Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Well from empty water butts in the beginning of May to  what seems like non-stop rain since. While it was welcome in May, it is not welcome now. The plants are starting to suffer,  as the rain is just washing all the goodness out of the soil. The solution is to mulch with some garden compost but it is hard even to get a few dry minutes to get out there and do anything.  The grass needs cutting desperately, come on the sun, show yourself!!!!

I did manage to get out one day and plant out the purple sprouting broccolli.  I wandered through the plot a few days later, to find three purple sprouting stumps, I was not impressed. I am pretty sure it was birds. I thought to myself, no worries I have some spare.  The spare on the side patio were also purple sprouting stumps. Grrrr. I put the stumps in the mini greenhouse to see if i can get them to recover, I do not hold out much hope.

We have had a few strawberries,  along with the birds who have also had a few. I have put some fleece over the top of them, to try and keep the birds off.  We also picked some gooseberries last weekend, enough for a some fool for hubby and I, yum!

I can see some blue sky this am, fingers crossed we have a dry day!

The doggie destroyer update:-

Excellent at grubbing up mint, no fear of it spreading in my garden it seems. Enjoys chewing woody shrubs, making sure the chosen branch is bitten through. Runs at full speed around the garden with evidence in his mouth, closely followed by me with the BRUSH. Has been banished from the veg patch for crimes against plant labels, running through the veg beds willy nilly, pulling out the pea sticks, jumping on the fleece over the cabbages and biting off ripe strawberries.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Digging up all sorts

Rumour has it around here that my garden got all the topsoil destined for the whole estate, I would like to dispel this rumour, having dug up bricks, boulders, pipes, tiles, rubbish sacks etc etc.

This is what came up yesterday! Anyway not wasted effort, we put a tree in the hole we created getting this lot out. the first  ornamental tree to go in. Sorbus aria 'Lutescens'
Rusty roll of barbed wire!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

June Half term, the arrival of the doggy destroyer

Jubilee fun and games in the paddock a couple of gardens down, has got everyone in the mood for being outside.

The dry spell has made the first sowings of rocket, mizuna, pac choi and radish bolt, but later sowings coming on behind. The dry spell finally came to an end last week, with a great down pour, enough to refill the waterbutts. (mine were both completely empty, and I had resorted to using grey water from the washing up and the childrens bath to water everything.!) the rain though has made the whole garden shoot into life. The gooseberries are laden with fruit, the standard I have, has had to be staked as the weight is making it droop over. The peas, strawberries, onions, spuds and salads, are all doing great. The french beans are still struggling. I sowed a few extra beans to replace the ones that had died and the fresh plants are as big as the ones planted months ago!

I have planted out the leeks, courgettes and the savoy cabbages, and made the last sowing of peas. I also picked up a few sweetcorn plants from the garden centre. Of the two sowing I did in trays I have one plant to show for it, pretty poor. I planted out a block of sweetcorn plants just a couple of days ago.

The veg beds are looking pretty full now. Just a bit more space for some salads and a couple more rows of carrots and thats it chocca. I have some purple sprouting broccoli planted on in 3inch pots waiting to go in. I think these can be planted out once I have harvested the early potatoes later this month.

The little plastic greenhouse, has three tomato plants in it and a neighbour has donated the hubby a couple of chilli plants, to keep him happy.

The flower border is doing fab, I have filled the space left at the back with a couple of shrubs I was on the look out for. Found them at Little Dodd garden centre when looking for a present for a neighbour. Prunus lusitanica and Elaeagnus x ebbingei.  I have also popped in some of the Cosmos I grew from seed in any gaps. Unfortunately the doggy destroyer arrived on the scene a week ago.
Your average shrub/perennial border looks like a brilliant jungle to an 8 week old cocker pup. He has taken to bounding throught the plants and grabbing anything presenting itself as he bounces by. Quite a few flower buds have bitten the dust.
I knew that some plants I had would not be particularly good for eating, but I thought I had better check up. A quick search on line for 'plants poisonous to dogs' brought up the longest list known to man! I told the hubby we had better teach the little darling to not eat the plants because otherwise he will not last long.  Anyway here is a picture of the doggy destroyer, otherwise known as Barney, a very modern dog with his own twitter page! He likes cardboard boxes, plant pots, and bits of rope to chew.He does not like wet grass( particularly in the morning), low flying jets and the sweeping brush. He is fearless, chasing off next doors cat, and trying to play with a fully grown ridgeback. He will also try and eat anything, in one week he has consumed a dead baby bird,(gross), a live slug ( could come in handy!), chicken poo, (oh dear) and any plant labels that he passes!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

