Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New year, new start.

I don't do resolutions as such. I tend to forget what I had hoped to change. However for some reason 2014 seems a better prospect for me so whilst we have no resolutions Mike & I have made some promises to ensure we have a better year than last.

I do love the idea of a date night, however we still have a 12 year old at home & he would be horrified at thought of having  a baby sitter. We are getting around this by having  a date lunch as often as we can. Monday tends to be the best time for this as Harry is in school, so if Mike happens to be nights which happens from time to time & Sunday & Mondays are my days off work.

Garden shows - We are going to the Tatton Park & the Southport garden shows 2014 & I am very much looking forward to them.

Mike has promised me my chickens next year so that will be happening & I have promised myself lots more time in the garden, Mike has promised himself much more fishing so that will be a nice balance.

Mike spent some time in the garden today mainly emptying the greenhouse. I had spotted the bird seed on the greenhouse floor yesterday  morning. After Mike had emptied the pots on the compost heap he moved one of the bird seed bags. The blinking thing was full of field mice. Well they have now been deposited outside & will have to disperse elsewhere. An orgy of sorts must have been going on for ages as Mike said there were loads of the little blighters & there were lots of tiny new born mice. I did feel a little sad but not too much.

While Mike was out in the garden the postman brought me a couple of seed catalogues. I spent a few hours daydreaming as I waited for Miss Marple to start.

All the best for 2014 & as always enjoy your day.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Making a start

Today was surprisingly sunny and bright. It was nice enough to tempt Mike into the garden so we made a start on making the veg plot more respectful.

The compost heap which had spread itself over two raised beds has been turned & is in a nice neat pile. It has been topped with weeds & old plant matter, we also poured out the remains of some of the pots.

The soil was lightly dug over in the hope of giving the birds a feast. I do hope we exposed plenty of overwintering gooseberry sawfly larvae. The currants & gooseberries were infested with them last year. As well has forking the soil over weekly for the next few months I hall be investing in some of that Nemys stuff to spray over the bushes when the time is right.

I had hoped to make a start on the front garden tomorrow, however the weather doesn't look to promising though it does give a clearer out look for the afternoon. We shall see. I need to get the front cleared ready for my edible hedge. I have seen the one I want, a little too many plants but after looking at other sites it is the best value & gives me all of the varieties I was after. The lovely Mike is buying it as a valentines present, not that we tend to celebrate such things but as he wants a new fishing reel it seems a good idea for 2014.

Enjoy your day


Friday, 27 December 2013

Books

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, mine was lovely. I received some wonderful books. In all honesty Mike wouldn't have a clue which books to buy me. I could give him a list & he would buy them, but, it would be at full price where as I prefer a bargain. So I order them.

I got -


This really is a lovely book, right down my street. It has a lovely chatty feel to it, probably more a girlie book but that suits me fine as I live in a male dominated household. It also has some good tips in it.


This book is based on a blog of the same name, I saw it in a magazine & thought then that I would love to have it for Christmas. With having such a small plot I thought it would contain some tips. It doesn't, it is still a nice read though.



I feel the tingle in my bones that 2014 is going to be a good year for me, I have more time & money available to devote to the garden. So I would like to put my harvests to good use. Unlike the men in my life I prefer to eat less meat & this has some lovely recipes in it.



I have all of Nigel Slaters books, I love his style of writing. My very favourite books are Tender volumes I & II, I also love The Kitchen Diaries almost as much.


I have looked at these books on & off for a while. Mike went ahead & bought them as a gift off Harry. They really are very well written books. There were 10 paperback books in a strong cardboard slip case & they really are great. There are I think three more titles to buy, one of them is on Curing & Smoking which will be released in February 2014. I shall be pre ordering as well as buying the remaining two.

I love books, I have bookcases full of the things, it drives Mike mad but I couldn't give two hoots. Someone bought me a kindle & it is still empty. If it smelt like a book I might use it but it doesn't so I wont.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas & other bits & bats.

Just popping on to wish you all a nearly belated Merry Christmas, I do hope you all have a lovely day. It is a great shame to read of the awful weather conditions some people are experiencing so close to Christmas.

I know you have all posted Merry Christmas messages on your blogs & I haven't left any comments. I have been in work the last couple of days & cant really log onto a blog there. I am working today also but have logged on at home.

Mike is currently wrestling the turkey & ham into the oven, that is a bit of a white lie as I am blessed with a huge range cooker so could in fact wrestle the whole lanes in if need be. He was actually trying to wrestle both meats into roasting tins. The effect is the same.

Due to the issues with my dad lately & him being in hospital & me only having Christmas day off this year Mike has been left with most of the responsibility for Christmas.

Needless to say he is writing out Christmas cards as I type, I have nothing fizzy to drink tomorrow morning & no quality streets. Who on earth heard of a Christmas without quality streets! More importantly we are all safe & secure, we have plenty of food & everyone has presents. It isn't a whinge it really isn't I know I am blessed to be in the position I am in, it is more of one of those things to talk about in years to come. Family trivia if you like. He also forgot to buy presents for our godson & his siblings so that made a shopping trip necessary last night.

2013 has just been such a unique year for us & one I don't really want repeated, it topped it off nicely last night when returning to the car in the hospital car park after visiting my dad & finding another car directly in the back of Mikes. A 30 minutes wait for the owner to return, a sight I wont forget is that poor man pointing his keyring in the direction of where he thought his car was & then suddenly seeing it in the back of ours.

No major damage but some work is necessary, so Mike is also having fun sorting that out too this morning.

Truth be told Mike is now driving me mad, he is asking the names of people in the lane to write their cards out. Roll on 5pm so I can pour a gin, I really don't think I can wait that long.

Enjoy your Christmas xx

Friday, 20 December 2013

Edible hedging?

