The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Sunday 4 December 2011

The allotment is slowly emptying...

Its so much harder to get up to the allotment at the moment, I can't go in the evenings so I'm relying on decent weather at the weekends which isn't always the case, like this weekend. I did manage a quick trip up there last weekend, but it was very blustery and after lots of rain also very wet. Here is the plot at the moment.
As you can see I still have plenty of Kale, I'm still harvesting Purple Sprouting Broccoli and plenty of leeks. I've got some celeriac and parsnips which I'm yet to harvest and just a few beetroots left.
I have some globe artichokes which have put on lots of leaf this year. I'm slightly concerned about them surviving the winter so that I can get some chokes next year, I've never been successful with these before. Should I cover them? Any advice? I've taken some of the old leaves and put round the base since this picture was taken, but maybe I should do more.
I've got to do some digging to prepare some beds which I didn't cultivate this year for planting next year but too wet for digging at the moment. This is the bit not grown on this year, I've used it as a bit of dumping ground for other weeds. There are thistles and some buttercups which need clearing. I just want to get going on it now!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Seedy sunday

I spent a lovely relaxing afternoon at the weekend sorting all the seeds that I have been collecting over the summer, I've gone a bit mad this year, but I figure they are a free resource so why not make the most of them. I always collect them on a dry day and store them in saved paper bags or old envelopes and actually I  was quite good at labelling things this year only one mystery bag (I think they are poppy seeds).
So I bought the paper bags down from the back bedroom where they have been drying and set to sorting them on my kitchen table. I either break them from pods, split them from their casing, lots of shaking and breaking up of dried material. When they are all on the paper, you blow gently to clear the seeds from all the other detritus. I then store them in small envelopes, in a cool dry place ready for sowing in the spring.

As always my cat, Bob is never far away.
I find the variety in the different seeds amazing to look at. There are the fine, airy grass seeds, the seeds I'd collected from a Stipa gigantea plant growing at the allotments looked like little black grasshoppers! The sea creature-like seeds of Calendula, the bottle brush seeds of the cornflowers and the ball bearing seeds from sweet peas. Some are tiny, like those from the poppy and some are much bigger like those from Cerinthe major 'Purpurescens'.
The seed heads of the scabious looked so lovely I had to take a picture.

As a member of the RHS you can get to buy some seeds collected from the RHS gardens across the country and for the first time last year I did that. There were some unusual seeds, but the most successful was a variety of hardy annual pea (Lathyrus tingitanus) also known as the Tangier Pea. It was extremely vigorous and covered the wigwam very quickly in a year when my sweet peas were a bit slow. Unfortunately it is not scented but the flowers are a delicate pink and look great picked and amassed in a jar. I was picking them for weeks in the summer. I've collected loads of seed and will definitely grow it again next year.
Other seed collected include from herbs which I grow every year, like Bronze Fennel, Borage, Salad Burnet and Chives.  Annuals which I also sow or let self sow each year like Nigella damascena, Ammi majus, Calendula, Sunflowers, Zinnia, cornflowers, cerinthe and poppies. Some plants that I've not collected seed from before like Datura, Nicotiana langsdorfii, Scabious, Catananche caerulea, Morning Glory, Thrift, Campanula persicifolia and Nicandra physaloides. We'll see how successful they are at germination in the spring. Oh the waiting....
Here is the final collection and paper bags ready to start over again next year.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Autumn colour in the garden

I'd forgotten that I'd taken these photos of my garden a week or so ago on a sunny autumn day. I have two dark leafed Acers on either side of my garden, both grown from small plants. The one on left as you look down the garden is in full sun and so changes colour first (and loses its leaves first).

It looks great with the sun glowing through it.

When I look in the garden today the ground beneath the Acer is carpeted in the dark red leaves.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

In the garden

I've not posted much about the garden this year, been spending most of my gardening time at the allotment this summer, getting that up and running. So the garden has been a little bit neglected if I'm honest. Its a good job I'm so relaxed about gardening. I do need to have a rethink about the garden again this year as I want to squeeze in a greenhouse! So thats what I'll be spending the next few weeks planning.
Here are a few pictures from the summer, to cheer me up on this grey November day. It has been as abundant as ever, if a bit out of control!

