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Blueberries mmmmmmm

5 Jul

Hello to my blueberries!

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I was a bit worried about my blueberry bush this yeah as the green was being munched but I couldn’t see who by??

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Until one day, sitting in the garden my mam yelled “it’s a beetle”
She had seen the little black beetle at work and grabbed it before it could do anymore damage!
Since then I’ve not lost any more leaves but I’m constantly checking for any more!

June in pictures

25 Jun

I love a good sunny day and thankfully I’ve been blessed with many during my week off!

Here’s a quick look through what I’ve been up to these long lazy days!

worshiping the sun with a ‘Happy’ Birthday cake

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enjoying my new bike with Cycle Routes Map

cycle map

and a cycle to Crystal Palace to see Darwin and the Dinosaurs

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perfect weather to roast a chicken 

rotissery chicken

and to work on a new design

knitting

pottering around doing some potting

fuscia, salvia, dahlia snow lady, orangina, sunfire

enjoying the fruits of the raspberry bush

raspberrys

and kicking back in the evening summer heat making cushions and drinking local craft beer

beer and cushions

sheltered dug-in slug traps

15 May

My favourite garden accessory this year is the dug-in slug trap. It’s simple and very effective.

Over the course of a week, I had watched as one by one slugs attacked my pepper plants, leaving only the stubble of a stalk and a few discarded leaves. I really didn’t want to use slug pellets. I had put down coffee grounds (fertilising and supposed to irritate slug bellies) and ground mace (it works for human attackers!), and would spent half an hour every night after darkness settled creeping round with a flashlight pulling slugs and snails off tender leaves. Fortunately, my neighbour Angel suggested trying this and it works!

Step 1: I used a plastic picnic cup cup as I don’t mind if it gets ruined with slime and a tin of beer. I actually like Polish beer, so this seemed like a bit of a waste until I learned the slugs like it too. I also decided to make a wee umbrella using a jam jar lid wider than the mouth of the cup and three small stakes, to keep the sun off and the rain out.

slug trap

Polish tinned lager, 1 low tray, 1 plastic cup, 1 small pretty plant pot, 3 knitting needles for staking and 1 jam jar lid

As well as the dug-in trap, I laid out two traps that I could move around the garden as needed, using an old pot tray and a high, narrow plant pot. I’ve used this type of movable trap before, although I’ve always wondered whether the trek up and over the sides put them off.

Step 2: Next I dug a hole so that the rim of the cup sits just at surface level. The hole looks enormous with nothing in it, but it is probably about 3 x 2 inches.

slug trap1

Be careful at this point, I’ve exposed some roots

Step 3: Insert the cup to ensure it fits. I think it’s better to be conservative in your estimates, as it’s a bit easier to dig out than fill in to get the correct size.

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Nestle the cup as close to surface-level as possible, so the slugs just slip right in

Step 4: As I mention above, I was a bit worried about rainwater diluted my beer, so I devised a cover that won’t interfere with the trap itself. After inserting the cup, I arranged three 7-inch 5mm DPNs to form a triangle that will support the jam jar lid to act as an umbrella.

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Angle them slightly inwards so that they form a buttress to hold the lid in place

Step 5: Adding the beer is much easier if you gently remove the cup (but leave the stakes where thy are), fill the cup with beer and carefully sink back into the hole. The other option is pouring beer willy-nilly at the wrong angle so that the foam threatens to sop all over your garden. Trust me.

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Careful with that beer! You don’t want to make the plants even tastier by sloshing it everywhere!

Step 6: Top with the jam jar lid and voila!

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I don’t imagine slugs like watered down beer any more than I do

You do have to be a bit diligent about removing the slugs — I’ve discovered they aren’t as interested in beer when it smells of death. It’s pretty disgusting, but worth it. I’ve been replacing the beer every few days, although once summer hits properly it’ll have to be more frequent.

Even so, it works a treat! The sheltered dug-in slug trap.

