Friday, 28 February 2014

Ready, steady, go!


I have relocated some photos from last year as I didn't have my camera with me this morning. Which is a pity really with the state I was getting myself in.

Mike had very kindly left the seeds compost behind the black bin which is kept by the side gate. Muggins here decided she would pop out with pj's, dressing gown & white slippers on her feet. Forgetting the weight of seed compost bags I struggled into the house with it, it also gave the neighbours who were on their way to work or dog walking something to laugh about I can tell you. Especially when I nearly tipped myself backwards by trying to grab the compost & ending up on the soil border not the path!!

Anyway to make it easier for myself I thought I would take a chance & work in the hall. Ahem, not a good idea with a mucky gardener like me, I carefully swept up the compost remains on the floor & thanked god numerous times  for us to have the foresight of a wooden floor in the hall & Mike being to far away in work to catch me. 

My windowsill propagator is up & running, I haven't sown anything yet as I am leaving the compost to warm up a bit first. Hopefully I shall stick some seeds in on Sunday. 

The sweet peas like a long root run allegedly, I say this as I make sure I grow any legume in toilet roll innards or deeper pots to save on root disturbance. However I have bought sweet pea seedlings in normal plant pots from a garden centre before now & they grew like topsy!

Well that's me making a start & do you know, I feel all the better for it.! I would also like to point out that the photograph of the propagator - the murky bit you see behind it isn't the state of my window, it is the field at the back of my garden. I'm not completely lacks you know! Enjoy your day











Tuesday, 25 February 2014

I'm hoping for more of this

I'm trying to think positive thoughts. My sweet peas & chillies have gone unsown as Mike has the compost in the boot of his car. He bought it on Sunday & forgot to take it out. The problem being is he is away until tomorrow evening. Pfft!

On the off chance he will be home this evening I have a stew type thing in the slow cooker. Chicken, chorizo & butterbeans should you be interested. It is smelling rather lovely & making me hungry.

I have been extremely well behaved & not purchased anything. I give Mike a list at the weekend to go to the supermarket as I knew I would be distracted by things I'm not supposed to be buying. I am also ignoring the offers in my inbox. Also & I am so pleased with this one, I ignored a rather fabulous looking plant stall at the market we passed on Saturday on the way to the opticians. In fact I ignored it twice as we had to walk past it on our way back to the car park!

So instead of a photograph or two of my propagator & sweet peas I give you this old one. In three months time I'm hoping the garden will again look like this. Slightly different due to crop rotation of course! Also the fences should be painted, the washing line removed as Mike wants one of those twirly ones. Why I don't know, he never uses the thing & I shall have some nice new wool to knit while sitting in me green house.

Enjoy your day







Saturday, 22 February 2014

Pfft!

My new favourite saying, my last one was peeved which I still quite like. Anyway pay day yesterday  & the 2nd day into me not spending any money on fripperies for eight weeks.

My usual pay day shenanigans of seed/wool/fabric/book orders didn't happen, nor did a visit to the supermarket for gin/sherry/wine or magazines. Pfft!!!!!

I took the precaution yesterday morning of a) transferring a large part of my salary to a savings account out of harms way, b) transferring much needed funds to the uni boys account, c) giving my nephew money towards his driving lessons & d) making sure Harry's half term starts of with a bang by sending Mike out to buy Microsoft points (there is no way on this earth that my debit/credit card details will be stored on a games machine) pizza, lucozade & chocolate. I now have very happy 19 & 12 year old children.

Anyway to get me through the next eight weeks I have started to make these -
Lovely aren't they, the only problem being is that I need to make enough for a blanket measuring 18 by 24 of the above squares. Which is going to be about eight squares a day with beverages of the tea or squash kind. Pfft!

I am going to be sowing my sweet peas this weekend, Sunday to be precise. I think I shall sow my chilli seeds too.

