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!