Monday, 31 December 2012

Onwards & upwards.

Should 2013 prove to be as wet as 2012 I know I shall have a good crop of fruit. Which is probably why when nosing through my seed catalogues my eyes are drawn to the fruit pages.

Indeed I should like the space for a mulberry & a walnut tree. It isn't going to happen. I do however have my eye on a patio quince & medlar. I even have the spot for them so really its a done deal. I am still looking at apple & pear trees & am debating because of space restrictions a family tree of each. I do have the option of cordons but I really would like a yellow cherry tree, if I train it as fan shape I would have the space. Just about!

Anway less of my greed. I am sat at my dining room table & through the french doors I can see part of my veg patch & the field & trees beyond. It paints a lovely picture doesn't it. However the chaos before the french doors is what you don't see. The table has seed packets scattered all over it , my sewing machine ( Christmas present from Mike) as yet unused. He did though take me to a fabric shop yesterday to enable me to buy a stash of fabrics. My view of the dining room also contains a large Christmas tree due to be taken down, Mikes mountain bike, ( which if he doesn't move soon he will be in trouble) & his welsh rugby top over a chair. Also on the table with my seed catalogues are -
My gardening book for 2013 & my lovely new diary.
I am busy making plans, more seed catalogues have just come through the post. I really need to move myself & make some mushroom pies for lunch.

I shan't dwell to much on the failures of 2012. I shall learn from my mistakes. I will not be sowing autumn sown potatoes at the height of the blight season. Next year they shall be sown in the greenhouse in safety.
My bird feeding station will be moved. I have no leeks as the area was soon smothered with seedlings from the dropped bird seed. The leeks were pulled up by mistake when trying to weed the area.

Never mind I have a healthy looking brasscia patch & my fruit trees & bushes are also looking good. I have a bit more space for more vegetable plants. So all is good.

Mike is showing a slight interest for the veg plot. He would like to try some white flowered runner beans & some white beetroot he has seen. There will be a medley of beetroot next year then as I have the normal purple seeds in stock & I would like to try the yellow ones.

The rhubarb will be moved shortly. I have two options of where to put it. With having a small plot it sounds rather decadent to have an option. I will then have the space for a small ( & I mean small) wildelife pond & a small patch of comfrey.

In one of the seed catalogues there are comfrey plants for sale & I rather like the thought of making my own plant food.

I hope you have a great night tonight, we are going to Mikes brothers to spend the new year (evening) as I'm in work tomorrow. Mike wont be drinking as he will be driving ( & I get a lift to work tomorrow). I have my grey sparkly dress ready. Not as glamorous as it sounds its knitted & covered in sequins. But it is lovely & stretchy as I am knocking on 40 I need some comfort after the buffet. We did have a giggle yesterday as Mikes sister in-law sent a message asking what does Joanne like in her gin apart from more gin. I'm really not as much of a dreadful old lush as I sound.

 All the best & heres to a great growing season whether it be wet or dry.

Sorry just an edit, I just want to thank you all for following or reading my little blog. You have all been so kind. xx

I still want some chickens!! Enjoy your day!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The new year ahead!

I have just been for a stroll around the garden. It was a last minute thought so I didn't have a camera or phone on me to take any photographs. I wanted to check the greenhouse really & as all was well there a small garden stroll beckoned.

It is quite warm out today, wet but warm. It was quite exciting to see the fruit trees & bushes bare. It also gave me a reminder to cut back the Autumn fruiting raspberries & the hyssop next month. I am really looking forward to next year when they start growing again & start sprouting leaves & fruit.

I was back in work on boxing day, I could if I wished worked from home but I like this time of year in the office, its quite fun with everyone in a good festive mood. I am also working New years day, so my new year garden resolutions will be posted on Monday.

I have won this diary from http://jo-thegoodlife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/im-giving-away-year.html, Isn't it beautiful it will be filled with many many plans for 2013.

Talking of plans for New year Mike has found the stash of seeds we bought a while back. He also pointed out by having two greenhouses, a propagator & numerous seed catalogues it may be wiser to sow my own seeds than order the veg garden I wanted from rocket gardens.I can see his point, also the offer of a couple of new fruit trees if I saw sense may yet sway me.

Anyway we shall see. I hope you all had a great Christmas & as always enjoy your day!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas.

