Last / Recent Months in the Garden

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It's about 10 years since I did a bit about the gardening year in Down the Garden With Iain with a series of pages showing month by month in the garden. So I thought I would update this to say what was happening currently, writing about the current month, starting with January, 2012, and going forwards from there to December, 2013. I have arranged it so that you can see what I have been doing in the current month, and just below, what I was doing the same month, in the previous year.

If you want to jump to the latest month that I have added -i.e. December, 2013, Click here.

January, 2013

It was about a third of the way through January before we got back from spending New Year in Devon. It had been relatively mild there, but it was a lot colder home in Hertfordshire, and it was obvious that I wasn't going to be doing a lot of gardening this month, unless the weather got a bit warmer.

I did get into the garden on 10th January, and had a good picking of Brussel Sprouts. There are quite a few sprouts still to pick, and possible a couple of cabbages. The weather then got colder still, and Monday 14th saw a day of snow. Definitely a day for staying indoors. Wednesday 16th still had a smattering of snow covering the garden, but the freezing fog of early morning cleared when the sun came out about 11 o'clock, and I did manage out to continue clearing away the dead plants in the borders.

On 20th January, the garden was still covered with snow, but a Snowman had paid us a visit. On the 21st the Snowman was joined by a second, and on the 22nd we found that we had four Snowmen in the garden - see photo. I had sent my grand children photos of the first, then the two, then the four Snowmen, and asked then to name the Snowmen. Chloe suggested Chloe, Alice suggested Alice, and Lachlan who lives in Sydney and doesn't really know what snow is, named the two Snowmen "Grandad's Hat" and "Grandma."

Apart from quick visits out to clear snow off the patio and the paths, I was seldom in the garden. But Saturday, 26th Jan was a dry, sunny day. It had snowed the previous evening, but that should be the last of the snow for a while. I finally managed to get out into the garden once again, to clean and disinfect the greenhouse. I mixed up four litres of Flash / Bleach / Fairy Liquid mixture, and sprayed the inside of the greenhouse. I usually use Jeyes Fluid, but it doesn't prevent Tomato Blight the following year, and it leaves a stick, brown covering on the glass. So this year I'm hoping that bleach does a better job.

We then had a couple of days of heavy rain that washed away the Snowmen, but meant that I couldn't get into the garden. A visit to the cinema, a visit to Bury St Edmunds, and another couple of days had gone. So it was Thursday, 31st January before I finally got out into the garden again, to tidy up the cabbage patch. Mostly this was throwing out cabbages that had shot, but I did manage to recover a couple of cabbage heads suitable for eating.

On the 31st I also started manually raking the grass to remove some of the moss that had grown there during the winter. It was too wet to use the electrical lawn raker. I'll give all the grass a raking over, and put down some moss killer in late February, early March, when the grass starts growing again.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

January, 2012

The previous month had closed with a bit of bad luck, in that a huge branch, about 1/3 of the tree, had fallen off one of our old big plum trees - the black Rivers plum, at the bottom right of the garden. It was stradding the bottom fence, and sticking into the farmer's field, so I'd had to get the chain saw out, chop it into manageable lengths, and tidy it away (to be used as future logs for the fire). Then, at the start of January, 2012, I was amazed to find that a further third of the same tree had fallen down, again over the farmer's field. So, more sawing and chopping up. We are not going to get a lot of plums this year - I'll need to plant a new tree for the future.

They say things happen in three's, so I wasn't too surprised when another tree fell down - this time the one at the front of the side garden, see picture. I don't use the chain saw that much, but that made 3 times in a few weeks.

There was a very mild spell about 5th Jan to 12th Jan, and so I managed to get quite a bit done in the garden - mostly tidying up the borders, and sweeping away the leaves. We are still picking brussel sprouts, and eating the last of the 2011 apples, which were stored in a box in the garage.

There was a cold spell in the middle third of the month, that mostly kept me indoors, but I did manage to thoroughly spray the inside of the greenhouse with diluted Jeyes fluid to kill off disease. About the 20th, I ventured out again to plant 3 gooseberry plants that I had purchased for 10 at Bury St Edmunds market. Our old gooseberry bushes were growing at the bottom right of the garden, but developed mildew over the last few years, and yields had been dropping alarmingly. After last year's very poor crop, I trimmed all the plants back to ground level. They may grow again, but I suspect that the roots are diseased, and the plants are finished. So I've cleared about 10 ft of rasberry plants from the front side garden, and planted the new gooseberry plants there - a fresh start. The dug up raspberries have been replanted beside the other raspberries in the bottom side garden.

There is such a lot of moss in the lawn in the back and side gardens. Each year I have tackled this with rigourous raking with my electrical lawn rake, but each year the moss comes back, as bad as ever. So, I'm going to try moss killer chemicals, and see if that works. I've just used the manual lawn rake to go over the grass, a couple of hours a day, to rake out the worst of the moss. I've also bought a seed / chemical spreader for 12 from Argos, and when the weather gets a little warmer, I'll apply moss killer.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

February, 2013

Friday, 1st Feb was a dry sunny day, so I got into the garden for a good picking of brussel sprouts, and also to continue manually raking the grass to remove some of the moss that had accummulated during the winter. It's quite hard work, so it's best to work for an hour, have a cup of tea, and then continue, suitably refreshed.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th of the month were similar sunny days, but very cold with a sharp wind. Suitably wrapped up, I continued in the garden with my raking - doing a target area, having a break, and then doing another target area, so that by the end of the 4th, all the back lawn had been raked, just leaving the back side garden, and the side, side garden to do.

Thursday, 7th was the next day I managed out, and by close of play I had raked all the rear side garden, and made a good start on the front side garden. I managed a little more on the 8th, and then the rain started.

The snow then came back again, but I only made one snowman, this time. What with other things to do, including a quick drive up to Edinburgh, and drive back two days later, I didn't get back into the garden until the 18th, when I put up the garden swing in readiness for Chloe and Alice's half term visit.

Alice, Chloe, and their mum and dad's visit went reasonably well, but unfortunately it was bitterly cold - too cold to play in the garden. Unfortunately Chloe had a bad cold, with flu like symproms, and most of her visit was spent sitting on a comfortable chair with a blanket wrapped round her - rather than running round the garden. The swing did get some 10 minutes use at the start of their visit, and Alice did get a quick pedal round the garden, but that was that. By the end of the week when they left I had caught whatever bug Chloe had, and I didn't get back into the garden unil the following month.

I've still to finish raking the grass in the side garden, get the greenhouses up and running again, and I must sprinkle fertilizer around the rhubarb. The picture was taken at the end of the month, after the snow had gone, and shows some snowdrops - hopefully a sign of Spring.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

February, 2012

February 2012 was certainly a month of weather extremes. It was bitterly cold at the start of the month, and six inches of snow (I measured it) fell in the back garden - see picture. It was so cold that for the first time the outside exit pipe from our condensor boiler froze when the temperature got down to minus 13 degrees C. I had to climb up with hot water to unfreeze it - and we are now getting insulated piping fitted. So the only work I did in the garden was to clear snow off the back patio, and the path to the clothes line. I did have one extra job to do, however. I had taken a couple of photos of the snow, and had sent them to my daughter and her family in Devon, where they had had no snow. I got back a request from my granddaughter Chloe, that her granddad make her a snowman. It was perfect snow for making a big snowman, with a huge carrot for a nose,and two hose connectors for eyes. My other granddaughter Alice thought I should have given the snowman a hat, but my fingers were so cold that I had hastily retreated to the warmth of the house.

