Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just a few garden pictures.

It is so hot - and I am confined indoors, but I did sneak out to take a few quick pictures.

The chooks were sleeping in the sun - but soon woke up when they heard the camera

Don't know how they can sleep on top of each other in all that heat!

They spend their time freeranging in the garden, and only go into their run to get up the ladder to lay eggs in the nest box, or to have a scratch around for any 'breakfast' they might have missed.  I have put extra shade on it as the sun moves around late afternoon - but mainly the go and sleep under the shrubs or hedges.

They spend a lot of time scratching around 'Maxine's Flower bed' and have made a few 'thoroughfares' to the rest of the garden.

They love it around the pond, I think it attracts them because of the insects.  They often smell of warm sage where they have been pecking around the purple sage.  It's in full flower and looks stunning.

The pinks tumbling out of the pot at the top smell gorgeous, and the aroma is even stronger in the evening.   There is lavender in the pot too which is just coming into flower.  The pinks I grew from a few cuttings I took from a flower I used in an arrangement

Since putting the pots of hostas here, the chooks don't seem to be scratching around in the gravel here.

I have put vaseline around each pot to deter the slugs and snails!

It seems to be working at the moment!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

For my records update

I have been working my socks off around the garden - doing all those jobs that I keep meaning to do and never get the time.

Most people, I am sure, have 'junk' areas - those sorts of places that 'stuff' just collects - well I don't any more.

Take this area for example - I wish I had taken a 'before' photo, but I was too embarrassed.  It is beside my studio, out of sight, hidden, hence it became just a place to 'dump' trays of empty pots, seed trays, compost etc. - anything that didn't have a proper 'home'.

It was covered in weeds too!  So I weeded it, got rid of all the junk - a trip to the (not so local) recycle dump sorted that.   I laid thick plastic - not membrane.  Recycled a couple of the pergola posts, recycled some gravel from the garden, and voila - a gooseberry bush bed with a couple of little rhubarb plants.   We moved some slabs that were just piled up there too and put them at the back of the studio and weeded that - so its now perfect! 

Another problem area was when  you come in the side gate next to the bungalow.  It's an awkward area as there is a path then it plunges down a dip (in Norfolk they call it a hill - we are living at the bottom of a slight incline!

Again - no before photos - but there was a ladder which had leant against the wall for 10+ years.  I bought the brackets - but Mr Lottie wouldn't help me put them on the wall.   He didn't refuse - it was always 'at the weekend' when its not so hot/cold/wet/ you get the idea.  And so it was that this useless waste of space was just the place to put sacks of garden waste ready to take up the allotment, sacks of horse manure that our friend delivered, more trays of pots/seed trays/ anything really just got put there 'out of the way' to be moved later.  I got so fed up with keep moving stuff so this was my solution

After getting rid of all the 'junk', weeding it thoroughly, adding gravel, I had the brain wave of moving and planting up some pots of hostas.  It's just the right place - shady!
And - at last I got Patrick to put up the ladder hangers - with my help and supervision!

He is so pleased now with how it looks.   'It only took 10 years', I said.
'Don't exaggerate', he said, 'It's five years'.
After a lot of deliberation and working out dates and events - we agreed it was nine!
Who says that I am not a patient woman huh?

I have also, single handedly cleared out the other side of the bungalow.  Yes you guessed it another 'storage area'  for 'useful' things.  Apart from the weeds between and along each side of the paving slabs, I had a broody ark, another larger wooden chicken ark, (just in case I needed them), these were covered with half a dozen bent corrugated sheets of iron, a big heavy cold frame, a wheel barrow, some pots managed to find their way around there, a plastic sack or pots, and under the oil tank I found six more bantam eggs!

The broody ark and big heavy cold frame made out of windows have gone to new homes via Freecycle - I got 20+ replies to my advert.  The pots have been sorted and in the lean to, I have weeded it all, swept it, and dismantled the other chicken ark so that it is packed flat and that's wrapped up and destined for the garage.  I am keeping that one 'just in case' you understand.

