Archive for ‘Gardening: Ramblings’

Monday, May 24, 2010

The major planting session of the year has been completed over this weekend (two evening sessions to avoid the worst of the heat). I now have in 8 buckets of salad potatoes, 6 tomato plants, beans, , mange tout peas, cabbage, spinach, garlic, 3 courgettes (may regret that!), strawberries, salad leaves, 2 chilli peppers, and aubergine and sweet pepper (just one of each as a last ditch effort at outdoor growing). I have a cucumber to plant out in a week or two as well, and more spinach ad salad leaves, and possibly some kale (they’re looking a bit unhealthy at the moment). All this goes in my two small beds and pots on the patio. Photos to follow!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Simple Sunday!

The sun is out with a light breeze – perfect garden day! So today in addition to what I was planning I will be getting some small jobs done in the garden:

~ Do Laundry, and hang out in the sun: Done!
~ Plant Potatoes: Done! 5x ‘Charlotte’ spuds went in buckets, and covered with fleece in case of a frost. Pink Fir Apple spuds will go out in a couple of weeks.
~ Check on Garlic: Done! Most of it has got going nicely. Really hoping i didn’t plant too late this time!
~ Sow Flower Seeds: Done! Very roughly dug over a bed at the front, and threw down (literally) some mixed flower seeds including sunflowers.
~ Make a Bean Cage: Done! i dug out some old metal mesh from shed, cut a long rectangle, and bent it to form a frame i can put over beans/peas to keep the birds off!
~ Take Rosemary Cuttings: Done!
~ Wash Up (hmmmmm… maybe Chris will be nice and do it for me ;) )
~ Clean Hamster Tank: Done!
~ Bake Something: Done! (cookies)
~ Cook Dinner: Done!
~ Make a Cushion Cover (tomorrow!!)
~ Prepare for Work! Done!

Not sure if i’ll get all this done, but I’ll try!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tomatoes, Peas and Potatoes!

dscf1055 A shot of (most of) my tomato plants, taken a few days ago. As you can see they’re still small as I started late this year, though they’ve all got their  second leaves since this was taken. Anyway, I’m confident they’ll catch up!

In terms of varieties this year I’ve planted Ildi (a fabulous yellow cherry tomato that did fantastically last year), Golden Sunrise (another yellow one, standard size this time, that also did well), Gardener’s Delight (very easy to grow, tasty red cherry tomatoes), Roma (a larger red one, for cooking) and Red Alert (another cherry tomato that’s meant to ripen early). As always, I’ve planted too many, so I’ll have spares to give away, some for Chris’ mum and some for Freecyclers.

And today I planted peas (a mixture of Alderman and Onward). The cane ‘fence’ for them to grow up was born of laziness – I detest pea netting and I don’t particularly like spending hours with string making elaborate constructions from canes. I simply stuck the canes in at an angle, and then ‘wove’ in more canes to make a surprisingly stable construction – no string required! I’m hoping the mixture of Alderman (a climber) and Onward (a more normal short plant) will a) guard against one type just not growing, like I had last year! and b) make the crop last a bit longer. We’ll see!

The buckets in front are for potatoes  – the buckets themselves are Morrisons flower buckets, I managed to get 25 for £1! With some holes drilled in dscf1056the bottom they make fab planters. Each one currently holds a few inches of compost and one seed potato, more compost will be added as they grow. This is a bit of an experiment for me but I’m assured spuds do great in containers! I’ve got Nicola (a maincrop ‘new’ potato) in there, plus a couple of experimental ones saved from the supermarket (which you’re not supposed to do, but I like to rebel!). I also have some Pink Fir Apple chitting to go in in a couple of weeks. Hopefully between them some will do well!

I’m off to Brighton for a few days tomorrow so hopefully everything will do okay in my absence :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mini-update, of sorts.

Chris is away for the weekend with friends, so the house feels strangely quiet.

Tonight I plan on a) doing some washing up, b) cooking something involving tofu (nom), and c) watching a film I’ve been meaning to watch all week. Tomorrow I’m planning to trawl the charity shops, go searching for birthday gifts (I have 4 close family members’ in the next 5 weeks!), and go to the market and the library… neither of which I’ve visited in ages. I used to go to both on a regular basis when I worked in town, but now I don’t I very rarely visit.