Later on today Mike & I will be digging up parsnips for Christmas lunch. In all reality it may be tomorrow morning.

They look healthy enough & I hope we get a good harvest as I really do not want to do a supermarket battle tomorrow.

I missed the boat this year for sloe gin, I did however bottle some of my blackcurrants in gin to make Cassis.

Yesterday morning after removing the leaves I added to the mix, I whizzed up the gin & blackcurrants & strained the mixture into a saucepan. The saucepan all ready contained 300g of sugar & 150 mls of water. Press the squished blackcurrants in the sieve to get the maximum amount of liquid out. Simmer the mixture until syrupy & then transfer to sterilised containers.

I made two &  half bottles worth. At the front of the picture you can see my sample Kir Royale. A dash of my home made Cassis in the bottom of a glass topped up with some Prosecco. Oh my, it was divine. I will certainly be making this again next year.

             The turkey is being brined a la Nigella style as I type.

Also a photo of my Christmas eve entertainment. I will be watching the Snowman & the snow dog on the + channel as Mike wants to watch Merlin. So just a few treats to take me through.
I hope you all have a great Christmas, I have had a great time with my little blog & I truly appreciate everyone who took the time to comment or give help. See  you in the new year, or before maybe.



Tuesday, 18 December 2012

2013

I am making plans for next year, as I'm sure many of you are. I have yet to buy a diary, & there is a lovely giveaway at http://jo-thegoodlife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/im-giving-away-year.html so hopefully I may win. If not it will be a trip into town.

There will be the exploits of my compost bin building to look forward to. There will not be any power tools involved Mike has told me. I gave him my book to look at, the one with the plans in. He will be helping, I knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself.  I hadn't looked at the book for a couple of years, its funny how time makes you forget things. It was quite a shock when I found the page I wanted. I seemed to recall detailed instructions. This is all I have.

To help me next year I will be using a book called Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures. I have posted about it before. It really is a lovely old fashioned book, towards the end of the book there are pages dealing with tasks to perform for the relevent month.

 I am reading the section on January with great interest. Enjoy your day!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Compost bins.

Looking ahead to next year. I want to replace my compost bins. I have three basic black plastic compost bins. They do the job very well. Its just that - they are not pretty to look at.

I really want the wooden ones that look like beehives. There are lots of places that sell them & if I wanted just one I would probably buy one. However, I want three or four, as generous as Mike is I really cant see him spending several hundred pounds on wooden beehive compost bins for me to paint & stencil.

With having a small garden I want things to look nice, earlier on in the year I removed the old asparagus patch. It is a narrow strip that seperates the greenhouses & fruit trees. The compost bins will be moved there in the spring & as they will be in full view they need to look nice.

I remembered about a book I have http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Hamiltons-Cottage-Gardens-Hamilton/dp/0563383488

In the book are a selection of projects to complete. One of them being a wooden beehive compost bin. Come this spring I shall be armed with Mikes work bench, tools & some wood. Wish me luck.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Blimey its cold outside!

I'm sure I posted a while back that very little snow falls where I live & that it rarely gets very frosty. I would now like to take away those words as we have been in a grip of frost for the past 3 days. It has been far to cold for the frost to defrost & more layers seem to be added each morning. In fact I had to invest in a hat to protect my nearly elderly head. It is  a lovely thing with a bobble on top & does its job very well. I thank god every day for its creation.

The frost has made my brassicas collapse, I do hope they recover. Up until this morning they had been looking very healthy. My first attempt at growing PSB resulted in small plants with very little pickings. After taking the time to prepare the ground I was looking forward to harvesting next year.

I have had a lovely couple of days of perusing through the photographsI took of the garden this year. It is making me quite eager now for some warmer weather to start planting again. It is a terrible thing this gardening lark, always wishing time away. My plans for Christmas Eve apart from partaking in a snowball or two & the Snowman on tv are a few gardening magazines. I shall be out buying a few on the 24th. Tee-Hee.

Talking about Christmas -

Big Tree!

Little Tree!



I planted my garlic, red onions & shallots quite a few weeks ago now. The red onions & shallots seem to be sprouting well. However there seems to be a bare patch of earth where the garlic is. Anyone else with similar problems please? Its been a couple of years since growing garlic & I am sure it had sprouted before winter had set in.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Family.

