Thursday 13 September 2012

Tomato time!

I was a little lazy, or restrictive if you will, with my tomatoes this year. I was hoping for a little less work, a little less must-harvest-all-the-veg anxiety, and a slightly more attractive greenhouse. But as is usually the case (I am learning) with gardening, things didn't really turn out that way...

This year's toms (2 of each) were:

Delicious Super Sweet cherry tomatoes. Will definitely grow again
next year, but next time 4 instead of 2 plants.

Somewhat unattractive Maskotka large cherry tomato plant. The tomatoes
are very tasty, particularly for their size, but I didn't know that they were
bush tomatoes - I could have grown them in front of other, taller plants.

I haven't actually tasted these yet, but I am very surprised that they turned out
identical to the fruits from which I saved the seeds - my favourite shop bought
plum tomatoes - I'm getting used to seeds being a bit of a lottery. Could have
had another plant or two, space-wise.
Work-wise I guess I saved a bit of work in the spring, sowing, repotting, mollycoddling, moving plants in and out, etc. But after that, I have still had to water and fertilize the entire greenhouse so it wouldn't really have made that much difference. Perhaps pinching out the side shoots etc, but how long does that take? So. Verdict? Six plants is too few. Perhaps 8-10 is about right... I guess I'll find out next year.

Harvest-wise, I am actually harvesting almost all the tomatoes before they split, rot, drop this year. If I do have more plants next year, it will be to store them. Here are some foodie photos of a few tomato harvests:

Super Sweet - and they really are!

Maskotka - whopper cherries.

Fabulously juicy, red red fruits. You can see the difference in size
between the Maskotka - bottom right hand corner, and the Super
Sweet - just above it to the left.
So that just leaves the pretty.

I was really hoping for a pretty, neat and tidy greenhouse this year, with lots of flowers and no dirty tools, pots, fertilizers.

I imagined myself sitting there with friends, sipping on a glass of chilled champagne, admiring the tidy greenhouse, the pretty flowers, the flourishing, healthy plants...

Haaaaaa ha ha ha haaaaaa...

Well I guess I did get a lot of flowers (I sowed marigolds around the edge of the border as I was told they were good bug-preventers), and they GREW like crazy. But I wouldn't say it was pretty this year.

My tool shed is just that bit too far from the greenhouse, and I'm just a bit too lazy.

Perhaps I should just accept the fact that (without a lot of effort and discipline) a working greenhouse can't look like they do in the magazines...?

Happy harvesting!

Monday 10 September 2012

I don't know how all you bloggers do it... do you keep blogging when you get the garden blues?

Personally I haven't even wanted to read all my favourite blogs over the summer, as they just remind me how much I have to do, how many things went wrong with the flowerbeds/kitchen garden this year, what didn't grow, what I didn't harvest and left to rot on the plant/to get eaten by birds/slugs/etc, how to get rid of all the pests/diseases, etc, etc.

Obviously there has been a lot of lovely, but the hurdles just get so overwhelming in a garden of this size.

Anyway, I've managed to fight the absence anxiety and found a few photos from my mother's visit a few weeks ago (she lives in Gibraltar and came to stay for a week). Having a completely new opinion and taste with me around the garden centres was brilliant, you do tend to get stuck in a style rut. For example, I can't leave a garden centre without buying a herb or two, despite the fact I have more than I can possible consume/take care of :D And my mum just went round picking out shrubs with dark foliage - which I would NEVER have done. Any don't they look fabulous?! (well they will next year)

Coral Flower 'Palace Purple' (Heuchera micrantha)

Bugbane 'Brunette' (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Ninebark 'Diablo' (Physocarpus opulifolius) - between the mallow and the tall aster.
We've only had a garden for four years and my mum has never seen it before (apart from photos), and she has really green fingers, so it was a real pleasure to talk plants and gardening for the first time ever.

Here are some lovely random photos I took while she was here:

Union Jack up of course...

Went for a walk in Särö Västerskog and had lunch at Blomstermåla.
I absolutely love Scots pines and there are plenty around Särö.

Day out at Tjolöholm Slott.

Once you get over the fact that you will never EVER get your garden to look
like this one, some of the plantings were very inspiring.

Effective block colours...

Amazing dahlia walk, the yellow ones were the size of two hands..

And the visit wouldn't be complete without a crayfish party!! :D
I will try and blog more often now I'm on top of things again, but if you have any tips on how you manage to keep blogging despite the weather, slugs, bugs, fungi, non-germinators, etc, etc. they would be much appreciated.

Thanks for coming back to my blog!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Overwhelming summer, with a few gems...

Apologies for my long absence, but it has been a rather overwhelming summer.

I do tend to get a slight case of the blues in July, with so much to do: the weeds, the slugs, the hares, the re-sowing, clipping back, tying up, watering, fertilizing, etc etc. and this year was no exception.

Also, with everyone being on holiday, life tends to move outdoors, and consequently away from the computer...

We also painted the house this year, which really uglified the flowerbeds, so I wasn't particularly inspired to post lots of pretty photos.

Trampled flowerbeds.
But, as most gardeners say, "It'll be lovely next year..."

