Monday 23 January 2012

Top crops and flop crops

 This morning as I walked around the garden, I looked at my flowers and crops and realised it hasn't been the best season for a lot of things. It's been a cool and windy summer which, coupled with water restrictions, has been stressful for a lot of plants.

My biggest flops so far have been:
:: Tomatoes. Blossom end rot has struck in both the glasshouse and outside. I was expecting this to happen since I just haven't been able to water well and consistently, but it's still frustrating! The cool temperatures have meant they are also slow to ripen.
:: Rainbow carrots. I've had a low strike rate on all the ones I sowed. The few I've harvested were lovely though!
:: Outdoor chillis and peppers. Slow to grow and set fruit.
:: Leeks. I transplanted a punnet out a couple of weeks ago so they will have time to fatten up for winter. Some are ok but most of the smallest ones shrivelled in the hot sun. Guess I'll be buying a punnet after all to bulk up the stores!
:: Apple trees. Most of the trees (I have 4) decided to give themselves the year off by not setting fruit. The 2 that did then dropped most of it.
:: Blueberries. Again, not much fruit set, then the little that was set got eaten by birds.
:: Hollyhocks. I had 3 different kinds of seed to sow, and not one came up in spring! I'm trying again for autumn.

 So, boo to the weather and the birds and the capriciousness of nature. Fortunately some things have been doing really well, including:

:: Brown Berry and Green Grape cherry tomatoes. These are in the glasshouse where it's warm, and haven't sustained any blossom end rot. They are also ripening quickly. Yay cherry tomatoes! 
:: Spring onions. They are growing reliably well, what else can you ask for?
:: Strawberries. Also reliable. Also sweet and delicious.
:: Boysenberries. Doing good for their first year in production.
:: Dwarf lavender. The tray of seeds I sowed is loving life in the glasshouse. (I'm going to use these to edge the potager.)
:: The beans are all growing well and looking lush. I'm enjoying the green wall made by the runner beans.

One benefit of this cool season is that I haven't seen any caterpillars around, so that's definitely a plus!

 The flower gardens are filling out, and I'm making the most of it, spending a lot of time just walking round looking at things. It's nice to just be in the garden.

These are my water storage bins, tucked in beside my homemade rustic bench. (Please ignore the crack in the wall... it's only from where our house has sunk a bit! EQC should have it fixed within the next decade!)

 Due to damage sustained in the earthquakes to pipes and drains, and the water reservoirs, we have been on water restrictions since October. Sprinklers and unattended hoses are banned, and you are only allowed to hand water your garden from the tap on certain days. So for those days when I can't use the tap, I have these bins. We keep a bucket in the shower to fill up while the water warms, and I also use that cut down milk bottle you see there to hold under the pipes in the drain and scoop up washing machine rinse water. Yep, you bet that's a tedious job, and there really are a milllion other things I'd rather be doing. But one rinse cycle fills a bin about three quarters, so it's worth doing it. Then it's easy just to dunk my watering can in to fill it. Quicker than filling it from the tap actually! Still. I'm looking forward to the day that sprinkler comes back out.

Sunday 15 January 2012

January flowers

 Flowers and arrangements from January.

 A special shout out to two of my new roses - Sexy Rexy (left) and Queen Elizabeth (right). Finally they have put their hearts into blooming! I sniffed them both and sadly couldn't detect much of a scent. The flowers are gorgeous though.

What is your favourite rose for fragrance?

 In the back yard, I've been chipping away at the grass to make the curved bed. It's taking ages now because the ground is so hard. I also had to remove the sleepers which were edging the beds, and those things are h.e.a.v.y.  But I need to keep going because I have a growing collection of pot-bound plants which need a place to go! The bed is edged with salvaged bricks from my friend's chimney.

 This is the bed next to the patio. Petunias and godetia are going mad in this bed - pretty much stealing the show! (The blue daisy wind spinner in the background was a Christmas present, and it's been getting a good workout with our persistant winds this summer!)

