Should be further on than this!

Not sure what is wrong with me but finding it really hard to get out in the cold and do some work. Did manage to make a start on the two beds at the top of the garden although they still need fed with about twenty wheelbarrow loads of manure. Hoping for an improvement from the asparagus bed in 2017 it was a very meagre crop this year. I’ve yet to do anything in the veggie plot bar plant out cabbage, collards, chard and kale plus sow more lettuce. I think I’m perhaps being overly optimistic with regards to the outdoor sown lettuce but we’ll see. It’s funny as soon as I don’t have any lettuce to pick I start craving it!

cleared-beds   veggieplot

Both polytunnels are at least complete for the winter. They both contain transplanted strawberries along their back walls. In the first one there’s some PakChoi progressing very slowly plus lettuce and oriental greens from seed that are just starting to peek through. In the second one I’ve left a chilli plant to see how long it lasts who knows perhaps it will be a mild winter and it will live to see 2017. I’ve also sown broad beans in the hope of a crop that is not decimated by black fly. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to grow broad bean outside – this will be my last attempt if the blackfly invade the polytunnel.

g1   g2

This is not a pretty sight but I’m sure the worms will love it. I did this last year on a smaller scale but going all out this year. We only put the fire on a couple of weeks ago and already I have a dust bin full of ashes layered with stuff we normally throw onto the compost heap. I reckon by the spring I should have at least 10 bin loads to dig into the veggie plot. The runner beans loved this smelly disgusting concoction.

ashbin

Finally, December in a couple of days and still there are flowers out around the garden…

rocket   bud   cornflower

honesty   campanula   sweetrocket

Bone Dry…

Not had the heart to post as there is so little going on in the garden apart from the most boring of jobs -watering! We’ve not cut grass for almost three months and I can’t remember the last time we had rain. Even the weeds have given up the ghost. Temperature in the 30s for weeks on end and no rain does not bode well for a good crop of veggies. Although, having said that the chillies seem quite happy both in the polytunnel and outside.

dried chillies   Scotch bonnets

This is the first time I’ve grown Scotch Bonnets from seed so I’ll be quite pleased if I get a small crop. The Hungarian Wax and Cayenne have done really well in the polytunnel and as you can see I’m threading and hanging the surplus Cayenne chillies.

duck salad    courgette bahgis

We have been eating lettuce till it’s been coming out of our ears. No sign of it even bolting which is rather amazing given the heat and the sun. Well, it wouldn’t be summer without an over abundance of courgettes! The last pick got made into courgette bhajis which we’ve frozen for winter treats. We’ve also had a feta and courgette frittata which was pretty tasty.

toms

We’ve been eating lots of Greek inspired dishes given the number of cucumbers and tomatoes we’ve had. For the first time ever I appear to have a crop of aubergines that look like they might come to something. Lots of bell peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and tomatoes still to be picked from the polytunnels which we’re planning to live off until our holiday at the end of the month.

squash

A very disappointing crop (I use that word very loosely!) of squashes. You can see how dry the ‘grass’ is so you can imagine how difficult it has been trying to keep the squashes alive let alone fruiting well. There are still a few left unpicked but they are pretty pathetic especially the butternuts. But at least it’s something unlike the beans, onions and the beetroot which went straight onto the compost heap!

collards    tolttilos

Kale, collard and chard are all doing fine as are the tomatillos and I might even get a crop of parsnip and leeks as they seem to be doing well. It’s a funny game this gardening no two years the same.

Not much work getting done

It’s the first of March today and I really thought I’d be further along than this. The weather is miserable, cold, wet and windy so I’ve been mainly huddled indoors except when I’m out running nothing stops that!

After a query  on ‘Gardeners Corner’about Jerusalem artichokes a very kind member, whom I’ve never met, sent me a whole box of them (chokes not queries). I know where I want to plant them but the area needs clearing and so far I’m about half way through. I decided to grow Jerusalem artichokes because Anjafinne said they make great chips plus I have this horrible corner that I would like to fill with big yellow flowers. I’m hoping for a great flower display and food. They do make nice chips!

