Tag Archives: grow your own

Willow cottage gardeners are pleased to annouce the arrival of our first red tomato!

This rainy weather has been upsetting the greenhouse. We are finding that this year growth seems to be slow and spindly. Despite this we are pleased to announce the arrival of our first red tomato!

This is a plum variety called Roma. We are very proud parents and hope to have many more to follow this one.

The greenhouse looks very different to this time last year.

I feel that I am still waiting for it to grow. The tomato plants are covered in flowers but look very ‘thin’ despite a weekly feed. Any suggestions from fellow gardeners on why this is?

Maybe it is these ‘organic’ grow bags, or the cool temperatures or something else.

I am sad to say that my cucumbers died. They were looking so good and then they were attacked by black fly. I thought I would spray them with some soap mix. I must have mixed it up too strong as the next day they were past recovery. I have managed to source a couple more plants that I will put in and watch what happens. It is sad to see empty grow bag space…

Her x

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Beautiful berries – raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, red currants and dessert gooseberries.

The berry patch looks like a jungle; all the rain has produced loads of lush green growth that has tangled together. The fruitcage looks like it may fall down at any moment, but  it is doing its job. The birds seem to be leaving the berries alone and despite the weather the berries  are ripening.

Picking them is not for the faint hearted as you really do need to fight your way in. During a break in the rain this afternoon, I braved the jungle and was rewarded with a fine selection of produce!

There are still many un-ripened berries on the bushes with no sign of any blueberries yet. I picked a few from each bush but the glut has still to appear.

I think the first berry crop needs to be eaten as it is, fresh and unaltered. Others I will jam, freeze, stew and jelly but these I think will just be enjoyed in the pure form – yummy! I love the taste of fresh summer berries and hope this harvest will be the first of many more.

Can you spot the glimmer of berries hidden in the bushy, wild and overgrown fruit cage?

The only pests we have are slugs! They have been having a wonderful  munch on my strawberries that I having lovingly tended all spring.  The straw surrounding them is very soggy, probably providing a cosy home for slugs and snails. Hubby suggested a beer trap – I think I will give it a try!

Her x

First garden grown meal of the year – homemade minestrone and fresh stawberries (not together)!

The garden is soggy but productive. We have not spent as much time out there as we would want to; the rain has been horrid and the packing has kept us busy. I thought I would have a wander down the garden this week to see what I could find.

I was delighted to pick the following selection of lovely garden yummyness.

If you look carefully you may spot courgettes, baby carrots, celery, fennel, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli, new potatoes and spring onions.

This all inspired me to turn it into a hearty minestrone soup.

I only added some tinned tomatoes, chorizo (to provide a depth of flavour), ready cooked leftover pasta and some stock. The result was delicious and is always a favourite in our house. It’s never the same twice and is a great way of using up a vast selection of pickings.

This is even better the next day, so we make plenty!

To top it all, as I was picking the spinach I noticed a glimmer of red in the fruit cage, could it be? Yes, we have our first ripe strawberries!

The other berries were not quite ripe but these tasted great as they were.

Her x

Garden flower pot makeover on a budget

The glory of the spring bulbs had faded and we were left with sad-looking pots. I have been growing lots of flowers in the greenhouse this year and I wanted to see if I could grow a good selection for container planting.

I tipped out the old plants, saved the bulbs for next year, and put the old soil on the compost heap. I filled the pots with general compost, added a handful of organic chicken pellet fertiliser, and planted up some dwarf cosmos, ganzia and lobelia.  Not much I know, but I have gone for three different heights. The packets of seed probably cost less than £5.

So, what do they look like?

Before…

After…

They don’t look great at the moment but give it a few weeks and they should be blooming.

There were a few pots with pansies in that didn’t look too bad. I just gave these ones a mini makeover and I was really pleased with the result.

I usually just go to a garden centre and buy a selection of plants for my pots. It will be interesting to compare how these budget pots look in comparison to previous years.

Her x

Flowering strawberry plants

My strawberry plants are covered with flowers. As they grow in grow bags, I have made sure I have watered them through the warm spell we have recently had. They look well and promise a bumper harvest. I planted at least six varieties last year, hoping to spread the glut. The most unusual is a variety with red flowers. I think it is called Tapan.  Can anyone confirm that?

Last year they were just settling in so didn’t produce much. They seem happy enough in grow bags. I added a mulch of homemade compost in spring and a layer of straw to keep them clean. I am hoping that, as this is their second summer, these plants will crop well.

I hope I have so many strawberries that I can make jam – that is if they survive the kids!

Her x

My first cut garden flowers of the year.

We have been working hard on a new garden for cut flowers but it is still too soon for it to be productive. I was without any flowers in the house, so I went for a wander round the garden to see what I could find. I was surprised that I managed to find so much and was delighted with the end result. What do you think?

If you look carefully, you should be able to spot honeysuckle, chives, aquilegia, geraniums, iris and cow parsley!

Here’s a close up…

The jug is a new purchase from a car-boot sale I visited at the weekend. It matched the colour palette of the flowers beautifully. I’m glad it came in handy so quickly.

Her x

Look at my asparagus – they only went and bloomin’ grew!!!

I thought long and hard about trying to grow asparagus again this year. I thought about all the pros and cons and decided to give it one last go. I read the books, watched planting demos online and even watched carefully when Gardener’s World planted some. I bought some half-price plants back in April and, after carefully planting my crowns, willed them to grow.

I have been watching for any signs of growth and, after some friendly blog advice, uncovered them slightly and filled the soil in gradually over the course of a few weeks. I have never spent so much time pandering to my plants but I felt the mighty asparagus deserved lots of attention if this was to be my last attempt at growing it.

Well, you can imagine my delight when I stroll around the veggie patch and spot my first ever tiny asparagus spears!

Don’t they look gorgeous? I am so very proud of the little darlings.

The sad news is that as these are from one-year-old crowns I still have to wait a while before harvesting and eating the spears.

The good news is that as they grew this year, they will be much stronger next year and I am well on my way to a bountiful harvest in two years time!

Her x