Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sowing Lettuce.

I said the other day that I would show you how I sow my lettuce, also a few other things for that matter. There is no reason at all why Lettuce can't be sown straight in the ground at this time of year but this method is particularly useful for early sowings when the ground is wet and cold, however I also prefer this way no matter whatever the time of year is.

I take a tray with cells, I use a ten cell tray as that will provide at least three Lettuce a week.

Fill with potting compost and firm, then top off and level before making a dent in the compost with your finger, don't make the hole too deep as this is mostly the cause of bad germination in seeds. It just wants to be deep enough to cover the seeds.

Put a few seed in to the palm of your hand, and I then use the blade of my knife to scoop up a couple of seed and place in one of the holes in the compost.

If the seed is new then a couple of seeds in each hole is all you need, if its older seed then put in a few extra.

Then just cover the seed with your finger, water in and either place in the greenhouse or warm sheltered place. When the seedlings are big enough to handle take out the weakest leaving one good plant in each cell.

In a few weeks you will have Lettuce like this ready for planting in the garden.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Gooseberries & Cherries.

Today we will just take a quick look at some of the fruit which is coming on well. In the first picture is one of the two Gooseberry bushes.

This picture shows the cherries which have been netted since this picture was taken.

Both the cherries and gooseberries seem to be trouble free in this garden, in other gardens in the past I've had trouble with gooseberry sawfly which are caterpillars that eat all the leaves off and and also american gooseberry mildew which riuns the crop. The only trouble I've ever had with cherries comes from the birds.

Friday, 29 May 2009

From The Flower Gardens (Deutzia)

From the flower gardens this week I’m going to pick the Deutzia to show you. There are several of these shrubs around the place and all are looking very good at the moment as you can see from the pictures below.

Deutzia are easy to grow and will do so in most soil and will tolerate moderate sun and also some shade. They benefit from having old shoots removed after flowering but don’t reduce new shoots.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A Lettuce For All

This week in the veg garden I will show you some of the lettuce and salad leaves that I have growing at the moment. In the first picture are some 'All Year Round' lettuce, these were started off in February time in the greenhouse.

This next Lettuce is a red Lettuce called Bijou, its the first time I've grow this one do am looking forward to seeing how it does.

I'm also growing a couple of different kinds of salad leaves, one is a Spicey Greens mix and the other is Salad Rocket.

They have become very popular recently and although they don't appeal to me the lady of the house likes them so I thought it might be a good idea to grow some.

In the greenhouse I have some Webbs Wonderful coming on, this is still my favourite lettuce, very old fashioned these days I know but still lovely and crisp all the same. A couple of inches of this between two slices of bread and maybe a little salad cream and you have a proper lettuce sandwich - something to sink my tooth in to!

Whatever sort of lettuce you grow the secret is to sow them little and often. In a few days I will do a post on how I sow my lettuce so pop back and take a look if you're insterested.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Friend or Foe?

Today in the greenhouse I found this guy lerking on the Petunia's, is he friend or foe? You can't really tell from the picture but he was over a centimetre or half an inch in length, certainly the biggest beetle I ever saw and the first time I ever saw one of his kind.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Consevatory (Week 20).

The first thing I’m quite pleased about, although I would have hoped for more. On the back wall we have an Apricot tree that I planted three years ago and this year its produced its first fruits which is great, unfortunately there are only three! Hopefully none will drop off.

Also I have a couple of roses growing in pots, below is a picture of the first to flower.

Now if we go out to the old part of the conservatory that we use for a cutting border we will find the Delphiniums just coming in to flower.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Gladioli - Plant For Succession.

I’m perhaps a bit late with this post, for the UK at least but as people from other places read it I will post it anyway. You can still plant some Gadioli as I intend to do but this week is the last chance. I’ve been planting around twenty five bulbs every two weeks since Easter this way there will be a succession for cutting through to September. They need well drained soil that doesn’t dry out to easily. That might sound a bit double Dutch but what it means is that they don’t want soil that gets water logged but they also need moisture during dry periods or the flowers will be small so I add plenty of compost to the planting position and to do this rather than plant each bulb separately I remove a patch of earth to the depth of about eight inches.

Checking the depth.

I then add a bucket of compost and peletted chicken manure, you can also use bonemeal and then work it all in to the bottom of the hole. This should bring the depth up to around six inches.

The bulbs can now be placed in the bottom of the hole around six inches apart before back filling the hole.

In a few weeks you should finish up with the shoots making good growth.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Hanging Basket Project (Post One).

