Friday, 8 October 2021

Autumn photo edition

Codger's publishing plans often get disrupted. I think we have quoted Harold Macmillan before. When asked what was the greatest challenge for a politician, he answered, "Events, dear boy, events!"

Rather apt, at the moment, what with Covid, fuel for vehicles, HGV drivers and the emerging energy crisis

The event in Codger's case is the unwelcome embrace of some miscellaneous virus that got to him before the flu jab needle. In fact that injection was scheduled for this week - we played safe and delayed it whilst we cough and splutter

The upshot of all this that our planned edition of the blog is held over until the head clears a bit and we can write something approximating to sense

However, a brainwave - why not do a quick photo-tour of the garden? As you would expect, the colours are lovely in the autumn

The leaves, above, are those of the Witch Hazel - always good value at this time of year. They will be followed by those unusual spaghetti-like flowers - perhaps tagliatelle-like would be a better description

Here on the right you can see a chrysanthemum coming into its own. I'm told that they are coming back into fashion 

One of the attractions of roses is their ability to surprise. You think the show is over that then you suddenly spot another bloom shining out on a dull day

Working from memory this one (left) is Celebration - another David Austin rose. 

Perhaps we should venture forth and pay a last visit to the David Austin nursery - a convenient drive for us but sadly, because of lockdown, off our radar this year

Speaking of nurseries I bought this clematis from the clearance section recently. Getting it home, I found that the labels had got jumbled

I think it is Clematis Pilei - if that is the correct spelling. The label says Comtesse de Bouchaud but I'm not sure about that

It is said that autumn is a good time to plant clematis so, as soon as the chest clears and the sun shines, that's what we'll be doing

Do you recognise this one on the left?

Yes, it's a sunflower. I wrote in a recent blog how I never sow them as a deliberate act

They must self-seed as every year they reappear and grow tall - something like ten feet

I tend to leave the seed heads as winter feed for the birds. Plenty for them to go at here! 

On the subject of wildlife I conducted a little experiment this year ... 

One of the principles of organic gardening is that with patient management a wildlife balance can be achieved in the garden that avoids the use of harmful chemicals

The theory sounds great. But the practice can be trying when contending with an aphid attack. My French beans suffered such an assault - I think the inevitable black fly on the broad beans transferred their attention to their Gallic cousins

I decided to leave Nature to sort itself out - and I was fascinated to see what happened. The blackfly seems happy on just one or two plants so I left them to munch away. The rest of the crop produced prolifically - so I picked the unaffected pods, witness the sample you see above. And just today, whilst taking these photos, I saw that ladybirds were enjoying the blackfly

The purple-podded beans have been great - loads of beans and loads of flavour! (In case you missed an earlier blog, don't be put off by the colour - purple beans turn green as you cook them.)

Despite some losses due to blight, we have done well with tomatoes, too - as you can see on the left

It was worth growing the yellow variety just to create the display in the fruit bowl. The variety is Golden Sunrise - it did well against an outside wall

A bit of a plug next. Codger's Nursery is building up a good stock of perennials, many of which look really colourful in the autumn. A good example is this display of asters. We have both blues and purples. Let me know if you are  interested - it's good to see them whilst they are in flower

Another plant that comes into its own this time of year is the dahlia. I'm no expert but know they come in many different forms

Here below is a pom-pom variety - nice shade of apricot
Well, folks, that's our quick autumn photo tour - warming ourselves by the computer in the hope that we can soon be back out in the garden getting the many jobs done that require attention before the first frosts arrive

We hope to publish our next edition within a week - ten days at the most. I'm keen to tell you our plans for Spring bulb planters. We did this last year and raised a good sum for BCM Toylink - and are hoping to do so again ...

... so it's best wishes from that old Garden Codger!









 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

The season turns ...