My week hasn't included any gardening. Apart from reading the odd gardening magazine. It has been far to cold outside. I will be dragging myself to the large greenhouse to water some plants though this morning.

It has however included attending a taster session with some guide dogs. My dad is registered blind & I help to look after him, I can't begin to tell you how fun that can be with working full time & having my own family to look after.

Anyway off  we went to meet the guide dogs. It was so much fun & I truly didn't appreciate just how much goes into training these dogs & the commitment needed by the eventual owner. It proved to be very interesting.

My dad is now in his 70's & is a small spindly man. My eleven year old is nearly as tall as his grandad. In fact it really is like looking after another child. A fact I felt more on Thursday when trying to encourage him to listen & take part. A link, should anyone be interested. http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/ The dog my dad practised with had earned over £3,000,000 for the association. Dempsey was a demonstration dog & had also been to the palace to meet the queen.

My interest in gardening came from my dad & I have his old gardening books. His interest came from his dad. My grandad used to win the same village gardening competition year after year when he was alive. I am sure he would woefully shake his head at my haphazard gardening skill, but I just grow for fun.

Rocket gardens http://www.rocketgardens.co.uk/showdetails.asp?id=763 had an offer on this week. That lovely constant garden I wanted had 20% off & I missed it. I am checking me email box each day now just incase another offer comes through. Wish me luck. Enjoy your day all.

Friday, 23 November 2012

It's blowing a gale here!

Well it was yesterday, the sun is popping in & out of the clouds today. Hope you are all well where you are.

Popping into the garden early yesterday morning to take a look, at what I wasn't quite sure, the garden is nearly bare. Perhaps it was the ominous grey sky above.

Then I spied the oasis in my garden, my brassica patch, all green & weedy & well a tad dishevelled.

Bad scruffy gardener Joanne - bad scruffy gardener!!

There are plans afoot this weekend. The netting which has to be said has done its job exceedingly well. There were oodles of cabbage whites performing gymnastics at the height of the olympics & not one of the little buggers got through. However, the same could not be said for the slugs. Who naturally took gold this year for the most damage caused! It was rather satisfying to see fat ones getting stuck in the netting holes. They were soon dispatched I can assure you.

Anyway, back to this weekends plans. The netting will be removed & the weeds pulled up, my brassica patch contains, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, cavalo nero & spring greens. I shall be picking some of the cavalo nero for Sunday lunch & a stirfry on Monday evening. The netting will be rearanged neatly & weighed down. That is of course if it is still in place by the time I get out & do it, enjoy your day!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thinking of trees.

Now that I have sorted out the vegetable patch for next year my attention is turning to trees. I need more fruit trees.

If I ask the under gardener nicely to build me some sort of contraption, I would have the space for some cordons. Nothing too elaborate you understand, but needs must. Also this gardening lark is quite addictive.

Another cooker & two eating apples would suffice along with a couple of pear trees. With so many varieties out there, it is really quite hard to make a final choice. Also with me having quite a daydreaming nature, the name is important. With having a Bramley & Howgate Wonder in place, consideration needs to be given to the pollination. If the trees aren't compatible, there will be no apples.

For instance my Bramley apple tree & Howgate Wonder are in the same pollination band, for successful pollination the bands need to be either side or the same. However the other problem is that the Bramley is a self sterile triploid. This means it cannot polinate the Howgate Wonder or indeed any other apple tree. So if I don't get a wriggle on, I wont be harvesting any apples next year.

With my romantic tendancies & the pollination to think of about I'm sure you can imagine how hard it is for me.

Cookers
Annie Elizabeth
Dr Harvey
Peasgood Nonsuch
Bardsey
Eaters
Winter Banana
Golden Delicious
Court of Wick
Claygate Pearmain

Pears
Packhams Triumph
Conference- The amount Mike eats of this variety makes it a must.
Josephine de Malines
Robin

Oh what to choose. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A crisp Autumn day

I do like to spend time in the garden when the air feels a touch frosty.There was a day last week which was perfect, I opened the french doors & stepped outside. I knew when I could see my breath in front of my eyes I would have an ideal day. I called the under gardener & off we went.

I also managed to plant most of the flower bulbs. Fingers crossed for next year, I should have a mass of tulips, daffodils & crocus. With a smattering of snowdrops. Blimey they were expensive - snowdrop bulbs.They had best come through I'm not buying anymore.

