A place of my own

I have moved house again and finally gotten my garden back together.

I suppose I should begin this blog with an apology, I have been away a long time and my garden has taken a bit of a back seat with one thing and another.

However, to focus on the positive, I finally have a piece of garden that is only mine. I have a hedge! I was less excited when I had to trim the hedge with the shears I borrowed but it is definitely satisfying to hack at disobedient foliage for a couple of hours.

So the garden definitely isn’t what I would have made it. It was clearly designed for low maintenance and is basically comprised of many different types of mulch (slate, bark and gravel, all of which seems determined to amalgamate into some sort of agricultural Bombay mix). It also has a pit. The pit is so the basement can have a window and therefore conform to fire regulations. It is absolutely not permitted to turn the pit into a water feature/hot tub.  Believe me, I asked.

The encouraging thing is, even with all my other commitments, my garden has hung in there. I still have tomatoes (they seem to be what I am best at for some reason) and lots of herbs.

Today I planted my winter salad (purslane, land cress, rocket, corn salad and lettuces) along with some Chard and some extra herbs.

I am hopeful. Since I have much more space now I won’t have to squash my plants in so much and perhaps they will grow better.

Mum and Dad bought me a bucket (not an exaggeration) of plumbs so I am busy destoning, freezing, stewing and giving them away as fast as I can. You’ll hear from me again soon.

Keep Gardening!

Beginning Again

Uncertainty has dissipated and I will be here for the foreseeable future. Time to get gardening.

Since my last entry it has become apparent that I will be staying in my current location for the foreseeable future and this has given me new enthusiasm for my little patch.

They do say that a bad workman always blames her tools but I do think that some of my pots were struggling because of the compost that they were filled with. Turning out the offending containers led me to discover sopping wet compost despite the fact it have been very dry here for the last week and I have been watering a sensible amount. Hopefully now they will do much better. 

I turfed out the lettuce that has been stagnant for the last few months along with its soggy compost and replaced it with new plants and new soil. I have planted two pots of lettuce since it is what I seem to eat most. I have also sewed some more spinach seeds, again in new compost which means they should do much better.

I have revamped my herb pot, finally pulling out the parsley which went to seed about two months ago. I don’t have any to replace it with and my coriander has sadly perished so those will be my next purchases. I did however plant some new mint and basil. I have planted some new chives in a separate pot and planted Delfland’s very attractive basil collection in my very attractive green pot.

I gave everything a good feed with potassium nitrate (1 teaspoon per gallon) including my rather impressive looking tomato plant. I was hoping that feeding my courgette might give it new courage in the face of its snail-perpetrated annihilation but I fear it may be too late since I could probably read a book through its one remaining leaf. 

I have a few left over plants from my latest delivery and am hoping I can keep them alive over the weekend so I can plant them in D&B’s garden for them while they are away. Here’s hoping my new enthusiasm also acts as snail repellent. Happy gardening. Ele

Welcome Back

Ele’s return to the garden after a stressful spring.

It has been a long time since you heard from me in sunny Norwich. Since concluding my third year of university things have been very much in flux and my future is slightly uncertain but somehow my plants, despite my general neglect, are mostly hanging in there.

My ever resilient herb pot still contains sage, oregano and some parsley which I am hoping to take seed from. If you only attempt growing one thing I would recommend a pot of mixed herbs. It is definitely the pot I have gotten most culinary use out of and in terms of value for money it has saved me a lot of money on fresh herbs which I love to cook with.

The new additions to my new patch have, however, been largely devoured by snails. “The little courgette plant that could” has somehow produced three (granted quite small) courgettes whilst possessing approximately five eighths of a leaf. How this has happened I don’t know but I am going to take them off and eat them soon, if only to give the poor thing chance to produce a few more leaves. My beans are also abundant despite intimate acquaintance with my slimy neighbours.  

I think I am having problems with my compost in some cases because the containers of onions and lettuces haven’t really done much. I think maybe fertiliser or something will fix it -something to bear in mind when I plant my next lot of plugs. The strawberry pot is also a little quiet on the progress front so maybe I won’t get anything from it this year. At least they can be kept over winter and, with feed, might do better next year.

The real success story is my tomato plant.  It seems to have thrived on my neglect and looks magnificent (if I do say so myself). It even has a few little green developing tomatoes on it. I am very excited to taste them. For reasons best known to themselves the snails have completely ignored it and I am thrilled. You will hear from me again soon. Happy gardening. Ele

Mysterious Diggings

Something is digging in my tubs.

My new plants seem to be settling in quite well. The radishes are starting to look a bit sad. I don’t hold out much hope for them to actually produce a crop but I will let them stay in their pot until I need it for something else. What has really occupied me recently is the series of small holes that have been starting to appear in my pots. I assume something is digging at them but whatever is doing it doesn’t appear to be interested in the plants. I will keep an eye out but I can’t think what it would be unless its the squirrel is hoarding things for winter.

