Veg Patch

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

Sunday, 19 January 2014

A slow January in the garden

Like everyone else in the UK I am fed up with the rain. It has turned the garden into a squelching mess. I won't be put off though. Its time to start planting. 

I hear a lot of you shouting.. It's too early, but I have discovered over the past two years living here, I can plant a good 6 weeks before the dates shown on the back of packets. We live in a strange little micro climate.. and although we still get the winds, it just never seems to get very cold. The heating has barely been on this winter. I know I may be jumping the gun, but I can't wait. 

So it was chilli's first, I wrote about them last blog and they are already up and growing,
rows of them. But it wasn't enough so I now have a second propagator full as well. 

Lovely healthy looking plants they are as well.  I shall be out in the greenhouse this afternoon starting some of the perennial flowers I have acquired over the winter, and talking acquisition, I appear to over indulged my love of seed buying. I counted the packs the other day and found I may have inadvertently purchased over 100 different new seed packs . Oops that is going to take a lot of squeezing to get them all in. I shall try though! This is just a few of them.

Last week saw the first round of the 2014 Seedy Penpals Scheme. I was paired with Carl who runs the scheme.. No pressure then. I thought for a while about what I would send and decided on a selection of unusual Squash seeds that I bought from Rareseeds in the USA and some of my home collected chilli, amongst other things. I also cheated a little.

The scheme came about, because Carl was involved in a foodie swapping group and he thought it would be a good thing to do with seeds as well. Anyway, I was aware from his blog that he loves anything foodie, so I sent him some of my home dried Chilli flakes and also a jar of dried peppers. I hope to see that he has used them in one of his unusual curing recipes.

I love to share flowers, but Carl said he didn't grow annuals, so I squeezed in a few Dahlia tubers that I got from Georgie at Common Farm Flowers

Off it all went to Wales. I think that Carl was pleased with his parcel, I am looking forward to seeing what he does with the stuff he grows. Visit Carls website for some really interesting recipes.

So nothing much else to write about on the growing front yet. Out and about the recent windy spell has caused some amazing damage to trees in the New Forest, On a recent walk I took these pictures, and this was a tiny number of the badly damaged trees we saw on route. I can't imagine how strong the wind gust must have been to simply snap off the top of trees. 

Gibson of course was in doggy heaven... Sticks everywhere, he didn't know where to start

But as usual he was happy to stop and pose for the camera. 

Thats it for now, hope you all have a great few weeks ahead and get some seeds in . 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Here we go again

It was with renewed hope for a wonderful gardening year that I went to my bed in the early hours of 2014. As usual, my hope was dashed when I arose the following morning to the most depressing New Years Day I can remember for a long time. It barely got light all day long and the rain, well it was just bl**dy ridiculous. And so it has continued ever since, with the odd couple of hours here and there where the sun has managed to get out and warm us up a bit. 

Prior to New Years Eve in that strange hinterland between Christmas and New Year, I had one last job for 2013 to get done. Wash the glass  on the inside of the greenhouse, before I start filling it up again. I had already done the grow bag side at the end of the summer to get rid of the green powdery stuff that tomatoes always produce. Now it was the turn of the very full up side. It meant emptying everything out. 

Suddenly the clouds broke and there was sunshine so off I went. It was looking a bit tatty and neglected.

Everything was soon outside 

And and the cleaning could begin. Obviously as now all my bits and pieces were in the open, the weather became showery, two or three huge downpours followed, so I didn't hang about and before long, it was all coming back inside. 

I had made a trip to our local Garden Centre, Stewarts at Christchurch, who incidentally published a very nice piece about me and my garden in their quarterly newsletter, just before Christmas. Several of my neighbours, who have never been in my garden were amazed at what I get up to out there.... Anyway back to the blog.. I bought myself a few bits and pieces ready for the planting season, including a big tray thing to put the compost in when potting and some other odds and ends. 

The job was finished and now I was ready to start planting again. The stuff I planted in the autumn and my overwintering chilies all look very well. 

The seeds I planted at my workshop with Georgie, at Common Farm Flowers  are also looking very well

Outside things have been a bit difficult . In my last post I told you about our poor Eucalyptus trees that had been blown over. Those poor trees have been up and down more times than I can count. Jim has been out in all weathers trying ever more ingenious ways to keep them upright. 

Today I can report that 4 of the five younger trees are fit and well. Number five, which was the biggest and most top heavy, didn't make it. Its now residing in my neighbours shed seasoning ready for the log burner next winter. Its roots were so badly damaged and the soil all around it turned to liquid mud. It wouldn't stay up any longer. All there is now is a gap and a muddy hole where it used to be. 

We have researched a more appropriate tree for the spot. It certainly doesn't want to be evergreen, with the wind blowing through that gap, a deciduous tree stands far more chance of staying upright. We shall get something in the spring to plug the hole. 

Even after the sad loss of the tree, other signs of life are about. 

Allium are starting to appear

As are self seeded California Poppies

And I have started planting. My chillies are in and are now tucked up in a propagator in a warm spot in the summerhouse. 

I planted three varieties , the same as my very successful plants of last year. They are Chiltepin, The rude Chillies and Dorset Naga. They were so good last year I have had quite a few requests for plants from friends so I have planted a lot more. When this lot have germinated I shall do even more. 

I have used a root trainer this time as well. The sweet peas I planted in the autumn  have loved growing in them, so I have invested in a few more. 

Lets hope this lot all grow as well as last years. 

And finally a bit about the poor chickens. They have been getting so wet. The run had a cover on it that afforded them some protection, but in one of the early storms. It was ripped to shreds. Jim used a large tarpaulin to cover them up and save them from constant soaking and it has worked well. The only problem is, they are always in the dark, so we have invested in a clear cover and there will be pictures of that next time. Here they are, always cheerful no matter how bedraggled they look, and once again laying eggs. 

There was one bit of exciting news, It would appear that Margot was made a Dame in the New Years honours list . Lets hope she doesn't get too big for her boots , Geri and Babs wouldn't like that. 

And on that note the first blog of the year is done. I will try and make sure I don't just repeat stuff I wrote last year. I have big plans for the patch this year, a couple of growing experiments and I have already entered two growing competitions. One a Dorset Naga growing one run by Sea Spring Seeds  and the other is an as yet unexplained sunflower competition being run by Pete and Gary otherwise known as the Vegetablism crew.  If you like to grow and fancy a challenge check out the link to the competitions and see if you fancy joining in. 

Here's wishing you a wonderful 2014 growing season.