Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Monthly Archive: June 2007

Weed and Feed

All we seem to be doing at the moment is weeding and harvesting along with fighting a running battle with black flies, ants, aphids, slugs and snails to name but a few. Last night we dug up three roots of Winston potatoes and were very disappointed with them as they had been got at by ants and the dreaded slugs. The yield was poor but we still enjoyed them cut into wedges and baked drizzled with oil and herbs. We planted two melons, Minnesota Midget, in the area vacated by the Winston, and covered them with plastic cloches. Rob also sowed seeds of parsnip, White Gem, and carrot, Autumn King, on plot 18. The cut and come again salad bed is growing faster than we can eat it and some of the plants have bolted which is a shame. I shall sow more thinly next year.


Everything in the lean to and the greenhouse is growing well with loads of flowers and some small fruit forming on the tomatoes and cucumbers. I potted on the last four of the Cucumber, Marketmore seedlings. Rob built another tepee and I planted some Climbing Bean, Cobra, which had been started off in a pot. Cobra are a round podded, black-seeded variety which produce a good crop of dark green, Stringless, tender pods. The plant has attractive violet flowers and is high yielding over a long season.


strawbThe strawberries are not producing much fruit and I think it is because we have not been quick enough in removing the runners. I was hesitating as I thought it would be nice to have more plants but Rob says we should have cut them all off bar two on each plant. I think he was right so next week we will do a salvage operation and remove them. It may be too late now but we can try.

Wet Wet Wet

stormy weather2

We have had days of heavy rain and yesterday the weather excelled itself with horrendous storms. Judging by the state of the garden at home I would say there has been some damage at the plot. We shall probably go and check it out later today.

We spent two and a half hours at the plot tonight. In between sheltering from the rain under the hedge we dug up the rest of the Arran Pilot and a couple of International Kidney. I made a decision not to buy Arran Pilot next year as they didn’t scrape too well. The International Kidney however have been beautiful so more of those in my plans for next year. The weeds were growing well everywhere and we earthed up the potatoes while we got rid of the weeds over on plot 18. Rob weeded the sweet corn bed and most of the fruit cage. I started the brassica cage but gave up, well my back gave up. I shall have to have another go in there it is terrible. I watered everything in the lean to and it is all growing well. Two melon plants are now in the ground in there in front of the tomatoes. We got away with no damage at all after the storms this time so we were lucky. The houses and gardens in the surrounding area have had a lot of damage from awful thunder storms and even a tornado. We came home with loads of potatoes, onions, peas, lettuce, spring onions, carrots and strawberries.

The Triffids

The greenhouse still isn’t finished. We went out and priced up the glass and plastic replacement panes and decided we couldn’t afford to do it just yet. We used what glass we had to glaze the walls and used netting on the roof and doorway. to be continued…


When I looked into the lean to it was like The Day of The Triffids so I took each plant out one at a time and removed side shoots and some of the bigger lower leaves from the tomatoes, tied the main stalk to a cane, gave it a good water then put nine of them into the new greenhouse. This meant I was able to pot on more Aubergines and Peppers and put them in the lean to. It was hot and tiring work but very satisfying to see it looking so tidy. We even had tiny tomatoes forming.



We went to our favourite garden centre yesterday. Just to take Libbie to see the horses and ducks. Came home with a pot of 10 runner bean plants, 2 melon plants and a hot pepper called Apache. We couldn’t resist a pot of sweet peas for £1 to add to the tepee and a  few flowers for the new pot at home.

We spent almost the whole day at the plot today and caught up with loads of jobs. As well as weeding and watering the new hot pepper plant has been potted on and is in the lean to. The melon plants, Ogen, which will eventually be in the new greenhouse, are for now sitting in the lean to. The runner beans have been planted as have the sweet peas. We finished the sprout cage and planted the red sprout plants into their final place.

melontomcathot pepper apacheThe first ten panes of glass have been put in the greenhouse. Tonight I have planted up the new pot at home. I planted a Begonia, Million Kisses, an ivy leaved Geranium called Tomcat, a small trailing Ivy and a scrambling alpine Viola called Papilio.


