We noticed last weekend that the first pods of peas looked ready for eating. You can’t make much of a meal from a couple of pods of peas, of course, so we ate the first one fresh off the plant, cracked open with my thumb and shared out in the garden.
The plants have all coped reasonably well with the past week’s bad weather. The potatoes, though, have been left rather rain-battered with a few stalks snapped off; and the garlic is looking a bit windblown. Hopefully none of this will affect what is under the ground.
It rained all last weekend; and since planting up the runner beans on Tuesday the rain has been essentially continuous. So I’m getting somewhat behind with the gardening, and getting more and more depressed about the state of the place. Gardening has been limited to poking the camera lens through the kitchen door, which is an angle I don’t normally try. The curly parsley decided, when the weather was hot over Easter, that it was time to bolt into flower. So far its flowers have not yet come out: maybe the rain has made it regret its decision.
From that angle, the garden looks rather lush. It doesn’t feel that way when you’re standing in the middle of it. Moreover, the wet weather has prompted the local slugs and snails to mount a full-on attack of chewing. The garlic and fennel are too strongly-flavoured, but the runner beans and lettuces have survived a major hit, some of the pea plants are just hanging on, and a tray of coriander seedlings was completely destroyed, not a leaf left. Last night I went out twice, armed with scissors, and killed about eight slugs and five snails, stabbing the snails thoroughly and snipping the slugs in half. Well, it’s better for the rest of the garden than poison, and it definitely kills them before they can eat any more.
The runner bean seedlings, having reached several inches in height, have gone into the ground. I’m quietly pleased with them. Despite what I said at the time, I wasn’t entirely sure how well the seeds we had saved from the last few bean plants would turn out, as some of them didn’t look to be in wonderful condition. Nevertheless, all of the runner beans we have sowed so far seem to have germinated happily; the green bean success rate is about 60%, which isn’t too bad either.
Last night, when the runner beans were planted out, was positively balmy. I woke up to a rainstorm, and had to rescue the next batch of pea seedlings from complete drowning. Still, at least the beans will have been watered in well.
This isn’t our garden. But it is a Christmas garden. K’s parents’ house, three years ago today, in deep snow.
Merry Christmas, and a happy garden Yuletide!
The frost has really started to come in in the past week. I’m learning which parts of the garden are hit by it the hardest: the sheltered area between shed and house stays frost-free the longest, and the other side of the shed, where the bee house is, also seems to stay fairly sheltered. The middle of the garden, and the prime planting area, get hit the hardest, although so far this winter the perennial plants seem to be largely bearing up. Fingers crossed.
After I planted the garlic, three weeks ago, there were a few small cloves left over from the bulb. Today, I planted those up in the containers that, this year, we grew carrots in. The carrots – more of that free BBC seed – did not really grow very well, possibly because the containers are a little small. We will see how the garlic does: we’re starting, in these containers, with the least-viable-looking cloves already, so there won’t really be any scientific conclusions we can draw from it.
The three-weeks-planted garlic hasn’t appeared above the surface yet. K says I’m being silly, looking regularly, because at this time of year it won’t break the surface for months. But, still, I keep looking to see if sprouts have appeared.
In the news the other day: the ongoing drought is, well, ongoing; it will take an awful lot of rain just to get our aquifiers back to where they normally are by the end of winter.
Over in Bristol things aren’t as bad as they are further east: we have more rainfall over here than the rest of the country, or at least it always feels that way. Still, it makes me feel guilty about container gardening. It does need more water: containers are always drying out, and don’t catch as much rain as you might expect, especially in a sheltered garden with walls and fences on all sides. Our back bed, when we get it into use, will assuredly be always slightly too damp: it already tends to have a green scum quickly appearing on the surface of the soil, as if it were still in the Proterozoic eon.
What we should be doing, of course, is getting a butt set up. Indeed, if you scroll down or look back at the layout of our garden, you’ll see that we have a couple of potential butt-sites mapped out. One, by the door, would take up quite a bit of our main container-planting space. The other, in a corner between the shed and the house, would be a useful way to occupy an awkward spot; but the problem is getting the water to it. The former site is right by the downpipe, but the more useful site is a long way from the water supply. A pipe would have to be run across the back of the house – right across where the kitchen window is. The gutters are too low, really, to run a pipe across the top of the window, and a pipe underneath it would mean a rather short water butt.
The whole thing is a bit of a tricky problem. I know, conscientiously, we should be saving at least a portion of our rainwater, but finding the place to save it in is going to be a problem. Maybe we’re going to have to think of another way to do it, and work out a more radical answer.
Since the last “week in the garden” post, we have:
- Harvested the first green beans
And, because we went away for a long weekend, that was about it. The garden didn’t take too kindly to us going away, either. Or, rather, it didn’t take too kindly to the weather: the combination of dry, hot days without us there for watering, followed by heavy rain, has not had good results. The spring onions have suffered in particular, and the runner beans have also had problems.
Back in the mists of time – well, August – before this blog had properly started, we sowed a few boxes of quick-growing things to give us some more produce into the autumn. As I mentioned then, I tried an experiment. All of the seeds were sowed into previously-used compost; and for each seed, I sowed one box into compost that had been used to grow peas, and one box into compost that hadn’t. It’s three-and-a-half weeks later now, and the results are pretty clear, at least for the radishes.
The pea compost is, I’m fairly sure, the one on the right. Science!
Not very much has been happening in the garden in the past couple of weeks. Although everything is still productive, now the peas have gone it feels as if things have started winding down for the winter already. Having said that, the beans are still going strong; we’re picking a good handful of runner beans every few days, with plenty more blossom coming, and the first green beans are nearly ready to pick. The sweet peas planted under the green beans are going well, too, some of them almost as high as the beans themselves.
Maybe part of the winding-down feel comes from the weather: lots of rain, with some very heavy downpours, which have broken a few stems. It’s also delayed our ongoing project to dig out the back bed, which we really wanted to have finished by now.