This contraption is something Vicki got me the other year and I find it quite handy for starting off your hanging baskets. In the one you see here I have three trailing Petunia's, I know it looks a bit sparse at the moment but these three plants will grow to fill the basket. Anyway what I like about these containers is that they're good for sitting on the greenhouse staging while bringing the plants on but once its time for them to go out in hanging baskets you simply put a bit of compost in the bottom of the basket and then drop this container with plants straight in to the basket and then the roots just grow on out though the bottom. In the picture there are three with Petunia's which are for a project I have planned for this summer and one with four trailing Tomato plants.

If you want to join in the Petunia project with me you need to get planted up three 12 inch (30 cm) hanging baskets with 3 trailing petunia's in each. Just plant them around the top of the basket and don't worry about fancy liners or trying to hide it as the plants will do that for you in no time at all, I line mine with an old compost bag cut to shape and with the black side facing out. If you have a greenhouse put them inside to bring them on faster if not then a warm sunny place outside will do and then in a couple of weeks or so I will show you what to do with them. Make sure you have one good strong hanging basket bracket in place by this time though. Also it will need to be a bit out of the way because the baskets will hang a bit low by the time we've done.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Gift That Is Amarilis

This week in the conservatory I have an Amarilis to show you. I'm actually a bit spoilt for choice in the conservatory but I settled for this in the end. Its one someone gave me last year after it finished flowering for them, can't remember who or when but I thank you because its a nice addition even though very bright.


Today is Vicki's birthday!!!


Friday, 22 May 2009

Potatoes Out Of Pots

Last week or the week before I showed you the potatoes in pots that we have growing in the greenhouse. Emily was wondering what sort of a crop I would get from them so the other day I took a look and this is what came out of one pot.

There isn’t a massive crop but I don’t think it’s too bad and what there is cost nothing and is fresh and tasty.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Veg Garden.

This week in the veg garden we will take a look at the Potatoes and Radishes.

As you can see the potatoes have all come through okay, you will probably also notice that they are in the bottom and the ridges where as often they are growing through the tops of the ridges. In time these will also be growing in the latter way but this year I’ve decided to plant them in the bottoms of the ridges and earth them up as they grow. It will be interesting to see if they crop any differently. Each time I earth them up I will add a little feed to the soil as Potatoes are hungry plants.

Some of the radishes are ready for picking but I must confess to falling behind with me succession of sowing these. Its best to sow a few every couple of weeks if you can. You don’t need many at a time so don’t go sowing big long rows or anything.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Rock Plants That Rock.

From the flower garden this week we have a small stone trough with an Aubretia and another alpine plant which I don't know the name of flowering their little socks off.

They aren't as showy as the Peony, Blue Bells or Marigolds from previous weeks but they are just as delightful in their own small way.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Water Feature.

This week in the greenhouse I’m going to show you something a little different.

At the far end under the sink I’ve had a tub to catch the water for a couple of years now, this then gets used to dip my watering can in when watering the two greenhouses.

[Click the pictures to enlarge]

Last year I added a couple of water loving plants and this year I have gone a couple of steps further and added an Orchid on a log and some gold fish plus a few fly catchers to the side.
There are five fish and they seem quite happy.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Last week Emily asked me about edging the grass and was surprised that I could get away with only doing it every three weeks. I must admit that after three weeks the edges are getting a bit fluffy. I do actually edge the grass every week but I only do a third of it so because of this not all the gardens have fluffy edges so it’s mostly looking okay. When I talk about edging the grass at this time of the year I’m meaning that I go round with a pair of long handled shears snipping off the overhanging grass. In the winter I put a new edge on some of the grass and for this I use an edging iron or half moon.

You really need one of these and not a spade to put a new edge to your lawn. The reason being that it has a straight blade whereas a spade has a curved blade. Also the edging iron is shaped the way it is for a reason which is to cut the turf. A spade can do this but it’s more of a stabbing rather than cutting action which leaves rougher edges. With the edging iron you just use half the blade and you don’t lift it out of the cut. You press down to make the cut, slide along the blade and press down again never lifting the blade entirely from the cut. You can use your foot on the blade to help you press down. This sort of edging is best done in winter or early spring when the soil is moist then you can be sure your new edge doesn’t crumble as you cut. Once you have your new edge you can clean and oil the edging iron and put it away because for the rest of the edging during the summer you use the long handled edging shears.

You aren’t trying to make a new edge anymore you’re just maintaining the ones you already have. As Emily rightly said the soil in the border works its way to the lawn edge when you hoe and weed. Well clearing it back from the edge of the lawn is part of the hoeing job rather than part of the edging job if you see what I mean. It’s a simple matter to use a flat or Dutch hoe turned over to go along the edge and flick the soil back away from the lawn edge and you border will look better for it too.

