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!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A potato update & other bits.

The seed potatoes the boy & I sowed a few weeks back are coming through nicely. They need to be earthed up one more time & that will be it. When the frosts come I shall drag them into the greenhouse.

Peppers in the large greenhouse!


 The tomatoes are in the small greenhouse. The plum tomatoes are still small but they are plumping up a bit now. There is still some time to pass before they attempt to turn red. My dad who lives around the corner from me has been picking huge plum tomatoes for weeks now. Same variety of plants, bought at the same time. We have struggled for the past couple of years to grow cherry tomatoes. I dont think I will bother next year & stick to the Gardeners Delight variety we have in the small greenhouse. Not that they last long.


I spy a Mike looing for tomatoes & the culprit caught on the right.

And last but not least a present from the birds!

There are about ten heads on this sunflower. Isn't it beautiful. I am now planning for a row of sunflowers in front of the runner beans next year. I just wish I knew what variety they use in the seeds I buy for the bird feeder. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Runner beans.

I wish I am able to take some photographs to post. I am in the middle of a 12 day on the run shift & feeling very time poor, thank god I am  able to work from home. I cant grumble too much.

We will for the first time this year be picking runner beans. Well Mike will be picking them as I will be welded to my laptop. I have however managed to put a joint of pork in the oven for Sunday lunch.  I love runner beans & will be freezing lots for use later on in the year. When freezing them they are either chopped into chunks or shredded.

We also have courgettes, cucumber, fennel & tomatoes. Blueberries, blackberries & raspberries. Apples are swelling nicely (all 4 from two trees).

My brassica patch is looking extremely healthy & putting on good growth, I hope to have a good crop come spring.

The potatoes we planted for christmas have also grown well. They were planted 3 or 4 weeks ago & will be earthed up for the last time shortly. When the frosts are due I will transfer the tubs to the greenhouse. Hopefully this will help to ensure we get a crop.

The only downside I can think of is my peach tree. It is in the greenhouse & fed & watered. Only the peaches are the size of walnuts & dont seem to be increasing at all.

On a final note the eldest boy will be on his way to uni next month. He passed his A'levels, so there was great excitment this week.  The boy (youngest) is in the process of making plans to move into the big bedroom. He hasen't factored for his brother coming home what so ever. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Not enough hours in the day!

Ohhhhhh its hard playing catch up. I am trying to plough through your blogs & I am pretty sure I have replied to your comments.

Eldest boy split up with his girlfriend at the weekend. They are only kids well 18 really and both off to uni next month. I expect its for the best & very few tears shed but he's my boy & I wanted to ensure he was ok.
Sorry ramble over.

At the side of the driveway there is a narrow flower bed. A long strip of soil really but flowerbed sounds nicer.  I have some lavender plants nearly ready to go in. In the spring there will be tulips & forget me nots inbetween the lavenders. Summer & autumn will see some nice homegrown (hopefully) bedding plants.

A few weeks a go we emptied the compost bins. We had oodles of lovely free compost. The veg beds were pretty full up so we gave the front garden a treat.

I really have been stretched lately timewise. I haven't really been able to weed. I could see weeds? coming up in the narrow drive bed. It was only today when I had a closer look I realised the vast majority were tomato seedlings. When I say the vast majority I must have pulled up close on 300 tomato seedlings. And also two radish seedlings
Enjoy your day.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Borlotti beans & children, who would have them!

Where does the time go to. I have truly been time poor this week. I haven't been able to log onto my blog to read let alone post.

For the next few months & luckily at the right time of year I think for me growing my own, spare time will be a rare occcasion for me. I am about to embark on two employment law courses for work. I am looking forward to this but am eager to get it over & done with so it will need extra study. As long as I get my stroll around the garden in the evening calmness I'm sure will return.

My two troughs of borlotti beans have really impressed me. The plants are loaded with beans. I am going to grow these again next year along with some other pots of the flat variety of french beans.

 I have been trying too trace an odd smell for the past few days. It appears as you reach the top of the stairs. At first I thought someone had spilt milk & hadn't cleaned it up properly. I have hunted high & low & was pretty sure the smell had been traced to the young boys room. Over breakfast this morning I mentioned to the boy that I was going to strip his bed & polish his furniture. A normal weekend activity.

I could see him pondering  & didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later he came to me & I quote the following.
'Mmmm a few days I was helping clean the chicken hut next door. Amy gave me an egg for helping & I put it in my pocket. I forgot it smashed but I have hidden my trousers under a towel in the corner of my bedroom'

Needless to say my washing machine is at present on one of the hottest washes it has ever had on in its life.

Enjoy your day. I will try to catch up on all of your blogs. Which will be tonight over a gin & tonic or three.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A few flowers.

