Saturday 18 June 2016

Flowers and the rain

Serious rain and flooding all this week. It's just beginning to clear up now on Saturday afternoon. The garden is looking a very bedraggled with the heavy rain pulling down tall plants and flowers like poppies and roses.

To cheer us up here's a few photos of flowers taken earlier in the month in the sunshine!

Giant Allium with rain-drops

Orange poppies

Pink rose on the A-frame

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Drowning spuds

We had a brief glimpse of summer last week with temperatures in the 20s and light winds. So dry we were watering the fruit trees and newly-planted vegetables which were already showing signs of distress.

But this week - the deluge! It rained off and on over the weekend and hasn't stopped, with really heavy, stair-rod rain for hours on end. I'd noticed a couple of potato plants were looking poorly. Different varieties, different beds. They weren't picking up so I decided to lift them. Both plants were completely rotten underneath. But when I put the spade in to lift the second plant, there was standing water half a spade-depth down. The trench we dug weekend before last to divide the rhubarb is filled with water and the grass is just squelchy all over.

Not sure if the potatoes were just drowned or if there's some other disease or pest that got them. There wasn't enough left of the roots and tubers to investigate, and nothing on the leaves, just dull and not thriving. Didn't look like blight and a bit too early  for that. Hope the rest don't suffer a similar fate.

Monday 6 June 2016

Rhubarb de-weeding and re-location

Another busy weekend. 

The rhubarb de-weeding and re-location project moved forward significantly. We completely cleared one of the original two rows, putting rooted rhubarb plants in buckets of water and pots hopefully to survive re-planting. There is room for 3 more in the new row (which used to be the asparagus bed and lately used for sweet peas). Now we have to clear the soil of weeds, especially the dreaded couch grass, add lots of compost and then we can plant back 6 good rhubarb roots in the middle row. We still have some plants in the top row which are producing good and tasty stems for rhubarb pie, crumble or just on its own.

The trouble with couch grass (and bindweed and ground elder) is the roots which can go as much as 12 ins below ground. If you leave even a tiny bit in the soil they start up and invade the patch you've broken your back over clearing.  So we've put in some barriers beween the cleared bits and the still-infested. We had some panels of old polycarbonate conservatory roofing which were just the right length and depth. (Never throw anything away!)

Clearinf the rhubarb patch - polycarbonate conservatory roof panels divide the clear soil from the still-infested.

View across the veg beds - young marrows, squashes, potatoes and broad beans in the near bed.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

That was May!

It's JUNE! - not flaming June as today has dawned cold and wet. Whatever happened to May?

Well, we actually had some lovely spring - even summery - weather during May, which meant we could get out and DO STUFF in the garden. Quite a lot of digging over of vegetable plots that were neglected after  last year's crops were harvested, clearing some horrible ground-elder that is marching above and under ground from the neighbouring field, tending various seedlings sown in the greenhouse, re-potting 40 brussel sprouts and 60 Ailsa Craig onions from the seed tray into little well as cutting the grass (which with the wet and warm weather is growing like crazy), trimming bushes, hedges and so on. It's been really busy - hence a dearth of blogs.

Last weekend was a bank holiday and we had son Paul staying. We were all out in the garden for 4 full days and achieved miracles.

Planted out the rest of the squashes (6 Sprinters - kind of butternut). Already have 7 marrows, 5 Winter-fest squashes, 2 Turks Turban squashes growing outdoors.

Put out the French beans with their bamboo wigwams (Paul says they're teepees, wigwams being something entirely different!). I've always planted Blue Lake, but the last few years only about 50% of beans have germinated, both saved and bought-in seeds, so I've tried a different variety - Cobra. They nearly all germinated and are looking pretty good out there.

A new venture - Sweetcorn. We sowed these in the conservatory for warmth and on Saturday planted 18 about 12" tall in the raised bed.  The bed is a bit close to the hedge and so worried about rabbits and of course pigeons and pheasants who are greedy and eat everything. So we used out some poles, connectors and netting to make a cage to keep them safe until they get bigger. Mind you, it's also right by the hazel tree which attracts squirrels in the autumn. We'll have to keep a look out for robbers!

We also slung netting over the redcurrants which last year got completely devastated by birds.

Last autumn we acquired 30m of hedging courtesy of a tree scheme from the council to patch up some of the hedge between our garden and the field. But with Mum going and then with such wet, wet weather over the winter we hadn't put them in. Mostly hawthorn and some hazels, they were all wrapped up in bundles by the wood shed and beginning to look a bit sorry.So Chas spent most of Bank Holiday Monday transplanting them into pots where hopefully they will recover and thrive until we can get them to their proper positions.

Here's the walnut trees now with leaves. Also showing the raised bed and cage
with the Sweetcorn and tops of the French bean wigwams.