jacey: (blue eyes)

The last few years we've been experimenting with raised beds in the fenced off part of our garden that we laughingly call the vegetable plot. We put the fence up because our last dog, Diezel, was a digger and no fresh soil was safe from him. Eska doesn't seem as interested in digging up things as we plant them - but she's never really had the opportunity - and that's the way we intend to keep it.

So... fence. And on the lawn side of that fence we've planted 5 espalier and fan trained fruit trees, 2 eating apples, a Bramley baking apple (all espalier), a plum tree and a pear tree (fan trained). We had a small crop in their first year but last year not one sign of blossom, so no fruit. I think we had late frosts at exactly the wrong time. So we'll see how they do this year. Our neighbours have a cherry tree which dangles very tempting sweet fruit over our path. Yum. One of our other neighbours also has a crabapple tree which is a bit unloved, but again dangles plenty of fruit over the wall. It's not the best crab-apple flavour, though we did get several jars of crab apple jelly from the windfalls the year before last.

The veg garden is bounded on 3 sides by dry-stone walls and on the fourth by the fence and the apple trees. There are trees up against the south-western wall, including two huge conifers, and a mature ash tree guards the west corner. This was trimmed back about 6 years ago and doesn't get full leaf until June. In summer the trees don't shade the garden until evening.

In the border by the north west wall BB has planted an edible hedge with crab apple, hazel and cherry plum, but this is still too small to produce anything.

PLOT 1
We have 5 raised beds in a triangular plot so ranging from a triangle with sides of about 5ft, to a long bed which is about 4ft wide and 20ft long. The two smallest plots are planted with strawberries, Marshmallo, which are supposed to be one of the finest flavours. The plants were new the autumn before last, but we had a small delicious crop in the few weeks when the rain let up and the sun came out. Hope for better this year now they are a little better established. I've also pegged down some runners, but most of the runners have had to be snipped and disposed of otherwise the whole garden would be strawberries. In the remaining three beds I plan to plant vegetables in small but intensive quantities.

PLOT 2
There's one triangular patch roughly the same size which is currently uncultivated (grassed over).

PLOT 3
There's another triangular patch which is full of self seeded saplings and a self-seeded willow that's grown rather large. Over the years this plot has been a dumping ground for gravelly and weedy stuff that should have gone into rubble bags or into the compost. That last patch will take a LOT of reclaiming, so for the moment, we aren't doing anything with it.

Yes we have compost - at least we do now, though we've only really looked after it properly for about 4 years. We have 3 big plastic 'dalek' compost bins courtesy of the local council and two open wooden compost bins for grass clippings and hefty stuff like cabbage stalks and roots. (There's also an old compost bin in the lawned part of the garden which could be cleared now and would probably yield dome good stuff as it's been festering for years with mostly lawn clippings in it.

Last autumn we invested in a small lean-to greenhouse which, for better or worse, is in a semi-shady section of our back yard. We figured that is we like greenhouse gardening, we'll get a bigger one and put it in the veg garden. (Though a self-seeded willow will have to go as it overshadows the plot where the greenhouse and soft fruit might go.)

So first things first. I have bought heritage seeds. We're 1000 ft up on the edge of the Yorkshire Pennines, so the season starts late here, so it's too early to plant seeds in an unheated greenhouse and there's no suitable indoor windowsill, so for now, planning is all I can do.

Seeds:
I still need tomato seeds suitable for an unheated greenhouse, but so far I've got:

Bulls Blood beetleaf beetroot
Romanesco broccoli / calabrese
Sutton Dwarf broad beans
Mixed colours runner beans
Sonesta Wax AGM dwarf French bean
Early half tall brussel sprout
Ormskirk Savoy cabbage
All year round cauliflower
Mixed summer sampler courgettes
Ailsa Craig onion (seed)
Norli AGM dwarf mangetout peas
Pea shoot style dwarf pea
Tom Thumb dwarf pea
Guensey demi-long parsnip
Early Nante carrot
Ruby swede

In addition I've got a pack of ramsom (wild garlic) seeds and some Alexandra Red Wild Woodland strawberry (alpine) for under the trees.

Mostly you'll notice I've gone for dwarf varieties. That's because even in summer we can get wild windy weather up here and I don't want to have to stake everything.

In previous years the cabbage whites have devastated the brassicas, so this year we'll net the cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, swede and beetroot. Slugs are also a real problem. I'm wondering about watering in some nematodes, but will also resort to slug pellets this year. Belt and braces. The little bastards love my strawberries and cabbages.

So that's the plan.

jacey: (blue eyes)
The weather was so wet last year that we never dug out or planted the raised beds at all. The only thing in the kitchen garden was a bed full of strawberries planted the previous autumn, and either the rain ruined them or the slugs and snails got to them before we did. Also, disappointingly, we had not one piece of fruit on three apple trees a plum and a pear.

But today we managed to have a garden day and four out of the five raised beds are back in business. I had to seriously clean out the strawberry beds and found that there were masses of runners that had set themselves, so we now have two beds of strawberries and, thanks to a neighbour's greenhouse-grown plant-lets, a bed of brassicas (broccoli and two types of cabbage). BB has put up frames and the butterfly nets will go over them SOON because the year before we lost the whole crop to cabbage white caterpillars. BB dug out another bed and it's ready for peas and beans. If it seems a little late in the season, you have to remember that we are 1000 ft above sea level and we have a short growing season at the best of times.

