Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 - a review

The first full year of the suburban veg plot is now complete and it seems a good time to look back on this year's harvest to review the best and worst . Some things grew more successfully than others,either in spite of or despite my best efforts.
Top marks must go to the greenhouse plants - tomatoes (3 types) and chillies (5 types). They flourished and fruited from April to October providing us with a cupboard full of green tomato chutney, an airing cupboard full of dried chillies, a freezer full of frozen ones and one or two to-die-for passatas.
Bottom of the class goes to the squash family - pumpkin, outdoor melon and butternut squash. The former didn't last as far as planting out, the second died within weeks of being carefully placed in its own raised bed and the latter went rampant with leaves but not a single female flower was to be seen. But i shall attempt them all again in 2010!
I won't be bothering with runner beans again - we got bored of them after just one harvest, but despite being left to their own devices, the plants soldiered on determinedly. I've saved some beans from them before consigning the remainder to the compost heap, but these will be only for giving away if I can find a willing recipient.
Already my fingers are itching to get out there sowing and I can almost hear the new seed packets clamouring to be released from within their dark cupboard home. I'll ignore them for as long as I can...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The best laid plans...

Plan A this week was to fly to Amsterdam for a pre-Christmas break. Amsterdam is so lovely in the winter - twinkly lights over canal bridges and cosy cafes serving hot chocolate and spiced biscuits. But Jack Frost put paid to that plan on Friday by closing Luton Airport. So Plan B was to sow overwintering peas - Feltham First - which I received as part of a seed swap in November. It didn't take long to realise that 5 inches of snow on the raised beds isn't conducive to seed sowing. We then considered making leek and potato soup to cheer ourselves up before concluding that we'd need a flamethrower to get a leek out of the ground. So I then consoled myself by organising my seed box into chronological order of sowing times. And that all starts in a few weeks' time!

Now that the house work is all but finished, I've realised that a secondary advantage of the underfloor heating in the kitchen is that I now have the world's biggest heated propagator. Come January I'll be lining up my seed trays on the floor to give those tomatoes a head start. We've made a start on this years' green tomato chutney so will definitely be needing to replenish that come the autumn.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

winter prep

I'm finding that winter gardening is not so much about growing than about preparation for the upcoming season. My weekend potter around the garden is predominantly about checking on the small selection of crops in the ground - leeks, overwintering onions, garlic and broad beans - before tidying pots, cleaning tools and planning the veg plot for 2010. The leeks are really coming on well now and we're harvesting them regularly for heart-warming leek and potato soup, or griddled leeks with cheese sauce. Mmmmmm...
I'm also experimenting with sweet peas - again. I've not actually managed to grow these from seed yet. My mum donated first a whole pot of them (which are now residing in a border and grew well this summer) and now a bag full of saved seeds. I'm trying the loo roll method of sowing them, which has worked well for me with broad beans and peas - and also threw a handful of them in the border vacated when I pulled up the runner bean plants. I'll let you know what happens with all that in the springtime.
I need to find the time to give the greenhouse a good clean out sometime before Christmas - it's recommended to fully clean down the inside to get rid of any diseased leaves or lurking insects so as to reduce the risk of harbouring anything nasty for next year.
My seed box overfloweth and I really think my plans for next year exceed the space I have available, but only time will tell..

Monday, November 9, 2009

planting in the dark

What a difference an hour makes! Since the clocks went back, I can't believe how dark it is so early. Though it does mean that the mornings are light enough to allow me, before I set off to work, to empty the previous night's food scraps onto the compost heap with a fair idea of where I'm throwing it. But it has seriously curtailed any post-work gardening - unless Santa gives me a head torch for Christmas...
However, I've managed to finish planting out all the overwintering garlic cloves and onion sets - very important if you want to get a head start on the spring planting and get a slightly earlier July harvest.
So the final roll call is 60 Senshyu Yellow and 50 Radar sets - neither of which I have grown before; and 32 Solent Wight cloves (ditto previous aside) and 18 Purple Moldovan cloves - these are from my 2009 harvest which is still lasting well.
I got into a bit of a panic the other week upon reading a veggie gardening forum where it seemed that I was the only person left who had yet to plant any broad beans seeds for overwintering - Aquadulce Claudia being one of the most recommended for this purpose as the small plants are hardy enough to stand through the winter months and then spring into life again as the soil warms up. So out I ran to the suburban veg plot and hastily sowed 4 or 5 short rows and covered them in holly cuttings to keep those pesky critters off. The following
week or so was still unseasonably not frosty and so the plants have shot up even faster than they did last year - hopefully they won't get too tall before the winter winds start up.
The Boltardy beetroot are all harvested as of this weekend - their growth seemed to have stalled with the loss of any real sunshine, so I figured they were best pulled up and turned into something lovely and comforting (soup perhaps?). So the suburban veg plot is looking much sparser now with only 2 sections of leeks to show for this years' work.
But there is plenty going on behind the scenes - planning the veg plot planting scheme for 2010. Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Suburban veg plot you are not forgotten

