Friday, 26 April 2013

First salad of the year

My early sowing of salad leaves & radish looked fit for picking the other day. They both looked like an ideal size for a simple side salad.
The radish were tiny & really they were too small to harvest. But you grow your own to suit yourself. To give a better idea of scale the radish were the size of my little finger nail.

Anyway to make the salad slightly more substantial I kept the leaves on the radish & just snipped off the roots.

I made a quick dressing by mixing balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper & a dash of olive oil & mixed the salad.

It was lovely, Mike & I really enjoyed the tiny radishes with the leaves attached. I also think the majority of my radish will be served like this over the summer.

Enjoy your day

 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Reasons to be cheerful

Upon my return from my first day back in the office yesterday I spent a short time in the garden. Apart from the general cooking dinner, homework duties, talking to the boy about his day, dealing with Mike blah blah blah that is.
Here I am in the big greenhouse by the peach tree. Even if it doesn't fruit this year the blossoms have been beautiful. It should fruit I have dabbed each blossom several times with a paintbrush. You can just make out one of the new pear trees just outside.
Sweet peas germinating. I had none last year. They germinated & were planted but they were stunted & very few flowered.
Horseradish making its way through a large tub. Horseradish is very invasive which is why I grow it in a large tub. Roots harvested in the autumn are stronger than ones harvested in spring.
I have a new narrow strip of land to plant. The fence/wall between the garden & next doors is being replaced. I have some wild flower grenades so I will be scattering the seeds there.
I would like to introduce Johnny, he has a twin brother called Thomas who hasn't germinated yet. This is from a school project that Harry took part in. It was titled trust. The children decorated a cup & sowed two or three seeds. At the end of Thursday they were told to swap cups with another child in class. They were to care for each others cup for several days. Harry is extremely happy to have his boys?? back. He has not placed his trust in me, He checks on them daily. Perhaps another gardener in the making. Though I would like to add he is only spotted in the garden during the summer grazing on some of my produce.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Gifts for the garden

Well as from today I'm back in work. Drat, I was beginning to enjoy this gardening at leisure.  We took a short trip out yesterday, we had to go to Boots the chemist & I wanted to visit Hobby craft. I have taught myself how to knit (I'm still dabbling at crochet but that is on the back burner). So far I have completed a pair of babies booties & hat. I now wish to move onto bigger projects, as in I would like to knit myself a simple cardigan & a simple shrug. I have the wool ready I needed a simple pattern for each. Could I find such a thing could I heck. I will have to have a good Google later.

Anyway on the way home ( I was a bit miffed & disgruntled, to the extent I didn't buy any wool & it was on offer & Mike was buying) we spotted a sign for a new garden centre. Naturally Mike pulled over.

It was only a little place but room to extend in the future should it take off. As part of my plan to support more local suppliers I spent the total of £8.50 on these four plants -
I purchased a Dicentra - Bleeding heart, a Saxifraga & two Dianthus.

The Dicentra will be planted in the raised bed in the front garden, the Saxifraga in a tub in the back garden & the Dianthus will be planted into two tubs I have in the front.

They look bee friendly which is also high on my list. I am pretty much sticking to flowers, shrubs & trees that will support the wildlife.

Enjoy your day
             

             

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Nearly

Can you see I very nearly have some tulips. This photo was taken on Saturday afternoon.

I have a long strip of them in the front garden. They are in a long narrow bed that separates the driveway from the front garden path. It is affectionately named by me as the Tulip Walk.

I plan to dig the bulbs up once the floral display is over & the leaves start dying down. I shall keep them in a safe place for planting again later in the year. The space I gain will be filled with some of the flower seedlings currently residing in the greenhouse.

After my visit to Chester on Saturday I visited Morrison's on the way back. I needed a bit of shopping but the main purpose was to buy this.
I spotted it on a post by jo-thegoodlife . It was only £3. Anyway I left Mike to the less important stuff of food shopping & skipped off to find the garden section. I soon found & pounced on my bug house. It is now on a section of fence by the wildlife pond. There is a honeysuckle plant to the left of it which I hope to train around it.

