Saturday, 31 March 2012

A busy but productive day

I have had a rather busy day today.With the help of my son Lewis we managed to relocate one of the water butts, I need to get to the D.I.Y. store to get some new piping to move the other one. I have purchased another water butt today from the internet so once that gets here I will have three. It will never be enough but it will have to do for now. I just need some rain now to fill it!

It has been rather cold and dull today, the sun did try to come out earlier but there was just too much cloud for it to have any effect. I managed to plant out the potato and onion setts today and I have taken the photos as promised.
Strawberry plant

Rhubarb, looking forward to this!

Gooseberry bush

Last weekend this just had a couple o
Tayberry bush, last week it was a green speck!

Spring cabbages


Peas and sweet peas

Various seedlings in the greenhouse

Spring cabbages and onions

As you can see they have grown quite a bit since the last photos, especially all the fruit. Both the tayberry and the blueberry that I planted out in November have really grown considering they only had a couple of buds on last weekend.

The girls have been cleaned out today and we only had the one egg again. I think I should cut back on their scraps so they eat more of the layers pellets which they need to aid egg production. As I was cleaning out the coop the gate blew open and the girls decided to go on a little adventure whilst my back was turned. They were wandering around the patio pecking at the weeds and grass that had started to grow through the cracks again. I managed to usher them back into the run before they went rampaging over to the vegetable plot!

I have been busy in the kitchen today preparing food for the family gathering tomorrow. I made some vegetable curry samosas and  cooked a joint of pork and a gammon. I also made a vegetable oven baked omelette which  tastes good served cold and cut up into squares and is a great addition to any buffet table. I decided to cook this as it is the latest recipe for my online cooking class and it had been a while since I had made it. Plus I needed the photos for the webpage.

And finally....I am out again tonight supporting a friends charity evening in aid of a hospice, so I shall bid you all good evening/day and hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The weathers on the turn

The weather has already started to turn, the sun was hidden behind the clouds and the air was rather chilly. I popped into town and I could not find any fleece anywhere! I have found one new pack in the summerhouse that was hidden under some compost bags, so I will have to make do with what I have.

I bought some Maris Piper seed potatoes and some more Stuttgarter onion setts, which I shall be planting out tomorrow if the weather remains dry. I could not locate an strawberry plants. I'll have to get them on the internet.I paid a visit to Poundland and got a box of fish,blood and bone fertilizer and some organic potato fertilizer, I love a bargain!

I walked up to the market and got two massive, white, and  tasty looking cauliflowers for the bargain price of £1.50 for the two. I noticed they had pulled off all the outer leaves. So I asked the stall holder 'what do they do with the leaves' He pointed to a large pile of boxes so me being cheeky asked if could take some for the chickens. He even gave me a bag to put them in, what a very nice chap. I gave the girls some when I got back, they were in seventh heaven! The rest I have put in the fridge and they will keep the girls in greens for the rest of the week.

Prior to the rugby match!
The girls had their spaghetti this morning and yes they had a game of chicken rugby! I put the spaghetti down and there was a huge pile there. However Octavia grabbed some and the others went running after her to get it even though the pile still sat there! We had four eggs again today which is eggcellent! We are having a family get together and I am making a quiche so I needed the eggs.

I shall be trying to sort out my water-butt situation tomorrow before we get the deluge of wet weather, so I can make the most of the free stuff. I had my yearly water bill through the door yesterday and it was a shocker! Everyone has been informed to cut back on the time they spend in the shower. With six of us living here you can imagine how much water is used and as we pay for the amount we use it has become a very expensive commodity indeed. You try to make savings in one area and it goes out in another. You can never win. Well that's my moan over for the day.

And finally..... I am off for my constitutional glass or two of rose' at the local. I shall be taking some new photos tomorrow and posting them all for you to see. I shall bid you a good evening or a good day x

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mother nature at it again

What a shocker! we have been told to expect snow next week! Apparently we are in for quite a change in weather next week, this is not good news for us gardeners. With the warm weather we have had everything has started to grow only to get bitten by frost next week. I will be going into town tomorrow to get kitted out with some more fleece to protect as much as I can. Oh the joys of being a gardener, try as we might we always have mother nature ready to step in and throw a spanner in the works to keep us on our toes.

