Garden Log Book

Although we’re not able to see each other in person – I’m still having regular catch-ups with Dad about what’s going on in the garden!

Dad keeps a record of what he’s growing and what’s successful or not and he recently told me that he also keeps a list of which species of butterflies he’s seen each year. I felt inspired to start my own garden log book!

I stocked up on lovely Amy Blackwell notebooks when she had a collection in Sainsbury’s – and I’ve been saving this last one for a special occasion… It’s perfect for my garden book!

 I’ve been enjoying identifying butterflies and also decided to keep a log of birds. We don’t get many in our garden because there are so many cats around, but blue tits have started to regularly visit the cianthus.

I’ve always kept a note of my crop rotation, but I normally forget where I’ve written it down or saved it, so it’ll be lovely keeping all my notes in one place.

Please note – brokali is a kale/broccoli hybrid- not just a misspelling! Please forgive any other spelling errors though…

I’m keeping more detailed notes about each fruit/veg, including the seed packets so that I can see what’s worked and avoid repeating things that failed.

Do you keep a garden log book? Have you got any tips?!

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 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

Veg Patch 2017

One of the main reasons I fell in love with my little house was the fact that it had two gardens!

The house might be bursting at the seams (…mostly with wool), but I have a lovely little private garden at the back as well as a good space at the front for growing fruit and veg. It involved digging up a lawn and lots of hard work, but over the years it’s grown into a rather pretty little allotment/garden.

I was reluctant to put up this big ugly grow cage…but it’s brassicas year so it had to be done!

In the past I used both beds in the front garden for veg and rotated my crops between them. But since I started a strawberry patch I’ve been struggling to get things going in the small space next to it.

The area is sheltered by the Ceanothus which I refuse to lose even though it’s become too big for the space! For a month or so every spring it turns the most beautiful shade of blue and then as it drops – the whole garden becomes a carpet of blue. I cut it back a lot last year so it’s a bit more under control but I still have to contend with that area being sheltered from the sun and rain as well as the thick roots.

So that space is now a herb patch! I’ve surrounded everything with twigs while it gets established in an attempt to keep the cats away.

Now that I just have the one bed to use for veg, I’m rotating the crops I grow in it on a yearly basis. Last year I grew Legumes (peas/beans) so this year I’m doing Brassicas (cabbage family). The legumes were a complete flop last year so I took everything out early, put some courgette in (which did very well) and tried some trench composting followed by over-wintering green manure. The soil seems better so fingers crossed.

I haven’t grown brassicas for years because they always got decimated by pests…hence the ugly grow cage this year! I’ve made a start with some purple sprouting broccoli, kale and brokali seedlings. It might be a bit early for them but I’m planning to stagger planting and have plenty of seeds left if these fail.

I’m keeping them warm with cloches made out of plastic bottles (large innocent smoothie bottles are the best), protecting them from slugs with copper rings and egg shells and then the netting over the cage will protect them from caterpillars and cabbage white.

I think I’ll attempt some lettuce as well once it’s a bit warmer….might need to make beer traps as well for a three-pronged slug attack!

Over the last few years I’ve gradually been digging up hedges which were along the fence when I moved in. This has given me a strip of soil perfect for growing raspberries up the fence. I planted seven canes (is that the right name?), some I bought from Wilkos and some from Dad’s allotment. Two of the summer fruiting ones from Dad have survived and are happily growing leaves on the new shoots they sent out last year.

The autumn fruiting one (from Wilkos) was hugely prolific last year and actually fruited in summer, had a rest and then fruited again in Autumn. I cut this back to the ground as autumn fruiting raspberries fruit on the new years growth… I can’t wait for berry season!

We also planted a blueberry bush two summers ago. Last year it produced three blueberries! Hoping for more this summer.

What are you growing? Do you have any tips for brassicas and blueberries?

Crafty Garden- The fruits of my labour

I hate to say it- but with the final bank holiday of the summer coming up, I’m starting to feel a bit autumnal!

After putting quite a lot of work into my veg patch earlier in the year, I’ve been enjoying the fruits of my labour over the last few months- and I’m now enjoying my tomatoes, shallots and looking forward to some autumnal butternut squash.

 

The strawberries looked promising early on and didn’t disappoint! They take very little effort and after three years, my plants are producing more fruit every year.

 

I was worried about growing my potatoes in sacks as I normally do them in the ground. But to give the soil a rest from the potato family I thought I’d try the sacks- and they did look blooming cute! They started producing huge leafs early on so I was worried they were putting energy into the plant and not the roots- but it turned out to be the best crop of earlys I’ve had for a few years!

The only problem I had was that some were a bit green- I’m not sure whether that’s because some light was getting through the sacks? Let me know if you know why!

 

Now- I don’t want to speak too soon on the squash, because the last couple of times I’ve grown them they’ve had lots of fruit which have all rotted off before they were ready. That’s why I built a twig sculpture to grow them up- so that they’re not resting on the wet soil. It’s working so far- fingers crossed!

 

Despite being extremely  neglectful of my tomatoes and not watering them much- they’re doing really well. Sometimes lazy gardening works! I didn’t have a huge amount of success with my peas and beans (just a couple of meals)- but the sweet-peas have gone crazy and they smell beautiful.

The plant I’m most proud of is my pepper. Out of six plants- only one grew fruit and they’re still tiny. It’s probably far too late now for them to ripen, but I have never successfully grown peppers from seed so it makes me really happy!

I have a really small veg patch, and after my initial excitement in the spring- I do very little to maintain it. I’m always surprised and pleased with how much grows as a result of my lazy gardening! Do you have a veg patch? If not- have you tried growing your own in pots?