Sunday, 26 April 2009

Drought Conditions!

It has been glorious weather, sunny and warm during the days, although the wind can be a bit chilly still. Rain was forecast for this weekend, but we haven't had any, so the water butts are completely dry. No significant rain is due for some days, so I think I will need to use the hosepipe to fill them up.
The nights haven't been bad either, with no frosts, a good job as my runners and potted up celeriac, which had been enjoying the sunshine, were left outside overnight. The greenhouse has been reaching temperatures into the 30s, but got down to 6C when I left the door open. A lucky escape for all involved, although the forecast for frost next week has now changed, so perhaps the beans will go out soon anyway. Their roots are already penetrating the cardboard tubes, and I don't want them growing into each other.
I've started passing out my celeriac seedlings, as they need potting on now. I've put 16 into 5 inch pots to grow on a bit, with the idea that I won't plant them out for another few weeks, although they will be residing outside during the day as long as the weather holds.
I desperately need to sort the greenhouse out, as the tomato plants need better staking, and I will need to reposition some. I have started feeding those that have set fruit, and they are looking pretty healthy now. I am a bit later than I intended with the courgettes and cucumbers, they are still in their packets I'm ashamed to say, although it isn't too late to get them in. Things have been a bit disorganised here what with illness in the family and all that, but I will endeavour to have them planted soon. They will not take long to germinate, although I think I will try for a more even temperature than would be available in the greenhouse at the moment.
I have lots of numex and jalapeno chillies, and a couple of peppers forming on the canape variety, but the others are proving slower to flower still. The habeneros have much larger leaves than the others, and the plants are much shorter too, something to bear in mind for overwintering. The kitchen window sill suits them fine, and I have started feeding them with tomato food too, especially as they are in relatively small pots. I transplanted the Speedy dwarf beans into a large pot in the greenhouse, they were too big for the windowsill.
In the flower garden I noticed my tree peony has 3 buds on, so I hope I will get some flowers this year. The original plant was purchased 15 years ago, and I bought bits with me when I moved, but never have had flowers since. The alpine clematis is a true picture, covered with nodding blue flowers, and the early summer flowering one, which was not pruned this year, has sent much more growth up, with buds showing already.
Unfortunately the Queen of the Night tulips have proved to be later flowering and taller than I hoped, so although they look spectacular in the pots, the white ones have virtually finished, and were much shorter too. Just goes to show you can't always go by the descriptions.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Potting shed