As summer begins its transition into autumn we can both look back and look forward. As with our potatoes (now consumed), so with the sunflowers. I never sow any - they appear without any Codgerly intervention each year, providing colour through into October and, even, November. In addition the large heads provide seeds for the birds well into the winter

I think we can also expect the Cana to go on blooming for a few weeks more, although I'm not sure that it is supposed to be as late as this. Unlike the sunflowers it does need a bit of attention, particularly protection through the winter. But I don't mind that. It was a B&Q rescue so I'm pleased to see it perform its colourful magic once again

Incidentally, when shopping at B&Q, Homebase, or the like it is well worth checking out the clearance trolley for bargains. I recently purchased a very nice clematis at half price

These seeds comprise four types
Speaking of retail, I'd like to put in a plug for The Range. Do you know the store? - mainly Midlands, I suspect. Earlier this week I needed some green manure seed and thought I'd pop in for look-see. (Green manure refers to a crop that is grown simply to keep bare soil productive, usually over the winter.) The crop might be rye grass, clover or mustard. The pack in the photo comprises four different types. These seeds can be hard to track down - yet The Range had half-a-dozen different packets from a variety of suppliers. In fact, their seed range was extensive - far greater than many garden centres

The old timbers now on their way out

Mind you, less attractive was the display of Christmas tat, if I dare put it that way. Shame the Suez canal blockage did not intervene - the containers obviously got through (I'm supposing most of the Xmas glitz is made in China). I'm afraid that we - Mrs Codger and I - like Christmas to be actually at Christmas

But I sound curmudgeonly, don't I? And I do make exceptions to the rule - see this week's tailpiece about Radio 3

[Newer readers please note: we have no pecuniary involvement with commercial companies. I mention this as some bloggers get an income stream from sponsors. There is nothing wrong with this, of course - provided the interest is declared.]

The raised bed, finished off with a top
dressing of garden compost

Raspberry restoration
Rather slowly, I'm trying to reorganise and improve the corner of the garden where my raspberries grow. The crop dropped off markedly this year so I was galvanised into action, as the saying goes. I had got them growing in a raised bed which tends to dry out too much. Moreover, the wooden planking was rotting off and needed replacing so the task became one of rebuilding the raised bed ahead of planting up fresh stock.

The new plants won't arrive for two or three months so, having finished the raised bed, I have sown the green manure. Looking today, I see that it has germinated within just a few days. Although we are halfway into September the ground is still warm so many seeds will get away quickly. When I plant the new raspberries I shall either dig in the green manure or harvest it for the compost heap


This what happens to untreated wood
- an entirely natural process, of course. 
Raised bed lessons
In redoing the raised bed I applied the lessons learned over the ten years or so the old ones have been in place (or fifteen years, I cannot honestly remember - twenty?). 

When I did the original beds I used untreated timber as I had read that treated timber would contaminate the soil. This photo shows the result - the soil contaminates the timber!

So, this time I used treated timber - standard decking, in fact. As a precaution I lined the beds with plastic sheeting in the form of reused compost bags. This accounts for the untidy finish but a quick trim will put that right

The tools give a sense of the scale
You can see about a 10 inch drop in level
I also lowered the bed a bit. This will make it easier to increase the proportion of organic material and thus the fertility of the soil in the bed. You can tell the drop from this photo (right) - I deliberately left one plant in situ so I could illustrate the point

Lowering the bed has produced surplus soil - a further advantage in that I now have a supply of soil for potting. The nature of the Codger project means that I am a net exporter of soil!

Although I have ordered new plants, I have potted up quite a few from the old bed. This is partly as a precaution and partly in order to supply others. Raspberry plants available - enquire within

The dreaded blight
The battle against blight
Following on from the experience I related in our previous post, I have continued to deal with tomato blight. The measures I took have largely contained the outbreak. Not wishing to discourage others who have been less successful I must stress that the word is contain rather than cure

So far, only one plant in the greenhouse has gone down. I did my best to remove it gently so the spores did not get dispersed. Not all of my outdoor plants have been affected. I think this indicates that swift and drastic action can limit the damage. Really, it is a matter of buying enough time for fruit to ripen

