Flower Planting Lists 2014

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I took the boys geocaching in our local woods today, it’s a new ‘hobby’ for us and I am hoping it’ll get them outdoors with more enthusiasm.  That and I’m clearly a geek and like this kind of thing.

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They do make me laugh, they know photos on the phone get ‘auto’ enhanced, often being but into a motion sequence and C has taken to doing funny poses just for this purpose, I’m not sure if it’ll work in a blog post, but I do hope so.ryarsh wood flowers

The flowers are out in full force, it looks really nice and it reminded me that I have never posted my list for flower planting this year, so here it is 🙂

February

Cleome Violet Queen H-H Annual

March-April

Amaranthus Caudatus/Love-lies-bleeding Viridis H-H Annual

Salvia Patens/Sage H-H Annual

Schizanthus/Butterfly Plant Dr Badger H-H Annual

Antirrhinum/Snapdragon Liberty Classic Crimson H-H Annual

Aster Matsumoto Crimson & Matsumoto Blue H-H Annual

Didiscus Blue Lace H-H Annual

Tithonia Rotundiflora/Mexican Sunflower H-H Annual

Zinnia Sprite H-H Annual

Cosmos Versailles Tetra, Antiquity, Purity & Dazzler H-H Annual

Molucella Laevis/Bells Of Ireland H-H Annual

Nicotiana Alata/Tabacco Plant Lime Green H-H Annual

Physalis Alkelengi/Chinese Lanterns Perennial

Tragopogan Crocifolius/Salsify Perennial

Agapanthus/African Lily Dark Blue Perennial

Cerinthe Major/Honeywort HA

Nigella Damascena/Love-In-The-Mist HA

Ammi Majus/Bishop’s Flower HA

Euphorbia Oblogata/Spurge HA

Briza Maxima/Greater Quaking Grass HA

Burpleurum/Thorowax HA

Salvia Horminum Blue Clary HA

Centaurea Cyanus/Cornflower HA

Calendula Officinalis/Marigold Art Shades & Indian Prince HA

Nigella Damascena/Love-In-The-Mist Deep Blus HA

September – October

Sweet Pea Painted Lady, Matucana, Midnight & Blue Velevet

Cowslip

I’m not sure how many of the seeds will germinate, many of them are very old so I hope to finish them off and start fresh next year, but I figured if I make a list it’s more likely that I will at least try to remember to sow them!

The Perfect Day…

It’s the most glorious day outside.  After some frosts earlier this week the sun has finally returned and when working in the garden this morning, I had to stop, as I was too hot in my long-sleeved t-shirt!

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From my last post list, the following are happily growing.

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

Aubergine Money Maker F1 & Slim Jim 

Sweet Pepper Topepo Rosso, Jumbo Sweet F1 Hybrid & Worldbeater

Chilli (I used some seeds we got for free from a restaurant – no idea of the variety)

The Artichoke and Cape Gooseberry have refused to germinate – boo!  The tomato seeds, as nearly always, all germinated (I put two per jiffy) so I removed one of each.  In past years, I have been weak and have often potted these up, ending with an insane amount of plants and nowhere to put them.  I’ve learnt from that mistake 🙂

Today, I have planted direct:

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Beetroot Pablo & Bolthardy

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

Lettuce various varieties

I have so much more I had hoped to get started, but I forgot to buy soil yesterday – oops!

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The spring flowers are doing really well, in the borders we’re moving on from anemone ‘blanda blue-flowered’ and aconite Eranthis hyemalis ’ to grape hyacinth, snake’s head fritillary and narcissi plus the tulips are also about to give their show, which is always a pleasure.  As always, there are anemone in the cutting patch and loads of hellebore dotted around the borders (as they are one of my favourites).

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I picked the first rhubarb today, to make bellinis for Mother’s Day.  I am home alone with the boys, but I have some mini prosecco bottles in the fridge so why not?  I used Jamie Oliver’s recipe found here, only I cut the rhubarb really small as I quite like some little bits of it in the bottom of the bellini glass to nibble on once the drink is gone.  Oh and I also made it in the microwave, as all my pans were in the dishwasher.

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Sorry of you read both my blogs as this is a repeat, but as I know I wont be getting anything for the day itself (poor me – ha ha) I bought myself some chocolates which I will, of course, share with the boys.

