Wow! It’s been two months since I last did a blog post, sorry all! I’ve been stupidly busy with work and exams but that’s all done with now and the garden is starting to flourish! So here’s a garden update (mostly in pictures):
Strawberries are looking brilliant and I’ve had a few handfuls of fruit
Peas are starting to get big with a few pods that will be ready in a couple of days
Runner beans are gigantic and flowering, it won’t be long till were eating runners with every meal!
First little green tomato spotted in the green house
One Jalapeño eaten (apparently it was VERY hot he he)
Two large beetroot almost ready for harvesting
Carrots are actually growing now (really must thin these out)
Parsnips are a complete no show and are overrun with weeds
Peppers do not appear to have got any bigger fingers crossed for them
Cayenne chilli plants do not look very healthy although if the Jalapenos are hot maybe this is for the best
Cucumbers have not grown. At all.
The raised bed
Raised bed contains peas, runner beans, carrots, peppers, leeks, onions, beetroot and spinach
In the greenhouse
When I checked the greenhouse yesterday I discovered my first small green tomato!
We’ve been so busy this month and last weekend was no exception. Me and the OH had a weekend away visiting some of his family up in Preston. It’s a really lovely part of the world and there’s plenty to do around there.
It has to be said that Saturday was probably my ideal day, we spent the morning looking round a garden centre called Barton Grange, winner of the Garden Centre Association award for Best Destination Garden Centre 2014.
It had everything. There was a brilliant cookware shop with every gadget and gizmo you could ever think to need for the Kitchen, there was homeware and plants, BBQ’s and Furniture, a huge selection of plants, flowers and vegetables and a top notch butchers store. Oh not forgetting the Cafe – Fantastic blueberry scones!
Everything was beautifully presented; just look at some of the displays:
I am absolutely in love with the watering can flower pot display. In all honesty my poor photography skills (I was VERY excited) just don’t do it justice. Unfortunately for me most things were a little out of my price range.
On our way back to the house we stopped at another littler garden centre (with prices much more up my street), i’m afraid i didn’t catch the name of it and i didn’t take a single photo. I loved it that much i didn’t even think to stop and snap a pic.
There were several large, long glass greenhouses filled with benches with rows of neatly potted flowers and veggie plants. It’s run by a gentleman that does all of the planting himself (I saw him in action). He even puts together hanging baskets that you can purchase.
All the signs are handmade and theres plenty of fresh produce for sale in the shop. I tell you i was beside myself, it was without a doubt one of my favourite gardening stores, it’s a shame its so far away.
I brought myself two flower plants; a Madeira and a Scaevola at a bargain price of £2.30 and back home we headed.
The afternoon was spent planting out vegetables and potting up flowers, whilst drinking a chilled glass of wine – Pure bliss. How could it get any better than that you ask? Well we were carefully watched by the neighbouring Alpacka
There can’t possibly be more
We cycled to the pub for a drink, we had a BBQ, we made the most AMAZING jam doughnuts and indulged in a beef roast. I even managed to get a fair bit of my revision for Uni done.
When i got home i discovered there were signs of growth on everything i’d planted the other week and my strawberry plants are starting to flower.
I spent some time this weekend potting up strawberries in my new planter, while doing so I came up my favourite 5 tips for growing strawberries that I wanted to share with you.
Here’s my 5 tips for growing strawberries:
1. Water regularly
Its really important to ensure your strawberries get enough water to ensure as they need it to bulk up. If you think you’ve water enough, water a little more! Water every day through dry spells and avoid the plant itself to ensure your fruit doesn’t rot.
Strawberries are sun loving plants and need to be in a sunny spot to ensure the fruits ripen nicely.
3. Protect from birds
The birds love strawberries as much as we do so ensure you adequately protect your precious fruit. Most people use fruit cages or netting to cover the plants.
4. Harvest regularly
At the height of the season strawberries will ripen fast therefore, regular picking ensures you get the best out of your strawberries. Ensure fruit is bright red all over before picking. Strawberries are fantastic straight from the plant, I’ll also be posting some of my favourite strawberry recipes soon including Strawberry Muffins.
