Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Made a start

We had something resembling a nice day on Monday so I was off to the local cheapy shops at Crostons Park - known to the rest of us as 'where B &Q is'.

We had been there last week and, as I was leaving Poundstretcher (no time to check it out properly), I had noticed fruit trees for £5.99.  In we went.  I bought a Bramley apple and a Braeburn and the thing I went for was a plum.  They were all suffering a bit from being in a shop for however long but the plum looked very unpromising   Being cheeky when I got to the till I asked if I could bring it back if it hadn't shown signs of life in a couple of months time.  The manager could see the problems that involved so asked if I wanted it for £3 and take my chances.  Sorted.  I also bought two more lots of potatoes.  I know one was Charlotte and think the other was Estima.  If you read this and rush off to do the same - nip into Home Bargains first as their seed spuds were reduced to 99p we discovered later.  I picked up some more veggie seeds in B & Q and we were off home for a quick sandwich and then to the lotty.

Ken and I spent about four hours there getting sorted. Here's the result.  This is the Bramley; the one behind is the plum and the Braeburn is by the other box.

I wasn't around at the beginning of getting this sorted but I do remember conversations about whether the soil is OK to plant in directly because of the site having been garages? Plus putting in trees or anything permanent needs to be considered as to where they should go and does everyone else agree?  I am in no rush and not bothered at all if they just stay in their pots.

The two apples probably won't do any good any way as they need a cox's for cross pollination.  Again I have a Marilyn theory that they may produce a few fruits without (???) and that's all the two of us want.  So these are in the lap of the Gods.

 This looks like a bomb site in this photo but it is actually the neatest of beds.  I bought some weed suppressant fabric and Ken laid down two strips of it to cover the whole bed.  You can get a roll (20m) for £3.99 in Home Goods and it will do three of these boxes.  My idea is that this is the strawberry and rhubarb bed so it might keep down the weeding and help keep the strawberries out of the dirt.  My concern is that when I watered them in, the fabric didn't seem to let the water through.  The blurb claims it not only does that but it also then goes on to stop a lot of the evaporation therefore keeping your beds moist.  It would be pretty useless if it didn't; maybe it will get better when the newness wears off.  The worst case scenario is that I have to take it off and bin it.  Not a big deal.  Meanwhile nineteen (one short!) ever-bearer strawberries are happily bedded in and the rhubarb is on order for delivery May/June.

This is my all and sundry box and my version of pea sticks.  Not exactly hazel trimmings but found on site and look as though they will do the job.  The concern is that they look like willow and they will therefore probably take root quite happily.  It is really easy to take and start cuttings of willow.  I am living in hopes the hard winter has killed them off and they just stand there and help out my peas.  I have also planted a row of cut and come again salad leaves, a row of radishes and a row of red spring onions.  The runner beans will go down the centre but it is too cold up here to get those in before the end of May, so short cropping salads can use the space for now.

Even less to show you here as it is my potato bed.  I know there is a good argument against growing potatoes as they are cheap and easily available BUT I really do think they are worth it.  They are super easy and such a thrill when you put one spud in and take dozens out.  The biggest reason to grow them is they taste ten times better than any shop bought and they still do save you money.  At the worst a bag of ten spuds (for 99p!!) will do 30 -40 dinners for the two of us which is probably about £10 at supermarket prices - no brainer. OK you save more if you grow more exotic veg but they will take a good deal more looking after, which is great if you enjoy that.  I also get fed up of the same veg day after day because they are 'ready now' so I am happy with the simple approach.

I have planted my rows North/South.  There are heated debates about whether you should go for East/West or North/South but professional growers generally go North/South.  I think the important thing is that you think about not shading out plants that like the sun with your taller stuff.  So, to keep it easy for myself I go North/South and that way I worry less about what might be shading out what.  If I had to consider it I would then plant tall stuff on the North side but for what I am doing it is fine just going with North/South rows and all the stuff will get morning and afternoon sun pretty much equally.  We have fences and trees on our site that will play their part in the shade question.  It is a matter of making a mental note as the year goes on.  Even better take photos pretty much every time you go and that way you will have a lot to refer to so you can see what is happening at different times of the day through the year.

So...... those are my boxes and fruit trees.  I will be planting some large pots with courgettes and I don't know what else and they will get sited here.  I may just try the tomatoes this year in the greenhouse as I never get them to ripen in time outdoors.  I will probably have one bush outside at the lotty just as a trial.

You might know I gave away all my veg stuff  last summer - pots, small greenhouse, cloches etc because I took out my veggie bed and put it back to a flower border..... then I heard about the lotty....Curses!!

Right now I am trying to come up with some way of trapping rain water and diverting it to a water butt as that is going to be the big issue if we get a good summer.  My garden and pots and baskets are on an irrigation system and timers so I never have to think about them and can go away now and again without any worries.  I can see I shall be fretting about my veg.

More photos in Garden - The Lotty - 2013....  go and have a look at the bargain string and holder.


  1. Hi there. Just thought I'd let you know I too have Braeburn apple trees & my neighbour has a Bramley, never had a problem with fruiting. There are no other apple trees near by to me. Mine are still small & I have them trained as espaliers across my fence, this keeps them nice & tidy. Good luck.

    1. Many thanks Liz. These are supposed to be grafted on a very short root stock and say you can keep them to 6 - 8 feet (for easy picking). Sounds potty as far as the Bramley goes but that's what it says. At £5.99 I am not expecting fantastic results - just playing really and if we get half a dozen apples from them I will be thrilled. Thanks so much for the cross pollination comment - I did say to my other half bees fly miles so I might be lucky!