Despite my lack of blogging I have actually been out in the garden a few times over the past weeks, mainly attempting to tidy but also to get the final planting into place for winter.

Some garlic arrived that I’d ordered from Thompson & Morgan, 4 bulbs of ‘Albigensian Wight‘ to be exact.  If I’m honest I’d forgotten that I’d ordered them but they are now safely split and planted as per my usual method.  It’s a little less than I normally buy but I have promised the boys they can have a raised bed next year to share so I need to save a little space, also the ‘Albigensian Wight’ is by far my favourite variety so I decided to simply stick with this (I’d normally also plant some ‘Solent Wight’ which I’d buy from the Garlic Farm), even the inner cloves were big and fat so it saves me feeling guilty about making room for the usual mini ones in the center that never grow very large but take up valuable growing space.

I have also been planting quite a few flower bulbs, mainly Geums, Ranunculus and Anemones.  The Ranunculus and Anemones are best soaked overnight to get them off to a good start before planting, we have such mild winters here (usually – fingers crossed!) that they have always survived in my garden with little help, even thought their hardiness is in question, I did plant the Anemones (my usual favourites for cutting ‘Mr Fokker’, ‘Sylphide’ and new for me ‘The Bride’) in lines in the cutting patch though so that I can cloche them over the colder months to make sure the corms survive. The Ranunculus will just have to fend for themselves scattered in the borders.

Whilst placing a bulb order I bought some Fritillarias meleagris in Plum & White to add to my lonely single one that grows under our tree and I take great pains to stop M from mowing off each spring; an Amaryllis Emerald ‘Spring’ for some Christmas cheer (I do love Amaryllis) and some Hyacinth ‘Purple Sensation’ to grow indoors in hyacinth vases, if I can find them, I know I put them away last year but I can’t remember where.

In the garden it’s very much winding down, I quite fancy a rest this winter so I haven’t bothered to grow many new things, only a bed of mixed Kales as they tend to survive no matter what and look so pretty through the cold months.  I’d normally have purple sprouting broccoli and parsnips amongst others but this year I’d like to get everything properly tidied up and start a fresh next February with mostly clear beds.  I may attempt to get some of the hardy herbs in better shape and perhaps some winter lettuce, maybe some spinach but I’ve read we are due very low night temperatures this weekend so I’ve probably missed my window.

Still cropping (just) are:

Tomatoes (the last few)

Courgettes – I’m amazed how long and how many we have had from 4 plants

Strawberries, Alpine


Horseradish root


Cucumbers – they were so late to get going this year and now we are getting a lot of late crops.

Spring Onions

I turned out some of the last small potato bags recently, if you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know I just covered the bags with cloches once the tops died back to stop the soil getting wet, as we were a little potatoed out and couldn’t keep up with the eating.  I am surprised to say they still were delicious, even though they’ve been sitting in dry soil for many weeks now, the skins were a little thicker but they were still much nicer than store-bought ones (to be clear all the potatoes I grow are second earlies, so mainly ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Anya’ variety).

We awoke to our first frost this morning, a light one but it’s taken out the dahlias and a few other softer flowers, I am quite relived in a way as I need to get the borders tidied and it’ll be easier to do when much of it has died back.  Autumn has finally arrived!

Things I’ve forgotten to menion OR I’m a bad blogger…

Take your pick as both apply.  I have been working in the garden so I’m not quite sure why my blogging hasn’t kicked back in, it’s always slow at the start of the year and over Winter, when everything goes into hibernation but by now I’m usually back into the swing of regular posting.  I suspect it’s partly that I know (after growing here for 4 years now) kind of what I’m doing so I spend less time reading up on-line and in gardening books and therefore less time learning new processes and recording them, not that I know everything, far from it and the good thing is it means this blog is working well as a record as I simply check on what I was up to last year and follow the same.

This is the ‘trolley’ in our kitchen, you can imagine how popular I am, especially as this mess tends to be there for most of Spring as I try to get all my seeds organised and planted out, I’m generally a bit behind but happy with that, I’d rather plant direct this year, when possible.

And so, here are a few things I’ve missed putting down on virtual paper, for the record.

Things that survived the Winter

Spinach ‘Bordeaux’

Planted back in September’s Autumn Planting post, is was the only thing that did take, everything else failed to germinate or died soon after due to a general lack of proper care, tut, tut!

Herbs ‘Thyme’, ‘Parcel’, ‘Winter Savory’ and ‘Mint’.

Although they look a bit scrappy in their pots, they are hanging on in there.

