Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Its raining, its pouring

The old man is not snoring as the rest of it should go, he has just made me a coffee. I'm back in work today & it is pouring down outside. In fact it has been raining all night. I do hope it rains enough to fill my new water butt.

I have had a lovely week off garden & weather wise. We have got a lot done. I have seeds sown for some flowers next year. My brassica seedlings are also looking healthy & as soon as I have pulled up the broad beans the sprouting broccoli will be planted. I hope to harvest the remaining broad beans this weekend.

My cabbage, cauli & kale are still too small so wont be planted for a couple of weeks. Note to self wait until cauliflowers seedlings are a suitable size before pricking out the ones not needed. I only have four now & I can't find the packet I opened.

I have sweet peas, I spotted them from the kitchen window but as it is so wet you will have to imagine mid pink flowers mingling with the Scarlet Empire flowers of the runner beans. It is far too wet for me to go outside and take a photo.

I harvested some spring onions last night & have sown some more, I love spring onions fresh from the garden. They are sweet & tender not tough like they are when bought from the supermarket. Also my mixed salad leaves can now be cropped I shall be attempting to sow radish, salad leaves & spring onions in the greenhouse over the winter.

Right thats me for today,  enjoy you day.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Failures v Success

I didn't spend much time in the garden yesterday. The eldest boy had brought his girlfriend round for Sunday Lunch. Very nice she seems too. So, apart from a quick stroll & the french doors being open in the dining room I didn't see much of the garden.

During my stroll, I spotted my red currents had ripened. All eight of them, well there are five left on the bush now after I scoffed three. A failure perhaps, I know the birds hadn't eaten them. I have three red current bushes now so I hope for a bigger crop next year. The white current bush has plenty so there is a success & the black current cropped beautifully. Not enough for jam so I made some cassis for Christmas instead. The rhubarb has grown like triffids & the blueberry bushes have been smothered with fruit. Apart from my two yellow raspberry bushes producing red berries, we have had large crops from them. With my currents & raspberries I am hoping to make some cordial.The strawberries have been dire, I think we had three nice strawberries from 12 plants. A combination of the weather, birds & slugs saw us off. Next year the stawberries will be grown in pots in the greenhouse. We picked a bowl full from my dads two plants in his conservatory.

The veg garden has also produced some dire results. The spinach bolted as soon as it poked its head through the ground. The swiss chard has grown to a height of three inches & doesn't seem too want to move. The broad beans have been fantastic, also the borlotti & runner beans are both producing pods. The fennel is swelling up nicely & I hope to have it roasted round a chicken soon. I have 14 cuccumbers on the plant in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are starting to ripen & for the first time ever the peppers seem to be producing fruit.



 All in all, its not too bad, some you win, some you lose. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Potato Experiment!

The boy and I are having a small competition too see who will get the biggest crop of potatoes for Christmas.

I bought two varieties, Maris Peer & Pentland Javelin. I am growing Maris Peer & the boy (he is 10) is growing Pentland Javelin.



We seem to have an excess of the blue recycling boxes, this excess is probally down to the fact that Mike likes to make use of items that other people no longer use. I also have two large yellow builders buckets that Mike spotted on the moterway. He passed them at night & moved them from the road for safety & as they were still there when he passed by later, he relocated them for me. We are going to grow courgettes in them next year.

Anyway back to the potatoes. The boy & I put some compost into the bottom of each container. We then added our potatoes & covered with more compost. We added some fertiliser granules & then watered.
The boy marked our initials & the variety on the side of each box. Also because he had a rather large seed potato he decided to mark that also. Just to make sure that I wouldn't steal it & swap for one of mine. Awful child! They boxes will be left outside until September & then moved into the greenhouse to protect from frost.


On a final note, I sowed some spinach around my plum & cherry trees which are in pots. It looks like I will get a crop after all this year. Enjoy your day.


                                                           

Saturday, 28 July 2012

New (old) books.

I was given some old gardening books yesterday. I love old things, even Mike is 8  years older than me. I love the history behind them, which is probally why I love my old greenhouse so much. I know who owned it before me & when I leave my front garden I can see where it used to be kept.

Anyway, the other day when the greenhouse was transported Mike started talking to the man who lived opposite the old owner. Mike invited him to have a look at my little veg garden, it always amazes people just how much I can fit in. He told Mike he had some old gardening books that his late wife used to use. Yesterday he brought them over for me.


Aren't they fab, the top one is my favourite. It contains so much information which is clear and to the point. It is just so full of common sense.  Here is the forward -






I love reading old gardening books. I enjoy seeing the difference between then & now. It gives quantities of seeds in this book for different purposes in pints & oz. Brilliant!