Round about Feb 16th, the warmer weather had returned, and in parts of the country it was plus 17 degrees C, ie summer weather. I got into the garden again to sprinkle a generous helping of Growmore fertilizer round the rhubarb patch, and also beside the gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes. I picked the very last of the Brussel sprouts, and then cleared the vegetable patch, ready for later digging. Usually the Brussel sprouts are finished well before this. I did a quick scrape of mud off the wooden walkways from the vegetable patch, and put them into the greenhouse to dry, ready for later treatment with wood preservative. They are strips of wood like a ladder that I place between the rows of vegetables for easy access.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

March, 2013

March opened with me still recovering from the bug I had picked up from Chloe during her half term visit in February. I was starting to get concerned at all the garden jobs that were building up. Sunday, 3rd March was a nice sunny day, so I ventured out to test the waters and see how I got on. I had a good picking of Brussel sprouts, and finally managed to finish manually raking up moss from the side garden. Although I have now covered all the area, I will need to return to this later as there is still a lot of moss to remove.

I think the main priority is to get the bottom greenhouse cleaned, and the soil replenished as soon as possible. I spent a lot of Monday, 4th, cleaning the outside of the glass with Windolene, old Scotchbrite green scourers, and old towel dusters. I had to break off to go to Andrews Glass at the Maltings to replace a broken 24 x 18 inches panel - it cost 3. I also bought a couple of spare glass panels when I was there - but of course, the next greenhouse glass to break will probably one of the 24 x 24 ones, and not the 24 x 18 spares.

I cracked on with cleaning, even working in the rain, and by sunset on Thursday, 7th the greenhouse was ready for another growing year - ie glass cleaned inside and outside, borders dug up, last year's compost removed, and replaced with fresh compost from the compost heap, loaded into the dug out borders, and then finally the staging set up once again. It's hard work, but a great feeling when it's done. Now I will need to buy this season's seeds - plus I have lots saved from last year.

We got back from a holiday in Devon on the 20th - I'd bought more seeds (tomatoes, cucumber, & lettuce) from Jack's Patch garden centre in Teignmouth. I managed out into the garden on the 21st to give the small greenhouse a quick clean, and then set up it's staging. I could then work in the small greenhouse and plant eight half size seed trays with tomatoes (Lesotto, and Ferline - both claimed to be blight resistant - and Harbinger), lettuce (All the Year Round variery), cucumber (F1 hybrid and Telegraph), cabbage and brussel sprouts - the last two being seeds left over from 2012. All the eight trays have been put on bedroom window sills - too many frosty nights are forecast to risk leaving them in an unheated greenhouse. The two half trays of cucumber seeds were put in a heated propagator to get them started, but the trouble with propagators is that the seeds tend to shoot up quickly, and then keel over and die. I'll need to keep a close eye on them, and switch off the heat as soon as the green shoots break the surface. I also managed a good picking of brussel sprouts, probably the last of the season. They have lasted very well this year !

The 22nd was a very cold day, and it snowed all day on the 23rd, so I didn't venture out. It's heading to be the coldest March on record (in fact it did turn out to be the second coldest on record). Spring must come some time, and I really will need to catch up in the garden

The cold weather - snow on the ground, bitterly cold winds, 0 degrees C through the day, minus 2 to minus 3 at night - continued for days. On the 27th, there was a bit of sunshine, and the temperature rose to 3 degrees C, so trying to catch up, I planted 8 seed trays with seeds saved from last year - Marigolds, Calendula, Cosmos, etc. I have left them in the bottom greenhouse under black polythene - hopefully this will absorb some heat through the day, and I'll need to cover them with bubble wrap each night until the frosts disappear. The cucumber seeds planted indoors in the heated propagator are now quite tall seedlings - I potted them into small plastic flower pots and will leave them on the window sills until warmer weather comes.

I managed out on the 28th to clear away the brussel sprouts - getting a good final picking in the process. I also weeded the vegetable plot, ready for rotovating. I have stored the wooden walkways in the greenhouse to dry off, ready for treating with wood preservative.

Friday 29th (Good Friday !) was also a goodish day weather wise, so I managed to get the vegetable patch rotovated. My petrol rotovator is a Honda, and I am always impressed at how easy it is to start, even though it is only used about once a year. It's a lot easier to start than my lawnmower, which is not a Honda. Verdict - try to get Honda garden equipment.

When in the garden, I met our new neighbours for the first time - Kate and Gerrard. The had heard of old Mr Fish - see Bill Fish, friend, neighbour and garden consultant - which I thought was nice, especially as I had just used his old rotovator which I had bought from his son. I'll need to show Kate and Gerrard some old photos of Bill.

Most of the seeds on the window sills in the house are ready for pricking out, but it's still very frosty at night, so I decided to leave them there for a bit longer. But I got fed up with waiting for better weather, so on the 31st, I pricked out 3 trays of cabbage (c 75 plants), 2 trays of brussel sprouts, and a couple of trays of lettuce. I have put them in the bottom greenhouse uncovered in the day, but I'll have to protect them with bubble wrap each night. I have also put a few cucmber plants in the greenhouse to see how it goes - but most of the cucumber plants, an all the tomatoes are still inside on the window sills.

The photo shows the newly rotovated vegetable patch, with some seed trays on staging in the cleaned greenhouse in the back ground. Alice's bike is aslo still stored in the greenhouse

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

March, 2012

March, 2012 started with a mixture of some mild days, and some bitterly cold, windy days, so some days I got out into the garden, and some days I didn't venure out.

I rough dug the vegetable patch about 2nd March. Normally this is done a couple of months earlier so that I can leave the frost to break down the rough clumps of soil, but this year the Brussel Sprouts lasted longer than normal, and were only cleared away in late February. I'll rotovate probably next month.

One big job tackled successfully was the annual cleaning of the glass in the greenhouse at the bottom of the garden. I do this in three easy half day stages, with Windowlene glass cleaner, a couple of Scotch Brite kitchen scourers, and a couple of towel dusters. I'd also been to Bury St Edmunds market again, and got three more gooseberry plants, which I planted in the front side garden beside the other three plants. I had also ordered online a couple of packets of Losetto tomato plant seeds. These had been recommended in the Daily telegraph as possessing good resistance to Tomato Blight - well, we will see. Usually I plant Moneymaker and Gardener's Delight, but last year I suffered badly form a bad attack of blight.

By about 12 March, there had been enough good weather for me to get all the old soil / compost dug out from the greenhouse, and scattered round the raspberry plants in the rear side garden, and then for me to empty the compost heaps into the greenhouse beds. The picture shows a half empty compost heap, and a barrow full of compost ready to be wheeled round to the greenhouse. March 12th was also when our local water company Veolia Central, announced that there would be a hosepipe ban starting in April. If it doesn't rain the garden is going to get very dry this summer. It is very difficult to water a big garden with watering cans, so I don't hold out much hope for good yields this year. It's time we had a national water grid. Why on earth do we have to pay water rates to a company that can't supply us with enough water.

The good weather in the middle of the month persisted, and so I managed to treat all the woodwork in the garden ( except the fences) with Red Cedar wood preservative - ie numerous wooden walkways, greenhouse staging, a double barrelled gate, a garden table, and two wooden bench seats. On another visit to Bury St Edmunds on 17th March (St Patrick's Day), I got two more gooseberry plants, so that is eight new plants in all, planted in the front side garden. The rhubarb in the back garden seems to be doing very nicely.

We were going down to Devon for 10 days at the end of the month, but before I went, I managed to spread 14 kgs of 4 in 1 lawn food / moss killer over all the grass in the rear and side gardens. It needs some rain to activate it, but I thought it must rain some time when we were away. Strangely, it didn't - perhaps that is why there is to be a hose pipe ban. Also before going away I scattered various seeds on the surface of covered seed trays filled with wet potting compost, and hoped they would neither go dry whilst we were away, nor come up too soon, and end up tall and spindly. The trays with tomato, lettuce, cabbage, and Brussel Sprouts seeds were left on a bedroom window ledge, the other seed trays with a variety of flower seeds were covered with plastic sheeting, and left on a bench in the small greenhouse attached to the garage.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

April, 2013

March had been the coldest since 1963, and the third coldest since records began. April opened ever so slightly warmer through the day, but still with frosts at night. So each night, I had to cover over the seeds and seedlings in the greenhouse with bubble wrap, and keep the tomato and cucumber plants in the warmth of our house.