The plot where I used to grow my vegetables before I got the allotment I have had as a cutting garden. With sweet peas, Cobaea, Cornflowers, nigella, sunflowers and nicotiana. It has been reasonably successful but could be better. I think I'm going to get rid of my strawberries next year as they are probably a bit exhausted now and I've got some new plants up at the allotment. These have been in over three years so will be ready to give up now. I've also got some raspberry canes in the garden which really get in the way now. I'm not sure whether to try and move them to the allotment. Not sure how successful that would be or whether to just dig them up and plant new ones at the allotment.
To remind me of summer days, my favourite cut flowers...

Friday 28 October 2011

The pigeons didn't beat me!

After a bit of a disatrous start with the brassicas, the pigeons cleared them out initially but they have done OK (  The first small plants I put in were completely shredded by the pigeons and once I realised that was what was eating them I soon invested in some netting. Luckily I had grown on more plants than I needed so had a second chance. I planted some Calabrese 'Belstar' which had lovely big heads and when I chopped the main head off they sprouted quite a few smaller ones. The Kale has been cropping for ages, I have planted two varieties, the Black Tuscan (Carvelo nero) and 'Scarlet' which has a hint of red so looks good too. I planted some cabbage 'Primo' which was OK but I should have just planted that later as its not really something I eat much of over the summer and would have been better as a winter crop. I also probably planted the purple sprouting broccoli too early too as I've been harvesing that off and on for quite a few weeks and I'm not sure how long that will last into the winter but we'll see.

I'm particularly excited about my Romanesco broccoli, only a couple got past the seedling stage! Its the first time that I have grown that and I can't wait to pick this.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Some you win some you lose...

I have some great successes at my allotment this year but some things have really not gone well.
I've talked about my squashes before but I'm very proud of them, I picked them last week and they are hardening off in the sun now.

I'm not sure how long they will last.
My carrots are a bit of a disappointment!
Good job I don't like carrots!
I've been picking some of my leeks, very wide but not very long.

They have a bit of rust on them but seem ok.
My biggest disappointment this year has been the sweetcorn which is one of my favourite vegetables.
It just never got going and flowered very late. I may get one or two from it if I'm lucky and we don't get any frosts.
I've had two useful days at the allotment this weekend, its been a lovely sunny weekend. I'm almost on top of the weeds in the beds. Its definitely getting emptier.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Ridiculous potatoes!

I can't believe the weather we have had, some sun at last, hopefully will ripen my tomatoes and sweetcorn. Came back from a weeks holiday to find the allotment bursting with produce, spent sunday there making the most of the good weather, weeding, harvesting and digging up my potatoes. I paid for it the day after though, was aching all over. But I've had lots of veg to eat all week.
Here's the squash, its not the biggest one! Made a delicious soup.
My maincrop potatoes were pink fir apple, which I've grown before but were never this big! I've dug up loads which will last me all winter I hope and there were some funny shapes...

Monday 3 October 2011

A Dorset cottage garden

We've just spent the best week of the year, weather-wise, on holiday in a little village close to Lyme Regis. Beautiful countryside, fabulous beaches, good food and even better weather made for a great week. We stayed in a classic thatched cottage which was gorgeous, closest I'll ever get to having one!
The garden was a typical cottage garden with exuberent planting, I was itching to get out and do some gardening as it was a bit overgrown in places. There are parts that are like being in a secret garden.

There is a stream running by the side of the garden.

This is the back garden.


Here in the morning light.

The Asters were covered in butterflies.

Like a classic cottage garden there are some fruit trees.

Some free fruit.

There are alpine strawberries everywhere!

There is a nice mixture of plants.
A lovely delicate cyclamen.
The Lemon Balm is taking over a bit!
There is a lovely double Phlox.
A twisted willow.
A Witch Hazel just changing colour.

The view of the garden from the dining room of the cottage is lovely with the green glow.

Finally just had to add some photos of the coastal scenery around here its breathtaking.

Swimming at Durdle Door was fantastic!