How does your garden grow?

I'm on a voyage of discovery in my first garden.
It's mostly about the veggies at the moment but I'm also discovering lots about flowers and other plants - quite often the hard way and always on a very tight budget.
But this blog is not just about my garden, it's about all the things I see and discover in Sussex and beyond and I would love to hear from you too.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Garden visit: Sussex Prairies

I have just returned from a private view at a garden I didn't even know existed until a couple of weeks ago.
Sussex Prairies at Morland Farm, near Henfield, is a well kept secret - partly because it was only planted in 2008.
One of the nicest things, if you're thinking of going, is that you can enjoy a drink on the cafe terrace overlooking the entire garden - something a lot of visitor gardens are unable to offer.
Here are a few photos I took of my visit.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Garden visit: Standen House and Gardens

I paid a visit to Standen at the weekend - a house filled with decoration and furnishings from the Arts and Crafts movement.
The garden is beautiful - I especially enjoyed the vegetable gardens - and the house is equally stunning with beautifully crafted fireplaces, hand printed wallpaper by William Morris and a conservatory that lures you into sitting down and enjoying the views across the countryside towards Weirwood Reservoir.
Make sure you read the introduction blurb in the barns near the entrance gate before going into the house - you will get more from your visit if you understand its background.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Pumpkin problems: powdery mildew

I've just got home from a week away to find my only Jack-o-lantern pumpkin plant riddled with leaf mould.
I've read that it happens when the atmosphere is moist but the ground is dry.
I had noticed it getting bad before I left and had been reluctant to remove any leaves in case I hindered its growth... I now very much regret not doing that.
The mould has spread to all the leaves and stems and the only fruit on the plant appears to have stopped growing.
My trusty Hessayon book told me to spray the plant with sulphur but all I could imagine was scraping the ends off endless boxes of matches and I wasn't really sure I liked that idea.
Another website suggested concocting a baking soda solution with liquid soap and spraying it on the plants.
Without any baking soda to hand, I decided instead to give the leaves a wash with a very weak soap and water solution as an interim measure.
I waited until the sun had moved around so as not to scald the plants and gently rubbed each leaf with the soapy water until all the white had gone. Unfortunately, it was only the moisture from the water which turned the leaves green again - as soon as they were dry, the white came back.
My efforts were wasted.
I've just added baking soda to the shopping list...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

How not to build a Norfolk budget greenhouse

In March and April I documented the construction of my Norfolk Greenhouses New Budget Greenhouse.
Overall, I was quite pleased with my efforts. The greenhouse, for most of the summer, has been home to my tomatoes, peppers, chillis, aubergines and all the seedlings for my vegetable patch.
But now...
After weeks of variable weather - hot, dry, humid, wet, windy and, at times, chilly - the seemingly magic "transtape" gone all gooey and come unstuck. The covering on the back of my greenhouse has collapsed after THREE MONTHS.
What's that I heard at the back? What do you expect for £69?
Well, actually, what I've bought is a greenhouse frame and roof - the roof and sides of the greenhouse are just fine. It's the front and back coverings that are coming away - too much weight hanging on a bit of sticky tape.
I think the assembly instructions require some modification to prevent this happening so early on.
I've solved the immediate problem of my chillis getting a chill by using wire sandwich ties to hold the weight of the sheeting. I kinda wish I'd done that from the start.
So, if you've bought one of these things and you haven't built it yet or if it's still intact, I advise you to put some kind of batons or ties to the front and back of the covering to reduce the weight that is pulling on the tape at the roof apex.
Alternatively, just opt for the conversion kit at the beginning when it works out cheaper.