Sunday, 27 June 2010

Yum Yum

We have eaten some radishes, they were delicious, light and peppery and crunchy, mmmmmmm. I forgot to take any pictures of them, silly girly! We also had some basil, chopped and mixed with some bought tomatoes, and dressed with salt pepper and olive oil, bloomin lovely. And some mixed herbs, roughly chopped and mixed with some lettuce and cucumber, bought (ours aren't ready yet) and it was a very tasty salad on a super hot afternoon.

I sowed some more mixed salad leaves on Wednesday in the mini propagator, and they have germinated already! Super fast.

We've been looking at greenhouses and poly tunnels, trying to decide what to do. A greenhouse would be at least 300 quid for the size we want, (6x6 or 6x8) a polytunnel is a lot less but a lot more flimsy, and a larger version of the Wilkinson's walk in plastic greenhouse would be £40, if we can find one, we think they may be out of season now. Also, a greenhouse would mean a lot of prep as the area we'd like to use is very uneven, but a greenhouse would give us a much longer growing season, and would be great for the more tender plants. We can manage pretty well with the set up we've got so far, but for the future I think we'll need a growing place. Especially as we're unlikely to get a lotty in the foreseeable future.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Baby Crops!

Been busy trying to clear the hornbeams from around the second pear tree, with a fair amount of success, hard work mind, and still lots to do, but so far so good.

Did the cutting back a couple of days ago, and tonight I noticed the pear is flowering... it muct like having a bit of air around its branches.

I know it is far too late for it to produce any fruit, so if it tries I'll remove them, but it is encouraging that it is healthy and happy enough to flower.

Strawbs are beginning to change colour, not sure if the pic is very clear, but it is an exciting time.

Harvested the redcurrants tonight, still not a large crop, so it was washed and frozen, and will be added to last year's frozen crop, and will make a pud out of it sometime. Looked lovely on the plant, eh?

Finally, earlier this evening our son was sitting looking at the tomato plants in the taller frame (budding gardener), and he found that they had finally started to produce, hurrah! For the longest time we'd only had 2 wee toms but lots of flowers, and now all of a sudden there are plenty of baby toms! Whoo Hoo!!!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

No local Lottys :-(

Heard back from the local parish council, although there are over 100 allotments in the local area, there is a waiting list of over 70... so it could be several years (their words) before we get to the top of the list. Disappointing, but at least we know we're on the waiting list now.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Lotty, lotty my garden for a Lotty

We have come to realise that there is never going to be enough room in our ickle back garden to grow everything we would like. So we have put out requests to all the surrounding city/county councils and also the parish council.

We had a disappointing NO from the Gloucester City council as we actually pay our council tax to the county.

We will have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long.

All Change

Lovely weather, which has meant that the resettled water butts have remained empty (boo) but we've been able to plant some new crops. We found the label for the spinach that I was going to allow to flower, and discovered that it was an F1 hybrid, which meant it probably wouldn't seed true to type, so I compost binned the remaining plant. This meant we had a nice empty container ready for new plants. Added some blood fish and bone to the old compost, and also added fresh new compost to the top and voila, container ready for planting.

Went to jolly old B&Q on Saturday, after my trip to the dentist to have a wisdom tooth removed, so needed something to take my mind off the stress and pain. We got some nice new plants, 2 veg, 2 herbs. We also got 2 wee planters to pop the new herbs into. We picked up another couple of growbags, one for our two forlorn courgette plants that were desperately in need of planting out, and another one for the pea plants we picked up. There were supposed to have been 12 pea plants in the tray... we counted 28 altogether! Most are in the growbag, but the extra ones have been potted into a large terracotta pot. I've wrapped both lots of peas with netting, as we have heard that birds really like young pea shoots...


The two new herb plants are garlic chives, and coriander, looking happy and healthy in their pretty planters, alongside the basil and radishes outside the back door.

I rearranged the two runner bean and french bean pots to the side of the house where the courgettes are, and made a frame with bamboo and netting. No idea if it'll work, but if not then we'll do it differently next year. It is so good to be making use of what has previously been a dead area, a place used for dumping stuff we want to forget about... it's now all lovely and green and growing :-) The courgettes have started producing wee flower buds, not flowering yet but it's early days. It is just so encouraging to see the plants thriving.

The other veg plants we got from B&Q were Rainbow Chard, Now planted into the refreshed recycle container. I don't think we've ever eaten chard before, so if it thrives it'll be a new experience for us. We are keen on the idea of growing more unusual crops and varieties if we can, so that's the plan for the future if possible, to try out more unusual varieties, and heritage varieties.

Oh another thing we picked up from B&Q was a reduced planter set, containing tomato, pepper, chilli and aubergine seeds, plus compost and pots, all for a fiver. We'll keep these for next year. Bargain.

Look how well the little herb planter is doing! Everything is really thriving, especially the oregano, it's growing madly. Great!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

All Quiet

We seem to be entering a quieter period in the garden, just waiting for things to grow, and harvesting the bigger things. The spinach had more or less bolted, so son and I harvested the remainder, leaving one spear to flower so we can collect the seeds for next year, and I made a tasty spinach soup, now frozen in portions for later. Recipe below.

Hubby got stuck in and emptied the water butts, so we could level them off and put flags underneath them, was a bit of a messy job but well worth it, just look at how tidy it looks now.

After that I potted up the remaining runner bean into the french beans pot, only 2 french beans survived out of 5 beans sown, never mind, we should get a few beans out two plants. I popped the bamboo stakes in and tied them in.

The runner beans are growing well, and are wrapping around the bamboo supports, yay!

The courgettes have been quietly getting on with the business of growing, their leaves are getting lovely and big and they have flower buds all over. We need to get another growbag and get the remaining two courgette plants settled in.

