Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Where does the time go

Sometimes you feel so unbelievably busy & yet you can't explain what you have been too busy doing. That has been me for the past few days & I feel so dreadfully behind on my blog & your blogs. Yet without looking at the date I last posted I really don't think it was that long ago. I tried an exhausted catch up last night but that was just beyond me!

If I haven't been with the boys I have been in the garden. If I haven't been at home I've been visiting my dad or shopping. If I haven't been in work I've been planning for meetings while at home. The list goes on as I'm sure your busy lists do.

I did have a chuckle yesterday morning in work. Myself & a colleague were at a seminar, I was in my normal out of the office visiting another place attire of a grey wool suit & black heeled shoes. Trouser suit may I add as I was pulled back through the door by Mike that evening when I attempted to kick my shoes off & put my wellies on to cover the raspberry area with chipped bark. I was ordered upstairs to change into something more suitable for the garden, pfft it wasn't as if I was going to kneel in the bark! I digress. Everyone else at the seminar seemed rather serious, there was no chit chat between companies & no interaction. Normally I would quite happily go up to people, shake their hand, introduce myself & enquire on what company they are from. None of this yesterday, all of a sudden I felt very grown up does that happen to anyone else? It did make me chuckle because at forty, with a nearly paid off mortgage, kids, garden & a dad in a care home & & & I can knit, sew & crochet I'm pretty sure I am a grown up! I was however rather taken by a cardigan a lady from another company was wearing. A rather pretty multicoloured thing with sequins, I kept on gazing at it trying to work out if it was hand knitted or not. Anyway I have babbled on about complete and utter rubbish so I had best get back to showing you what I have been up to for the past few days!

Do you like my sticks for the beans & peas this year, rather fancy don't you think. I haven't planted them yet.they are still in the greenhouse.  Also see the contraption to the side of the top photo that is for my runner beans. It can't tell you nearly how many times I got myself wrapped up in the thing trying to put it up myself until Mike helped me.  The bottom wigwams are for my sweet peas.
A nicely barked raspberry area even if I do say so myself.

We have ordered new gravel for the paths by the veg beds, I wanted slate like we already have in place but they only offer it in rather large chunks now. We could of bought the size I wanted in small bags but that would have nearly tripled the cost as we wanted a ton of it. I spotted a rather nice pinky gravel instead with mixed stones which the nice man delivered yesterday.  That's Mikes job at the weekend, the bark was mine which incidentally I now need more of for the other raspberry bed. Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Rhubarb & co

I picked on Sunday morning with a great deal of faff & effort some Rhubarb & Sweet Cicely for a crumble. Why the faff & effort I hear you ask, well having a small plot & the need or is that the want to fill it to the gunnel's - some plant's are planted in the most inconvenient locations.

Picture the scene of my good self dressed in my normal early morning gardening attire of pyjamas & wellies. With the bottoms of my pyjama trousers tucked into my wellies for good measure as I didn't want spiders or bugs scrambling up my legs whilst clambering through the fruit bushes to gain access to the Rhubarb patch.

 There are two ways to access my Rhubarb patch, 1) Clamber through the fruit bushes & 2) Climb across the pond. I did the both of them with Mike snorting with laughter in the background as I gathered my Rhubarb with a bowl & camera for good measure. I also noticed my neighbours sitting room curtains were open so perhaps I gave them a show too.

Anyway I managed to gather just under 1 kg of Rhubarb stalks, I took the scales outside & weighed them as I trimmed the leaves & the bottom of the stalks away.

I had read in the past of a herb known as Sweet Cicely of which the leaves can be used to stew with the fruit to cut down on the amount of sugar used. Rhubarb is after all one of the sourest fruits known to man or rather one of the sourest vegetables. Anyway I added to my kg of chopped Rhubarb 6 sliced Sweet Cicely leaves.
Can you see that frondy plant with tiny white flowers, well that is my Sweet Cicely plant. Now I can't say it made a whole load of difference to remove the tartness of my stewed Rhubarb . It was still rather mouth puckering so I added some sugar. However I enjoyed using it & will certainly do so again next time I pick some Rhubarb to stew.

I forgot to take some photos of the finished crumble as the following three hours passed by in a blur. We were going to my sisters for lunch you see  & had arranged to pick my father up from his care home so he could spend a day with all of us.

