The Rain finally came and things are growing

It has been a dry four or more weeks here in the Forest of Dean. The rain finally came and the plants loved it. (So did the weeds!!).

The Czar runner beans have put on a couple of feet and are almost at the top of the canes. Something is eating the lower leaves on the left ones though.

Czar beans finally growing tall

Also having growing more than 1 foot in 2 days of rain was the Earlibird Sweetcorn. Well the little one is still smaller but is about 2 feet tall now.

sweetcorn growing tall now.

Even the kale is looking like it is happy.

Red and Black kale filling out

I am a bit worried about the parsnips. The first lot did not germinate so I tried the wet paper toll method. These are now the tallest parsnips I have seen in this garden. Maybe they are all green leaves and no parsnip though?

parsnips getting very tall

Even my cucumbers have started to grow tall. Last year my first attempt at growing cucumbers failed. This year I have two Diva varieties and they seem to be enjoying themselves.

first ever cucumber

My only problem is lack of pollinators. Although I had one cucumber when the plants were smaller, (which was very tasty), the female flowers shrivelled up as there were no males. Then there were males and no females. Now there are both and I hope that some will be pollinated, if only by myself.

cucumber plants growing tall with lots of flowerds

And finally I have my first ever San Mazarno plum tomato. You can just see it in the corner of the greenhouse.

first ever San Mazarno tomato

Again last year my tomatoes did not do well, but I am hoping that this variety will give me some for the freezer this year. It is exciting.

New Shed is Painted, Squash is rehomed

The weather was still hot and dry and I managed to declutter and organise the new small shed, the big shed and the greenhouse. It was too hot to be carrying things up and down the hill, but I finally made it. It took several days. I got my old electric tools (bought back in the 1980s but still working) and I cut up some wood from the old shed and screwed them into the shed. I was not sure if I could do it, but I did. I managed to get all the hooks in the right places to hold my tool. I was pleased when it was finished.

simple tool rack for my old tools

I felt good that everything was organised and had a place in both sheds and in the greenhouse. Phew it was hot work.

As the weather was still dry, I also managed to paint/stain the new shed the next day.

stained/painted shed

It looked good when it was finished. And just in time as the next day, it rained! In fact it rained for 2 days and now it is fine again. I was relieved not to be watering the garden. The rain has now worked its magic and my plants have finally started to shoot upwards.

I took advantage of today as the rain had stopped and decided to transplant one of my two butternut squash (Hercules variety). They were not growing quickly in the pots. I thought I would hedge my bets and transplant one, now that the shed was finished.

I dug a big hole as it was coming from a 30L pot.

digging a bit hole

I was surprised that the roots were very short, perhaps a 4 inch ball! No wonder it was not growing quickly. I had to fill in the hole and put the plant on top.

finding out I did not need a big hole

I made a hill of soil around the plant so that water would drain away from it. I watered it in and covered the ground. I need to get a cane and some water bottles but for now the mound is doing fine.

transplanted and hoping Hercules squash will grow in its new home

The other squash I left in the pot to see the difference.

My potatoes are all being harvested. I grew a few last year but my storage was not good enough and they all quickly sprouted. This year I am going on a potato fast and eating them from the ground. I love potatoes just steamed. Yum.

This is my first harvest of Red Scarlett from a pot.

red scarlett harvest
first harvest of Red Scarlett potatoes

This was smaller than I expected but not too bad. However, the yield from the ones I dug up from the ground was very small. The Red Scarlett was clean skinned. They taste quite good steamed.

steaming potatoes in the instant pot
potatoes ready for steaming

I harvested some Vivaldi that were next to them. Although the yield was bigger, the skins were pitted. I also found out that they did not taste as good.

not many Red Scarlett so dug up some Vivaldi potatoes

Do not think that I will be growing the Vivaldi again. I will have a go at baking them and see if they taste better. They are quite dense and floury and have earthy taste.

End of Old Shed

the old shed needs replacing

My old shed has lasted twenty plus years, but time has taken its toll and the back and bottom have rotted away and this lets wildlife in – and mushrooms. I have been eating cheaply in order to save to get a new shed but the chance to get an ex-demo shed at a good price came about and I grabbed the opportunity.

I emptied the old shed contents into the house but found a wasp nest in the back corner. I found it difficult to remove safely so I had to get it destroyed.

wasp nest in shed

My local upcycling garden team helped me to get rid of the nest and the shed. It seemed very strange to see the extra space.

shed removed ready for new one

The new shed arrived and with extra bearers to lift the shed off the slabs I am hopeful that I will be able to store any harvests without any damage from wet or wildlife. This side of the shed is a nice colour but the rest of the shed is discoloured and has had wasp damage to the oiled finish. I will probably stain the shed when I paint the repaired wooden steps as oil stains are expensive.

