Thursday, 20 August 2009

Gardening with children

My 3 year old son loves being outdoors. We are lucky to have a large garden and there is always something to appeal to him - mini-beast hunts, mud-pie making, watering the plants, pretending to mow the grass, harvesting the crops or making general mischeif!

Yesterday we had a scorcher, I am sure it hit 30 degrees at times. We lubed-up with the old Factor 50 and popped on our hats for a spot of weeding. The enthusiasm of a 3 year old weeding lasts about as long as mine - 5 minutes!

The weeding was closely followed by digging and retrieving some potatoes for a delicious lunch. He loves this job and would help dig up the whole crop if I wanted him to. A few runner beans and a handful of juicy red tomatoes and lunch was complete.

We then studied the bees for a while - looking at the different types and their different coloured stripes. He is fascinated by Bees after watching Bee movie and having me read the rhyming story of The Beeman to him
A lovely book and would thoroughly recommend it.

My son then retreated to his sandpit to play with his tractors and diggers. Why he has a sandpit I don't know, I have more sand on the patio! However the break meant I was able to get on with some more weeding.

I was given a solar powered radio as a Christmas gift and I love it - I take it all around the garden with me without having to worry about spending a small fortune on batteries. A dose of The Archers is good for the soul and helps pass the time when your back is aching. I put on the music too and we have a mad 5 minutes dancing (what will the neighbours say?)

When the sun had retreated to the front garden we set about a spot of watering out back, especially the pots and what is left of my hanging baskets. My son has his own watering can but will insist on trying to carry my 2 gallon number! When I suggest we get out the hosepipe this sends my son into another realm - if I could bottle his beaming smile and sell it I'd make a fortune. We pretend to be firefighters for a bit and then spray the dogs! Poor hounds but I am sure they appreciated a spot of cooling down.

We never have a dull day in our garden - gardening with children is simply put FUN!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Onions galore

The onions (those that have escaped a dose of mildew) are drying out nicely on top of the warm earth. Today's glorious sunshine has helped them on their way to becoming very tasty meal additions over the next few months.

Have given my bees their buzz back today
I dotted a couple of small tubs of sugar water mix under the flowers to help them on their way. Hubby and I would love to keep bees someday. In the meantime I hope they are enjoying the nectar from my flowers and the little energy boost (perhaps its like our Red Bull equivalent?)

I have a few ripening tomatoes - but noticed this huge fat slug with his head stuck right inside what would have been a lovely tom! He was so fat I have honoured Mr Tomato Head with a photo on my blog! He'll be drunk on beer later - hopefully in the slug trap.

The herbs look fabulous - especially the flat leaf parsley and the sage. Must start drying some out in the next few days along with the chilli's that are ruby red.

Little Gems are looking good in their little window box. Note to self: Must try and eat more lettuce!

Another blogger mentioned his bath-time herbal remedies.
And I thought I'd tell you how I love to run a bath with some lavender flowers and some oats popped in a muslin bag and hung underneath the hot water. I sometimes use rose petals if I am feeling indulgent. It doesn't have quite the same effect as the Herbal Essences ad but I enjoy it just as much.

Hope Mr Tomato Head Slug enjoys his trip to the pub (and leaves my toms alone).

Mobile Blogging from here.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

harvest festival

Haven't updated in ages life has been busy.
I am having to harvest the runner beans in a state of panic each day as one of the dogs has taken a shine to them. He squeezes inside the wigwam and nicks the best ones from inside. Cheeky boy this is not your beanfeast it's mine!
Potatoes are varying in size from tiny to downright obscene - jacket spud anyone?
The onions are a mixed bag some suffered mildew others are just fine. Massive variation in size again have no idea why?
Parsnips - now you just can't beat the smell of a fresh parsnip - glorious, fat, healthy parsnips a great crop even if I do say so myself.
The tomatoes are still green - have had 1 red one to date.
The chillies have almost all gone red - am harvesting them on a daily basis and freezing them. Will probably dry the last few and make some chilli oil.
I never eat enough lettuce and some have run-on - there are far too many for us must grow less next year.
Have to weed the asparagus bed this week it's getting overrun but this moist soil is making weeding a doddle - did I just say that, weeding is never a doddle.
Have no idea when the garlic will be ready - I think I need to wait for it to flower?
Must do some more sowing - time to rummage through the seed box and see what else can go in in august - no more lettuce please!
Thanks to Mr M for the beetroot - made chocolate and beetroot cake which was scrummy.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Stunning poppies...shame to dig them out

I just spent half an hour weeding the 'roots' bed - I am hoping to sow some Autumn King Carrots and some beetroot in the next few days.

