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July 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, flowering in my garden July 10

I've been looking forward to July, to see the full year of bloom days in my garden, and now it's here, I almost forgot. - Thanks to Carol for hosting as ever. - A great show of flowers from all around the world, as usual i've loved seeing what everyone has to offer, especially as it's so different from me, even those fairly close by

we've had a lot of drought in England Surrey, - and although there was heavy rain last night, - my water butt's didn't fill all the way to the top.

My free draining soil has meant there have been casualties, - the Erigeron isn't doing as well as usual, and Astrantias have suffered, but here are my beauties.

much maligned Alchemilla, - but mine have looked fab all through the dry weather, and the purple sedem behind frames them beautifully.

my shady (read lots of tree roots, and leaves falling) border was hard hit this season with the ferns giving up the ghost, but the hostas, have hardly any slug holes and are now flowering their socks off.

and even those chosen for foliage not flowers have been taking part, - here ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens.

my vergeside wildflowers havn't liked the weather this year, - but this helenium and verbena have loved it (sorry wind blowing, and couldn't get a still picture)

This eryngium is going from strength to strength, and I now have loads of seedlings to plant out, - anyone know if they come true?

I am a Hydrangea fan, but I know they take years to grow to full size, - these are mine trying there best in their 2nd seasons

Hydrangea Quercifolia

Lacecap Hydrangea in the shade, - gets all my washing up bowl throw outs!

i've never been fond of lilies as they create hayfever hate in this household, - but having them outside the front door really helps, - a scent of perfume without the overpowering smell. The phlox in the background have been transplanted from the back where they do really poorly because of dry soil, to here where they are thriving.

And although most of my back garden is devoted to fruit and vegetables ( and childrens play space) I do like my companion planting in my veg patch. -Sweet pea Matucana and Calendula .

Watering in Elephants

i've just come in from the garden, and it's after 10pm. It's been hot the last couple of weeks, - Hot & Dry.

Little boy watering

Now hot sunlight is good for plant growth and floriferousness, as long as there is enough water at the plant's roots, BUT here in Surrey, - we havn't had any decent rain for months (I think i've only gardened in waterproofs for 2 whole days this year!)

I am on a water meter, so I use my waterbutts whenever I can, but they've been empty for weeks. So I have had to hand water, and use a sprinkler in the evening.  This evening I wanted to plant out some of the seedlings i've been growing. - I wouldn't plant any client borders at the moment, but I want to get all my seedlings in the soil before the summer holidays, - they have a slightly better chance of survival in the ground than in small pots on shelving on my patio, but to give them the best chance in the ground I set the sprinkler running on the patch I was going to plant. - Unfortunately in the 35 minutes it was running, the water only soaked down 1 cm. Not nearly enough for even a seedling's rootball (about 4-5cm deep).

So if you want plants to get the most moisture to their roots to help them survive, an overhead sprinkler isn't the most efficient way, - a watering can with a rose, or a hose with a lance spray are the best.

I teach the children in gardening club that we are watering roots, not leaves, and that they need to count their watering in Elephants. Using this method, the children can't count too quickly (one elephant, two elephants etc) and the plants get a decent amount of moisture where they need it - a tomato plant needs at least 5 elephants, the corn needs 3 elephants each. A row of seedlings needs 8 elephants. The beans 5 elephants each cane of the wigwam.

Are you using enough elephants in your watering?

A Hydrangea needs a can of water a week in this weather. Chucking it all on at once will mean most of it drains elsewhere, so a quarter of a can, then going back in 5 minutes for another quarter etc. My watering can takes over a minute to fill up from the hose (60 elephants) which means that most plants in the garden will need a minimum of 10 second/elephants spraying with a hose.

It is a lot better for the plants to drink deeply on every 2nd or 3rd day, than to have a little sprinkling every day. - Something to think about if we do start getting rain again, - has it been as heavy as 10 elephants?

Vegetable Envy

i've now got 4 out of my 6 regular clients growing vegetables in one way or another, it's great that they are growing their own, and i'm loving helping them be successful veg growers, but yesterday I had to admit that the green eyed jealousy monster came out.

I've grown some lovely courgettes from seed this year, and as I always do, I grow too many and so my clients get some of them.

here's my plant at home growing nicely and about to give me fruits in the next week.

Same seeds, same germination time (in the same greenhouse) - clients garden

Courgettes Soleil and defender ready to pick and the climbing courgette trombicino, doing very nicely.

I know that there is more sun in their south facing garden than mine, and that the soil is imported top soil mixed with compost, whereas mine is infested with conifer roots, - but, it's not fair, (stamps feet like a petulant child!) she's the beginner and i'm meant to be the expert :(

Oh well i'll have to console myself with knowing that i'll get some of the crop when i'm watering during holidays :)

Hampton Court Palace Flower show- my best bits

The Hampton Court Show is the nearest show to us, and is actually for lots of reasons my favourite of the year. I've been loads of times, all days of the week, and this year I decided to have a plant packed Tuesday afternoon on my own, and then i'm going back on Friday for a more leisurely look with hubby.

