Gardening 2011: Review

This is a post I have been planning to do for a while now, but I have never quite got round to writing it!  As most of my readers probably know, I do a little bit of vegetable gardening – and am slowly learning by experience (read that as ‘by trying and failing’).   However, I am (at last) getting a little more productive in the garden.  2011 has been my best gardening year so far, and my family have enjoyed several freshly picked vegetables from the garden, besides apples from our massive apple tree.

As I have occasionally mentioned my garden in the blogging world, I thought it was about time I showed some proof that it does exist (not that I believe anyone doubts it!).  We have had our first frost today, so what is left will doubtless soon die down and be removed.  These photos were taken in the middle of summer, when the garden was at its peak.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my photos of my 2011 garden…
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Most of my little plot.  I think I have mentioned that we only have a very small back garden; my vegetable plot reflects that a little!  In this photo are my courgette plants (at the back), two bean ‘wigwams’, the sugar snap peas (just in front of the beans), and my sister’s carrots (on the left).  Out of the photo is another courgette plant, and the cucumbers and tomatoes.  Generally speaking, I planted less this year, but for all that, I had a lot better success rate.  Hmmm…

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The bean plants. The beans didn’t do too badly, considering that I was the gardener they were plagued by aphids.

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A courgette plant. The courgettes did a record year for us. I (unintentionally) got several very large courgettes – they almost seemed to grow whilst my back was turned! Needless to say, we enjoyed several courgette dishes, which we don’t normally have (for some reason, courgettes are not something we frequently buy).

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I also managed to coax a few patty-pan squash out of my few stunted squash plants. I can’t quite remember, but I think I left them in their pots too long before I planted them out. They never did very well.

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A cucumber from my cucumber plants.  The cucumbers were not the most successful, but I got more from them that I have in previous years… (not hard really, 1 being the grand total before!)

I haven’t really included any photos of the tomato plants – they weren’t intentionally overlooked.  I do have some somewhere, from before they were hit by blight and had to be harvested prematurely.   So no ripe tomatoes, but I was able to make two batches of green tomato chutney with the 8kg(?) of green tomatoes I was able to harvest.

Anyway, that is a little glimpse of my garden.  Next year, I hope to take over a little bit more of the garden.  Does anyone know any plants that grow well in shade?!

A First!

Just after I had pressed “publish” on my post yesterday, my six-year-old sister called me to pull her largest carrot.  “Do you think I can pull my big carrot?” she asked.  “Would you like to?” I asked her.  “Yes,” was her excited reply.  A little unsure, I followed her into the garden.  The carrot looked quite promising from the top, to be certain, but I had never managed to grown carrots of any serviceable size before.  I was not entirely convinced that this carrot would be any different.  Visions of a short, stumpy, runt carrot filled my head…

Carefully I pulled the top of the carrot.  The carrot came out quite easily.  And I was pleasantly surprised – rather than being small and runtish, the carrot was very definitely a carrot!

Needless to say, I ran inside to grab my camera.  Such achievements have to be chronicled!

After the success of the first carrot, I felt confident enough to pull another!  The second was longer than the first, but not quite as fat, but just as successful.  Maybe it is my little sister’s green fingers… or maybe the new location for my veggie plot,  or maybe I dug the ground well (unlikely!) but this was an unprecedented first! (then again, my two courgette plants have also been very prolific; they have only been producing for one and a half weeks and already we have had 10 of them!)

Then my little brother wanted a carrot to hold too.  I “pulled” him one – actually it ended up being dug out, as I succeeded in pulling off all the top!  However, he would not let me photograph him, instead preferring to run around the garden holding the carrot with his tongue out his mouth just a little bit.

It seems quite a habit of his.  Whenever I try to take a photograph of him, he runs round the garden laughing!  It really is quite fun though, chasing him with the camera!

As for the carrots, they were chopped and eaten raw for tea.  They were very delicious!

A Few Things

Firstly…

Last Saturday, I and my sister got 3 new pet rats, to replace Rosie, who had died the weekend before. We have named them Mia, Mitzi, and Maya. They are probably sisters. At least we hope they are, because my sister is worried that little Maya is a boy! I doubt it very much!

Daisy looks most disapproving upon them, for they are very young and bouncy! When we introduce them, I predict their will be a large amount of scuffling and squeaking going on!mia

Mia has a lot of character. She is a beautiful husky rat with a rex coat (methinks!) and is the largest of the three. She has character. She bounces, squeaks whenever she has the slightest reason to, and enjoys most of all climbing all over Daisy’s cage! Poor little Daisy is being kept very much awake by her.

mitziMitzi is a sweet little champagne rat. She gave the person in the pet shop a horrendous time catching her, but is significantly easier to handle now. She was getting quite bold in her ventures when out playing, but unfortunately she got scared yesterday morning and ran under my bed and now is quite timid again.

mayaMaya is a dark brown little rat. She was the most retiring of all three, but since Mitzi was scared, she is getting an awful lot bolder. She is catching on Mia’s behaviour and runs all over Daisy’s cage.

maya-mitziI haven’t taken many photos because they are still very young and the flash scares them. They certainly keep us on our feet when they are out playing!

