Thursday, 31 July 2014

soil miller

Anne has a new gadget, she is like a dog with two tails... a soil miller.

It is great so far.  Using it is well within my physical limits, and very satisfying. It works well on dry soil, the lumps in the photo look big, but are tiny compared to before.  I should've taken some before and after pics, usual..didn't think of it in time.
anyway, here's an after pic...

I have scattered chicken pellets and sprinkled rock dust and hopefully it will rain before tomorrow, when I am planning to plant the leeks that have so patiently been waiting for their start in the big world.

 The bees are loving the nasturtiums...

the bum of a bumble bee diving in head first...

There are loads of blackfly on the nasturtiums too.  The theory is that the aphids stay on them and leave the courgettes and beans alone, but I don't think anybody told the blackfly. I sometimes think it just gives them a nice place to breed and spread out from.

I found some more onions that had rotted at the roots and this did look like white rot.  I wonder if I should lift all the onions to stop it spreading.

Is it coincidence that the two years where there has been white rot (in different parts of the garden) is the two years when we have had long dry spells of weather?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

watering, watering

At this time of the year the main tasks are weeding, tying in wandering foliage, and picking.  
The soil is baked hard after the rainless weeks and the odd shower we have had hasn't broken it up much, so the weeding is a slow business.
I'm picking, but again because of the dryness, the beans haven't been growing as fast as usual.  I am watering daily, but it isn't as effective as a day of rain.

I'm harvesting Wilja potatoes and runner beans.  Some of the potatoes are green which means I didn't earth them up enough. At the time of planting, I didn't want to put them in too deep because it was so wet and I didn't want them sitting in water for weeks. I will not grow so many next year.

The shallots are all up and drying.  

A few maincrop onions have started to rot at the roots, I hope that isn't a sign of things to come.  It doesn't look like white rot, maybe they have been too dry.

The summer fruiting bushes have all done their business as best they can, and the autumn fruiting blackberry has lots of potential fruits ready to go....

The strawberries have finished fruiting, so I am rooting runners as and when I spot a likely candidate.

I sowed two rows of peas here, but only about 40% have come up.  Dryness, germination, mice, birds? Who knows? The world is a tough place for baby plants.

  The yellow courgettes are supposed to be climbing , so climb they will!...

Whether they like it or not!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

potatoes dying back

 The second earlies have thrown in the towel, even though they never did flower.

 Believe it or believe it not, this is the asparagus bed.  But the bees are loving it much more as a nasturtium bed.

 The dwarf french beans have flowers on.

 I managed to wait and have at last got some beetroot bigger than a golf ball.

 The squashes have run amok in their bed and any next door beds they could find.

In amongst that lot are the three gherkin plants which survived, all of which have baby cukes on.  I picked two,

which were the biggest gherkins I have ever seen, but they tasted 'orrible. Too big perhaps, I'm not sure what size they are supposed to be.

Friday, 18 July 2014

taking down the broad beans

I noticed when I was picking the latest bucket of broad beans, that there were quite a few stems with no beans attached. Time for them to go.  So, picking as I went, I began cutting the bean stalks down, gathering a bucketful of beans as I went.

When I got halfway I had had enough and left the rest for another day.

All gone. 
I would like to leave the tops to degrade on the soil and let the stumps re-grow some more beans, but I need the bed for the leeks which have been waiting patiently for a place to grow. Anyway I have had enough broad beans for the moment.

All the beans have been podded and sorted into sizes. All the small ones went into the freezer and the big ones have been dehydrated for soups and stews through the winter.

The shallots are ready to pull, in fact some of them were lying loose on the surface.

Now the maincrop onions are starting to turn over.  Onion city, man!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Climbing beans

 Some baby beans on the runners (Enorma)

Flowers on the Czar runners

Flower buds on Which? climbing french beans

Friday, 11 July 2014

picking berries

Another fine day, cool breeze from the north, with lots of sunshine.

A day to pick berries.

The whitecurrants and backcurrants are ripe, well they feel softish, but still quite sharp in flavour.  I have not grown them before, so I am guessing that they are ready to pick.

