welcome to my little suburban oasis, filled with flowers,fruit trees and vegetables

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

picked in June

broad beans,gooseberries (from Grandma),raspberries,redcurrants, courgettes, alpine strawberries,feltham first peas, rocket, mangetout peas, lettuce,strawberries

Sunday, 28 June 2009

cucumbers again

yesterday was a "fruiting" day on the bio-dynamic calendar, so the last cucumbers were planted out. the marketmore cucumbers I was gifted last week can be grown in the greenhouse or outdoors. considering the current weather,and hoping it continues, I have decided to try growing one outside. there was a slight problem with trying to find some space, so it's been planted in a space left by the lettuce pulled for lunch, just in front of the bean row. this area is a bit crowded but, as a curcurbit, cucumbers are the same family as squash and pumpkins so it should be happy as part of the extended three sisters planting.

broad beans

broad beans are starting to crop well. some gathered for dinner, some spare for the freezer(really like these for winter soups) have grown 2 types this year -aquadulce claudia and imperial green longpod. one sort is giving lots of smaller pods, the other a smaller number of large pods- about 8-9 inches in length. the former(probably but not certainly the aqudulces) has suffered more from blackfly.

growing a summer broccoli, green magic. noticed the heads starting to form today.

still picking feltham first peas, though there are fewer new flowers. rondo peas should be ready to pick and day now.

Friday, 26 June 2009

three sisters planting

"three sisters planting" is a native american practice, whereby beans,sweet corn and squash are grown together - the corn provides support for the beans to climb and the squash trails underneath and helps keep down the weeds. we've adapted this idea slightly for our garden. we usually grow sweet peas along-side the beans to encourage bees and generally grow a catch crop just in front of the row - this year we have lettuce

corn just starting to grow beside the runner beans and sweet peas

scarlet emperor runner beans from home grown seed and emergo(a white flowered type) were set in pots in the greenhouse during April. the pumpkins and squashes, for here and elsewhere in the garden, were started at the same time- these are a variety of types, some packet seed, some seed saved from purchased squashes and some now home grown seed.

pumpkin now about 3' high but starting to trail sideways

3 different types of squash were planted out along with the beans in early May - a crown prince, a red kabocha and a halloween pumpkin. the corn was set directly into the ground soon after - this is a baby corn type, used for stir-fries, not a corn-on-the-cob type. there are also some accidental potato plants which must be growing from peelings in the compost.

runner beans,sweetpeas and red kabocha squash in flower, seen from above

everything seems to be doing well at the moment.the lettuce at the front of the row has grown really well. beans,sweetpeas and the red kabocha squash are flowering. the halloween pumpkin is a larger plant with buds on though no flowers yet. the crown prince squash is the slowest in growth,but whether due to its type or location I'm not sure.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


found a frog in the garden today. this is quite unusual as we have no pond and there's no stream nearby. our house was built about 25 years ago and at that time there was a drainage ditch between 2 fields running roughly parallel to the back fence about 60 yards away -this area has now been built on as the housing estate expanded,about 20 years ago, and the ditch levelled out but we do occasionally have dragonflies,the electric blue type and a larger brown variety, in the garden as if searching out the old water course.

broad beans

first broad beans off today - enough for 2 of us, about 4oz. expecting more soon as the plants look quite heavily laden. have had some trouble with blackfly but have sprayed with the soapy garlic spray and, although we never seem quite rid of them, their numbers have been kept down.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

hidden treasure

its been a bit of a week for pruning and discovering things. cutting back the winter jasmine, I found that there were flowers on the red-hot pokers behind it. a day later we decided to tackle the lilac - and discovered a honeysuckle climbing through it and flowering. sadly,some of this had to be cut back as it was overhanging the fence but I now have a vase-full scenting the house.


