Monday, 1 August 2016

Rooko's August Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. If you have any veggies which have become overripe and unusable they may be prone to infestation by insects etc or become diseased, remove them from the vicinity of your other crops as soon as possible.

2. Add a couple of tablespoonsful of Epsom salts to your watering cans when watering plants to keep the magnesium & sulphate levels up.

3. Sow green manures into any areas of vacant ground that need nutritional improvement.

4. Keep hoeing around those still growing crops to keep weeds at bay, otherwise they will compete with your veggies for water & nutrients.

5. I very rarely thin out my carrots, take care not to damage their leaves/roots if you do, or the smell from damage/breakages may attract the dreaded carrot flies.

6. Don't forget to pinch out the growing tips from your runner beans and pick the beans regularly to promote more to grow.

7. Think about "companion planting" for next season maybe, if you have had any problems with diseases/insect damage/infestations this year.

8. August can easily be the warmest month of the year so don't skimp on watering your crops. Watering early mornings or late evenings to ensure less evaporation of the water. A good soaking around crops is better than frequent light sprinklings of water.

9. Watch out for signs of late blight on tomatoes/potato plants. Remove any infected plants and burn or bag and bin them, don't add them to a compost heap.

1. Sow the following this month: Spring Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce (Winter hardy), Spring Onions, Radish, Spinach and Turnips.
2. Plant out Savoys, Cauliflowers and Kale.
1.  Keep weeding & hoeing.
2. If you are storing potatoes for later use, ensure any damaged ones are used, not stored.
3. Pinch out side shoots on tomatoes, leaving 4 or 5 trusses on each plant in general.
4. Turn your compost heap and spray with water if it is very dry.
5. Compost & manure heaps are attractive places for wasps to build their nests, so be wary when disturbing the heaps.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Too Long

Well here goes with my first blog post since April. No excuses for not blogging really, except for the fact that  if I was being paid for the gardening and D.I.Y. work over the past twelve months I'd be able to retire and live off the interest from the payments. Come to think of it, I am retired, well there's a surprise.

Since moving house, last October I have made infrequent visits to my plot. Due to the naff weather early this year and most of my gardening efforts being carried out in my back garden, down my plot the majority of the sowing/planting was late and not as prolific as previous years. The only crops I have growing this year are, garden peas, carrots, lettuce, runner beans, french climbing beans, onions and cucumbers. The peas should be ready for picking this coming week. The French climbing beans still need supports putting in place for them to cling to and are nowhere near maturity. The mixed lettuce has already been harvested several times so far this year but will be going to seed soon, hopefully I will have the time to sow more this coming week. Due to the very hot dry/muggy conditions here for many weeks now, the cucumbers are developing slowly but the plants themselves are still in good condition. I would describe the past few months' weather as definitely sub-tropical without the accompanying downpours of rain. Runner beans are below par this year with my onions looking pretty good so far. The 2 rows of carrots sown on No 2 bed have about a month or so to go before they are fully developed. As for the already established crops, rhubarb has been excellent, currants and gooseberries are prolific and tasty. Asparagus was also good and very early this season. My fruit trees and grape vines have produced no fruit this year, possibly due to the fact that they were pruned back late last year. My strawberry patches produced some good specimens over a 2 month period in May & June.