Enjoy your day.

Friday, 27 July 2012

My new greenhouse.

Well it is here and up. Mike only broke one pane of glass when reassembling but luckily had spare. Isn't it beautiful.

It was built many years ago by a man named Neville. He died approx 3 years ago & his wife Shirley, decided a couple of weeks ago that it was time for it to go.

When it was first offered to us we declined as we already had a 8ft by 6ft greenhouse in parts in the garden. My brother was after a greenhouse so he was asked if he would like it. By that time another couple decided they wanted it & the staging was removed. They soon realised it was far to big for their needs so it was offered back to us.

For the transport of both greenhouses to be easier it was decided that my brother was to have the disassembled greenhouse & we to have this one.

And I'm so glad we did, look! We have a weather vane. Neville made it
many years ago & placed his & Shirleys initials on. Isn't it the sweetest thing.

At first I was worried about having two greenhouses in such a small garden. However now they are in place it really doesn't look so bad.

The smaller greenhouse will be used to house the grapevine,  peach tree & stawberries also I can bring on seeds in it.

I am so excited about the possibilities, I'm even thinking about growing sweet potatoes in it next year!



Enjoy your day.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

A surprise in the greenhouse

When Mike was emptying the greenhouse yesterday, ready for its move across the garden he found this!

Its the second time we have found what we are pretty sure is a newt. Both times they were found in the greenhouse. He also said he found a frog in the garden the other day. Happily we dont use any chemicals or sprays in the garden, apart from a few slug pellets from time to time in the greenhouse pots. Then it is only if we have badly nibbled leaves.

 I do think it is time I cracked on with my pond! Would you like to see my wildlife patch?



Hopefully Mike will be picking up the new greenhouse today, it is overcast here & looks like it may rain. The wall has been painted where the greenhouse is being placed so I am quite eager for it to be picked up.

One of the things that attracted me to Mike when we first met was his outlook on life. He is happy, generous, keen to help people & always goes out of his way to talk to people. I on the other hand am quiet and fairly reserved. He also likes a bargain & is quite happy to ask for one, I on the other hand will walk off when he does so. When he went to the skip yesterday he came back with this,

 A half whiskey barrell, I could truly imagine the conversation, as the man who was taking his barrell to the skip walked across the yard.

"all right feller"
"hello"
"are you chucking that away"
"i was going to"
"do you mind if i take it, it will make her happy at home"
"no, thats fine, where do you want it"
"you just leave it there, I will sort it out. Thanks"  & so on, he also came home with more sea fishing stuff.


Yesterday evening!
Yesterday morning!



                                                                       


               



           Sorry, I can't swop them round. Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Another day in the garden!

It is surprising what contents are found when emptying a shed. Originally Mike & I were too have a shed each. Too save this expence straight away Mike decided to move our old garden shed to the corner of the new seating area.

The shed however had to be emptied of its contents before the move could take place. I so wish I had taken a photo of Mike & two older gentlemen in their eighties, lifting, the shed on rollers so it could be moved across the garden.

Apart from Mikes fishing equipment, tools & garden impliments, the remaining items had to be sifted through too see what needed to be kept.

Golf clubs, trampoline, mountain bike, lawn mower & car jacks were amongst items given away. The trailer was filled up with rubbish & taken too the skip.

Mike has agreed to my request of a pretty colour & we will be going to look at Garden Shades for me to pick out which colours I would really like. I would like a green colour for outside & cream for inside. The manky brown shade he bought the other day has been painted on the sides against the fence.

I havn't loaded any photos yet of yesterday's adventures & Mike at present is painting the garage wall where the new greenhouse will go.

I will be taking my coffee outside shortly as I am really eager too start planting my autumn potatoes.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Seeds!

         Look what I got yesterday!.

We popped out yesterday as Mike wanted some varnish stuff for the shed. Which is another story in itself. Why we couldn't buy a pretty shade I don't know. Manky normal brown is what we ended up with. Anyway left to my own devices I wandered off to look at the seed selections.

I really wanted some broccoli to sow now. All the varieties they had on offer seemed to be up to June only. I bought a pack but I will save it until next year as I don't want to take a chance.

And then I looked up at the big sign above my head. Unwins & Sutton seeds all half price. Well I couldn't leave them could I. I have stashed up nicely for next year.

As the seeds are mostly for next year I shall type them in my 2013 tab. Apart from the Japanese onion - Senshyu, Radicchio - Palla Rossa Bella & Radish - Mantanghong they will be filed away in a tin until ready to sow.

Also they had Autumn potatoes on offer. I missed not growing potatoes this year so we bought Pentland Javelin & Maris Peer. They will give us 4 tubs worth, hopefully for Christmas lunch. Once the greenhouse crops have finished I shall transfer the tubs in there.

