30 April 2008

Potato Field.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 6.6C
High Temp: 14.0C
Rainfall: 6.9mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 2.7 mph
Weather Today: Heavy rain during the night with more again this afternoon.
Hello everyone. I'm glad to see Jim is back from his holiday in Ireland, and all in one piece this time which is even better.
As you will see from my weather observations above we had a pretty wet time of it last night, not much more than a week ago the farmer was planting potatoes in the field below, this was how it looked this morning when me and Tom took a walk on there. We even saw a duck swimming about on one of the pools.
Jim asked me a good question about the tip from last night, and that question is will the tomato plants come true, in other words will they be the same as the parent plant. Well yes they will, cuttings are just an extension of the parent plant, if I was to grow from the seed of the parent plant then this might not be the case but as these were cuttings then yes for sure they will be just the same as the plant I took them from.
Well I will be getting off now, y'all take care and I will see you again soon.

29 April 2008

Tomato Plant Cuttings.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 4.5C
High Temp: 16.4C
Rainfall: 0.3mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 1.4 mph
Weather Today: Bright and sunny,
some heavy showers late afternoon.
Hello everyone, I sure hope you're feeling well. Tonight I have another of Tippy's Top Tips for you. No doubt some of you are like me and enjoy growing Tomatoes. Well I will tell you something that I sometimes do, its also good for those who buy plants rather than grow from seed because this way you don't need to by as many. Once your plants get going you will find that there are lots of side shoots which in some cases you have to remove and even if you grow the sort of plants that don't need side shoots removing the plant won't mind if you take a few. In this instance I use a sharp knife that way you don't bruise the end. Below shows you what a side shoot looks like and where to make the cut.

If the leaves are a bit big then trim back the end a little so you end up with something like in the picture below and make sure you have a nice clean straight cut on the bottom of the cutting.
Then fill a pot with ordinary potting compost and stick the cutting down the side of the pot to the depth of about half an inch to an inch and then water in. Then stand it somewhere warm and light but shaded from direct sunlight.
Then in ten days to a fortnight you will have roots forming like this...

...and extra plants to grow on or give to friends.
I was intending to grow these on for planting out in the garden later but my dad has not done so well with his own Tomatoes this year so I will let him have these four plants so he will get a head start, you never know he might be so happy that he'll treat me to a pint of Fosters - now thats got to be worth having a go hasn't it? I have some more side shoots so I will take somemore cuttings to grow outside. This is so easy that even someone with brown thumbs can do it, even if its just for fun.

28 April 2008

Bob's Bloomer's (Polyanthus).

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 6.0C
High Temp: 16.4C
Rainfall: 1.8mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 4.1 mph
Weather Today: Quite a bright day with one slight shower.
Tonight Bob is going to show you his bloomers, very colourful they are too. I was a bit undecided whether to choose Daffodils or the Polyanthus, the daffs are a bigger display but I love the bright and cheerful colours of the Polyanthus, especially in this spring of grey skies. They are similar to Primroses and Primula's but I prefer Polyanthus as their blooms stand better above the foliage.

They are pretty easy to grow from seed and once you have some they are easy to increase by division. The main thing to remember is when sowing from seed, the temperature must not exceed 18°C. Sow the seed in a tray on top of the compost and aim for a temperature of around 15 to 18C and they should start to germinate in two to three weeks. Once the seeds start to germinate cover with a thin layer of Vermiculite as this will help the seed to root in to the compost. You can sow them from March to September planting out from September to October to flower March to May the following year.

Polyanthus are a hardy perennial so will grow for many years and more plants can be obtained by splitting the plants in Spring or Autumn. Just lift the plants and wash off the soil so you can see the rooted off shoots and then just take a sharp knife and cut away the off shoots and plant on as a plant in its own right. They will thrive in any garden soil but prefer one that is rich and moist. If possible they also like some shade although the ones I have in are in full sun at the moment but these will be moved for the summer to somewhere a little cooler.

27 April 2008

Motor Racing Weekend.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 11.3C
High Temp: 20.7C
Rainfall: 0.9mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 2.0 mph
Weather Today: Heavy showers,
not a very nice day at all.

