Tag Archive: july


Carrot harvest via vegetables matter blogspotAs the heat (hopefully) builds, July’s the time to ease off and work smarter, not harder in the garden, and actually take time to enjoy it!

1. Food, glorious food…

  • Get a bumper vegetable harvest – now’s the time to reap a lot of what you’ve sown, but there’s still time to plant extra crops – like carrots
  • Pick courgettes before they become marrows
  • Sow chard for a winter crop
  • Summer prune redcurrants and gooseberries once the crop has been picked (or do it at the same time)
  • Keep an eye on the watering and try to do this early or late in the day to avoid evaporation during hot spells
  • Keep on top of the weeding in your food crops

2. Extend your flowering season

Now we’re in July your garden maybe just past its peak, so take some action to prolong the flowering value of some plants:

  • Cut back early-flowering perennials to the ground and they will send up fresh leaves and maybe even the bonus of some extra late-summer flowers (e.g Geraniums, Nepeta)
  • Give them a boost after pruning with a good soak of water and some tomato feed
  • Exploit plants’ desperate need to set seed by removing blooms as they fade. This will encourage them to produce more flowers to replace them
  • Remember that plants in containers are dependent on you for their water as they’ll get little benefit from any rain. Give them a good soak at least once a day in sunny weather

    Early flowerign perennila slike Oriental poppies can be cut back hard to encourage new foliage and some will also flower again

    Early flowering perennials like Oriental poppies can be cut back hard to encourage new foliage – and some will also flower again.

3.   Look after your pond

  • Look out for any yellowing leaves on water lilies and other water plants and remove them promptly- allowing them to fall off and rot in the water will decrease water quality and encourage algal ‘blooms’
  • Remove blanket weed with a net or rake to let oxygen into your pond. Remember to give aquatic life a chance to get back to the water by piling the weed next to the pond for a day. Add a football-sized net of straw to your pond (you can use old tights or stockings) to reduce the nitrogen levels if  blanket weed is a continuous problem
  • Top up water levels. Water can evaporate rapidly from water features and ponds in the height of summer, so top them up if the water level drops significantly. Fresh rainwater from a water butt is best – chemicals in tap water can affect the nutrient balance in the pond

    Water the greenhouse early or late in the day

    Water the greenhouse early or late in the day

4. Stay watchful in the greenhouse

  • Check plants daily, and once again, water first thing in the morning or in the evening to reduce water loss through evaporation
  • Harden off and plant out any plug plants that you have been growing on
  • Damp down your greenhouse on hot days to increase humidity and deter red spider mites; placing a bucket or watering can of water inside can help to maintain humidity
  • Open vents and doors daily to provide adequate ventilation
  • Use blinds or apply shade paint to prevent the greenhouse from over-heating in sunny weather

    Relax (note the old pallet turned into a stylish lounger) and plan ahead...

    Relax (note the old pallet turned into a stylish lounger) and plan ahead…

5. Relax in your Deck/armchair and…

  • Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs
  • Order perennial plants online now ready for autumn delivery
  • Think about which bulbs you would like for next spring – now is the time to order ready for autumn planting
  • Make a note of your garden’s pros and cons at this time of year to remind you of any changes that you need to make for next year – and take photos so that you can accurately see what it looks like once things have died down
  • Have a leisurely walk around the garden and use string of different colours tied to the stems of plants you are marking out for removal, division etc.
Encourage pest predators like hoverflies by attractive plantings and think about creating winter habitats now

Encourage pest predators like hoverflies by attractive plantings and think about creating winter homes for them now

6. Strengthen your alliance with nature for pest and disease control…

  • Look after your aphid eaters – ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings feast on greenfly and blackfly so it is worth protecting them by avoiding pesticides which will kill them as well as the pests. And why not take steps now to prepare suitable winter habitats for these and other ‘gardeners’ friends’ – e.g. bug hotels, timber piles, areas of long or rough grass or nettles etc.
  • Look for aphids on the underside of leaves – rub them off by hand or spray with an organic insecticide to prevent them multiplying
  • Keep an eye out for scarlet lily beetles on your lilies – remove and crush any you see. Also check for the sticky brown larvae on the underside of leaves
  • If your plants are wilting for no obvious reason then check for vine weevils by tipping your plants out of their pots and looking for ‘C’ shaped creamy maggots amongst the roots – treat with nematodes if vine weevils are spotted
  • Tidy up fallen leaves, flowers and compost – this will prevent potential pest and disease problems

