Saturday, 9 May 2015

Photo update

Sweet potatoes
 The sweet potato tuber is in soil, I keep this warm & wet to let the slips grow. I then pick them off & put them in water to grow roots before potting then up, if they already have some roots then I pot them up straight away. Keeping them warm & moist seems to work, before when I've just kept them in water indoors I've not had any success.

cucumbers & squashes

apple tree blossom
Both apple trees are in bloom this year, normally they alternate.

Sorry photo's are a couple of weeks old now. I will take more as everything has grown tremendously since then.
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Sunday, 19 April 2015


Wow, I've been really bad with this blog. But then not a lot has been going on in the garden during the winter. It's now spring & I've been working away at it.

First off I've started some of my own sweet potato slips, they are doing really well.

I've never had much success starting my own slips but this year I tried a different tactic, instead of putting them in water I put them in some compost which I kept wet & in the heated propagator. These are the 3 biggest, the roots are already starting to come out of the bottom of the pots. There are more to come. I thought I'd taken a photo of the potato itself but I can't seem to find it so will try & remember to take another so you can see.

So this is my first experiment of this year & it seems to be a success so far. My second experiment is going to be hydroponics, well on the smallest scale possible.

I have a pond in the garden, now with only 3 fish (they all seem to die on me) & it's always been dead space, pretty but not useful. So I have invested in some rockwool & made myself a floating garden.

Step 1
 The rockwool came as a 1 metre slab, I chose it like this so I could cut it to size, much easier than buying the pre-cut pellets. I wanted to cut them to fit the polystyrene planters that you get free from stores like B&Q when you buy plants (I have loads). This was very easy, just use a sharp knife. I found that the bit I cut off filled 2.5 cells, I just added the 2 halves to make a whole.

step 2
 Cutting them to fit & slotting them into the cells. They fit really well as you can squash them if necessary or cut a little bit more off.

step 3&4
Once I had filled the cells it was time to get the seeds in. I've put 2 seeds in each cell, these are lettuce & I want to use it as a bigger version of cut & come again, the pond is so close to the back door I should be able to just nip outside & get clean lettuce. I filled 2 of the polystyrene planter with lettuce & the third with watercress. I've grown watercress before in the pond but the fish ate more if it then I managed to pick. I am hoping they won't eat all the roots & kill the plants, that's of course if they grow in the first place.

Forgot the important part, I didn't even think about whether rockwool expanded or not, I can safely say it doesn't. So cut to the size you want & don't worry. The wool holds enough water to keep these polystyrene planters just low enough to keep it all wet but still high enough for it all to float, so far so good.

If they grow ok then I may invest in some special pots & a sheet of polystyrene to make it better but for now this is the cheapest way to try it out. I don't know if I could do the fish part though, growing fish for food. I know I couldn't eat these, they are comets, I may have to take a look & see what fish are edible & can stand cold temps through the winter.

Now my potatoes are growing well, they were started in the greenhouse in a large pot, I have been earthing them up & they are now outside. I think all chances of frost are now gone this far south.

potatoes started early

I have also planted out my sweetcorn today. I've been hardening them off for the last few weeks & planted them out today. I'm more worried about something digging them up then frost. Something's tried to dig my other potatoes up. I've had problems with cats pooping in the garden too. I have noticed that they prefer my veg beds when they are dry so I have made sure to water them even though they are empty at the moment.

Runner beans have been started & some are up already. Cucumber, pumpkins & squash have been sowed into the heated propagator. A few tomatoes have germinated but don't seem to be doing very well. I need to sow some plum types for cooking.


Both the carrots & parsnips are up & growing. I've put the wire over the top to keep cats out & to stop my dogs eating any of them before they get to grow.

During the winter I didn't get to do much gardening, we were unlucky that we didn't get any snow (my dogs love snow) but it was wet & cold & uninviting. I spent the time indoors being very bored but I did learn how to make soap, I was hoping I could sell some of it but there are so many rules & regulations so unfortunately I can't. It's a shame the government don't help small business or allow rules to be waivered for small scale sale, I mean you can't even bake a cake & then sell it to your neighbour, you have to give it away.  They could always allow you to sell with no rules up to a certain turnover or something, like less than £10k. Never mind, the rules are there to protect buyers. We can blame Europe for all the silly H&S rules.

Hopefully I will remember to keep up with the blog this year, report on my experiments & let you know if they are worth the time & effort.

Happy gardening

Monday, 8 September 2014

September already

Wow, this year has gone by so quickly. The garden is still growing, although most is coming to an end.

