Sunday, 29 April 2012

Decided to leave our sunflowers outside, that old saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" springs to mind, so if they make it through the battering the garden is taking at the moment they they will have earned their place in the garden. I'm not overly inclined to harvest and shell sunflower seeds (currently my thinking, may change in the future) and therefore refuse to get sentimental about them, they were just taking up precious space in the kitchen.

 Toms are really shooting up. Coriander coming along nicely in the growhouse, which thankfully hasn't blown over. Have been trying to grow parsley for several weeks now, just wasn't happening for me. Finally, one little seedling has poked it's head through the compost and vermiculite, hoping he's got a whole load of little friends to follow.

Jostaberry, planted in September, has 5 little baby berries. Looks like that could be it for it's first year but it's put on loads of growth so I may have to be content with that for this year.

Monday, 23 April 2012

In between the rain, hail and wind.....

The few sunny spells have allowed just enough time to pot up a few tomato plants that had roots peaking out of the bottom of the pot, letting me know they needed more room. I'm really pleased with the progress they are making but like other gardeners, I'm running out of room. I have a tray of young plants on Leah's window ledge as they gets a good deal of sun being at the top of the house. The group of plants that have a temporary home in the kitchen were only getting the morning sun and that was it, the solution was to pop down to Wilkos and get a small cloche greenhouse. I had one last year which didn't last (don't think I took the best of care of it to be honest). As we don't have alot of space, the growhouses are useful and don't take up too much room. I've found that once the frame goes together and you go to put the cover on, some covers can be pretty tight and these seem to rip easily. This one (below) from Wilkos wasn't as snug so I'm happy (only £11.00) and will take good care of it.

So, during the day the young toms, aubergine, chillis etc go outside and soak up whatever sun we get (I think this was Sunday, which was pretty sunny), then in the evening the plants go back to the kitchen and the greenhouse goes over the pots of lettuce, herbs and strawberries as the nights have been pretty chilly.

The apple tree is in blossom. Looks lovely. Our first time growing apples (or any fruit tree) so it's quite exciting.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Rain, housework and gingerbread.

So, another day of rain of Biblical proportions. Great for the garden and the water butts are full to the brim. No excuses for not doing housework, as I can't get into the garden. Good really, caught up on washing and ironing and done a post-half-term-de-clutter and good clean of the living room. Oh, the joys of being a housewife.

I even managed to make a gingerbread. The first one I've made in about 6 months that hasn't been given away or sold at a cake sale, I am now in the kids good books.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Some buys from Wilkos

Good old Wilkos. Picked up some garden stuff. Leah spotted the last redcurrant cane, which we snapped up. I've mostly stayed away from their plants as they usually look quite ropey but this was a good looking plant with quite a bit of growth on it. I don't get it that you go into shops and they don't look after the plants, they must have someone working there who is a gardener and can spot when plants need watering. It's like when I go in Hobbycraft, alot of the staff don't really know much about the stuff they are selling, how can they advise you on what to buy if they have no crafting knowledge. Anyway, I digress. I like Wilkos for their gardening stuff, got some extra pots and a few trays for the young plants that are residing in the kitchen and various rooms in the house.

Also got a cloche which is a bit long for my beds but I'm improvising. Leah and I planted out her 3 largest corn babies that have been living in the growhouse for the past week, we also planted her mexican hat seedlings and sowed some nastursium seeds and then put them to bed under the cloche. I'm hoping I haven't got ahead of myself, fingers crossed they will be fine (held back 4 little corn just in case, not wanting to put all our eggs in one basket).

Have now sown a few pots of herbs. I never used to be a big fan of herbs. I've had a rosemary bush for a couple of years now, goes great with garlic in my signature bread (what my friends call "Maggie bread"). Last year I bought a thyme plant which gets well used, never been that enamoured with other herbs, until..... The other week, when we went to Wahacca, Dave had a meal with green rice which was amazing. Tried to find the recipe online but no joy. Happened to find the recipe in Thomasina Miers book (Mexican food made simple) and bought the book, though I'd promised myself not to buy anymore books for a while as I have so many. Cooked it today, it is amazing and fills the house with the most delicious smell. I'm going to share the recipe here

Green Rice

400g basmati rice
1 small clove of garlic
1 small onion
2 large handfuls of coriander
a large bunch of parsley
4 tablespoons of olive oil
600ml chicken or veg stock
salt and pepper

Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
Whiz the garlic, onion and greens in a food processor with a splash of water and half the oil until you have a thick green puree. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and when hot, add the puree and fry gently for 5 mins stirring so as not to burn.
Add the rice and stil well to combine. Pour in the stock and simmer for about 15mins until most of the liquid has been absorbed. I used a saucepan that can be put in the oven and just put foil over the top them put the lid on so it was tight and put in the oven (120o/gas 1) for 30mins to finish cooking.
Season to taste.

