Category Archives: Gardening

Not looking good…

Bit concerned about my azalea – it is not looking very healthy at the moment.

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It seems to have gone downhill quite quickly. I’ve tried some plant food and forking in a bit more erinaceous compost but nothing is working. Next step is to dig it out of the pot and try replanting it but I think that won’t be that easy a task. This is what it looked like in its full glory, photo taken on 28 May this year – really hope I can save it but I’m not confident at the moment.

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Plan for growth…

The ‘growing stuff’ bug really has caught hold, even though results are a bit mixed in the raised beds in the garden this year. So when we found out that there were some vacant plots in the
village allotments, our ears pricked up!

I hadn’t even realised that there were allotments in the village, they are tucked away behind the primary school, down a little lane. Off we went to reccy and whilst most of the plots were very organised and clearly well tended, there were indeed a couple which were neglected and looked deserted.

Took a bit of digging (not literally…!) to find out who looks after the admin for the site but we eventually found that it is owned by the church diocese and administered by a firm of
surveyors. We got in touch and they duly sent out their junior person who met us on site, armed with his plot map.

Not easy to work out which plot was which as only a few of them were numbered but we
identified the one we thought was unoccupied (certainly looked that way, those weeds didn’t grow overnight!) and he showed us another plot which was showing on his list as being vacant.
However, this one, though overgrown, had a pigeon shed and chicken coop half way down the plot which were both very much occupied.

So back to the office he went to find out more. We went home, discussing how we would divide the plot up, where we would start, what we’d grow… Shouldn’t have got so excited though as he phoned back the next day to say that he’d spoken to the deserted plot ‘owner’ – apparently he knows the plot is neglected, he’s working long hours but ‘might’ retire soon in which case he will get back on his plot. And the other plot wasn’t unoccupied, there was a mistake on the plot plan.

So in the course of a couple of days we’d gone from not thinking about an allotment, to getting hugely excited (and a little bit scared!) about getting one, to being highly disappointed that we can’t have one. He mentioned something about another allotment site in the village but we can’t find it so Monday’s job is to make sure he has us on the waiting list for a plot and to find out exactly where he means with the other site. We scanned the village on Google Maps/Earth and can’t find another site. Obssessed, us? Never!

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Fully recovered

Today’s harvest includes a cucumber which I’ve just picked from a plant in one of the raised beds which I’d almost given up on.

This is the photo of the nibbled cucumber plant looking very sorry for itself at the end of May:

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And here is the resulting cucumber with today’s produce from the garden:

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I really wasn’t sure it would survive but it seems to be thriving now with several more
cucumbers growing. I’ve got it under a much closer mesh net which seems to be keeping the nasty creatures away.

All Go in the Greenhouse

Even though I’ve only had my greenhouse for a few months, I can’t imagine life without it now! It is crammed full of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and everything is doing really well.

We’ve already harvested a few of the first red tomatoes (delicious!)

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The cucumbers are doing very well too – we picked the first one a few weeks ago and it all seemed to go very quiet until all of a sudden, tiny cucumber plants sprouted all over the place. There are at least four on one plant and three on another, luckily we eat a lot of it!

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I’m also growing Crystal Apple cucumbers and again, the plant has gone a bit mad – great news as these are the tastiest of cucumbers, can’t understand why they aren’t more popular. I’d never heard of them until last year when I saw a packet of seeds and decided to try them.

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Plenty of peppers in the greenhouse too, I have to keep swapping them round on the shelves to make sure they all get enough sunlight and space.

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We’re now having conversations about whether we should take on an allotment, hope we’re not getting too carried away – this veg growing is a bit addictive…

Rust & Ruin…

My first time growing broad beans, I sowed them last October, kept them alive all through the winter, then planted them out in Spring into one of our raised beds. It was all going so well until the rust came… It hasn’t been a complete disaster as we’ve had plenty of delicious beans over the last few weeks but the plants are not looking healthy at all now:

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All the plants are going to have to come up and can’t go in the compost bin which is a shame. The peas which have not thrived at all can come up too. I’m more disappointed in the peas than the beans – we’ve had a decent harvest of beans but not much more than a handful of pea-pods so I’ll have to try again next year. I can’t believe I’m planning next year’s crops already!

Next blog post will be a more cheerful one, I’ll do an update on the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers which are all doing well… (touch wood!)

Two delicious ‘firsts’ of the season…

Delighted to find a red tomato in the greenhouse yesterday (and a few more orange ones turning…) and a small but beautifully formed crystal apple cucumber.

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I grew these little round cucumbers last year for the first time & found them so tasty I gave them another try this year – one plant has provided this single cucumber and the other is bursting with flowers & growing out of the greenhouse like a massive triffid but no fruit ready yet. Must try and be patient…

We were about to head out for a meal but thought we’d better try out our lovely fresh picked produce – absolutely delicious so hoping for lots more of both.

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Braving the thunderstorms…

Visited the first Stratford on Avon Home and Garden Show held at Alscot Park, we had a great time in spite of black clouds, thunder and lightning and heavy rain!

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The house was out of bounds but we had a wander round the grounds. Really loved the
stunning lavender garden which was humming with hundreds of bees making the most of it.

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The black clouds were beginning to get closer so we didn’t spend quite as much time looking at the gardens as we would have liked (another reason to come back again next year!) but here are some of the views we saw:

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We had to escape thunder, lightning and heavy rain so nipped into the demonstration
marquee to listen to the Weber BBQ chef talk about pizzas – with some tasters too,
a nice little interlude.

Then it was time to make our purchases before heading home. These included some metal
garden sculptures from Zimbolic:

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Thyme and sage from Hooksgreen Herbs:
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Campanula from Naieus Exotics:
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Seeds from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants (really looking forward to growing these flowers):
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No photos of the chocolate brownie, that disappeared quite quickly…

Shame about the weather, but it didn’t spoil a lovely day for us and we’ll definitely be back next year, hopefully without the storms so we can spend more time in the garden.

Garden memories & favourites

Do you ever wonder why you love certain flowers? I’ve been thinking about this when
considering why I always grow particular flowers again and again.

I think for me it is about remembering sights and smells from childhood. My dad was in the RAF so we moved a lot – and I don’t think we lived anywhere with a garden for long until I was a teenager. And yet the few gardens we did have left me with strong memories of certain flowers which I still love today.

Marigolds for instance. I love the smell as you dead-head them or touch their leaves and their bright orange or yellow flowers.

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Roses, almost goes without saying, don’t we all love them? The really old fashioned, blowsy, dark red roses with that strong and beautiful scent are the ones I remember best. Geraniums in lovely bright colours, again with their distinctive smell.

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Nasturtiums spreading all over with those fantastic pale green leaves and electric orange
flowers.

And the sights – neat white rows of alyssum, beds full of brightly coloured snap-dragons, big white daisies.

Now I have belatedly developed a love of gardening, I’ve got all those flowers I remember on display in our garden and I think I always will! I’ve added lots more new loves (the smells are
obviously important to me, stocks and sweet peas are new favourites) but those first flower
memories are still a must for my garden.

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