5. 3 year rotation
Ideally you’ll be replacing your strawberry plants every 3 years to ensure the best crops. The easiest way to do this is pot on the ‘Runners’ that your existing plants create. Runners are the stems that your plants will send out over your patch or container. They will then root down and produce a new plant. By potting on these runners you can pick the strongest and healthy plants to continue your crop with and best of all it’s free!
I’ve been struggling to decide what to do with my two clearance strawberry plants when I stumbled across a pop up strawberry planter I received the year before last. Result! When I popped it open I was really impressed, it was a lot smaller and sturdier than I was expected. It holds up to 50 litres of compost and can hold up to 8 plants.
I started filling it up and popped my two plants in (which was a little difficult as they had quite large roots and quite small pockets), I was so pleased with how it looked and held up I rushed straight to the local garden centre for more plants. I managed to get 6 strong, healthy looking strawberry plants for £5.99, bargain if you ask me! Look how fab my planter looks now:
If your interested in something like mine I found this one over on amazon, but I’m sure you’ll find tons if you search pop up strawberry planter.
What are you favourite tips for growing strawberries?
It may not surprise you that I’m a big fan of a long weekend, but this long weekend was particularly good.
I spent a day with my mum, a day with the OH, some time with friends and had an Easter meal out with family. I then spent the entire of Monday out in the garden in the gorgeous sunshine, I even got little sunburnt! In April can you believe it?
I got so much done on Monday, you’ll have to bear with me while I talk through it.
Productive day in the garden
A few weekends ago I removed the bin bag protection on my raised bed. I constructed a basic threshold with some netting in an attempt to keep the cats away – this failed. So as you can imagine the first part of my day was spent removing cat poo from the bed AGAIN.
The good news is my moaning has prompted the OH to offer to make me a proper fence as soon as he has time, yay!
The Raised bed
Once that was done I started to put up the support for the peas and runner beans that I’m planning on planting. I wanted to ensure I had enough bamboo canes, I will need a couple more as a few snapped.
You’ll notice I’ve also sectioned my bed up ready for my square foot planting plan! I’m very excited as it looks so organised.
Within the bed I’ve sowed the first lot of seeds for:
Carrots – Both Early Nantes 5 and Autumn King 2
Leeks – Both Lyon and Elefant
I’ll be successionally sowing all of these to ensure plants are ready to eat at different times.
In the afternoon I set about potting on some of the seedlings that needed more room such as the cucumbers and various chilli and pepper plants. I’ve kept the weaker seedlings for the time being to see if they improve, if they do I’ll be taking them over to my Grampy to have first pick as he’s been moving house and had no time to start anything off.
I sowed some runner beans and some peas into pots, they could have gone straight out into the garden but I know well enough that this nice weather may not necessarily last as long as I’d like so they’re inside for the time being.
Some spring onions and salad leaves have been sown into troughs. I may see if I can bring them over to the back door for easy access as I’m much more likely to use them if they’re very easy to get at.
My onions have finally shown themselves and should be ready to plant out in a few weeks.
Lastly I sowed a few sunflowers, I may have mentioned before that they’re my favourite flower. I’m growing a short variety like I did last year as they were beautiful!
I also started to tidy the place up, it was filled with pots and planters that were sheltering from the winter weather and a ton of leaves had got in. It’s looking a lot better and I even washed the walls down (the ones I could reach anyway!).
What did everyone else get done this over the long weekend?
It was pretty miserable this weekend so I didn’t get a chance to do much outside however, some of the things I sowed the weekend before are really coming along nicely so I thought I’d do a picture update:
Slowly but surely…..PANSIES
Dozens of tiny little pansies showing themselves
Surely but slowly….Peppers and chillies
Some still have their little seed hats!
Surely but slowly…..Cucumbers
Savings the best till last, look at them grow!
In other news, the tomatoes were not enjoying the still cold weathers even in the greenhouse so they have been allowed the luxury of returning to the house. I think I may need to look at the position of the greenhouse as I don’t think it is getting any of the few hours of sun that we do get.
Also still no signs of the leeks and onions (but this could be to do with the greenhouse issue above).
Hopefully ill be moving on to planting straight out into the bed this weekend! How is everyone one else’s gardens coming along this spring?