Summertime update

Spent a lovely few hours down the plot with MrT this evening.

Its been super busy recently with our friends’ wedding coming up but thought i would show you all how its going!

Starting with the sunflowers for the top table display

My lemon cucumbers are looking fab…

And make great additions to drinks!

The greenhouse is starting to look like a forest

And the courgettes have gone from tiny to huge in a few days

The pumpkins are like triffids in the sun

But the onions are as big as they are going to get i think

I plaited them up so that i could hang them to dry in the sun without the Rottie Beasts eating them all!

Lots of planting over the next few weeks to try and get the winter greens in, so i will keep you all in the loop when i can.

So proud of 2018 so far, even if i have spent most of the time and effort working “behind the seens” on the bramble control situation!

Think i deserve that cider…

Sunday Sunshine

Morning!

We have had a lovely but very busy weekend organising wedding stuff the past few days, including spending a few hours having a fabulous drive down to the wedding venue in Shrewsbury. I can’t wait, it all seems very real!

In return for my wedding organising day, I went with MrT to a new motorbike shop so he was pretty pleased too.

When we got in it was still lovely weather so we popped down to the lottie for a bit… glad we did because look what my neighbour left me!

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So many toms!

So while MrT chopped the tops off some milk bottles for me, I dug up my over-wintered strawberry plants from the greenhouse.

He potted these up in to the new milk-bottle-homes and I started planting my toms!

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More toms, less space!

I was told last year that my planting layout wasn’t very economical, so I am following the advice in this years planting. Apparently if you place your tomatoes in a staggered formation, you can fit more in a smaller space and still get enough air circulation to avoid blight! Lets give it a go!

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So Leafy!

Now you see all those fluffy bits on the greyish area on the bottom of the stem? They turn in to roots! So I take off the seed leaves and stem (those funny shaped ones at the bottom) and the next set of leaves up.

Also, you notice those shoots appearing from the tomatoes ‘elbows’? Remove those whenever they appear, no matter how old the plant. They sap all of the nutrients away from the main stem and fruit trusses and make your crop smaller (apparently!).

 

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This is how it should now look!

Now dig a hole big enough to cover the roots and that greyish area of stem.

When plating tomatoes, its good to add a bit of fertiliser beforehand. Lots of people use eggs and banana skins, but I just put in some fungi powder and crunched up egg shells.

Now is also the time to put in your tomato collars if you use them. I haven’t invested in any yet but I have heard good things! They make watering easier and help the fruits avoid splitting.

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All in!

By the time you have finished, your plants will look about half the height that they did, but don’t worry. They will have a huge root ball now and grow much better.

Water them in really well, but don’t get it on the leaves. Water on the leaves makes them burn and go spotty. It doesn’t harm the plant in small areas, but it can wilt them quite badly!

Don’t they look fab!?

So while I was doing that MrT had watered all of my onions, garlic and spuds, replaced all of my weedguard, fed my chickens and quail and made this stunning bit of wall art

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Strawberry wall!

Isn’t he a good egg?!

We had a lot of trouble with bunnies and slugs eating my fruit last year before they were ripe, so hopefully this will help avoid that. It also helps with recycling all of that dreaded plastic! Just make sure you poke some drainage holes!

Now just to repaint the wall and it’ll look ace.

I am so proud of him
It’s still not worth a new motorbike though…
Maybe when he has built my fence!

Crikey it’s chilli in here. Let’s turnip the heat.

Everything is growing!

Isn’t mother nature wonderful?

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Giant Strawberry!

We were so late in the year getting the strawberry plants in that we didn’t really get many this year. And those that we did grow were ravaged by the blinking bunnies. And to think, i used to love watching them hopping about… not now!!

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A very proud chicken!

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My first cucumber! Now now, heads out of the gutter.

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Tommys and eggys!

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How cute are these baby peas?

As soon as everything starts setting pods/fruits, water is key. I am up there most evenings now when its been hot watering away! Just make sure that the sun isn’t still hot and that the water isn’t too cold, especially in the greenhouse.

I also make sure to give everything a good feed when they start fruiting. I don’t know if it is necessary, but it seems to be helping.

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Courgette tea!

Not everything is ready to eat yet though. Look how well the spuds are coming along. I am not sure if they are supposed to have flowers though?

I cant wait to get munching on my home grown veg! It seems to have been a long time coming!

Hard work doesn’t harm anyone, but I do not want to take any chances.

Every evening i have been up here weeding my beds with care, and locking up my chickies for the night. They have finally learned to take themselves to bed so now i just shut the door before i leave. It does mean i have to stay till dark though so I have started walking RicoDog down here to keep me company. He has made friends with them now. Isn’t he cute? If you ignore the drool…

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The sun is out, the plants are growing, and my Flatcap Friends have left me more goodies!

One day I will grow my own, but this year I will leave it to the pro’s.

Look at all of these that have been left over my nice new “sociable” gates;

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Green Beans i think?!

These all got planted up immediately. Mr Flatcap came to show me how to build a tipi for them. A tipi makes the beans hang down and means they are easier to pick than those hidden in the foliage.

You get a piece of string and two little sticks. Then you tie a string to one of the sticks, and decide how big you want your tipi. Hold the string in the middle of your tipi space and use the stick to draw a perfect circle around it.

Then tie the other stick 1 foot away from the other stick, basically a bendy ruler! Use your stick/string contraption to mark the distance between each pole, and then stick your bamboo poles in. You can make it as big or as small as you want. but these would be great for kids to hide from the sun when they’ve fully grown!

