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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The tastes and smells of Summer

One of the most useful veg plants I grow are courgettes. You only need a few plants (I have three this year) and the give you a fantastic yield. They also seem really versatile. In the beginning, I pick them when they're really small & use them whole in stir fries and curries.

They're great to eat raw with good healthy dips too. And as much as I try, there's always the odd few that turn into massive ones, which I use in the same way as marrows - I've got a couple like that now. My favourite way to cook them as marrow is:

  1. Cut in half length ways
  2. Remove the seeds
  3. Stuff with grated cheese (red leicester is good)
  4. Add some slices of tomato (thick, juicy Italian ones are best)
  5. Bake in the oven for 40 mins
  6. Enjoy with some good, crusty bread!

The herbs are doing well at this time of year too, with some great smells in the garden. I have some mint, rosemary, sage & lavender just outside my back door & it smells wonderful as you go past. The lavender has been a real attraction for the bees too. The colour is wonderful!

Thanks for reading x

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

sweet smelling sweet peas

I've tried red cabbage this year & it seems to be doing well. I've got a raised bed full of it.

I've seen a few cabbage white butterflies around, so I'm trying to shoo off any that I see! I expect they would love a taste!

The runner beans are doing well. I always plant them with sweet peas & they look lovely growing together. The sweet peas encourage the bees into the garden & so more runner beans are pollinated. You have to keep picking the sweet peas on a daily basis though, to stop them going to seed. On the up side, it means you always have a vase full of beautiful smelling sweet peas on the kitchen windowsill.  The runner beans are starting to flower, so I'm hoping the beans will start to grow shortly.

We've had a fair bit of rain, but could do with a bit more sun though to get some more things along. My tomatoes have started to fruit though, so I'll post some pics of them the next time.

Thanks for reading x

Sunday, 19 June 2011

salad here I come!

We haven't had the best weather lately - not much sun! However, we have had a lot of rain, which has helped the garden grow. I'm just starting to get some of the first fruits of the season.

I grew cucumber for the first time last year & it was great - so it was one of the first things I wanted to do again. I've now got about 8 cucumbers almost ready to eat.

I like to eat them when they're not too big, then you can eat the whole thing in one go (unlike those massive supermarket ones!)

One of my other favourites is tomatoes - this year I am growing some big & small ones. They are just starting to fruit now. I think it's amazing how quick they grow. I pinch them out each day when watering & they almost seem to grow before my eyes. I have planted basil with the tomatoes for a couple of reasons. Firtly, because basil tastes great with tomatoes, so you can pick them together. And secondly, because it helps to keep whitefly away.

I hope the next time I post a blog entry, I might be able to add a pic or two of some newly fruiting tomatoes!

Thanks for reading x

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Good things come in small packages.

This year I have grown some beetroot in modules. I've not yet planted it out, but when I do, I'm not going to thin it out. I'm growing it in little clusters. I think small beetroot is more tasty (gold ball size), so I'm happy for it to grow together.

Beetroot packed tightly together

I think its lovely how you can already see the redness of the beetroot through the leaves, even though its still only v small.

I also like to grow onions close together - in clusters of five or six. Again, when you eat them small, they are lovely.

In the next two weeks (when all danger of frost has passed), I am going to plant out my veggies that are all safely tucked up in the greenhouse at the moment. These are:

  • Beetroot
  • Leeks
  • Courgettes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Sprouts
  • Runner Beans
I can't wait!

Thanks for reading x

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Dracula is not welcome here!

The potatoes are coming up well. I have earthed them up a few times & it seems there's no stopping them!

I have also planted marigolds (shown on last post) in with the potatoes . Marigolds smell strongly & so deter pests. Also, I have heard that their roots help to kill eelworm & other baddies in the soil. Potatoes are a brillinant crop to grow, because they are so easy. You just stick them in the ground, earth them up a bit, water them & then reap the benefit in round about 12 weeks. New potatoes (about the size of a golf ball) taste wonderful. You just rinse them under the tap & boil / steam for a few mins. Add a bit of butter & mint to them when cooked and mmm mmm yummy!

If you don't have room, think again - you can plant these in containers very easily - large plant pots, buckets, bags you name it. You can then just pick them as & when you need them. They grow in just about any soil & will actualy help to break up & improve the soil, so you can't go wrong!

Another favourite of mine to grow is garlic. I planted mine in October last year into the raised beds. It's great when they suddenly appear (you can easily forget you planted them). This is how they are looking now:

I can't wait till Summertime to pick these. They store ever so well; I still have some from last year. To store them I get old pairs of tights and put the garlic in then make a knot in between each one. I then hang all the tights up in the garage. When I want a garlic, I just go cut off the one at the bottom of the tights. I also store onions in this way.