Hello everyone, how are you all today? Here it hasn't been a very good day, another winters day, more wet and cold. Thankfully its been a good weekend for motorsport, apart from the Spanish grand prix there was also the GP2 racing and I had some V8 supercars to watch from last weekend so I've had plenty to keep me occupied.
I sure hope there is some decent weather this next week, although from what was said in 'Countryfile's' weather for the week ahead it doesn't seem this is going to be the case at all with more wet and cold weather to come. I really need to get all the lawns cut for next weekend as the family are coming to stay. The one good thing about all this wet weather is that at least my grass seed hasn't needed watering.

This next week I want to try and get some weeding don't as they are growing really well now even if not much else is. I also have some veg to sow if it dries up enough. I sowed some cabbage, cauliflower, brussels, climbing French and runner beans and letuce in the greenhouse on Friday but there are somethings like carrots that I really need to put straight in the ground.

25 April 2008


All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 7.3C
High Temp: 14.3C
Rainfall: 0.0mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 2.4 mph
Weather Today: Damp and overcast.
Hello everyone, Bob has something to show you over in the secret garden tonight.

24 April 2008

A Productive Day.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 7.7C
High Temp: 17.7C
Rainfall: 2.1mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 2.0 mph
Weather Today: April showers, warm when sunny.

Hello everyone. I didn't feel that I got much done today what with the weather the way it is but looking back I'm a bit more happy about things as I got a few jobs done that have sort of improved things no end. This morning as it was raining me and Tom went to the garden centre for some supplies. By the time we got back the rain had stopped so I went and finished off weeding and patching up the planting in the walls in the main garden.
After lunch it came out quite nice but everywhere was wet so I decided to clear up the potting shed yard. Quite a few plants and rubbish had accumulated over time. Some of the plants were okay and worth keeping but there were many that weren't worth bothering with so they got dumped and I had a good old sweep up and wash down.

Another little job I did which I'm quite pleased about is I managed to unblock the drain by the potting shed door. I had a go at unblocking it when I first came here but failed, this time however after much prodding I managed to get the water to drain away. If you look at the picture above you will see a hand pump against the wall, it doesn't work anymore but it used to be fed from an underground tank at its base. Well the water from the drain runs in to the tank and whats more when that tank is full it then runs to the one under the conservatory floor because when I went to close the vent in the conseratory I could hear water runing in to that tank also and the only place it cold have been coming from was the potting shed drain. The people who built everything in the first place could teach us a thing or two and no mistake.
I then finished off the day by getting one of the window vents working in the far greenhouse. The roof vent in there works okay but none of the side vents did. It was just a matter of fitting a couple of new hinges. There are no proper catches on it as yet but it works fine. I bet its been a few years since that window opened.
The problem was that the old hinges had rusted or broken through neglect. They aren't worn out or anything, just rusted solid. Its hard to see how that could happen if the houses had been used properly because they are in use nearly eveyday doing the spring, summer and autumn.


22 April 2008

Aphid Problems.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 3.7C
High Temp: 19.4C
Rainfall: 0.3mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 1.4 mph
Weather Today: Mostly bright and much warmer,
in fact its been the warmest day of this year.

Did I hear Monty (Don) say on Gardens World the other night that Aphids are not a problem as rarely do they kill anything. Well anyway whether I did hear that or dreamt it, it doens't really matter as I can still show you the effects Aphids have on young seedlings. You could be forgiven for thinking that the seedlings you see on the right in the picture are older than the ones on the left when actually the reverse is true. The tray of seedlings on the left are some three weeks older than the ones on the right, the difference being that the ones on the left have had a persistant Aphid problem. The ones you see are some of the better plants, I've had to throw many away as a result of trying to cure the problem by natural means, none of which worked for me. So today I got violent and gave them a jolly good spraying, lets see how they like that.

So if you have seedlings that aren't doing well and their leaves look distorted check for Aphids, don't expect to find big juicy ones though because they seem to be able to scale themselves to fit the plants they're on, you may even need a magnifying glass to see them.


