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• Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

A keen gardener like myself just wants to make the most of the last summer days of August; and there are so many things to do that I won’t be packing my gardening tools in the shed for a little while yet.

Here is my list of gardening activities for the next few weeks.

Laying turf
Since we have had a fair bit or rain recently it should be easier to pull up any old lawn to replace it by a new one. And Autumn is one of the best seasons to start a new lawn with turf or seed: the weather is still warm enough for the grass to grow and it will also get plenty or rain which should help the lawn establish itself. In fact I have noticed that my local garden centers have stocked up on turf recently. It’s always best to lay the turf as soon as possible on a level, weed and stone free soil in order to achieve best results.

Harvesting and feeding
The tomatoes which I have grown outdoors will continue to ripen into September, and therefore it’s important to continue to water and feed them regularly.

It’s important to harvest beans regularly to make the most of the young tasty vegetable and also to encourage further growth and crops.

The harvest of potatoes harvest is continuing especially for the maincrop varieties. And I am keeping an eye on the sweetcorn which should soon be ready for harvest.
more…

Author:
• Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

It’s looking good so far this month on the tomato front: the varieties which I chose to grow this year have a good taste and are also cropping well.

The Gardeners’s Delight cherry tomatoes have a nice sweet taste and you can see in the picture that they are smaller than the other types of tomatoes that I have grown outdoors and in the greenhouse.

Plate of Garden Tomatoes

Plate of Garden Tomatoes

The bigger wrinkly beef tomatoes are from the Marmande variety which I am growing this year for the first time. I am growing some in the greenhouse and also outdoors although the outdoor ones take longer to ripen. I have found that the Marmande tomatoes are very handy to use in my new recipe for courgette and tomato bake which you will find below.

The third variety which I am currently growing in the greenhouse is called Tigereta. This is a small to medium size tomato with distinctive stripes as you can see in the top right hand corner of the picture.
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• Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

As I spend more time in the garden and outdoors generally I find that I am becoming more attuned with the changes in the seasons. And recently I have become aware that we have reached the height of summer. I can feel it in the change of colours and light – the bright mornings with their azure sky blue skies have given way to indigo hues – just like the sky blue Corydalis flower has given way to the darker violet Agapanthus in my garden. The lavender is in full bloom and filling the air with its potent fragrance.

Harvest Time

Harvest Time

I have also noticed a return of the ladybirds which first came early spring to take care of the aphids on the early spring shoots and are now back in time for the second rose blossoms.

Today in my East Anglian garden the sun is strong and temperatures are making the air seem a bit stuffy. We are enjoying summer with its abundance of flowers and fresh vegetables readily picked from the garden.

As I watch the combine harvester collecting the wheat in the local fields, it feels like we are preparing for the winter to come.

A new transition is on its way as morning mists and soft dews will soon bring us into a wetter season to come: Autumn.

Category: My English Garden  | Tags:  | One Comment
Author:
• Sunday, August 16th, 2009

The revelation that some allotment plots can reach up to £300 in annual rent in Britain is probably a sign of changes in the allotment world. This may seem like a high price to pay for an allotment plot but the Scotlandwell allotments in Perthshire near Kinross believe that their ‘super’ allotment bring excellent value for money.

Indeed for that price you get access to the following facilities according to Garden News:
a club house with fully fitted kitchen including a bread oven, a gardening library, 3 barbecues, car parking spaces, regular events, security, and free tea, coffee and juice for children. An artesian well has also been sunk to ensure that alloment holders have easy access to water. But most of all each plot has been dug over and is guaranteed stone free! Now that’s a luxury you wouldn’t get with a standard £15 rent a year council allotment.
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Author:
• Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

This week the tallest of my sunflowers has finally opened all its petals to reveal a perfect pollination center which is currently crowded with bees of all kinds. The variety which I sowed back in April is called Giant Russian and I believe that it produces some of the biggest and tallest garden sunflowers.

Sunflower Head

Sunflower Head

My tallest sunflower is approx. 2.7 metres high – about 9ft and grows next to a wall which means that it is sheltered from the wind. I have seen bigger ones on some allotments and also bigger flower heads at a local country show. If I had had the time to feed my sunflowers more regularly then they certainly would have grown bigger. But with all the flower beds, fruits and greenhouse to look after, it’s not easy to keep an eye on everything.

I have also grown a lovely multi-headed variety with red/brown flower heads. In fact in my potato plot I have found that some of these red coloured sunflowers from last year had self seeded itself all over the area. So I have had to dig carefully around the sunflowers in order to harvest my potatoes.

Since some of my sunflowers are dotted along the garden path, I have been able to enjoy watching the insects that gorge themselves on the nectar as I go past. If like me you feel that flowers are a very important part of the ecosystem you can participate in a survey related bees and get involved in the great sunflower project.

A wide range of wild garden birds eat ripe sunflower seeds such as Gold finches and I am looking forward to watching them in the months to come.

Category: Flowers  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Sunday, August 09th, 2009

Following my article about how to grow dahlias I am delighted to have received some precious advice from a member of the West Cornwall Dahlia Club.