The mustard I have planted in the boarder seems to be doing just fine. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t have enough nutrients but they seem to be doing just as well as those in the pots. My chilli plant is looking a bit scorched but I think it’s probably alright since it’s only on a few of the leaves.

Also, because its winter and things outside are growing so slowly I have decided to try sprouting some seeds inside for some faster gratification. The seeds I have are quite old though so we’ll see what kind of germination I get. Hopefully I will have some nice bean sprouts for my stir-fries to replace my missing oriental vegetables.

Incidentally, this is a picture of where I was this weekend (Devon). Such a beautiful place and so inspiring. Happy gardening, Ele. 

An Exciting Delivery

MY container garden is rejuvenated by some new arrivals.

It was at this point in my gardening session that I noticed a lot of abandoned pots in the boarder that a resident before me must have discarded. I rescued most of these apart from the one that seems to be the source of all snails and the wooden window box which was already occupied. I also found a huge slug. So, after my mini safari, I used some of these pots to plant some mustard. I know they are small so will require more watering but given the Norwich climate and the fact that winter is coming I don’t think it will be too much of a problem. 

My lettuce and radishes are still surviving and my herb pot and chillies look great. I have also discovered a fig tree with fruit on it that seems to nearly be ripe. I sense a fresh fig and pancetta salad in the future.  There is also a rosemary bush hiding in the boarder which is nice to know about since I don’t have much in my pot since it is slow growing. I have gathered the fallen apples up and will be making myself some delicious deserts with them soon.

I have also made a volcano cake for the UEA 50th anniversary celebration  “Cake-off” so wish me luck with that (the judging is later today). It’s so nice to be back being busy with my studies and my garden. Happy gardening, Ele

After what I am terming a mild success drought, is nice to finally get some new things to plant and try my hand at. I have decided that the spinach I grew from seed had reached the end of its usefulness so it was time to chop it all off with scissors for one last harvest and then use that pot for my winter salads. I planted a mini pack of winter salads from www.organicplants.uk . I am becoming limited in terms of space so they are all a little cosy in that pot. I will see how they go but I might have to transplant some of them into the boarders. 

I also dug up the one solitary bean that I managed to germinate. From what I can gather from research, there is no way it is actually going to produce any beans for me this year and it hasn’t really shown much enthusiasm since I planted it outside so I have replaced it with some bunching onions. I have also planted some chard which I think will look beautiful in the green glazed pot with its many coloured stems.  

Murder on the Oriental Vegetable Express

The tragic demise of my oriental vegetables.

I’ve only been away for 3 days but it appears that in that time the Norwich heavens have opened to their fullest extent and drowned all my oriental vegetables. When I examined the victims more carefully it was apparent that they had entirely rotted off. I think maybe Carbon Gold compost might retain too much water for outdoor use in Norwich. 

After a demorilising week for my plants it was lovely to see these autumn crocuses thriving.

Tomorrow I think I am going out to buy some plant food for my radishes. They have grown a lot of leaf but their stems don’t seem to be swelling at all. I think possibly they could also be thinned a bit more too. Some googling is going to have to take place I think. 

Despite the death of my oriental veg my weekend away at the Sturminster Newton Cheese festival was incredible and gave me and tonne of ideas both for the garden and the kitchen. My pick of the festival was Shorrocks Cheese: if you see a cheese bomb from these guys in your local market then I cannot recommend it highly enough. Check out their website here: http://www.lancashirebombs.co.uk/cheese.html

Planting some perpetual spinach this week when the weather clears up. Happy gardening, Ele

Some indication of how wet this weekend has been. I am honestly surprised: I thought drought would be my main enemy as a container gardener but it seems it’s the opposite problem. Next year I will put bricks in the bottom of my pots to aid drainage. 

My face upon the discovery of my vegetables’ tragic demise. Less Poirot and more veg-rot but still, I’m counting this as murder. I think i will get over the loss with the help of the delicious Sturminster Newton cheese festival produce.

Pests, Exploration and a New Toy

The pest battle intensifies and I make some fantastic discoveries in the garden.

It seems that now my plants are established and consistently yielding lots of great tasting produce that the bugs of the garden have noticed too.  I’m pretty sure it’s snails or slugs that have been having a go at my oriental vegetables. The vindictive portion of my brain is considering putting a ring of salt around the bottom of my pots but I know in my hear t of hearts that my conscience wouldn’t allow indiscriminate gastropod murder. I have resolved to pick any up that I see and relocate them to the hedge. The radishes too are a little on the holey side but I’m not sure what’s eating those. I think I will be asking agony plant again. 

I have transplanted the one bean that survived my clumsy attempts at sowing to the wine box that it was originally supposed to inhabit. I am pretty sure I won’t get any beans off of it this year but it was at least a useful learning experience. Also it has highlighted that I really ought to go out and get a few basic gardening tools. I can’t keep transplanting things with spoons.

