Greenhouse assembly

It took me some time to put the greenhouse up. I had to re-lay the slabs as they were not at all level and then I laid a good hardcore base underneath. Hard work, but I wanted to do it properly.

Underneath the existing slabs I found some foundations.

Then I filled the hole in with some hard core rubble that I made by smashing up old slabs and bricks from around the garden.

Slabs going back, nice and level.

Finally all laid.

Working out how the greenhouse went back together would have been impossible without the instruction manual.   Even at this early stage I had assembled and dismantled it three times.  I just couldn't work out where the bracing struts went.

Got the roof on. Needed help from sons here.

Doors fitted and working smoothly to indicate everything is level.

I broke a few panes fitting the glass back. All sorted now and ready for the summer, where my cacti will mostly live.  The main advantage is that it frees up space in the top greenhouse where I will have more space fro growing tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies.

New greenhouse

I managed to bag a free greenhouse! I always had plans to be able to use the patio area half way down the garden more fruitfully which gets a lot of sun. What with the increasing number of cacti I'm collecting I knew I needed more space. So I casually asked on the local street life forum and got an answer the same day. Next day I went round and dismantled it and now it's ready for reassembly on my patio. The very nice couple who offered it, helped with the disassembly and even had the assembly instructions which will help a lot! I only broke two panes too.

What I need to do now is prepare the area its sitting on which means lifting and re-levelling the paving slabs.

I've set the tomatoes up in the existing greenhouse.

The chillies have been potted up into their final pots.

Maybe I have too many? Although I won't be so concerned when I have the new greenhouse and more room.

But what's wrong with my garlic? It's split into thin leaves, maybe it's the allium miner?

The peas have started flowering.

As well as the garlic, I'm also concerned about the dwarf beans which have not taken well to being planted out. They haven't put on new leaf and have gone a bit pale. Hopefully they are just struggling to get their roots down.

Grow, grow, grow

Lots happening now. The broad beans are flying.

There's plenty of leaf and flowers on them and they are about 1 metre tall.

The kohlrabi looks pristine under the protective netting and the peas from Sarah Raven (alderman) are huge compared to the meteor variety, they may outgrow the supports.

The spuds in the bottom bed are all showing and I've earthed them up with a combination of soil and garden compost.  The middle bed is planted up with climbing beans, borlotti beans, munchkin pumpkins, dwarf beans and some Tigerella tomatoes.  All had a liberal sprinkling of blood, fish and bone.

The strawberries are also netted (partially)  I need to get some more netting cages which fit the bed width perfectly. They look so much better than the home made  blue water pipes and scaffolde'rs netting.

I showed some radish in the same row as the parsnips so as to mark the row's  position. This has worked well. I've been pulling lots of radish and the parsnips have appeared in their place.

They have been some of the best tasting and consistent radish too. I've sown another row.

Sowing bonanza

I've been busy since the last blog. Lots of sowing, but I learned a valuable lesson. Always label! Does anyone know what this is?

I think it's rocket.

Or at least write with an indelible pen. You think you'll remember but you don't. So, I've bought 100 large labels and write with a pencil. 

I also bought a nice potting tray to do all of the sowing and potting up in. Very tidy.

The greenhouse is filling up.

The usual suspects are there. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, courgettes, chillies, kohlrabi, peas, beetroot . I'm also trying climbing pumpkins and borlotti beans.

The spuds were planted on Good Friday, no sign yet.

Planting the onions in modules has been successful, they are growing well in the beds now.

I've planted over 50 in total of red and white variety. 

The pear blossom has been the first to show and there's a good amount this year.

But the apple blossom is equally pleasing to see.

There might even be some figs this year. There was an infestation of weevils in all the plants in containers so I had to treat them, seems to have worked.

The peas have been transplanted and look very strong.

Finally, I've been enjoying the YouTube videos of Dan who can grow some great veg. See

I'm trying his approach and have treated the beds with rock dust and fertilised them with blood, fish and bone. He also grows banana shallots which look great, so I'm giving them a go too.

Onion sets and last of parsnips

I dug up the parsnips, blanched them and put them in the freezer.

They have a good shape but there is some canker. It scrapes off though.

I've planted the onion sets, both red and white varieties. This time I'm starting them off in modules in the greenhouse.

I've also sown the peas in modules with two pea seeds per module. These are also in the greenhouse and under a sheet of glass to keep the mice off.

There's a good harvest of purple sprouting broccoli and the kale is getting big enough for a meal soon.

I checked the weather forecast and decided to delay sowing until next week, good thing I did as there was a frost this morning. I bought two 120 litre bags of compost, so I should be set for a sowing bonanza.

Sarah Raven seed ordering

Welcome dear reader (there is probably only one of you) to 2015 and a brand new season which means seed ordering time. What I want to grow this year are climbing pumpkins because I like pumpkins/squash and they grow vertically rather than horizontally and therefore take up a lot less space. So the only place to buy them from appears to be Sarah Raven. So I went to the website and watched a few of the videos, as you do, and followed the recommendation of growing the cucumber and peas.  The cucumbers (La Diva) are long cropping outdoor type which frees up the greenhouse for more tomatoes and chillies.  Likewise the peas (Alderman) are long croppers.  The next thing you know I've ordered most of this year's seeds (except for leeks and cauliflowers which Sarah doesn't sell).

Part of the reason for wanting to grow climbing pumpkins is that I saw them on the vlog on you tube by Katie.  So many thanks Katie.

But now I have the seeds it's turned really cold and I won't be doing any sowing for now at least.  I'm holding off with the seed potatoes too.  This year I'm trying the no chitting method and buying as late as possible.  You can pick up the seed spuds really cheap at garden centres in early April as they need to sell off the stock.

There's not much happening in the garden at the moment, I've been clearing up a lot and filling the compost bins with the clippings and weeds.  My strategy with composting now is to fill the daleks first, then transfer to the larger square bins when it's partially composted and then transfer that to the final bin and use that for mulching in autumn with no digging.  I'm composting as much as possible, even small branches are getting shredded and chopped.

What is in the veg beds at the moment then?

Garlic, note the frost and the mulch which was added last autumn.

Kale, note the frost. Still rather small.

Broad beans

Rhubarb, transplanted into the sunny asparagus bed.

I also have some parsnips still to dig up and purple sprouting broccoli which I'm eating already but there will be lots more to come.

I have been removing the Leylandii hedge as it is dying and unsightly but also because it sucks all the moisture out of the soil.  In its place I'm planting a Kerria hedge which I have propagated myself.

I've had to cut the pampass grass plant back quite a bit to provide more light to the young plants.

I hope to be able to remove the fence panel in a few years once the hedge has grown; fortunately Kerria is quite a fast grower.

Finally, I'm trying out the CD bird scarers trick to keep the wood pigeons off of the plum and greengage trees.  They stripped the accessible branches of all the fresh new buds last year.  So far I haven't seen a bird on the tree but then the buds haven't burst yet.

The picture gives quite a good view of the bottom bed and compost bins at the very bottom of the garden.