Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Plans and Problems


Potato Day

This is the time of year when I send out information about the Potato Day, a busy time in the village and an occasion which we hope helps and encourages people to grow potatoes, vegetables and much more.
See The Potato Days list for ours (on 6th February, and many more) here.
Worth Knowing: Orders can be placed in advance with the excellent nursery helping put on the day: Pennard Plants.


Flooding, what can gardeners do to help?

This year, so far, the south west of England has not been subjected to flooding on the scale of that which struck the Somerset Levels in 2013 and 2014. That is not to say that other parts of the country have got off so lightly, far from it. This time around it is the north west of the UK which has suffered an endless battering of storms and daily we see, on our televisions, scenes of flooding to homes, businesses, fields and gardens. Even before this latest storm ("Frank") people in Somerset were wondering how they could help (see Western Gazette).
All of which sets me to wondering, what can we as gardeners do to help fellow gardeners in areas which have been affected by flooding?
The RHS offers some advice, but it seems (sorry about the pun) a drop in the ocean.
Here is just a little taste of the effect on one property (albeit the National Trust, with rather more resources than the average gardener): Wordsworth House and Garden.
So, what can we fellow gardeners do to help?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Did I say Final Potatoes?

Today I turned out more of the container grown potatoes, that leaves just one container (the largest one) to give us, hopefully, some new potato treats into the new year.

So, when I previously posted under the heading of Final Potatoes, I got that wrong didn't I; they just keep coming!

This is probably a good time to say Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year - happy growing!

Compost from potato containers around brassica plants
Compost from potato containers around brassica plants

Lovely looking Charlotte potatoes
Lovely looking Charlotte potatoes

Emptying container
Emptying container

Monday, October 19, 2015

Something different

Different to me anyway.

I have a friend who buys plug plants quite regularly, whilst I have generally grown from seed (except for onion and garlic sets). Recently though I was looking in the Organic Gardening Catalogue and saw under Autumn Sowing and Planting, some collections of plug plants and decided to give them a go, so I decided to follow Roger's example.

The supplier for the Organic Gardening Catalogue turned out to be Rocket Gardens. I found everything very well packaged and the plants, when revealed, were good and healthy and clear growing advice was provided.

(By the way, I decided to post about this for interest, I haven't been approached by The Organic Catalogue, nor by Rocket Gardens, this is just me, and not any kind of advertisement).

I kept some photographs through the process and here they are.


Growing advice
Growing advice

Lettuce plants under first layer of straw
Lettuce plants under first layer of straw

Lettuce plants revealed (coin for scale)
Lettuce plants revealed (coin for scale)

First layer removed
First layer removed

Plugs in water prior to planting
Plugs in water prior to planting

Most plants in beds. Salads went mainly into greenhouse.
Most plants in beds. Salads went mainly into greenhouse.
That was a few days less than a month ago, and now they are all growing quite healthily (except for some of the lettuce leaves which we have already enjoyed eating).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Final Chapter of Potato Experiment

If you have visited previously, you will know that I planted 6 varieties of potato in bags and containers, and gathered potatoes from under the plants, disturbing the roots as little as possible, and leaving the top growth flourishing.

Now that the plants (they were all first earlies) have died back, I tipped the containers and bags out, gathering the last of each variety, as hoped, they all produced a second crop, but not uniformly, see photograph below...

Well worth doing again.

Abbot, Dunluce, Sherine, Accent, Rocket
Abbot, Dunluce, Sherine, Accent, Rocket

Here are the containers, now cleaned and planted up with (chitted) Charlotte potatoes, which I bought from Little Groves, Beaminster. Hopefully they should give new potatoes for Christmas (they'll go into a greenhouse when frost is in the air).

Containers of Charlotte potatoes planted today for Christmas
Containers of Charlotte potatoes planted today for Christmas
In the foreground is the cut-back green manure, soon to be dug in.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

More Potatoes

The container-grown potatoes have now moved out of the greenhouse, but we are continuing to get plenty from the plants.

Here are the ones I brought in today, again by putting my hand down into the soil and pulling out potatoes, to (hopefully) have the plants carry on producing.