I.have a sneaky plan for next year. http://www.rocketgardens.co.uk/showdetails.asp?id=906. I have looked at the website before now but had never ordered. The packaged gardens never seemed right for me, too big or to get a combination right for me, too expensive.

However when the brochure came through the letterbox the other day, I pounced on it with delight. The new urban constant garden seems ideal for me.

I want to grow a more diverse range of vegetables & with having a small garden it seems to me a waste opening a packet of seeds, when I would only use 4 or 5 out of 80 seeds. Also I love the idea of getting deliveries throughout the year, so after Christmas I am going to order it. Really it would of been the ideal Christmas present for me but A. Mike would never of thought of it, even with me leaving the page open & marked with red & B. he has already bought my presents.It will also give me a chance to finish the front garden & devote a bit more time to sowing flower seeds.

Also with my daydream planning & being a lazy old trout, it may help me plan better. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Clearing out.

I managed, after the bed glaring at me for the past few weeks to clear the fruit & flower bed. This lovely bed contains the vast majority of my soft fruit bushes, strawberries & rhubarb. The rhubarb will be moved as it proved monstrous last year. I kid you not, three crowns took over & when they died down, I found a gooseberry bush that had been hidden.

The strawberries have been pulled out, out of 16 plants we harvested a small handful of fruit. The summer was so wet & damp that the slugs had a field day. I have vowed never ever to grow strawberries in the ground again. I have some new plants ( free with a magazine offer) & these will be potted up & kept in the small greenhouse.

So I am left with a bed containing black, red & white currents & a gooseberry bush. Now these bushes are on the far side of the bed & there is ample space left over to be put to good use.

I had a delivery of asparagus crowns also free with a magazine offer. Only 5 crowns but they were a nice size & looked healthy. These crowns have been planted in a space of 5ft by 2ft space. Yes they should be given more room & devoted to a bed by themselves. However there is no such luxury here in the small space I have, they will have to take their chance like everything else. My next door neighbour has asparagus growing in his front garden, in an old rock garden, full of other flowers & bulbs. I have lived in my house for 14 years & his asparagus pre-dates me. He also has a big enough harvest for two each year.

I must admit it was lovely being in the garden on Sunday, a couple of hours spent pottering blew the cobwebs away.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A return!

From being hugely busy in work & at home for that matter, the urge to switch the laptop on for an evening's blogging has been non existent. I am also ashamed to admit to only a fleeting read of your blogs (when I was supposed to be working). No postings or comments from me for a while.

That has to change, it's very rude to start a blog & then not do anything for a while -  if you don't have a good enough excuse that is. I didn't have a good enough excuse as I think laziness doesn't quite cut it.

So I'm back. I am pleased to announce that my veg beds have been prepared for the winter, I am a very lazy & haphazard gardener so it really was a great achievment. I have been known to leave runner bean plants & canes up until the following season. If it wasn't for the fact of overflowing compost bins the fruit/flower bed would have been given a good seeing to also. Hopefuly this Saturday morning should see that sorted out.

Shallots, red onion sets & garlic have been planted along with a rather large amount of flower bulbs. The flower bulbs have been scattered far & wide & stuck into whatever space I could find. In my head I have secret plans for schemes & planting lines. This never actually happens as I am more for the chuck it in and see what happens ideal.

The space I have for vegetables is rather small though & I really should know by now that I have enough space for 20 shallot bulbs not the 50 I ordered & have squeezed in. Greedy me.

This patch of cosmos is still going strong & I haven't the heart to pull it up yet, I also found an alpine strawberry last week. Very unexpected & tasty too. An unusual treat for the beginning of November. We are very rarely hit by bad frosts or snow here, we had no snow last winter at all. However now I have typed that out I'm sure a proper winter will be on the cards.

Enjoy your day & many many thanks to those who have still viewed my blog. It truly is appreciated.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Buy one - get one free

Now my efforts in the garden are very hit & miss. I am certainly no expert in what I attempt. I have a more gung ho attitude if you like.

A few months back I bought a red gooseberry plant. Down to my lax gardening efforts, it is still in its pot. It was semi trained when I bought it but really I wanted to train it as a cordon. The bush had a short stem & then it broke into two long stalks. I snipped one of the stalks, pulled off some of the lower leaves & stuck the stalk back in the pot next to its sibling.