As it is still wonderfully sunny we did spend time in the garden yesterday. By the time I dragged myself out of bed (woken up by next doors cockerel) Mike had laid 16 slabs in Steptoes yard. The slabs are in place so Mike can transfer the shed over. This will give us space to put the larger greenhouse up.

We were debating on sharing a shed but I don't want to now. I want a shed painted in a pretty colour & as I said before Mike bought manky brown. So he can begger off, my shed will be painted cream & sage green. when I get one off course.



                                                You can just make out the slabs at the back.

And for more important news, we have beans!



         On the left is a photo of a teeny tiny runner bean, we also have beans on the borlotti. I forgot to take a photo of them.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A day in the garden.

Well I had a fabulous day in the garden yesterday. Well, apart from being scared by this everytime I turned round. Even catching the thing in the corner of my eye was enough to make me jump.

See  the small bed at the back, this was where I was transplating leeks yesterday. Everytime I turned or if it came into shot it got me.It looked like a person. The air was blue yesterday as I bellowed at Mike to move it.

The thing, is Mikes flotation suit. It was one of his christmas presents last year. When Mike & his friend go fishing their tales always used to remind me of the Chuckle Brothers , thats why I bought him the suit. Not that he caught any fish at the weekend by the way.

Anyway back to more important things, the weather here in North Wales was glorious. Instead of attempting to crochet & bake in the afternoon, I spent the entire day outside. The bottom of my back is sun burnt from bending over and weeding, sowing & harvesting.

Look at my transplanted leeks, about 32/33 planted. If they all take they will be used for ham, cheese & leek bake, cheesy leeks with Christmas lunch & leek & potato soup. I think with the quantity planted the profits at Tesco will be quite safe.

I also sowed more - florence fennel, radish, spring onion, turnips, swiss chard & spinach.  I inspected my runner beans closely yesterday. I still cant see any beans, though there are plenty of flowers. I did however harvest these - my broad beans.

I would like to point out that the bowl you see is in fact a large salad bowl. Not as a cereal bowl which is how it looked to me!

And just to say, I did not neglect my family yesterday by spending the entire day in the garden. I did cook some of these beans with a late Sunday roast last night.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Plans for a sunny day.

Oooooh it's lovely and bright here. Washing machine is on it's first load & I am making plans for breakfast. Mike has some racket blaring on the tv & the boys are still horizontal in bed!

The front garden is in for some weeding today, the usual dock leaves & dandilions & for some reason the garden has been inundated with sow thistle. My lovely next door neighbour mows the lawn for us every couple of weeks & prunes my rose bush & the conifer thing I have in the corner. I would dearly love to get rid of the conifer thing but I am not allowed. I might get it to earn it's keep and use some of it for a wreath at Christmas.

Mike recently extended the thin strip that is at the side of the drive, ever since then bindweed has started to creep in. I shall double check the state of that today also.

In the veg garden the plans are for me to remove the straggly bits of spinach & chard. I shall pick the leaves  and use for bombay potatoes to go with tomorrows curry. After I have dug over the piece of ground I shall transplant my leeks.

I shall also be harvesting broad beans to go with today's lunch & hopefully will be doing some baking.

I do hope the weather is pleasant where you are today!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Saturday.

My week off conincided with the kids breaking up for the summer holidays. I didn't plan that very well did I. Only joking!
Last night the youngest boy & I were watching tv. The eldest boy being in the local pub, now that he is old enough to drink, I do hope the novelty will wear off soon.
One of the youngest child's favourite programmes was back on the tv last night. Man Woman Wild, sounds interesting doesn't it! The Man is an ex navy seal, the woman his wife & the wild is the bleak situation they find themselves in & get out of by using wildlife skills.
Anyway, about 9:15 youngest child asked, "Should i make us a little buffet mum, a snack bar to eat while watching  tv ?". "If you like my sweet", i replied. This is what he came back with,



I politley declined when he asked if I would like another bottle of wine bringing in. Just out of shot is a bowl of bourbon creams, I ate the crisps, the boy ate the strawberries & the sausages.




 Bacon sandwiches are the usual breakfast in this house on Saturday mornings, as Mike had gone fishing it was only the boy's & me to cook for. Now I am setting the scene for you, me white dressing gown & mug of coffee, eldest boy still horizontal in bed, youngest boy -  pj bottoms on only & decscribing a lego piece he has, bacon sizzling under the grill. Me, upon watching youngest boy & realising the bacon had beeen sizzling for far longer than it should do, " Oh sh----------" came out of my mouth as I ran to the kitchen. Though I am pleased to report the sh actually came out as sugar, not what it would be if I was in work.

