Monday, 31 May 2010

More plants!

Went a bit mad today. We went to B&Q to have a look at the herbs for the small planter, and to see if they had any strawberry plants as we've still got space in the strawb pot, and came away with oregano, chives, sage and parsley, and 4 strips of wee veggies as well... we could only find one solitary strawberry plant in the place so we nabbed it tee hee!

Planted up the little herb planter, and scattered lots of glass pebbles on the surface of the soil to try and discourage our furry friends from using it as a litter tray. Fingers crossed. At the back of the bed are some left over onion plants, that we didn't have space for in the second raised bed... but I'm getting ahead of myself here. You may notice there is room for another plant at the bottom right of the planter, this is because a friend has promised me some thyme, and I've promised her some whitebells (in a tub ready to go.)

The veggie plants we bought were leeks, onions (just regular white onions), beets and runner beans. We planted the wee beets and onions in the second raised bed (beets on the left, onions on the right) and the beans in a large flowerpot, and popped canes in ready. There were considerably more beets than we expected, so those that didn't fit in the raised bed went in between the beans... no idea if it'll work, but we can eat em small if we want to. Like I've said in earlier posts, this garden is an experiment, we are trying things out, and if they work then great, but if not, then we'll learn from the experience.

We have yet to plant up the leeks, we need another container... so they are safely in the greenhouse for now, won't do them any harm to stay in their strip thingy for a little while longer.

Flowers not Veggies
Shock horror I planted some flowers! There is a little area under the front window that always looks scrappy, so good old B&Q did the trick again, I got us some Help For Heroes petunias, and I have probably overcrowded them, but again, to try and keep the cats off, I added some stones between the plants. Small but lovely, will take some more pics when they start looking a bit fuller.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

New Raised Bed

My hubby is bril... He made us a new raised bed today, one that fits with the second cloche we bought. He used decking boards from B&Q, like this... they were 2metres 40cm in length.

He had to cut them in the car park so they would fit in the car :-O...(that's not our car in the background by the way, we really would have to cut the planks small to get them in that!) He simply cut a 3 foot length off each plank.

Anyway, we got them home and he made the rest of the cuts to make a 3 foot square raised bed... so eight pieces of decking, with 4 pieces left over.

He drilled and screwed the planks in place, and we ended up with this.

After bracing the corners, we then positioned the raised bed and filled it with multi-purpose compost, and lots of sieved topsoil that we got from Freecycle - the picture looks like it's all about to topple, it's not, it is level I promise!

And the left overs made this... It is now on a flagstone and will have herbs growing in it eventually :-)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Radishes Galore!

Our Radish seeds have germinated already! I only sowed them on Saturday, it's now Tuesday, Rock'n'Roll you little seedlings! Amazing, must be the warm weather we've enjoyed lately. These are not 'posh' seeds or anything fancy, just ones from a multi pack from jolly old Poundland. The proof will be in the eating, which at this rate may be some time next week hahaha :-D

Tonight I moved the basil seedlings out of the propagator and onto the main shelf in the greenhouse, so they get a little more light. I reckon they are still too small to pot on just yet. Haven't watered, as the pots and containers are all still a little damp, the temperatures were a lot cooler today than yesterday.

Next job will be to pot the courgettes into individual pots, but I'm waiting until their first proper leaves are out, they have their seed leaves and small first proper's as yet.

We've still got a lot of clearing to do in the garden, the hornbeams mainly, but we can't do anything until the first load of cuttings has been burned - and as we are in a housing estate, we need a dull/rainy/breezy day, to make sure the neighbours don't have windows open - we aren't anti-social gardeners!

A least the weather is a little cooler at the moment, I can't help but worry about our little seedlings if the temperature drops too low. I think I'm obsessed.....

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Garden's History

I should say a few words about the garden and its history. We have a small garden in a regular modern housing estate, the soil is quite clay but very fertile.

The garden is approximately 20 foot wide, 35-40 foot long, south west facing, with a wee strip up the side of the house that is mostly paved and used for general storage. The garden was a patch of mud when we bought the house, and we planted the fruit trees and everything else 15+ years ago. But in more recent years we lost interest, so the garden was simply left to its own devices and consequently became very overgrown.

Fortunately for the garden we have found interest again!

The garden currently has a problem with invasive plants - mint, whitebells, and the vigorous hornbeams. We have ripped out some of the mint and whitebells on one side, but have yet to tackle the invaders on the other side of the garden. Our garden waste bin is full to bursting most of the time!


More pictures taken at the weekend...

This first one shows the water butts we installed late last year, there are 2 linked together, and they have been invaluable for all the watering we now have to do... I just fill up the watering can and away I go. We need to empty them at some stage and set level flagstones underneath them, as they are just on bare earth at the moment, and do lean rather alarmingly when full.

Also, in the corner is a vine, it has been growing there for several years, and we have yet to enjoy a full crop, as the birds tend to get the fruit. We've cut it right back, and it is still putting forth leaves - we'll train it properly, and feed it etc, so like the redcurrant we'll have a very small crop, if any, this year, but it should be better - healthier, more productive - next year.

This pic shows our solitary raised bed with cloche, purchased from here - Linky – We put down a weed supressor strip, and then filled it with compost and topsoil, and over the weekend I sowed carrots, spring onions, and beetroots. We have a second cloche ready for the second raised bed when WhiteWolf constructs it. The cloche covers are great for keeping the cats off the nice new soil!

Behind the raised bed is our compost bin, which we are gradually filling with grass cuttings and kitchen peelings. We've not added any of the mint, weeds or whitebells that currently 'own' the garden as they would probably grow quite nicely in a lovely warm compost bin thank you very much! The whitebells look pretty but are VERY invasive - they spread by seeds AND by bulb division, so we'll never be rid of them... they came as a small handful of ornamental bulbs and have taken over, in the front garden as well as the back. All we can do is keep chopping back and hope that it'll kill them off in the end, or at least, keep them in check.