Found many huge, brown-shelled snails inside the raised beds. Note to self: consider charging snails for flying lessons next time.

Just one raised bed to dig out now., though I'm a bit unsure about planting root vegetables until we can cage the beds from the local cats. We have about ten cats in the neighbourhood that think our raised beds are giant litter trays and cat crap amongst root veg is not particularly inviting. BB has bought wood and wire netting, but we need to make it as secure as Alcatraz to keep the tenacious b**tards out. Neighbours please note: If I wanted cat crap in my vegetables I'd keep a cat myself.

I've also got half a dozen sturdy tomato plants in the porch, two of them with the first truss already in flower and since the neighbour also gave me half a dozen well grown lettuces I've potted them and intend to grow them on a windowsill. They're almost ready to eat now! Another couple of weeks should do the trick. It's not worth giving the slugs the opportunity for a feed.

But the fruit trees are barely budding yet. There are a few leaves on the Bramley apple, but the other two apples, the pear and the plum think it's still February.

Tomorrow, if my back will still bend and my feet hold me up, I'm going to shove the bedding plants (mostly pansies and violas) I bought a couple of weeks ago into the pots in the front garden. My winter hanging basket has done very well. As soon as the snow melted the pansies revived and are still blooming happily. I may not need to replace it for summer at this rate.
jacey: (Default)
We grow all our veg in raised beds to save my back - though I do still have problems, so tend to weed for only short sessions, but I go out fairly frequently and have more or less kept up with it this year.

Results?

We had great peas, and broad beans a-plenty, but due to me missing the planting time we had no French and runner beans, and we didn't get the supports for insect netting in place in time to plant brassicas, so no brussels sprouts this year. (The cabbage whites ate the lot last time, hence waiting until the netting frame was in place and missing the boat.) The beetroot did quite well, though, and since BB doesn't like it in any way shape or form I've been making soup with it. Not quite borscht, but mainly beet + a little onion, parsnip, carrot and fresh tomato with a base of vegetable bouillon from Kallo granules (and a splash of red wine). Mmmm... gorgeous. The carrots started out brilliantly and I had loads as they were all starting to grow to a useful size. Much better tasting than last years - which were a bit strong. But last week I discovered that all the ones left in the bed had horrid black threads in them. Carrot root fly, I think. Bugger!

Unfortunately The onions haven't done very well this year. Last time they were brilliant, grown from seed but a variety that didn't keep very well. This year I went for a good keeper, but germination was very hit and miss. Ditto the garlic, despite buying expensive garlic sets. I probably only had one in four come up. I should have shoved in cloves from the supermarket - it would have been a lot cheaper and a friend tells me they do just as well.

We only had two strawberry plants, shoved into the raised beds after overwintering in hanging baskets. One did nothing at all and the other is still giving me strawberries, about half a dozen at a time (if I get them before the wasps do). But I've ordered a dozen of the variety 'Marshmallo' (from Marshalls) which is supposed to be excellent. They are due at the end of September to establish ready for next year.

In early spring we planted 3 espalier apples, one (each) fan-trained plum and pear. The pear yielded nothing. The plum yielded flour tiny but beautiful plums. The Bramley has one apple on it, but two of the (desert) apples are doing brilliantly. One is a September cropping one and they are just about ready now. The other is due in October and it's already laden with good-looking fruit. It's a bonus, I didn't expect to get much in the first year.

About the same time BB put in 150 mixed English hedging plants (a hawthorn base, but with lots of interesting stuff such as forsythia, field maple, and rosa rugosa as well) all around the garden walls, but at the top end, within what has now been fenced off as a veg garden, he made sure that there was a high proportion of hazel, cherry plum and crab-apple. It may be a few years before we see (and taste) the advantage of having them but... yum!

And I should mention the rhubarb. We're close to the rhubarb triangle and have two crowns which were here when we moved in in 1980. They were moved in 1988 and BB wanted to get rid of them this year in order to plant the hedge, but I like rhubarb. (RHubarb and date pie, yum!) He tried his best to kill it off - dug it up when I wasn't around and dumped the crowns in a plastic bin. Even without water and with only the soil clinging to the crown (and even though they were upside down) they made their presence felt by throwing up stalks, so eventually with much grumbling BB halved the biggest grown and planted the two halves in huge tubs. Result? Rhubarb enjoying a second coming! There's even a tiny bit of crown that got left over throwing up stalks from the corner of the wheelbarrow. You can't keep good rhubarb down!
jacey: (Default)
We grow all our veg in raised beds to save my back - though I do still have problems, so tend to weed for only short sessions, but I go out fairly frequently and have more or less kept up with it this year.

Results?

We had great peas, and broad beans a-plenty, but due to me missing the planting time we had no French and runner beans, and we didn't get the supports for insect netting in place in time to plant brassicas, so no brussels sprouts this year. (The cabbage whites ate the lot last time, hence waiting until the netting frame was in place and missing the boat.) The beetroot did quite well, though, and since BB doesn't like it in any way shape or form I've been making soup with it. Not quite borscht, but mainly beet + a little onion, parsnip, carrot and fresh tomato with a base of vegetable bouillon from Kallo granules (and a splash of red wine). Mmmm... gorgeous. The carrots started out brilliantly and I had loads as they were all starting to grow to a useful size. Much better tasting than last years - which were a bit strong. But last week I discovered that all the ones left in the bed had horrid black threads in them. Carrot root fly, I think. Bugger!

