Six On Saturday: The veggie report

The harvest is in and it’s time to plan for next year. My SOS usually features the garden but there has been some action on the veg patch this year. Onions: fail. Dwarf green beans: not bad. Carrots: a handful. Tomatoes: slow to ripen but the outdoor ones have done well and no blight! Strawberries: better than last year. New potatoes: not many. Courgettes: just enough. Each year the list of what to grow gets smaller. No more leeks for me, no more swede and no broccoli, psb or otherwise. I had a go at red cabbage again this year and the slugs have stripped every last leaf from all six of my seedlings. That could be a last outing for cabbage. Enough words, time for some photos.

One

The tomatoes have been cropping steadily for a few weeks now.  Oh so slow to get going and nearly at their end now.  These are for the weekend.  It feels like the green ones will have to come in next week.  Temperatures in the greenhouse were down to six degrees last night. 

Two

Parsnips were always so easy to grow on  my allotment but the seeds struggle to germinate in this garden.  This year I managed to get three into leaf.   I will persevere with parsnips next year because there is nothing like a home grown roasted parsnip.   

Three

These are Pink Fir Apple potatoes, another great favourite and the crop wasn’t too bad.  Last night they were cooked jacket potato style and Sunday night they will be roasted as wedges.  

Four

I have two patches sown with Green Manure this year.  Both sown in September.  They will stay in the ground until November.  My plan is to dig them in just as the manure for feeding the veg plot arrives.  

Five

Carrots.  WilI I, won’t I grow again.  These are Nantes, they have a fantastic carrot smell and taste very good too, so on balance I will grow again.  Perhaps I will sow later in the season so that they are ready for eating now.  The danger is that the slugs start nibbling away at them underground.  

Six

This is as far as the melon got.  I tried hand pollinating this year to get some to grow before the bees arrived to their job.  It was not successful.  I am going to accept that my greenhouse, which is in shade until the afternoon, is not the best place for melons to grow.  

I have been released from furniture moving duties for the day, so there is a chance for some gardening to take place.  The winds of yesterday once again blew my neighbours fence down, the third time this year!  My very tall asters have a distinct lean and I feel a strong urge to dig them up and have done with them.  They are just too tall.  Other SOSers will be making plans for their garden this weekend so drop by the  Prop’s place to discover more.  Time for us all to enjoy Autumn. 

Six On Saturday: Potatoes. What do I know?

If there’s one thing I know about potatoes it is that King Edward is the best potato for roasting. IMHO. I have spent the last few years moaning about the size of those that come in the supermarket bags. Too small and what a pain they are to peel. So I took matters into my own hands and bought a few to grow. Here’s the result.

One

As you can see I did no better than the supermarket buyers.  But worse is to come.  I don’t grow many potatoes but I like to have a few varieties.  The mix this year was Arran Pilot, Belle de Fontenay, Ratte, King Edward and Pink Fir Apple.  I buy them loose, filling up a bag and separating each variety with a slip of paper.  I chitted them and planted out the first and second earlies in a raised bed.  The King Edward and Pink Fir Apple went into the ground in a separate bed.  Arran Pilot did well but was not very interesting.  Belle de Fontenay was a joy and is definitely on the list for next year.  Ratte was a strange one.  Good taste but surprisingly floury for a new potato.  It did very well as a crushed new potato.  But how would the King Edwards turn out.  After several weeks of rain I finally got round to lifting the main crop.  The King Edwards did not look like King Edwards at all.  In fact they looked suspiciously like a new potato with a nice looking shape.  It very slowly and painfully dawned on me that I had mixed up my potatoes and had been happily digging up the King Edwards throughout August and subjecting them to large amounts of mayonnaise or butter and chives.  The shame of it! Thankfully I had a few left in the fridge which will be getting a good roasting very soon. There is more to share.

Two

Now on to the results of the ‘main crop’.  The result is sadly very pathetic.  There were only a handful of Pink Fir Apple and barely more than that from the mislocated Ratte.  The size is tiny.  The upside is I don’t have to peel them and there is the chance for one more potato salad.  Barring the Arran Pilot I will grow these varieties again next year.  I will keep improving the soil and will try to water more often.  Maybe results will be better. Who knows?

Three

Happily other things in the garden are doing well and have benefited from the October rain.  The hydrangea has put out several new blooms, they are such generous flowerers when the conditions are right.

Four

I have a second flush of delphinium flowers.  This is my reward for cutting them back as soon as they had finished flowering.  Those that I didn’t get round too quite so quickly have not delivered and who can blame them.