Oh, how the weeks fly by when you have a full time job and a house to unpack/finish/furnish and a wedding to start to plan. The cliche of 'I don't know where the months go' is certainly appropriate right now. I've managed to keep on top of the garden task (just about), so I've dug in well rotted manure to three of 6 raised beds and even planted Senshyu Yellow onion sets and Purple Moldovan garlic cloves but I just haven't found the time to take any picces or report back...

The plot needs a good tidy as well - there are random plant pots lying around alongside discarded twine and canes. The tomato plants were cleared from the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago and the last of the extremely unsuccessful sweetcorn was pulled up for the the compost heap.

The upside is that the Boltardy beetroots are thriving on their near-neglect, so I've been having lots of lovely goats' cheese and beetroot salad lunches, and the winter leeks (2 varieties, the names of which escape me right now) seem to be growing well.

Backing up in a queue waiting for my attention are Radar onion sets, garlic cloves from the Isle of Wight, and mixed tulip bulbs from Amsterdam (not exactly veg, but they're the only flowers I get excited about). I did sow some kale, savoy cabbage and spring cabbage to plant out but again, my attention and time was elsewhere and I think they've either been eaten by the slugs or just gone on strike due to lack of attention.

So, this is my solemn promise to the Suburban Veg Plot and to the blog - I promise to attend to the veg plot more frequently than once every two weeks and also I will update this blog on at least a fortnightly basis - notwithstanding any furniture purchases or wedding preparations...

And just one last thing - a thank you to whoever invented wireless internet access - I'm posting this from the Concorde lounge at Terminal 5 awaiting a flight to Chicago. Be good y'all!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AWOL on the plot

Okay, okay, I know I said I would post more often - but when you're moving house, things such a blog do tend to take a back seat. So, we finally moved into our house and are slowly getting through the dust left behind by the various tradesmen. A few last light fittings and radiators plus the installation of the ensuite shower and we'll be done.
Anyway, back to the suburban veg plot. Things have been rocketing along despite the variable weather. Thank heavens for the greenhouse - a veritable array of chili peppers have been fruiting and ripening: from purple jalepeno to scotch bonnet, from hanoi red to peruvian chinense. Every stir fry is a party on the tongue!

The onions have all been harvested now - the best results came from the Senshu variety - but I got nothing from the Swift or Red Barons. We got bored of eating runner beans after the first harvest - I don't think I'll bother with any next year. I have some soya beans to try instead.
And at long last I have managed to grow beetroot! Last year ended in very few seed germinating and those that did were eaten by those nasty molluscs so I'm very excited. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it yet, but that's what internet recipe sites are for!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

potato harvest!

This weekend seemed a good time to harvest the first of the potatoes. These are Mimi and Anya, both planted back in March. Now I've read in gardening books about the various ways of identifying when it's time to harvest your potatoes but found that none of them were of use to me:

1) after they've flowered and the haulms (shoots and leaves to you and me) have died down - these potato varieties don't flower
2) for earlies, harvest 37 weeks after planting - I can't quite recall exactly when I planted them (I promise to write this on a calendar next year...)
3) have a 'furtle' in the soil and see if you find any - I planted all my potatoes in bags, so have limited furtle space
So, I've decided to add my own suggestion to this list:
4) when virtually all the haulms have been eaten by slugs or snails and you fear your potatoes are next on the menu.

But my fears were unfounded when we discovered a respectable harvest in both sacks, certainly much better than last year.

And the suburban veg plot have been yielding many other harvests recently: onions, runner beans, carrots, chillis and garlic but the most surprising was a parsnip that grew from seed I sowed in 2008... The leaves started to get really big after a couple of months so I pulled it up to reveal a root the size and shape of a cricket ball with lots of long thin roots growing in all directions.

