Wednesday, 30 May 2012

French beans planted out, slugs attack broad beans

Legume bed - peas, broad and French beans
The last batch of French beans were showing good enough root growth to go into the ground, so they have gone into bed one - the seven seedlings just fitted into the available spaces left by dead broad beans. That makes ten dwarf French beans planted now, with the three in the overflow bed. That should be enough.

While doing this, I noticed that some of the developing broad bean pods have been nibbled, and the culprits left behind a slime trail. Now I'd like to garden organically, but I'm not going to mess about with crushed eggshell, sharp sand, copper foil, or any of the other traditional, ineffective anti-slug measures. And as for wasting good beer... that goes against my religious beliefs.

 It's Blue Chemical Death time.


A bit tidier
I'd been wondering whether to borrow a lawnmower from one of the neighbours, but I left it too long and the grass shot up to knee-height. So I borrowed a scythe, and mowed the larger patches of grass the old-fashioned way. Good exercise, that.

This produced enough grass cuttings to fill up the compost bin, when mixed with six or seven scrunched up newspapers. I will urinate on the compost heap when I remember, to add a bit of phosphorus and nitrogen. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Potting up, planting out

Tomato and courgette seedlings
Runner bean seedlings
The first batch of tomato seedlings were getting big enough to show roots out of the bottom of their peat pots, so I planted them into bigger pots. They will go into their final pots when they put roots out of the bottom of these ones.

Today I also planted out the runner beans. All eight of the chitted beans came up when planted in pots, and I'd made a wigwam wit six canes. I planted one in the middle of the wigwam - it may be able to grow up the central support, but I suspect the other beans will shade it too much. The last (smallest) bean seedling I planted in the pig manure to test for pesticide residues - the cress I planted to do that got covered with grass cuttings by the neighbours' gardener.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

First pea flower

Pea flower
One of the peas which were started in paper pots has produced a flower, and several more of the broad beans are flowering too.

The runner beans are ready to go into the ground, and the remaining French beans are growing too. Three of the courgettes in pots are emerging, so I'll have to dig a bed for them soon.

Under my tender care, there is now one survivor of the three basil seedlings. A seedling has appeared in one of the seven pots with chilli seeds, but it may just be a weed.

Now I'm off to do a bit of watering, since we've had blazing sunshine for about a week now and the ground is drying out. I intend to do one or two beds thoroughly every day, which should be enough to keep the plants alive.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Bolting salad plants
Quite a few of the salad plants in bed ten are bolting. At the front in the picture, there is a purple choi sum with a yellow flower. Behind it is a rocket plant, which has flower buds forming before a decent amount of leaf has grown. On the other side of the red and green mixed rows, the first two pak choi also seem to be bolting. This is disappointing, as they'll not put much effort into growing leaves now. I wonder if the lack of sunlight over the last month has something to do with it.


The reason I didn't post all of yesterday's exciting news at the time is that a friend turned up with a lot of roof laths (for kindling) just as I'd finished in the garden. When we'd unloaded those, we went and collected a couple of dustbins full of well-rotted pig manure, which I added to the small amount of compost already in the first compost bin. I sprinkled a few cress seeds on top, as a test for persistent herbicides, which can be present in manure, but since there were lots of nettles growing out of the pile I got the manure from, I doubt this will be a problem.

The other compost heap has been topped up, as well - more long grass from around the beds, and some nettles and goose grass which were growing over the path to the compost heaps, and some newspaper (a bit of 'brown' to balance all that 'green'.)

Beans in the ground

Dwarf French beans.
Three of the dwarf French beans were starting to poke roots out of their pots, so it was time for them to go in the ground - I put them in a gap between the overflow potatoes yesterday, as I'd made that bed longer than it needed to be. That freed up two plastic pots, and I put a couple more of the chitting runner bean seeds in them, so I now have eight seeds in pots, to fill six spaces. (One of the French beans was in a peat pot, so that just went straight in the ground.)

Tomato seedling
One of the first batch of runner beans has appeared above the soil today, as has one of the second batch of French beans. There are now seven tomato plants in small pots, from quite sturdy little plants to tiny seedlings, and there are also two basil seedlings - there were three, but one dried out. They are quite difficult, it seems. The last batch I killed by over-watering (I think), this batch the only casualty so far has been from the opposite cause.


First produce - radishes!
Yesterday I ate the first of the veg that I've grown myself - radishes! Ate them with just a dab of salt. Tasty!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Runner beans potted

Today I potted the six runner beans which showed the best roots into three inch pots. Yesterday I did the same for five of the dwarf French beans. The soil I used is a 50/50 mixture of soil from the garden and seed compost.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Carrot bed, hoed
Today there was a bit of sunshine and it wasn't raining, so I went out and did some long-overdue tidying.

The grass round the beds was getting long and thick enough to shade the smaller plants, so I cut it back with shears. I then hoed round the carrots, potatoes, spring onions, peas and beans. :)

I haven't recorded weeding on this blog, because most of the time I've just done a bit from day to day during my morning inspection. However, what with the solid rain over the last few weeks, I've fallen behind with this and the weeds have taken advantage.

The boughs groan under the weight of produce

Tiny broad bean pods
On two of the broad bean plants (the ones which were planted in November and survived the winter) the flowers have set and tiny pods are developing. Excellent!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Goose grass soup

I tried the goose grass as a food - as a soup to be precise, just substituting it for the nettles in the recipe I followed last month. As soups go, it was a bit too fibrous. "Waiter, bring me a bowl of your most fibrous soup!" is not a phrase you often hear, and this is no doubt why goose grass isn't a popular soup ingredient. If I'd bothered to strain it, it would have been OK (and I'd have made a sheet of folksy craft-paper as well), but I like soup because it's quick and easy.

Probably when civilisation collapses, people will fight over a good patch of goose grass, but I doubt I'll eat any more until then.

Courgettes sown

6 courgettes just sown, 3 tomato seedlings and a French bean
Today I planted six courgette plants (shown, with the under-performing tomato and French bean sowing). I don't think the bed where I intended them to go will be ready in time to plant them in June, since the spinach and turnips there haven't grown as quickly as I'd hoped. I'll have to dig another bed just for courgettes.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Wigwam for runner beans

Wigwam for runner beans

Various salad plants
A couple of days ago I started some runner beans and some more French beans chitting indoors - this is just soaking them and leaving them on damp kitchen roll until they germinate. I will plant the six strongest looking runner beans in pots, then transfer them to the garden. I did a few more French beans because from eight planted in pots a few weeks ago, only three have grown. (I have space for only eight in the garden, but if I'd started 24, they'd no doubt all have sprouted.)

The runner beans will be grown up a wigwam, which I've also just constructed. The ground is quite soft there, so I've tethered it to the fence with wire.

Growth notes: Chives and parsnips have just become visible, and there are a few hollyhocks starting in the front garden. The hollyhocks I planted in the back garden have been swamped with goose grass, couch grass, and other vigorous ground plants, and I may have to cut those back and re-sow, but it isn't a high priority because I can't eat hollyhocks.

With all the recent rain the garden is looking lush, but the lack of sunlight seems to have slowed growth. Except of the goose grass, obviously, which is now forming dense thickets. Apparently it's edible when boiled, but it would have to taste particularly good for me to want to eat the amount I've got.