Here is what I created with the salvaged sleepers - a bench seat. It's tucked around the side of the house - you can see it in the photo above. I just stacked the sleepers on some concrete blocks. Rustic right?

This is a nice little nook because it's sheltered from the easterly, and has a bit of shade till about 1pm. I'd like to get a table and some more chairs and an umbrella, and have a nice little eating area set up. Ideally I'd like a patio with french doors leading inside, but that will be far in the future if at all... we don't even know when the earthquake damage will be repaired yet. In the meantime I'm doing the best I can with what's on site, and I'm quite pleased with my recycling effort here.

(Linking up to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens)

Friday 13 January 2012


 The potager is in full on production mode right now. Here is my harvest basket from January 1st... rhubarb, baby rainbow carrots, spring onions, cabbage and Heather potatoes. In the glasshouse I've got strawberries and cucumbers. A few days late (as in, too late for Christmas) the boysenberries began to mature, so I've been making lots of desserts... crumble, clafoutis, and the good old berries and ice cream.

Yesterday I picked the first ripe tomato from the glasshouse. According to my garden diary from last season, the first tomato was December 19. Nearly a month later this year - shows what a different season we have had. It was a Brown Berry cherry tomato - small but delicious! I carved it into wafer thin slices so I could enjoy it in a sandwich - and even though the serving was small the homegrown taste was amazing. 

Life is good when you can just walk outside and gather the ingredients for your meal.

 The garlic was ready for harvest last weekend. I pulled it up and spread it on the grass to dry in the sun. Later I'll plait it. I had planted 3 shallot bulbs as well. One died, but the other two multiplied into four bulbs each. So I'll save four of those for replanting, and probably about 6 garlic cloves.

I had a punnet of leeks ready and waiting to fill the empty space in the potager. Leeks are one of my favourite winter veges so I need lots of them growing. And I'm going to sow one more batch of seeds to plant just for their flowers - the tall stems with the elegant pointed globe at the top are a great focal point!

 Here is the potager in the midafternoon sun. I cut the chives back because they were getting a bit manky, and they've grown back all fresh and lush. They had a bit of an infestation of black bugs, but a quick spray with flyspray took care of that.

The rosemary in the four central beds is filling out. Each bed was meant to have a row of rainbow carrots around the curved edge, but the strike rate with those was extremely patchy. A shame, since they are such fun to harvest. At the back left, you can see the borlotti beans are doing well. They're covered in pretty pink flowers.

How is your vege garden doing?

Tuesday 3 January 2012


 I've been on holiday for the past week and a half and I've been LOVING IT. The weather hasn't been very summery and the aftershocks have been rolling through the night, but despite that I've managed to take it easy and relax as much as possible. A go-away holiday is great fun, but best of all I like to stay at home and enjoy my house and my garden.

I barely made a dint in my to-do list, but I've:

:: dug up ground for a new flower garden
:: dragged the wooden sleeper edging from the old garden, 
and used it to create a bench seat in the sun
:: planted out the new bit of garden
:: cleared and planted the front garden
:: worked in the potager
:: visited the garden centre
:: spent time with friends and family
:: helped a friend set up a new garden
:: read books and magazines
:: watched episodes of my favourite tv shows
:: worked on crochet and embroidery
:: tidied the house, in a leisurely way
:: arranged vignettes on windowsills
:: sat in the sun
:: sat in the shade
:: hugged my cat

I wish I could stay on holiday forever, but it's back to the grind tomorrow. How are you enjoying your summer/winter break?

Sunday 1 January 2012

Flowers throughout the year

Here's a selection of my Flowers Monthly post pictures. I only started doing this series in April, but it's interesting to see how things change as the seasons progress.

Happy new year everyone! xxx

 April 2011

May 2011

 June 2011

July 2011

 August 2011

September 2011

 October 2011

 November 2011
December 2011


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