Garlic is also good to use on companion planting. It smells strong & so deters the pests. An old wives tale used to be to plant a row of garlic as a border, so that rabbits would not pass the border. It deters Dracula, so who knows?

If you boil the leaves of garlic you can use it as a spray to deter aphids & I have also heard it can help to prevent tomato blight & mildew in cucumbers. It is so good for us humans, no wonder it's good for the plants too!

Still no rain here, so the watering is a major priority. I am also getting desperate to plant more things outside, but know from experience it's still too early. Only a couple of weeks to go & then I can start filling the outside garden up, rather then just the greenhouse.

Thanks for reading x

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

What a difference a bit of sun makes!

Due to the warm weather we've been having, some of my seeds are sprouting in no time. The picture below shows some of the faster ones at a week old.

From left to right they are - courgettes, watermelon and cucumber. I have since potted the courgettes on & they are even bigger now. The cucumbers are going in raised beds in the greenhouse, so I have put a couple of those in there already. I now need to build a frame for them to grow up. Last year I used chicken wire, but it wasn't very good, so it's back to the drawing board this year. If anyone has any good tips, I would love to hear them.

I have also planted marigolds out in my outdoor raised beds as companion plants. I have planted them all around the border.The smell should deter pests. Anyway, I think they look lovely anyway, no matter what job they are put there to do. Here's one looking all pleased with himself in the sun!

Whilst I've been out in the garden enjoying the sunny weather I've also had a nice surprise. This is my strawberries a month ago:

Whilst I was watering them at the weekend, I just noticed that they have flowers appearing! I am so excited, as I actually bought some strawberries from the supermarket last week and they were rubbish. They were all white inside and tasteless. The ones I grew last year were red inside and almost melted in your mouth.

I am counting the days till I get get some cream on these!

Thanks for reading my blog xxx

Monday, 18 April 2011

Trying new things

This year I'm growing a few new things in the garden. One of them is kiwi - it looks to be growing pretty well so far.

It seems to have come on very quickly. I am growing it in one of the raised beds in my greenhouse. When I first got my greenhouse (my huband built it for me), I opted for having raised beds in there & it was the best thing I ever did. It is so much easier. Here's the greenhouse a few weeks ago, when there was not much in there.

I'll post another photo of it later this year, when everything is in full bloom.

I'm also growing watermelon this year for the first time - I sowed some seeds about a week ago and they are just starting to sprout. I think they like humid places, so I may cover with some plastic to increase the humidity.

One of my successes already has been the rhubarb - here's a reminder of what it looked like:

And let me tell you it tasted wonderful in a crumble I made a few days ago! It was wonderfully tender!

To stew the rhubarb I cut up, then added a little honey (not too much to overpower the rhubarb though), sugar and orange juice - very nice! When I make crumble I always add a little ginger to the crumble mixture and I think it goes really well with rhubarb too. I need to start looking at more rhubarb recipes now, as I've got quite a lot to harvest. Any good ones, let me know.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, 4 April 2011

rhubarb's coming up trumps

If you've been following me on twitter, you might have read that I have been running out of pots to cover my rhubarb with. I have used 4 plantpots, each one increasing in size and gradually they all became too small.

Someone then kindly recommended I place a dustbin over it - so I have. Before I did so, I took a new photo:

I think some of it looks about ready now, so I'm going to be using some this week for certain. I last put a picture of the rhubarb on here about two weeks ago, so it is amazing how quick it grows, as it was only just coming out of the ground before.

I also spent some time this week getting new compost out of the compost bin. Here it is tumbling out at the bottom:

And here's my dog Mischief having a good old sniff of it:

The only thing that didn't seem to have composted properly was mango - don't know why?

Anyway, I've got lots of work to be getting on with this week, I expect the compost won't last me long!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The start of something good.

Now that Spring is officially here and the clocks have changed (so lighter nights), it feels like the start of something good. Lots of seeds have been planted and are now starting to appear and it feels really exciting. I've tried some leeks this year (first time) and I am so happy to see the little mites growing.
I can't believe that these tiny things are going to grow into leeks. I've got a section all ready for them in the raised bed. One of my friends also grew them in piping, as that encouraged them to be "whiter", so I think I'll have a go at that too. They used plastic piping. I've also heard that you can store them in sand afterwards (although I think I'm jumping ahead a little there!)

