Posts Tagged ‘garden’

My feline housemate and I are pleased to announce the household is expecting some new arrivals! Very long awaited arrivals, that we (well I) have hoped for and sent a non-binding, secular plea to the non-existent and certainly non denominational garden gods. Now the day has finally arrived, and I can share my joyous garden news with you.

As it turns out Figgy Forrest is not actually Figgy Forrest, but rather Figomena Forrest and SHE IS GROWING A FIG! [NB: Technically she is Figgy Forrest #2 as Figgy #1 met an unfortunate accident from which he never recovered (and which I try not to mention as it still upsets me to this day #tragedy).]

If you look to the top left and squint, you will see a baby fig on Figomena

Anyway, Figgy short for Figomena has decided that 2019 is the year she will deign to produce a fig, thereby confirming she is a female fig tree (reassuring because otherwise for several years I have been watering and caring for what would be just a decorative fig plant).

All new parents do the obligatory out of focus of their offspring (it’s just normally the offspring look more like Winston Churchill than a fruit)

I am hoping in late 2020 she may deign to produce figs in plural, but we have to learn to crawl before we walk. And one fig is better than no figs and a decorative fig tree that you’ve been watering for several years hoping it will fruit.

On top of that GREAT GARDEN NEWS, I decided this year to follow some random advice on the internet about dealing with non-fruiting pomengranate trees:

If the tree bloomed but bore no fruit, there probably were no bees in your garden when it bloomed. If there are no native or domestic bees or other insects the flowers won’t be pollinated and won’t become fruits. So when your the tree blooms in spring, take a sable paint brush and pollinate all the flowers. Just play like a bee and go from flower to flower spreading the pollen from one to another. Sometimes people use a feather duster for this job but a paintbrush is better.

And the results, dear reader are in! Random advice on the internet does occasionally work:

There are two pomegranates in this picture…

…and with the help of a number 4 watercolour brush I succeeded in getting my blossoming but never fruiting pomegranate tree to fruit not ONE BUT TWO pomegranates!

I am currently calling them P1:

P1 is a bit of a runt because it’s growing next to the stake, but whatever I LOVE IT JUST THE SAME

And P2:

P2 is definitely the more pomegranate looking of the two (but don’t tell P1)

For those of you wondering what I will be doing once these new residents are finally ready to join my household, I will just leave this link to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal

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Impending blossom: like impending doom because it’s equally inevitable, but it is more nicely scented.

The Jasmine I have out the back has finally come into its own: it’s covering the half of the back fence/neighbour’s house that I wanted to (such ugly bricks) and in August and September it brought me a lot of joy as it delicately scented the air.

Festooned with future blossoms

It was really nice to enjoy the first hints of Jasmine in the air, before it became a heady scent in the warm (well occasionally warm-ish) spring air.

Peppered with prettiness

When it was in full riot of blossom, it was absolutely glorious…

Pink jasmine, pink flamingo…is there a theme?

I am hoping I can get it to cover the rest of the wall next year 😉

…and then we take Berlin.


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Wide open vista: without old hot water heater…and without neighbour’s trees

I’ve been doing a lot of small improvements: small but they occasionally cost big money. They are not “wowser” improvements, there are no big and noticeable changes but they are improving my quality of life, my house and – in this case – are unavoidable…

Once such improvement was removing the old electric water heater which was rapidly rusting out, had the capacity to only fill 1/4 of my bath and ran out of water about 15 minutes into any showers (I don’t normally have 15+ minute showers, but I do like the option when dyeing my hair or doing treatments).

Old water heater, taking up space

The old water heater was an electric only tank heater, that took up a bit of space in the back garden. And the back garden is quite narrow to start with.

Old water heater looking to the other side of the garden

I’ve replaced it with an instantaneous gas water heater which is much smaller and sits much higher on the wall so there’s space to put plants below it. It’s a small – but expensive – change, and was needed because the old heater was rapidly on the way out. It’s improving my life (hot baths and unlimited hot showers) and also improving my back garden.

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Things were mint in the garden. Boom Tish.

From August-November, I managed to get quite a good harvest out of the snow peas and sugar snap peas I planted, particularly the snow peas.

Demurely productive vegetable garden.

And I got a respectable harvest out of the broad bean, although nowhere near the terrifying surplus of 2013 (which caused me to research and test a number of recipes). It’s convenient this year’s broad beans weren’t as prolific: I really didn’t have space in my freezer to deal.

Veggie garden with Mulberry Tree photobomb

The Mulberry tree was also prolific but due to a horrendous combination of professional, study, personal and social commitments…I didn’t really get to enjoy it (or take photos of it) this year.