Apart from a big tidy up the back garden will be pretty much sorted next year. When I say tidy up I really mean the paths around the vegetable garden need to be finished, one will be slightly extended & more slate chippings will be added. The one at the back will have the bark topped up one the raspberry canes started growing.

The raspberry canes will be one of the first jobs of 2014. I will cut them right back. Apart from the small growing space being the main reason for Autumn fruiting raspberries the ease of which you can look after them was another factor.

No tying them in & sorting old canes from new canes, getting yourself covered in scratches as you would with summer fruiting ones. No the autumn fruiting ones you cut down to the ground in January & they start growing again on the spring. Fabulous!

I want to turn the front garden into a more useful space next year. Not veggie orientated but fruity bits for me & the wildlife & some wildlife friendly flowers.

I'm thinking of an elder or two to go with the crab apple tree, a couple of wild ( as small as I can get) roses for rose hips, another holly, honeysuckle & a couple of hazels.

I can then add some bulbs & things at the bottom along with some wild garlic. That's the plan anyway.

As I said to Mike I couldn't give two hoots what it looks like from the lane, we live at the end of it & there is a similar looking creation not too far away which I have always been rather jealous of.

Also I think it would be lovely to take myself off for a lazy ramble at the end of the working day, old trousers, jacket hat & basket the lot.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 19 December 2013

On a roll & a bit of fun

It has been yonks since I posted so many times over a matter of days & I'm rather enjoying myself. In between perusing sites for veggie things to grow next year I remembered Victoriana Nursery . They do such a wide selection of plants & everything seems to be a reasonable price. I have never ordered from them before though I have looked at the site often. Upon searching yesterday I cam upon these rather fun looking things -

Cauliflower Plant 'Cut 'n' Come Again'

Image of Cauliflower Cc



Brassica oleracea 'Nine Star Perennial'

  • Excellent flavour.
  • Custard yellow in colour.
  • Tennis ball size caulis.


Supplied as compost block grown plants.






Anyone have any experience? You have to order five of them which is a little too much for the space I have. I do however want to turn the front garden into a wildlife friendly space next year & these are ideal  for wildlife so I could put two or three there for that purpose. Naturally the ones for the wildlife wouldn't need to be netted, the ones for me will be as secure as Fort Knox.  The fruit bed also contains asparagus & globe artichokes so these would fit into the perennial theme quite well. 
They also do a selection of mixed sprouting broccoli & cabbage plants which I also may order, I think that would suit me down to the ground. 
Onto the fun thing, I have seen this on a few blogs over the last couple of days & it has tickled me immensely, I love all things Christmas & currently live in a house that looks like a sweet shop has exploded, I cant tell you how thrilled I am to have my own Elf name, I am also taking it into work tomorrow to find out everyone else's.

I am now known as Puddin Pickle-Pants - enjoy your day.

Elf-Name-Generator








They


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

New things



I was perusing the Moreveg site yesterday & added both the yellow & purple French beans to my basket. I also had a good look through the site & like a kid in a sweet shop I was eagerly adding more & more to my bag. By the end of it my basket total was approx £17.50, I haven't looked at the flower seeds yet so the amount may - sorry scratch that - will be a touch higher.

As well as the beans I also added some green sprouting broccoli & some white sprouting broccoli, a selection of lettuces, lots of different herbs & for something completely new - Seakale.
seakale
Allegedly it is supposed to have a nutty taste & although it grows wild by the seaside it is a protected species so no picking allowed.

You blanch it before eating so I might buy a terracotta forcer as I have seen them for around £20-£30 at a local garden centre, to me that seems a reasonable price. I could use an old bucket but if I'm going to the trouble of having coloured beans in the garden in for a penny in for a pound they say.

Anyway from what I have found out so far that a couple of spades of grit at planting time & pruning down to the ground in the autumn it seems pretty easy to care for.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Legumes 2014

Thank you for your comments yesterday, you are all very sweet & kind people & it was very touching & quite needed. A boost if you like for the days to come.

I am now planning next years vegetables & judging  by the large amount of seeds in my two containers I am not going to get away with ordering veg plants.

I am a terrible old scrooge at heart, with myself mind, I love buying things for other people though I do like to get a bargain & never pay full price if I can help it. Mike calls me tight fisted & is not impressed by the fact I have told him to wait until after Christmas (which he wont) to buy the shoes that I like because they may be a touch cheaper. I also love getting books for Christmas, (much, much reduced from the fourteen last year, it surprised me as much as Mike the amount I opened) the three I have chosen this year from Mike I ordered myself I always do as he would pay full price where as I google & saved a wad of cash.

Anyway I have been perusing the bean seeds for next year & I am not sure if they have risen dramatically in price or I lost my mind in the previous years as they all seem so expensive. Perhaps they only seem so expensive as I only want about 5 or 6 of each. A small plot you see.

The plan I have for next year consists of Runner beans - St George or which I have in stock, Purple podded mange toute - in stock. I may grow some peas too, I dislike peas greatly but Mike rather likes them, these would be more of a nibble for him in the garden than using in the kitchen. I certainly haven't & wouldn't have the space to grow them en mass. Broad beans because I love them & have the seeds in my tubs.

Here comes my predicament I want to grow three varieties of French beans, to save space I am thinking of the climbing variety. When I say variety really I mean colour, I want a mix of purple, yellow & green. I know they pretty much turn green when cooked but I want the garden to look pretty you see.

The tight fisted part of me refuses to allow me to buy climbing green beans as I have dwarf ones - Speedy in stock (I sound like a shop) so they will be used & grown in tubs rather than the main patch.

So I need to buy two packets of seeds yellow & purple but I will need to spend approx £6 which I am not too happy about, if I had an allotment I think I would be happier about the cost but really at the moment it is about 60p per seed.

