Monday, 29 June 2009

Freezing On A Hot Day.

I’ve spent most of today putting up the children’s swimming pool which is a new addition to the gardens this summer. I had intended getting all the hedges cut in the main garden but this has been put off for a day. I have to say as far as swimming pools go it all seems a bit of a faff for little reward, I guess if you live in a warm climate then they might be worth all the trouble. I can never see the attraction of jumping in to water unless the ships sinking though, especially here as it’s still freezing even on a hot day.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Plan For Winter/Spring Now.

As most of you in the UK will be well aware it’s all downhill to winter from here on and just as you plan for summer flower displays in the new year mid-summer is a good time to plan for winter spring displays if you bother with them. Such things as Wallflowers should really be already sown but you can still sow pansies if you want or if you just want a few plants for a pot instead take a look though the seed catalogues now because the sooner you get your orders in the better your plants will be as this will allow the seed people to make sure they are able to send out plants at the best time for you to plant. I noticed one addition to the Thompson & Morag range that I am very interested in trying this year. As some of you will know I because a big fan of Polyanthus last year so to see there is now a scented version on offer sounds like the icing on the cake as far as this wonderful little plant goes. Take a look for yourself.

Click Here for details

Scented Polyanthus.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Some Sights From Our Garden.

Tonight I'm going to show you a few things from our garden at home for a change. All these pictures were taken within a minute of each so as you can see even in a small garden there is plenty to see if you care to look.

Thanks for all your comments on the triple hanging basket, and don't worry I wasn't really getting on at you, I was just pulling your leg. As Emily said, its something you can go back too if you fancy a go which is why I put it under its own label. For those who haven't seen any scented Petunia's here is a link to visit so you can try them for yourself another year.,default,pd.html

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Hanging Basket Project (Assembly).

This is the final part of the hanging basket project that I know none of you have been doing with me – I will not be put off though because I know that in time I will have the mother of all hanging baskets! Everyone who comes in the garden will say, "Oh Vicki, I love your hanging basket"!

Today is assembly day, the day when all three parts join to make one – provided the hanging basket bracket doesn’t drop off the wall under all the extra weight.

It’s just a simple matter of hooking each of the baskets under one another, this is why you need to use the mesh type baskets as the solid plastic type don’t have anywhere underneath to fasten a second basket also the plastic hooks are only just strong enough to support a single basket.

If you want to see the previous instalments on how to make this beast then just click on 'Hanging Basket Project' label in my sidebar.

I will post more pictures of this later as the dots become joined up - just so you can see what you missed out on. Oh by the way, the Petunia's I used are scented ones so that should be a nice bonus.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Flower Garden (Roses).

In the flower garden at the moment there is little that competes with the roses as far as flowers and scent goes.

Of course this means there is going to be plenty of dead heading going on around here pretty soon.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ornamental Veg.

Hello everyone. Tonight we will have a look at a few things in the veg garden, I want you to see how ornamental veg can be as well as good for eating.

This first picture is of the beetroot and in this case is just planted in a bog standard row but I’m sure with a bit of imagination the green leaves and red stems could put on a good display in any flower border.

Again, these Lettuce aren’t arranged at their best but I' sure you can see the potential of the contrasting colours of the reds and greens. The row in the middle is the new Lettuce I’m trying called Bijou. Its leaves are almost purple and if it tastes as good as it looks then it will be one that I will be growing again that’s for sure.

This picture is of a Mangetout flower. After the flower come golden pea pods, I think this plant is worth growing just for that lovely flower, almost as good as a sweet pea.

Monday, 22 June 2009

From The Fruit Garden (Week 25).

Today I will just give you a quick look at the fruit garden as things are progressing well now.

In this first picture you can see the Tayberry which I showed you a few weeks ago. They are starting to turn ripe now, when they are ready for picking the fruit will be a dark purple in colour and twice the size of a Raspberry. After this picture was taken I had to net the Tayberry as I could see the birds were taking the berries. It seems to me that we feed the birds all winter just so they can spend all summer eating our fruit.

The next picture is of one of the Fig trees in the garden. When I first came the trees were over grown and neglected so what fruit we’ve had in the past has been hard to get at so I’ve cut them right back and trained the new shoots in to the wall. This is the first year of producing fruit since being trained.

I don’t know if any of you have noticed or are even bothered but I will point out that I have a new little feature in my sidebar highlighting some of the jobs that I do through my day/week.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Appleblossom Rosebud.

