Saturday, 13 July 2013


My (our - oops) garden isn't all about veg, I also have a new and growing interest in flowers, particularly roses and lillies.

Queen Elizabeth - Planted 2012 (No.1, i.e. my first rose)

Fairy - Planted 2012 (No.2)

Bonica - Planted 2012 (No.3)

New Dawn - Planted 2012 (No.4)

Madame Hardy - Planted 2012 (No.5)

Marvellous Poulpmt006 - Planted 2013 (No.6)

Monday, 17 June 2013

Fighting bugs with bugs

I have aphids. Lots of them. :(

They've been slowly taking over since our ski trip in March, when I returned to find a few critters lurking on my chillies. My first (and far too laid back) attempt to eradicate them consisted of simply squishing them. Which seemed to work... for a few weeks, then I noticed them again. All of a sudden there were a lot more of them. Grrrr.

This time I attacked them vigorously with a gelatine spray, which didn't do ANYTHING, followed by a warm soap water spray, which seemed to work... for a while. Grrr.

So. This called for slightly harsher action and I sent off for a bottle of biological oil-based anti-aphid gunk, which took ages to spray onto my, now enormous, 45 or so chilli plants.... And it worked!! Yay.

However. I was too lazy to apply the second (and third) treatment, because it was just so unpleasant. Oh how I wish I'd applied the second treatment...

Which brings me to my fifth and final strategy: bug on bug action. 

I bought 1,000 Chrysopa larvae online and let them loose in the greenhouse. Unfortunately most of them seem to be either very lazy or vegetarians... I have spent hours - seriously... hours! - gently moving them from their hiding places onto leaves with greenfly on them and gently prodding them towards the food. Which they then eat and scurry back off to their hiding places...

I managed to capture this gruesome sequence this morning...

Chrysopa larvae draining a greenfly :P

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Spicy sauces on the horizon

It's starting to look like there will be a definite glut of tomatoes, chillies, garlic and coriander this year.

So I've been looking at different storage options. Freezing or drying are always good options for chillies, and garlic stores well. But what about the tomatoes? Sure you can freeze some, and most people make pasta sauces, but we don't really eat that much Italian food, or tomato-based pasta sauces.

What we do however eat mountains of is spicy food. Not necessarily country-specific, although we eat a lot of Asian cuisine. Basically anything with chillies in it is popular in our house. 

Today I started looking for spicy sauce recipes with these ingredients and came across this wonderful website & blog:

...can't wait for this lot to grow so I can get saucing...

Chillies - Ají Colorado, Trinidad Scorpion, Ají Límon, Padron

Tomatoes - Yellow Pear, Flavorino, Super Sweet, Tigrella, Black Cherry, Green Zebra

Garlic - Cledor

Coriander - bought in bulk from Olssons
And although there isn't a single flower on any of the toms yet, things are looking promising on the chilli front...
Ají Límon



Thursday, 16 May 2013

Red onions - starting off indoors

I can't remember where I read it, but something/someone inspired me to start off red onion sets indoors for an early harvest. And it seems to have worked.

3 February - planted half of the sets in seed compost/ half in
seed compost mixed with quality potting compost.

17 March - growing nicely, time to find them a new
home - the currently idle greenhouse perhaps...

12 May - time for the chillies and tomatoes to move into the greenhouse,
half of the onions have been relocated (again, poor things) into the kitchen garden.

16 May - all in their final resting place and settling in nicely.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Waking up the kitchen garden

Here are some progress photos of how it's slowly coming back to life.

10th January 

 16th April

 27th April

28th April

 29th April

 12th May

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Starting to feel a spring in my wellies...

Wow, it finally feels like the gardening season is here! At last! :D

The past few months have not only been excruciatingly cold and gardening-unfriendly, but I have also been completely snowed under with work. And it doesn't look like it's going to ease up any time soon either.

Nevertheless, I did manage to steal a few hours over the weekend to make the most of the weather and get the kitchen garden, greenhouse, mojito bed and flowerbeds up to speed. Here are a couple of today's happy snaps...

All looking so very promising. Please please please weather gods & nemaslug,
let me have a productive kitchen garden this year....!

My first ever fritillaria, so ridiculously pretty & delicate.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Promising garlic

With the temperature reaching a whopping 14oC today, it was time to take the mini poly tunnel off the garlic bed.

As my garlic was a complete wash out last year, due to a mild winter and a very wet summer, I didn't have particularly high expectations this year. But things are looking very promising... Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Bit 'o fresh air

The temperature is slowly rising and, although it was -3oC again last night after a week without frost, daytime temperatures are now pretty much staying above 5oC.

