My growing obsession blog

Struggles and successes in a suburban garden

Shopping and raking January 6, 2011

Now that the extension is finished (bar the decorating) my mind has turned to new starts and springtime. Especially in the garden. As a result, I spent the weekend ordering seeds and raking leaves.

A tidy seed box = a tidy mind

The weather on Sunday didn’t appeal, so I sorted through my vegetable seed tin and chucked away anything over two years old. (I’ll have to look over the seeds of annuals another day). I found this really hard to do and actually I have sneaked back in some seed I saved from my runner beans at least two years ago.

Anyway, feeling virtuous, I set about making a list of what I had left (how I love lists!) and another list (any excuse!) of what I needed to buy fresh this year. I then headed to the Thompson & Morgan website (http://www.thompson-morgan.com/)  and started shopping. I should point out that I’m not a slave to T&M – I had a £10 voucher burning a hole in the pile of recycling – and recommend looking at Marshalls (http://www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk/), Suttons (http://www.suttons.co.uk/) and Sarah Raven (http://www.sarahraven.com/) – if you’re feeling flush).

The big veg plan

The list below is what I’ve decided to grow this year. I’m quite hopeful about some of the veg (eg beetroot) and expecting to fail with others (eg artichokes). I’d be interested to know what you think of my choices.

  • Beetroot globe coloured collection. This is a pack of three varieties: Boltardy (which I’ve grown successfully before), Burpee’s golden (because I fancied trying a yellow one) and Chioggia Pink (a striped pink one which I thought looked pretty and therefore worth a go).
  • Dwarf French bean purple tepee. I used to grow this variety years ago and always had good results. My climbing purple ones last year weren’t that good (maybe I didn’t plant them in the right place) and I struggled to reach the climbers in the raised bed, so I’ve decided that I’m going back to the dwarf variety.
  • Courgettes Soleil (yellow) and Tristan (green and allegedly a scratch-free variety).
  • Potatoes which I’ll grow in the planters purchased a few years back. Last year’s potatoes were not my finest (I’m blaming blight) yet the year’s before were great. Such temperamental tubers. This year I’ve decided to grow Rocket (a first early variety), Vivaldi (a second early or early maincrop if you leave the tubers to get big enough) and Charlotte (a second early which I’ve grown successfully before). 
  • Tomatoes Garden Pearl (already have the seed and love the small pink-ish fruits) and Costoluto Fiorentino (hopefully a big, beefy variety that will eventually ripen outdoors). Both will be grown in tubs. 
  • I found lots of lettuce seeds and will be giving all of them a go, squeezed into any gaps I can find. These include Merveille de Quatre Saisons, Cos Blonde Maraichere, Rossa di Trento, Radicchio Chicory and mixed salad leaves (peppery mix). 
  • Carrot Sytan. I’ve tried to grow this before and the results really weren’t worth the effort but perhaps this time I’ll have more luck. 
  • Artichoke – why not?! It’ll look attractive at least. 
  • Red swiss chard (an acquired taste but I like it and it’s really easy to grow). 
  • Kales Nero de Toscana and Redboor (because they were my big successes last year). 
  • Squash Sweet Dumpling (because I ran out of room for this last year and gave my baby plants away to friends).
  • Runner bean Painted Lady (tried and tested). 
  • Yellow Climbing French bean. I am least hopeful of these doing anything but as I only have a few of these seeds left and a few of the aforementioned runner beans I thought I’d stick them together against the same wigwam and see what happens.

I’m also going to try and squeeze in some leeks and peas but I’ll buy these in the spring as baby plants from my local garden centre.

Getting the garden in order

Bank holiday Monday saw a glimpse of sun and, thanks to the great views of the garden from the extension, I couldn’t put off raking/tidying any longer. A few hours later, I’d managed to make the part of the garden I can see best from the house look ten times better (although not good enough for a photo I’m afraid!). Weather and decorating permitting, the rest of the garden will be spruced up next weekend.

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Frustrated! September 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mygrowingobsession @ 12:44 pm
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I haven’t been able to get into my garden very easily for the last few weeks because we’re having an extension built.

This is particularly frustrating because everything is growing like fury!

The veg beds are doing really well. I’m managing to get out after work (when the builders aren’t blocking my exit) and am regularly harvesting runner beans, French beans (not as productive as last year), summer squash, courgettes (green and yellow), cherry tomatoes and masses of Autumn bliss raspberries – delicious!

I’m about to go on holiday so will most likely miss the first red Roma tomatoes (a plum variety) and the first red (massive) chillies.

As for my perennial borders, I’m ashamed to say I’ve let them get away from me now. I failed to keep on top of dead-heading the sweet peas (to encourage the flowers to keep coming) and I really ought to have dead-headed more of the cosmos. Still, from the house  (when gazing over the builder’s rubble) it does look lush and jungly out there.

Worst of all, it’s not going to be possible to plant out any more bulbs this autumn. All the bulb catalogues are going to waste and normally by now I’m making lists of exciting new coloured tulips I want to try.

I’m comforting myself with the fact that once the building work is done (hopefully November time), I can set about planning my new patio and beds near the house…