I sort of got out into the garden on April, 1st - in fact, I was in the garage painting the wooden walkways using red cedar wood preservative. This job is usually done in January or February, but I'm running a bit late this year.

It was too cold for gardening, really, in the first week of April. On Thursday, 4th it even snowed all day ! It is the second coldest April since records began. I did get to B&Q on Wednesday (discount day) to buy various garden bits and pieces - a big tub of growmore, some mosskiller, some grass seed, some plastic seed trays, some garden wire, and a couple of packets of runner beans. I planted a tray of 32 runner beans later that day, and left it in the greenhouse, covering it with bubble wrap in the evenings.

Sunday and Monday, 7th and 8th were OK days, so I got two full days in the garden going round the garden in a clockwise direction, weeding / setting up the borders for another gardening year. I got three quarters of the left hand border done in two days - it takes a lot of work the first time I do it in a season. The forecast for the 9th was for rain, so I spread the four in one moss killer ( + fertilizer, greener, and weed killer) over the grass. A big 400 square metre bag seems about the right size.

It did rain on the 9th, but not until the evening. There then followed a few more days of rain, so work in the garden was paused. But on the evening of the 10th, I stopped covering the greenhouse plants with bubble wrap in the evenings - I'll need to keep an eye out for frost returning.

I managed a little bit more in the garden on the 13th, before the rain came. All the plants from the house window sills are now out in the greenhouses. I also planted another tray of runner beans.

Sunday 14th April was a lovely warm sunny day, as were the following two days - so three full days work in the garden saw all the borders in the back garden done, the rhubarb patch tackled, growmore fertilizer applied (2ozs. per square metre), the gooseberries likewise treated, and also the blackcurrents. That left just the side garden to do - front and rear.

Night frosts returned on the evenings of the 19th and 20th, so back to the bubble wrap. But through the day the weather was OK, so I cracked on in the garden. On Sunday, 21st I cut the grass for the first time this year. My lawnmower is some times a bit difficult to start, but this year it amazed me by starting fairly easily - two gentle pulls on the cord to get things moving, and then a serious pull, and away it went. I cut the grass at setting 3 - i.e. not short. I'll lower the height to setting 2 later.

A couple of days of more good weather, and by April 23rd, St George's Day, I had finished doing the side garden - tidying the rasps, and fertilizing them. I also did a bit of pricking out - 6 trays of marigolds, 28 per tray.

I had to cut the grass again on Thursday 25th, and this time I went for setting 2. I then loaded up the lawn spreader with grass seed, and reseeded some bare patches. Then it was back to pricking out again. By the end of the 27th, both greenhouses were full of seed trays - it's now just a case of fingers crossed, and I hope everything grows, - plus remembering to keep everything regularly watered.

All in all, quite a busy month in the garden. The picture is a general one of the tidied up garden, grass cut, but not much growing yet.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

April, 2012

At long last, it rained on Tuesday, 4th April. I had treated the grass with moss killer in March, and then gone on holiday to Spain. Needless to say, the end of March had been glorious weather - but no rain to activate the moss killer.

April started with me back from Spain, very busy in the greenhouse pricking out all the seedlings that had grown in my absence - and crossing my fingers for rain. I had to buy and plant some more tomato seeds as not all of the blight resistant ones I had planted came up. Usually I plant Moneymaker and Gardener's Delight which are cheap, there are lots of seeds in the packet, and I end up with a lot more plants than I need. I bought some more Losetto and Ferline seeds - both blight resistant varieties. I put them in a heated propagator. They soon came up, had been potted by 12th April, and were out on the greenhouse staging beside the other tomato plants.

Easter was the weekend of 6th to 9th April, and was generally wet. Easter Saturday was dry however, so we got to Bury St Edmunds where I bought another gooseberry plant - later planted in the rear side garden, in a vacant spot beside the cherry trees.

The weather forecast for most days was rain, and I didn't want to start rotovating the vegetable patch in case I had to stop half way through. Instead I started the summer routine of clockwise weeding - going round the garden in a clockwise direction, doing a bit, stopping for cup of tea or whatever but leaving a marker where I had stopped, and then starting off again at the marker. This process is a bit like painting the Forth road bridge used to be - ie never ending, I just go round, and round the garden. Clockwise weeding won't end until October, all being well.

There were some very frosty nights about 15th April, so I covered the tomato and cucumber plants in the greenhouse with bubble wrap, just in case. There was then a dry day, so I managed to get the grass cut, and continued potting up, pricking out. Another holiday at the end of the month beckoned, so I bought some runner beans - Enorma, Scarlet Emperor, and a stringless variey - to plant and leave to sprout when we went went away.

Monday, 16th April was forecast to be the driest day that week, so I finally managed to get the vegetable patch rotovated - see picture, and also have a look at how well the rhubarb seems to be doing. As I've said elsewhere, my rotovator was bought second hand. It used to be owned by my neighbour, Bill Fish. After he died, his son sold part of his garden and the rotovator to me - so it still turns over the same soil as it used to. A nice tale of continuity ! The rotovator is only used for less than two hours a year, but it's a Honda, and so long as I remember to switch on the petrol tap, and use the choke, it always starts without problem as if it had been used the previous day. I wished my lawnmower started as easily. Sometimes it does, but some days it takes a lot of effort to get it going.

I had bought 1.5 kg of a variety of grass seed suitable for shady areas, and on Thursday 19th reseeded various areas where the grass was a bit bare. I managed to do this in the gaps between the showers, and by the end of the day, the seeds had been well watered in. We then went down to Devon to visit the grand children, leaving the grass seed to grow without being disturbed. I usually get a friend to water the greenhouses when we are away, but for the first time ever, he forgot. It shows how wet and cold the weather was that everything survived a week without watering, but of course nothing was growing either. In fact, April was the wettest April since records began !

The last day of April was dry however - not only dry, but a lovely sunny day, and I got quite a lot done in the garden, cutting the grass, and puting up the runner bean canes.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

May, 2013

We got back from a visit to Devon on Saturday, 4th May. The grass needed cutting, the plants in the greenhouses were doing well, watered by my friend Dave in my absence, and the blossom was out on the cherry, plum, an pear trees.

The next few days had warm / hot weather for a change (surprisingly as Monday the 6th was a bank holiday), so it was a pleasure to be out in the garden with my shirt sleeves rolled up. The first job was to put up the runner bean canes, and then plant out the runner bean plants - 48 plants in all. The next job was to put up the netting over the vegetable plot, and then to plant out lettuce, cabbage and brussel sprout plants. I'd sprinkled some Growmore granules over the soil before planting out. The next job was to plant out some of the plants from the staging in the greenhouse, and then remove the staging to the back side garden, and leave a lot of the remaining seed trays standing on the relocated staging to harden up / continue growing.

The next day I planted a lot of the tomato plants in the compost border of the cleared greenhouse - 22 Ferline F1 blight resistant (hopefully) ones, and 5 Lenova blight resistant (fingers crossed) cherry tomatoes. I also planted 5 cucumber plants - 3 F1 and 2 Telegraph. Before doing this , I had put up cotton sheeting blinds over half of the roof of the greenhouse to shade the plants and prevent over heating / leaf damage. It's now a case of trying to keep the plants watered and fed, and leaving them to get on with growing.

I'd now more or less caught up with all that had to be done, so I painted a couple of garden benches and a table with wood preservative. I also got a chance to cut the grass, still on setting two - i.e. short, but not too short. The cut grass goes on to the compost heap to rot down as compost to put in the greenhouse borders next year - and so the cycle goes on.

