Six On Saturday: Harvest time

The high points of my gardening year are the June riot of colour and the September harvests. In truth we have been enjoying raspberries, figs and blackberries for a few weeks now. The erratic early summer weather did for one of my cucumber plants but the survivor put out enough cukes to keep the salad bowl well supplied.  There is colour in the garden thanks to the roses and phlox but this week is mainly a veg and fruit focus.

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Dwarf French beans.  These are Safari.  This is the first time I have grown a dwarf variety and so far so good.   They have cropped well enough for me and taste good.  They don’t seem as squeaky as other French beans.  I’m freezing those that are surplus to requirements.  They are perhaps slightly fiddlier to pick than climbers from a wig-wam but I won’t have to untangle all that twine at the end of the season.  I sowed a second round a few weeks ago which I hope will give me a crop in October.

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Tomatoes in the greenhouse.  My greenhouse is in partial shade and the windows need a clean but temperatures still climb.  They have only just started to ripen in the last week or two.  There are  plenty of tomatoes but will they all ripen? These are San Marzano 2 and Tigerella.  I also grew Green Zebra, Golden Sunrise and Alicante.

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Onions, small but good enough.  The onions did better this year due to the higher rainfall.  I don’t plant many because  I never have much luck with stored onions.  I am sure these will be used up before they start sprouting.  The variety is Sturon and I will grow these again next year.  The red onions were even more diminutive and were used up very quickly.  They were growing in the rain shadow of one of the apple trees.  I will try to do better with the red onions – time to start the winter Japanese varieties now.

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The large fig tree has cropped well this year and for some reason I didn’t see the squirrels stealing the fruits.  Perhaps the wasps put them off.  Picking the figs had to be carried out with great care.  This tree is going to get the big trim over winter and it is much needed.  On Friday I watched the wind blow through the leaves with some trepidation.  I’m hoping we don’t get a big winter storm this year.

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It is apple picking weekend here.  This is because the next few weekends are taken up with other plans so it is now or never.  All the apples will be picked and taken off for juicing.  In a week or so I will collect the results.  I finally got round to buying a telescopic apple picker which I hope will mean less teetering on the ladder.

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There is one flower for the week.  This stray sunflower has  been brightening up a corner of the garden.  It is like a lighthouse shining through the dark, calling to the butterflies and bees.  I didn’t plant it and can only think that it came from the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder.  For which I am very grateful!

Apart from the great apple harvesting that has to be done this weekend I am hoping to make a start on some bulb planting.  I’ve not placed a big order yet but I have some crocuses and Tete a Tete daffodils to ease me in.  Planning for Spring has started.

Mr P  hosts the Six On Saturday meme and all the links to other posts can be found in the comments section.  September on show from gardens around the world.  Lovely.

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Six On Saturday: A change of mind

There is so much gloom around at the moment, I need the garden to pick me up.  It is trying very hard, many things are on the edge of flowering, the perennials are forcing their way up through the mulch and the birds are singing.  I have much to do so the mojo just has to get going.  This was how I started out yesterday but an energising night out in Shoreditch – yes I know, too old for all that really! – has got me going again.  The potatoes are chitted and ready to go.  This is the number one job for the weekend.  If I do nothing else, this will be done!  Here’s what is happening in the garden without my help.

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The Thalia are just opening out on the south side.  Those in the north facing border are about a week behind.

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The fritillaries  have joined the throng.  I did mean to plant more of these but I had such fun trying to squeeze in extra tulips that I just didn’t get round to it.  On to the list that goes.

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My primrose border is filling out very nicely and I planted some anemone blanda ‘white splendour’  in amongst them.  Just at the bottom right are the shoots of some white phlox warming up for later in the year.

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The onions started off in modules are going in the ground this weekend. The red ones have been slower to get going.  Not sure why! They have been coming in and out of the greenhouse all week so should be well acclimatised.   There are a few self sown cornflowers making themselves at home in the space allocated for onions.  It seems a shame to move them on.  Maybe they can grow companionably side by side?

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Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’.  I have nurtured this plant for three years.  It wasn’t doing very well in the first planting spot and so last year I moved it to a slightly shadier space.  It is still very small but I think I have to give more time in it’s new home before I uproot it again.

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The north border of the garden is the focus of attention this year.  There are two choisyas there which I have left alone until now, but the time for action has arrived.   One of them is poorly.   One side is yellowing whilst the other looks green and glossy.  The plant has been hacked about in the past, with evidence of limbs having been cut off.  As there is a very happy choisya not too far away I am not too sorry to say that this one is getting it’s marching orders.  I could just cut off the yellow side and see what happens but no, decision made.  Out with the old and in with something new.

