This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Pepper Update

My four pepper plants are doing well and producing juicy looking peppers. Can't wait to harvest, but I'll give them a bit more time to develop.

What the seed pack didn't tell me...
Apparently it is recommended when the plant reaches 30cm, pinch out growing tips to increase branching?? Maybe I'll try this next year.

Photo taken 31 Aug 2010.

Variety: Pepper (California Wonder), Thompson & Morgan Seeds, 30 seeds / £1.50 per pack.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Pepper (California Wonder)

I love growing from seed rather than buying plants in shops. This year I'm growing peppers for the first time. Sown in May/June indoors in a conservatory/glass house, they turned out quite easy to germinate & grow! The plants have small peppers aleady; I'm hoping for a good harvest before it gets too cold. (Not sure if i was supposed to pinch off growing shoots like tomatoes???)

Photo taken 10 Aug 2010.

Variety: Pepper California Wonder by Thompson & Morgan, 30 seeds, £1.50 per pack.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Nasturtiums - when nothing else will grow!

Easy to grow, Nasturtiums will happily spread in poor, dry soil. I grew about a dozen from seed to fill gaps in my planting beds. I really like this brand of seed; they grow quickly and aren't fussy. Variety: Nasturium Dayglow Mixed, Carters Tested Seeds, 35 seeds, 79 pence.

Edible: These flowers are edible & ideal for use in salads!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Calendula Flowers and Rowan Trees

I planted Wild Cherry trees along the driveway 10 years ago, however, they were growing too big so I took them out one Autumn, gave them away, and replaced them with Rowan trees (more compact). Rowan, also known as Mountain Ash, get loads of beautiful berries in the late summer which attract birds. Bare root Cherry or Rowan 1.5-2 feet whips can be bought for 50p from Conservation Volunteers. They establish quickly. What a bargain - 50 pence per tree!

Accent planting: Calendula Orange King, Carters Seeds, 79p.
Edible: Calendula petals are edible and look great scattered in salad.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Spring Onion (Chives)

These Spring Onions are perrenial (come up evey year). I use them for colour and to deter pests from other plants.... love the flower heads (which can be eaten). I grew Spring Onion White Lisbon for eating (they are delicious) and planted them in the ground and in containers. They grow better and faster in containers (probably as my ground isn't the most fertile).       

This photo was taken in June. Pictured left of the spring onion are sunflowers and left again, potatoes - all grown a bit too close together but I still got results. (see 11 August blog for how much the sunflowers grew in 2 months).              

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Container Potatoes n Mixed Border

I love experimenting with borders and mixing veg with flowers. Spot the potatoes?... I have my Maris Peer potatoes in an old wheelbarrow at the back of this border. (potatoes can be seen in 13 Aug posting). Perennials (die down in winter and come up again in spring) pictured here include Pink Geraniums and Varigated Hosta - both of these are great value plants as they can be divided every couple of years to make loads of new plants! (Click on photo to enlarge it)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Petunia n Boots

I love the bright pink petunias this year... and the range of wellies available (these were £5 on sale at B&Q)! In Northern Ireland we get rain, wind, sun and then rain & wind -sometimes all on the same day! This can make gardening difficult. It's only August and I feel like I need to bring the petunias indoor at night already (burrr)!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lupins in June/July

A striking cottage-style perennial... grown from seed, these lupins were sown a few years ago and they come up every year. The flowers really add colour in June/July. (Flowered in their first year even though the pack said 'first flowering the following year'.) Not 100% sure of the variety as I threw out the seed pack but think they are... Variety: Lupin Russell Mix.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Pest Problem - Cabbage Golden Acre

I think this is slug & caterpillar damage... doesn't look very good. This is why I grew potatoes, cabbage and lettuces in pots this year and actually the pot grown cabbage is twice the size already (see 12 Aug posting) with the seedlings all grown at the same time. Variety: Cabbage Golden Acre, Homebase, 39 pence per pack

