I obviously hope you enjoy browsing through the postings on here - do feel free to leave comments as it's always good to see who's visiting and to hear about other people's experiences - after all you never stop learning do you?

If you've any gardening questions or you live in Brittany and are looking for some gardening help - be it design work, planting or general gardening or you simply would like some advice, please don't hesitate to CONTACT ME or call me on 0033 661 77 23 89 (from UK) or 0661 77 23 89 (from France).

Happy gardening!

Thursday 22 May 2008

Vegging out...

Certainly no time for vegging at the moment with all that's going on in the garden - there have been various developments on the veg front... my "Stanley" Beans have grown on quickly and were planted outside just last week. I'd been reading up on ways to avoid slug and snail damaged and decided to try out one suggestion made in a wildlife gardening book.

Living in France we mostly drink bottled water and always feel it's such a waste just to throw bottles away but think I have now found a great use for at least some of them. Cutting a bottle into 2 or 3 sections - removing both the bottom and top so you end up with three "collars" - take a pair of pinking sheers to one edge - giving you a jagged edge - with this edge pointing uppermost place to surround young plants and firm the soil around the base so they don't blow away and hey presto these seem to work a treat! Certainly worth a try! I've been busy earthing them up this week to try and encourage more tubers to develop.

The 2 varieties of potatoes seem to be growing on well - I've done Desiree again after the success I had with them last year despite most people losing their potatoes to blight.... one tip which seemed to work was cutting all the diseased foliage down to ground level as soon as any signs of blight are detected. I'm also trying Pink Fir Apple for the first time - so will let you know what these are like.

My runner beans have also now been planted out - for some reason you can't buy these in France and have had to start buying them for my French neighbours after they tried ours last year!! I grew Butler last year which were delicious and prolific croppers and have added Enorma to the list this year.

Parsnips, Leeks, Rainbow Chard, Cabbages and Purple Flowering Broccoli all doing well too.

I've also recently planted out a number of Globe Artichokes - so far so good... will keep you posted on these!

Obviously time will tell regards the crop, but so far I've been really pleased with the v. early sowing I did of Broad Beans - planted deeper than normal in case of frosts, they are coming on in leaps and bounds and so far no attacks of aphids... so here's hoping!

I think this is going to be a bumper year for soft fruit - the strawberries look like they may have an exceptional year, raspberries are well on their way and the currants - more than we've ever had before... can't wait! For anyone who's not tried strawberries - I started these off last year from some runner plants that my Mum gave me. I'd not got a prepared bed so resorted to spreading my own compost over a small area (2m x 1m) to a depth of about 15cm and covering the area with breathable fabric and digging in the edges all the way round. I made small holes for the strawberry plants and planted them through the fabric and didn't have to deal with a single weed all summer - just lots of lovely strawberries - looks like we're heading for the same again this year - so nothing difficult I promise you!

Lastly, whilst on the subject is a picture of one of the Borage plants which successfully self seeded itself amongst others - the bees seem to love this one. The flowers are traditionally used to decorate jugs of Pimms - another idea is to take individual flowers and put them into ice cube moulds, fill with water and freeze - they look great in a jug of water when friends come round for supper - something a little bit different! You can also use Heartese flower heads too.


Cheryl said...

Hi Miranda....Gosh everything is looking good. I am ashamed to say I have given up on veggies.....having the warren in the garden causes too many problems. I shall still have my fruit though...apples, pears, blackberries, strawberries, crab apples etc...

I love borage, I put the flowers in ice cubes and drop them in Pimms. Look so pretty and on a hot summers day its a lovely drink.

Have fun Miranda....try to take time to stop and smell the flowers!

The Wessex Reiver said...

Good tip re the plastic bottles, I'll give it a go as I'm now on my second planting of runner and broad beans after the little darlings chomped their way across the veggie bed, though our resident Song Thrus is doing it's best at pest control!!

Last year I very successfully kept them at bay with builders dust to 15mm scalpings around the stems, which also had the advantage of being incorporated into the clay later in the year.

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Cheryl & Border R - good to see you both... as I'm typing this the rain is pounding the velux windows again... a rather wet weekend instore I think! All good for the veggies!
Bon Weekend... Miranda