I will have to review Mulberry pruning strategies for next year: I didn’t prune this year because I over-pruned in 2016. As a result all the 2017 fruit was on incredible high verticals that I couldn’t actually reach to harvest: it was prolific, I just couldn’t get to the fruit. I need to research and find a happy medium of pruning for the tree in 2018.

Note the plant markers? That’s what you can do with your bamboo cutlery…

I also used up a lot of seed this year: sprinkling much of it along my back fence line to see if it was still fertile (some of it was quite aged). I also planted leeks, the last of the padron pimiento, tamarillos, tomatillos and oxheart tomato seeds. Some of the padron pimientos came up, so did the oxhearts, and a couple of tomatillos. But sadly no show from the leeks and tamarillos.

Advanced oxhearts

I planted out the oxheart tomato seedings when I sectioned some Sansevieria (aka snake plant) for people. I also planted out the tomatillos.

The tomatoes will grow happily for 2 months, and then all up their sticks within two weeks of one another.

Sadly all the tomatoes gave up the ghost about 2 weeks ago, after growing quite nicely. And I am down to only one tomatillo, which is also disappointing. The padron pimientos are doing quite well though. So that’s something.

At least I still have the mint…until the cabbage moth caterpillars find it and eat it again.

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If you haven’t already worked it out, I have a problem with stopping and smelling the roses nasturtiums. I keep too many lists of things to do, and I don’t always take enough time to appreciate how far I’ve come. So let’s have a moment:


I’ve always wanted my back garden to be overflowing: with rocket (I now have wild rocket as a weed #achievementunlocked), cape gooseberries (still working on this one) and nasturtiums. Not only are nasturtiums pretty, they are edible and there’s a verge in Guildford that gets covered with them every year…I have always loved it. I have other plans for my front verge, but I did want nasturtiums in my back garden to rival that front verge.

Scenic compost bin vista.

The nasturtiums are now starting to come up without me sewing seeds, which is awesome. The other side of the garden also looks fine:

To the lemon tree, Jeeves.

And the wider view is quite pretty:

Much green, so wow.

We’ve come a long way baby:

More green, more wow, such achievement.

Not too shabby.

This IS a slightly different nasturtium photo from the lead photo. If you MUST know.

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First handful of sugar snap peas and snow peas.

Given I’m writing this post about late spring in the veggie garden in the middle of summer, you would be right in thinking I am a little behind in posting. Luckily a patch of 34+ days are crimping my summer holiday DIY plans.

Segue: crimping my holiday plans unless I get up at before sparrow fart when it’s cool, or stay up until…(actually what is the opposite of sparrow fart for the people who have to wait until sundown and cool down? Is there a colloquial expression for that? Should we make one? How does before bat fart read to you?)…until before bat fart. And I have done that: mainly the before bat fart because I don’t mind late night door and window painting while being eaten alive by mosquitoes, whereas sparrow fart is just too f*cking early. But I digress…

The veggie garden has been a very productive member of the household this year, I’ve had a couple of harvests of snow peas and sugar snap peas, in suitable quantities. I like how they become ready in handfuls, which is the perfect amount for a stir fry or salad.


Pea plants in action.

And now, in summer, I am starting to harvest courgettes while little ears of corn grown on my dwarf corn plants. Actually I am not sure if they are dwarf corn plants, but I suspect so since they are a lot shorter than other corn I have grown. Whatever they are, they look like they will give me a plethora of corn.


Looking out, over the courgettes…is a phrase you don’t use that often.

The silverbeet has now gone to seed, finally. These plants are 2 years old, so I am impressed they made it til now. I didn’t use it as much as I’d like, simply because I didn’t have the freezer space free. But I did make a large patch of silverbeet and potato soup plus I have some canneloni filling for when it’s cool enough to want to eat pasta again.


Splendorous vegetable landscape.


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Spring in the veggie garden


Snow peas, sugar snap peas and silverbeet

It’s spring, so I’ve cleared the veggie garden of weeds and reclaimed some of it from the dichondra that is trying to take over (next up to buy some edging to keep Dichondra on the side of the garden bed it’s welcome to cover and to keep it out of the veggie garden).


Radicchio makes a reappearance

I’ve kept the silverbeet from last year, these plants survived over summer and are looking very lush and prolific so they can stay.

I’ve planted zucchini seeds (they are from an older seed packet so if they don’t make an appearance soon I will buy a seedling), two types of sweet corn, bush beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas.


The peas, future beans, current silver beet and future corn.

There is a sad little padron pimiento plant in the garden, all my peppers are looking sad at the moment so I will keep an eye on it to see if it fills out with leaves and becomes productive: if not, it’s coming out.