I have been busy in the summerhouse and greenhouses today doing the seed shuffle. No it is not a new dance craze! However there is probably lots of gardeners doing it at the moment so you never know. I have moved the peas into the summerhouse to keep them away from that pesky snail! And the onions and garlic that were in the summerhouse are now in the little plastic greenhouse.

I have moved the seed trays round in the big greenhouse as some were doing better than others. The sweetcorn is only now shooting and I am still waiting for any sign from the courgettes, pumpkin and aubergines. Hopefully they will start soon.

The potatoes are growing well, I put some more soil in the potato bags to cover them up again. The rhubarb is coming on a treat, as are all the fruit bushes. Some more strawberry plants are coming to life, I will be sure to put fleece over them at the weekend.

As usual when I'm pottering about in the garden the girls become very vocal and running  and flapping about expecting some tasty morsel. We only had the one egg today, but an eggs an egg! They have got a big bowl of spaghetti for breakfast tomorrow, hubby is always a bit heavy handed when it comes to cooking. But at least it doesn't go to waste, the girls will really enjoy that in the morning. They will think they are worms, it will be fun to watch them flying about playing the rugby game, one taking it off one only to be taken by another.

And finally.....I will say goodnight, or good day to you all and thanks for popping by to read my ramblings. I'm off in search for that hot water bottle!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Among the muck!

Another fantastic day weather wise, I have even topped up my tan! Well I could not put it off any longer, it really needed doing, and it was far to hot to be doing this job. I emptied out the compost bins so I could turn over the contents and the refill the bins. It didn't half stink!

I was terrorized by a wasp, which I might add did not help! I do not like wasps and for the love of me don't know why the pesky things were ever born or made or whatever it is you believe in. They are a pest that have no purpose as far as I can see except to annoy and sting you, especially if you are a flapper like myself. Several times I came screaming down the garden into the house due to this blooming wasp! They have been out in force today as I also had several come to pester me in the kitchen.

Anyway back to the compost bins. Most of the stuff I put in my bins is from the chickens coop. This is mainly shredded paper and it seems to be taking a rather long time to break down. I also put in some kitchen waste, but now I have the girls they eat most of it. I do not have any lawn so I don't have much green waste going in. You need a good mixture of brown and green to get a good compost.

So I pondered on what I could do to get more green for the bins, when I heard the lawn mower being kicked into action next door. So I popped round to ask for his grass cuttings  and can I have any grass cuttings in the future. The problem of my green waste is now solved. Goodness knows what he thought when I was standing at his door in my mucky smelly clothes! I have posted a link in the Gardening websites page for lots of useful information on composting. Gardeners click and you also have lots of useful information regarding composting.

The girls have been cleaned out today, we had another four eggs, and a lot of clucking has been going on the last couple of days. Perdy my big hen who sadly passed away last year, clucked like mad every time she laid an egg. It always made me laugh to hear her clucking as you knew what she was clucking about.

Last autumn in the run I put down some paving slabs to make cleaning easier. However the only place they have to scratch and dig is inside the under cover part of the coop, hence the big holes they keep digging. I have decided to take up the slabs and put down some bark so they will have the whole run to dig and scratch in, which will put an end to these great big holes! Another job to add to the ever expanding to do list!

I had a wander around the garden to water and check on the plants, everything is growing well, that snail is still munching on my peas! I'll post some more photos at the weekend so you can see how much everything has grown due to this lovely warm weather we are having.

And finally..... I would like to welcome and thank my followers, it is great to have you on-board. I am going out tonight for a real tasty Italian pizza, so I'll bid you all a good evening or an enjoyable day x

Monday, 26 March 2012

Losing track of time!

