Friday, 31 January 2014

Gardening books galore

I was sat on tenterhooks yesterday morning waiting for the delivery of my books. I made the decision to work from home so I could take delivery & made myself a little nest by the sitting room window with the laptop on my knee. Every car door I heard saw me springing up & looking through the window & it stayed like that until the delivery man knocked on the door. I sprang up like an excited rabbit & skipped to the door.

I was beyond pleased when I opened my box, all of the books are fabulous & I highly recommend them. They are all paperbacks & fairly thin so easy to put away in a bookcase, or in my case to store on my bedside table for the next few weeks.

The ten minute diaries are broken down into the months of the year with a list of jobs to do. From what I have read the are full of useful information. I am so pleased with them & am busy making plans for the months ahead.

The self sufficiency ones are just fabulous. I am particularly enthralled with the cheese making one, I just can't seem to put it down. I was ever so slightly disappointed with the home brewing one at first. I had hoped it would contain some wine recipes but it only had ale & the like. However with my new found desire to turn a negative into a positive - Mike likes a pint of bitter & I do like a Beef & Ale stew so I will be having a dabble at some point.

Even though it is a selection of Self sufficiency titles they are really useful & informative. I am so, so pleased with all of my new books. Not bad for £9 for the 15. The Book People

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Another purchase or two

I truly wasn't going to buy anything else this month, I had purchased most of my gardening requirements last week apart from the potato day in a couple of weeks of course. I was perusing my emails when I come across one from The Book People. It was advertising a flash sale, I really didn't think they would have anything as I had ordered what I wanted before Christmas. However I came across these lovely items which will be winging themselves over to me shortly.

Self-Sufficiency Collection - 12 Books - collection - 9781780092232 - Various Authors                                                           
Self-Sufficiency Collection  I nearly swallowed my tongue with delight, 12 books for a fiver. I had debated on buying these before Christmas but never got round to it. They had been advertised at the top of Sues blog  which is where I spotted them.

The Ten Minute Gardener Diaries Collection - 3 Books - collection - 9780563493891 - Ross Burden
The Ten Minute Gardener Diaries Collection  for £4 So for the grand total of £9 (+ a couple of £'s p&p) I have 15 books on the way

The flash sale ends at midnight on Thursday, there is free delivery on orders of £25 & above , I was very, very restrained.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The edible hedge at last

Well it will be when I can finally pick a harvest from it, it will several years yet though.

I had forgotten what back breaking work digging & clearing a border was.
A bundle of twigs delivered yesterday morning, well packaged I have to say.

A planting guide complete with recipes for future harvests.
A cleared border ready to be planted.
A small section of edible hedging.

I was very excited to receive my edible hedge yesterday morning from Wiggly Wigglers. The only minus point & a very small one at that is the saplings were not labelled so I had no idea which was which.  With having a fairly small planting space I wanted the option of planting only what I wanted.  I planted as many as I could fit in the front border. The collection consisted of crab apple, hazel, cherry plum, elderberry, wild pear, blackthorn & dog rose. I knew the blackthorn has thorns but I also believe the wild pear & dog rose has some too.

I separated the thorny twigs & planted them as conveniently as I could to minimise the risk of injury. I had three thorny specimens left over which I planted in a raised bed we have in the front. This is backed by a high fence so I am hoping they knit together quite well for bird nesting in the future.

I had four non thorny twigs left over which I have placed in a border which separates the driveway from the garden. Hopefully these will grow into trees & if kept nicely pruned should be fine where they are.

Mike will be building up the wall at the back of the hedge & I will keep the side where the path is fairly well pruned & as I am after a wilder look if you like, the very front should be fine left pretty much as it grows. The above border will be extended sometime this year to allow for some native flower planting. A long term project & for a small space it will require a lot of upkeep. I'm just thank full it is a small space.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 27 January 2014

Seed potatoes Part one.

Yesterday morning instead of going to the garden centre (we did attempt but it was closed) we went to a local hardware type store. A lovely place full of all sorts & it also holds monthly chicken sales.

My selections are as follows -

 First early -
 Home guard

 Second early -
 Maris Peer
 British Queen


I was planning to purchase more over the next couple of weeks, not too many more as they will be in pots but I read this post on Marks Veg Plot yesterday. Mark had attended a local potato day & whilst reading his post I remembered I had seen one advertised in the past which was held fairly locally.