Future corn and future zucchini as well as a sneak peak at the invading dichondra (and weeds) and the resurfacing radicchio

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Tractor Seat Mark #2 In Position

The title sounds foreboding, but rest assured there is a happy ending for both Mark #1 and Mark #2 Tractor Seat Plants.

When I last left my quest to own Ligularia Dentata, affectionately known as Tractor Seat Plants, I’d successfully identified the plants, and tracked some down to an independent garden store who had ordered them in for me (which took months by the way): I’d bought 6 pots of small plants, and was waiting for the weather to cool before I planted them. So both you and I thought the job was pretty much done: plants purchased, once planting was completed it would be JOB = DONE!


Mark #1 Tractor Seat Plants in position

And I did do what I set out to do: I planted 5 of them in their pre-ordained spots as punctuation marks between my Japanese Hedging Bamboo (Bambusa Multiplex) and my Slender Weavers Bamboo (Bambusa Textilis Gracilis). The sixth pot, however, was a little too big to go into it’s pre-ordained home. So it got planted behind the Mulberry Tree and I put on my lists of things to do: Buy A Tractor Seat Plant In A Smaller Pot.


The Mark #1 plant that caused my quest to be continued is on the far right.

I did go back to the independent garden store to see if they had another pot. But they were out, and I would have to order one in…knowing it would likely take months to come in.

So I did the next best thing, I went to a decidedly non-independent hardware and garden store, where I had seem some while I had my goods on order, and purchased one from there.

I bought it home and planted it…and then realised the leaves were slightly different to the 5 other plants already in position.


The Plant that caused the second part of the quest, in position.

Now the version of Ligularia Dentata (Tractor Seat Plants) that I wanted, was a larger plant, that was a more emerald green and its leaves grew on stalks about 0.5-1m of the ground.

But the plants I’d got from my independent garden centre were more forest green, were much lower to the ground and did not appear to be making the move to becoming bigger, taller and brighter green plants…while the plant purchased from the decidedly non-independent hardware and garden store was actually doing all the things I wanted my Ligularia Dentata (Tractor Seat Plants) to be doing.

You guessed it: I had two different types of Ligularia Dentata (Tractor Seat Plants) in my front garden. 6 of one variety (Mark #1) and one of another (Mark #2). And Mark #2 was actually what I wanted all along.

However I did still like the Mark #1 plants…I just didn’t want the Mark #1 Ligularia Dentata (Tractor Seat Plants) plants where they were, I wanted those to be Mark #2 Ligularia Dentata (Tractor Seat Plants).

So I went back to the decidedly non-independent hardware and garden store, purchased 5 more of the Mark #2 Ligularia Dentata (Tractor Seat Plants) and mapped out where I could rehouse my Mark #1 plants to.

The Mark #1s are now under the Mulberry Tree. They appear to be very happy there as their little friend who was already planted there is going great guns (you can see him to the right of the photo below).



Mark #1 plants in their new home under the Mulberry Tree

Meanwhile the Mark #2s have been planted in their recently vacated homes and also appear to be going great guns:


Mark #2 growing into its new home

And I am looking forward to when they grown 0.5-1m in the front garden bed. I suspect they will be on the smaller side as I have deliberately inhibited their growth by planting them in a smaller, shallower space, but they are already looking very happy between the Bamboos and behind the Alocasia:


The Quest Is Complete. FINALLY.

So at long last I can write: JOB = DONE!!!!!!


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The great wall of retaining is FINALLY complete: the project I started in 2013…is done and dusted!

After doing the footing in February, I moved and mortared the blocks (with help) and added the final  pea gravel touch over the course of 2 weekends in April.

First up was to set the blocks  on a bed of mortar. I had help with that: the Amazant Monsieur H helped me move the bricks into place one Saturday in April:


All lined up and levelled and sitting in a bed of mortar

The next day, I mixed up more mortar to fill in the gaps between the blocks:



The next weekend, after the mortar had time to dry, I back-filled the sand in the garden bed and cleaned up the blocks, then put the pot plants etc back in place:


Looking good

Then …I nestled a terracotta pot under the drainpipe: to ensure it doesn’t block and to allow the water to fill the pot and then seep out through the bottom, rather than flood out the pipe. I bought 3 bags of pea gravel and filled the wall-side of the retaining wall:



It looks really good, I am very happy the project turned out exactly as I hoped… 3 years after I started it:


Very ap-pea-ling


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Reeeduce, Reeeuse, Reeeecyyyycle, Reeeeepurpose.

Things you can do with used bamboo party cutlery: wash it, write on it and turn it into plant labels.


Hai future basil!

This should prevent a recurrence of the great oregano weeding incident of 2010.

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