On Sunday 12th, I tidied up the gooseberry and rhubarb patches, adding more fertiliser as I went round. I got it done just in time before the rain came on.

Next it was time to start going round the garden clockwise, weeding and staking up. I had to cut the grass again in the 17th. I also went into the farmer's field just behind out garden to do some weeding and strimming, getting rid of nettles and some very long grass.

On the next day, I continued with the clockwise weeding. I also picked our first fruit of the season - only 2 lbs 4 ozs of rhubarb, but it's a start. Sunday 19th was a lovely warm sunny day - a pleasure to be workintg in the garden with my sleeves rolled up. By the end of the 20th, I'd been all round the garden weeding, and so on to the next job - weeding the drive. It's a pebble drive that was laid without a black plastic liner, so the weeds keep coming up between the pebbles.

On Thursday 23rd I cut the grass again, then planted out into the borders various trays of plants that had been hardening off in the rear side garden - marigolds, cosmos, calendula, etc. The plants were all on the small side - it's been so cold, things haven't been growing. I had to stop when a sleet & hailstone shower arrived and sent me running for shelter.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

May, 2012

The damp and dismal weather of April continued into May - day after day of rain. But there were times between the showers when I managed to get out into the garden. By the 10th of the month I had put up nets over the vegetable patch, and planted out lettuce, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. The plants hadn't really grown as much as they should have in the greenhouse, but they were more or less ready to plant out.

Some of the flowering bedding plants were also just about big enough to plant out - the weekend of 12th, 13th May had the first dry, sunny days for ages, so I concentrated on planting out as many of the trays of bedding plants as I could. In all I had about 70 trays of assorted bedding plants, 45 tomato plants, and about 15 cucumber plants in the two greenhouses.

At least the grass was looking very green, with all the rain we had been having. I managed to get it cut again on one of the rare dry days. I'm not cutting it very short - notch 3 on the mower, where 1 is the shortest. Long grass should withstand the expected drought - we actually have a hosepipe ban - but with all the real rain as opposed to forecast drought the grass is growing so quickly that it really needs cutting more than once a week, and it's almost too long to cut between one dry day and the next dry opportunity.

By the end of the second week in May I had managed to plant out quite a few of the trays from the greenhouse - Asters, Sunflowers, Viola, Callenda, Nasturtium, etc, etc. Finally, Tuesday 22nd May saw the start of a dry, hot spell of weather - 70 degrees F, c 22 degrees C, so I had to put up shading in the bottom greenhouse, otherwise the plants would have got scorched. I cover half the roof by hanging cut up white linen sheets on the inside, and this provides just enough shading to allow the plants to grow safely.

Also on the 22nd of May, I planted out about 50 runner bean plants - I'll need to keep an eye on them until they get established. Unlike the sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and rasps, I can't easily protect them with nets. The predominant colour in the garden in May is blue - we have masses of cornflower that seem to grow almost as weeds. It's a lovely sight when they are out, but when the die, they leave quite a gap. The peonies are also in full bloom - masses of bright red heads, but sadly only for a few days before the wind gets them. It's quite a well established garden, and all sorts of plants re-appear each year, but I don't know their names. I miss my former neighbour Bill who could have told me.

On the 23rd of May we finished all the frozen fruit in the garage freezer, so unusually there is going to be a gap in fruit eating this year - we are only picking a few lbs of rhubarb just now, and the gooseberries won't be ready for a few weeks yet.

On May 28th I moved all the staging out of the bottom greenhouse, and relocated it to the bottom side garden, along with the remaining trays of bedding plants not yet planted out. I watered the compost on the greenhouse as much as I could, missing the use of a hosepipe. I disturbed a nest of field mice, which I also relocated, but only the baby mice were there - the mum had vanished. Perhaps they will survive, perhaps not - not much more I could do. I then planted 20 assorted tomato plants - all suposed to be blight resistant - and 3 cucumber plants into the wetted compost in the greenhouse borders, and fitted up support wires for each.

The picture is taken just before the end of the month, and is a contrast to the April view. It shows the planted out vegetables, the runner beans, and just a glimpse of the inside of the greenhouse. With a platform on top of it, the wheelbarrow functions as a water wagon - it supports 6 watering cans, but I have to be ever so careful when I move it if I don't want to spill the whole lot !

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

Jun, 2013

June 1st was the first day of Summer; the 2nd to the 4th were lovely warm sunny days, all spent in the garden with my sleeves rolled up - a pleasure to be out. I was kept quite busy, though, planting out lots and lots of seed trays from the table in the rear side garden, clearing the seeds trays from the small greenhouse to the now empty side garden table, then removing the staging, and planting 8 Harbinger tomato plants into part of the border of the small greenhouse.

I had also found time to cut the grass on the 3rd of June. It took a whole day (4th June) the cut the beech hedge beside the front drive. I have enough cardboard saved in the garage to place at the foot of the hedge, all the way down the drive which makes gathering up the clippings so much easier. Thankfully I've got an electrical hedge clipper - I'd hate to have to do it manually !

We had another picking of rhubarb on the 2nd. The rhubarb leaves are left to soak in water in two buckets in the greenhouse. I think it helps to prevent / minimise blight, but unfortunately, it's not a magic cure. Once rotted, the rhubarb mixture has a very strong rural smell.

The weather was mostly good between the 3rd and the 11th - sunny and warm, and I spent a fair bit of time in the garden. It was mostly a case of continuing to plant out the plants from the seed trays into the garden borders. I also had to start watering the garden, especially the runner beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts and lettuce patches.

As shown in the picture, there are quite a few small gooseberries on the new plants in the front side garden. The old bushes in the back garden have grown back again, but don't seem to have many gooseberries.

There is quite a good display of cornflower, and the azeleas are also in bloom - big, bright red heads.

The grass needed cutting again on the 11th. Also between the 3rd and the 11th I had done some restorative work to the small wooden greenhouse, patching rotted wood with mortar, or David's Isopon P40 glass fibre resin. On the 9th, I was able to apply an undercoat, and on the 10th I painted a top coat with Dulux Weathershield Brilliant White exterior gloss. So, all in all, I have been quite busy.

Our grandchildren, Chloe and Alice, visited on the 13th / 14th - so the garden swing was set up once again, and with quite good weather, a grand time was had by all, out in the garden. It's important to have some fun in the garden - not just work there all the time. There are a couple of rows of lettuce just about ready to pick.

We got back from a week in Devon on the 22nd, and so the 23rd saw me in the garden cutting the grass once again, weeding, picking 3 lbs of rhubarb, planting out another tray of runner beans, and generally topping up the growing areas with some more Growmore fertilizer.

The 27th and the 28th were also sleeves rolled up, warm days spent in the garden - re-staking the plants that had grown since the previous staking, doing more weeding, and some watering. On the 29th I picked the first gooseberries of the season, but only just - i.e. 2 ozs of windfalls. We are picking lettuce as and when required.

Sunday, 30th, the last day of June, was a scorching, hot day 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) - a day for sitting and relaxing in the garden with good company (i.e. Terry and Maddy, over from Brisbane, and staying with us for a while). It is now essential to keep the greenhouses well ventilated and watered. So far, everything seems to growing quite steadily, and even the cucumbers are perking up after a very slow start.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

June, 2012

The picture was taken at the very end of the month, and shows me trimming back the tree/ hedge border between our side garden and the adjacent coppice. Unfortunately I have taken the picture from a funny angle that doesn't show where the top of the hedge finishes, and the background trees start. If you look straight on, you can see a clear more or less level top, and then about six foot back, the tops of the trees further back in the coppice. The hedge is about 13 feet tall, and it needs to be trimmed back at least once a year. Mostly I weave overgrown branches back into the hedge, so that they can grow along the hedge, not out from it. Some branches do have to be cut back, though. Usually I do this job earlier in the year, but the rainy weather has delayed everything this year.