These light night are going to take some getting used to. I was so busy weeding and watering that I lost track of time. I thought whilst dinner is cooking I'll make a start on here.
The unwell blueberry has wilted,dried and shriveled! So I have cut off the dead bits right down to the stem leaving a couple of what look like buds and just see what happens. The good news is that the blueberry that I planted in the ground last November has lots of new growth. So I will still have two blueberry bushes of different varieties and hopefully they will pollinate and give me my long awaited taste of blueberries.
The girls have made the most of the extra hour by digging another big hole the other side of the coop, I have filled it in again for them to dig all out tomorrow no doubt. We had four eggs yesterday and another three today so all is well in the coop! They were being rather noisy today and have had lots to eat. A big bowl of rice for breakfast, cabbage leaves for lunch and a pile of weeds for supper! What more could a chicken want.
The heath where I walk the dogs
It was a lovely warm day today even the rabbits were scampering about on the heath, unfortunately I was not quick enough with my camera. There was also a Jay having a dig around in the potato field, it is the third Jay I have seen this year. It is quite strange really I had never seen a Jay before in my life until one hopped into the garden last year and now I have seen three in as many weeks. By the way a Jay is a large bird the size of a small pigeon in case you are wondering what I am waffling on about. It was really peaceful on the walk today, we were the only ones on the heath. The dogs had a good run around with a stick. I did manage to get a couple of photos.
A little ray of sunshine

When I poked my head into the little plastic greenhouse I noticed something had been nibbling my peas, a pesky snail!I had a look but could not find it so I could give it to the chickens, they love the little blighters! I am now on snail patrol before it eats all my peas. It has already munched one down to the soil and had a nibble from another. I don't like to use pellets because of the dogs and the hedgehog we have under the decking and the frogs and toads who are very garden friendly. I'll just have to keep looking for it.
I have done the weeding today, it did not take long. I am being quite good in trying to keep on top of the weeding, just hope I can keep it up for the whole growing season! I have a lot of vegetables growing in pots and as the weather has been so dry for over a week I gave them a good soaking. I really have to get my water butts organised this weekend or I am going to struggle in the summer. My jobs to do list seems to get longer everyday!
And finally.....I'm away to put the girls to bed for the night. Have a good evening or day depending on where you are x

Sunday, 25 March 2012

New look!

Another beautiful sunny day here again, I could get used to this! Not much to report from the garden today. As you can see I have been busy on the laptop giving my blog a new face lift, I hope you like it.

I have not only changed how the blog looks, I have also added some new pages. You can access the pages by clicking on the tabs at the top. I shall be adding new pages such as recipes and gardening articles.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my blog and hope you will continue to do so in the future. If there is anything you would like to see more of then please leave a comment and I will do my best to accommodate your requests.

And finally.... The clocks went forward today so the evening will be getting lighter, spring is most definitely here! Enjoy the rest of your weekend x

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Talking herbs and flowers

A very warm and sunny day today, the bar-b-ques are beginning to burn, the aroma is wafting across the back garden as I speak, or should that be type. We took the dogs for a walk along the river Orwell earlier today, where they enjoyed a good swim and I collected some seaweed  that had been washed up on the shore for my compost bin. It stunk the car out mind, but it will be worth it I'm sure.

After a quick bite to eat I toddled off to the summerhouse for some more seed sowing. Wound up my radio and I was in heaven!  I thought I would sow some herbs, I tried last year with little success and ended up buying several small herbs plants from the garden center.

Today I sowed Basil Italiano Classico, I grew this last year and it was one of the more successful herbs. Parsley moss curled, I think I had two seeds germinate but only one plant came to anything, I also sowed some Coriander and Thyme. Once these are ready I will plant them up in a box and keep it by the back door. I love using fresh herbs when cooking they add so much more flavor. When growing herbs you must keep cutting them, even if you don't need them, otherwise they will quickly go to seed. If I don't need the herbs I chop them up and pop them into ice-cube trays, fill the trays up with water and freeze. They can then be used at a later date and easily be added to soups, sauces and stews.

As I have had this stall at our local watering hole to celebrate the Queens Jubilee in June thrust upon me by my oh so considerate husband, I am going to need something to sell from it. I had a rummage through my seed box and found loads of cut flower seeds that can be sown now and will be perfect for the stall. Linum blue sapphire, which are a pretty little blue/lilac flower perfect for popping in any bouquet. Tanacetum crown white, which are a ball type flower, quite small and again perfect for adding to a bouquet. Zinia mixed, I grew these last year, they were mostly pink and orange, they have a small head but are quite pretty. At the bottom of the box I found a packet of French lavender, these got sown too. Weather anything will grow we will have to wait and see. I grew several flowers from seed last year and I must admit the front garden did look nice with all the colorful blooms.

