Monday, 30 April 2012

A small post with a progress update

This is just a quick update with some pictures and things about the progress I am seeing:

We are seeing the start of the second leaves from the tomato plants (pictured) and the remaining chili plants. Two of them have now died sadly :(

The apple tree is looking awesome now!

I also went round and weeded every bed; it took me about 45 mins in total to do it in detail with bare hands and by the end of it I had a very small volume of weeds, but now I know there are none of the little blighters waiting to take over the space and crowd out my crops.

Finally, I counted my potato plants and I have 17 plants coming through in the main bed,and five growing in the old car tire. Pretty excited by that.

I have planted some mint in a plant pot too, so we will see what happens with that over the next few days.

And I have been recommended to try and grow some sweetcorn so that will be my next crop to work out (thanks @andyfereday67 for the recommends)


I do also want to thank everyone who reads this blog, and invite you all to comment and discuss and advise and criticise in any way you think would help me - I really am a beginner at this so all advice gratefully received.

What I am growing (plus a cracking link - facebook)

So I decided to do a quick plan of our back garden showing where things are growing at this stage (obviously this will become out of date relatively quickly so, yeah...)

I can't really dig up any more of the grass else my girlfriend will shout at me (and the landlord may have a comment to make too...)

Not included in this (yet) are the chillis, tomatoes, mint, peppers and mushrooms that I am cultivating inside.

Also a useful idea I picked up off a friend's facebook (sadly I can't find the link but credit where it is due for this) is this:
I am going to make one myself later today and I will update this post with a picture of the result (and whether it works or not!)

Also this idea is a particularly cracking one, and one I will definitely try next year (I have whisky cabinets to build this year so that will take all my wood working skills up for the time being) is this:

Again credit where it is due and I have a link this time: which is on the facebook page along with a load of other cool ideas (though I really do think this one is the best) so get along there if you want.

Finally, a little technical tip picked up from a book that the almost-inlaws gave me for my birthday. If you are trying to do a compost heap, turn it regularly. I have not been doing this and when I tried to the other day it proved VERY difficult, especially as I have one of those plastic bin things with limited access and sharp edges (which shredded my hands while I was trying to fork the forking thing over)...

So there you are, top hot tip of the day.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Scraping the pond

My landlord has asked me to clear the pond weed from the pond in the front garden.

The lesson to be learned from this experience is; do NOT get a pond unless you want a lot of time spent in soul destroying work getting rid of this horrible scum.

First off though, it is pretty obvious that the ducks have been back again :)

(it'll be slightly sad when the scum is gone and I won't be able to see evidence of their visits any more)

So the process of cleaning the pond is to get a fish net and sweep it carefully across the surface (these weeds do not have long roots and just float on the surface of the water). Following is a set of three action shot style :)

Don't you love my wellies :)

One of the biggest challenges I had was the fact I was picking up LOADS of water snails and couldn't avoid them at all... if anyone has any hints / tips as to how to avoid killing off all the wildlife during this process please leave a comment..

After about 2 hours I got bored and went inside to relax however I have just got back from a weekend walking in the lakes and I must have made some difference because the pond is looking a LOT clearer:
This could, of course, have been caused by the high winds and rain here right now...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The ducks are back (and my herbs are rampant)

Two blogs in two days!!

Am I going MAD, I hear your cry...

Well no. I had no plans to write another blog post but last night, as I was heading to bed, I glanced up and saw the two ducks, which I thought had disappeared for the duration, were happily swimming around our pond.

Out the camera came and I managed to capture the following photographs.

This was the sight I saw out the window; the pond needs clearing (a task for a non-windy day) but the ducks were happily swimming around.

They then hopped out and started eating weeds and paddling in the little pools around the wild area (where my blackberries will be growing later in the year)

I then went upstairs to get a better picture but they had left however, as you can see from this photograph of the pond, they had happily swum around the whole thing a couple of times. I'm now tempted to leave the weed and check every day to see if they come back (the landlord may not like that as he's asked if I'll scrape it off for him).

In a hopeful mood I went round to the back, thinking they may have gone to grub there (I have been seeing duck shit in the garden a couple of times) but while they weren't there, the sun was glinting on the lovely pink blossom on my tree. It is a good thing I took the picture because today the storm has come in again and a lot of that blossom is currently spread over the grass.

Finally for the pictures, I have been SO impressed by how the herbs are coming on, particularly the Parsley. It is like a mini tree right now:

Onto other, more technical, matters. I have brought the chillis inside again as the weather really isn't right for them and they were looking a little sad when I got back from work; these are now in the window next to my multiple tomato seedlings :)

I am also going to do a couple of more technical blogs in the next couple of days, describing how I have gone about this so far, and highlighting any mistakes I have made (and there are a few).

Thanks for reading, and please do get involved with any questions, or advice. All gratefully received.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The potatoes are finally showing, plus other progress

Well the last few days I have been in Prague on a stag do so have had to leave my seedlings in the care of my girlfriend.

