Poppies and Sweet Peppers flourish in the garden

Heavy rain and sunshine has led to the garden responding with poppies, Sweet Peppers begin to grow fruits, and a fresh batch of Parsley begins to germinate.

Heavy rain and sunshine has given the garden yet another boost – bringing a splash of colour and lush green leaves.

The self-sown Common Garden Poppy ‘Papaver somniferum’ plants have come into bloom – their grey-green rubbery foliage standing in contrast against the soft green leaves of the nearby Foxgloves.

Common Garden Poppy
One of the self-sown Common Garden Poppy plants.

Meanwhile, both of the Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants that I sowed months ago, and have carefully nurtured on windowsills, are now beginning to show signs of producing fruit after I had planted them out initially in the wicker basket, but then moved them to their own pots after they showed signs of not liking the position.

Pepper (Sweet) 'Friggitello'
Both plants are showing signs of producing fruits.

About 4 days ago, I also sowed some Parsley ‘Laura’ seeds, which like the Pepper (Sweet) ‘Frigitello’ I was given by CBM. This variety is a flat-leaved type which I would use in salads. I already have some curled parsley.

So far, one of the seeds have germinated, although I am hopeful that more will soon follow.

Parsley 'Laura'

Elsewhere in the garden, white Campanula (persicifolia, i think!) have emerged – taking a minority amongst the many blue ones which were also earlier to flower, and the snails seem to have finally gotten the message after my regular early evening ‘meet and greet’ sessions.

Campanula 'Persicifolia' in blue and white
The self-sown Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ in blue and white

Strawberry picking and some new arrivals

The garden is continuing to provide as the first strawberries are picked; the second courgette is picked; and new plants arrive.

Darting in and out of rain showers, I managed a couple of tasks in the garden this afternoon. The second Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ has now been picked – smaller this time, and weighing in at 275g. There’s plenty of flowers and some more little courgettes forming, but it’ll be at least a week until there’s another one to pick.

Strawberry 'Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta'
Behold! A ripe Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’

Having spotted a Blackbird staring at a red strawberry on Friday morning, I had a good look at the strawberry situation today and found that there wasn’t one but three that were ready for picking. There’s many more forming too, but those are still a healthy green. These are from the two Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ plants that I picked up a few weeks ago. I’ve picked the three ripe fruits and had them with a little (about a teaspoon!) of set yoghurt – they were wonderfully sweet. Last year’s variety didn’t really fruit in these pots and spent most of the time just dying. A few runners made it to the ground, so there’s about 5 second-generation plants surviving, whilst the originals died off.

This afternoon after gym, I went back to Twenty Pence Garden Centre over in Wilburton, where I’d seen the wicker planters a few weeks back. It was here that these had entered my consciousness and had set me wondering whether I could plant my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants in them, seeing that the garden itself is pretty full. I’ve ended up with one that’s apparently for ‘Beans, Peas and other rigourous plants’ so whilst it is taller, I really bought it for the width and depth of it. I’ll be planting this up tomorrow, once I’ve sourced some more compost.

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' alongside the Hydrangea
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ alongside the Hydrangea

Whilst there, I also found yet more blue flowers in the form of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ (Catmint) which I was attracted to more by the buzzing sound first rather than the colour. As i picked it up, the bees were following me in protest of me taking their food. I’ve now planted this towards the sunnier end of the garden. I moved the Tarragon French ‘Artemisia Dracunculus’ because it really hasn’t looked very happy and the vigorous growth of the courgette was beginning to intrude.

I spotted a slightly desperate-to-escape pot of Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ and so picked that up too. I figured that I could put some of these into the wicker basket pot with the aubergines. I’m aware that Nasturtium can also ward off some garden pests and that the young leaves are good in salads too. They’ve got a chance.

I also had time to pop over to Huntingdon Garden and Leisure, where I picked up a tray of Marigold ‘French Double Mixed’. These plants look sturdy enough to withstand those home-moving little pests, and I will be planting these in the gaps that I’ve made through pruning the Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ back.

Rocket returns to earth

A second wave of Rocket has been set; the first Courgette is almost ready for picking; the Aubergine’s patiently await planting out; and the Campanula begins seeding.

Today I planted (launched?) the second wave of Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ into my windowbox. The first batch had germinated within three days – but these have been planted in warmer temperatures and also in a slightly different compost – so we’ll see how these fare.

Rocket Skyrocket is sown

I found the last batch had the peppery taste, but the leaves were far from being as big as the ones on the seed packet or as big as the ones that you’d get if you bought one of those (overpriced) bags of rocket from your local supermarket.

I’m a serial buyer of bagged Rocket because I generally eat salad leaves every day, but I found that the previous wave of Rocket just wasn’t producing enough and was spending a lot of time just sending up flower buds that seemed to appear every other day.

Maybe the differences with this second round will help to achieve a better crop.

Speaking of crop, this week I expect to pluck the very first Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ from my two plants. They are both producing them but the plant at the sunnier end of the garden has been a bigger plant, and ahead of the one in the slightly shadier part of the garden (close to where last year’s one had been). This year of course, I’m also feeding them with the Doff Portland Tomato Feed, so this might attribute to the slight boost as well.

I’ve also collected seeds from the Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ which show up every year. It’s now finished and so where there were once beautiful spires of white or blue flowers, they are now covered in little brown pods ready to guarantee next year’s blooms.

The bees come into the garden – loving the Digitalis ‘Primrose Carousel’ (the Foxglove)  and in particular the blueness of the Lavender. I’ve struggled repeatedly to catch a photo of a bee on any of the flowers in my garden – either because the bee is moving too fast, or the wind is frantically flinging the plants around… but it looks like i might have caught one at last.

A bee collects pollen from Lavender
No prizes for spotting the bee.

To do…

This weekend’s duties include planting out the Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants with supportive canes (one of them seems a bit wobbly) in one of those wicker boxes (which i’ll need to buy), plus fill in any gaps in the borders with plants.