I still have potatoes growing, I want them to get nice & big. The second lot of tomatoes I planted are still green, waiting for them to go red. The first lot planted in the baskets have finished & been composted. The cucumbers had a good run although they are still going the new fruits are still small & don't seem to be getting much bigger.

Over the last few months I have been very busy. Mum loves her garden & I've managed to pick up some Meerkat statues for her from freecycle. The lights don't work but they still look good. I also got a dehydrator & a yoghurt maker.

The yoghurt maker I've had for a while now, reading up on-line how to use it means that we are now getting lots of home made yoghurt for the dogs, they love it. The dehydrator is still a work in progress, the first use was a disaster. I sliced the apples too thin & they all stuck. So research was needed. Always spray the trays with oil & don't cut too thinly seems to be the way to go. The second try turned out much better. Pictures are the third try.

Last of the mini tomatoes whole. Sliced larger plum tomatoes

Second layer has sliced apple & banana

Top layer has sliced banana with cinnamon

There are five layers but you can use as many of few as you like. I might also buy some more so I can stack it higher for when I have more to dry. Not sure on how that would impact on drying time but it currently takes any where from 12 to 24 hours depending on thickness & what it is. So far I have only dried fruits. I have been searching on-line for other things & may try a few later on.

You can just see the yoghurt maker in the top left of the pics. Not bad for free, although there is usually something not quite right about it. The lid on the dehydrator is cracked & there are no lids for the yoghurt maker, but they both work fine as they are & I am very grateful for the kindness of strangers.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mum's garden

Well for the last few days I have been very busy in my mum's garden. She has gone away for a few days & I decided to surprise her.
I had thought at first it would be a simple job, replace the 2 short panels that had broken, trim the trees & just put in a few plants. That was in my head, the reality was not the same.

The 2 small panels turned out easy, sort of, they just fitted into my car with the back door tied closed. Took out the old ones & slid the new in easy. Then I made the mistake of cutting back the trees, they are supposed to only be bushes. That's when I discovered the rear panels were totally buggered & had to be replaced too.

Now these rear ones being a boundary fence are 12 foot tall. Not only will these not fit in the car they have to be lifted & slotted into the concrete uprights. So off to B&Q. I can't believe that they only cost £2 more than the small ones but still at £21 each it adds up & all panels  came to £80. Now 2 panels on a trolley pushing up the hill all the way home, I was surprised to find my son actually helped. Not only that but he climbed the ladder to help slide them in. Took a while as we both ran out of steam, they were heavy & not easy to maneuver, not only that but I had to clear the rear alley way from all the rubbish that had been thrown there by the neighbours. I also had to cut some planks of wood down for the last panel as the size is not normal.

I then had to paint them all as mum had never done it with the old ones, another reason why they needed replacing. I put in lots of new plants & made a herb garden in the little half moon brick bit. 2 new solar lights. I also had to repoint some of the patio, there is still a bit needing to be done but rain has stopped play at the moment.

Today I raked & mowed the front lawn for her. I also recut the edge so it's nice & neat & crisp. A couple of new plants too, trimed the old ones & her rose bush which she planted far to close to the wall but I can't move it or I will probably kill it.

Unfortunately mum doesn't look after her garden.

So she will have a nice surprise to return to.

Please note that I did return the trolley to B&Q.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Sorting out the blog

Well I'm not happy with Google & Virgin media. I don't know if any of you are with Virgin but after Google took over Blogger & you tube they stopped people using their virgin e-mail accounts to access their products. Basically they just want every one to use their gmail, so I had to take the plunge & open a gmail account. I am not happy that Virgin (a massive company) did not stand up for their customers.

So I am finally back on line, however as I am now using the gmail account for the blog I will not get any comments sent directly to my laptop & will only see them here.

So what has been going on in the garden? not much really. I still haven't finished stripping the old paint off the garden furniture, just been so tired.

The runner beans are sky high, been picking them daily but still manage to miss some which end up getting stringy (yuck).

The French beans bush type were a waste of time although a nice purple colour, the climbing type have produced leaves but hardly any beans. Every year I say I won't bother again but at least they don't go stringy when left.

There are 4 lots of potatoes, 2 in tyres which are doing really well with the top growth & the other 2 are in the pots I used for my sweet potatoes last year.

Tomatoes are doing well, I have Garten Pearl in baskets which are just not stopping. Then I have some plum types which I want to use to make sauce with. These are still green, probably had about 4 off so far. Now I did put them into the slow cooker to make puree with but unfortunately I left it on overnight & well..... Never mind, there are plenty more waiting to ripen.

