Thursday, December 31, 2009


Happy New Year, and good gardening!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Everyone

That's it, the longest night is passed, Christmas Day is almost here and we shall soon be able to enjoy more time outside again, and see the new signs of life as Spring arrives.

To all who visit this little garden blog, thank you for your visits and comments.

Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

From Mr & Mrs Soggy.

Easy dig turnip

The turnip sits almost entirely on the top of the soil, so was much easier to dig up than then parsnips (see below).
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Essential to the Christmas Dinner

Two varieties of sprouts, just before I picked them ready to accompany the Christmas Dinner tomorrow.
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Digging Parsnips

The ground has been frozen for a while, today is the first day it has been above freezing, though when I levered the fork, I found about 2 inches of topsoil still frozen solid (see a lump of it to the left of the half-dug parsnip).
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Tree Festival

Here at Netherhay Church, with the Horticulural Society tree right in the centre, are some of the entries in the Christmas Tree Festival, just before the doors were opened to visitors.
The ground is frozen here, so it was good to have this project to occupy us indoors.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Copenhagen climate change conference

How often in discussions and informal chats with gardeners, and other people who notice the ebb and flow of nature, have I heard comments over recent years to the effect that things are changing, signs of spring are appearing earlier. I would be surprised if there was anything but a significant majority of gardeners agreeing with the science that global warming is real and happening now.

In a recent letter my brother-in-law in Canada, not only a keen gardener, but also a meteorologist expressed concern that, if anything, the message getting through to most of us isn't stark and horrendous enough in its warnings.

But what do I know? Much more worthwhile and digestible reading (if you missed it when it was first published) is available, including de-bunking of the straw-men arguments put up to confuse the debate: Editorial published by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who Were We?

I could try and pretend this somehow has something to do with gardening, but I'll be honest and say it's just me showing you the website I made linked to a book written by a friend - well what are friends for?

Connecting the lives of a 19th century Dorset community

The temperature in the greenhouse was down to -1.5C last night, there: cold but not forgotten.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The last fruit of summer

In the sink, with mixed green salad leaves - just cut from the garden, the last tomato of this year's crop, brought in green from the greenhouse a few days ago and left to sit (next to bananas in the kitchen) and ripen.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter mix

Asked to get some stuff in from the garden, I came back in with onions from store, green and red sprouts off the plants, uprooted parsnips and fresh cut parsley, rocket and mizuna.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The first day of December brings the first frost.
Lots of brassicas, still to be eaten, drooping a bit in the cold and under the nets furthest away, broad beans and garlic (the latter will benefit from some frost to encourage deeper rooting).
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The now bare apple tree, with bird feeders, against the clear sky of the first frosty morning this winter.
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Monday, November 16, 2009


We have a large beech hedge at the northern end of the veggie patch, I didn't trim it at all last year and it was full of brambles and honeysuckle, so for the last few days I have been wrestling and taming it (only temporarily I know, just while it's dormant), I am sure it will flourish even more next year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


A while back I posted a picture of the puppy hiding amongst the pots of blueberry bushes; since then she has grown and so have the bushes. So today, after the latest band of showers had passed over, I re-potted them, into slightly larger pots, using Ericaceous compost which is specially formulated for growing acid-loving plants - so don't forget if you need to pot some on, don't use ordinary soil - unless you live somewhere where camellias, heathers , magnolias, rhododendrons and such-like thrive.

Hopefully now they can settle in and there'll be some frost through the winter, which certainly seems to improve the crop, we enjoyed blueberries right through this summer and that was after quite a cold snap last winter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vendange - our Grape Harvest

We inherited a vine when we moved here 7 years ago, at that time it wasn't productive, but it now seems to be responding to the TLC. You can see the pots full of grapes which we took to our friends' for treading and pressing. We now have a demi-john of red wine (OK grape juice just yet) starting to bubble away.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Topical tips

I have updated the column of advice (on the right) with some of the main autumn jobs in the vegetable garden, if you have some tips to share, let me know in a comment and I'll add them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Don't believe all those photos you see, here's one from our garden - the same one each time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The horses have been busy

I don't think they bag it themselves, but here's a few of the 30 bags of rotted horse manure that will nourish the soil for a new year's growth. I usually don't apply till the spring, but I am going to put some on in the autumn/early winter (saving the bulk for spring), just to add some additional organic matter to the soil for overwinter, in the hope that it keeps the soil organisms happy, so when they get their spring application, they are already in a good mood.
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Brussels Sprouts

The sprout plants (green and purple leaf varieties) are flourishing, despite the spell of dry weather (or perhaps because of it - keeping the slugs down). Behind them you can just see some curly kale and beyond, some celeriac peeping through.
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Autumn Apple

The season of mellow fruitfullness wouldn't be complete without an apple picture would it?
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hard Ground

I went to sow some green manure on that potato bed you can see below and the surface had baked hard, it's been an incredible dry, warm couple of weeks here; daughter picked just the right fortnight for her holidays didn't she?