Enjoy your day

Friday, 21 February 2014

Weeds

The blinking things get everywhere don't they! I know we are all affected by them & they make fantastic compost fodder but this one below is my fault completely. 
About three or four years ago I bought a couple of Lady's Mantle plants, pretty little planst they are too.

Anyway as usual with me things are bought without a plan in mind. These plants were no exception & if memory serves me correct were kept in the greenhouse over winter.

Mike built me a new raised bed in the front garden & the Lady's mantle plants were planted at the front corners. The idea being as it is a frothy plant, they would spill over & soften the edges of the raised bed.

It works very nicely indeed & looks rather pretty when in full flower. Except can you see the dandelion slap bang in the centre? Of course you can! Before I planted them I noticed a little dandelion plant in one of the pots.  Silly me thought I could just tug it out & all would be well.

As we all know that even the teeniest, tiniest piece of dandelion root can re-sprout & this one did & does each year with a vengeance.

I look at it each year & pull the leaves off. I took this photo last week & thought to myself that I would buy one of the weed-killers in a stick form. So I could paint it on the leaves.

The problem now is I can't buy anything until the 18th April 2014. I will not be losing the bet I have with Mike as I won't hear the end of it. Pfft I will be pulling out dandelion leaves for a few weeks yet!

Thanks for your comments on my Dear Mike post, it was meant to be a light hearted post & I'm glad it went down well, all of it was true. My parents never had a good relationship you see & pretty much dislike each other. Mike makes me smile everyday & I'm so thankful to have him, my life is truly better for having him in it. I might make it a regular monthly post, just for a bit of fun. I'm also not losing the bet.

Enjoy your day.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Dear Mike

Yes, I agree not to buy any seeds, wool, fabric, magazines, books or gin for the next eight weeks, well maybe not agree to the gin as it is nearly spring. Yes darling I am aware that a year does not count as one season.

Yes darling I know we only have a small garden but those hundreds of seed packets will get used at some point & actually I am not the only gardener with lots of seeds. No I'm not quite addicted to buying seeds it's just that there are a lot out there that I would like to grow. Also when you say hundreds you make it sound like a lot more than there is but yes I strongly suspect there are more than 100 packets there.

No Michael you're wrong I really do think we could squeeze another fruit tree in & that a mulberry one is a fantastic idea. I do need a more solid archway than the one you like as I would like to grow a couple of grapes over it. Now, now I don't agree with that & actually it may prove to be money saving in the future as I could start to make wine. Don't laugh you horrid man & as for your other suggestion I am pretty sure it is illegal to distil your own gin in this country!

Now darling my head does not quite swivel round like something out of the exorcist when we drive past a garden centre, wool or fabric shop. Yes I appreciate it is not your idea of a good afternoon out but it is mine. After all I have offered to come fishing with you, there is no need to laugh quite so hard Michael!  Actually my love I see nothing wrong with me lying on a rug with a couple of books, crochet or knitting in my hand. I see no reason why I couldn't tie a piece of string around the neck of a wine bottle to keep cool in the water. I'm sure it has been done before. I would be more than happy to pass you a sandwich I would not however be happy to pass you some wiggly maggots for your hook.

If you got a wriggle on & finish the house I could remove all the clutter from the landing & set it up as a craft space. I appreciate you might have hurt your foot however you were unlikely to stub your toe by tripping over several bags of wool! I appreciate I have a lot of projects on the go but I am practising several things. I know I am still knitting a cardigan I started last year but if you see wool at a good price well you really do need to buy it & yes actually it is the same for seeds, plants & fabric.

I appreciate Liberty fabric might seem expensive however I see it as an investment. When I can sew proper as it were I might not be so scared to cut it. Also I am sure you spend far more on your hobbies than mine!

So yes I do accept your bet that I wont buy anything fun for eight weeks. I do however need some compost & as I can't buy anything you will have to buy it for me!




Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Parsley

I sowed this last year as an afterthought more than  anything else. If I remember correctly I was sowing a long line of coriander & had an open seed packet of parsley amongst the packets I picked up. I sprinkled a few seeds of parsley & this is what I got. I already had a patch of parsley in the garde in a far more convenient location.