Kickboards Added To The Central Walkway Flower Border (right) Planted Out
As for the work on my back garden taking priority, the finished product is just about starting to come together. One of the 3 lawns has had most of the weeds and oodles of moss removed from it. Although the grass looks patchy where the moss used to be, some re-seeding should improve things. 2 more lawns will be de-weeded and re-seeded at a later date. Concrete edging has been added to most of the borders and path edges. Work has started on re-laying the old concrete slabs of the patio running the length of the bungalow. 3 weeks were taken up removing a shrub and its roots from underneath 20 foot by 20 foot of these slabs at the west end of the patio recently. I don't know the name of the shrub, (should have checked) but digging out the roots during muggy weather down to a depth of 2 foot, then re-filling the hole won't be attempted again, especially considering the slabs are the "old fashioned" 2 inch thick concrete type, rather than the lightweight more modern ones. Not to mention the oodles of builders rubble which was removed from under this part of the patio Paths have been constructed all around the perimeter of the garden, across the centre under the wooden walkway and centrally from the walkway to the back fence, past the recently constructed compost bin and log store. The pathways have been finished with 20mm blue welsh slate. 2 grapevines were planted some time ago adjacent to the 2 walkway supports at the eastern end of the garden. One of the vines already has already produced 3 bunches of grapes. The old garden bench and seats I was using down my plots have been cleaned, re-sanded, given several coats of fresh paint and positioned at various locations around the garden paths. Kickboards have now been added to the base of the walkway support posts to keep back various border soil and all the woodwork around the fences and walkway have had protective plastic/polythene tacked to them where they come into contact with any soil. Sieved soil, compost and horse manure mixed together has been added to the flower bed between the central stone wall (running east to west) and walkway, and a variety of flowers and shrubs planted out, along its length. 3 "main" jobs are now left to attempt or complete. Work on creating my vegetable bed began a couple of days ago in the "top right hand" western end of the garden. Concrete "half" slabs are being sunk into the ground around the edges of the bed which is currently overgrown with mainly grass. This area of the garden has so far been used as a dumping ground for soil, turf and rocks removed from other parts of the garden. Once the half slabs are in place a picket fence will be constructed from old pallets and attached to the outside of the slabs, hopefully keeping out any marauding animals. Once the area has been cleared of turf, rocks and other debris it will have compost or manure added to it, which will then be rotavated in. The final major project will be to dig out and construct a 4 metre by 3 metre fishpond adjacent to the patio, opposite the kitchen window.

1 of 2 Grapevines Planted At The Eastern End of The Central Walkway

A Start Being Made Adding The Half Concrete Slabs To The Perimeter Of The Veggie Bed (right)

Cutting Some Concrete Slabs To Size

Compost Bin Constructed With Log Store Behind It

The Offending Shrub

Digging Out Some Troublesome Shrub Roots From Under The Old Patio & Flower Border

Clearing Out The Proposed Veggie Patch
Where The Fishpond Will Be Located

There's Always Tomorrow!!!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

At Last

I was spurred into some gardening action down my plot the weekend before Easter, when the sunshine finaly made it through the clouds for approximately 3 and a half days. The soil on 1, 2 and the L-shaped beds was too wet and sticky to work but I managed to get a few minor tasks completed. First was the compost heap which was turned and tidied up again, followed by 2 years old compost being spread across the surface of No 2 bed on (N1 Plot). A start was made, weeding the flower bed, underneath the fruit trees situated on the drainage ditch bank at the lower end of N1 Plot, removing several strawberry plants a the same time. 3 large bags were filled with bluebell plants, lifted from this bed, which have since been re-planted into one of the flower borders, around the base of a recently planted buddleia tree, to the front of my bungalow. The strawberry plants were re-planted in their new, recently prepared bed in my back garden. So far this season, mainly due to regular overnight frosts, I have not bothered to do any planting or sowing to date.

No 2 Bed 19 March 16
No 2 Bed Rotavated But Still Too Sticky For Sowing/Planting 19 March 2016

No 1 Bed 19 March 2016
No 1 Bed Dry & Just Needs Forking Over Before Sowing Takes Place 19 March 2016

Gooseberry Bushes No2 Bed Starting to "Green Up" 19 March 201
 By the end of the week and over Easter weekend the torrential rain, high winds and hail returned so there was little chance of any further gardening. My plot has taken second place to my garden, for several months now, with any breaks in the weather allowing me to re-design the back and front gardens at home, salvaging what I could, after they had unfortunately been neglected for many years. The main idea with the very large back garden is to add various paths and walkways which will eventually cut down on the amount of ground which has to be cultivated. The neglected borders will be re-vitalised and more plants and shrubs added. 2 areas of neglected lawn also need a lot of attention especially the removal of masses of moss at present embedded in them, so much so it's like walking across very thick sponges. The third area of lawn will eventually be turned into a vegetable patch. The final job after the patio is re-laid will be to build a fish pond opposite the kitchen window.