I need to get the inside of the shed sorted as my dining/knitting room needs clearing. I also need to create a hook rack to store my tools. I will have to do this myself but not sure I have the strength and tools to do this. Might have to wait for the upcycling team to come back next month.

Meanwhile I also need to figure out what to do with the old shed!

Extra beds

I have a couple of extra areas where I can grow veg. One is on the slope in front of the small apple tree and the other is next o my old shed. Last year I cleared this of plants and planted it with potatoes and had a bumper crop. One of the few vegetables that flourished last year for me.

shed bed

However, the shed got damaged in the last storm and I have been waiting for help to take the shed down to be replaced. So I have kept on the plastic, ( I reuse this every year) and will plant out the courgette and squash in large pots.

The Ambassador courgette was doing well and wanted to be planted out. The Defender courgette was not far behind. But it has been cold and wet now for several weeks so I wanted to wait. The Hercules squash were not so happy.

courgettes want to be planted out

The courgettes were transplanted and quickly started to grow coping with the rain. I waited another week to put out the squash. I put slug rings around them so that when I watered the pots (yeah, if it stops raining!), the stem would not get wet. I also planted them in a dome.

The leaves went yellow at first but now new darker green growth is appearing so I am hopeful that they will grow when it stops raining (the weather reports keep talking about hot weather but I have seen nothing but clouds all June.. a few moments here and there of light).

courgettes doing well

I also have another one hiding with extra potatoes that I have put in pots. The potatoes include Red Scarlet, Elfe, Kestrel, Vivaldi and Arran Victory. These seem to be all flowering at the same time even though they are a mixtures of early, second early and main crop.

Hercules squash with a variety of potatoes

The rain is really depressing. There seems to be a small window each day when it stops. This is good in that I am not having to water my plants like last year. At least there are more things growing than last year.

Pond Terrace plots

I have reclaimed some of the flower beds around my pond (yes my pond is up the garden and needs terraces to hold it up).

These were to be simple bushes but ferns are taking over. I am using the lower part for veggies.

The pond itself is now full of algae although the water lilies are flourishing. The astilbe plants will soon be out in bloom

pond with water lilies and algae
pond with water lilies and algae

April cabbages are growing and are netted off, although the cold, wet weather has reduced the number of white butterflies to…. none! The cabbages are surviving the cold, although the sweetcorn next to them are wishing for sunnier times.

cabbage and sweetcorn
cabbage and sweetcorn

I was unable to germinate my celery last year. This year my second sowings of Celebrity and Tendercrisp have been more successful and now I have quite a few. They are definitely enjoying the rainy weather.

celery is growing
celery is growing

There is space for leeks beside the celery, but my leeks do not seem to want to grow. I sowed Atlanta and Bandit and they have been growing very slowly.

slow growing leeks
slow growing leeks

In between the celery and the sweetcorn I have been growing lettuce and peas. They have taken a long time to grow and I was worried. Finally they are growing and if the weather ever warms up, I will be able to have lots of lettuce on my sandwiches.

peas and lettuce
peas and lettuce

The peas are starting to flower so I am hoping for some lovely peas. The type is Greenshaft which I have not grown before. Last year I grew Ambassador which did not grow at all. The lettuce is a heirloom variety called Red Velvet and it seems to resist the slugs. Red lettuce has more phytonutrients than green lettuce which means it is not quite as nice to eat. I will find out soon if true.

The last area is being saved for flower sprouts and early purple sprouting. It has been too wet to put up the netting for this area. In an odd few minutes of light drizzle I put down some cardboard to stop weeds growing whist I waited.

broccoli bed
broccoli bed

My seeds have been slow to germinate. I have sowed cabbage, broccoli and flower sprouts. They were doing nothing in the greenhouse, so I brought them in the house. Finally I have some movement in the flower sprouts called Petit Posy. But nothing with the early purple sprouting as yet.

flowersprouts
flowersprouts

Although still not happy about everything in the garden this year, I have more germinations than I did last year. I am making notes about what is working and what is not. And how much I need to sow. Already planning for next year!