Carrots ‘ Nantes’

Now, these have rather taken me surprise, there were some left in one of the huge containers I planted them in (to avoid carrot fly – which worked like a treat) and although they lost all their top foliage in the snowy Winter we had, the carrots underneath are perfectly fine.  I know because Charlie digs them up to eat each time we are in the veg patch, the container is a great height for him to ‘play’ in.

Kale ‘Cavalo Nero’

Again, a crop from last Summer which I simply never got around to pulling up and composting when it got past it’s best.  I’m glad I didn’t as it has sprung back to life and all 5 plants are producing nice new leaves from the top, in fact some are sprouting so well from the bottom, I think I might trim them down and see if they can keep going..

Parsnips ‘Gladiator’

I couldn’t dig these due to frosty ground and only a few had germinated so they are still there and I forgot about them, they are now comedy giant parsnips.

Things I’ve planted that I forgot to tell you about

The new batch of shallot French ‘Longor’ were put into their beds a few weeks ago.  As per the instructions from 2009, the sets have been planted  in rows about 30cm apart, with 7 sets per row (my beds are 120cm wide) and the tops just poking out.  They are looking nicely settled although I’ve had to net them to make sure the cat doesn’t see a litter tray opportunity.  These are so worth it as we haven’t bought shallots since the first year I grew them and they need so little care, although we do normally have onions in the veg patch as an additional supplement.

I sowed some Broad Bean Super Aquadulce’ a few weeks back indoors and these have now been planted out.  I didn’t bother to do an Autumn planting as quite frankly in past years the final plants have always ended up a bit scrappy, it’ll be interesting to see how this early Spring sown version differs.

In a completely separate note, the Spring flowers are finally coming into their own, it always amazes me how quickly they go from green shoots to full blown blooms so (fingers crossed) there will be some pretty pictures to go with the next post and finally a bit of colour in the garden, for now here is the Fritillaria imperialis which is flowering for the first time for a while, I’ve been getting blind bulbs so I’m very happy to finally see some blooms 🙂

Autumn planting…

Still behind in getting my posts published, but better late than never:)

Written a few weeks ago:

For the first time in a while, I spent most of yesterday afternoon working in the garden; it’s a little later than it should be for the Autumn planting but as we are lucky with the weather here in the South and we are still due some sun I figured it was now or never.

I’ve decided to make use the large buckets that I grew my squash in, they have been topped up with fresh soil and lots of added feed and seed has been sown for:

Spring Onions ‘North Holland Blood Red’

Spinach ‘Bordeaux’

Carrots ‘Sytan’

Turnip ‘Blanc De Croissy’

In the raised beds I have started:

Radish ‘Sparkler’ & ‘Cherry Bell’

Chard ‘White Silver’

Pak Choi ‘Joi Choi’

and finally a bed of mixed salad leaves (I simply scattered a few of each variety that are Winter hardy).

Everything can easily be cloched if needed , for some of the above, it’s already quite late to be planting them and there are others that should really have gone in during August such as Kohl Rabi, which I may still attempt.  I also have to decide whether to replace the Kale with new plants as the existing has been growing throughout Summer.  For now though, I need to try to get everything tidied and put away and I will concentrate on making sure all the above are kept watered and given the best chance to germinate.

By the way, the garden has lots of bright flowers at the moment, although they are getting a little scrappy there is still plenty to pick for a quick posy for the kitchen.

The overall picture…

I took these photos a week or so ago, even in that time a lot has grown but I am about to start the first big dig up (such as the garlic) so here they are, oh, and please excuse the mess, it’s as much as I can manage to water the vegetable patch in this heat, let alone tidy it.

Bed 1 is as it was planned in the cold Winter, when I dreamed of hot Summer days and what we would like to grow and eat.  It has Sweet Corn with salad crops between, a single row of Spring Onion and 5 plants of Alpine Strawberry (on their first year so only lightly cropping).

Bed 2 has a double row of Barlotto Beans, with some Red Onions between (I heard on Gardeners’ Question Time that you should never plant beans with onions – oops!), Garlic, Chard and again, Alpine Strawberries (on their third year and producing masses).

Bed 3 has Sugar Snaps (about to end) and Garlic, about to be pulled out to make way for Broccoli which is sitting in pots at the moment, wilting.

Bed 4 which I stole from the cutting flowers this year, is a bit messy but contains Parsnips, Kale, Beetroot, Pak Choi, Red Onions and Shallots.

Right, I need to dash out for another watering session as we’ve had yet another hot day without any sign of rain.

Early May Round-up of the Vegetables…

Time for a quick catch-up, as it’s all go in the vegetable patch and there’s quite a bit to write about.