This is probably the reason why Mike buys most things as he hates my cry of "How much?" when we are out shopping. I am however more than happy to skip around at Christmas & buy everyone's presents, at a suitable price of course.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 16 December 2013

Peeved

Another extended blog absence. In part due to the lack of gardening action, the main reason being my dad is back in hospital. He fell down the stairs. There doesn't appear to be any serious damage done, however he is old & frail & we are still waiting for test results to come back. He is also refusing to leave (not that he is at discharge stage yet) anyway.

Blogland is a wonderful place & it us easy to get away from the trials & tribulations of everyday life. Mine like most that I follow are gardening blogs & while we mainly blog about gardening, there are always snippets of everyday life.

My parents dislike each other greatly & have done for pretty much of their married life. Whilst my childhood wasn't filled with the horrors that other people had, it wasn't a particularly nice one, nor for my siblings either. My parents are not interested when each other are ill & expect us to deal with any problems.

We genuinely struggle to look back & find a particularly happy time. There are plenty of ok times but we were loved with conditional love not the unconditional love that my sister & I lavish on our children, (the kind that children should be brought up with).

This isn't a post for sympathy it truly isn't needed, it is what it is, nothing more nothing less. My love of gardening & cooking came from my dad & from tales of the past one of my great grandfathers was a tailor, so perhaps that why I like sewing & crafty things.

I have spent the past four years dealing with my dads blindness & various other problems. This year has been horrendously bad with him. He is such a rude & difficult man & this has been the worse he has ever been & that is truly saying something. The waves of sympathy that we receive when we sit by his hospital bed are quite touching.

I have always strived to be the opposite of my parents which is quite sad when you think about it, though at the moment it is my sister that I feel more sorry for.

Her best friends dad is in hospital (the same as my dad) who sadly is very nearly at the end of his life. We all grew up together & this gentleman lives two doors away from my parents.  My sister would very dearly love to be there for her friend at this difficult time, however she is stuck, like me with a genuinely miserable, grouchy, rude & obnoxious man who tells everyone that he wishes he was dead. It is so sad to see someone struck down with an illness that will take his life & yet there is a man like my dad who refuses to give anything.

Social services are involved & he has refused every offer of help as he is adamant he needs to be in a home & that he shouldn't have to pay for anything. In all honesty they have been fantastic with him & offered everything they possibly could do & he has turned them down at every stage.

Anyway I could go on & on, it really isn't the place to do so, the battle between himself & social services will continue, my life will be different next year as I have pretty much wiped by hands of dealing with him which is also quite sad but needs must, I'm certainly not putting my relationship with Mike & the kids at risk, something needs to give & unfortunately it is my dad, you can't help anyone who refuses help.

Back to normal blogging & comments tomorrow about beans for next year, I'm off now to book a dentist check-up for the youngest & to pay some money into the eldest student bank account. Silly boy had a letter to say he had gone over his overdraft amount (only just) & now he has charges until it his back at the level he should be. When we enquired as to why he had spent so much, he said he didn't want to bother us for money to pay a deposit for next years student house whilst dealing with his granddad & did it himself. Like I said something has to give.

Have a good day

Friday, 6 December 2013

Over for now

Well the flood never reached the area where I live, thankfully. The river however did breach its banks & there have been some awful photographs.

The river is fairly close to where I live & from what I remember of childhood walks only about 10 minutes away on foot. I live in the same area that I grew up in you see so remember quite well.

Anyway thankfully I live at the end of the lane away from the main road, which is then separated by fields a small industrial estate & a large river bank. I have seen photographs of the fields the opposite side of the river which are completely submerged. However I don't believe any houses or businesses in the local area to be affected which is good news.

Further up the coast didn't fair too well at all & have been affected very badly.

The gales caused the most damage here. Not structurally for which I am always grateful for. However the winds were strong enough to pick up pots from the garden. These pots were filled with wet compost so would have had a fair bit of weight to them Naturally the garden furniture followed them.

Thankfully we came through it unscathed & thank you for your comments too.

Anyone else struggling with blogging about their garden at this time of year. Apart from a few parsnips in the ground & a loose compost heap to re assemble my garden is looking a little bleak.

Take care xx

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Sand bags at the ready

Goodness I do hope everyone is safe out there today & tomorrow. We had a bit of a Peter Kay moment last night. The phone rang & the three of us looked at each other & said "Who is that". The phone call was ignored but when the same number tried again a few minutes later we answered it.

We are, so the flood agency stated, at risk from flooding today due to a tidal surge. I sort of forgot about it when I woke up this morning, the sound & speed of the wind concerned me far more. Especially when I saw the majority of my loose compost heap fly past the kitchen window this morning. I soon remembered after I peered out of the sitting room window & looked at the cottage across the road. It is heavily guarded by numerous sand bags!!

Anyway "you pays your money & take your chances" so the saying goes. I have far  more pressing concerns, the lovely Mike is a lorry driver & I would far sooner have him home safe & deal with a flooded house than the alternative. I always worry when we have gales when he is out driving.

I went on a quick visit to my mums this morning. I had offered to walk Harry to the bus stop & wait with him in the wind. This was met with gasps of horror from my 12 year old, the poor boy ran when I left the house with him. I'm not sure if it was the gust of wind that nearly took me off my feet  or the sigh of relief from the boy when we took different directions. I am rather glad he had a heavy pe bag in his ruck sack this morning.

Anyway I am under my crocheted blanket (made by me) & sat by a twinkly Christmas tree drinking coffee with a splash of advocaat. Mike has phoned (the time is nearly here of the surge) to tell me not to try & save the Christmas trees if the flood does rush down the lane. I must admit I had made plans to do so.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Impracticable gardener

That's me down to a tee, why only this morning I was googling the possibility of growing an avocado tree in the greenhouse. I was perusing pinterest you see & adding various gardening dreams to my garden board & there I spied a dwarf avocado tree. With having such a small plot & being rather short myself the word 'dwarf' appeals very much to me, particularly when it is followed by a tree variety.

