Six on Saturday 25th July

Can’t remember when I last did a Six, and next weekend we’ll be (hopefully) sunning ourselves on a Norfolk beach, in a socially distanced manner, of course, so I won’t be blogging.

I just managed to pop out in between rain showers to take some photos to share, and decided that this week I’ll focus, again, on emerging flowers and veg. I’ve split it equally down the middle and gone for three floral treats and three edible delights. I think I may well have shared some, if not all, of these before, earlier on in their journey, but I find it interesting to see the progress. Hope you do too.

First up is Sunflower Teddy Bear. I’ve got several of these that I grew from seed in the greenhouse. Planted out now, they’re only about a foot tall, and this one looks to be the closest to flowering. Quite excited about these because they’re not your stereotypical Sunflower bloom.

I seem to have found a much more suitable place for growing Sunflowers this year. Last year I grew a really tall variety only, and of the fourteen that I planted out, only two made it as far as flowering. The others all got knocked down – I think I inadvertently planted them in a fox/cat run route and the poor things got bashed and trampled on. This year I’ve planted them next to a trellis-like fence and with additional supports for the tall ones and so far (touch wood) they’ve all made it with just the odd slug nibble along the way.

Next is a Zinnia, also nurtured from seed in the greenhouse. I did think to myself when I got the greenhouse, being somewhat fickle of nature, I hope I stick at this now I’ve gone this far. So far so good – greenhouse is now an essential part of my life.

My only knowledge of Zinnias prior to this venture was from the song ‘There’s a sucker born ev’ry minute’ from the stage show Barnum.

If I import at monumental cost
A lady, fair, whose head was lost
While crossing railroad tracks to pick some zinnias
Who has no ears or eyes or nose
And wears pink tights instead of clothes
If that ain’t worth a buck my name ain’t Phineas.

Well I’ve lost my head to these before they’ve even bloomed. Isn’t that bud pretty with the promise of something so special to come some time soon?

My final emerging flower is a Nigella.

Definitely not far off a blooming delight, and again, what an attractive bud. There’s something of a prehistoric look about it. I almost expect those little green hints to be the claws of a tiny dinosaur just clawing it’s way out into the world (although hopefully not – not sure the garden’s big enough for dinosaurs!)

Moving on to the edibles and my first courgette is tantalisingly close to being ready. I’ll keep an eye on it so I don’t get a marrow! There are another couple well on their way too. If anyone has any good courgette recipes other than stir fry and ratatouille, please let me know.

Next is a new one for me. I’ve never grown runner beans before but I’ve had some success with my first attempt. There aren’t hundreds of beans growing, but I do have a few. I’m looking forward to these – homegrown always tastes so much better than shop bought.

Now I know I’ve definitely shared my pepper plant before, but there’s progress! The first two peppers at the bottom seem to have halted so maybe they’re not going to get any bigger, but I’m leaving them because I prefer them orange or red.

I was excited to see this morning that there are at least another three peppers growing on there now too. You can see one top right at the back, one top left and if you look carefully another just below that one at the back. There are still flowers too so I may get even more. I’ll keep everything crossed that they ripen soon so I can harvest.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator for more Sixes.

Until next time TTFN 👋🏻.

Six on Saturday 11th July

Finally I was able to get out in the garden today. Not only has the weather been decidedly ungardening-inducing this week, but I’m also back at work (from the home office overlooking the garden) after several week’s of furlough so spare time has been less plentiful.

We made the most of my last week of furlough (choosing to see the whole thing as positive) and journeyed down the M5 for the first time in months to Webbs of Wychbold, garden centre extraordinaire! I’m not sure how I allowed this to happen, but I had a considerable sum in garden centre vouchers to spend left over from my last birthday and Christmas, and they were finally burning a hole in my pocket.

The first thing that went in my trolley was a blueberry bush (followed by some ericaceous compost) and today I potted it up.

There are a couple of fruits on it, but I don’t expect it to produce much more this year. At least, my first blueberry bush didn’t do anything for the first couple of years, but last year fruited well, and has a fair few fruits on it this year. I noticed the first one ripening today.

Speaking of Christmas (tenuous link, I know, but I did mention it a second ago!) I exploded a wild flower seed bomb, that was a Christmas present, a few weeks ago, and I didn’t think anything had grown from it but today I noticed this lovely blue flower.

