My summer garden – an update

This summer so far has been a bit of a funny one – I’m quite sure last year we’d had a good long spell of scorching weather, and I’m sure my tomatoes were much further on than they are this year. I’m praying for a late bit of warmth – extend the season into September. Greenhouse growing isn’t maybe going so well… my tomatoes and cucumbers are doing very well at, ah, growing tall and shooting out lots of leaves; not so well on the setting fruit side of things.

An experiment I did this year involved something I found on Pinterest… growing an avocado bush! Bush? Tree? Plant? It started with the core of an avocado, suspended via cocktail sticks over a glass of water, until it showed a root. I then potted it out and left it in the greenhouse where it would hopefully be warm enough for it. And…voila! An avocado shoot! Pretty impressed.

IMG_6764

Another experiment, or maybe aim should I say, of this year was to achieve what I failed to do last year. If you read my last post (see it here) you might have been surprised (as the feedback I got suggested from a few people!) to read about my success… in growing a cauliflower. Just the one! But check it out:

IMG_6759
I spy with my little eye…?

IMG_6760Obviously I failed a little with the zoom capacity on my camera here. But there’s my cauli, about ready to eat! Any suggestions on how to serve him and do him justice?

I seem to be doing well with my brassicas this year! Here’s a humongous Savoy cabbage:

IMG_6761Doesn’t quite look like the store-bought variety but I bet he tastes grand. I’ve already had two of my greyhound cabbages – they are delish! Here’s a third one: 

IMG_6769

I’ve been serving them up a variety of ways: in summer coleslaws (obvs), or fried cabbage and bacon, and yesterday I gently pan-fried some with some grated courgette to accompany my lamb chops I had for tea!

So my garden is going OK outside. Some of my carrots have bolted, maybe because of the confusing weather. Looks like we might have some home-grown potatoes soon!

So all in all, fairly pleased.

How is your garden growing? Are you having better luck with tomatoes than I am?! If you have any pro tips, let me know!

Thanks!

Katy x

 

Advertisements

My Apple Trees

For my birthday last year I got two apple trees (I think you might be able to see it here), a Katy (obviously!) and a Bramley. This year the Bramley has had an infestation of aphids – and they’re proper making my skin crawl. I’ve dosed the tree with soap and water and will see what it’s like tomorrow.

My Katy tree however appears to be unscathed! Possibly Katys aren’t very tasty. I don’t know. But while messing around with my camera I found some cool pictures showing a nice development of the tree:

IMG_6107 IMG_6104IMG_6448IMG_6449IMG_6450IMG_6621I’m gonna have some Katy apples! I’m very excited – even though I’m not entirely sure how tasty they will be. Katy apples are best known for making cider. Hmmm.

But we’ll see!

Until next time.

Katy x

An Update from My Garden

It’s been a quiet few weeks; sorry about that! I’ve not been very well – I had an awful cold and mega headaches, and even the thought of looking at a computer screen was enough to send me off to bed!

This weekend I’ve been in my garden a lot! April is past the midway point now so things are definitely coming on. My best friend Amy came to help on Saturday: I was meant to be passing on my wisdom but it was more about sharing the work!

We build my salad planter (see picture below), filled it with compost and planted out the spinach and mixed leaves from the greenhouse, dug in the shredded paper from my Minimalist Challenge into the second bed to retain water, repotted the squashes and pumpkins that were poking the roots out, and the courgettes too; we then sowed four different carrots (Harlequin, Red Samurai, Baby carrots and Chanteray), parsnips and salsify in that bed; we planted out the rest of my potatoes, and finally we sowed my Rosella tomatoes! Amy went away with a little courgette and some spinach in pots.

Sunday I sowed All Year Round lettuce, after discovering that Dad can’t stand mixed leave salads (apparently they’re “the weeds that grow at the side of the road”), and the pak choi from the greenhouse into the planter. I then weeded my caulis and cabbages, and sowed some fresh cabbage and broccoli for later in the year. In the papered bed I also sowed some turnips and shallots.

It’s been a busy weekend! I managed a little time with my camera.