My latest hobby is sitting in my new greenhouse. It's so relaxing. I first realised this Sunday morning. I was potting up some seedlings & felt far too many twinges in my back for my liking. I spotted a garden chair so of course I had to drag it inside. I finished my potting up & sat back to relax with a coffee. It started to rain so I sat there staring into space & listening to the sound of the raindrops against the glass.

This lovely peaceful experience was rudely interupted by Mike running across the garden shouting 'Can you not see the rain woman'. Naturally I continued my relaxation whilst watching Mike gather the washing off the line. There was no need for me to get wet too, was there?

Some photgraphs of some of the flowers I spotted whilst relaxing. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Brassicas planted at last!

With the broad bean patch cleared & rotavated the bare patch kept on glaring at me each time I walked through to the back garden.

I knew I had to make a move & plant my brassica seedlings. Not that you could really call them seedlings, they had turned into nice healthy plants. The purple sprouting broccoli was however starting to show a yellow tinge so I knew I had to get a move on.

I had 6 purple sprouting broccoli, 8 cabbage ( 4 for spring greens & 4 for hearted cabbages), 5 cauliflowers & 7 kale.

Now I know they are planted far too close together. When planning a few months back I wanted them in the larger middle bed. However I didn't plan enough. The crops in that bed are no where near ready. In this 8ft by 4ft bed starting at the back I have two rows of psb containing 3 plants each. In the middle of the rows I have 4 kale planted. Then I have 4 cauliflowers & at the front 4 cabbages for spring greens.

The kale will be harvested first so I hope that will give me enough space for the psb to flourish. The spring greens will be the 2nd crop to be harvested, which will then give the cauliflowers chance to spread a bit. Well thats the plan anyway.

Also because we seem to have a huge pigeon population courtesy of the local woods, the nets went up straight away. It gives, what I like to call a rustic touch.

Due to space restrictions I have a few left over plants. The cauli will be going into a tub by itself. The kale & cabbages will be put into larger tubs. This I hope will help to increase any future crop I may have.

Monday, 6 August 2012

A harvest for me ( & to share).

I am unable to lie so I have to admit my harvest took place later on last night. However it is being classed as today's harvest. Look -

Looks tiny doesn't it. I assure you that it made a large salad. I harvested a colander full of mixed salad leaves, spring onions, a few tomatoes & also for the first time ever - a cucumber.

My lovely beautiful cucumber, I didn't measure it but it looked close to 30cm long. I did put it against the bread maker but it still looks small.

It is every so slighty spiky, the spikes do rub off quite easily.


It was just so crisp & delicious. I am boasting a bit I think but I'm allowed. I don't know the variety, we bought the plant from a local garden centre & the label said F1 Female. All female cucumber plants are the best ones to grow as you don't have to pick off the male flowers. If you leave the male flowers on & they pollinate the female flowers (with the baby fruits behind) you end up with bitter cucumbers.

With it being the first time growing a cucumber plant I consulted my dad for advice. I can't remember exactly what he told me but it was along the lines of the side shoots being stopped after two leaves, then after one. Sounded far too complicated. Now I'm not a serious grower, I like to potter. I have a small garden & thats it. I am growing for me not a farmers market. I went for the removing all tendrils, tying the plant in as it clambers up support & stopping it when it reaches the top.  Thats what worked for me. I have between 14 & 16 cucumbers on the plant at various stages. I will be following the last bit next year. The only difference next year being I have cucumber seeds to sow.

I also picked some fruit - ta-dah.

Blueberries, red & whitecurrants a couple of loganberries & one blackberry.

I am going to make a cake later along the lines of this one -

the difference to my effort is the fruit mix & a large white chocolate bar broke into chunks.

It really is a wonderful cake, Caro hasn't posted since I made mine so I haven't had chance too thank her for posting the recipe, do make it, it's fab. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Pottering in the greenhouse & other items!


It's a grand morning outside, a pleasure to stroll round the garden this morning. Mike was particularly amused to hear of my tale in which I tried to take a photo of a bee. I nearly fell into the borage.I doubt I would have been found again. I'm only small & the borage is huge this year. It really is beautiful this year, I should have taken a photo of that instead.

The photo's above show the results of my pottering in the large greenhouse. Mike assembled the staging for me in the week so I have been busy potting up plants. I have also moved my brassicas undercover to hide them from the dreaded white butterflies.  In all honesty though the sprouting broccoli needs to be planted. I shall get it done this evening. Well thats the plan, we are all off to my sisters for lunch today. There is always tomorrow I suppose.