No idea what it is, but it’s pretty, right?

The next bloom that stopped me in my tracks today was this Dianthus.

Otherwise known as a Carnation, as a general rule I’m not keen on them. I think they’re a bit old-lady like. This one came as part of a lucky dip box so I planted it anyway, and it may have changed my mind purely because of the richness of its colour. The photo doesn’t really do it justice. It looks like velvet in the flesh (so to speak) and when the sun shines on it, it’s the deepest of reds and makes me smile.

Moving on to things that are about bloom now, and first up is this Zinnia.

I grew these from seed in the greenhouse. I forget now where I got the seeds from. Possibly a freebie from Gardeners’ World. Anyway, they’re now planted out in my wheelbarrow with the apricot Begonias that I shared a couple of weeks ago, and today I noticed that they’re gearing up to bloom. Lovely! I’m not usually massively successful growing from seed so hopefully these will buck the trend. Expect a victorious point in a future Six if they do.

Next is Sunflower Teddy Bear.

Also grown from seed in the greenhouse (the seeds were a Christmas present), planted out a few weeks ago and looking like they’re doing well. This is a smaller Sunflower than your stereotypical Sunflower (of which I also have several growing) and should be a maximum of sixty centimetres. Mine are currently about a foot tall and I’m really excited about them flowering because, as the name suggests, they have a cuddly, fluffy flower that I think I’m going to adore!

Finally I’d like to share my Nigella which, again, I grew from seed in the greenhouse. The packet said to sow where they were to grow so they’re in a pot which I moved outside once they were growing well and I’d thinned them out.

They look a little Cosmos-like, don’t they? I noticed today on my peruse of the garden that these are also getting ready to flower.

According to the packet, these have a quite unusual blue flower so I’m waiting in high anticipation for these. Hopefully they’ll make a pretty display, and after they’re done, I’ll try to harvest the seeds to put in boiled rice (yum!)

Hope you’ve all been able to grab some outside time today if, like me, you’ve been rather rained off this week. Check out the Propagator for more Sixes that I’m sure will be full of colour and burgeoning veg beds.

Several on Sunday

I ran out of time yesterday to write a Six on Saturday post. Don’t ask me how – time is something I have in abundance at the moment due to furlough and most leisure activities being outlawed. I say most things, because slowly some normality is returning, and hubby and I did manage a trip to the zoo last week which I now realise I didn’t write about. Here’s a couple of my favourite pictures from a lovely sunny day out.

As I write, the heavens have just opened, so I’m glad I went for a potter in the garden this morning! I have quite a lot of pictures to share with you, so actually it’s worked out quite well that I didn’t get round to my Six yesterday because I’d have struggled to narrow it down to six.

I’m going to start off on an edible theme. I’ve been trying really hard to clamber back on the Slimming World wagon this week, so I’m very happy that all my edibles in the garden are free on Slimming World.

This is my main fruit and veg growing area. You can just about see the greenhouse photobombing on the left.

I’ll start in the greenhouse and what’s left in there now.

I started my tomato plants off in toilet rolls this year basically because that’s all I had spare to grow in and garden centres weren’t open when I sowed my seeds, so today when I planted my plants in their final growing places I used leftover Gousto boxes that we’ve been storing in our garage whilst we’ve not been able to get to the tip to recycle them during lockdown. There are three different varieties of tomato here, but I’ve managed to completely forget which is which so it’ll be a surprise when they start to fruit. Assuming they do, of course! They’ve been very slow to grow so I’m a bit concerned that it’s too late.

Peppers! This is perhaps not a great photo but there are two peppers on there already and lots more flowers further up that will hopefully also produce fruit. I prefer orange peppers but I read today that leaving peppers to ripen on the plant can reduce your crop by up to twenty five percent, so I guess I have a decision to make.

Back outside the greenhouse and my raised beds are well underway.

The first bed is dedicated to strawberries. Last year all my strawberries got eaten so this year I put the black mats that you can see above underneath them. Fingers crossed we’ll get some strawberries before something else eats them this year.

