Thursday, 30 May 2013

Bunk bed trellis

I think that Spring may just have sprung and today has been glorious, a tad windy but not on the back garden and that's all I cared about really.

I was supposed to spend the day sowing Parsnips, sowing other veggies and planting out the Leeks but the wind round at the polytunnel was quite high and I didn't fancy fighting fleece in the wind so I spent the day in the shelter of the back garden.

I got a trellis up next to the Pergola. It's a bit of a weird trellis though. Originally I wanted to use an old bunkbed frame coming off the actual pergola but I decided I wasn't risking sinking a post into the ground without knowing where the pipes underneath are.
My alternative idea was to attach the metal frame to these posts which I only had to sink into the ground a few inches

It meant that the trellis would be free standing as opposed to attached to the pergola but I really wanted to get something up, I was getting impatient to get the climbing rose actually climbing something.
This is the finished trellis (well apart from sawing off a few inches from the top of one of the posts and adding a finial to both) and here is Mr TG's opinion of it

"All you need now is the horse"

Yes, it does look like a horse jump Mr TG and yes I would love the horse to go with it, thank you for the offer!
The rose is still in a pot at the moment because it's growing so well I daren't disturb it but it will definitely be in the ground next year.

I must show you the current state of Mr TG's pond though

Mr TG is apparently leaving it to see at what point the water level stops going down, this is supposed to give him some idea of where the leak is!
He checks it regular but it's still going down - what I haven't actually told him is that I use the water to water my garden plants pretty much most days, well I figured we'd be emptying it anyway to sort the leak out so it wouldn't matter.
Am I going to tell him it stopped leaking ages ago?  Erm nope, especially after the horse jump comment.

Anyway I don't care if it looks like a horse jump, once all the plants have grown up and filled out you'll not see much of it anyway

Now then, do any of you have a foolproof way of growing Fuchsia from cuttings? I try this pretty much every year and out of hundreds of cuttings I probably have a grand total of 4 that have taken.
I've tried big cuttings, small cuttings, lots of leaf, hardly any leaf, heat, no heat and this is how they all seem to end up

I need help guys and a sure fire way to get Fuchsia cuttings to take.

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Tootsie Time

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Birds, flowers and Pergolas

Despite the wind today I got the pergola finished. I didn't get the trellis up as well though because I came across a problem that could see me damaging a pipe that I would really rather not damage, so I'm going to have to think it through first.
Here's the finished pergola though

I'm not sure what to do with the sides yet (if anything), I'll make a decision once the trellis is up.

Remember those Bamboo plants that my daughter saved for me from work, the ones that were in the skip? The ones that were about 15ft tall and we had to transport them home in a car? Well it seems that not even Homebase can kill Golden bamboo - a bit of repotting, feed, lots of water and some TLC and they're paying me back

I'm so pleased they survived even though they looked just about had it, I now have £120.00 worth of bamboo for free.

I've never grown Verbena but I picked up 3 plants on sale at a garden centre earlier in the year. The 3 plants are still in pots and growing well but a week ago I thought I'd snip the tops off, bung them in some compost and put them in the heated propagator.
I'm not the best cutting taker and 99% of what I cut usually dies but lookit

Only a week old and they're shooting up. Think I'm going to take some more!

Finally can anyone name this plant, I got it from my mums old garden and left it in a pot just to see what it does. I'd love to know what it is.

Oh, one more thing. After 3 years absence look what has come back to the new feeding station in my garden

Siskins - I think!

