Saturday, May 30, 2009


Only a few days ago it seemed to be all about the cold, now the sun is really sending out some heat, but then summer solstice is not that far off (be warned - it's easy to get sunburn working out in the garden). So yesterday doing some transplanting required lots of water.

When the weather is hot and dry (yes, for any visitors dipping into this blog from outside the UK, we really can get some hot sunny summer weather!)  I dig out a trowelful of earth to receive the plant and fill it with water and let that soak in before planting, then after the plant is in its new home and all earthed up and the others are done I give everything a good soaking. Hopefully this means that the disturbed roots (which happens even when you do try to keep the rootball undisturbed) have plenty of freely available moisture to draw on as they try to become re-established. Then it's just a matter of keeping an eye on them for a few days watering as necessary.

Yesterday included transplanting lettuces and they really can look pathetic after they've been moved. I was underplanting  them (where they'll get some shade) amongst some calabrese (Pacifica - see information here) which look as though they are about to produce some heads.
The other transplants were a few cabbage Greyhound , cabbage Tundra (more of those to go in later as they are for winter use really), cabbage Ruby Ball and finally just a couple of each: kale, Black Tuscany and kale Dwarf Green Curled - just to see what they are like.
You can see the transplantings below and also a picture of the strawberries filling out (no red ones yet - unlike our daughter who has already eaten some from her allotment!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Multi-storey garden?

It's round about now that I start to become a threat to Mrs Soggy's relaxed cottage garden as I look for ways to conjure up some more space for cultivation. It happens every year as I have stuff in pots and trays awaiting space to go out. I have managed to sneak in a comfrey bed and one year there were Romanescu cauliflower, fittingly I thought, in a flower bed. 
Yesterday evening I was potting on some courgettes, they have a while to wait, as they will follow on from early potatoes, which are all growing happily but none ready to dig yet. Whilst sorting the pots out I thought how much easier car parks have it, stacking storey upon storey, but then cars don't need the light do they?
By the way if you don't grow comfrey, you should (well I would say that as a Garden Organic, formerly Henry Doubleday Research Association member). It's great for making liquid feeds, or easier still, regularly cutting and placing into your compost, it really gets the compost going. Have a look here and here for some history.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Flower Garden

Mrs Soggy was lamenting the total neglect by this blog of her efforts, just the other side of the path, which give us such a lovely cottage garden to relax in when the work is done. So, with humble apologies, here are a some pictures.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pests and Diseases 2

Funny how life can throw up it's little ironies. Yesterday I posted some links to hopefully useful websites and made an off-hand comment about NHS Direct (no offence intended) - so today I have my own pest striking - a migraine. That'll teach me. 
It has given me the excuse to nibble some feverfew from the garden, but I haven't been much use for anything else today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pests and diseases

No, nothing to rival NHS Direct, but this is the time of year when all that enthusiasm and encouragement we feel from seeing abundant new growth can be dented by seeing problems appear on a lovely new plants, or even our gnarled old favourites which have fruited happily for years.

I have been looking at a few websites which help to identify problems, here is a selection.
Here is one from the BBC which asks you a series of questions
An illustrated identification chart from theseedsite (scroll down for pests around plant)
Help and advice from the Royal Horticultural Society
Garden friends and foes - lots of pictures of creatures you share the garden with.

GardenOrganic also provides lots of information, even more for members.

If you have any more information or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Poetry week

When I'm in the garden I either listen to the birds (and the aircraft from not-too-far-away Yeovilton) or the radio, where on the BBC it is the Poetry Season, with the bye-line "Let poetry into your life."
There is something poetic about gardening, not that it is all a host of golden daffodils, more that it includes so much of life, literally of course with the life cycle of the plants we encourage and those we don't but also in mood and pace, from the calm moments of reflection sat upon our favourite spot, to achingly hard work of preparation and transformation. So I thought I'd give a poem a go.

Let not the rain be the damping of my parade
Rather welcome the fresh cleansing it has made
In falling earthwards, upon weed and crop alike
Welcome every drop, essential carriers of life. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not just a jar of pickled gherkins

The cucumbers got off to a flying start this year, which I was rather hoping for - growing the variety Flamingo F1. This is an all-female type, good in low light and suitable for pots, grow-bags or borders and resistant to powdery mildew, in other words, as cucumbers go, afraid only of kryptonite (apologies to anyone who missed Superman as they were growing up).

Last week, just before going away for a few days, each of the four plants had a couple, at least, of well-developing cucumbers and looked very healthy. I gave the greenhouse beds a good soaking and went away in happy expectation. On return I saw one plant so well-wilted I thought it was a goner, another looking a bit sick and the other two touch and go. The sickest plant had some part-healed damage at the base of the stem.

