Last weekend…

Last weekend I spent loads of time in the garden as, for once, it wasn’t frozen and the rain was mostly only drizzle.

I planted out 8 cloves of elephant garlic (5 that I’d ordered and 3 left from the bulbs grown last year), I also plated up 5 strawberry plants in one of the huge black containers that was kicking around empty in the vegetable patch. It was a good opportunity to get rid of some of the chicken manure (basically their droppings mixed in with straw from the coops and run floors) as the containers are so cavernous that they take a lot of filling so the bottom half is manure, with some bags of John Innes on top. We have always grown alpine strawberries but never ‘regular’ ones so it’ll be interesting to see how these work out for us. dsc_0047The variety I’m planting (Mount Everest) is an everbearer variety, so small flushes of fruit, over a longer period, which I think will suit us best as these will likely be for the boys to munch on direct from the plant. This variety supposedly grows really well up a teepee, so I’ll be trying that out too.

Indoors, I started:

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi, Rainbow Blend (from Thompson & Morgan)

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

Broad Bead Crimson Flowered

That’s all for sowing at the moment. There is still plenty more to add, but I’ve learnt to pull back from trying to grow too much, so I stick to things we know we want to eat these days.dsc_0046The mushrooms have been a great success, cropping over and over and providing the base for a number of meals. I forgot to say who and where they came from in the last post, but they were ordered via Amazon from Merryhill Mushrooms. They do taste amazing, in comparison to the shop bought equivalent, so I think it’s been worth it. I’d like to try an Oyster kit next time. In a linked comment, Felix has been doing Food Tech at school and (small miracle) has decided he can tolerate, maybe even like mushrooms after he was forced to include them in a stir fry. I just need to get Charlie (the vegetarian!) to eat them too, and then a whole new world of family meals opens up!ginLast thing I wanted to mention, my Sister kindly gave me a quarterly membership to the Craft Gin Club as a Christmas gift and I LOVE it!! It is expensive, I know; for the same price, you could buy yourself a fancy bottle of gin and some nice crisps etc, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Having someone else source an artisan gin, often difficult to get (this month’s have been shipped in from Iceland and are not on general sale in the UK), provide you with posh tonic and some snacks to go with it, plus a magazine with details explaining who made the gin, where and why, and how best to drink it (January’s, above, was good with rosemary and some orange zest) and ship it to you on the first Friday of the month is just heavenly. It’s like Christmas all over again. Do you like my amazing HUGE gin glass? That was the accompanying gift, also from my Sister, we know how to do a g+t well in our family 😉

That’s all……I really fancy a g+t now…but I’m being good until the weekend, only one more day to go and it’ll seem even nicer for the wait (or I’ll keep telling myself that, anyway).

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2017 Vegetable Planting Lists…

Really, this post is for me; sorry it’s so boring.

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Here we go with the lists for 2017:

FEBRUARY

Strawberry Mount Everest

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi, Rainbow Blend (from Thompson & Morgan)

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

Broad Bead Crimson Flowered

MARCH

Red Onion Red Arrow

Shallots Longor

Elephant Garlic

Spinach Bordeaux

Cucumbers Tiffany, Crystal Apple

Courgettes Zephyr

Melon Orange Sherbert

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell, Rainbow Mix (from Thompson & Morgan)

Kohl Rabi F1 Hybrid

Peas Whatever I’ve got left

Sweetcorn Lark

Herbs Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, French Sorrel, Thyme, Mint

APRIL

Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Beetroot Pablo, Bolthardy, Coloured Mix (Thompson & Morgan)

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red

Broccoli Red Arrow & Rudolph & Kailaan No 2

Carrots Mixed seed

Turnip Snowball

Lettuce Various varieties

Herbs Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Winter Savory and many more…

Squash Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling, Gem/Rolet, Queensland Blue, Turks Turban, Hooligan & Barbara Butternut F1, Potimarron, 

AUGUST &  SEPTEMBER

Pak Choi Rubi

Spinach Perpetual (Leaf Beat)

Purslane

ANYTIME

Kale Cavolo Nero & Red Russian

Herbs Parcel, Cress (Bubbles)

I placed an order with Thompson & Morgan and below is what’s new this year (already included in the lists above):

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dsc_0044Also, just for fun, I’m growing mushrooms indoors (in the utility room at the moment) as someone on the radio said one of the best things you can eat that you’ve home-grown (and see how amazingly different they are) are mushrooms….we’ll see!

dsc_0040We can’t stop eating the Chocolate Rye Brownies from Gill Meller’s ‘Gather’…..I think I’m addicted.

dsc_0035Finally, we’re sad the snow only stayed for one night :(, but the boys did manage to get sledges out and push each other around the garden, plus make a snowman (in the dark, whilst using torches!!) but I think that the chickens are happy as the poor things keep taking it in turns to molt and are almost naked. I think the warm (so far) winter has confused them.