Finally germinated after initial failure…

Climbing French Bean – ‘Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco’ x 10

I re-planted new beans in fresh soil after the original failure to germinate, but following a bean growing project I did with Felix where we planted his beans in an old see-through yoghurt pot (planted against the side so we could watch it grow – we did this as kids in jam jars and I figured he would enjoy it) I used smaller see-though yoghurt pots, with holes punched in the bottom, that way I could see the germinating beans and not have to keep prodding in the soil.

Worked a treat and they are now planted out with canes for support, in two rows.  The rows are 45cm apart and the beans about 20cm apart, so 5 per row.  The support canes are tied together at the top and I’ve covered the whole bed in netting to stop the evil pigeons getting in.

Climbing French Bean – ‘Blue Lake Climbing‘ x 5

I haven’t replanted these although now my see through pots are free I might put some in.

Squash‘Sweet Dumpling’ & ‘Crown Prince’

I have mad mass germination of all the courgette and squash seeds that I’d given up on and emptied back in the compost bucket.  I’m not entirely sure what they all are (I’ve saved 5 by planting them up into pots) but for 2 I could see the actual seed shell still and think I’ve got 1 each of ‘Sweet Dumpling’ & ‘Crown Prince’. I will plant one on the compost pile and it looks like my ‘Butternut Harrier F1‘ isn’t really growing so the other can go in that giant pot.

Cucumbers – ‘La Diva’ & ‘Tasty Burpless’

All new seed germinated well, they are waiting in the greenhouse to be potted up.

Aubergines – ‘Turkish Orange’ & ‘Violetta Ferenze’

Again, the new seeds have germinated, some only just but I should get at least 2 of each plant.

Still in the greenhouse…

Are all the salad seedlings (or plants as most are now).  I am waiting for the nights to get a bit warmer then I’ll plant them up into final pots, most will be grown in the greenhouse but some (half the tomatoes, the cucumbers etc) will go outside.  The tomatoes have made an amazing recovery from their limp earlier selves and potting them on deep has given them good strong stems, so that’s great news.

Newly planted in the greenhouse…

Melon – ‘Edonis‘ x 3

Kale – ‘Red Bor‘ x 2 & ‘Cavalo Nero‘ x 2

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – ‘Rudolph’ x 2, ‘Red Arrow’ x 2 & Late  Sprouting x 2

Kai Lan

Sweet Corn – ‘Sweet Nugget‘ x 12

Beetroot – ‘Pronto’ & ‘Burpees Golden‘ in a gutter for planting out later (second sowing).

Pea – ‘Sugar Snap‘ in a gutter for planting out later (second sowing).


I moved the potato barrels out last week as they are getting quite heavy, they need ‘earthing-up’ as the foliage grows, which as I plant in containers simply means keeping the stems covered in soil so they are kept in the dark and potatoes can form all the way up.  I simply tip John Innes 2 in every so often, making sure I leave the top leaves free.  Once the soil reaches the top of the barrel I will start the feed the plants but more on that later.

I also found this strawberry/herb pot in my local garden shop and have used it to plant some of the Alpine Strawberry plants that have been sitting in the greenhouse since last year.  The Strawberry pot is really rather small but it’s better than letting them got to waste and as Charlie is addicted to picking them off the plants in the raised beds, he has a few more plants to go at.

I noticed that Crocus have a brilliant ‘Young Plants Collection‘ collections for anyone who has left it too late to start from seed, this would have been my back-up had the tomatoes not recovered and I have resisted the urge to buy anything I’ve missed as really there is no growing room left in the garden once everything is planted out.

OK, kids to feed, laundry to do.  Hopefully we’re getting to the end of the lists and this blog will get a bit more photo and recipe orientated over the next few months 🙂

March Vegetable Planting…

It’s been busy around here, as well as getting the Squash/Pumpkin on the way (see last post) I have been a busy bee making the most of the warm (ish) weather and have started off all the March seeds.  So, this month I have sown:

In the greenhouse (under cloches)

Climbing French Bean – ‘Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco’ x 10

Climbing French Bean – ‘Blue Lake Climbing‘ x 5

Pak Choi – ‘Mei Qing Choi’ x 5

Pak Choi‘Joi Choi’ x 5

In the house

Courgette‘Soleil’ x 2

Courgette‘Defender’ x 2

(and the Squash – again, see the last post)

Direct in the garden

Spring Onion‘North Holland Blood Red’ x 2 Rows

Radish – ‘Cherry Bell’ & ‘Sparkler’ (I mixed the seeds in the packet) x 2 Rows

Lettuce‘Red Sails’ x 1 Row

All the above are the usual tried and tested, and all are planted with at least 2 seeds per pot so the weakest seedling can be removed.  I have learnt to only grow small amounts of most things, enough for us to eat but not get totally bored and so quite often seed carries over from one year to the next.  The only new items on the list are the Climbing Beans, I quite fancied ‘Barlotto’ as the beans are so pretty and they are good for drying and the ‘Blue Lake’ have been sitting around for a while so they need using.

