Tag Archives: starting a vegetable garden

A tour of the garden in July

I managed to get out and take a few pictures in-between rain storms today. I thought you might like a look.

The borders are looking full and green. The roses, lavender and cosmos are flowering well.

The orchard is recovering after a hard winter. We were unsure whether the grass would come back. The chickens and ducks are enjoying the growth and if you look carefully you can see that it was actually long enough to mow a path down the middle.

Lots of change in the veg patch. That scarecrow is in desperate need of a makeover.

The spinach is already going to flower, the potatoes are cropping well and the courgettes are huge! The only thing not looking great is my runner beans.

Do you remember that I am trying to grow my runner beans along side my sweet peas? Well, so far, neither look great. They are about 50cm high and still have a long way to climb up those poles we put in! You can just see the purple sprouting broccoli plant down the middle. They are doing really well.

We have a new addition to the garden – a rather handsome rhubarb forcer.

Here’s hoping the sun shines…

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

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

Garden and greenhouse update – we have lift-off

The warm weather is doing wonders for the vegetable garden. Everything seemed to be holding back over the last few weeks and it has now sprinted forward to put on lots of new growth.

We have chilli plants  and peppers up on the bench; aubergines and cape gooseberries in pots down the middle; and pumpkin and butternut squash plants getting ahead start in the huge containers.

The tin baths are onto their second lettuce crop and I have also snuck in a few more tomato plants – Sweet Million variety!

The new cutting garden is well on the way to being planted up with my homegrown flowering plants.

All-in-all I am pleased with the progress and looking forward to harvesting!

Her x

It’s tomato time! Bring on the Nutscene twine and grow bags.

Our tomato plants have been growing so well in the conservatory, where they have been recovering from their sickness, that the time had come to plant them in the newly fixed greenhouse. The weather has been changeable, again, this week so the greenhouse is still full of all the plants I had wanted to plant out. There was nothing else for it – everything would just have to budge along and make room!  If I left the tomatoes to grow any taller they would topple over.

We have tried lots of different methods for growing tomatoes in the greenhouse and have settled on using twine to support the vines.

This year I used Nutscene twine that Hubby bought me for my birthday. He tells me he followed a link on My Tiny Plot blog site as an advert caught his eye when browsing and he thought I would like it. He was right, I did!

I tie the twine around the bottom of the grow bag and knot firmly.

Then I tie it again at the top of the greenhouse to a piece of garden wire running along the whole length of our greenhouse. You can also see all the little plants hardening off outside in this picture.

Next,  I cut little crosses in the supposedly organic  grow bags and plant in the tomato plants. Ta da….

The tomato plants grow happily up the twine. I just occasionally encourage them but wrapping them around the string.

Now, you may be wondering why the grow bags on the end have black pots on them – they are there to provide some extra growing space. I cut the bottom out of a medium plant pot and insert it into the grow bag.

I fill the pot with some extra compost and plant straight into them.

These particular tomatoes are a vigorous grafted strain that I picked up from our local garden centre. I thought I would give them a try and see how they do as they were reduced – I have mentioned before about my weakness for discounted plants!

I don’t think I would pay £3.99 per plant for these  but at 50p each I thought they were worth a punt.

I remember which plant is which by using a permanent marker to write on the grow bags.

So what did I end up planting?

3 x Cherry Conchita (grafted)

3 x Sun Cherry

3 x Gardeners Delight

2 x Harlequin

2 x Harbinger

2 x Pomodoro

1 x Beef steak (grafted)

1 x Sungold (yellow variety)

We still have room for a couple more tomato varieties, a few cucumbers and a a gherkin.

I hope our tomato plants like their new home and grow well for us this year. I am already optimistically looking forward to huge abundant crops of tomatoes. On holiday last year, we were so inspired by a wonderful 92-year-old Italian man who tended his field of tomato plants lovingly each day.  I was thinking of him today when I was planting up my grow bags. I know we cannot compare with his small holding but who knows, one day we may get close.

Her x

Here’s my early May garden update

The hardening-off process is under way and I am twitchy to get everything planted in the garden. I need to really try to hold back as the nights are still cool. I know that, as the soil still feels cold, my carefully nurtured seedlings will not thrive when planted out, but just sulk instead. I really want to make room for the tomato plants in the greenhouse. Regular readers will know that my tomato plants are feeling better and are currently in the conservatory growing vigorously and threatening to turn my house into somewhere David Bellamy would feel at home.

Outside the garden is recovering from the chicken attack. I initially thought the chickens may have had my broad beans, but the hardy little chaps have survived a vigorous scratching and popped through the soil this week.

The grow bag strawberries are growing well in the fruit cage.

They are further on in the wheelbarrow. It’s tricky to see on the photo, but the wheelbarrow strawberries are covered in flowers. These have been with me for a few years but continue to produce a good crop every year. All I do is give them a mulch of homemade compost every spring. I think the old metal wheel barrow warms up in the sun and boosts the growth of these strawberries as they are always the first to crop.

My outdoor-sown peas have been unsuccessful this year. I have sown loads of pea seeds but they have suffered from chickens, weather and maybe even mouse damage. In this photo you may wonder what I am talking about as you can clearly see lots of growth…take a closer look and you will spot what I actually have is one pea growing and one potato plant growing! I have noticed a few potatoes growing in the pea patch. Ah well, I may just harvest these instead. I have started some peas in the greenhouse and I will try to fill in the gaps after they have hardened off.

I had a great tip from Promenade Plantings and I really wanted to try it out.   I have planted little broccoli plants inside my beanpole frame. The idea being that the growing beans protect the plants from pigeons and the broccoli plants can slowly grow over the summer. In autumn, the beans are taken down to reveal the hidden plants within that can then take centre stage.  I had a few spare plants and have nothing to lose so I am giving this a try. I will report back how it goes. Thanks again to Promenade Plantings for the great idea.

That’s about all for the garden. I am expecting it to start blooming in the next few weeks so until then….

Her x

All this hardening off is very hard work!

The time has come when all my little seedlings are growing up and getting ready to leave the cosy comfort of the greenhouse. Well, actually, they are partly being evicted as I want the room for my tomato plants.  The weather is still cool but as we head into May it is gradually warming up. As my little seedlings have been used to the greenhouse environment I need to acclimatise them to the outdoor conditions.  In practise this means taking them outdoors in the daytime and back again at night for a few days. This is easier said then done as I have quite a few trays of seedlings. It seems to take the whole family about 15 mins of passing, tripping over seed trays and arranging to get them all out in the morning, and then we repeat this process again at night.

I know all the benefits of hardening off but part of me wants to just plant them out and see what happens. I feel like a neglectful parent even admitting that, but I am frustrated by the fetching and carrying every morning and night!

You may wonder why I have hostas in the greenhouse. Well, they are all growing in pots. Early spring I put them in to give them a good start. After hardening off I use the bushy little plants to fill any gaps in the flower borders, the pots just slip in and are unseen from a distance.  Then next year I bring them back to the greenhouse and start again. I have a rogue duck that escapes the orchard and enjoys spending time in the flower borders. I think she does a great job of de-slugging the garden so I can manage to grow beautiful silky hostas every year.

Well, I had better go and recruit the family for the moving plant palaver!

Her x