More snow tomorrow, for an hour or so before it turns to rain? I do hope so 🙂

 

Vegetables 2016: The results

It didn’t go well this year. I was quite busy with the animals, the house and most importantly, the boys. In some ways, I’ve made better progress than ever in the garden; I’ve cleared away most of the ivy and years of resulting debris under our conifer trees, so we’ve gained an extra few meters of space (this is a ongiong job, it’ll be some time before it’s ivy free and usable), the lawn has been regularly mowed and his slightly less moss in it then usual, and the hedges and shrubs have been trimmed.  All good stuff, but at the expense of the vegetable patch and the borders, which have been quite neglected.  I think, going forward, that I need to think very carefully about my planting lists and only go for things that pretty much look after themselves.

Well, for now, here is how it went:

FEBRUARY

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

The tomatoes were mostly a fail. They germinated well, I did pot them up but then lost interest and the plants weren’t fed properly or watered enough. We did get some nice fruit, but I may just reduce it down to a couple of plants next year.

Aubergine Money Maker F1

They germinated too late and although were looking good at one point, didn’t have time to form decent fruit.

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Chilli (I need to buy new seeds, again, not sure what variety yet)

Chillies and peppers never germinated…..the seed is likely too old.

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

I can pretty much never get my artichoke seeds to germinate….need to do some reading up and find out what I’m doing wrong.

MARCH

Spinach Bordeaux

Grew brilliantly, mostly self seeding and the chickens benefited greatly 🙂

Cucumbers (Need new seed, again not sure what)

Forgot to buy seed – doh!

Courgettes Zephyr

Grew well. One for next year.

Melon Edonis

Never formed fruit 😦

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Grew well but went to seed quickly.

Broad Beans Crimson Flowered

Err…..not sure what happened here….not sure I actually planted them.

Peas Oasis & Purple Mangetout

Grew well.

Herbs Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, French Sorrel, Thyme, Mint, Coriander, Lemon Grass

Hit and miss, depending on if I watered the pots properly. Will always make space for herbs though.

APRIL

Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Brilliant, as always, and self seeds everywhere.

Beetroot Bolthardy

Grew well.

Sweetcorn Conqueror

Great success…again something I’ll aways make space for.

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red (seed collected from last year’s plants)

Grew well.

Pak Choi Mei Qing Choi & Rubi

Never actually got planted….should do it next year as in the past they’ve been great.

Beans Blue Climbing

These grew amazingly well this year and I’ve got lots dried and ready to sow next Spring.

Broccoli Red Arrow & Rudolph & Kailaan No 2

Carrots Yellowstone, Rainbow Hybrid, Purple Haze, Healthmaster & Sugarsnax

Turnip Sweetball & Snowball

Didn’t actually grow any of the above 😦

Lettuce various varieties

Pesky slugs ate them.

Herbs Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Winter Savory and many more…

Squash Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling, Turks Turban, Hooligan & Barbara Butternut F1

They fruited too late and I now have mini squash rotting in the garden.

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Things that I will definitely always plant are garlic and shallots. Both grew brilliantly, with little effort so they are a must. Also, the potatoes (Anya) were good and I still have three bags in the greenhouse to tip out and eat, at some point. I have normally ordered all of these by now and see that many sites have run out (of Autumn planting garlic, anyway) so had best get on with it, if we want to grow them next year.

dsc_0008Sweetcorn was also a great success and I did my usual method of freezing them whole and raw, with the outer leaves intact. I have quite a few still in the freezer, which I shove in the microwave for a few minutes to cook (again, with the leaves on)…delicious!!

I need to sit down and have a good think about planting lists for next year. Adding an irrigation system would be the biggest help as inconsistent watering is definitely one of my biggest problems. I would love to add longer term things (such as an asparagus bed) now we’re committed to staying here (oldest has just gone into Secondary school, which has been a nightmare transition and is not one I’d like to repeat) and generally need to plant things that I can find time to maintain easily.

dsc_0087In other news, I’m back to cooking and baking again, especially now the weather is cooler. Bread is back on the menu and thanks to two new books (both recommended by my Sister) I’ve been enjoying trying new things. I have to be careful with my cookery book buying as I already have loads and so I only add new ones if I really think I’ll really use them.dsc_0085The rye section in Gill Meller’s ‘Gather’ is going down well. I’ve made the ‘Coriander and Caraway’ bread, which tasted delicious and would have been great, had it not got stuck in the tin so that it came out in pieces 😦 and the ‘Chocolate Rye Brownies’ have been declared ‘the best thing you’ve made yet’ by the boys. Awesome. I’m still miles away from the master baker that my Gran was, but I do try.

Christmas food post next, if I find time to keep writing.