Five

Sometime ago I whined about the zinnias being late but they arrived and have been amazing.  The bees still have something to come into the garden for and the colour is beautiful.  If I remember rightly these came from a free packet of seeds. A bargain and a definite for next year.

Six

Last week I said I would be optimistically looking at my sweet peas to see if they had germinated.  I sowed the left over seeds from this year and some I had from a few years ago.  Last week they had just broken the surface and this week they are an inch or two high.  Time for tough love, they have been removed from the sunny windowsill and placed in the greenhouse.  Overnight temperatures there dropped to five degrees one night this week.

Thanks to Mr P for starting this meme off.  It works for me and if you are tempted to join in then take a look at the participant guide on The Propagator’s site.  I’m hoping to plant some more bulbs this weekend.   Let’s hope I can tell my onions from my daffs!

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.

One

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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.

Two

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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.

Three

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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.

Four

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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.

Five

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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.

Six

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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: Call yourself a gardener?

At this time of the year the garden here becomes shadier.  The sun slips lower in the sky and neighbouring trees cast their shadows.  Like the garden I am sliding towards my winter dormancy. But before I curl up there are a few more sixes to be posted.  Recently  I have muttered to myself, ‘Call yourself a gardener?’

The first was on the tragic occasion of admiring the emerging flower stem of a nerine and seconds later stepping on it.  The second on dead heading a rose still in flower, which was swiftly followed by chopping back branches on the tomato plants and finding a perfectly formed truss of green tomatoes among them.  But these things happen, don’t they?

My first six is also a disappointment

IMG_2908This week I dug up the last of my sarpo mira potatoes.  This is the total haul from two plants.  Barely enough to mash and I was certainly crushed.

Two

IMG_2909 (2)The tale of woe continued.  Into the greenhouse I went to pick some tomatoes.  I noticed that the romano peppers needed tying in again.  But as I brought the stems together to tie them in they snapped.  But these things happen, don’t they?  This photo was taken after a good many of the peppers had been used for the evening meal.

The sun was shining on these tragic events and the birds were singing so even as I chastised myself for not staking, not tying in, not watering, not being more careful, and not being out in the garden more I couldn’t avoid seeing some positives and here they are.

Three

IMG_2910This bright cheerful zinnia, grown from a tiny seed, continues to shine.

Four

IMG_2914The astrantia major are flowering again.

Five

IMG_2913Autumn is coming and softer colours take their place in the garden.  I call these ice plants but I’m going to venture to suggest the Latin name of Hylotelephium spectabile.  Yes or No?

Six

Miracles happen.  Last week I featured the bulbs of Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’, which had just arrived.  I planted them the very same day, idly thinking that I would have to wait a year before the flowered.  That would give me time to spread out the lamb’s ear plants that I wanted to surround them.  This week I found this amazing sight.

IMG_2916So I add to my crimes, ignorance.  I had no idea the bulbs would flower this year.  What a blissful ignorance it was.  Without it I would not have been half so thrilled and excited as I was when I saw this flower and I didn’t step on it!

Gardeners come with different skill levels and it is great fun to be part of The Propagator’s Six On Saturday crowd, where we are all sharing, learning and always enjoying gardening.  I really recommend you stop by and take a look.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: The race is on

Aah, what a gentle occupation gardening is.  Full of quiet moments pottering among the flowers, pulling carrots, picking strawberries.  Or are you, like me, engaged in the mad dash to get it all done before June!

One

The cold and the rain delayed much of my gardening efforts but this week I finally finished cutting back the hydrangeas.  In my defence there are seven of them and only three have been waiting patiently.  Here you can see that the first flowers are forming.

Two

Seed sowing for vegetables is happening almost daily.  Leeks, carrots, red cabbage, spring onions, climbing french beans are all in the greenhouse. Some carrots have been direct sown along with parsnips, radishes and lettuce.  The rocket sown in February is now out in the ground. And the last of the potatoes – Sarpo Mira and Belle de Fontenay have finally been planted.  Phew!

Three

The onions and shallots planted out in November are enjoying some warmth.  I have been very interested to see that many people plant their onions in modules and don’t move them outside until later.  I am going to try this next year.  I did protect these against the birds but that was all removed this week.