Secondly,…

I have been gardening. Our garden, I am now convinced, is made up of solely clay soil and was one time a builder’s dumping ground. I have found so many broken bricks that I declared that I never wanted to see a brick again (sad, especially as a lot of houses are made from bricks!). Amongst other things found in the garden there are large stones, bones, an old rusty fork head, random pieces of metal, and a large yellow plastic bag (or the remains of one. And it goes without saying that there are weeds and plenty of ivy.flowers

Anyway, I plan to plant potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, radishes, beetroot, baby carrots, lettuce, cabbages, and some green leafy vegetables. The potatoes I am going to grow in potato bag, and I would also like a contained raised bed on our patio, but I may have to wait a little while for that. I still am not sure where I am going to plant these veggies and whether any will grow, I honestly don’t know, but I will have tried!

dafodilAlso in the garden are daffodils! I am convinced they are early this year. The crocuses are now well past their best, having suffered badly in the rain we had last week.

Thirdly:

It is just over a week until my mother’s due date. Please pray that everything goes well for her. The hospital are seeing her again next Monday and will tell her then what they plan to do.

And lastly:

Before I forget, a little while ago, Hannah from Striving to Glorify the Lord awarded me a blogging excellency award. Thank you, Hannah!excellence_in_blogcasting

I guess I am supposed to pass on this award and although in the past I have neglected to do so, this time I shall. I award…

This list is not exhaustive; far from it! There are many more excellent blogs I know out there!

Ripening Tomatoes

A first! Surely it is something to blog about, especially as one member of my family said that they probably would ripen in our climate… Not that I can see why they should ripen, we have had very little sun this year. Yes, it is only orange, but it will turn red eventually.

Spider Mites

And I thought I was overwatering them…

But no, it seems these pests are on my beans. Recently their leaves had been getting speckled and there were fine webs round the canes supporting them. These webs were covered in spider-like creatures. As my beans were looking bad, I did some research on the speckling. At first I thought it could be magnesium deficiency, but then I also looked up the spider-like creatures. I did some research into them and it sounds very likely. Even the speckling on the leaves could be accounted for, with one site saying:

Small patches of cells are killed, resulting in a stippling or fine flecking on the upper surface of leaves, giving the leaves a “sandblasted” appearance. On heavily infested plants, the foliage will become bronzed, bleached, yellow, or gray.

And my plants were heavily infested. Obviously being inside created optimal conditions for the mites. I don’t know where all those pests came from, but they are very much there. I have moved all my beans outside in the hope that the conditions out there would be less favourable for them. Apart from spraying the beans with insecticide, which I am not keen on doing, there doesn’t seem to be much I can do. I could go round killing all the mites I can see – maybe I’ll do that in an attempt to prevent them from killing my beans, though the plants look in a rather sorry state.

While doing my search to see what was wrong with my beans, I also discovered the cause of yellowing on the leaves of my tomato plants: early blight. I still haven’t identified what’s making one of the plants wilt and look sorry for itself, although it has been watered plenty with all the rain we’ve had.

The amateur gardener must expect set-backs. I’d just rather that I knew more about plants. I guess I’ll learn from experience. This year’s planting was experimental in nature and experiments always prove interesting.

But not all my experimental gardening is that bad. Most of my tomato plants (including the wilted plants) are flowering and some have grown really strong and tall. The excitement (for me, at least) of seeing the first flowers on my plants and then, in time, the first fruits, was well worth the effort. So despite the pending possibility of spider mites killing off my beans, I’d definitely do it again next year!

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies…. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (Proverbs 31:10, 16)

Plant Photos

These are some photos I took yesterday while I repotted some tomato plants!

Isn’t it a lovely red rose? Such a pity that my camera had to take such dreadful photos!

A wild strawberry plant. We have quite a few of these in our garden. The berries are very small and sweet. Mmmm!

Here are some of my tomato plants. They have grown! These are exactly the same ones I’ve posted pictures of before though to be honest I can hardly believe the size of them myself. The reason they are in pots in the house is because I can’t bear to put them outside where they’ll be at the mercy of the slugs and snails! Now to wait for them to bear fruit….

Close-up of tomato leaves – aren’t they pretty?

Bean plant flowers. These dwarf beans are sitting on our windowsill – again, I can’t bear to leave them at the mercy of the slugs and snails!

I recall that when I posted photos of our apple blossom, Sarah (from As Lilies Sewing) asked me whether we had a lot of apples. The cooking apple tree is bursting with apples at the moment! Here are a few photos–


When in the garden I saw these plants coming over the fence from our neighbour’s garden. Pretty amazing, eh?Nature’s springs?

Pretty coil!

I don’t know what they are, but I can assure you that we don’t really want this climbing plant climbing into our apple tree!

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.