Sunday, 20 September 2015

Fruits of our labour .... a production garden update

Not much weeds here ... Lol
September light
September is a special time in the production garden. It's the pinnacle of the garden harvest, when the fruits of the summer labour are being actively gathered, before the winter arrives. So, after getting the back garden back in order, it was time to tackle the production garden. In my mind, I thought there was only a task or two, not too much to work at all. 
Well, they were famous last words ... and the evidence showed something completely different! After a couple of hours weeding and clearing I realised there was a lot more here to do than I initially thought ...

Loganberries tied up
Strawberries cut back
I had intended to tackle the strawberry area for a while. Since I planted it up a couple of  years ago, I realised the area was very susceptible to invasion of weeds from next door. Sometimes, as we plan our gardens, we realise our initial plans don't work out and we have to have a rethink to have a better outcome, and that's alright. My intention is to lift the plants in winter, pot them up, and grow them in a more protected environment in order to have a better crop, free (or almost free) of the birds, slugs and other nuisances that have hindered their recent cropping.  

Rhubarb ready for splitting
Outdoor grape 'Rhondo'
At the same time, I cut back this year's fruiting shoots of the loganberries and tied in the fresh canes from this year. These canes will provide next year's crop.  There is also an outdoor grape in the same area, so in order to separate the two, I tied the loganberry shoots to the right and most of the vine shoots to the left. As the nights are growing cold, I've fashioned a temporary cover over the vine, to give the grapes their best chance of ripening before the winter cold sets in. 

"Sometimes, as we plan our gardens, we realise our initial plans don't work out and we have to have a rethink to have a better outcome, and that's alright." 

While I was at it, I cleaned out the rhubarb area too. there was plenty of dead and old growth that needed cleaning out, leaving the plants looking clean. One particular plant really looks like it will benefit from splitting, which is a good opportunity to replant the healthier pieces and enrich the soil at the same time. 

Tomatoes and broccoli ... 
Ready for recycling ...
All of the weeds and old leaves went to the compost heap, recycling them for good soil enricher and compost for next year. It is important to ensure any thick flesh roots of weeds, or roots of scutch grass, are not composted, but disposed of in your recycle bin.
Onion harvest ...
From a harvesting point of view, every couple of days I collect the ripened tomatoes, check the broccoli plants for side shoots to be picked and the pull leaves from the various salad leaved plants. Waiting in the wings are the onions, some of which I've pulled already and are drying out. A good observation from a twitter friend was to leave them in the soil a little longer, until the green foliage begins to take on a brownish look. What I did note myself, is that there is over a month in difference time-wise between the 2014 harvest and the 2015 one. Perhaps this is down to the later planting of onion sets, due to a cold miserable spring
Then there are the half dozen or so sweetcorn plants, which are looking good. The squash plants, although planted late, do appear to have some good sized fruits developing and I've fixed some temporary cover - let's see what happens here. 

Container tomatoes growing
Home-grown peppers ...
In the glasshouse, I'm harvesting a couple of sweet peppers - not as many as I would like there to be. This is definitely one plant I'd like to be getting it right with, and will require some more advice and reading up on for 2016. I've already mentioned the tomatoe harvest - the beauty of growing about half a dozen varieties is that there is a great mix of fruits being harvested. This year I'm happy I grew the plants in containers, in well enriched compost (fish, blood and bone meal), with a liquid feed every second or so week. the important point here was to ensure the pots had plenty of water, in order to ensure the fruits were nice and juicy, without a tough skin. As it turned out, the fruits are lovely - nothing like eating a home-grown, sun warmed tomatoe - delicious. At this stage I've removed the bottom leaves, any diseased looking leaves and any young fruits, which realistically won't grow and ripen before the cold weather sets in. This will give the rest of the fruits the best chance to ripen to their tastiest best. 

Juicy 'Autumn Bliss' raspberries
Finally, outdoors, the autumn raspberries are now producing their lovely large ripe juicy fruits. As with a lot of my other produce, I'm looking for a small regular amount, enough to use on a daily basis without a large glut, and these fit the bill just nicely.  Almost every morning I'm picking about a dozen or so, which go very nicely with my morning cereal. 
Happy gardening. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

One that got away - Rosa 'Buff Beauty'

"One of the finest of the musk roses, bearing medium-sized, semi-double to double blooms. These are a lovely apricot-yellow colour with a strong ... fragrance" 

How is that for a quote! You'll find this on the David Austin website, describing the plant, Rosa 'Buff Beauty'. And, for those that don't know, David Austin is one of the most highly regarded rose breeders of our generation, so his words carry some weight!