It was only after I cleared the bed the other week I realised what a nice healthy patch it had become. As parsley has a long tap root it grows far better in the ground rather than a pot. Though I suppose if you had a big enough or rather deep enough pot it would be happy. As I now have two nice patches of flat leaved parsley I might try some curly parsley too.

I'm in the process of planning a herb garden. Most of the herbs I grow are in pots apart from a few which are in the ground. We have a bay window in the kitchen which has always been a bit of a pain for me as the sink is in it along with some units. Being only 5 ft tall I can't open the kitchen window without help, the help being a step or the much taller Mike, Rob ( who is rather inconveniently away at uni most of the year so is no help), I shall be making much use of Harry in a year too.

Anyway Mike is going to remove the bay window so there will be a flat run of units there. This also gives me a bit more space outside. I'm planning a bench under the window & extending the brick bed for herbs, roses & dahlias.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tulips

Like a good girl last year after the tulips had finished & the leaves died off a bit I dug them up to store over the summer period.

Like a bad girl I kind of forgot to plant them again come the autumn.

Whilst perusing the garden on Sunday afternoon I noticed tulips popping through the soil. Staring at them for a good few minutes trying to remember when I had actually re planted them it dawned on me I hadn't & they were still in a tub in the greenhouse. The tulips that were in the ground had escaped my trowel last year.

Anyway I went to the greenhouse to retrieve said tub with the view of chucking some wizened bulbs away. I was wrong? Can you see green bits in the photo above? They had started to send out shoots. The best of them have now been re planted. They might or might not grow. I'm happy to take a chance.

The green bits could actually be greenfly as the bulbs were rather shockingly covered in them I assure you there were shoots from the tulips as well.

It just goes to show I need to improve my greenhouse hygiene & because of my slackness I will be buying one of those sulphur candle things this weekend to let off in the greenhouse.  

I shall be sending the lovely Mike in to do this, the same lovely Mike who came home with a bunch of chrysanths for me yesterday.

Enjoy your day.


Monday, 17 February 2014

A disappointing day, nearly

I was most disappointed yesterday upon my visit to the Mold potato day. Most of the potatoes were in net bags of between 20-30 tubers each. Apart from some of the Sarpo varieties which was no help to me as I have no desire to grow them.

I was rather peeved, the morning didn't start off as the best as Mike & Harry decided they were going to battle for male dominance. They were both severely told off for their childish behaviour & for attempting to spoil my day with their selfishness. What was meant to be a visit at 9 am to the potato day ended up with us arriving after 12.

As I said the potatoes were in sacks which if you had an allotment would be suitable, I have a small veg garden more for a hobby than anything else. I have no doubt it would be far cheaper to buy my fruit & veg but for most part I grow it. From what I have read on potato days I was of the opinion that you could buy individual tubers. Not at this one you couldn't.

They had a lovely selection of fruit trees, bushes, plants & dahlia tubers for sale. Which I would have happily purchased some expect as I was going for individual tubers I only took £6 in change with me so couldn't. As a rule we very rarely carry cash & all though Mike offered to walk into town to a cash machine he was turned down with a hiss as I was still unhappy with his behaviour which didn't get any better at the potato day.

The garden is my hobby I sow, grow, harvest & cook. I was most peeved to over hear Mike talking to one of the stall holders on what we do! There is no we in my garden there is a me! My mood was not improved when Mike spotted a packet of white onion sets. He was rather taken with them & purchased them along with some shallots. The reason he wanted the white onion sets, he had seen someone cooking with them on TV. He doesn't even blinking cook!