May Update

Its been almost two weeks since my last entry. Been too busy with everything to find the time to type!.
The weather at the beginning of the month was as bad as April and everything is taking ages to get going. The french beans started off inside, were hardened off, but since they have been in the ground they have struggled. What with the cold, wet and the slugs!!!. I have lost a couple, however it has warmed up over the last few days, so there is hope!!. I popped a couple of seeds to compensate for the lost ones.
The spuds however are romping away, both the earlies and the maincrop. The ones in the nursery bed are just showing as they are a couple of weeks behind the rest.
I am picking salads now and still sowing every couple of weeks. Mizuna, rocket, pak choi, etc etc.
The actual lettuces though have not germinated well. I think must be the cold and heavy soil. I sowed again yesterday.

Parsnips have finally germinated, taking well over a month to come up, but I have five little rows showing now.

Rasps problem

I planted Octavia and Glen Lyon on the same day in the same bed. All the Octavia are growing but not one of the Glen Lyon. The local organic group have advised to really water them and give them a chance, but I think they are duds!!!

This evening I planted a couple of Dahlia tubers, I can't resist a Dahlia! I got them from the supermarket, which I previously have not done. However having spend a fortune on them in the past to loose them all in the -20 degrees we had in Scotland two years on the trot, I figured cheap and cheerful was the way to go for now.  I sowed a few annuals to fill in the gaps that I have left for the shrubs I will get later this year.

The girls have some sunflowers to sow as well, which needs to get done soon...... and the sweet peas need potting out.... and.... and...
must be off...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Gates complete the fencing

Looking into the veg garden

Farm gate entrance to the veg garden

Chicken run

Monday, 7 May 2012

Picture progress

Fencing around the Veg Garden, not finished, and no gates as yet!
View into Veg Garden

Chicken run

Border coming to life

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Bank Holiday Gardening

We were all set for a day in the garden today after a jaunt to Lowther Castle plant fair yesterday.  But it was overcast when we got up and quickly turned to drizzle then full blown rain.  I spent the morning potting on leeks & purple sprouting broccoli & sent hubby off to get some bamboo canes and a few other essentials from the garden centre. It soon brightened up, and the canes were fashioned into an A frame support with side bracing (thanks Monty for that tip). No 2 daughter helped me plant the french beans. They were the ones I sowed in old toilet roll tubes a few weeks back, therefore all I had to do was pop the whole thing into the ground and water them in. Now the bean supports are up and the pea sticks are in the whole veg patch is looking great. The fencing is almost finished, just needs the gates hanging and the patch will protected from the elements and hopefully passing creatures looking to munch my lettuces.

Harvesting news!

A few mizuna and rocket leaves were picked to have with our dinner last night.

The new border is more than half dug and also half planted. I decided to use it as a nursery bed this year,  just to get some plants out of pots and growing on a bit. A friend gave me some perennials from her garden the other day, including, Hemerocallis, Campanulas, Crocosmia, Anemone and some Astrantia.  I popped it all in except for the Astrantia, I found a space for it in the planted border. We also had some extra seed potatoes so I have planted a few rows in there too.  I am also going to put a few rows of peas in here as well to use up the seed I have. And the children have some annual seeds they want to grow, what a hotch potch!

The weather dried up nicely by the afternoon, and a little gentle nudge had hubby marching up and down with the mower, while I edged!. Seems to be the way of things, as both jobs take about the same time.

We relocated the bench seat into the veg patch, a perfect resting spot now after a bit of weeding!