Chokes with fish
      Fish and Artichoke Chips

chokesinbox     sideforchokes

My lovely box of Jerusalem artichokes and the start of their new home. I’ve put the string across to give me moral support else I could be doing a clear up here for weeks. I’m aiming to get this finished and planted up by the weekend.

stir2   stir 3

stir1   stir4

We had a stir fry last week with bits and pieces, the mung beans were done in the sprouter, the ‘spring onions’ were courtesy of some of last year’s onions I sprouted in a jar of water, carrots were from the veggie plot (they were a bit anaemic mind) and the oriental greens (flower tops and all) were from the poly tunnel. Nothing goes to waste in this household!

kaleandcabbage    kaleandcabbage2

Somehow don’t think we are going get through all the kale and cabbage but we are trying. This lot (plus some frozen peas) went into a spicy Indian dish we had with mushroom pilau and dhal. Not a lot of meat being eaten at the moment.

collardsmarch   carrotscollards

Just nipped out to take a picture of some of the collards in the veggie plot they are looking a bit nibbled but still throwing up as many new leaves as I can use. Last week it was collards with mince and dumplings.

parsnips      tender and true

We had a chicken dinner on Sunday with squash (I’ve still got about 20 of these left) and more ‘Tender and True’parsnips – not very pretty but they sure tasted sweet. Will the squashes last till April I wonder? You can buy ‘Tender and True’ from Mr Fothergill’s or from Moreveg  for 50p!

veggieplot2_3_16

The veggie plot this morning, garlic growing away on the right, still lots of eating in there even though it looks a bit bare. The Rhubarb is starting to come through on the far left.  Maybe with all the salad I’ve been eating I can treat myself to some rhubarb crumble and custard in a few weeks time.

Finally, I’ve tamed my seeds, I bought this little set of drawers at Aldi so all the seeds are out of the multiple tins. And to think I used to get exited about handbags!

Drawers of seeds

Winter gardening

We’ve had some amazingly good weather so I thought I’d tackle the rocky outcrop at the top of the garden which was getting way over grown. Might have gone a little bit overboard on the clean up but at least now can you see the stones. Just out off shot there’s a nice big patch of young nettle coming up so that will be going in a nettle quiche before long.

2_stones    7_top

Down at the bottom of the garden both the veggie plot and polytunnels are still producing. A little way off picking anything in the polytunnels just yet but perhaps in a couple of weeks. The salad leaf and tatsoi are romping away as are the texel greens and mizuna.  No sign yet of the wild garlic or the Echinacea. In the tunnel where the centre is packed with strawberries the pak choi and chinese cabbage seem to be coming along nicely but no sign of the potatoes.

6_greenhosues   1_greens

While the veggie plot looks a bit sad it’s still full of goodies there’s kale, collards, cabbage, pak choi (almost finished) swede, parsnip, turnip, swiss chard, perpetual spinach, celeriac, rocket, carrots and sorrel all for the picking – plus some skanky looking calabrese which may end up in a soup. If the weather holds up I’d like to get this into some sort of shape before Christmas. A couple of dry sunny days on the trot and I could get some serious weeding done and dig in lots of manure. How amazing it would be to have the veggie plot in shape before the new season begins.

4_veggie plot   5_veggie2

Finally, you must try this it is so tasty…kale and mushroom oat risotto. You use pinhead oats in place of the rice – we used our own mushrooms and kale so it was a very cheap dish. You can find a recipe here.

Oatmeal risotto

 

Still cleaning up…

The weather is being amazingly kind with temperatures in the 20s and lovely sunny days. It is difficult to believe it’s November the 11th. There are still plenty of tasks that need doing but I am making progress I may even get on top of the garden if the weather holds. While it may feel like summer the trees are not fooled and are quickly losing their leaves. They drop them and we rake them up and add them to our leaf tower. This little lot is from the lime tree at the back of the house as you can see there’s plenty to be raked up at the top of the garden. Slowly but surely the leaves will break down and I’ll have wonderful leaf mould for the flower beds.