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Three Mango Seeds
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Monday, 27 May 2013

Tantrums and pergolas

I really wasn't looking forward to tackling the pergola again yesterday, in fact I headed straight for the polytunnel and decided I wasn't going to bother - it was the thought of taking apart the work I'd already done for the sake of the 1/2" I was out in measurements.
By the the time I'd finished in the PT though I decided I may as well give it a go, well you can imagine how well it went with a 'give it a go' attitude can't you.
I re-measured and re-measured, took everything apart and re-built to my exact new measurements - nothing could go wrong!
I began erecting the structure and despite bracing the darned thing with battens I could not get the structure square - one side kept pulling the other side out and vice versa.
Mr TG who decided to go to work yesterday due to the nice weather (he's been rained off alot lately) received some very choice texts along the lines of

"This stupid $%£*ing pergola will not square up"  followed shortly by
"I don't want a pergola anymore"

By this time I had had a right royal tantrum and was kicking grass and throwing tools. Only the night before Mr TG had reminded me sarcastically what I say to him in his fits of "Bo$$ox to the whole thing". "Remember what you tell me" says Mr TG "there's no point having a childish tantrum just walk away and leave it"
Well Mr TG I offer advice all the time doesn't mean I follow it!

Anyway I did take a deep breath and figured I'd get the top permanent braces cut, fix them and see from there.
Suddenly it all took shape, the top braces fixed the sides at the correct spacings and once I'd finally managed to get the sides spirit level straight I fixed em toot sweet with 6" nails.
I'd hoped to get it completely finished but I was starting to make silly mistakes on the top cross sections and wasted 2 lengths of wood so I called it a day.
Here's where it's at at the moment

All built from scrap wood which makes it all the more pleasing and I'm so glad I stuck at it now.
Mr TG was most impressed when he got home cos he thought he was going to see a new pile of firewood - O ye of little faith Mr TG - I call myself tenacious for a reason.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

How not to build a pergola!

I have just wasted almost an entire day in the garden.
I know what you're thinking - how can a day in the garden be a waste? Well when you spend 6 hours attempting to build a pergola and at the end of the 6 hours you are no further along than when you started, it's pretty much a waste.
I've had this thought of building a pergola for ages but me being me running true to form I got going without a plan or even a plan of a plan.
The first section went well enough, I hand sawed all the rebates and really took my time doing it, then I decided the next section would be quicker if I got the jigsaw out.
I was wrong, so so wrong!
The jigsaw didn't seem able to make cuts as precise and tidy as my own hand cutting (yes I know I'm blaming the tool not myself) and I should have walked away from the project at that point but I didn't.
The whole episode was a palaver from start to finish and it turned out that the pergola was never going to sit where I wanted it to or even sit square because I had got my initial dimensions wrong - I discovered this important fact after I had secured the darned thing with 6" nails.
I even wasted about an hour trying to lose a huge massive bolt that was sticking out of the sleeper that I wanted to rest the pergola against - I used a chisel to cut away the wood around the bolt so that I could hammer the bolt flush with the sleeper (no way can you physically remove these uber bolts and I was too impatient to wait for Mr TG to grind it off for me), I can still feel the vibration up my arm as I hammered and hammered that ruddy thing.
The real insult to injury came when the pergola wouldn't sit against the sleeper anyway cos I'd built it all wrong - what a complete waste of time and all my own fault.

You can imagine the sarcastic glee from Mr TG can't you

"I take it you hammered it with a heavy lump hammer and not your average hammer?"
How do I answer that without looking a complete moron? I couldn't, so I didn't, I just stared at him.
"I take it you also added some supporting braces to it to keep it upright and square"
Again, I just stared whilst secretly cringing at the wibbly wobbly structure I'd lost my temper with.
"I take it you secured it temporarily with small nails? I know you, you'll use 6" nails given half a chance and you'll never get them back out"
Oh you know me so well Mr TG.
"Did you take before and after pictures for your blog? Oh wait, you could just use the before picture twice couldn't you!"
Oh Mr TG you are so droll - now let's go look at your pond!
"Want me to help you?" (in that I'll do you a favour tone)
Nope, I'll manage just fine Mr TG. The one time I actually want something built with a frikin spirit level and I can't let him help me cos I'll never hear the end of it.
Tomorrow that soddin pergola will be up!

I did capture some pictures of the view as I thought over my problems today though

Shame they're a weed actually cos they smelled pretty lovely!