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As always when I’m on my own (my husband works away every so often) I plan food ahead.  For tomorrow’s Sunday lunch I’ve just made the ‘gravy’ for sausage casserole using this Delia recipe as a base.  I’ve actually used beer and stock for the liquid, not red wine and I have to cook the bacon lardons on the side as my youngest is vegetarian (he thinks eating animals is mean, and I respect his view even though the rest of us do eat meat).  I’ll also cook the sausages separately tomorrow, again so Charlie can have his favourite vegi ones. For tonight, we’re having homemade pizza, so the boys can choose their own toppings.  I just did a quick Delia Toasted Sweetcorn Salsa to have on the side, as I love it and if I leave the tabasco and tomatoes out the boys will eat it.  I am sooo far ahead, we’ve even finished topic homework – go me.

Right, I’m off to get the pizza base started 🙂

Vegetable Planting Lists 2014…

Long time no see.

Why?  Well because I’m rubbish, AND all it’s done here since Christmas is rain…and rain…and rain some more.  The road in front of the boys school has been flooded, prompting a welly wade each morning to get in and some interesting driving to get there.  We are, however, extremely lucky that our house has stayed warm and dry and (mostly) with electricity, which is more than can be said for many poor folk around here, not to mention all those on the south-west of the UK.

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Still, even if I can’t go out and work in the garden (the ground is simply too wet), I can plan, so for the first time this year the seed box has come out so I can see what I hope to grow this year, ideally using up all old seed before buying any new.

Here’s what I’ve got so far (not including succession sowing and in some cases to be started indoors or under cloches):

FEBRUARY

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

Aubergine Money Maker F1 & Slim Jim 

Sweet Pepper Topepo Rosso, Jumbo Sweet F1 Hybrid & Worldbeater

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

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

Cape Gooseberry Giant

MARCH

Spinach Bordeaux

Cucumbers Burpless Tasty Green (I will probably add another variety)

Courgettes Black Forest & Zephyr

Melon Edonis

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Broad Beans Crimson Flowered & Super Aquadulce

Kohl Rabi F1 Hybrid

Peas Twinkle, Oasis (you’ve got to roll with it…sorry!), Jaguar, Balmoral & Purple Mangetouts

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

APRIL

Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Beetroot Pablo & Bolthardy

Sweetcorn Lapwing

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red

Pak Choi Mei Qing Choi & Rubi

Beans Barlotti

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)

There are also potatoes and I’m sure I’ve forgotten many other things.

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April has rather taken over my box, it has been given a section all of its own.  As succession seeds are used the packets will get moved to their ‘next’ timing slot (in a feeble attempt to keep up with the sowing).

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On a totally random note, look when I found in our small loft space yesterday, that, my friends, is the biggest wasps nest ever!  See how happy C is to be holding it.

DSC_0159It’s very pretty close up, you can see all the layers of different wood the wasps have used to create the delicate structure, I hope to get some better photos before donating it to school.

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Since starting this post, a few days ago, we have seen sunshine!  Not huge amounts, but enough to cheer the soul, which along with some happy sewing (new Auricula brooches for the shop) has really made the end of this dismal winter look possible.  Roll on spring 🙂

Autumn Planting Lists 2013…

I wrote this post a few weeks ago, before we went away for a long holiday (more on that next).

I am awake on my own in the house, which is a bit of a miracle around here as the boys are normally up at 6am (they have been trained to wait until the clock shows 6, otherwise it used to be even earlier!!) but at nearly 7am, I am sitting quietly in the kitchen, drinking my coffee and watching the wildlife in the garden. Bliss.

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A little blackbird is eating the pink gooseberries, they were ripe and lovely but as mentioned in the last post, no-one but me is interested and we have no freezer space for crumbles etc so I figure the birds may as well enjoy them.  I have one final redcurrant bush, netted and ripening, and to come later my small handful of apples, the crab apples, blackberries and medlars.  I mentioned this in the last post, but there’s nothing on my family (as in different grafted varieties on one tree) pear or my damson tree, I have no idea why.

I’ve been thinking about my provisional new planting list for the garden and this is what I’ve got so far:

  • Kohl Rabi
  • Radish
  • Spinach (Perpetual & Bordeaux)
  • Turnip
  • Spring Onions
  • Pack Choi (Tatsoi)
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Fennel
  • Winter Lettuce
  • Herbs
  • Broad Beans (sown in Autumn for next Spring eating)
  • Garlic (must order soon or the best variety will sell out)

I used the great ‘Seeds to Sow Now‘ feature on the Sarah Raven website to help find some vegetable seeds for August/September.

Some of these have already gone in as any later will be too late, but the others I plan to sow when it’s not so bloomin’ hot.

That’s it – a quick post but one to keep my records straight 🙂

It’s too darn hot…

I’m aware I continue to be a bad blogger, I have every intention of writing posts, take the photos ready, but time just seems to be slipping away and they never get written.