A quick google & there it was UK potato days . I had a look at the poster for the one I am attending & like the one Mark attended there will be other goodies for sale.

I am rather looking forward to it. So in a few weeks there will be a post titled Seed potatoes Part two.

Enjoy your day.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

New baby leaves

I wasn't planning on growing any of the mixed salad seeds for baby leaves this year. I had planned to concentrate on a selection of lettuces instead. Of course you can use the lettuce seeds for baby leaf production just as you can whip off a couple of leaves from the actual lettuce plants instead of pulling up the whole plant.

Mike, I & the eldest boy Rob eat a lot of salad. the youngest occasionally allows a piece of lettuce on a sandwich. As Rob is  away in university my lettuce selection this year was based on smaller varieties.

Anyway whilst perusing the Moreveg site last week prior to my order I came across this -

Baby Leaf Magentaspreen, vegatable seeds
Baby leaf Magantaspreen. It is in fact the baby leaf of the tree spinach. Possibly a little too big for my small garden (at full size) but when I read about the uses for the baby leaves I just had to have some.

You can use the leaves in a salad, wilt them in butter, add to a stir fry or steam & add lemon & olive oil.

I thought the above sounded lovely for summer meals in the garden. The next line tickled me greatly & yes I am going to try it - The magenta colour rubs off and was once used as an alternative to lipstick. Mike would be thrilled to keep me away from the Clinique counter. Though I am not a magenta girl!

Enjoy your day

Saturday, 25 January 2014


I wasn't going to do a blog post today. As I was on the computer replying to comments on my blog & leaving comments on others, I thought I would just pop this on.

We don't do new years resolutions as such but Mike has a terrible habit of blanking me when I talk about the garden or he will comment on my seed stash. We talked about this at the beginning of the year & he agreed to show a touch more interest. After all he enjoys giving away my harvests.

This morning Mike was watching some sporty thing on the TV. I was looking at the list of seeds I ordered yesterday & I asked Mike if he wished to know what I had for this year. Instead of the standard 'Do I need to' he gave a weak smile & replied with an " Oh right, ok then".

As I rattled away with my long list I stole a glance at Mike who was doing his best to keep one eye on the sports & the other on me. It tickled me greatly.

While the going is good I may insist on a garden centre visit today.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ordering has commenced

I spent an hour this morning spending a disgracefully large amount of money. However it needed to be done & it included a disgracefully priced video game for Harry in lieu of pocket money this month. No doubt the boy will get pocket money from Mike so really he is on to a good thing. Anyway -

Wiggly Wigglers One edible hedge ordered for delivery on Monday. Mike has no option now but to get digging, I shall help of course. I have wanted a native type hedge for a long time now. It has taken me a while to find the right sort of combination. There are plenty of companies out there offering mixed hedges but not quite the combination I wanted. I came across this hedge pack on my search & when I read the following, there it was my ideal hedge - The plants you'll receive include:
Blackthorn (for Sloe Gin) , Crab Apple (for jelly), Cherry Plum (for jam), Dog Rose (for Rosehip syrup), Elderberry (for delicious cordial from the flowers in spring), Hazel (for Nuts), Wild Pear (for jams, liqueurs and syrups),
How fab is that!

Victoriana Nursery - Five yellow raspberry canes, two stupidly hot chilli plants which Mike wants to grow, one Samphire plant & Five Seakale plants/thongs thingamajigs. All ordered. I shall receive the yellow raspberry canes next week sometime & the remainder I think in April.

Now I have perused this site often but have never ordered, they will be getting another order in a couple of months for a Mulberry tree once I have the chickens in place. I have one yellow raspberry plant in the garden already & they are rather nice & a bit different. Since the fence was replaced which separates my garden from my neighbours in the back, I have a bit more space. Yellow raspberries seemed the way to go. The seakale is going in the same bed as the asparagus, globe artichokes as it is a perennial plant. The bed also houses the fruit bushes. The samphire? well why not. It will live in a pot watered with sea salt water.

Moreveg A lovely site which sells a wide selection of seeds most of which are priced at 50p. That didn't stop me spending over £20 though. In my defence I have a lot of seed packets coming for this season including a lettuce called Flashy Troutback, I couldn't leave it there with that name.