Anyway you can't get dwarf ones in this country plus chilly North Wales is really not the place to attempt such things. Also not being a huge lover of guacamole (never tried the stuff, it looks vile) I do however like the odd couple of slices on a bagel with bacon & mayonnaise.  It isn't going to happen so it is more the case of impracticable dreams than impracticable events it would seem.

On to more practicable items, planning for next year. I will have more time to deal with the garden next year & I hope to have a rather lovely one to show off to you all. I am growing for the first time because I like to do something new & it definitely wont be avocado - Collard Greens  from Moreveg

Collard Vates Seeds

They look and sound rather fun I think I am only growing a few things from seed next year, to help with the time issue I am seriously thinking of going down the buying baby plants route. 

Also we will be doing less potatoes & less things in pots I think, not doing salad leaves next year at all unless they are on the windowsill. Mine always seem to be infected by leaf miner so whole lettuce it will be. 

The lovely Mike had a birthday yesterday & amongst his presents he received I had bought him this book - The complete chili pepper book


Not a good picture I know but it is a good book & a good choice particularly as Mike isn't a reader where as I am. It is more American based than British (or Welsh if you are Mike). He rather liked it as he is getting more interested in the garden particularly in growing chillies. Time will tell if his interest is a good thing, I still haven't let him forget about weeding the parsnips. The actual parsnips were weeded out, not the non existing weeds around them!!

I am also treating him to a Christmas shopping trip to Chester tomorrow, sorry should translate as lunch at  
 Hickorys, the man is need of some meat, personally I can take it or leave it at the moment but it will keep him happy & if he behaves himself whilst I am Christmas shopping I might just might treat him to a bottle of whisky. Mike being a single malt man still hasn't got over the shock of my mother & sister appearing at different times on the doorstep several birthdays back. Each of them bearing a bottle of whatever was on offer at the supermarket at that time. Te he, it still makes me giggle every time I think of it. 

Enjoy your day



Monday, 25 November 2013

I'm back I think

My laptop went kaput a few weeks back which explains my missing posts and comments. Luckily as it was my company laptop I have been given a nice spangley new one to replace it. Which is very nice of course but they have provided me with the latest model. My technical limitations are well known in the office & I am sure this proper posh laptop with a touch screen was purchased for someone else. I am battling through but as yet I am unable to transfer photo's off my old laptop onto this nice new one. So you will have to bare with me on the photo front for a while.

In my absence from blogging I have been trying to tame the garden & I am getting there slowly. A few weeks back I managed to salvage when cutting back some coriander which had gone to seed. Really I should have put the bunch into a paper bag to dry. Truth be told I left it in a mixing bowl & placed it to one side in the dining room. I kept on stealing a look every time I passed by but time ran away with me.

So yesterday with a few minutes to spare I set about trying to remove the berries. A thankless task I tell you, they looked nice & brown like the ones in the spice aisle, stubborn little things though, it took me ages. My mood was not improved further when I caught a nettle that must have been cut with the bunch. After my labour I was impressed by my nearly full jar of coriander seeds. Definitely going to do the same next year & am also going to try cumin seeds too, we love a curry here so they will come in very useful. It will also make a nice talking point & I think I may try some fenugreek too.

Have a nice day

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Chrysanthemums

 There is so little to be done in the garden at this time of year, apart from turning over the compost pile that is. Thankfully now the weather has changed and we are on our way to winter, there is time to curl up with seed catalogues to plan for next year.

I read a post from jo-throughthekeyhole about receiving Chrysanthemums & it reminded me about my dad in his younger years.

My granddad was a gardener & he also worked in horticulture. Whilst my dad didn't follow into his trade he followed the hobby & built a huge greenhouse in the garden of the house he & my mum bought when they married over 60 years ago.

Anyway as the story goes when my granddad retired he still had contacts in the trade. He & my dad ordered each year 1000 Chrysanthemum stools. My dad grew on 700 in his greenhouse & my granddad grew on the remaining 300.

Each year these Chrysanthemums were ready for Christmas & between them they made enough money to run the homemade boilers they had made for their greenhouses & to pay for other supplies they needed for the garden.

There is a chapter on growing chrysanthemums in this style in an old gardening book I had given to me last year -
 I think I shall give it a go next year, after all the greenhouse is empty at this time of year anyway. Though I shan't be growing on quite the same scale. Perhaps removing a couple of  0 would be more like it.

As well as the spray Chrysanthemums I rather fancy some of the fat fluffy ones too. I shall post my selection when I have made a final decision.

Enjoy your day

Friday, 25 October 2013

A lovely little creature

This lovely little creature is 12 today -


My lovely little Harry full of joy & mischief whose only influence in the garden is to relocate any ripe soft fruit into his mouth & not the kitchen.

The boy, who has for the last few days, pestered to have his birthday off school (the last day before half term). He has assured me solemnly that his friends wont be in school, in return I have assured him that they will be & no, you are going to school.

The boy who will be up at the crack of dawn to open presents & eat birthday cake for breakfast ( a rather lovely tradition I think)

Also the boy who try as I might to take an interest in the garden, looks at me, pats my hand & goes upstairs to his room.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Grotty weather

I'm pretty sure the weather has been even more vile this time of year than it was last October. It has poured with rain every day. This is absolutely fine for topping up the pond & filling the water butts. Except I haven't really got a huge amount of stuff that needs watering at this time. A right miserable old trout I sound don't I!

On a brighter note there was a break in the weather last Sunday. It had rained in the morning & then started to brighten up just before lunch. So after lunch with our tummies still full with roasted duck, potatoes, parsnips, spiced red cabbage & green beans I dragged Mike outside to get a bit done.

The beds are looking a lot clearer. The bean trench digging didn't work very well at all. The ground really was too wet. So most of the stuff has been chopped down & piled up. I must take a photo of it as it really is huge.

