August 29th, 2012

Babies!

I think I probably forgot to blog about it, but these guys are J’s bearded dragons. He’s had Dizzy for a few years, and in spring decided to get a male to keep her company.

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After a couple of months in separate vivs, and a bit of territorial behaviour, they decided to become friends and live together happily, then after a couple of weeks of mating behaviour…arm waving, head bobbing, beard biting, we realised dizzy was finally knocked up! We didn’t see the actual penetration the first time, but she was getting fatter and fatter. Then she started frantically digging in the sand in her viv. We took her out and put her in a box of damp compost, but she wasn’t very interested in it. After a couple of days of spending an hour in the compost box a day, she decided she was ready, dug a hole, and laid 21 eggs in it. We carefully extracted the eggs and put them in an incubator which I made from a polystyrene box with a heat mat attached to a thermostat in. Later I put a perspex window in and sealed it with silicone so I could see the eggs without lifting the lid. I put a dish of water in the box on the heat mat to get the humidity up (image below shows a small heat mat, we changed it to a larger one a few days in), and put the eggs in dents on the surface of damp vermiculite. Half the eggs we put on the surface in the orientation in which they were laid, and the other half we candled and put with the yolk sac up, as the internet disagreed on which method was best. Both worked fine for us. The crappy hygrometer we had measured the humidity between 80 and 90%, and we set the thermostat to 28 degrees C. None of the eggs showed any signs of mould, but they didn’t really seem to do much either, then after a few weeks we realised they were getting bigger.

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After 71 days, one of the eggs looked dented, but the others looked fine. We expected them all to dent shortly before hatching, but nope, just this one. On the morning of day 72 there was one baby hatched, and 3 more eggs pipped.

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Now there are 14 babies! And they are so cute!

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And in other news we harvested a lot of stuff from the plot. Potatoes, red onion, garlic, carrots, beans, peas, courgette and one squash

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August 9th, 2012

Monster garden update.

I’ve been rather remiss at updating the blog, and rubbish at keeping records of gardening stuff. It started out so well at the start of the year, I had a spreadsheet with all the plants and varieties and notes about when stuff was planted and how it was doing. Then it got to about april when stuff actually needed doing in the garden, and doing stuff took priority over making notes about stuff. So today I tried to catch up and went out and made notes on what I’ve got and how it’s doing.

First, here’s some pics of my garden from above. I have a flat roof on top of the living room, and J had never been up there, so we got out the ladder and went to have a look the other week.

Main part of the garden:
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Veggie area:
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Veggie area overflow:
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Onto today’s cataloguing of plants.
Conservatory greenhouse:
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Kiwi fruit. No variety listed other than it being self fertile, was £1.99 at the local cheap garden centre so I thought I’d give it a go. Doing awesomely, I kept having to add extra canes and move the vine as it was growing. Very fast vigorous grower, but no fruit yet.

Gherkin cucumber. No idea of variety, grown from seed by my dad rather late in the season. Very vigorous growth, plants are now taller than me, and mini fruits are just appearing.

Grape, cabernet. Incredibly vigorous growth, has easily doubled in size in the few months I’ve had it, is now growing along the greenhouse roof. The grapes are getting bigger too. wooooo.
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Pink passionflower. Grew from seed this year, will have to check the packet for the variety. Seems to be pretty happy, about 50cm tall now, no sign of flowering yet. Will have to see how it does over winter.

Kumquat and lime trees. Well, they are still alive and covered in leaves and making new shoots, and the lime flowered very very early in the year, but lost all the fruit. I think maybe I’m not destined to grow citrus plants, but I’ll see how they do if they stay in the greenhouse, as they were moved around rather a lot last winter between the house and both greenhouses.

Asparagus. Grown from seed to eventually plant at J’s plot. Seems very happy indeed, just put into bigger pots and will plant out in autumn or maybe next spring.

Globe artichoke. Left them in their mini seedling pots for too long, but finally moved into bigger pots and seem to be doing okay. I really should move them outside. I would plant them out, but something killed all the artichokes at the plot, so there may be a change of plan regarding their location.

Chillis: Gusto purple and cayenne are doing ok, leaves a bit yellow, but had a few fruit from each. Should probably feed them and see if that helps. Jalapenos are doing pretty good, mini fruits just starting to form. Krakatoa F1 is doing great, lots of fruit on a very small plant. I picked it up at a garden centre I went to with my parents and now I’m hoping it tastes nice and isn’t just crazily hot.
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Tomato: mini charm. Well, it’s certainly very mini, and has a fair few flowers, but not fruit yet.

Main greenhouse:

J has been working on the patio in front of it, so I can walk to the greenhouse without having to put shoes on! Just need to put down a load of gravel and the messy area will look so much nicer.
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Everything is growing nicely
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Plants, from left to right.

Cucumber f1 female. No variety name given. Bought at a garden centre because the ones I tried from seed didn’t germinate. Doing amazingly. We will be overrun with cucumbers in a couple of weeks, I picked one yesterday and had half of it for dinner, and it was lovely.
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Sweet pepper. Can’t remember the variety without checking it. Not very happy. I planted 2 plants here, but their leaves started to curl within days of being in the ground, I figured it was cos the chickens had been pooping in that soil just a few months before and there was too much nitrogen or something. The first plant is soldiering on, and had a couple of flowers, but the second was killed by slugs.

