Friday 29 May 2015

Photo diary

Not many words but here are some pictures to show how the season is progressing.

wapato in the bath
The Sagittaria latifolia or wapato that Rhizowen sent me are doing well enough, but they'll need bigger quarters if there's to be a crop I think. Still working on that coypu. Maybe I should try one plant as a sacrifice, maybe coypu don't like wapato.

vila vila 3
Most of the vila vila are now in the ground. This one looks a bit starved but I'll pot it on for a few weeks more until I can find a place for it. Nice and spiny isn't it?

Houseleeks looking their best at this time of the year, but these will need splitting and repotting soon. I'm almost tempted into starting a small specialist nursery, then I remember how lazy I am.

seedling walnuts
I thought I'd blogged about the four walnuts we harvested from our poor old tree last year but I can't find it.  There's a pic on the twitter feed here. Anyway, I planted them and these two have germinated. The other two were subjected to vernalisation which I don't think helped much, I'm hoping they'll grow, one certainly has a root but they're not showing any top growth yet.

Chive flowers are looking good but the foliage is a bit rusty. I'm increasing my herb stocks this year and have seedling rue, sage and greek oregano. The giant fennel hasn't come up though.

lavender and marigold
Herby favourites, lavender and an overwintered marigold. The green boxy plant behind is a common myrtle saved by me to and from many locations around the UK and France. I think the original was variegated but no longer. It very rarely flowers or fruits needing an exceptional couple of summers to get there.

wild redcurrants
The self seeded redcurrants are coming along nicely.

Dioscorea japonica
All twelve of the Japanese yam starts have made nice little plants. I'm planning to set them out in the bean trench soon.

tomatoes in final pots
What a difference a month has made to the tomatoes! Now in their final pots, there will be twenty in the greenhouse,  five in pots outside the back door, four under the poly tunnel cloche and four (still in small pots) in the ground if I can find a space for them.

Two greenhouse cucumbers. I've got one more that I'm going to try outside just because I've run out of space. In the past I've grown a variety called "Long Chinese" from Lidl on trellis outdoors but I couldn't get fresh seed and the old seed failed to show. I'll be looking out for this variety if anyone knows where to get it.

ulluc o
Some of the ulluco waiting for the bed to be made for them. Peru corner is going to look terribly sad this year if something isn't done rather quickly for it.

poly cloche
Tomatoes, melons and weeds under the poly cloche. It's not going to be big enough, it's not going to be big enough at all.

uchiki kuri (bought plant)
I was surprised to find these flowers on the Uchiki Kuri squash. The plant was bought in and is more advanced than the home starts but it still seems very early. Fingers crossed it's not about to turn up its toes and collapse in a heap.

first flowers on epicure
Flowers are now beginning on the Epicure potatoes so I hope we'll be able to take a first crop in a couple of weeks time. I've mulched with some grass clippings to save my back from earthing up but there is a worry it will harbour slugs. It might be better to do the work properly on the main potato bed.

main potato patch

Friday 15 May 2015

So wrong

The metéo was wrong again today, promising cloudy but dry conditions but actually supplying a constant drizzle worthy of Ireland in summer. It's a bit disappointing as I'd intended to pull myself together and get the pumpkins and courgettes out of their pots and into the ground today. For someone with nearly 24 acres at my disposal no one would believe I'm running out of land but poor management in the last couple of years means that the rotation has gone to pot and patches which should be in cultivation are having to be cleared and covered to fight back perennial weeds and soil poverty. I've no stomach for digging out brambles and nettles in the soggy conditions today so everything will have to wait.

Asparagus beetle - Crioceris asparagi

I was wrong about these. Fooled by the attractive big white spots on their backs I thought they were Spotted Asparagus beetle but actually a bit of research confirms they're they boring ordinary sort, Crioceris asparagi. This is more depressing than merely making a mistake. The spotted beetle does most damage to seeds but the common sort is a worse pest, with several generations in a season and larvae that feed on new shoots and leaves, damaging both and weakening the plants. You can see eggs as well as adult beetles in the picture.

I've been hand picking them off and drowning them but as we've stopped harvesting now I might resort to some chemical solution. I don't want to do that and probably won't but it soothes my heart to think I could cause an apocalypse for the wretched things if I wanted to.

My identification skills with bees are still lacking so I can't tell you what sort this is, just welcome it as a reminder of how lovely it it when the sun shines.

bee on clover

Thursday 7 May 2015

May already


Haven't really been keeping up with the posting, weather and mood have both been bad. Still, here are a few recent pictures. The gazania above came from the local garden centre, a bit of an impulse purchase that has no place in the garden to go really. I will have to pot it up by itself and use it as an accent in some sunny corner.

We went to the garden centre hoping to get globe artichoke plants but at 12€ each that was obviously a non-starter. That 12€ would have bought us about 10 big heads from the supermarket even this early in the season, and they don't do particularly well here, I just like to have them. I'll start some more from seed, probably not until next winter now.

baby apricot

The new apricot tree has set three little fruit. I think they can be left on the tree without stunting it in its first year and it will interesting to see what they're like. The apples are in full flower now, particularly pretty is the Ellison's Orange which is a nicely shaped little tree - I don't think it can be a maiden even though that's what we paid for. Unfortunately massively strong winds over the last two days have broken a small branch from the Victoria plum. I've popped it into a propagator in the hope of rooting it but really there's little chance of it taking. The actual tree will survive but it is very brittle, it was one of the only trees to suffer during transport over here.


A wisteria gifted to us when we got here by Paul's mum. She gave us three and I killed two of them but this is hanging on in and this year the flowers have avoided the slugs. Needs more TLC but I'm pleased so far.

tunnel cloche

I'm not a big fan of complications in the veg. patch and find most cloche and floating row covers more trouble than they're worth but I wanted to try some tomatoes in the ground and thought some shelter would bring them on more quickly and provide a measure of protection from blight spores. It's an experiment and the cloche is a very cheap one which is barely going to be big enough to take four bush tomatoes although I'd hoped to get six in. Still, we'll see how it does. I'm still hoping to tuck a couple of rock melons in at either end, no idea if that's a suitable companion planting!