Unfortunately The onions haven't done very well this year. Last time they were brilliant, grown from seed but a variety that didn't keep very well. This year I went for a good keeper, but germination was very hit and miss. Ditto the garlic, despite buying expensive garlic sets. I probably only had one in four come up. I should have shoved in cloves from the supermarket - it would have been a lot cheaper and a friend tells me they do just as well.

We only had two strawberry plants, shoved into the raised beds after overwintering in hanging baskets. One did nothing at all and the other is still giving me strawberries, about half a dozen at a time (if I get them before the wasps do). But I've ordered a dozen of the variety 'Marshmallo' (from Marshalls) which is supposed to be excellent. They are due at the end of September to establish ready for next year.

In early spring we planted 3 espalier apples, one (each) fan-trained plum and pear. The pear yielded nothing. The plum yielded flour tiny but beautiful plums. The Bramley has one apple on it, but two of the (desert) apples are doing brilliantly. One is a September cropping one and they are just about ready now. The other is due in October and it's already laden with good-looking fruit. It's a bonus, I didn't expect to get much in the first year.

About the same time BB put in 150 mixed English hedging plants (a hawthorn base, but with lots of interesting stuff such as forsythia, field maple, and rosa rugosa as well) all around the garden walls, but at the top end, within what has now been fenced off as a veg garden, he made sure that there was a high proportion of hazel, cherry plum and crab-apple. It may be a few years before we see (and taste) the advantage of having them but... yum!

And I should mention the rhubarb. We're close to the rhubarb triangle and have two crowns which were here when we moved in in 1980. They were moved in 1988 and BB wanted to get rid of them this year in order to plant the hedge, but I like rhubarb. (RHubarb and date pie, yum!) He tried his best to kill it off - dug it up when I wasn't around and dumped the crowns in a plastic bin. Even without water and with only the soil clinging to the crown (and even though they were upside down) they made their presence felt by throwing up stalks, so eventually with much grumbling BB halved the biggest grown and planted the two halves in huge tubs. Result? Rhubarb enjoying a second coming! There's even a tiny bit of crown that got left over throwing up stalks from the corner of the wheelbarrow. You can't keep good rhubarb down!

Mmmm....

Jul. 24th, 2011 06:15 pm
jacey: (Default)
Got the first carrots out of the garden today - baby carrots from the thinnings - and yet another basketful of peas.

So dinner tonight is stuffed pork wrapped in bacon with new potatoes (bought) and home grown carrots and peas. And gravy of course. Dead simple, but very satisfying.

Mmmm....

Jul. 24th, 2011 06:15 pm
jacey: (Default)
Got the first carrots out of the garden today - baby carrots from the thinnings - and yet another basketful of peas.

So dinner tonight is stuffed pork wrapped in bacon with new potatoes (bought) and home grown carrots and peas. And gravy of course. Dead simple, but very satisfying.
jacey: (Default)
21st March and I can almost believe that spring is - if not here - at least just around the corner. Instead of heavy coat weather it's light fleece weather out there even a thousand feet up on the edge of the Pennines. Thanks to BB's hard work in the garden over the last month  the daffs have been freed from the morass of weed-debris and bramble and are bending their heads and showing yellow, ready to flower. The undergrowth has been cleared from the trees round the edge of the garden. 150 hedging plants - mainly hawthorne with intermingled crab-apple, hazel, cherry plum, forsythia, field maple and guelder rose - have been planted and mulched. The raised beds (not used last year because we were away for three months from July to September) have been weeded turned and fed with new compost and paths between them have been beaten back, weed-screened and bark chipped.

Wow!

And all while I was sitting on my bum in the office. (In all fairness I was working.)  I could get to like this type of gardening.

The planting and weeding comes next. That's my job. (Though BB is planting the espalier apple trees due tomorrow.)

This year I'm planning a strawberry bed and some soft fruit (blackcurrants and possibly raspberries) in a permanent site and then (raised beds) onions, garlic, broccoli, curly kale, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, beans (runner, french and broad), carrots, parsnips and swede with some lettuce. I've got three different varieties of tomato seeds (probably to be grown in the house this year on sunny bedroom windowsils where the dog won't knock them over).

I'm hoping I can rescue the rhubarb that BB heaved out last week to plant the fence. He doesn't like rhubarb and tried his best to kill it, but I'm hoping I can tub-plant it. It's been in the garden over 30 years - or longer, I suspect, since it was probably planted by our predecessor's predecessor. Hopefully a little upheaval won't kill it off completely. It needed dividing anyway. We are in the rhubarb triangle, i.e. we have optimum conditions for the stuff, so we might as well make use of it.
jacey: (Default)
21st March and I can almost believe that spring is - if not here - at least just around the corner. Instead of heavy coat weather it's light fleece weather out there even a thousand feet up on the edge of the Pennines. Thanks to BB's hard work in the garden over the last month  the daffs have been freed from the morass of weed-debris and bramble and are bending their heads and showing yellow, ready to flower. The undergrowth has been cleared from the trees round the edge of the garden. 150 hedging plants - mainly hawthorne with intermingled crab-apple, hazel, cherry plum, forsythia, field maple and guelder rose - have been planted and mulched. The raised beds (not used last year because we were away for three months from July to September) have been weeded turned and fed with new compost and paths between them have been beaten back, weed-screened and bark chipped.