I really wasn't expecting much, I truly thought I would end up with a withered stick. I had given the pot a glance as I walked past it over the past couple of months but nothing more. I had a closer look though a couple of days ago. This being an attempt to tidy up some of the garden you understand & was pleasantly surprised to see I had two plants.
Ta-dah!
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Filling up the freezer.

As I was preparing yesterdays evening meal, which was Chicken Korma if anyone is interested. I cast a glance at the bags of produce I had harvested at the weekend. Well to be truthful Mike had picked the stuff & typically  left it in the kitchen.

Now, I would have been more than happy to leave it there if it hadn't of been perishable, I'm sure the man thinks we have a preparing food for the freezer fairy, but what is the point of growing your own if you are going to leave it to go mouldy.



Aubergines, yellow courgettes & chilli peppers. The aubergines & courgettes have been cut into chunks & now live in the freezer until I can find the time to plan meals around them. In all fairness I do have plans for them. The courgetteswill be roasted in garlic oil & served as a side dish. The aubergines I suspect will be turned into a dip I found on http://marksvegplot.blogspot.co.uk/ with some homemade flat bread that should do for a tv dinner one satutrday evening.The chilli peppers will be turned into sauce & oil, that's if Mike stops giving them all away.

Autumn is well & truly on us in not at all sunny North Wales. The garden is dying back but there are still some surprises to be found.

The cosmos seems to never end, it keeps on going on & on & on. I though the gladiloli had finished but then this yellow one popped up. A lovely surprise!

Enjoy you day!


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Soup.

I have just made the most divine soup. It tastes glorious. I normally make a pot of soup on a Sunday. Depending when we have our main meal, which tends to be a roast on Sunday (obviously) we will have soup for a light meal & with toasted sandwhiches on Monday evening.

Last week in my wisdom or lack of I decided to invite the boys friends whom he was playing with to Sunday lunch. At the end of the meal there was half a bowl of vegetables left over. A mixture of carrots, broccoli & runner beans. Instead of sending them to the food recycling bin, I tipped them into a bag & stuck them in the freezer.

Now I am known for shoving things in the freezer & not finding them until months later. So I was out to prove people wrong. The magi-mix was dragged out of the cupbourd ( quicker than chopping things by hand) & I whizzed up an onion, a couple of sticks of celery & two cloves of garlic. Fried slowly with some mixed herbs, salt, pepper & some chilli flakes. I added red lentils & couple of stock cubes & some water. I then added my frozen mixed veg from the freezer.

Now the colour worried me, it does resemble sludge but it tastes wonderful. Very creamy. As I still can't locate the cable for downloading photographs I'm sure you wont be disappointed by my lack of evidence. I shall leave you on this nice sunny October with some past photographs, just to brighten the page you understand. Enjoy you week!!

Amazing what you find when scrolling through past photographs, I need to locate this lovely dress I'm wearing, I forgot I had it. Bad photo I know, I'm sat at my office desk, I tend to hit the wrong button when scrolling through photo's on my phone. I have lots of obscure ones!
I am so missing picking fresh cucumbers!!
This photo reminded me that we have to harvest this horseradish. Yummy yum yum home made horseradish sauce!!       




Friday, 5 October 2012

As time goes by!

Another unexpected break from blogging. I have lost the cable to transfer photographs to my laptop. I must have a good search later.

I desperately need to get out in the garden. There is weeding to be done & bulbs to plant. I have raspberries to harvest. The yield from the canes this year has been unbelievable. I have one apple left to harvest.

I have noticed lots & lots of recipes for spiced apple cake/bread lately. This is where my solitary bramley apple will be going into on Sunday afternoon.

I am hoping to get my rhubarb plants moved over the next couple of weeks. They are dying back nicely. They grew like triffids this year & to be honest its nice to see the space I will gain. More dahlias next year me thinks.

My poorly peach tree. Such a disappointment this year. It has grown well & there are a few nice sized fruits on it. Exept the blinking weather we have had. I'm sure if we had a bit more sun I would have had a taste this year. Rock hard they are, still on the tree.

