Saturday, 3 October 2009

Nigella or Kalonji

I scattered some 'kalonji' seed from the Asian supermarket - this is nigella, used in cooking for the spicy taste of the seeds. (Great with chicken, potatoes, onions).

I think the flowers are proportionately smaller than the usual garden kind, but they are nevertheless very pretty, come in several colours, and provide lovely feathery foliage.


Early August, and back from 3 weeks' holiday; we hear that it rained for almost the entire time. The garden certainly looked very lush, although the French beans had succumbed to blackfly, the courgettes weren't doing much at all, and the lettuces I planted had completely disappeared to the snails and slugs. The brassicas were all looking lacy, but not stripped to the ribs as I had feared.

The unfriendly neighbour built not so much a fence as a compound, while we were away - 'for privacy', he said. Not a problem - he's to our north.

The grapevine had grown enormously, I had no idea it would get this big! Only supported by a few bamboo canes, it had collapsed onto the lawn so I propped it up as best I could. Over winter, I'll be building proper supports for it, and learning how to prune it so that it will be better-behaved, and maybe more productive, next year. It did produce bunches of tiny grapes but they were lost in amongst all those leaves.

The 'Pastiche' sunflowers, going strong; try staring into this one, it makes a strange optical effect.

The sad state of the French beans:

Success with the Goldfield beans! Lying on a black beret - big and also tasty. I'll grow these again next year. Anno Giallo also did reasonably well, and Cherokee Trail of Tears. The Purple Teepee, Modus, and Minidor were all stunted and unsuccessful - I don't think I added enough matter to the soil, and the blackfly also affected them badly.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Mid July

Just before leaving the garden for a 3 week trip to the USA - it was looking fairly neat, by my standards.

Purple-sprouting broccoli (and some broccoli raab and cabbages) which I had to leave defenceless against the cabbage-white butterflies:

Some beans, beetroot, lollo rosso lettuce, courgettes:

'Pastiche' sunflowers:

Beetroot, mispoona, leaf beet, turnip greens, and broccoli raab:

June bugs

A few creepy crawlies from mid-summer.

I had noticed, for several months, a strange scratching noise, near the old trellis along the wall - but hadn't worked out what it was. Till one evening I investigated more closely and found out what's behind it - wasps gathering wood paste:

A damsel-fly that I trapped under a wine glass in the lean-to, before I released it back into the garden:

And finally, I think these are Cabbage White caterpillars. Feeding on nasturtium leaves, then imprisoned in a plastic jar before meeting their fate in a jar of cider. Sorry chaps, but there were sooooo many of you this year - all my brassicas are looking rather lacy...

End of June

Oops, I am getting behind with this! OK, here are a few shots from the very end of June; sweetpeas and French marigolds giving lots of colour. In that respect, the marigolds have been fantastic value - still blooming energetically at time of writing (early October) and evidently they do feed the bees, at least the tinier ones, since they have produced masses of seed. Unless they are self-pollinating? I've never seen a bee on them, so I presume the nectar is incaccessible to larger insects.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Mid June

Finally, an update...

'Moonlight' nasturtiums and some pinks. No idea what variety the pinks are, I got a tray of mixed dianthus end-of-season stragglers from Homebase, which made it through the winter in their polystyrene tray - tough little buggers!

The Goldensweet Mangetout in full spate. I'll grow these again next year; bar the odd pea moth here and there, they seemed pest-proof. I also want to try the giant green mangetout, likewise from Splashes of orange are the French Marigolds - I got a tray of them from Tesco. They have been great value, flowering away since I got them, adding a lovely colour to the garden which has really gone well with the sweet peas, pinks, nasturtiums etc.

Turnip greens (mid-left), leaf beet, and beetroot (front). Some various cabbages and sprouting broccoli in the middle, some kale and leaf beet to the back:

The teepee of nasturtiums looked lovely for a while - but once it started to yellow and suffer from blackfly, not so pretty, so I pulled it up.

Two purple cranesbill geraniums, one that I cadged from my Mum, the other from my aunt's friend Ruth.

Cherries from the cherry tree. I found that if I picked them just before they turned fully red, then I could beat the birds and wasps, who have to wait till they're soft. Then I ripened them off on the windowsill; I got about 6 or 7 kilos! Nice and sweet, too.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

More flying things

Another damsel fly; a shield bug; and, back to the actual gardening - my Golden Sweet mange tout producing nicely. Plus a pimpernel? I may be getting rather side-tracked into the micro-wildlife, but it's not all benign - I did get a couple of vicious little ant stings today. The ants think my beans are their aphid farm.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Variously: (possibly) a Queen Tree Bumblebee, an anonymous bee, a shiny green fly, a damsel fly of some sort, a Cinnabar moth, and a million baby spiders, hanging off the washing line.

The advantage when critters are emerging, is that they're a bit dazed and confused - the damsel fly and the moth were probably waiting for their wings to dry and their heads to clear. :)
The damsel fly was very aware of me, and kept shuffling behind the stem to try to hide - but it made no attempt to fly. The moth may have been asleep for all I know, it didn't move at all.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Overview, May 22nd

If you're thinking 'that base won't hold up that rotary drier!', you're right - it's too small, I'll have to think of something else or get a bigger one. :)

Things are looking more attractive now that all the polythene, bubble wrap, and plastic milk bottles are gone. Even the netting has been put away, which I hope won't prove too foolish. The white chairs do stand out as an eyesore, I may improvise some sort of cover for them.

The new bed is planted with Modus and Minidor bush French beans, a couple of stray Masterpiece Longpod broad beans, rocket, and Beetroot Chioggia. The new bamboo tripod has the rather ill-treated Feltham First peas planted at its foot - they waited a bit too long to go out, I'll see how they do.

I found a handsome ladybird doing her stuff. Ych, look at the state of my nails - that's gardening for you.

Flowers and beans, May 22nd

The scrambling rose bush turns out to have lovely soft-pink flowers with a delicate spicy tea-rose scent. The mange-tout Golden Sweet peas are flowering, and oddly, have two colours - pink, and blue. The Masterpiece Longpod broad beans are making pods, can't wait for some of those to mature.
The white dianthus is one of various patterns and colours that I got in a mixed pack, from white, white & magenta, mottled pink, to hot hot dark pinky-red. Perhaps I should make an entry just for the pinks.