Cut Flower Beds, the plans for 2010…

I sat down this morning to plan my cutting beds for 2010, can’t help but realise as I type this that I had planned to change one of the cutting beds (of which I have 4) to a vegetable bed as I grow quite a few of the ‘cutting flowers’ in my main beds and don’t have as much room as I would like for vegetables, oh well, too late now!

I started the same was as I always do, with mini prints of the planned flowers.  I will confess to being a bit bored of my cutting selection, so much so that I made very little effort last year but having done a bit of research over winter, I find that the plants I grow (mainly recommended by Sarah Raven) really are the best for cut flowers and I can’t possibly throw any seed away so I am making a point of planning early and using up my existing seeds.  The mini prints allow me to lay them out on the table and move them about until I have a good combination.  I try to keep taller flowers together, so to they can be supported at the same height, I also try to keep Hardy Annuals at the top of the bed and the Half Hardies at the front so they aren’t overshadowed as they go into the beds later in the year and the sun comes mainly from the front.

So, here they are my lists.

Bed 1

  • Euphorbia Oblongata (HA) x 4
  • Cerinth Major Purpurascens (HA) 2 Rows x 5 each

Bed 2

  • Salvia Viridis – Blue Clary (HA) x 5
  • Bupleurum (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Elegans, Sprite Mix (HHA) 2 Rows x 5 each
  • Nicotiana Alata – Lime Green (HHA) 2 Rows x 5 each
  • Salvia Paterns (HHA) x 5
  • Anthirrhinum – Crimson Classic (HHA) x 5

Bed 3

  • Calendula Officialis – Indian Prince (HA) x 4
  • Nigella Damascena – Deep Blue (HA) x 5
  • Nigella Hispanica (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Deep Red (HHA) x 5
  • Bupleurum (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Giant Dahlia Mix (HHA) x 5
  • Amaranthus Caudatus – Viridis (HHA) 2 Rows x 4 each

Bed 4

  • Helianthus Annus – Chianti (HA) 2 Rows x 4 each
  • Ammi Majus (HA) x 4
  • Centaurea Cyanus – Blue Boy (HA) x 4
  • Malope Trifida Vulcan (HA) x 3
  • Cosmos – Purity (HHA) x 3
  • Scabiosa – Black Cat (HA) x 3
  • Cosmos – Dazzler (HHA) x 3

So that’s it, my planned lists for 2010.  There are some self seeded Hardy Annuals already growing which I shall move into place (a good reason for keeping some of the flowers in the same beds) and I started a few in the greenhouse last Autumn, some of which didn’t make the Winter but I’ll update on this another time.  There are also only a handful of plants planned for Bed 1 as it contains my bulbs in between the rows and in the last 2 years I have found that the bulb foliage overshadows any new seedlings trying to grow.

Recipe Books…

I have been hunting for a new blank recipe book for a while, I knew it had to be a ring binder style and have index cards etc for me to transfer my various notes, piled up on the shelf that have no order and fall all over the place whenever I pull a book out.  It’s just one of many things I mean to get around to that never actually happens, but at our pretend Christmas lunch, my brother and sister were both asking after various of Gran’s recipes so I had a little on-line hunt for the perfect book.

I found what I was after at Paperchase online (via Amazon – sadly they look out of stock as I write this), I think it was about £9 and is perfect.  It has index cards and refill paper is available, my only criticism is thet they don’t sell a three punch, hole punch so I had to faff about doing the holes individually.

I also bought one each for my brother and sister and copied out Gran’s key recipes onto card, complete with some of the photos from this Christmas on the Festive recipes.  I had hoped to give these as part of their Christmas presents but the books and card were held up in the post with the bad weather and have only recently arrived.

I have also been doing a spot of Sale shopping, in the above case at Jme (Jamie Oliver online shop).  I was so annoyed at the quite frankly crap contents of our crackers this year I couldn’t resist buying these ones designed for ‘cooks and gardeners’ and a set for kids.  They contain treats that are actually of use and were half price, along with the cards which contain seeds to grow your own tree.   I know, I know, it’s pretty sad to buy things now for next year, but they have been stored away in the box with all our decorations and stuffed in the hatch along with some nice Sale cards from Paperchase.