The potatoes had started to emerge so I added some more soil to the bags to protect them from any frost we get. I sowed some mixed salad leaves in a trug tub, the chickens enjoyed a lot of the lettuce last year as I had gone overboard with my seed scattering. Trug tubs are big buckets and they are great for planting vegetables in. They have handles and are quite sturdy making it easier to move them around the garden.

And finally.... The Uk has been invaded by large numbers of little critters know as the ladybird. Please be very wary upon approaching one of these critters on the ground.... you may stand on it! Have a great weekend everyone x

Friday, 23 March 2012

I think spring may finally be here!

Well spring appears to have finally sprung! We have had a week of glorious sunshine, but will it stay I wonder, we shall soon see. I have been out in the garden with my camera, it is surprising how much things have grown with this warm weather. It won't be long before we will be having our first rhubarb crumble of the year by the looks of things
I went into the plastic greenhouse it was so hot in there I haven't got a thermometer, another thing for my shopping list. The seedling are growing really well, since last night the Nasturtium have started to sprout, these were sown about 3-4 weeks ago. One lot were through about a week ago and are growing strong, these produce rather pretty little flowers in hues of red yellow and orange. I am not sure of the variety but I thinks it's mixed.
The peas and sweet peas that were sown at around the same time are looking good too. Several of the pea seeds have failed. I did expect this as I have had this particular packet of seeds for over two years. I have planted another fifty seeds so I will still have plenty even if half fail to germinate. The sweet peas are from seeds that I saved from last years plants. It was a free packet of seeds I had received with my gardening mag, the scent was gorgeous and the array of color they produced was quite spectacular. I had grown them up against the trellis fence that separate the chickens from my vegetable plot, they would often peck through at the leaves, but they still survived and grew well and produced plenty of flowers.
Kelvedon Peas
Sweet Peas
The leeks that are in the summerhouse are getting bigger everyday and more and more are starting to shoot through. The ones that I planted up about three weeks ago and are in the new greenhouse are starting to catch up already. It is a lot warmer in the greenhouse so it does not come as any surprise the rate the seeds are germinating and growing in there. The cauliflowers are now getting their seconds leaves and luckily have not suffered from wilt, which happened last year. So far all is looking rather good!

I had a peek in on the broad beans and they seem to have survived the winter quite well. As you can see from the photo they are still protected with fleece. If you look closely you can also see that they are flowering.
Broad beans
Well I hope you have enjoyed the stroll around the vegetable garden. It sure is great to feel the sun on your face. It was nice and peaceful when out walking the dogs today and even better with the sunshine. When walking the dogs on my own I often start thinking about things, like what am I going to do in the garden or about some problem that has been bugging me or just thinking about things in general. As I was walking today and doing my pondering, I began to wonder if others do the same thing when out walking the dogs or if they have a time in the day when they think and ponder on their lives. Do you have a thinking or pondering time in your day? I have been thinking a lot about a big project that I am working on at the moment and wondering if it is going to work?, am I biting of more than I can chew? I will tell you all about it next time.
I got it I got it! Clyde

The chase is on!
Whilst out walking the dogs I took a few photos of the dogs running around chasing the stick. They are so funny Clyde stands there barking until you throw the stick and they both race off to fetch it. Max usually gets there first and then Clyde pinches it off him and comes racing back to me with it as if to say I won!
Yummy blackberries in the future!
 I Have taken a photo of the farmers field which will soon be filled with lush green potato plants. The blackberry bushes are starting to show new growth, hopefully we will have a bumper crop again this year for some more delectable blackberry jam.

The girls have been on top form the past two days, we have had four eggs a day. Lovely poached eggs for breakfast tomorrow!
And finally..... I have been busy telling you all about me and I would love to hear from some of you so why not leave a comment before you leave. Then I will know for sure that somewhere out there in this big wide world someone is reading my blog X

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What a racket!