I will confess to having a plant-it and "wish for the best" approach to growing cucumbers, I don't maintain anything like the recommended level of heat in the greenhouse (supposedly about 20C, I keep it above 5C). I usually get away with it, even winning show prizes, I'm still hoping that Flamingo will let me get away with my easy-going approach this year also.

So, why the pickle? Well, I stripped off all the cucumbers which were on their way, sliced them and dropped them in a jar of vinegar - waste not, want not. Then I cut off all the wilted leaves and took some cuttings, which I'm hoping will root, from the two healthiest ones. Oh, and double insurance, I bought two more cucumber plants at the plant sale at the village pub on Saturday.

So, fingers crossed and here's to pickled gherkins.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Lots of rain, that's what we have come back to after a few days away to visit my Mum, and the vegetable beds seem to be loving it. All the salad leaves seems to be flourishing, and the beetroot tops now look happy under their net, safe from the nibbling birds which had given them a bit of set-back. The brassica crops are all flourishing, except for one plant which looks as though something may have lain on it (a cat perhaps?)
The greenhouses are doing well, with one exception. A cucumber plant has an unhappy looking base, (maybe slug damage?) and so the leaves, except at the very top are wilting, probably dead, fortunately the other plants seem to be OK.
The next job, when it stops raining will be, yes, weeding and lots of it! Then, now that the danger of frost should be passed in the south west if England anyway, I can get the climbing beans planted out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The plot in early May

A view over part of the veggie plot and a trug of salad leaves, lighter than it might have been - I can't resist pinching some as I cut!


I've just added to "Blogs I Follow" (down on the right) a link to my other blog - Views from a Village, which shows occasional postings of pictures taken in and around the village, hope you enjoy them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Planting and weeding

That about sums up yesterday on the plot (having spent the previous day first making a saw-horse and then using it to cut up most of the first of 4 woodpiles accumulated from various tidyings - not all in our garden I hasten to add: next winter's warmth).

I had already weeded between the onions, garlic and shallots, but there the weeds were again, flourishing defiantly. last time was hoe between the row, yesterday was serious, hand weeding between the bulbs, not a weed left rooted. I always leave them on the soil surface a s a mulch to rot back in, so pleased though I am to see the rain today, we need it, I know it will save some of the weeds form drying out, so guess what ... more weeding round the corner.

Planting, always so much more satisfying. Two varieties of pea grown in modules and they've been sitting out hardening off for a while, so now they are nestling in amongst some of the pea sticks, with plenty of space left for successional sowings to come The two varieties are Sugar Snap and Norli, both good croppers in the past.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Which variety to grow

How to you make your choice of seeds, do you save from your own plants, take part in seed exchanges, get them from a nursery or catalogue? I mostly tend to buy them, and love wading through seed catalogues and reading up on different varieties. I have to admit to having a weakness for new varieties claiming resistance to various problems.

So it was with great interest that I read reports of a trial run by Garden Organic and funded by the European Union, which produced some surprising results comparing the cultivation and taste of some modern cultivars with some much older ones from the Heritage Seed Library

Here is an article about the lettuce trial.

Strawberry plants

I love seeing all the white flowers promising summer fruitfulness, so here's just a taste.

Busy Sunday

The weather was good, so lots done in the garden. 

I have a problem disposing of plants when too many seedlings survive, so I now have a row of tomato plants outside along a bank, left to take their chances (I love tomatoes too of course).

The smaller greenhouse is home to cucumbers this year - variety "Flamingo" they are meant to do better in low light, so hopefully should crop longer and will tolerate powdery mildew, which I think I've had (well, not me, the cukes) in the past.

More beans sown to replace the largely failed sowings (see below) I just left them too cool for too long, not this time, they are in the propagator - that'll keep them cosy, it was down to just a degree above freezing air temperature here last night, glad I earthed up my potatoes and put fleeces over trays and pots out for hardening off. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Another way into May

I just read these lines from a poem on "Somerset Seasons"

Our life is short, and our days run 
As fast away as does the sun ; 
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again, 

Read it all here, it's an inspiration to waste not a minute of this precious life now bathed in May light.

The Darling Buds of May

Our apple and pear trees have been thinking of bursting out into full blossom, but not quite. Quite a few gardens I noticed do have the blossom fully out, maybe our's know something?

I have just posted (in the right hand column) the latest tips for the veggie patch as we enter May. The sun's getting warmer, the mix of sunshine and rain really brings things on. It is also a time to get tripped up by a late frost (apologies if you read this in Scotland and similar, I know we get it easy down here). We lost some Cosmos seedlings, left out to harden off -  a dip under freezing the other night hit some which weren't sheltered by the shed.

Don't forget your folding chair, upturned bucket or old crate, it's warm enough now to enjoy a cuppa outside, sitting and gazing upon the fruits of our labours isn't it?