Further exploration of the garden has yielded some incredible discoveries though. I have discovered a compost pile, two apple trees and a bumper crop of blackberries. Unfortunately the blackberries are located about 9 feet up at the back of the hedge so some ingenuity will be required to get most of them down. However the few I did manage to acquire made a delicious crumble. 

Also, due to the tragic demise of my old camera (It unfortunately took an almost unbelievable dive from the arm of the sofa into a pint of water) I have finally invested in a brand new camera which I must say is utterly glorious. Also on the technological front, don’t forget you can follow me on twitter @GreenSideUpEle

Happy Gardening,


Back from the Fringe…

Managing my pots after a week away.

Back from Edinburgh at an ungodly hour I still had just enough energy to wonder what had become of my plants. And, joy of joys, I have beans! Ok, so I have two bean plants from the large handful of seeds I sowed and one of them is still quite weedy but still, it’s something. The tub on the windowsill was pretty dry and I decided that if any more beans were going to germinate they would have done so by now so I watered the ones that have come up. 

After my first good night’s sleep in a week I couldn’t wait to get back to the garden. Firstly, I placed the bean container outside. I think I will bring it in again if it rains heavily since the box has no holes in the bottom and I am concerned about drainage. There were also a lot of little flies crawling on the soil, they don’t seem to be bothering my beans but I thought I might take advantage of the avian pest control service available in my garden. When the beans get a little bigger I will transplant them into a bigger pot and leave them outside permanently.

In other news my herbs are huge! I have an ample supply of all the soft herbs I use on a daily basis apart from mint. Warned about its vigorousness I planted it in a tube to restrict its growth but the other herbs seem to have stolen so much of its light that it never really got going. I have resolved that, when I harvest, I will pick the herb leaves that are closest to the mint as a form of pruning in the hope of giving the mint some more room. 

Unlike the beans the radishes have germinated with incredible success so I have thinned them quite considerably. When I was deciding how many to take out I considered the size of the average radish and tried to leave each plant enough room to reach that size. The spinach is starting to go to seed so I will be nipping out the tops the next time I need some (expect a delicious spinach recipe in the next few days). I am also ready with my perpetual spinach seeds so it’s not to disastrous if I only get a few more weeks’ worth of greens off these plants. 

My oriental veg pot is also looking incredible. It is definitely ready for harvesting. Something, I think a pigeon, has taken a few chunks out of some of the more tender leaves but it appears to be thriving in spite of this so I am not too upset. It appears planting a whole mini pack in one pot has gone just fine since the plants all seem to till have enough space.  

I will be planting my rainbow chard soon (can’t wait) and, following some conversations with neighbours, I will also be considering what I can plant in the boarders since everyone seems to think it’s a fabulous idea to have some vegetables in the garden. Thank heavens for nice neighbours. That’s all for now folks. Happy gardening, Ele.

Planning Ahead

Looking ahead to September

Given that I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain I felt my decision to plant my next batch of beans inside was a good one. Hopefully this batch will germinate and eventually be transplantable.

In harvesting news I have had the first taste of the spinach. I made delicious herby burgers with a lush salad of lettuce and spinach (recipe here). This particular dish has also reminded me that next year I really want to try and grow some tomatoes. They’re something I eat so often and enjoy so much that it would be foolish not to give growing them a try. 

Looking ahead to the more immediate future I have been thinking about what I want to plant in September. I think chard is going to have to feature given that it both looks fantastic and is one of my favourite leafy green vegetables and, in my experience really hard to get hold of anywhere other than farmers’ markets. I also have some perpetual spinach seeds I will plant when the spinach I planted in July goes to seed. I was going to just plant the new spinach in the same pot as the old but since I have had problems with leaf miner it might be better to do a little bit of crop rotation to minimise pest build up.  Sometimes I wish there was a fast forward button for the garden so I could have even more delicious veg sooner! Happy Gardening, Ele 

The squirrel, the has beans and the little chilli plant that could

My first little setback.

I have been doing so well with my little patch that I guess it was only a matter of time before there was trouble in paradise. Unfortunately the beans I planted haven’t come up at all. Initially, I blamed the squirrel that I have seen in the garden and unjustly stalked the poor thing with my camera… possibly with the view to making a wanted poster. But, upon closer inspection I found most of the beans still in the soil but they were rotten. After some research I found out that beans cannot germinate without oxygen and in the Norwich monsoons the soil had gotten too wet to allow them to breath.  

However, the Carbon Gold compost in which they were planted has been brilliant for less finicky seeds and my plug plants. They have grown up almost unbelievably quickly. I am already planning a vibrant stir-fry for the oriental vegetables and some of the chilies from my incredibly productive little chilli plant. Fingers crossed for my next batch of beans, Ele

p.s In utterly unrelated news, I managed to change the inner tube on the back tyre of my bike completely unassisted and am inordinately proud of this fact.  

So, with slight guilt of my drowned beans on my conscience I have sowed the remainder in an old margarine tub and left it on a sunny windowsill. I think this way they won’t get waterlogged if there are more downpours.