I’ve also managed to throw out the new block editor and go back to the old classic editor.  Yipee! More reasons to be cheerful.  I hope you are feeling cheerful in your garden this weekend.  Don’t forget to see what fellow sixers are up to, go to  The Propagator for all the links.

Six on Saturday: Ready, steady, go!

Life became busy last week and the balance tipped away from things gardening focused.  These times come along and all will pass – soon I hope!  It was good to feel the warmth of the sun again but the sunny days were followed by cold nights and the greenhouse temperatures were down to -1.  The garden is straining at the leash, the March surge is coming and I still have winter jobs to do.

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The grapevine over the pergola must be pruned this weekend.  It’s a job I normally do in November.  What was I doing then? Or in December or January?

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The tulips and bluebells are coming through well.  I spotted this bulb strangely lying on the surface.  I bent to pick it up, cursing squirrels, but no.  It was well rooted into the ground.  I don’t have an explanation.  Could it be an allium bulb that didn’t get planted deeply enough and has wriggled its way upwards?  I decided to bury it rather than dig it up and plant it deeper as I didn’t have the time to sort it out.  Maybe a job for the weekend.

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The onion sets are in their modules in the greenhouse.  I am hoping to have the time to plant the shallots out this weekend.  That ‘to do’ list is getting longer.

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The garden doesn’t have a single crocus or iris reticulata in it, something to be rectified in the next bulb buying session but the primroses look cheerful enough for now.

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And the first flowers of pulmonaria officinalis planted in a north facing border are coming out.  It’s also good to see their spotted leaves.  The common pulmonaria doesn’t seem to fall prey to attack by slugs.

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The lovely leaves of aquilegia are unfurling.

I have some final preparation of a bed on the north facing border to finish off ready for the March plant out.  Plants have to be ordered and I know I will be tempted to add in a few extras for elsewhere in the garden.  I’m getting ready but need to be steady for a while longer before it’s all go in March.

I hope your garden preparations are going well.  Mr P is, as usual, hosting this group and all the links to gardens around the world can be found on his site.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: Plan, plan and then cross fingers

Things are definitely on the move in the garden.  The bulbs are poking up their first leaves and here in London some of the perennials are beginning to stir.  Storm Eric poured in yesterday and is blowing itself out today.  The sun is shining and optimism is rising.

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There was a brief lull in the weather this week.  The snow disappeared and the ground wasn’t too wet so the opportunity was taken to plant out the asparagus crowns.  I dug out the trench, created the ‘w’ shaped profile and elegantly draped the crowns across the top.  The trench was then back-filled to just cover the crowns and over the coming weeks as the crowns send out shoots there will  be more back filling to ensure the crowns are well buried.  A scattering of fish bone and blood also went into the mix.  I opted for one long trench and I think I have space for a border of companion plants. Recommendations are to plant tomatoes and basil in an attempt to fend off asparagus beetle.  I am growing tomatoes from seed this year and I’m sure I will have some spare plants.  The extras can go by the side of the asparagus as a first barrier.  I’m happy to sow a few basil seeds as well.  That’s the first plan.  We’ll see if it works.

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The potatoes have been bought and chitting is underway.  The second plan is where to put the potatoes this year.  My veg plot has a three year rotation plot.  (I don’t grow brassicas).  Potatoes are followed by onions followed by root crops.  The lay out of the veg plot gives me two larger beds and then three thinner strips.  There is also one medium sized raised bed.  I have to decide if  I use the raised bed for half the potatoes and one of the larger smaller strips for the remainder.  You may be a little confused by now – as I am.  I have a few weeks to sort this all out.

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Beans will also have to fit into the plan and this year I am forgoing the climbing bean ‘Blue Lake’ in favour of a dwarf french bean.  The simple reason is I don’t enjoy untangling the beans and twine from the wig wam at the end of the season.  I also reasoned that the dwarf beans would fit very nicely into one of the thin strips.  A long term plan is to combine two of the thin strips, but that’s on the wish list.

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My final purchase of sweet peas seeds has been made.  Let’s see how ‘Iris’ and ‘Gwendoline’ get on with ‘April in Paris’.  The first batch of sweet peas was sown last weekend.  These will be sown in a week or two.

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Onion choices have also been made.  Sturon, Red Baron and Longor shallots.  I am going to start off the onions in modules this year ready to transplant as the weather becomes warmer.  A first time of trying this for me so fingers crossed here too.