Wow!

And all while I was sitting on my bum in the office. (In all fairness I was working.)  I could get to like this type of gardening.

The planting and weeding comes next. That's my job. (Though BB is planting the espalier apple trees due tomorrow.)

This year I'm planning a strawberry bed and some soft fruit (blackcurrants and possibly raspberries) in a permanent site and then (raised beds) onions, garlic, broccoli, curly kale, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, beans (runner, french and broad), carrots, parsnips and swede with some lettuce. I've got three different varieties of tomato seeds (probably to be grown in the house this year on sunny bedroom windowsils where the dog won't knock them over).

I'm hoping I can rescue the rhubarb that BB heaved out last week to plant the fence. He doesn't like rhubarb and tried his best to kill it, but I'm hoping I can tub-plant it. It's been in the garden over 30 years - or longer, I suspect, since it was probably planted by our predecessor's predecessor. Hopefully a little upheaval won't kill it off completely. It needed dividing anyway. We are in the rhubarb triangle, i.e. we have optimum conditions for the stuff, so we might as well make use of it.
jacey: (Default)
Went fruit shopping with a vengeance this morning. Bought three apple trees (2 eaters, 1 Bramley for baking), 1 pear tree and a plum tree - all espalier trained to go next to the new fence which now divides the lawn from the vegetable garden (i.e. keeps the dog from digging up the nice soft earth in the raised beds). Delivery tomorrow. Ground already prepared.

Introduced dog to the new fence today. Over the weekend the fence was up but the gates (one at each end) weren't, so it didn't restrict him. Now, suddenly the gates are up and bolted and he can't quite work out why his world has shrunk. The top end of the garden is so exciting. It has grass sods which

Anyone here grow raspberries? Any tips? How thorny are they? Are they as bad as brambles to control? I love raspberries, but BB doesn't want anything that throws of suckers and spreads like the plague. From what i rmember of raspberries they're nowhere near as bad as blackberries in that respect. (And I don't actually like blackberries anyway.)

Going to grow some blackcurrants, too. Yum. My absolute favourite.

Debating the value of installing a greenhouse. What do you grow in yours?
jacey: (Default)
Went fruit shopping with a vengeance this morning. Bought three apple trees (2 eaters, 1 Bramley for baking), 1 pear tree and a plum tree - all espalier trained to go next to the new fence which now divides the lawn from the vegetable garden (i.e. keeps the dog from digging up the nice soft earth in the raised beds). Delivery tomorrow. Ground already prepared.

Introduced dog to the new fence today. Over the weekend the fence was up but the gates (one at each end) weren't, so it didn't restrict him. Now, suddenly the gates are up and bolted and he can't quite work out why his world has shrunk. The top end of the garden is so exciting. It has grass sods which

Anyone here grow raspberries? Any tips? How thorny are they? Are they as bad as brambles to control? I love raspberries, but BB doesn't want anything that throws of suckers and spreads like the plague. From what i rmember of raspberries they're nowhere near as bad as blackberries in that respect. (And I don't actually like blackberries anyway.)

Going to grow some blackcurrants, too. Yum. My absolute favourite.

Debating the value of installing a greenhouse. What do you grow in yours?
jacey: (Default)
The Harvest
(No not the Buffy episode, but the garden one...)

So today I have done bugger-all except spray myself with 'Deepwoods Off', brave the mozzies and harvest stuff out of the garden. This is my first year of growing veg and I'm so pleased with myself...

veg harvest 2009
This pic says it all, really. Dinner tonight is roast chicken with home grown new potatoes, broad beans, runner beans and carrots

Except... Have you any idea how to safely control a massive infestation of cabbage white butterfly on broccoli, and brussels? The caterpillars have all but ruined my enthusiasm for the broccoli (purple sprouting) because I'm really not sure I've got all the little bastards out of it. Apart from that...

Potatoes are not plentiful, but they're perfect - nary a blemish. Carrots and broad beans are a delight and the runner beans are just coming in and look like they'll be terrific. I've got enough for dinner today, but they are covered with flowers and plenty of little beans on the way.

The swedes are swelling to great-big-enormous-turnip proportions, but I tried one as a baby and it was so strong we couldn't eat it (and I like swede). I'm assuming they'll be a bit better for letting them mature and the frost get at them. If not I've grown the wrong variety - but at least I know I can grow swede and will experiment with a milder variety next year.

I planted the beetroot way too close to the broccoli and brussels and they have suffered from lack of light but I'm hoping that they'll perk up now that the broccoli has been cleared. I can see the roots swelling, but they're still small. Next year I must remember to plant stuff further apart because it grows like buggery. By next year we'll have two more raised beds in production. (Three beds this year, five next. The raised beds certainly help when it comes to weeding.)

The onions are swelling well. Unfortunately the seed pack says they are not brilliant 'keepers' so I may have to chop and freeze them once they're ready rather than plait them and dry them. Since I've grown them from seed instead of sets I'm congratulating myself that I have onions at all. I think I might try red onions next year - preferably a better keeping variety.