I'm already planning the winter veg plot - I have 2 varieties of leeks in the ground and have started to sow savoy cabbage and kale seeds for transplanting in September. I also hope to time a new planting of potatoes so that I get a Christmas day harvest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

love is like a heatwave...

as Martha and the Vandellas sang... and it's certainly that this week - the greenhouse crops are fruiting up nicely: scotch bonnets, purple jalepenos, hanoi red, Roma, Moneymaker, Yellow Pear - all very bountiful and hopefully colourful.
The house building/construction/development is going well and now that the new patio is laid, I've been furnishing it in the plant department. Some people would say I'm getting ahead of myself seeing as we haven't actually moved in yet but I'm desperate to get everything looking lovely for the remainder of the summer. I'm very pleased with my hanging basket of gartenperle toms and nasturtiums - particularly with the solar-powered rotator device...

In fact almost as pleased as with my engagement ring (my gorgeous boyfriend has attained a new status in the middle of this heatwave)... And somewhere in between Farrah Fawcett and Jacko...a night to remember indeed...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

tomatoes are a setting

I have 6 varieties of tomatoes growing this year. Which, as I don't actually like the taste of tomatoes, could be seen as rather an odd thing to grow. However, my gorgeous boyfriend likes them and I can eat them if they're cooked down to a rich sauce or made up into green tomato chutney, and I do seem to find they grow very well for me.

I'm growing Moneymaker again this year and then for the first time Roma, Yellow Pear, Gartenperle (in a hanging basket with nasturtiums), Gardener's Delight (from a swap with a friend) and a couple of Tomato 'Tomazing' obtained as plug plants from a newspaper offer.

I guess I'll be giving quite a lot of these away or serving them up when friends come for dinner. From January sowings, I already have small tomatoes on the Roma, Yellow Pear, Gartenperle and Moneymaker plants, so hopefully the first harvest is not too far away. The photo here is from the Gartenperle plant.

And in the meantime, I still have radishes, broad beans and spring cabbages to keep me going.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Make do and mend...the suburban veg plot way

Spent an hour constructing an insect-proof mesh mini tunnel for my purple sprouting broccoli - and though I say so myself, I think it's pretty good.
If Alan the plumber is reading this, then yes, you do recognise the grey piping used for the hoops... I am finding garden uses for a lot of items and materials left lying around our building site of a house. The obvious one was reusing old guttering for pea sowing, but I've also got roof tiles and house bricks for garden paths and I'm determined to make a fixed mesh frame out of unused stair ballustrades.

The broad beans are swelling well now - there are a few small blackfly infestations on a couple of the plants, but the ladybird army has arrived so they should make short work of them.
I'm still sowing sweetcorn which I'm then planting out in my courgette patch. I've been assured that the sweetcorn plants will shoot up quickly before the courgettes spread too much. I seem to be trying to cram so much into the raised beds this year - so this sounded like a good way of managing this.

I'm noticing more wildlife in the garden now that the sun is out more often. Lots of hoverflies and bees (all good news) and also some more exotic looking species.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Keeping it in the family

Went on a visit to Derbyshire to see my parents for bank holiday weekend - thus no piccies from my garden. I did take a few photos in their garden - what would be termed 'mature' having been tended (mainly by my mum, I think it would be honest to say) for the past 33 years.
Here's a pic from a clump of ginormous poppies (I've been promised a seed head when they die down). Is it just me or do they look like tissue paper?

And here's a pic of my dad's potatoes - being grown in a Victorian chimney pot, which is a fab and very 'garden chic' idea!

Anyway, we'll be in the garden this coming weekend - hopefully harvesting broad beans and more purple mange tout - and checking on the courgettes, pumkins and butternut squash plants now they're at the mercy of the elements.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spring has sprung