Anyway he does drive so he took me to a garden centre where I purchased these -
A selection of seed potatoes. We went to Gordale where I could fill a plant pot for £2.99 with a selection of seed potatoes. I selected Winston which is an early potato which is supposed to grow quite large & suitable for baking. International Kidney which is also known as the Jersey Royal potato obviously if it is grown in Jersey.  Pink Fir Apple because I like them & the last one which I am most excited about Golden Wonder I've always wanted to grow this variety but have only ever seen it in large sacks.
Mike shallots & white onion sets. Where I'm going to find the space to plant the onions I don't know. I hadn't planned for any in my planting plan this year. Stupid man!
Some primroses as way of an apology from Mike & Harry, I also got a coffee in the garden centre cafe too. I was offered a sandwich or a cake  but wasn't hungry enough. The men in my life were.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A little light work

There is little to be done in the garden at this time of year. Well for me anyway! I did have a small plan for last weekend which involved making a start on cleaning the green house & washing the pots. However the downpour we had all morning put paid to that. Then lunch at my sisters got in the way, you know how it is.

We returned from lunch in time for Mike to watch the football, understandably I wanted to be elsewhere So I grabbed my camera before going into the garden. This tickles Mike immensely but for all garden bloggers a camera is pretty much a constant companion as is the spade & fork.
I spotted the above compost heap & decided to give it a turn. I cleared the over flow of pots & trays from the garden onto the path.

I am so pleased with my compost heap, it had been there since Autumn last year, maybe a little earlier than that, I have three large plastic compost bins but after a big garden clean up I have far too much waste for the three bins. At first we tried to did a trench which didn't work very well so we piled all the garden waste onto one spot & left it.

We have given it a turn over a couple of times this year but had never got right to the bottom. This time I moved the complete heap to the opposite end of the bed. It had mostly composted down really well but still contained a few large pieces. These have now been placed at the bottom of the heap, & I am more than confident I will have lots of lovely compost to spread on the plot in a few weeks time.

Enjoy your day

Saturday, 8 February 2014

New plans

Last weekend I made a start on the big border in the front garden. This is actually an after shot it was completely disgraceful for a before shot.

Once the lavender bushes were removed, I began to see how much space I had to play with. They were disgracefully over grown with no going back. Also they were infested with bindweed.

I'm taking my time with this bed, as it is in the front garden I want a wildlife theme to it. To fit in with my edible plans I want a wineberry bush by the wall, I also have a few globe artichoke seeds to sow so I might put a couple of plants there. The bed is a lot bigger than it looks a rough estimate is 15 by 5ft.

I know I want a white butterfly bush there & have always hankered after a Mock Orange blossom shrub. Once I have ensured all traces of bind weed have been removed I can make some permanent plans.

It will mainly consist of some smaller shrubs with berries, some perennial bee/butterfly plants & a few edibles.

As scruffy as it looks from the photograph it isn't as bad in real life. There are marigolds & forget me knots coming through & I know there are some perennials waiting to burst through. At least the bees/butterfly's will have something until it is finished.

Enjoy our day


Friday, 7 February 2014

Mike's bean sprouts

Mike likes bean sprouts, if we have a Chinese takeaway he always orders some stir fry bean sprouts as a side dish. I'm not overly fond of them but don't mind a few as part of a dish.

He returned from fishing on Sunday early enough for a quick visit to the garden centre, I was extremely well behaved & only bought some bird food for the Robin I have seen in the garden & a little saucer as a tray for the seed.

While perusing the seeds I spotted a packet of mung beans, these when sown on a damp cloth eventually turn into bean sprouts. Even though they were disgracefully priced at £2.89 we bought them.

The beans needed to be soaked over night in a bowl of water, I took a handful out (at that price the full lot wasn't going in!). This morning I placed a damp cloth in a container & scattered the beans on top. Now the beans need to be grown in a dark environment. They have been covered in cling film & newspaper & put away. I will need to check in a couple of days to make sure the cloth is still damp. In 6-9 days Mike should have some nice fresh bean sprouts for a stir-fry. If they are a success I think I shall look for a cheaper supply of beans.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Cooking

I enjoy cooking & always have done. While I don't consider myself an expert in any way at all I am extremely confident in the kitchen & will (have) attempt most things. I enjoy in particular in planning my veg garden around what I might like to cook later on in the year.