While I was going around looking like this:

My tomato plants were doing this:

I have over 50 seedlings that have started growing in there! I have no idea what I'm going to do if they all grow into full sized plants... I'm not sure my garden is big enough.

Anyway, I split them up into seed trays (ran out of trays and potting compost so this will have to be finished tomorrow when I have more trays and compost) as shown below:

In the next couple of weeks I will have to rehouse them again into bigger pots. 50 bigger pots.

Anyway, the rest of the garden has been going great guns :) and last up there is a very exciting piece of news (which you'll already know if you've read the post title)

The herb garden. The parsley and the chives are exploding!

The apple tree, with blossoms finally open.

Close up of the apple blossoms. Stunning!

The recovered chillis.Only one seedling has died! outstanding result

The Stuttgarter Giant Onions; a few additional plants have started coming up since the last update so it looks like we have a success here too

Karmen Red Onions.

Red Sun Shallots

Casablanca Garlic

And now for the big surprise, the best news of the day so far!!!!!.........

Potatoes showing some green in the old car tyre planter.

Close up of a potato in the vegetable bed.

Not many have come through, but you can see about 4 or 5 sprouting if you look REALLY closely.

So, growing successfully now we have:

Tomatoes, Chillis, 2 types of Onion, Shallots, Garlic, an apple tree and FINALLY Potatoes!  Still to show green are Parsnips and Carrots and still to be planted; Cabbage and Mushrooms.

Now I'm going to go and recover from that stag do....

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Storm Disaster!

There was a storm last night, high winds and rain such that it woke us up howling through the windows and, as I lay there I thought "I wonder if the greenhouse is ok; nah it'll be fine I have it tight up against the house" so I stayed in my warm bed...

... what a bad mistake!

This is what I came down to this morning!!

This was taken at 6am this morning and I was out in my shorts in the pissing rain and howling wind! Talk about gutted.

The planter with the seedlings in had landed upside down and exploded soil EVERYWHERE! While I wanted to dive straight in and save what I could, work called (the perils of being a part time homesteader you see).

Thankfully I spent the day working out a solution (which is better than I would have achieved half naked, freezing and soaked to the skin at 6am) so we now have...

I have firmly pegged the base down onto the grass with alternating directionality on the pegs. Hopefully this will be proof against the winds of the Irish sea...

I have saved ten seedlings, though a couple are looking a little battered and unhappy; fingers crossed the recover fully.

The firmly pegged down greenhouse, more in the sun than the previous location, and also hopefully less auto-mobile.

What a shock it was this morning, think I've calmed down now.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Drunken gardening

So I went out last night for a few drinks and was told that there was going to be a heavy frost over night.

Obviously the major thing I was thinking about was "my apple blossom!!" so when I got home at about 12.30am I went straight into the garden and did this:

Yes. A black bin bag and some gaffa tape.

The lesson to learn here is; don't go into your garden after multiple beers.

Oh and of course there was no frost anyway :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Sowing parsnips and carrots, plus other progress AND a frog!

It was real April weather today; one minute absolutely baking hot and the next pissing down rain.  This is probably THE most "april"ish I've ever experienced.

It did settle down into the early evening though so I was able to get out into the garden and do some planting and other things.

This is a long update so I'll get onto it now.

First of all, huge HUGE thanks to my parents for buying me a lovely mini greenhouse (another is on it's way I hope) which I assembled:

Isn't that a beautiful little greenhouse.

The chillis are finally showing so I've moved them into little planters and put them in the greenhouse

Beautiful apple blossom :) i'm SO excited by this!

A little frog that appeared hopping over the garden - it's the brown blur bottom right if you can't spot it ;)

There he is. Hopping across the prepared ground for the carrots. He made his way into the bushes at the back of the garden and disappeared. I love nature :)

The dividing line between the parsnips (left) and the carrots (right) is the two halves of my broken spade... awesome.

Here be PARSNIPS! Each stick is set to delineate a row of seeds

Your very proud host in the process of planting the carrots; here I am selecting a stick to use as a place marker for a row of seeds.

Bradato Kopele (that'd be me then) digging a trench for the seeds.

Sowing the seeds - I'm REALLY doing the splits here - it's a wide part of the bed!

Trench completed, here I'm picking up small pinches of seed to scatter

In this shot you can see the TINY seeds that I'm scattering.

Finally covering the seeds over with about 15mm of soil.

The finished bed with carrots closest and the parsnip in the distance.

Each row is about 15-20 cm apart and contains about 30 seeds across the length.

I have also planted some tomatoes into a propagator but there is NOTHING to show you so I'll not bore you with a picture of soil in small compartments.

There is still NOTHING from the potatoes - I'm checking every day.

Oh yes, and the other evening after work I managed to get 40 mins in the garden post work and did all the weeding around the herb garden, apple tree and the veg patches with onions, garlic and shallots. Everything appears to be growing very well. I am VERY excited.