Also my peppers are still green, I'm going to pick them & slice & freeze. I shall use them in fajitas, I cant use green peppers to dip into hummus. Ewwww.
Look at my marrow, its huge now as this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago. Dont know what i'm going to do with it. I dont fancy cooking it, I might make Mike eat it, if that doesn't put him off growing another next year I dont know what will.

Enjoy your week end all, I'm going to be doing what all respectable 39 year old ladies should be doing on Friday evenings. A G&T or two, knitting & some seed catalogues.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Wet, windy & a harvest.

Blimey like the rest of the country we have been affected by the weather lately. We have been surrounded by floods. Not affecting us or rather the house or by the quick look of it other peoples houses. However the firemen have been out in force.

On the short walk to school yesterday I passed three fire engines. They were pumping water out of the drains into the fields. Now I don't walk to the school gate. Oh no, I'm not allowed as my nearly 11 year old tells me, no I have to wait on the corner by the school gate.

We walked home yesterday afternoon & a gleefull nearly 11 year old & friends were jumping in puddles, talking to the firemen & getting wet. The boy raced home & changed out of his uniform &  raced outside to meet his friends & to get more wet!

Now seeing as I was alone in the house I thought a stroll round the garden would be in order, I peered over the garden fence & saw this
 It is one of the hoses the firemen were using to transfer the excess water to the surrouning fields. We are now saturated.

I had to make myself useful so I picked all of my borlotti beans,
& some purple peppers, courgettes & kale.

 A lovely minestrone they made too! Enjoy your day.


Friday, 21 September 2012

A new chapter! Sorry it is quite a long one!!





Above are my two boys, the eldest -  Rob & the boy Harry! This photo was taken on Thursday night, the night before we were taking Rob to start Uni.
Boy do these boys bicker & argue, you could quite often here me bellow 'Pack it in'. I truly couldn't tell you who would start off each spat. That said I love them dearly & I now have one missing.

The boy has been off school most of this week, he was sick on the way to school on Tuesday & since then he has been sent home at lunchtime. He has looked very pale & stayed very close to me this week. We are pretty sure we discovered the reason why when I asked him to say goodbye to his brother this morning. He sobbed his little heart out & clung to his brother for ages. We sat him down and hugged him. He was told lots of photographs would be taken of Robs flat & of the sea & that he could speak to his brother as often as he wanted to & we would take him by train to visit. The poor little mite, he must of worried & worried all week. He had cheered up by the time we dropped him off at his grandparents.

Oh my word the car on the way down. I looked like an owl sat in the back. We had so much stuff for Rob, I bought enough food & cleaning materials & bits & bobs to stock his cupbourds up for a year. Needless to say Mike was not impressed, he was responsible for fitting everything in. My punishment for buying so much, I had a binbag full of stuff  & Robs guitar on my knee for a 2 1/2 -  3 hour journey. All you could see were my glasses & fringe.

We arrived to bedlam, no parking as it was on the seafront, cars, parents & students everywhere. We had a grace period of a few minutes which meant removing the stuff from the car whilst Rob signed in. Once he got his key we were allowed to take his stuff to his room, very quickly, as we had to move the car. It wasn't that quickly I tell you when I realised there were 8 flights of stairs to climb, no lift. We found his flat, sea view people - the lad has a sea view - excuse my photo, I will get a proper camera -

It was a case of chucking his stuff in after 7 trips up 8 flights of stairs & leaving Rob there to unpack, which is what he wanted. We are not bad parents, we really needed to get the car moved so someone else could use that space. We thought we could find a parking space set back a bit, but there was nothing, so we went into town & bought fresh food for his fridge shelf & frozen food for his freezer space. Now I like to spend money but I have never in my life spent so much as to kit this boy out for uni. Mike looked scared when I told him we would have to do it again in seven years after Harry does his A levels.

We spent several hours with him but he really wanted us to go & leave him to it & I (sorry) we just had to, I held myself together & didnt break down in front of him. The car was a different matter though.

We returned home & picked the boy up, who seemed quite ok. Then the phone rang with the news that Mikes father had been rushed to hospital. Mike is at the hospital with his brother, as yet I haven't heard anything. Instead of twiddling my thumbs I have been reading other blogs & writing this post & performing some kindnesses ( is that a proper word?) & drinking wine that tastes like penicillin. I have also been sorting out a Tv license for  Rob & sorting out how to get the I Phone my brother ordered for him (my brother really is a dipstick, a kind one but still a dipstick, it isnt being delivered to my brothers house until Saturday!!!) to where he is now living. The unfortunate child had a few phone calls from me this evening, he put up with me with great patience.
Regards

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

An update!

