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.

A week of firsts

The garden has really progressed this week with a few ‘firsts’ too – the Courgettes are forming, the Aubergines are budding up, and next year’s Foxgloves have germinated.

This week has been one of ‘firsts’ for my garden and this growing season.

Despite the weather being roasting hot, resulting in a very limp garden and some emergency watering, and some pretty violent thunderstorms and torrential rain, the garden has been busy.

Courgette Flowers

The Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ have been growing rapidly over the weeks but this week they’ve really taken a big step forward. The two plants have thrown out some big new leaves and have the characteristic golden yellow flowers too.

I was talking to my colleague Laura at lunch and she told me that she’s growing courgettes too but that she’s only growing them for the flowers. I found this curious as I’m definitely growing them for the courgettes! Apparently the flowers are really sweet and even better when deep fried. I’m guessing that deep fried courgette flowers won’t count towards your 5-a-day routine.

Needless to say, Laura won’t be getting anywhere near my plants, as I want the courgettes themselves.

Yesterday I brushed aside the leaves of one of the plants to find that a small courgette is now forming (on top of a dandelion!). This is great news as I’ve been making sure that the two plants are well watered and I’ve been feeding them with some ‘Doff Portland Tomato Feed’ which comes with seaweed and magnesium.

The first courgette

I’ve also been feeding my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants with the same feed and they are now budding up – so the pressure is on to resolve how i’m going to plant them out as they can’t stay on my windowsill forever. Will it be a wicker basket with liner, or pots?

The Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’, which I had planted on 19th June are now germinating in a propagator on my windowsill. These plants will be grown on and potted up so that they will be planted out for next year’s season. I’m really wishing that I had bought some more Foxgloves, rather than just the one. Still, there’s quite a few bees in my garden in these sunny evenings – buzzing round the plants (they love the Lavender). I’ve been trying very hard to catch a photo of the bees on the Lavender but I just can’t get anything other than a bee-less photo or a blurred mess.

Thank you!

Thank you for all the comments that I’ve had on here and also verbally from friends who have got into reading this blog so far. Some are surprised that I’m green fingered in this way, and others have become fascinated in the evolution of the garden.

You can join in on Twitter @TheGardenGang or continue posting your feedback here!

Daylily Dose

The Daylillies have finally opened, along with the Sweet Peas and Hydrangea. Meanwhile, one of the Courgette plants is beginning to form tiny courgettes.

When I moved into my house in October 2009, I inherited some clumps of bulb/grass like plants. There’s about three clumps in the garden. Last year they didn’t really do anything and I continued to wonder what they were.

For the last couple of years they have always grown with a big green lush surge of foliage in about March and April, but this year is the first year where they’ve actually bothered to flower for me. Perhaps it was because i dug around the green clumps in March and dug in a little compost?

A yellow daylily on flower.
The Daylily dose of flower greets me when I step out of my house.

I don’t know what variety of Daylily they* are but their blast of golden yellow and tinge of fox red really adds to the garden. It sits in contrast to the black brickwork of my neighbour’s wall and the blue of the Lavender nearby. It works well with the Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ plant that is thriving beside it (this courgette plant, like the other one, is now flowering.. but this one is starting to form tiny courgettes). The other courgette plant had a habit of dropping flowers – but it turns out that this isn’t anything to worry about at all.

Nearby the Hydrangea (again inherited when i moved in) is now starting to open – tiny salmon pink flowers – although it looks like it needs some feed. According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) they prefer moist, well drained, and slightly shady areas. The part of the garden it sits in has a lot of drainage but gets roasted by the sun.

Further up the garden, the first Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ are flowering. They are an old and fragrant variety but I am yet to notice their reputed aroma – perhaps once they manage to fully scale the canes and bloom en masse, then i’ll be hit properly with the smell.

*UPDATE: Fellow blogger and budding horticulturalist Alex Jobber, reckons they might be Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’. Certainly looks very much like them. 

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 is disappointing 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’ 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 Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’ that I bought yesterday. I reckon that bees love blue flowers.

The Buddleia 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!