Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sowing For Success

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I have started to pick my purple sprouting broccoli and it's delicious. From the moment it's picked to the moment it's on my plate, is a matter of minutes and you can't get fresher than that!

I spent yesterday sowing seeds galore, with the sun shining down on my back, it felt wonderful.  I sowed sweetcorn, butternut squash, climbing green beans and climbing purple beans, in modules. I am going to grow these vegetables using the Three Sisters Method.  This method was used by Native Americans. The Iroquois women of the tribe were the gardeners. They planted these three crops together which grew in perfect harmony with each other. The corn was planted and the beans used the sweetcorn for support and also fixed nitrogen in the soil. The squash scrambled over the ground suppressing the weeds and retaining moisture. What a perfect relationship. (Source: taken from Carol Kleins Grow Your Own Veg). I haven't forgotten flowers, which are not only pretty to look at, in the garden and in the house but also they encourage beneficial insects into the garden to help with pollination and pests. I sowed five different varieties of sunflowers, calendula and mallope, again all in modules, which hopefully will give them a flying start. I did chance sowing some seeds straight into the ground. Some parsnips and a row of carrots which I will sow more of, over the next few months. As the parsnips take an age to show, I scattered some cornflower seeds in between the rows for a pretty summer display and some more cut flowers for the vase.

I am watching episodes of Carol Kleins Grow Your Own Veg, which has just been aired by the Good Food Channel. I have been gardening for over 20 years but I am still very new to vegetable growing and this series is so informative and enjoyable to watch. I have learnt so much plus the background music is supplied by two of my prog rock favourites, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Genesis (The Peter Gabriel years). If you missed her programme, then I can thoroughly recommend her book which accompanied the series and for authenticity, how about listening to some prog rock whilst reading it. I often listen to Plant Rock radio station, whilst gardening. The plants seem to enjoy it and if the neighbours children are out bouncing on their trampoline, it helps to drown out their squawking!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A weekend of two halves

I have had a weekend of two halves. Well all work and no play, makes Louise a dull girl!
Saturday I spent painting the summer house a lovely shade of Wild Thyme and today has been spent eating yummy Purbeck ice-cream, drinking cider and getting sand between my toes, properly for the first time this year.

                                                                                          Sandbanks Dorset

The lovely sunny weather we have had this week, has really got the garden springing into action. The colours of the plants and flowers, this time of year seem to be very vibrant. It might simply be the fact that they are the first flora to visually stimulate the senses after the drab darkness of winter has departed.

                                                                                      Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)


We have had two episodes of the Edible Garden with Alys Fowler and I am loving it! The way the programme has been filmed including little animations, really makes the programme a treat to watch, as well as being informative and inspiring to those who are new to vegetable gardening. And I definitely  felt her pain, when she spoke about losing tomatoes to the dreaded blight. I am hoping that my little seedlings of blight resistant Legend will restore my faith in growing tomatoes again.
I feel we are on the verge of a growing revolution and I am very excited by it. It really gives you a sense of achievement, working with nature to produce some delicious vegetables and fruit for the kitchen table.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Yummy Broccoli on the way - at last!

It's amazing how different a bit of sunshine makes you feel. I spent Friday morning on Bournemouth beach, taking photographs for an invitation, to entice people down to Bournemouth, as if you need any encouragement, it really is a lovely place to live, especially when the sun shines!

                                                                                    Bournemouth Rocks!

Busy, busy, busy in the garden. Potting on the tomatoes, sowing more tomatoes, this time Legend, which claims to be blight resistant. Sowing lettuces in a trough. All cut and come again and positioned quite close to the kitchen, which will make it much easier for harvesting, rather than being at the end of the garden, as in previous years.
Andy has been doing manly tasks in the garden; welding his axe and chopping down a hedge to make way for the new greenhouse. The bottom of the garden looks like a bit of a bomb site at the moment but I guess you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Luckily my gravel garden, at the beginning of the garden is starting to burst into life. My favourite Geranium, Anne Folkard, has the most vivid acid green leaves and once it bursts into bloom, it stays all summer long, spreading about the border.

                                                                                    Geranium Anne Folkard

The buds of my Peony look so beautiful and strange, emerging out of the stones.


Dobbies garden centre are following me on Twitter and I reciprocated which was very advantageous because they sent me a direct message to say if I have any garden questions to DM them. I have mentioned before that my purple sprouting broccoli has been puzzling me, as it hadn't flowered and I was starting to think that I had done something wrong and was just about to pull it up, when I thought I would ask Dobbies why it hadn't flowered yet. They messaged me back, assuring me to hold tight, as the broccoli takes a year to flower. Well I am so glad I took their advice, as lo and behold, my first flowers are beginning to appear.

Lots of yummy broccoli on the way. I love Dobbies, it's like having your own personal gardening guru at the end of your fingertips!

I received a lovely email this week from the NGS. I am very happy to say that I now officially represent the NGS as a garden photographer. The National Garden Scheme is such a wonderful organisation, with amazing amounts of money raised for charity that  I feel so proud to be associated with them. Follow the link to find gardens near you which are open for the NGS, or pick up a free brochure from your local library or garden centre which has details of gardens open in your county. It's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Happy Easter

The weather has been so mixed this Easter break. Pouring rain on Friday and Saturday, so no gardening but thankfully sunshine on Sunday, so a whole day was spent outside. The main job of the day was clearing the fruit bed, in preparation of the greenhouse foundations. I have moved my strawberries and raspberries into another bed and as I have run out of room for my strawberries, I am going to buy another couple of bags designed for strawberries. Raspberries and strawberries are so prolific. I bought the plants a couple of years ago and they have multiplied beyond belief. I have raspberry suckers coming up all over the place!

Gardeners' World was an hour long this week. It was quite a treat having that extra half an hour. I enjoyed it with the obligatory glass of red. A nice full stop to the end of the week.
Lovely Alys Fowler, from GW, has her own program this week called The Edible Garden. In this 6 part series, she will be growing fruit and veg in her back garden, to avoid buying from the shops. I am really looking forward to watching it. I like her style of gardening, her thriftiness (Geoff H would approve I'm sure) and as growing veg used to be the mans domain, it's nice to see a a strong (personality not brute force) and young, female, championing 'grow your own' - can't wait!


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