Monday, 30 July 2012

Garlic, cleaned up.

Just a quick post today. Pulled up the last two garlics which were planted at Christmas, they are now drying out in the grow house.
Finally got around to cleaning up the garlic I picked a few weeks ago.
They may not be the biggest bulbs but to me they look great.
We get through garlic at an alarming pace in our house so they won't be around for long!


Friday, 27 July 2012

Better late than never....

It looks like this sunshine has spurred things into life.
This morning, on closer investigation, I discovered the first promise of an aubergine.

And the peppers are coming!

The other day, I was browsing the internet for any bargains. I found a 3 tier step for putting my herbs on so I can have them nearer to the back door.

This part of the garden is a bit of a haven for snails usually so I'm hoping that the slug tape will work. Have put some around each foot of the steps and some of the pots and window boxes. I paid about £5 for what is 4 metres of tape. I've cut each strip in half in the hope it will go further. If it works it will be well worth it.

And finally, my favourite thing in the garden at the moment. The rhubarb leaves. Simple things please simple minds.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Additions and solutions.

What a fabulous day!
We were fortunate enough to be a 10 minute walk from where the Olympic torch relay was passing by so me and the kids trundled along to see it this morning.

It's so good to have some sunshine, I think we needed it as much as the plants did.
Back to the garden, we popped into our favourite garden centre to get some wellies for Chris, oh and some more organic manure and some seeds and and look at that lovely hanging basket with strawberries I think that would look lovely in our garden..... Dave is very gracious and I don't even have to remind him that I don't own or desire loads of shoes or handbags.

The hanging basket was £2.99 and I have to say it was the pink flowers that attracted me to it. Some of my strawberry plants are a few years old so it was about time for an upgrade. When we got it home, I saw that I had 3 individual plants so I split them and put two in the bed and left one in the basket, giving them all a good mix of compost, manure and potash. Then a cage that I hope will keep the fruit safe from the squirrel.

This morning, I checked the tomatoes over for blight (after another bad dream about the toms getting blight and turning to mush) and I decided to make my first batch of green tomato chutney. I came across this recipe last year from the blog My Tiny Plot by Gillian Carson It was her who inspired me to start blogging about my little ventures.
I have used a bit of artistic license with the recipe, we're not big on dried fruit so I put in a few more toms and added a slither of chili. The batch I made last year was quite popular ad I have a few requests for more.

It's on the stove, gently cooking away and filling the house with what I think is a fabulous smell.
I'm off to give it a stir and finish watering the garden.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

On blight alert!

My toms are giving me cause for concern. At the moment I have 8 cordon plants, 4 of which I think have blight-like discolouration on the leaves and  all four bush/tumbling plants have the same.

To my very untrained eye, it looks like the early stages. I've found some black patches halfway along a truss on several plants. My solution at the moment is to take off  any dodgy looking leaves as close to the main stem as possible and where there are black spots on trusses, I'm just chopping them off.  I know whatever happens I'm still going to have a good crop whether they are red or green they will be put to use. Thankfully, there is no one growing there own anywhere near us so I don't need to worry about it spreading.

This stunning little flower came from a wildflower seed mix I threw on the small patch of earth we have out the front, back in April. Little pockets of loveliness are growing up in between the lavender. We were off out today and thankfully I had my camera with me, I don't usually bother about the front but this one deserves to be shared. I'm thinking next April, I shall do a bit of guerilla gardening and sprinkle wildflower seeds wherever possible in the local area.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Human error....

 Thinking back to Monday's post.
 "So, barring snails, squirrel attack and human error (getting stood on) we should have two pumpkins. Yay!"
As they say, pride comes before the fall.
I fell!
I am still (4 days on from the incident I will tell you about) shaking my head as I think of what I did.
Came down to the garden after an alleged nights sleep and looked with pride upon my promising little globes of pumpkiness. Suddenly, the thought struck me, now would be a good time to cut back all the excess growth. Picked what I thought was the best place and yes I cut at the wrong spot!