13 May 13a

A great natural solution to protecting my baby beans

If you try this technique, link to it so we can see! In the meantime, how do you protect your garden from slugs and snails?

the rejuvenated garden

13 May
13 May 13b

Radishes, runner beans, beet seedlings, strawberries, cress and the guard zebra

This year I am back to gardening with a vengeance, so I thought a little update was in order! Why did I take so much time off? The trouble with container gardening is that once the soil has been depleted there’s nowhere to move the soil. So last year I followed the old farming technique of letting my garden fallow to rejuvenate the soil.

13 May 13g

Bell peppers, a heap of seedlings of unknown origin, peas and potatoes

It’s actually much easier than you might think, mostly because it requires more patience than anything else, and it’s more effective than I could have hoped, too! I was able to bring life back to my container soil without throwing it out and starting again following these steps:

Step 1: Much to the despair of my neighbours, I let my pots transform into a tangle of weeds and beds of moss for at least one full season (here in London that means roughly February to November).

Step 2: About 14-18 weeks before I wanted to start growing, I pulled out the weeds but kept them to one side and lay down almost 30 litres of manure — and if my neighbours had a problem with the weeds, I can only imagine what they thought of this move! For me, that horsey dankness was the smell of my soil rebuilding itself.

Step 3: Over top of the manure, I layered the leaves and twigs of the weeds I’d pulled up (taking care to remove any roots) and let them dry as a sort of mulch. Those pots with moss I left alone.

Step 4: Then I let the whole thing overwinter.

13 May 13f

Tomatoes, strawberries and runner beans

The result was wonderful! When I lifted up the nests of dried twigs and leaves and rolled back the moss, the soil underneath was rich and full of goodness (not to mention full of happy invertebrates)! You can see the results best under the strawberries and lettuce below. That there is 100% revitalised container soil.

13 May 13i

Strawberries and two types of lettuce

Although I have several large plants, only a few of them have been grown by me as seeds. This year I found a whole bag full of seed packets under my sink, most of them nearly two years out of date! So I did what any cavalier gardener would do and chucked them into the soil to see what would grow. So far I’ve had the best luck with cress, radish, bean, pea and beet seedlings, which have all come up like mad. I have two pots with mixed seedlings and no idea what they might be because I, of course, neglected to keep a record. Carrots, definitely, and some herbs, but other than that I’ll just have to be patient to see what comes up.

13 May 13a

Broad bean seedlings with my new favourite garden accessory: the dug-in slug trap

In my next post, I’m going to show-and-tell my Jerry-rigged greenhouse roof as well as my dug-in slug traps. (I was so pleased with my slug traps that I drew a diagram for my secondary-school students to demonstrate how effective they are. Response: ‘Miss, no offence, but you sound a little crazy.’)

‘No two gardens are the same…..

5 Jul

…… No two days are the same in one garden’ Hugh Johnson

It’s been a bit of a dramatic few months.

Me and my love decided we wanted a place that was all our own, we found a flat we loved, got a mortgage, bought it and moved in! All in the space of a few months!
We are slowly getting settled, however the big move for me was, of course, my garden.

My old little garden featured heavily on loumms,

from it’s beginnings as a weed filled mess

through becoming established

to the glory of a working kitchen garden,

I photographed and blogged my way through the process.

My pitfalls and triumphs were posted here along side all the wonderful food I got to make from what I succeeded in growing.

So as you can imagine it was hard to get my head around leaving it.
However I would never buy anywhere without an outside area and it turns out that my new little garden (all mine, not shared with 18 cats, loads of slugs and a tree!) is a dream!!!

I knew that I’d never be spoilt again in terms of the size of the last place and all I really wanted was a little area to relax in and grow my veggies.
I certainly found it!

As my dad said ‘you’ve got yourself a little sun trap here!’

I brought everything I had planted, 4 trips in the car with Emmms, in pots as I now have decking, and they are all thriving!

There is always a risk when up heaving established plants but so far they are all loving their new home.

My flowers, the Rush and the Vera are all sitting on top or some lovely early 19th century bricks I got from Freecycle and my Lily flowered for the first time ever (sorry no pic but it was a lovely delicate pink flower)

Along side them is my big pot containing what I originally thought to be two courgette plants which turns our to be one courgette

and one cucumber!!