 

Vegetable Plating Lists 2016

Drying Flower Heads

I saved a lot of seeds last year, especially flower ones, and they have been laid out drying (and hopefully not going mouldy!) in the greenhouse.  I’ve gone though the seed box and along with everything I’ve collected, the only thing I should need to buy are cucumber seeds, which I hope to pick up locally, and maybe some things that are a bit different to grow just for fun.  And so, my ‘list’ is pretty much the same as last year:

FEBRUARY

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

Aubergine Money Maker F1

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Chilli (I need to buy new seeds, again, not sure what variety yet)

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

MARCH

Spinach Bordeaux

Cucumbers (Need new seed, again not sure what)

Courgettes Zephyr

Melon Edonis

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Broad Beans Crimson Flowered

Peas Oasis & Purple Mangetout

Herbs Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, French Sorrel, Thyme, Mint, Coriander, Lemon Grass

APRIL

Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Beetroot Bolthardy

Sweetcorn Conqueror

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red (seed collected from last year’s plants)

Pak Choi Mei Qing Choi & Rubi

Beans Blue Climbing

Broccoli Red Arrow & Rudolph & Kailaan No 2

Carrots Yellowstone, Rainbow Hybrid, Purple Haze, Healthmaster & Sugarsnax

Turnip Sweetball & Snowball

Lettuce various varieties

Herbs Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Winter Savory and many more…

Squash Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling, Turks Turban, Hooligan & Barbara Butternut F1 

AUGUST &  SEPTEMBER

Pak Choi Tatsoi

Fennel Romanesco

Spinach Perpetual (Leaf Beat)

Purslane

ANYTIME

Kale Cavolo Nero & Red Russian

Herbs Parcel, Cress (Bubbles)

I realised that I’ve not bought garlic for years now, I grow more than enough to keep us going and often find myself throwing some away when the new bulbs are ready and I tire of the old, dried ones.  Because of this, garlic is also on the list and was bought and planted last autumn.  I went for garlic Germidour, which I haven’t grown before but I wanted to order everything from one place.  It’s a french, soft-neck variety that can be planted in autumn or spring.  At the same time, I bought potatoes, Pink Apple, and shallots Longer.  The potatoes are now chitting in the kitchen and the shallots are on their way in the post.

I still haven’t planted up my February list but need to get on with it, so perhaps that’s one for the weekend 🙂

 

2015 Vegetable Planting Lists…

So, apparently I post once every two months, which is a bit embarrassing really.  I don’t know what happened…..well, I do, life just got in the way and the very least of my worries has been gardening or writing blog posts, but it’s gone on like this for rather a long time, so I need to fix it.

This year I’m on a determined mission to use up all my old seed, not least because I have no money to buy new, so I’m afraid the list is rather boring.

FEBRUARY

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Chilli (I’m only growing a couple of plants because they look pretty, so I’m using last years seed that came from a restaurant free with the bill, no idea of the variety)

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

Broad Bead Crimson Flowered

MARCH

Spinach Bordeaux

Cucumbers Burpless Tasty Green

Courgettes Black Forest & Zephyr

Melon Outdoor Wonder

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Kohl Rabi F1 Hybrid

Peas Whatever I’ve got left that the pesky mice don’t steal

Herbs Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, French Sorrel, Thyme, Mint

APRIL

Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Beetroot Pablo & Bolthardy

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red

Pak Choi Mei Qing Choi & Rubi

Broccoli Red Arrow & Rudolph & Kailaan No 2

Carrots Yellowstone, Rainbow Hybrid, Purple Haze, Healthmaster & Sugarsnax

Turnip Sweetball & Snowball

Lettuce Various varieties

Herbs Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Winter Savory and many more…

Squash Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling, Gem/Rolet, Queensland Blue, Turks Turban, Hooligan & Barbara Butternut F1

AUGUST &  SEPTEMBER

Pak Choi Tatsoi

Fennel Romanesco

Spinach Perpetual (Leaf Beat)

Purslane

ANYTIME

Kale Cavolo Nero & Red Russian

Herbs Parcel, Cress (Bubbles)

Having just done a proper couple of hours tidying in the garden for the first time this year, I see that garlic is already on the go, as it wild garlic, alpine strawberries, horse-radish root, spinach and some rather sad-looking winter vegetables such as chard and turnips.  Other garden news is that the rabbit and mice problem has really become very bad, I’m rather devastated to see the damage the rabbits have done to all the spring flowers, few have survived with their tops intact.

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On a plus note, and trying to bat the laptop screen every time I type, are these two lovelies that we were allowed to bring home from the RSPCA.  They are called Tuppence and Birdie and we’re very happy to have them, I’m hoping they will take over where my last lovely cat left off in keeping the mice and rabbits to a manageable level…..perhaps I should be training them ready for when they are allowed outdoors, although they already stare longingly at the rabbits on the other side of the glass doors.