Bought from Yorkshire Trading, this is to be my salad planter. I have spinach (back right), mixed leaves (front right), and have now sown All Year Round lettuce (front left) and Pak Choi (rear left).
Bought from Yorkshire Trading, this is to be my salad planter. I have spinach (back right), mixed leaves (front right), and have now sown All Year Round lettuce (front left) and Pak Choi (rear left).
Rosella Tomatoes (for all I keep calling them "Roselia" like the Pokemon!), these are to be dark red cherry tomatoes.
Rosella Tomatoes (for all I keep calling them “Roselia” like the Pokemon!), these are to be dark red cherry tomatoes.
Look at these bad boys! These are my courgettes (black beauty) and with the lovely warm weather we've had they've come on greatly.
Look at these bad boys! These are my courgettes (black beauty) and with the lovely warm weather we’ve had they’ve come on greatly.
These are my Dutch tomatoes (cherries) at the far back, with some Ailsa Craig tomatoes in the fore. There are some peppers hidden somewhere in between if you can see! These have been inside for about a month, and I've brought them into the greenhouse.
These are my Dutch tomatoes (cherries) at the far back, with some Ailsa Craig tomatoes in the fore. There are some peppers hidden somewhere in between if you can see! These have been inside for about a month, and I’ve brought them into the greenhouse.
Here you can see my cucumbers! 5 for 5! So pleased. There are courgettes as well round the edges, but I'm very pleased with my cucumbers! Fingers crossed I can keep them going.
Here you can see my cucumbers! 5 for 5! So pleased. There are courgettes as well round the edges, but I’m very pleased with my cucumbers! Fingers crossed I can keep them going.
Beans! Look at the size of them! These are runners down the middle, mangetout towards the left, which are lovely and flouncy, and on the right edge, dwarf beans.
Beans! Look at the size of them! These are runners down the middle, mangetout towards the left, which are lovely and flouncy, and on the right edge, dwarf beans.
Mange-touty! Last year I grew mangetout from store-bought plants, but I've started these from seed and they look pretty darn good!
Mange-touty! Last year I grew mangetout from store-bought plants, but I’ve started these from seed and they look pretty darn good!

 

A Mysterious Order…

Hello gardening and blogging friends!

I received a mysterious parcel the other day. It was a cardboard box and this is what it looked like:

Live plants?! Whatever could be in here...?
Live plants?! Whatever could be in here…?

How mysterious!

I quickly tore into the box to reveal:

POTATOES!
POTATOES!

These are my extra earlies, from DT Brown. They are called Casablanca and there’s about thirty of them in here! I got a big box, lined it with lots of shredded paper (utilising my shredder, which is my favourite gadget at the moment, shredding all my documents from uni), and put them in that, and put the box in the shower room, where it’s cool but dry and light (as no one uses the shower in there, and it’s basically now turned into a potato chitting factory and is the place where my riding hat languishes, unused and unloved).

Now a few weeks later, they’re chitting away, so I shall have to think about getting some soil and getting ’em planted out.

Top tip! Ideal soil for potatoes to be grown in containers or potato sacks – mole hills! Mr Mole has kindly done a lot of the work for you: mole hills are good loamy soil. Just make sure a well-intentioned dog-walker hasn’t used said mole hill as a clever hiding place for a doggy bag! We have lots of hills on our fields that the dog walkers *shouldn’t* get to, so I might get the quad and trailer out, and go get a load of soil. That’ll possibly be next weekend’s job.

Happy gardening!

Katy x

Other Exciting Things This Month…

OK maybe not exciting if you get your kicks outside of the garden. I live a fairly quiet life (I’m always working, working, working) so my excitement levels definitely peak if I dig something up out of one of my beds and it’s got something it’s supposed to have at the end of it! I.e. not a maggot-infested root, which is definitely soul-destroying.

Recently I’ve discovered I can actually grow carrots! The soil in the beds is sandy and free-draining, which is meant to be good for carrots, however it is unfortunately stony, and I’ve heard from innumerable sources that when a carrot hits a stone, it splits into a fork and grows around it, hence why many people end up with carrots which look like they could act out various forms of the karma sutra.

I was fully expecting all sorts of ‘obscene’ shapes, but we pulled up some very straight looking baby carrots! I’m ever so pleased, and ever so proud. They’re only little, but I had some for lunch today and they were excellent, if I do say so myself!

IMG_1760Granted, the red mat sort of takes away their orangeness, as they are quite vibrant, but I am definitely pleased as punch. I’ve pulled up a few more, but there are plenty left in the bed, so we should have a steady supply of good straight carrots!

I also pulled up a load of beetroot. Now I realise that I have planted the beets far too close together, and so have been gradually thinning them out. I also discovered that I had a few plants that didn’t have the characteristic red and green foliage: they were mainly pale green, and kind of looked a bit like celery. Well, Mamma and I pulled some up – look what we found!