Now, after breakfast, I skipped happily around the garden in my dressing gown as the sun was out. The poor neighbour is still recovering. Any hoo, some photos I took this morning.


Blueberries, starting to ripen & a rogue poppy.


Poppies, marigolds & violas in the veg bed, look closely & you will see some runner bean flowers.
(Just to prove it is a veg bed!)

My purple sprouting broccoli seedlings are growing on nicely.


And look, the flowers on the borlotti beans are starting to open.


Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, 20 July 2012

A week off!

I will be off work for a whole week next week, I'm so excited. I plan to be in the garden of course. A spot of weeding, some pruning, digging & tidying will be in order.


The photo above is at the side of my house. One day it will contain my potting shed, a zinc topped table surrounded by garden chairs, an arch, some wooden beehive composters & a chicken house. That will probably be next year, until then it has been christened steptoes yard. I'm sure you can see why.

It has become our dumping ground. With having a small garden it is not being used to its full advantage. Next week will be the start of putting that right.

With me being off Mike is also taking time off. Apart from days out we will be in the garden. While Mike does the hard work I shall be sat there with the crochet kit I got for Christmas. It's also time to make a start on that.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Propagating?

Monday's shopping trip saw me come home with a propagator.  I had been toying with getting one for a while. Normally i would leave such a purchase as birthday present ideas, but we saw such a good offer Mike bought it for me then.

It is a heated windowsill propagator & has seven separate compartments, each with their own lid. Naturally I filled each compartment with compost straight away and set about finding some seeds which are suitable for sowing at this time of year.

I have sown two types of pansy, veronica, shasta daisy, echinacea, sweet williams & lupins. The lupins were only sown as I had a compartment left after sowing the first six set of seeds. The packet had been opened the previous year so I sprinkled the remaining contents onto the compost & hoped for the best.

Upon inspecting the propagator last night, I found  the lupins were amongst the first to germinate. I have three little seedlings which I hope I am able to keep alive for next years planting scheme.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Looking ahead - 2013

Now we are more than half way through the year I like to start planning for Christmas. Posh note book has been bought for plans/gifts, Christmas books & magazines unearthed for re-reading for ideas.

I will now start buying dried fruit, nuts & suet each month so the shock of the huge pre Christmas shop does not hit me when the nice lady on the till at Tesco asks me for several hundred pounds. I would also like to buy the spirits & wine in advance. That would be dangerous as i would drink them well before the festivities begin..

Anyhoo,  before Christmas comes Autumn. In Autumn what do we get apart from some sun after summer, we get seed catalogues.

Oh how happily i skip home from work,  if indeed i go to the office rather than log on from home. I can spend hours reading the seed catalogues & reading them again & again making plans for the following year.

Potatoes, garlic & shallots are definate plans for 2013. 2012 is the first year since growing our own that we did not plant any of them.

I have a fancy for the butternut squash that can be grown in large tubs & the patty pan squash with its peculiar shape. Spinach will be grown round the apple trees like the mixed leaf salad has been this year. Mange tout is also a possibility along with some sweetcorn. A new asparagus bed is being built soon, so 10 new crowns will be ordered. Which variety is yet to be known. I shall have to wait for those catalogues to come through the letterbox.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Growing myself some soup.

I have had pathetic harvests this year on the veg front. I don't plan enough & certainly this year I have not sown or planted half the variety that we have done in the past.

My main problem is I dont sow or plant anything else after harvesting a crop. Now that I have realised where I have gone wrong, I will be able to do better next year.

Spinach will not be put in the ground again nor swiss chard. Both crops have failed badly from I think slugs/snails & the cant be bothered to grow attiitude. I will sow some perpetual spinach at the weekend & wiil see how I fair with that.

Any way back to the title of this post. I have just finished my evening meal which was a bowl of minestrone soup. I only eat homemade soup so have made a big pot to last me the week.

After I finished my meal I took the empty bowl through to the kitchen & then found myself staring through the window at the rain.

I cheered up at the sight of my borlotti beans, they have just started to form flowers. Its the first time I have grown borlotti beans so I am eager to see them produce a crop. Seeing the pale pink buds made me smile & then the thought of soup occured to me.

Along with the borlotti beans I am growing - kale, red onions, carrots, courgettes, peppers & tomatoes. Apart from the pasta, come autumn i will pretty much have the fixings for a good homemade minestrone straight out of the garden.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Fruit again!!

Hello, my name is Joanne & i'm a fruit tree/bush -aholic.

 Sunday shopping with other half, lucky old Mike. The purpose of  yesterday's trip was to buy thank you presents for youngest childs teachers.