17 April 2008

Short Back & Sides For Tom.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 2.0C
High Temp: 12.7C
Rainfall: 0.9mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 3.1 mph
Weather Today: Mostly bright but with a bitterly cold wind.

It seems that I'm not being allowed to upload a picture again tonight, this time it seems to be 'Blogger' that it the problem, it was only a picture of a grapevine anyway so its no great loss.
This weekend me and Tom are off walking again so we won't be around for a few days.
Today as everywhere is soaking after last nights rain I decided to spend the day transplanting and potting up. It seems to be a never ending job at the moment, I could spend all my time in the greenhouse are the moment there is so much to be done. Both the greenhouse and conservatory are bursting at the seams at the moment - I keep on finding room though. Its nice to see everything packed in though, much better than when I came here, there was about three half dead plants and the rest of the place was full of Willow Herb and other weeds which was a real shame.

I gave Tom a hair cut today, well his tail anyway. No matter how I try to comb it he manages to get it all knotted up so every so often I get the scissors out and give it a trim, its a good thing it's his tail and so can't see it or I don't think he would be speaking to me right now, I definately shouldn't give up my day job - not to do hair dressing anyway.
Well I think I'm going to leave it there, I'll go and get the kettle on the boil ready for when Vicki gets home, she is doing one of her lessons at the flower shop where she works, no doubt she will tell you about it on her blog.

Best wishes,

16 April 2008

Loggin Bob.

Blue Skies - just to remind you!

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 1.8C
High Temp: 8.9C
Rainfall: 1.2mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 2.7 mph
Weather Today: Bright until 3 then came on to rain, still cold.

Hello everyone, how are you today? Today Bob is cold a wet because its still cold and raining here in the UK, at least it is where I am.

They had a load of logs delivered to the big house this morning so I spent quite a lot of time today sorting thos out. Me and Tom went round to the cellar entrance at 7 this morning to lay out the sheets to catch all the small bits. If you don't put something down to catch the bits you end up with a terrible mess to clean up, in fact you can't clean it up properly as the mess gets in to the gravel so we put some sheets down and then all we have to do when the logs are down the cellar it pick up the sheets with all the rubbish on there and everything is as good as new. When the logs arrive I have to throw them all down the hole in to the cellar and then go down the cellar and throw them in to a pile against the far wall. I used to stack them up neatly against the wall but I didn't bother this time as I have plenty of other things to be getting on with. It is nice to see them stacked up but its a bit pointless as no one sees them and its only a temperary thing anyway. All this took me until lunch time, after which I lit a bonefire and burnt some boxes and whatever rubbish was on the burn pile. By now it had started to rain so me and Tom spent the reat of the day in the potting shed transplanting some seedlings, there are still plenty more to plant too if its a wet day tomorrow.

The other day Matron asked me if I had a planting scheme planned for the Begonia cuttings. I have to say not really, I don't have a say in what gets planted where these days. I'm just taking the cuttings as a fun thing really. I will put them somewhere of course, if the boss doesn't want them in the garden I will find somewhere in the courtyard as he doesn't mind what I do in there, the only problem with planting things in there is that the Peacocks eat the flowers which is not good.

Someone else asked me a question but I can't recall who is was or what it was about at the moment so sorry about that, I'm sure it will come to me again eventually. I'm havng to write this on Vicki's laptop tonight which is why there are no pics for you. My computer is acting the fool, its working but very slowly, I think the rain has got too it or something LOL!

Vicki is away at her wednesday even chuch meeting tonight so I'm home alone with the dogs, everyone is very quiet.

All the best,
Bob. (As you will see my own computer has now stopped sulking hence the pics and weather report).

15 April 2008

The Plank.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 0.3C
High Temp: 12.0C
Rainfall: 0.6mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 3.4 mph
Weather Today: Bright until 3 then came on to rain, still cold.