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Tin roofing sheets to give my chickies so shade

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Lettuce leafage for chickies!

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Bedding for chickes!

I think there is a theme to these presents… I am not sure if its me they like or my birds?!

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Some sort of squash? Needs a good feed apparently. Just like me.

So many goodies!

Some courgettes we bought from the garden centre on sale are starting to flower too! I had to cover them with netting as some creature of the night had chewed all the leaves when they were little… it’s not on. One day i will find out who did it and ‘av ‘um.

But the best thing about this visit?! LOOK!!

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Babies!

I have been feeding my tommy plants as instructed by Molly’s Dad on a regular basis and now they have made beautiful little baby tommys! Are they not adorable?

I’m so excited to try them.. not long now

If a Blue Man Lives In a Blue House…

Who remembers how the greenhouse started? If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at my post detailing how it all began here. Take special note of how horrendous our greenhouse was.

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Inside the Greenhouse

 

Back in its heyday, this Victorian Greenhouse would have been stunning. It is HUGE and has several opening windows with vents in the far end.

It also has a large conservatory-like building attached to the front doors, which is double glazed and will be perfect for a tea room one day! This currently has a large hole in the roof from a removed log burner and several cracked panes of glass.

There seems to be some of the old metal remaining from the log burner so one day i will upload photos of these and see if anybody has any ideas of what we can do with it!

In the meantime, I cleared out as much of the bindweed, nettles and brambles which had forced their way though the many panes of shattered glass. It went well… at first!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I uncovered a solid concrete path and edging stones! What I had thought would be a big job had suddenly become so much easier. My faith in the gardening gods had been restored!

That was until a large roof pane of glass which had been dislodged by the growing stems and subsequent ripping down of said stems fell from the sky.

If you are going to clear a greenhouse, make sure you wear gloves! – Hindsight!

This missed where my head had been just moments before, so that was one narrow escape but it did scupper my plans slightly since the resulting bloody hand and crying resulted in MrT not allowing me to finish off until he had checked all of the remaining glass panes were sound or removed.

Greenhouse pane collapse

Not too serious, I think I’ll live

So, all work stopped for a week until MrT could go and do man-stuff. When I finally got permission to go and do some more work in there, I was practically buzzing to get started.

I arrived early one Saturday morning planning to block up any gaps in my windows, only to meet a lovely allotment gent who owns a big fluffy dog called Molly. She is adorable and they had been looking for me. And he had bought me gifts…!

Molly’s Dad had seen all of the work I had put in to make the greenhouse plantable and knew that I had no time to sow seeds, so had bought me several different types of Tomatoes to plant up. He took me through to his own greenhouse and showed me how to plant them up and how to care for them, promising to come back in a few weeks and help me keep the trusses healthy. You see, I can use words like ‘truss’ now and roughly know what they mean. I am a proper Plot Holder and I am proud.

So I carefully carried my gorgeous new plants up to the greenhouse and set about planting them up. Here’s how I did it;

  • Dig a hole.
  • Upturn the pots and very carefully tease the roots out of the pots.
  • At this point, I should have put some sort of support in for my fully grown plants, but I didn’t because I didn’t realise they’d need it! Oops!
  • I then covered the roots in “Mycorrhizal Fungi”, a white powder which helps roots grow beautifully and resulting in a stronger plant.
  • Put the plant in the hole, right up to the first set of leaves. Toms produce roots from all of those fluffy bits on the stems, so you’ll get a much better root system this way.
  • Firm the soil carefully around the plant, making sure that you don’t leave a hollow around the stem where water can collect and cause rot.
  • I ran my fingers around the plant in a circle, leaving a shallow moat-like dip around the outside of where the root ball would be. This will help water drain here where the plant needs it most.
  • Remove any offshoots between the main stem and offshoots. The plants often like to make secondary trusses and these draw much needed goodness away from the main plant and truss, and can make your crops smaller. It also helps to reduce the changes of blight if air can circulate well around your plants. I’ll try and show you this a bit more when they have grown a little.
  • Water the plants in well, especially on a hot day, but not with freezing cold water. Only water around the base, not on leaves. This causes spots!

BonnieDog came to help me do some digging, but was far to precious to get herself muddy so just sat and watched.

So look at how gorgeous my greenhouse now looks! While I was in here planting up, Mr AcrossTheLane came over and bought me some beautiful chillies, so you can see these are also planted up in the bottom left corner. These are simple, just dig and plant, but make sure everything gets watered in well and fertilised when flowers appear.

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IT’S ALIVE!!

My next step was to shutter in the two long beds with some sort of barrier to stop the soil from spilling on to my path. For this I used some old kerb sets which I found during my mass nettle cull by the gates a few weeks prior. Keep everything, you never know what is useful!

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Weedguard going down, just in case

I then decided that the concrete path, although intact, was very chipped and broken and I would end up breaking a leg should I fall into one of the potholes in a rush to pick the fruits of my labour. Luckily for us, Mr AcrossTheLane is a tree surgeon as well as a great source of inspiration. He managed to dump us a load of wood chippings so that I could finish the path, and oh goodness did it smell gorgeous!

The typically summer-y smell of Tomatoes and pine chippings now fills the greenhouse on a summers day, and when you step through the doors and it is the perfect welcome after a tough day behind a computer screen.

As you can see, the left hand side is still very much blocked by the weeds and brambles which encased the greenhouse. This blocks out an awful lot of light, which didn’t matter so much in high summer but that will be a job now high on the list to sort…

Something might actually come of 2017 after all!