As it was such a lovely day Mike & I sat in the garden for a bit with  gin & tonic. It was lovely way to spend an hour until the sun went behind a cloud & it got chilly. The bumble bees were flying around & we also spotted a couple of butterfly's. I cant tell you how much Mike laughed at my attempt to take a photo of this little character. Each time I crept up on the butterfly to take a photo it flew off the opposite side.
Mikes rubble pile is going down slowly - very slowly. Enjoy your day

Monday, 22 April 2013

A bouquet & a nice surprise in the garden

Mike got a little too happy chopping away at the Psb yesterday evening. We didn't take a bowl into the garden. My job was to stand there & hold the broccoli as Mike cut the spears. I must say it made a rather nice bouquet.
There is more than it looks!
As Mike turned to come away he spotted this -
My very first homegrown cauliflower. Seeds sown by me, seedling raised by me, planted by me & hopefully at the weekend picked by me.

As you can understand I am very proud & pleased. It will be served with great reverence.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

A bit of a ramble

As my week off work coincided with National gardening Week, (which was a happy accident) I had great plans to do some happy posts each day.

Wednesday evening came & before I closed the large greenhouse up for the night I took a few photographs with the plan to write a post & schedule it for appearance on Thursday morning.
Look at my staging jam packed full of seedlings of all sorts, just out of shot is a pot the boy brought home from school. Naturally it has three sunflower seeds planted in it.

I spent several hours in the greenhouse & veg garden that day. By luck I spotted some couch grass where my brassicas currently reside. As I pulled it out grass stalks I noticed the roots were running under the row where I had sowed some parsnips seeds. It would of been hell to get rid of later on in the year. I also spent time clearing out the large greenhouse ready for the transfer of seedlings from the house to the greenhouse. I have a huge mixture of both vegetable & flower plants now.

In total I must have cleared approx forty slugs that were hiding in the greenhouse. About thirty of these were little tiny baby ones. I think it maybe time to invest in some nematodes. If they were hiding in the greenhouse there must be more out in the garden.

Anyway back to Wednesday evening. I did log on to write my post but after reading other blogs I forgot about my post until after I switched off the computer. Never mind I thought I shall do it in the morning. That was until we had a huge gale blowing its way through North Wales.

Apart from the wind keeping me awake I was also woken up by Mike on his return from work. Normally I hear the front door when Mike returns. Apart from that night as I fell asleep with my fingers in my ears to block out the wind. I screamed. Loudly. When Mike isn't there I have a tendency to roll onto his side of the bed. Naturally he wanted his side back as it was nice & warm. A few choice words were given I tell you.

The other memorable moment of being woken up was to the sound of smashing glass. I knew it had to be one of the greenhouses, I though one of the potted fruit trees had been blown into it. Once it became light I looked out of the french doors but couldn't see any damage, so I took a little stroll. I still couldn't see any damage on either of them so happily made my way back to the house. I took a second glance & noticed something wasn't quite right with the small greenhouse. Upon further investigation it appeared that the strength of wind had picked up the small green house & smashed it against the fence. There were shards of glass all over the floor & six broken panes of glass. B luck they  missed anything important.

On a brighter note my mixed salad leaves are ready to harvest. Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I'm on the hunt for -

a Rumtopf jar.
                                                        

Now all of the fruit trees & bushes have been in the ground for a while I am expecting a good crop this year. Well expecting/hoping I'm not quite sure yet. If it all fails well there is a pick your own option at the posh farm shop.

I may be allowed to Chester on Saturday if I behave of course. I shall be perusing in a couple of the charity shops there to see if I can find one. I doubt it & I think I will have to rely on ebay. There are plenty on there but the postage & packaging puts me off. I shall just have to dig deep as I really want one.
Yes I could make my Rumtopf in a normal pot or jar but I don't want to. I want a proper old fashioned Rumtopf jar.

Rumtopf is a lovely combination of fresh soft fruit gathered as it ripens. It is layered as it it harvested & each layer is covered with sugar & dark rum. Yum!

It is started in the summer with the first fresh fruit (normally strawberries) & is eaten in the winter close to Christmas. Upon viewing my collection of fruit bushes/trees in the garden I'm hoping mine will contain - strawberries, cherries, raspberries, black, red & white currants, blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, loganberries, tayberries, cherries, plums, greengages & peaches. I'm pretty sure that is my full collection of soft fruit.

It can be served on with pancakes, normal cake, ice cream & a spoonful put in the bottom of a glass & topped up with some fizz. 

Wish me luck & enjoy your day

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Rhubarb on the move

Finally after a bit of sun my Rhubarb seems to be growing.