Whilst working this afternoon on the computer I heard this mighty racket coming from the coop. So I went flying outside to see what all the commotion was about. Octavia had got herself stuck between the coop and the fence and was clucking like mad, and as she was making so much fuss the others had decided to join in! You would think there were fifty chickens out there not four. I lifted her out and she was fine however upon looking in the run of the coop I could see how she got there. They had dug another big hole under the run and to the fence. I think they are trying to escape and ravage next doors flowerbeds! I spent the next half hour refilling the hole, no doubt it will be there again by the weekend. Even the dogs have never dug this many holes!
I had a wander down to the greenhouses earlier and everything is growing rather well. This warm weather we are having is doing a good job. The leek and onion seeds are coming on a treat. I have never grown onions from seed before so it will be interesting to see the outcome compared to growing onions from sets
I inspected the fruit border too and the gooseberry bush is looking rather lush, there are more buds and leaves on one of the blueberry bushes I planted out last year and even the tay-berry which is a hybrid of black raspberry and a loganberry has sprouted new growth. I thought it was not going to come to anything as the dogs had damaged it when I planted it out last autumn. Hopefully We will have lots of fruit for jam making this year from the garden. Last year I went strawberry picking and it cost a small fortune. I was lucky enough to be given some plums which made a delicious plum jam. I also went blackberry and elderberry picking on the heath where I walk the dogs this also made an excellent jam and the best part is that it was free! I also managed to find some sloes and made some sloe gin in November last year, it has not been bottled up yet, something I must get round to doing and I'll be sure to let you know how good it tastes!
And finally..... I'm off to shut them noisy girls up for the night, and I shall post some new photos at the weekend. Have a good evening all x

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Well now I know....

Just a short one tonight, I thought I'd let you know what is up with my blueberry bush. I did not bother to trawl the web as I knew the trusty gardeners on Gardeners Click would know the answer to my troubles. it appears that I have been watering them with the wrong water, they should be only watered with rain water, so that is why the leaves have curled and the stem has gone black. I have also been advised to put them outside, which I have done and I have given them some rain water too. Hopefully this will solve my little problem and the blueberry bush will survive, I shall keep you posted.
Even though it has been another lovey day I did not get out to enjoy the sunshine except when I walked the dogs and saw to the girls who incidentally laid three eggs today and were extremely noisy as they only had a small amount of scraps, it was still quite chilly and I now have one of those dreaded colds, obviously being in a very warm county for a couple of weeks then coming back to the UK has not helped.
And finally..... I have been informed by my husband that I am to have a stall at the queens Jubilee fair in June at our local Public house to sell my produce, the only problems is I won't have any as it is too early! Just goes to show he pays no attention to what I say and do. Looks like I'll be needing to sow lots of flowers in the next couple of weeks!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Well hello Mr Sun!

Woke up today to glorious sunshine, it is surprising how good a sunny day makes you feel. I have been busy pottering about in the garden today, it defiantly was not a day to stay indoors. The coop has been scrubbed out whilst the girls feasted on a pile of weeds and grass, we had two eggs today. We are not getting the double yokes we were getting in the earlier days but we do get the occasional large double yoked egg, you can't be the taste of free range hen eggs.
I sowed some more butterfly kisses sweet peas today, this will be the last sowing as I will have no where to put them, my dad has already put his order in and there is plenty for us both and still some to spare, I'm looking forward to seeing what they look like and of course that lovely scent they give off, perfect to have by the front door.
I have taken the plunge and sown some carrots, hopefully they will be more successful than in the past, my soil has improved immensely to last year and I have covered them with fleece to keep the carrot fly at bay. It sure is one pesky bug, I can never remember my granddads carrots having carrot fly on them, they were pulled from the ground, scrubbed in the kitchen and eaten raw and fresh with the tops still attached and the taste was out of this world compared to shop bought carrots.
A solitary strawberry plant with new growth
The onion sets in the large raised bed
We had a rather sharp frost last night, I will probably loose the last of my strawberry plants. I have run out of fleece so they are uncovered. The cabbages that I took the cloches off two weeks ago seem to be doing alright, and the onion sets I sowed last week are starting to shoot already. The new leek and red onion seeds I had sown a few weeks ago are now starting to shoot too, I don't know where I am going to put them all! I am thinking if I forgo the pumpkins in the triangle raised bed I can put the extra onions and leeks there, but where do I put the pumpkins I have sown! It is always the same you make a plan in the winter for next year's sowing with all good intentions, however it goes out the window once seed sowing gets underway. Ah the joy's of gardening.
The unhealthy Blueberry
The blueberry bushes that were purchased a few weeks ago are a cause for concern, one is doing really well with lots of new growth yet the other has wilted and turned black. It obviously has some kind of disease and will probably have to be binned. I will have to have a read up on the web to see if I can find out what is causing it. They are still in the summerhouse as I did not want to put them out whilst there was still a chance of frost. I shall start putting them out for a few hours a day and gradually increase the time so they get used to the climate change.
The healthy Blueberry showing lots of new growth
And finally..... I'll leave you looking at last years Gardening diary. Have a good evening all x

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Not impressed!