It seems like I haven't posted in ages. Time does fly by so quickly without realising . It is something I have thought about often this week as my eldest is off to uni on Friday. Naturally he can't wait for this stage of his life, as his mother I'm not so sure. I'm pleased for him of course but its all new for me.
It struck me yesterday as we were having lunch. The youngest was off school as he was sick. Really sick as he demonstrated on the walk to school yesterday morning & on the walk back home, both before 8:45am. Thankfully the school is close by & he managed to contain most of it untill we got home.
Anyway back to lunch. Mike is nights so the four of us were together yesterday. Mike had upgraded his phone. Personally I dont bother, technology confuses me. I have a blackberry through work & an old moble for personal use. The eldest & Mike were trying to set Mikes new phone up & very amusing it was too, even the ill limpet I had attached to me laughed. It was a lovely family moment for us all seeing as we wont all be together again until December.

Anyway back to this gardening blog of mine. The winds last week blew one of the three cooking apples from the trees.
Lovely isnt it! We picked one of the others & made an apple pie. I have one small bramley left on the tree now.
There has been lots of shopping lately stocking up for this boy of mine starting uni. Mike thought I would spend less money on purchases for myself if he let me lose in the charity shops than John  Lewis silly man!! I spent less in John Lewis.
More tat for my collection.
Also a quick walk around WH Smiths where I had a stroke of the books I want for Christmas, how did I not know Nigel Slater had released a 2nd installment of The Kitchen Diaries, if I had it would have been on my birthday list. Never mind it's something to look forward to. I did find this though greatly reduced.
Right I'm off, hope you are all well & I will try & play catch up. Enjoy your day!


Friday, 7 September 2012

A treat or two!

It has been a glorious week weather wise. I have finished picking blueberries, I have seven bags in the freezer to use for muffins. The rasberries are still producing oodles of fruit & are also being frozen. The runner beans as always have beans to pick every day & I am looking forward to picking my borlotti beans.

I do like reading gardening magazines & have collections stretching back quite a few years. I also like the offers & free gifts that come with the magazines.

  This morning I was busy ordering free asparagus & free strawberry plants along witha free blueberry.


I have thought long & hard whether to continue with the asparagus. We have a small garden, though I have a long narrow strip where we had tried to grow asparagus in the past.

The plastic packs you see in the garden centre with dried up asparagus crowns in, please don't bother. We planted some 3/4 years ago & it was a waste of time. We had a couple of spears to harvest.

My latest idea for the long narrow strip was to have wooden beehive composters along with a selection of flowers for cutting. After spotting the offer for the asparagus crowns I am going to divided the strip in two.
One half for the asparagus & the other half for flowers & posh composters.

After the dire harvest we had with the strawberries this year, we have vowed never to grow them in the ground again. If the rain & cold didn't get them the slugs & birds did. Out of 18 plants we had about three strawberries. Some of the runners have been potted up & these & the new plants will be grown in tubs under cover. We had a bigger harvest from my dads two strawberry plants that he keeps in his conservatory.
Also we hade a huge harvest from the blueberries so an extra bush will fit in well. So in the next moth or so I shall be recieving 1'Liberty' blueberry bush, 10 'Elsanta' strawberry runners & 5 'Guelph Millennium' asparagus crowns. I also treated myself to some shallots 'Echalotte Griselle' when I ordered the asparagus. It would have been rude not to. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A bit of a ramble!

I took the netting off the blueberry bushes the other day. I have two in pots with a gooseberry in the middle. The birds had started to take an interest a few weeks back so we chucked some netting over to give us a chance to harvest some blueberries. We had none last year. Greedy blackbirds!
After I removed the netting I set about picking more blueberries. I just happened to glance over at the gooseberry bush & spotted these blithering things!










Now as a rule I dont I dont use sprays. However I knew we had a bottle bought several years back knocking around. I found it & gave the bush a few squirts. The amount of catterpillars that fell off. Horrid things. I hope the bush will recover for next year.