See lovely leaves coming through! Hopefully wont be long now till harvest time.

I have three crowns in all. I forget the varieties as they were from a time when I didn't label things. Believe me I learnt my lesson the hard way.

One of the crowns was bought from a garden centre, one as part of a gift from a magazine subscription & the other was given as a present from a colleagues garden.

They have never reached a size where I have had to lift & split the crowns.I'm sure that time will come in the next few years now I have finally put them in their permanent bed.

Originally the first two crowns were kept in large pots, we were able to harvest a few crumbles from them though I had read they weren't ideal pot plants. When Mike built the final raised bed I decided to devote half of it to my fruit bush collection. In the bit of space left over I planted my then three crowns of Rhubarb. They loved the conditions as they grew absolutely huge. I had to squeeze past the leaves & stalks to get down the garden path. I knew they had to be moved again.

They are now at the very back of the garden next t my little wildlife pond. I'm hoping the huge leaves will encourage some friendly creatures to shelter there & help eat the slugs that no doubt will be out in force again this year.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 15 April 2013

A productive morning

The title of the post nearly didn't happen yesterday. It was very blustery in the garden & it it was also raining off & on.

I didn't want to waste the opportunity so I had to get on with it, & I managed to get loads done. Far more than I expected. 

I topped the asparagus patch with some compost. You can just make out Mikes rubble pile. He will be in trouble if he doesn't shift it soon.
I planted all of the early & 2nd early potatoes.
They are in a selection of buckets & tubs. The buckets you see above are lined up next to the big greenhouse. The smaller tubs contain one seed potato each & the larger tubs contain two. I have three tubs in the small greenhouse for a hopefully slightly early crop. Also in the greenhouse I sowed a trough of spinach for salads & trough of green beans. Once I know the frosts are over I shall put them outside. I have some old recycling tubs which I have planted four seed potatoes in each. This is my normal method for early potatoes & I will earth them up as the shoots come through. The seed potatoes in the buckets have been filled with compost, it was a method I read about last year and was eager to try.

Also I sowed a row of parsnips & constructed some cane type contraptions for my mange-tout, which I also took a chance & sowed straight into the ground. Look at that lovely dark soil!
I wanted to try some mange-tout this year & the variety I choose was Shiraz, they have purple flowers & pods so I thought they would look quite pretty. The packet contains approx 100 seeds & I have about 12 canes altogether in my two contraptions. I placed 3 pea seeds at each cane in the hope at least one will germinate at each one. If they don't there is no loss as I have plenty left over to try again.

Before I forget I also managed to sow some spring onions, I hope I am able to do lots more this week.

Enjoy your day

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The first harvest of 2013.

Mike is working today, his first Sunday in absolute yonks. I have the week booked off from work, National gardening week by pure coincidence. Naturally I have lots of plans to spend in the garden.

The highest on my list of things to do is planting my seed potatoes. Which have sprouted very well. With the weather we have had this year, I seem to be playing catch up.

As Mike isn't here today to act as my assistant he emptied the tubs I used last year for potatoes last night,

Yes, I know they should have been emptied & cleaned last year, but the autumn sown potatoes caught blight & as they were in an out of sight part of they garden they were sort of left.

Mike set up the wheel barrow & his old garden riddle, he dug his spade into the 1st box & found potatoes! Very nice potatoes too. They were a nice size & no damage. After emptying the 4 boxes, this is what we had -
Three of the boxes contained potatoes & we have enough for a few meals. One of the meals will be this evening on Mikes return - gammon, PSB (out of the garden) & some of these potatoes.

It has certainly encouraged me to have another go at autumn sown potatoes later on this year. Though they will be grown under cover once the greenhouse crops have finished.

Another bonus is the compost from the pots has been put on the garden & a lovely dark colour it is too. I do hope you are not too jealous.

Enjoy your day!

Friday, 12 April 2013

A mistake in the garden

In my haste or just the general getting carried away on a warm day in the garden I dug this up by mistake.
It is I'm pretty sure a dahlia tuber. It was in the area where I planted a dahlia plant from the garden centre last year.

In the spirit of waste not want not I shall be having a dabble of dividing the tuber(s). Also just to point out that I can be frugal. I also have compost & pots in stock.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Greenhouse crops

This coming weekend I shall be sowing my cucumber seeds. I have already sown the tomato, aubergine  chilli & sweet pepper seeds & they are coming along nicely. I also have a couple of Honeydew & Watermelon plants on the go.

