Thursday, 23 June 2011

Two other ramblings

I've added a link on the right to my other two blogs if you are interested.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Some photos

I've added some photos of some of the flowers out in my borders right now.  Just click here. 

The orange poppy is a bit of a mystery and a lot of an annoyance.  I have only planted pink and white poppies in the garden - not always successfully I might add;  yet I now have three groups of bright orange poppies.  All the colours in my back garden are cool - the hot ones being in the front garden, so I really don't want three lots of in-your-face poppies nestled among the pastel shades.

One of the groups has been with me from the beginning of this garden - five years plus and each summer after it has flowered I try to dig it up, but next year back it comes.  Being a gardener I can't bear to poison them or rip them out when they flower so I grin and bear it until they have finished.  I am determined this year that when they've done their thing I will get every last bit of root out and pass them on to someone who can use them.

I am curious though as to whether they are absolute rogues from somewhere or other?  or wrongly labelled ones I've bought and planted (this is the answer I think is the right one)?  or do pale poppies eventually revert to the simple orange?

Answers please?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Back home and loving it.........

The following is how I began my time back here in Bury.  It is the opening to my diary blog which I do for family and friends so they can keep up with where we are and what we're doing.  In case you've forgotten this was written in that lovely hot stretch we had in April.

I'm absolutely cream-crackered but sweetly content.  Gardeners out there will recognise the feeling.  I've just spent most of the day in the garden beginning the clearing up after six months abandonment.  It is always a cross between the Secret Garden and Miss Haversham's when we get back but at least when you do it there is a huge payback. It was so hot today - actually summer temperatures (around 18C) so absolutely no excuse not to get on with it.

Had we not had six breaks in our cold water pipes and a broken boiler thanks to the -17C experienced in Bury (the repairs were finished the day we were flying home!), I would have thought you lot were telling porky pies.  Clearing the veggie beds today I dug up proper radishes; only the slug damage prevented them from going on our salad.  There were half a dozen potatoes all sprouting into life and showing above the soil and the land cress that I’d left to rot down over the winter to improve the soil was eighteen inches high and in flower.  We have rhubarb almost ready to pull and so far I have only one dead plant to report.  This is an incredible result following the winter the UK had again this year.

So, as you can see I was out getting things back to rights as soon as I got back in April.  Good job as it turned out as our weather has been a bit hit and miss ever since.  

Everything is staying pretty much as is this year with a couple of tweaks in the veggie plot.  I moved the rhubarb down to the bottom square (0) as it likes shade whereas other crops like beans don't and they get stuck in there every third year with my three year rotation system.  So now - this year - reading from the bottom of the strip to the top I have - rhubarb in the none rotating bed along with four cauliflowers (they are supposed to be better for shade too) which I thought I'd have a go at as I found six (plus) of them reduced to 50p and looking as though they needed rescuing.  They seem to be going great guns so far.  I have grown all kinds of brassicas many years ago and they were so full of various bugs I was squeamish about eating them. I'm  made of sterner stuff in old age and, unless they are truly beyond eating, they'll be fine.

In bed number 1 I have the spuds.  I did fantastically well last year with International Kidney and was sorely tempted to do it again especially as the Swift all fell down with blight.  Gardeners are nothing if not adventurous so I resisted and planted Red Duke of York (2 rows) and Rocket (1 row).  I have to have first earlies because we leave here before we can harvest the later ones.  That said I was weakened by another bargain a couple of weeks ago and planted two large planters with King Edward (my favourite spud of all time to eat) maybe they will be OK when we come home at Christmas (?) and 2 more containers with Annabelle.  This is a first early I know nothing about.  The seed potatoes were knocked down to silly cheap as it was a bit late for planting.  They are all coming up though!!!

Bed number 2 has my legumes.  'Scarlet Emperor' runner beans and 'Speedy' dwarf French beans.  The French beans have had a poor germination rate both in pots under cover and in the soil - I am still struggling to get another four plants into growth which I need to make up the nine I want.  Lastly I have some Petit Pois - another B & Q bargain strip. Like the strawberries that I have in a couple of pots on the patio, I don't grow enough of them to ever get enough for a proper meal but they are lovely to just munch now and again in the garden on a nice sunny day.

Bed 3 is my change of method this year and I like it already. This is square foot gardening.  Take a look at the link and if you get interested there is masses of stuff out there to get you started.  Mel Bartholomew is decidedly the best bet for sensible down to earth (pun not intended) advice.  I have his little book for $4.99 and it answers any question you could ever ask.  I'm sure you could find it in the library to see if you want to own it before you buy - that's what I do.  My twelve squares have (at the moment) Beetroot, radish, lettuce, a couple of the left over cauliflowers, mixed salad leaves, carrots, some left-over peas and a new and interesting addition to my repertoire - India Mustard.

So that's the veg.  The flower borders are looking good right now too with the roses, foxgloves, poppies, clematis - all very English and fluffy.  I intend to get round to posting some photos on my web album soon and I'll let you know when they are up.

OK this is where I want some advice.......  My rhubarb is in its third year, yes, I know I've just moved it but it hasn't been fantastic and indeed its twin dropped dead in year one.  It is Glaskins Perpetual.  Is it a rubbish variety?  no good up North?  needs feeding a lot? etc etc etc - I am very inclined (next year) to just bin it and replace with good old Queen Victoria.  Opinions welcome.