Below are a couple of pictures showing before and after a new edge was put in place.

One more thing is that if you can edge your grass more regular there is no need to go grovelling around picking up the grass clippings as these are only blades of grass so don’t root and shrivel to nothing in a day. I rarely pick any edgings up. Another thing you can do if you have a leaf blower of some kind is go around the edge with it and blow the clippings away. There shouldn’t be that many so as not to disappear like magic.

This picture was taken just a day after the edges were clipped and they are hardly noticeable, also the weather during that time had been cold and wet, had it been sunny you wouldn’t see any at all.


Sunday, 17 May 2009

Leek Planting.

Today I will show you how I planted my Leeks the other day. I sowed them in a deep pot back in February and kept them at first in the greenhouse and then later outside for a couple of weeks.

Before planting I tipped them all out of the pot and picked out the biggest.

I then snipped off the roots of my selected Leeks to about half their original length, some people do the same with the tops as well but I don’t bother. I feel bad enough about cutting off all their feet let alone their heads.

After working down the soil, adding some pelleted chicken manure and levelling it off I set out the rows with a board, you can use a line or even nothing as I don’t think they mind too much if they aren’t in a straight line. I then made holes six inches deep and eight inches apart with a dibber in to which I dropped one Leek plant and that’s it, don’t go filling in the holes or covering the roots, if the soil is dry you can water in a little.

All that remains is to take out your foot prints...

...this is something that’s always worth doing, especially if you have big feet like mine as it helps to keep the soil from getting compacted.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Strimming & Edging.

Today I managed to get the Leeks planted, I will show you those in another post, the rest of the day has been spent edging the lawns, strimming and mowing. When it comes to edging and strimming because there is quite a lot to get through I split the whole grounds in to three. This also applies to a few other things too. You will probably have seen me categorise parts of the garden as Main Garden, Walled Garden or Public Gardens, well this is how I allocate the edging, this week it was the turn of the Walled Garden which has by far the most amount of edging to trim. I do it this way for two reasons the first being after edging the Walled Garden I need a break from edging. Secondly if you do it on a three week cycle there is always part of the gardens newly trimmed. Of course the best way would be to trim the whole lot every week but I don't have the time for that.
Tonight we will have a look at how the fruit is progressing. First up we have the new Quince tree that was planted a few weeks ago. Its starting to put out new shoots now so thats good. There is a little problem in that the two lower shoots that I wanted to grow up the canes have not grown but fortunately there are a couple of new shoots growing that I hope to train in their place.

In blossom this week is the Tayberry, this, for those that don't know is a cross between a Blackberry and a Raspberry - I think. The fruit are purple when ripe and have the shape of a Raspberry but twice the size.

A Close up of the Tayberry


I'm with you as far as the Orchids go Emily. It is quite rewarding when they are in flower but really these days they're ten a penny so not that special anymore therefore hardly justify all the trouble and expense but I was given them to look after so thats what I did.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Why Pull Up The Foxgloves?

Today turned out a bit nasty so I spend all afternoon in the potting shed and greenhouses sorting out plants to make room for some Busy Lizzies that needed potting on in to six packs. I do basic greenhouse tasks after checking over the sheep but I like to get done with the greenhouse work by break time so at this time of year there is usually plenty waiting my attention indoors if the weather turns nasty.
Emily has asked me why I pulled up the Foxgloves the other day. Basically it was because they were in the wrong place. Its hard to see from the picture I posted but the Marigolds grow in a small raised bed and so the Foxglove would have been to big and over powering so they just have English Marigolds and a Red leaved Formium in the mild for a bit of height. The foxgloves had set themselves there anyway. She also asked about the veg and why I plant the amount I do. Well I like to grow a good variety and I hate half rows so I usually plant a row of each. There were eight plants in each row.

Tonight we will take another look in the greenhouse as there is quite a bit going on in there at the moment. First up we have the Orchids which are now coming in to flower.
Last time we had a look round I pointed out the cabbages growing in the border, well as you can see one of them is ready for eating.
Last week I potted up some of the Tomato plants for the last time, they will live in these pots now. I have three more plants but of a different variety and then there are another lots that will come on later.
And under the staging are the Polyanthus seeds that are just starting to germinate. If you wondering why the tray is on a bowl its to keep the slugs from getting in the seed tray. I think they would have trouble getting in with the sheet of glass on the top but I wasn't taking any chances with them.