Sunday, 31 May 2009


Poor Susan. They build you up and then they knock you down. It's just as well nobody nominated me for the best bloggywog ever award. It'd only go to my head. So congratulations to Arabella for that, whatever it was.

This weekend I've sown another row of peas, planted out the snapdragons and potted the tomatoes into their growbags. Thinking ahead I've also sown some winter cabbages and broccoli. The broad beans are flowering despite the best efforts of the blackfly to wipe them out; between the ladybirds and me with a bit of organic spray we seem to keeping the upper hand.

I'm cropping the spring cabbage now which makes a welcome change from eating broccoli leaves.

Not everything is going according to plan. The carrot rows are still looking patchy although that's not unusual. Germination of the leeks has been abysmal - I don't know what their problem is (although it could be old seed which would be my fault and I'm not having that). So anyway I've sown some more.

Around the edge of the plot the elder trees are frothing up nicely, I suppose I could make some elderflower champagne like that Hugh Fearnly-Whatshisface but I won't. Hey, I could be watching Crap In The Attic or Britain Sings And Dances Its Way Into The Post-Capitalist Bleedin' Apocalypse but I won't be doing that either.

Elder flowering

Snapdragons planted out

I've put a row of snapdragons by the peas and another in between the asparagus plants, which are in their first year so there's plenty of room.

Spring cabbage

Ladybird on broad beans

First flush

Out in the garden the climbing roses are doing their thing:

"Zepherine Drouhin"

"Ena Harkness"

Saturday, 23 May 2009

What a cracking day, nice enough to warm even my cold heart.

I can't usually be bothered with bedding plants but I scored some cheap ones from Homebase yesterday, 3.99 for a tray of 30 down to 2.99 plus it was 10% day so 5.38 for 60. I've potted them up and should be able to knock them out for 50p a pot in a couple of weeks, that's about a 500% mark up. Who says I can't do capitalism?


The early peas are flowering now and I've put up the support for the next row.

Garden today

Astrantia - but which one?

Red Salad Bowl planted out

Huchera "Stormy Seas"

Verbascum - I grew them from seed but of course can't remember the name.

Geranium "Birch Double"

Friday, 22 May 2009

Quilted Velvet My Arse

I think Soilman has already summed up the "wank tank horror show" that is Chelsea Flower Show as well as anyone so I shan't try to better his description.

I've come to expect a dizzying assault of corporate greenwashing from Chelsea but the prize this year must surely go to the Quilted Velvet garden. If manufacturers SCA had their way you'd be wetting yourself over their green credentials. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Making toilet paper from virgin wood uses massive amounts of energy; the pulping process uses tons of chlorine and other toxic chemicals. Quilted paper is especially damaging to the environment but bizarrely this is one area of the market which is growing. Which is no doubt why SCA are sponsoring no less than three gardens at RHS shows this summer, so be prepared for even more of this crap.

So this weeks corporate slut award goes to designer Tony Smith. You're on the list sunshine.

The garden was pretty naff too.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Nice drop of rain...

May can be a treacherous month. Hot one day, cold the next, that mean east wind - not fit for man nor beast as me grandad used to say, and he knew a thing or two. Still, we've had a nice drop of rain.

The broccoli's going to seed so now I'm reduced to eating the leaves like some kind of peasant. Not that I care. It still beats anything you can buy in the shops.

My first row of carrots were looking a bit hopeless - more gaps than carrots so today I've filled them in. And sown the maincrop. Things are moving fast from greenhouse to coldframe to plot; I've planted out the cosmos and a few lettuce today. And earthed up the spuds. Not a bad days work really, in between the showers.

Spuds earthed up

Greenhouse and coldframes

Salads and herbs in the garden

Pots left to right: parsley, salad mix, thyme, wild rocket, chives.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Good growing weather, just as it should be for May. The weeds are certainly liking it so I've spent much of today mooching about with fork and hoe keeping on top of them. The cabbages were ready for planting out so that's happened too. And the sweet rocket I sowed last year is flowering nicely.

Cabbages Planted Out

Sweet Rocket


The back garden is getting into the swing; the aquilegias are flowering as is one of my favourites - the dinky veronica gentianoides.

Sweet Talking Guy

Someone said something this week which got me thinking about brazen hussies. Especially after reading an article in The Observer by gardening heartthrob Dan Pearson in which he recommends the use of RoundUp, rather than using the generic name glyphosate.

Monsanto's patent on glyphosate ran out in 2001, since when many own-brand versions of the product have been available from the likes of Wilkos and B&Q at a much cheaper price than RoundUp, so there really is no need for gardeners to buy it or for gardening writers to recommend it.

I've no objection to people using glyphosate, I use it myself in the course of my work when absolutely necessary. Nor do I object to gardening writers plugging products even when they're blatant about it, so at least we know where they stand. But pimping RoundUp is crossing a line. I'd expect this kind of corporate product placement from the likes of right-wing hack Helen Yemm but hardly from our Dan.

In case you've been living under a stone for the last twenty years you'll be aware that RoundUp is made by Monsanto, the firm behind ninety per cent of the worlds GM crops, most of which have been engineered to withstand the application of RoundUp. They were also the makers of Agent Orange, the defoliant used by the Americans in Vietnam. Amongst many other corporate crimes they are also responsible for thousands of suicides amongst farmers in India and the destruction of their landbase. So as well as destroying the livelihoods of small farmers around the world and attacking and mutating the environment, they also quite literally have blood on their hands.

I realise your man is popular with the ladies. I can forgive him his poster boy looks and plummy voice. But not this. I emailed him a week ago to point out to him the error of his ways but so far he hasn't deigned to send me a reply. So, for being Monsanto's slut Master Pearson, consider yourself named and shamed. You brazen hussy you.

***You can find out how to help combat Monsanto here and see Marie-Monique Robin's excellent documentary "The World According To Monsanto" on YouTube here.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

May Day Weekend

Up the workers and all that. Nice steady day out on the plot. A bit more sowing and potting on in the potting shed (where else?) Outside I've sown a double row of French beans, the spuds I planted at easter are putting in an appearance, the spring cabbage is nearly ready, the strawberries are flowering and I've had the first pickings from a crop sown this year - a pot of salad leaves.

Sowing French Beans

Potatoes Showing

Spring Cabbage

Strawberries Flowering

Salad Leaves

"Niche Mixed"

Lady's Smock

Out in the back garden this has started seeding itself alongside the path. It's just so cute.