mtp

Pear Blossom and the Fruit Loop

pear blossom

At the weekend we drove out to see the Pear blossom in an area called the Fruit Loop near here. It’s where all the fruit farms are. There is mile after mile of fields that look like this. I was in heaven! It’s so interesting to see how gnarled the trees are and also how closely they are planted. The rows are far apart because they need to get a tractor down there but the actual trees couldn’t have been more than six feet away from each other. Incredible.

sunburst

The sunburst pattern bed is coming along nicely. The onion sets have all sprouted despite each one being pulled out by birds several times. I have planted out Lettuce (Little Gem) and Kales that I seeded in my greenhouse. And along the back fence I sowed some Calendula to provide a backdrop to the planting. They are just starting to germinate. Where the string line and canes are I have sowed Spinach, and other varieties of Lettuce. It has been very wet here and the slugs are out in force so I’m crossing my fingers that I get a full complement of plants here.

Compared this to a month ago and you can see that a lot has changed.

pattern_3

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Mini ‘Corn Salad’ Lettuces

cornsalad_1

At this time of year I like to cut my Corn Salad as mini-Lettuces and eat them whole. They are an excellent size for one. I’ve been eating them leaf by leaf for the last few months but now I need the space for something else and so I’m clearing them and eating them one by one. I just slip a pair of scissors under the soil, snip off the root and wash the leaves. All the soil comes off easily since there is no root, just a little stub and you can eat the whole thing.

Just add whatever you like to eat. I’m more than a little obsessed with tuna salad right now.

cornsalad_2

gherkins

Wow! It’s been a busy two weeks in the greenhouse. Do you ever find yourself running from place to place because you haven’t got time to walk? That’s been me over the last weeks. So, so busy!

1st April 2014
In Greenhouse
- sowed Bell Pepper (California Orange)
- sowed Bell Pepper (Canary)
- sowed Delphinium (Giant’s Mix)
- sowed Shasta Daisy

In Garden
- re-sowed empty patches of Peas (Green Arrow)

4th April 2014
In Greenhouse
- sowed Lettuce (Marvel of 4 Seasons)
- sowed Melon (Crimson Sweet)
- sowed Melon (Charentais)

In Garden
- planted out Cabbage (Parel)

7th April 2014
In Greenhouse
- potted on Tomato (Glacier)
- potted on Broccoli (Waltham 29)
- potted on Hyssop
- potted on Echinacea
- sowed Lettuce (Marvel of 4 Seasons)
- sowed Penstemon (saved)

In Garden
- sowed Poppy (Lauren’s Grape)
- hardening off Kale (Nero Toscana)

9th April 2014
In Greenhouse
- sowed Cucumber (Marketmore)
- potted on Salvia (Blue Victoria)
- potted on Verbena (Brazilian Vervain)

In Garden
- planted out Kale (Nero Toscana)
- planted out Broccoli (Waltham 29)
- planted out Cabbage (Parel)
- sowed Carrots (Scarlet Nantes)
- sowed Calendula (Flashback)
- planted out Onion (Walla Walla)

12th April 2014
In Greenhouse
- sowed Basil (Aroma 1)
- sowed Lettuce Marvel of the 4 Seasons)

In Garden
- planted out Cabbage (Red Acre)
- planted out Cauliflower (Chef’s Choice)

In Orchard
- sowed eco-lawn (Fleur de Lawn)

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My Zig-Zag Tulip Garden

tulipzigzag4

This year I decided to plant up a zig-zag Tulip garden in one of the kitchen garden beds. My plan is to use this bed for early cutting flowers and then once the bulbs are lifted this will become the Tomato bed.

tulip_zigzag2

I planted the bulbs back in November and they started to pop through in early Spring.

tulip_zigzag

They grew nicely and then…

tulipzigzag5

Finally all of them are out now. I’m really happy with how it looks. Infact, I think I could have put more in. There are quite large gaps in between the flowers and next year I will pack more in to make the most of the space. Maybe some Grape Hyacinths?