As the sun went down we had a little game of cricket. No 2 daughter can't half whack it for a 7 year old!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Chickies are free

The chickies got their freedom yesterday afternoon, after being cooped up ( sorry for that) in a little run for the last few weeks. The official chicken run is now complete and they roam free once again. Funny thing is as soon as we let them out they headed straight back in again, as if to say its not that bad you know!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Some pictures of the progress

Veg patch and orchard beyond
Veg patch coming to life

Lifting turf off new border, hard work!
Could add some more photos, but my internet speeds so slow it takes ages. !!!

Under the new border I have found a pile of builders hardcore, one wheelbarrow full so far. It is alos as stony as the other side with about a metre dug over (2.5m wde bed)  and 3 trugs of big stones pulled out.

We spent sunday chicken and dog proofing the hedge. Plugging all the gaps with chicken wire. The hedge will be one side of the chicken run that is getting fencing in tomorrow. The chickens have wrecked the little bit of ground they have been confined to over the last few weeks. They go crazy for a square of turf, and they pace the boundary of the enclosure when they see me digging, desperate to get to the worms they just know I am digging up for them.

Today I have potted on the courgettes and some Cosmos. There is no sign of life in the Verbena seeds I sowed around the same time, must be a bad lot. Will give it one more try. We have also erected our mini greenhouse, as housing for the pots taking over the conservatory.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Seed sowing continues....

First sowing of peas are now done 'Kelveden Wonder', have also sowed Parnsip 'Gladiator' and a little edge of chives all around the currant bed. Second sowings of various lettuces, carrots, spinach and radishes. Everything has started germinating except for the garlic, there is no sign of life at all!

The weather was great on Friday and I could not resist lifting a bit more turf to extend the flower border. I still have loads of pots of perennial which have to find a home somewhere. I managed to lift about 4.5m2 of area and dig it over. I did a rough planting plan to include what is in so far and made a little list of what I want further down the border, shrub wise.
Yesterday we took the kids to Chester Zoo and visited a friend who has just moved down to rural Cheshire. He has a big garden project of his own to tackle and I am hoping will let me help him at some point.  On the way home we popped into Blue bell gardens and nursery and I had a bit of a spending spree, buying up some damp loving plants including Ligularia 'The Rocket', Rodgersia 'Chocolate Wings' and Rheum palmatum. The children helped me plant them up this evening with some Hosta ' Blue Angel',  I think and Iris 'Gerald Darby'.

Monday, 9 April 2012


Easter Sunday is not a time for relaxing! Yesterday morning hubby and I hid eggs the woods for the children to find. However he had to first remove a dead bird from said woods as the youngest refused to enter the woods until the 'dead thing' had gone. She did offer to find daddy big gloves for the operation in case he got the germs!  The girls then spent a happy half hour on the hunt. However as the older one is wise to the ways of the egg hunt, she had asked me to count them, so they knew if they were all found. Anyway one still remains missing, much to the dismay of the oldest, who cannot understand why her mum cannot remember the exact location of the missing egg!!!
The afternoon was spend cutting the grass, well hubby cut while I edged and hoed off the weeds germinating under the new hedge.
The bareroot hornbeam hedge has burst into life. I have a couple of plants that had their heads chopped off by the hare, but they are coming lower down. I will see how they get on growing this season, and if necessary buy a couple to replace them over winter.

The friend came good with the leaf mold and left 8 bags for us, and lovely stuff it was too. I spread most of it around our one flower border, and it looks great. Well it did before the chickens escaped earlier today and headed straight for it. They had a good old scratch about sending the mulch in all directions. They also ripped the new leaves of an acanthus to shreds, who knew acanthus was irresistable to chickens! Luckily we noticed they had escaped before they found the new shoots in the veg bed!

Little inspection of the orchard trees and all seem to have life in them, and a couple of the apple trees have flower buds on them, so we may have a few apples this year?!

We popped up to Scotland for a few days ago and have brought back some snowdrops from the mother in law's garden. We have put them in the shrub under the large hedge that borders the garden. Currently the planting under here consists of nettles, dock, brambles and long grass.  I do not mind a 'wild' look but there are limits. Therefore over the year I am going to tackle some of the more persistant weeds here. Hubby wants daffs, snowdrops and primroses next spring, a much nicer look than the dead grass and weeds this spring!