7. Stop plants drying out

  • For recently planted large shrubs or trees, leave a hose trickling around the base for an hour. The same goes for established plants in very dry periods – pay particular attention to camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas which will abort next season’s flowers if they get too dry. Mulch around the roots when moist to help avoid this.
  • Recently planted hedges are best watered with a trickle hose (a length of old hose punctured with little holes) left running for an hour or so

8. Give houseplants a summer holiday

  • Many indoor plants benefit from being placed outside for the summer. Moving many plants out of the conservatory will save them from baking under glass, and lessen some pest and disease problems, such as red spider mite
  • Ventilate and shade sunrooms and conservatories to prevent scorch damage to remaining plants
  • Water houseplants freely when in growth, and feed as necessary (often weekly or fortnightly)

9. Paint your wagon…

  • Give woodwork like sheds, fences, pergolas etc. a lick of paint or preserver, while the weather is dry
Give your shed and other garden woodwork a fresh new look when the weather's dry.

Give your shed and other garden woodwork a fresh new look when the weather’s dry

10. Gimme shelter

  • Slow down and give yourself and your plants a rest from the heat; fix temporary awnings to provide shade in the hottest part of the day – for you and your tenderest plants!

Old School Gardener

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and others on this blog, why not comment and join others by signing up for automatic updates via email (see side bar, above right ) or through an RSS feed (see top of page)?

Save

WP_20150731_20_12_11_Pro

31st July 2015

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

Ticking over. Or rather, ‘just about coping’ in Old School Garden, this month. In fact I’ve just spent 11 hours wallpapering our stairwell as part of our (it seems, never ending) decorations, and just dashed outside to take some pictures so that you can see how the garden is looking. It was quite a surprise as I haven’t been out there seriously for a good while. Still, things don’t look too bad, proving that nature can take good care of herself! (I did pull up a few large weeds, though).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The harvest continues with good crops of potatoes (I will dig up the second row of Charlottes over the weekend); strawberries; raspberries (though the Autumn Bliss seem, once again, to have put on no flowers towards the back of the row); courgettes; calabrese; onions; and our first squashes (New England Sugar Pie- just hardening them off). And the greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are doing splendidly I’m mightily impressed with my new aquaponic growing system for the tomatoes which seem bigger and more plentiful than I’ve ever had them. I’ve sown some carrots and parsnips recently and these seem to have germinated and now require a weed. Also, the apples and pears on my ‘super columns’ are really plentiful. I’ve also managed to summer prune my trained fruit bushes and planted out and netted some cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli.

Though it’s been quiet in general in the garden, I have managed to do a bit of tidying up- especially resurrecting our fire pit. Though we’re away a good deal in the next couple of months, perhaps we’ll get round to using it before autumn sets in.

WP_20150731_20_39_27_Pro

About this time last year (and for some time before that), I was complaining about moles in the garden, especially how they wreck the lawn. Well, as I hinted recently, I bit the bullet and got a pest controller in. He set around 10 traps and caught just two moles (the body of one, complete with trap was taken away in the night, probably by a fox). Though I feel a tad guilty about killing these little earth movers, it would appear, for now, that mole activity has ceased, so I shall be raking off the remains of the mole hills and cutting the grass in the next couple of days, hoping that we’ve seen the end of the damage; at least for the rest of the season.

The last of mole hills?

The last of mole hills?

Well, old mate, sorry that there’s not much new to tell you, but you know its been full on with the decorating in the last few months, so the garden has taken a back seat.

