Next Project & Autumn / Winter Sowings

Didn’t get my Tuesday post in this week due to being busy in the garden – not a bad excuse at all, to my mind ;)  I’ve been working on my next ‘project’ for the garden – converting the back piece of ground into a plantable flower bed – it’ll be where I get to plant some non-edibles.  It was a reasonably pretty part of the garden in spring, with daffodils showing up brightly against the grey slate stones, but for most of the year it was a little dull, with only the holly tree and tall stump for interest.  It seemed like a waste of space to leave it all covered in stones like that when I’m desperate for any growing space so it was time to get the space out!

The first picture was from early in this year when I was digging over the new side bed – it shows the back section and how barren it is with no plants.  The second picture was where I’d got to in one go – clearing as much stone as I could and double digging the centre section, adding bags of manure to it as I went.  The third picture shows what I got done on Tuesday – the corner section has been dug, the fruit canes (which were doing terribly in that spot) have been lifted, separated and moved and I’ve added a few stones so I don’t have to step all over the freshly turned over, loose soil.  It’s a bit lumpy, but it started to rain so I had to run inside and took the photo from the window.

It’s a very well drained spot, gets good light in spring and autumn and part shade over half of it in summer (due to a tree in next door’s garden).  It is a big area compared to my other beds and will allow me to plant some of the bigger shrubs I want to grow such as this little beauty:

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bombshell’ – I really like hydrangeas, who cares if they’re ‘fashionable’ or not!  This modern variety is a fairly compact one and, as it’s a paniculata, is one of the hardiest types – able to survive down to -20C.  That should be useful, given our recent bad winters.  Once I see what colour their flowers are some of the buddleja may go in here and I’m hoping to get a nice strongly scented, white rose – preferably a shrub or climbing type – suggestions welcome.  I’ve already got a small pile of seeds for both annuals and perennials ready for next year, too – as well as some dahlias and fritillary bulbs.

This year’s project is coming along ‘ok’.  The brassicas seem to love the soil in the ‘Sunnyside’ garden, as I’ve dubbed it, but a few other things are suffering either as a result of poor growing conditions, bad weather or my major nemesis this year: slugs!  The soil I bought which was supposedly meant for raised gardens or starting new beds isn’t all that great – it’s fairly strawy, dries out fast and generally was not as good quality as I’d have liked.  Because of this I’ve decided that once all of the plants are done in this bed for the year I’m going to heavily compost it and possibly re-dig it.  I’m not fond of the idea of re-digging it as it’d mean messing up any nice soil ecology which has managed to establish itself this year but I’m not sure if leaving all of the poorly composted material on top is a great idea either.  I may only loosely dig it over and hope that, with the added properly composted material, the winter frosts will take care of breaking it down to something a little finer.  Any thoughts on this would be appreciated!

My gladioli this year are… monstrous!  I’m used to growing butterfly types – you can see one of them at the very front, the yellow and pink.  The red flowers are large hybrid types (‘Espresso’) and are about the size of my hand!  They seem to die a lot quicker than the butterfly types, though.  If you look right in the middle of the picture you can see a very, very tall flower spike.  I have no idea which variety it is, yet, but that spike is about as tall as me!

Pinks seem to be dominating the garden in August – from the delicate shades of the little gladis, to the bright pink and white fuschias and more delicate tones on the begonia and bean flowers.

Apparently my gladis weren’t the only ones growing overly tall – I had to pick my potato up as it fell over with the weight of water on it from the frequent showers we’ve been having.  It seems to be ok, just rather tall and spindly for a potato, hence the accident.  It’s ‘Yetholm Gypsy’, my main crop, and I’ve yet to try any of them.

Another little oddity was this tri-branched cyme stalk on my vine tomatoes:

All of my other tomatoes have just single cyme per stalk, but this plant likes producing them in threes, as though it’s a bush type – unsurprising maybe, given it’s a bush-vine hybrid but it’s growing otherwise entirely like a vine (it was the tallest and fastest growing before I stopped it).  My tomatoes all seem to be doing fairly well, so far (fingers crossed) and I’m hoping that I get to taste at least one before we head off on holidays.  If not, I expect to come back to a fair crop!

Lastly, I’ve started some autumn and winter crop seeds.  I had planted all of these directly a few weeks ago but with only a couple of exceptions the slugs seem to have murderised the lot.  This set, therefore, are being coddled in the greenhouse until they’re big enough to handle a few chomps without keeling over.

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