This is a pepper

We filled some of those raised beds a bit tight at the beginning of lockdown and it’s starting to look a bit like a jungle in some of them now. Perhaps it wasn’t the correct way of using them what with all the plants fighting for space, soil and water. In the raised bed (below) we’ve two tomato plants and a load of peas at the back, a lettuce and two cabbages in the middle row and in the front row either two chilli peppers or more than likely two peppers PLUS some spuds. Can we put anything else in there? Talk about square metre gardening!

With raised beds they do tend to dry out easily so we’re forever giving them a water during the morning. The great Joe Maiden would say never water at night as the slugs and snails would be attracted to the moisture and suggested always early in the day is best for watering and we’ve also started giving the raised beds a comfrey feed once a week too.

The peppers or chillies or whatever they are, are flowering (top and bottom pics) and there’s some mini-fruits too! We love those raised beds!

About the weather (in June)

Weatherwise it hasn’t been the best week this week but tonight looks like it may be taking a turn for the better as we had a little bit of warmth and even a hint of the sun an hour ago. It was nice to be out there.

The raised beds (below) have been doing great, there’s all sorts of stuff in them, spuds, carrots, beetroot, cabbages, tomatoes and even peppers. Talk about square metre gardening and sticking in as much as possible! They’ve come on a long way since that first week of lockdown when the local shop had the 3 spuds per person rule that made us think that we must obtain some seed spuds and any packs of seeds we could get our hands on.Now we’re off the furlough we’re only spending the lunchhour and after work gardening and much of the big work was done when we were off. Once you get a good headstart on yourself, gardening gets a lot easier but it’s getting that start. We managed to keep the bed on the right hand side (below) a lot tidier than usual and even stuck in some tomatoes, cabbages and spuds amongst the flowers. The comfrey we use daily, pulling off massive handfuls to stick in the compost heap and for putting in holes before we transplant something. That keeps the comfrey under control as it can swamp everything if it gets its way!

Something we forgot to do on most of the tomatoes was to pinch out the sideshoots of the variety we have, so the plant can put all it’s goodness into the trusses on the main stem. We’ve been through all of the plants now and there was only one that had two stems but that doesn’t matter, we’ll keep it as “an tomato experiment”. More on sideshooting tomatoes here.

And talk about best laid plans and all that, this bed below was supposedly going to be rested this year and was going to be full of the Thompson and Morgan wildflower seed mix. Well we sowed them at the back with the borage and we’ll see what happens. Can we now have the sun back please? It is June.

And here’s a wonderful piece of music to welcome the sun back when it does finally return from the great Blundetto called Paseo. Tune!

A mountain garden from across the pond

You know we love seeing other people’s gardens and a friend of ours Thomas sent in some great pictures of his space atop a mountain in western North Carolina, USA and we love it!

His vegetable beds are at an early stage of growth he told us but they still look impressive, we love those logs! “We’re still not beyond our last frost date, so the veggie garden is still very young. Indeed, we even had a few snow flakes last night.” Being up in the mountains the garden is 2-3 weeks behind the valley below.

He said “Keep your expectations low, this is basic gardening”, wow keep them low, how can we do that with all that lovely scenery! Thomas mentioned “We go for what I call a “National Park” look. The sort of landscaping we find here at national/state parks: basic, using natural materials, and almost exclusively native plants.” 

Thomas’s space puts us in mind of Zdenko Franjic (DJ Zdena)‘s garden in Zagreb, Croatia another lovely spot which we covered a few years ago (more on Zdenko‘s garden here.)

Thomas also included a photo of his wood shed (above) “I’ve been spending an incredible amount of time this year sawing down trees and splitting wood. What’s in the shed is a fraction of it. Kind of back-breaking, but somehow satisfying at the end of a day.” What a lovely looking wood shed. We live in a place called Forest Hill but sadly there’s no wood-chopping done around these parts but if there were, we’d want a wood shed like that.

“We have made a few paths through the woods around our house this year, too. We do so not only to have more hiking trails, but it also makes it easier to see our flowering plants like Trilliums.” Thanks a million Thomas for sharing your inspiring outdoor space, it don’t half look magical!
We’re always up for seeing other people’s gardens, plants on windowsills or balcony spaces so please send us your pics and we’ll gladly post them up on Weeds.

Can’t wait, won’t wait, will try

Patience, that’s what you need when it comes to this gardening lark. Sadly we haven’t got any.

This week we took the dahlia tubers straight out from under the stairs (where they’ve been hibernating since late autumn) and into the ground even though there’s still a chance of frost. We also left a couple of them in the garden from last season as we couldn’t be bothered to dig them out. Why do we do these things when we know we shouldn’t?

We have got protection for them and the other plants that don’t do well when it comes to frosts though. There’s the seed potatoes under the black membrane that was used under the decking and lots of DIY plastic/wood contraptions (don’t throw out your jam jars!) over vegetable seedlings that are germinating so it ain’t that bad.

All the gardening books tell you to be aware of late frosts, they also tell you that runner beans seeds don’t like sitting in cold soils and “for god’s sake don’t put out your tomato plants out early as they’ll suffer if it gets cold” but we still do it (we’ve a couple of tomato seedlings in the ground at the moment we’re ashamed to say.) It goes like this, we see a period of lovely sunshine so the hoe is taken out from its winter hiding place and then it’s all systems go after that. We don’t think this lockdown has helped in holding back either.

Talking of lockdowns, there’s a new gardening-related game developing here. At least once a week on our (very) regular visits to the compost heap a gloved hand will be thrust into the mass of rotting vegetables, old ripped up leccy bills and single tea bags to “feel the heat”. That’s not normal behaviour is it? Early signs of “lockdown lunacy” perhaps?

