Long time no blog!

Winter’s here and It’s been about 4 months since my last blog.

I promise to do better in the future.
Did I mention I planted garlic and shallots this autumn? Well I did and it sprouted and is looking good……better than I thought. I’ve never grown it before and had low expectations but…. so far so good. Will let you know come Summer 2010.

Temps have gotten into the teens which is about -8 deg c for the english listeners. So I covered the tender plants with horticultural fleece. I still don’t trust my Camellias hardiness and I don’t want to have to baby the fig from scratch again so I covered both those. And I’m sure the daphne will be fine but I don’t want the bude to freeze as they are the only thing doing really well under the deciuous magnolias. Does anyone know if there’s something about mags that prohibits growth of other stuff?
I got blak rot on the grapes this summer and I think it’s coming from the huuuuge burn pile I’ve got. But every time I think i can have a good burn it POURS with rain!

That’ll do for now. I can’t go too far for my first dip into the blog pool. PICTURES!


December 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

LOng time no blog

I know…it’s been a while.

So, I planted garlic and shallots about 4 weeks ago. The garlic is already up! I’ve dumped out the tomatillos and put them on the compost pile, which, not having turned it for months, looks really good. I shoveled it all around, and used some on the blueberries.

I’m slowly clearing out all the plots but leaving the beans up to go to seed and the carrots and lettuce are still producing so I’m leaving those too.
NOw’s a great time to install a new plot and clean out the old ones. I’m going to redo the rhubarb bed as it still lined with brick and make raised beds like the others. It’ll be much bigger but I plan to grow strawbs in the other spaces.

Cleaned out the perennial border. The ricin plants were really good and extended the colour in the border into the autumn. They were a bit hard to pull our though as the stems had turned into trunks!! I bet we’ll have a bunch next year, in which case i’ll keep a couple but chuck out the rest.

My Camellia sasanqua ‘Midnight Lover’ (I know!) is flowering profusely this year having been zapped by the cold in feb. And the Callicarpa produced a ton of berries and so did the Ilex ‘Winter Red’. They like it a lot wetter than the place I have it so the rain this spring gave me some great fruit set.

I’ll have to put up some pictures of the arbor…worked out really well.

November 13, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

End of Summer?

Today we pulled up the tomato plants. Does that mean it’s the end?

We had a rough time with either early or late blight which turned our plants into festering towers of grey dusty lesions which then spread to the fruit. It then looked like we had Anthracnose on the fruits as they had all these sunken brown pustulous spots. Despite that, we actually harvested a load of tomatoes and had plenty to make sauce with.

Having just come back from holiday though, it was time to pull out what was left and I’m going to burn the stems as I don’t want a repeat performance next year. I’ve got a huge brush pile near the veg pot and I actually think that this might be the cause of a lot of the things that happened in the plot this year. We haven’t burned the pile in three years and I think it’s been harbouring a lot of the problems that we’ve suffered e.g black rot on the grapes, squash vine borer. (I had to throw out everything squashesque!) The beans, as always, have been great and this is the first year I’ve grown Tomatillos of which I’ve already gathered about 20 with plenty more to come.

Crab grass has been a monster and so have flea beetles- currently working their way through the herb bed and really everything else too.

Picked up some nice orchids recently which I’m excited about. I’ve never had them before this xmas and that one is still flowering!! They are only Phalaenopsis but the colors are v. cool and I’m pleased with the ‘display’ in the dining room window.

I’ve got succulents in the kitchen window which the cats like to rub their cheeks on but they are holding up nicely. I have really restrain myself from watering them though as I’ve manage to rot a couple. Doh.

The new arbor is looking great and since we’ve been away, the hyacinth bean which was doing nothing has reached all the way to the top and flowering brilliantly, talking of which, the moon flower and morning glories are now doing their thing too. The colder nights always help these guys out.

As it still warm I’ve actually done a couple more sowings of Carrots and lettuce. Some of which I did before we left ( about 3 weeks ago) and some just now. The early stuff is up and looking good. I think my poor success with the carrots earlier in the year is that I was too early and the soil was still cold. I’ve had almost 100% germination this time of year. So maybe I can squeeze a little more life out of the summer yet.


September 6, 2009 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Aarghh! Late Blight!!!

So, in my last post I was raving about how great my tomatoes were. Well, now, they’re full of disease. Excellent. Phytopthera infestans, or Late Blight, has infested my gorgeous plants just as they were really producing fruit. Symptoms are grey lesions on the stems and leaves, kind of sunken looking. It attacks really fast, is airborne and can travel up to 4 miles (approximately), even on clothing. I don’t know where we got it from– who cares now– but I’m going to have to do one of two things: bury the plants at least 2′ deep, or BURN them! I prefer the latter. Symbolic. Final. I can’t spray, as nothing works. A pyre it must be.