My tomatoes have become a family joke. They are enormous plants - six or seven feet tall - growing in the porch. I had two of the earliest ones (seeds planet in February) fruiting from mid-June and those two plants (in the living room in front of sourhwest-facing patio doors) have finished now - after yielding steadily for the last six weeks. But you take your life in your hands when you pass through the porch. BB wants to know if they are tomatoes or triffids.
tomatoes or triffids

I think they are very interesting, but stupid...
very interesting but stupid
And anyone who doesn't get that is too young to remember Rowan and Martin.

jacey: (Default)
The Harvest
(No not the Buffy episode, but the garden one...)

So today I have done bugger-all except spray myself with 'Deepwoods Off', brave the mozzies and harvest stuff out of the garden. This is my first year of growing veg and I'm so pleased with myself...

veg harvest 2009
This pic says it all, really. Dinner tonight is roast chicken with home grown new potatoes, broad beans, runner beans and carrots

Except... Have you any idea how to safely control a massive infestation of cabbage white butterfly on broccoli, and brussels? The caterpillars have all but ruined my enthusiasm for the broccoli (purple sprouting) because I'm really not sure I've got all the little bastards out of it. Apart from that...

Potatoes are not plentiful, but they're perfect - nary a blemish. Carrots and broad beans are a delight and the runner beans are just coming in and look like they'll be terrific. I've got enough for dinner today, but they are covered with flowers and plenty of little beans on the way.

The swedes are swelling to great-big-enormous-turnip proportions, but I tried one as a baby and it was so strong we couldn't eat it (and I like swede). I'm assuming they'll be a bit better for letting them mature and the frost get at them. If not I've grown the wrong variety - but at least I know I can grow swede and will experiment with a milder variety next year.

I planted the beetroot way too close to the broccoli and brussels and they have suffered from lack of light but I'm hoping that they'll perk up now that the broccoli has been cleared. I can see the roots swelling, but they're still small. Next year I must remember to plant stuff further apart because it grows like buggery. By next year we'll have two more raised beds in production. (Three beds this year, five next. The raised beds certainly help when it comes to weeding.)

The onions are swelling well. Unfortunately the seed pack says they are not brilliant 'keepers' so I may have to chop and freeze them once they're ready rather than plait them and dry them. Since I've grown them from seed instead of sets I'm congratulating myself that I have onions at all. I think I might try red onions next year - preferably a better keeping variety.

My tomatoes have become a family joke. They are enormous plants - six or seven feet tall - growing in the porch. I had two of the earliest ones (seeds planet in February) fruiting from mid-June and those two plants (in the living room in front of sourhwest-facing patio doors) have finished now - after yielding steadily for the last six weeks. But you take your life in your hands when you pass through the porch. BB wants to know if they are tomatoes or triffids.
tomatoes or triffids

I think they are very interesting, but stupid...
very interesting but stupid
And anyone who doesn't get that is too young to remember Rowan and Martin.

jacey: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ritaxis - on her blog - asked if anyone else had noticed new biting bugs and whether it was a product of climate change... well...

We've never had mosquitos in my part of England before - I mean - we're  a thousand feet up on the edge of the Pennines and the only English mozzies I've ever encountered before have been in the lowlying marshy Fens (East Anglia), some 200 miles away, but the last few years has brought biting insects up to us. Mozzies, I think, because a couple of years ago a Canadian friend spotted mosquito larva in the standing water in a wheelbarrow (which we got rid of very quickly), but maybe other bugs as well.

This summer, my lush and productive vegetable patch is infested. Every time I go up there to weed or harvest I come back with a new crop of horrible itchy bites. (I react badly to mozzy-bites, but I've never reacted particularly badly to gnats.) The last couple of times I've been up the garden I've put on a thick (padded), nearly knee-length, winter coat and zipped it all the way up to the neck... so don't ask me how (yesterday) I managed to get a red, itchy bite on my belly. Those blasted bugs just ain't playing fair.

Anyone got any ideas about how to de-infest a small veg patch without rendering the veg poisonous?

Just out of interest - since several neighbours' cats use our garden as their playground (and, ugh!, toilet) - could there be cat fleas infesting the area they sunbathe in? Is that possible? I've managed to stop them shitting in the veg, but they tend to sleep in the sheltered longish grass on the paths between the raised beds.

Help. Ideas welcome.

jacey: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ritaxis - on her blog - asked if anyone else had noticed new biting bugs and whether it was a product of climate change... well...

We've never had mosquitos in my part of England before - I mean - we're  a thousand feet up on the edge of the Pennines and the only English mozzies I've ever encountered before have been in the lowlying marshy Fens (East Anglia), some 200 miles away, but the last few years has brought biting insects up to us. Mozzies, I think, because a couple of years ago a Canadian friend spotted mosquito larva in the standing water in a wheelbarrow (which we got rid of very quickly), but maybe other bugs as well.

This summer, my lush and productive vegetable patch is infested. Every time I go up there to weed or harvest I come back with a new crop of horrible itchy bites. (I react badly to mozzy-bites, but I've never reacted particularly badly to gnats.) The last couple of times I've been up the garden I've put on a thick (padded), nearly knee-length, winter coat and zipped it all the way up to the neck... so don't ask me how (yesterday) I managed to get a red, itchy bite on my belly. Those blasted bugs just ain't playing fair.

Anyone got any ideas about how to de-infest a small veg patch without rendering the veg poisonous?

