Monday, 22 July 2013

French Beans

This year I am growing two types of French bean from The Real Seed Catalogue.  They are a great company and supply good quality seeds.  Here is what they say;

'You'll find no F1 hybrids or genetically modified seed here - just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown by hand on a garden scale. The name of the catalogue reflects what we are working to provide: real seeds for real gardeners wanting to grow proper vegetables.'

I am growing 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' Pole bean which is a climber and 'Minidor'Yellow Bush bean which doesn't need any type of support.  I have grown both of these types before and have had good results.

If you want to save the seeds from these beans then The Real Seed Catalogue advise that you keep the different varieties 6 to 12 feet away from each other to avoid cross-pollination.  They have some great advice and give encouragement on saving seeds from your own plants.
I love to eat French beans but have found British ones increasingly rare in the shops only being able to buy those from Kenya or Egypt which tend to be tough and tasteless and flown miles before they reach my plate.

Next year I must remember to sow more French beans as I only have two 'Minidor' plants and six of 'Cherokee'.  I don't suppose I will have any need of making room in the freezer for any surplus!!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Growing Tomatoes Upside Down

I left it too late to sow tomato seeds this year so jumped at the chance to buy a small tomato plant from the supermarket at the beginning of June.  I presumed it was a cordon variety but didn't want the hassle of staking it or indeed pinching it out. I decided to try growing it upside down as a trailing tomato.  I knew that the stems would naturally grow up towards the light but the weight of the tomatoes would bring them back down.

I reused an old hanging basket that had a hole in the bottom, lined it with a plastic bag that I had punctured with holes, pushed the tomato plant up through the large hole and filled up with multi-purpose compost.  Six weeks later I have a plant that is thriving and covered in clusters of mini tomatoes.  I will definitely use this method of growing again.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Slug Stats

On 16 random days/evenings between 5th June and 5th July I collected over 500 slugs from my garden.

Some Observations

  • most collected slugs in one session: 69.

  • least collected slugs in one session: 2.

  • skinny white/creamy white or beige slugs showed up best on grassy areas at dusk as they glowed  in the dark.

  • skinny black slugs, fat brown/orange and medium sized dark brown slugs were easier to spot in the morning on lawn, bare soil and plants.

  • putting upside down plastic plant pots in between the plants and borders gave the slugs somewhere to hide overnight and a nice/nasty surprise for me to collect in the morning.  

  • I am an 'expert' slug hunter.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sowing the Seed

Welcome to my new gardening blog named in honour of my Nan who introduced me to the delights of growing things.  I am an enthusiastic amateur gardener.  I make mistakes but also have successes in the garden too.   The purpose of this blog is to exchange gardening information and learn from one another regarding our gardening exploits.

I believe that the flower above is of a Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia, Papaveraceae) which must have self seeded in my garden from the previous year.

Back in April, I sowed some Sarah Raven seeds directly into raked earth called Cottage Garden Mix.  The mix was supposed to contain zinnias, cosmos and malopes but they have yet to come to light.  The previous year I sowed Sarah Raven's Pictorial Meadows Classic Annual Mix and I believe that the poppy must have self seeded from back then.  The trouble with pre-mixed seeds is you can't be absolutely sure of what you are going to get as I know from my experience over the last two years.

Next year I am going to make up my own mixture so I don't have any 'nasty' surprises such as the Phacelia Tanacetifolia that cropped up unexpectedly in last years mix!  I think I may experiment with wildflower mixes in pots too to see which combinations are the most pleasing.

Preparing ahead:
Winter job: Make a note of this in diary for Dec, Jan, Feb. Scour seed catalogues and look for individual packets of seeds to make up mixes with e.g. Cosmos, Black-Eyed Susan, Larkspur, Cornflower etc.