Anyhow these things are sent to try us. I shall leave you with a few pickings from the garden & a bit of bad news. Its not the end of the world & there are far worse things out there happening right now but - My christmas potatoes look like they are suffuring from blithering blight. I have cut out what I can see but I know in my heart it is blight & that I am fighting a losing battle. Enjoy your day!


Thursday, 30 August 2012

The harvest has started!!

It is so windy outside this morning. It has also been raining on & off, pouring down at times. I had to put the heating on before as the boy was in shock because I made him have a shower.

In between showers I ran outside to pick the runner beans. The vast majority of these will be frozen as this evening we will be having lamb kebabs with wraps & roasted veg. All home made of course. Look at the amount of beans, it half filled the bag I took with me.
I also spotted some courgettes hiding as as I was trying to anchor myself down in the wind. They shall be mixed with red onions, garlic, chilli & sweet peppers for tonights roasted veg.  I also spotted a few raspberries. Rather than leave them on the bush for the birds to eat, I am picking them as I see them & freezing them for a trifle at Christmas. There are loads more to come thankfully.

Today though after preparing the lamb mix for tonight, I shall mostly be doing, -----------











Look at my lovely 'Crochet made easy' set I picked up last night. I knew the supermarket was calling me. Enjoy your day. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Vigilance in a small plot.

It had been a while since I took myself to the far corner of my garden. The nasturtiums & rhubarb tumbling over the fruit & flower bed, the constructing of the brassica netting, the weather or perhaps just sheer laziness stopped me. I strolled over there on Sunday & found this horror waiting for me!
My poorly redcurrent bush, the leaves had been eaten by gooseberry sawfly catterpillars, horrid things. I spotted some quite a few weeks back & removed them. I thought the problem had been solved, obviously I didn't check often enough. I shall be more vigilant next year, I do hope the bush will be able to recover.

I had a further stroll round the garden to lighten my mood, I picked some runner beans for lunch, earthed the christmas potatoes up for the last time & found a dahlia. I can't remember the variety but it is looking great.
I potted up my plants in the greenhouse, I really can't convey how pleased I am with these plants. Apart from the free perennial collection I ordered a while back, I grew the rest from seed, I have for next year.
Delphiniums, foxgloves, lupins, hollyhocks, lavender, geums, coneflowers, penstamons, veronicas & shasta daisies. There may be more yet!


Also you can see my purple almost black pepper on the right. There are five peppers on this bush, we have topped the bush now to hopefully encourage the peppers to increase in size.

On a final note I am on two weeks holiday from work. The garden will get a tidy, the house a major tidy . I am also attempting to teach myself how to crochet via youtube. I don't know why something supposed to be so easy is so hard for me, my fingers just seem to be everywhere. Wish me luck. Enjoy your day!




Saturday, 25 August 2012

Greenhouse crops.

I think for the first time ever I may have peppers big enough to harvest. I held my wrinkly old hand up next to one of the peppers to gauge the size. See, they are getting huge!





I think I have five or six on this bush alone. I shall have to check the variety. We bought three pepper plants in all from the garden centre. A red one, yellow or orange & a very dark purple one. Only two survived, one of which was the very dark one. I shall have to take a photo of the dark pepper bush. I was quite intrigued with it as the peppers turned to the dark colour pretty much straight away.

Also there is a chance I may have some melons this year. In the last week they have started to produce baby fruit. It may be too late for them but I still think I have a chance. Well it wont cost me anything either way, apart from a bit of plant food.
Next year I am going to try sowing both melon & peppers from seed. Enjoy your day!

Friday, 24 August 2012

A harvest.


I have managed to harvest a bowl of mixed vegetables. Look at the size of the cucumbers, they are huge. My mixed bowl also contains two fennel bulbs, turnips, courgettes & runner beans. There would have been tomatoes but as always Mike ate them in the greenhouse.

The fennel, courgettes & turnips were cut up into chunks & roasted with garlic & mixed herbs. We served the roasted veg with some salmon & the runner beans. Yum!

The cucumbers lasted for two days tops. Thankfully the bush is still producing & we will have three more to pick soon.





Also my brassica patch is really taking off. Having the netting in place straight away has really helped to protect my little plants. These are the plants that I grew from seed. I have (don't laugh) 4 cauliflowers, 4 kale, 4 cabbage ( maybe spring greens yet) & six purple sprouting broccoli.

I am really looking forward to a harvest from these next year. Enjoy your day!