Weather permitting today we will be pea sowing, its currently raining. I cannot see Scotland out of the window at the moment, this means the weather is set in for a while!!

Saturday, 31 March 2012


Spent the morning meeting customers at a local garden centre, handing out leaflets and giving out free advice.  But wanted to do a bit in the garden this pm.

Weather is still holding up here, cooler yes, but still no rain. I have had to water my pots, and recently planted fruit trees. One of the water butts is nearly empty!  My clay soil has dried to a hard crusty layer, except where there is the manure has protected it. I met a friend, who is gardener at a old stately home near here,  and he promised to drop off a few bags of 18 month old leaf mold. Ideal for a soil conditioning mulch. He has heaps of the stuff but none goes to waste. I was also tipped off via twitter that a local nursey has a good soil conditioner, so I must pop down and get a few bags.

I planted out a couple of rows of First Earlies, Epicure. I had a few left over, so I have popped them into some compost filled old grow bags and left them near the shed in the afternoon Sun. I have grown potatoes like this before and its always successful. I would normally use my own garden compost but mine will not be ready until this time next year.

Hubby potted on the artichokes I sowed on the 8/3, so he a happy bunny, but he still does not have a place to put them in the garden!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Mizuna and Rocket sown in the ground on Sunday, already germinated, is this a record for March. Yesterday cooked the first bbq of the year, and sat outside until it went dark ( 8ish). Been pottering around today, potted on some Rosemary cuttings I took last year, and put some mint into bigger pots. Sown some more Basil, and some Cosmos and Verbena bonariensis.
I keep looking at the expanse of grass and am desperate to lift more turf and get some plants in, but this is not really in the plan for this year.....plans can be tweaked!  Had another chap around to look at the fencing that needs doing so I am hoping he will be able to do it. The chickens have already destroyed the little run they are enclosed in, so their enclosure cannot come too soon. 
Anyway the sun is shining so am going to sit in it....

Monday, 26 March 2012

On your marks... get set.... sow

I really cannot believe the weather we are having. Kids are running around in shorts, wanting to have water fights, and its not even April yet. 
But at least the planting can get underway, with a little cross fingers it doesn't all go wrong in April and start snowing or something.
The onion sets are in, approx 180, mix or white, red and some shallots for good measure. Varieties I am trying are Turbo, Stuttgart Giant, Piroska, and Red Sun shallots. I have also put in some Marco garlic bulbs.
Started off some sweetcorn in my conservatory on Friday and they germinated in 2 days! Also have some leeks and courgettes in trays/pots inside.

I have sown some small rows of carrots, turnips, beetroot, mizuna, radish, pakchoi, and rocket, to see if the ground warm enough to let them germinate. I am pretty sure they will as the weeds are making an appearance and the grass is growing like its July.

In fact the first grass cut of the year happened yesterday. The new lawnmower (Honda) is much easier to start than the old prima donna (Suffolk Punch). In fact the old girl would not even start and needs a visit to the lawnmower man to do what ever it is he does to make her go.  I think we need to find  her new home with a nice garden with a lovely manicured lawn, and replace her with a rotary equivalent.

Still struggling to find someone to do the bit of fencing I need. The chap I had round a couple of weeks ago called to say he is too busy to do the work, he did tell me how much it should cost so at least that is something. Called another chap today so hopefully he will turn up for a look see soon.

Hubby has planted his Horseradish is a corner up by the compost bins, the best place for it......


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

March madness

Its still early on in the month, and I am still biding my time, before planting/sowing outside, as the weather can be so unpredictable. I have started off some beans, artichokes, sweetcorn, basil, & parsley in trays/pots. They are all on the window sills of the conservatory. The beans and artichokes seem to germinate almost overnight, closely followed by the basil.  I take a look every day willing the little green shoots to appear.