A quick lockdown gardening progress report

The seed spuds we put under the upside down terrarium and the small plastic cloche we found in the street are now starting to show (and look at that celery!) and so are the parsnips, cabbages and carrots (below). As long as we keep them under cover until the risk of frost is over we should be okay! Those Blue Peter style mini-coldframes made with some plastic sheeting tacked onto some old wooden palettes are working well!

And that lovely red nasturtium from the Thompson & Morgan seed trials has returned, we don’t know if it self-seeded or if it ever went away, it’s great in any case!

Do we still have to put our bins out during lockdown?

The last couple of days have been cold but a few quick trips down the garden have been in order for a nice bit of sanity from a self-isolating worldview. A big shout to our good friend Nancy B who a short while back, suggested we get a Clematis Montana for the back fence. It’s now woken up and is starting to show a few flowers. The plant will be getting some of that comfrey feed when it’s ready!

Thanks to Thompson & Morgan (and Shannon’s and all the other plant and seed sellers of the world who are working flat out keeping gardeners supplied!) for sending us an order which included some Peas (Jumbo) and Lettuce (Little Gem) that have gone in one of our “Blue Peter” style, cut-price budget cold frames.

Earlier this year we mentioned we were going the “rest” the back bed and fill it with some wild flower mix. That idea’s gone out of the window now as we stuck in a row of peas behind the spuds we put in the other week. Best laid plans and all that!

But the question on everyone’s lips here is something we heard a passer-by the other day say into his mobile whilst on his daily exercise regime “Do we still have to put our bins out during lockdown?”

What did YOU do in your lunchtime during the great corona virus?

In 60 minutes how much gardening can you really do especially when you got to wolf down some tuna pasta first and then wash the bowl?

We managed to tack some clear plastic sheeting onto the top of the two empty palettes that were sitting around waiting for compost which have now gone on top of the raised beds. We also put in two more spuds and brought out into the sunlight the seed trays that have some cabbages, tomatoes and peppers in them in an attempt to “harden them off”. Talk about the genre called “speed gardening”!

Where will three spuds get you?

It all started the other Saturday afternoon, we were in a shop in Forest Hill at the end of queue of people scrambling to buy some fresh fruit and veg. The woman in front of us was knocked back as she was trying to buy more than the regulation “Three potatoes per person” as stated on the hastily written felt-tipped sign on the wall. A thought came into our heads, what’s it going to be like in the next few months when it comes to buying fruit & veg? Will there be enough to go around and if so will they be affordable?

Apart from some onions and garlic which are overwintering, some packs of seeds left over from last year plus some from a recent ebay purchase we decided to see what else we could get, so another trip to Shannon’s was in order. We want to give a big shout to everyone there for their help, they’ve been great! When we were there they were well busy with everyone having the same idea as us to get seeds and plants in before the lockdown. They still had a good bit of stock left, so we bought a couple of big bags of compost, a large bag of seed spuds and a couple of packets of cut and come again lettuce. We know it’s early in the season and yes we’re taking a chance with the frost but the weeks will fly by and it’ll be summer before you know it, so we’ve started sowing now.

We’re working from home at the moment so we can now spend an extra hour daily (1-2pm) in the garden. As you can’t go out to get anything (and most places where you could are closed anyway) we’re utilising what we have stored away like the palettes we were given years ago now in use as raised beds and plastic cloches, window frames and the upside down terrarium thrown out for the binmen as frost protection. The latest thing is a roll of black material that was bought to put down before our decking was laid. It’s now in use as some sort of weed suppressant, frost protector come soil warmer for the early seed spuds that we put in. All we did was weigh it down with stones on top of the soil and cut an X in the material with an old bread knife and popped the spuds in. We put some soil on top of the hole that the spud will eventually grow through as extra protection. It’s a case of whatever we got, we’re going to use!

And it’s only been a month that we sowed those cut and come again lettuces we got free with the Kitchen Garden Magazine (post here) on the back windowsill and they’re well on the way to start eating! The tomatoes and pepper seedlings are growing too. The sooner you sow the sooner they’ll be ready to eat but remember to protect against those frosts!

Gardening on a DIY tip, yet again

We had a brainwave this morning, “What if we tacked some left over plastic from a delivery over the top of those palettes we were given a few years ago that were sitting in the corner crying out to be filled with compost and made into raised beds?” we said to ourselves. We’ve now got some carrots, cabbage and parsnips in a micro-DIY-greenhouse thing. Who said you need much money to do that gardening lark?

And now the sun’s out, here’s a wonderful tune from Rahat called Djembe on Via del Sol records to cheer us all up and it’s a grower!

Wanderin’ DJ Zdena lost in the garden

Zdenko_3A big shout to Zdenko Franjic (DJ Zdena) from Zagreb, Croatia for kindly sending us these pics of his great garden/orchard. Zdenko runs the Croatian alternative rock/blues/punk/indie label Slušaj Najglasnije! (Listen Loudest!) and distributes all sorts of books, comics and fanzines too.Zdenko_2Zdenko_1A few words from Zdenko: “My mamma left me a garden with an orchard. Then I met Nina (Varga) and we now spent our weekends there. We’re beginners in gardening but we’ve started to plant and now they’re growing. 

If that garden was good enough for my mamma, it’s good enough for us…”Zdenko_4Zdenko_5We just want to say here at weeds it’s a fine garden/orchard and best of luck with it as it looks like a special space! There’s some nice raised beds there too!Zdenko_6More on the massive output of the Listen Loudest label here and here. Ta to Zdenko for words and the Clarence Reid tune and Nina Varga for the pics.Zdenko_7Thanks also to Zdenko for his mix of Madtone‘s Dark Dread off The Sound Robbers From Outer Space CD from 2007.