I’m hoping for decent weather on sunday so I can sow some peas – I got my tomatoes, chillis, peppers and herbs started this week indoors, though haven’t seen any signs of life yet. I managed to pick up a stack of twenty five(!) black ‘flower buckets’ (perfect for tomatoes, chillis, and many other things) for 99p from Morrisons yesterday, so I’m well and truly stocked up, pot-wise. Nothing to stop me getting going!

Looking forward to next friday… I’m now on a term time only contract which means I have two weeks off – I have a short trip to Brighton planned but nothing much else – but I definitely feel like some ‘doing nothing’ time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Garlic, and other musings.

I finally made it out into the garden today to plant my garlic. The bulbs from last year did well, and I still had 2 hanging in the kitchen (still absolutely fine to eat, I’m happy to say) so one of those got split up and replanted, along with 1 bulb bought fresh from Wilkinsons (and I have some left over). They just went in large pots (reusing the same compost from last year that had held carrots and onions), with fleece to cover.

At the same time I noticed a few familiar looking shoots amongst the self-propagated strawberry runners that had made their way into last year’s garlic pots – 2 bulbs from last year had somehow escaped harvest and were growing well. One of those I split up carefully and popped into a barely-used growbag (from a courgette that decided it just didn’t want to grow), the other I’ve popped into a pot whole to grow on indoors – I believe you can use the young shoots for cooking, and it’ll be interesting to see how it grows anyway :)

Finally, I tidied up my herb pot a little – rosemary and oregano have both survived the winter, and are starting to regrow, so I got rid of the dead bits to give them a bit more room.

This year I’m actually planning on scaling down the garden, but doing it in a more carefully planned way. Carrots and onions I won’t bother with as they both need too much room for their yield. Courgettes and tomatoes I’ll definitely be growing, as usual, as buying decent ones in the shops is expensive. Fresh beans and peas are another thing I love, so they’re another definite. I need to look through my notes from last year to see which variety of cucumber it was that I was impressed with, and I might grow one or two chilli plants – and only one or two! I love how they look but I really don’t use chillis much ;) The main thing I want to do this year is to see if I can get a decent salad crop, as last year was disastrous – it’s *so* cheap to grow lettuce leaves, baby spinach, spring onions etc and so expensive to buy them!

And finally, indoors I hope to get myself a venus fly trap plant and a bonsai tree. I love them and have been yearning for one for years, so this year I might treat myself!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Few Things…

On Tuesday (06/05/2008) my sister had another baby boy, named Billy, by c-section. He was very (6 weeks) early, like his brother, but seems to be healthy. My mum hasn’t seen him yet as due to hospital infections etc only the parents are allowed in the room ‘o’ babies. I’m going down to Brighton on the 22nd, hopefully he’ll be out by then.

On Wednesday, we had an attempted fraud at work. As I was the cashier who dealt with the guy, I got to stay almost an hour late to give the police a statement. Bah.

On Friday, some numbskull asked for a receipt at the paying in machine. The receipt was then left lying around for anyone to find – it included the persons name, account number, address, signature, and the fact that they’d paid in a 5k cheque. No wonder we have so much fraud.

On the bright side, however, I’m off work for the next 15 days, it’s hot and sunny, and the plants are doing fantastically. The peas have all burst into flower, as have the strawberries, and the tomatoes are developing their first trusses so need putting in their final pots ASAP. Despite not having a greenhouse, heated propagator etc, I’ve managed to get EVERYTHING to germinate this year – including chillies, peppers, squash, cucumbers and melons. The challenge will be to actually grow them… and to find space!

I’ve just started planning my time off as I don’t want to waste it doing nothing.

Sun 11th – Plant out sunflowers, cut grass edging bed, mow? plant more peas?
Mon 12th – Various errands to run in town
Tues 13th – Driving lesson
Wed 14th – Driving Exam
Thurs 15th
Fri 16th – My birthday! Kethry arrives, out for dinner
Sat 17th – with keth, out somewhere, possibly the seaside, possibly Lincoln
Sun 18th – as above
Mon 19th – keth goes home :(
Tues 20th
Wed 21st
Thurs 22nd – Travel to Brighton
Mon 23rd – Back from Brighton

I’ve been offered a new allotment, which I have yet to even look at. So tomorrow I think I’ll head down there to check it out, and then up to the council office (which is in a rather out of the way place and only open mon-fri, 9-5. Handy for those of us who have full time jobs) to sign for it. At the moment, I don’t really have any enthusiasm for it .. the thought of starting over now it’s hot and things should have already been planted is horrible. I don’t know. I might end up covering the lot in plastic and just planting spuds or something this year, and gradually working bits over.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quick plot update

Just a quick update, more a note for myself for the future I guess.

