Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A bit of Christmas wind

The observant amongst you would have noticed that I have already posted my yearly review and wished you all a Happy Christmas . I had declared my blogging activities over for this year, but now, suddenly have loads to tell you. 

The title would imply , in my normal slightly tongue in cheek sort of way, that I had some major breaking news about my sprouts.. Sadly thats not the case. 

The weather (Yes, I know weather again) has been nothing short of miserable for the last week. Wednesday last week saw us out in the garden late at night fighting the wind to try and keep our very very long boundary fence from falling over. Jim in his usual, very able way, in the pouring rain, used some old bits of wood to make temporary props to try and keep it up. We went to bed that night wondering what the morning would bring. 

His clever scheme was a success and the fence was still up. A quick phone call and it was arranged that our usual fence fixing man would send a team on Monday 23rd to repair the broken fence posts and install 15 concrete stays against the remaining as yet unbroken posts. 

Over the next few days we have listened to the wind howling and wondered if it would still be up by Monday. 

Then we saw the forecast. Monday was going to be even worse than last week. And not helping our plans was a long arranged trip to see my dad and brother 2 hours away. So yesterday we were up early. I made 4 flasks of hot coffee for the fencers and a box of biscuits. Jim , who knows better than me what a man likes to drink, produced 3 cases of various beer. We needed these chaps to save our fence otherwise the cost was going to be ridiculous. 

We loaded up the car with dog and presents and left the chaps getting on with their work, remarkably cheerfully I might add, I am sure that was the coffee and not the beer . 

Our day went well, a long drive in terrible conditions, was not pleasant, but we had a nice family time. all the while, at the back of my mind I was wondering how they were doing. It wasn't helped by occasional texts from neighbours and the dog sitter telling us how awful the wind was .. 

Then when we were nearly home in the dark and wet and cold, the phone rang and it was the still remarkably cheerful fencer, telling me they had finished the job, but as it was so windy they had used some long bits of Jim's wood to prop the fence , he suggested that we should leave them in place for a week. 

It was now so dark we couldn't see anything much, but torchlight revealed that once again our smaller eucalyptus trees were laying on the lawn

So this morning I went out to let the hens out and this is what I saw. 

The veg patch had taken a lot of wind as well . The hen run cover was in tatters

And my love seat had planted itself in a raised bed

More huge props at this ends as well holding up the fence, one of which they had buried in my flower bed 

And the sprouts, well they are still standing but they are naked. the wind has ripped all the leaves off. 

But as always, in a garden there is something to smile about. There is a lot of had work ahead getting everything back where it should be, but amazingly this little Larkspur is still flowering

Oh and finally just to finish off my morning, Gibson had vomited on the carpet in the summer room.. 

And on that note it time to wish you all a very Happy Christmas ..

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Year two in the Veg Patch comes to an end

Its mid December and very little is going on in the garden . The endless piles of leaves are nearly all cleared away now, one more big wind and the rest should all be down off the oaks. The winter veg are making their way into the kitchen and delicious they are as well, and the seed orders just keep on coming.  At the last count I found I have bought nearly 60 new packs of seeds to be planted in the new year. Goodness know what  I will do with it all but I just can't resist a new flower or an interesting vegetable. 

So I got to thinking , how has this year gone compared to my first year? Well I think I am a much more competent gardener. I have learned a lot more about my patch as well, what will grow best in different areas, and better use of space. This summer I planted a lot more in the beds and they coped well. I have also decided that next year I will grow less varieties of veg, but more of the ones I do grow, as we were running out of some things quickly. 

Flowers for cutting have become a real passion . Our house was filled for months with beautiful blooms , grown in my garden.. Pinching an expression used by the British Flower growing professional, "Grown, not Flown" is now the only way that flowers get through my door. 

And so with little to tell you about at the moment, I have decided to pick the photograph's that best sum up each month of 2013 and few little extras at the end. Enjoy

January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013

May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
Some of our beautiful New Forest ponies
Our lovely beach 
Freda our 1970 TR6
and last but certainly not least

Gibson enjoying a pint
I hope you have enjoyed 2013 as much as we have. 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Winter veg week

Nearly 9 months ago I started planting my seeds for the 2013 winter vegetables. Finally this week they are ready and we are starting to eat them. I planted leeks, brussel sprouts and cabbage and tended them lovingly all summer. Sadly although the cabbages survived numerous attacks from flying and crawling insects, they got very large and went to seed. 

The bed with the cabbage and sprouts in was looking very scruffy. It was covered in fallen leaves from the surrounding oaks and, there was the distinct odour of rotten vegetation in the air. Time to tidy up

I dismantled the cane frame, pulled out the cabbages and cleared away all the dead leaves. The chickens were of course, very grateful as they have been feasting on cabbage for the last few days now.  It looked much better when I was done. I left the net loosely over the top as I don't want to lose the tops of the sprouts to birds. 

We all know that courgettes are prolific in the summer but amazingly I still have one plant that is refusing to give up . 

I am pretty sure this must be the last one. There are no more flowers and certainly nothing round to pollinate them if there were. 

My other remaining winter veg are the leeks. 

