Saturday, 31 March 2007

The peas have split

I didn't spot them at first look, in fact I only spotted them at all after noticing that the garden saboteurs (that's the cats) had been busy along the pea rows. So while removing the said deposits, that's when I noticed that the peas are finally coming through.
Still no broads though - not even a bean (sorry!)
Meanwhile the garlic is doing well - the ones I planted early March are looking much healthier than the ones that overwintered. And the apple buds are starting to resemble leaves.
Things are warming up then.
Indoors two out of three pepper plants are up, the cherry tomatoes are doing fine, along with various cabbage seedlings and a few cauli's which I am gradually hardening off, and the aubergines are growing... but ever so slowly. I put them outside for a few hours of sunshine the other day but after an hour I noticed they had all fallen over in shock - they'll be staying for the foreseable future.
I have seeded about four or five other varieties of tomato; plum, beefsteak, stripey etc but they are not up yet, and neither is the courgette.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Still no sign of the peas (or beans)

I am starting to wonder where they are!

Meanwhile, have been getting on with an endless list of things to do. I have planted three apple trees on the edges of what used to be a lawn. I wasn't really planning this one, but they were on offer at four pounds each in Aldi which seemed too good to miss. I got a Granny Smith, A Jonagold and an old english variety (apparently) called Elstar. It seemed like the rain descended the day I bought them, so they have been waiting in my shed for about three weeks. At least it gave me some time to read up on fruit trees and planting. Happily the ground has dried out just as the trees have started to bud, so getting them in the ground was timely. They don't look much as yet, but the buds are looking noticibly larger since I planted them two days ago. That's the Granny Smith above.

I got another great bargain recently at B + Q (I am a bit of a bargain shopper).I found some water damaged bamboo edging reduced from ten pounds to ten pence a strip. I bought as many as I could manage which was about fifeteen. I have used six of them around the fruit trees - to hold a mulch around their bases, and am thinking about using the rest to raise some beds in the veg patch, though I am not sure whether they have been treated with anything I might not want in the veg garden. Does anyone know?

Yesterday I planted six shallots next to the garlic. I will put some more in next month.

Today I have sown some carrot seeds in a container. I tried growing them in the ground last year but the slugs devestated them as they came up. So this year I've got some special Mini Finger seeds which are apparently suited to container growing. I used a pot that has copper tape around it - last year I grew a courgette in it. I have re-used the same compost, adding some sand, calcified seaweed and bonemeal to revitalise it. I bought the last two for the tree planting, so thought I might as well make use of them. I don't really know what I am doing with these mixes - I am hoping it will become clear as I go along!

That last photo is a nets of snails I found today living in a dry stone wall. Though they limit what I can grow in the garden I can't bring myself to harm them, as I am a bit daft like that and they are beautiful creatures when you look at them closely.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Wired for Sound

At last the stormy weather has eased up so Igot to spend the whole afternoon in the garden. First up I put in some outdoor speakers (a new variety that doesn't need watering, and apparently can survivie anywhere).

They are quite space age to look at - ridiculously out of place in my ramshackle back garden. But it's great to have some music out there. Today I mostly listened to the Guillemots (that's the band, not the bird).

I have started trenching the second bean trench - half done and the rest dug over and weeded. I am starting to feel like I'm finally getting somewhere with it all. No sign of the peas or the broad beans yet but the garlic is doing very well.

I sowed a small drill of beetroot today - squashed in behind the compost bin and the bamboo. I was glad to use up the little space - I don't want much beetroot anyway -I don't like it myself, am only growing a bit for my nan! In case the cold returns I covered it with some old window frames.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

First Ladybird of the Year Spotted

Yes, I was amazed, but here it is, as seen on Sunday afternoon (11-03-07), taking shelter on a stalk of bamboo.

With the weather much improved the garden has seen quite a bit of activity in the last few days. I was especially pleased to hear from the council - they are promising to come around next week and clear back the overgrown brambles on their land. This saves me a thankless job - though I shall be out there when they arrive to make sure they don't go spraying it with anything nasty. And if it comes to a sit in to make sure - well quite frankly I am up for it!

Back to my own bit of scrub then, I have been busy preparing the bean and pea trenches. One bean trench dug and lined with newspaper (The Guardian, of course) and a layer of veg peelings as well as a bit of wood ash, some sand, some rough compost, and a bit of organic chicken manure for good measure. So much in the mix, it felt a bit like making a cake. Another bean trench still to do (as I like beans a lot, and so do the rest of my family who expect a steady supply). And two rows of Meteor peas sown, with the same trench method. Here are the pea rows, along with their trench.
Yesterday I sowed some more cabbages indoors - too many slugs in my garden to sow them outside. I have put in some red cabbages (Red Cap) and some type of green ones - can't remember exactly what type, and the seed packet doesn't reveal anything but the variety (Shelta).

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

At Last The Weather Has Cleared

...So I've been busy busy busy in the garden. I've noticed I spend more time cutting back overgrown weeds coming over the fence than I get to spend on digging and planting. So this year, am trying a new approach and going beyond the boundaries, to tackle the root of the problem, so to speak. There are two problem areas - a piece of council owned wasteland which my garden backs on to and the garden to the left of mine, which has been left to overgrow for years. It's this next door garden which causes most of the problems, as there's good soil to feed the weeds and the fence between us is low. Until recently it's been a forest of brambles and bindweed - then a gardener (allegedly) turned up and cleared the lot down to ground level with a 3 day long bonfire.

This was a stroke of luck for me - he was just completing the job when he found out he'd cleared the wrong garden. So the last two days I have been doing a lot of fence hopping to dig up the bramble roots from the other side of the fence. Luckily they are coming up quite easily after all the rain of recent months. I have been in a hurry to get on with it before they start growing back. Now that I have done the hard work, I may ask the housholder if I can plant some spuds over there - there's plenty of room now and they will slow down the other weeds.

I have also been tackling the council wasteland. This was the starting point. I have made a good dent in it and, weather permitting, will continue to push it back over the next few days.

I did manage to spend a bit of time in my own garden today too - have started digging over the beds, though it's still looking a bit of a sorry mess. More sunshine please for the next few days...

Monday, 5 March 2007

I do love a good fire!

It might be still too wet to dig but I managed to get a fire going today. What you see burning is all of last year's pegs, stakes and supports. As there's no shortage of woody shrubs around the garden I get a new supply of these every year.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

The First Seedlings Are Up

Yesterday morning I spotted the first of the cauliflower seedlings and by the end of the day all of them had poked up their heads. With some room in the propagator I sowed some aubergine (Calliope) seeds and a few more cauliflower.
Today one of the cabbages made an appearance - the rest hopefully won't be long. I am starting them off in a seed tray to give them a fighting chance against the hungry slugs. Last year I tried using copper tape around some plants as slug defence but it is hideously expensive and some really determined slugs did get past it somehow. This year, again, I will use a lot of sharp sand to keep the slugs back, as well as plastic bottle necks around taller plants. I have also bought some biodegradable gel which is supposed to act as a slug barrier - it's in for a thorough road test in my garden.
At last the rain stayed away for a whole day today - I celebrated by planting a row of broad beans and putting some gladiola bulbs in the front garden for good measure.
Fingers crossed for another fine day tomorrow!