The whitecurrants are transparent, they remind me of fish eggs.

This is the total crop of blackcurrants.

Room for improvement.
The red gooseberries are sweet and starting to split.

As I have been shelling the broad beans this year, I have noticed that though the pods are all the same, some beans are green and some are pink.

I know I sowed all red beans, because they were the only ones I saved last year. I can only assume that the Red Epicure cross-pollinated with either the Wikiem Manita, or the Bunyards Exhibition which were growing a few yards away.
They all taste pretty much the same, though some family members suspect the red ones have a stronger flavour than the green.

I have set aside a stand of beans for next year's seed, which presumably will also be of mixed parentage. Maybe I will develop a new strain of beans.  "Anne's Special Pink" perhaps?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

the season wears on

There has been a few days of heavy showers alternating with bright sunshine, so the plot has caught up on its hydration. Not enough to have standing water but enough to set everything off growing again.  The squash seems to have doubled in size since the last photo.

Of course, so have the weeds...

I was a bit concerned when I saw the colour of the leaves on the courgettes, but then I remembered...

they are yellow courgettes.

I'm pleased to say that nothing much is happening in the garden, except plants growing as they are supposed to.

The berries are ripening, the red gooseberries have lived up to their name..

the red, white and blackcurrants are all soon to be picked.  The whites have won in the quantity race..

(sorry its a bit blurry) there are only a few blackcurrants, but I think the birds might have got at them before I put the netting up, and the redcurrants haven't really recovered from being moved last year.  I must admit though that I am not altogether sure what to do with whitecurrants, I wonder if whitecurrant jam or jelly would work.

The thornless blackberry has plenty of blossom, promising a good crop.

 All the winter onions are up and drying, I knew that old length of fencing would come in useful, and the now empty bed has a couple of rows of sugar snap peas.  I know its getting towards the end of the season, but given a good summer they might make it. 

 This mass of nasturtiums was a single row down the middle of the asparagus bed.

 The Wilja potatoes have gone a yellowish green and look as if they are starting to die back, and even though they still haven't flowered, they must be ready now. Look out friends and family, potatoes coming your way! At least I will have somewhere to plant the leeks soon.

The garlic is drying nicely in the shed.

The kale is looking magnificent, pity we don't like it very much.  Though I have just heard of a way of cooking it that might appeal more than kale just steamed.

At home:
tomatoes and peppers


the first ripe tomato-sungold

hostas looking almost undamaged.

The amaryllis leaves have started to die back, so they are being allowed to dry out for a couple of months.  I must try not to forget about them, they will need potting up in November.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

forking carrots

I am harvesting my carrots, grown in an old recycling box in the back garden.

They are very tasty with a sweeter more carroty flavour than ones that have been sitting in a shop for several days.

I seem to have produced a couple of ballet dancers....

But seriously... forking is apparently caused by too much fertilizer in the soil.
I quote from the post I made when I sowed them in the spring "I left last year's compost in, mixed a handful or two of GrowOrganic and a bucketful of spent compost to increase the volume." So note to self: no need to add any GrowOrganic.
Carrots apparently like sandy soil, so what I will do when this latest lot is out is add some sand to the box (there is a bag of sand in the garage, but I will have to check that it is not salty as we could have got it from the beach when the children were little. Yes, it has been in the garage that long!) and anything else I can think of, seems like the poorer the better for carrots.

I am picking broad beans in earnest now, but it always surprises me how few beans you get from a carrier bag full of pods.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

ladybird hatching?

This is an interesting photograph, although probably more to me than anyone else.  It is occasions like this when I really wish I had a decent camera and the skills to use it.

The dark blob under the yellow blob is the larva of a ladybird, so I am guessing that what is happening is a ladybird just emerging from its larval stage. I'm completely blown away by that, I've lived 70 years and never seen that before.

Makes the picture of a miniature squash seem pretty insignificant, but I will put it up anyway

Picked more strawberries and more beans.

Lifted more winter onions.

Potted up 62 plug plants for the plant scheme.