Well I went to the local DIY/garden center store and I was most disappointed with the gardening section. There were only a small selection of seed potatoes which you could only buy in packs of 50 which is way to many for my needs. There were no onion sets either and the only strawberry plants they had available were large clay strawberry growing pots filled with strawberry plants at an extortionate price! So I shall be venturing into the town this week to search the stores for my supplies and failing that I will be pursuing the seed brochures that I have cluttering up my desk or buy on line. Whilst looking around at the plants I noticed that many were rather on the dry side and were in need of a good watering, I know we are gearing up for a hosepipe ban but surely such a major store would take more care and ensure that what you are buying was in tip top condition. I think I will look further afield for my plants in future.
The girls have been cleaned out today, another three eggs. It was rather wet yesterday and the girls did look in a sorry state. They do have an undercover area but the daft things insist on standing out in the rain, I'm sure they think that they are ducks! They have dug another big hole in the undercover run so it has yet again been refilled and they are presently digging and scratching it all out, debris flying in all directions!
All the seedlings are doing well, I have been turning the ones in the summerhouse as they keep leaning towards the window to get at the light, I have a big silver birch tree right outside the window of the summerhouse so not much light gets in. Since I have got my greenhouse the boys have asked for their summerhouse back. I'm a bit reluctant to as it is a great space for potting up and I have now got all my gardening equipment in there, I love it in there as it's like my own little world with my gardener's world wind up radio. Oh well we'll wait and see, I will have to find somewhere else for all my bits and bobs to go looks like the garage will be my new potting shed!
And finally..... I would like to wish all you mothers out there a very happy mothering Sunday, I was made pancakes for breakfast and I received chocolates, dvd's and a recipe index box and four lovely cards from my boys. Enjoy the rest of your weekend x

Friday, 16 March 2012

Must of been a fluke!

What can I say..... It was a one off we are back to the chilly dull days again! Not much doing in the garden today, no more seeds to sow yet either as I had a shuffle through my seed box. I must not get to eager and sow everything as I will have no where to put it. I have been looking at my garden plan and there is not a way to fit in anymore than I have already planned for so I must resist temptation!
So I was at a loss as what to do with myself today after I had finished doing the mundane house chores. I decided to sit down and finish editing my new web page about my other favorite pastime, Cooking. You just can't beat the taste of home cooked food. As a child I can remember watching my Nan baking in the kitchen cheese pastries, scones, cakes and bread as well as the mouth-watering stews and steamed puddings whilst wearing a flowered apron. My grandma was also a great cook, she made the best ever suet Yorkshire puddings which were filled with a rich thick beef gravy. She also used to cook a lot of game, I can always remember her having rabbits and birds hanging up in the cold pantry, it used to frighten the life out of me!
My Mum can cook but she prefers the easy option of quick and easy cooking nowadays. When I was a child she would prepare meals from scratch, getting out her trusty old cook book. I used to love getting out this cook book and look at all the photos of the food. As a young teenager I would spend my Sundays in the kitchen baking cakes using the recipes out of a stork margarine recipe booklet, I still have this booklet but it is now falling apart from years of use. So cooking seems to be in my blood as they say, I like to experiment and come up with new exciting tastes and variations on old recipes. Last year I made jams and chutneys for the first time, I enjoyed it so much that I made loads and I still have a cupboard full!
I have my shopping list ready for the garden center tomorrow, seed potatoes and strawberry plants and maybe some herbs,it's been a while since I have had a good look round in the garden center so I may come back with several things that are not on my list.
And finally.....I'll leave you with thoughts of aromatic spices, juicy tomatoes, lamb meatballs and Morocco!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Has spring arrived?

