About my garden

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Blighted pototoes

The potatoes have got blight.
I noticed this one evening.

Not all the plants were affected yet. I have inherited these potatoes with the house and, having just moved here this year, I don't know the history and whether they always get blight. We have had a wet spell though, so I'm not surprised.

The next day, as soon as I had time, I cut the tops off and dug up some of the potatoes. They are fine as I had spotted it early. I've burnt the affected haulms.
Soon after, I was struck down with blight and when I next made it outside all the rest of the plants were affected.

I'm sorry about the awful pictures today. So I did the same and cut the tops off everything. 
Today I had time to go and dig up some more. They were probably ready anyway but I was hoping to dig up a few now and then, when I wanted them. They are not a bad size though. Almost all of them usable. I can't take any credit as all I have done is watch them!

 I particularly like this one!

A few pretty things to finish...
Dianthus deltoides


Echinacea. These came with me in pots. They are rather leggy but are filling out.
I am slowly filling up my new bed. My mum brings something every time she visits and I've taken to buying the sad dejected plants which are reduced in garden centres. Some of them only need some TLC to flower next year and I've got several bargains at £1 and £2. I've sown lots of seed and am taking cuttings so this time next year, I hope it will look great.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

My Viridor Compost delivery

Very early on Thursday morning a delivery driver appeared at my back door. Luckily I was up and about even though I wasn't expecting him until 8am and I though that was early. 
This is what he was delivering:

 This is around 2 tonnes of recycled garden compost from the Viridor recycling centre. (By the way - this is marketed as a soil conditioner,not a potting compost.) I was lucky enough to visit when I went on my Compost Champion training day. They have huge windrows of garden waste which is shredded and turned very regularly and made into compost quite quickly. Then we are able to buy it back! (We've already paid to have it taken away if we have a garden waste bin). I stupidly forgot to take a camera but you can be sure I'll remember if I go again. It was compost heaven.
It you are local you can have it delivered or buy it from local waste recycling centres. I'm going to be creating lots of beds from scratch and am planning to have a poly tunnel so I decided that a large amount of compost would be a help.

 My husband has access to these rather large pallets so had quickly made a bay the night before. These are at least twice the size of a normal pallet.

 Luckily it was just the right size for the pick-up to reverse into. The driver was very amenable about dropping it just where I wanted it, which saved many trips across the field with a very small wheelbarrow. There will still be plenty of trips but I can take my time as it is not deposited on the drive.

This is what it looks like. Very dark and lovely.  It is very light and dry just now and will need to be mixed with soil or manure for most crops. The driver had grown potatoes in it, though, and then of course they are very easy to dig up.
I like to think there might be a little bit of my old garden here being incorporated into the new.  

A new bed - the long, hard way.

 As you may know we have moved to a new house. There is plenty of scope here for new beds and planting and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. 
There is a cultivated garden here at the back but it is quite well planted up already and the space left is mainly for low growing things. I brought quite a few plants with me in pots. I left plenty and only brought unusual plants or ones with sentimental value. I collected a lot of seeds too so need to have a sowing session soon. 
Some of these plants had been sitting in  pots since March as we had planned to move then but it was not to be. I was very keen to get them into the ground but it meant digging a bed to accommodate them. 
So out I went with my design consultant (who I happen to be married to) and explained where I wanted the new bed to be. I had planned to dig it myself but just wanted to run it by him. I thought a long, wide but straight traditional border. He had other ideas:

 You can just see the bed marked out in rope.

We just skimmed off all the turf (loose term to cover grass and assorted weeds) and removed it. Yes we did pile into the back of the land rover. It has to earn it's keep too. 
I decided to dig this over properly once to start with but then hopefully never again. I never dug my beds in Broadway. 
This soil has been compacted by having two ponies living on it and also sometimes vehicles driving on it and of course the grass. I hope it will be quite fertile. 

        We stupidly started it where a tree had once been and although it is long dead, some rather large roots are still there to be dug out.
   I thought I might attempt double digging but wimped out and instead dug one spit deep and forked under that. I've added manure to the trench and am then turned the next load over onto it. It has turned out to be good soil and not as compacted or clay like as I expected. 
It is taking a long time to dig over as other things crowd in and I have renewed respect for old gardeners (and current ones) who did this every year.
Now you can see the dandelions are taking hold. Proving the taking off their heads is not enough, as if we didn't know!

I've nearly finished now and the dandelions are really large - twice the size of this but it makes them easier to find. I've planted a few things but there is plenty more room. I hope the weeds don't take over before I do.
We really shouldn't have made it so big but to start with, I hadn't planned to but as you see we have the space and I know by this time next year it will be full.

Soon - the quick and easy way to make bed...

Friday, 17 July 2015

Swallow summer

Look at this fabulous picture: (the subject not the actual photo)

We have a building here which was previously used as a  stable. When we moved in we were told not to close the top of the door as swallows were nesting in there. 
We have watched the parents swooping in and out all day long for the last month. They have worked so hard and barely seem to stop. I suppose it is only a short time compared to the 18 years and beyond which we humans care for our young. 
We have kept out of their way as much as possible but I noticed that five little heads were peeping over the edge of the nest. I went back with my camera when the parents were out and quickly took a photo (no flash).
Can you believe how they fit in there? It reminds me of a saying - Little birds in their nest agree. I think it was my Grandad who used to say it to my sister and I as we were always fighting. I wonder if these birds squabble. It does look rather sqashed.