I am now pretty much sorted for this year apart from seed potatoes & compost I am absolutely positive that none of you are interested in Harry's video game which was very nearly the most expensive purchase. In fact it was the second.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A few changes

I have been perusing at my past blog posts. Looking back at photos of the garden & what is going to change this year.
The little greenhouse has been removed & shipped off to my sisters. The space will be used for my chickens, I have decided against a walk in run & will stick to the run that comes with the Eglu go or classic depending on which one I get. I can fit a couple of fruit trees around it you see which means I can have a mulberry. I have read good things about them being grown in large enough pots. If I go across the narrow flower border I can also order a run extension kit. I still haven't decided between two or three chickens. I don't like eggs Harry dislikes them greatly, Mike adores them & I have to factor in Rob when he is home from uni. I know he will be expecting eggs for breakfast every day. I do like baking though so I will need lots of eggs for that.
I will be painting the trellis & fences, when Mike is away naturally as I want to use Cuprinol garden Shades a nice one you see. I will also be using it on his shed. Once that is completed we have some left over Sandtex paint which I can splosh onto the wall. Then I can plant a couple of yellow raspberry canes, I have one there already but it really needs some company. 
As well as making an effort to have some flowers for the house you can just see through my sitting room window. The wildlife hedge will be planted next week, very very excited about this as it will mean some lazy foraging in the future. 

Apart from the paths being topped up with slate chippings & bark where appropriate I think that is about it for my main garden plans this year. Well apart from a new garden table, old really as it is from a reclamation yard, I'm sure Mike will be more than happy to go to one of them.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Big garden birdwatch

I know I'm late but I have just registered for this years Garden Bird Watch which is run by the RSPB.
Register here.

I have seen it mentioned on other blogs & have taken part in the past. We are pretty lucky where we live as we are surrounded by fields & hedges so get a wide variety of birds.

One which I am hoping will make a presence is the Heron, the hedges that surround the fields have ditches to the side of them. So the heron can be spotted there feeding often. They are a particularity graceful bird when taking off though I have never seen it land yet.

We get the usual mixture of birds, sparows, dunnocks, blackbirds, thrushes, goldfinch, robins,greenfinch, bullfinch, starlings, collard doves & blue & greatr tits. On the odd occasion we do have a wren. Every so often we have a sparrow hawk I must root out the photographs as it was a regular visitor a year or so back.

We have feeders up in the garden but now we stick to fat balls, sunflower hearts & peanuts. It wasn't the mess that bothered me so much but the seed that sprouted around the bird table. The birds like what we put out & that is what is important. I also make a point of feeding the birds throughout the year not just in winter & spring, though we do supplement the seeds with some mealworms during the breeding season.

We also have a couple of next boxes in the garden, which sadly have never been occupied. There is always time & this year we might be lucky.

Any way do take a look at the website, there is a £5 discount off a purchase at the RSPB online shop if you register. The site is also full of useful tips & a birdsong guide. There are also a few makes on there, I looked at the home made jelly worms with a mixture of interest & revulsion.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 20 January 2014

I'm looking forward to -

a return of this. It is an old photo from a couple of years ago & I am now pretty fed up of viewing a bare, cold veg patch. 
However, I am not being too hasty this year, I am not setting up the propagator until the end of Feb at the earliest. I will be warming the soil up first & then I will sow a couple of chillies, milder ones mind, not the super duper heat ones which Mike wants to grow. I shall order a couple of plants for him.

I shall be doing my main sowing of the season towards the end of Feb beginning of March which will hopefully give me some nice strong plants to grow.

However this weekend will see me in the greenhouse sowing some broad beans, I meant to do them in the autumn but time slipped away.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


Thank you for your lovely comments on my Chickens to be this year. I will get round to replying to them all. I am full of the lurgy & am unable to do much at present. When I say lurgy I lay the full blame at a bottle of red wine I consumed at my sisters at the weekend. It was the only thing I had that no one else had & I have been so blinking ill since.

The small greenhouse is now down ready to be re assembled at my sisters, its removal is due this weekend. This means Mike will be able to start preparing the base for my chickens run. I am so, so excited & can pretty much compare it to expecting a child. Daft I know! The preparation has been unbelievable, years in the making in fact. Not that I could ever persuade Mike to add to the kids!

This weather is unnerving me slightly I must say. It has been more than pleasant & doesn't bode well for the lack of slugs later on in the year. I'm sure there will be thousands this year. I can only hope for a few good, hard frosts in March.