Well there you go, there was me yesterday having a whinge about there being no sun and hey-presto I woke up this morning to a glorious sunny day! I took the dogs for a pleasant walk on the heath, the farmer was plowing in the muck ready to plant out his potatoes and boy did it stink! I couldn't wait to get back and out into the garden. First job was to clean out the hen house, I grabbed several handfuls of grass from the overgrown part of the front garden to keep them occupied and out of the coop. Whenever I clean out the coop their in and out of it like yo yo's! There were only two eggs waiting for me today, they had a big bowl full of left over's this morning which soon disappeared much to Clyde's disgust!
Well It was quite warm in the greenhouse today. I now have quite a few seed trays in there, I moved the ones from my sons bedroom into there and the rack that was in the summerhouse has also been moved into the greenhouse
I had to sow some more Alicante tomato seeds as three of the ones I had sown hand dampened off, damping off can affect any seedlings, it is caused by a soil borne fungi and various things like poor humidity and air circulation and especially when sown early under glass. I had only sown four of each variety as I ended up with far more seedlings than I needed last year so I thought I would sow less as usual it has backfired! We live and learn as they say.
I had a look in on the peas that I had sown to over winter and there was only about eight that had survived out of fifty seeds. The variety was meteor an over-wintering pea, I sowed some kelvedon wonder in their place and replaced the fleece over them so fingers crossed. I have sown another sixty Kelvedon wonder peas today as well as the 30 I had sown a few weeks ago. Hopefully we will get a big bumper crop of peas, there's nothing better than eating peas straight from the pod, at least this way some will make it to the dinner plate!
I sowed some more sweet peas today, Butterfly Kisses by Thompson & Morgan I got these free with a gardening magazine last year, they are a new variety, so I will be looking forward to these growing. The leeks that I had sown weeks ago are coming on well, you can just make out the shoots in the photo
The gooseberry bush has green shoots coming of it and if you look closely at the the other photo you can just see my rhubarb poking through.
As it was such a nice day I had a good inspection around the garden, I noticed I have lost more strawberry plants so I am now down to ten. I will need to purchase some more at the weekend whilst I  am at the garden center. The onions that are on the decking are growing really well compared to the ones in the ground and in pots on the patio, so I moved the ones from the patio on to the decking in the hope that they might grow better there. The garlic is growing quite well compared to last year, the variety is Christo if I remember correctly.
And finally..... If any of you are considering becoming a hen keeper then take a look at my web page where there is lots of information all about being a keeper of hens from where to site your coop to the total care of your hens.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Looking back

When are the warm sunny days going to arrive? It has been another dull day here in Ipswich, I suppose I should be grateful that it is dry but on the other hand we could do with the rain, there is never a happy medium for the humble gardener. We are told to get water-butts yet there is no rain to fill them. Last year I had the bright idea of using waste water from the shower also know as grey water. I done some research beforehand to make sure it was safe to use it on the vegetable garden. I found that it was safe to use on plants that the produce is not a root type vegetable, but was fine to use on beans, tomatoes, courgettes and things like that which grew above the ground. Everything grew well and tasted good, I changed my cleaning products to eco-friendly brands. However I found I had much more water than I needed and the water-butt would overflow. So I attached a small piece of hose that reached the drain and would leave the tap open so the water could drain away. It was a complicated process of making sure the tap was open or shut and ended up becoming a problem as there is six members in our household so you can imagine the amount of grey water we have. It was not the bright idea I thought it would be! So it's back to the thinking board on the water issue
I have been busy updating and adding photo's to my web pages, I came across some photo's of the garden last year

This is the vegetable patch at the end of June 2011, I can't wait for it to be like that again, the anticipation of what will grow and produce great vegetables.

These are the runner beans and broad beans that I grew in pots. It was my first time for growing these we had a bumper crop. In the green bags were my tomatoes which I unfortunately lost to blight. We had such a wet summer that most of the neighbors lost theirs too. This year I am going to grow some in the greenhouse as well as out in the open and hope I don't lose them again. I am growing three different types this year, Alicante, Roma and gardener's delight. Gardener's delight is my new variety for this year, it is a heavy cropper of small bite sized tomatoes, so I'll look forward to munching on them whilst pottering about in the greenhouse!
The girls have been rather quiet today as I have not been out and about in the garden. They had left over rice today, we always end up cooking far to much rice for our needs, but at least the girls get to enjoy it. Another three eggs again today, so we shall have plenty for poached eggs on toast at the weekend!
And finally..... I am re-posting the link for for gift ideas for mother's day as I realized a majority of the links on the page were not working. My apologies to anyone who visited the web page.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Sowing seeds, potatoes and onions!