The wee basil plants are looking very happy in their pots, lots of new leaves, haven't harvested any yet, not big enough, maybe in a few weeks.

And the redcurrants are changing colour, and look gorgeous... and are netted, so the birds 'shouldn't' be able to get them... will wait and see if it works.

Final shot, the baby apples on our tree, we'll lose a lot with the natral drop, I just need to keep on top of it all and tidy up the natural wasteage, instead of letting it rot on the ground! All good fodder for the compost bin.

Talking of the compost bin, the lettuces had all bolted, so they are now all in the compost bin. Nothing is going to waste, if we don't manage to eat them, then the goodness goes back into the garden.

Final thing, hubby picked me up some lovely big pots for the cucumbers chillis and peppers, so that's my next job. I'll need to tidy up the greenhouse, it's only small but is becoming a bit of a dumping ground, for garden chairs, and empty pots.

Spinach Soup recipe
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 floury potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled
Good glug of olive oil
Lots of spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
2 or 3 stock cubes - vegetable, chicken, or a mix
Approx 2-3 pints of boiling water
Dried mixed herbs
Teaspoon medium curry powder
Scant quarter teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Ground black pepper to taste

In a large stock pot or saucepan, gently fry off the onion garlic and potato in the olive oil
Add the herbs and spices
Add the water
Add the stock cubes
Stir well and allow to cook until the potato is collapsing
Add the spinach and allow to cook until collapsed
Allow to cool slightly, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary
Liquidise with a hand blender for a smooth soup.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Catching up

Oh my Lord, almost a week and no blog! Got lots of catching up to do, and lots of new pics to add, so I'll get on with it.

We managed to obtain another recycling tub from a neighbour, and planted up our leeks, did exactly as the instructions said, and they are looking quite happy in their new home.

To my utter delight the french beans have popped up, not very big just yet, and not terribly strong at the moment but give them time.

Also, the supermarket garlic cloves that I planted as an experiment have sprouted very strongly, whoo hoo!

Also in the greenhouse are the cucumber seedlings and the chilli's and peppers, quietly growing and thriving. In the middle of the pic with the chillis is a pot containing a stray runner bean plant, it had barely sprouted when we planted the runners in the pot so I potted it to see what would happen and it survived! Just need to find a suitable pot for it now... very pleased :-)

Healthy wee cumbers!

Tonight's job was to pot up the basil and tumbler tomatoes, and pop the thyme into the herb bed. Felt really good getting back into the garden after a few days of heavy rain, and getting compost under my fingernails again.

The basil is looking a little floppy in the pic because it had only just been watered. Also in the pic are some radishes, they seem to be thriving too, excellent.

Here are the tumbler tomatoes, in the hanging baskets, now back up on the hooks.

Here is the finished herb bed, with the thyme from Lindsay in the bottom right corner.

Finally, a small creature comfort... we got some fabby solar lights from Poundland and have dotted them about the garden, this is the one in the mint pot, and showing the mini roses flowering, very pretty.

I think that's it, doesn't seem like a lot but it is tiny steps, and the fact that everything seems to be thriving is a huge thrill. I love our garden I really do.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The heat, Carruthers, the heat!

Think the heat has gone to our heads. Hubby and I went out to some garden centres looking for the ball things to join canes together to make a fruit cage, and we ended up getting an alternative... a fruit cage. For the life of us we couldn't find anywhere locally that sold the connecting pieces, we've seen them online but nowhere seems to stock them. They sell canes, they sell the netting, but not the connectors. Daft. So we got a fruit cage kit, comprising the frame, the netting, tie-down-pegs, and zip ties. We also bought a second tomato shelter, as well as more compost and a trough to plant the radishes into.

We assembled the fruit cage, was a bit fiddly because the netting caught on the branches as we were wrapping it around. But with a bit of patience we got there. The redcurrant is now safely inside it, as are the strawberries, pot now filled with more strawbs and looking fantastic.

Potted up the radishes, probably planted then too close together, but hey ho, and there were some left over so they went into a pot.

New tomato house - tall toms need a tall house :-)

Here you can see the two raised beds and the smaller tomato shelter now on the smaller tomato plants. The radishes are alongside the raised bed.

We can't believe how quickly everything is coming together, it is mere weeks that the garden was simply overgrown and empty of any veggies, now it really looks like a productive garden. We've still got a lot of clearing to do, but we are getting there, rapidly.

This evening after I got home from work I discovered that hubby and son had been busy bees and had done a lot more clearing, the front garden was unrecognisably tidier than it was when I left this morning, you can see the path now! We haven't seen the path for the overgrowth for a long time :-) Looks great... I didn't take any pics of it tho because there isn't much to see except for the path. They had also cleared a huge amount of the thuggish hornbeams too, still a lot to clear of course but the brown (garden waste) bin is full!

While hubby had a well earned rest I did a wee bit of potting up and planting out... the peppers and chillis needed deeper pots, well they actually need bigger pots, but deeper will have to do for now. I also planted out the courgettes, I had 12 plants, and have planted 6 (yes yes I know they are overcrowded but we're taking a chance!) into 2 growbags up the side of the house.... they are on the free flagstones we got, my lovely hubby had laid the flags at the side of the house to give us a clean firm surface to put the growbags onto. The remaining courgette plants are potted into single pots, and will go to friends.

Talking of friends, my mate Lindsay has given us some thyme... lovely jubbly... still in its pot for now, to give it a chance to recover from being ripped out of her garden! In about a week I'll pop it into the herb planter.

This is such a satisfying hobby, I am getting such a kick out of growing things, and the fact that we can eat the produce, well that's a major bonus. This is FUN!