My final photo is off my attempt to make a quick bird feeder from the cupboard contents.  We had a lot of seeds, nuts and dried fruit going well out of date so I mixed them with melted fat then put them back into containers with hangers for the tree (with twigs stuck in there to perch on).  I was a bit disappointed to find not all the birds in our area, flocking to my fancy treat but then noticed all my neighbours are also feeding the birds in style (better style than me to be honest).  In fact, I couldn’t help notice that the birds are looking rather ball shaped, I assumed it was all the good food they’re getting until I heard on ‘Snowwatch‘ that birds ‘fuff’ up at this time of year to keep warm.  Good to know, I was worried I had added to a potential obese bird problem.

As I write our local woodpecker is eating my home made fat balls, so all is not wasted, Oh and the fox is wandering around beyond the fence, he is here most days having a little potter.  I have tried to take photos  but my windows are so shamefully dirty it just doesn’t work.  On which note, I’m off to inspect the damage in the garden now most of the snow has melted and to see if any of the broccoli/chard/lettuce has survived the big freeze.

Happy New Year!

Just a bit late, but hope you had a lovely time.  We had a very relaxing (as much as it can be with hyper sweet fed young children) time.  I just couldn’t do the planned pared down lunch in the end and opted for the full hog, I just didn’t feel very Christmassy on the day, almost a bit lost but as soon as I decided to cook the full lunch and put the radio on to find Carols at Kings in session everything clicked into place.  Was I genetically born to be chained to the kitchen sink?  I prefer to think I am just happier multi tasking and busy, ideally with glass of wine in hand…when appropriate, obviously.

So, with the freezer bread sauce and stuffing, and some parsnips from the garden (despite snow still on the ground I managed to prize up a few) and with all the rest of the lunch ingredients that had remained on my Ocado delivery we had a full all singing all dancing Christmas meal.  It was yummy and oddly didn’t take up that much time, must have been the canape making that made me so busy the weekend before.

I did extremely well on the foodie present front.  My brother gets a HUGE round of applause for delivering mushroom plugs (I will beg a few hardwood logs from our neighbour to plug them into – more about that later), River Cottage ‘Every Day‘ and…drum roll please…Yorkshire Wine. I kid you not, really there are Vineyards in Yorkshire, more than one I believe.  We got a bottle of Seyval from Leventhorpe Vineyard in Leeds, I have no idea how it tastes, I’ll report back when we open it.    There is also a bottle of fruit wine, Gooseberry, from Yorkshire Country Wine based at Glasshouses, Harrogate.  From this link you can see the other English suppliers including our local Meopham Valley Vineyard, who sell on-line.  I really recommend their sparkling wines, last year I ordered a case to give away as Christmas presents having already bought it a number of times from the local Farmer’s Market and 2 hours later a nice bloke knocked on my door with the delivery (we are kind of local), how about that for service?

My sister also turned up trumps with a copy of Michael Roux Jr’s ‘A Life in the Kitchen‘, signed not once, but twice the second being ‘To Beth, Big Kiss, Michel Roux’, oh yes Big Kiss.  My sis ate in his restaurant and took the already signed book along and asked him to sign for me after telling him how much I like to cook.  How nice is that.

I also had many other lovely presents, but back to the point of this blog, the garden.  It’s survived being covered in snow for a week, the longest I have known since we moved here to Kent and although a bit squashed most things look OK.  The tops of the parsnips have dissolved into a slimy mess but they need eating now and can stay in the ground until needed.  I bravely put the broad beans outside after the snow as they were getting a bit ‘green’ on the soil surface due to the humidity inside the greenhouse and they also look to be surviving.  I was surprised to note that the Chard is still there after being coated in snow, last year the first prolonged frost killed them but they are hanging on this time as are the Kale, covered still in giant cloches and still not really a usable size, I think it will be spring before we can eat them.

We are due another cold spell with a bit of snow over the next week so we’ll see how they all do, hopefully on their own as I am planning to stay cosy indoors and read all my new books!