Four

Seed sowing for flowers is ongoing.  The teeny tiny seeds of antirrhinum White Giant have produced teeny tiny leaves.  Tithonia and nasturtium look a little stronger, but does that mean finding time for potting on?  Zinnias and calendulars have pushed through.  But I have yet to sow any cosmos! How is this possible I ask myself?  I’m not panicking.  Last year I direct sowed some in early May and planted some in modules as late as the end of April . . . Ok,  brief panic!

Five

It has felt a little frantic but it is important that we take ‘time to stand and stare’ and I have really enjoyed the tulip display, the result of a mass November planting.  These are Queen of Night, Shirley, Barcelona and Violet Beauty.  I love them!

Six

And these are Angelique – a pink double, Spring Green – a viridiflora and China Town – a shorter viridiflora with white edged leaves, beautiful.  These were quite tightly planted in two groups in a new border to leave space for some bare root roses that were arriving later.  There is definitely room to spread them out a little, which is the plan, unless of course, I am tempted by some lovely perennials that I know will be featuring in a couple of local plant sales in May.  Have space, will fill it!

And whilst standing and staring I noticed the irises and alliums are just about to open, and the first strawberry flowers are showing.  Oh yes, we will soon be pottering!

If you’d like to stare at a few more Six On Saturday posts stroll over to The Propagator’s  blog for all the links.  Sit back and enjoy the display.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

Whilst our esteemed leader is scratching his itch and beginning to sow a few seeds I am still at the pottering stage.  The cold of January does not often entice me out into the garden but there are one or two things to be done.  Here I should state clearly the level of my gardening skills: pottering amateur. So what I do in my garden is not a recommendation or a ‘how to’ guide.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

One

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I have been buying a few seeds.  These are my Sweet Pea choices.  Last year was the first summer in a new garden.  It was a garden that needed clearing of weeds and then planting up.  I put in some roses and some 9cm pots of a few perennials and some plants brought from the old garden but I needed to fill in the spaces.  So I grew annuals.  My wigwam of Midnight Blue sweet peas were a great success and I’m growing those again.  I’ll also grow a mix of Gwendoline, Anniversary and Black Night for a second wigwam.  I’ll start them off in root trainers in February.  I also have a pot of  autumn sown sweet peas in the greenhouse which are doing well and need to be potted on soonish.  Eventually these will be planted out amongst some climbing beans on the veg patch.

Two

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Of course buying a few seeds is nigh on impossible. Another success from last year was Calendula Indian Prince and I will sow these again but I also discovered, late in the season, the wonderful Tithonia.  I saw a great cloud of tall orange flowers at a garden I visited and was smitten.  I am trying out Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.  The seed packet says height 1.2-2.5m and a flowering period of 3 months.  If I am successful it will be a bargain splash of colour.

Three

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Zinnias were my other success of last year.  I planted zinnia Lilac Rose and after nurturing them through the early days of slug attacks they put on a dazzlingly long lived display.  This packet of seeds is a mix of Benary’s Giant Lime, Benary’s Giant White and Benary’s Oklahoma Ivory.   Sorry, I can’t tell you who Benary is.  I will need to find the right spot for them as the flower height is 90-100cms, taller than last year’s zinnias which I used for edging. I’ll be finding a space for Lilac Rose as well.

Four

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Featured in an earlier six was the wildlife attack on my old sink filled with succulents.  I wasn’t sure that I really like them so the fox or squirrel did me a favour.  This year I am going to fill that sink with a cascade of nasturtiums.  I hope they will enjoy the gritty mix of compost that remained after all that furious digging.

Five

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I have also bought my seed potatoes.  May the chitting commence.  I put out a potato poll on twitter and had a lovely number of great suggestions.  I was influenced by the thumbs up for Sarpo Mira as the floury main crop choice and by the loyal support for Arran Pilot, a waxy first early.  The other two choices were Ratte, a waxy second early and Belle de Fontenay, a waxy maincrop which caught my eye at the nursery.

Six

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And just when you were thinking I hadn’t been out in the garden at all this week I bring you a clematis.  And here I stress: pottering amateur.  I had a lovely viticella which grew up into a lilac tree in the previous garden and I barely pruned it all, just pulled out the dead bits every now and then.  In this garden there is a clematis growing up a fence panel on either side an arch.  The top of the arch is dominated by a passiflora so I need the clematis to clothe the side panels.  I noticed that the clematis was already putting on new growth so I took the plunge and cut it back.  I hope the current drop in temperatures and the bitingly cold winds don’t freeze the new growth to death.

That’s the round up of my gardening week.  Take a look at what other sixers have been doing in their gardens at The Propagator where you can also read about that itch