Just out of interest - since several neighbours' cats use our garden as their playground (and, ugh!, toilet) - could there be cat fleas infesting the area they sunbathe in? Is that possible? I've managed to stop them shitting in the veg, but they tend to sleep in the sheltered longish grass on the paths between the raised beds.

Help. Ideas welcome.

jacey: (Default)
Today I picked: young and tender broad beans, purple sprouting broccoli, small onions (about shallot-sized but they'll grow on once thinned) and carrots from the garden plus another four ripe tomatoes from the indoor plants. There are new potatoes ready in the taty-bags. The swedes are already three inches across and the beets are baby-beet size - about 1 - 2 inches across.

All grown in the new raised beds.
:-)
jacey: (Default)
Today I picked: young and tender broad beans, purple sprouting broccoli, small onions (about shallot-sized but they'll grow on once thinned) and carrots from the garden plus another four ripe tomatoes from the indoor plants. There are new potatoes ready in the taty-bags. The swedes are already three inches across and the beets are baby-beet size - about 1 - 2 inches across.

All grown in the new raised beds.
:-)
jacey: (Default)
We've now got three raised beds planted and a fourth under construction. Whoo-hoo. All thanks to Best Beloved being in garden-builder mode and having some woodwormy joists spare from the barn renovation. The wood's definitely not fit to re-use for building (even if it has been treated) but it's fine for the garden. BB's happy to make new things, but less happy to maintain what's growing in them. Fair enough. I figure I can do the maintenance stuff.

The plan is to have a small but regular supply of vegetables from the garden from summer onwards. I'd like to grow fruit as well, but apart from the rhubarb (which has yielded another 3 lbs today) and four new strawberry plants, the fruit might have to wait until next year

More gardening stuff )

jacey: (Default)
We've now got three raised beds planted and a fourth under construction. Whoo-hoo. All thanks to Best Beloved being in garden-builder mode and having some woodwormy joists spare from the barn renovation. The wood's definitely not fit to re-use for building (even if it has been treated) but it's fine for the garden. BB's happy to make new things, but less happy to maintain what's growing in them. Fair enough. I figure I can do the maintenance stuff.

The plan is to have a small but regular supply of vegetables from the garden from summer onwards. I'd like to grow fruit as well, but apart from the rhubarb (which has yielded another 3 lbs today) and four new strawberry plants, the fruit might have to wait until next year

More gardening stuff )

jacey: (Default)
In the greenhouse porch: The first early potatoes are growing beautifully in their bags (39p Asda bags as opposed to £6 garden centre 'potato' bags) and I'm earthing-up almost daily as they shoot skywards. I've transplanted the first lot of tomatoes (Shirley) grown from seed into large pots and the biggest of them is about nine inches tall already. The little hanging basket toms (100s and 1000s) are much slower, but though still only a couple of inches tall, they look healthy. I've got lettuces (Little Gem) in pots almost big enough to eat already and more in seed trays.

On the windowsill: More seeds in trays, including broccoli, cabbage, more tomatoes (Marmade) and more lettuce plus in seed pots broad beans and runer beans. I've got four fantastically healthy looking strawberry plants in pots - bought as tiny plug plants in late February and, so far, transplanted to larger pots on the windowsill. They are now ready for potting on or planting in baskets, I guess. I've also got sixteen fuchsia cuttings in various states of advancement - at least half of whiuch are established enough to call 'plants' by now.

In the garden: We've already had the first rhubarb crop. Gotta love that stuff. Rhubarb and custard and date an rhubarb pie. Yum. And today for the first time I've put stuff in the new raised beds. That's the onion seeds (Ailsa Craig) in one and the broccoli seedlings and some brussels sprout seedlings (given to me by a neighbour) into the other. The broccoli (Summer Purple Sprouting) didn't do too well in the seed pots once they'd been pricked out. Not sure why. Maybe the wrong ph balance in the potting compost. I'm hoping they'll fare better in the garden. I'm going to plant some direct from seed as well to see if that does better or worse. I've also transplanted half a dozen well grown lettuces to the outside bed to see how they do.

It's a bit early yet but I'm wondering if my big hanging fuchsia (actually a triple - three different plants in one big pot) can go outside yet. I'd hate to lose it to a late frost after nursing it through the winter. I brought it in and overwintered it in the porch. Then in January/February when we had enough sharp frosts to make the porch a bit too dangerous for it, I brought it into the living room. It immediately responded with a huge crop of beautiful flowers, but my living room is a bit dark and so when it started to straggle I shoved it back in the porch and that knocked it back a bit - though it's full of buds again now. I'm feeding it on Baby Bio and it seems to like that. It's the parent of all my cuttings.

Bear in mind we're in Yorkshire and almost 1000 feet above sea level, with a very short growing season, so anything that gets planted out early does so with crossed fingers.

Off to B & Q in an hour to get some bits for the hosepipe (roses for easier watering etc.) and some more big pots and some more potting compost and/or growbags.

jacey: (Default)
In the greenhouse porch: The first early potatoes are growing beautifully in their bags (39p Asda bags as opposed to £6 garden centre 'potato' bags) and I'm earthing-up almost daily as they shoot skywards. I've transplanted the first lot of tomatoes (Shirley) grown from seed into large pots and the biggest of them is about nine inches tall already. The little hanging basket toms (100s and 1000s) are much slower, but though still only a couple of inches tall, they look healthy. I've got lettuces (Little Gem) in pots almost big enough to eat already and more in seed trays.

