Every time I come to the UK (this is my fourth trip) I’m dazzled by the beautiful gardens that people here create around their homes. They all have flowers galore, and here on Orkney I’ve seen some really nice vegetable gardens too. A lot of the homes seem to have small greenhouses in their back yards as well. I’m sure that would be necessary to prolong the growing season here.
Yesterday we were in Stromness, and walked past a beautiful veggie garden tucked into a tiny back yard. Someone had really put a lot of work into it. It’s very inspiring. And it has inspired me. I missed a whole spring season of gardening this year, and I have a lot of catching up to do. I want to get serious about cleaning up the front yard and getting flowers planted. I want to eventually have edibles in front too, but for now flowers are quicker and easier and prettier.
I already have some seeds at hand at home. I know I have a packet of yellow carrot seeds and there are three others – probably some lettuce and cabbage. I ordered Chinese long beans and more lettuce just the other day and the seeds will be waiting for me when I get home. I’m going to get in all my supplies first then have a big planting day when I’ve got all my soil improved. And I’m going to get pots of flowers for the front yard first, then start digging out the weeds and planting things in the ground.
I have a dead bay tree to get taken down, and I want to plant a couple of live oaks to give the house more shade and protection.
There’s a lot to do! But first I have another week of vacation. 🙂
Five weeks from planting the seeds to first harvest! These are also known as Chinese long beans. You use them just as you would regular green beans, from what I understand. I’ll be trying them this weekend.
On the plant…
…and post picking!
It got COLD here over the weekend. It rained a good bit Friday night (yay, rain) with the cold front coming through, then was 31 degrees on Saturday night and 33 degrees last night. I don’t think it was quite that cold on the beachside where I am, but I covered up the veggies anyway, just in case.
I used cardboard boxes over the broccoli (small enough for a shoe box) and the cabbage (a larger box that an order had come in), and weighted them down with bricks since it was very windy Saturday night. I didn’t have another cardboard box big enough to set over the Brussels sprouts, so I used my recycle bin, upside down. It was big enough to cover the spinach too.
I didn’t wrap anything around the plants themselves, because they’re just not big enough yet. I was afraid anything I used would smush them. I guess I could have used old rags bunched around the stems – didn’t think of that.
It seems to have turned out okay, though. I took everything off this morning, and it all looks okay. I think we survived the almost-freeze intact.
I used to get up early and go shopping on Black Friday. This was before I lived in Florida. I lived in a very small town in North Carolina, and a friend and I would get up and head south to Spartanburg, SC to hit the closest mall. At that time there weren’t any pre-6:00 am store openings, like there are now. No one was getting trampled to death in front of Wal-Mart. We’d do a little shopping, do a lot more window shopping, eat lunch someplace nice then head home. It was fun.
These days, I wouldn’t get out there in the mobs for anything. There isn’t anything that I want that badly. Instead, I’m going to do something a lot more constructive today.
This has been a very warm and dry fall season so far. Dry is fairly normal, but we have been arid since summer. We got through the “T” names in hurricanes and tropical storms this season, and did not get a single drop of rain out of any of them. Unbelievable. We can usually count on getting brushed by at least one tropical storm, and getting our drought relieved as a result. Not this year.
Because of the heat and dryness, I’ve hesitated putting in a “winter” garden. I didn’t want to try to grow cool-weather vegetables in warm-weather conditions. Our warm-weather conditions pass for summer just about everywhere else, and I don’t think the cool-weather veggies would like that.
So today, I’m planting. I’m putting spinach, cabbage and broccoli in pots, and leeks and carrots in raised beds. There’s a cold front coming through this evening, which should bring some rain, and is definitely bringing colder temperatures. So it should be safe to proceed. My cool-weather veggies will actually have a chance to grow in cool weather conditions!
This is so much better than shopping!
The potato plants are becoming very bushy. They look great. It looks like they’re also getting ready to bloom. I’ll need to put even more soil on them soon.
I’m using a lot of water to keep all the plants watered. I fill up the watering can in the bathtub while I’m waiting for the water to get warm, and I put a bowl under the slow drip from the bathtub faucet, and I use both of those to water with, but that doesn’t cover it all. We had a good bit of rain (about 1 inch) on Sunday night, and I set out the yard waste garbage can and the baby pool to catch the water. I was able to use both of those to water as well, although the baby pool was hard to handle and I sloshed some of that on myself. It wasn’t in the ideal place, so I’ll put it closer to the in-ground tomatoes next time.
The carrots look good, and the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are coming along slowly but surely. The lettuce is almost big enough to cut as baby lettuce, but a lot of it has little holes where something has been chewing on it.
There was a ladybug on the potato leaves yesterday. I left it there, because they eat bad insects. I hope that’s what it was doing.
It’s November. There are 22 days left in hurricane season. We haven’t had a tropical system all year, but now Ida is going to rain on us next week. Go figure.
The bell pepper plant has three small (1 1/2 inch) peppers that are turning red. I’ll wait until they’re red, then eat them and retire the plant.
The broccoli and brussels sprouts still look great and are growing well.
The apple tree has slowed down in growth rate. There are a couple of suspicious looking spots on a couple of leaves that look like they might be a return of the fire blight. I still have plenty of copper solution ready if I need it.
The almond tree is really doing well. Somehow, the “stick” has transformed itself into a fairly thick, short trunk, with several more slender branches that are covered with leaves and getting taller all the time. I hope it blooms next spring.
The blackberry bush is slowing down in growth somewhat, but still looks good.
A friend came over with his chain saw yesterday and cut down my dying bay tree in the back yard. The back yard looks very different now! Much more open and light, which will be nice in the cool weather with the southern exposure.
I planted broccoli and brussels sprouts seeds this morning. The seeds are really small! I planted them at about 1/2 inch depth, in organic planting mix that I pre-moistened. I planted several seeds, but they’ll have to be thinned out if they all come up. With luck, the ones in the middle will sprout well.
If all goes well, I should be harvesting broccoli in about 3 to 4 months, and Brussels sprouts in 4 to 5 months. In cool weather. Ahhhh.