Flower 'Snapdragon' Antirrhinum Intermediate Mixed

Grown from seed in April/May these tiny seedlings I had my doubts about, however, they turned out quite jazzy little things. Funny how many of the city councils used snapdragons this year and somehow theirs look healtier, bigger and more colourful (oh well). I'd definitely grow these again; great value at 79p per pack of 2,400 seeds!. The seed pack says to space them 16" apart when planting out, but to get a good display they need to be jam packed (3" apart) and weekly organic feed. Variety: Antirrhinum Intermediate Mixed, Half Hardy Annual, Carters Tested Seed, 2,400 seeds, 79 pence per pack.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Flower 'Snapdragon' Antirrhinium Royal Bride

Sown from seed, this year I grew snapdragons for the first time. The pack says they'll grow up to 36 inches, however, mine have grown between 12-24 inches. This was dissapointing. The seeds were tiny and the seedlings itsy-bitsy but over time they grew (slowly!). The seed pack says they are 'Half Hardy Annual" so I imagine they'll be suffering from our cold evenings soon and will die with our first frost. I hope they self seed! Variety: Antirrhinium 'Royal Bride', Thompson & Morgan, 500 seeds, £1.99 per pack.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Potatoes (Maris Peer)

I grew potatoes three ways this year: (1) containers, (2) compost bags and (3) in the ground. The ones in the ground I expect have been nibbled on by little black worms and slugs like last year (I haven't dug them up yet), however, the ones in the container when harvested were small but pest free (the largest being about 3 inches long). In Northern Ireland I'm told that potatoes should be planted on St Patricks Day (easy to remember). This year I decided not to plant potatoes but then in early April I spotted a bag for half price that looked healthy so the '2nd earlies' ended up 'late' for me. VarietyMaris Peer, Homebase, 2 kg bag for £3.49.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Salad Container Gardening (Cabbage, Salad, Leek, Spring Onion)

I seem to have less problems with pests, particularly slugs, with container gardening. And it’s great to pop out the back door for salad and spring onions! Grown from seed...

Variety: Cabbage Golden Acre, Homebase, 175 seeds, 39 pence per pack.
Result: Grow well in pots. Those grown in ground are savaged by slugs.

Variety: Spring Onion White Lisbon, Carters Tested Seeds, 550 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
Result: Taste great, easily grown. Slugs/pests aren’t a problem.

Variety: Leek Musselburgh, Carters Tested Seeds, 350 seeds, 70 pence per pack.
Result: Really yum! They grow great in pots; will grow most anywhere. Slugs/pests aren’t a problem.

Variety: Leaf Salad Lettuce Mixed, Carters Tested Seeds, (Pack contains a mix of Red, Cos, red-tinged Batavia and oak-leaf lettuce varieties), 1,500 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
Result: Easy to grow. I’ve been eating salad all summer from one sowing. The only downside is the red salad gets slightly slim-like when washed, but it looked good in salads.

Variety: Rocket, Thompson & Morgan, 250 seeds, £1.50 per pack.
Result: This is the first time I’ve grown rocket and it bolted very quickly, not sure why? Perhaps I didn’t water it enough.

Variety: Looseleaf Lettuce (crinkly leaves; this variety doesn't grow to form lettuce heads, but instead the leaves are joined at the stem). This lettuce was a gift; grown from seed.
Result: Pictured in the container with leeks and spring onion, I didn't particularly like this lettuce. It looks good but it attracts loads of greenfly!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sunflower (Giant Single)

Sunflowers are so much fun to grow... it's always a competition who can grow the tallest, or get the biggest sunflower head. Grown from seed, as of today, the tallest is 8 feet 2 inches and still growing. Slugs and ants seem to be eating on them but they are soldiering on. Variety: Sunflower Giant Single (Hardy Annual), Mr Fothergill's, 75 seeds, £1.25 per pack.