Walkway Installed Across Centre Of Back Garden Splitting Area In Half 19 March 2016
Walkway From Eastern Side Of Garden 19 March 2016
Pathways Being Constructed Around The Garden Perimeters Using Welsh Slate With Weed Suppressing Fabric Underneath It 19 March 2016
Western End of Walkway A Fish Pond Will Be Built In Front of The Banked Up Soil 19 March 2016
Remember "Dolly Tubs" I Had to Use One Every Week. They Make Good Planters 19 March 2016

Another warm sunny day today and with no rain since Easter Monday I decided to spuddle off down to my plot early this morning to do some rotavating, wondering if my rotavator would start after the long Winter lay off. After checking the oil and adding some fuel, the old machine roared into life at the second attempt to start it, not bad I thought, after being stored outside, with only a canvas cover to protect it from the weather all winter. 45 minutes later No 2 bed was well turned over and although the soil was rather damp it was drying out quickly in the warm sunlight. Can't beat the old machines, not a bad hours work for a 50 years old rotavator.

After tidying up and trimming a couple of grass edgings around No 1 bed I headed off home for a cuppa.

There's Always Tomorrow If The Ominously Changing Climatic Conditions Allow!!!  

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Rooko's April Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. Clear away spent flower heads from spring flowering bulbs such as hyacinth & daffs. Don't cut away or discard the foliage as it will replace the bulbs energy for its next flowering.

2. If the weather in your area has been dry enough lately and your soil is not wet and heavy, now is the time for some rotavating/digging, adding compost/manure as required to the soil.

3. Air temperatures are still relatively unpredictable in my neck of the woods at present, it may be worth checking the germination temperatures of various seeds before sowing takes place.

4. Easter weekend was the traditional time for getting your potato tubers into the ground. Don't put them into wet soil and remember Easter weekend is early this year so another couple of weeks wait isn't a problem.

5. More overnight frosts have been happening in this part of the country recently, compared to the past few years. So if you are sowing planting this month keep cloches or other plant protection equipment at hand as a precaution.

6. Mulch can be added around the base of trees and shrubs this month.

7. This month is a good time to add a lawn fertiliser to your lawns. If you have moss/weeds in the lawn use a fertiliser which has moss/weed killer mixed into it.

8. The tools of the trade are often taken for granted in and around the garden. So, remove soil from your gardening tools after use. Don't put wet tools away, allow them to dry first. Wipe the metalparts of secateurs, shears etc with an oily rag after use. Keep cutting tools sharpened along with spade blades.

9. Air fresheners inside your home?? Aloe vera, Spider plant, Snake plant, Peace lily, Dragon tree, Areca palm, Boston fern, Rubber plant, Weeping fig, Scindapsus.

10.                                                SOWING/PLANTING IN APRIL
1. Sow the following: Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Kale, Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Spinach. Potatoes, Onion and shallot sets.
2.  Artichokes and Asparagus can be planted.
3. Outdoor cucumbers & tomatoes can be sown & kept in the warm.
4. Plant French Beans, Lettuce & Sweetcorn under cloches.
5.  This is a good time to plant Strawberries.
1. Keep an eye on the weather as ground frost is still likely this month.
2. Keep areas of ground warmer with fleece/polythene to aid later planting.
3. Weeds are starting to appear, so hoe them off before they set seed.
4. Now is the time to erect barriers around your carrots 2 to 3ft high to combat the dreaded Carrot fly. Alternatively cover your Carrots with fleece but ensure all edges are well covered with soil. Keep Carrots earthed up.
5. Plant Onions between rows of Carrots or other plants that might repel the Carrot fly.
6. Slugs & snails will be coming out now. Combat them by: Keep the soil hoed and loose, use beer traps, spread coarse grit, pine needles, straw, sawdust around your plants. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

It's Got To Be A First

This little skipper flew into my kitchen today (25th Feb 2016)



There's Always Tomorrow!!