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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Differences between organic and non-organic food?

Spread across my desk are seed packets from lettuce and salad leaf seeds sown yesterday as part of my usual successional sowing:

Lettuce - Colour shades mixed (T&M), Little Gem (T&M), Lobjoits Green Cos (Kings Seeds) and Mazur (free trial from DT Brown)
Salad Leaves - Green Spray Mibuna (Sea Spring Seeds - a lovely local seed company here in Dorset), Nice n Spicey Mixed (T&M), Speedy Mix (T&M), Wild Herby Leaf mix (also local - Pennard Plants).

When we eat them fresh from the garden it will be in the knowledge that nothing has been applied to the soil or the plants that will be harmful to either or to us. 

Can that be said of all foods, I doubt it and recently published research reports significant differences between organically and conventionally produced food.

Well worth a read:


See also further discussion:



Friday, April 25, 2014

Hot beds, cold hands

Last year was a cold spring here in Dorset and things got off to a very slow start (or, as in the case of my wild flower bank, didn't get off to a start at all). So this year I thought I'd help some of the plants to have warm feet at least, by creating hot beds in one of the greenhouses. (There's a good article by Bunny Guinness - BBC Radio 4 Gardeners' Question Time panelist - in The Telegraph)

I loose-laid 3 courses of bricks on edge in the smaller greenhouse to create a three-sided raised bed over a foot deep. Into the bottom went the remains of over-wintered brassica plants, on top of that went fresh horse manure, then dry garden shreddings, followed by quite a depth of fresh pulled weeds and comfrey (mixed with torn-up egg boxes). On top of that went a good layer of mature horse manure (the manure was mature, I've no idea of the age of the horses) and finally I tipped on a layer of compost.

Of course, now I'm fussing over it. I have been going into the greenhouse each morning and feeling the compost, which is nice and soft to the touch, then pushing my hand into the layers (I can almost hear you saying "yuck") to see if it feels warm - which it doesn't really, not yet anyway.

The hot beds
The hot beds

It's not all hot-bed fun, other jobs have been done too of course, here's a couple more pictures, just to give a flavour of spring progress.


Inside the cold frame
Inside the cold frame, cabbage, leeks, peas, spring onions

View over garlic and shallots
View over garlic and shallots,
with, behind, fleece-covered potatoes and bean poles a-ready.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Potatoes and seeds

Each year we hold a Potato Day in the Village - and despite the weather plenty of determined gardeners braved the showers and pot-holed roads to come and select their seed potatoes and other plants and seeds.

Here is my list:

Charlotte, First Early, Waxy - always a favourite on the veggie patch and in the kitchen
Marfona, Second Early, Waxy - One of the most flavoursome of potatoes I know.
Rosabelle, First Early, Waxy - a lovely red potato, very tasty.
Roseval, Second Early, Waxy - recommended by Chris, of Pennard Plants - should be tasty.
Sarpo Mira, Main Crop, Floury - the "insurance" potato - if there's blight - they'll still produce.
Valor, Early Main, Waxy - Another favourite from previous years.

I also couldn't resist some of Pennard Plant's Heritage and Heirloom seeds, including:

Pea, Dwarf Mangetout - Shiraz. It's purple podded (I grew a blue podded one last year, really handy for finding them on the plant.)
Tomato, Small - Father Frost - Dedushka Moroz (sounds like a Winter Olympian)
Tomato, Beefsteak - Abraham Lincoln. A deep red cropper, let's hope it doesn't come a cropper like it's name's sake.
Salad leaves:
Bluebells Oriental Bright and Spicy - a cool weather mix
Wild Herby leaf - a herby cut and come again
Japanese leaf, Oriental Greens, Kyoto leaf mustard, more to cut and come again.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Soggy - but this is getting ridiculous - or is it?

This hasn't exactly been the weather for gardening - unless maybe you have a water garden - and people on the Somerset Levels are still seriously flooded. So, when I went up to the veggie patch yesterday and the day before, I wasn't expecting to be able to do much - expecting the ground to be too wet to work.

The paths between my beds were a pretty horrible, mucky mess, but the soil in the beds was friable and not water-logged. So, out came the last of the Brussels Sprout plants - the sprouts are now all in frozen and also out came the last of the parsnips and celeriac - dug into a small clamp on the empty part of the leek bed.

The two newly released beds then got a bit of a forking over before each received 6 bags of well-rotted horse manure - hopefully a happy home for the potatoes in a few months.

The hardy carrots (though to be fair, with all the rain there has been, they haven't had much frost to endure) are still going well, and the turnips too of course.

Carrots with turnips behind, and behind them shallots and garlic.

Parsnip and celeriac removed from foreground bed,
Brussels sprouts bed, behind, already manured

Last of the parsnips and celeriac into a clamp to store for use (before I covered over with soil) .
The canes are to mark them for digging.