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The first flower on the Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’  has appeared.  It is nestled under a Mahonia in the front garden.  Yes, Spring is on its way.

 

Six On Saturday: Snow, sowing and growing

Clearly I have been spending too much time in the garden scouting out goodies for the Six On Saturday show.  I should have been cosy and warm inside reading the seed catalogues.  This has now been rectified and some seeds are on their way.  But it was the snow that arrived on  Wednesday.

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Wednesday was also the day scheduled for the builder to come and destroy  the brick walls of the old compost heap.  Bless him! He did come and the walls are no more.  I have three wooden bins ready to be installed but they can wait for warmer weather.  It was good day despite the snow.  All the garden rubbish went into the skip plus plenty more from the house.  The builder did not get frostbite and I didn’t run out of tea or milk!

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We moved to this house in 2016 and the garden was in need of a good weed and the addition of some new plants.  Each year another little patch of the garden gets my attention.  Last summer I managed to get this corner trellised and planted clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’.  It was a lovely surprise this week to see it putting on new growth and buds.

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For some unknown reason I missed planting out shallots and autumn onions.  Last year’s weather and lack of watering on my part did not lead to a bumper crop and the last few from the store have gone soft and been consigned to the bin.  The shallots did store better and they have encouraged me to try again.  A visit to the nursery is now urgent if I am going to get some purchases made before they sell out.

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I have been muttering for weeks that it is time to sow some sweet peas and as February approaches I feel that I might actually do it.  I find I always start talking about sowing sweet peas early but then actually do it a bit later.  These are my first two choices for this year but I am on the look out for a couple of extra packets, just in case.

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It’s still too early for me to be sowing tomato seeds but this year I do have some!  Last year in a bid to increase the number of varieties grown but decrease the number of plants I limited myself to six plants bought from my local plant sale.  This year I want to try ‘Green Zebra’.  For more variety I chose this seed collection which gives ‘Marmande’,  ‘San Marzano 2’ and a new (for me) yellow variety to grow – ‘Golden Sunrise’.  The ‘Green Zebra’ had to be bought separately.  I’m also looking forward to trying ‘Tigerella’.

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Here’s the compost area without it’s walls.  Once the bins are constructed I will see what tidying up I have to do round the edges.

All done for another week,  Mr P will be showcasing his goodies plus links to posts from around the gardening world.  Stop by and take a look.

Six On Saturday: Oops I did it again

With temperatures again in the 30s I went away for the week.  Yes, I know.  No real gardener ever leaves the garden in summer, not ever!  I did the usual frantic watering, moving pots into the shade and putting everything on trays or saucers and off I went.  My garden is well past its best so I was really quite relaxed.  I went in search of inspiration from some of the great gardens of England and I found that they too had gone over plants, roses devoid of flowers and scorched lawns.  But some ideas for late summer colour were found and I returned determined to take more care of my phloxes.

But here is what is happening in my garden this week.

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Rosa Natasha Richardson is in her second flowering and is looking gorgeous.  I’m very happy with the background of Agastache Black Adder but she needs something the other side of her.  I’m still looking for her ideal companion.

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Sometime in May I optimistically sprinkled some zinnia seeds that came free with a well known gardening magazine and in the week I was away they opened up.  They were sown at the foot of the now towering tithonia and in amongst the Pentsemon Plum Jerkum.   They have given me an extra spot of late summer colour.

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You would not expect me to visit three gardens and come away empty handed now would you? I nearly did as Hidcote had sold out of Agapanthus Navy Blue – a later flowering variety that’s now on my wish list.  Fortunately across the road at Kiftsgate I found a lovely pink Salvia microphylla Blush Pink.  It should flower into November and be frost hardy.  If it does I shall be very happy.

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I left my tray of Ammi visnaga out in a shady/sunny spot hoping they might put on a spurt of growth.  I really don’t know if they are going to make it into flower but I am going to plant them out anyway and enjoy their feathery green foliage in amongst the white zinnias as planned.

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My vegetable patch has struggled this year, falling foul of lack of rain and my feeble attempts to water it.  I harvested the onions before I left and put them in the potting shed to dry out – as if they needed that!  Small but delightfully formed I think.

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The apples are also much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this is the earliest apples have ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready for picking and I’m hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that arrived on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I also need to decide what to do with this poor specimen.  Do I shorten the leader and keep the laterals in tight or will the leader strengthen over time?  So much learning to be done!