I've sown lots of flowers too, to use as companions, so that the pests will not be attracted to my veg. My favourite ones are marigolds, as they are such sunny characters. They are popping up a little too:

I like to plant them as a boarder on the edge of all my raised beds. 

I really must take another picture of my rhubarb for the blog too, as it's doing tremendously well. I had put 4 different pots on there (each larger than the other) and it still keeps growing. Yesterday, I put a massive bag type thing over it that I usually use when weeding - it was the only thing I could think of that was big enough. I'll upload a photo in the next couple of days.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the blog - it's brilliant to get ideas / thoughts from others.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sprout Tops

I spent some time yesterday clearing out some 'old' plants to make way for some new ones. I had a bed of brussel sprouts that I had eaten all the sprouts from but left the plants in the bed.

I was then able to use all the leaves from the sprouts tops in a similar way to cabbage. I've now cut it all up & frozen it in bags. Each bag has four portions in it, so will do us for a meal. I managed to fill 20 bags up yesterday, so that should keep us going for a while. Last night we had some cooked with leeks at tea-time. It's also good stir fried with some garlic.

Here's what it looked like on the chopping board -

It's good to use up parts of a vegetable that might otherwise be thrown away! I also composted the stalks of the sprouts, so it's all been put to good use.

All I need to do now is get on with planting the potatoes in the bed I took the sprouts from!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Rhubarb Forcing

Last year I planted some rhubarb. I heard that the first year, you should not use it, but let it die back down & then it will be better the year after. I was sooo tempted to cut some off (just one pie or crumble), but I didn't. I am pleased to say that this year it has come back (hopefully bigger & better than last year!).

Last week on Gardener's World, Monty Don talked about forcing rhubarb, so that's what I've decided to do. I have put a large pot over it & am awaiting the gloriously tasty stems! Here's what it looked like this week, before I covered it up.
I'll keep adding photos each time I have a sneaky look at it!

I'm in the right area for growing rhubarb, as only a few miles away from me is the Rhubarb Triangle in Wakefield, where they are famous for growing rhubarb indoors in sheds.

Friday, 18 March 2011

New plants on the way!

At least some of my plants think Spring is on its way. This year, I am trying to grow a tayberry. I've never had one before, but I think it is supposed to be a cross between a raspberry and a gooseberry (or is it a blackberry & a gooseberry)? I've often seen them when we've been on holiday to Hereford & always wanted to grow some. I ordered one last year and it's now sprouting!
I'm excited to see what it will be like - would be good to know if anyone has had them before. I guess you use them in the same way as blackberries etc?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Born horticulturalist - Jo Thompson

Born horticulturalist - Jo Thompson

Love the sketch of the garden on here...

What a grey day!

 What a grey day! Misty again - this is how is looked when I took the dog out for a walk this morning.

Not great is it? Where are the lovely spring days?
It was wet & miserable. I usually let the dog off the lead, but kept him on it today, as I thought if I let him run about, I'll end up not being able to see him!

He still enjoyed it though, so that's all that matters! Fingers crossed for blue sky tomorrow!

If you go down to the woods today...

Spent yesterday afternoon helping out at local primary school. We were working on our woodland garden. Lots of jobs to do, so everyone was kept busy.

On Monday morning, the children made a hedgehog house from the wood I took in, so that's looking good.

The area is looking great - we have cleared lots of space & made a great winding path through there. There are a lot of old tree trunks, so we are going to make a round seating area using those  - should be a great outdoor learning area.

I worked with a group of children on a mosaic - we collected stones of all shapes & sizes, cleaned them up & then painted them in really bright colours. Should be ready to put the mosaic together next week.

The woodland garden is already starting to look bright, as the daffodils are out in force & look wonderful.

The children really enjoyed themselves & it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

End of month view, Feb 2011

End of month view, Feb 2011

Lovely pics on here.

Getting ready for the woodland garden.

We have taken quite a bit of wood into school this morning. We will be using it this afternoon, when we start making a hedgehog house for our woodland garden.

The children have already started to help cut some of the wood up and we will be going into the woods today to start work.

We are also looking to create a mosaic in the woodland garden today, from stones that we find there.

Looks like a busy day!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Two Plant-Related Children’s Books

Two Plant-Related Children’s Books

Woodland garden

I volunteer at a local school & am helping them to create a woodland garden. This week, we have been planning a few things:
  • how to make a hedgehog house
  • how to make a mosaic from stones
  • how to decorate the fences
  • how to make the pond area safe for children

Early days yet, but I just collected up some wood suitable for outdoor use (my husband is a joiner, so we always have lots of spare wood!). Delivered to school this morning. I think we'll have enough wood to make some bird boxes too. We need to find some more out about what food to give the hedgehog (I tink cat food is OK?). We also heard that rather than put straw in the house, you should put shredded paper, so we're going to borrow the shredder from the school office to gather lots.