We, well really I mean I had a lovely stroll round John Lewis Sunday morning. I found what I went for and in the basket they went. We had a minor disagreement over which crystal glasses we liked, I really dont know where this man of mine gets the idea that he should actually pick the design. I mean really!

The same disagreement happened upstairs when looking at fridges. Any way i digress, we were happily sat in the cafe at John Lewis where i was scoffing an apricort tart. I remarked to Mike that I may purchase an apricot tree in the future (dwarf of course as i am running out of space), when i suddenly remembered we were close by to Aldi, who currently had some fruit bushes for sale. 

Off we went & came out with a red gooseberry & a green grape.  No idea at the mo where they are to live, or the new red current that jumped into the trolly when we went to purchase a windowsill propergator at the garden centre.

I need help, really i do!

Sunny outside & the front garden.

Its sunny outside today & i hope it has come to stay. A lovely rhyme to start the morning off. Pots have been watered & birds have been fed.

The front garden is looking a bit scruffy, well a lot scruffy actually but we wont dwell too much on that.

Apart from a rose bush , two rather large lavenders & a conifer thing in the corner, the rest of the garden consists of annuals, foxgloves, sweet williams & the lawn. Oh & i nearly forgot my delphinium. Forgive me please.

We also have a long strip by the driveway, which will have my free lavenders ( from my free perrenial pack ) spaced accordingly, to accomodate tulips & forget me nots in the spring & what ever bedding plants take my fancy during the summer.

I do like garden centres. You will know if you pass me in one, you will hear the screech sorry sounds of " Ohh,Ohh,Ohhh Mike that one there,  look that one, i haven't got one of them, ohhhhh look isnt it lovely" & such like. We went to the Shrewsbury flower show once & took the video camera, you can imagine upon playing the recording back,  my screeches!

The lavenders will be planted as soon as they are the size of my hand, not the size they are now, which is the size of my thumb. In fact my mixed perrenial collections looks very much like a posh mixed salad for slugs.They are kept well hidden.

Across the driveway, i have a nice raised bed, which contains my holly trees & flowers. I bought a male & female, to ensure i got berries. Indeed every year i get berries, but i can't bring myself to pick them in the winter for the house, the birds need them more than me. Next to the raised bed i have my butterfly bush & a loganberry climbing over an arch.

Well thats my front garden, next year the lawn will be circular in shape to help me accomodate a crab apple & some shrubs.  More trips to the garden centre i think.

 I shall leave you with some flowery photos. Enjoy
Disclaimer.
For the purpose of this post & indeed any other where i state i bought or buy, i didn't/dont Mike did/does!!!!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Flowers for next year.

I'm a scrooge at heart. Or as the other half says 'she's a tightwad'. I'm happy to spend if the need arises but if I can save - well there we go.

I do however buy a lot of gardening magazines. With the gardening magazines come special offers. An item free if you pay p&p.

Yesterday morning the postman brought me a perennial collection. 36 teeny tiny plug plants, & they were tiny. I'm not complaining, I paid I think £4.90 but they were so tiny - they were beautiful but  no bigger than a 50p piece.

I spent a pleasant half hour in the garden last night in the rain with a gin & tonic potting up my collection. I received 6 each of the following -

Geum - Mrs Bradshaw
Delphinium - Pacific Giant
Foxglove - Excelsior
Echinacea - Primadonna
Lavender - Hidcote
Penstemon - Tubular Bells Mix

I have potted three each of the delphiniums, foxglove & penstemons up for a work colleague. The rest will be planted in the front garden when ready to do so.

I am now going to root through my magazine collection, I'm sure i saw an offer for two free dwarf butterfly bushes, I do wonder however, if I will ever find an offer for the five rose bushes I  need for the front garden. Free with p&p paid of course. Doubt it.



 Plug plants in the delivery box.















After potting up. Do you like my plant labels! he was right about the tightwad.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Look what i found in the garden!

 As i do most evenings after work & cooking the kids tea, i loaded up blogger to see who had posted what.
 Mark from http://marksvegplot.blogspot.co.uk/ had posted an early July progress report. I was rather jealous of his runner beans. Lovely red flowers & i believe we are both growing the same variety -  Scarlet Empire.
 I knew mine had started to climb the supports but when i looked the other day i couldnt see any sign of flowers what so ever.
 I poured a gin & tonic and off i went on my early evening stroll.

I watered the pots in the front garden, weeded the new flower bed & took myself off to the back garden

The greenhouse was checked & watered. I then watered my fruit trees & bushes.

And then i found a courgette, a fennel bulb, which had started to swell & then best of all


FLOWERS ON MY RUNNER BEANS

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Would you like to see my peach tree?