I spent a huge part of my childhood reading, it was what I did & still do now. I have always been a huge reader & consider myself happiest when reading a book. I am even happier in the warm weather sat in the greenhouse, feet up, a cup of tea on the potting table & reading a book. Whilst my parents encouraged me by buying books there always seemed to be a few remarks about me spending too much time reading. My mother in particular resented buying books as a Christmas present, she rather likes making grand gestures you see. One gesture which sticks in my mind was a gift of a hand knitted cardigan, bought I believe at huge expense. I remember unwrapping said cardigan one Christmas morning & after looking at the hideous garment asked what was it knitted from? I imagined it to be goat hair & not the nice kind I buy now (wool that is not hideous cardigans). The only thing that made me happy about receiving the cardigan was when my mother mentioned she had bought my sister one too. I digress, I learnt to cook from the amount of cookbooks I read as a child these & Enid Blyton made my childhood.

Mike on the other hand is the most un- confident cook you could ever wish to meet. It peeves me greatly, his youngest brother trained as a chef as he enjoys cooking immensely. Mikes brother opened a restaurant a few years back, unfortunately being at the start of the rescission & in an inconvenient location it didn't prosper & after a year he went back to his day job. Mike spent many a weekend as his brother sous-chef & while he gained excellent chopping skills he is still reluctant to cook. He is scared of doing something wrong & it peeves me greatly. Particularly as he enjoys buying expensive kitchen equipment.

As part of his Christmas presents I bought a range of cooking equipment from Boots, I enjoy the three for two they do on Christmas gifts. To go with it I also bought these -
from a company called The Spicery. Each month Mike receives a box similar to the above. Each box contains recipe cards & a selection of fresh spices. Other than open the boxes & sniffs the spices he has yet to cook, his third box is due this month! Mike will be given an ultimatum for this Saturday evening. I know from past experience that I will be sat in the sitting room with a gin & tonic with my name being called every three minutes asking for advice. I might go to the pub instead even though it has been more than a few years since I entered a pub by myself.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Seedy plans

I have been making tentative plans on what to grow this year.
Judging by the state of my seed boxes & I know they look tatty I do need to invest in something sturdier, it may be a bit of a battle.

The greenhouse crops are easy this year -

Two red tomatoes - Moneymaker
Two yellow tomatoes - Ildi
Two - Naga Jolokia chillies (Mikes)
Two - Poblano chillies (Mine)
Two - Padron chillies (Mine)
Two - Basic cooking chillies (Mine) Maybe three yet I'm not sure.
Three pointy peppers - the name escapes me as the packet is at the bottom of one of the boxes.
One cucumber - I'm buying a plant.
For something new Tomatillos, I particularly like Mexican food & I fancy making some salsa type things. I also have a recipe of where they are battered & fried with chillies.

Anyway that's one part of the growing plan sorted. I received my lovely Moreveg order at the weekend & the Tomatillos were part of it. You need to grow two of the plants so I hope I like them.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

January review 2014

Well I wasn't going to bother as I though it a bit late. However I have seen several reviews for January yesterday morning so I thought well why not? Here goes!

An edible hedge ordered, delivered & planted.
Yellow raspberries ordered, delivered & planted.
Mikes new toy. Even though January was wet & windy we were treated to several nice gardening days. This resulted in a lot of pruning & the removal of old overgrown lavender bushes. Instead of them lying in a pile Mike bought an incinerator. I now have a lovely bit of ask which I will sparingly add to the fruit buses/trees.
My compost heap in the middle of the veg beds. I have three compost bins which were too full last year. This resulted in the pile you see above, I was attempting to turn it while Mike was playing with his incinerator. There is quite a knack to it & just as I got into my stride Mikes fire was at full pelt & smoked me out. I'm going to give it another turn next week. Mike has nothing left to burn.