Paul is a keen dahlia grower who has spent years perfecting the art of growing dahlias for competition purposes and I have taken the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Trelyn Kiwi dahlia

Trelyn Kiwi dahlia

So what is your favourite dahlia?
“Of the 102 dahlias that I grow my main dahlia has to be Trelyn Kiwi, which is a small cactus which you can see in the picture below. This dahlia is a multi winner up and down the country, even to the other ends of the world such as New Zealand.

Its form is immaculate if not the easiest to grow. I usually grow 24 plants but this year I am growing 32 plants of it!

Do you have some advice on how to achieve the best results with your dahlias?
I follow these steps in order to be ready for the annual dahlia show which takes place in Truro next weekend on 16th August: more…

Category: Flowers  | Tags:  | 4 Comments
Author:
• Wednesday, August 05th, 2009

Last week I started to harvest some of the potatoes which I planted back in March. This first harvest is of an early variety called Rocket, and I guess I should have been able to harvest them earlier, particulary since these potatoes are first earlies.

Rocket First Early Potatoes

Rocket First Early Potatoes

However it looks like the hot weather which we have had early on in the year was not so beneficial my tubers which did grow as quickly as expected or produce many potatoes. Or could it be that my clay soil is to be blamed for this shortfall?

In fact I am a bit disappointed with the amount of potatoes for the first line which I have dug up. You can see the amount in the picture here.

On the good news front this type of potato seems resistant to worms and looks prestine (with a nice yellow soft skin and white flesh). I will need a bit more time to make up my mind as to its taste, so far I would describe it as smooth (ie. not floury).

The next variety which I have yet to dig up is called Ratte. I will enjoy doing a comparison between the two varieties when I have got round to picking the next line of Ratte variety potatoes.

So there’s a lot more digging to be done with the reward of a constant supply of freshly cooked organic new potatoes.

Author:
• Sunday, August 02nd, 2009

Next weekend the Chilli Fiesta will take place at the West Dean Gardens which are located in the Sussex South Downs. This will give you a chance to discover different varieties of chillies as well as finding tips on how to grow and use them.

Home Grown Chillies

Home Grown Chillies

In fact in their greenhouse you will find a collection of over 200 chillies! This event is a great opportunity for a day out for all the family.

I have had a lot of success this year with my chilli plants which I grew from seeds. Most of them have grown lots of chillies which are now red and ready to consume. It looks like I will have a continuous supply to spice up any meal.

So if you are a chilli lover and want to find out more about growing chillies, don’t miss the West Dean Gardens Chilli Fiesta which will take place on 8th and 9th August.

Category: My Garden Visits  | Tags:  | One Comment
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• Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

At the peak of summer, August is when we’d rather make the most of the holiday season or just relax in the garden, however there are still a few seeds that can be sown this month.
In particular I need to grow more lettuce and with the current rainy weather it’s not going to be to hard to grow the following seeds:
Lamb’s lettuce: I grew some lamb’s lettuce last year and I find that it is a useful lettuce to grow through the winter months. It is fairly resistant to cold weather and although right now you may have a lot of vegetables available from your garden, it’s good to have something for the colder bleaker months to come.

Radicchios: this is a variety of chicory with red leaves which can be mixed with other type of lettuces to add a bit of interest to any salad. It’s not to everybody’s taste but worth a try as a change.

Christmas potatoes: I am considering growing some Christmas potatoes because my current harvest of potatoes does not look as bountiful as last year. And I do enjoy having a large supply of home-grown potatoes which I store in a dark and cool area of my shed.
I will probably buy specific winter varieties from catalogue or online. Apparently you can plant these in containers or pots late August – early September. more…

Author:
• Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Following my previous post on planning a flower border which I wrote back in May the border has been looking good and it is also constantly evolving.

Clarkia in flower border

Clarkia in flower border

The effect can be seen in the following pictures taken in June and also on this lovely July morning. In my original post I was planning to have a few annuals amongst some of the perennials that were already there. I was also aiming to have a continuous display of flowers which is always the challenging part of any border design in my opinion.
Gallardia and Rudbekia

Gallardia and Rudbekia

Some of my ideas have worked out, so for example as you can see the Clarkias provided some interesting lush colour in the flower border.
But unfortunately some of the seeds did not germinate so I did not manage to get the homogenous effect which I was looking for. The Clarkias were interspersed with some Sisyrinchiums (Stiatum) which are perennial plants that produce elegant spikes of creamy yellow flowers. Since these flowers tend to self seed freely I ended up with too many of them in the border but it was nonetheless looking good in June.

Then later in the month there were a few unexpected blue cornflowers in the wrong places but they filled in some gaps nicely. I am also rather disappointed with the lawn Chamomile and the Erigerons which do not seem to have grown well as you can hardly see them in the border.

Mixed flower border

Mixed flower border

On the other hand this month the Gallardias are in full bloom and the double pompom-type blooms look nice as do the Rudbekias. The Dahlias in the background are just starting to bloom and hopefully the pink crinums will soon do too.

So my flower border is not really what I was expecting in terms of general effect but it does look good and colorful, and that’s what matters after all.