Wednesday, 22 July 2015

"So much from the garden", a July production garden update.

This was the comment made to my better half the other day as she dropped off some gooseberries to her friend, as they were planning to make jam with them. The friend in question is also our landlord, and they previously lived here, growing some fruit, vegetables, etc., and, it was in this context that she referred to the harvests we get. 

The range and quality of crops and flowers I've harvested, over the four years we've been here has definitely varied, depending on time of year, weather and, most importantly, treatment of the soil. 

I wrote a rather cheeky, short blog, called 'It's the soil, stupid', when I was originally planting the raspberries in the garden, emphasising the importance of good soil for plants to grow in. You will hear the same (less cheekily put) sentiment from many gardeners, which can be summed up as 'what you put in to the soil, you harvest back from the plants' or, even simpler, 'look after the soil, and it will look after the plants'. 

As I do a fair amount of garden talks, and give plenty of advice, this is a topic I rightly give plenty of attention to. 

And, as you might know from some of my other posts, the original soil here is really not good. On planting the raspberries, and other berry plants planted the first year we moved in, I did a lot of double digging - incorporating as much organic matter as possible, and that is part of the reason the crops are so good now. However, in more recent times I've taken to the no-dig method for a lot of the vegetable crops, we'll see how this progresses.

On a slightly different note, after the cold spring, and beautiful (if not a little dry) June, the tomatoe plants finally have trusses of ripening beauties that we'll soon be enjoying. My peppers are cropping quite well, far better than last year; late planted onions are motoring along nice too; and, the various squash plants were finally planted out a couple of weeks ago, so again, let's watch their progress.

In the meantime, please do read up further information on identifying your soul type, how to enrich it, and conditioning it over a number of years work to create a growing medium in order for plants to grow strongly giving plenty of rewarding harvests.

Happy gardening 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Pictures speak ... back garden, part 2

Back garden in July 2015
I did my first ‘picture speaks a thousand words’ post in May of this year and it’s interesting to revisit the garden two months later to see how things have progressed.

You can see there is plenty of lush growth and flowers, with the grass is looking a little dry, which is no surprise given that we’ve had no rain in June and very little in July.

Hosta in pot in border
To the upper left you can see my half baskets are in full flight at this point, with a blaze of colour from geraniums, Bidens and Mesembyranthemums. Their care is simple, water every two to three days, feed every 14 days and dead head regularly. Similar care is applied to the other containers below them, in this area too, with most of the plants being annuals, so they really are geared up to flower their hearts out.
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The Hemerocallis that were growing in the shelter to the rear of the greenhouse have now started flowering and I’ll be covering these in a separate blog post. The Fuchsia, which were in the greenhouse a couple of months ago are now in the garden and mostly flowering out of sight of this picture, however you can read about them here.

The dark foliage around the corner from the containers are Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, which are now starting to flower too, and looking very well for it.

The frames you can see on the lawn are the tortoise enclosures I referred to previously. These have been well used since the start of June and are moved about once every two weeks, to give the little guys some fresh grass to chew.

The decking area is mostly clear at this stage, and we’ve noticed the boards are not in good condition, so there’ll be changes afoot in this area.

The border to the front of the glasshouse is now in summer mode with the Hosta in full bloom. This is a Hosta in a pot, sat in among the other plants, with some slug tape around the base of the pot, which has really worked well. I find this is a very practical solution for me otherwise the Hosta would be munched to nothing.

As always, there's plenty more to write about for this little space, such as plans for the left hand side of the shed, revamping the decking area, etc. however this is a nice snapshot for now, the second of three I’ve planned for this year. 

Happy gardening

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Summer Clematis colour

It's particularly pleasing to see this Clematis 'Pilu' in flower. Not because of the multitude of palm-sized shades of pink flowers, or the fact that it's flowering at shoulder height in a container, or the lush green growth.

No, the main reason I'm particularly pleased is because this time last year this plant was a very sorry state indeed. It had been in the same pot for about 5 years, and had simply run out of steam. So, in the depths of later winter, I was out removing the spent compost, washing the roots and re-potting in some of my home-made compost. I was very unsure if it would regrow, never mind produce so many flowers!

On the other hand, this darker Clematis is one called 'Warszawska Nike'. I bought it two years ago, and it has certainly provided plenty of summer colour in that time. In the spring I put 5-6 shovels of home-made compost at its base. I have it growing up a tri-pod of canes and it makes a lovely feature in the mixed border in the back garden. Slugs and snails are always a concern, however some beer traps and some organic slug pellets have proved their worth.

The third Clematis in the garden, and flowering nicely too is one called 'Blue Angel. Similarly to 'Pilu', I completely revamped the soil it was growing with rewarding results. 

Of course, like any plants in containers, they have to be well watered with this dry weather, and Clematis particularly love their roots to be in shade. 

Being within half a kilometre of the sea, the site we're on here is windy, even on the calmest of days, so I wasn't sure at one point if the Clematis would grow. I'm encouraged with the success to date, and will venture another variety or two over the summer. Any recommendations?

Happy gardening.