Monday, July 11, 2011

Springing into Summer

It's been a long long time since I last updated my blog, so I'm going to attempt to cover many, many months all at once.

As you will know from my previous ramblings we composted all of our food scraps and then in spring we opened up our compostor which revealed this lovley heap of compost!

We sifted through it since a lot of stuff we thought could be composted turned out to be layered with waxy plastic. Also we were looking to see what happened to the biodegrable chip packet and bio-degradeable wine glass we put in there after our wedding in September.

As you can see the Sun chip packet had hardly broken down at all, so their claim of greening the world one packet at a time seemed a bit far fetched.

We didn't find any evidence of the wine cup though.. which surprised me since it was made of a more rigid material... go figure.

Armed with a new seed tray heating pad, our glorious home made compost and a cold frame that Gay bought me for my 40th birthday, I went about planting lots of seeds, and hardening them off in the cold frame before setting them out in the garden.

In this plot are some Waltham Butter Squash, Roma zuccinhi, a mystery squash that grew from the compost, and some bell peppers.. well as some sweet potato plants that I had grew from slips in a jam jar filled with water. The sweet potato is the plant with the triangular shaped leaves in the photo above, enclosed by an old yoghurt pot that helps keeps pets away from it.

In our other plot we have basil, and beets and radishes ...

as well as some serrano and thai dragon peppers as well as our tomato plants.

Those pictures above were taken in April/May when I first planted them out and the next two pictures were taken in early July...

showing how much space the Butternut Squash has taken up...

and how well the beets, basil etc are growing.

We have strawberry patches in both of these plots that have proved to be very fruitful and yummy too.

Going back to the butternut squash, I was so excited when I saw little butternut squash babies growing on the vines...

but was then most perplexed when they just rotted and fell off!

A little bit of research on t'internet lead me to discover that the vines have both female flowers (the one at the end of the baby butternut squash shown above) and male flowers seen below...

so armed with a cotton bud or a Q-Tip as they call them over here, I collected the male pollen ......

and dabbled that inside the female flowers and voila...

.. the butternut squash began to grow just fine.

Here's a bigger one that is beginning to take on the characteristic butternut squash colour. Really excited that they are doing so well!

One of my other tasks was to try and cut down on the amount of damage done to our gala apple tree by the codling apple moth, so I set about making a home made trap for them.

I want to suspend the trap high in the canopy, so firstly I had to make a stand...

... that I could attach to the support post for the tree.

Then armed with two empty plastic milk bottles (see practising the "re-use before recycle" mantra I try to encourage ;-)), I took some household ingredients to make the contents of the trap.

Basically it is apple cider vinegar, mollasses, water and a teeny bit of ammonium sulphate. Mix it all up (I can send you the ratios if you want it) and then hang them in the tree.

A couple of weeks later I took it down to refill it and found I had caught quite a few moths....

so it seems to be working and the apples seem to have less damage on them :

I try and inspect the tree as often as I can and remove the apples that look infested. They are getting to the size where I will just let them all grow now and at harvest just cut out the bad bits and then make apple pies and crumbles with them!!

I'm also delighted to announce that our orange tree has started to bear fruit, after the sweet smelling blossoms..

were pollinated by some lovely bees, and the fruit began to grow.

I know to a lot of you lucky Americans that have lived in a warm climate all your life, seeing an orange grow is old hat. But for a Geordie boy like myself to see a real life orange growing on a real life tree in my own back yard is a big thing to me!

The only ones that grow in England are grown in a Terry's factory and made of chocolate. Still yummy though!

As a result of my squirrel "relocation" programme last year, we've seen fruits growing that we did not know we had, such as wild plums in the trees...

.. but although they look nice they don't taste too delicious, although Rusty, our dog would go nuts for them, although he's not suppossed to eat them

We also had these things growing in a bush, so if you can identify them drop me a line.

I'm not sure they are edible though. Our neighbours pear tree is also full of fruit, compared to the one single fruit we saw in it last year, which just shows how much destruction the squirrels really did.

So all summer long we've had a pretty good harvest of strawberries..


...radishes, basil, chard...

... with many thing such as zuccinhi and peppers not being shown here.

Onto more miscellaneous stuff now. Spotted this lovely yellow butterfly in our garden.

..and this cuddly rusty coloured dog keeps following us around in the garden, occassionally barking tat the butternut squash, but mostly hiding in the shade in the corner!

And finally for those concerned about the health of my fuscia that was attacked by a mould infestation over the winter, well it seems to be making a good recovery..


  1. Quince for the mystery fruit? Orange flowers very early in the spring?

  2. Quince was my guess too, but they look a little small, so was wondering about maybe an asian pear...?

  3. They have red flowers very early in spring before the leaves have opened.