Bye, bye little pumpkins, it was good while it lasted. Back to crossing my fingers.

On a more positive note, all six of Leah's sweetcorn  are doing what sweetcorn should. It was great to see and really unexpected.

I think this is a Green veined white I had just rescued him from being trapped at the top of the tomato grow house, he sat on my fingers for a few seconds. My favourite moment of the day.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Inspite of the weather.....

            I am glad and grateful to say that things are happening in the garden, ok so maybe a little later than they should in some cases  but who am I to complain?

Got a great surprise over the weekend when I noticed that the pumpkin was flowering, alot.

Lots of male flowers again and .....

the long awaited female flower. This morning I realised that a second female flower had appeared almost from nowhere. Just hoping some lovely insects managed to dodge the rain and pollinate the flower.  So, barring snails, squirrel attack and human error (getting stood on) we should have two pumpkins. Yay!

The Sungold tomatoes are really ripening nicely. I have absolutely loads of tomatoes, some of which I want to stay green for chutney which I'm really looking forward to making in another couple of weeks.

Everyday, more and more of the blueberries are ripening. I have to say that I was sceptical about growing blueberries because quite simply I don't like them. It was Dave's suggestion to get the bush and I let him pick out the plant because I was pretty un enthused. So, now they finally start to ripen I figure I should taste one and they are great! Blueberries I have bought from tescos have very little flavour and a weird texture but the ones from the garden are just full of flavour and are so juicy. I'm now thinking we may have to invest in a second bush.
So, our first time growing blueberries, I'm just beginning to figure out when to pick them. If they have a green bottom (like the ones in the photo), they are not quite there and a little sharp (still nice though). I've picked quite a few of these, for research purposes of course. Today I realised that the blueberries I had left to go dark blue all over (no green bottom) were sweeter. So now I know.
As they are ripening a handful at a time I'm freezing them.

Pop them on a tray and freeze them.

Then pop them in a bag and back in the freezer, this way they
 won't freeze in a clump and we can take what we need.

Much to my relief, the aubergine flowers are getting bigger. I have cut away the smaller flowers and trimmed alot of the leaves, leaving two flowers per plant in the hope that all the growing energy will go into these four flowers. Still keeping my fingers crossed.

Looking ahead to next season so I sat down and organised my seeds. Now, I am not big on organisational skills and my seeds have all been crammed into a small box which I would have to empty out in order to root around and find a particular packet. All very annoying. So I got a very cheap food container and sat down for half and hour. The system I came up with is simple but will work for me.

Now I can plan what seeds I might order in the future without worrying about duplicates. This is progress for me, last year I left a load of seeds in the grow house and they got ravaged by snails and mice. Not smart!

And finally, I thought I would include a picture of our cat Immy (Imogen, she's a rescue cat and that was the name she was given). I stood and watched her sitting nonchalantly at the open back door, watching my nemesis the squirrel as he scrabbled around in the garden just a few feet away. For what is normally a very territorial creature, she did nothing!  A great help she is! We should have got a dog.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Thinking positively

Apparently there is going to be 10 more days of rain so, on a positive note, there's no need to water the garden. Usually, by the middle of August I will have gotten a tad bored of  daily watering, not this year. Although we've had torrential rain, Saturday and Sunday especially, we've not had it as bad as most. The garden is still in one piece and not waterlogged as it would be had we had grass. Really hoping for some sunshine soon though.....

I managed to squeeze and hour or so of gardening in between the downpours on Sunday.
I cut back a load of the leaves on 2 of the tomato plants.

The hope is that what little sun we get will work towards starting some ripening. I'll give it another couple of weeks before I start on the other plants otherwise, I think, we'll have a load ripening at the same time.

Also, an update on the maskotka tomatoes that were re potted.

All 3 plants are doing well and now producing toms, so you can take a plant that looks doomed and give it a new lease of life.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden....
The rhubarb planted at the start of the year is looking really promising.