This was a huge hit with all but Leah (not a rice fan) and have now sown coriander and parsley

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Borough Market

Went to Borough Market. It's a favourite place for us. We all love wandering around, looking at the food, trying different stuff, seeing stuff you don't normally see.
This fruit and veg stall is amazing, you don't see the selection in a regular supermarket and look at all the different varieties of tomatoes.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Patience and the pea netting

Last year, when I grew peas from a grow bag, I used some pea netting. Horrible stuff! I tried to unravel it and then drape it over the frame I had fashioned out of canes in a way that might suggest I knew what I was doing. It was horrible and the peas didn't seem to appreciate the effort it took because they actually seemed to try and avoid growing up it. Then, once the raised beds were in, I tried doing the wigwam-string-thing which seemed to work better but just seemed like hard work to put together (really am not afraid of hard work at all). So, I got this pea patio planter a few months ago from Thompson Morgan and the peas are happy enough, kept putting off getting the netting because I didn't trust myself to get it right. I did it! Felt very proud of myself, but really THEY MUST come up with an easier way of packaging the stupid stuff that makes if earier to unravel and put in place!

Very grudgingly, I've given up a small raised bed for the kids (bad, selfish mother/gardener that I am). Leah picked out "sombreros" (Mexican hats) and corn (managed to step back and let her pick for herself). I am trying to get her involved in every step of the process from filling the bed with soil, to sowing the seeds and potting up the seedlings. Here's her corn.
Chris will become much more interested in what is in the garden once he can start eating it. Until then, I started them off growing Russian giant sunflowers. Now we have dabbled with growing sunflowers for a few years now, never doing it really seriously and usually getting them just quite big. This year, I got them to start at the same time and it's turned into a bit of a competition. Chris is determined to beat Leah. They both started them off on their own bedroom windows. Chris's just shot up and he thought that was great gave him gloating rights over Leah's. Fact was his were very leggy, Leah's got nice big leaves on hers and nice chunky stems, even he has to admit that hers were the better looking. I am sure the battle will rage over the Summer.

Went to the garden centre just before it closed to grab some bags of soil, Dave had to drag me away from the plants (I really was only looking!) and gave me a very firm "NO!". He doesn't often get firm with me so it made me smile, but he did say that he likes seeing me excited about the garden (I'll remind him of that when I disappear for hours in the summer).

Friday, 13 April 2012

Out and about with Dave and the kids. Went to the Wetlands centre at Barnes. The weather was amazing, we could see various places around us, in the distance being rained on while we enjoyed the sunshine. Kids ran around chasing clues on an Easter egg hunt, a little competition kept them going past the time when they may have got bored. Drove back through Richmond park, my aim this Summer is to find the time to get us out walking through the park, Chris will get such a kick out of being near the deer.
Trying to get a bit of an arty shot, Chris decided to get in on the action.
Some frittillaria, looking stunning in the sunlight.

Monday, 9 April 2012

It has rained all day ! Yes, I am very happy about that. Have been trying to maximise the amount of rain overflowing into the second water butt. Have sunk a watering can with a few rocks in it to raise the water level, then tried floating a bowl with rocks in and pushing it slightly to get more water to go through. No, I can't just wait and let the weather runs it's course, I have had an empty butt for several weeks and am desperate! My sister in law, who was visiting, couldn't get over me standing in the rain worrying over my butts. Yes, I really do need to get out more and not just in the garden! I am neurotic.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Good stuff happening to do with the garden.
1. sold some young plants at Easter fayre, which makes me happy that people thought my plants were good enough to buy and earns me some money for a change.
2. went to garden centre and got plugs for hanging baskets, all planted up and covered up from frost
3. nasturstiums starting to come up.

Have learn't that I shouldn't have planted out young plants before the frost is over and then leave them un cloched. RIP little plants, you did not die in vain, I have learn't my lesson. Still, getting itchy green fingers, want to plant out, hurry up and be gone frosts!

Really hoping for that rain promised for tomorrow, need to fill my water butts.

JUst thought I'd share a picture of the cherry blossom on the tree in our garden, this has happened 4 weeks earlier then usual, probably fooled by all that great weather we had.
And finally, my first flowering of the blueberry we planted early autumn last year. Love the flowers.Not sure if it's early too. Will go and look that up now.