Moreleaves    Tower

Two days work and I did manage to get the Buddleia hacked back and their weed infested bases cleared. I’ve taken masses of cuttings and stuck them in the ground. Last year I must have taken 300 cuttings and about 99% took – beginners luck surely.  And, not only did they take but they flowered and some are still in bloom. Having 300 flowering Buddleia cuttings at about knee high is amazing for watching butterflies and bees.

clear buds   lastyear cutting

At the very top of the garden I’ve cut down the christmas tree sized asparagus and weeded the bed – the onion bed to the left is still to weed, it has however had some new additions as at either end I’ve planted lavender and thyme. It will be the third year for the asparagus next year so I’m hoping for at least one meal. You can see some new Buddleia cuttings in front of the little cherry tree. To the right are the spent flowering cuttings from last year.

topasp   yearold

Opposite these two beds was a totally out of hand area that friends helped clear last year. After removing masses of broom, we were left, to our surprise, with a few nice oaks, a guelder rose, a blackthorn and a spindle – we kept those. I cleared some of the weed covered ground and threw in some seeds. The cosmos and the calendula are still going strong the borage went over a little while back. The blackthorn was amazing, one day it was totally cover with berries and the next day the birds had stripped it bare – no sloe gin for us then! You can see mother nature wants this area back but I’m going to battle to have more space for flowering annuals. This area is near the picnic table (you can just about see its umbrella poking through in the picture on the right) so lots of flowers means more bees and butterflies to watch when dining al fesco. Needless to say I’ll be collecting seeds from this little lot!

cosmos    picnic

I started working on this area yesterday and once I finish my second cup of coffee I’m off out to try and complete the clear up. I planted about eight clumps of snowdrops in this bank and this year I’d really like to see them clearly. Last year I failed to get this cleared over winter so the snowdrops were well hidden. Oh, I picked up a wire heart for 20 centimes in a second hand shop – it’s hanging in the oak. Hmm a clear up and it still looks a bit grim and that heart is so subtle you can’t even see it. Back out to do more on this tomorrow and then sow a few thousand honesty seeds.

before work    bank cleanup

Much less work involved clearing out the polytunnels of their spent summer crops and sowing a winter crop. As you can see some of the chillies are still going strong and the seeds I’ve sown appear to have germinated. In the polytunnel on the left I’ve stuffed the middle with strawberries and along the back I’ve planted some spuds. In this one I’ve also  sown spring onion, pak choi (Hanakan) along with some Chinese cabbage. The Echinacea I sowed near the front is probably a washout thanks to Mr Mole! In the polytunnel on the right you’ll see some lemon colour marigolds I love this colour and I’ve collected masses of seeds which I hope will come true next year as I plan on having this everywhere.

poly one   poly 2

This is what I planted in polytunnel number two – mainly lettuce and oriental greens – so easy to forget so I keep a note of everything I sow in my diary. I’ve just noticed I’ve also sown some Honesty and more Echinacea neither of which are showing yet. This is my third batch of Marigold seeds and I should get another one next week.

planting schem poly 2   seeds

I’ve made a start on weeding some of the island beds, the blackcurrants are done as is the bed with the blueberries, and one planted with the new daylilies. That leaves three more to complete. They all look so pathetic at this time of the year.

blackcurrants   daylilly bed

I reckon at least three days work on this the largest one – really looking forward to that!

large isalnd

Down at the veggie plot things not looking too bad, there’s still lots of eating to be had kale, cabbage, collards, calabrese, perpetual spinach and swiss chard are all being picked regularly. Not sure what is wrong with the broad beans masses of flowers but it looks like rust on the leaves?  I’m still eating the odd runner bean as I walk past!

We’ve picked and eaten all the beetroot so the only roots left are carrots, parsnips, swedes, celeriac and turnips. I’ve recently planted garlic after rooting it on paper towel – that worked really well. There is still some coriander suitable for use so more fresh pesto before the winter. The basil did not survive a really cold night a couple of weeks back so that’s all been grubbed out. You can see on the right yet more Buddleia cuttings hopefully on there way to creating a nice little hedge at this end of the veggie plot.

veggie plot    cuttings veggie

Finally, at the weekend this Dahlia decided to flower but must admit it looks out of place in a garden that feels very much like it’s ready for bed!

Dalhia

The Veggie Plot

My veggie plot is located near the house just in front of my wild life pond. It’s about 15 metres x 8 metres.  Along the fence I’ve got a grape vine (first grapes in 2013 – it’s been in since 2009)  with rasps and blackberries either side.  The blackberries are struggling but the rasps are doing OK.  I’ve moved my strawberries away from the veggie plot into their own area.

I’ve then got four rows a little over a metre wide with a path down each row. If I could afford it I’d have ‘proper’ paths and edging along the paths but I can’t so it’s earth paths and string to mark out the beds.  Since this picture was taken I’ve now created a 6th narrow row into which I’ve sown rhubarb and planted red bergamot.  I wish I could say the plot always looks this tidy!