Yep, my thinking state involved alot of laying on my back but what a pretty sight especially once all the clouds disappeared.

I also found myself thinking we may just have the dirtiest, smelliest Shih Tzu in need of a summer clip this side of Caithness. I may clip her off tomorrow but it's not a pleasant experince as this little girl spends most of her day rolling in every kind of animal excrement she can find.
The first picture is one I took while telling her she was cute and gorgeous (to get her to cooperate), the second one is what she did the minute I'd taken her picture

All was not lost in the garden though. last night I did manage to get a few flowers out of my polytunnel and into a container

That container is bigger than it looks and now it's full of soil and plants it weighs ALOT. Shame we have to move it as Mr TG needs to get the harling done to the house and we've decided to put a raised verandah right on that area!
One day I will think things through properly!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Success with fruit trees

Yesterday morning the weather looked quite promising and I anticipated a full day outside, it was a little bit breezy but nothing to worry about (I hate, hate, hate wind)

However by the time I had got the housework done the wind had whipped up to near on gale force, the skies had darkened and rain was pelting down and it stayed like that all day.
I know the forecasters claim the weekend is supposed to be dry and sunny but it seems we may have a reprieve today also - it looks fair with no wind.

Back to yesterday though and although I couldn't garden I still have animals that need taking care of and letting out so while the 3 musketeers (Atlas, Huntly & Kasa) played around in between storms I hightailed it to the polytunnel and oh my, was it ever warm in there - toasty!

I took a good look at the fruit trees to see what had pollinated and I was pleasantly surprised.
This Conference Pear had one fruit last year and it rotted and dropped off, it appears plastered in fruit this year so fingers crossed we get some viable fruit from it

I am a complete newbie to fruit growing and have no idea what I'm doing so I assume that all the trees will drop some fruit during June?
Do I leave all the fruit on or do I cut some off to let other fruit develop bigger?

This Bramley Apple also didn't produce much last year but again is plastered this year. I'm guessing the plants were still too young last year - they'd have been only 2 - 3 years old.

This next Golden Delicious Apple produces masses of fruit and was given to me a couple of years ago by a friend who's late father had grown it.

Finally I have a Victoria Plum. This plant is young (bought alongside the young Pear and Apple) and so far has not produced fruit, so I was amazed to see 1 fruit this year - just the one but exciting none the less

I also have a couple of Cherry trees, 2 Fig trees and some more Pear and Apple trees but they've been delegated to outside the polytunnel as they take up too much room. I didn't expect them to survive the winter in their buckets tbh but I had a quick look yesterday and they're all leafing up quite nice, I don't think they'll flower or produce much fruit though.

So what do I do? Do I wait for the June drop and see what fruit I'm left with? Then do I leave all remaining fruit or do I thin them out to encourage bigger fruit?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Pond dilemma's

I've had a couple of private emails after the post below asking me why I am so hard on Mr TG. I guess it's difficult to share the humour behind the words in a blog post (least I obviously can't do it) but I felt I should just let people know that I am truly grateful for everything Mr TG does for me in the garden. The sarcasm in posts is simply how Mr TG and I roll, if you spoke to him he would be just as sarcastic about some of the "monstrosity's" that I have created over the years. There is no malice intended from either of us and we are in fact an effective team usually - honest!
I think perhaps I should get Mr TG to do a guest post one day on his thoughts - if I dare!
But just so you all know - Mr TG ROCKS! :)

Well so much for good weather over the last few days - it's been cold and windy and we even had hail storms thrown in today - Great!