zig-zagplan

Here’s my, very rough, plan. The flowers are as follows:

20 x Tulip Couleur Cardinal (deep red)
8 x Tulip Wildhof (cream)
8 x Tulip White Parrot (white)
9 x Hyacinth Double Hollyhock (Pink)

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Planting Summer Cabbage

cabbage

These Summer Cabbage (Parel) are almost ready to go out. They have spent a few nights in the coldframe and will likely go into the ground tomorrow. They will form part of the sunburst pattern that I’m planning for the large bed on the side of the kitchen garden. Cabbages are great for this as they stay pretty much compact and don’t encroach into other plants’ space.

Parel was a particularly good variety that I grew last year. One that would happily sit in the ground until I was ready to use it and was slow to bolt.

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Planting School Peas

school_peas

A couple of weeks ago I took some potting soil and some Peas (Oregon Trail) and I helped the kids in Jackson’s kindergarden class sow some Peas for the school garden. Each of them wrote their name on a tag (no mean feat for a 5 year old!) and popped some Peas into a nodule, then watered their newly-planted seed. They were all very excited and have asked me ‘if their Peas are growing yet’ several times.

The answer is yes! They are growing. Safely tucked up in my greenhouse they are putting on a spurt and will need to go into the ground soon.

So cute!

seedlings

18th March 2014
In Greenhouse
- sowed Lettuce (Garnet Rose)
- sowed Lettuce (Rouge D’Hiver)
- sowed Lettuce (Tom Thumb)
- sowed Poppy (Lauren’s Grape)
- sowed Salvia (Inky Blue)
- potted on Cabbage (Parel)
In Garden
- planted Onion Sets (White Onion)

away for Spring Break

29th March 2014
In Greenhouse
- potted on Tomatoes (Black Krim)
- potted on Tomatoes (Sun Gold)
- potted on Artichoke (Green Globe)
- potted up Grape cuttings (Cascade)
- sowed Cilantro/Coriander (Long Standing)
- sowed Hollyhock (Watchman)

In Garden
- Re-planted Onion Sets (White Onion) – birds!

31st March 2014
In Greenhouse
- sowed English Daisy

In Garden
- hardening off Kale (Scarlet)
- hardening off Sweet Peas

box

I knew it was a risk when I planted it but the Box hedging has started to succumb to Box Blight already. I’ve replaced two of the bushes because they were displaying the tell-tale orange hue. I thought I would nip it in the bud early and see if I can stop the spread. Also the cuttings that I took last summer are starting to grow in the greenhouse so pretty soon I should have my own bushes ready to replace any more that are affected.

I know it’s crazy to plant Box now that blight is so wide-spread. And in such a wet climate too! It’s just that I love the ‘box edged’ look so much. I’m willing to fight.

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Starting a New Sunburst Pattern

pattern_1

I did a sunburst pattern a few years ago in my garden in the UK. I had a lot of fun doing it, but to be honest it was a bit tame. Just a few Lettuce in a diagonal pattern. In the past I’ve done diamond patterns on my allotment and zig-zag patterns too.

pattern_2

This year, I thought I would revisit the sunburst idea with a bit more gusto this time. It’s a larger area (around 10ft x 16ft) and I can grow some much more here. I’m also taking some inspiration from the old book that I found, Art of the Kitchen Garden, and planning to put in some annual flowers to give it some definition.

pattern_3

I’m so excited about the possibilities. I’ve started to do a plan and lay some string, and to mark out the basic pattern.

pattern_4

I have sowed, Beetroot, and put in some onion sets. I have also sowed some plants for transplant from the greenhouse (Kale, Cabbage, Cauliflower etc).

pattern_5

And the rest will be sowed directly into the ground. Here I have sowed some spare Onion sets just incase the birds pull them out or some don’t sprout. I’ll keep posting photos as I go.

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