I have received 2 new cucumber plants via a friend on Freecycle. the greenhouse has been looking a little bare as my early cucumbers were eaten and the peppers aren't doing well at all, so these new plants were most welcome. conducting a minor experiment with them - today is a flower planting day according to the bio-dynamic calendar so not a good day for a fruiting plant like cucumber but we have planted one in the greenhouse and kept one in its pot till the next "fruiting" day, to see if this will make any long term difference.according to the bio-dynamic theory, the one planted out shouldn't do as well but, on the other hand, the weather forecast for the next few days is for very hot so logically the one in its pot will suffer. we will wait and see.

Monday, 22 June 2009

midsummer in the garden - fruit

the old pippin apple





this years B+Q apple

raspberries just ripening

midsummer in the garden -vegetables

shirley tomatoes

gartenperle tomatoes

ferline tomatoes


scarlet emperor runner beans just in flower

alderman peas - 6' and growing!

delikett peas


broad beans

red lettuce still going strong

midsummer in the garden - flowers

perennial fuchsia

blue geraniums and pyracantha

pink perennial geranium

london pride and feverfew

pale pink geranium and foxgloves


foxglove and feverfew

foxglove and pale fuchsia

pale pink geranium


Saturday, 20 June 2009

fruit picking

picking redcurrants this morning. not many ready yet but all good fat ones. I don't leave them for the whole string to ripen but pick them off as and when they are ready.
later, trimmed back the roses that have flowered. they have black spot which I just tolerate, preferring not to spray with fungicide. all these trimmings go in the council garden waste bin rather than the compost heap.
also cut back the forsythia and cleaned up the prunings to make pea-sticks.

Friday, 19 June 2009


greenfly on the rondo peas so out with the soapy garlic spray again.
we are growing 5 different types of pea this year -really early meteor, feltham first,alderman,rondo and delikett(a mangetout type) at the moment the bugs are mainly on the rondo peas - the others aren't affected .
meteor didn't germinate well so we only had 4/5 plants
feltham first are doing well.have now started cropping with lots more to come.
alderman are a tall pea -now at 6'- and a perpetual cropper so once they start(soon I think) they should carry on all summer
rondo bad germination but those that have grown are doing well(till the greenfly), flowering now
delikett- another tall pea growing up a wigwam about 4/5'.lots of sugar snap peas.I wander outside and snack on these straight from the plant

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

leeks and rain

as I've already said,we were given some leeks to replace those dug up by the cat. as we are trying bio-dynamic gardening this year, they had to wait and be planted out yesterday - a leaf day- and today, thanks to the rain, they've had a really good watering-in.
I find the whole thing of planting according to star signs and the moon a little bit "new-age"and un-scientific but it does appear to be giving us better crops. it could,of course, be any of a number of other factors - the hard winter seems to have reduced pests, there were no late frosts to damage or slow early plants, my newly retired husband has more time to spend gardening (and this includes getting more compost onto the veg patch) but for now I'll keep following it. I'm picking up the star sign information from a web-site The Gardener's Calendar which explains it all and tells you what to plant and when.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

feverfew and blackfly

feverfew flowering today. unfortunately some of it has been targeted by ants and blackfly. as I try to garden almost organically with minimal pesticides, I have been out spraying with a soap (ecover washing up liquid) and garlic spray - a squirt of one and 2 cloves of the other in a pint spray. it seems to work but I wonder if its only the pressure of the water spray.


a good night full of rain to help along the flowers planted out over the past two days.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

plants that have done well

a sea of love-in-a-mist in the front garden

mangetout peas - Delikett- I've tried these in previous years and just had stunted plants and warped, stringy pods. this time's are really sweet and crisp.
beautiful dark flowers on the lilies this year. seem to have had a phase of less slug activity than normal which has helped them. also haven't seen any lily beetles at all this year - they normally take chunks out of the flowers.

lettuce - not sure what type. I think it may be Clarion. it's doing very well at the moment,again due to lack of slugs at a crucial time and I think we may be hunting for the lettuce soup recipes for the surplus.

red salad bowl lettuce. this was set in the greenhouse sometime in October last year, managed to survive all the cold weather (it's an unheated glass greenhouse, but about February time we lined the roof with bubble wrap) and we pulled outer leaves as needed over winter. as it continued to grow I decided to plant it out in the garden, expecting it to run to seed straight away. it looks quite likely to bolt soon but for now its still going strong.

