Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fame at last!

It's official! my garden's famous. Well, ok, a small part of it (a branch to be exact) and one of its swiftly moving residents. Ok I'll come clean, Katie was testing some expensive cameras for the Independent by taking photos of birds in our garden - and they published one of her photos in the article (in last Sunday's review supplement). It was one my proudest moments. Equal to that of almost winning the school football cup when I was 9ish (we lost four-three after giving away a penalty and an own goal! Gah!!). One day my veg plot will be famous too. Come on Katie! Do an article about how to photograph vegetables. You know you want to.

Other exciting events of the weekend included being donated lemon balm seedlings from Asha to help ward off the weak-bladdered cats fom our borders. There was also the monumental occasion of planting out my purple peas which had reached the lofty heights of a few inches. They've only had rain since I planted them out, so I hope it will be doing them some good. And my red basil is sprouting. Rainbow borders are go!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Potting up

The weekend proved fruitful in many ways, particularly in the fact that the sun shone so beautifully. And despite sacrificing my saturday to the god of posh dress shopping on Oxford Street (I wasn't much use to Katie, but she needed something for the Baftas [she got to stand within feet of Eddie Izzard and David Tennant, so she was very happy upon her return!]), come Sunday I'd cut great swathes into my potting-up backlog and even got all my leeks into the plot. It felt brilliant to finally put something in there and leave it to the elements. I've planted them a lot closer together (about 6 inches) than it suggests on the packets and in books, but i only want baby leeks, so I hope it works out.

Literally everything I originally planted is now in my plastic greenhouse - from the 20 or so chilli plants to the 20 or so tomato plants. What am I going to do with them all? I'm not sure why i planted so many, but i'll do something with them I guess. I don't have a lot of peas and bean seedlings in comparison, but I do have a few differring varieties, so it should be enough. And i can always grow more soon to get staggered crops. Ooh, the things you think about as a gardener.

And I saw my first butterfly of the year. Just wonderful...

Friday, April 15, 2005

No need to water!

I managed to wander out into the garden this morning to water the contents of my greenhouse, only to find that everything was perfectly fine and I needn't have bothered. Everything was happily sprouting and flourishing with the water it had. I guess I should have been happy, but it felt like a bit of a let-down, and I promptly turned round and walked back inside again.

I've decided though that tomorrow is D-Day for the leeks. Their time for comfortable living has passed, and they're required to set out on their own paths in life. This will be a very exciting moment, as they will be the first things to go out in my plot. They will look tiny among the mass of dirt, but they'll be giants in my mind.

And did anyone happen to see the McLibel programme on BBC4 last night, as Helen Steel had a wonderful allotment, and was pulling out a brilliantly huge turnip. Fabulous TV too!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A new arrival!

And then there was a chaffinch! And a pair at that! The new arrivals are so desperate to be loved, but the other birds are giving them a really hard time. Let's hope they sort out their differences soon.

I managed to find some peat-free growbags. It would appear that they're out of stock now, however. Thanks Asha for the nod to Wyevale though. It's about time everywhere started selling them and got rid of the use of peat altogether. Once again it'll take our government to do something to stop it, so I won't hold my breath. And I'll also get off my high horse, too.

And thanks Clare for making me comfortable with my bodging tendencies. I agree that it suits allotments and gardening well. Katie's currently pushing me to stick up my detailed plans for making a drinking straw and freezer bag germinator for seed trays. So maybe I'll do that. Plans for a self-bodged germinator anyone? It really does work! I have two Purple Podded Pea Seedlings to prove it!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Bodging in the garden

Despite the winds battering my poorly defended greenhouse, it’s held firm, and is doing a grand job. The lettuces are moving at a cracking pace – the sooner I can give up buying lettuce the better. The leeks are also happy in their own little pots, ready to go out when the frosts have past. The yellow tomatoes are really growing well now too.

I’m also excited about finding a root on one of my Blauhilde French bean seeds. I get so impatient that I have to poke around in the dirt and have a look. I did build a tiny little see-through plastic greenhouse to put on top of them though, and it seems to have done the job of raising the temperature brilliantly. The things you can do with straws and freezer bags…

And the final bit of excitement has to be the ground fleece that my parents sent me. Apparently it will warm up the earth, and then I can raise it as the seeds start to germinate. My hope is that it will deter the cats from using my plot as a litter tray, but I won’t hold my breath.

So the week is already quite exciting, but I ‘m still struggling to find a place to buy peat –free growbags. Does anyone know where I can buy them from? I’m coming round to thinking that I may just make my own out of bin bags and organic compost, but once again, it will be one of my bodge (is that spelt right - who'd think that I was a sub eh?) jobs.

I’m a bit too proficient at bodge jobs for my own good.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Ever seen a starving squirrel?

As if squirrels really did need help in being fed, I've just come across this website devoted to squirrel feeders.

I wonder how many they sell?

Transformers, seedlings in disguise

I haven't described the things I've got currently growing, so here goes. I have a fascination for chilli plants - partly due to an exceedingly successful crop last year, so I've got both Jalapeno and Cayenne varieties on the go. The cayennes dried brilliantly in 2004, and I'm still living off them. So here's hoping!

Then there's a couple of tomato varieties. I have Riesentraube - apparently this has an unusual sharp flavour, and is affectionately known as 'goat's tit' in Hungary. It's also mostly used for making wine. Why I'm growing this tomato is beyond me, as they'll probably be horrid, but with the words unusual and wine in the description, I couldn't stop myself. (Maybe I should attempt tomato wine instead of the usual homebrew this year?) Then there's the yellow variety, Golden Queen. Once again, it's an oddity, and something you don't see in the shops. Hence my wanting to grow it.

Then there's the two varieties of Leek: Varna and Early Market. These are already growing strong and will soon go out in my plastic greenhouse to harden off a bit. I wanted to grow these small, as leeks are so lovely when they're babies.

And last but not least, umpteen varieties of lettuce, which are already growing beautifully outside in my green house. I've got heritage varieties on the go from my seed club, White Seeded Samara, Bronze Arrow, and a couple off others. But they're all looking dandy already.

So that's all there is currently, and here they are in before and after style.

It was here I learnt that cats aren't the best helpers when it comes to gardening. Not only do they hate you writing your blog, they also find it difficult to allow you to sow seeds.

The Woodpecker

We haven't seen him for the last week or so - although we do hear his rumblings in distant trees from time to time - but I've finally got round to taking my pics off the camera. So here he is! Mr Woodpecker, in all his unfocused, very far off glory. And I've finally done my links too, so I almost feel like a proper gardening blogger. If anybody is reading, thankyou for your previous comments. It's nice to know others are out there fighting the corner for vegetable plots and shrubberies too.