There have been a few gems though:

Rose No. 1, Queen Elizabeth, in bloom.
A few great harvests, in particular yummy cucumbers and an endless supply of rocket.
The magnificent bouquet of Musk Mallow flowers that had to be
removed from the flowerbeds so we could paint the house.
Lots and lots and lots of herbs...
Rose No. 4, New Dawn, being trained up an old apple tree.
Rose No. 3, Bonica, in bloom.
An endless supply of Sweet Peas filling my bathroom with perfume.
A quick mention of Rose No. 2, Fairy, which has spread madly and wildly in one of the flowerbeds. I don't have a photo of it unfortunately, and I would pop out and take a picture if the heavens had not completely opened while writing this post... It is absolutely TIPPING it down! So you'll have to take my word for it...

Anyway, I feel I must also show you a little nastiness.... so please look away now if you are faint-hearted...







One of many slug collections... BLEUGH!!

Sorry to end on such a yucky note, but this was very much a part of my 2012 summer, and so had to be shared.

Happy August!


Thursday 21 June 2012

A few pretty pickies from the garden

The garden is getting everso very pretty now and even I find myself wandering around it with a smile on my face... :D

I'm not a huge fan of yellows and oranges, and I've been trying to slowly harmonize the colour scheme in the garden since we moved here almost four years ago. Looking at these pictures, it looks like I'm actually getting somewhere.

Beautiful Borage.

I didn't notice last year how the blue Borage flowers start off pink...
The newly-added white pebbles (thanks to my mother-in-law) made a huge aesthetic difference.

The fast-spreading Fairy rosebush is finally flowering. My first ever roses! :)

Lots of pinks and blues. Finally some order to the chaos.
There are still flowers on the Aquilegia and the Bleeding Heart! <3
I finally managed to get some very finickety Cape Marigolds to flower this year.

My Queen Elizabeth rose is surviving (actually this is my first ever rose, but the Fairy
beat her into flower), but has been attacked by all manner of nastiness. I'm really having to
pamper her every morning, squishing little munchers. I haven't the heart to rid her of all her
rusty leaves just yet, but I know I have to. I'm waiting for her to flower first...
Dark cerise Million Bells Calibrachoa Petunias in the tall urn under the birches. In contrast
to last year's regular Petunias, these ones are self-cleaning, saving me A LOT of time...

The wilderness corner by the expanse of rhododendron. I think that it
may actually have been a flowerbed at some point judging by the plants.
The tidy herbs and fruits bed still looking good despite the hare attacks.
Happy Midsummer everyone!

Monday 11 June 2012

Flower arranging

Flowers have finally started sprouting up all over the place, which not only means the garden's looking a little prettier, but it also means I now have a huge (free) resource for designing little bouquets for every room in the house.

Being not too clever at this, I recently invested in a book on flower arranging.

Here are some of my first (feeble) attempts:

His bathroom.

My bathroom.

Very patriotic in the entrance hallway.

Dining table.

Living room. Okay, so I cheated - I didn't grow these. I usually have
lillies in this vase, but they always try to droop to the sides - brilliant tip
from my new book: use a grid of sticky tape! So simple!

Living room (I didn't grow these either). Same here with the tape.

My first attempt at flower arranging. With an oasis. The rhododendron is actually cerise,
which doesn't come across in the picture - very striking against the black granite patio table.

So elegant in its simplicity.
These little arrangements have really cheered the place up. So my advice to you is: pick a few flowers and bring them indoors. You really won't miss them from your flowerbeds and they do make such a difference to your home!

Happy flower arranging!

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Tidy greenhouse for a change

It's all looking very pretty and tidy in the greenhouse this year. :) Wonder how long that'll last...?

Sunday 3 June 2012

Growth growth growth!!

Despite this recent cooler weather and the very chilly spell we experienced last week, everything still seems to be growing well.

The sweet peas (far left), De Grace mange tout (middle) and particularly
the Sugar Lord sugar snaps (right) are doing really well.

The row is gradually filling up with beautifully delicate (and so far only white) flowers,
the multicoloured sweet peas are still only green.
The broccoli has recovered well from its attack...
....which I think may have been by this baby orphan hare, who was in the kitchen garden
enclosure yesterday, and who I (unintentionally) scared the bejesus out of. He scrambled
about trying to get out, crashing into the plastic netting 3 times before finding the door.
:( Poor wee thing.

Looks like we'll be getting a better potato harvest this year.

I was much later with my courgettes this year, as the first batch didn't
germinate, but they seem to be doing well now.
While selecting photos for this blog entry I came across a picture of this
(carrot, yellow onion & marigold) raised bed from late April...
What a difference a month makes!!

Meanwhile in the greenhouse...

Plenty of flowers, and this year's first tomato on the Maskotka toms.

The Jalastar chillies are growing nicely.

I have decided to cheat with cucumbers in future, because I just find them too
much work, and they're fairly cheap to buy. This one has established itself well
and even has a few teeny tiny little cucumbers on it.
This grapevine was one of two already in the greenhouse when we moved here
(I managed to kill the other one), but has yet to produce any grapes worth eating.
Judging by the number of healthy-looking bunches, we might just see a decent
harvest this year :)

Phew, that was a long blog entry o.O Hope you all have a lovely June with lots and lots of fresh, home-grown yummies!