IMG_1756So we have some normal red beetroots, fine and dandy, and even that white on in the middle looks just like an albino beet, and fairly normal. But that dude, second from left! He looks like a monster, like Chthulu or Davey Jones! His roots have gone mental. We argued about what they could be for a while – white beetroot, celeriac, kohl rabi – but I think they are just a couple of white beet seeds that got in the packet.

I do love things like this – nothing’s ever the same!

 

 

The Raised Bed Diaries #12 – Out of Control Spinach

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted so I now have a backlog of drafts and photos to plough through! I seem to be doing them on a crop rotation at the moment, so today’s Veg in the Spotlight appears to be… SPINACH!

I don’t understand why people don’t like spinach… maybe the Popeye marketing campaign backfired. Anyway, spinach was amongst the first seeds I got. I started it out in the cloche and then when I had an abundance of it, I put half of it into a bunch of small pots in groups of three or four plants, and the other half I sowed out into the raised bed.

Initially the pots flourished and were top notch. Then they seeded and went not good and were thus condemned to the compost heap. However the sown-out spinach, a bit of a slow-starter, soon grew out of control, and began to take over my plot! I like spinach and pick the young leaves to have in salads or sandwiches, and then grab loads of the big leaves and wilt them down like mad in a pan with garlic and butter. But we have far too much for just me and my mum to snaffle.

On the left is a picture of the spinach wildly out of control. I have hacked it back a bit at the front as it grew over the kale I had sown and about killed it before it had even begun.

IMG_1666

 

The spinach was madly out of control, so in a fit of madness last Sunday, when I had been in energy-conservation mode all morning after being at York Races the day before, I got out my scissors and violently hacked away at the spinach, resulting in the below shot of my bounty!

IMG_1667

Think it’s safe to say I can grow me some spinach!

I then went through it all and bagged up the baby leaves to have in salads. Mum and I then had the big leaves, wilted down to about nothingness with tea. Mum then also did an Allanby version of saag aloo with some leftover potatoes (not home grown sadly). Hopefully now the spinach will be easier to control!

But now that I’ve cut back the spinach, as a bonus, I’ve discovered some mangetout!

IMG_1601

 

The Not-the-Raised-Bed Diaries

As my vegetables grow bigger and take over more of the garden, I realise they are bloating the limits of the Raised Bed Diaries, and so I have carefully decided to create a sister series – the Non-Raised Bed Diaries!

IMG_1665

This is alongside the wooden garage (my beds are to the right of this picture). Here I have five runner bean plants (two in pots which are a bit small, and three more in a grow bag, one of which is the monster climbing up the garage); I have three courgette plants in a grow bag and two more in smaller pots; then three tomato plants in the end grow bag. Dotted amongst all of these are a few more of Mum’s sweet peas, just poking their noses up. The courgettes and runner beans are definitely better in the grow bags than in the pots, though I’ve had courgettes off the potted ones, and there are flowers on the beans.

IMG_1662

 

This is to the rear of my beds, and is behind and to the right of the picture above. Edging our lawn are trees and quite a bit of bare soil. This spot was where I kept my leftover top soil from finishing my beds and was where the muck heap was left.It got quite overgrown with weeds, and so I spent a day digging it up and digging in the remainder of the manure and covering it with the topsoil. This has now turned into my ‘brassica’ garden! My six broccolis have moved in here, and I think were glad for some space. I do have plans to move out my cauliflowers into this new space, but as you can see, my squashes have taken up residence, and if you look closely you might be able to spy some sweetcorn! I think my caulis are a way off yet, but they are starting to jostle a bit for space in my bed.

IMG_1644 IMG_1642These are my potatoes! Originally I planted out our mystery chitted potatoes into three tubs and a potato compost bag. Then it rained and rained, and we realised there weren’t holes in the tubs, and then two lots of potatoes carried on growing, and the other two sank without a trace! So I drowned my potatoes. But these two look grand. Well, I say grand… The ones in the top picture look good, but the ones in the bottom picture look very sorry for themselves! There wasn’t enough soil in the bag and they fell over due to their own weight. While Dad was digging up the space under the pond to make it a bit deeper, he kindly donated some soil and I have them propped up again! They have flowered but there weren’t many flowers… I’m waiting to have time/for the foliage to yellow and die down a bit before digging around for some tatties!