Top Terrace plot

The top terrace area was weeded and a thin layer of composted manure was added. Then it was covered with plastic in order to stop weeds and to keep off my cat Jenson. This plot is divided into 3 areas which are rotated. So there will be beans, parsnips and kale.

top terrace prepared for growing
top terrace prepared for new veggies

The middle part was sown with parsnip seeds. These did not germinate at all. So I decided to germinate the rest of my packet on a damp sheet of paper towel. I put this in a gravel tray with another one for the top. I kept this on the windowsill in my house. About half of them sprouted and then I put these sprouts in the ground to see if they would grow.

sprouted parsnips growing

This is the parsnip bed. The countess parsnips on the left have done better than the guernsey on the right. As I do not have any seeds left I have added a few left over lettuce seedlings.

My kale seeds were doing well but I had to remove them from the greenhouse as they did not like being in there. I do not have a cold frame as I have run out of flat ground to situate it. I might put it on the early sprouting brassica area next year. I take the plants out of the greenhouse during the day if they are getting ready to be planted.

kale seedlings
red Russian kale starting to grow

I transplanted two red Russian kale and 4 black nero kale. They were planted quite deeply to make sure they don’t fall over later in the year. Although it has been too cold and wet for white butterflies this year, I still kept them under Enviromesh.

The last part of the top terrace bed is for runner beans. I first grew them last year, but they did not do well. I just had a few pods and I saved the seed. I am trying again this year using this saved seed. The seed is Czar runner bean.

czar runner beans

I started the seeds off in the house in some root trainers with a plastic cover. The first set of seeds did nothing, I think they must have rotted away. The second lot gave me about 50% germination. I am now waiting for my third sowing which are in the house, just starting to sprout. Fingers crossed I hope to get one bean per my 12 beans poles.

Been a while!

After my painting, I had a bad reaction to all the fumes and this lasted quite a while.  I also then had an accident when trying to prune my acer tree and lost my hearing in one ear.   Neither was 2018 a great year in my garden due to the strange weather and the lack water and a saga of broken hosepipes.  And my camera and computer needed replacing. So I focussed on learning to knit and this year started my knitting blog at www.wickedwoollies.co.uk on my new, self-build pc. 

Meanwhile I started 2019 hopefully that this would be a better year for me.  I bought my seeds and made my plans. I started the seeds according to Charles Dowding calendar and waited for nicer weather. The nice weather came but only for a few moments now and then. The wet weather made the weeds grown and it was too wet to get out and do much.

Then the weeds took over and then my gardening help had a stroke, I found myself having to figure out what to do with a strimmer and a hedge cutter myself. I learnt to use the strimmer but have not yet got courage enough to try the hedge trimmer yet.

I took a few weeks and strimmed where I could, then focused on the veg areas of my garden, starting with the plastic square foot beds which are the easiest to weed and prepared. I had started seeds off in compost and kept on the windowsills in my house as it was too cold outside in the greenhouse. Fortunately the spinach, beetroot and the lettuce seedlings grew well enough to start planting out in late March.

growing lettuce in square metre raised bed
planted out lettuce seedlings

The lettuce took a while to get going but I took a few leaves now and then by May. But as the weather got colder and wetter, my desire for salad leaves dwindled and by June the lettuce were filling the bed.

lettuce doing well
need some warm weather to eat this lettuce

And the beetroot and spinach did well also. I had loads of spinach on my sandwiches before it bolted at the end of May.

beetroot and spinach doing well

I had planted some pots with garlic at the end of last year as none of the veg beds were ready to grow anything.

growing garlic in pots
growing garlic in pots

I had never grown garlic in pots before so not sure what would happen. Fortunately by June they were still growing and had not died.

garlic growing well with blueberries
blueberries and garlic

My two blueberry plants were keeping them company. I planted these late last year and am not sure if I can keep the birds/sqirrels from stripping them bare.

The mid and top terrace areas were weeded and prepared (a thin coating of manure compost). I also put plastic down to stop my cat digging. My mesh bed was created and plantings were some kaibroc or sticcoli, red shallots and red and purple carrots. The black plastic was uncovered for 5 varieties of potatoes (red scarlet, elfe, kestrel, Vivaldi and arran).

The potatoes have been growing well in front of the mesh

potatoes growing well

and behind.

In these areas there are 5 varieties of potato (red scarlet, elfe, kestrel, Vivaldi and arran). I can not tell from the plants which is which as they all look alike and are the same size.

Under the mesh the onions are a bit slow to grow, and the carrots are not doing well. I have only got 4 out of probably 100 seeds that have germinated. Looks like I need to sow some more.

low germination of carrots

One carrot look like it might take over the whole area though!