Well it was another dull and dreary day in Ipswich today, no wind but it felt rather chilly. I spent a couple of hours in the garden and summerhouse and now that my fingers and toes have thawed out, I thought I would update you on my gardening activities I planted out the Stuttgarter onion sets in the large raised bed. I only had fifty of these as I am also going to plant out the red onions that are still growing in the summerhouse. So far I have only used a third of the raised bed so I am going to purchase some more sets at the weekend and once I have planted out the red onions the bed will be full. After I planted out the sets I covered with netting to keep the birds from pinching them.
I planted out the Pentland Javalin potatoes today, I still have four potato bags that are empty so more seed potatoes to purchase at the weekend also. The Greenhouse now has some seeds sitting in there. I sowed three pumpkin seeds Gaurd sankt martin, six courgette seeds Tundo di Toscana and black beauty. Black beauty are the standard slim dark green courgettes which I always grow but this year I thought I would try a different variety. The Tundo di Toscano are a light green round courgette so I will keep you posted on their performance and taste. I also sowed some Primo cabbage seeds, these performed well last year so hopefully I will get another good crop.
The girls coop had a good clean today, they are such mucky creatures! I got out my shovel and cleaned up the run, so they had a good peck at the new surface looking for bugs and things. They had a big bowl of pasta today, they are so funny they get a piece then run round with it in their beaks and try to hide from each other with it whilst Clyde looks on longingly and drooling, hoping that some will flick through the fence for him to have.
And finally..... When I got back from walking the dogs I noticed that the front flowerbed looked like it was full of weeds. On closer inspection I realized it was the seeds that had fallen off from the Cosmos that I had planted last year. There are hundreds of them, so that's another job for the weekend!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Hello.....I'm back!

Hello everyone and hopefully a big welcome back to you all. Well I went off in the search of some lovely hot sunshine and I did not find it! So I'm back home again and almost the same color as I was when I left! Well I have plenty to tell you about, first the greenhouse is up and ready to go
It is still standing empty at the moment until I have a chance to get out there tomorrow and sow some more seeds and have a move around in the summerhouse. There's plenty of seeds waiting to be sown and I need to get the last lot of potatoes in as well as my onion sets. It's getting to that busy time of year when everything needs to be done. Thankfully all the ground preparation has been done I just need to scatter some growmore and fish blood and bone before I start sowing in the ground. The spring cabbages are growing well the onions still look a bit on the small side at the moment, but there's still plenty of time for them to start swelling.
The boys done a great job while I was away in looking after my seedlings, they are all growing nicely, and did not turn into the withered specks I was expecting to see. The first lot of leeks and onions are about an inch high now, the peas and sweet peas are doing well too. The purple sprouting broccoli, savoy cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are growing well some have their second lot of leaves growing, fingers crossed all will be well for another bumper crop.
The tomato and chilies have grown well and will soon need potting on as do the flowers that I had sown, this will be done at the weekend and then they will be moved down to the greenhouse or summerhouse depending on how much room I have. Every available space will be taken up and I'll probably be searching for more space around the house and out buildings to place my precious seedlings, and hopefully I will not encounter the disaster of last year where 90% of my seedlings were ruined by the boisterous boys! It's still not to late for you to start growing your own vegetables there is still time to start sowing and to get the ground ready for planting some vegetables. If your short on time or space why not consider container growing, plenty of vegetables will happily grow in pots, containers or growbags. I think the girls were happy to see me, they were flapping and squawking like mad when I gave them their scraps today. Their run is rather muddy and the coop needs a good scrub out so I'm hoping for a warmer day tomorrow so I can get it done and it has time to dry out. We are still getting two or three eggs a day so all's well in the coop! And finally..... It's Mothering Sunday this week and if you stuck for ideas for the female gardener the link below has some great gift ideas for you to ponder over. And boys if your reading this I quite like the sussex wooden trug!
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