Sunday, 29 June 2014

Glorious gardening weather

Well the last few weeks have been brilliant for the garden if not necessarily for us. The sunshine, showers and general warmth have made everything grow vigorously and the garden is looking lush.

I now have in the ground :

Runner beans
French beans
Mixed salad
Carrots - autumn king and chantaney
Brussel sprouts
Maris piper main crop potatoes
Second early potatoes
Ridge cucumbers
Savoy cabbage
Mange tout
Globe artichoke
Tomatoes - normal and cherry
Bell peppers

I've also been clearing quite a bit of the garden ready for a) the grass seed for the rest of the lawn in September and b) for the cottage garden border. I've planted a few of the seeds already and have included the likes of black eyed susan, delphiniums,  hollyhock,  foxglove, wallflower and sweet williams to go with the aqualegia that are already in there.

The hanging baskets and tubs have also been done  and are starting to fill out.

The clematis we put in to grow over an arch down the bottom of the garden is shooting up and I'm training it to hopefully cover as much of the cheap arch as possible.

Also you may remember the nest of blue tits that I had a camera on. Well sadly the nest was abandoned and all of the chicks died. Now I'm not sure what happened but I think the male was either predated or was scared off as my next door neighbours cut down a bush next to the box and the female tried to care for them on her own but she too eventually abandoned the chicks. Sad but this is nature and hopefully there will be success in  the box next season

Sunday, 25 May 2014

10/05/14 - 25/05/14 Planting out!

I have done a lot of hardening off over the last couple of weeks ready for a good bit of weather to allow me to plant out. My greenhouse has been full to the brim of seedlings and now it's almost empty.

I didn't want to got and get pea sticks out of the wood so I decided to build a frame so that up the one side I could grow peas and up the other mange tout.


Now I know its not much to look at but I'm quite proud of myself for building it. We will just have to see how long it lasts. 

I've also planted out my pumpkins in a bed I prepared a few weeks ago but turning it over and adding a lot of well rotted horse manure, as these are hungry plants.  I'm hoping for some big ones this year.
You can just see them through the bean row with runner beans in the foreground and french beans towards the back.

The main crop of Maris Piper potatoes seems to have shot up over last week or so, I have earthed most up as far as I intend to with about 12 inches of soil over each. 

Planted out the sweetcorn as well, first time trying this and I have planted it in a block of 9, I have had to sow 2 seeds though as I damaged 2 of the seedlings when planting out. Hopefully they will catch up!

I have decided to grow Cucamelons for the first time this year and having found an offer on Suttons for 2 free large plug plants I thought this would be the best option as I hadn't grown them before. Though I have also bought seeds and planted 2 which have also germinated, so I better hope the family like them now lol.

The Tomatoes in the greenhouse are coming along well, having also shot up over the last few weeks. I normally plant in pots or growbags but decided on planting straight into the ground in the greenhouse this year, I will have to see if this makes a difference. As you can see in the pic I have companion planted marigolds as they apparently help to keep aphids at bay, only time will tell. I also seem to have 2 wayward carrot seedlings in there which I have decided to leave and see how they get on lol.

The Gooseberry bush has a lot of fruit on it this year, which is not bad for a cheapy plant from Wilko's last year.

We also did a bit of work on the rest of the garden and have put an arch across the main path down to the greenhouse, in the hopes that it would partition that section of the garden off a bit more. We have planted a clematis Montana Elizabeth over it which seems to be going great guns at the moment.

Finally there are a few seedlings left in the greenhouse to come out including these Mange tout 

These courgettes

And the globe artichoke as well as cucumbers and the sweet peppers 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Seedlings and babies!

Well to say the last two weeks have been hectic is an understatement with my son, Noah being born on the 26th April at 8pm. However, with his birth also came 2 weeks off of work with paternity leave and
the weather has been OK so I have managed to do quite a bit in the garden.

First off is to give an update on the blue tits I have nesting in the office nest box. She has laid 9 eggs in total and began incubating them on the 3/5/14 so in around 2 weeks we should expect chicks.

On the gardening front I have had to replant my sweet pea as although they germinated the seedlings were pale and weak. The new lot have come up really well so fingers crossed I have some good flowers.

The veg is all doing well, the runner & french beans have come up really well and are ready for planting out next weekend, so they are currently being hardend off during the day along with the sunflowers and pumpkins.

I have done a bit more on the veg patch too with the been row, pea wigwam and cloche all out. 

The raised bed has the builders fencing around it to stop the local cats from using it as a litter box. 

In here I have spring onions and leeks.


Spring onions

In the cloche I've planted out my savoy cabbages and brussel sprouts.

Brussel sprouts

Savoy cabbages.

Finally I also had chance to plant my asparagus crowns I started my digging a trench and as my soil is quite clayey I dug in some well rotted manure and some grit. 

I then created 2 ridges within the trench and placed my asparagus crowns along the ridge.

