Monday, June 4, 2018


4th June 2018

I seem to be having very mixed success this year. The tomato plants I bought have grown well and now have flowers on. However, the onions I planted around them a few weeks ago have not done much at all (although the Autumn planted ones are looking pretty good). I bought a small pot of basil over the weekend, so have popped that in a gap.
Tomatoes, onions and basil
Carrots and garlic chives

The carrots I sowed straight into the ground now have 3 healthy looking shoots (out of a whole row of seeds!). The second sowing I started in cardboard toilet roll tubes have germinated well, so I've planted them out next to the garlic chives (hoping that'll keep the carrot fly away). I know that carrots don't normally like being transplanted, so I've left them in the tubes. I wonder if this will encourage straighter roots too?

I have put in some netting for the mangetout to grow up and it seems to be doing pretty well.

Purple sprouting and mangetout
The purple sprouting broccoli that I bought on a whim is growing really well, however alot of the French beans got eaten over night last week. I have resorted to slug pellets and netting as they could have been attacked by slugs, birds and/or mice.

Poor French bean seedlings

Courgettes and Nasturtiums

The 2 courgette plants and nasturtiums are doing really well, with several courgettes already at finger size.
Sweetcorn, butternut squash and lettuce

The sweetcorn is growing well, but only 1 of the butternut squash seedlings survived. I bought another butternut squash plant because even that 1 was looking pretty delicate, but so far it's hanging in there. The cos (?) lettuces are growing quite nicely, and I've added some more. These were another impulse buy at the garden I visited recently under the NGS scheme. I think they're Romaine.

French Beans and Butternut Squash

21st May 2018

I've planted out my French beans and butternut squash seedlings in the last couple of days. The beans have done pretty well, but the squash not so well. 5 out of 6 seeds germinated, but they've all gone downhill and now I only have 3 left. I'm not sure where I went wrong, but hopefully I'll still get a few fruits.


My kale and mangetout seeds have germinated, so I'll need to thin the kale and put in some support for the mangetout in the next few days.

I bought a few little gem lettuce and purple sprouting broccoli seedlings from the local gardening club sale in the village last weekend, so I've planted them out now too. I'm not sure about spacings for the broccoli, so I've put some in big pots (that will fit under my fruit cage for protection later on.

When visiting a National Trust garden last summer, I spotted a sign suggesting nasturtiums as companion sacrificial plants for cabbages etc. The idea is that caterpillars will eat those instead of your precious veggies. I've grown a few from seed and put them in the bed next to the kale/purple sprouting, so time will tell. I think I'll still net the leaves as well just in case.

Monday, May 21, 2018


A couple of days ago, I planted out my sweetcorn. I had sown half of them in toilet roll tubes and the other half in a seed tray.  (see here and here)  It's been 3 weeks from sowing to planting out.

The ones in the toilet rolls have done much better, and their roots were coming out of the bottom. It was also much easier to plant these ones, so I definitely need to remember to do that again next year. I have ended up with 14 plants, so I've put them in a 3 x 5 block (with a corner missing)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Soft fruits

In my back garden, I filled a narrow bed with strawberries and raspberries (see here). The strawberries here have never done especially well, despite flowering quite well every year. However, the raspberries have been great, and I've discovered that if you leave a couple of last year's stems you get some bonus summer fruit too. Last year I added a loganberry to the middle of this bed, grown as a cutting by my Dad. It didn't do much last year, but now it's covered in flowers, and the bees were loving it today. Once the fruit appear, I'll bring down the netting to keep the birds off, but for now they're doing a great jobs of pest control so they have free access.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sowing more carrots

The carrots that I sowed a few weeks ago have not been a massive success - maybe 4 or 5 have germinated. But I can't see any of the landcress or rocket that I sowed at the same time either. I wonder if they were affected by the very cold snap of weather between the hot spells? Anyway, I thought I'd sow some more, but this time I've put them in toilet rolls ready to plant out when they're bigger. There are a few shoots beginning to show on the kale and mangetout, so I've covered them in netting to keep the birds/mice away.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Busy Bank Holiday weekend

With glorious weather all weekend, I've been out in the garden most of the time. Some of the sweetcorn I sowed on 30th April has germinated, so I've moved that outside (but still under cover for now). The seeds in the toilet rolls tubes have all sprouted, although the ones in the cell tray are taking longer. I'm not sure why that might be.

My blueberry bushes are covered in flowers, and the bees are loving them! I spent quite a long time weeding all around them.