I decided to plant out the 2 gutters of Beetroot started in the Greenhouse in early February (I should mention, I went to do this only to realise I hadn’t allocated space in the veg beds – duh! – so have planted them in flower Bed 1 between the Spring bulbs where there was still some space).  They have mostly germinated and are still at the seed leaf stage but I need the space and they need better light.  I have ordered some slug nematodes the first of which arrive in April (I think) so it’s a little risky to be putting out such small seedlings now, they may well get munched.  On which note (sob!) the blooming things have eaten my Kale, the ones that had survived a whole winter only to get eaten when planted out into it’s nice new raised bed, grrrrr, I still have one growing but it’s pretty small and I will simply plant up new seed next month.  Correction, I have none left as on going out to photograph the second, that has also been eaten 😦

The last thing to mention is the Rhubarb, which is going crazy!  It’s only on the third year, it cropped well last year although I left a lot of the stalks in place, as you are supposed to do in year two, but they obviously (both the ‘Champagne’ and ‘Timberly Early’) must like their little spot as they are definitely thriving.

Quick update, I wrote this post earlier this week and today the slug nematodes arrived.  I have the repeat (3, I think) batch order so they will arrive at intervals and hopefully keep the slugs under control without having to resort to other means.  It’s great timing at we are set for warm (above 5 degrees at night, only just mind!) temperatures and rain which is the ideal conditions for the nematodes to more around in the soil.  I wont chat too much about them as the link above tells you everything you need to know, but they are worth buying if you suffer from slugs.

February Vegetable Planting…

On Saturday (before the storms of Sunday) I spent a good hour in the garden, the boys were a bit stir crazy and the weather was good so we went outdoors for a run around.  It always surprises me how much you can get done in a small time, really the veg patch was a bit of a mess and in just an hour I cleared a lot away, dug out quite a few weeds, cleared all the pots and apple crate planters, in general made a mess quite presentable.

So I sowed seeds for:

Corn SaladVerte De Cambrai


Sorrel FrenchRumex Actosa

LettuceReine De Glace

In four of the apple crates, the last still has Mizuna/Mibuna (as above) that has survived all winter, not sure how it will taste, we’ll try some soon.  Really it’s a bit early to be sowing these but we are due rain and warm-ish weather so I’ll give it a go and I can always cloche them if I need to.  I used to plant nice neat rows of lettuce, in contrasting colours (it looked very pretty) but I just chucked the seeds all over the place this time, one type per crate.

In the pots, I cleared through one containing Parcel, again that has been on the go all winter, I thinned it cut it back and added a lot of new soil so we’ll see if it flourishes again.  The only other pot to survive is ThymeOld English‘.   I now have a few cleaned and ready pots for planting further herbs when it gets a bit warmer.

In the raised beds I started planting up Bed 3 which is normally used for flowers, I have decided to rotate it to veg this year.  So far it has 2 x Kale that have survived the winter but have never really taken off, if the slugs don’t get them they might still grow.  I have also planted out 3 rows of Shallots (‘Longer’) as per last years instructions and finally a row of Parsnip (‘Gladiator’) seeds, these are on their third year and as parsnip seeds don’t keep in theory wont germinate but they did last year so we’ll wait and see.  The dotted lines are spring bulbs planted very deep from when this bed contained flowers so I’m limited to what I can put there, although I may plant some Lettuce or Radish between.

Inside the house all the seeds planted back in the last post have germinated.  I was extremely surprised to see the Cucumber seeds poking through in less than a week!  After last years pathetic attempts is seems the trick is to keep them nice and warm under a radiator.  They are getting a big leggy so will need to planted up soon into bigger pots with most of the stems buried to root more firmly.

Finally, the blooming birds pretty much destroyed my glorious Red Sprouting Broccoli, I have been growing 6 plants in Bed 1 since last year and they were doing really well, I was rather looking forward to weeks of florets but went out one day to find them pecked to pieces.  I have thrown a net over and hope to still get some florets to eat, I swear, I nearly cried!  Also, the Broad BeansSuper Aquadulche‘ didn’t appreciate the harsh weather we’ve been having and gave up, I have cut the stems back to the bottom (as they might sprout back) but today I pushed some new beans into the soil in the hope there will be enough goodness for them to grow.