Nice isn't it. Well from what you can see. Its a dwarf tree so it fits into the small plot nicely.

I think there are ten peaches on it. At the moment they are the size of a large walnut. When we bought it, the poor tree was loaded with baby peaches. I snipped the majority of them off.

The tree is potted up in John Innes no 3. A couple of weeks ago i worked some fruit fertilizer into the top of the compost. From now on, once a week i am adding some seaweed solution to the watering can.

Luckily because of my greenhouse, i can move the peach tree undercover in winter & spring. So i hope to avoid the dreaded peach curl.

If my peach tree proves to be a success, i may have to invest in a dwarf nectarine version next year.

If my blueberries survive the birds, i may freeze some to use when the peaches are ready. I really want to try peach & blueberry cobbler.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Slugs

Four years ago my back garden consisted of a lawn and patio. Every so often you would see slug trails. Not many, there was nothing for them to eat.

The first year we decided to grow veg, my partner built me a raised bed. The one we call the main veg bed.
We ordered top soil to fill the beds & then i smeared vasaline around the beds to help ward off the slugs & off i went to sow & plant.
That first year we had minimal damage. The slugs have found us now & wont leave.

I refuse to use slug pellets outside. We have fields to the back of us full of wildlife. We have a lot of birds visiting the garden & have also seen hedgehogs.

When i have the wildlife pond put in i hope to attract some frogs. I would hate to kill any of the wildlife that comes into my garden. Apart from the slugs of course. We have a thrush who takes care of the snails, some of them anyway. We find piles of broken shells.

Back to the slugs, i have read that a slug can produce upto 500 eggs a year. I have also read that some slugs can live upto 5 years.

Armed with a bucket of salty water, we go on a slug hunt at night. If my partner happens to be on nights, he can be found at 2-3am with a headlamp, searching.

Over the last ten days we have found & drowned about 600 slugs. And i have small garden. Thankfully, imagine searching 1/2 an acre.

Now the sums, 600 slugs drowned x 500 possible eggs produced by each live slug. I have saved my plants from a possible 300000 slugs.

Doesn't bear thinking about does it.

A bit of fun in the kitchen

I picked the first batch of broad beans yesterday, & served with some roast beef & potatoes for a belated Sunday lunch. Enough to serve three & plenty more to come.

 I have waited so long to harvest them its a shame to wish them away, but i have leek seedlings waiting to be transplanted. Along with some garlic & shallots, the bed will be put to good use over the autumn/winter period.

Also the gooseberries i picked the other day have been put to good use.

Gooseberry jam & mini gooseberry tarts. The tarts were wonderful served with fresh cream. I made eight. Four have been eaten & i fear the remaining four will not make the freezer.

And the jam, oh wow. I have never made jam before, i faff around & make jelly. I always thought i didnt like the bits. I like the bits in gooseberry jam. I like them very much indeed. I have a loaf of bread in the breadmaker as i type.

Now for the jam recipe, equal quantities of fruit & preserving sugar. I put my 324g of gooseberries in a pan with a good splash of water. They were simmered until soft, then i squashed them with a wooden spoon. I added 324g of preserving sugar and stirred until dissolved. Stir in a tsp of butter. Then boil for upto 10 mins.Pour into a jar. Yum.

The recipe for the gooseberry tarts is from http://gardenteacakesandme.blogspot.co.uk/ & they are absolutley fab.

Finally, i have sorted out how to display stand alone pages at the top of my blog.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Just How Small My Growing Space Is.

When attempting to design my blog i wanted seperate pages at the top just under the title. Like you see on many other blogs. I wanted to list the different things i grow, recipes, ideas etc.
Now the blogger template assures me the option has been added to my blog, but can i find it, no i cant.
When i first started to grow my own back in 2009 i used to google information quite a bit. The odd blog used to pop up, some very lovely blogs indeed. Not many however for small gardens.
My back garden is (approx) 31ft wide, 16ft long. Not a very big space at all. But its my space and its surprising just how much it contains.
At the very back, i have a row of autumn fruiting raspberries & a blackberry. There is space left for a small wildlife pond, which will be approx 2ft by 3ft.
The left of my plot contains the fruit/flower bed. This contains blackcurrants, red currants, white currant, gooseberry, rhubarb, strawberries & whatever flowers i have sown that year. I have honeysuckles & ivy ready to be planted to cloak the fence.
In the middle, i have the main veg beds. This space measures 16ft wide & is 8ft deep. It was built from decking boards & is surrounded by bricks, so it looks pretty.
At the right is the asparagus bed, more of a strip really. It was an afterthought when we started the veg plot & is being re built this year, new soil put in & proper asparagus crowns put in next spring.
On the far right of the veg plot, contains my orchard. Its surprising how well fruit trees grow in pots. Yes they do need more looking after, but i have two cherries & a plum. my large dustbin of horseradish also lives there.
Next to the orchard lives the green house. I have a 6ft by 4ft greenhouse & have recently been given another one. Since we started our little plot we have been offered 4 greenhouses. The two grenhouses will live side by side, giving me a 12ft by 4ft growing space. My fig tree (soon to be two) lives in the greenhouse over winter along with my peach tree. The extra space means i can buy a dwarf necterine tree also.
On the patio & at the side of the house i have blueberries, a gooseberry & two cooking apples in pots.
Next to the patio, there is a brick raised bed which will be extended next year along with what is known as steptoes yard.

