Virtual Garden Fest 2020 – part 2!

Back in May (which feels like forever ago!) I hosted a virtual open gardens over on Instagram and it was so much fun we’re doing it again this weekend.

I love my garden and really enjoy visiting other gardens – particularly ‘real’ gardens that haven’t been set up and tended by experts. This inspired me to set up the Virtual Garden Fest so that we could all share our gardens and visit each others virtually during lockdown and beyond.

#virtualgardenfest2020

The first garden fest was a mixture of small and large gardens, messy (mine) and cultivated gardens and we even had a house plant tour from the lovely Georgia Farrell. They were all beautiful! So you don’t even need to have a garden to join in and you certainly don’t need to be an expert… we just want to see your green babies!

I have shared a new video tour of my back garden over on IGTV and will be doing a live tour of the front garden (veg patch) this morning. I will upload that to IGTV as well so don’t worry if you miss the live. 

You can join in by doing a live tour or sharing a video or pictures of your garden/plants over on Instagram using #virtualgardenfest2020. And make sure you’re following the hashtag so you can have a look around everyone’s gardens!

 

A Decade of Gardening

I was sorting some old paperwork recently and came across the estate agents images from when I bought my little house ten years ago.

I still had a pretty clear memory of how the house looked inside – but the garden images really surprised me so I thought you might like to see some ‘then and now’ images!

Apologies for the quality of the ‘then’ images… they’re photos of photos.

Back garden

I tried to get a photo from roughly the same angle but it’s almost unrecognisable! The steps and patio have made such a big difference and the top part of the garden (where we get the sun) is much more usable.

I remember it not really feeling like my garden for the first few years. Now that it’s a bit overgrown it’s definitely more me!

Front garden

Digging up the front lawn was one of the first things I did! We’re so lucky to have both a front and back garden so that I can have a separate fruit and veg patch.

It’s a fraction of the size of your average allotment but it’s a very productive space. The paths and raised bed frames which I put in earlier this year have made it a lot more practical. Everything’s growing like mad but I can still just about find the paths!

And of course the most important thing is that we have lots of sunbathing areas and shady spots for the cats!

Veg Patch 2019

Over the last few years I’ve had a fair amount of success from the veg patch…

But I’ve also been getting increasingly frustrated with the poor use of space! Over the years I have increased the amount of herbs and soft fruit I grow and therefore lost a lot of veg growing space.

For the last three years I’ve had just one veg bed and have been rotating legumes brassicas and roots within that bed and trying to grow any extras in pots. This means I have to wait for a couple of years in between growing my favourite things: potatoes, broccoli, beans etc etc. It’s good for the soil to have this rotation as it maintains the balance of nutrients and keeps down pests… but I want to grow a bit of everything every year.

So I’ve had a move around and put in some raised bed frames to give it some structure… I thought you might like to see the before and after shots!

It’s still pretty messy, but it’s a much more practical layout and will hopefully be a much more productive veg patch! I now have three veg beds at the bottom of the garden so that I can grow a little bit of everything in each year and rotate between them.

One of the two smaller beds is for herbs and the other for strawberries. I have also moved my blueberry bush so it’s more accessible next to the strawberry bed (but virtually invisible in the image because it’s currently dormant and leafless). I hope it’s survived the move! The side fence has both summer and autumn fruiting raspberries growing up it and I even have a little space left in the corner if you know of a small fruit bush that doesn’t mind shade?

Last year we barely used the herbs and they became massively overgrown – simply because they were difficult to get to! Having more defined beds will help with keeping everything tidy and the new paths will mean we can reach everything without having to limbo under the tree/ walk on the soil.

I can’t wait to get some seedlings going now!

Veg Patch 2018 – Wins & Losses

Well it’s been a somewhat different year for gardening!

First the snow meant a slow start, then everything went a bit wild with the sunshine & showers and now we’re suffering from a serious lack of rain.

The result for me is a mixture of success and failure… but it was a “cram loads in and see what happens” kinda year anyway!

Veg patch - small garden

It’s the first year that I’ve grown a few things in pots on my bench and the carrots are looking good. I’m gradually thinning them out and checking the size…they’re still teeny at the moment.

We had a lot of spinach but then some sort of pest got them. I’m not sure what it was, but the leaves had tiny white eggs underneath and then they went translucent. I cut them back to nothing and they’re back… but so are the pests!

Veg patch - small gardenI’ve only just got flowers on my tomatoes! I squeezed them into a spot where I don’t think they’re getting enough light. But fingers crossed for a handful of tomatoes!

Veg patch - small gardenThe squash and courgette really are squeezed into a corner… and suffering from it! One squash plant died quite quickly and the other is small with no flowers. The courgette plants have only had male flowers so no fruit. I’ll leave them in their little dry, dark corner and see what happens. They’re quite promiscuous so I was hoping for a courgette/squash hybrid!

Veg patch - small garden

We’ve had zillions of raspberries, but the plants are looking a bit unhealthy in the cramped conditions. The autumn fruiting raspberry is getting ready…

Veg patch - small gardenThe blueberry bush is now completely covered by raspberry plants so I’m going to move him in the autumn.