 If anyone with experience of growing borlotti beans care to look at these two photos please. Do they really start off green & stay green for so long. I have two large troughs & the plants are smothered with beans.

I thought I would have some nice speckled ones by now! Enjoy you day!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The end of one crop, the start of another.

We spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon harvesting the broad beans & removing the old plants. To make the job easier I snipped each plant at the bottom. All pea & bean roots have nodules attached to their roots. These nodules help fix nitrogen from the soil for the plants, therefore they are a useful addition to leave for the next batch of veg to be planted.

Pretty soon we ended up with a huge pile of plants. We stripped off each useable pod & podded them for the beans. These beans will be frozen for future use.

 Towards the end of their life, all of the plants were badly affected by chocolate spot. I don't know if it was the weather, the amount of plants crammed into the space or a combination of both. Also a few of the leaves looked like they had been affected by some sort of rust.

I always sow broad beans straight into the garden. They took an absolute age to come up this year. So much so we thought they had failed & bought plants. Naturally in the weeks after planting the seeded beans came through.

I have tried sowing the beans in the autumn before now but only fve germinated. This year I may sow into pots in the greenhouse, I can then plant these out in the spring. Ideally with having such a small space I could have done with harvesting all the broad beans a couple of weeks ago.

I wish I had taken a photo of before we emptied the bed. After we weeded it Mike rotavated it & we added some chicken manure. It was all mixed in & raked nice & flat. It is now waiting for the next occupents, the brassicas. In all honesty these could have been planted yesterday afternoon. However the white butterflies were out in force yesterday af competeing in their own olympics. I didn't want them depositing any gold or green come to that on my plants. I'm off to get the netting from my dad today. Enjoy your day!

Friday, 3 August 2012

A stroll round the garden!

It is lovely & sunny here. I took myself on a little stroll this morning to see what I could find. It is far more pleasant to stroll in the sunshine.

Mark from posted about picking & eating the first runner beans of the season. I would just like to prove I do have some. They are just so tiny at the moment.

Look closely!
& again!

I really need to sort out my rhubarb patch. I decided to grow three plants for the following reasons. One to force, one to pick from anyway & one to rest. Unfortunately it appears to be taking over its allotted space.

It may not look huge on this photo but it has already swamped a gooseberry bush. I have picked loads from it this season. When it starts to die back in the autumn I am going to attempt to move them.

Its not all bad news I mean it isn't the end of the world if rhubarb takes over your garden is it! Look what else I found.


Thursday, 2 August 2012

I have won a book.

Morning, thank you all for your kind comments yesterday. It really is appreciated. After two days of drizzle the sun is shining & yesterday I found out that I had won a gardening book. I entered a competition at this lovely blog. & I won Sweet Peas for Summer by Laetitia Maklouf & its signed.

I am so excited I really dont think I have won anything before. I dont normally enter competitions & I dont play the lottery.

It really is a lovely book. Mike bought me a book last month. I had a choice of two & I put the Sweet Peas for Summer book back. It is full of lovely pictures & ideas but I thought I would have it for my birthday instead. It seemed like the book I wanted to curl up with in the autumn & plan for next year.

Well I won a copy instead which is better, also there is currently another competition at the woolygreen site to win a book on herbs. Go and have a look as I may have to enter a competition again. Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Why I like my growing space!

As you know I only have a small garden. It is however big enough for me to potter in. That was the idea behind my little veg patch. Granted it has spread to include the entire back garden, but they do don't they. You can always find space for something else to grow.

I work full time though I am lucky enough to be able to work from home when I wish. Mike works full time & often works away. As much as I would like to spend more time in the garden with also having children most of my time is taken up with other things.

I like the idea of being able to pop outside in the evening & quite often in the morning. It is great fun to be able to harvest your own produce. Having such a small growing space means you have too be quite inventive with what & how you grow.

I have fruit trees in pots, as I like to utilise the space I have there is spinach growing in two of the pots & mixed salad leaves growing in two others. Crop rotation isn't as strict as it should be. As yet I haven't suffered any diseases. My main problem has been slugs. But then who doesn't suffer.

Most people who visit my garden are amazed with how much we grow, its fun to show people round the garden & send them on their way with some produce. In the summer months we buy very little in the way of soft fruit, vegetables & salads. I can grow enough to keep us well supplied for a few meals each week.

It does however irk me when you have a pessimistic so & so ( I do know a few) who look at the garden & whinge 'just think what you could do with a bigger space' or ' it's too much hassle to grow anything in such a small garden'. It really gets on my whick.

I am quite proud of what I have achieved, its my hobby & my choice. Incidentally if I did have a bigger growing space I would like a border devoted to peonies, you can imagine what the pessimistic people whinge to that. Enjoy your day.