Anyway I thought I'd give you an update on this pond we're building but before I do I need to give you an inkling as to why I'm so dubious to hand over the building of it to Mr TG - I'm glad it's not my project anymore don't get me wrong but I still have reservations.
Basically a couple of years ago I asked Mr TG to build a waterfall into our natural mini lake. We had all the rocks required to make it and the effect I wanted was as if the rocks had naturally fallen into the lake and that the water had found it's way through naturally - get the idea?
Well we talked about this vision for ages, I made completely sure that Mr TG knew exactly the look I was going for then I left him to it.
You can imagine my scepticism when I noticed the very first tool he went for was his spirit level (typical builder) and I knew then without a doubt I was not getting that natural rockslide I wanted - and I didn't! The finished job was spirit level perfect and looked so ridiculous even Mr TG agreed it needed demolishing (his only saving grace).
So, with that in mind you can probably imagine my worries with the pond in the garden, but still I explained to Mr TG that although we were using rocks (not the look I originally wanted) I still wanted a scattered look NOT spirit level straight.
here's Mr TG's interpretation of that

Look at those lovely ruddy straight lines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I also asked for them to hang over the liner so as to hide it a little - doesn't look like it's hanging over the edge to me!
Oh and also did I mention that I forget to check the liner for holes before we laid it? Well, guess what - I forgot to check the liner, and guess what else - it leaks! That water was right the way up to the top when we filled it up a few days ago, it's level is going down by the hour - oops!
You may wonder what the rocks are doing IN the pond (the pond leaked before the rocks were put there btw), well apparently Mr TG decided to make some bridges for the "fish to swim under". The mind boggles - maybe we should sort the leak out first Mr TG!

To get my head round the pond and what I'm going to do to it I decided to go and play in the polytunnel - what a mess there was in there

It's getting pretty dire in there now with so many plants needing to get planted out

I did give it a clear up though and it's now much more workable even though there are 40 or 50 plants in there that desperately need to go out

Much better!
Now I just need some nice decent weather to make some pergolas for the garden using an old metal bed base I scrounged - it'll look great trust me!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Glorious weather and veg planting

Finally! Today the weather has been glorious and apparently it's set to stay fine for a few days - yay! It was even hot enough today to warrant sunscreen, but then there was that sad moment when I was applying it and the smell took me back to our recent holiday to Jamaica - has that ever happened to you?

Anyway with good weather afoot I figured I'd finally make a start on getting these veggies planted out - my veg beds finally have veggies in them yay!

Half of the main raised bed has Swede 'Invitation', Cabbage 'Greyhound', another Cabbage I forget the name of, Cauli 'All the year round' and Broccoli. I covered them over with fleece to stop the cabbage Butterfly laying eggs and to stop every feral cat in the area using it as a loo (yep it took alot of clearing before I could plant - Ew!)

The smaller raised bed now has Carrot 'Chantenay Red cored 2' and carrot 'Early Nantes' seed sown. I only planted the stumpy Chanteney one because I had the seeds, ordinarily I find them a waste of space but thanks to these 2 new beds I have plenty of spare room now. These were covered in fleece too because of the cats though I dare say this fleece will not last 5 minutes if the wind whips up no matter how secure they are

Last year I grew Climbing French bean in the polytunnel but they grew like triffids and took over so this year I'm planting them out on the lower allotment area (I call it an allotment but it's just my greenhouse area). I've also cut down on the amount of plants this year too because we just got inundated with them last year - though maybe I shouldn't have done that as crops may be less outside anyways. These were protected with fleece just in case we have a frost, I'll remove the fleece once that risk is gone.

On another note, the runs for the dog kennels are finally getting dug out. Once the runs are up it will mean that I don't have to have the dogs on the garden quite so much and I'll be able to relax knowing they're safe and secure and can't escape, least I hope they won't be able to. I won't bore you with details of the enclosures that Atlas has managed to escape from so this enclosure has got to be completely escape proof

See the green panel to the right? Those are what we'll be using. The enclosure will end up being about 40ft by 20ft and those bars on the panel are perfect for stopping Atlas climbing. It's gonna be a while in the making though.

