Monday 27 October 2014

Allium Leaf Miner

After having had a few good leeks in a lamb casserole a couple of weeks ago I was disappointed that the main crop were looking a bit weedy. They weren't getting fat and started to show bumps and breaks in the stem. So I checked them over - yes the dreaded Allium Leaf Miner again.

For pictures and advice see the RHS site >>

We haven't grown onions or leeks for 3 years to try to clear the soil of pupae but they seem to be endemic now. I planted a second batch of leeks in a different part of the garden and covered them with a fleece tunnel during August & early September when the adult moth is supposed to fly. So far they look OK (need a bit of weeding though).

Leeks - plus chickweed & leaves!

Saturday 18 October 2014

Surprise pink lilies

One of the delights of having such an established but somewhat neglected garden is that it often rewards with surprises. During our first few years at Froggarts Cottage we found many plants and flowers emerging from the undergrowth that we hadn't seen before.

This morning I was walking past our shrubbery patch in the front and spotted what looked like a floppy pink agapanthus peeping out from under the pieris.  I remembered seeing a patch of them in the front garden of a cottage in Dorset where Mum used to live. They provided a striking show every autumn.

Anyway I Googled "pink agapanthus" - and yes, they do exist as well as the usual blue, but I could see that wasn't what we had.  But one search result answered the very question I was asking - "Pink agapanthus??" This was an interesting site called Planters Corner run by Malcolm Hockman.

Nerine Bowdenii
Here is an image from his website and is just like what we have. Malcolm explained they are Nerine Bowdenii and are from South Africa. They are also called Bowden Cornish lilies.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Rainy spell

After our "proper summer" and the driest September since 1910 we're having a week of wind and rain. The rain-water butts are now full and the ground well soaked - except under the large rhubarb and marrow leaves where there are still dry patches.

While tidying up the yellowing rhubarb leaves I discovered an abandoned pheasant nest with 10 perfect grey eggs. What a shame they didn't hatch, but I suppose the hungry family would have plundered anything green and edible in the veg patch so probably best they nest in the field.

There's still a lot of produce to harvest. Yesterday I picked 2lbs tomatoes from the greenhouse, 6 courgettes and 2 squashes plus half a punnet of rather soggy raspberries. These are a late variety and still have plenty of flowers and unripe berries as a promise of early winter fruit. The eating apples are not quite ripe yet. With the rain they should get to a decent size and will probably be red and ripe in a couple of weeks.

We're still trying to get on top of the cooking apple glut. We've given some to neighbours and stored some in the cool, dark storeroom behind the garage but they are going off so quickly we're trying to use the apples in as many ways as possible. Last week I made 8 jars of apple chutney and on Sunday an apple crumble, apple cake and apple flap-jacks (like nutty, oaty health-bars).