[Since writing this paragraph I see warning signs on a couple more plants. As a precaution, I have removed the nearly ripe fruit to finish off away from the suspect vines]

Uchiki kuri - a delicious squash and easy to grow
Something more pleasant ...
... much more pleasant, in fact. Do you like butternut squash? If you have tried growing them you may, perhaps, have found them a little difficult

I think I have found the answer: uchiki kuri. 
This is a Japanese squash. Personally, I find the flavour rather better than shop-bought butternut. When eating, the squash is prepared in much the same way as butternut: cut in half, remove the pith and slice off the rind. You can boil or bake - if you boil, 10 minutes is easily enough

I'm looking forward to harvesting our largest. I'll report back when I do

Perhaps you can see the area we scarified
A new project
I know it is the trendy thing to do but worthwhile nevertheless - that is, creating a wildflower meadow. Well, hardly a meadow but a patch at least. You can just discern in this photo (left) - a darkened circle halfway back. Wildflowers increase insect diversity as well as having their own charm

Codger has not tried this before but was keen to help when asked by the garden's owner. You can see that the garden is long and mainly put down to grass

The first step was to cut the grass in the chosen area. (Actually, in our case, we had let the grass grow long for a season just see what wild flowers might appear without our intervention: we did get some - mainly of ragwort). After cutting the grass we thoroughly scarified the patch. The photo shows the sort of rake you need - it should have sprung tines. Finally, we sowed the seed. Easy as 1-2-3!
Yellow Rattle is parasitic to grass
But there's a twist. In addition to the the general wildflower seed mix, which is easily obtainable, you need a packet of Yellow Rattle seed. All the books say that Yellow Rattle is essential to the process since it is parasitic to grass. Weakened by the Yellow Rattle, the grass provides less competition allowing the wild flowers to take hold

Now is just the time to sow the seed which, I'm told, must be fresh. It's probably best to order online from a company that guarantees that the seed has been harvested this year

The seed mix should be dormant over winter and germinate in the Spring. As regards the wildflower seeds, there are any number of mixes readily available. Sowing in the autumn rather than in the Spring increases the chance of germination. Many readers will have heard of vernalisation - the process whereby a cold period triggers the later germination of seeds   

Well, our time seems to have gone. And I have not done the Christmas item I mentioned at the beginning - must remember that next time

BBC North West interviewing Katie Ann and fellow swimmers
Channel swim
However, there is a news extra that I cannot pass over - the channel swim. In case you need a reminder: Our 15-yearold granddaughter has been in training for the past 12 months in order to participate in a cross channel relay swim

On Sunday morning they did it! Katie Ann was first in and last out - being the one to make landfall in France. She did three one-hour swims in all. The second squad followed on Tuesday - also successfully. You can see the Facebook videos here

 Sponsorship has grown rapidly in the last few days. As we go to press £20,000 has been raised for their chosen charity, Mencap - their target is £25,000. Please click here is you feel inclined to help close the gap. Even if you don't give, it's worth reading the comments. One grandmother writes:

Don't anyone knock todays teenagers. An amazing achievement from a group who have worked their socks off, given up their time and experienced some pretty harsh training to achieve this brilliant result so as to help others who have greater difficulties

Well done to everyone concerned

... and best wishes from Grandpa Codger!

STOP PRESS
This is a late addition (Friday noon). I've just discovered that the headteacher of the school - who swam himself, what about that! - has just put up an exciting account of the swim. Makes a great read. You can find it here - also photos and videos

Only time for a couple of flower photos this week

You may remember the Ingenious Mr Fairchild from last year
Here he is in second flush






This is patio rose from the Dutch  breeder, Jan Spek
Also in second flush

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

And more fruit

First fruits from Discovery - our first apple tree
I think a theme will emerge in today's blog - a mixed story of various successes and failures. Gardening is such a reflection of the whole of life - and constantly there are lessons when we stop to think