Hopefully this weekend I we shall start to empty the old compost from the pots onto the mountain. It should help to keep a bit of warmth in. It will be Mikes job to turn the pile over, hopefully that should put off any rodents who wish to take up residence.

Enjoy your day

Friday, 18 October 2013

Dahlias

I rather fancy expanding my range of dahlias next year. I only have a few & thought I would dedicate the left over space I have in the fruit bush bed to my plan.

The space is approx 10ft by 5ft & has the fruit bushes at one end & a small row of asparagus at the other. Incidentally the asparagus has done rather well this year, the five free crowns I got last year have sprouted rather successfully, a couple more years to go & I will be able to have a taste.

I digress, being an old fashioned girl ( I was rather excited to turn 40) I like old fashioned flowers so a few more dahlias would be very nice.



I think a nice frothy mixture would look rather lovely & hopefully give me a few pickings for the house. I successfully edges the front of the bed this year with alpine strawberries & trailing lobelia. It looked rather nice so I will sow some more lobelia seeds earlier on next year. Also it should look nice this time next year, apart from the possible use of netting around the beds to put off the chickens once they arrive next year. I'm sure I can overlook such a thing, you cant have everything can you!

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Apple trees to the rescue

When you send a child off to university you never expect to receive a phone call from them after they have been admitted to hospital. Rob woke up yesterday morning with some discomfort & as his stomach became rather more painful as the morning went on ,a flatmate caught a taxi with him to the nearest hospital.

He decided it was time to phone us just to let us know mind, when the word operation was mentioned more than once before they admitted him for observation. 'Just letting you know' he said on the phone, 'I really don't want the pair of you driving all that way & bursting through the hospital doors' he added. After him assuring m he was absolutely fine & visiting would be over by the time we arrived I decided it would be wise to wait for further news. Which was just as well really as my two nephews were staying for the night & my dad & brother were coming round for tea.

Thankfully he was released this morning after several tests & scans they decided no operation was needed, although he is on medication & will need to return in three weeks for a further check up. You may think that my worry was over at this point. Oh no my darling, lovely eldest son had left his I phone in the taxi on his way to the hospital yesterday. I breathed a sigh of relief when he phoned to say he had it back at 3:30 this afternoon, just as his younger brother walked through the door on his return from school. This is where the title of this post comes in.



I blogged a while back about Harry starting high school & how concerned I was about the cookery lessons  & how they don't seem to prepare children properly. They have been every bit as bad as I feared. They have a lesson each week, One week is spent describing what they will be doing the following week. He has been taught to make a hot drink & a rather vile fruit salad swimming in juice. He missed the end of last weeks lesson & after badgering him for a few days to find out what he was supposed to be making, he today told me it was a crumble & he needed to take in a tin of fruit filling & 60p. I quite clearly told him there was rhubarb in the freezer or cooking apples on the trees in the garden. He wasn't bothered by either & after spending a considerable amount of time getting to the bottom of the freezer & not finding any rhubarb I braved the wind & rain outside & picked the above. They have been nicely prepared with sugar & cinnamon & part cooked. He is also rather pleased with his mixture & it is a lot nicer than a tin of fruit filling of which I don't buy anyway.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Compost

I have oodles & oodles of dead & decaying material in my garden. The compost bins are full & I am highly reluctant to send any of this off in the brown bin to be recycled elsewhere.

At first I was going to clear a space & pile the stuff on the largest of the veg beds over the winter period. The only minus point to this idea is that we are surrounded by fields. I'm sure the resident field rats would be only too happy with a bit of extra warmth over the cold snap.

Then another thought occurred, I shall be digging a selection of bean trenches instead.


The idea is you dig a large wide hole, line it with newspaper & tip in all your garden waste.You then top it up with the soil that you removed earlier. It will rot down nicely giving you some lovely growing material for next years harvest.

I am planning to do two wide trenches in the largest veg bed. Then next year, I will grow my beans first & then I shall plant my winter brassicas.

The only other thing I need is a dry day this Sunday, the last two Sundays have poured with rain & made me very reluctant to venture out. Anyway I'm pretty sure you shouldn't dig when it is wet & I'm sticking with it. Such is the life of a veg gardener.

P.s I still can't find the cable to add some photographs. Not that you would want to see any of my garden at the moment. It looks like a small allotment that hasn't been touched for a few years.

Enjoy your day.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Christmas

Morning all, a more positive spin on things this time round. Now the main gardening season is now tailing off I focus my attention else where. Being part of a close family, we tend to spend important dates together. The next one on the card apart from birthdays is Christmas.

My sister & I love planning for Christmas & we tend to start in October. For the first time ever she is hosting Christmas day. This honour tends to get left to me apart from a disastrous Christmas day last year, when, my brother who is single, no children & lives alone decided he would like to give it a go.

Picture the scene now, a bachelors house at Christmas, no decorations, no tree, a fridge full of beer & a 'I thought you would be cooking here' reply from him when I asked why the veg hadn't been put on. Just as well my sister & I had sorted out who would be supplying what before hand. Just to make it easier on this single boy, I was supplying the turkey & ham, my sister the puddings & my mum the wine. Lets just say frozen roast potatoes & parsnips were a great help.


 These are my trees above, affectionately known as big tree (it really is huge) & little tree. I compulsive buy more tree decorations each year & it is a vice that I will not be giving up. Imagine my delight & Mikes groan when last Christmas I spotted an upside down tree that fixes to the ceiling. I haven't got one yet but it really is a matter of time. I have just the spot for it, on the hall ceiling, & of course the boys have a tree each for their bedrooms.


The images above are paper wall decorations from the dotcomgiftshop christmas range & will be ordered as they truly are me & just gives you some idea of my style of Christmas decorating.