The first thing is that the layout has been changed this year, - I hadn't heard anything about that in the reports i'd heard, so I didn't buy a programme as I went through the gate,  - which I usually do and then it sits in my bag for the rest of the day.  After a lot of wandering I had to buy one later, which I actually read almost all the way through while eating fish and chips and listening to the band play (very well)

anyway on to my favourite bits

My favourite seating area

my favourite bright and beautiful planting - and yes I did like the pink tap and it's message

Continue reading "Hampton Court Palace Flower show- my best bits " »

Successional Veg planting - 3 easy veg for winter harvesting

What happens in your vegetable plot in the winter?

1) The things you planted in the spring have all been harvested, so it's bare and a bit weedy during the winter months

2) The leeks and cabbages were planted in April, so they are ready for harvesting in the winter

3) The plot has lots of different varieties, and you usually manage to harvest a meal each week unless it's snowing

Ok, It may currently be July, & it may be showing off to say that I fall in to category no 3, but It is possible to be harvesting all through the winter, even with a small vegetable plot. It doesn't need you to take up space all the way through the summer that could be used for fresh produce while the sun is shining. There are plenty of vegetables, and loads of salads and herbs that can be sown and planted from now until late September that you can crop from when the heat of summer has vanished.

Here are 3 of my favourites


Perpetual spinach is so called, because it is just that - perpetual, i'm still harvesting from the plants grown from seeds I sowed last September. The plants germinated quickly and I had salad leaves in the autumn, but I then covered them with fleece and during the winter they survived the snow. Then as soon as the first new light and heat of spring started in February, they grew again on strong overwintered roots, and i've had 6 complete harvests of the entire row - about 25 meals worth now. Not bad for the price of a few seeds. The next lot are currently germinating in guttering, so that when I harvest for the final time next week, - I can plant another row elsewhere to take over. Chard and Rainbow chard (as below, grown from free seeds from Flourish) are very similar, - if you havn't got much space, only grow one, - but a bigger plot, - plant all three.




now there are several choices with carrots. - Until a few years ago I was hopeless at growing them, - I never got the timings right, and the roots I grew were forked, gnarly and not worth eating.  Then I tried growing them in a pot, and I tried varieties Parmex, Mignon and Autumn King. Now I can have carrots to harvest from April through to January.

Parmex are round roots, - so can be grown in the ground. Mignon make great small roots and will germinate really early in the year, so I sow a barrel full in January/ February to get baby roots through the spring and summer. Autumn King are bigger roots, so need a ground free of stones, but will last in the ground all through the winter, - I picked the last of mine in early March and they had survived the snow.



Musselburgh is the variety I use. - I sow it in late may in seed trays, - i plant them up into loo roll middles in July (like the old boys do to enhance their show pize winners) and I pop them in the ground when my courgettes and beans have finished in September. They are also available for sale now at garden centres as seedlings. - Ok, they may not win me prizes at the Autumn Horticultural show, and they don't grow to the mamouth proportions of those you find in a supermarket, but they will feed me in February.

So when you're about to harvest your beans, courgette or lettuce this summer, think about how great it would be to harvest more all year round, and get planning for sowing and planting this Autumn.

If you'd like to know more about Successional Vegetable planting, - find out all the varieties I recommend and the tricks to be able to crop in the winter, plus get to taste my homemade refreshments and enjoy the company of others in a great location, - my next workshop is happening this weekend Saturday 10th July at the Grace and Flavour Garden in West Horsley. There are just 2 spaces left, so if you are interested,  Book Now, or Contact me for more details

Harvest for this week w/e 4/07/10


it's been a strawberry week.

3 big bowls of strawberries, and I even had to make a berry smoothie today as I had some left over after pudding. The Raspberries are also ripening, considering we have more Autumn fruiting canes than summer ones, i'm very hopeful for later in the year as well.

The peas are now coming thick and fast, - we've had mangetout and sugar bon snap, enough to feed us for 2 suppers and to add to salads as well. The lettuce has been growing well, and we've been harvesting Can Can, Lollo Rosso and mixed leaves. The herbs are still producing in abundance, and i've used lots of mint and chervil this week, plus rosemary and broadleaved thyme. The chives that I cut back to 5cm from the pot a couple of weeks ago, now have lots of fresh new growth, which is excellent as the potatoes will be ready next week.

Also from Grace and Flavour, - where William helped our for the first time as the children's area is now ready, - we had a harvest of Rocket - Early Potatoes, 2 Cucumbers, Radishes,  and Courgettes.

The crop sharing has now been worked out and my work over the last few months has resulted in a 40% discount on the supermarket price.  Well worth a few hours weeding in the sun with local friends.

My shopping bill this week has been drastically reduced, - only Apples & Bananas bought as fruit, and peppers and onions for vegetables (sorry Ocado, only groceries needed for the next few weeks)