These lovely looking apples are the very first fruits of a young tree that I planted at the very beginning of the first lockdown eighteen months ago. The variety is Discovery. Well-named as the first discovery I made it that it did not wish to be trained espalier fashion. I suspect that I was conned by the grower who must have known that the stock was intended for something more compact

As the apples were two weeks ago (mid-August)
Obviously, I should have picked them then
I reported earlier in the year that I had moved it from its original position and replanted it in a pot whilst I scratched my head a bit. To my surprise, it took off in the pot.  Five lovely apples, all clustered very close to the main stem. Sadly, I left them to ripen too long - two started to rot off from the inside inside

In gardening, as in life, we live and learn. So, I now know that I have a patio apple that ripens early - I'll live with that - and count my blessings whilst enjoying the fruit

Food for thought

In fact, there has been much to think about whilst gardening in the past couple of weeks. As the events have unfolded in Afghanistan my thoughts have frequently turned to prayer for the thousands of people caught up in the awful tragedy there

As regular readers know, the Codger project raises funds for the Birmingham City Mission (see next). Quite separate from this we also support the Barnabas Fund - a Christian aid agency that has a good record of helping on the ground in Afghanistan. If you would like to know about their current emergency rescue work please click here - Codger heartily commends the international relief they provide and the explanatory video that you'll see on their page

Tipton's hidden treasure - a reader's bijou garden that includes plants from Codger's Nursery

A timely Thank You!

This is a convenient point to thank everyone who has continued to encourage what we have been doing locally in support of BCM. Every single penny we raise is directed to BCM which continues its excellent work in the City

A reader's query:
did you really supply me with a courgette plant?
Many supporters have sent in photos of their produce and of their gardens that incorporate plants that we have been glad to supply. We appreciate your support and the donations made online. You can see the result here

As you may know, we also handle cash donations. These I transfer to the fund every few weeks. I have made such a payment today and I am very glad to say that we have met the target we had set. Since the beginning of the pandemic that figure amounts £4,000

[Incidentally - and this is particularly for newer readers - we use a charity giving website mainly for reasons of public accountability. It also means that Gift Aid can be claimed bringing the real total to £4,337.89 - this figure includes cash donations that amount to £1891.00 ]


Tomatoes: mixed fortunes

Returning to our theme of success and failure. We are enjoying a continuous supply of tomatoes (see today's photo gallery at the end). Does this count as a success? Well, most varieties are doing okay - both in the greenhouse and outside. I'm getting a lot of small fruit so am keeping my eye on those varieties that are a bit bigger
You can read more about the growing method
in two June blogs - 19th and 25th

I am particularly pleased with Golden Sunrise - a medium-sized yellow tomato that I've got growing against an outside wall in a framed growbag (see blogs for 19th and 25th June). They get sun (when it decides to appear!) for only half the day so I have cut back the leaves to encourage ripening. A number of readers have been in touch about tis point. There seems to be a lot of green growth this year so I recommend taking this step 

As a side-point, I grew these vines up twine rather than canes. All was well until the twine rotted where it met the soil - so I retrofitted two bamboo canes just in time to avoid a major collapse

A bit more sunshine would be in order. We are getting such varying reports of what to expect. I prefer to trust the Meteorological Office via the BBC rather than the tabloids - you can check the weather for September by clicking here

Early signs
Less happy

Take a look at this photo (left). It was taken five days ago - it shows the one disease tomato growers dread most: blight! At least, that it what I suspected. To my horror my suspicions proved to be correct. When I checked again a couple of days ago, most of those plants growing nearby were also showing signs of the stems turning brown

Drastic action was called and the slain plants committed to the green bin. I have checked again today and find that the few plants I left seem also to be going the same way. I think it was two years ago now that Monty Don's crop was completely wiped out. It happens to even the best. Sadly, celebrity is no protection!

