Spotted: some teeny-weeny tomatoes

It's been a while since I shared a veg plot update, mostly they've been about my battles with wildlife  (see How my garden fared fending for itself). Thankfully that all seems to have settled down and my veg has been allowed to grow in peace and quiet!

Traditionally my garden is a bit behind other gardens, I put that down to it being North facing - that and the fact I'm normally a bit behind with my planting too!

After a false start or two, my tomatoes are now doing well - I've even spotted some teeny-weeny tomatoes on a couple of the plants, so it's looking good. 

They're on one of the Supersweet 100s and they're the biggest fruits I have (so far); one of the Rosadas is also starting to develop some baby plum-shaped tomatoes but they're too small to photograph just yet. 

There's plenty of flowers on the other plants, so I remain hopeful for many tomatoes towards the end of the summer. 

In the greenhouse the Redskin peppers are doing well, there's three on one plant and a couple on the other. At the moment they're decidedly green but give them time...

I don't usually have much success with peppers so I'm pleased to see these growing.

And dare I hope this is the first of many cucumbers?  Fingers crossed...

Every time I grow cucumbers their "curly telephone wire" amaze and amuse me, and this year it's no different...

The lettuces are still doing well - these are Cos 'Freckles' so are supposed to have that red fleck on - and we've been self-sufficient in lettuce for the past three or so weeks.

The lollo rosso are also coming along - with no adverse effects of growing under an old mushroom box - and along with some baby chard leaves add some variety to our salads. 

The coriander is pretty sturdy and I must remember to use it before it goes to seed, but the basil is still being a tad shy!

The Borlotti beans (not pictured) have reached the top of their frame and want to grow some more despite being pinched out;  no flowers yet, they're still trying to go upwards!

The dwarf beans - Purple Teepee - have the most gorgeous purple flowers on them so I'm hoping for some beans soon. The pods are a lovely deep purple, which unfortunately turn green with cooking (even with a drop of vinegar in the water). 

My second sowing of climbing beans have also failed to germinate, which is disappointing as we eat a lot of beans. I moved the pot incase they didn't like where they were, but it seems they don't like the new place either. The soil hasn't been disturbed so I can't lay blame on the squirrels...

Who knows, I'll have a third go I think but may also try a germination test on the seeds just incase they've given up completely and I really am wasting my time.


Well that's all from me, how's your veg plot growing?

How my garden fared fending for itself...

Before we headed to Portugal I had some prep work to do with my veg plants as the tomatoes, cucumber, chillies and peppers were still sitting snugly in the greenhouse. If the weather turned nice while we were gone, I knew they wouldn't survive. 

That meant prepping my greenhouse bed, adding some mulch and compost to it before planting the cucumbers, chillies and peppers in it and giving each of them their own little water reservoir made of an old plastic bottle with holes pierced into the cap, filled with water and plunged into the soil and with luck they'd do their job. 


For the tomatoes I potted them on and hoped the time they'd been spending out of the greenhouse each day would be enough to prepare them for permanent outdoor living. Then I placed them on an old wet towel - laced with slug pellets - to give them some water, knowing that the towel would take a while to dry out and would retain any rainwater far longer than newspaper would. 

It's practical and functional, but not very pretty!


As you can see I left the greenhouse door open but left some old mushroom crates in the doorway as a deterrent for anything that might have fancied some shelter. I'm not sure if it really was much of a deterrent, but it made me feel better!

The Borlotti beans, which were just peeking through also got the personal water reservoir treatment.


So did it work?

In the main, it did. All my plants survived - I know there was some rain while we were away so that will have helped - but even so, some of my plants even flourished!  

Some of my climbing beans failed to germinate, and since we've been back I've planted some more so hopefully these will fare better. 

But the greenhouse reservoirs were empty and the plants had grown.


And there were even flowers on the chillies and peppers.  The lettuces were growing well. 


And the tomato towel had done its job. 


And the Borlotti beans were starting to wind their way up the frame. 


Elsewhere in the garden there were successes and some thirsty plants!  The angelicas needed some water to revive them. 


