Getting Started….

DSC_0022As most people know, we’re not having the best spring weather here in the UK.  Last week it snowed, since then it has rained continuously and is still rather cold.  It makes working in the garden very hard, not just that I get sodden (which, oddly, I don’t mind all that much) but it’s just too muddy, the grass is soaking, very sponge-like and it becomes slippery rather quickly.  Once the snow thawed, I did spend some of the weekend weeding the vegetable beds and removing all the wind blown debris, mostly uncleaned plant pots and plastic cloches that have broken out of their storage places in the high winds, but the majority of my ‘gardening’ has been indoors, sowing weeds.  So far, I have started :

Tomatoes – Sungold, Brandywine, San Marzone, Tigerella & Ildi

Aubergine – Money Maker F1, Aubergine Slim Jim 

Sweet Pepper – Topepo Rosso, Jumbo Sweet F1 Hybrid, Worldbeater

Chilli – Hot Stuff x 3, Long Red Slim Cayenne

I’m avoiding being over ambitious and getting too much going, as I know that if the weather doesn’t warm up soon, I wont be able to put the seedlings into the greenhouse and I’ll end up with leggy plants.  I should really be adding cucumbers, courgettes and melons at this point, but I think I’ll wait a bit longer.  I have, however, sown seeds today for:

Cape Gooseberry Giant

Artichoke Violette di Choiggia

The large wooden trough I ordered has arrived…..in flat pack….very flat pack (ie a pile of wood).  Obviously I didn’t read the small print and this was an expensive purchase so I was a bit grumpy when I can home from school run one day to find the pile of wood on my doorstep….it’ll be fine, I just need to find time to build it.  I grow a lot in containers and I heard on Gardener’s Question Time (BBC Radio 4) a great idea to plant in guttering, ie not just start crops in there (which I often do) but to plant things such as salad leaves, for the duration.  I like this idea, so I’m going to order some deep square guttering to attach in lines to the fence or side of the shed.  I’m not mad keen on lots of plastic in the garden, I already struggle with the huge plastic tubs I use, they are very practical but not very pretty, but maybe some additional carefully placed guttering will be OK.  

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On another subject, my quest for the perfect tea loaf continues and today, using my brand new copy of the revamped Delia’s Cakes, I made the Irish Tea Cake.  I really like the styling of Delia’s recent books and the recipes in this one are great, all her best cakes.  I noticed she mostly uses spreadable butter for her baking now, which makes sense with it’s oil and butter combination, plus it is so much easier to work with than solid block butter.

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Finally, I’ve bought a couple of lovely vintage table clothes recently.  I inherited some from Mum, but they are almost too delicate to use (there are a few holes that need repairing) but I fell so in love with the beautiful coloured embroidery, I hunted a couple down on Etsy (from the UK shop Fitzroy and Cole), all we need now is some sunshine so I can lay the table and enjoy a nice afternoon tea 🙂

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9 thoughts on “Getting Started….

  1. Hi Beth, is artichoke a perennial in UK as in California? It would be nice to have
    a few plants of them around. I have not had the courage to try them here in
    massachusetts yet. But I hear it can be done even in colder places. – L

    • Hello 🙂 Yes, they are perennial here in the south of UK (I believe, they like to be mulched in winter to make sure they survive), and I’ve been promising to grow them for years, but always forget to sow them early. To be honest, I’m largely growing them for their structure, this variety is very ornamental and I plan to put them in the back of the flower bed. I’m not mad keen on earwigs, which I understand tend to like living amongst the flowers. Bethx

  2. I am slightly frustrated with the weather, there is too much going on in the greenhouse and the kitchen and my wallflowers and primroses have no interest in flowering. I decided to do the gutter planting this year too, I got a cheap black one from B&Q, a very non-offensive one. I also have to keep moving things to my kitchen as hungry wildlife keeps eating everything. My cucumber seeds have not germinated yet, it’s been two or three weeks. A very difficult spring, let’s hope for a good summer!

    • It’s so hard to guess the weather isn’t it? Last year it was quite warm by this time and it makes all the difference. I used to struggle with cucumber germination, then I took to sowing the seed, putting the pots into a closed cardboard box by the bathroom radiator and they germinate every time…..I do always struggle with leggy cucumber plants though and often have to start them again as they get too stringy if I can’t get them into the greenhouse early enough. Let’s hope Spring arrives soon! Bx

  3. The afternoon tea on your lovely embroidered table clothes is a lovely idea, I hopw you get some sunshine your way. Your not alone it is very cold in Southampton at the mo too, am desperate for spring to arrive, have even bought a linen top in anticipation! Good luck with your guttering ideas, they sound like a really good idea, I love listening to Gardeners Question time on radio 4 too (I love radio 4) even though I don’t have my own garden, weird hay! Hope your well Beth 🙂 xxx p.s. I love the cake and your butter knife, very lovely 🙂

    • I am banned from listening to GQT if I’m in the car with my husband, he hates it, but I listen every day, all day, to radio 4 as I work, so I often catch it. Let’s hope we have some sun soon Saf!! Bethx

  4. I heard the guttering bit on GQT I would think rows of in in a sunny spot could be very productive. In my head I was thinking about ultra stylish aluminium (?)-if that’s a metal they use- but I expect it would be expensive. Your tea cake looks perfect. I think I’ll try a proper simnel cake for Easter this year, do you make one Beth?

    • I thought metal gutters as well, we have to have them on the Yorkshire farmhouse (listed and in the Dales), I seem to remember they are very expensive and tend to get rusty if not maintained (or the old ones do) but I’m sure the new ones are powder coated or something sturdier. I always love the idea of simnel cake, but I know I would be the only one eating it, although with converting the boys to tea cake they might go for it now! Bx

  5. Pingback: Tomatoes, The Results… | Rock Cottage Year

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