This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Sunday 30 October 2011

Halloween in the Garden

It's Halloween weekend and a glorious sunny day today! Pictured are the lovely pumpkin earrings I won in a giveaway by Rainy Day Gardener (thank you!).

Below is an update on the garden front.
The sunflowers withstood our heavy October gales but are now looking like characters from a zombie film.
Some fab Autumn colour around the garden. And lots of leaves to rake!
I'm liking the coppery glow of the spent astilbe. I think these were pink in summer.
Ghostly little plant - I grew some Silverdust from seed and have really enjoyed the silver foliage. I plan on growing lots more next year.
Variety:  Cineraria 'Maritima Silverdust', half hardy annual, Carters tested seeds.
Pulled up 2 celery stalks  and carrots from the veg box at the weekend. The celeriac is still growing strong, but not big enough for my liking - I hope it can take frost!
VarietyCelery, Plant Hart's Seeds, Sown 3 April 2011 indoor, planted outside June. 
A closer look at the celeriac. Mine will never match those grown at Mark's Veg Plot!
VarietyCeleriac 'Monarch', Mr Fothergill's seeds. Sown 3 April 2011 indoor. Planted outside in June.
The veg box has 2 types of  kale, celery and celeriac. Slugs aren't too bad on these plants. I really like using kale in stews and casseroles.
VarietyKale 'Nero di Toscana', and
Kale Curly Scarlet

No frost yet! Can't believe it. Last year the first frost was on 20th Oct.

So the Calendula Orange King are still going strong.


Tuesday 18 October 2011

Veg Update (Carrot, Courgette, Cucumber, Tomato)

I was harvesting carrots this week I'd sown back in May. I've sown two types of carrot this year and not completely sure what's what. They were grown in various containers like the one pictured.

Carrot Varieties:

  • Carrot 'James Scarlet Intermediate', Mr Fothergill's seeds,
  • Carrot 'Early Nantes 2' Thompson & Morgan seeds. 

These must be Carrot 'James Scarlet Intermediate' if my tag is correct. Sown in May and only just harvested.

This one came out split - not sure if it has something to do with carrot fly or not? Wasn't sure if I should eat this one??
These carrots (Early Nantes 2) are young, sown in an old wheelbarrow.

It's quite cold at night this week so I've covered them with a plastic sheet. Hopefully I can get them harvested next weekend. I'd say they'll be finger size.
The courgettes have really suffered from blossom rot this year, however, I've managed to harvest quite a few.
Variety: Courgette (yellow zucchini) 'Soleil F1', Mr Fothergill's, 10 seeds, £2.39. Sown 3 April 2011 indoor (50% germination). Outside in pots from June.
I also grew Courgette (zucchini F1) - they didn't do great this year either.

Monday night (being very cold) I popped out into the garden and harvested a few baby courgette to put in  a chicken-veg stew for dinner.

The yellow courgette have a nice cooking texture; they aren't quick to go mushy like most green courgettes I've experienced.
Looking out the window I saw a cucumber sitting on a bench - I'd forgotten to bring indoor. I had a 'bitter' experience with cucumber in early summer so I decided to try Ann's recipe (Welcome To the Garden Spot) and pickle it. As I was slicing & putting into vinegar I decided to take a bite. Wow, gorgeous! I stopped pickling and sliced it to eat!

Left: photo taken circa July. As of this week, the plant is gone. I put it outdoor in Sept and it only produced one last cucumber. Harvested about 3 in total. It produced lots of tiny cucumbers but they never matured.

VarietyCucumber (bush variety), Plant Hart's Seeds, US$2.29. Sown 3 April 2011 indoor (good germination). Gown in small pot. Bitter tasting if picked early. Sweet if fully matured.
I almost pulled all the tomato plants out over the weekend but decided to let them go on for a bit longer. I want every last cherry tomato!

VarietyTomato (Red Cherry), Mr Fothergill's, 50 seeds, £1.89. Sown 3 April 2011 indoor (75% germination). Grown in sun room throughout summer.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Blogger's Bloom Day

It's Blogger's Bloom Day, the 15th of every month. 