WP_20150731_20_11_41_ProAll the best for now,

Old School Gardener

 

 

IMG_9469Old School Garden – 30th July 2014

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

I’ve just read the latest chapter of an interesting book- ‘Noah’s Garden’, by Sara Stein. recommended to me by a fellow tweeter (thanks Jo Ellen). This twenty-one year old book tells of the author’s quest to garden more ecologically- or about ‘unbecoming a gardener’, as she puts it. In language as rich as the ‘natural garden’ she describes, Stein’s offering must have been one of the earliest manifestoes for a less intensive, less expensive, less consuming style of gardening. Despite the North American setting and species, she makes a pretty compelling case that’s as applicable to the UK as the USA. Here’s how the chapter I’ve just read ends:

‘Provided one plants a reasonable facsimile of a natural ecosystem- particularly with regard to a generous diversity of species adapted to the habitat- one can retire from that rank of gardeners and homeowners who, supposing that their services are the only ones that matter, work too hard, pay too much, and in return are cheated of the bounty that natural plantings offer.’

My purchase was prompted by my mention of moles and the trouble their burrowings and excavations are giving me in Old School Garden– I think that I mentioned this last month. Well, they are still here and my daily routine seems to start with using a leaf rake to gently spread the moles’ nightly offerings together with the removal of the biggest stones. In short, large parts of the lawn are looking a right old mess. But I’m starting to take a sanguine view, I suppose, fuelled by the advocacy of an ‘ecological approach’ to my plot in ‘Noah’s Garden’!

Hosta haven- the courtyard garden

Hosta haven- the courtyard garden

It’s been a rather ‘laid back’ month here, old friend. The summer heat has built quite nicely and the long days of sunny weather have finally arrived following a rather wet and dismal Spring. I’ve reduced my gardening time to a couple of hours a day (at most) and spent some periods on the terrace, reading, listening to music and enjoying the surroundings. These times have been the closest to ‘contentment’ I’ve been , I think! Here are some pictures of blooms that are doing their stuff at present.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The ornamental garden  has shot up and I’m amazed at the height of some things- the Achillea, Macleaya and Helianthemum to name just three. Some of the annuals have proved disappointing (e.g Nicotiana) and I was interested to hear that another local gardener (the Head Gardener at nearby Salle Park where I did part of my Heritage Gardening traineeship), has also had very mixed results. Deborah and I cycled there last Sunday for their open day and as usual the standards of horticulture on display were exceptional, though Katie (the aforementioned Head Gardener) bemoaned the fact that the roses which I said were looking really healthy and had assumed were just about to give their second flush of flowers, had in fact been ‘nibbled’ by something earlier and the flower buds we saw were in fact the first round! Anyway here are some pictures of the ornamental areas of Old School Garden, just to keep you up to date with how things look at present.

As for food, I’m pleased to say (fingers crossed) that the blight problem with the greenhouse tomatoes seems to have receded; a combination of higher temperatures, removing infected and other foliage, watering less and only on the ground, keeping ventilation up, feeding more frequently and spraying with ‘Bordeaux Mixture’ seems to have paid off. We’ve had our first few tomatoes from here (along with the ones I’m growing in hanging baskets) and there are more to come, though perhaps inevitably the crop is reduced because of the drastic action I’ve taken. Ho hum, you win some you lose some….but the bush fruit contnues to impress!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Talking of losing, I harvested the beetrootyesterday- well what is left of it. I must take more time to keep an eye on things! Something (slugs? beetles?) has eaten round the tops of virtually all of the roots so that I guess only about 50% of the harvest is usable. Still, there should be enough to satisfy Deborah’s pickling needs for another year. The onions and garlic have also been disappointing. I planted these out last Autumn and the wet winter and dull spring  (probably along with poor positioning in the garden), seem to have prevented much growth in these, but again there is at least something to show for my efforts.