I am loving the Crimson Flower broad beans, I might have to grow a red pea next year as well.

I have been out in the garden loads, mostly sweating and forcing my children into slave style labour dealing with the mammoth task of hand watering the vegetable patch (the boys love it, obviously, any excuse to get themselves covered in water ‘by accident’).  It really is a chore and I’m not enjoying it.  I hear a break in the weather is due with some cooler temperatures and even some possible rain.  I am wishing for a nice dry few days for everyone’s Jubilee celebrations, but I wouldn’t mind some rain before then.

The Alpine strawberries that line my raised beds don’t seem to mind the lack of water.

I have just been looking at my month-by-month planting lists, I run these lists over from year to year, it keeps me on track and lets me know what I’ve missed.  So far it looks like this:

February

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Chillies
  • Aubergines
  • Broad Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beetroot
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes (start chitting)
From the above list, I am missing the beetroot and carrots, which refused to germinate, I think due to my intermittent watering and the odd early temperatures.  The aubergines are there but they aren’t much above seedling stage.

March

  • Cucumbers
  • Courgettes
  • Spring Onions
  • Spinach
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Turnip
  • Beetroot
  • Pak Choi
  • Herbs
I am missing loads from this list: parsnips, radish, turnip, beetroot and pak choi have not germinated, again due to lack of attention, or where they did germinate they were eaten by slugs when still only tiny.  What a bad gardener 😉

April

  • Melons
  • Squash
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • French Beans
  • Barlotto Beans
  • Carrots (2nd sowing)
  • Sweetcorn
  • Salad (2nd sowing)
  • Herbs (any not already planted)

Again, I’m missing quite a few: melons, chard, kale, broccoli, french beans, barlotto beans, carrots and from all my sweetcorn only 7 are growing, probably not enough to wind pollinate the cobs.  Oh dear.

I still have time to catch up on a few of the missing things, others I will leave until the cooler temperatures of late summer now.  I have pretty much decided with the hose pipe ban in place, there is no point trying to be too ambitious, I would rather have a few good crops then loads that haven’t grown well.

On a slightly separate note, another reason I haven’t been blogging much is a mixture of tiredness and illness, we haven’t had much of a break around here.  I am fighting off a cold at the moment but managed a rare food shop today (I normally relay in fabulous Ocado to deliver) and am treating myself to some trout fillets for tea.  As M eats at work and the boys much earlier than me, I often don’t cook a big evening meal but I do eat a lot of fish, I made a quick cucumber salad to go on the side, as I had a craving for it.

I’ve mentioned a variant of this recipe before but this is slightly more like the Wagamama cucumber dressing which we also eat a lot, only made my way.  It’s a simple mix of equal quantities of water, rice vinegar with half the measurement of sugar (so today I have 60ml vinegar, 60 ml water and 30g sugar), heated with a couple of slices of fresh ginger and a crushed clove of garlic.  You then allow the mixture to cool and strain it over thinly sliced cucumbers and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.  I’ve added mint, coriander and a sliced spring onion, you can also add some chillies.  In the Wagamama version you make a much larger quantity and grate the cucumber into it then use this as a dressing, storing it in the fridge for up to a week, it’s delicious with salmon and some raw style vegetable salad.

Typical, having spent an hour today lugging water back and forth, it looks like there is a very slim change of rain tonight (it isn’t forecast but it’s starting to look very dark out there).  Oh well, at least my arms have had a work out 🙂

March Planting Lists…

For those living in the UK, I don’t need to tell you we are experiencing some glorious weather here at the moment.  The down side to all this early sun (and we are talking shorts and T-shirts…we are British so you have to forgive the tendency to get legs and arms out at the slightest hint of blue skies) is it has been announced that a hose pipe ban will begin in the new few days.  It’s not that I spend endless hours watering my garden, but I do like to keep the vegetable patch damp enough to let the seedlings and slug nematodes (which I put on a few days ago) have half a chance and this coupled with the fact I am lazy busy means things will become more difficult, and the waterbutt with it’s lovely bird tap is nearly empty.  I think I need to invest in more for nest year.  Hey-ho, it’s the way it needs to be but I am wavering on maybe cutting back on my planting plans….so far, we have added to February’s lists (and planted under cloches, outside):

Beetroot – Pronto & Burpless Golden

Broad Beans – Crimson Flower

Turnip – Snowball

Peas – Ronda & Sugar snap

Radish (to add to those already planted) – French Breakfast

Inside I have started off some

Courgettes (Defender x 2 & Soleil x 2).