On a positive note, today I collected a whole bunch of really nice toms, beans (pole and bush) and the chickens had laid a bunch of eggs. My garden trug (blue bucket, actually) looked very rustic.

The perennial border looks gorgeous especially now the the Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’ came back from the dead as did my Passiflora ‘Waterloo Blue’ . I sowed some Castor oil bean this year, that really makes a great foliage plant. Watch out, because it’s toxic, but it looks really cool.

The arbor is done. Stone laid, perennial bed made and planted the Cecille Brunner rose now has some wires to support it, although I totally smashed my finger installing them!

New Arbor

New Arbor

August 11, 2009 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Tomatoes, Roses, Rain, and Slime Mold

Despite the huge amount amount of rain we had, pretty much everything in the garden is okay.  Most importantly, of course, are the tomatoes. The structure held every plant perfectly.

tomatoes in June

As I mentioned before, we have nearly every tomato ever produced (!) growing in our little patch, so some are not tied on to the “structure” but are tied on to small stakes. One of those bent over, but don’t panic, all’s fine. We’re on it.

I had a response (Thanks Deborah) about how this structure system seems like hard work. It really isn’t. I suppose the most time consuming part is actually putting the posts all together and that was about an hour, maybe, once I’d gotten all the string untangled from where I’d slung it in the shed after last year! Tying in the toms is a piece of cake after that.

Tying One On

I just go out every other night and wind the little bit of growth around the string, or vice versa, if it needs it. The plants grow straight and tall without any more tying up necessary. It is just like the string bean poles, as you mentioned, except they do all the work!

The wet spring has meant lots of lush growth on many of the plants in the garden. I’ve already had to trim back my antique rose ‘Madame Plantiere,’ as it flopped down and was getting mildewy. A light trim was enough to get the stem to spring back and it gave me a chance to dead head the old flowers, too. I’m not a big rose fan, but that is a gorgeous variety, rated about 8.3 from the American Rose Society as a pretty much trouble free rose. It got a few Japanese beetles last year and a few mites towards the end of the summer but considering I did nothing to it all season I was very happy. What I DID do was treat it initially with the Bayer “Rose and Flower Solution.” Soon after I applied it, the lower leaves turned yellow and fell off. It recovered fine. Apparently this happens with the antique shrub roses with this product. HT’s and all the others should be fine. I said before, I was trying to as organic as poss. If you must use products, then I think systemic products are the least likely to cause any harm.

All the rain has caused a lot fungus action, too. Nearly every plant problem I see right now is “Leaf Spot”. That’s an umbrella term for a group fungi that do basically just that, cause leaf spots. They can be treated with an organic copper or oil based fungicide.

Also, that weird slime mold (Fuligo septica) is growing on mostly hardwood mulch. It looks like yellow foamy VOM! Not posting a photo ’cause it’s vile. Weird thing: not only is it harmless to the garden and to humans, it’s EDIBLE. Urk. I’m told that some native peoples in Mexico scramble it like eggs for a dish called… wait for it… “caca de luna.” Slime mold is not actually mold (fungus) at all, and they aren’t plants or animals or bacteria. It’s a plasmodium- a bunch of protoplasm without cell walls.  I don’t know what you can do about it other than scrape it up and dispose of it- but that won’t keep it away, and you might just spread around the spores. It’ll be gone soon enough.

Right, I’ve got to dry my hair, have breakfast and make my lunch all in 30 mins.

Cho, sarah.

June 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

It’s monday and I’m running late for work but If I don’t post something I’ll get bumped!
Erm, rain, rain, rain!

Tomatoes are doing great. The random lettuce I sowed a couple of weeks ago all look the same….apart from the odd maple tree poking through as well. The rain bashed all the mystery lettuce down so I’ll have to wait until it gets perky again before I can harvest.

Rust ate my older hollyhocks. My new ones are all black….flowered, that is. I don’t think I sowed JUST black seed but I could have. It could just be that colour is flowering first.
Earwigs are everywhere this year thanks to the sloppy conditions. Eating holes in anything they can.

Oh, my breakfast just got mushy, more later.

June 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

The World As We Know It

So it seems ALL the seeds I threw down in a last ditch hope of getting something to germinate well, did. The end of that bed is a near total green carpet.

The tomato bed looks good, if we could only stop the cats pooing in it. I planted more beans and already have tiny thread like pods on my bush beans. I picked those off though as the plants are way too small to support them. Flowers are on my squash, but they also seem a bit small to cope. I think what I’m trying to say is that I started my crops too early. For all my hopes of getting a jump on the season i feel it’s not worked out as I had hoped. Still, we haven’t really had a good stretch of sunny days yet either.

Got my seep hose installed and have just bought three more lengths for the other beds. I’m going to mulch with straw as that was really effective last year with the tomatoes.

The old flower seeds I sowed seem to have germinated for the most part too and the castor oil plants are looking really good (Ricinis communis) I MUST take photos!!


May 26, 2009 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

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