Saturday, 28 May 2016

May harvests

The garden is starting to really take off. More of the overwintered onions have filled out and a few are starting to produce seed heads.

The peas and the mange tout are now producing pods. Most of the plants are at the back of the portable grow beds next to the kitchen and bathroom extension. Many of them started out earlier this year as providers of pea shoots on the kitchen window sill (see but are now doing very well outside as normal pea plants.

The lettuces around the base of the fig tree are doing well but are perhaps a little too close together. I should thin them out a bit more.

And while we are on the subject of thinning out, I have pulled up some of the garlic that I have been growing from bulbils. I allowed a couple of my garlic plants to produce flowers and bulbils and planted them in pots to see if and how many would grow.

It seems that almost all of them have produced young garlic plants with the result that the pots are overcrowded. So I am pulling up a few and using both the small bulbs and the young leaves in cooking and salads. They are now in their second year.

The sprouting broccoli and kales are going to seed. I generally let them get on with it as the flowers encourage insects. They self sow around the garden so all I have to do is transplant or remove any surplus new plants. I usually put them in pots and eventually offer them as plant swaps. 

Containers in zone 1

This is part of the area next to the kitchen/bathroom extension, which is south facing. The path running alongside it is all concrete so everything has to be in containers.

In the tub is a Brown Turkey fig with lettuces around the base. There are potatoes in a pot and a potato bag; parsley, rosemary and thyme in pots; and peas, tomatoes, onions and swiss chard are growing in a Marshalls Gro-Bed.

On the right hand side water is diverted from the drain pipe into two water butts. The water comes from the roof of the back of the house and the kitchen/bathroom extension so there is a substantial amount of runoff. I am thinking of adding extra storage capacity to capture more as I do use a lot of water on the containers in dry weather.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


Our cauliflowers are pathetic. Last year we had a bumper crop - some of them 4 pounders - but this year they are barely showing their heads.The cabbages, however, are more than making up for them and are going berserk. In the same bed are a few onions and a couple of last year's beetroot that we missed and which are now going to seed. 

A bit of lemon balm seems to have sneaked in at the middle of the lower end of the bed. It is going to have to come out simply because it will take over completely if left to its own devices. We have more than enough of the stuff elsewhere in the garden and there is only so much lemon balm tea I can drink.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


I am letting the poppies grow while the veg seedlings catch up in their pots. The poppies look pretty, they cheer me up, the insects like them and they provide ground cover. I think those are enough functions in permaculture terms to justify letting them do their own thing for the time being!

They are in zone 2 in the tiny strip of ground next to the ancient garden shed. We have a grape vine - now in its third year - growing up against the shed and doing very well. The ramsons to the right of the poppies are spreading but have almost finished this year. The "walking" Egyptian onions to the left  - their second year in this location - are contemplating walking, and there are some peas behind the yellow poppies. The pots are hosting a variety of veg seedlings that will be planted out around the garden.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Horseradish flowering

I have been growing horseradish for several years but this is the first year I have noticed it flowering. They are not spectacular and do not appear to have any culinary merit. It is said, though, that they may attract insect pollinators so many people recommend that they are left. Others say that they should be cut off to prevent unwanted reseeding but I have also read that they produce little, if any, viable seed.

I am going to take a chance and leave the flowers. The plants are in a large potato bag to try and contain their spread but I have noticed a couple of roots breaking out of the bottom, so flowers and reseeding are the least of my worries. Neverthless, I shall have to keep a watch for both the roots migrating across the garden and potential new plants establishing themselves from seed. I love horseradish but I don't want it taking over the whole garden.

Slug and snail obstacle course

I am a member of a photography group called Challenge Friday. Each week we are given a theme and challenged to take up to three photos on that theme. This week it was "obstacle".

I was checking how the peas were doing and, in view of the extremely wet weather forecast, I put down some crushed eggshells around the plants to deter the slugs and snails. I then realised I had created a mollusc obstacle course that, so far,  very few of the critters have managed to overcome. Long may it last. And it did provide me with the first of the photos for this week's challenge.