I think it was in the next couple of days that I took this:

 One little chap has braved it down to the shelf. I suspect actually, that they had all been out and back in a again by this time. I wondered how they would get out the door and if we needed to open it for them. But of course the parents knew what they were  doing and they all got out perfectly well without my help! We can see that they had been perched on botton half of the door.
The following day I was out and about but the parents were swooping around and warning me away so I hid in my greenhouse and kept away from them.  Later in the day the nest was empty and they were all flying. Imagine being able to fly like that as soon as you leave the nest!
We saw them swoop in and out a few times over the next few days, sometimes it seemed, for fun. But then sadly for us they seem to have gone and we rarely see them. I miss watching them and their amazingly fast and accurate flying. It was such a privilege to see them. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Every girl's dream

Or maybe it's just me.
I have moved to a new home and this is what I have inherited...

Yes that is a large pile of manure!

I've hardly had a minute recently. Time has been taken cleaning and packing and then cleaning and unpacking so I have had no time for blogging. Then I had to go back to work after a week off so had even less free time. It is really getting in the way of things I want to do.

I have inherited some garden which is very well looked after and very fertile. The previous owners had two ponies so added copious amounts of manure. The soil in the cultivated beds is very good and there are some lovely plants.

This is the star at the moment. A philadelphus with a beautiful perfume. One of my favourites since childhood.
I also have a large area waiting to be transformed into vegetable and flower beds. There should be enough room to grow pretty much everything I fancy. This area is clayish soil which is typical of the conditions around here. It is probably quite compacted but I hope quite fertile, given that ponies have been on it! I have dug some of it and it was manageable.

So at the moment I am collecting vegetable peelings and grass clippings in one of these large bays. 

I'm planning to layer some of the unrotted manure on top of this waste as I have such a lot.
There are five bays. One is very well rotted manure which I am digging out to use and the others look quite un-rotted on the surface but it's difficult to tell what is underneath. Building new compost heaps is quite far down the list of things which need to be done, given that I'm still falling over a suitcase with half my clothes in, as the wardrobe isn't big enough. Some rather nice nettles are growing in the top which indicate fertility.

I've been digging out here as you can see. I am creating new beds and adding manure as I go. More of that later. I am slightly concerned that is is going to collapse on top of me so I think I need to did out the one at the side too.
So after develping a good system of composting which worked for me in our last garden, I am starting again. Working with what is here to start with, we'll see what happens. 
I hope to be back with some progress about the new beds soon. All I need is some spare time.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

There are always pests

I haven't given up gardening or composting, despite the lack of posts.
The truth is we have been trying to move and my focus has not been on my garden. We thought we would be moving in March but that didn't happen. Things are still up in the air but we are hopeful. 
March would have been perfect from a gardening point of view. A good time to start sowing in the new place. I did a little gardening the the early part of the year but not sowing and have found it difficult to plan.
As soon as I knew the move was off, I sowed a few things here. I wasn't sure if we would be staying here for the summer and couldn't bear the thought of not having any luscious tomatoes growing. 
Normally at this time of year, every flat surface would be covered in pots and tray of seedlings. Probably going a bit leggy as I started them off too soon.
The reason for the move is to have a larger garden (greedy, I know) and to be rather more rural. I am so looking forward to making a new garden but have to keep plans in check until I know we are going. 
I have a fantastic crop of dandelions. I've been out deadheading regularly but there seem to be bigger and better ones every day. Prize specimens. 

They are lovely, really. I wonder if someone discovered them now in South Africa if we would all queue up to buy them. 

I have some Echeverias in pots. I keep them in the greenhouse over winter and then bring them out in the spring. The don't like to get too wet. 
They didn't look to happy so I thought I would re-pot them but when I tipped out the soil I found these delightful creatures. 

No wonder the plants were unhappy. These are Vine Weevil grubs and they eat the roots of plants in pots. 
This one has no roots left. Luckily they root very easily so I put in new soil, cleaned them up and tucked most of them back in. Hopefully they will perk up now. I left the grubs out for the birds.

I did sow a few broad beans but they have been nibbled too.

This is damage by pea and bean thrips. They nibble round the leaves and make them look messy but don't really damage the plants. Later they get chocolate spot and black fly!
On to jollier things:

 This is a strawberry plant flowering. 

 Bluebells and ferns.

Gorgeous plant I can't remember the name of. Such a cheerful flower. 
Even though I hope to be moving, I am still composting. I put in all the kitchen waste and grass clippings but confess I have not done any hard work such as digging out. I'm leaving that for now.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Winter flowers

I made a good decision today. Tuesday, being my 'day off', often runs away with me and I find I've spent the day cleaning and shopping with no time for anything fun.
First thing this morning the sky was blue with not one cloud. So instead of getting out the rubber gloves and vacuum cleaner, I went straight outside. I had about an hour before the clouds started to gather and then we had torrential rain and hail interspersed with sunshine.
I filled up two bags with soggy dead plants and things which were in dire need of being cut down.
As well as that I managed some photos of hellebores before the rain started. I love these. They are so welcome at this time of year. Are they a bit early this year? I'm not sure.
The flowers are so beautiful but you have to get down to see them and lift them up. 

I particulary like the dark ones ( and the light ones). The pale ones don't seem to be so far on and I did have some white ones but the plants have completely disappeard.

This one still has creases in the petals.

When you lift them up you also find the slugs which love to eat them.

 Also just coming into flower is this Daphne odora. It is not a very special looking plant. The leaves often look a bit ropey by the time the flowers come out.

But the scent of the flowers is equisite. This one is just opening. If you don't have this plant, I can't recommend it enough. One tiny sprig of flowers scents a whole room.
 This is a very bad picture of a Sarcococca. It is another evergreen shrub which flowers in winter and has scented flowers. Below you can see the shiny black berries.

PS. I ate my first pick of Purple sprouting broccoli today. It is amazing to be able to harvest something from the soggy bedraggled garden.