Last years effort, although tasty enough were, very thin spindly affairs. This year, with my wonderful toilet roll planting system, I was able to plant the seedlings much deeper and they have certainly benefitted from that. They are all nice large plants. 

I pulled the first one of the season

Closely followed by several more

A quick trim in the compost bin

And the first leek and potato soup of the winter was on its way

Lovely it was too. 

Next job was to try and recover the seeds from plants I have dried in the summerhouse. 

I collected lots of flower heads at the end of the summer and they have been hanging in bags to collect the seeds. I opened the Calendula first. 

They had dried beautifully and actually looked rather wonderful. It seemed a shame to break them up but I have big plans for these seeds, you will have to wait until next year to find out what. 

A few minutes work and I had a large pile

The Godetia, Candytuft, Cleome, Malope, and Coriander followed

And finally in the garden a quick look at my overwintering onions, shallots and garlic. They are all doing very nicely and are being protected by a nice thick layer of fallen oak leaves. 

In other news, Gibson has this week, been working his way though the biggest bone he has ever had. We got it on our local market for him and it called a Postman's Leg. You can probably see why. 

And finally, I volunteer in a local hospice charity shop and always enjoy setting the windows. This year, Ann the manager asked me to help with the Christmas window. We have an annual Christmas fair in our town,  which is today, and part of that is a competition for the best dressed window. Well, we worked all day last Tuesday and were very pleased with the result. Amazingly  yesterday we were told that we had won.. so that means today I shall be receiving the prize at the festival on behalf of the Oakhaven Hospice. 

It is being presented by a local Tv presenter called Fred Dinenage. Older UK readers may remember him for a quiz type programme he made in the early 70's Jim says that when I see him I should greet him in the way they did on the show... Not sure I want to stand in front of loads of people and hold up my hand and say "How" like a Native American Indian... 

Watch this you will see what I mean

Well thats it. I shall finish with a picture of the winning window. It difficult  to get it all to show up properly but this one is the best. 

Have a great week

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Hoarding for the Spring

Winter hasn't even got going yet but its certainly on the way. My twitter timeline has pictures of snow covered french swimming pools and the three squirrels currently occupying my garden are hiding acorns all over the place. 

This last couple of weeks there has been very little opportunity to do anything outside, mostly caused by the constant heavy rain, so my mind has been occupied with making plans for next spring. 

I wrote a couple of posts ago, about a wonderful new Hoe I had bought from Sneeboer called the Royal Dutch. In my quest for more wonderful tools, I set about looking for a new pair of secateurs. I made enquiries with gardening friends and the consensus was that the pair to own were the Okatsune, made by a Japanese company called Niwake. The website is fascinating with amazing garden tools. 

So one of the rainy days last week saw me place an order for the Okatsune. They arrived quickly in a typically Japanese package luckily with an english language translation sticker on them .. 

They are  a very simple looking tool. But thats the point, they just do what they are supposed to, nothing else. The weight of them is perfect for me, even with my small hands

So finally yesterday afternoon, after another adventure that I will write about a bit further on in this blog, I got the chance to try them. I have been saving two woody old bushes to test them on

The Okatsune performed brilliantly - Lovely action and so very sharp they could cut through branches I would previously have taken a saw too. 

In no time at all they job was done and the secateurs were cleaned and back in the box. I do wonder how long  will have the patience to look after them properly, but I am going to try. 

And just to show you that they are very sharp.. I managed to stab myself in the palm whilst putting them away

It may only be tiny but it didn't arf hurt... 

Anyway, moving on, I alluded to an adventure.. well not really that adventurous, but it was a lovely morning out. I am luck enough to live within easy driving distance of Common Farm Flowers  and so a couple of weeks ago went to a workshop, which I wrote about . On that day Georgie mentioned, when we were walking around the farm, that she was going to get rid of a lot of her Dahlias. 

Ever one to see an opportunity, I filed this conversation away in the back of my brain for future reference. Now earlier this week, Georgie tweeted that she was digging up the said dahlia's and a memory worm snuck to the front of my brain.. Blimey, here is an opportunity it said, to get some beautiful perfectly good plants for next spring.. So emails were exchanged and it left me driving, yesterday morning in glorious sunshine, to the farm in Somerset.

After a chat over coffee, a look at her lovely new polytunnel and some beautiful plants she had just had delivered from Swines Meadow Nursery I loaded the car up with Dahlia tubers and headed back to the seaside. 

Once home, I decided the best place to store them over winter was in the summer house. So a couple of trips up the garden with the barrow and they were safely tucked up, like the squirrels acorns, for winter. 

In the spring, I shall split each of the tubers and then plant them in pots. I plan to grow them for cutting flowers and some of the pots I shall stand in the garden beds for late summer colour.. 

And thats about all the gardening I have done since my last post. There are still things growing though. 

The Brussel Sprouts are ready to be picked

Courgettes continue to grow, but slowly now

And I still have flowers

Gibson is also settling in for the winter, he is spending a lot of time sleeping

Thats it for now, but if you know a gardener and want to buy them a nice christmas present, that they will really enjoy,  have a look at this video by Mark, also known as the 10 Minute Gardener. He has brought together things that are affordable and useful to gardeners.