On a more positive note, the cucumbers, courgettes and squashes seem to be doing well and I can see that courgette will be a major veg ingredient on the table in the next month or two! And we’ve had our second (good) crop of Gooseberries, this time the sweeter, red varieties. These are destined for a ‘fool’ I’m making tomorrow with Elder Flower cordial. Also, the sunflowers in the Kitchen Garden have romped away. Here is a selection of pics of them- they always add a cheery note to any garden, I think.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Further afield, I said my goodbyes to the two School Gardening projects I’ve been involved with this year. The one at Fakenham Academy seems likely to be halted due to lack of cash, but maybe some activity will continue on a more limited basis; I do hope so, for several of the youngsters I worked with seemed to have caught the ‘growing bug’.

As Deborah has just retired (38 years of teaching), I thought it best to also draw a line under my involvement at the local Primary School where she worked. It’s been a joy helping the children here over many years and an input I’ve been proud of, including a lot of tree and hedge planting to make the grounds a more diverse and interesting place for outdoor learning. So, as Deborah and I enter a new phase in our lives, I guess I’ll be looking for another challenge…watch this space.

IMG_9435

Hanging baskets at Old School Garden

We’re off to Suffolk for a week with some old college friends next week, so this next day or two I must get the garden ready for a week of less attention – hopefully our good neighbours will do some essential watering and harvesting while we’re away. Then, in September (for the first time ever due to school terms!) we’re off to Spain and Portugal, hopefully to include a further visit to the Alhambra in Granada, the garden I visited about 8 years ago and which really gave me the inspiration to get into gardening and garden design. I’ll do some posts on all my garden visits as and when, and hopefully keep up the momentum on the blog whilst on holiday.

The Walled Garden at Salle Park, Norfolk

The Walled Garden at Salle Park, Norfolk

I do hope you and Ferdy are faring well, Walter, and enjoying the lovely weather (it looks like it’s becoming more unsettled just as we go on holiday). We both wish you a lovely Summer break and look forward to seeing you in the Autumn.

Al the best,

Old School Gardener

 

 

SONY DSC‘The towering clouds recede; the storm has fled;

The dark and angry sky grows clear again.

The thunder faintly rolls, and slowly dies,

And skylarks twitter gladly as they rise.

Now many a flower hangs low a dripping head,

And here and there a patch of levelled grain

Recalls the violence of the summer storm.

The sun returns, the rain-soaked earth grows warm.

Slow and ungainly by the waterside

A solemn toad plods forth, and small snails glide,

Their shining shells enriched by golden rings.

A dragon-fly with wide and wondrous wings

glows like a jewel there among the reeds,

Above the tangle of the water-weeds.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva press 1997)

The blckbirds nesting among the vine in the Courtyard Garden at Old School Garden- picture by Gabbie Joyce and Paul Hill

The blackbirds nesting among the vine in the Courtyard Garden at Old School Garden- picture by Gabbie Joyce and Paul Young

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

It’s coming to the end of one of the driest and hottest July’s we’ve had in nearly 10 years. Today looks like it will be the hottest of the year to date – somewhere in the upper 20s if not low 30s Celsius in our corner of England (and higher elsewhere)! Having spent a couple of hours this morning planting out the last of my summer annuals, thinning and transplanting wallflowers and planting some leeks, I’ve escaped the worst of the heat and come inside to drop you a line!

As you can imagine, the last few weeks have been very busy on several gardening fronts. I guess the most significant event was our first garden opening last week, which I’ve done a separate article about. This was great fun and I was very pleased with the way the garden looked and the many positive comments from the 70+ visitors. We raised over £300 too which will be going to three local ‘good causes’.

One of these is ‘Master Gardener’, where I continue to offer my voluntary advice and help to those starting  to grow their own food. Gabbie, the local co-ordinator, has come up with the idea of using the money we raised as a special fund to be tapped into by Norfolk Master Gardeners to purchase small items to help their households, groups and other new growers- I’ll tell you more about this in due course. I’ve attended a few events recently and had fun talking with a range of people about their food growing experiences and maybe even helped to recruit a few new households. The latest event was the ‘Destination Aylsham’ Fun Day yesterday, which I helped out at with fellow Master Composter Sally Wilson- Town and co-ordinator David Hawkyard. Well over 70 people came over to discuss composting and ‘growing your own’, though my period at the stall seemed to coincide with the quieter, ‘wind down’ phase towards the end. Still,  no matter, we seem to have promoted composting and food growing to a few more people – and I managed to sell some plants and produce too!