Hedge laying will commence in a couple of weeks & I will supply photos. I think I will have to buy a new memory card for this years photographs, I am still struggling to upload photos direct onto my new lap top. Anyway hopefully in two-three years I can do some lazy foraging in the front garden once the hedge starts fruiting.

Back to the title of the post Ponderings. I have been pondering over whether to order veg plants this year, more for the brassicas for Winter 2014/Spring 2015. Always looking ahead! I only need a few of each but looking at my ever expanding seed boxes I have all I need & only need to order some White Sprouting Broccoli. I'm going to give that ago along with the more normal Purple variety this year. Also it is only 50p a pack at MoreVeg . I am thinking it would be better to sow my own, more than I would actually need in fact so I could select the strongest rather than receive five of each plants which could actually be mediocre & I would be a bit stuck then. Decisions, decisions!

Anyway I'm off to catch up with your blog posts.

As always enjoy your day!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Making a start

The lovely Mike is off for a week & a bit, which considering he has two weeks off for Christmas each year is a bit much really. He has worked a total of three days since his Christmas break. He let slip the other day while on the phone to the insurance company who were trying to arrange for Mikes car to be picked up after the mishap at the hospital prior to Christmas.

The reason for his nearly a week off was his five day break which he gets every so often plus he has three days holiday left & thought he would lump it all together. I'm sure I'm in the wrong job.

Naturally he is well rested after his time off at Christmas & I do have lots of messy jobs that need doing in the garden.

Today he has been taking down the little greenhouse so he can make a start to prepare the base for my chicken run. I am so excited, I mean I have had to wait about six years after all.

The run I want is about £700 & as I'm a bit of a scrooge & I wouldn't pay that much & Mike is very good at things like that he is building me one. Lucky me. I have looked at so many chicken houses & while I would love a wooden one to paint a pretty colour, I know I wont be happy unless it is a plastic one. More for ease of cleaning mind & they dry quicker in the winter. Also, because I have a small garden the run will be fixed on a base of hardwood chippings. I just need to find a local supplier.

I cant decide on the Eglu Go or the Eglu Classic, apart from the shape I don't think there is a lot of difference. They are both said to be suitable for three medium sized birds which is the amount I want. Eglu go is my current choice as they have a new one in purple. I have a couple of months to decide as I don't want the chickens to arrive in the colder months, I'm thinking the end of April beginning on May. The weather may be a little more convenient by then!
The slide out dropping tray makes cleaning simple

Another job on the agenda unknown to Mike is I want the front garden digging over ready for my edible hedge delivery. Unlucky Mike.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 6 January 2014


I have absolutely no idea why I keep on calling Tagetes Tansy but there we go.  Last year the plot & greenhouse were both very neglected due to me being on constant call out with regard to my dad. 

The Tagetes I planted around the greenhouse crops was a life saver, well a veg saver.
I only sowed the seeds as an after thought as I came across a packet in my seed boxes when planting up the greenhouse crops.

Just a very small pinch I sowed in each pot of chillies, peppers & tomatoes. I didn't sow any with the cucumbers & gherkins as they were in a  different greenhouse. At first as always the veg plants were attacked (only slightly) with whitefly. Nothing major, however once the Tagetes had grown I can honestly say there seemed to be very little in the way of whitefly on my veg plants. 

I am definitely going to do the same this year. The foliage has a very distinct smell to it when brushed & to me will always remind me of greenhouse growing. I see absolutely no reason why it couldn't be used on outdoor crops too. 

Enjoy your day

ps I couldn't find a photo I had taken so I googled a free image which you can see above

pss As well as being the name of one of my eldest sons friends Tansy is a plant that can be grown to repel flies. It can also cause a rash in some people. It cab invasive so probably bes grown in a pot. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Joy of joys

The post man has just delivered another seed catalogue. A rather nice thick one it is. I have pretty much decided on my seeds for this year so I shall enjoy reading up on what potatoes I would like to grow instead though I'm sure I can be tempted into several more packets of seeds. I also want some of that Nemasys stuff for the slugs & gooseberry sawflies this year too. Whilst I am perusing some vegetable plants might jump into the basket also.

I do rather like whiling away a couple of hours looking through catalogues day dreaming mostly as I can't grow half of what I think I would like to.

I am still grateful that I have my garden to grow stuff in, however small it is. Though there are seed companies that supply a smaller amount of seeds I struggled to find a supplier for a smaller mixed edible hedge. A pity someone hasn't hit on the idea of a pick & mix selection.

Enjoy your day.