During only an hour in my suburban veg plot this evening, I could see dramatic changes in so many of the plants. The Lancashire lad purple podded peas have started to produce little purpley-green mange tout, so I harvested some for my stir fry. Yum.
The spring cabbages are getting quite out of hand now. They started off as 20 plants in a metre square bed (over-planting? moi?); and after losing a couple in early winter, about 15 went on to grown-up cabbage life. I've pulled up 4-5 recently but i don't seem to be making very much headway into clearing the bed. I planted one of my outdoor melons at one end of that bed last week - so far it looks fine and after removing 2 more cabbages this evening, the melon looks like it has a bit more space and access to more sunlight than previously. Anyone know if I can put another melon in there later, or is one plenty for the space?
I harvested more radishes - this time I want to try eating them the French way - apparently with butter and salt... I'll let you  know what that's like.
Collected a couple of tomato plants (both red and yellow cherry) and two courgette plants (round yellow and long green) to give to a friend at work tomorrow - in exchange for a decent bottle of red wine. I've found homes for all of my spares this year - I hate throwing any living plant away, even if it is onto the compost heap.
The overwintered broad beans are getting plumper now - I guess another week or so before harvesting? I can't believe how easy these plants have been to grow. Definitely doing these again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Now we're motoring...

A busy Sunday was had in the suburban veg plot. More spring cabbage was harvested - I think they're starting to go to seed so we may be eating cabbage rather a lot over the next few weeks. A few more radishes were uprooted and new seed sown in their place.
Excitement abound as the purple podded peas (Lancashire Lad) are seen to have shot up to 6 foot and are now in flower - in beautiful colours! So hopefully the cabbage dinners will shortly be making way for purple mange tout.
I've been hardening off plants over the last few weeks so took the plunge and planted out 2 summer purple sprouting broccoli, a Floridor courgette and an outdoor melon. With a few pieces of strategically placed fleece and one or two plastic bottle cloches in place everything should be fine if the overnight temps suddenly drop again. I've still got Defender courgettes, butternut squash and pumpkin in the greenhouse in large pots, so they'll make the transition to outdoors over the next week or so. At that stage I'll actually be able to move around in my little greenhouse and reach the tomato plants rather than flinging water in their general direction.
The flowering broad beans (Aquadulce) are now waving little baby pods around and the spring-sown broadies (Express) are already showing their first leaves in the same plot as the peas.
I have learned a new way of dealing with slugs - my preferred method thus far has been to scoop them up on a trowel and then catapult them at speed towards the laurel hedge at the bottom of the garden. Although it gave me great satisfaction to hear the little muffled thud as they hit the tree trunks, it was pointed out to me that given that they're made mainly of muscle, they were probably getting off with a bit of a headache before heading back towards my raised beds for another snack. So, with the aid of an upturned flower bucket, I'm now laying them out as fast as I find them as a snack for our friendly garden blackbird - who seems very pleased with the general arrangement.

Potato update 2009: The first bags of Mimi and Anya are almost filled up with soil with plenty of potato foliage (haulms, so I'm told) on top. Looking forward to the harvest in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

fun in the sun

Photos a go-go! After spending 3 hours in the garden this Sunday (wasn't the weather fabulous!?) I took a veritable plethora of photos of the flourishing, blossoming and flowering that's going on in my veg plot.
The overwintering broad beans are now reaching 60cm and are flowering well. Being my first year growing broad beans, I hadn't before realised how pretty the flowers are. Despite the reported decline in bee numbers, my veg garden seems to have more than its fair share.
We're harvesting spring cabbages on a regular basis now. Again, my first attempt: I don't think I bedded them in firmly enough (I know now that they need treading properly), so they haven't formed the tight heads I was expecting. However, the leaves might be looser than they should be, but they're very tasty served up stir-fried with chili, garlic and ginger.
Ambassador peas are poking their heads above the ground now - I'm sowing a new row every 2-3 weeks.
The Saxa radishes are swelling nicely and should be ready for harvesting any day - they look so cute and shiny red in the sun!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

busy, busy...

The building work and accompanying design choices seems to be taking all of my time at the moment. I have been sowing seeds - which are germinating well in the propogator before being promoted to the windowsill and finally being moved to the greenhouse. But I just haven't taken many pics.

