Wednesday, 23 May 2007

It looked like Spiderwoman had visited the garden

...which would have saved me the effort of making the cucumber frame.

I planted out said cucumber about five days ago. It's doing OK, though looking slightly frayed at the edges, from the cold nights!

I've been steadily planting out the runner beans a few at a time and have put the Borlotti beans in the earth too. So far, at least they are all untroubled by slugs and snails, or at least the barrier of plastic collars and bits of copper pipe around the plants is working. Elsewhere in the garden the same slugs and snails are on the rampage - even having a nibble at tomatoes, shallots and garlic, which they usually leave in peace.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Beans, beans and more beans

Definitely the most fun plants to grow. This year I am branching out from my favourite runners. It's the first time I've grown broad beans - they are at last growing now, but they still seem hard work. I'm also giving Borlotti beans a go - these are a lot more entertaining, quick to germinate and more like sprinters than marathon runners.

From the top, Borlotti Nano, one and then three days old ( I couldn't believe it - they are supposed to be the small variety), and below, Borlotti Rampicante, which apparently will grow 12 to 18 feet high. I loved the shape - like a dragon's head.
I planted the nanos out a couple of days ago - I've grown three of them - now I'm wondering if that's enough -so have sown one more (space is limited!). Yesterday I planted out two of the runner beans (as a test run). They are still there today and have not been eaten, which is more than can be said for the peas, which have now been pretty much devestated by giant snails. I put the runners out with collars made from old water bottles - it gives them protection while they are young. I also had some old copper piping so put that round them too, as it's the best thing for keeping those snails away. Shame it's gone up in price so much recently.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Storm Damage

Heavy rain and high winds all through the night meant that I was a little afraid to look at the garden this morning. Most things survived in tact, though one of the apple trees broke a branch, leaving it hanging by a slim thread. And, of course, it was the only branch on that particular tree that has flower buds. I have been keeping a close eye on them, hoping they will open in time to pollinate the granny smith which has been in flower on its own for weeks now.
Some people take the view that a bit of sticking tape will fix most things. I have always preferred to think of myself as a bit more thorough than that. Today, I have to admit that the evidence to the contrary is building.

Introducing Gaffer Tape...

...a veritable sticking plaster for trees, though that's just one of it's uses.

Not convinced?

Look on.
Not only has this bit of tape held my wing mirror in place since christmas day, when some festive joker knocked it off, but my car passed it's MOT last month in this state. Quite frankly I was amazed.
(I don't expect the branch to survive for long, but if it last long enough for the flowers to open, that will be fine.)

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Makeshift Mini Greenhouse

...or Dubious Creations Of A Skinflint...

Yes, you may have to look twice (or even thrice) to work out what is going on here, but basically it's a large polythene bag with a window in it, turned on it's side, hung on a frame and pegged down. I aquired it as the packaging to some willow fencing. Being a natural born horder, I knew immediately it would come in useful!

It's now housing two black cherry tomatoes, and they are (so far) doing very well in it. The only possible drawback is it may get blown over (or even away) in high winds. Oh, and I suppose there is the matter of property prices to consider - if my garden gathers any more tat it is possible the local market could take a serious downturn.

Moving away from make-it-yourself corner, here's a progress report on the rest of the garden;

The peas are growing slowly despite being eaten regularly by slugs. I have been sowing more seeds in the gaps that keep appearing, and have had to give up on the far end of the rows, as I just can't keep the cats away from their chosen toilet area. I didn't give up without a fight though - there are more sticks in the ground than gaps in between now and I am left wondering how they still manage to get through, but they do. So the pea rows are shorter than hoped for and are being seriously slowed down by the slug onslaught which seems a lot worse than last year. Some will grow - it remains to be seen how many.

The onions, shallots and garlic are doing much better, being neither eaten nor pee-ed on.

I planted one of the aubergines out last week, into a container, and it is doing fine, though only about four inches tall.

The broad beans continue to be difficult - I can't believe they are supposed to be easy to grow. Slugs have devestated about two thirds of them and the ones that are growing are very slow indeed. The largest one is still only three inches tall, though it's been up for about six weeks.

About ten runner beans are up in pots, and another ten should follow shortly. Also coming up in the pots are sunflowers, sweetcorn and borlotti beans at the moment.

My courgette plants and globe artichokes are about ready to go into the ground - I am waiting for the next dry spell to give them a fighting chance against the dread slugs.

There are tomatoes already on the largest plant (the one I bought to get a head start). I count them everyday - today's count 16.

Best news of the week though - I have been round to the local allotments and put myself on the waiting list. With luck I may get one before the end of the summer.