Tonight I'm going to show you one of Vicki's favourite Geraniums. Its called Appleblossom Rosebud. I do have a variegated one but it doesn't seem as rampant this this one.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Old Hoe & Pendulum Hoe.

I don't have much time to spend on here today as its my birthday and we're going back home for the weekend when Vicki gets finished work. However I will just finish off the series on my hoes ready to start on something different for next week. I'm not going to rate these hoes and only show them out of interest. The first one is the very first hoe I bought back in 1971 and as you can probably tell it hasn't had a great deal of use mainly because its what I call a negative hoe in that it keeps skipping out of the ground due to the angle of the blade pointing sky wards. For this hoe to work for me I would need to be about seven and a half foot tall. I guess if I shortened the shaft a lot it might work for me but when I already have the perfect hoe there is not much incentive to try and make this one work.

The second hoe I can't rate yet simply because its new to me this year so need to test it more to see how it last. It seems to work well enough. The bold claim for this hoe is that it deters slugs and snails because of the copped blade. This type of hoe is called a Pendulum Hoe due to the fact that the head pivots back and forth as you use it so no matter whether you're pushing or pulling it's always positive and bites in to the ground. It has a sharp blade and is good for working between rows and around plants.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Flat Hoe.

Could this possibly be the best hoe in the world? Well, probably not but to me it’s without a doubt my favourite hoe. I know this kind of hoe as a ‘flat hoe’ and the only bad thing about this hoe as far as you guys are concerned is that Wolf Garten Tools don’t seem to make it anymore – go figure that one out if you can. For that reason I only show you this because no doubt someone else makes one and it’s the actual design rather than the brand that makes this hoe my favourite. For me this particular hoe has a neutral feel in that it neither tries to leave the soil nor digs to deep, this makes it very controllable. It will deal equally well with both small weeds and big tall over grown stuff. With it just having the single leg joining the blade there is a minimum of dirt pick up and if you turn it over you can use it this way to work over the soil like a mini spade. I also use it a lot this way to work the soil back away from the grass edging. You can of course do the same with the Dutch hoe that I showed you last night but for some reason the flat hoe does it better. This is actually the second of these hoes I’ve bought. After using the first one for a while and liked it so much I bought this one and then set about halving the blade on the original hoe so making an half size version. I’ve had this hoe for the best part of 20 years now so durability is not an issue and this applies to all Wolf tools. The only thing that has ever broken are a couple of wooden shafts and this was probably due more to misuse than bad quality. So for this type of hoe I will give 10 out of 10, for usability of this particular hoe I will give 9 out of 10, it isn’t quite perfect in that I would like the union with the blade to be more streamlined. As far as I’m concerned the only other way to improve on this design would to make it out of copper.

There is some dirt pick up with this hoe due in part to the bulky union with the blade.

This hoe was the same but has had one side of the blade removed to make a smaller version.

Here you can see the hoe flipped over to tidy along the edge of the border - now you know how Bob gets those neat edges!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Dutch Hoe.

The hoe that I’m going to show you tonight is called a Dutch Hoe, again the one I have is made by Wolf Garten Tools but most garden centres will stock variations of this hoe as it’s a common design. I can only speak for the one I have in this post, and I have to say that this is a good hoe, the one I have bites in to the soil well so is good even in compact soil. This only works as a push hoe but that’s no great hardship. The blade is quite thick compared to the last hoe so does benefit from sharpening from time to time but if you can’t manage this then it’s not a real problem. As with any hoe I’ve used there is some dirt pick up but this doesn’t affect the way the hoe works so isn’t a problem. Although as you can see the blade is clean and shiny, if it were rusty then I think soil pick up might be more of a problem. As a hoe for general purpose work I would give it 7 out of 10 and for usability I will give it 8 out of 10. It’s a fine hoe to use and I only give it 8 because it doesn’t quite match up to the hoe I’m going to show you tomorrow.

A small amount of dirt pick-up but this amount doesn't affect the performance of the hoe.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Push Pull Hoe

As far as I can make out this hoe is called a ‘push pull weeder’. As the name suggests it can be used in either direction which makes it a fast hoe if there is plenty of room between the plants like for instance in a rose or shrub border. I also us this hoe when I hoe gravel areas. It’s also good for working close to plants because of the side wings that denote the edge of the blade. Its light and the blade is thin and stays sharp. This is a good hoe and would be a great one if it were designed better. As it is it suffers badly from dirt pick up due to all its indentations, lumps and curves so much so that if you don’t keep on cleaning the dirt off it’s like weeding with a plank of wood. As a general purpose hoe I would not have any trouble recommending it and will award it 7 out of 10 and for usability I will be generous and give it 7 out of 10, I would give it more if it weren’t for the soil pick up also I don’t find it so good on hard ground or long weeds. Just one more thing, there is a smaller version of this hoe from Wolf Garten Tools.