The grass is growing like billy oh, the cutting cannot be put off much longer. I took delivery of another lawn mower last week. Our lawn mower, according to the lawnmower repair man is for cutting nice short fine lawns and should not be used on field grass. He was very upset by the treatment we were dishing out to it last year, despite the money he was making on repairing it every five minutes. We now have a tough old rotary Honda, lets see how this one holds up. D day, or should I say M day is Saturday.  As the grass is growing now, I have given my supply of ornamental grasses a no 2 haircut. Fresh new shoots appeared the very next day.

Planted up the raspberry canes, varieties I have bought are Octavia and Glen Lyon. Hubby and I rigged up some posts and wire supports, which I was very pleased with. I was muttering away while fixing up the wires and sounded just like my Dad. I always was dads little helper when I was a kid. (Hi Pop!).
Re-potted a couple of blueberry bushes, and planted a couple of rows of strawberry plants, donated by a friend. As I was planting the strawberries, the chickies were behind me scratching them up, so their freedom has been curtailed. They are confined to their little run for the time being. I have asked a fencer to price up fencing for a decent sized run for the chickies and basic fencing around the veg plot. I feel this is essential to give the hedge time to grow, and to give some added protection for the plot, from the wind, and visiting creatures, on the hunt for a free lunch.

Veg beds warming under plastic sheeting
Must get onto planting the onion sets........

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ready for Spring

Orchard planting completed, so Spring can come now anytime it wants. The grass in the Orchard is very long, so its not going to be long before I will have to cut it. The plan is to turn this into a meadow, but that will be a job for later this year. I am not sure whether to cut the turf off, then seed or try and seed into the existing field grass???
All the veg beds are now dug over and manured where necessary (ie everywhere, appart from the 'roots' bed. ) We have been on our shopping trip to Caldbeck's potato day. There were, as they advertised 100 varieties of seed potatoes. It was frustrating as I had already bought mine. Oh well, its in the diary for next year. We did come away with rasp canes, onion sets, various, and loads and loads of Rebekahs veg seeds. Hubby chose a horseradish plant (with warning about is ability to take over!!)

The kids cannot wait to start sowing, and neither can I.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Veg bed prep

Half term this week and the weather has been really kind to us in West Cumbria. I really wanted to get all the veg beds dug over this week, but a neck injury has slowed me down. Its amazing what a big help the strapping 16yr old son of my next door neighbour has been. A bit of money for him and lots of digging done for me. There does not seem to be a pattern for how much rubble will be in the beds. Some have been really quick to dig, some take hours due to the volume of stone and boulders. I am keeping the really big ones to use for added interest in the borders, as they are really nice stones, just no good in your veg beds. ONE BED TO GO!

I have covered a couple of the beds in some black plastic. Actually recycled the stuff used to wrap the trees and hedging that was delivered a few weeks ago. It's the perfect width! Need to get hold of some more though, as I want to warm up the beds to get some early sowing done.

We have had a bit of wind today, and my wind mesh has taken a battering, I do not think I used those plastic zip tie thingys properly, as they have come undone. I have had another bash and it seems to be holding up ok for now.  

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Sheep invasion

Start of the half term holidays, half the country is covered in snow and ice, but not here. It was a bit overcast this a.m. however the rain held off all day.

We had a mini garden invasion from four escaped sheep this morning. I glanced out of the window and there they were, happily grazing on the grass. I managed to herd them back in the field next door. They seem to have found a big gap in the hedge. There were three in the garden yesterday as well! The chickies are not impressed by these monster visitors helping themselves to their food. We will have to plug up the gaps before the whole flock arrives with lambs in tow.

We managed to plant three pear trees today. My makeshift fleece protection seems to have put the hares off, so no more damage from their munching. Our plan for the rest of the weekend is to dig over some more of the veg beds, and cover the ones already turned over with some black plastic. This should help warm up the soil a bit to give us a head start in seed sowing next month.

 I noticed in the Cumbria Life magazine, a nearby village is having a potato day, selling seed potatoes, veg seed and fruit bushes. I need some raspberry canes, so I am going to pop along next Saturday and see what I can buy. I have already bought some seed potaotes and they are happily chitting away on the window sill of my conservatory.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Planting orchard underway

Planting the fruit trees underway. Made little cages out of chicken wire to stop the hare munching any more. I suspect it is too little too late for one of the trees, time will tell. photos from the weekend

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Fruit trees munched by hare

Last weekend we had no time to do anything, but panicking about the trees sitting in tubs of water, I decided to heel them into one of the veg beds already dug over. This morning we woke to frost, great!. This means a rain free day to get the rest of the hedge in. Hubby not impressed as he had plans to watch some blokes on the telly kicking a ball about, I think not!