As well as tomatoes and courgettes, I bought a couple of chilli plants (F1 Apache) which have gone in the planter that stays in my growhouse for warmth and protection. I also sowed some kale and mangetout peas.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tomatoes and courgettes

I didn't get around to sowing any seeds for tomatoes or courgettes this year, so I bought a few little plants last week. It was really cold at the beginning of the week, so I kept them under cover until the weather warmed up. As the has been shining this weekend, I planted them out. I only have 3 collars (originally bought for a grow-bag) so the 4th plant has gone straight into the ground. The tomato varieties are: Alicante, Sungold, Swwet Aperitif and Super sweet 100.

I filled in the gaps around them with a few onion sets. There wasn't enough room for these in the raised bed when I planted the rest in the Autumn, so they went into pots over the Winter.

The courgettes are F1 Parador, a yellow variety. I've only got 2 plants, but they will hopefully produce plenty of fruit. In the background are the strawberries in full flower.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

More Sowing

 We escaped the worst of the weather yesterday, although it was only 5°C first thing in the morning. There were a few spots of rain, but nothing substantial and it was a great excuse to visit a plant nursery. I bought a couple of courgette plants, 2 different chilli plants, 4 different tomato plants and some flowers (calendula and stocks). By the afternoon it had warmed up a bit so I sowed some more seeds:
Sweetcorn (Sundance F1)
Dwarf French bean (Compass)
Butternut squash (Honeyboat)
Nasturtium (Tom Thumb mixed)

The French beans, along with the plants I bought, are in my patio growhouse to protect them from the weather. It was very cold again last night, so I'm glad I did. I also put some fleece over the raised bed I sowed last week (no signs of germination yet). The rest of yesterday's sowings are now on the kitchen windowsill above the radiator to germinate. In the background you can see the new fence we had installed last week. I took the opportunity to cut back the shrubs and re-edge the lawn, uncovering the paving slabs in the process. I'm pretty pleased with how it looks now, just a few gaps to fill.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

First sowing of the year

22nd April 2018

I bought a few packets of seeds on-line which arrived a couple of days ago, so I made the most of the good weather today to get some into the ground. Today I've planted wild rocket, carrots (F1 Match) and Land cress, 1 row of each. I've not grown Land cress before, but I understand it's a cross between rocket and watercress. I'm hoping that by putting the carrots between these two, the carrot fly may be put off by the smell.

As a deterrent to the local cats, and sparrows, I put a few sticks over the planting area as protection. These were last year's forsythia prunings. I used a few of them to support netting last year and one of them rooted itself. When we replaced the wooden beds, I dug it up and put it in a pot. Today, I've chopped the top off and put that in the same pot. Hopefully I'll get 2 new plants for free!

Planting out garlic

11th April 2018

Now the new raised beds are in, I can plant out the garlic. I bought these back in the Autumn along with some onion sets, but didn't want to put them in the ground before repairing the wood. Instead, I put them in pots and left them in my little growhouse over the Winter.

They've grown pretty well despite being almost completely ignored. Some of them have grown well out of the bottom of the pots, so they probably could have gone in the ground a bit sooner. However, we've had a very late Spring this year, with snow over Easter, and this if the first opportunity I've had to get them out.

So, I carefully eased them out of their pots leaving as much root intact as possible and transplanted them into the small square bed. 3 of them had rotted/been eaten by slugs, but I still had 24 good plants to put out.

Update 23rd April

They looked a bit sad when I first put them out, but nearly 2 weeks on they're looking good, undoubtedly helped by the lovely sunny, warm weather we've had for the last week.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Renewing the raised beds

So, the parsnips did even better in 2017 than in 2016, this was the last of the crop that I dug up a couple of weeks ago in order to clear the ground for this year's planting. 2017 was another bad year for the veg growing (and blog) due to other commitments, but the parsnips went in early and did a grand job.


When I dug these up, it became clear that the raised beds we installed way back in 2012 (see here, here and here) were well past their best. The corner pegs had rotted, as had some of the side boards. 3 of the beds were completely falling apart, the other 3 were worse for wear so we decided to replace them all. Time for an upgrade.
One of the old beds in better less bad condition with Autumn planted onions.

I scraped back the gravel, and in the empty beds I dug the soil away from the inner edges too.

My husband made up new beds from pressure treated gravel boards and fence pegs from Wickes. The pegs are quite a lot bigger than those in the original kits, so hopefully they'll last longer this time. They're also quite a lot taller, so they stick up above the bed sides about 14cm which will give me some extra height when netting the beds.

The other improvement I've made is to peg down the weed-proof membrane under the gravel. Whilst it hasn't really been a big problem, there were a few places where the edges has poked up through the gravel. I've used old tent pegs that are past their best but still good enough for this job.

The finished product, ready for this year's planting.