Today I got my Hytec onion sets so I set too and got them in the ground straight away. I just happened to meantion it to Tippy when I got home for lunch and she said to make sure I tell you about 'The Plank'. Unlike the onion sets there is nothing hitec about it, its simply a plank of wood that I use instead of a garden line for marking out the rows. It works well, better than a line for the shorter rows we have here in the veg garden at the big house. Its quite thin and is 12 foot long by 6 inches wide.

What I've also done is cut marks along the edges to mark out the distances. On the side you see the plank is marked off in 6 inches, every other mark being full width of the plank so its easy to measure either feet or half feet when planting. See the picture below, my finger is pointing out the foot mark and then you can see the 6 inch mark at the top of the picture. Then if you turn the plank over one edge is marked at 4 inch intervals which is the distance I plant my oinions. There is a free edge with no marking because I find the three that I have cover everything.
As I say it works better on the shorter rows, if you have long rows then I think the line is better.

Also today, as it came on to rain in the afternoon me and Tom went to the garden centre for some grass seed to re-seed the piece of lawn where the Evergreen Oak came from. I have it all levelled and raked now ready for the seed. I haven't been in a hurry to put it in because the weather is still so cold. I don' want to sow it and have it sitting there for ages because of the dogs and kids digging holes in it.

Anyway I'd better be getting off now, take care.

14 April 2008

Rooting Cuttings In Water.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 1.6C
High Temp: 14.7C
Rainfall: 0.3mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 2.0 mph
Weather Today: Mostly sunny after a frosty start.
Tonight I'm going to show you a couple of Begonia's that I saved from last summer. They were actually runts that got held back at planting time because they were too small so I kept them in the conservatory as pot plants all summer and then on through the winter. Then around February time when they started putting on new growth I started taking cuttings from them. I suspect a lot of you will already know how to take cuttings from them but for those who don't here is how I do it. Its very simple and hardly any trouble, all you need it a sharp knife and some sort of small container that holds water, I prefer a clear one that way you can see when the roots are forming without having to keep disturbing the cuttings. I think in my example I used the top from a tub of toothpaste but anything similar will do.
Below are the two parent Begonia's
Take your sharp knife and cut off any new growth that is of a similar length to the pieces you see in the picture below, around 2 to 3 inches, don;t worry where you make the cut at the moment.
Now strip off the lower leaves and any flowers leaving just a couple of leaves as in the picture then take your sharp knife and make a clean cut just below a join as I am about to do below.
Thats all there is too it, put your cuttings in the container as below and fill to the top with fresh tap water and be sure to keep it topped up with water until you see the roots forming on the stalks. You can keep them on a warm window sill but be sure to shade from any direct sun light. I always find the kitchen is a good place as its usually warm in there and also its handy for the tap to keep the water level topped up.
Then when you see little roots, if you look closely at the picture you will see what I mean. This is the time to take your cuttings and pot them up in to a general purpose potting compost. Handle the cuttings by their leaves though as the roots are very delicate at this stage.
In about three weeks you will have lots of lovely new plants like the ones I have below, I think I have 40 babies so far from the two plants which I'm really pleased about, especially as they're almost for free and from two plants that nearly got thrown away.
There are quite a few plants that you can root this way, I usually root Impatiens this way and I also find that Fuchsia's root easily in water. Anyway I hope that is of help to someone and if you need to know more just ask - okay.

13 April 2008

More News Of The Walk.

All readings are taken from a sheltered location in our
garden and cover a 24 hour period starting at 6pm.
Low Temp: 4.6C
High Temp: 9.8C
Rainfall: 0.9mm
Strongest Gust of wind: 1.4 mph
Weather Today: Mostly overcast and still cold.
Bob is over at his Hiking Gardener blog tonight as he has some more to tell you about his long walk so if you want to go see him click on this link http://peakdistrictwalker.blogspot.com/

12 April 2008

Did You See Gardeners World

Hello everyone, are you having a good weekend. Mine is steady, I just did a few little jobs today and don’t plan on doing much more than that tomorrow.