Fancy Footwork

Rob worked really hard today laying the footings for the greenhouse. In the end he used the concrete blocks given to us by Frank and they fitted perfectly. The weather was scorching and the job wasn’t easy as plot 8 in on a slope. It’s all finished now and the metal frame is sitting on it so the next step is to put in the glass.There could be smashing times ahead. I worked in the lean to potting up the cucumbers, peppers and aubergines and building a framework of canes for support. Gordon told me to bury an upturned pop bottle with the bottom cut out alongside the plants to water into so that the water goes straight to the root and doesn’t rot the stems. Joe gave us a few dwarf Dahlias and I got those planted and watered in. We dug up some more International Kidney potatoes for tea and I planted a pumpkin plant in the ground we dug them from.


Another quick visit at 8pm to water and we collected a lovely box of strawberries. I am glad we went down. I bet the slugs were planning a party.


In The Frame – The Greenhouse 2007

The greenhouse is at the plot and the frame has been built up. Stirling work by Glenn with assistance from Roy and Janice. Two panes of glass got broken in transit so we shall probably replace them with polycarbonate panels with a view to eventually changing the whole lot. The next job is to lay a firm foundation so we will have to buy some slabs.

broadbean2Rob decided to plant the peas, Starlight on plot 8 and sowed the new broad beans against the low trellis on plot 18. I thinned out the swede seedlings and replanted the thinnings. Not sure they will survive but it was worth a try. We are having to keep on top of the weeding as they pop up as soon as your back is turned. We had a late Sunday dinner with produce from the plot and it was really nice. We were able to give some potatoes and cabbage to Roy and Jan too.


New Potatoes and Strawberries 2007

It has been a very hot day today and we weren’t able to get down to the plot till this evening. Too late to save the aubergine, pepper, pumpkin and brassica seedlings in the small plastic greenhouse. Even though I stood them all in some sun warmed water I think we have lost them. On a brighter note the seed I sowed in the courgette bed had germinated and looked good. There was great excitement as we dug up the first of our International Kidney and Lady Christl. Rob was more pleased with the ones he had planted in pots as they were easy to harvest and came out very clean. Much to my surprise there were more potatoes per plant from the pots.

potatoesI planted the butternut squash plant where the potatoes had been. I have protected it with a cloche until it is established. I gave everything in the lean to a water as it was very dry in there. There are quite a few flowers now and one tiny tomato formed on the Ildie. In readiness for tomorrow we dismantled the old brassica cage. I shall be glad when we have the new greenhouse transported to the plot. It sounds like a bit of a tall order. We took the protective netting from around the sweet pea teepee so we could enjoy the flowers so I hope we don’t lose too many to the pigeons. We harvested our first real haul of strawberries. The slugs had got to a few of them but we still had enough for a lovely dish each for the three of us tonight. The leeks are now installed in their permanent bed. We came home with cabbage, potatoes, broad beans, carrotts, onions, lettuce and strawberries.

Remembering Mother

For all the gifts you’ve given me
For all I am and strive to be
For every hour of every day
In all I think, or do, or say
For all I know, for all you’ve done
Forever more, I thank you Mom


Today would have been my Mother’s birthday and it has made me think that perhaps the reason I like to grow things is down in part to her. She made good use of the garden around our little prefab by growing potatoes at the back aswell as rhubarb and gooseberries. At the front she grew carnations and pinks. She would make up a dozen with a spray of gyp and sell them for a shilling a bunch. My bedroom window overlooked a narrow flower bed and every year Mom would sow a packet of virginia stock in there. I can still remember their lovely perfume on warm summer evenings. The little verse is part of a poem written by my sister Cath.

Today I have sowed some of the new seed, four cucumber, four melon and two courgette. They are in 3″ pots and covered in cling film. We have been given the go ahead by Jim, the chairman, to put the greenhouse on the plot so Sunday looks like being a busy day.