Remember that garden bed I showed you the other day, the one where I had been a very lazy girl and put turfs directly on it to rot down? Well I finally got it cleared, manured and some lovely soil in it today



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Saturday, 18 May 2013

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Friday, 17 May 2013

There's no such thing as a short cut

And I found that out the hard way today.
You'd think after years of gardening that I wouldn't make lazy rookie mistakes wouldn't you but I guess I've learned my lesson now.
A while ago when we were digging out turf to insert sleeper edges I made the stupid, lazy decision to lay the turfs upside down straight onto my new flower beds!!!!
I know, I know I deserve a flick on the ear.
My lazy side convinced me that it would rot down soon enough and would save me stacking them elsewhere, however this is what the entire bed now looks like and I need to get it ready for planting

Idiot aren't I!  It may not have taken hours to rectify it but it was still extra work I didn't need, the bed was quite a big one and those turfs were stacked deep.

We've had a good couple of days weather wise (rain forecast all day tomorrow of course) and although I know I'll regret it I couldn't resist getting a couple of plants out - just a climbing rose 'Golden Rain' and some sweet peas, hopefully they're in a sheltered enough position to survive.

The garden is certainly beginning to produce some blooms and colour - I love spring colour

Cranesbill 'Phaeum'

Look at the Lillies romping away. They're as advanced (if not more so) than the ones growing in the polytunnel, plus these ones stayed out in the ground all winter.

Growing in the polytunnel at the moment is this Iris 'Langport Storm', I found the colour a but wishy washy when I first saw it but it's growing on me.

The pond escapades continue. Mr TG stupidly assumed that I had a) made sure the surrounding area of the pond was level, b) measured the liner that we have stored away and c) made sure said liner had no holes - I didn't!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Humble pie

Yup, humble pie doesn't taste so good but today I had to eat my share.
Let me explain, I have made quite some noise lately to Mr TG that the new pond on the new garden is to my specifications. Mr TG offered his thoughts and ideas but me being me I stuck to my idea because that's what I had drawn up on my plan - NO deviation from the plan people!
Today I found myself digging out for the sleeper edges with a hand trowel. I kid you not - a hand trowel!
I was half way through this tedious task when I suddenly came to the conclusion that sleeper edges were going to look naff - well the idea of a wood coping on the top was naff anyways.
But what was the solution?
As much as I hated to admit it I knew we were going to have to go with one of Mr TG's ideas, the idea that I ridiculed and suggested he keep his ideas to himself because I had a plan.
Sheepishly I approached Mr TG and explained my dilemma and he agreed to drop his own project and help me get the pond back on track (he made me grovel for it first though I assure you).
Course, him being male and all meant that he couldn't just do what needed to be done - oh no, no no, he had to moan and state "I told you so" numerous times and just for kicks he made sure I was well aware how much he was helping me as he wallowed in mud which apparently wouldn't have been there if I had listened to him in the first place.

Here he is digging out, it doesn't quite pick up the self righteous gloat he had plastered on his mug but you get the picture

The pond is actually deeper than it looks, enough to house a couple of fish anyways. I've handed the pond over to Mr TG now cos I've had enough of it!

It's that time of year when the local farmers are busy with the lambs in the fields behind us and usually I get quite fraught when I hear the farmer whistling their dogs because our feckless pooches tend to go ballistic along a fence they could quite easily jump over if the fancy took.  We now have a fenced area that they can't get out of though so it was nice to actually watch the farmer at work with his dogs, lord only knows how much training it must take

The farmer once asked me if I would give him a hand to move his sheep with our German Shepherd because our dogs barking was preventing his dog from working. Course I jumped at the chance and jumped into the field with Atlas who often shows a tendency at the fence to want to eat the sheep.
I couldn't believe the difference in Atlas when he was actually in the field with the sheep though, he was petrified of them. We managed to get the job done but I was so embarrassed how Atlas wanted to drag me away from the sheep every time they moved. Least I know he'd probably never attack them!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

He thought he was helping.....