Secateurs getting the treatment
Stopping the spread

All the plants affected so far are growing outside. So, my main aim is to keep the greenhouse safe - that's where the biggest disaster could occur. As far as I know, there is no cure for blight

When visiting David Austin Roses I've seen the gardeners cleaning their secateurs with methylated spirits so I hunted around my shelves. Unless the bottle is hiding I must have used it. Coming across some old Jeyes Fluid (potent stuff - is it still allowed?) I deployed that to sterilise my secateurs

Obviously, I also need to avoid hand transmission but I read that blight is airborne so we cannot be sure that my elementary hygiene will prevent the spread

It occurs to Codger that blight could be problem this year since ripening is late. If you want to get more info and what more can be done then click here for advice from the Gardeners World website

Plums

Now a slightly happier tale. Normally, we do not get many plums. I blame the pigeons. In the Spring they roost in the pear tree where, as far as I can tell, they peck away at the fresh flower buds. For a reason best known to them the lower branches are less affected so, this year, a good picking is on offer - quite soon, I think

And old Codger is ready! I shop at the local M&S Food Hall about once a month. And there, before my eyes, just what I need - see the photo below. Plum crumble will soon be on the menu

[Incidentally, a free tip. My local enquiries have evinced a useful bit of information. M&S do their yellow labelling first thing - immediately before they open at 8:00am. That is worth knowing - if you get there early, you'll get the best bargains (trophies, my mother called them)]

A more unusual fruit

Earlier this year I was listening to Gardeners Question Time (BBC Radio 4) when there was some reference to cape gooseberries. Bob Flowerdew's comments piqued my interest so I bought a packet of seed to give them a try

Very easy to grow. I now have a couple of plants just inside the greenhouse. The fruits grow very conveniently inside their own packaging. They have their own taste - a hint of vanilla, I'd say. Another way of adding interest and flavour to the garden

I included the spoon in the photograph (left) simply to give the scale. The fruits are small but perhaps they will come bigger next year

I also have some potted cape gooseberries growing outside. They are rather like Chinese lanterns. Anyway, a couple are available if anyone is interested - as are other perennials which can be planted out now. As we have mentioned before, local readers are welcome to take a look at what plants we have in stock

Bird feeder problem - solved?

We enjoy watching birds on the birdfeeder but there's a problem with the seed discarded by the birds. This problem was worse when we used cheap seed - soon the pile of wheat grew and started sprouting

We now use the dearer 'no-grow' seed that has been kibbled but this is not entirely problem free. A gooey mess can still build beneath the feeders. So, we are having another shot at keeping the area smart and, hopefully, clean. I have assembled a collection of potted plants. As you can see in this picture the result is reasonably attractive

Second flush

Before we finish, a point on the positive side. Our main flower border would, I think, come into the 'mixed border' category - perhaps very mixed border would be a better designation

Our border with the current second flush of roses
Some gardening books advise against including roses. I understand why - they are more disease-prone when crowded by other plants. In our case, this has been a rule to be broken. And, at this period of late summer, we get the compensation: a second flush of roses

It is a truly mixed planting. You may spot the self-sown sunflowers in the background. Always a lovely surprise when, late season, they appear

If you take a look at the gallery below you'll see a few of the roses. And, also an interesting imposter - please let me know if you recognise it!

Today's crop from the greenhouse
Tomatoes finale

Well, we are almost done for today. It has been good to hear from readers in the last week or so - quite a few queries about tomatoes. Just to reiterate and elaborate some advice:

  • Pick the fruit as they near ripening and finish off in the dish. This will bring on the others
  • Cut away leaves to reveal the fruit - they need sunlight to ripen
  • Reduce growth overall so you concentrate the plant on ripening. This includes topping the plant and removing trusses that don't stand a chance of ripening this season
  • Keep an eye open for blight and exercise plant hygiene
I also get asked about recipes for green tomatoes. We are afraid that Codger is the last person in the world to ask. He once tried a production run of green tomato chutney, carefully following the instructions. The first sign of trouble was the metal tops to the preserving jars beginning to corrode. Do you know that green tomato chutney can double up as paint stripper?

Best wishes from the Garden Codger!

