Monday 28 May 2012

Tomato planting

The glorious weather continues so lots of work in the garden and also the conservatory and greenhouse.

We set out 3 large grow-bags in the conservatory with 6 Big-Boy tomatoes and 3 Cuore D'albengo plants we grew from seed. For the last few years we've used some plastic planters for the growbags which mean you can:
  1. water the tomatoes without it spilling all over the growbag and onto the floor
  2. add 6 inches more soil or compost so the very large tomato plants are a bit more stable
  3. give the stakes a good foothold.
We only had six so I made some from 1 litre ice-cream tubs - cutting out the bottom and pushing into the compost in the growbag then filling up with compost. Best to make sure the cut-out is the same size as the ice-crem tub. Seems to work OK so far!

Now I have to plant out the rest of the tomato plants in the greenhouse!

Tuesday 22 May 2012

It's hot!

Glorious weather all day - the sun has been shining, clear blue sky and a light northerly wind. The temperature is 24 degrees at 6.00 pm. This is pretty good for an English May but even more special following the awful weather in April. So far this year we've had the warmest February, the wettest April and coldest May and of course we're still in a drought despite April's downpours.

We've decided to risk putting the geraniums outside. They've been in the conservatory all winter and not stopped flowering all that time. I've put the squashes out to harden off and will plant them out in a day or so if the weather remains good. There's always a risk of a frost but it can freeze in June so at some point you have to just do it!

Thursday 17 May 2012


Sitting in my studio in the garden wrestling with CSS and HTML and two goldfinches flew down and spent 4 or 5 minutes pecking around the rambler rose outside my window. It's great working from home!

Didn't have my camera, but this is a photo of a goldfinch by Steve Round on the RSPB website

Sunday 13 May 2012

Where have all the slugs gone?

I have a small compost bucket outside the kitchen door where I put out all the peelings, egg-shells, toilet roll middles and any other bits and pieces that will go into our compost system up in the garden. At this time of year, in fact even in the winter unless it's really frosty, when clearing out the scraps last thing at night I expect to meet a whole host of slimey and slithery creatures - slugs and snails of all colours and sizes. I also see toads and frogs who come for a meal of slug or two. (Isn't the food chain wonderful!). But this year there's hardly any slugs, a few snails only. I haven't seen many in the vegetable garden either, although the pak choi have a few holes.
It was a very dry winter, athough mild, so maybe they didn't over-winter well. As a gardener I should be pleased, but I'm concerned about the creatures that rely on these slimey invertebrates for food - hedgehogs, toads, frogs even foxes when pushed. We don't get many hedgehogs here but we usually get loads of frogs and toads (clue in the name of our cottage!). There are very few this year and despite the early courtships ( I haven't seen any spawn in the pond, although a neighbour saw some in the stream a few weeks ago.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Here comes summer!

Yesterday I saw two swifts. They have much longer wings and are much darker in colour than swallows or martins and no white tummies. Today a couple of swallows were flying around. The Canada geese are moving in to the nearby pond - announcing their arrival with their noisy honking. Summer is definitely here!

The horse chestnut trees are beginning to flower, our neighbour's lilac is in bloom and our small, red apple is covered in blossom. When the sun shines the garden is multi-media delight. Perfume from the apple and lilac, birds of all kinds singing from 5 in the morning till sunset (and a few owls during the night!), bees a-buzzing and an absolute firework display of blossom and leaves of all colours.  It's great to be alive!