The reason I'm writing about this particular beauty, is that it is one that got away from me (for a period of time ...). 

Let me explain.

I enjoyed the blooms and fragrance of this beauty for over 10 years. It was a rose I acquired after seeing a wall covered in them in the late 1990's - a stunning Summer sight and smell.

Since I moved house a couple of years ago, I've been on the lookout for it in local garden centres, with no luck. I did consider mail order, but decided against, as I know it will appear at some stage for me to buy, and when it does, the waiting will have made obtaining it all the sweeter.

‘Buff Beauty’ forms a well-balanced, arching shrub with smooth stems and handsome dark green foliage. It is reliably repeat flowering (i.e. it will produce a flush of flowers in early summer, mid summer, etc.) producing flowers held in small or large clusters. The flower buds have a yellow-peach'ish colour and these then open to a more to mellow peach colour. Absolutely lovely. As a shrub it grows to 5 ft. x 5 ft., or 8-10 ft. climber, and like most shrub roses should be pruned by thining in early spring.

Update from June 2014: Finally 'Buff Beauty' for sale - yay!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Pictures speak ... back garden, early Autumn

Planters and containers looking fresh in September
Mid September already and how the time flies! After having some nice days in the garden during the week, with some reasonably good weather over the past weeks, I thought it was timely to do another pictures speak post, capturing the early Autumn look of the garden, the richness of the flower colour and we really are a the point of growth maturity for the year for many plants. Soon we'll see the autumn colours becoming the most prominent feature. However, for now I'm enjoying the final 'hurrah' of flowering for 2015. 
Mid-September back garden

Plenty of foliage interest
Clematis 'Warszawska Nike'
Now I know I've mentioned it before (many times I hear you say ... Lol) using the best compost you can get at the start of the season really does benefit the plants through out their growth period, with only supplements of liquid or other feeding, and this shows at this time of year. This doesn't mean I can sit on my laurels, or any other plants for that matter - watering, deadheading, etc. is still needed to keep colour well into autumn. 
Crocosmia 'George Davidson'

As you can see from the picture, after a couple of hours tidying, the back garden area looks well. Although there is not as much flower colour now, there is a nice combination of foliage, with the bamboo providing movement and sound in the breeze we experience at this time of year. The tortoise enclosures still feature on the lawn area, although we'll but these aside soon as tortoises go for hibernation. Also, you can see the table has various stems on it - I'm in the process of harvesting seeds, Lupin and rocket here. Some other plants of interest include Clematis 'Warszawska Nike', which is still flowering and Crocosmia 'George Davidson' looking smashing in a couple of locations in the garden. 

"This doesn't mean I can sit on my laurels, or any other plants for that matter - watering, deadheading, etc. is still needed to keep colour well into autumn." 

Some plants going for R&R
In tidying one of the container areas, I've extracted a good number of plants that have provided great colour through the later spring and summer, that are now going for some rest and relaxation, and well deserved too. the shrubs will be potted on later in the year, and the herbaceous plants will either be split, or potted on depending on size, effect I'm looking for, etc.

Copper tape working very well on Hosta
Rudbeckia shining brightly
Now you know how 'interested' I am in controlling slugs and the damage they can do. Well, the Hosta 'Moonstruck' pictured is in a pot, which I put copper tape around when I potted it at the start of the year, and wow - the difference between this plant and other container grown ones! On the most part, the foliage looks so fresh, and un-holed ... ! I definitely will be using more of this next spring. 
Autumn flower border

This is the third of my picture speaks blogs in 2015. The first was in May and the second in July, and both of these have concentrated on what I call the 'back garden' area. There are other areas of the garden, which I write about, such as the production garden, the front garden, the purple/ blue bed and the driveway flower border. So I thought I might share an additional picture of the driveway flower border. This border was a bit of a disaster in spring, and after a good clean up gave great colour and had an only 'white flower' effect in August, so it's interesting to see September interest coming through with Sedum coming into it's own, Crocosmia flowering, a tub of warm Cosmos 'Phoneix' shining and some of the roses looking like they'll put on another flush of flowers too. 

So, while I'll continue to look for inspiration, the work will continue with plenty more to do. The production area is getting a good make-over, the greenhouse has been revamped and harvesting continues as crops are ready. All this however, will be covered in other posts over the coming weeks.

Happy gardening.