Recycling the old shed and raising the broad beans and raspberries

With the old shed down, I’m turning the space into productive raised beds for a range of fruit and vegetables.

A few weeks ago I got round to dismantling the rickety little old spare shed in the corner of my garden. This has opened my garden up somewhat – not just to more gardening space, but also to the view of the neighbours who back up to my garden.

Shed
The shed was full of rot, woodworm and ivy.

The fence at the bottom of my garden is my responsibility and appears to be the original 1950s galvanised metal fence. It’s in a fairly good condition, but has seemingly had a snip in the top supporting wire that will no doubt speed up its inevitable unraveled sag. However the inhabitance of the houses behind me (they were empty when I bought mine) makes me aware that now that the Blackberry brambles and ivy, and now the shed, have all gone – it’s all a bit exposed. I can sit in my lounge and have clear line of sight right into their houses šŸ˜®

I’ve decided to get some screening from my local garden centre – either Willow or Bamboo should do the job – giving me and both of them – some privacy in their gardens. They both have dogs, and I have a RubyCat, so this should also ease any tension there.

I had a rummage through the wood of the deconstructed shed and have pulled out some pretty solid planks, and have turned them into a couple of raised beds. I also took the door and a few other planks and turned them into shelving in the shed.

Two raised beds for growing fruit and veg
The old shed has been recycled into 2 raised beds.

I then put the rest of the shed into the boot of my car and took it to the timber section of my local recycling centre.

I’d already decided what’s going in the raised beds, and planted the first plants a few weeks ago. First up wereĀ  5 Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ bare-root plants that I bought from Bunkers Hill Garden Shop (via eBay), and after adding some freshly dug soil and a 125 litre bag of compost, I watered them in.

These raspberries should grow upwards, and become established here, so a raised bed at the bottom of the garden should be the perfect spot for them.. even if I’m fairly sure the blackbirds will get most of them!

Thankfully, at least some of the raspberries appear to be coming alive.

Raspberry 'Glen Ample' plants shooting out
New shoots from the bare-root Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ canes.

Next to those, but not in the raised bed, is my new Redcurrant ‘Rovada’ bush. Apparently this copes with partial shade, which is good because this is now planted in the corner of the garden where the sunshine reaches for a few hours a day. It’s budding up, but the leaves are yet to break out.

When the old shed stood here, I had success with Lettuce, and growing French Beans ‘Blue Lake’ up canes in this area. I shall be doing this again, and have now planted out my Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants, which I have been hardening off in the shed this last couple of weeks.

The raised bed contains a mixture of rotting leaves, multipurpose compost, coir compost, and some smelly compost from a council green garden waste centre.

Broad Bean 'Crimson Flowered' plants
The Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants are the first in the raised bed.

A couple of days ago I sowed the Lettuce ‘Red Salad Bowl’ seeds indoors, so I should have quite a few of these germinate. I’m growing this variety because I’m pretty sure they were the variety in a mixed leaf pack that the slugs and snails left alone. Fingers crossed!

The garden is really sticky at the moment – the weeks of snow, drizzle, and rain, has left everywhere (including my trainers) a bit squelchy. With a bit more sunshine it should start to make gardening a little easier.

I have plenty of pricking out and more seed sowing to do in the next few days. What are you up to in the garden? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew

Tune In, Pot Up, Plant Out

Music, sunshine, and a bank holiday weekend. This can mean only one thing – gardening time!

The sun has been shining today – somewhat unusual for a British Bank Holiday weekend – but I made the most of it by doing a few jobs I’d put off due to the recent rain storms, hailstorms, and cold weather.

Armed with iTunes Remote, gardenĀ wifi, and a strategically placed speaker, I set to work in the sunshine by pulling out some irritating Cleavers ‘Galium Aparine’ (or ‘Goosegrass’ as it’s also commonly known). Having had some warm weather, then rains, it had grown strong and woven its way through many of the plants. I have to wear gloves to remove this plant as I seem to have become allergic to it in the last few years. It’s an ever-lasting war with Goosegrass, but for now, I am winning.

There’s geese on the pond near my house – wonder if they actually like goosegrass?