I am itching to put more in but the other thing to consider is even though we are having glorious days, the night temperatures are still quite low and I hear this sunshine might not last.  In fact there was talk of snow ‘Up North’ over the weekend.  The other things is we are planning a few days away soon so I wont be able to water any seedlings and there is little point setting them off. The plus side is that we have some lovely Spring flowers well into bloom.
The anemones in my cutting patch are showing off nicely and the narcissus are about to have their turn, along with the tulips.  I tried in vain to take a decent photo but it’s just too bright out there, causing too much shadow and washed out colour.  You’ll just have to trust me that the Spring flowers are looking very lovely.

February sowing in the garden and cloches…

We’ve had some glorious weather here in the UK, sunny and warm and perfect for pottering in the garden and despite my sewing commitments I couldn’t resist some time outside preparing the raised beds for this year’s planting.  The beds are in pretty good shape, the boards, in places, are coming away from their posts (they are 5 years old now) although the wood itself is still sound.  In most cases all I had to do was remove some weeds and rake over the tops, we do still suffer quite badly from weeds in general in the garden but when you consider it’s 25 year neglect before it became ours and my sometimes erratic gardening time I think it’s to be expected. There are less each year and I am finally getting on top of the brambles and creeping buttercup that weave their way around the paths and appear in every nook and crevice.

Note the chocolate around the mouth, the PJ's and cat....love my boys 😉

I have mentioned before that I’ve given the boys a bed to share this year so we kicked off the planting outside here.  I might have liked to wait a few more weeks, this warm spell could well turn cold, but they can’t wait, apparently.

I’ve had plastic covering their bed, warming the soil and under a cloche we have planted some carrot seeds, a mix of:

Early Nantes

Atomic Red

Purple Haze

both the red and purple variety are new for us but the boys were very keen on the idea of red carrots.

They’ve also put a row of spring onions ‘North Holland Blood Red’ and radish (a mix of ‘Sparkler’,Cherry Bell’and ‘French Breakfast’) on either side of the carrots. I plan to remove the cloche and replace it with an old cloche frame covered in enviromesh when the weather warms up to keep the carrot root fly off, last year’s planting in large pots worked really well as apparently they can’t fly above about 60cm/2ft and the buckets are much higher than that, but I think I’ll be keeping these for growing squash crops this year.

Whilst on the subject of cloches I bought another 2 of the Haxnicks versions (available in many on-line shops), as above (the photo is from a few years ago), once made up they have proved to be the best in the garden……the problem is making them up.  I imagine if there are two of you it’s fine but if it’s just me and two little boys (M is away working at the mo) it’s the kind of job that can make a grown women cry.  I very nearly did.

They arrive in ‘flat pack’ form and need to be assembled, the plastic arrives rolled, in fact it has such a tight roll that prising it open to get it into the narrow groove of the metal on the sides (where you have to screw firmly into place) is incredibly difficult, the slightest movement and it springs out and curls back up, attempting to remove your arm in the process.  It didn’t help that the boys abandoned me two minutes in when I shouted rather urgently – can you pass me the screwdriver please boys….the screwdriver….yes, the thing with the black handle….JUST PASS IT PLEASE…PUT THE PLAYMOBIL DOWN AND QUICKLY PASS THE SCREWDRIVER!!!  – at which point they ignored me and went to watch cbeebies, wise move, and my hand was nearly ripped off by curling plastic.  My only other criticism is they don’t stack which makes storing them over winter quite difficult.

The other long cloche that I use are the ones above with corrugated plastic which are also widely available (sorry, I’m not sure who makes them).  The problems here are that once the side pieces fall out (which happens to me all the time) it’s almost impossible to get them back in.  These pieces have to go under the edges of the ridged plastic, which is a very tight fit (in order to stay in place I assume) but it means mostly removing the whole lot and putting it all back in again, hence all of mine in the garden now being open at the sides.  It’s also fractionally harder to clean because of the ridges than the Haxnicks version and they don’t have a middle handle so I find them difficult to lift by myself without stepping on my raised bed.

In addition to the long cloches I have quite a few of the plastic bell cloches also shown above, also from Haxnicks.  The largest size have been a great investment, still in really good condition many years on and nicely heavy so you don’t have to pin them down in windy weather, sadly the slightly smaller lighter plastic ones are often used by the boys as space helmets and many have cracked.  I’ve ordered a couple of metal ‘tent’ frames with both plastic and mesh covers so it will be interesting to see how good they are, more in that when they arrive.