Tomato. No idea what variety, just a random plant I had left in the greenhouse I stuck in to replace the dead pepper plant.

Tomato Shirley. Lots of full heavy trusses of fruit, still all green.

Tomato. I can’t remember the variety. One I grew from seed…it was the first one I planted, but it appears to be later than the others to set fruit, so I have no clues what it is.

Tomato, beefsteak heirloom type. Will need to check my seed packets for the variety. Doing very well except it fell on me the other day cos the cane broke. Fruits are still very small and green, but there are lots of them. Some of them look like crazy mutants.
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Tomato, again forgotten variety. I think it’s san marzano. Being a bit overshadowed by its neighbour, but doing ok.

Cucumber, same as the first one. Had issues when it was just planted with something eating it and making holes in the leaves, but I sprayed a couple of times with washing up liquid solution, and it killed whatever it was, and the plant is now super happy. It’s a couple of weeks behind the other in terms of cropping, but will still give lots of fruit.

Aubergine f1 moneymaker. Not as big as I’d expect, or as big as the one in J’s greenhouse (which is cooler than mine cos it is missing half a roof). Has made a couple of flowers and has more on the way, so fingers crossed I’ll get a few aubergines off it.

Tomato alicante. Doing well. Lots of trusses.
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Tomato Roma. Will soon give me the first ripe tomato of the year. About time! has lots of trusses, but not many fruit on each. Am still expecting an ok crop though, as there are still flowers on it.
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Tomato Roma. A bit behind it’s neighbour, but doing well.

Watermelon. Can’t remember variety, but it doesn’t matter anyway because stupid slugs ate it, even with a ring of eggshell around it. Next year I’m going to grow melons in pots in the other greenhouse.

Outdoor tomato bed.
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From front to back, left to right:

2 unknown varieties, both grown from seed. The second fell over in strong winds so its a bit freaky looking and won’t stay up straight, but it’s still looking ok

Shirley/moneymaker. Both doing ok, lots of fruit

Tomatoberry x2. The second one died, I think due to being knocked over in the wind and the stem breaking. The other seems ok

Supersweet/floridity, 2 rows. The floridity have tons of teeny tiny varigated plum fruits, the supersweet seem to be doing ok too.

Other beds:

Telephone peas/trail of tears beans. The peas are doing great, we’ve had a good crop from them, and they are the nicest peas I’ve ever tasted…even when the pods are overlooked and they get a bit big, they still have the lovely sweet pea taste and don’t get hard and nasty tasting. They are coming to an end now so I’m trying to resist picking any more and saving the rest for seeds. The beans are just starting to be ready now, we’ve had half a dozen so far, but the plants are still covered in flowers and tiny 1″ long beans. This is the second attempt, as the first lot were killed by an unexpected late frost.
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Random tomatoes:
I had a buttload of tomatoes left over in the greenhouse so I planted them out, way too close together cos i didnt want to take up the whole salad bed, and I’ll just see what happens.
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Courgette/asparagus:
One courgette plant ‘black beauty’, is giving soooo many courgettes, we’ve had several meals from it already and it’s still going strong. The asparagus is a mix of stuff I grew from seed last year, with 3 crowns I put in in the spring. It seems to be doing very well now it’s covered to stop the cats getting on it, and I’m looking forward to next year when I should be able to get my first crop.
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Celery ‘victoria’. Never grown celery before so I don’t know if it’s on schedule size-wise, but it seems to be doing ok.
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Cauli/sprouts.
Romanesco cauliflowers/wellington sprouts. Not a very good picture as they are covered in an anti-butterfly screen. They are growing really well in there though, at the plot we ran out of fleece and grew half our caulis under fleece and half under net, and the ones under the fleece are so much bigger, so I’ll definitely be using that technique in future.
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Artichoke/squash/currants
The artichokes (green globe) are now established enough the cats aren’t trying to dig near them, and one is starting to flower. Currants are doing ok, no flowers or fruit yet, but they were only planted this year. Squash (1 butternut and 1 something else…rolet I think) didn’t work, no idea why, they just grew a bit, very slowly, then died, equally slowly. They probably hate my shitty clay soil.
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And that’s pretty much it. Blueberries have been fruiting for months and are still going strong
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Strawberries have given a lot of fruit and have filled out the bed nicely…and if you look at the back of the pic you can see 38 more I’ve just planted from runners, which will go live at the plot once we’ve cleared space.
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I picked our november planted red onions ‘electric’ as the tops were starting to die back to nothing, we’ve had a few already, they taste good, just have to see how well they store now.
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And I picked the elephant garlic. Nom nom nom.
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We went to the plot the other day and stuff is generally doing well, but so are weeds, so we’re gonna go back one day this weekend. No doubt I’ll get tired after a few minutes of weeding, so I’ll do the same there and start making notes about what we grew, what worked out, and what got eaten by asshole slugs and squirrels.

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