Strawberry 'Elsanta'
Strawberry ‘Elsanta’

The Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ plants are doing well. They are a mixture of survivors from last year, new plants from runners from last year, and an extra plant that I bought last weekend. I have potted these on, so hopefully their flowers will soon turn into the delicious red fruits that I enjoyed last year, and have been plucking from my fridge more recently.

I also planted out the Lupin ‘The Governor’ plant that I bought recently from Twentypence Garden Centre. My mother’s garden has many Lupins, so hopefully this will self-seed like the Foxgloves and Antirrhinums have done.

Hopefully, the snails will leave it alone long enough to allow it to take hold of its new-found freedom.

Lupin 'The Governor'
Lupin ‘The Governor’ will have blue and white flowers

The Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that I sowed last spring, and planted out, over-wintered perfectly, and are now strong plants, breaking up the lush green of the garden with their snowy white foliage.

Cineraria 'Martima Siverdust'
Cineraria ‘Martima Siverdust’

It won’t be many more days until many of the plants are planted out into the garden. The beans, nasturtiums, courgettes, and tomatoes are all impatient on my windowsill, whilst the Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ for next year’s garden, are beginning to germinate.

The next few days are crucial for the success of the garden. A herd of snails, or strong winds could wreck many of the tender plants. Fingers crossed that the single figure centigrade nights soon end.

Happy Gardening!
Andrew

Wigwams, French Beans and Salvia

Over the weekend I was able to dodge those April Showers to build wigwams, sow the French Beans and prick-out the Salvia seedlings.

I managed to find a few minutes over the weekend when it wasn’t raining to erect two wigwams for my climbers – the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ and also for the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’.

Bamboo Wigwam
One of the bamboo cane wigwams.

I’ve used a collection of bamboo canes and some strong garden twine – tying the canes at the top and then winding the twine around and down the full length of the wigwam – making sure that wrapped twine around some of the canes on the way down in order to give it all some strength and also to encourage the climbers.

One of the wigwams didn’t have the same number as canes, so i added a cane gripper in the middle to help hold everything together. Based on previous years experience, this means that the UK will now experience gales – as the wind tries desperately to blow them down.

As it started to rain, I returned indoors where I then set to sowing the French Beans in pots – now’s the ideal time to do this.

pricking-out

It’s so important to keep seedlings moving at the moment as it’s easy to get behind and end up with some pot-bound or hungry plants.

This week was the turn of the second batch of theĀ Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ that I sowed back in March to bump up the low numbers of the January sowing.

Salvia 'Farinacea Victoria' seedlings 2012
There’s quite a difference between the January and March sowings of Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’.

There were 8 new seedlings in all, bringing my total to 12. These will join the Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and last year’s Salvia to bring a wash of blue flowers to the garden in a bid to encourage and support more bees.

Pricking out the Salvia 'Farinacea Victoria'
The Salvia ‘Farinacea Victoria’ all pricked-out and potted up. They vary in size despite being sown at the same time.

The two smallest Salvia have gone into the propagator with the Dill and Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds that I sowed a few days ago, in a bid to help it grow on. Btw, one of the courgette seeds has already germinated!!

Best way to grow courgettes?

I’ve grown Courgette’s in the garden – one year producing loads, last year they died from mildew. I’ve grown them in pots before but unsuccessfully (they were small and waxy and generally unappealing). What’s your trick?

Planting out the Aubergines

The Aubergines finally find their home and are joined by the rescued Nasturtiums.

I planted out my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants into a wicker basket at the weekend.

The basket, bought from the excellent Twenty Pence Garden Centre, is a few feet high and contains a durable liner bag into which I have put a mixture of composts and some soil, with a few drainage rocks in the bottom. I’m not sure how well this is going go, or how long the wicker basket, or more to the point, the liner bag, will last. However, I’m willing to give it a go and see how it gets on.

Aubergine and Nasturtium plants in a wicker basket.
The Aubergine and Nasturtium plants in the wicker basket.

The Aubergines were very keen to move on to their next pot, so this is ideal for them. I’ve been feeding them regularly, and so they’re flowering and in need of being planted out. Hopefully they’ll forget their windowsill days quickly and become established in their new home.