I spent some time up the allotment on Friday - not much, about an hour or two.  We were having a clear out - must be something I have eaten as I am getting everything de-cluttered.  I inherited lots of metal when I took over the plot - corrugated sheets of iron, poles, rusty chicken wire, lots of wood.  All the metal pieces have now gone - the farmer was having a clear out, and had a trailer of waste metal - so we added ours to his - and more from home too.   When we saw him on Saturday he said, 'Scrap metal is worth a fortune these days - guess how much I got for the junk I have had in my shed for 50 years - plus your bits - £230!   He was clearing out even more stuff with great enthusiasm when we saw him!

I am thrilled to bits with how the garden is shaping up - so much easier to manage.   I just have one area left to clear - and once we have our little shed assembled then that will sort that out.

Yesterday was tipping it down with rain on and off, so I paid a visit to a chap in the village and bought some annuals to for the garden. 

I prefer perrennials for the structure they give, like the delphiniums above just about to burst into bloom, and tend to go for English cottage garden flowers - which are seasonal. During the summer there is often a bit of a famine of colour, and annuals fill that gap nicely.   I always used to grow my own, but decided to buy them this year.

I took these photos at 8pm this evening when I went out to call the chooks in for the night.    It doesn't do this garden justice - its almost on fire with the yellows, oranges, and gold.
I spent quite a time today filling up big pots with topsoil and compost and annuals.  This if full of fuschias - trailing for the edges, and bushes for the middle.  I just know it will look picture mid summer to the first frosts.

I had to enlist help lifting these huge pots - they are really heavy even empty!
It took three bags of topsoil to fill them and half a bag of compost!
I have filled them with geraniums, nemesias, and trailing petunias which smell wonderful.  It won't be long before they are tumbling over the side of the pots!

I have lost a few sunflowers in the bed  - my fault entirely, I planted them out when they were a  bit too small and they got scratched up by the chooks - but don't the courgette plants look good - they have really grown and escaped being dug out.

See how easily I get distracted - I only went out to call the banties in!

It's a game of hide and seek with them sometimes.  They are so tiny and are easily hidden in/under/ the plants and shrubs.

And it's only when I get right up close that I can see them

It's still hard to see Poppy on the left having a dust bath with Daisy looking on.

I  am captivated by these little hens, always have been, always will be - and I have been seriously tempted to add to my flock having seen some little chicks yesterday!

I expect you are wondering about those eggs I found under the oil tank - well I did the float test and they were all perfect!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Allotment Diary - Me 39hrs. He 38hrs.

A visit up the allotment to do a bit of weeding -shock horror the weeds had gone crazy

These are my onion and broad bean beds

Oh my gosh the weeds in what was the leeks, beetroot and carrot bed

On the plus side, the main crop potatoes are doing well.

I got side tracked weeding this front bed - so left it to tackle the onion bed

Well after over 2 hours digging, you can at least see the broad beans.
There are still a few annual weeds, but the thistle thugs are almost all gone.



Not perfect - but pretty darn good for an old lady I think.

I also mowed all the paths and lawns

Dug up some delicious new potatoes which we have been having for lunch these past three days.  Boy they are good; they taste so buttery and are the best ever!

It's not looking bad considering we have had mostly hot sunny days and very little rain.  Pat would have liked a bonfire - but maybe another time - I was just so worn out after almost three hours working up there.

The main crop of potatoes in the fruit cage are looking pretty good and doing a great job of keeping the weeds down

The fruit is coming along nicely - I need to cover up more of my bushes

We used to have this fruit 'cage' covered in netting, but the harsh weather and winds ripped holes in it and I couldn't replace it - it was too much hard work and expense, so this is the best I can do.  I have some net curtains at home I am going to use.

Whilst I was busy doing everything else - Patrick did a good job on his patch - just a bit left for him to do.