Mike phoned the home just before 9am just to do a final confirmation that we were picking him up. We had arranged with my dad to pick him up at 11am earlier on in the week. Mike was told that my dad had been up since the crack of dawn & had made sure he was ready. Even though I was yet to have a shower & was in the middle of making my crumble & a cauliflower cheese to take for lunch I knew we had to pick him up then. So with my hair scraped back, I truly looked a holy sight! I did manage to pull a pair of jeans on though I may have had my pyjama top on underneath my coat we drove to the home to pick my dad up.

My dad can't walk properly now & Mike took charge of  helping him to & from the car all day. He had his wheelchair with him but didn't want the faff of bringing it out of the car for such short distances. It was so touching to see Mike escort my dad down our garden path, my sisters garden path & the pair of them pretending to do the waltz as my dad clung onto Mike for dear life. I was a mere blanket holding assistant!

Anyway I do hope you all had a lovely Easter & no matter what people say I am rather loving 'The Big Allotment Challenge'. I do think it's huge fun.  Enjoy your day xx

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A blank canvas

Apart from the onion sets & a rogue parsley in the back ground the veg patch is blank & ready for planting.

The greenhouse is full of plants but they shall stay there for a couple more weeks. I am not being swayed by these warm days, we are still having frosty nights here. Not major frosts but the temperature does drop considerably overnight.

Fruit garden in the background with lots of rhubarb to its side. You can also make out a row of raspberries to the right of the photo.

A line full of washing as I have a very sick young boy, I'm thankful that he perked up enough yesterday afternoon enabling me to go to the supermarket. However at 4am this morning it returned with a vengeance.

In between sorting Harry out yesterday I managed to watch snippets of Miss Marple, use the washing machine lots, visit my dad, sow more seeds in the greenhouse & dig out lots of bindweed roots from the front garden.  A most addictive job I can tell you!

We are having an easy day today we are staying in our pyjamas, well Harry & I are. I need to cook Rob his breakfast & iron his shirt for work. He has returned from uni for the Easter which is lovely but my supermarket bill increased hugely yesterday. I'm unsure whether it is more expensive to have him at home or at uni. Have a lovely Easter & enjoy your day, I might attempt some planting plans later & possibly learn how to knit lace. xx

Friday, 18 April 2014

Chilli Plants

Now there are several things I grow that my granddad never did, Chilli plants being one of them. This year I have gone for my normal Poblano which are ideal for stuffing & roasting, Padron which are lovely grilled & just a box standard variety which I can use in the kitchen. Not exciting but they will do for me. I was going to try a couple of new varieties but was in the middle of my self inflicted spending ban when I thought about trying them. Which came to an end yesterday when I got paid. I promptly blew my allotted allowance for the month on fabric & wool.

Ahem,  Mike for some reason has decided to take an interest in growing Chillies. Nothing wrong with that as long as he doesn't encroach on too much of my greenhouse. In fact the only fault I can find other than I'm the one doing the actual work is Mikes interest in stupid hot chillies.

Last year we had a disastrous attempt of trying to grow them from seed. This year I ordered him two plants, which were delivered earlier on in the week.

Introducing Mikes stupid hot chillies 2014 'Bhut Jolokia' which were ordered from the lovely people at Victoriana Nursery  . I placed an order back in January could have been Feb but it was several months back for these, some yellow fruiting raspberry canes, sea kale thongs & of all things a samphire plant.

The yellow raspberry canes are doing wonderfully well, they were posted out to me shortly after I ordered & I am due to receive the sea kale & samphire in May.

I was so impressed with the packing of Mikes chilli plants, they were posted in a small sturdy box which was filled with shredded newspaper. The plants were in moist compost wrapped in a sheet of newspaper. All of this is now residing in the compost bin. I potted up the chillies straight away into some coir pots. So now it all starts, wish me luck!

I am in a slight quandary , the sky is blue the sun is out & I could do with getting on with some potting up in the greenhouse. However there is a Miss Marple marathon on one of the TV channels. Mmmmm what to do, what to do. The garden however has been weeded into an inch of it's life.  Enjoy your day. xx

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Gardening advice

Now my dad has moved into his care home & is happy there, & I really can't explain what a relief that is. Him being happy that is, unfortunately my father is of the attitude 'if he isn't happy then everyone else shall suffer'. The fact we can visit him & actually have a proper conversation with him & to see him interact with people, well I'm sure you can imagine the amount of stress that has been lifted.

