Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jobs that needed doing

Jobs that needed doing

One of the jobs I've been meaning to do for a while is finish digging the main Autumn vegetable bed and move a Raspberry plant as well as plant an Apple Mint that we picked up in a local community market. One of our biggest problems when buying plants is that they stay in their pots until it is too late. Recently we have taken the decision to be more systematic about planting things out as keeping them in a pot means watering gets forgotten and the plants normally die. At some stage I end up putting the pots outside the greenhouse with the good intention of planting but they get eaten by rabbits or fall over in the wind. Not any more - hopefully. The Apple Mint went into a hole cut in the grass and left to go as rampant and wild as it wants. I did the same with the Raspberry that was in the vegetable bed. 

The bed I wanted to dig also had a tomato plant in that I put outside because the pot it was in was far too small. The plant was about 1ft tall when I moved it in about June and it flourished amazingly well. It was a plum variety and I didn't expect it to do well outdoors but we have been picking ripe tomatoes from it for ages and a fair few but it's vines had gone along the ground, around each other and made a real bushy knot. I knew there were still a few ripe tomatoes on it so I picked them, and ate most of them there and then, but amongst all the foliage there must have been 100 or more green and semi ripe tomatoes. You can see the pile I made with them, plus a load, may be 30 or more that fell off which I left to dig into the bed plus a load more still on the plant which will go into the compost heap. I intend weighing the bag of green tomatoes and will leave them in the greenhouse to ripen. I think there must be around 2KG of ones that seemed good enough and big enough to keep. That's just off of the one plant.

Something I will definitely do next year is try and plant many more tomato plants outside but next time I must make a cordon for them to grow up.  

I eventually double dug the bed over and tried to protect it from the Rabbits - spot the professional fence. Although no dig may be the answer the fact is our soil is such heavy clay that it needs breaking up so I took the decision that I would double dig every bed, adding manure, sand etc the first season and then I'll have the option of trying no dig in the future. The beds are approximately 24" deep with big drainage channels around them. The channels are for 2 reasons, 1 being it is a weed block and the 2nd is that the soil that comes out of the channel goes into the bed which then raises it. Double dug raised beds. It seemed like a good idea. These were exceptionally difficult to dig in the spring and summer, so much so I couldn't get enough dug for the number of vegetables we wanted to plant so I'm hoping to do much more digging during the autumn and winter after rain since it may be messy but so much softer. Broccoli and Cabbage and Spring Onion will go into this last bit of the main bed.


Durham Early Cabbage

This Cabbage is supposed to be about the earliest large cabbage you can get, that's the claim, and although I'd like to say I chose it I didn't. It's all the Garden Centre had left yesterday so I bought a dozen plug plants and have managed to get them in the ground. My own cabbage was decimated by the Small and Large White Butterfly.


White Sprouting Broccoli

Nigel Slater wrote in the Guardian a few years ago about how good the White Sprouting Broccoli was so once again I'd have been happy if I chose to buy these but once again I didn't. Small Whites etc got my Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Out of all the veg as plug plants the garden centre had this and the Durham Early were all they had and so I bought a dozen of both.


Green  Alkanet

Green Alkanet
In the Spring I scattered many packets of Wild Flowers over the banks of the pond. I of course didn't write down what was in the packets but around 30 different flowers is what I seem to remember. Only a few came up, maybe 6 or 7 different ones but I do remember there being Forget-me-nots although I didn't think they came up and also they are supposed to be biennial. I was expecting, if they had worked to perhaps show themselves next spring but today I think I found a few, shown in the picture. I thought that they flower in April / June time but hey-ho.
Update 25th October
These turned out to be Green Alkanet and not Forget-Me-Nots as previously thought. Another Wild Flower learned :) 


Unidentified Flower

I am trying to learn how to identify Wild Flowers but today I found one that I can't find a reference to on the Internet and it doesn't appear to be in my Wild Flower books. I have no idea what it is although it's very hairy and has 4 petals with it's sepals well extended. Purple blue in colour with a white centre. The flower is where I shook all the Wild Flower seed so it is unlikely to have come from anywhere else. Before the pond was there it was simply a field which was well trampled by a horse for 14 years. It must have come from a packet of seed.

Any ideas? Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.
Update 25th October as per the comment below these have been confirmed as Borage for 2 reasons, firstly, a second person said it was Borage but secondly Borage does do this as is shown by the fact another flower opened on the same plant but with 5 petals :) It's hard enough for me to identify Wild Flowers as it is let alone when they don't know themselves what form to take!


  1. Hi Andy,

    I headed over here after you left a comment on my blog and started trying to figure out what your mystery flower is. This may be way off the mark but I'm wondering if it's actually borage. Usually have five petals but look here: - not always! And I have seen very small borage plants when they have a lot of competition for space. What do you think? (Can't think what else it could be!) Alison

  2. Hi Alison, and well done - it is Borage. I was volunteering at the Wildlife Trust today and they confirmed Borage.