Well, that is us almost half way through the year, and we should be well into summer - Flaming June, they say - but still the cold, dismal rainy days continue. In fact June 2012 was the wettest since records began about 1910, and the second dullest ! One consolation I thought I had read in the paper, was that we had had so much rain that the local hose pipe ban would be lifted by the end of the month. Did I dream that ?

When I could get out into the garden, I carried on planting out some bedding plants. Our daughter, son-in- law, and the two girls visited for a week at the start of the month, and so I had two little helpers in the garden, Chloe (3) and Alice (2). I had got a garden swing for them to play on, but sadly they didn't get much use out of it - it rained most of the days they were here. But we did get out into the garden a couple of times - to feed the fish in the pond, and to water the greenhouses.

There is a funny story about Chloe (aged 3) helping me to water the greenhouse. I had gone to get another watering can of water, and returned to find that Chloe had strayed off the cental path in the greenhouse and was walking over the compost borders, amongst the tomato plants. So I explained to Chloe that she might hurt the plants, and would have to stay off the borders. She listened carefully, and then said that we would need to do sign. So back we went to the garage, where I cut out a piece of cardboard about the right size, and gave it to her with a felt marker to do said sign. Chloe concentrated hard (tongue out), and wrote some message on the cardboard. I then attached the cardboard to a wooden stake, and back we went to the greenhouse where we planted the sign on the border. We both stood back to admire the sign. "What does it say, Grandad ?" asked Chloe. "Keep off the borders", I replied. "Yes" agreed Chloe. I was amused that the person who had written the sign would ask what it said, but also wondered if she thought that she had actually written something, and wanted to know what she had written. Whatever, it was a good sign, and it did the trick !

Sunday, 10th June was dry and sunny, so I siezed the opportunity and cut the beech hedge that runs along the side of our drive. I have electric hedge clippers, without which I would struggle, but even with the clippers, it takes a good four hours. It's a very tall hedge, and even holding the clippers high in the air, above me, I have to stand on steps to reach the top. I also need a ladder to climb up to clip the top of the hedge. It's hard work, but it has to be done, and it's great when the work is finished, and I can have a cup of tea, and stand back and admire my handiwork. Click here for bit about cutting our Beech hedge.

Monday, 11th June was raining again, but I managed to get quite a bit done, working in the small greenhouse. I removed most of the staging, prepared the border, and planted nine assorted tomato plants, complete with supporting wires.

We were on holiday in Devon for a week towards the end of the month, and when we returned there were more rainy days that kept me out of the garden - but then, thank goodness, there was a short spell of hot, sunny weather starting on Monday, 25th June, and I got out into the garden, weeding, still planting out, cutting the grass, etc. And then at the very end of the month, I trimmed back the border at the edge of the side garden, as per paragraph one above.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

Jul, 2013

Summer finally arrived with a vengeance in early July - perhaps not the very first days, but from July 5th we had brilliant sunshine and temperatures hitting 25 degrees C ( 77 F) and above. So the garden, and the greenhouses needed regular watering. I started on the clockwise weeding of the borders, and by July 5th, I had covered all the left hand side of the back garden. I also started planting out as many of the plants on the table in the rear side garden as I could. Some had grown very tall and floppy - but I usually found a space for them all. The idea was to clear the table if possible by the 13th, when we were due to go to Devon once again.

But it's not all been work ! It was also time to sit there and enjoy the garden. We had been picking a lettuce every couple of days, and there were occasional pickings of rhubarb. Unfortunately I have just noticed that the cooking apple tree is bare of fruit and leaves - it seems to have died. The gooseberries look as if they will be ready for picking soon, and I had a first picking of rasps (10 ozs) on the 8th.

Still going round the garden clockwise, I reached and weeded the vegetable patch on the 9th. Some of the lettuces were starting to bolt, but there were still plenty ready for picking. I sprinkled a little Growmore on the vegetable patch, just to keep everything fertile. There were just a few patches of black fly on the runner beans - easily washed away with water and the fingers. I also cut off the bottom leaves from the Ferline tomatoes in the greenhouse to help air circulation. I have left the Lenova cherry tomatoes to grow wild in a third of the greenhouse. They are just a solid tangle of growth - it's going to be difficult to find and pick any red ones in that tangle. Still, I'll leave it to see what happens.

I put two spare cucumber plants into a big flower pot full of compost, and left them outside. I'll take them down to Devon at the end of the week as a gift for Chloe and Alice. All their previous cucumber plants had been eaten by snails.

It was time to cut the grass once again on the 10th. I also noticed that the James Grieve apple tree in the front side garden was leaning alarmingly, so off I went to Wickes to get a stake. They only had a small one, which I bought, but they didn't have any ties. So I had to go to B & Q, to get the ties - and they had a better stake which I also bought. So I got what I wanted in the end, and soon the tree was upright once again. It was now time to pick the gooseberries.

We got back from Devon on the 20th. It had been a scorching (30 degrees C) week, so the first job was to water the garden. At least the grass doesn't need cutting. Quite a bit of time is now spent in watering. I picked 2 lbs of rhubarb, 1 lb of black currents, and had a first mini picking (3 ozs) of runner beans. Delicious ! It was also time to remove some dead plants (e.g. cornflower) from the borders, and plant out the last of the plants from the side garden table.

The evening of 22nd/23rd July brought thunder storms and very heavy rain, which continued through the 23rd. This was just what the garden needed - the first rain in about two weeks. Between the showers on the 23rd, I turned over part of the compost heaps, removed more bottom leaves from the tomato plants, and planted out almost the last of the plants on the side garden table. Not many left now !

On the 26th July, I picked just under 1 lb of rasps, 1 lb of black currents, and 1 lb of runner beans. There are no red tomatoes yet. On the 28th I planted out a tray of runner beans in amongst the other runner beans - to extend their cropping season. On the 29th I picked 2 lbs of black currents, and half a pound of rasps. I also clipped the hedge / tree surrounding the garage side window, and made a start tidying / clipping the side garden hedge.

The pictures shows some Michlemass daisies in the back garden.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

July, 2012

This picture was taken at the end of the month. Its a very poor year for fruit, so I thought I would show some flowers for a change - after all it should be flaming July. This is the left back of the garden, and amongst other plants are sunflowers, calendra, hollyhocks, etc.

Yet, yet, yet again, the month opened wet and dismal, and not too warm. Apparently, the jet stream is still anchored to the South of the country, and we are living under a succession of weather depressions that bring us rain and more rain. It's been too wet for flying insects and pollinating bees to get out and about, and do their stuff, so I seem to have hardly any fruit on the trees. Mysteriously also, the goosberries that were growing quite well on the new gooseberry bushes have also disappeared. Did they drop off when I was away on holiday, or did the pigeons get them ?

We have been picking some rhubarb, and there were the first pickings of rasps, about the 1st of the month. It looks as if we will have a fair crop of rasps and black currants this year - fingers crossed.

The grass needs cutting, but the ground is too wet. Still at the start of the month, so far, so good with the tomatoes, cucumbers, and runner beans - but they should all be a bit further on than they are. The sun just hasn't been shining. We did manage to pick a few excellent lettuces before they started to go to seed. I had planted some more lettuce seeds in a tray in the greenhouse, but they are not up yet. So I bought a tray of 15 small plants for 1.50 on Bury St Edmunds market, and planted them in the vegetable plot on 3rd July to see what happens. We usually get a good first picking of lettuce, but somehow, and it can't be rocket science, I haven't managed to master succession planting.

On 15th July, we got back from a week in Devon with Jamie, Jacqui, and grandson Lachlan (1 year old) - all over from Sydney. Some good news at last. The hosepipe ban has been lifted, so I watered the greenhouse with a hose for the first time this year - so much easier than lugging 6 watering cans up and down the garden ! We also managed to get the grass cut again - it had fairly grown in a week of rain. I picked 2 lbs each of rasps and rhubarb,and 6 ozs of of blackcurrants. No gooseberries this year - wierd. And it's not looking at all promising for plums, apples, and greengages. What a year ! There are lots of weeds though - I will need to tackle them when its dry. I had put up a garden swing for the visiting grand children - hope they get the chance to us it.