I always thought Christmas would be more lovely when the kids were little & the promise of a visit from Father Christmas was in the air. It always slightly saddened me as the boys aged each year that maybe the magic would wane as they lost interest. This I'm glad to say hasn't been the case & both boys at the age of 19 & 12 look forward with glee from November onward each year. The visits to see Father Christmas have stopped but the mince pie, sherry,carrots & porridge for the reindeer are put out without fail each Christmas Eve. Santa tracker is put on the laptop in the evening & each of the boys look at it, although now Rob will look at it when he returns from the pub with Mike before both attacking the turkey to make a sandwich.  
The boys still open their Christmas stockings on mine & Mikes bed. There is still a mad scramble to get to the top of the stairs first before Mike leads the way downstairs, & he is always the first one in the sitting room to check if Father Christmas has been.

Traditions are made & dropped each year as our lives evolve, instead of the Christmas Eve crib service hopefully we will be attending midnight mass instead, though in reality Mike will be dropping me off at the Church & picking me up afterwards. I really look forward to Robs return from uni at Christmas & love to see him wondering round the house seeing what decorations are new & eating mince pies. The traditions that have stuck from the past few years are -

The men tend to go to the pub for a drink on Christmas day before lunch, the year we all went lunch was served very late that day.

Mike tends to cook on Christmas day, I say cook but really everything is prepared in advance & Mike just prods things & makes the gravy.

Whoever is hosting Christmas also hosts the great present swap. This spectacular event involves us opening gifts to each other which ends up in a big scramble. Prosecco is served at the scramble along with sausage & bacon rolls.

As my sister & I have planned the day we tend to put out feet up, especially as the kids are older now.

Baileys & chocolates in the afternoon are a must, if we were allowed to get away with a bottle of each flavour we would. , but we are not.

I am happy to consume my own body weight in Snowballs during the entire month of December.

I would really love to watch the Queens speech in the afternoon, I have never got to watch it yet as people tend to whinge.

Anyway basically we like Christmas, we spend it together & it takes an age to plan. The kids getting older hasn't in anyway ruined it for my sister & I. Also because this is mainly a gardening blog the parsnips will be supplied from my very own veg garden, sown by my very own hands.


Friday, 11 October 2013

A poorly neglected garden

What an absolute age since last blogged. September has passed by and we are nearly half way through October.

Running round after a sick father has proved to be completely impracticable with having a full time job, a family and a veg garden to look after. After being admitted to hospital again (dad, not me) my brother has finally decided to step up and help out a bit more. Which has been an absolute godsend as both my parents are extremely difficult people who putting it mildly don't really like each other.

My poor little garden has been severely neglected and is very overgrown and really really needs a good chopping back. Due to the lack of time I have been able to devote to the garden one of the pear trees looks a bit iffy and the peach tree may be on its last legs.

Never mind there is always next year, no photographs this time as I have lost the cable again which is a shame as I did manage to harvest a lovely crop of coriander seeds.

Anyway that's me for now and will be blogging again soon.

Friday, 30 August 2013

It's nearly autumn

I love autumn I'm pretty sure it is favourite season of the year. Even though they all have their benefits.

This autumn we shall see my 40th birthday, the eldest boy returning to uni & the youngest starting high school.

In the garden we have
Look! a butternut squash, in fact I have two but this one seems to be getting bigger each day. I'm very excited as I thought I had planted it out to early, it seemed to take ages for the plant to grow.
Sweetcorn & there are some rather fat looking cobs among the plants. I think I have about 20 cobs all together. Not quite ready for harvesting yet though.

The apples are nearly ready too. I really need to find the time for some blackberry picking, I rather fancy some crumbles & jam put by for the winter.

Anyway I need to return to the barbers for the 2nd time today, the child is far too feral looking for high school & needs a short back & sides. Our first visit was met with a closed for lunch sign.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Sweet peas

Do you like my lovely little posy of sweet peas. They are looking a little tatty now, the ones in the vase that is, there are still a few to pick outside. Or there will be if I keep on top of cutting back the seed pods.

I grow them in the same way each year. I stick a row of poles into the ground, I have 8 poles in a row this year. I plant a sweet pea plant at the bottom of each pole & gradually as they grow I tie them to the pole. That way you get lovely long stems for cutting.

This year I shall be sowing my sweet pea seeds in the autumn, hopefully I shall end up with some earlier pickings next year. Though due to the dire weather we experienced earlier on this year  it may have accounted for their late appearance.

Anyway I ordered my sweet pea seeds & more from Moreveg This supplier is ideal for those of us with smaller plots. Smaller packets of seeds of which a lot of the packets are priced at 50p. They do lots of great offers, & have some unusual seeds too. I got oodles & oodles of seeds & spent about £11. Ideal for those of you with a larger plot too & wish to have a dabble at something new. Also I received a handwritten note when I received my order which is always nice & a speedy delivery too.

The lovely lady Bev who sent me my seeds in the seedy pen pal swap has her won little blog. She has recently started posting again after a long break, do take a look. myadventuresinfoodandgardening

Enjoy your day

Monday, 19 August 2013

A few pickings

A few pickings from the weekend -
In my box this week are two marrows, a patty pan squash, a courgette, runner beans, potatoes, some small yellow beetroot, two cucumbers & some raspberries.

The courgette, beetroots & some of the potatoes were roasted with a red onion yesterday afternoon. Served with some of the runner beans & a pork chop for dinner yesterday evening. The beetroot was lovely & sweet.

The remainder of the potatoes were divided into two bags, one for a colleague along with some runner beans & a cucumber. The second bag of potatoes was given to my sister.

Some runner beans were given to Mikes fishing partner.

The yellow baby marrow will be chopped into chunks for a courgette soup next weekend. The green baby marrow will be divided into two. One half will be cut into chunks for roasting the other half I may try stuffing with a spicy rice mixture.

The raspberries will be turned into white chocolate & raspberry muffins, just hope I can find the cases.

The patty pan squash will be a tester before I try stuffing the marrow.