I have reluctantly come to the decision that I will have to give up the middle part of my allotment.  It is heartbreaking to have to do that as all my Jostaberry bushes are there which I grew from 4" cuttings and they are just now bearing fantastic fruit.  I also moved my gooseberry bushes from the end 'third' when I gave that up and this year they are cropping too.  I laid lots of lovely paths, planted comfrey along two ends, the boisenberry/blackberry cross is just getting to the stage that it will produce a good crop for the first time ever!

Patrick says not to make a hasty decision, but in my heart I know that it it time to accept the fact that I just won't be able to keep it up to the standard that I like.  This is the third season now that we have had lots of sunshine - and I am not allowed to stay out in it for long - even though I cover myself from head to toe literally and smother myself in factor 50+ and wear a wide brimmed hat all the time.  If only we had some cloudy days, I could spend more time up there - but it seems to be the pattern of the weather that has changed.

I don't have to decide until October of any year - and there is the option of covering over the big areas of unused beds with plastic to stop the weeds growing, then I can just mow the lawns and use the bits I can cope with - and still harvest all my fruit crops.  Decisions, decisions.

In the garden at home I am growing veggies, like climbing beans, all our salads, and I have some garlic, and courgettes too.  I can garden in the evening when the sun has gone in - but I don't have a lot of space.

My salad crops are amazing - such a variety - we don't have to go to the supermarket for mixed bags.

And I suppose I could dig up the lawn!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

I want to be singing in the rain!

The non-stop sunshine and no rain is becoming a real bore now and I and my plants desperately need some rain.

Apart from watering the climbing beans - I haven't been working up the allotment - but we did make a dash up there today to pick some rhubarb off what was the end of my plot - which I gave up. 

The rhubarb plants are doing fantastically well on there - and I noticed that they were not being picked.  So I was a bit cheeky and emailed Michael to see if I could barter some wood for his log fire for some rhubarb.  And he said 'yes' - and that he was going to ask me if I wanted it as they don't eat it.  Yippee - hence my dash up there today - and we now have 15lbs of lovely rhubarb chopped up and ready to use - in the freezer - and you know how we love allotment mixed fruit crumbles in the winter!

As it is cloudy, I decided to weed my home little fruit and veggie patch in the cage.  (Yes of course I was covered in the highest factor sun cream and covered from head to toe as though it was winter)!

Talking of winter - here is Snowy - I promised my grandaughter I would put a photo on here for her to see.

Isn't she just beautiful with those wonderful markings and ink black eyes

Twiggy is doing her model girl pose of course

And the others are just hanging out waiting for me to start digging

They only love me for what they can get out of me - food, worms, treats.

One of the strawberry beds with some mizuna growing around the plants

A couple of pots of strawberry plants - which I hope to get fruit from this year

The blueberry bush really suffered in its pot in the winter, so I have rescued it and planted it here - and it looks like it is rallying

I have squeezed in a few climbing beans into every gap I can because of the drought up the allotment

Last years runners which survived the winter were repotted and now in flower.  Their runners will be pegged down into the gaps around the raised beds until they are ready for transplanting

This will be full of strawberry plants - the new babies when they grow

I know what you are thinking - who wants to see a photo like this - but I do, its for my records and it is sown with mixed rare varieties of carrots

Another of last years baby strawberry plants in a pot squeezed into a gap with room for the runners it will produce

The bean bed.  I have sown barlotti, yellow, green, varieties of dwarf beans, and around the edges Japanese onions

The 'second sowing' salad bed coming along nicely

The first sown salad bed which I have been cropping - with a strawberry plant in the middle.  We will have eaten the salads by the time the strawberry has got runners ready for pegging down

The final bed in the cage.  Early sown ball carrots at the front left, behind them mixed coloured carrots.  Then there are bunching onions, yellow and red beetroots, and some cherokee beans sown.
Oops, must dash  time to serve lunch