After years of wanting a place specially to sow seeds, pot on, and keep all my gardening stuff in order, it's finally happening. A few weeks ago my husband set up an old table for me at the far end of the garage, but it was too dark, even with the light on. Over the weekend I was saying that I was sure I had loads of pots, but they had been 'buried' under all the stuff put in front of them, so we began the big clear out. I have to say, with my neck playing up again big time at the moment, my physical input was minimal, but 3 trips to the tip later, we now have a corner by the garden door end set up with my table, and shelf units for me to arrange all my stuff on and I've even got a set of 4 electric sockets. It's great, I found the water retaining crystals I was sure I hadn't finished last year, a pair of secateurs which I knew I haven't thrown out with the prunings, as well as many other valued treasures. Unfortunately I replaced the secateurs last autumn, and bought more granules this spring, but spares are always useful.
About 10 days ago I received a surprise package from the postman, I had won a Coronet Family Apple Tree in an online competition. Unhappily it hadn't travelled well, the trunk was completely broken through, an ugly splintered break, leaving only the 2 lowest branches intact. These were Elstar, the James Grieve part, and a good proportion of Elstar were lost. Anyway I contacted the producer, and they have very kindly said they will send me out a new one of their next batch. In the meantime I have pruned the trunk to as neat a cut as possible, with the branches opposite each other it might make a reasonable looking plant. I went looking for pots today, and ended up with 3 for 2 from Wilkinsons. They are only 50cm square, but should be OK for this year. I'm going to use them for my peach tree, my broken tree, and my new one when it comes. I was told I should pot trees into John Innes No3, so I looked at B&Q, but they only had 25l bags. We ended up at Homebase looking for something else, and theirs was 50p cheaper per bag, but although there was no sign up, they went through at 3 for £10, so a good deal today.
A quick update on the chillies, I now have about 3 numex twilight set, and at least one purple jalapeno. They have got a few greenfly, which I am trying to control with washing and hand picking. Interestingly the hot lemon are worst affected, with few on the others. I wonder if they are not to the greenfly's taste?
I have been having problems with someone running through the bit of garden by the drive, and despite advice from Daniel, I haven't resorted to prickly bushes. However I did see the culprits, a couple of young boys playing with their water pistols. I politely asked them not to run over my garden as they were trampling on the plants. They did apologise, so hopefully they will remember next time they are playing there, although I don't think they are from the houses nearby.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everyone who reads this. Hopefully although it's raining today, the weather will come good for Easter Sunday and Monday. I really hope so, as I have a wet and bedraggled tent haning over my rotary washing line, excluding the light for all the plants below it! Typically in the way of teenagers, they left it until an hour before the rain started yesterday to sort it out. If it had been done first thing in the morning, the tent could have been put away by now. Never mind, rant over, now to gardening.
Well another rant this time really. On Monday my broad beans were looking good, with flower buds showing on the earlier ones. Yesterday I noticed the edges of all the leaves are notched. Looking closely, there are small weevils munching away on them. A bit of reseach revealed they are bean weevils, which eat the leaves as adults, and lay their eggs around the roots. The larvae feed on the roots, in a similar way to vine weevils. Apparently they do not attack the beans directly, phew, but can reduce the crop, depending on the amount of root damage. I was trying to shake the plants to get them to drop into a pot, and got a few, but got way more ants. Although I could not see aphids, I washed the plants down with very dilute washing up liquid solution in the hopes it might stop trouble before it starts. I must get some sticky papers and put them below the plant. Perhaps they will stick when I shake them off.
My dwarf french beans, Speedy, are doing well in the kitchen, the second set of true leaves are beginning to form, and I realised the last frost date is supposed to be the end of April here, so although there is always risk in gardening, I put 8 runner bean seeds to soak last night. I drained them this morning, and I've put them in my seed sprouter. As soon as the radical shows, I will put them in loo roll middles in the greenhouse. I am going to start some french beans too, I still have Fasold from last year, and some Cobra I bought this year, both climbers, so I will compare which does best, for taste as well as yield.
I have my first tomato set on a Tigerella plant. It is about the size of a pea, but definitely 'there'. I still haven't decided exactly how I am going to manage the tomato plants, the problem is they are too big for adoption really. There's one which has developed strangely, so I have planted that one out into a sheltered part of the garden to 'test the waters'.

The Numex Twilight in the kitchen has now had 3 flowers open, which I pollinated with a paintbrush, so hopefully these will develop into chillies.

One purple jalepeno has flowered as well, a very pretty flower in its own right, although i hope it makes a chilli. I am making sure I do not cross pollinate the plants, as I hope to save my own seeds from the chillies in the kitchen.
The flowers in the garden are looking spectacular now. The pots of daffs are beginning to finish, but the pansies around them are still going strong, and the white tulips are in full flower, although the Queen of Night are a bit slower than I would have liked.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

My kitchen windowsill!

Just a short post this morning, to say that yesterday I took pity on my chilli plants I had in 3" pots on the kitchen widowsill, and upgraded them to 5" or 6" ones.
The Numex Twilight, both the inside and the one slumming it in the greenhouse, have flower buds coming. These were the 2 that grew out of the 5 planted on 27th Dec. I also have buds in the purple jalapeno (20th Jan), and my orange bell and canape peppers (22nd Jan). The ones outside are further behind.
Thanks to Irie Jan from the Grapevine, I also have hot lemon, chocolate habenero, and a scotch bonnet, also on the kitchen windowsill. Hopefully they will be able to stay there for a bit, as I've carefully rearranged everything to fit the pots in.
This morning I've noticed the 'Speedy' dwarf french beans are just beginning to show in their pots. I don't know how quickly they will outgrow their space, but I feel a potential move to the bedroom coming on.
This afternoon, while standing admiring the garden I realised the plum tree, Jubilee, had 2 flowers actually opened. I nipped inside and got a paint brush, in case the bees hadn't realised. I then went round the tomato flowers in the greenhouse. It looks as if there might be a tiny tomato set, and loads of the others have flower buds coming, so fingers crossed for the success of the early trial.