I digress, yesterday I was going through old papers & such like at my parents house. I came across old agreements, references, savings booklets & photographs mainly from the 30's. Very interesting they were too. I then came across a selection of newspaper cuttings from the 70's. Mike & I both left my parents house yesterday with the car full with these old papers, my dad's old tools (for Mike) & some old ornaments my mum gave me.
My granddad was a nurseryman. As the story is told he was on the verge of buying a large farm close by to where I now live & in partnership with a friend to build a nursery of his own on the site. The deal never came off as his friend pulled out at the last minute & my granddad had to let it go as he couldn't afford to continue on his own. As it happens there is a successful nursery opposite to the land my granddad was going to buy.

Many moons ago my granddad used to enter the local gardening competitions & more often than not he used to win them. Here he is pictured on August 12th 1976  after winning the councils first 'Best Garden' competition with a prize of £20.

'Mr Lewis' interest in gardening dates back to the depression when he left Mardy to work on the land at Sealand Manor.
His garden, a blaze of colour, combines flowers and vegetables. He blamed the dry weather for the slightly scorched look of his lawn and said his potato crop had suffered through lack of rain."

My granddad died in 1985 so I never had any gardening advice from him as I was 11 at the time but in the article he leaves this advice which I shall share with you all -

" He has this advice to householders who want to improve their gardens: ' You must be interested in the land. Never hesitate to ask advice from anyone who is a better gardener than you. There is no mystery about gardening, it is just common sense."

I wonder what he would have thought about this blogging lark, enjoy your day. xx

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A crochet ta-dah & a ta

I did pre warn you lovely garden only bloggers yesterday, also the title of this post states crochet not plant bits & pieces :)

 My crochet blanket ta-dah. Now I cut down on the amount of squares I needed to make considerably. It would have taken me yonks to complete if I hadn't. I think I suit smaller projects better which will explain the un-finished cardigan I still have to knit the sleeves for.

It is ever so cosy on my lap, I need the extra warmth you see even in the sunshine we have at the moment. I will be out in the garden shortly with my lined garden jacket on!

It was made out of cheap acrylic yarn & probably only cost me about £4 to make. Now I don't know about you crafty people out there but I prefer using acrylic wool for crochet blankets & cushions but I prefer to knit with quality wool.

Anyway onto my ta -
I'm off this week so have oodles of exra time, I don't do time off well, I am still attached to my blackberry & need to make a work call later. However, I have started to crochet some cushion covers to make use of some of that time off. Mike & the boys are rather worried to say the least!

I'm off to play catch up on your blogs, enjoy your day

Monday, 14 April 2014

Things to come

A single Asparagus spear! Actually there are a few more there but it was easier just to take a shot of this one. Unfortunately I can't pick any this year as the crowns were only planted about 18 months a go. I do hope they will throw more spears up, then as they die back the crowns will absorb the goodness & I should get to pick a few next year. I shall be giving them a good feed throughout the Summer & mulch the bed well during Autumn.

Look at my fantastic Rhubarb patch, I will be picking some at the weekend to make a crumble for after Easter lunch. I am so, so pleased with it. I moved three plants last year into a space behind the pond. To give it chance to settle in I didn't pick any & in return it has really settled down.

Potatoes just starting to push through the soil in the pots & after my compost rant the other week I find myself in the position of having to buy more. I found a bag of first earlies that I forget I had bought. These will be potted up over the next few days.

Last but not least look at my sour cherry tree, it is smothered with blossoms. I am already thinking ahead of cherries stored in brandy, dried sour cherry chocolates & Morello cherry jam. I need to remind my self that a tree full of blossom does not mean I will get any fruit. I am truly hoping & wishing though.

I can't undo what I did when I removed the photo images from my past posts. I can however update each post manually so the photographs re appear. Thank you for all your comments though , you did make me feel slightly less stupid.

Enjoy your day, crochet blanket post tomorrow :)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


I've broken (somehow) the display of photos on my blog, I was fiddling around in Google+ earlier & cannot for the life of me remember what I did.

I have also just noticed a rogue nettle near to one of the comfrey plants in the garden. I need to get that sorted out pronto! 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tree Following April

My lovely Greengage tree breaking into leaf & blossom. I was so pleased to see the blossom this year as the tree was only planted last year. Please excuse Mikes area in the background :)

I thought I had taken a photograph of the trunk just to show how thin it is. I feel slightly guilty about growing my fruit trees in large pots. It feels a little too restrictive for them but they are well fed & watered & I prune them each year.

It isn't an old craggy tree just a baby really, there are no holes or marks on the bark. No interesting features yet but there is blossom. After all one of the most important things for a fruit tree.