On the windowsill: More seeds in trays, including broccoli, cabbage, more tomatoes (Marmade) and more lettuce plus in seed pots broad beans and runer beans. I've got four fantastically healthy looking strawberry plants in pots - bought as tiny plug plants in late February and, so far, transplanted to larger pots on the windowsill. They are now ready for potting on or planting in baskets, I guess. I've also got sixteen fuchsia cuttings in various states of advancement - at least half of whiuch are established enough to call 'plants' by now.

In the garden: We've already had the first rhubarb crop. Gotta love that stuff. Rhubarb and custard and date an rhubarb pie. Yum. And today for the first time I've put stuff in the new raised beds. That's the onion seeds (Ailsa Craig) in one and the broccoli seedlings and some brussels sprout seedlings (given to me by a neighbour) into the other. The broccoli (Summer Purple Sprouting) didn't do too well in the seed pots once they'd been pricked out. Not sure why. Maybe the wrong ph balance in the potting compost. I'm hoping they'll fare better in the garden. I'm going to plant some direct from seed as well to see if that does better or worse. I've also transplanted half a dozen well grown lettuces to the outside bed to see how they do.

It's a bit early yet but I'm wondering if my big hanging fuchsia (actually a triple - three different plants in one big pot) can go outside yet. I'd hate to lose it to a late frost after nursing it through the winter. I brought it in and overwintered it in the porch. Then in January/February when we had enough sharp frosts to make the porch a bit too dangerous for it, I brought it into the living room. It immediately responded with a huge crop of beautiful flowers, but my living room is a bit dark and so when it started to straggle I shoved it back in the porch and that knocked it back a bit - though it's full of buds again now. I'm feeding it on Baby Bio and it seems to like that. It's the parent of all my cuttings.

Bear in mind we're in Yorkshire and almost 1000 feet above sea level, with a very short growing season, so anything that gets planted out early does so with crossed fingers.

Off to B & Q in an hour to get some bits for the hosepipe (roses for easier watering etc.) and some more big pots and some more potting compost and/or growbags.

jacey: (Default)
We're trying to grow vegetables this year and BB is buolding raised beds but the last few days while turning over an ancient compost heap (20+ years of grass cuttings, well rotted) and emptying the plastic kitchen waste compost bins he's come up in timy itchy lumps that look like bites. Any idea what pests might cause this?
jacey: (Default)
We're trying to grow vegetables this year and BB is buolding raised beds but the last few days while turning over an ancient compost heap (20+ years of grass cuttings, well rotted) and emptying the plastic kitchen waste compost bins he's come up in timy itchy lumps that look like bites. Any idea what pests might cause this?
jacey: (Default)
It's mild and sunny up here. BB and I spent a couple of hours in the garden today (sans coats) with [livejournal.com profile] dadgaderie  waging war on a dreadful ivy-like creeper that's been threatening to choke the big ash tree at the top corner of the garden. BB's pet robin has come back again this year and he came to join us as we exposed potential bug-hideouts under the mass of old growth.

My tomato (2 varieties), lettuce and broccoli seeds are sprouting beautifully on the bedroom windowsill, the first early potatoes are almost well enough sprouted to commit to the growing-bags (bastardised Tesco shopping bags at 39p each rather than garden centre ones for six quid!) and the four plug-plant strawberries are healthy and growing nicely in their new pots. My fuschia cuttings have all potted on well and there's another set rooting in water. At the beginning of the winter I brought in the huge triple-plant fuschia basket that hung by the front door door last year and it has already flowered once and is getting its second wind for another burst of bloom. Sadly the second hanging fuschia got left outside and I think that may be done for, but time will tell.
jacey: (Default)
It's mild and sunny up here. BB and I spent a couple of hours in the garden today (sans coats) with [livejournal.com profile] dadgaderie  waging war on a dreadful ivy-like creeper that's been threatening to choke the big ash tree at the top corner of the garden. BB's pet robin has come back again this year and he came to join us as we exposed potential bug-hideouts under the mass of old growth.

My tomato (2 varieties), lettuce and broccoli seeds are sprouting beautifully on the bedroom windowsill, the first early potatoes are almost well enough sprouted to commit to the growing-bags (bastardised Tesco shopping bags at 39p each rather than garden centre ones for six quid!) and the four plug-plant strawberries are healthy and growing nicely in their new pots. My fuschia cuttings have all potted on well and there's another set rooting in water. At the beginning of the winter I brought in the huge triple-plant fuschia basket that hung by the front door door last year and it has already flowered once and is getting its second wind for another burst of bloom. Sadly the second hanging fuschia got left outside and I think that may be done for, but time will tell.
jacey: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ferlonda  and [livejournal.com profile] dadgaderie  have just come up from the south of England and report spring is already in the air down there with snowdrops and crocuses blooming and cherry blossom starting.

Here we're much later, but catkins are on the willows, daffodils are now about six inches high and further down towards Huddersfield (much lower than out 1,000 feet ASL) I saw cocuses in bloom on the grass verge.

We may, of course get another flurry or two of snow, yet, but if we do it won't stay for long.