Probably our oldest regular reader - Vera is 90 years young today!





We thought the sweet peas had packed their bags - so, a nice surprise





Dahlias have a fascination of their own at this time of year




I rather like this shot of Gertrude Jekyll




The second flush of Gertrude Jekyll en masse




Finally, the imposter - found growing among tomato seedlings
Codger's best guess is Red Veined Sorrel
But it loves the stream - not what the books say!




Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Feeling generous?

Colourful pots that are available - see Filling the Gaps, below

Today's opening shot shows pots on our patio at home. However, this blog comes to you from a cold and rather less colourful Buxton. A pity since it can be lovely, here

It's a brief visit following a week or more of downtime. Nothing to do with pandemic and even ping-demic, rather some other nefarious bug that has doing the rounds and chose to lay old Codger low. However, the break in our usual routine presents something of an opportunity. So, unashamed, we wish to promote a charity venture that deserves support wider than that of the families immediately involved

Channel swim for Mencap

Training on Ullswater
Despite the miserable weather here yesterday, the sun shone on Ullswater where our older granddaughter had travelled north to taking part in a training exercise. She is a keen member of a relay team planning to swim the English Channel in just a few weeks time. A big challenge for a fifteen year-old

The intense training programme has lasted a whole year. Obviously, endurance is the main focus but many other aspects have needed attention as well. The practice in Ullswater was designed to provide experience of getting in and out of a boat in the dark, somewhat essential for relay swimmers at night! We have discovered that relay swimming is wonderfully well organised - and extremely demanding. On top the obvious endurance training and associated fitness regime are all sorts of other considerations - like dealing with jelly fish as well as the severe thermal challenges - the video below was taken in February!

I think a grandfather can be forgiven for a touch of pride and using this blog to promote the charity aspect - all donations are going to Mencap, the mental health charity. You can find out more in this video ...



And, should you feel inclined to donate, then simply click here!

[Since writing these lines about the Ullswater trip, Katie Ann did has done a night swim at Salford Quays and is off to Colwyn Bay today - these kids show real commitment - three training trips in three days!]

The main flower border at its best three weeks ago

Filling the gaps

Back to gardening! Before leaving home, I was pondering the gaps in our flower border. Such gaps appear as the high summer flowering period comes to an end. This this year seems more gappy than usual. You may be in the same situation so here are some suggestions of ways we might help:

1) Drop in a dahlia. Dahlias are cheery plants and so versatile. Codger's nursery has a fair selection that are potted up and ready to go. You have the choice of planting out (easily done) or simply dropping the pot in place (very easily done)

Zinnias are great for colour
You'll have almost instant flower and, provided you remember to deadhead, a succession of blooms until the frosts come in the autumn

2) Plonk a pot of instant colour. We have petunias already potted up ready for you to take away. Instant colour! Also very colourful French marigolds and zinnias, which are always good value

3) Impress with geraniums. We have some really good quality geraniums planted up in both large pots and troughs. These can look particularly good at the front of the border

4) Or, distract with a hanging basket. Only a few left so you'll need to be quick with this one

A small selection of the many perennials available
5) Alternatively, start next year early! You may have already decided on improvements you want to make. Planting perennials now means that they will establish strong root systems giving you a better display next year. Why not have a look at what we have got? We shall be back home in the next 24 hours so please feel free to book a visit

Planning a border

In fact, this present period of late summer, is a good time to plan border improvements. I recently stumbled upon an excellent video that is full of really helpful design tips from a professional gardener. He sets out beautifully clear design principles that even old Codger could follow

The video takes the form of an interview between the Middle-Sized Garden lady (Alexandra - sorry, surname escapes me) and the head gardener, Tom Brown, at West Dean Gardens in Sussex. Very thoroughly recommended! [late edit: I've just noticed that a mis-read is possible - it is the garden that is Middle-Sized not the lady!]