On the 20th July I am going round the garden weeding, and moving the stakes on the plants higher up the canes. Its been a case of dodging the showers, but the forecast is for a few days of hot settled weather . Lets hope so.

Well, the good weather did come, and it lasted for about a week almost to the end of the month. The garden swing got well used - by Lachlan (1) over from Australia, and then later by Alice (2) and Chloe (3) who visited at the end of the month - their mum and dad had seats for the olympics, and stayed with us for a long weekend.

At the very end of the month, I started picking tomatoes - only a few ozs, but its a start. All in all, by month end, I had picked 10 lbs of rhubarb, 3 lbs of black currants, and 11 lbs of rasps.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

Aug, 2013

August 1st was a scorcher - over 30 degrees C. (86 F.) So watering the garden, and especially the two greenhouses is the priority. I picked 1 lb of runner beans, but there are no red tomatoes yet. At least some of the cucumbers look ready to pick - and on the 4th I did pick the first cucumber. I also picked 1 oz of cherry tomatoes. I seem to have no luck with cherries. I also picked 3 lbs of black currents, and a further two lbs of rhubarb. Its still mixed weather - mostly very hot, but with some heavy rain showers.

The forecast for the 5th was for heavy rain all afternoon, starting at 2 pm. I made a start weeding the drive, stopped for lunch, weeded some more, stopped for a cup of tea at 3 pm, out I went again, and I had almost weeded the whole drive when the heavy rain did appear at last at 4:30 pm. It was only 2.5 hours late - I joke, of course, I don't expect them to get the forecast correct to the nearest hour.

On the 6th I returned to clipping back the border hedge in the front side garden, and got out the big ladder. This is another job that is usually done earlier in the year. When I was up the ladder clipping the tops of the trees that make up the hedge, I looked down, and was saddened to find that after all the clipping I had exposed a bird's nest with two quite big chicks in it. I think they were pigeon, not a gardener's best friend, but I didn't wish the chicks any harm, and covered them up again as best I could. I hadn't expected to find chicks in a nest in August.

I had to cut the grass again on the 8th, and deadheading the flowers has now become a daily job.

I picked half a dozen plums on the 12th, but they are not really ready yet - and likewise the greengages. It looks as if they will be ready next week - but then we will be on holiday in Scotland. I did put some of the seeds I had been drying on the window sill, into labelled envelopes within an airtight biscuit tin. Hopefully, by next year, I will have a good selection of seeds for sowing in Spring.

I did pick some plums, Rivers and Victoria, on the 15th - and some greengages too. None were really ready for picking yet, but we are off to Scotland tomorrow, so needs must. I also picked some more cucumbers and tomatoes - hopefully there will be more ready for me when we return.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

August, 2012

The month opened with a mixture of rain and sunny spells. I managed to pick a little rhubarb, and some rasps, and blackcurrants. There were also a few tomatoes to pick, but not yet a picking of runner beans. By about the 6th of the month, I had picked about 3 plums only ! There are hardly any green ones on the plum trees. It's not looking at all promising.

I've been going round the garden in a clockwise direction, doing some weeding. I'm waiting for the grass to dry completely before cutting it - it does need cutting, but not desperately so.

I did empty the smaller compost heap into the larger one, turning everything in the process. Everything seems to be rotting down nicely.

The 9th August saw lovely warm weather - so I'm having to water the greenhouse every day. I picked the first of the runner beans, and 8 lbs of plums. There don't seem to be a lot of plums on the trees, so it's going to be a poor year for plums. I did manage to get the grass cut, however.

We had a quick week long break in Skegness in the middle of the month, and arrived back to the two hottest days of the year - scorching, bright sun, 30 degrees C. Sadly there were only a few ounces of tomatoes to pick as hardly any had ripened in the week that we were away. Also only picking a pound of runner beans was disappointing, to say the least. I did pick the first apples off the old apple tree in the middle of the back garden - just under 5 lbs. The apples tasted a bit dry - they are not fully ripe yet. I also picked a few lbs of Victorioa plums, but its obviously going to be a poor year for yields.

Ages ago - possibly 5 to 7 years ago - I had bought a rather nice brass sundial face from a bargain box in some shop - I think it was in Widdecombe. It only cost a couple of pounds - a real bargain. Anyway, ever since, I have been looking for a matching cheap pedestal to fix it to. At long last now, we found such a stone pedestal in a scouts' charity shop in Alford, Lincolnshire - it cost 5, another bargain. So the next job is to set up the sundial. The flat stone slab at the top of the pedestal needs to be cemented in place, and the sundial face attached to this slab.

On August 23rd I had returned to find a bit of blight on the tomatoes (even though the three tomato varieties I had grown were supposed to be blight resistant). Accordingly, I had ordered some Bordeaux Mixture on the internet - only 1.57 for 175 gm of mixture, but unfortunately 5 for post and packing. The mixture came very quickly - its a dry powder - and I mixed 35 gm of it with 1.5 litres of water, sprayed the tomatoes in the greenhouse, and crossed my fingers. There is not much more I can do, other than give up growing tomatoes. If the Bordeaux mixture works, I will try making it from copper sulphate and hydrated lime. Copper is obviously the active fungicide.

The month ended with me picking most of the apples from the old apple tree. If I stand on steps, stretch up as far as I can, and use my home made fruit picker, I can reach the very top of the tree. The picture shows my home made fruit picker balanced on the top of the steps. There are a lot of little apples at the base of the tree which I am leaving to see if they will grow some more. I have peeled some of the apples, sliced and cored them, and stored them in carrier bags in the garage freezer. There were quite a few hot weather days, but rain came back again at the end of the month. Grand daughters Chloe and Alice visited at the very end of the month, so the garden swing was set up once again.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

September, 2013

The picture shows the new boundary fence that replaced the old one, and was paid for by our new neighbours, Gerald and Kate. We were very willing to contribute to the cost, and offered several times to pay half, but they always refused. It was very generous of them.

We got back from two weeks in Scotland about tea time on Saturday, 31st August, so it was Sunday, 1st September before I ventured out into the garden again, to try to work out what to do first, after a lapse of two weeks.

Usually my friend Dave waters the greenhouses when we are on holiday, but this time he fell out of a tree half way through our holiday, and had to ask another friend to take over.

The first thing to do was to go round the garden, picking up the windfall apples from under the middle tree, peel and cut them up, and freeze them. Also a lot of flowers needed dead heading, saving lots of seeds for next year. The grass very definitely needed cutting, but that had to wait. I picked 4 lbs of tomatoes that had ripened in my absence, and a couple of cucumbers.

On the 3rd, I got out the big ladder, and picked just over 100 lbs of apples from the middle tree. These I stored in trays in the garage, after first sorting them into firsts (no blemishes), and seconds (slight blemishes). The seconds I will need to peel, cut up, and freeze as soon as I can.

It was forecast to rain on the 6th, so I made a point of finding time to cut the grass on the 5th. After that, it was a case of more of the same - pick some more apples from the middle tree using my fruit picker grab to get to the difficult to reach high up ones, deadhead the flowers, weed the drive, and cut up and freeze the stored apples (seconds).

Autumn came on the 12th September with the start of some rainy days, and noticeably cooler temperatures. I continued picking apples from the middle tree when it wasn't raining, or if it was raining, cutting up more apples for freezing. I also continued picking more apples and runner beans, deadheading, etc.