Amongst the huge triffids I found a couple of lovely looking poppies. White with a purple and yellow inner. Have tried to look up the variety but to no avail - if you recognise it, please let me know. It was a shame to dig them out but they had to go. I have re-planted them elsewhere in the garden but doubt they will like being moved especially in the 32 degree heat we have today.

Have taken a few shots of the garden as it is today...hope you like them.

Have had to pull a few more onions due to mildew - am praying the whole lot doesn't get it but not holding my breath.

Am scared to pull my spuds - the first earlies look great but the ones I forked out the other day had no spuds underneath?

This gardening lark is all trial and error isn't it. It is fun though and I am really enjoying it.

PS still don't know where my allotment is yet :o(

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Hollyhocks have started to flower this morning - peach and yellow ones so far - ther are about 9ft tall! And they certainly hide the 3 compost bins, which was my intention.

I have one tomato about an 1" across - he is still green. And a few babies are starting to show their little round faces.

The beans are climbing the poles as they should.

Not sure what is going on with the spuds - the Cara's are flowering and look a picture above ground but the Winstons (the main crop) are tiny and have yellowing leaves and a few black spots - is this blight? Off to research it on the web in a bit.

The onions are huge - have had to pull a few though that have got mildew. Am hoping it doesn't spread all around the patch.

The peas are in flower - I think we may get a tiny crop. Wish I had planted more.

Must get my brussels in today - need some netting so that the fat pigeons and caterpillars keep off them.

Hope to find out where my new section of allotment plot is this week so I can get a few things in the ground. I hope its not too overgrown with weeds.

Things to do so must fly...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

i've got an allotment...

Last night someone agreed to let me have 1/3 of their allotment plot I am so thrilled. Just need to find out which plot it is and what state it is in.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

twit twoo

Mobile Blogging from here.

Have spent the afternoon at the raptor and reptile centre. Saw some amazing creatures in between running around after little man. Talk about ants in his pants.
The owls were a sight to behold. So many different types.
Back at the beach-house now, the boys have just gone to the pub and we are amusing ourselves watching ben play before going to toby carvery for a heap of veg and a giant ice cream.
Am missing my dogs I hope they are ok in the kennels.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Things are happening

Just had a quick stroll around the garden - the onions have 1" green shoots peeping through and I have a little row of radishes showing their new leaves (they are sown inbetween my parsnips).

Watered the Busy lizzies in the greenhouse - some are looking very sad - i am not sure what I am doing wrong :o(

Also planted some Begonia tubers - I can't remember ordering them - so they will be a nice surprise.

Off to the seaside for the long Easter weekend, I hope everything survives my absence.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Haven't done much outside except water the babies in the greenhouse. We have had a drop of rain - not much but enough to start things happening.

Currently wading through the rhubarb - which got me thinking about its nutritious properties -

"Rhubarb is a good source of fibre and contains moderate levels of vitamin C and calcium. Studies have linked the fibre from rhubarb in the diet with reduced cholesterol levels."

This is the recipe I am following today
Rhubarb Pudding with Cream
  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Trim rhubarb and cut into slices. Combine with water and sugar and simmer until soft. Stir in vanilla. Blend cornstarch with a little cold water to make a smooth, stiff paste. Stir into rhubarb and cook for 5 minutes, or until thickened and clear.

Pour rhubarb into glass serving dish and chill. At serving time, whip cream, add sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff. Pipe through pastry tube in decorative swirls on pudding, or cover top of pudding with spoonfuls of whipped cream.


Monday, 6 April 2009

Easter Holidays - day one

I have my neice joining us for the Easter break - it is a nice day again today so we donned our cardi's and the 3 of us set off - well I was pulling the two kids in the Radio Flyer wagon.

We went to the allotments and had a peep at how the tadpoles were coming along - no changes yet they are just very, very wriggly. Then we saw the magnificent cockerel (we call him Lester but have no idea if he even has a name) and his harem of 3 black feathered hens. The kids love it when he stretches his neck up high in the air and a loud 'cock-a-doodle-do' is released. We used to hear him daily from the house but we don't notice it anymore.

We had a mooch through the little woods on the Common - collecting sticks to use as row markers on the veg plots. Little one fell in some thorns so had to pick them out of his little hands bless him.

The kids made all sorts of concotions in the garden - herbs, mud, rhubarb, water - all mixed up and left in little pots for me to clear up at a later date! Nice!

The dogs retrieved all the collected sticks from out of the wagon and promptly chewed them up - so it was a bit of a wasted journey!