So I only have a cucumber to make plans for, which in all honesty will probably be used with carrots & peppers to go with lunch on Thursday & Saturday.

Right I'm off, need to read some blogs, make carrot & lentil soup with cheese & herb scone type bread thing for dinner. Whilst I have the oven on I shall roast some butternut squash ready for tomorrow evening & cook some muffins. In between that I shall I'm sure be picking some runner beans, oh & some weeding.  A Joanne's work is never done.

Enjoy your day

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Seedy pen pal swap No 2

It is that time of year again for Seedy pen pal. A very enjoyable experience it has proved to be & it is my second time taking part.

Look what I received from one of partners Bev,
The broad beans & peas will be sown this autumn & over wintered in the greenhouse. I'm thinking of doing half a bed of each. The peas will have to covered with some sort of netting as the mangetout I grew last year I left some of the pods to mature for some peas. When I podded them they had been infested with pea moth. I will be prepared next time!

The swiss chard I will sow some direct in the ground possibly this afternoon but I am feeling rather lazy today. I do have some nice looking swiss chard plants ready to harvest now, the seeds were sent to me in my first seedy pen pal swap so these new ones will follow on nicely. I shall also sow a few in a tub for some baby salad leaves.

The PSB, mangetout, & sunflower seeds will be sown early on next year. All three varieties I have grown before, I had already put the Shiraz purple podded mangetout & Wahoo sunflower seeds on my list for next year as I had great success with them this.

I sent my package off to my other partner Sara on Friday morning, I do hope she likes what I have selected for her.

Do have a go for next year I believe the sign up is available now. It really is huge fun.

Right I am popping off now Miss Marple is on the tv. One of my favourite programmes.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Creatures

Morning lovely people, look at this little chap I snapped crawling up the wall of the house the other day.
I shall have to have a google or look in some books to see what it will turn into. We have spotted several of these hairy little chaps over the last few weeks. I would love to know what it will turn into - butterfly or moth?

It certainly seems well protected from predators with all that hair, not that I'm expecting it to taste at all that nice.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Things in the post

And breathe, blimey these past couple of weeks have proved to be very hectic.

A few weeks ago whilst perusing my inbox (personal one not work which, at times, looks rather scary) I came across an email from a lady called Claire from  Dotcomegiftshop

My blog so it seemed had been selected to be part of their 20 gorgeous gardening blogs.

I have always been a tad wary of replying to such emails but I had a quick look, then I thought about it & had a another look & thought begger it why not, they also had me hooked on the lovely little write up of my little blog, & it was rather nice to receive something in the post after all the upset with my dad. I also noticed some of you lot listed too.

A Whole Plot of Love

This lovely gardener has a plot in Wales and likes nothing better than growing her own food and flowers. Recently she’s feasted on homegrown carrots and potatoes and there are still plenty of other yummy things growing in her garden, including shallots and gooseberries.
It isn't just about outdoor pursuits for this blogger, though: now and again she tries her hand at sewing and knitting too. You really can learn a whole plot from this gorgeous blog!


Another link for the whole list of gorgeous gardening blogs listed.  
Anyway I could pick something for free & put a review on my little blog, I had a good long look at what I wanted to review. It really was quite hard as you have to understand I live in a male dominated household & seldom get to look at pretty things. There were lots & lots of things to choose from & I will be placing an order with Dotcomegiftshop, well in fact several orders as I don't have to drag Mike & the boys round girly shops anymore. I thought I would behave & order something gardening related - 






I ordered this produce tray as I thought I could use it to display the veg/fruit harvested from the garden for photographing purposes. I am yet to take a photo of it loaded with veg yet but I will do. Unfortunately my poor little tray spent its first few days set on top of the laundry pile.  It also looks rather lovely on top of the microwave holding bread. It is rather sturdy, light in weight & actually quite useful. 
Enjoy your day

Friday, 9 August 2013

Good news

Thank you all for the kind comments regarding my dad. He is much better & hopefully will be leaving hospital albeit with extra medication & a care plan.

I shall be back to blogging next Monday & I can't wait as I have oodles of stuff to blog about.

Enjoy your day

Saturday, 3 August 2013

A manic day

I have lettuce plants that are desperate to be planted  & the job was meant to be done yesterday. However my dad was rushed off to hospital yesterday morning. Whilst he is unlikely to pop his clogs (sorry the only delicate way I could think of typing my thoughts) he is a lot sicker than the doctors first thought.

My poor greenhouse was left shut tight yesterday & all the pots un-watered, I was completely whacked on our return from the hospital last night so after a bite to eat I went to bed.

The garden was sorted this morning though I still have the lettuce to plant.

I am back in work next week so between that & my dad blog posting maybe a little sporadic, even though I do have the tendency to be a sporadic blogger anyway.

Also blogger seems to be playing up today & I am struggling to open some of your blogs to comment. I shall try & do that later.

.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Flighty's favourites & a ramble

Above you can see some of the marigolds I grew from some seed sent by the lovely Flighty . Every year Mike collects seed from his marigolds & distributes some throughout the country by way of an offer through email. Its such a lovely thing to do & it really brightened my day when I received my envelope of seed earlier on this year. I still have some of the seed left but I'm going to have a dabble at collecting some of my own seed this year. My sister loved the marigolds & I would love to give her some seed to grow next year.

Onto my non garden related ramble. On Saturday 3rd of August the Trussell-Trust  will be collecting food bank items at local Asda stores. I have read about this on various other blogs & will be popping along to make a donation, if you are able to I urge you to do the same.

There are many, many reasons why the use of food banks has increased over the past years & my little gardening blog isn't the place to go into them, however, another thing I picked up whist reading blogs this morning was the lack of cooking skills a lot of people seem to suffer from.

Teaching children how to cook really needs to start at home, my children have been shown how to prepare meals from scratch. We eat very little in the way of ready meals. It does however need to be backed up properly when they attend Home Economics or whatever it is called now at high school.