Steptoes yard is being redesigned next year. It will contain a new shed for the man of the house & a small potting shed for me. There will be a seating area with anough space for flowers & an arch for roses & maybe ever so maybe i might have enough space left over for some chickens.
I forgot to add, i have a loganberry growing over an arch in the front & a tayberry in a pot looking for a space.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Feeding the birds

I like watching the birds that land in the garden. We spend a small fortune on seed for them. At £30 a pop for a large sack of sunflower hearts, the birds that visit my feeder eat very well indeed. We bought some new feeders this morning. The one with the silver top is a bigger version of the one we have for the little black seeds the finches like.
 Can you see the green topped one at the front. It is a lot bigger in real life. There are 12 feeding holes in total and is nearly two foot in height. That should keep the birds happy for a while.
Throughout the year we use a variety of seeds. Sunflower hearts, Niger seeds & wild bird seed mix. In spring we put out meal worms & in winter we put out home made fat balls.
Why then have all the cherries disappeared from my tree? Netting is in order next year i think.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Raspberries?

The sun is shining this morning after yesterdays deluge. I think an hours weeding is in order later. I picked some raspberries yesterday afternoon, just a few that were ready. I think some little hands took the bowl after i put it down because i never got a chance to taste any.
I was always very keen to grow raspberries. With having such a small plot I decided autumn fruiting would be best. The canes are shorter and you can just cut them down in the winter. No tying up or anything like that to keep them under control.
The main variety we have are autumn bliss and very nice they are too. We went to one of the local garden centres a couple of months back & found potted yellow raspberries. Fallgold, ever since finding out about yellow raspberries i wanted a couple. Imagine my excitment when i found them.
We bought two & because they had flowers on them we left them to grow on.
Imagine now the mixed feelings i had when my lovely yellow raspberry canes went on to produce red raspberries, not a yellow one in sight.
I really dont think i have anymore space to start again.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sowing brassicas

In an earlier post, i wrote that i would be ordering some vegetable plants to take me through the winter/spring period. I will still be ordering the winter lettuce selection & the oriental packs, along with garlic & shallots.
My partner bought me a magazine last night & one of the free gifts were some cabbage seeds. I knew i had kale seeds & had already sown some psb seeds.I was very reluctant to compost the sprouting psb seeds which i knew i would have to do if i ordered a selection pack. With having such a small space the very max i could have of each variety would be six. 
So i bought some cauliflower seeds to complete my selection.
There was a very brief period between heavy rain showers so i nipped out. The psb was moved to bigger pots, i filled some pots with compost and have now sown cauliflower, kale & cabbage. I shall sow some more cabbage later on in the year to pick as greens next spring.

Cassis

I think its because my blackcurrant bushes are new they havnt produced the crop i expected. One was grown in a pot last year and didnt produce a harvest. The other was bought this year. Both have been planted in the new fruit bed.

Never the less the just over 250g worth i picked from both bushes needed to be treated with respect & to make something that would last a while.

I hit on the idea of Cassis a nice blackcurrant liquer that goes very nicely with fizzy wine.

I washed & dried the fruit and poured them in a kilner jar, to this i added 250ml of gin. I recently read a recipe which used some of the leaves from the blackcurrant bushes to add a subtle spicy kick. So i added four or five. The resulting mixture will be kept in the jar until stirup sunday this year. I gave up making a christmas pudding a few years ago, so i use this day for other christmas preperations such as the cake & mincemeat.

The fruity gin will need to drained from the fruit & leaves. The leaves need to be removed and the remaining fruit needs to be whizzed up in a blender. This mixture is then sieved and the liquid is added to the gin. A sugar syrup is used to sweeten the liquer.

I hope next year for a big enough harvest to make extra cassis along with some jam & enough black currants left over for apple & blackcurrant pie.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Watercress

Two years ago we grew some watercress in a pot. It was a great success and i have grown some again this year.  I have heard you can root a piece you get in plastic salad bags from the supermarket. Though as i did two years ago, i grew mine from seeds.