Strawberries haven’t been so good…

Veg patch - small garden

We had some decent ones – which I was happy about because I wasn’t expecting any this year. But pretty much all of the plants are now dead. I originally planted my strawberry patch about 9 years ago and since then have had lots of new plants growing from runners. But other than a bit of liquid feed, I haven’t added anything to the soil so I’ve decided to dig it all up, add in some compost and start from scratch with new plants next year.

The herb patch is also pretty wild, messy and in some places dead! We haven’t been using the herbs much because they’re difficult to get to – so it’s definitely time to move things around a bit and potentially make a bit more space for veg.

Veg patch - small garden

I think I’ll just enjoy the crazy wildness for now and move things in late summer/early autumn.

Veg patch - small garden

After a slow start, the parsnips have got going. Apparently they’re notoriously bad at germinating but I’ve ended up with ten plants from half a pack of seeds, so I’m pretty pleased with that. You can see the early potatoes in the edge of this photo – I’m looking forward to lifting some of those soon… I haven’t had a peek yet though so they might still be small.

How’s your garden doing?

Veg Patch 2018

Over the last few years I’ve gradually introduced more fruit and herbs to our front garden leaving less room for veg. But this year I’m planning to squeeze in as many crops as possible!

Now that the purple sprouting broccoli has finished, the main bed is full of potatoes and parsnips… although there’s no sign of parsnips yet…

I’m planning to put pots of rocket/lettuce between the rows once they get going.

I’ve cut back the climbing hydrangea in the corner of the garden to make some fence space to grow squash and courgette vertically. I’ve never done very well with squash and one has been attacked by a slug already, but the courgette look pretty happy.

For slug defence I use a combination of broken egg shells and copper rings which are meant to give slugs a small shock. I never use slug pellets as they might poison hedgehogs. We’re moving towards eating a mostly vegan diet at home so we’ve run out of eggshells and I’m mostly depending on the copper rings now!

Both autumn and summer fruiting raspberries are doing well.

In fact a little too well! The blueberry bush is being swallowed up as next year’s summer raspberries are growing in front of it while this year’s overlap it from behind. I can’t move the new raspberries until later in the year so we might not get many bloobs!

At this time of year there is always a carpet of blue as the cianthus drops. I’m looking forward to hacking that back once it’s flowered… and the rambling rose which is making it difficult to get to our front door!

But when the roses are this pretty…

Rambling rose

It’s worth it!

I didn’t have much hope for our strawberry patch this year because Splodge had started using it as her wee area (!) . We also have quite a major woodlouse issue and unfortunately they nibble the strawberries.

Apparently the best way to get rid of woodlice without pesticides is to wrap up veg peelings and cheese (!) in damp newspaper. They swarm it and then you can just throw that away. To be honest… that sounds gross and I don’t want to do it! So instead of trying to get rid of them I’m just removing things that encourage them.

Strawberries

The picket fencing that edged the patch was dry and rotten at the base (which woodlice love) so I’ve removed that. I normally put straw around the base of the plants so that the fruit doesn’t sit on the soil and rot. But of course woodlice love straw! So I’m trying old bits of lino instead. I don’t have enough for each plant but if it works I’ll get more.

Strawberry patch

And to keep Splodge off the strawberry patch I’m planning to build a fruit cage. But as temporary fix I’m using this handy cage that I bought from Wilco’s last year. It’s already come in handy for keeping cabbage whites off the brassicas last year and propping up the massive broccoli over winter. It’s adjustable, easy to use, packs up small and I would definitely recommend it (they’ve not sponsored me to say that!).

Strawberries

To make the most of our small space I’m growing spinach and carrots in pots. They’re sitting on the front garden bench which has now become an extra growing area.

The last thing to squeeze in is tomatoes. I’m loving my new paper potter that my bro got me for Christmas!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes can’t be planted near potatoes so I’ve made space under the cianthus… although there might not be enough sun. We’ll find out!

If you want to watch my garden progress – I have set up a ‘highlights’ area for the garden over on Instagram. Enjoy! x

Spring has Sprung

It’s been a very long winter with a few false starts where odd days have felt spring-like. But now the snow has cleared, the clocks have gone forward and this week has properly felt like spring!

After a winter of neglect, I’ve started pottering around the garden – enjoying the daffodils and crocuses and looking forward to eating the purple sprouting broccoli that’s just starting to peek out from in between the leaves.

I love this time of year when everything is growing and colour is coming back to the garden – I know that it will all look so different in just a few weeks.

As usual- I’ve got lots of plans for the garden this year… but I also want to do some work on the house so I don’t expect I’ll get it all done!

The priorities are building a step up to the wall that dad and I built last summer. It will replace the wobbly pile of bricks we’re currently using to step up to the patio area!

Flatio | Jem Weston blog

And the second priority is replacing the picket fencing around my fruit, veg and herb patches. It’s seen better days and the wood has rotted and broken in places. I want to start by building a cage for the strawberry patch but haven’t quite worked out the rest yet!

I’m also hoping for a good hydrangea year because they will be my wedding flowers! She’s got off to a good start so fingers crossed.

Happy Easter everyone x