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July updates…at last!

Long time, no blog – been concentrating on house decorating for the last few weeks while the weather is nice enough to have all the windows open! That’s not to say the garden has been left to its own devices, but after all the plastering, sanding and painting has been done, followed by watering, feeding and pest control in the garden, I haven’t had much time or inclination to go round taking photos. Oh well!

So here to kick off with, an evening shot of my biggest hanging basket, planted up in early June and doing pretty well now:


and a little closer:


It’s a 12″ Easy-fill basket that I planted up at the beginning of June with absolutely no planning whatsoever – I just chucked everything at it, lol! So it has fuchsias from my own cuttings taken last year plus a mix of stuff bought at the end of May from my local garden centre: a couple of verbenas, a large purple petunia, two mini orange petunias and a trailing silver foliage plant I haven’t grown before called Dichondra “Silver Falls”. It’s a right old hotch-potch, but it looks colourful so I’m not complaining! Having said that, it would be nice if that hole in the middle where the basket is showing would close up, but you can’t have everything…

My tuberous begonia cuttings from last year are really kicking on now. Here’s a comparison shot of the better one:


I am very tempted to cut off the tall leggy bit (out of the top of the photo), but can’t quite bring myself to remove anything with flowers on it, so of course, it stays!

My divided primrose has come on nicely:


I now just have to decide where I want to put the new plants. I rather like having them in containers so that they can be moved around, but I’ll think about it.


Now on to the veg, starting with my carrots, which have put on a whopping great quantity of top growth since last month:


I’ve been keeping them covered in fine gauge mesh to protect against carrot root fly, but I have to remove it to water and to harvest the occasional spring onion (also growing in this pot), so I hope the pesky little critters aren’t sneaking in during the few moments when the cover is off. I’ve had a little dig around the tops of a couple of the plants and there appear to be carrots forming, but of course I won’t know the extent of them until I decide to pull them up – not that I know when that should be! Probably ought to look it up!

Next is my cut-and-come-again lettuce:


It might look a bit sparse, but that’s because I’m constantly nipping off the oldest leaves for my salads and have been doing so for a couple of weeks now. I was afraid the hot spell we’ve been having for the past week or so might induce them to bolt, but so far it hasn’t. No other real problems to report – I was thinking they’d be awash with aphids by now, but no such thing – although I have succumbed to using organic slug and snail pellets in the pot because the copper tape was no longer deterring attacks from those particular pests. Ah well – I tried! I’m thinking of sowing some more seeds in modules to replace my original plants and keep the succession going since I have no idea how long they actually go on for.

And speaking of seed sowing, I’ve been dotting random radish seeds into gaps here and there:


these being amongst my lettuce! I lost a few lettuce seedlings to slug attack, so I thought why not fill the gap with something else? They are supposed to be ready to pull in 4 weeks, so I shouldn’t have long to wait!

On to the spinach:


which doesn’t look massively different to how it was, but there again, I’ve been harvesting the outer leaves as soon as they get big enough. The pot has also acquired a smattering of radish seedlings to fill up the space – I don’t like empty soil if I can avoid it. Slugs, snails and aphids haven’t been a problem, but I am fighting a constant battle with spinach leaf miner. I’m finding eggs on the undersides of pretty much every leaf, every day, and if I didn’t remove them with such frequency I don’t think I’d have a spinach leaf to my name by now!

Here are the eggs in situ:


They are laid in clusters and you can see how tiny they are in comparison to my thumb and fingers, but allow them to hatch and the grubs will tunnel through the leaf eating it from the inside and making a horrible mess of it. Add to that the fact that several generations are produced in a single season and you have good reason to be vigilant and rub the eggs off as soon as you see them!

Next we have my dwarf french beans, which have come on a treat:


(They haven’t actually changed colour, by the way – that’s just my camera not coping with different lighting conditions!)

The beans are forming nicely:


Not ready for picking yet, but not far off.

I haven’t had any major pest problems with these – the odd nibbled leaf and cluster of blackfly, but nothing to worry about. Looking forward to a pretty decent crop from just six plants by the looks of things!

