Veg Patch

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

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.



Sunday, 3 November 2013

Tidy Up Time

Morning.. Its been two weeks since my last blog , that sounds like the beginning of  a confession, and I suppose it is in a way. I decided when I started writing this blog not to just post for the sake of it, so as I didn't have much to say last week I didn't bother. 

The British obsession with the weather reached fever pitch last weekend as the imminent arrival of a large storm names St Jude caused news programmers on all the Tv and Radio channels to spend hours talking about wind! Sadly 5 people lost their lives but for most of us it was a bit of a non event. In fact its windier here now, as I type this, than it was last sunday. We suffered very minor damage to one tree and my Dahlias and Cosmos were blown over, and that was it. 



The pumpkin tower also ended up leaning over a bit more. This hasn't stopped the courgette growing though.. 



The greenhouse was in need of a bit of a wash on the inside. The glass was covered in all that green powdery stuff that covers tomatoes. I got some Jeyes fluid and used a capful in the hot water. 

That was a mistake. A week later and the greenhouse still smells like the lavatories at my junior school in the 1960's . I will not be using that again. The glass came up beautifully though. 


The staging, that has been outside all summer, is now back inside and already covered in plants again



I still have one grow bag with the cucumber in it. 


And my sweet peas are very happy. 


My seed addiction was fed further this week by the arrival of some wonderful seeds from a Heritage Seed company in Missouri, USA called Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds . I was browsing for unusual squash on the internet when I stumbled across their website. I was fascinated. I had never heard of most of the varieties they were selling. I bought 4 packets which were sent quickly and the whole thing only cost me £8. 





I shall enjoy growing these, and in fact was chatting to fellow gardeners on twitter and one of them mentioned something called the "Three Sisters". I didn't have a clue what he was on about  , so had to resort to a google search. It turns out its is a planting scheme  using only corn, beans and squash and was used by Native American Indians, who then showed the settlers how to do it , and probably saved them. 

I found an excellent American Blog which explained the history and also shows planting plans. If you want to know more click here 

Anyway, after reading this blog, I have decided to have a go. I have some corn seeds that were sent to me by my Seedypenpal, Jenny, and they are from an Irish heritage seed supplier, so they should work nicely with my American squash, now all I need to find are some good beans and I will be ready. I think one of my raised beds will be the perfect size and it will be an interesting experiment and good use of space. 

Finally from the garden, we have eaten the first of our trellis grown pumpkins, and very tasty it was too. loads more left so they should last until christmas


Well thats about it for the garden. Out and about , we went for a last run of the summer in Freda. This time Jim attached his Go-Pro to the bonnet. It looked a bit odd but worked well . 


And on another day, we were on one of our regular walks when we found a Golden Retriever who was obviously lost. Her name was Hazel and she is a very pretty dog


Luckily she had 4 telephone numbers on her collar so we quickly contacted her owner and after a bit of a walk we were able to return her to her family. Gibson enjoyed her company. 


After all the excitement we went to the pub for lunch and Gisbon enjoyed his Pint


Only Joking!!!! 

Wel thats it for now. Not much to be done in the garden now for a while but I am busy planning for next spring already, I shall let you in on my plans in due course .. Have a great week, we plan to .