In my opinion the underside of the blade should be flat so as to avoid dirt pick up. Dirt collects under the blade.
...and in all the other humps and hollows.

I'm not sure if you're a keen gardener or not Sara but anyone with a garden could do with a hoe, I use my hoe for several jobs besides weeding. I will show you what I get up to with my hoes some other time though.

I saw while watching the TV tonight that the Royal Mint are selling £5 coins for £5, if like me you're thinking there is nothing special about that deal wait till I tell you that carriage is £1.95. So if y'all want to get your £5 coins for £6.95 go to Personally though I'm going to wait until they put on a 2 for 1 offer. By the way, I think there is supposed to be something special about the £5 coin in question.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Draw Hoe.

The hoe I’m going to show you tonight is what I know as a ‘draw hoe’. It’s not a hoe I often use for weeding except for some rough hacking down type of weed clearing. For general hoeing I don’t find it gives the sort of finish that I like as it’s hard to hoe off all the weeds without walking all over them which is to be avoided if possible or you run the risk of re-planting them again. However it is useful for pulling soil up around the potatoes etc. when ridging them up. I would give this type of hoe 3 out of 10 for general weeding purposes. For usability of this particular hoe I would rate it well though and give it 9 out of 10 because the blade is sharp and soil build up is minimal and it feels nice enough to use.

Emily and Matron I know what you’re saying, I do chop the odd plant off now and again but it’s usually when I’m not looking what I’m doing rather than the fault of the hoe. Another thing I find that leads to plant decapitation is if you’re having to use to much force either because the ground is hard or the hoe is not right for you in some way. Try and stand with it on a flat piece of ground like I showed you in the pictures yesterday and see if it sits level on the floor. If you are a shorter person the shaft of the hoe may be too long for you. The hand that is doing all the pushing and pulling should be right at the end of the handle and the other hand is used to steer the hoe. If you find you have to hold the hoe part way down the handle with you push and pull hand then I think the handle is to long for you. Also don’t be afraid to sharpen you hoe because the easier it goes through the soil the more control you will have over it and therefore less mistakes you will make.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Choosing The Right Hoe.

I was asked the other day by Emily when is the correct time to sow Wallflowers? It’s a well timed question because they need to be sown now, I sowed the ones for the big house this morning. I know you aren’t going to be wanting to think about this yet but really now is a good time to be thinking about plants for winter and spring if you plan on growing your own. Not everything needs to be sown yet, I think Pansies are best left a while yet or they will come and go before winter is here but you need to be planning ahead.

Although it may not be obvious today what with the grey skies and rain but it’s almost summer and one of the most useful tools at this time of year I find is the hoe. It takes many forms and no doubt you’re like me and have your favourite. Hoeing is an important task, not only for getting on top of those weeds but I use my hoe to take out footprints and loosen up the soil so letting in the air. There is hardly a day goes by when I don’t use one hoe or another so this week I will give you a break from plants and show you some of the hoes I use and explain the choices and also give my opinion of how each one performs. This opinion won’t be that of a so called ‘expert’ who is all talk and no practical knowledge, it will be from a real gardener who has used the tools for many years and wants to help you make the right choice for yourself.

Before we take a look at my hoes I will try and explain what to look for when buying a hoe. Whatever sort of hoe you decide on the important thing is that it feels right for you. Don’t just grab the cheapest or one that looks pretty because if it doesn’t sit right in your hands your hoe will be like a nagging spouse and hoeing a chore that gives you nothing but a bad back. You need to take the hoe down from the stand and hold it in your hands as you would want to work with it. Holding it this way the blade should sit flat on the floor as in the pictures below.