Here's a snapshot of what's in bloom.

Variety: Malope Excelsior Mixed.
Nicotiana 'evening fragrance' is still going strong. Sedum 'autumn joy' in the background.
 Above: Sedum 'autumn joy'. Belowsnapdragon bed with morning glory growing up the tri-pod - still going strong!
 Snapdragon / antirrhinium.
 Above: Calendula of some sort? Below Sunflower 'teddy bear' and aster.
Surprisingly, lupin 'russell mix' are still blooming. The late bloomers were grown from seed last year and I planted them into the ground quite late in the summer, thus their late blooms (only now).  (I'm far from an expert). My established lupin plants bloomed much earlier (June).  More information on plants I've grown from seed is on my Seed List page:

More on Blogger's Bloom day:

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Winter Damaged Cordyline Palm Update

You may recall in April I posted about my winter damaged cordyline palm. These trees are very popular in the UK; with our harsh winter many were badly damaged. Here's an update on progress and plans.

Variety: Morning Glory 'Carnevale di Venezia', Half hardy annual. Thompson & Morgan Seeds. Sown in early May 2011 indoor (75% germination). Planted outside June 2011.

Over the Summer, I thought I would grow a climber up the trunk. At first I tried sweetpea (photo below) but had better success with Morning Glory.

Photo taken Oct 2011.
Back in May and before the Morning Glory, I transplanted a white Everlasting Sweetpea from another area of the garden to the base of the palm. The sweetpea didn't survive the move.
This is my attempt at cutting and removing the water saturated areas to try to resurrect it. On reflection, (1) I think I should have cut lower, and (2) I think I should have cut the trunk at a slant so water rolls off. By cutting it straight across water will go into the trunk and rot. As soon as it stops raining (when is it going to stop raining?), I'll be cutting.
The palm at the start of my cutting exercise. At first I thought putting pots on top of the trunk would prevent water from seeping down into the trunk but I soon discarded this idea.
Photo taken April 2011.
A message for Ann at Welcome to The Garden Spot. You can see my self fertilising apple tree in a pot behind the palm against the brick wall. (My record 14 apples this year.)

The Cordyline in its prime. Photo taken August 2010.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Amaranthus (Love-lies-bleeding)

Lots of rain over the weekend, and there's talk of an early frost this year. First frost last year was on 20th October 2010. In between rain showers I've been trying to get photos of some of the annuals I grew from seed this year. I've really enjoyed the Amaranthus (pictured with Sedum Autumn Joy in the background).

VarietyAmaranthus 'Pony Tails'. Common name: Love-lies-bleeding. Half hardy annual.
Grown from Thompson & Morgan Seeds. Sown on 10 April 2011 indoor. Planted outside June/July 2011. Easy to grow.

Signs of Autumn with leaves turning yellow. I'll be sad when the first frost hits and the annuals will soon disappear.

Do you ever buy gardening magazines because of the free seeds that often come with them???

I do! I admit,  I love getting a pack of free seeds. The Amaranthus came with an issue of Amateur Gardening.

Happy Autumn!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Nicotiana (Tobacco Plant) Flower

The Tobacco Plant / Nicotiana grown from seed has done really well. Here's a snapshot of how they look in the borders.

Variety: Nicotiana 'Evening Fragance', Half Hardy Annual, Carters Tested Seeds, 79p (or 2 seed packs for £1). Sown 18 March 2011 indoor. Planted outside June. Good germination rate; quick growing; great height; good cottage style plant.

Left and Below: In a space of about 2x1 metres I planted about 10 plants.

I have no idea if they need deadheading. I find them difficult to try to deadhead. They've grown fairly quickly and germinated well from seed.

I've really enjoyed Nicotiana and would definitely grow again.

Lately I  have noticed an increasing amount of greenfly on them (pictured).
On a rainy day I found a large slug eating the flowers (rather than the leaves). I've never seen a slug stretch so high! It was amazing watching his unusually big mouth open to take big bites (picture below).

I think slugs have eaten my sweet pea flowers this year but that's another story.

He really enjoyed his meal (but it was his last).