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

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

montbretia for basket weaving

recently read in a book on basket weaving that the dried leaves from flowering plants such as irises and montbetia can be used. I only have a few irises in the garden,new plants this year and I'm not sure whether they would normally keep their leaves through winter or not, so I haven't chopped these back. montbretia leaves always die back and if not gathered up quickly turn into a soggy mess so I'm happy to chop them back a little early and they are now strung up in the garage to dry. cutting them back has made the step from patio to lawn visible and has given the snails one place less to hide.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

collecting seed

hoping to avoid buying so much seed next year, particularly for flowers, so I've been going round today to see how many plants have properly set seed. a long spell of warm,dry weather has allowed the seed to ripen and dry out well on the plants. the nasturtiums have grown wildly this summer, flowered profusely and set a lot of seed - some is so ripe it's fallen from the plant but I've picked this up as well. grew calendulas and tagetes for the first time in a long while and both of these have set seed. these 3 seed-types I've brought inside to dry, then later I'll store in envelopes or used film canisters. plants such as nigella (love-in-a-mist), aquilegia and foxgloves generally just grow wherever the seed spreads to. as I've cut back the old dried stems of these flowers I've shaken any seed still in the pods in areas where I would like them to grow next year.
also started taking the seed beans from the runner bean row. they are starting to turn yellow and although not totally dried out I'm bringing them in while the weather is warm and dry rather than risking them getting wet.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

picked this week

the last pumpkin - this makes 4 good big ones ready for Halloween, lots of small cucumbers, small number of runner beans, baby corn, a savoy cabbage that was so eaten by bugs that it only made one dinner, some second shoots of broccoli, still have rocket and spinach leaves, and a couple of courgettes

Thursday, 24 September 2009


cucumbers are still continuing to crop but the Sweet Crunch which are supposed to be a small fruiting variety are as large as the Marketmores. best crops, though rather weird, have come from the Crystal Lemon plant. at their largest they grow to the size of an apple but easily develop tough skin and a lot of seeds. the very oddly shaped one at the bottom of the picture is a Marketmore grown outside in the bean row - this is the only fruit from the plant and not really fit to eat.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


lot of birds visiting this morning. half a dozen sparrows, possibly a few more, flitting about the feeder, 2 blackbirds pecking at the lawn, blue tits on the rowan out front, long-tailed tits on the one next door, a robin sitting on the swing, a wren hunting insects on the roses, a pigeon disturbed out of the sycamore by a cat(not Puddin) and magpies flying over.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

clearing up

decided to bring in the last pumpkin - it had trailed from the pea row into the raspberries and was very difficult to support. had thought this was smaller than the others but, comparing them in the kitchen, it isn't really - longer and less rounded, it might have made the biggest pumpkin if it had had time to grow.
the pumpkin was the only reason to have left the pea row in so long. it had already turned brown and dried out, so now that has been outed leaving a row of self-set flowers - foxgloves, feverfew and aquilegia mainly.
harvested some more baby corn. have had enough for several stir-fries but not quite enough to be worth freezing.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

picked this week

runner beans, cucumbers- crystal lemon and sweet crunch, a couple of tomatoes, beetroot, the last 3 pods off of the alderman peas, 2 pumpkins,baby corn, courgettes, peaches and picked the apples today. Weather dry but not as sunny and warm as last week. Some nights have been cool ; weathermen talking about ground frosts.


harvesting the peaches today - all two of them. have moved the tree out of its pot and planted it out under the kitchen window in what is hopefully a warm spot - maybe next year there'll be more fruit


taking apples off of the tree today. have had some quite brisk wind this week and want to pick the apples before they fall. this years apples seem larger, better shaped and have less insect damage.