I did take a cultivator hoe to it, then thought, don't be silly, wait till it rains then it will be easy - I just hope by then there is enough time for the green manure seeds to germinate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Here's some Sarpo Mira and Valor after digging on Sunday (while puppy, who knows a good photo opportunity when she sees one stayed in the flower garden with a toy)

What to do in your garden now

If you have a look in the right hand column, you'll find that I have updated the topical tips, I hope they are useful.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

10:10 and Climate change

You'll see a button on the right which takes you to a campaign to help any of us understand more and do something about (at home, work or play) our own impact on climate change.

Nothing washed away

Had torrential rain here yesterday and very strong winds, I thought the beans might blow over, but my Scout pioneering knots held the poles together; just as well - we have such a crop of beans coming in.

By the way, I'll be doing the September topical tips over the weekend. I'm already getting excited about planning what will be planted next year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rainy Day

Lots and lots of rain yesterday, but when it eased off I managed to get out in pick loads of beans, some runners, but mostly different types of climbing French bean, plus more tomatoes, but these seem to be slowing down. The air feels to have a definite nip in it this morning, I hope that isn't summer over already.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More late sowings

Having removed some tired-looking salad leaves and weeds from one of the greenhouses the other day, after some soil preparation, I sowed some more lettuce seeds this morning (Little Gem, Lollo Rossa and Sonette). Hopefully, being under cover, they should give us some fresh green leaves well into winter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomatoes and Blueberries and ...

I thought I'd take a quick picture of some tomatoes, including green ones for pickling (there's about 3lbs of each) and of course a certain puppy just had to watch from between some blueberry pots.
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Brassica transplants and onions

Under the net (you should have seen all the cabbage whites fluttering about outside) various varieties of brassica, and some spring onions.
Below that more onions lifted and laid out (there are wire trays under there!) to dry; Brussels sprouts under the net behind, oh yes and some sweetcorn in-between.
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Just for fun

Walked down to friends' greenhouse to water their tomatoes while they were away and couldn't resist taking a picture of the scene nearby.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Climate Change and Late Planting

Yes, I know I have got a bit of a cheek, but I thought I'd put out some more stuff and hope for a warm, bright Autumn - I don't want much do I?

So, where some of the onions have been harvested, I transplanted Cabbage, Cauliflower and Kale (Borecole), and intersowed those rows with some quick growing leaf crops: Polycress, Rocket - Rucola, and some Chinese leaves, for salad or stir-fry, and Kohl Rabi, which can fatten up in a month or so.

On another bed I have sown some carrots - well you never know, and 3 rows of Spinach - Giant Winter.

So we'll see, some of them will be OK anyway, and I might get lucky all round.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Flower Show

It was the village Flower Show on Saturday, with about 500 exhibits, everything from cakes to jams, potatoes to roses, woodcraft to photography; classes for children and the potato in a container weighing.

The weather was kind to us, with stalls outside for produce and tables for cream teas, leaving a bit more space for the exhibits and visitors indoors.

Thought you may enjoy a few pictures of the day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where have I been?

There is a reason I haven't yet posted the topical advice for August (it is being done) and you can see for yourselves. We now have a puppy, the same cross as our daughter's (Australian cattle dog x border collie), she came home with us from Pen yr Ochr in Wales a few days ago.

I've done the August tips now

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So much rain

Yesterday it seemed to pause the heavy rain only in order to pour down torrential rain (it was raining on St Swithun's Day - 15th July - maybe they knew about jet streams back then after all). Walking through the village later, crossing the bridge, the river was a brown raging torrent.

So I still have an empty bed from removing onions, shallots and garlic and another from the early potatoes to attend to and get them ready for the next crops in the rotation (brassicas after the onions, so manure and compost needed there; and peas,beans, onions, leeks after the early potatoes). Actually just remembered that Mrs Soggy is already on the ball and has planted some leeks on the former potato bed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buddleia, Bees and Butterflies

There was some sun yesterday, if you are in the UK, hope you didn't blink and miss it. So I took the chance to take pictures of the buddleia as it attracted bees and butterflies. Somehow a picture of one of Mrs Soggy's fuchsia crept in as well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Digging Day

Decided to finish off digging up the bed of early potatoes (the main crop bed is still full of flourishing plants), so there are now lovely groups of white potatoes dotted about the bed, getting a good rinse in the heavy rain which has just started. They are all looking good: Anya, Cosmos and Charlotte.

I have already dotted a few courgettes in spaces left by some of the earlies, but now thoughts turn to the larger remainder of the bed. It should really be plants of the onion family going in, but I may just do a quick green manure beforehand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Big Lunch - indoor picnic

I mentioned that the village was planning to take part in The Big Lunch, we were doing it just as an informal picnic, from 12 until 2. Just before 12 a few of us were playing cricket on the village hall field, then the heavens opened, so we had the picnic indoors, some people even insisting on still using their picnic rugs!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A New Week and blue sky

It's a lovely clear sky and bright sunshine here today, quite a change from the weekend's rain. The rain did force the Big Lunch into the village hall, but we managed to play some games on the field between showers.

