Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Paper potters, seedlings and digging.

For Christmas I got a large version of the Paper Potter. I've had the original for years and it's brilliant, but sometimes I need a pot that's just a bit bigger. Now I have potters in 2 sizes, and this makes me happy. Armed with the large potter, a pile of newspaper, and some seedlings in need of potting on, I set to work. And the pots stuck on the potter, the wood was just a bit rough, unlike the original which was smooth and perfect straight out of the box. I dug out some furniture wax, and gave it a polish and that did the trick, the pots then slid off and stayed whole. I only made about a dozen, just enough for today, but they worked out well.
The gardener's delight tomatoes were ready to be split and potted on from the seed tray, so they went into paper pots. But the tigrella tomatoes aren't big enough to handle yet, they need another week or 2. The sprouts haven't germinated as well as I'd hoped but there were enough decent seedlings to pick 6 nice healthy looking ones to pot on.
The courgettes are in plastic pots, they need a much bigger pot! There are 3 long yellow, 4 long green and 3 round green, plants. I wasn't expecting them to do so well! I may still lose some to slugs and other things, but they're all looking well at the moment while they harden off outside.
They, and everything else, need to be much larger and more robust before they go into the allotment.The allotment site is quite exposed, a bit higher up than my house, and fairly windy. All this growing is happening at home for now, while we get the allotment ready and the plants bigger. Having said that, we have got 2 rows of potatoes, 2 rows of onions, a row of carrots and almost 2 rows of peas up there so far.
Rhubarb at the allotment isn't doing well, but the crowns in the garden here seem to be thriving, along with the other fruits. Pic below, rhubarb at the back, stick of a gooseberry hiding in the middle, tayberry at the front. Unlikely to see much, if any, fruit this year, but next year...
The other fruit bed at home has the black and red currant bushes and the raspberries - and that one is much greener! Should see some fruit from that this year, and even more next year.

It's getting there!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

More seed sowing.

A bit of a grey day, overcast and threatening rain. Popped the courgettes outside for some fresh air, with the peas, sprouts, chard and tomatoes. Courgettes are looking good, as are the few peas that came up. One lot of tomatoes is looking good too, the other is lagging behind a bit but I think they'll be ok. The pumpkins are showing roots but no leaves yet. The chard and sprouts look a bit leggy and anaemic but I'm hoping some proper sun and weather will sort them out.
I braved the shed, navigated the assault course over 2 bikes, a mower and various chairs and tools, to find the rest of the pots and trays for more seed sowing! Can't beat a bit of seed sowing.
I now have a window sill filled with pots of carrot (purple haze), parsnip, beetroot, cosmos, echinacea, poppy, verbena, french and broad beans, and what I hope will be very pretty peppers.
The variety is Topepo Rosso, and they're a sweet pepper - just as I like them for cooking. They'll go wll with the red onions and mushrooms, I hope. 
It's all starting to happen, I can't wait until I can harvest things!

Having a go at mushrooms.

Today it rained. Lots. The plan of popping up to the allotment to sow some carrots, put in some peas and dig over again didn't happen.
We popped into town instead. I had in mind to grab some more pots to bring things on at home, and I did get those... But I also picked up seed for lettuce, carrots, and some very pretty peppers, and a mushroom growing kit.
I've tried to grow mushrooms before, many years ago, and they've never done well, but I thought I'd give them another go. Allegedly, there may be a chestnut mushroom kit available there too, I think I may have to have a look for one if this one does ok. I may take pics if I get any 'shrooms!
On the windowsill at home I have thriving tomatoes and courgettes. The peas are outside in their seed tray, waiting for a dry enough day to plant them out at the allotment and the chard and sprouts aren't quite so vigorous, I think they need better light so I'm popping them outside for most of each day - which wasn't such a good idea today as a few have been damaged by the heavy rain.
Tomorrow's job will be to sort out more space for seed sowing at home, and to get things started. I have peppers to get going, and some flowers too - pretty and also helps encourage insects to help with fruit and veg pests, as well as bringing bees into the garden and allotment to help with pollination. No pollination = no fruit.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Let the planting commence...