I picked most of the Cox apples on Tuesday, 17th September - 56 lbs. I left a few tiny apples on the tree hoping they might grow a little bigger. Someone came on the 17th to start to replace the boundary fence. I had some chicken wire fastened to the old fence to keep out the rabbits, so I thought I would try to save this. However I had done too good a job of part burying it in the ground ( to stop the rabbits burrowing under), and couldn't get most of the chicken wire up. So I'll just have to leave it there, and get on with things. The chap doing the new fence, Des, will have to yank out a couple of mini trees that are growing through the old fence. It rained in the afternoon, so I went indoors, but Des worked on.

I picked all the James Grieve apples (7 lbs) on the 19th, and all the apples from the tree at the foot of the garden on the 20th (55 lbs). We also picked some runner beans. I even found some time to peel and cut up more apples. The grass needs cutting again, but it will have to wait until after we get back from Devon.

We had a good week's holiday in Devon (no Dave to water the greenhouses so I asked the young lad Mathew next door ), and got back on Saturday, 28th. The 28th and 30th were nice days - sunny and warm. So I got the grass cut, picked 11 lbs of tomatoes, a cabbage and a cucumber, and deadheaded a lot of flowers, again saving the seeds for next year. Touch wood, we seem to have escaped blight on the tomatoes this year.

When the new fence was put up, the chap doing it removed a long length of chicken wire, but also left a fair length. So I tacked the remaining wire to the fence posts, and tied back the chicken wire flush to the fence, to leave it neat and tidy. I'll need to watch out for rabbits in the future, and possibly get some more chicken wire if I have to.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

September, 2012

The picture of a border at the rear of the garden was taken at the end of the month, and shows that Autumn is definitely in the air.

September started with ten days of glorious summer weather - very hot, with the temperature in the upper 70's (degrees F), or say about 25 degrees C, and quite dry. There was not that much to do in the garden, other than sit there and enjoy the bright sunshine.

I picked all the cooking apples from the tree in the side garden on 4th September, and then sat in the sun and peeled and diced them, and put them in plastic carrier bags into the garage chest freezer. There wasn't much of a yield this year, only 15 lbs, two thirds down on what we got last year. I did read that cider apples blossom later than eating apples, and so didn't suffer so much from lack of pollination earlier in the year. Unfortunately cooking apples must be like eating apples, not cider apples.

Grand daughters Chloe and Alice visited us at the start of the month, so they had great fun on the garden swing which I had set up once again. We also got a tricycle for 5 at a car boot sale in the local primary school - the same school their mummy and uncle Jamie had attended when they were little. Chloe and Alice were very interested to visit the school and have juice and cake in the school hall, which was open for catering at the car boot sale. The trike is for both girls to play on in the garden - but I guess its more Alice's size than Chloe's.

I'd picked most of the apples on the old tree in the middle of the garden in August, but I had left some very small ones on the lower branches to see if they might grow a little. They did seem slightly bigger at the beginning of September. The grass had stopped growing in the early September heat, but it was some time since I had cut it, so I gave it a trim on 7th September.

Hardly any of the tomatoes in the greenhouses have ripened yet, but should start to turn red soon, I hope.

We had a week in Devon in the middle of the month, and so, before we left for Devon, I treated the tomatoes in the main greenhouse with a second dose of Bordeaux Mixture. When I returned from Devon I picked 7 lbs of tomatoes, and hardly had to throw away any because of blight. The mixture seems to be working. All the picked tomatoes need to be thoroughly washed.

On 25th September, I picked all the Cox apples - all 2 lbs of them, and all the apples from the tree at the foot of the garden - all 4 lbs of them. To say I was disappointed at only getting 6 lbs from two trees is some understatement !

As the month end approaches, there is now a definite chill in the air, especially in the evenings. I have been going round the garden, dead heading the flowers, and retaining them to get the seeds. I dry the heads in plastic boxes on a bedroom windowsill. We have bush marigolds, calendula, cosmos, sun flowers, and several others whose names I don't know, all sitting there. I have also started to separate out the seeds and given them a final dry in pots sitting on the radiators - we have now started to switch on the central heating in late evening, early morning. The dry seeds are stored in labelled envelopes in a large tin until required next year. And so the cycle of the seasons continues.

At the very end of the month, on 30th September, I gave the grass another cut, and in so doing swept up a lot of leaves that have now started to fall. As there is quite a bit of moss back in the grass, I will need to give it an autumn treatment. I also picked a cabbage, some tomatoes, some runner beans, and a few rasps.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

October, 2013

Tuesday, 1st October was a fine sunny day, so I got out into the garden to start another round of clockwise weeding the borders, deadheading and tidying away those plants that had stopped flowering and started to wither away. There were then quite a few rainy days, but I got back out again on the 5th to continue the weeding, etc. The good weather persisted to the 8th, so I carried on weeding, sweeping away leaves, etc.

The 10th and the 11th were wet, and very windy, so I didn't really venture out into the garden other than to put up the garden swing on the Friday afternoon in readiness for Chloe and Alice's visit that weekend. I put the swing under the Bay tree to give it some shelter - it sort of worked but not when the rain got very heavy, and was blown sideways by the wind. Still we picked some more tomatoes, and Chloe picked quite a few Wintergem apples - say a couple of baskets. She and Alice went home on the Sunday with a large carrier bag of the apples she had picked. Well done Chloe and Alice !

The weather forecast for Monday the 14th was rain from 13:00 hours, and they got it right. But I managed out in the morning to pick the rest of the Wintergem apples that Chloe had started picking, and I also picked a couple of pounds of tomatoes, also left over from the girls' picking. The next day was dry, however, so I had a day of sweeping up leaves.

Thursday 17th was a lovely day, dry and warm. I spent the morning watching a couple of water board workers dig a very deep (1.1 metres) hole in the front drive to get to a leaking water supply pipe. The water was bubbling up to the surface. Luckily we had insurance cover. I phoned them at 08:10 and by 10:45 they had been, done a good job, and left. Great service from Homeserve. Part of the drive is very soggy - I'll need to leave it to dry, and get a load of pebbles delivered to re-pebble the drive.

We will be off to Australia soon, so I picked the rest of the tomatoes, and left the green ones in a big tray in the bedroom - hoping most would ripen before we were off.

Next came a prolonged period of bad weather - very mild, but very wet. I only got out into the garden for an hour or two, here and there. I picked the pears - 7 lbs from a newish tree - on the 21st, and 3 lbs of Cox apples - the very small ones I had left on the tree to see if they might grow (they did a little). More deadheading, leaf picking up, hose putting away, etc, as the garden starts to wind down. I also tidied away the spent tomato and cucumber plants from the bottom greenhouse, took down the support wires, removed the shading blinds, etc.

By the end of the 23rd, the bottom greenhouse had been completely cleared, the borders dug over to remove any remaining roots, and the inside sprayed with a mixture of bleach, Dettol disinfectant, and Fairy Liquid washing up liquid. I had also removed the old tomato plants from the small greenhouse, and taken down their supportt wires, etc.

The 24th, like to 23rd, a was a dry day, so I siezed the opportunity and got the grass cut - possibly for the last time this year. It was very difficult to get the lawnmower started - then it kept cutting out, and the engine had no power. I managed to cut all the grass somehow. Hopefully my friend Dave will be better by next year, and able to repair the lawnmover, or to sell me another second hand one.

On Friday the 25th I cut down all the runner bean plants, and took down their support canes - leaving the canes in the dry greeenhouse until required again next year. But we've got the winter to get through first !