Amongst them, I’ve planted some Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ in a bid to add some colour, and have something spill out over the sides of the pot. These Nasturtiums were ones that i bought as a ‘rescue’ purchase. They’re a bit leggy, but I read that they can attract hoverflies. Hoverflies in turn feast on those pesky aphids which pretty much obliterated my Sweet Peas in an afternoon. There’s also my neighbour’s oldĀ dilapidatedĀ trellis that divides our gardens, and which is next to the basket, so the Nasturtiums might want to climb this too. I may even try some of the leaves in salads.

This part of the garden gets sunshine from the East, and it stays in the garden for quite a while. Plants such as my Fern and the Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’ do well nearby, and I allow the yellow Corydalis ‘Pseudofumaria Lutea’ to grow up through the join between the paving here in a bid to add some colour for a few weeks in July.

However, the glorious sunshine has turned to chillier days with grey skies and rain showers. Hopefully the sunshine will return to help ripen those veg.

The Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ that I planted on 6th July had begun germinating by the evening of the following day and they are now standing about 3cm tall. Hopefully these will crop for longer than the previous lot.

Planting out

I’ve been planting out my seed-grown plants today – all 3 hours of them!

I’ve just come in from an afternoon of planting out.

After a few days of rain (thunder, lightning, flooding, hail etc…), I took the opportunity to put out the plants that i’d nurtured from seed and also the few that i bought at a trip to Homebase and Huntingdon Garden and Leisure.

It’s taken me almost 3 hours of planting but I have finally given most of the Antirrhinum ‘Chuckles’ their release into the wild. A few had begun to flower, the ones that I’d transplanted into normal trays had got lanky, but the ones that i’d transplanted into plugs were smaller and more upright. Still, i’ve picked them out and planted them everywhere (with loads left over… oops).

Antirrhinum 'Chuckles'
Antirrhinum ‘Chuckles’ – waiting to be planted out

After all my sowing, re-sowing (due to poor germination rate) and nurturing, including fending off a flock (?) of snails, I’ve ended up with a paltry half-a-dozen Marigold ‘Boy O’ Boy Orange (French)’. This isĀ disappointingĀ considering that my mother has them growing like weeds! No doubt she’ll remind me of this when she visits next.

With some very carefully tying up of my Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’, in a bid to entice them upwards, I’d noticed that one of the canes that I’d set two against now has no sign of a plant. So, with it being late in the season, I decided that I would pop two Pea ‘Celebration’Ā seeds in to see if they’d like to grow and give me some tasty green petit pois late in the season.

I was really pleased to see the bees out in full force today. It was almost like they thought they’d help me in the garden. They’re all over the Lavender and also going for the SalviaĀ ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’Ā that I bought yesterday. I reckon that bees love blue flowers.

The BuddleiaĀ that I took from cutting months ago, and which I planted out a few weeks back, looks like it’s heading towards a flower. It’s still quite short, and the Foxglove ‘Digitalis’ that I bought from Tesco, is towering over it ready to burst. According to my mother (!) the bees love that Buddleia – it’s white. The Foxglove is meant to be a creamy yellow-white – so the bees will be in for a treat.

Speaking of Foxglove, I’ve just set some Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seeds in a propagator to grow some new plants for next year. Buying the plants is expensive, but the seed is a cheap and easy way to get loads of them.

Right, that’s enough for now – time to make a cuppa and put my feet up!

Cosmos and Digitalis (Foxglove)

Today i bought some cheerful Cosmos and Digitalis (Foxglove) for the garden.

This weekend I bought some plants for my garden.

This is slightly unusual as so far I have just grown them from cuttings or from seeds, but I fell in love with the beautiful Cosmos at my local Twenty Pence Garden Centre and they were on a 3 for 2 offer.

cosmos-on-flower
The pink Cosmos flowers add a burst of colour.

Then today, whilst in Tesco, I spotted that they were selling Digitalis Primrose Carousel (better known as Foxglove) for Ā£3. Whilst Foxgloves are toxic, they are very popular amongst bees, and this is something that I am passionate in encouraging into the garden.