I went to the council office to get my lottie key today – problem being the office is a bus ride and a 20 min walk each way, and I had to be at work for 12.30. With military precision, I got the right bus to be there shortly after the office opened. Realised on getting off the bus that its more like a 20 min walk rather than 5-10 as I thought. Realise after 20 mins I’d walked down the wrong verylongroad, and had to add another 5-10 mins on to get round to the identical spot in parallel road. Get key, get completely the wrong bus back, that takes bloody ages. Finally get to lottie at 10.25…. THE BL@@DY KEY DOESN’T WORK! Not impressed one bit. I ended up yelling through the fence and some lovely bloke let me in, had a look at the padlock with me and agreed its either a badly cut key or completely the wrong one, and couldn’t really risk getting it stuck in the lock (last time that happened they had the fire brigade out…). I ended up ringing up my mother ‘in law’ and begging her to give me a lift back there, as it’s my only weekday off for a while, and there’s no way I could get back there to get the key, get home for work uniform at some point, and be at work for 12.30 using public transport. So I’ve now got a new key which I reallyreallyhope works, for reasons below…

During the 15 mins I was at the lottie, I met my neighbours (two lovely ladies), hacksaw-ed off the shed padlock, discovered a shed full of rubbish and TOOLS (yay!), and lifted the tarpaulin that covered half the plot. The soil underneath aint bad at all. Apparently the previous owners turned up for a few months, added lots of manure, planted a few things, and never came back. I hope that won’t apply to me! I also found out that the 4 bushes at the end of the plot are some rather lethal (thorny) goosberries. Not sure about that one, last time I tried them I didn’t like goosgogs!

So, plan for the next few days

Thurs – pick up a wheelbarrow after work, go straight to plot with it (taxi?), test the new key works (so as not to wreck friday morning’s plans) and lock the wheelbarrow in the shed.

Friday (AM) – go to the house of someone on freecycle, who is donating me a verybigpile of compost, and taking it to the plot for me in his trailer. YES! I just have to help with the shoveling. This is why I need a working key, or I’m stuffed!

Friday (PM) – (start) picking up all the broken glass thats languishing at the side of the lottie from a long-demolished greenhouse. Previous owner = lazy sod. I need to stick it all in a cardboard box to hopefully take to the tip on saturday…

Saturday – Chris is having his mum’s car over friday night as he’s helping her decorate this weekend, so we plan to nip to Wilkinsons for a waterbutt in the morning, and hopefully drop off the broken glass? Not sure if this is doable as I have to be at work fbefore 10. But hopefully over the weekend I’ll get a waterbutt :)

Sunday/Monday – get started clearing the lottie ready for planting! I’m going to start the earlier stuff (potatoes, peas, broccoli etc) on the side thats been covered, and hopefully I’ll have the uncovered-and-therefore-weedy half done in time for the things that go out in may/june.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Growing Smart

Despite the fact that I’m still really a newbie to gardening (this will be my 3rd year), and that I just have a small amount of space, this year I hope to maximise the space I have to get the full potential out of every inch of ground. In orrder to do this I will;

1) Grow things in the best possible place for them – chillies, peppers and aubergines need warmth, so they’ll be filling the greenhouse; cordon tomatoes in pots will take advantage of my warm south facing brick wall; salads will be shaded by the fence and the bean and peas,  in pots to avoid the slugs; courgettes will be in growbags/large pots on the patio, again to avoid slugs; strawberries will be in large planters in a sunny area, and some of my bed space will be freed up for summer broccoli. I’ve yet to decide what to do with cucumbers, herbs etc.

2) Grow different varieties to try and extend the season, and have a backup plan where possible in case of crap weather again (ie, cool-tolerant tomatoes).

3) Grow the things I love to eat fresh and raw, and that cost a lot at the supermarket (fresh peas, beans and sugarsnaps, cherry tomatoes, tasty salad leaves, baby spinach (I don’t like mature spinach leaves, so I’ll not let them waste space by growing on to that stage!).

4) Enjoy every moment :)

In terms of successional crops, I’ve been working on that a little today. I plan on LOTS of peas and beans this summer, as me and Chris both love them raw. I found a guide to when to plant what peas, and it looks like I’ll be going for an early crop of Meteor, followed by Kelvedon Wonder and Early Onward planted in march, followed by Onward, and finally another late planted lot of Kelvedon Wonder.  Most peas are fairly short, so they’ll be in front of a taller row of beans and sugarsnap peas.