Having cleared the worst of the weeds from the allotment bed, and dug it over once all over and twice over about half, we started planting yesterday.
  • 2 short rows of 6 potatoes - Desiree
  • 2 short rows of onions - Red Baron
  • 2 crowns of rhubarb - variety unknown
We also installed a compost bin and part filled it with hedge clippings and cut grass, with a few weeds from the allotment.
At home some of the seeds are up and thriving.
  • Sprouts
  • Courgette - 3 varieties: long green, long yellow, and round green
  • Chard - Bright lights, multi-coloured
  • Tomatoes - Tigrella (stripey) and Gardener's Delight (Red)
  • Peas - Kelvedon Wonder (Old seed and hasn't generated as many plants as I hoped)
The pepper and pumpkin have both failed to emerge so far. I need to get that lot potted on and a bit bigger before I can harden them off outside before they can go up to the allotment. It's quite an exposed site and the plants need to be sturdy before they go up.
Also at home I've planted one of the apple trees (Cox) by the fence at the back end of the garden, the rowan tree by the wall, and rhubarb on the left side of the path. I'll be adding the tayberry and red gooseberry to the patch where the rhubarb is, so there's fruit on both sides of the garden.
Then there's carrot, broccoli, broad and french beans, to plant. And more potatoes and onions to go in, and a home to find for the strawberries. And that's before I start thinking about the other apple tree, the rose bushes and the other flowers, and at least one child wants to grow sunflowers. It's going to be a busy year, but, I hope, a productive one.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Today the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the year is ticking away. This morning was grocery shopping and the cupboards are now full again. This afternoon was dog walking, and the sun was warm, the breeze not biting and the trees are bursting into green.
What else could I do but dive into the shed when I got back, pull out the seed trays and seeds and sow some!
  • 3 varieties of courgette - round green, long green, and long yellow.
  • Pumpkin - Jack O'Lantern: a smallish variety I've grown before. Not too big and does well, usually, not sure how it'll do here!
  • 2 varieties of tomato - Tigrella (stripey!) and Gardener's Delight.
  • Sprouts - a red variety.
  • Chard - Bright Lights: Multi-coloured.
  • Pea - Kelvedon Wonder - but it's an old pack so not sure how it'll do.
  • Pepper - not sure what variety, it's a pack of seed I've acquired from somewhere, possibly seed saved at some point.
I've not set carrots to germinate yet, or potatoes, and I'm missing beans - broad and french, not sure if I want runners yet. Also need to find window space for parsnips, beetroot, leek and some herbs. And I need to make some paper pots.
It's feeling a bit Spring-like.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

11 years ago, and today.

Early in the morning, on April 3rd 2003, I woke thinking I was having Braxton Hicks contractions. I turned over and went back to sleep...
By 7am I was at the hospital, and by 9.30am I was the mother of a beautiful little girl, a sister to my son.
Today she is almost as tall as me, ending her days at primary school, looking towards secondary school and the next phase of her life and education. She is tagged as gifted and talented in at least 3 subjects and her teacher admits she sometimes struggles to keep up with her.
Happy Birthday, Morgan, I am so incredibly proud of you. 
On Easter Sunday she is giving up her day to help others, again. She's donning the helmet and harness and climbing down a rock to raise money for people with chronic lung conditions - like her Grandmother.
If you fancy lending a hand click the button here:

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
Or Text MBAB96 to 70070 to sponsor her £3.00. It's quick, easy, and will really help change lives.Over the time this event has been running, the abseil alone has raised over £35,000 and has been instrumental in funding equipment and support for people living with lung conditions. In 4 years, Morgan has raised almost £1,000. As I type this her total for this year is £245, and I'd love for her to exceed that. 
Can you help? Go on, click the button, or text MBAB96 to 70070. 
Thank you.