Friday, 18 September 2009

seeds again

sown winter onion seed today. this is not supposed to be transplanted or pricked out at all, so had trouble finding a spot where they could remain undisturbed till June next year - have set them by by the greenhouse where they should catch winter sun.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

sowing again

setting flower seed today - lupins and christmas roses in the stenhouse, and oriental poppies, veronica and two types of foxglove- excelsior hybrid and summer king, though home collected seed - in a propagator in the greenhouse. It's not the normal time of year to sow perennial flowers but I find that it works well if the seedlings can be kept warm enough in the greenhouse over winter. Normally these would be set earlier in summer to have small plants able to be planted out now to next year's flowering positions but we have a much greater problem with slugs over summer and problems with keeping trays of small seedlings watered while we are on holiday. Sowing them now gives them time to germinate and grow into seedlings before any really cold weather, and, although they will most likely die back over winter, being in the greenhouse protects them from the worst of the weather and enables them to start growing earlier in spring.
have also set a tray of spinach for autumn/winter salads.

Monday, 14 September 2009


a couple of weeks of sunshine -at last- has really ripened the large pumpkin. It's now a bright, glowing orange, nearly ready to bring inside. the harvested green one has started to turn orange on the kitchen window sill. have 2 new smaller pumpkins growing well. this should make a bumper crop for us. hopefully they will keep till Halloween. all of these have come from either the seed or second generation seed of a Halloween pumpkin bought in Wells-next-the-Sea. 2 vines of red kabocha squash have only produced very small unripened yellow fruit -perhaps the weather hasn't been warm enough for them. all the other varieties sown haven't really grown well at all - the butternut squashes haven't got going at all and none of the others has any fruit.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

picked this week

runner beans - not many, maybe a couple of meals-worth, lettuces that were running to seed, rocket, beetroot, carrots - all of them and they didn't make up enough for a meal, 3-4 courgettes

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

late summer flowers


kaffir lilies

and rather early winter jasmine


not exactly a bumper crop of carrots. this is all we have this year.those on the left are maincrop, fullsized carrots: those on the right are Amsterdam forcing mini-carrots.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


a day with lots of wildlife in and around the garden. several flights of geese have passed over today. a family of long-tailed tits visited again. started pruning back the birch tree in the back garden and found more ladybirds in it than I've seen all summer - some red with black spots, some yellow with black and one red with white spots. the cabbages are still crawling with caterpillars despite my efforts with a soap spray - I don't really want to kill off all of them as I like butterflies, even cabbage whites,just don't want the caterpillars.
also found these strange creepy crawlies - not sure if they are eggs from spiders or butterflies, or cocoons or what.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

picked this week

lots and lots of runner beans, alderman peas -some very dried out which I've saved for seed, a couple of courgettes, one radish,a pepper,windfall apples, more broccoli side shoots and have brought in one of the pumpkins to ripen in the kitchen.

Friday, 4 September 2009


the corn is rather battered this morning due to wind overnight. putting up stakes and twine to keep it standing. shouldn't be long till it's ready to harvest.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

strange fruits

3 varieties of cucumber- from left - crystal lemon, marketmore and sweet crunch

some of the greenhouse plants are growing strangely - probably due to erratic watering and no fruit been picked while we were on holiday.the cucumbers are rather short but fat and some of the courgettes are growing unevenly.

strange-shaped courgette


have a lot of damage from cabbage white caterpillars on the brussels sprouts at the moment. they've been able to munch their way unhindered through a lot of the leaves while we've been away on holiday.I'm now trying to reduce their numbers by spraying with a soap and garlic spray - it does seem to work to a limited extent so long as I use it frequently.there are less cabbage white butterflies around now - mainly seeing speckled wood - on the verbena bonariensis.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

things that have done well without us

a lot of things have continued to grow well while we were away. the runner beans are still fruiting wildly - though some have grown a bit too large and are going to be saved for seed. also,very unusually, will be saving some pea seed, from the aldermans, - these were hardly picked for the past fortnight and some have dried out on the plants - hopefully home-grown seed will give a better crop next year.

the rhubarb is still growing well

one of the halloween pumpkins is starting to ripen and change colour. the other is still green but the skin appears hard so have cut this.

the corn is growing tall and cobs are starting to develop

the chilli plants were moved outside for the holidays and despite the rain seem to be doing well

and the roses have grown a lot without us to keep them in check