I’ve done my last session this academic year at Cawston Primary School, where we had great fun harvesting potatoes, broad beans and a few onions. In truth, with the exception of the Broad Beans, these were harvested a little too soon, because this was the last opportunity for the children to garden before their holidays which begin on Thursday. Still, the potatoes were of a good size and a reasonable quantity and will be used in the school kitchen this week along with the beans and some of my donated home grown produce (we’ve had some enormous Calabrese and Cauliflowers lately). The children also continued to dig out the old compost bins so that we can make a new start there in the Autumn. However, it’s disappointing that we’ve not been able to keep on top of the weeding in the bog garden around  the wildlife pond (which is also looking extremely dry), as many weeds have now set seed, so that will be an added problem for us in the Autumn, when  hopefully the soil will be damper and weeding easier. However, the Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator , Sharon, tells me that the pond has been a real winner with the children and has yielded examples of a wide range of insect and other wildlife.

The gardens at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum are struggling in the sun and heat, but the planting and care taken earlier in the year by myself and other volunteer gardeners seem to be paying off. The rambling rose ‘Rambling Rector’ in the Wildife Garden looks particularly splendid as it covers the arbour and adjoining wall, where I and my friend Steve spent an hour or two pruning and tying in last autumn.

 

At home, Old School Garden is also struggling in the heat, and evening watering sessions of hand held spray and sprinkler have lasted a good few hours in recent weeks – and still many new plantings are wilting! Anyway, the long borders are looking great, though with a few gaps after shearing back the oriental poppies. I’m hoping that my strategically placed pots of tender perennials and plantings of annuals will soon plug these and the overall show will reach a crescendo in a few weeks time. The kitchen garden has proved to be very productive to date, though we  continue to get problems with pests such as pigeons and to a lesser extent blackbirds and aphids. I’ve noticed a few Cabbage White butterflies recently, but hopefully with my planting of Nasturtiums and netting of my Brassicas, we’ll not be too badly affected by their hungry green caterpillars! So far we’ve had crops of :

  • Potatoes – though I had to lift many of these a bit early as blight had started to affect them

  • Calabrese  -huge heads from the F1 variety ‘Beaumont’

  • Cauiliflowers- though a few heads were ‘blown’ as we couldn’t keep up with the supply!

  • Mange Tout – despite early pigeon attacks!

  • Celery – too much to cope with!

  • Carrots – a reasonable first crop though many were twisted and misshapen, possibly a combination of too rich and stony soil

  • Lettucs – a few varieties from the garden have tasted good along with some ‘cut and come again’ varieties in pots.

  • Tomatoes – just a few of the smaller, golden variety to date, but plenty on the plants in the greenhouse, ready for swelling and ripening.

  • Courgettes – the start of what promises to be a bumper year, especially as my friend Steve has given me four ‘Patty Pan’ plants to go with the two green varieties he’d already supplied!

  • Strawberries-  you remember I’d started the process of relocating the strawberry bed? Well the new plants seem to have taken well, though, as youd’ expect I didn’t let them flower or fruit this first year, but the old plants I left hoping for ‘one more year’ of fruit were a disaster. Very few fruits and what there were the blackbirds, slugs and mould seem to have taken. So for the first time in many years I actually bought two punnets of strawberries!

  • Raspberries – these are coming on well and we’ve enjoyed a few days supply so far, though the pigeons, despite my various ‘bird scarers’, seem to be enjoying themselves and breaking off the fruiting stems as they use them like ladder to go up and down the canes!

  • Garlic – most now harvested but some along with the onions are just drying  out before storing

  • Broad Beans – a good crop of a rosy pink variety, though when cooked their attractive colour seems to turn a rather dull grey, but they taste just fine!

