 

Finally, we have come to realise that our conservatory is only good for growing cacti. It gets too hot and dry and have managed to kill a peach and a lemon tree.  So I did an internet search for a local cactus nursery and as luck would have it there is one in Matlock, just up the road.  It's called Abbey Brook Cactus and has the national collections of several cacti species and is well worth a visit even though only two of the glasshouses are open to view.  So we visited the first weekend we could and dragged my parents along who were visiting. There were many in flower and we bought about 10 small plants one of which is flowering. Actually, my mum bought them for us which was very generous; thanks Mum!  My parents want to visit again as they would like more too but didn't want to buy any as they were worried they might damage them on the train journey home, so next time they want to drive up and fill their boot with spiny lovelies. 

We'll be going back before the visit again, we can't wait that long.