In terms of beans I have Cobra and Blue lake for climbing french beans, some borlotti climbers to grow beans for soup/stew, and rather too many dwarf types! (Purple Queen, a dwarf borlotti, The Prince, Kitchen Favourite, Ferrari, and Purple Teepee). I may have to try and wheedle that list down a little ;) The dwarf ones will probably be mostly in containers. They all have fairly similar cropping periods (June/July to October), so I’ll try to plant smaller amounts successionally to extend the crop.

As you can see I have a bit of a seed ‘habit’ – this is just the legumes!

Oh, and I’m finally starting to get some things growing :) The first lot of meteor peas were moved into Bed1 outside yesterday, covered by fleece – the garlic is also starting to show some proper green growth. Inside, I have several types of chillis, peppers, aubergines and herbs in propagators which are gradually starting to appear – the Jalapeno pepper seedlings were transplanted this evening :)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Time Off Work…

I have this week as ‘holiday’ time from work … not for any planned holiday, I just spread my annual leave evenly every 3 months or so through the year when I booked it. It’s actually a good thing that it came up when it did as I’m really not enjoying it at all at the moment, hopefully the break will help. I think I’ll be starting job hunting soon.

I’m hoping to use the time off productively. My original plans were to dig the garden, but it’s just been too wet so I might just have to lay down something light and water excluding over the grass area I want to take up, and leave it at that.

Instead my plans are:

– Declutter/tidy some more – I’m currently ploughing through a mass of old paperwork, shredding the unneeded stuff and sorting the remainder.
– List some stuff on ebay – been meaning to do this for ages, keep putting it off, but it really does need doing.
– Take down the old greenhouse framework, see if I can re-construct it into staging or something. I had left it up as I was planning on just buying a replacement cover, but the covers are almost the cost of a whole one new.
– Try at least one new recipe. Usually I’m too tired after work, weekends I’m doing something else etc, but I really want to learn to cook a wider range of meals, cheaper and less processed ones!
– Walk (if the weather cooperates).

… I’ve actually rather enjoyed today. Chris has been worrying that I’d be bored stupid off for a week with ‘nothing to do’, and has been offering to give me money for entertainment. I’ve declined, with lots of plans for little things to get done. This morning I had a long bath listening to music, then went and worked in the garden for a couple of hours. I dismantled the greenhouse frame and just tidied things up a bit, including collecting all those old broken pots, plant labels etc that seem to scatter everywhere. After lunch I had a driving lesson, then came home and sat at the computer for a while before realising I was bored stupid *because* of the computer. So I popped out for a quick walk to get some milk and a couple of veggies from the local tescos… instead I ended up walking a little further and getting the veggies completely packaging free from the greengrocers (encouraged by Tesco wanting me to pay £1.92 (!!) for 3 red onions). I also picked up a pair of jeans from the charity shop for £3 (unfortunatly too short – I’ll turn them into shorts), and had a look round the local independant garden/pet shop.

I went in for some early peas – the first packet I got were £1.99 – the second brand (same variety) £1.55 … then I spotted the exact same ones as ‘bulk’, scoop as much as you want. I got a handfull for 40p, which is plenty! I also enquired about compost delivery and they can deliver on fridays, so I think I’ll be ordering everything I need in one go and having it delivered, rather than the ‘lug one bag at a time’ method that’s getting a little tiring. They also had capillary matting, to keep things watered, for £1.80ish/meter, cut off a wide roll, and the large ‘potting up’ trays for £8 which I’m tempted by as I do all my potting up and playing with seedlings indoors, and inevitably get muck everywhere!

I’ve also managed to wash up and clean the kitchen (quite a change, up til recently I detested washing up and would leave it for Chris), do two loads of laundry, make fresh salsa (yum!), and make a fiver selling an old USB cable and a Lush soap from my rather large stash.

… I’ve not been bored at all :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Planning The Garden

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I spent a while this evening sketching out my plan for the garden. It didn’t scan all that well (and nor can I be bothered to mess around with it), but it’s at least nice and clear. You’ll notice half of the bed is clear – I haven’t yet fully decided what to plant there – and there’s also clear space under the washing line, which I may use for something like spring onions. The squash I’m still thinking about the placement of – they work well behind the greenhouse as it gets lots of sun and they also help protect it from the wind but… I’ll admit last summer when I was rushing to water things say before work, those were always the ones that got forgotten. So, not sure about them. Everything else I’m pretty confident on, though :)