In the pots are onions and spinach, and under the fleece are lettuces, more spinach, and cabbages, growing in old recycling tubs - our council changed its waste collection bins in April and the old style recycling tubs were replaced with a single large wheelie bin, so these were spare. WhiteWolf drilled some holes in the bottom, and Son and I scrubbed them out, and then filled with compost and planted them up. We've already been eating the salad leaves and spinach, and feeling terribly smug about it!

Pretty obvious what this is a picture of. We need to get a few more plants, to fill the pot up, not a hardship, they won't go to waste :-D We love strawberries.

Here are our first three wee tomato plants, before I set to and nipped out all the excess spurs, some of which were rather huge! The cover/frame is an Argos one, and is ideal for the job. The empty hanging basket above them, and the one in the water butts pic, will have tumbler tomato plants in them, still seedlings as yet.

This pic shows one of our neglected pear trees, as you can see it is dwarfed by the blasted hornbeams.

We're not expecting much of a crop from it this year, as it has been so terribly shaded, but next year it should be better. The other pear tree can be seen in the foreground of the hornbeam height pic posted earlier, it has paler leaves than the hornbeam. As this second tree has had some light, it may actually crop...
All of our fruit trees have been left to their own devices, but are pretty healthy, so with a little TLC they should come round just fine.


Isn't Freecycle marvellous?

We've had several Freecycle bargains this past week.

First of all we collected six 2 foot square flagstones, and have used two under the mini greenhouse, with another two scheduled to go under the water butts.

Then we went and collected 20 bags of used topsoil, each containing about 25kg. We'll have to sieve it, but when you consider a 35 litre bag from B&Q costs about four quid, it is a super bargain. We'll use it in the next raised bed.

Later in the week we went and picked up eight solid and heavy 2 foot square paving slabs - we'll most probably make a small patio out of these. Never had a patio before!

And then finally we went and picked up six little plants from a lady who had spares - two tomatoes, two peppers and two chillis.

While I'm in the greenhouse (a bargain from Wilkos - Linky ) we may as well show you the other wee plants we've got in there.

These are our courgettes, growing well, I think I'm going to have to pot them up into individual pots soon and pop them outside to harden off. These will be grown in growbags alongside the house where the bags of topsoil currently are.

In the propagator are our basil seedlings and our french beans, sown but not yet appeared. In the tray are radishes and cucumbers

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Lovely Weather we're having

Phew! It is too hot to be outside today, we went out earlier on and the temp gauge in the car said it was 26.5 degrees..... so no gardening done today. I did however go around the garden taking some photos.

This is a shot from the back of the house down the garden towards the mini greenhouse, past the chimnea that is still awaiting its new position after its home was taken by the new greenhouse.

The tree at the right of the shot above is the apple.

Apple Tree
The apple is well established, having been in the garden for over 12 years. This is an eater and when the glut comes anything that we cannot eat straight away, is pulped and frozen ready to be added to winter porridge.

Another plant we rediscovered was the redcurrant, which I'd planted many years ago, and which had been neglected for many years. The plan is to harvest the fruit we've found this year, and then look after it properly, pruning, feeding etc this autumn/winter, so hopefully we'll get a better crop next year.

As you can see from the next picture, the dreaded hornbeam hedge is still a large task for us to tackle. At the moment it is casting a tremendous amount of shade, far too much. The picture shows only some of its height as I couldn't fit it all in! The plan is to cut it back and down gradually and burn the excess, as doing it all in one go is far too big a job.

The picture below shows how thick the hornbeam trunk is at the base. It is a very vigorous grower, and until we cleared the lower branches we hadn't realised just how chunky it had all become.

One final pic for now - we've had this old planter with spearmint in it for a long time, and it was like everything else in the garden, neglected. I cleared it out, scraped away the old soil and twigs and that, added new compost to help the little spearmint sproutings that have survived, and then decorated it with some stones that we already had, mainly to keep the cats off it (they do like to lie on the planter!) and to finish it off I added some glass beads. Just for fun!

Lots more pictures to add, and lots more to write, so I'll do it like we are sorting the garden - a bit at a time!

The Wolfies

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Mrs Wolfie here, my turn now. Here is a list of our attempted vegetable plants for this, our first proper growing season. I've also mentioned about the prep we've done/are doing.

We have : spinach, onions, salad leaves, cabbages and 3 tomato plants, all bought as baby plants to get us started. We also have courgettes (100 percent germination, woo!) basil seedlings, tumbler tomato seedlings. I have sown french beans, baby carrots, beetroot, cucumber, radish, and spring onions, yet to germinate but they were only sown within the past few days.

And we now have strawberry plants in a lovely strawberry planter, and a couple of peppers, a couple of chillis and a pair of a.n.other variety tomato plants, the last 6 via our local Freecycle. Sweet!

In our tiny garden we already have a thriving apple tree, a couple of pear trees, and during the clearing of the rampant hornbeams we rediscovered a redcurrant plant, that has some fruit on it... shows the power of nature and its tenacity for thriving.

We have spent some time clearing our neglected garden, and I am really proud of the work we have done so far. We still have a way to go yet, the aforementioned hornbeams, originally planted as a hedge but now tall trees, need to be drastically cut back to allow light back into the garden, and we can only do it a tree at a time, as we need to burn the cut branches as we go along.

Pics to follow......

Well it had to happen

Well we finally did it, we started to try grow our own veg. I will update further as time progresses and I get my head around this Blogging business.