The bulb catalogues are arriving and even as I review how to improve the August and September garden my thoughts are turning to Spring.  I am well and truly on the gardening roller coaster and on the whole enjoying it.

Be dazzled by the diversity of gardens that get shown each week by checking the links given on The Propagator’s blog You will see that there is an occasional ‘cheat’ and this week The Prop has smuggled three extras into his six.  There must be a sub section somewhere that allows that then!

The apples are also so much smaller this year.  I received an email from my apple juicing farm telling me that this was the earliest apples had ripened in 12 years.  I still don’t think mine are ready to pick and I am hoping that the welcome deluge of rain that came on Friday will give them an extra boost.  I need to think what I do with this poor specimen.  Should I cut the leader much shorter and keep all the laterals in tighter or will the leader strengthen over time? There is so much learning to be done!

Six on Saturday

The fair weather gardener in me has  been dominant this week.  The temperatures are low and the lawn and borders are still squelchy and sticky.  I did refill the bird feeders, pull a few weeds and tie in a stem here and there but very little else was done.  Here’s my six:

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The new borders are going into their third summer.  The first was spent weeding, digging, suppressing weeds and feeding.  The second saw some perennial planting with annuals.  This year it is the turn of bulbs.  A mass planting of tulips and alliums took place in autumn and, with no apologies, I was very excited to see the first emerging shoots of allium Mount Everest pushing through.

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The last of the cutting back was done recently.  The sodden brown remains of iris siberica were removed and there was more delight to be found in seeing the first signs of the new growth.

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Over on the veg plot the onion and shallot sets are progressing.  I’ve kept the covers on to protect them from the birds but it is good to see there is strong growth.

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Every March I settle down to watch the new series of Gardener’s World and every year Monty brings out trays of seedlings he has sown in the depths of winter.  They are all ready to drop into the beautifully prepared soil for early harvests. This year I have got wise and I check in with Monty’s website each month.  Eureka!  Now is the time to plant your rockets seeds.  I’m going to put mine into modules so that I too will have a tray of plump rocket seedlings ready to drop into my beautifully prepared soil!

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My tray of violas from last week’s six was planted up and they are smiling away at the bottom end of the garden.  A good enticement for me to get out and about.

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Gardeners are generally sharing souls and this little pot of persicaria red dragon was given to me by a friend.  I’ve just got to find the right place in the new borders for it.

That’s my six.  For the links to a great many other sixes go to The Propagator.  You will find a treasure trove of good gardening from around the world.

Six on Saturday

Some things on  the gardener’s to do list are there for several weeks.  My list has a few that have been hanging around for months.  I am pleased and relieved to present the first of my Six on Saturday for this week.  I have finally bought and planted out some onions.

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Far from thoughtfully researching the most interesting, disease resistant and high yield bulbs I could find I simply bought what was in the nursery – radar, electric and jermor for the shallots.  The wire mesh and freezer basket are in place to keep the birds off until the onions are fully rooted.  I will leave these on for some months as I have learnt the lesson of taking them off too early.

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Still on the to do list is cleaning the inside of the greenhouse.  I promise you the outside did look wonderful about a month ago.  The ghostly apparition seen here is the lemon tree.  Having bought myself a  min max thermometer – another one crossed off – I could not avoid seeing the inside temperature fall to zero.  So I wrapped the lemon tree in 17gsm fleece.  The  top section has two layers of fleece and I have my fingers crossed.  Underneath the fleece I have decorated the tree with sachets of Amblyseius californicus mite.  These are a preventative control against spider mite.  And washing down the inside will also go some way towards eradicating those pests.

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The leaves of Pulmonaria officinalis are looking fine at the moment.  This was a plant share and I am promised that the slugs avoid this one.  It has really bulked up from the tiny divisions planted earlier in the year.  You can also just spot a bit of new mulch.  Mulching is not complete yet but a start has been made.

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There is often a surprise to be found when looking for the six and this week it was finding a new flower on the hydrangea.  What a contrast the white makes with the pink of the autumn colouring

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Boxes of tulips arrived a while ago and planting up the borders has begun.  These Violet Beauty are joining Queen of Night, Barcelona and Shirley to form a line either side a path that runs through the border.  This border was first planted from about this time last year and it’s on the to do list to write up the story of its development.  I will. I will.

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There is one last shout of colour in the garden.  The container pelargoniums are stubbornly hanging on.  Cold weather is forecast for this weekend so its seems right to give them their five minutes of fame now.

Looking forward to seeing what’s going on in your garden.  Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession