Monday, 17 May 2010

A slightly late Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Apologies for a slightly late GBBD from me this month but time has been in short supply around here. But I did take the photos on the 15th so I still wanted to post even though it's taken a couple of days to get round to it. One of my favourite things in the garden at the moment are these chives with their wonderful buds that look as though they are made from a delicate Japanese paper. 

Chives aren't really a herb I use in the kitchen all that often. I grow them because I love their flowers, as do the bees - red tailed bees in particular seem to find them irresistable. I started off with one pot of chives a few years ago and this has now developed into 4 clumps (by dividing it each time it gets too large) and we also have self seeded clumps of chives all over the garden happily taking root and establishing themselves wherever they land.
I also have several of these flower in the garden. I do not know the proper name for them but I call them bottle washers due to their shape. If you know their name and anything about them I would love to know. I am sure I saw them on someones blog not long ago but I can't remmber whose I'm afraid. I never planted these, they just appeared a couple of years ago and each year they have spread to new locations. Hover flies seem to like them and I think they are pretty so they have been allowed to stay and have earned their space in the flower bed.

The clematis montana is doing well this year. This is probably the most flowers it has ever had. It is about 3 years old but suffered an unfortunate mishap at the hands of Mr Notebook 2 years ago when he pruned it right back to the base - only to find out afterwards that this wasn't a clematis that needed pruning. It struggled last year with only a few tiny flowers so I am delighted this year that it looks to have made a full recovery.

Saddly the apple blossom is now starting to fade but it has been fantastic this year so I'm expecting more apples than I know what to do with. I'm not a great apple fan (or a great cook - and these are cookers) but I love apple trees. I yearn to live in the countryside and the apple blossom makes my suburban garden look all that more country cottagey, I would love it to last all summer!

This week has also seen the first flowers on the tomato plants - all very exciting as it means the sweet taste of home grown tomatoes isn't so far away. Although it has made me realise that I really need to get a wriggle on and get sowing the rest of the seeds I bought which still haven't seen the light of day, especially my sweet peppers which probably should also be flowering by now but are still tucked up in their seed packet!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Fighting Flea Beetle - A Homemade Organic Recipe

After a busy couple of weeks and yesterdays cold and none to summery weather we finally managed a worthy allotment stint this morning. My maincrop potatoes are now in and my slightly belated broad beans are planted - just as some of them start to flower! I think flowering was their plea to be planted out.Unfortunately despite my best efforts only 8 seeds germinated successfully so I'm not expecting a bountiful harvest this year. Mr Notebook has dug over and prepared where the climbing beans will go so next week I hope to get my canes up. This should pscycologically make the plot feel all that more productive! I don't know why but my morale is always boosted once the runner bean canes are in place. Slightly denting my feeling of achievment this morning was the sight of my pak choi. From a distance the plants looked to be bushing up but on closer inspection I found the leaves peppered with tiny holes, almost as if they had been machine gunned. The extent of the damage means there are more holes than leaf - not very encouraging. I think the culprits must be flea beetles.

So once home I poured over my gardening books to find a solution. Apparently they thrive in dry cracked soil, so I presume the long dry April has been ideal for them. I will need to work on increasing the humus content with regular mulching but as an immediate fight against the little blighters, I found this recipe for an all purpose organic insecticide which is said to deter flea beetle, caterpillars and aphids. Whilst I can't repair the existing damage I thought I would give this a try and see if there is an improvment in the situation.
Take equal quantities of  mint, chopped onion, garlic and lavender stems.
Cover them in boiling water and leave to stew for 24 hours.
Strain and then pour into a spray bottle.
And for those of you who spend the summer being eaten alive, the book also reommends the same recipe, minus the garlic and onion, to make an effective personal insect repellent! If you're game enough to try, let me know how you get on!