On Thursday I cleaned out the back porch - which is the closest I get to having a greenhouse - and put ten first early potatoes to chit on the landing window (north-ish facing). They are for growing in bags - in the porch for starters. The garden centre had some planting bags at six quid apiece - and then at the checkout their own hessian carrier bags - at £2.00 - looked about the same size so I bought one to try it, though I reckon Tesco's 'big green bags' at 39 pence each will do the job nicely if I punch some drain holes.

This morning, in a fit of enthusiasm I:
* moved the hanging-basket fuschia (overwintering inside) back into the porch from the living room, washing it in soapy water first because there were some suspicious white specks on the leaves. It's going out by the front door as soon as the frosts have safely passed.
* potted 6 fuschia cuttings (well rooted) and put another six fuschia cuttings into the water-pot to root
* potted 4 strawberries bought as plug-plants
* started 2 types of tomato from seed - one is '100s and 1000s', a micro-tom for hanging baskets, and the other an F1 hybrid - 'Shirley'
* planted about 15 purple sprouting broccoli seeds
* planted a small tray of cos lettuce seeds

The seeds, strawberries and fuschias are up on the bedroom windowsill (trays in plastic bags as quasi-propagators) and the porch is currently waiting for a new shelf to extend the existing windowsill into an 18 inch deep growing area for (mostly) tomatoes

BB is talking about using some of the old joists saved from the barn renovation (and too wormy to re-use for building) to make three raised beds on a section of the garden. My back is not good for grubbing around at floor-level, but hopefully I'll be able to manage the raised beds.

In another part of the garden we have to wage war against a horible broad-leaved ivy-type weed which has been encroaching for all of the 29 years we've loved here. We thought it was coming over from the farm-field next door but they thought it was coming over from our garden. It probably started in the farm but it's well-rooted in our garden now (probably beep beneath the dry-stone wall) and has crept along the ground from its corner - all the way behind a row of conifers and dense saplings (that we can't really get behind for undergrowth). Two years ago we had to pull it away from the trunk of a sixty year old ash tree and last summer I spotted it poking out of the top of a 25 foot Leylandii.

There's also a row of old English dog-roses which I take complete blame for as I bought them about eight years ago, intending them to make a dense hedge at the top of the garden. Unfortunately they are encroaching rather more than expected on a path. Ah well.

But in the same border we also seem to have sprouted a bramble which has bridged the path and tried to dig its way into a regularly mown lawn. The bastard!

War has been declared.


 


jacey: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ferlonda  and [livejournal.com profile] dadgaderie  have just come up from the south of England and report spring is already in the air down there with snowdrops and crocuses blooming and cherry blossom starting.

Here we're much later, but catkins are on the willows, daffodils are now about six inches high and further down towards Huddersfield (much lower than out 1,000 feet ASL) I saw cocuses in bloom on the grass verge.

We may, of course get another flurry or two of snow, yet, but if we do it won't stay for long.

On Thursday I cleaned out the back porch - which is the closest I get to having a greenhouse - and put ten first early potatoes to chit on the landing window (north-ish facing). They are for growing in bags - in the porch for starters. The garden centre had some planting bags at six quid apiece - and then at the checkout their own hessian carrier bags - at £2.00 - looked about the same size so I bought one to try it, though I reckon Tesco's 'big green bags' at 39 pence each will do the job nicely if I punch some drain holes.

This morning, in a fit of enthusiasm I:
* moved the hanging-basket fuschia (overwintering inside) back into the porch from the living room, washing it in soapy water first because there were some suspicious white specks on the leaves. It's going out by the front door as soon as the frosts have safely passed.
* potted 6 fuschia cuttings (well rooted) and put another six fuschia cuttings into the water-pot to root
* potted 4 strawberries bought as plug-plants
* started 2 types of tomato from seed - one is '100s and 1000s', a micro-tom for hanging baskets, and the other an F1 hybrid - 'Shirley'
* planted about 15 purple sprouting broccoli seeds
* planted a small tray of cos lettuce seeds

The seeds, strawberries and fuschias are up on the bedroom windowsill (trays in plastic bags as quasi-propagators) and the porch is currently waiting for a new shelf to extend the existing windowsill into an 18 inch deep growing area for (mostly) tomatoes

BB is talking about using some of the old joists saved from the barn renovation (and too wormy to re-use for building) to make three raised beds on a section of the garden. My back is not good for grubbing around at floor-level, but hopefully I'll be able to manage the raised beds.

In another part of the garden we have to wage war against a horible broad-leaved ivy-type weed which has been encroaching for all of the 29 years we've loved here. We thought it was coming over from the farm-field next door but they thought it was coming over from our garden. It probably started in the farm but it's well-rooted in our garden now (probably beep beneath the dry-stone wall) and has crept along the ground from its corner - all the way behind a row of conifers and dense saplings (that we can't really get behind for undergrowth). Two years ago we had to pull it away from the trunk of a sixty year old ash tree and last summer I spotted it poking out of the top of a 25 foot Leylandii.

There's also a row of old English dog-roses which I take complete blame for as I bought them about eight years ago, intending them to make a dense hedge at the top of the garden. Unfortunately they are encroaching rather more than expected on a path. Ah well.

But in the same border we also seem to have sprouted a bramble which has bridged the path and tried to dig its way into a regularly mown lawn. The bastard!

War has been declared.


 


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