I have two varieties of cucumber but for the life of me I cannot remember them at the moment. However I have been very organised this year & have labeled each sowing with the name & date. It will certainly cut down on the surprises from previous years.

Currently the small greenhouse houses the fig tree. It is always dragged undercover during the winter period. I'm sure this has helped it survive. It is also housing at present some tubs which have been sown with some early salad ingredients.
The tub at the front contains mixed salad leaves, the two next to it contain radish & the one at the back contains some baby carrots. You can just about make out the carrots germinating. It will certainly help me get an earlier crop this year after the dire weather we have had.

The large greenhouse contains a large variety of overwintered flower plants. I need to shift these out shortly so I have room for the tomatoes, chilli, aubergine & sweet peppers. I also have my broad bean plants. I shall be hardening off the bean & flower plants over the next few days. More importantly I have my peach tree in the large greenhouse & just look at it! -
Mike bought it for me last year, as the story goes we were in the local garden centre & I was looking at the fruit tree selection when Mike got a call on his phone. It was Mikes friend who he goes fishing with. He inquired with Mike over the possibility of arranging to go fishing that day. As we had a family BBQ to attend that afternoon Mike quick as a flash said he would buy me the tree if he could go fishing. Naturally I snapped his arm off & quick as a flash there was a lovely peach tree in the trolley along with a nice pot.

Anyway I keep it under cover as it suffered slightly from Peach leaf curl.  This disease causes the leaves to have purple/pink blisters on them & they become distorted. If it is affected very badly the tree can die. I didn't want to keep on picking the leaves off for fear of weakening the tree & I was reluctant to spray. So under cover it is. The only draw back is the lack of pollinating insects under cover. So I go over the tree every couple of days with a small paintbrush & dab the stamens to help pollinate.

I must say there is a slight fragrance to the blossoms, which you can only pick up if you are quite close to the flowers. The variety is Bonanza which is a dwarf variety though I believe it can grow to about 6 ft.

I wonder if I go back to look at the Nectarine trees if Mike would get another phone call, I must give it a try. Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Comfrey

After having a set back with pneumonia I haven't had the strength, energy or even the inkling to log on & blog. Anyway after more medication I now seem to be fighting fit & planning to stay that way.

Mike & I spent a lovely day in the garden on Sunday. The weather was glorious - to the extent of me not wearing a coat all day. I started the day with a hat, fleece & gloves but they were soon removed.  To my great shame I removed 5 buckets & they were full sized buckets of weeds & dead material from the front garden. They are now residing in one of the compost bins.

I hope you all had a lovely Easter, the eldest boy was back from Uni for the holidays & it was lovely to have him around. He went back on Monday with a replenished bank account courtesy of the bank of Mum & dad along with additions from the bank of Nan & gran-dad.

Anyway back to the title of my post - Comfrey. You may or not remember an earlier post of mine regarding what variety of chilies we are growing this season. I say we as Mike has a great interest in growing chilies as in he picks what varieties he is interested in, I sow them, pot them up, look after them until harvest time. He then takes over & shows off his handiwork to everyone who shows the slightest interest. I digress, Mike decided he would like to try Naga Jolokia this year- one of the hottest chillies in the world. We bought the seeds & followed the instructions to the letter.

 However not one of them germinated. Every other seed I have sown this season has appeared apart from these chillies. Apart from the cost of the seeds I wasn't too bothered it's not as if I was going to attempt to eat them anyway. Mike I must say was a tad upset, he was rather looking forward to showing them off. So I sent an email to Thompson-Morgan.. They very nicely replied with an apology & the offer of a fresh packet of seeds. Which I replied with a thank you but no thanks as I felt it was a little too late for a fresh sowing. I was pleased with the response I received off them & wasn't expecting anything further. However they replied with an offer of a voucher which I immediately  put towards some comfrey.

They were delivered on Saturday morning & I potted up the root cuttings in individual pots. I have 5 in total & I will plant them under the bird feeder once they are ready. The variety is Bocking 14 which is what you need as it doesn't spread seed every where. In several years I should have a nice clump of it. I shall be chopping the leaves back & brewing them to make some plant food. See I do know how to save money.

Please do not feel sorry for Mike as I have promised to buy him two plants of Naga Jolokia. He will be making stupid hot chilli sauce come September/October. Enjoy your day.