The blueberries are finished, they made 4 jars of jam for mum. The raspberries are almost done, 8 jars of jam made considering most were stolen by the dogs. Didn't get many strawberries but the ones we did get were eaten straight away.

The best has been the cucumbers, I really love Socrates F1. All female, smooth & sweet. So worth growing as they perform wonderfully, even outdoors. We have had so many that we haven't been able to get through them all.

The weather has been very hot & sticky. Today it rained really hard, I had to unblock the drain as we were getting flooded. Luckily it soon drained away. It's still wet & raining now but not as bad. Stupidly I went out to the bin in it & got soaked. We have had a few good thunderstorms this summer which have looked spectacular.

There won't be much chance of getting out into the garden this weekend, the forecast says the rain will continue.

Rain stopping play
 The dog had dug a hole, again, which is hidden under the plastic cloche in an effort to stop her. I have now removed the wire which was along the left border & managed to tidy up to the road cone, so far I haven't caught her on there.

my little grow space
 I have plans for the top end but haven't had time nor money to get it sorted. I really need to fence it all off & level it as the whole garden slopes.

apples & raspberries along fence
 This year & last year the dog has eaten the berries & ripped the plants so I really need to put these somewhere where she can't get to.

Potatoes growing really well
 The type on the right are Roosters but the on left I used normal potatoes that had started to sprout (not seed potatoes). I don't know what type the were but I always have success doing this. There is no blight at all.

 I have 2 Braeburn apple trees but for some reason the fruit alternatively rather than every year. They are not ready for picking yet but are getting juicy & fat.

sweetcorn in pot
 Now I have grown my sweetcorn like this for 2 years now, I don't get may cobs but the one's I do get are lovely & big. We have already had a cob off & Dale said it was lovely. I followed my friends recommendation of cooking it whole in the microwave for 4 minutes, then cut the end off & squeeze it out. So much easier than all that peeling.

Garten Pearl
The baskets dry out really quick & need watering twice daily but there are loads of fruits, the only downside is they are very small.

I did raise the raised beds but I still need to fill them with more soil, that will have to be done when there is nothing in them. I have lost a blueberry bush to the dreaded vine weevil so that will have to be replaced at some point.

I can now start to catch up with everyone's blogs.

Friday, 25 April 2014

I'm back, well sort of

We have had a couple of nice sunny days lately (not today unfortunately) & I have been quite busy, only most of it not in the garden. I have had a lot of ups & downs lately & to be honest I'm not really sure what I am doing anymore.

So it was time to get into the garden. I have been pottering around for the last few months but without actually doing anything.

So off came the front of the compost "Dalek" & out has come most of the rubbish in it. I have sieved it & this time thrown away (dump) what hasn't rotted down. Most years I put it back in with the hope that it will eventually rot down & be useable, but then it never has.

You can see lots of bindweed roots at the bottom, these have come through from my neighbour's, so this year I will move everything & try to get rid of all the weeds too.
The sieved compost didn't amount to much but it had been put into a tyre stack & my first lot of potatoes have gone in. I will earth them up as I get more compost out of the bins. I still have another stack to fill, I also need to get to the tyre place & see if I can get more.

I seem to be procrastinating too much.

I owed some sweetcorn earlier this month into toilet roll tubes, they have already sprouted & I have planted them into my box. I have left plenty of room to top it up with soil as they start to grow. This makes them much better anchored & stops them getting knocked over. They also need a lot of nutrients & water as they are in a very small area & I can do that better in the box than in the ground. Also the gap allows air to be trapped when I put the glass on top at night just incase we have a frost (which isn't really likely this far south).

I had already sown some tomatoes, Garten Pearle for hanging baskets. These have grown really well so I popped them out of their cells & into the hanging baskets. The other tomatoes I sowed haven't even sprouted so I need to sow some more.

I have already taken off the bubblewrap. It stayed up really well in places, it didn't on the roof but that was due to the wind taking it off (the roof that is so of course the bubblewrap didn't stay up there).

Now, what else. Well the blueberries are doing well, lots of flowers. I built a planter for strawberries. Finally got it finished & planted up. Strawberries are flowering already.

It's making it look like I have done so much, but I haven't really, it's taken me months to get this far, I just don't have the energy.

So, I will just take a look at my garden looking neat & tidy (header picture). Just a shame it's from last year. Oh, yes, I finally got my seeds & stuff from Spalding's, might as well have not bothered, half the stuff I had wanted was no longer in stock & I had to choose other things.

Too many things I had hoped to come this year haven't. I need to pull myself together & get on with what I do have. Stop thinking I can have better & accept what I do have is all I will ever have.