I’m off to buy soil and get all the February list going, I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a very good year 🙂

Peas and Pests…

Grrr, my attempt at getting the peas started has failed again.

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After the pesky mice ate the ones planted direct in the garden, then those in the greenhouse, I tried the next lot indoors in a gutter.  Two, yes just two out of a good one meter length have grown.  I am not very happy.

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So here we go again, this time with some ‘stunning, delicious!’ purple mangetout.  I am determined to keep them moist and warm.  They are on the kitchen table, the sunniest and warmest spot.  My husband will be pleased.

Also indoors and waiting to be planted out are:

  • Sweetcorn ‘Lapwing’
  • Courgette ‘ Black Forest’
  • Courgette ‘ Zephyr’
  • Cucumber ‘Burpless Tasty Green’
  • Cucumber ‘Tiffany’
  • Cucumber ‘ Cucino’
  • Melon ‘Edonis’

All the above (apart from the corn, which will be planted direct) are waiting for me to go buy soil.  I hate buying soil, I’ve reduced it right down this year by planting as much as possible in already filled pots jazzed up with some natural fertilizer, but I have so many pests and diseases (carrot root fly, blight etc) that some things do need new soil each year and freshly cleaned pots.

In the greenhouse I now have tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines happily growing and not a lot of room for anything else.  I do plan to squeeze the melons and cucumbers in there though.

OK, best go buy that soil 🙂

Vegetable Planting Lists 2013…

I nearly wrote 2012 in the title, I keep forgetting we are in a new year.

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So, it’s that time again, when I pull out the slightly dusty seed boxes and have a look at what’s in there.  In the olden days, the boxes wouldn’t be dusty, as I’d have spent the colder months obsessing about what I’m going to grow, but my early enthusiasm for the garden has waned over the years, partly as my sewing has taken over and also as I try to get  grip on the house.

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Spurred by recent sewing (spring flower brooches) I feel inspired, and this year, I really want a pretty garden again, and I know it’s not that hard.  There are a few rules I need to set myself though, use up all my existing seed and remember that we will be away at crucial points so I HAVE to consider how the seedlings and plants will survive if not watered daily.  Also, the usual rule of only plant what we will eat applies, I hate to see precious hours of work end up in the compost heap because I lost the energy to deal with the excess.

Here’s what we have so far, and I’m not saying I will plant all these, just that I have the seeds should I choose to:

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

Artichoke

Violette di Chioggia

Cape Gooseberry

Giant

Spinach

Bordeaux

Cucumbers

Cucino F1 Hybrid

Tiffany

Burpless Tasty Green

Radish

French Breakfast

Sparkler

Cherry Bell

Swiss Chard

Bright Lights

White Silver 

Beetroot

Pablo

Sweetcorn

Sweet Nugget

Lapwing

Spring Onions

Welsh Red Stem

North Holland Blood Red

Kai Lan

Pak Choi

Mei Qing Choi

Tatsoi

Rubi

Melon

Edonis

Beans

Barlotti

Broad Beans (Crimson Red)

Broccoli

Red Arrow

Rudolph

Turnip

Snowball

Carrots

Yellowstone

Rainbow Hybrid

Purple Haze

Healthmaster

Sugarsnax

Squash

Crown Prince

Sweet Dumpling

Gem/Rolet

Queensland Blue

Turks Turban

Hooligan

Kale

Cavolo Nero

Ok, I think that’s enough for now.  I also have a ton of salad leaves, more herbs that I’d know what to do with plus some successional peas, but I think they warrant a post of their own.

There are glaring omissions, such as french beans etc but my aim for this year is to use up existing seeds.  I’ve also decided to change some of my planting methods, I’m going to go back to having tomatoes, cucumber, chillies, aubergines and melons in the greenhouse.  I’ve also ordered a big trough, so I can plant the potatoes (and later salad leaves) away from the vegetable patch in an attempt to avoid early killing from blight.  It’ll probably go on the drive, where we get tons of sun and also where the outside taps are so I can lessen my dragging water around should we get another hose pipe ban.  I’ll add a second trough if it works and looks nice.

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Oh and I planted out the shallots the other day, I put them in much closer together than normal and with their tips sticking out.  Look at my kneeler….do you think we might have mice problem 😉

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On a slightly separate note, I bought this organic vegetable box with my Ocado order last week.  I liked it, we were forced to eat things we wouldn’t normally, for instance cabbage.  It’s not that I don’t like cabbage but I’d just normally opt for kale, ideally from the garden.  I can imagine the summer boxes are a little more exciting.

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Best get out there, it’s frosty but the sky is looking promising for a bright, sunny day and one of my first jobs is to tackle the greenhouse…..oh dear!