Dunluce and Winston
Dunluce (left) and Winston (right)
More information on the potatoes:


Monday, June 8, 2015

Potatoes in the greenhouse

Well, the previous post showed the potato bags and pots in the greenhouse, and that has been a most successful experiment, one to be followed again next year.

I have taken potatoes from three of the bags so far, each time putting my hand down into the soil, in the hope that the plants may carry on, though having grown in the greenhouse they are quite leggy and one issue is that the greater heat in the greenhouse means they do dry out more quickly.

Here is a picture of the produce of the rummage I just did in one bag.

Container Potatoes Rocket
Container Potatoes - Rocket

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Raised beds no more

For the last 10 to 12 years I have grown vegetables in raised beds. I say raised, they were contained within boards about 25cm high - not very raised compared to some I saw in Austria which could be worked standing up, nevertheless, my beds helped to keep the plots organised.

I have done wooden sides twice now, I replaced them, the first time they rotted, with scaffold boards, they too have now rotted and so I have dug them out and the damp-proof membrane I put under them (which didn't inhibit rotting as it turns out). Apart from the cost of wood, something else putting me off is that, when I tool the boards up I discovered they had been excellent pathways for couch grass and bindweed.

I shall keep the same size of beds, so that I don't have to stand on the soil - one of the major reasons for raised beds - in this case I can achieve that by keeping them about 1 metre wide, so they can be reached into from either side.

Here are 2 photos of the now dug out beds and one in the greenhouse of six containers of potatoes (I couldn't of course plant outside).

Beds gone
Beds gone 

Beds gone, path remains
Beds gone, path remains

6 different varieties of potato in containers
6 different varieties of potato in containers

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Veggie Patch in Transition

The raised bed edges,  made from second-hand scaffold boards, have now rotted so badly that this year I have dug them all out. I will retain the same beds, of a width that I won't have to stand on them at all, but not with any edging around. Not much clearing left to do, before I then sow lots of green manure.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Leeks and Birds

As I sit, with the sound of near-freezing rain striking the study window, the aroma of home-made leek and potato soup (with leeks fresh dug this morning) rises up to temp me.
Between showers I have been treated to displays of visiting birds (which is more than can be said for the Big Garden Bird Watch at the weekend, when it seems the birds had, literally, taken flight). There has been a Nuthatch, several Long-Tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Bull Finch, Gold Finch, Blackbirds, Dunnock and Sparrows, all in the space of quarter of an hour or so.

Even on a pretty awful day for gardening, the garden has given both food and pleasure.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Proper Summer

After raking over a recently dug potato bed (or part of one) yesterday and sowing some green manure seeds (clover, mustard and field beans) I had a taste of what it must be like gardening in Greece or the South of France, not because I was carrying in a basketful of Mediterranean vegetables, but because I was baked! The temperature got very close to 30 degrees C. I've been regularly spraying into the greenhouses, just to cool them a little.

Here are a few pictures of how things are looking at the moment.

French Marigolds and Tomatoes
French Marigolds and Tomatoes

Courgettes (Black Forest F1)
Foreground, roots bed under net, behind that potatoes, middle - two Courgettes (Black Forest F1) which I moved in their pots from the greenhouse where they'd given us early courgettes

Onions, Peas, Beans
Onions (spring planted sets), peas, beans (runner and climbing French)

Brassica beds
Brassica beds under nets, nearer cabbages, etc, further Brussels sprouts, broccoli 

Climbing courgette and spinach
Potatoes (not been a good crop). On left, one of the climbing courgettes, also in bed catch crop of summer spinach the bare bit is fresh sown green manure seeds

Leeks and carrots
Freshly planted leeks, replacing broad beans. Under net summer sown carrot, swede and beetroot. The shadows are seed heads on the elephant garlic - I decided to let them flower for the display and for the bees.

Courgettes and fruit
Four more climbing courgettes, they were planted out in pots after danger of frost had passed. Blackcurrants under net and gooseberries top the left.

Wild Flowers and compost bins
Wild flowers and elder (elderflower wine in "plopping" away happily) on the bank behind some of the compost bins