But the sweet peas had shot up - and they've continued to grow, but still no flowers yet!  They're late this year. 


The Philadelphus was starting to flower and fill the end of our garden with its white flowers and scent and the pink jasmine was just coming into bud. 


The local wildlife had also made their mark.  Something - I think, but don't know for sure, a fox - had dug under my veg bed. 


After getting MOH to poke a long stick into the hole - I'm brave like that - and once we were sure there was no sign of life I filled the hole back up.

The next morning I discovered the hole had been re-dug, so I thought I'd better up my game. This was my second response:


It hasn't been re-dug so I was feeling rather smug with myself. That is until I spotted this:


Not only had the hole reappeared from the other side, this time lettuces had also been cast aside and my other seedlings had either been displaced or covered over. Most of the lettuce remain ok and the coriander and some dwarf beans survived - others may also have survived. I guess I'll find out as they grow! But this year I don't think I'll be having the neatly organised veg bed I'd hoped for!

Not to be outfoxed by the wildlife I made my countermove - with imaginative use of the old mushroom boxes and bamboo canes - which has so far remained in place. 


No doubt the wildlife is regrouping and planning its next move.  

So please keep your fingers crossed that it's got bored and moved somewhere else...

Update: the wildlife has made its next move, see my Tweet:


We're back to do Chatsworth!

We spent a good six hours at Chatsworth, most of that in the gardens - it's a fantastic place - and we didn't see everything either! The house is also good and we managed to pull ourselves away from the gardens to make it in just before the last entry slot; this turned out to be a good move as it was relatively empty inside.

When we visited there were a couple of exhibitions on; in the garden Michael Craig-Martin's bold outlines of everyday items were fun and in the pictures below you'll see the blue scissors outside one of the greenhouses. 

In the house there's a fabulous exhibition - called Chatsworth in Wartime - commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War and 75 years since the outbreak of the Second World War, which included stories of people at Chatsworth during these times.  It also tells of how Chatsworth adapted to house the Penrhos girls school, who were evacuated here from Wales and the State Drawing room is once again a dormitory. The exhibition is expertly done and in places incredibly poignant - do go if you're in the area. 

I've been deliberating over this post for a while now, I think because I have been attempting to select which photos to include as I took so many!  But I think I'm there, and later in the week I'm going to publish some more Chatsworth photos which caused me further consternation, but like most things once I'd made a decision the way ahead was much clearer...

So are you ready to "do" Chatsworth?

As you arrive in the gardens you can't help but notice the magnificent orangery, it's huge!

A peek into one of the greenhouses gives an idea of the scale needed to provide Chatsworth with plants. And these were just some of the cold frames.  And if you think the cold frames are impressive, the kitchen garden is a sight to behold.

Yes, this is still in the Kitchen Garden.

I think I've eaten some of those beans...

As we headed towards one of the many sculptures in the garden we headed past both simple and dramatic planting. 

I could have sat and watched this for ages.

And we did sit and watch it for a while, but as there was still so much more to see we headed off to the woodland area, skipping over the famous cascade (until later). 

Every garden should have a hare beating a tambourine...  Don't you think?  There were some great views of the countryside, definitely green and pleasant lands.

And like many great gardens there were many different levels and water flowing throughout the garden. 

There was also the maze, which like the kids we are we went in and promptly hit a dead end (the first of many); we found the middle then I tasked MOH with getting us out of there, pure entertainment - all of it!  Dare you enter?

It was about here that we broke for a tour of the house, no photos from there I'm afraid. But soon enough we were back in the garden and headed past Flora's temple once more, this time heading for the cascade. 

From here we headed back to the hundred steps (and yes, we counted them!) for a great view down to the maze.  Then looking back where we'd come from, of the hundred steps.

We were too late to make it into the Coal hole and tunnel so we headed back towards the rock garden for some more fantastic views. 

And then MOH spotted a duck that had settled in for the night, as you would in a rock garden!

OK, OK! We've got the message! It's almost closing time. With that we headed for the exit and once more hit the farm shop to find something for tea!  All in all another great day out in Derbyshire.