In the afternoon, before a really heavy downpour, I got out all the spent broccoli - not just centre florets but sides ones too now finished and transplanted various winter greens.

Some of the onions need lifting - the tops have gone over now. I'll lift the garlic with them - hopefully today if it stays dry; I have some wire frames I usually lay onions and garlic on, to help them dry cleanly.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Big Lunch

The Eden Project's project to get us all to have a picnic together - hopefully with stuff you've grown or locally sourced. It's this weekend, and guess what happens when you plan an outdoor event in Britain?? Have you seen the forecast for the weekend - oh dear!

Well, we have a Big Lunch planned for the village on Sunday, lets hope everyone remembers umbrellas as well as butties.

Soft Fruit and harder facts

Last night at Garden Club we had a really useful talk on Soft Fruit - usually Mrs Soggy's domain. As a result we are planning this autumn to take up our strawberries, which really are past it (3 years is about the limit for good sized fruits) and our raspberries - as we have totally lost the plot on what variety is what - which dopes rather complicate pruning. So ground will be dug and lots of manure added and new varieties planted. We are researching now for old-fashioned varieties of strawberries - before they started breeding for non-bruising transportable ones that look good in the supermarket, yet don't taste of much.

I saw Compostwoman's post about installing solar water heating which reminded me that I had meant to post here details of a book I am reading at the moment, which I imagine anyone who thinks about the environment - and I'm sure that includes us gardeners - would be interested in. It's "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air" by David JC Mackay. You can read it online - I have it on Inter-Library loan.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wet weather problems - blight and slugs

After the dry spell we've been having in England, summer now seems to be getting its revenge, maybe the weather knows we have family visiting all summer?

So, a warning - no, not about my family, they are lovely - but about wet weather. The two main things springing to mind are blight and slugs.

First late blight. Hopefully, if you garden organically, you already have the first step taken - by growing blight resistant varieties of tomatoes and potatoes. Also, keep greenhouses well ventilated, blight loves static, muggy air. Look out for brown patches appearing on tomato and potato leaves, but don't immediately assume it's blight (have a look at pictures online and compare, for example on the RHS site here).

If you have it on your tomatoes, no matter how upsetting you must dig them out and gather up all fallen material, leaves, rotten tomatoes and burn or bury. (It may be OK to take to the local recycling, but check with them first, I know in some cases their composting methods reach much higher temperatures than ours, and so can kill more pathogens).

Your potato tops may show signs, but if you have been earthing up well, then the tubers will be safe. Cut off the plants at soil level and leave the tubers in and don't dig until after a spell of warm and dry weather (hopefully we'll get some again one day).

Slugs. Well the toads help in my garden, but so also do the organic approved slug pellets I get from the Organic Gardening Catalogue, see here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Between the showers pickings

Just nipped out and gathered a few bits:
Tomatoes, radish, sugar snap and mange tout peas, broad beans and courgettes. Snapped next to some of Mrs Soggy's herbs.

Late sowing

I saw an offer in the Garden Organic magazine, and since it was about seeds I had to have a look, so here I am with a collection of seeds from the Organic Gardening Catalogue labelled: "Late Sowing Seed Collection."
If I am honest I probably have enough seeds to sink a battleship, but they are hard to resist aren't they?

The collection includes:
Broad Beans - Super Aquadulce: Definitely a late sowing - November
Spinach - Giant Winter: Hardy and can be sown July, August and September
Peas - Pilot: If I sow them in October, we should be eating them by June
Carrots - Nantes 2: Apparently can be sown as late as August, meant to be quick growing.
Parsley - Moss Curled: Mrs Soggy will have to sow for Spring use.
Onions - Bedfordsire Champion: Not sure about these, they were included, but I use sets
Rainbow Chard - Bright Lights: Great for a July sowing to give leaves and stems for stir fries
Sugar Pea - Norli: Pushing it a bit sowing in July, but worth a try, an old favourite with us.

I'll keep you posted on how these get on.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Talking of gardening ...

I came across a useful little forum, based in the UK, which seems, so far, to be a good place for swapping idea and tips (I've added it to my list of useful sites towards the bottom of the right hand column), but here it is to save you scrolling: vegetable-gardens

Friday, July 10, 2009

A trip to the Isle of Purbeck

A fancy title for meeting up with Daughter Soggy for lunch and posting a picture of Corfe Castle (lunch stop) and one of her allotment - living proof that you can get flourishing crops on clay soil on an allotment which had been neglected, if you put lots of work in which they certainly have. Just look at their sweetcorn and the fennel in the background!