Big garden bird watch happened on a wet & windy day. Naturally since then I have had more birds in the garden. The wren & greenfinches which were absent on the day of the count have returned! There are more feeders! I've just realised this shot looks a bit mean.
Seedy penpal, held twice a year January & I think Septemberish? I received a lovely selection & rather disgracefully posted to my recipient late.
A rather nice book order for the small sum of £9. Some loevly books for making pans & lists.

Well I think that is my January in a nutshell. Even though I spent a great deal of money in January it has meant that most of my ordering is out of the way.

I have spent a lovely few hours in the garden getting it ready. As I now work from home as standard on Tuesdays & Wednesdays I can pop out for a general tidy up for an hour before I log on. A very enjoyable start to the day it is too.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 3 February 2014

Yellow Raspberries

One of my orders last month was placed at Victoriana Nursery. Part of the order was for five canes of yellow raspberries. Which arrived a few days later. I am fast running out of space to plant longer term crops but with luck the boundary fence in the back garden was rebuilt last year. I have plenty of red raspberries but have always wanted a few yellow ones too. I did have one which was bought last year as a pot plant from a garden centre. As this cropped well I was eager to have more.

I planted my canes last week in this nice new space. Ideally I would have preferred to have painted the wall prior to planting but it has just been too wet & the threat of rain always seems to be about. I will have to squeeze myself amongst the canes in the next few weeks. I'm also anxious to get the fence painted before the rhubarb is up properly.

Now I know you must be wondering what is a bottle doing in the corner of the photograph?

 Ta da. Mike has had these for a couple of years now,loitering waiting for him to turn them into something useful. He cut the bottoms off & I placed them on top of my globe artichokes. I am slightly worried over the lack of frosts. This way I wont get caught out & should keep the slugs at bay.

The bed was nicely weeded yesterday & all that remains are a few self seeded fox gloves & the resident fruit bushes & perennial veg/flowers. It looks a little tatty in the photograph but isn't now.

Right enjoy your day which seems a little cooler than the glorious weather we had yesterday. I'm off to the post office to post a rather late seedy penpal parcel.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Seedy penpal 2014

I have received a fantastic selection of seeds from my seedy penpal this year. The person who was selected to send to me this year was Wendy who has a rooftop garden. Wendy's garden contains an extensive collection of of plants & is a fascinating read.
There are a selection of seeds which Wendy collected from her own plants.Amongst the seeds Wendy sent there are some Blue Agapanthus. I have never grown these before but had read about. I have great plans for these. They will eventually be placed in some terracotta pots to flank the French doors. Some field poppy's collected from France which I will scatter in front of my new hedge. Some pink hollyhocks which I am looking forward to growing, they will fit in nicely in the front garden.

There are some tall peas which Mike will enjoy, being taller the crop will be bigger for the space I can provide - a win win for Mike. Some little cabbage seeds bought in France, these look suitable for making coleslaw with in the Summer so I will definitely be trying these. I'm looking forward to meals in the garden this year.

There are also some Drunken Woman lettuce seeds which have amused some people no end I can tell you. In particular Mike, I was telling him about the seeds I received just as we were walking out of Tesco, just as I mentioned the variety of lettuce seeds I pushed the trolley over a bump, the bottle of gin in there clunked rather loudly against a bottle of sherry. The awful man laughed extremely loudly, a little too loudly for my liking, I nearly stopped him from going fishing today! However with Mike out fishing it means I can watch Miss Marple this morning & Marple this afternoon. The gin has not been opened & probably wont be (work depending for a few days) I will however be partaking in a glass of sherry this afternoon.

Back to seedy penpal I was over the moon with the seeds I received from Wendy they truly were a lovely selection. I am extremely late in sending mine out , they will be posted tomorrow.  I had to wait a for my seed order to be delivered as I had selected some new packets to go with mine. I have been feeling slightly guilty about the lateness &am feeling rather happy now I can send it out.

Enjoy your day