This is the second day running where I've headed outside to get on with the garden, lasted 30 minutes and legged it back indoors because it's soooooooo cold out there.
I'm very fortunate that I have the opportunity to garden all day every single day if that's what I want and I always feel bad if I've let the weather dictate to me or I'm having one of those Blah days when I simply don't want to garden. Luckily I am a crafter too and I love making cards or making and building things for the home almost as much as gardening so with one of my daughters recently having moved out I have a bedroom to redecorate, a room to turn into a craft room and a room to turn into an office - busy, busy busy!

Back to the garden though.
I'm glad I held off planting out the veggies and flowers that are waiting in the polytunnel, the new growth on the flowers would most definitely have suffered with this cold wind and I don't think the veggies would have fared any better.

The new pond is the area we're currently constructing on the garden, although Mr TG still fails to see my vision of the finished product.
The pond will be edged by sleepers and the liner will go over the top of the sleepers and then I'll fix some kind of coping to the top, Mr TG does not get this and I'm not sure whether he genuinely thinks it won't work or whether he's being deliberately awkward - I suspect the latter to be the truth.
Thankfully Mr TG began the digging out for me and I did suggest that if the soil he digs out is good that he could put it on top of the newly manured area, saving me barrowing some from further afield.
I left him to it and when I returned this is what I found

What you're looking at there (from the bottom up) is part of the pond dug out then the darker manure Mr TG laid for me, the next paler stuff is the soil from the pond and then you can just see the darker soil I've been laying to the area.
Now does that paler stuff look like good soil to any of you? Anyone?
Is it just me or is it blinkin obvious that it's clay and that Mr TG has just dumped a pile of crappy soil onto my garden beds? Not only is it crappy clay but it's the exact same stuff that I've been diligently removing and/or improving to that exact area for the past few weeks.
Arghhhhhhhh!!  Grrrrrrrrrrrr! $%£DFGH&THMM(&^%$$

I kept my cool though and simply politely suggested that he dump the rest of the stuff elsewhere....if he knows whats good for him.

Here's the pond partly dug out

It's nowhere near deep enough yet and I still have to put 3 edging sleepers in but you get the idea - I hope! Mr TG doesn't though!
That pond soil is now pure clay and it's going to be very difficult to get out but the pick axe will help - hopefully!

With nothing else moving along outside I decided to take a piccie of a new flower popped out in the polytunnel. Say hello to Iris 'Pastel Charm'

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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Bare earth and Pear problems.

I'd hoped by this time of year that I would at least have some of the Cabbages and Cauli's out into the veg beds. Alas this is what the beds currently look like

The deeper raised beds over at the polytunnel are in the same condition as well. I was so tempted today to get some of those veggies out but I just daren't, if we get some sharp frosts overnight then I'll lose the lot.

In the Polytunnel though I did bite the bullet and get a start on the Tomatoes. Ideally I would have liked the Tomato seedlings to be more rooted in their pots before transplanting but I got bored of waiting and the polytunnel is certainly warm enough day and night to host the plants.
Here's the 4 I managed to get started on

So far I've planted 2 'Black Russian', 1 'Gardeners Delight' and 1 'Roma' but I have plenty more to be getting on with. The Tomatoes are being grown in potato bags for the first time this year. I filled the bags with homemade compost (topsoil, well rotted manure & compost) and anchored some twine in each bag connecting up to a batten connected to the polytunnel beams, I'll wrap the Tomato plant around the twine as it grows.

I also got the first lot of cucumbers planted out but only had the room for 4 of them in the polytunnel bed - 2 'Akto' and 2 'Marketmore'.

Hopefully the Cucumbers will love that manure rich earth. Now I just need to keep them warm.

I noticed that the Conference Pear tree growing in the polytunnel is showing the first signs of a leaf problem that I saw for the first time last year.
I have no idea as to what this could be and it only affects the leaves so if anyone has an idea as to what it could be I'd love to know

The lumps eventually cover alot of the leaves and I can't see any kind of bug or aphid on the tree that may be causing this.
Any ideas!