Did any of you see ‘Gardeners World’ last night? It would be interesting to know what you thought about Joe and his allotment. I was worried last week when I advised anyone with an overgrown plot to just be patient and then spray it off, I needn’t have worried myself because after watching Joe rotovating couch grass I feel quite an expert. Believe me rotovating any such weeds as couch grass, bind weed etc. is one of the worse things out as it chops up all the roots and each chopped up piece becomes a separate plant. It will be interesting to see how that all turns out for him, I hope he has a plan.

Those of you who look in my sidebar will have seen a little tip telling you to pot up a few potatoes in pots, well below is a picture of how mine are getting on. As you can see there are potatoes starting to develop, it won’t be long now before there will be a boiling of new potatoes and apart from my time they are free because the potatoes were some that I found when I was digging over the veg garden, the soil is from mole hills on the green and then there is a bit of compost in the bottom.

In this next picture you will see my lettuce that I have growing an a grow bag. There are ten plants and they are looking well. I have some more coming on, they are in three inch pots and will probably just get planted out in to the garden - that’s if winter ever ends! Everything seems so far behind this year, even the grass isn’t growing as it should. This time last year I was getting five grass boxes full of grass out of the walled garden every week, this week when I cut it I got one and a half, I didn’t even bother doing the main garden or the courtyard.


4 April 2008

A Spade Is For Life.

When I was on my dinner break today I popped on over to see what Woody has been up too, although I was a bit concerned when I read ‘I've also banged three Bishops in’, I was just wondering what on earth Woody had against bishops when he revealed that he was referring to the Dahlia by the name of “Bishop of Llandaff” Anyway he’s gone and discovered part of an old greenhouse plus a grapevine, he also goes on to ask the question. “How old can a spade be and still be in use?” I think this was a good question, especially as he goes on to ask which would wear out first, the handle or the blade. I’m thinking that it might depend on how often you use it and how well you look after it. If you just left it out in the weather for ages on end I reckon the shaft would probably rot but if looked after and used properly then perhaps the blade would eventually become worn so as to not be long enough to dig to a decent depth. You might think it’s a pain cleaning your tools at the end of each use, especially if you think you maybe using it again tomorrow but really it only takes ten minutes and who knows what will happen to stop you using them tomorrow. As you will see if you look at my calendar I set aside 15 minutes at the end of every day to clean and put away my tools and that’s because a clean shiny tool is much easier to use than a dull old rusty thing. Anyway here is a picture of my digging spade, this spade only ever gets used for working the soil and never as a crowbar, axe, hammer or anything else that spades tend to get used for. I keep another spade for abuse like that. I have to confess that the spade you see is a bit of a ‘My Grandfathers Axe’ job in that the shaft is not the original. I like a spade with a longer shaft, I don’t know if its obvious by looking at the picture but the spade stands a few inches taller than your average spade and that’s because when I got it I took out the original shaft and put in a longer one. In the second picture you might be able to tell that the blade is wearing, especially on one side more than the other and that’s because I can only work one way with it so one side of the spade gets worked more than the other so I reckon in time the blade would wear down but I think this spade will last me out. Another interesting thing worth a mention is that a spade gets better with use, I hate using a new spade because it’s twice as hard work which is why you should look after your digging spade.

Another thing that Woody brought up was about taking on a new allotment. This is something I’ve often thought about because I’ve known several people take on allotments, usually they are overgrown and they spend all winter breaking their backs digging out couch grass and nettles etc. but you know how that one goes, come the spring and all the bits you’ve missed start coming through and its easy to get disheartened by what seems like a losing battle. I know to the purists amongst you this might be akin to swearing but the way I see it I think it would be better to just wait and let the weeds start to grow that first year and then spray the whole lot with ‘Roundup’ or similar, the only thing it hurts are the weeds, it doesn’t stay in the soil or hurt animals and then at least you have a clean sheet to start with, you don’t need to spend back breaking hours picking out roots, stripping the sitting room of its carpet or anything like that and once dead the weeds can be dug in. I don’t like using sprays myself but if it meant the difference between heart break or happiness then I would do it just once that first year. Its commendable to be truly organic but not at the expense of failure. I think it would be better to have a plot full of non organic veg than one full of organic weeds.