The seeds were bought from the garden centre. I filled a pot with compost and placed it in a saucer of water. The seeds were scattered over the compost and watered.

The saucer has to be filled with water everyday. In fact, on the seed packet it says to change the water everyday. This is something that i dont do. I fill the saucer each morning on my way to feed the birds.

Its simple to grow & can be treated like a cut & come again crop. In a few weeks though, i think i may sow a new pots worth.

A Stroll Around The Garden.

I do like to stroll around the garden. I like making plans in my head. Due to its size, it doesnt take long but i do find it relaxing. Depending on the time of day, i have a mug of coffee or a glass of Gin & Tonic clutched in my hand.

On the whole i do garden organically. Apart from the odd sprinkle of slug pellets in the greenhouse that is. I do like to encourage the wildlife into the garden. Its not hard, it is not an especially tidy garden & we are surrounded by fields & hedges.

In the mornings the bird feeders are topped up. We have sparrows, dunnocks, goldfinches, greenfinches, the odd chaffinch & bullfinch will also visit. Blackbirds, robins & a thrush, pesky wood pigeons, collared doves & a rather large number of jackdaws.

I also find a slug hunt is very beneficial. Along with a bucket of salty water we have found over 100 slugs over 3 nights alone this week.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Planning For Next Years Season

With having such a small plot to work with planning in advance is essential. I like to maxamise the space as much as i can & this has not always proved succesful.

The main veg plot is 16ft by 8ft. This bed is divided into two 8ft by 4ft beds with a 8ft by 8ft bed in the middle. The fruit & flower bed is approx 10ft by 5ft. At the back of the veg bed, i have a row of autumn fruiting raspberry canes. At the side of it i have a strip which is designated for an asparagus bed. At the back of the fruit & flower bed i have a blackberry bush. There is a space designated for a small pond.

I have fruit trees in large pots, to date i have two cherries, one eating & one sour, one plum tree, a fig tree, one dwarf peach & two apple trees.

Other fruits include strawberries, which are in the fruit bed along with a white current, two red currants, two black currants, rhubarb & a red gooseberry which has produced only green fruit.

In pots under the kitchen window are two blueberry bushes & one gooseberry. By the french doors are a selection of herbs in pots.

Where the garage used to be i have a small greenhouse where we grow peppers ( sweet & hot ) & tomatoes. For the 1st time we are attempting to grown cucumber & melon.

Back to the planning for 2013 harvest. My aim is to have something to harvest every day if at all possible. To my mind it is a waste of money for me to buy cabbage & broccoli seeds. I could only fit so few of them in, it makes more sence for me to buy them as young plants.

The main seed companies provide a mixture of plants that fit my needs. Shortly i shall be placing an order for a selection of plants i can harvest from during winter/spring 2012/13. This will consist of 5 of each of the following, cauliflower, sprouting broccoli, cabbage, winter lettuce( a variety of) & some oriental veg. Along with some shallots & garlic that should keep me going until the seed catalogues for 2013 come through the letterbox.

Broad Beans & other things

Well this rain has certainly helped to swell the broad bean pods. Hopefully this weekend we will be able to pick our first harvest.

I normally sow half a small bed worth of broad beans. We have such a small plot most items tend to be a taster if you like.

This year we went for a full 8 by 4 bed & we certainly look to reap the rewards.

My lovely other half bought two cooking apple trees for me at the weekend. They are now planted in two half barrels we bought a couple of years ago. Howgate Wonder & would you believe a dwarf Bramley. I'm so excited. To ensure successful pollination for next year i am now looking for a variety called Grenadier.

To make full use of the space, i have sown some mixed salad leaf seeds on the soil around the apple tree trunks. By the time they are through the spring onions should have swollen up nicely. With cucumbers & tomatoes on the way, combined that should be the making of a very nice salad along with the ever present radish.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Black Currants & Rhubarb

I will be picking black currants later on today. I hope to have enough for a pot of jam or two. I shant be pruning yet as i have lost my secataurs, a shopping trip may be in order tomorrow.

I have two black currant bushes, which i hope will be enough to give me a nice harvest.

The rhubarb has grown like triffids this year. It has been a struggle to walk down the path next to the bed where they are kept.

Last year we kept them in large pots. I wanted a new bed put in for fruit & flowers.  When that was built, i transferred all the fruit out of pots and into the bed.

It was a mistake to put the rhubarb near the front & when it is dormant in the autumn, i will be moving it too the back.

I hope there are enough thick stalks to pick for a crumble, we shall see.