Dazzling dahlias

The same lady has also given space to a Danish gardener, Claus Dalby. Perhaps readers will be thinking I should get out more but I shall risk recommending three videos in one blog (if we include the Mencap video). Mr Dalby grows his magnificent dahlias in pots and they look great. He is also very helpful in suggesting effective companion planting. Take a look and I think you will be impressed



Weeds and other green material added
Composting: Hot tips (part 3)

From the sublime to the ridiculous? Here's the third tip in my short series on composting: give the heap an occasional treat! By which I mean, add stable manure. I'm told that there are more horses living in urban areas these days than in the countryside - surprised? So, there's some manure near you! Hunt around and you are likely to find a supply - look for a pile of black bags by the gate

Topped of with the contents of a black bag!
My source dried up when a large stables changed hands. However, a keen reader has found an alternative - right under the M5/M6 link. So, the next time you drive north onto the M6 from the M5, look out and look down - I could be below grabbing a few bags 100 feet below the carriageway!

Now a word of warning. When you open the bag don't be surprised if you get little more than wood shavings. Remember, the you are getting the result of 'mucking out'. So, it's best to get two or three bags and blend the result

Think of yourself rather like those people whose job it is to blend tea or coffee. Experience will educate you!

As you can see, the bigger yield is on the right
The experiment I forgot

Very much earlier in the year I mentioned an experiment in growing potatoes - Pink Fir Apple, in fact

I was interested to see if the type of container made any difference. So, I planted three of these salad potatoes in a large plastic pot

And then I put three, of a similar size, in a felt growing bag (seen the photo below). I was careful to use the same compost mix to cover both sets

Back in early February
From time to time, I added more compost - just a mixture of whatever came to hand. I'm afraid that being in a corner of the garden by the compost heap they were rather neglected - and left rather too long

Just the other day I noticed the tops dying back and thought I ought to take a look. The photo (above) shows the result. Those on the left were grown in the plastic pot. The better yield, on the right, were the potatoes grown in the felt growing bag

I know very little about these bags but I suspect that they are sometimes used by local cannabis growers. I reclaimed my bag from a local walkway where the results of such a growing enterprise had been dumped. That's Codger recycling again - and to good effect in this particular case

Telling a bee from a fly

About the same time in February, I published a photo of what I thought was a bee. Regular reader, Rachel White, helpfully corrected me - the photo showed a bee-like fly

I was pleased to be put right and am now in a position to better inform myself. The book shown was purchased at a branch of The Works (in Buxton, actually, just this week). I mention it in case anyone else would like to get a copy - as you can see, it costs £6 at the discounted price. The book is by Jean Vernon. It is an easy and fascinating read - it also has some excellent photographs

Did you know that in the UK there are:
- 276 species of bee
- 7,700 species of wasp
- 7,000 species of fly (including 280 hoverfly

A plant straight out of a 9cm pot
And how you you tell the difference between a bee and a fly? Well, among the differences look at the eyes and the wings. Bees have eyes at the side of the head rather than the front - and - they have four wings rather than two

Pots and potting

Thanks to those good folk who have given me pots - Codger is grateful although he never seems to have enough of certain sizes

Be that as it may, I've recently discovered a useful fact about square pots having experimented a bit with different sizes

See what I mean? - an easy-to-fill triangle
You may have bought a small plant in a 9cm square pot - it seems pretty standard in the trade. The next size up is 11cm - sometimes known as a one litre pot - for obvious reasons. Now here is the useful bit. When potting on from 9cm to 11cm, turn the plant 45 degrees. You then have four easy-to-fill triangles at the corners. Try it and you'll see what I mean

Well, that's all for today folks. We have travelled far and wide. But don't forget the Mencap appeal - it's a good cause and certainly worth encouraging the youngsters undertaking the challenge of the Channel swim - here's the link again ... ... HERE!

... best wishes from the Garden Codger

Plus a few photos ....

I get asked about dealing with slugs - here's the answer!




It's hibiscus time 




Squash doing well








The other week I mentioned purple-podded beans - look how they turn green in the pan!
Great flavour - we shall grow this variety again next year