And despite an evil wind whipping them about a bit, I couldn't resist giving my chillies a bit of proper sunshine and fresh air.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Giving Nemaslug a go...

This year I've decided to finally give Nemaslug a go, after having lost what little harvest there was last year to slugs (as well as mice, deer, pigs and hares but they're a bit harder to deter).

I tried everywhere to find the stuff, having seen Monty Don splashing it about in his kitchen garden, but no-one will deliver to Sweden.

Then I found this guy:

What a hero!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Friday, 5 April 2013

And the winner is....


Ok, so it's not exactly fruition, but it's looking that way.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Chilli chaos again...


The house has turned into a chilli jungle again. I guess I should have realised that 35 little seedlings would turn into monster plants and take over the place.

These are the survivors:

Lombardo 6
Aji Colorado 6
Trinidad Scorpion 5
Hot Lemon 4
Early Jalapeno 4
Jalastar 3
Purple Serrano 3
Padron 2
Bailey Piquin 2

So... I have to 'get rid' of a few. I want to keep at least two of each, just in case.... But any takers on any of the others?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Ski trips + tiny chilli plants

This time of year is slightly problematic for chilli growers that ski; two things that aren't exactly compatible, unless you have a heated greenhouse and live near a ski resort.

Each spring, every inch of space under the grow lamps is jam packed with beautiful, flourishing green, albeit very small, chilli plants. Plants that I haven't left alone for more than a few hours (an advantage of working from home).

How then am I supposed to just up and leave for a week? Completely forget about them as I whizz about on the ski slopes, laze around in the spring sunshine with a yummy glass of wine and lounge around by the fire with a good book?

Actually it was quite easy once I got there. :D

But the week before I left was filled with anxiety. I was going to have to leave all of my teeny tiny hopefuls in their teeny tiny pots for a WHOLE WEEK! :O With no-one to water them, feed them, re-pot them, talk to them or squish any little nasties that might take a fancy to them. :'(

I have an extra grow lamp this year, so they weren't quite as squashed up, i.e. light wasn't a problem. But watering was worrying me.

I eventually decided on the re-pot and drown-them tactic. And it worked! :) Yay.

2 March

17 March
I have juggled them about, so it is difficult to compare plant by plant, and the first photo was taken 6 days before we left, i.e. there is a 15 day time difference, but still....

2 March

17 March

I was expecting half of them to be exceedingly unhappy. They were thirsty, sure. And I did have to spend an hour or so squishing little green nasties. Which, of course, I did before I'd even taken my coat off, ruthlessly leaving the hubby to unpack the car, etc. :D

But look at the size of them! :) The healthy chap in the middle is a Purple Serrano and the lanky one is an Aji Colorado. Two favourites in our kitchen.

Right. Off now to buy some quality compost for them...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Jalastar and Lombardo (capsicum annums) neck and neck

Of this year's chillies, the Jalastar and Lombardo capsicum annums are currently leading the race to fruition:

Now aged 3 weeks and 5 days (sown 28 January), these are my two strongest plants (Lombardo front left, Jalastar back left) at the moment:

All sown on the same date, not only is there a fair difference in development between the varieties, as you can see from the lanky Aji Colorado twig at the back right of the picture, but even within the same variety, as you can see from the two Lombardo plants at the front.

I think this is normal even when seeds and plants are grown in exactly the same conditions, but in my case it's probably more likely due to slight differences in light, heat, water and potting compost. Everything basically... Hmmmm need to be more consistent...


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Progress at last!

I'm finally seeing some progress among the chillies:

This is how you want your seeds to behave. All the Lombardo seeds germinated
really quickly and are growing fast. Time for a place of their own.

First sowing results: 0/3 2012 Trinidad Scorpion; 2/4 2013 Hot Lemon;
3/4 2013 Early Jalapeno; 4/4 2012 Jalastar

Hooray!! 6/6 2013 Aji Colorado - Our favourites! :D

After the failed first batch (albeit old seeds) of Trinidad Scorpion, when the new lot arrived in the post, I opted to germinate them (all varieties) in moist kitchen paper. It worked. However, some of them, like this one, germinated so fast they attached themselves to the paper, so I had to clip them out and plant them with a bit of paper. 

My lettuces are doing really well too, I'm going to try and liberate a few and grow them on indoors for cut and come again early salad leaves. Anyone tried that?