I then back filled the trench and in 2 years I'll be able to harvest my very own asparagus. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Animal room

As promised this blog would also be about the animals that I keep as pets. When we moved into the bungalow it had a single garage which I decided to convert into an animal room come office where by I could escape from the family and keep the animals secure without them actually being in the house. We split the garage into thirds with the front half being used as a storage shed for bikes etc and the back two 3rds is my office.

This is the crested gecko tanks - Scully, Salem and Bob live here
On top of them is my Pacman frog Dexter on the left & my Anery Corn snake Merlin on the right

Top left:  normal leopard gecko Osiris, Top right: Pastel Royal Arwen
Bottom Left: Empty (at the moment), Right: Super snow leopard gecko Angel

The two large vivs house our Bearded Dragons with Blaze on the top and Hermione and Ron in the bottom

Heres my 3 Rats, Smokey, Bandit and dusty

The wild bird food and nest box camera monitor along with my telescope.

My desk with all my OU text books and other paraphernalia.

My next blog post about my pets will have some close ups of the menagerie so you can get a sense of what I actually have. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Greenhouse and potatoes

Another lovely day today so decided to do a bit more on the veg patch. So me and my daughter planted the main crop potatoes, which we decided to go with Maris piper this time and Autumn king carrots.

And as promised the greenhouse tour.

Firstly my seedling stand. Starting at the top down. We have
  • Sweet peas
  • Sweetcorn and pumpkins
  • French beans and foxgloves
  • Savoy cabbages and lettuces 
  • The two bottom shelves are marigolds ready for companion planting with my tomatoes.

Next we have the staging on the right hand side. Once again starting on the top
  • Runner beans
  • Leeks and spring onions and tomatoes normal and cherry

Sunday, 13 April 2014

All dug over!

As I finish half day on a Friday, we decided to go and do a bit of shopping at the new The Range store that's opened in Gloucester. It was extremely busy but I did manage to get the chicken wire I wanted so that I could fence off the veg patch from the dog. 

So once it was fenced off I dug the patch over and placed a raised bed on there for carrots and potatoes.
I dug in some well rotted manure which I got from a friends horse, so now its all ready for planting when the seedlings are ready/ the threat of frosts have passed. ( I will do a post of what I have grown soon and give you a tour of my greenhouse)

As you  can see the raised bed has orange fencing on it so that the local cats don't use it as a litter box! I am waiting for a crop cage to arrive which will look a little better. Down on the right hand side of the photo you can see the 'spring garden' ( hey if Monty can have one so can I lol) This will stay as the lower part of my veg patch and is full of fritillaries, primroses and what I think is bluebells.  

I also had my ten hawthorn bushes arrive which I purchased on ebay. I wanted a wildlife friendly hedge down the bottom of the garden so that a) it gave us a bit more privacy and b) stopped the dog jumping the low fence. I They came all wrapped in paper and cellophane, so I unwrapped them and soaked the roots for a few hours before planting them. Not a very good photo but you get the idea.

And finally for my birthday at the end of March I was bought a nest box camera, we put it up on the side of my office but thought that it was too late for any takers this year. However, within 5 mins it was being checked out by a pair of blue tits, but they then seemed to disappear for a few weeks until this weekend when I turned the tv on to find that they had started to build a nest.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Living the good life!

I've not written for a while as the last 18 months have been pretty hectic. We have finally moved house into our own bungalow, and have discovered we are having another baby who is due any day now and we have both turned 30!
My priorities have obviously had to change for the time being due to my situation and this blog will now feature posts mainly about my garden and attempts to live as much of a 'good life' as possible,
To start off with I suppose I better show you the garden as it was when we purchased the bungalow.
The lady who had it was elderly and had managed the garden so it needed as little maintenance as poss.
This included a lot of boulders, shrubs, trees and lots and lots of bark chippings. Now although it looked nice it wasn't what we wanted but we could see the potential and began making plans for chickens, a veg patch, a wildlife area and a lawn for the kids and pets to enjoy.

This is looking from back garage door and as you can see there is a lot of shrubs overgrowing the path, two huge buddleia bushes, loads of primroses and bark. This are is where we plan on having our veg patch.

This is the same area from the other direction where you can see a small tree in the foreground which was some form of apple tree. The large tree in the background is our boundary and this is where we plan on having a wildlife area with pond.

This is looking down the right hand side of our garden with yet me shrubs and trees. The left hand side of this pic will eventually be where the lawn starts. Towards the back fence is where the greenhouse, compost bins and chicken coop will be.

This is looking up from the bottom of the garden you can see from the previous pic. The right hand side of this pic is where the lawn will extend down to.

A closer view of the corner where the greenhouse, chickens and compost bins will be.

And finally the view from our back door. The dirt on the left hand side is where the lawn will start. 

As you can see we have our work cut out for us and we have made a start. Having cleared the area in the above photo we have now laid the seed for the new lawn. 

You can also see we have put the greenhouse up and the compost bins down in the corner.