Weather forecasts had been warning of the biggest storm since 1987 for days in advance. It hit the South of England very early in the morning on Monday 28th October - gale force, hurricane strength even, winds, and lashing rain. I feared for the big pine tree to the front and left of the house, but it was still standing in the morning, so I thought that we had mostly escaped he worst. I got the newspaper, had a cup of tea then went out into the garden to pick up twigs, I thought. Big mistake ! Two thirds of the old Victoria plum tree had fallen down - two very thick trunks and all their branches. See the photo. The old Rivers plum tree had sustained similar damage. I also lost a tree from the side rear garden, and part of the hedge between the front side garden and the main road. I tidied up at the front as best as I could, bending branches over to try to fill the gap in the hedge. I'll need to leave chopping up the fallen plum trees until we get back from Australia. Our electric had gone off, and stayed off for hours, but luckily it did come back on just before we left for Sydney.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

October, 2012

The photo is from the end of the month, and shows a typical autumnal chore - sweeping up the leaves. Usually I can do this with the lawn mower when I cut the grass, but the lawn doesn't really need cutting, and is quite wet. So it's a case of going back to the old faithful lawn rake. At least this also gets out a little bit of moss.

The month opened with me doing a bit of weeding. The rhubarb seems to have stopped cropping, so I weeded the rhubarb patch, removing lots of moss. I wonder if I am overwatering - which might explain low yields. It took quite a while to weed as I had to be very careful not to damage any rhubarb roots.

It was a long time since I had weeded round the rasps in the side garden, so I gave that a go too. I also continued pruning the apple trees - particularly the old apple tree, doing as many branches as I could reeach.

On the 7th of October, and aware that it was a terrible year for fruit, I noticed a lot of windfall apples in my neighbours garden, and with his permission, picked up 35 lbs of them, and started the long job of peeling, slicing, and freezing them. The freezer in the garage is only two thirds full - normally it would be full of fruit, as would a few shelves of the kitchen freezer.

On the 12th October, I picked 6 lbs of ripe tomatoes, and then picked the rest of the tomatoes, although they were still green. All in all, we have ended up with 81 lbs of tomatoes - a lot better than expected when blight was noticed ! We are off to Aberdeen in a week's time, so hopefully they will ripen sufficiently for me to freeze them to save for making tomato soup throughout the year. Any green ones will do for green apple chutney. That night on the TV weather forecast, ground frost was forecast for the SE of England, so I guesss I would have had to pick the tomatoes anyway, for safety. On the 14th October I cut down all the tomato plants in the greenhouse, filling up and more, the brown recycling bin. I don't put old diseased plants on my home compost heap - its not worth the risk of spreading disease into the next year. I then took down the wire supports, and put them away for another year.

I picked some cucumbers from the greenhouse, and have left the plants to see what happens. Next month if there is time, I will remove the old cucumber plants, clean out the greenhouses, and give them a spray with Jeyes Fluid and perhaps Bordeaux Mixture / Fungicide. I am still picking flower heads for seeds - I always have lots more than I can possibly use.

On the 17th October, I put away the garden hose for another year. I picked some rasps - sadly only 2 ozs - and a cucumber. On the 18th I picked possibly the last two cucumbers before setting off for two weeks in Aberdeen.

All in all, a quietish month in the garden and I didn't get round to treating the lawn for moss.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

November, 2012

The garden won't see too much of me in November this year. I got back from Aberdeen on the 3rd of November, and then left for Australia on the 10th of November (my birthday), so that is only a week. Sunday, 4th was very wet, so I stayed indoors. I did manage a little in the garden on Monday, feeding the fish, and sweeping up some of the leaves that covered the garden.

There were only two or three apples on the Wintergem tree beside the rhubarb patch at the foot of the garden before went on holiday to Aberdeen. I'd left them hoping they would still be there when I returned - big mistake, they had fallen and were too badly rotted to use even as windfalls. Last year this newish tree was the top yielder, and I had high hopes for future years. What a sad change in fortune.

The 8th November was a nice sunny day, so I was out in the garden sweeping up leaves again. On the 9th I also got out, and finished sweeping up the leaves. Now all three compost heaps are reasonably full. I cut down the remains of the cucumber plants in the greenhouse, and took down their wire supports. So both greenhouses are empty. I hope to spray them next month to clean away / kill any bugs and leave until the better weather returns. I also cut down the runner beans, leaving some big pods in the garage to dry, and so get some beans for next year.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

December, 2013

We got back from a holiday in Sydney on December 4th, just a little jet lagged, so it wasn't until December 6th that I got out and into the garden. It was dry, and cold but not freezing. Most of the day was spent in raking up leaves, but I also managed to make a start to clearing up some of the damage caused by the storm at the end of October. By the end of the 8th December, most of this damage had been cleared up and the whole job was finished by the end of the following day. I had mostly used a trusty heavy duty lopper to cut away and cut up side branches, leaving a stack of thicker wood to cut up later for firewood. I had also used the bow saw on the thicker wood - choosing this rather than my chain saw as it was easier to squeeze the saw into tight spaces. But I did get the chain saw out to cut up some very thick branches into logs for the Chrisrtmas front room fire. I'll leave these thick logs to dry in the garage - hopefully they will be dry by Christmas.

There was sort of mixed weather up to the 13th, so only the odd venture out into the garden to clear up some withered and dead plants in the borders. It was the same for the next week too - short spells in the garden clearing up the borders.

On the 19th and 20th December, I got out and round to tidying up the October storm damage to the hedge at the front of the garden hedge - the hedge between the side garden and the main road at the front of the house. A couple of trees in the hedge had blown down, sideways, parallel to the main road, but with their branches sticking out. I used the bow saw once again to cut back the dead wood to the line of the hedge. I left quite a big tree leaning sideways, but propped up by the tall pine tree at the corner of the garden. I am not sure what I should do about this. I guess I'll just wait and see - it doesn't seem to be blocking anything.

December, 24th, Christmas Eve, a bit wet, but not tooo wet to venture out to do a good picking of Brussel Sprouts - home grown sprouts are a family tradition at Christmas ( and of course, along with all the trimmings too).

It's been a wet, damp, month, but very mild throughout.

And now I think I'll give month by month in a garden a little rest - but I may return to it later.

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

December, 2012

I got back from Australia on Wednesday, 19th December, too zonked out with jet lag to do any gardening. But the next day was dry, so I made a start to going around the garden, clearing away all the dead flowers and plants from the borders - and taking care to scatter any seeds still remaining on the plants, over the borders. Hopefully some will grow again next year, and so the cycle repeats itself.

I'd to skip some days before Christmas to do some Christmas shopping, plus there has been been a lot of rain, with widespread flooding throughout the country, and the road to our local in Allens Green was closed, due to flooding - so we couldn't get to The Queen's Head one night. I think the year ended as the 2nd wettest year since records began, all the more surprising as the year had started with drought and a hose pipe ban ! But there was one consolation. I read in the papers that even if it is dry next year, the reservoirs and underground storage tabes are full, and we are unlikely to get hose pipe bans in 2013. Let's hope so. Every cloud....

I did find one other day before Christmas to get out into the garden to continue clearing away all the dead plants. The garden is very soggy indeed ! I did manage to take down the runner bean canes, and put them in a dry greenhouse for the winter. I also had two good pickings of Brussel Sprouts - one for general use, and one for the Christmas table. I have got nice round, hard balls of sprouts this year. The ones I picked were a good size, but I noticed that a lot left on the stalks were quite small - maybe the soil needs a bit of fertiliser to replace the nutrients washed out by all this rain. Or maybe, it's just been too cold for all of the sprouts to grow to full size.

I've still got some cabbages and sprouts growing, but that is about all. It's a very quiet time of the year in the garden. I have still to clean / fumigate the greenhouse and leave it over winter. This will need to keep for January next year. There is also a lot of moss in the grass that will need to be removed when everything is a bit drier. I will treat it again with moss killer when the grass starts to grow again.

And so concludes a very wet and disappointing year in the garden - a year to be remembered for all the cold and wet, and the very poor fruit yields. But there is always next year !

There are links to other garden photos at the foot of the page.

Links to home page and other garden photos :

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        Garden in June/01 Garden in July/01 Garden in August/01 Garden in September/01
        Garden in October/01 Garden in November/01 Garden in December/01 Garden in January/02
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        Garden in June/02 Garden in July/02 Garden in August/02 Garden in Sep/02