  • Gooseberries- first bush harvested , two red varieties to come this weekend

  • Blackcurrants- two bushes harvested and a lot frozen, with one more to come shortly

Later today, I’ll be sowing some further crops of Lettuce, Mange Tout, Carrots and Cabbage as well as some Pansies I got from the Royal Norfolk Show and which  should provide us with some autumn and winter colour. That’s if it is not too hot of course.

Well, old friend, I see that it’s about time for lunch, so I’ll close for now and wish you and your good wifeFerdy’ well. By the way, would she mind terribly if I called her by her second name, which I find so much more attractive? Lise seems to capture her elegant beauty a lot more than that  nickname she got all those years ago at University! We’re looking forward to seeing you both here at Old School Garden in a week or two’s time – hopefully the garden will still look good and the weather will mean we can enjoy some warm summer evenings on the terrace with some good food, and even better wine!

all the best

Old School Gardener

Other posts in this series:

Dear Walter…. letter from Old School Garden 21st June 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 20th May 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 18th April May 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 11th March 2013

Dear Walter… letter from Old School Garden: 15th February 2013

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and others on this blog, why not comment and join others by signing up for automatic updates via email (see side bar, above right ) or through an RSS feed (see top of page)?

IMG_6139It’s over. My first garden opening has left feelings of satisfaction, pride, friendship and aching limbs.

We had about 70 visitors yesterday, not bad for our first opening. Several came by bike and all seem to have had a good time, soaking up the heat, the garden and some delicious tea and cakes. Many made positive noises about the garden and the Courtyard seems to have been a particular hit. It was particularly interesting to meet a former pupil at the School- back in 1937 – and a new neighbour. Friends,colleagues and neighbours helped to make the event a success:

  • Keith Broughton brought along his restored 1969 Saab car – it was fascinating hearing about the hours of skillful work he’d put into this project
  • Michaela Boggis and colleagues from Jelly Cottage Nursery brought along a fantastic range of very healthy looking plants and many visitors were seen clutching their purchases as they left
  • Steve Mosley and John Nicholson from Master Garden and Composter respectively put on a display and gave out helpful advice on growing your own food and making your own soil
  • Sharon Brett from Cawston Primary School was selling plants and mugs to mark the school’s 60th birthday and was telling people about the work on outdoor learning, including gardening that she and I have been doing at the School
  • My wife, Deborah and friend Joan Mosley did sterling work as the ‘refreshment ladies’ serving afternoon teas and cakes.

So a very big THANK YOU to all of them and most of all to mother Nature who put on a wonderful display for all to enjoy (including blackbird nest and mole hill)!

I’m now planning a few days of rather less frenetic activity. But first a trip to the bank to pay in the proceeds of the day and to then write three cheques for around £100 to each of the three ‘good causes’ we were supporting:

  • Norfolk Master Gardeners
  • Cawston School Gardening
  • St. Peter’s Church

Here are a few pictures from the day to give you a sense of the atmosphere – if you were one of the visitors, then thank you for your support and maybe we’ll see you again!

Old School Gardener

Visit Old School Garden this Sunday!

I’m looking forward to welcoming visitors – including you? – to the first opening of Old School Garden. I’ll do a post about this next week for those that can’t make it.

Old School Gardener

Daniel Greenwood

The language of leaves

Alphabet Ravine

Lydia Rae Bush Poetry

TIME GENTS

Australian Pub Project

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement

How I Killed Betty!

The Diary and blog on How to Tackle Depression and Anxiety!

Bits & Tidbits

RANDOM BITS & MORE TIDBITS

Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy

pbmGarden

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

SISSINGHURST GARDEN

Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably

BloominBootiful

A girl and her garden :)

gwenniesworld

ABOUT MY GARDEN, MY TRAVELS AND ART

Salt of Portugal

all that is glorious about Portugal

The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

Cooking, gardening, fishing, living, laughing.

aristonorganic

"The Best of the Best"

PetalPushin

Thoughts from a professional Petal Pusher

%d bloggers like this: