Monday, 30 April 2012

Squelching good fun!

We have had a beautiful day here today, the sun has been shining most of the day and it has even felt quite warm. I have been so busy but I managed a couple of hours in the garden.

My Main priority was sorting out the girls run, it is just one big swamp, I was slipping and squelching all over the place! As it was the first dry day we have had for a while I did not want to shut them up. So all I done was clean out the coop and dug the run over so it was a bit drier. They girls had a whale of a time scratching around for worms and bugs, mind you they were all filthy when they went to bed, but at least they had a good day out in the run.

I popped into the greenhouse and was most surprised to see some flowers had grown through the soil, I had  given up hope on them. The peas are growing like crazy and I hope to put them out in two weeks time. The herbs are growing well too the coriander is almost 2 inches high, but the parsley has not germinated yet. There are three trays of flowers that I cannot remember the names of that are ready to be pricked out, and another of the courgettes has popped up. The flowers I pricked out a few weeks ago have doubled in size already. It was rather warm in the large greenhouse and everything had a good watering as most was on the dry side.

I had a wander round the garden and some of the over wintering onions are huge! Looks like it might be my best crop yet. The cabbages look a bit battered but hopefully they will pull through. The broad bean stems have started to thicken up and they look much stronger now since I uncovered them. Some more rhubarb is ready for picking which I forgot to do today, I'll have to do it tomorrow. We have had a storm come overhead whilst I have been writing this, the lightening was lighting up the whole back garden, making up for the nice weather we had today!

And finally..... It is the hubby's birthday tomorrow the big four zero! So I shall bid you goodnight/day as I have presents to wrap and a card to write x

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Washed out!

I am beginning to wonder if this years growing season is ever going to happen. We are still getting a lot of rainfall and very little sun. The strawberries have had all the flowers knocked off! Not going to be many of them this year. The ground is so went you can't work on it and I fear the onions are going to start rotting! There is just no happy medium.

We have had more rainfall in the past two weeks than over the whole of the winter. However all this rain is not having a great impact on filling up the water reserves. It would need to continue raining for the rest of the year to replenish the shortages because of the last two very dry winters. But us gardeners will still persevere and try to grow something.

I think even the girls are fed up with it all, they spend most of the day huddled up under the coop. They only venture out when we have a small break in the rain fall and then get caught out and get all wet and back in they go huddled up together for warmth and to get dry. The run is getting worse by the day. We are expecting severe rainfall and winds tomorrow, Hopefully I will be able to get in there on Monday to try and sort something out.

The seedlings in the summerhouse are coping quite well considering the temperature. I have held off on any more seed sowing as I don't see much point at the moment. The only thing I have sown is some chili seeds as they will grow on the windowsill in the kitchen.

As I can do no gardening I am going to spend the day baking in the kitchen. Have a good weekend everyone where ever you are, whatever you are doing I hope the sun is shining for you x

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A soggy bog!

As you can imagine the title says it all! We have had the first fairly dry day of the week, some sunshine and fairly gusty wind. Everything had taken a good battering, the cabbages look all forlorn and I had to tie up the beans and peas as they had grown quite a bit with the rain.

There was me two weeks ago complaining about my empty water butts which are now overflowing! I have a large container and a few buckets out too which are filling up. I took the dogs for a long run earlier, we have been without a car for a few days so they were desperate to get out, thankfully it was dry but it was rather muddy and the trees were groaning and moaning above. The farmers potatoes are breaking through the surface, it will soon be a sea of green. I saw the Jay again today, he is so quick I still never managed to get a photo!

I went down to the greenhouses a while ago, everything looks dandy. Most of the peas are through and another two courgettes. My Dad popped round and took two trays of flowers home so he left here happy. So now I have some space, I can sow some more seeds! The Cosmos and Marigolds are just poking through and so are the sprouts in the little plastic greenhouse. The cauliflowers are a couple of inches high so I have moved them into the summerhouse before a snail has them for his dinner!

The girls have had a rotten week and spent most of it huddled up under the coop and only venturing out occasionally and getting soaked. I have cleaned out the coop today so it is all clean and snug with fresh bedding. They could really so with a plastic mac and a pair of wellies, there's an idea! The run is one mass of mud and stinks, as soon as we get some better weather I will be digging out the swamp and replacing the slabs. They are so much easier to keep clean, me and my bright idea, hubby has already done the 'I told you so!' We only had the one egg yesterday and four today. As a treat I collected a bucket of grass and weeds from the overgrown side border at the front. Bell promptly trod all over it whilst the others were trying to eat it!

And finally.....My son is on his way home from holiday so as our usual tradition I am cooking a Sunday roast, a whole leg of spring lamb with roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage and peas. Unfortunately nothing home grown.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Rhubarb Rhubarb!

Right I am not going to talk about the weather as it is getting rather repetitive, all I will say it that it is perfect weather for ducks!

I managed to get half an hour out in the garden today and picked our first harvest of the year! As you can probably guess from the post title it was indeed rhubarb. I only picked four stalks as I did not want to leave them growing for much longer otherwise they become rather tough and woody. I have washed, chopped and frozen them for use later. I also picked off another flower and put it in the compost bin along with the leaves.

The sweet peas have reached about 10 inches so I pinched out the tips so they will become bushy and produce more flowers once they get planted out. The girls enjoyed them. I watered the seedling that appeared a little bit on the dry side as I don't want to kill them off through under or over watering. It is starting to warm up a little bit in the greenhouse, I still have not purchased my thermometer yet.

It has stopped raining the past hour and the girls are making the most of it having a good scratch about in the mud! I think I really need to put the slabs back down it is like a quagmire in the run at the moment. They have been quite good the past week by keeping under shelter when it has been raining . They seem to get the idea that you stay out of the rain! We had four eggs today, it always seems that we get four eggs on a Tuesday, funny that.

I decided to flick through my gardening magazines last night, looking for some inspiration in the garden and what I could do whilst the weather (oops, there I go again!) is too wet to actually do any proper gardening. I found several packets of seeds that were still attached to the covers that I had forgotten about. One was Hot Cayenne Chillies which can be sown now so I am going to do those tomorrow. There was also an interesting article by Monty Don all about seed sowing and how to boost germination by using a propagator or heat mat. As I have neither I think I shall be making use of my sons bedroom windowsill again as this gets the most sun (when it shows!) and is generally quite a warm spot.

And finally.....I published the new recipe for my online cooking class Lemon waffle pie! The link is on the recipe page for anyone interested. I made it yesterday and it has already been devoured! Bye for now and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day x

Monday, 23 April 2012

A weekend of all seasons!

We had a weekend of all the seasons rolled into one. Thunder storms, torrential rain, wind and intermittent sunshine. Nothing got done in the garden except I managed to clean out the girls during one of the dry spells.

Broad Beans
It has been a lovely sunny morning and I had a potter about. I had to stake the broad beans as they had been a bit battered with the wind and rain, however they are laden with flowers. The peas that were planted out seem to be doing well.

When I was sorting the broad beans out I noticed that the swede, parsnips and radish have started to come through. I hope that the parsnips and swede are a success this year unlike last year where I had just stalks on the swede and the parsnips did not even show.

The first lot of onions that were sown at the of March
As you can see the onions are growing well. I have planted out the other tray of onions grown from seed and sowed three rows of spring onions, this bed is now full up. I am still deciding what to grow in the other raised bed.

Things must be warming up, things are really starting to move in the greenhouse! Two new tomatoes, another courgette, chili and the peas are about an inch high. In the little plastic greenhouse, brussell sprouts, marigolds and the cosmos are starting to appear.

The potato bags needed topping up again and I planted out the last three strawberry plants. I had run out of space and did not know where to put them. I had three large pots that I was going to put the chili plants in but have decided to grow the chili's in the greenhouse so I used two of these pots for the strawberries. I shall buy some large plastic pots to grow the chili's in.

I sowed some dwarf french beans, and some more broccoli and purple sprouting broccoli as the ones I had sown earlier had died as I has sprayed them with a rhubarb poison solution by mistake. I was in the summerhouse and not looking grabbed the spray bottle that I thought was water and it wasn't until I had given them a good spray that I realized my mistake. I was hoping they would survive but it was not to be. I have now put the rhubarb solution on the shelf so I don't make that mistake again!

The girls have had a hectic weekend of running back and forth undercover. I think they have finally learnt that when it is raining to stay inside! We had seven eggs in all over the weekend and another two today. I had a good look inside the coop especially in the corners to make sure I could not the any Red mite and it all looks clear.

As It was not the weather for gardening I spent most of the weekend updating a few of my web pages, The Humble Garden Trug, Gift Ideas for the Gardening Female and a Keeper of Hens. If you would like to visit these web pages I have listed the links below or you can look on the other pages of this blog and access all of my web pages.
The Humble Garden Trug
Gift Ideas for the female gardener
A Keeper of hens

And finally.....There is nothing else I can do in the garden today, so I am going to do some cooking. I am making a Lemon Waffle pie, which is the latest recipe for my online cooking class and shall be published tomorrow. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day. Thanks for visiting x

Friday, 20 April 2012

Oh a little bit of sunshine!

I woke up to a glorious sunny day, it was so nice to see the sun and feel the warmth, even if it was only for a little while. I took the dogs for a walk it was rather muddy and breezy but great to feel the sun on my face.

I have had a few hours in the garden. I finally managed to get the flowerbed done. I planted three Dahlia tubers in the center and in two of the corners I scattered some Viscaria, patio mixed flowers. These look great in any borders and look fantastic planted in groups. These are a dainty little flower of mixed color. In the other two corners I sowed some Larkspur, Cloudy skies mixed. Again these are a great border filler and look great planted out in drifts or groups. Along the sides I scattered a mixture of Cornflower, snowman, which makes an ideal cut flower. Nigella, Persian jewel mixed. Which will give bursts of color and finally Poppy Cherry glow. Hopefully if all grows well it will make an attractive feature in the garden.

I weeded the veg plot and took the last bit of covering of the broad beans. These have been out all winter and thrived in the snow, wind, hail and rain so I'm sure they will be alright. I have sown some more in pots just in case. I had a look at the peas and there were only five plants left out of the fifty that I had sown in November. I planted out the ones that were ready to go out and will put some fleece on them later today.

I potted up some more Nasturtiums and the Sweet peas I planted out earlier in the week have grown an inch! The rhubarb has another two flowers forming so when they get a bit bigger and are easier to remove I shall do so. I never had one flower on it last year and now that is three this year.

I have managed to get hold of a cutting from an Elderberry bush. I am going to see if I can get it to root and if it does I shall plant it in the side border of the front garden. I'll keep you posted on that one.

The girls have been fairly quiet today, they had their scraps this morning and a bucket of weeds this afternoon and are now pecking about the run until it starts to rain and then they make a mad dash for the coop. Octavia spends most of the day when she is not eating standing by the gate waiting for me to give them something. She stood on one leg for ages just looking out, daft old thing.

And finally..... It is the end of yet another week and a bottle of rose' is chilling. I hope you all have a great weekend wherever you are and what ever you may be doing x

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Unhappy gardeners abound!

I have been reading through the comment sections on various gardening forums and it seems that many gardeners are having a grumble about this unpredictable weather. Seeds are not germinating in greenhouses and things that have are just not growing as well as last year. Trying to harden things off before planting them out but when do you plant out? Is it safe to yet? Should we take the fleece off yet? On the one hand this is good news for me as I now know I am not the only one having these problems and it is not something I have done wrong! But on the other hand it is so damn frustrating!

I managed to get an hour in the garden this morning. The sky has been threatening and black. It is quite surprising what you can achieve in an hour. I weeded both the raised beds, planted out a tray of onions, whether these will survive is another matter! I thought I'd plant out one tray and see what happens. If they start to take off I will plant out the others. The onion setts I planted out two weeks ago are now sprouting. If all goes well I shall have my large string of onions that I have always coveted! I visited a friends allotment last year and looked at his strings of onions with envy compared to my one paltry string of twenty four!

The second lot of potatoes that were sown several weeks ago had just broken through the soil, so I added more soil to the growbags. Speaking of potatoes I had two that were emerging through in one of the raised beds. I have never grown potatoes in the bed, but it must of come from the compost bin when I emptied it into the raised bed when it was made. I dug out the offending articles as this is where I am planting the onions, and there is no room for a rogue potato!

Two weeks ago I filled the hanging baskets with compost and added some Growmore fertilizer ready to plant up some strawberries. With all this rain they had become water-logged. I punctured the plastic liner with holes so the water could drain out and I will hopefully be able to plant up the strawberry plants tomorrow.

I planted up a trough of carrots and have placed it in the greenhouse. I have never had much luck with carrots so I thought I would try this method out and hopefully I won't have the problem of the dreaded carrot fly.

And finally.....The sun is shining again so I am going to venture out and sow some seeds in the central flowerbed. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day x

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wellies at the ready!

It has been yet another rather wet day here and only now is the sun showing through the thick cloud. I had a wander round the garden and had a look in the greenhouses earlier. The potatoes have broken through the soil in the bags again but I can't fill them as the soil is already at the top, I just hope we don't get any more frost, but who am I kidding! The peas are really coming on now most of the peas are through which is good news.

I braved the wet and wind and cleaned the girls out about an hour ago and typical now it has stopped raining! We had three eggs today, the girls are now having a good preen as they have been huddled under the coop most of the day to stay in the dry.

I wrapped up and I went for a walk with the dogs, luckily the rain had stopped just as we got there and didn't start again until we got back to the car. It was really windy and it is quite eerie with all the trees towering above you creaking and groaning in the wind. I took a few photos.....

 Clyde having a rest on the right, Max is still wanting to play Frisbee, and I think they are blue bells, a branch that has fallen with the wind, I always fear that when I am out walking the dogs when it is windy that I am going to get hit by a large falling branch or tree! It is usually the acorns I get hit on the head with. And finally some Lichen growing on one of the trees. It is amazing how intricate and pretty fungus can look.

I am hoping tomorrow will be a better day as I really need to get these peas in the ground and plant out some of the onions that I have sown from seed. I have decided what I am going to do with the central flowerbed, and hopefully I'll get round to doing it tomorrow.

And finally..... I am out for dinner tonight so I shall bid you all a good evening/day x

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A gardeners lot!

We have had all weathers today, wind, rain, hail and intermittent sunshine, so there was no gardening today. With all this rain everywhere is looking rather lush. We shall be having our first harvest of the year from the garden at the weekend. The rhubarb is almost ready for picking it has grown so much these past two weeks. The garlic and onions that were planted out last winter are starting to thicken up nicely too.

I have been thinking about mulching the garden, but if this weather keeps up will I need to worry! Since the hosepipe ban was announced it has not stopped raining. The local water company have been sending information in the post about conserving water and running a win a water butt competition online, which consequently I did not win. Most gardening sites and forums are talking about how to conserve water and how to cope with the drought and still be able to garden.

That is the thing with gardening you plan what you are going to grow for the oncoming season the winter before. However nothing goes to plan as we humble gardeners are always dictated to by mother nature and her whims. Even trying to harden the plants of is becoming a nightmare at the moment running in and out especially when the hail comes along. What I find frustrating is remembering how things were doing last year and how things are not doing so well now.

The girls have been busy running back and forth to keep out the the rain, they did look a rather soggy looking bunch earlier, but they have started to fluff up their feathers and dry out. We only had the two eggs today, just enough for the yorkshire puddings I am making to go with the roast beef for dinner.

I braved the weather and walked the dogs, I was just out in the open area when it decided to pelt down with hail, so it was a mad dash to get back among the trees for cover. Max got a thorn stuck in his paw which I managed to remove, and he went chasing off after his Frisbee whilst Clyde went scampering off on some scent that he had found.

And finally..... It has come over black again so more rain is imminent, I shall bid you a good evening/day. Before I go I have done my first book review, why not go and check it out.  My Place

Monday, 16 April 2012

Frozen fingers and toes!

I spent almost two hours in the garden and had to come back inside as I could no longer feel my fingers and toes. It was sunny however it was bitterly cold. I managed to weed the flowerbeds in the front, I had a large bucket full of weeds which the girls dived on with relish! The flowerbed right at the front was full of seeds which fell of the flowers that I planted last year. I have left these in and once they have grown some more I shall remove some to allow room for them to grow. I have only weeded the central flowerbed as I'm not sure what to plant there yet.

The girls are presently throwing the last few remaining weeds around the run. Octavia has dug yet another hole under the coop. I know it was her as she was filthy! We had three eggs today, so poached eggs or omelettes for breakfast tomorrow!

The  Onward peas that were sowed a few weeks ago are now emerging, there are also two tomato plants and another courgette now breaking through the soil, things are starting to grow! The second lot of potatoes are now breaking through the surface so I covered them with soil to protect them against any frost.

In celebration of National Gardening week I published a webpage about creating a cut flower garden. I adore having flowers in the home, but buying these can be quite expensive, by growing my own I not only have a lovely flower garden but I am able to bring the garden indoors to enjoy too.

By choosing the right plants you could have cut flowers from March through to November. Also  why not try planting some foliage plants to give your bouquet a professional appearance.  Want to have a go at creating your own cut flower garden then why not pay a visit to Create a simple cut flower garden

And finally.....I would like to welcome all my new viewers and thank you for visiting and hope you all will continue to visit and that you enjoy reading  my ramblings as much as I do writing them x

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Hairy hedgehogs!

Been a rather chilly day, we had hail this morning and it has been raining on and off all day. The forecast for the coming week does not show much improvement. I have not done anything in the garden today. I have been down to the greenhouses and summerhouse to have a peek and see how things are doing and sprayed the seedlings. I have found a snail in the greenhouse and the girls enjoyed that tasty morsel!

The girls had a feast this morning Dory was so excited that she laid an egg there and then on the ground! They always lay them in the nesting boxes. Matilda spent a lot of time clucking and twittering in the coop. She is not very impressed when I remove the eggs whilst she pops out to feed and drink and goes straight back in twittering again.

Remember I was on about using hair in the garden, well this article popped up on my face book wall, Using hair and hedgehogs. It is suggesting that by using hair as a mulch around your plants it protects them from attacks  of the slugs and by encouraging hedgehogs into your garden also helps. To read more about it visit:
Using hair and hedgehogs

The plans for this week are to sort out the flowerbeds in the front garden, hopefully we will get a dry period so I can get it done. There is some new information on the additional pages of the blog. I am slowly adding to them.

And finally.....I hope you have all had a great weekend and that some of you managed to get out and enjoy your gardens x

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Water butt takes a tumble!

I went down the garden earlier to check out how things were doing and noticed that the water butt down by the summer house was over and empty! My first thought was one of the dogs had done it, but the water butt was full and would of been to heavy for one on them to knock over. On closer inspection I saw that the stand the butt was standing on has split and broke. The butt also has a crack in it now but its at the top thankfully so will still serve its purpose. I have now stacked a pile of slabs and placed the water butt on top of it.

It was quite sunny but chilly earlier but the rain has came back again. I just managed to plant out the Primo cabbages and was about to do the peas when it started to rain quite heavy, they will have to wait till later. I managed to do some weeding also but still have the raised beds to do.
Protected cabbages!

The peas I sowed two weeks ago seem to be making an appearance and one of the aubergines has popped up too! There are some more flowers ready to be pricked out and some of the sweet peas really need to be planted out too. I know they say we need the rain, but it would be much more convenient if it rained at night!

As it was nice this morning I took the opportunity of scrubbing out the coop, as I was putting it back together again once it had dried Matilda was trying to get back in the nesting box. I think she has gone all broody again as I had to scoop her out earlier to clean it. They had already laid their eggs for the day, they had all laid an egg each which she was sitting on.

The onions I planted out several weeks ago have grown really well, I have taken the netting off these ones but left it over the ones I planted out two weeks ago as they are only now sprouting and the pigeons will think they are tasty worms!

And finally..... The rain has stopped so I am going back out to finish off weeding and hopefully get the peas planted. Have a good evening/day all x

Friday, 13 April 2012

National Gardening week 16 - 22 April

Next week is National gardening week and there are lots of events around the UK to celebrate gardening. Take a look at the National Gardening week face book page National Gardening week This is a new event to celebrate and encourage more people to get gardening and growing. Gardening has several benefits, it incorporates a healthier style of living, is a great form of exercise, the whole family can do it together and it is great fun and you can eat what you grow and save money!

Still thinking about growing your own vegetables? There is some great advice to get you started on my web page Growing your own vegetables

The sun had been shining today, and the the heavens opened up yet again! I have had a look in the greenhouse and the herbs that I sowed a few weeks ago have started to germinate and another couple of the tomatoes and a courgette have decided to show their little faces. Everything that is in the garden is growing quite well with all this rain especially the weeds! Hopefully tomorrow will be a dry day to get out there and get rid of them.

The girls have been cleaned we had three eggs today. They were being quite vocal earlier but since it has been raining they are all huddled up under the coop in the dry. Dory was on the ladder earlier trying to get at my clematis that is growing the other side of the trellis behind the coop. It has really started to grow this past week, she was obviously bored with the cabbage and cauliflower leaves!

It has been rather cold lately which is probably why my seeds are either taking a long time or not germinating. I have been doing the seed shuffle yet again, moving those that have grown quite well into the greenhouse and those that have yet to do anything into the summerhouse as it is well insulated and probably a lot warmer than the greenhouse. Fingers crossed I will seem some improvement.

I have just bottled up the sloe gin I made in October. All I can say is WOW! I'm not a lover of gin but this does taste great and it sure does pack a punch! I shall being making lots more this year and I am also hoping to have a go at making some wine.

And finally.....As it is too wet to go outside I am going to potter about in the kitchen and make a beef and vegetable cobbler using vegetables from last years harvest that have been sitting in the freezer. I wish you all an enjoyable evening/day and hope you all have a great weekend x

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

No two years are the same.

It has been raining on and off all day, so there has been no gardening today for me. The girls have been busy darting in and out of the coop because of the rain. We only had the two eggs today. When they were given their scraps this morning there was a lot of flapping and clucking that they even knocked the lid off the feeder.

I have been reading through my blog that I wrote last year to see how different things were and I did not realize but it was a year ago last weekend when we went to collect the girls. It does not seem like a year, it made me laugh reading their antics and the chicken run we had to do in the evening due to the girls escaping.

The vegetable garden was a lot different too, I had already planted the peas out and things were further on than they are this year, especially now with my little disaster. To read the blog you can click on the following link.
A bit of the Good Life

And finally..... Some of you may have noticed I have started another blog. I have decided to spread my wings in a different field that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. It is called Literary Reviews and  I will be exploring and discussing whatever book I happen to be reading. If you like reading then why not join me on my new journey. I wish you all an enjoyable evening/day x

Literary Review

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Puzzled and frustrated!

You'll be pleased to know my water butts are full! We had quite a bit of rain yesterday, it had been a rather sunny day today, but we did just have a little thunder storm pass over. It came over right black and everything including the birds went quiet, it was quite eerie.

The girls have been cleaned out today, we had three eggs. When I gave them their scraps this morning Octavia was busy in the nesting box. The girls were not impressed with the cauliflower leaves they received after yesterdays concoction. Octavia was even less impressed as by the time she came out of the nesting box the others had almost devoured the leaves, so she went flying after them to chase them away from what was left. She is such a bossy boots!

Now you are probably wondering why I am puzzled and frustrated, well I'm puzzled because the seeds sown in the last 6 - 8 weeks are not really germinating yet the ones I sowed in January early February have done quite well. The January and February sowing were kept in the summerhouse and the later sowing's have been put in both of the greenhouses. The soil in the summerhouse is often dry yet the soil in the greenhouses remains wet. I have thrown out two trays of peas today as the peas had appeared to have rotted. I don't water them everyday but I do water them with the watering can where as the ones in the summerhouse are just sprayed with water from a spray bottle.

So my conclusion is that it surely must be a watering problem. The trays on the top two shelves of the rack seem to be alright but it is the lower shelves that are the problem. They are getting more water due to being watered and getting the water that comes off the top shelf also.

Everything that has not germinated has been composted and I have moved the trays about in the greenhouses. I have sown more peas, sweetcorn, brussel sprouts and cabbages this afternoon and even though it takes a lot longer I will water them with the spray bottle and hopefully I will see some improvement. So now I'm frustrated with myself as I am now behind in my sowing's and for not being more diligent with my watering.

On a brighter note all the fruit is growing really well the onions and garlic are starting to thicken. The broad beans now have lots of flowers on but I have still kept the fleece on them to protect them against any frost.
cabbages have doubled in size 
Sprouting broccoli 
To think this was just a brown twig a few weeks ago
another couple of weeks and we shall have some rhubarb

And finally.....I hope you enjoy reading my ramblings. I'm now going to do some reading ready for my first book review! Have a good evening/day everyone x

Monday, 9 April 2012

Hello Mr Robin

It has been a miserable wet day here, as they say typical bank holiday weather. I have been working on the computer all day so it has not bothered me especially as my water butts will be filling up!

The girls have been digging about in the rain and looked rather bedraggled! They were feasting on the worms that the rain had brought to the surface of the soil. They enjoyed a big bowl of leftover mashed potato and vegetables from yesterdays lunch too. We only had the two eggs today.

Whilst I have been sitting here editing I have noticed that we have had a little robin that keeps popping in and out of the hedge. It must have a nest there. I must admit we have had quite a few birds visiting the garden, we get a lot of blue tits in the tree and I have also noticed more sparrows and chaffinches flying about the big silver birch tree we have at the end of the garden.

At the end of January this year the Royal Society Protection of Birds encouraged people across the UK to become involved in the Big Garden bird watch. The public who had taken part were asked to watch and count birds for an hour and state which birds were coming into their gardens. With hedgerows becoming less common and replaced with wooden fences, the wild common birds appeared to be in decline. Over the last couple of years more and more people are concerning themselves with feeding the wild birds and putting up birdhouses. At the local garden center last weekend there was a big display dedicated to bird tables, feeder, drinkers and food for the wild birds.

At present we have two birdhouses attached to the big tree and a hanger full of nuts, and I have purchased another two houses that I am going to nail to the summerhouse just under the eve of the roof. Encouraging wild birds in the garden is also a way of being an organic gardener as the birds help to control the pests that savage our plants. So next time you are down the DIY store and see the wild bird products for sale remember the good they do for your garden.

And finally..... As the bank holiday draws to a close, I hope you have all had a lovely weekend where ever you are x

Further reading.....
An oddity among the rhubarb!
Among the muck!
Talking herbs and flowers

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you all. I hope you have had a good day and have not eaten to many chocolate eggs! It has been a rather wet day here and is now only starting to dry up. It's a good job I got the water butts sorted as lots of rainfall has been predicted for next week. The garden certainly looks better for the rain.

There has been no gardening for me today, we went to the boot sale, on the way there it started to rain. There were quite a few stalls and lots of people had ventured out. I did not manage to find any suitable containers for the garden and there were no plants that took my fancy. However I did purchase three old screwdrivers which were much needed as the magic fairy that resides in our home and make things disappear had taken my screwdrivers and hidden them with all the other things that goes missing. So I have hidden these in my tool box so they will not be going anywhere unless I use them. I bought two cauliflowers and also got a free bag of greens for the girls.

Speaking of the girls we had four eggs today, they have been busy scrabbing away in the bark looking for worms and grubs. They are presently having a preening session as they decided to stay out in the rain and have been flapping about to dry them selves off.

I had a walk down to the greenhouses earlier to see how things were doing and noticed that the purple sprouting broccoli is now producing lush looking sprigs of purple. Hopefully we will have some next weekend with Sunday lunch. These were planted out last August and I was going to pull them up as I did not think anything was going to come of them. That is until I read an article about how long they take to produce and I decided to leave them there, I'm glad I read that article now.

Hubby has gone fishing for the night, rather him than me is all I can say, sitting out all night in this cold wet weather. I don't see any pleasure in it at all, sitting in the dark and waiting, being battered by the wind and rain on the coast.

And finally.....I had just put a cake in the oven when I sat down to write this and the kitchen smells heavenly.   So I shall bid you a good evening/day and hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend. I am off to enjoy a slice of cake with a cup of tea x

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The girls have been having a great time in the run today. I lifted up the slabs and piled them up one side and there were hundreds of worms and other wiggly things. I put down the bark and let the girls out of the enclosure and it was one mad rush. Bark was flying in all directions with lots of clucking and flapping. It was like a scene from the January sales! They are still now busy flicking and digging. We only had the two eggs today however we all enjoyed poached eggs with breakfast this morning.

I have been quite busy pottering about in the garden today. I planted out the remaining strawberry plants,quite a few already have flowers on.

I pricked out some of the flowers that were sown several weeks ago and potted them up. For those of you that don't know what pricking out is, it is where you have sown seeds in a tray and you need to carefully lift them out and put them into individual pots. It is quite a fiddly job and you have to be so careful not to damage the little plants. There were Malope, Lychins and Sweet Williams, I done about a hundred plants today. My dad has been busy digging new flowerbeds so he will be pleased as he will have plenty of plants to fill them up with.
seedlings potted
Prior to pricking out

I sowed some French marigolds today, these are ideal as a companion plant, which will be planted among the vegetables as they help to keep pests away from your crops as the snails and other bugs love them and they help to attract the bees which aides pollination. A great way to be more organic in you pest control. I also sowed some cosmos from seeds that I saved from last years plants. These are prolific with their seed scattering and there are hundreds emerging in one of the flower beds in the front which still needs to be removed. Another job to add to my ever expanding to do list!

We are gradually getting through the job list, whether they will all get done is anybodies guess. We are going to Ardleigh tomorrow, where they have a big bootsale. I am after some more containers for the garden and I might even grab a plant or two! If you are starting out on gardening bootsales are the ideal place to buy your gardening tools. Not only is it cheaper but you often find the tools are much better quality than if you were to buy new cheaper tools. Last year I bought a ladies gardening fork for £8.00, it was old but very good quality and condition. If I were to buy a new one it would of been double the price.

The herbs I sowed a couple of weeks ago are now starting to shoot as are the extra tomato plants. One of the courgettes is up, and I'm hoping it won't be long before the others are out too. Still no sign of the pumpkins or aubergines yet though.

It has been a rather chilly day however the sun is now shining. I think we are in for some rain again tonight, which is great as my water butts are still standing empty!

And finally....I have a glass of rose' with my name on so I shall bid you all a good evening/day x

Opps I nearly forgot some new recipes have been added, so why not take a look and see if anything takes your fancy

Friday, 6 April 2012

What a day!

We ventured of to the local D.I.Y store with a list of things we had to get, we took our sons car which had not been used for a while. We got everything we needed including a humane mousetrap as we have a mouse loose  in the house! We loaded it all into the car and it would not start! We tried pushing it and managed to get it going only for it to conk out yet again. So we had to get a taxi back home and get in our car with a set of jump leads and go back to the D.I.Y store and managed to get our sons car back home again. As you can imagine this was not a good start to the day. We did not manage to get as much done as we had hoped.

We have managed to move the water butt and get that sorted and a couple of jobs round the house have been done too. I have planted some Onward peas today and planted out the strawberry plants. The potatoes needed more soil added and I potted up one lot of Nasturtium as they had grown quite a bit.

The girls laid three eggs today, they have been busy digging under the coop again. I bought the bark today and I will be sorting out their run tomorrow. They will have a great time digging about in the bark.

And finally...... It has started to rain thank goodness, hopefully my butts will soon start to fill up! I wish you all an enjoyable evening/day x

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Well I never!

We appear to escaped any bad weather in fact the sun has been glorious today even if it has turned rather cold.  I never used to take any notice of the weather forecasts, but once you get into growing vegetables it takes on a whole new meaning. We had a little bit of rain and this weekend is the start of a hosepipe ban. I never really use my hosepipe anyway, I prefer to use my watering can. It does take a lot longer but it is so peaceful outside in the evenings that I quite enjoy watering the garden.

I always consider April to be a critical time for the humble gardener. Seed trays are everywhere, and what has not germinated has to be sown again. You are having to put plants in and out everyday to get them used to the change in temperature. Covering and uncovering, trying to keep on top of the endless weeds that always grow better than your plants! Your plants become your babies, you nurture, feed and take care of them. Get upset when something happens, you make sure they are warm enough or not too hot. No two years are ever the same, well not for me anyway and it is the excitement and anticipation of what is going to grow that makes gardening so enjoyable and of course the food that you get to eat.

The girls have thoroughly enjoyed their cabbage leaves this week and I have to say that the cauliflowers tasted great too. I have not had chance to get to the market this week, so the girls will have to make do with just leftovers and the bucket of weeds that I am hoping to remove this weekend. We had two eggs yesterday and four today which is good as I used up eight eggs yesterday making an oven baked omelette for dinner last night. (recipe on recipe page)

Some of you regulars have probably noticed I have changed the color on here again. I felt the green was just a bit to hard on the eye when reading through. I hope you prefer it too.

A busy weekend lies ahead for me, I have several jobs that need to be done and I have enlisted hubby's help, not that he knows that yet, all he knows is that I have a list!

  1. Sort out the remaining water butt
  2. Lift up the slabs in the chicken run and replace with bark
  3. clean out the summerhouse
  4. clean out the garage
  5. and a multitude of jobs around the house!
I'm sure he will manage to fit in a fishing trip among that little lot and then I have the weeding to do and I want to sort out the flowerbeds in the front garden. The dahlias are needing to be planted and hopefully I can start clearing the side bed to make room for the cut flowers I have planned. Hopefully there will be plenty of photos for you next week.

And finally.....I wish you all a very happy Easter weekend whatever you may be doing x

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Scarf, gloves and hat at the ready!

Everything is wrapped and protected now as we sit and wait to see what comes. Parts of the country has seen snow and sleet and in large areas rain. So far I have just had a few drops of rain but it has turned rather cold. I have my hat, scarf and gloves on the table in the lobby ready for walking the dogs tomorrow and I always wear my wellies even if the sun is shining!

The girls laid two eggs today, I think they spent most of their energy on emptying out the coop! There was bedding and newspaper scattered all in the run. I cleaned out the coop and cleaned up the mess they had made. They sure are a mucky bunch.

I sowed a few more seeds today some sweetcorn and a couple more of tomato. I will need to sow some more cabbages and peas but I think I will give it a week or two before doing anymore sowing and hope that the weather improves.

I removed the flower from the rhubarb today and hope that by doing so this cold weather will not cause any damage to it. The little round ball behind the pinkish flower looks like it is going to be another flower. I only planted the rhubarb last year so we did not get to have much from it as you are not supposed to take anything from it during it's first growing year. It seemed such a waste that I did take four stalks and made a small crumble with it. It looks like there is going to be plenty this year though.

And finally.....Just as I am finishing this the heavens have opened and my water butt will be filling up nicely. I bid you a good evening or day x

Monday, 2 April 2012

An oddity among the rhubarb!

Well the sun was still shining today, all gardeners are talking weather in the forums. It is supposed to change mid-week. Everyone is busy placing fleece and cloches on everything in a vain hope it will survive. We had a very warm spring last year followed by a wet summer, throwing everything in the garden out of sync. I wonder what this year will hold for the humble gardener.

Whilst having my daily wander around the garden doing my inspections this evening I noticed something rather odd looking growing out of the rhubarb. The only way I can describe it is that it looks like a head of broccoli. After a quick look on the web I have since found out that this is in-fact a rhubarb flower and needs to be removed as it takes all the goodness away from the production of the rhubarb. My battery had run out on my camera so I will post a photo tomorrow before I remove the flower.

Two of the pepper seeds have started to emerge today, however my seed germination does not appear to be as good as last year due to the much cooler weather we have had this year compared to this time last year. It has obviously had an effect on seed germination. I think I will look into getting a heater for the greenhouse for next winter to help speed things up a bit.

The girls laid two eggs today, Matilda has been busy jumping for flies, whilst Octavia was contending in the cabbage leaf chuck! She would take a peck at the leaf then fling it over her head. It was quite comical to watch and Dory and Bell were having a tug of war with a cabbage leaf stem. They sure will make great contenders for the chicken Olympics!

And finally..... It's getting late and my bed is calling. I'll bid you goodnight and good day x

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The calm before the storm?

It has been a beautiful sunny day here, it is colder inside than it is standing out in the sun. Will this be the last sunny day I wonder as the weather has been predicted to turn this week.

We have had a pleasant day meeting up with family members who we hadn't seen since last summer. The buffet was huge, so everyone had plenty to eat and take home!  I was chatting to one of my uncles who grows all his own vegetables too, he has an allotment and he was saying that when he was down there yesterday everyone was busy putting fleece over their early crops of peas and beans.

I came home and quickly got changed and had an hour pottering about in the garden. first job was to cover the few remaining strawberry plants with some fleece. My search for some more strawberry plants is over, my uncle is dropping round next week with a dozen strawberry plants. They are runners from last years crop, these are the long stems that run from the main strawberry plant and if potted up will take root and form new plants for the following year.

It's great when you get the chance to meet up with other vegetable growers as you are able to swap plants and share growing tips and ideas. This is one of the many benefits of having an allotment and you can also get to try new crops with vegetable swaps once they have been harvested.

I had to put some more soil in the potato bags as the tips were starting to show again and I don't want them to be hit by the frost and maybe snow. I weeded the large bed where I have planted the onions, the warm weather had also spurred on the weeds.

The girls have only had some cabbage leaves and some left over cooked cauliflower today, so they have probably been quite noisy whilst we were out. We had three eggs today, so I will soon know if reducing their scraps makes any difference to how many eggs we get.

That pesky snail has been busy again in the little greenhouse. The sweetcorn shoots that were there yesterday have now disappeared! I will sow some more tomorrow to make sure I will have a crop of sweetcorn and put these in the big greenhouse.

For those of you that missed yesterdays post, I have put on the photos as I had promised earlier in the week.

And finally.....After a rather busy weekend I'm going to put my feet up and watch some TV. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend x

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