Last but not least, my tomatoes:


getting a tad on the tall side! The plant nearest the camera (“Sungold”) has had its tip pinched out (they all have, in fact) but I’ve left 7 trusses on it, which is 2 more than I usually try for outdoors. I may be being a bit hopeful attempting to get that many to ripen in an English summer, but you never know.

Close-up of some ripening toms, “Sungold” and “Matina” (the larger one):


No problems with these thus far: blight hasn’t reared its ugly and inevitable head yet, and I don’t appear to have drowned the plants by over-watering in this recent hot spell, thankfully!

I picked and ate my first ripe Sungold on the 17th July, and my first Matina on the 18th, and lovely they were too!

Fingers crossed for a long and successful cropping period for all of us hard-working gardeners….:)




Tuberous begonia cuttings – June update

I’m beginning to think that the tuberous begonia cuttings I took last year may eventually come good.

Back in May they looked fairly unpromising:


Healthy enough, but horribly leggy and not looking at all disposed to shoot from low down.

Since then, though, the taller one has started to develop some growth from the base:



Now, I don’t suppose that the plants will suddenly become gorgeous this season, but I’m hopeful that a decent tuber will have formed by winter so that I can give them a proper dormant period and thereby get better, bushier plants for next year.

We’ll see!

Tuberous begonia cuttings – May update

Back at the end of July last year I took a couple of cuttings of a large-flowered tuberous begonia on the off chance that they might root

They duly did – which is just as well, because I think I’ve managed to lose the parent over the winter! – and have been steadily growing ever since.

Here is a side-by-side pic to show the development in the last couple of months:


Both flowering and healthy-looking, but both as leggy as can be.

Perhaps this is why they should be encouraged to go dormant in the winter (I didn’t do that because I felt they were too under-developed to survive), because if they don’t, they end up making one very long stem and nothing else!

Oh well. I’ll keep them going and see what happens. I have two of them, so I can experiment a bit, maybe prune the top off the taller one (when those flowers are spent) and see if it makes some sideshoots?

I refuse to see them as a lost cause quite yet…

Begonia cuttings – March update

Well, they’ve certainly grown!

This was my progress update from last August:



…and here they are now, potted up separately:



To be honest, I haven’t a clue what I ought to do with them at this point. From what I read online last year I reckoned they were supposed to go dormant for a few months over winter, but since they showed no inclination to do so, I just left them as they were, watering them very sparingly and picking off the odd dead leaf as necessary.

So who knows? Maybe they’ll grow on properly and thrive, maybe they won’t – I suppose only time will tell! Potting on the larger of the two today revealed a very healthy-looking fibrous root system, so hopefully there’s a nice little tuber bulking up down in the middle of the compost. Fingers crossed…

Begonia cuttings, diascia cuttings, update

It’s taking a long, long time, but I’m seeing growth on my tuberous begonia cuttings:


I have, of course, taken the update photo (right) with the pot the wrong way round (!) but the cutting on the right (1st pic)/left (2nd pic) is developing a nice new leaf and is looking pretty good. The other cutting hasn’t shown much movement, but it is alive, so there’s hope!

My complete collection of diascia cuttings looks like this:all-diascia-cuttings-august-26th

Reading right to left (since I appear to be doing everything backwards today!) 1. the first batch of 3 cuttings (rose pink), 2. second batch of cuttings (orange),  3. second batch of cuttings (pale pink), 4. third batch of cuttings taken from the first batch (rose pink).

They all look good except the pale pink (number 3) which seem strangely washed-out in comparison to the others – no idea why, I’m afraid! They’ve all had pretty much the same treatment (feeding, watering, location), so perhaps that’s just how they are?

As it’s almost September, I don’t think any of them will be advanced enough to risk putting them into the ground over winter – I’m not even sure the parent plants will survive outdoors, to be honest – so I guess I’ll have some indoors on my windowsills and some out in the cold frame as an experiment to see if they’re hardy enough to stay alive.

Hopefully lots of plants to enjoy for next year, though!