Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Baby Hedgehog

Although I've been off school for the whole month, I just haven't got around to posting as there's been so much going on. However today, around 7pm, there was a small hedgehog in our garden, trotting down the path. The cats were a bit perturbed, but didn't try to attack, He/she left quite quickly, but I'm hoping we might be on the food trail now, especially with the number of slugs around at the moment.
A week or so ago we went up to Yorkshire to take Matt to his student house, and took the opportunity to stay over and look around a bit. Unfortunately it was very wet, but we did manage to go to Harlow Carr, the RHS garden. It was interesting to see what they had done in their veg bed, there was a lot of companion planting, although slug damage was plentiful. Due to the weather we could not make the most of the opportunity!
We also visited Wisley in Surrey yesterday. Being a member I have been to this garden a number of times, but it is always interesting to see what they are improving and replanting. I bought some bulbs, and a number of house leeks to plant along the gravel edge near the garage. The glasshouse is looking very established now, and despite the negative comments I heard about the artificial rock, I think now the plants are growing, that it looks very good. There were some amazing plantings of red begonias to mark the shape of chinese dragons to commemorate the Olympics, and the formal pond contained a number of lovely water lilies in bloom. I always think it a shame to see the veg unpicked in the veg plts there. Some I am sure, is used, but there always seems to be stuff past it's best left in the plots.
In my garden, the courgettes are suffering from powdery mildew, and have stopped producing at the moment. The 2 new plants are coming on, and should be fruiting in a couple of weeks. The runner beans are still going strong, I have frozen more packs for the winter. Tomatoes and cucumbers are still plentiful, and I still have beetroot to pull. I have also been picking the homegrown blackberries and a few last straggling blueberries. The grapes are doing well, but won't be ready for at least another month. I am now thinking about what needs to be done for next year. Lack of space is so frustrating!

Friday, 1 August 2008

August Already!

Time has flown by since my last post. I have been off for a week now, it's been very hot and we've had a couple of thunderstorms. These have filled up the water butts, but I do need quite a lot now that everything is producing.
The runner beans have been doing very well, but the climbing french ones have tailed off over the last week. Next year I will have them on seperate wigwams, as I think the french have been overwhelmed by the runners. Still, I've frozen several packs of each one, so hopefully these will be a nice change in the winter. I blanched them, as this kills bacteria and lengthens the freezer life.
The courgettes are still prolific, but some of the older leaves have powdery mildew. I've been cutting these off, which doesn't seem to have affected the plants. I am keeping them fed and watered, especially as they are in pots. Today I have just potted up my follow on plants. Only 2 made it, due to slug attack. There seems to be quite a few in the greenhouse!
In the greenhouse the cucumbers are going mad, I picked 8 the other day, and another 6 yesterday. I do pick them when they are still quite slim as this keeps the plants producing, and the flavour is better. I am picking tomatoes from both the Tigrella and the Sunburst plants, but the Tigrella are definitely more advanced. I am feeding at least weekly, and have removed some of the lower leaves to let the air circulate.
The blackberries on the garden are ripening well, I'm going to pick some to eat fresh tomorrow. I have been out and picked some wild ones, they make ice cream to die for! I obtained an ice cream maker from Freecycle last year, it's small, but I don't use it often enough to warrent getting a new one. I stew the blackberries without water or sugar, and pass them through a sieve to get rid of the pips. The fruit pulp is then sweetened to taste, well a bit more than that , because the cold dulls the flavour, so it needs to be quite sweet really. Then I just add cream, chill and make into ice cream. One batch did us 5 small servings, but it's a luxury product, so you don't need (get) much!
The grape vine is going mad, I seem to be out there every day cutting back the shoots, but the grapes are doing well. I wondered if I'd left too many, but they are a small variety, so I think they are on track. They won't be ripe enough to eat until the end of September.
I've now harvested my red onions, some are very small, but I have a few decent sized bulbs. As I wanted them for use in salads, the size is not so crucial, I can just use a couple at a time. I have some more coming on from a later sowing. I think I will leave these in the seed trays to form small sets, and then plant next year to see if I get bigger bulbs. I did that one year and it worked, so fingers crossed.
On the flower front, some of the carnations are now in flower, I did wonder if I'd get any this year! They are quite small, not much bigger than pinks, but very pretty. I let the pot marigolds get ahead of me, I didn't dead head them enough, so most of them have stopped flowering and set seed. I should get a number of self sown ones next year though, perhaps enough to try out the hand cream recipe!
The roses keep sending out new blooms, I have been keeping them deadheaded, and the summer flowering clematis is looking good. One of my 'large double' fuschias appears to be Mrs Popple, or a simaliar variety, a single, red and purple flower. It is covered with blooms, and looks very good, but what with white instead of purple petunias, and some plants dying off on me anyway, I am going to stick to my resolve not to buy plants by mail order next year, as these were from a reputable mail order company!
I have a pot containing a dahlia, a sweet pea and a fushia, all are doing well, I've had loads of flowers on the sweet pea, again essential to deadhead to keep it going. There is a little mildew on the leaves, but I'll leave it unless the flowers stop. They have a lovely scent.
Every time I go to sit in the garden, I see something else to do!