If the edge is pointing upwards even a little bit the hoe will be forever trying to come out of the soil which I find is the worst thing in a hoe. If the front edge is touching the ground and the heel is off the floor the hoe will dig in to the soil which can be a good thing sometimes but really you want your hoe to skim along just under the surface of the soil so for this you really need your hoe to sit level. Another choice to make is whether to get one made of stainless steel or just ordinary steal. I personally prefer plain ordinary steel as I feel the hoe can be kept with a sharper edge on it. However if you are the sort of person who is prone to leaving your tools lying around or getting rusty then you will need a stainless steel blade because the worst thing ever for any hand tool is a rusty one. It makes the job at least twice as hard. You can of course get a copper hoe which has both the ability to keep a sharp edge and also rust proof but these are expensive and perhaps not really worth the extra expense unless you use your hoe a lot. Talking of which, how much should you pay for a hoe? To be honest I don’t think it should be a consideration, it’s something that’s going to last a life time if you look after it so in that sense one costing £80 is cheap if it feels right, on the other hand if you buy one for £5 and it wrecks your back every time you use it then to me that’s an expensive hoe.
Another range of hoes worth considering if you’re one of those who have to cart your tools down to the allotment or wherever are the ones with removable heads such as the ‘Wolf’ range of garden tools, these are my favourites because they have the right feel, are well made and also you can drop the whole tool shed in to a plastic bucket and off you go – don’t forget to take a handle with you though! Speaking of which there are also a variety of handles in different lengths so there will be a handle to fit your size.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Hanging Basket Project (Post Two).

Today I will show you how things are progressing with the hanging basket project that I started last month. Click here There is still away to go yet but as you will see things are coming along nicely.
Also I've put together a basket of Oxalis, it doesn't look much at the moment but hopefully in a few weeks it will look much better when the plants haev covered the plastic.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Summer Greenhouse.

Today I will show you a picture of the greenhouse now that its lost all its bedding plants. On the staging are 6 tomato plants in pots, these are from the earliest sowing and then in the border to the left are 6 more from a later sowing. I've also taken a few sideshoot cuttings which will hopefully provide an even later crop at some point.
Also on the staging are some geranium cuttings, young fuchsia's and my own hanging basket tomatoes.

Friday, 12 June 2009

First Dahlia Flower.

For those of you who think that dahlia's are only a plant for Autumn colour please take a look below. I will admit that this plant was one of those that were lifted and stored but there are some that were left to chance in the border over winter that aren't too far behind, I will show you how far behind by doing a post on the first one as it comes to flower.

As I was planting the dahlia's on friday I did come across the odd one left out to over winter in the border that hasn't put up any shoots, some won't and some will come later, on the whole though they don't seem to have taken much harm and that was with temperatures down to minus five at times. I think the biggest threat to dahlia's being left out is not so much the frost, although that will kill them, but the wet which can cause the tubers to rot. If you have a sheltered border that doesn't get water logged then I wouldn't bother to dig up and store. One thing you do have to watch out for if leaving out is slugs that eat off the new shoots as they emerge so leaving you thinking that dahlia's didn't come up. This time I'm going to over plant the dahlia beds with wallflowers which should offer an additional layer of protection through the winter.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The First Strawberries.

Today I noticed that the first strawberries were ripe enough for picking.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

First Broad Beans.

In the veg garden this week the first of the broad beans are getting ready for picking. I planted the peas and beans in alternate rows for no other reason than thats how they became ready for planting but I notice after the rain the other night how this has turned to be something worth repeating another time because I find that the wire netting used to protect and support the peas also supports the beans and stops them flopping all over the place. Normally I would have staked the beans with stick and string but this way is proving much better.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A BIG Thank You From Little Tommy.

Tommy has asked me to thank both Sara and Emily for the birthday wished they left him. He would also like to thank my mum for sending him a birthday card, as you can see below he found it very interesting and spent quite some time studying it in detail.

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Chelsea Collection.

As you will see from the pictures below the sweet peas have started to bloom, I've already had a couple of pickings. As you may know its important to keep on picking sweet pea as they come in to bloom because that way you encourage even more flowers. I don't recall the names of the flowers you see here, they are part of 'The Chelsea Collection' from
All the flowers are scented and the colletion includes the varieties:

Mrs Bernard Jones - Almond Pink
Our Harry - Mid Blue
Mumsie - Crimson
Just Jenny - Midnight Blue
Winner - Scarlet
Bristol Cream - Cream
Misty - Mauve Flush
Katie Alice - Dark Blue
Subtle Charm - Pale Pink

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Week 22 In The Flower Garden - Roses.

In the flower gardens at the moment the roses are just coming in to bloom proper, especially the ones growing up the walls, the ones in the beds and borders being slightly later to bloom.

These roses all have a strong scent to them so working the borders on a warm sunny day is a pleasure.

The flower on this particular rose is almost as big as a dinner plate. Unfortunately I don't know any of their names.