3 male pumpkin flowers, not one female flower!

The blueberries are finally ripening.

And finally, in the ongoing struggle of woman vs squirrel, I struck a small blow in that my sunflower survived to full maturity! Yay!

I chopped it down so Leah can take it into school for show and tell. Next day, I came down to find that the little blighter had had a jolly good dig around in two of the beds and made a right old mess among the carrots. I make that Woman 1 - Squirrel 1 . Dave's talking about getting a spud gun or air rifle. I'm tempted.



Saturday, 7 July 2012

Something to lift the spirits.

Yesterday evening I went out with Leah and a friend of mine  to Clapham to a sewing cafe called Sew Over It. We spent a happy couple of hours learning to make bunting and came away feeling very pleased with ourselves. We walked a few yards down the road to the bus stop and came across the Edible Bus Stop. I took these photos on my phone so please excuse the poor quality but I was very excited by it.

I'd heard about the village of Todmordon and to me it's such an inspiring thing to do. For various reasons, I suppose I didn't expect to find something similar in London. It must take a tremendous amount of faith to plant like that in  a society where communinty is often something we think of in the past tense,  my fear would be that someone might come along and trash it. But  there it is growing and thriving opposite Lambeth Hospital. There were numerous sunflowers, a herb patch, broad beans, cabbages, tomatoes, flowers....
What has been created there is a wonderful and inspirational space where the care that has been taken over it just sucks you in, makes you happy and restores a little bit of faith in human nature.

Your can follow the Edible Bus Stop on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Is it worth it?

It's been a little while since I've posted a blog, the weather has been mostly grim which makes it harder to get a good photo, plus Leah had nabbed the batteries from my camera which didn't help either.

Breathed a huge sigh of relief when I spotted flowers (admittedly very juvenile ones) on both of the grow house aubergines. The 3rd aubergine hasn't fared so well being in the raised bed but it shows that if I grow them again, undercover is the way to go.

The squash and pumpkin are producing a good number of male and female flowers, unfortunately they are not open at the same time so no pollination happening so far but that was not unexpected. Time will tell.

I had found that my rocket kept on bolting almost as soon as it got to a reasonable size, after some investigation it seems it was just getting too much sun (surprising, I know!) so I moved all my lettuces, parsley and coriander closer to the house where it has partial shade and now everything looks much happier. This is also great for going out and picking leaves for salads, it's hard to put into words how it feels to be able to just step into the garden and take what I need from what is there. The cut and come again lettuce have served us well and the thinnings from the young cos lettuce are a bit of a revelation to someone like me who really isn't a paragon of health and virtue.

My favourite has to be the garlic, the delicately pungent garlic smell that comes from the pile stored in the grow house makes me very happy. It feels like a real treat using them instead of regular shop bought garlic in my cooking. All I can say is wow!

Last Friday, I went and did some gardening at Leah's school. Actually ended up helping two mums who work in the allotment plot sized veg garden at the school. They want to be able to cook on site with the kids  using food that they've grown and it looks like I'll be helping. I took some peas from home I'd picked just a while earlier, the joy came from the response from the kids who wouldn't try them at first and then when they did seeing their faces light up. "These taste better than the peas we have at school!" cried some of the boys. Today I had put some peas in their pods in Leah's lunch box and she ended up sharing with about 6 kids and the dinner lady. Things like this lift the spirit, this and all of the above answer the question I posed in the title. Yes, it is worth it!

When I was sorting out the grow houses the other week, I found an old broken up wind chime that had sat hidden away waiting for me to get around to restringing and fixing (a good few years I'm afraid). So I finally resolved to repair it, there were several bits missing or broken, I started fixing it, got bored, left it for another week then got inspired.....

Bits and pieces

Add in some bits from Ikea and a few beads from my jewellery making stuff.

     Quite chuffed with it really and it is completely unique which makes it
even better.

Off to bed soon, last night I dreamt that the tomatoes developed blight. How's that for obsession?