My youngest son is starting high school this year & part of his education will be spent in the cookery class & like his older brother before him & his cousin last year he will be shown how to make sausage rolls & a fruit flan.

All very well & good except the ingredient list sent home simply required a block of shop bought pastry & a packet of sausage meat. Why couldn't the children have been shown how to make a simple shortcrust pastry instead of relying on shop bought stuff. For the price of a block of pastry you could buy a packet of flour & some margarine/butter. Surely that would be a better lesson for the children on what you could then do with the remaining flour & butter over the next few meals. It isn't rocket science just common sense which sadly a lot of people seem to lack now. The sausage meat could be split into two & meat balls made with the left over meat & a simple tomato sauce to go with them. The fruit flan really gets on my goat though, why on earth would you teach young people to buy a sponge flan base, some cream & a selection of soft fruit, my sister spent £6.40 on the ingredient list. Anyway I could go on & on it really does nark me, probably more now because the boy will be doing these lessons soon. I'm not having a go at the teachers I'm really not, though whoever decided on the lesson content really needs to be shown a thing or two.

Anyway do pop along & donate if you can there are a lot of people out there that really do need help.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Salad

 We had a lovely trip to Llandudno yesterday, considering it is only about 40 minutes away we have made plans to visit more often. It is a small welsh seaside resort & the boy really did enjoy himself so it turned into a pleasant afternoon by the sea.









As it was still warm on our return home I made a salad out of what we had available in the garden to be served with dinner.

Mixed salad leaves, radicchio (at least I think it was), cucumber & some spring onions.  I would love to know why they are called spring onions, they take an age to grow so are ready in the middle of summer & I always seem to struggle with them. 

Anyway, I also boiled a few new potatoes & Mike had some shop bought tomatoes with his as none of my plants have any ripe fruit yet.

Cooks privilege as I was the one to harvest & prepare the above, there was no quick opening of ready made salad bags for me, was this - 
A sort of pimms, I say sort of as I forgot to add mint & cucumber, it still tasted very nice though.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 29 July 2013

Chickens, broccoli & jam

Interesting blog title did you think?

My sister, a few weeks ago decided she would like to have a go at growing her own, I gave her some veg plants, she bought some seeds, pots & a plastic greenhouse & listened to me as I talked about getting some chickens next year. Her husband thought it was a great idea, I have spent several years talking Mike round to the point he agreed, unfortunately lack of space means it will be next year for me. My brother in law purchased a coop with a run, he built a larger run to attach to it & at the weekend bought four chickens.


They are so entertaining, & they really do have their own characters, I really can't wait until I get mine.

Onto the the broccoli, in an earlier post I mentioned I hadn't netted my summer brassicas. I wasn't too worried as I had been out morning & night to remove caterpillar eggs & the odd caterpillar. I now know why I was only finding a few caterpillars, the little horrors had migrated to my pristine looking broccoli heads. I cut two heads for dinner last night, very lovely they looked to. To ensure there were no lurking caterpillars I cut the heads into florets & put them into cold salty water. Five caterpillars wriggled out, I left the heads soak for a bit longer. Another caterpillar was found in the bowl.  I changed the water to a warm salty mix, after a few minutes six more caterpillars were found. I gave up then, I didn't want to eat the broccoli & the family were none to keen either. The plants will be donated weekly to my sisters hens in return for some eggs, I shall make lemon curd & cakes instead. If that isn't a lesson in why you should net yours brassicas then nothing is.
Several weeks ago as the strawberries were ripening in the sun they were lovely & sweet. Now they are all ripening at once they don't seem so sweet so I made some jam.
Yes you can buy jam very cheaply in the supermarket, but jam made simply with your own fruit & some preserving sugar really has to be priced at the luxury end of bought jam.

500g of freshly picked strawberries, a good squeeze of lemon cooked over a low heat until there is lots of juice in the pan & the berries are soft. Add 500g of preserving sugar & stir until dissolved, boil for 10 - 15 mins before doing a jam test. ( a spoonful of the mixture on a cold saucer, if it wrinkles when you push your finger through it is ready if not boil it for a couple of mins more & repeat). Pour into sterilised jars & there you go. Yum, it really is a divine.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bug house update



I though I would give you a little update on the bug house. As I'm sure you can see some leaf cutter bees have visited. Upon perusing the garden one morning I found they had nibbled pieces of leaf from the raspberry bushes. I'm very excited I never expected much interest in it to be honest.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Leeks

This year I am growing my leeks in tubs. I didn't have any leeks last year due to weeding them out of the bed they were in by mistake. The bird feeder used to be next to the bed in question. The birds being very messy eaters scattered seeds far & wide. I was pulling up the sprouted seeds one day & it wasn't until the scent of mild onion hit my nostrils that I realised most of the leek seedlings were in my bucket.


I had read somewhere that leeks follow on from early potatoes. With having a small plot my early potatoes are grown in tubs. The compost from the tubs was sieved by the lovely Mike & mixed with some of those chicken manure pellets. The compost was poured back into the tubs & leveled off. I made some holes with my dibber & the leeks were planted.

The blue recycling tub you see in the photo contains 20 leeks, I have two of these tubs & a couple of smaller pots containing 3 or 4 leeks each. If the roots seem a bit long & straggly I trim them, there is no need to do this but its one of the jobs I enjoy doing. You can also trim the top of the leaves but I have never done this as I really don't see the point. As long as they are planted with a good bit of depth to them you will get a lovely white shank. The planting holes are not filled in after, you simply water them in & gradually the soil falls into place around the leeks.

 I love leeks wrapped in ham & baked in a cheese sauce, should there be any left overs & rarely there is the cold mixture is used to make pasties & I like using filo pastry for this. Naturally as it is cold at harvest time there will be plenty of leek & potato soup served with some good home made bread. Soda bread by choice.

Enjoy your day