Lunch is now done and dusted and little man is having his afternoon nap. Jas and I are off to put in the rest of the Winston seed potatoes and sow some peas.

They (the powers that be) forecast rain for tomorrow, which is typical as I will be housebound and without wheels as my jalopy is in for a service.

I have just finished planting the rest of the seed potaotoes so I now have some space back in the spare room!

I have also stuck in a row of Jessy (snap) Peas - I dug a drill 2" deep x 6" wide and put the peas in 2" apart in a zig zag formation. I used my riddle (giant sieve) and covered the peas with 2" of fine soil. I haven't watered them in as rain is on its way! But I have covered them with a cloche until I get some fine netting from the garden centre to keep the birds off. Last year my pea attempt failed miserably - I think the pigeons got the lot!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

More 2008 pics

2008 garden pics

2008 pics

Spuds u like!

Yesterday was a stunning day weather wise - we had a tiny shower at 7am swiftly followed by bright warm sunshine all day long.
I spent most of the day outside sowing and planting.
I decided it was time to get my seed potatoes, that I have been chitting for several weeks, into the earth.
I purchased two different varieties that had been recommended by the previous owner - they do well in my soil - Cara (a first early) and Winston (a main crop).
I bought a small bag of each variety from the local gardening club at £2.20 a bag - I ordered them back end of last year and picked them up on 1st March 2009.
The Cara's had much longer shoots than the Winston's I have noticed - I wonder if this is because they are earlies and grow faster??
I dug a hole 15cm deep and popped in a seed potato - with the shoots pointing upwards and then back filled it. I managed to get all the Cara's in by the days end and will continue with the Winston's tomorrow.

I also spent some time in the greenhouse - potting-on my Busy Lizzie Imaptiens Mixed miniplugs that I ordered on special offer from T&M. A few had perished as I took a while to get them potted on. But in the main they look healthy.

I sowed 2 varieties of tomato seeds - Golden Sunrise, a yellow tomato - for the greenhouse and Alicante, a crop which is ideal for beginners so I am told (sounds good to me!) which I am going to have a go at growing outside this year.

I also sowed some Marconi Rosso Pepper Seeds - I tried growing peppers outdoors last year with little success so I am going to keep these for the greenhouse this year.

Finally my Dad gave me some mini-propagators with herb seeds last year - they have been left in the greenhouse all winter so i am not sure how well the seeds have fared but I have popped the basil and parsley on some compost and lightly covered them and will see what happens - fingers crossed.

I also took the decision to move my strawberry plants that had become pot bound - again not sure how they will fare but they are in the herb garden now rather than in pots. I don't have much luck with Strawbs - namely they get attacked by Bentley - no he's not a disease but my lovely dog - he adores the fruit and always get to them before I do!

After a pleasant day outside I had a hot soak in the bath followed by fish and chips and an early night - lovely!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Just finished eating the last of the sprout tops that had run on, kindly givento us by Roy. Roy used to own this cottage before us and his allotment runs parallel to my back garden. They were delicious and something we had never eaten before.

I am also in the throes of making Spring rhubarb sorbet. I have more than enough rhubarb left to make another batch for the freezer tomorrow.
Spring Rhubarb Sorbet

500g Pink Spring Rhubarb - washed & trimmed into 1" pieces
225g Caster Sugar
1 lemon - juice only

Heat rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a pan with lid on for 15-20mins until soft.
Whizz until smooth with hand blender.
Let it go cold.
Pop in ice cream maker until almost frozen - then transfer to tub for freezing.

The mix is almost cold now and the ice cream machine is ready for action - will let you know how it tastes tomorrow...

30th March 2009 - Asparagus Crowns are in!

My first blog post...exciting!

I moved house last year to a country cottage with a huge garden - .25 of an acre. It had 3 well tended veg plots and the previous owners are a hard act to follow on the gardening front.

I wanted to start a blog mainly to help with diarising (is that a word?) my planting and making it easy to look back on year after year. My successes, my disasters etc.

Today after much internet research I planted out my 10 x Gijnlm (don't ask me how to pronounce that!) Asparagus Crowns.

I dug a trench- 8" deep , filled 2" of it with compost, topped the compost with soil in a ridge shape and laid the crowns in a spider like fashion on top of the ridge about 4" from the top of the trench. Then back filled the trench.

Boy they need some space - luckily that's not something I am short of right now.

They also need plenty of time - its going to be 3 years before I can tuck into a plate of buttered asparagus tips!

Hopefully good things come to those who wait...