Here's my blackcurrant bush in the meantime...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

British Summer Time

I just cannot believe it's already April!! My garden blog has been less frequent than I intended during March, but I hope to remedy that through spring and summer.
The Mimi and Anya potatoes are doing well in their gro-sacks. I moved them out of the greenhouse today as the outside temperatures are improving week by week. I've already started earthing them up, so I'm hopeful of getting to harvest them in May/June. I'll be planting more potatoes over the next month, so we should have a plentiful (and hopefully continual) supply over the summer and autumn.
Most of the veg in the raised beds (purple podded peas, onions, broad beans and garlic) are doing amazingly in the recent good weather. The cabbages are now vying for space with each other, so we've started taking a few as spring greens to give the others more growing space.
We have a bit of a leek surprise...last year's leeks took absolutely ages to germinate, got to the size of chives and then stopped growing. Not even big enough for baby leeks. Anyway, I left them in place as there were only 7 of them. They survived through the winter, through the snow and frosts in Jan & Feb and then, very unexpectedly, started growing last month. They're now growing well; a couple of them are already past 'spring onion size' and are heading towards proper leek size. Very weird - given that they'll have taken 16 months to grow by the time we get to harvest time, I'm really curious as to whether they'll taste good... Well, I've got some new ones on the go in a pot just in case.
The chantanay carrots have germinated in a bucket in the greenhouse!!! Yay!! They're already more successful than last year's attempt.
Pumpkin, melon, butternut squash and nasturtium seeds have all germinated and grown like the clappers - these have all been potted on now and all look to be quite strong growers.
My veg plot, as the name would suggest, focuses on veggies. But I do have a small blackcurrant bush acquired last year. I planted it and then didn't do much with it, if I'm honest. Who knows if it will bear fruit this summer?? It does seem to look happy and there are some leaves starting to unfurl. I need to consult my trusty copy of Alan Titchmarsh...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

rhubarb, rhubarb

Despite having to pick my way over timber, piles of roof tiles, steel girders and bricks to get to my veg plot, I can see that the garden is already starting to produce a harvest. In the last 3 weeks the rhubarb patch has been busy under the cover of a dustbin and our first harvest of forced rhubarb stems has been an absolute delight. Rhubarb sponge pud was the first dish to be created using this very early crop and I'm looking forward to experimenting with more as the weeks go on.
The tomato plants are all upto about 7 inches tall and now permanently stationed in the greenhouse. In mid spring, the ones I need to keep will go into various grow-bags or hanging baskets and the remainder will be offered to friends and fellow gardeners. I have 5 new chili varieties on the go - not sure where they're all going to go actually...
Most recent seeds sown are Outdoor Wonder melons, Butternut squash, self-saved pumpkins and nasturtiums. They're all awaiting germination in the unheated propagator indoors.

2nd potato update of 2009: Mimi and Anya seed potatoes planted up last week in potato sack in the greenhouse. Hoping this year's attempts will yield a much better crop than last year. Wouldn't be difficult...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

bulb surprise

Not a lot to report at the moment - been away skiing, so garden activity has been nil. But I did take some pictures of some spring flowers peeking through. Having only had this garden since last April, this is the first we've seen of the spring bulbs that have been hiding beneath the lawn and borders all year.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Give peas a chance

The change of weather in the last few weeks has been remarkable. The big freeze gave way to flooding roads in Herts and Essex but now there's no sign of either. A new burst of growth has sprung forth thanks to the milder days and nights - you can almost taste the spring in the air. The vibrant red of the forced rhubarb is startling against the drab brown earth; the bright green shoots of the garlic seemingly appearing from nowhere. 
We're shortly to have building work starting on the house, which necessitates the relocation of 2 huge water butts. Since they will not be re-connected to downpipes until early summer (and we're predicted a bit of a hot one this year), I've been getting very nervous about the prospect of having no water available for the plot. So, we spent what seemed like hours transferring water, one bucket or watering can at a time, from one butt to another. Gradually emptying one, then moving it up the garden and refilling it...and repeated this with a second. I'm sure our neighbours think we're mad - it must have looked like some kind of back yard 'It's A Knockout!'.
But back to the veg report: broad beans approx 3-6 inches high - some kind of support will be needed soon; the garlic is going great - 11 of 12 cloves planted are racing ahead; and the weather was so good that I was able to plant out the purple podded pea seedlings. These have been seeing out the last few weeks in the greenhouse swaddled in bubble wrap. And they look great on it!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The white stuff

Wow - I will never doubt a weather forecast again. Snow - lots of it - landed on my veg plot on Sunday night. I wasn't around during the week, so could only worry from a distance about what was happening to my broad beans and spring cabbages. I spent a good half an hour this morning checking out the situation and excavating the veg from beneath their snow blankets. They look a bit squashed but not too bad. They're so tough! The sun came out just as I took a photo of the garden scene - broad beans in the foreground beneath the fleece, cabbages behind them. Let's hope this weather doesn't continue - I want to get out there planting things!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February flurries?