The children are really excited about it all.

May the North wind blow!

Thought I'd do a bit more planting up yesterday in the Greenhouse, but had not expected such a strong wind! It was terrible, I felt like I was Dorothy from Kanvas, about to be taken to the Land of Oz.

It must have been warmer, because windows in there had opened (there was some sun). But, it just 'felt' so cold, I didn't stay there for long.

I watered all the newly planted seeds, did some weeding and made a quick exit indoors!  What a softie!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Here's a couple of pics of my dog Mischief - we go out walking in the fields each day and this is him one day last summer:

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful . . .

Reasons to be Cheerful . . .

Just found this great blog from Suttons!

it's c c c cold even in the greenhouse today

Have spent a few hours in the greenhouse today and let me tell you, it was cold even in there.

Nice to see some things I planted around 3 weeks ago growing though - the leeks are just coming up, as are the marigolds too. Planted some lobelia seeds, but nothing showing there yet.

Have managed to get  a few things planted today:

  • trailing lobelia
  • salvia
  • sweet peas (these will go with my runner beans to encourage bees)
I also have an olive tree that I planted into the raised bed in my greenhouse today.

I grew some pak choi in the greenhouse over winter & now I have loads of it ready - am going to have to try to find a few recipes on what to do with it!

Have come inside to get a bit warmer with a cup of tea, although no rest for the wicked as I have to now go out & walk the dog - brrr!!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

brill innocent voucher worth £1.99

Just got a brilliantr voucher worth £1.99 from the Innocent people. All I had to do was sign up for their newletter - innocent drinks

Can't wait to try it - it's a 900ml carafe.

Eeek it's a mouse!

I have a lovely little black cat - Liquorice. Here's what he looked like as a kitten:

He's now two years old, but still little and kitten like.

He has a dual personality - he's lovely, cute and purrs for you to stroke him; then the next minute he'll bite you! But we love him very much.

Unfortunately, he's also very good at catching mice. Why unfortunately? Well, because he catches them & then brings them home for us - usually alive!

I am one of those people who is terrfied of mice, so I do not look forward to this.

Yesterday, I was just finishing my lunch and I heard him come back in through the cat flap in the kitchen. The next minute I heard a noise like a squeeky ball. I came to investigate and lo and behold there's a mouse running round being chased by Liquorice. I quickly shut the kitchen door, my heart pounding!

I was going out, so I could leave them both in there, but I had to lock the back door first. So, the softy that I am, I put my wellies on (do mice really run up your trouser legs?) and quickly locked in then left. At this point, Liquorice had the mouse cornered under the radiator.

When I arrived home, a couple of hours later, the mouse was no longer. I have told Liquorice not to bring any more home today, but who knows, will have to wait and see.

Monday, 28 February 2011

tomato plants

Been thinking about what I'm gonna plant this year & stumbled upon some pics of old tomato plants (in my old greenhouse)

Made me think of summer - am gonna dedicate Thursday to gardening this week.

Laser Quest

Kids have been lazer questiong today. Fairly expensive time though - £11.00 for 2 of them for half an hour (and it reality it was about 20 mins). Took them to an indoor play gym next & then McDonalds. And I wonder where the money's going!

They enjoyed it though & it's the last day of the holidays.

muddy walk in the woods

Went on a very muddy walk yesterday through the woods. Took our black labrador, who was half brown by the end of it - caked in mud.

We walked for ages and the dog was shattered - in fact he still seems tired this morning.

It was raining when we set off, but didn't want to let the weather spoil it for us. Happily, once we started walking the rain stopped and so it was great!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

yogi bear

Well, seen Yogi Bear. Not as I expected - it's a film with real people in rather than fully animated. The voices of Yogi and Boo Boo were Dan Ackroyd & Justin Timberlake, although I didn't recognise either! I would say the film was mediocre - kids liked it. One good thing about it was that it wasn't too long, so that suited the children. Worth seeing in the school hols, when kids are getting bored.

I also used my tesco clubcard points, so the tickets were free!

Yogi bear

Off to see yogi bear at the pictures today. Seems strange as haven't seen this since I was a little kid. Kids films seem to be like fashion - everything comes back. Will let u know wot it was like later.