I'm not expecting a huge harvest, in fact looking at the blossoms there wont be enough for a pot of jam. A taste of things to come though perhaps?

Time to invest in a different camera I think, my aim & shoot method is fine for shots of the garden but I'm really struggling with taking photos of my tree. Then again the weather was pretty dire trying to take the above photos!

Joining in with Lucy from Loose & Leafy  for this years Tree following Enjoy your day!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Garden Share Collective - April

I'm joining in again with The Garden Share Collective which is run by Lizzie over at Strayed from the Table.

 Looking ahead to April, well the change in weather is always a bonus, not only have I felt happier, the garden feels & looks happier. Lots of fresh new growth & seed sowing a plenty!

Seed potatoes have been planted between 25 tubs. I plant in tubs due to space restrictions & for convenience too. Far easier to empty a tub before dinner than take a spade to the veg plot.
The greenhouse is slowly becoming more packed with seedlings aplenty & with more to be sown this month I shall soon be playing the greenhouse shuffle.

 The French & Runner beans will be sown this month along with Pumpkins & Squash. Also my winter/spring 2014/15 brassicas will also be sown. No matter how busy you are next years crops are always at the back of your mind!

After having the best success ever with carrots last year I will be growing them in the same way. I will sow them direct into troughs & keep them in the greenhouse safe away from carrot root fly. To shake things up a little I have a packet of mixed colour carrot seeds as well as the more usual orange.

It is also looking promising on the fruit front too, my yellow raspberries look to have settled in well & sending up new shoots. The fruit trees are blossoming well & the Rhubarb will be ready for picking soon.

The Garden Share Collective 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Would you like to tag along

Who would like to join in with this swap organised by the lovely Lisa from Sprouting Creative Wings 

The idea is that you buy five or more nice quality stationery items & post them off to your swap partner & in return you get a lovely package sent to you.

As a gardener & a fairly new crafty person I could quite happily sit there & make lists, lists & more lists after all everything needs a plan right?

I'm trying to drum up a little more UK support & I do know that some of you won't be interested but I have a feeling that several of you will be. After all you could be receiving a lovely package from me!

The sign up is open until 16th April & your package needs to be posted by the 4th June so there is plenty of time to gather supplies. More importantly my spending ban is up at the end of April so Paperchase watch out!


Remember these my Mothers day daffs, well they didn't open, they turned a murky yellow & went crisp. They are now residing in the compost bin. An email of complaint has been sent off . I tried to take a photo just to show how nasty they looked but it was so dark this morning. I would love to know where the sun has gone!   Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The cost of growing potatoes in a small plot

The other day I made a start & planted my potatoes for this year. The only way I can grow a large selection in my little garden is in pots. Even then I'm hardly going to be self sufficient in them but I will be pretty much self sufficient in the nice little new ones.

It isn't a cost saving exercise far from it, it probably costs me far more to grow them than to buy them from the shop. You can't however put a price on emptying a tub of new potatoes that you grew yourself & cooking them after returning from work.

Last week Mike took me compost shopping & we bought for large bags for £12. That compost filled approx 22 tubs so that is all my early potatoes planted. Unfortunately (well for Mike anyway as I'm still banned from buying anything until the end of April) I need more compost. That will be another £12 at the weekend as I need to plant the main crop ones I bought from Gordale after the disastrous trip to Mold potato day.  
Anyway the costing so far - Compost £24, Seed Potatoes (56) £11 giving a total of £35 at the time of planting. The tubs I already had & I shall work any plant feed into the costing over time.

I'm trying to keep my compost buying down & could never produce enough in my small plot even with three compost bins. Home made compost tends to be spread on the garden anyway.

This year as I harvest each tub I'm going to follow the advice I read in Alys Fowlers Edible Garden book, the potato leaves (as long as they are not affected by blight) will be put at the bottom of a large tub & the used compost put on top of these. Once I have filled the tub with compost I'm going to sow Rye grass seed on top. This fixes nitrogen in the soil & I can cut the grass down & mix it in. I can re use this compost next year for the potatoes though I will mix some home made compost with it.

The new potatoes are planted one or two per tub & are filled up with compost. The main crop potatoes are planted in threes in larger square tubs, these are covered with compost but I will earth these up gradually as the green leaves show through.

Potatoes 2014

British Queen
Maris Peer
Golden Wonder
Pink Fir Apple
International Kidney

Enjoy of your day