I wandered up to the check on the trees and some creature has been having a right old munch on my apple trees. I suspect it is a hare, as we have seen one on occasion in the garden. I know deer do this sort of damage but I have not seen one around.  One of the trees is quite badly damaged, the rest should survive. I am going to get some tree guards for them, however in the meantime I have wrapped some garden fleece around the trunks, as a temporary measure. One of the hornbeam had been sliced in half, but the rest were left, maybe the creature did not like the taste.

Anyway we managed to plant the rest of the hornbeam hedge, forty metres in all.  The soil was quite wet still, with one patch particularly bad. We have wet area of ground stretching half the length of the garden and heading east to west. The amount of rain this winter has really left it sodden. The wind mesh has arrived, so if the weather hold we will get some of this fixed onto the existing wire fencing tomorrow, and make a start on getting the fruit trees planted.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Orchard arrives all wrapped up

The fruit trees and the hedging for the veg patch arrived this week. I unpacked it all,and popped  them all into trugs of water to keep the roots moist. We started planting up the hedging on wednesday, then the cumbrian weather arrived again to halt our efforts. A couple of days of high winds again, has finally forced me to order some wind mesh. Looking at the pathetic little sticks I am hoping to grow into a hedge, I realised I need to give the poor things some protection. 
Also, the children have been on a sustained campaign for a puppy for at least the last 5 years. Hubby and I have relented and we are getting a new member of the family later in the spring. The wind mesh will also protect the hedge and the veg for that matter from this four legged destroyer of gardens. I must be mad!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Manure - lovely stuff

Glorious day yesterday, pretty much the first whole dry day since November. Managed to get out into the garden in the afternoon. I drove around to the stables and stomped through the mud, to dig up some manure. This stuff is excellent, the pile must have been there for years, as its is so well rotted. I hope that my clay soil will soak it up. However I could do with a mini digger as it hard work lugging it through the stables in trugs. A couple of nice strong chaps would do. I could store them in the shed until needed (Do they sell them at the garden centre?)

I am using the manure to enrich the trenches for the hedging, which is being delivered in the next week or so. 

My one lonely border planted up last September, was under attack already from weeds, (Its been so mild), a quick hoe sorted that out. The chickies enjoyed a free supply of worms. They are not so daft, if they see a spade they come running.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Story so far

Last summer we moved into our new home. Very excited about the large undeveloped garden, with stunning views over the Solway Firth to Dumfries.
The garden is 60m long and 20m wide and faces west. To the North is large native hedge. To the south and west wire & post fencing. It is windy exposed,shady near the house until afternoon. The rest of the garden get sun all day (when it shines here).
The garden is currently all laid to grass (very rough field grass).
The soil is heavy clay, and very wet in patches. It also contains lots of rubble!
It is also home to three chickens, who have free range over the whole garden( not sure how they are going to feel about being contained when the time comes!)
The plan

Over the next few years we want to create a 4/5 seperate areas, including a veg patch, orchard, childrens garden, and two distinct flower gardens. I am sure this plan will change and develop over time, which is why I wants to keep a blog to track our progress.

So far....

We have taken delivery of a large shed, built some huge compost bins, installed two water butts.
We have marked out the veg patch area. and have cut borders for hornbeam hedging to surround this area, and I ordered the hedging just yesterday.
I also ordered, 2 plum, 3 apple and 3 pear trees, to create the beginnings of an orchard.(More about them when they arrive in a couple of weeks)

We also cut out 13 veg beds, and have been digging these over when weather permits (which has not been often since November!) We have planted redcurrant, blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes, which have lived in pots for the last few years and have moved house with us. I am sure they will all appreciate the root space and the well rotted horse manure, we have dug in.

Photos to date can be found on my flickr photostream