A couple of hours of work in the garden saw the last raised bed filled with top soil and rotted manure. We added 3 new beds in December to double our growing area from last year. The bean trench has been dug (after finally deciding to grow the runner beans up an existing sturdy trellis rather than battle to put up temporary cane supports again) and is now part-filled with kitchen waste.
So, everything is ready for plants to go in the ground now - but obviously that still won't be for a couple of months yet. 1st May is the projected last frost date so I'll have to bide my time until then. The seedlings are keeping me occupied in the interim - the photo here is of a summer purple sprouting broccoli seedling about 2 weeks old. They're currently living happily on my windowsill.
The scotch bonnet chillis are showing tiny tiny little signs of germination and I've sown some yellow pear tomato - they look so cute on the seed packet picture!
So now it's time to sit back and wait for the forecast Russian snow blizzards to arrive. It's certainly cold out there and there are a few snowflakes floating around, but no real sign yet of a full-on snowfall.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seeds and seedlings

The rain this weekend did nothing to tempt me into working in the garden. I ventured out as long as it took to do a quick weed tidy of the cabbage plot and harvest a couple for spring greens, but then scuttled back indoors to the warmth. I used the opportunity to have a long-overdue sort out of my seed box. How on earth have I managed to accumulate so many packets of seeds when I've been gardening for barely a year? I definitely didn't buy them all - lots came free with gardening magazines. I'm sure I won't use them all - there's only so much coriander leaf a girl can eat.

The seedlings are coming on well: a couple of lancashire lad peas and aquadulce claudia broad beans will go out under cloches shortly after hardening off, the moneymaker and gartenperle tomatoes are starting to show secondary leaves and I followed them up with sowing a couple of roma tomato seeds (plum toms for cooking apparently) and some scotch bonnet chili seeds obtained in a postal seed swap. Latest on order: floridor courgette seeds (little round yellow ones!)

1st potato update of 2009: currently chitting Mimi and Anya seed potatoes on the bedroom windowsill (rapidly running out of space!). I'll start these off in potato grow sacks in the greenhouse next month.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wind and water

Having survived the frost of early January, my veg plot has now been buffeted by winds and rain from this weekend's gales but came through virtually unscathed. Come Sunday morning the only casualty seemed to be a water butt lid that had been thrown around the patio. We decided that it was finally time to set up the new butt to collect rainwater from the greenhouse guttering. I'm not sure how long this one will take to fill compared to the two connected to main drainpipes on the house, but every little helps given the predictions that the summer of 2009 will be a scorcher!
Some more seeds were sown (lancashire lad peas, aquadulce claudia broad beans, rosemary, moneymaker and gartenperle tomatoes), some seedling pricked out into larger pots (purple sprouting broccoli) and all of these are sitting happily in an unheated propagator. Mid-morning, the sun put in an appearance whilst I was weeding the cabbages and made me forget all about the wintry weather.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Plot preparation

The very beginning of the growing year seems an odd time. This is my first January with a veg plot so each season reveals something new - and I'm loving the discovery. And my first discovery of 2009 is how much growing there actually is going on - even despite the below freezing temperatures of late. My fears for the spring cabbages were unfounded after all - they seem to have shaken off the worst of the freezing conditions and are looking happy in their little bed.
After weeks of searching I finally managed to locate a source of manure - from a local riding stables. And it's free! So, I found a small space near the compost heap and have begun to build up a manure pile which should be rotted down enough to be used in the summer. My veggies are going to love it!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Welcome to 2009

A frosty morning awaited my first garden visit since before Christmas. My broad bean plants were looking less than perky but they are under horticultural fleece so I'm hoping that they'll be okay. The spring cabbages seemed okay but as the weather forecast this coming week could be as low as -3C overnight, I covered them in fleece also. Belt and braces, as my granddad used to say... Despite the weather, the onions (4 different varieties, including 1 red) seem fine with the frost and their green shoots are still growing strongly.
My inherited rhubarb patch is already  showing signs of new growth. It seems only last week that we pulled the last stalks! I've decided that 2009 is to be a year of garden experiments, so I've upturned a plastic dustbin over the patch to try out forced stems.