These are the first strawberries this year – the bigger one at the front was the only one ripe enough to pick yet from the raised bed. The other three are from a pot next to our back door which I planted before I had any raised beds. It only has two strawberry plants in it so I normally get very few strawberries, but they’re earlier than the ones in the raised bed. I’ve planned tomorrow’s breakfast around these four strawberries!

In the second raised bed are my carrots and petit pois.

Despite the netting around the bed, something (I suspect a squirrel, but maybe a pussy cat) got in and dug up some of the carrot seeds so I have carrots growing intermittently along the lines that I sowed. Still, if they all produce a decent carrot, then I’ll get a good crop.

I sowed more petit pois this year because they’re my favourite vegetable and they can always be frozen. I’m really pleased they’re starting to grow already. I made a really nice pea soup with last year’s crop so I’ll have to try and find the recipe again.

In pots next to the raised beds are my courgette …

and runner bean plants.

I got the courgette plant from Ebay whilst the garden centres were still self isolating from us gardeners. It was a bit slow to get going, but in the last week or so it’s started growing exponentially. This is the first time I’ve tried to grow green courgettes – the last two years I’ve grown yellow courgettes with very little success, so I’m hoping green will come good.

I think I planted about eleven runner bean plants (grown from seed) and six or seven of them are still doing ok, but the remaining ones have randomly died!

A couple of them are showing signs of flowers so fingers crossed we’ll get some runner beans. This is my first time growing runner beans and I had no idea they had red flowers!

My final edible is in a pot by the back door (next to the original strawberries). It’s my blueberry bush.

There are quite a few blueberries happily ripening away. Yum, I LOVE blueberries. I think it will need repotting ready for next year so I’ll have to do some research to find out when’s best to do it. I know blueberry bushes like a particular kind of soil (can’t remember which so I’ll include that in my research).

These are my Nigella plants. I grew these from seed in the pot they were to call home for the Summer, in the greenhouse, but they’ve been outside for a few weeks now and they’ve adapted well. I’m using this as a somewhat tenuous link between the edible and non-edible sections of this post because it’s kind of both. It will (hopefully) have beautiful blue flowers in the Summer, but I’m also hoping to harvest the seeds to use in cooking. They’re really nice in rice or on naan bread.

So, on to my non-edibles. I’m going to start with this beautiful Begonia.

I ordered an apricot mix of Begonias in the height of lockdown and, although I planted them immediately when they arrived, not all the plants survived the postage system. However, even if this is the only flower I get, it’ll be totally worth it. Isn’t it stunning?

Another mail order plant is this Verbena.

This was from a lucky dip box, and again two of the plants didn’t survive being posted, but this one’s thrived and now is covered in beautiful shocking pink flowers.

This Pelargonium was in the same lucky dip box and is also looking beautiful. Look at those little twirly, twiddly bits (technical term!) And there’s a bonus fly.

First Buddleia flower. Bring on the butterflies! This is one of my proudest successes. It was a teeny tiny plant from the sale table and now it’s really big and has loads of flowers about to bloom.

Another sale table success is my Hydrangea Limelight. It was half dead when I rescued it and is now so much bigger and, I noticed today, gearing up for loads of flowers. I planted it hoping it would fill a lot of space, and I think it’s going to do me proud.

I’ve discovered a way of adding more than These are in our front border (of the back garden). On the left is probably one of our last Geum blooms for this year, in the middle is my gorgeous Osteospurmum and on the right is a fiery Gerbera. I think tomorrow I should dodge the showers and do some deadheading to try to prolong the gorgeous colour in our garden.

Going full circle now back to the greenhouse, or rather, to what I took out of it today – Sweetpeas.

I’m not holding out much hope for these, but I thought I’d at least give them a chance to grow. There are two different types here. The first ones are Dutch. The seeds were given to my Dad as a christening present when his Great Niece was christened. I grew them in the greenhouse, but they seem quite weedy (for want of a better phrase) and certainly don’t look like the ones I grew last year. You never know though. The other ones were from the Poundshop and also look nothing like last year’s. They do look a bit more robust though. Fingers crossed for both.

I’m off to participate in my last online quiz now. I feel quite sad about this – I’ve enjoyed FaceTiming my friend every Sunday to do the quiz from their local pub, but the pub’s reopening next week so no more online testing of the little grey cells. Keep your fingers crossed for an easy music round!!