As an amateur gardener I like use this Blog post to share some of my experiences - good and bad - as I continue to experiment with different crops and different growing techniques. On occasions I may also share some of my close encounters with the wildlife that I come across while tending my plot.

April 19, 2020
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April update.

The Covid-19 pandemic is having one major benefit … many people like myself in lock down who have the benefit of a garden are able to spend more time preparing and maintaining their gardens during what is normally a busy period for most gardeners. Judging by the various comments I see on social media channels I think there are also many people who are discovering the joys of gardening for the first time.

I have managed a mixed start to the season, with some crops doing well and others not so well. I planted some early tomato and pepper seeds this year. However the slugs were quick to trim my peppers and managed to kill most of the tomato seedlings through over watering. 🙁

I have planted some early potatoes in garden and in tubs. Not sure how well they are going to do as shoots seem to be taking a while to show to any decent length.

Apart from the initial disaster with peppers and tomatoes other seeds doing well. In garden lettuce and spinach showing well. In poly tunnel cauliflower, leeks and sweet corn all doing well.

My experiment with growing strawberries in raised trough looks like it will work several plants already have flowers so hoping for an early crop that is slug free.

And finally my granddaughters equivalent of Worzel Gummage is ready to scare off any marauding pigeons once the greens start to show.

January 28, 2020
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Update on Polytunnel

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I had purchased a polytunnel to try to give me more space for plant storage during winter period and hopefully somewhere to stat off some early seeds.

At the time I was not sure if this would prove to be a wise investment – although to be fair it was not an expensive item. I was concerned as to how well it would survive any potential high winds. Well now I have the answer.

The good news is that I still have a fully functional polytunnel. The bad news is that the cover has not survived unscathed following a battering by high winds.

As the image here shows the cover has torn at the point the anchoring cable ties join the cover. The problem is partially caused by a design fault. The point at which the ties join is also the point at which an internal tie is provided to connect the cover to the frame.

The internal tie point just wraps around the frame and there is nothing to stop this point on the cover moving up and down in the wind. The tension of the cable tie eventually causes stress and then a tear. If the internal tie was further down at the point where there is a cross beam in the frame then it could have been anchored much more tightly and possibly stopped the movement that caused the tear.

Another positive is that the polytunnel does seem to retain a reasonable amount of heat so most plants seem to be coping with the cold weather. I am also hopeful that my experiment with a raised bed for strawberries in the polytunnel will provide me with some early strawberries. Assuming the polytunnel continues to survive in tact.

January 1, 2020
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Bird of prey visit to my garden

The amount of wild life activity in my garden continues to surprise me.

I happened to look out my window and noticed that my car appeared to have white fluff on the body work. Getting closer to the window I could see this sparrowhawk on my lawn with a wood pigeon it had obviously just caught and the white fluff on my car was from pigeon feathers.

Because this is something that you do not see very often I quickly grabbed my camera and took a number of photos and a short video to record the event.

Sparrowhawk

Video of the sparrowhawk feeding on the wood pigeon it has just killed – https://youtu.be/ZXof_eMERtI

December 17, 2019
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Winter in the garden

A short winter update on progress in the garden. The continuous rain is making it difficult to complete many tasks outside in the garden at the moment. However the one positive is that I am collecting plenty of rain water for the coming growing season.

So far my polytunnel has survived the high winds so fingers crossed it will still be in place come the spring. I have completed the set up of my experiment to grow strawberries in the polytunnel in a raised bed. Hoping this will give me an early crop and reduce the impact of mice and slugs on the fruit. Come the new year I will be looking to start off some seeds in the polytunnel and hoping that storing sensitive plants like my bougainvillea wrapped in fleece will prevent frost damage.

I had high hopes for my sweet potatoes this year. I decided to try growing them in grow bags for ease of harvesting. While they did produce many tubers it was obvious that the use of grow bag restricted the ability for the tubers to grow to any decent size. So may have another go next year but with larger bag.

One big plus this year has been the growing of peppers from plants. Although I have grown peppers from seeds in past they tend not to produce any crops that ripen beyond green. However this year I decide to go with plug plants from Marshalls. This has been successful and I still have some plants growing in greenhouse plus I have a prize sweet pepper that has turned red!

Red sweet pepper grown in my greenhouse from plant supplied by Marshalls seeds.

October 15, 2019
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My first polytunnel

As I get more and more successful with my plant growing from cuttings I need more and more space to keep the plants particularly those that may be a susceptible to frost as my small greenhouse is now getting very cluttered.

So I thought I would give one of these a go ..

Looking around I found an offer on Groupon that seemed to offer reasonable value and a decent amount of space. So I purchased one and without too much effort managed to get it set up. The frame and cover seem to be of reasonable quality. The only issue I have is that there are very few ties inside to connect cover to frame but I think I have found a way around that issue for now.

I have anchored down the frame with a number of bricks for now but if it survives the winter I may look a more robust option. As well as using for plant store I have plans to grow my strawberries in raised beds in the tunnel as well next year to see if it improves the crop. Fingers crossed for a relatively wind free winter.