Sooooo happy as I thought all of my cucumbers had died!

Beside the big pot, along the side wall are my two greenhouses.

One protecting my fruit trees (thanks Emmms!)

and the other has my 3 tomato plants, and my peppers and chilli plants.

For the moment, until we get our new garden furniture, I have some lilies, my onions, and a couple of my old rockery shrubs sitting on top of my old green wooden chairs and huge metal bucket.

Waiting for a home of its own is the thriving raspberry bush which is temporarily sitting between the BBQ and the wooden bench.

Dotted around on top of the walls are the Periwinkle

The silver fern

some thyme

and al load of general bits and pieces including the gift from my sister for my birthday, a cute little welly boot pot!

And perched on the window sill are my other herbs waiting for a new home on the balcony with the salad leaves.

and I’ve got a tap by the back door!!

So there it is, my new garden,

I love it!!!!!

ugh it’s tuesday

8 Nov

Me and Tuesday’s do not get on.
I normally make it into bed at about 7.15am after a terribly long 24 hour Monday!

I then magically wake up at around 10.30am sometimes 11am if I’m really lucky!

Probably best to say that I’m not a great night shift worker/sleeper however it does mean that I normally get quite a lot done on a Tuesday before I’m back at work again that night.

Today was the garden.

I needed to get the Pund plants out before the frost hit as it is so small it would not take much for it to freeze over, so I organised for a friend to take them in his bigger pond over the winter.
Now at least they will have a fighting chance!

Both the lily and the water soldier that survived are bagged and ready to go to their new home.

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(Check out the lovely leaf-less grass, all thanks to my new leaf blower a friend gave me!)

I also took the opportunity to re pot the Yukka and bring him indoors for the winter months. I’ve managed to leave him outside for a lot longer this year as the weather has been pretty mild.
I think it’s about time for him to feel the warmth of the central heating though !

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Whilst I was in the re potting mood I also did the Aloe Vera. She is staying on the window ledge in the kitchen this year, so she may get a slight bit of sun, as last year when she was in the living room she received so little sun that she nearly didn’t make it through.

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After all of that, I went back inside the house to wash up just as my alarm went off at 1pm!

slight confusion

29 Sep

I think I’ve slightly confused my little garden!

Last week I decided to begin preparing my garden for autumn/winter.
I noticed that the nights were getting colder and I read an article about how we were expecting an early winter (end of October)

I had a spare few hours on Saturday so decided to begin preparation for winter.

It turned out that my veggie patch had been completely over run by snails (a lot worse than I originally thought) and the cats had managed to get in a do their business everywhere totally ruining what wasn’t destroyed by the snails.

So, holding back the tears, I dug the whole thing up.

At least now it will have enough time for the soil to recover for next years sowing.

I moved some flowers to the place I want them next year tidied the lawn and put down some more grass seeds in the patchy sections.

I also moved the blueberry bush to where it will spend the winter. I dug a large hole to fit the pot and am planning to cover the entire thing in muslin as the nights grow colder.

I thought I was well on the way!!

That was until London starting experiencing a late heat wave!!!

It’s so hot!! 26 degrees C!

I’ve been noticing a red colour coming from my tomato plants so it looks like they are turning!! The sun has brought them out!!

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I picked a few and heard they tasted lovely ( allergy prevents me from trying :( )there are plenty more however that I can use to make a sauce!!

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My little peppers who seemed to be unsuccessful this year have started fruiting

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and my pund has been given a new lease of life!

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To think I almost took the pond plants out to give to a friend who is looking after them during the winter!

As the weather is so good and my garden is so tidy I’ve been able to spend my (very rare) spare time enjoying it!

I went out today and bought a few evergreens for the containers in the front garden as the Lobelia didn’t survive, and also have added a lavender bush (bit sad looking at the moment) and a pretty Pieris Japonica.

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I also planted a few more rockery plants round the pund.

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Looks like I’ll be getting a lot out of the garden this year than I thought!

BBQ anyone????