things not going so well

- autumn/winter cabbage - hardly any seed coming up. it is old seed, 5 years in some cases and I have now set loads and used the packets up. hopefully something will now grow.
-cucumbers - these came through really well but, when we went on holiday at Easter, we thought the best thing to do was plant them in the ground in the greenhouse. there wasn't any problem with the weather but slugs got in and ate them
-peppers - were doing well till we planted them out in the greenhouse.have now taken the bizarre step of lifting them and replanting in pots
-leeks - planted them out and half got dug up and rolled on by the cat. fortunately, some generous people offered us some replacements. we now have sticks around and amongst them but the cat still seems attracted - is it the smell perhaps?

Friday, 12 June 2009

weeds or flowers?

spent the last couple of days clearing some "weeds" out of the vegetable patch. every year we end up with a lot of self-set flowers appearing there - foxglove , aquilegias, feverfew, welsh poppies and love-in -a- mist are the main culprits. the germination rate seems to be helped by passing through the compost bin.
aquilegia,lavender and a blueberry bush

I used to dislike lifting perfectly good flowers just to throw onto the compost heap - and neighbours soon end up with enough of their own - but I now offer them on Freecycle and find new homes for them.

love-in-a-mist and welsh poppies by the cold frame

some are left at the path edges to add some colour and also to attract bees but they could far too easily take over as in newly turned ground they grow much quicker than deliberately planted veg seed.

welsh poppies and cabbage

Thursday, 11 June 2009

birds and cats

planted some baby leeks out earlier this week with cloche hoops and sticks to protect them from the birds. early this morning I saw a pigeon heading for the leek patch so,having shooed it away, I strung some foil bottle tops together to make a bird scarer. when I went out to hang it up, I discovered that a big chunk of the patch had been dug up by the CAT. you would think he would keep the birds away.instead he just causes more trouble!
picked the first strawberries today. they cheated by sending a runner into the cold frame and the fruit on it has ripened earlier than the rest. might have to try this deliberately next year.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Lifted the last of the purple sprouting broccoli yesterday. It has cropped amazingly well this year. It was turning up on every day's menu - not just as plain boiled broccoli, but thrown into curries and stir-fries and pasta sauces and soups... We almost hit the point of having too much - not something usually encountered when trying to 'grow your own'. Lots of the spears and some of the leaves have gone to help fill the freezer - neither of them actually cook very nicely as plain boiled veg after being frozen, but I do think they work okay in stir-fries and soups.
Most of this broccoli was common stuff, sown in the normal way last spring to crop this, but one super plant - the so-called broccoli tree - had been growing for 2 years. Last year it didn't put out any flower buds, so I just left it. Last summer, tomatoes and peas were planted round it. It just grew taller but still with no signs of actual broccoli on it. Several times, my husband threatened to pull it up but I insisted it was left. At last, in March, we saw the first signs of buds and all the long wait was worthwhile.

The broccoli tree at it's finest at over 5 feet

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

our garden

our garden is a standard suburban plot,about 36' square (12m), roughly divided in half between flowers / lawn

and vegetables.

and sometimes a few of both together

sweetpeas amongst the runner beans,squash and lettuce

We've lived here for about 25 years and always had the veggie patch, adding a greenhouse after a few years. We also have a cold frame and various plastic covered cloches and shelving units to advance the growing season.
Our main efforts go into the vegetable garden so the flower bit is aimed at being low-maintenance. Mainly its full(some folk might say over-full) of perennials as these flower every year with very little effort. We grow a lot of foxgloves, welsh poppies, aquilegias, perennial geraniums, montbretia and kaffir lilies with flowering shrubs like lilac, laburnum, forsythia, fuchsia, pyracantha, winter flowering jasmine, viburnum, an ornamental cherry and apple trees.

Monday, 8 June 2009

starting this garden blog to try to keep track of what happens in it - what grows well,what doesn't,whether it gets scorched by the sun or washed away by the rain.