Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The sowing season has started!

I love Spring it is so full of promise! As I write now the sun is shining, beckoning me outside -but those bitter winds are still rather chilly so I will need to wrap up warm should I succumb to the invitation!

I have already started to sow my seeds, its probably far too early for some things so I am trying really hard not to get too carried away. The Great Big Allotment Challenge definitely got me in the mood. I know the programme isn't to everyones tastes but I loved meeting the contestants - just ordinary folk like you and me. I also loved finding out which varieties they grow, I particularly liked Rob's selection as he likes to grow heritage varieties. I try to grow these too- its very satisfying growing varieties that have been growing for years and to help save them from being lost never to be seen again. I hope to let you know more about the seeds I have chosen to grow in further posts.

Another reason I enjoyed the show was seeing the plots in the lovely weather we had last year. I definitely am feeling the need for sunshine and warmth - My greenhouse is going to be the best place for me just now- I love feeling the warm sun on my back as I sow and plant in there.

So back to the seeds I have sown some leeks - My usual Musselburgh and Bleu de solaise which is blue leafed variety that turns more violet leaved after a frost! and apparently is quite hardy. These should be pretty, perhaps I should plant some near the house to give added interest in the garden over the winter. The Musselburgh have already started to show their heads but the latter were sown a week later so no show there yet!

 In the greenhouse I have sown broad beans and peas in my usual loo rolls in pots( filled with compost) and also have sown some mangetout.

For broad beans I have gone for Bunyards exhibition, and peas- Meteor and Onward both dwarf type varieties growing to about 18 inch- 2 ft tall and for Mangetout Norli which is another  dwarf variety which will grow to about 2 ft tall.  I have grown the Norli as I found these on a reduced counter last year and have no experience of them - so these will be a bit of a surprise!

I was very excited to  receive some seeds yesterday in the post  from one of my favourite companies 'The Real Seed Catalogue - and in there were some very early dwarf peas called Oskar which I really need to get planted this week.  These promise to be a very early variety  and I will need  plant further varieties afterwards in order to have a continual production of peas this year.

I'm not sure if you have watched the  aforementioned programme but Sandra, one of the contestants said she hadn't had much luck previously with peas and that has been my experience to date so here goes lets hope for a bumper crop this year!
In my next post I hope to update you on the peppers I have chosen to grow so happy gardening until then!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Enjoying the moment

I love this time of year - the evenings are long - planting is still going on.  There is the in terminal battle with the weeds, warm sunny weather, lovely sunsets, the birds are chirpy and all feels at one with world.
As you may guess this is my most favourite season - produce is starting to drift in - lettuces are doing well this year, strawberries and raspberries too.  We have had the odd picking of a pale yellow mangetout pea too!
All of this keeps me sane whilst juggling a working life and family. There is nothing more satisfying than sowing planting and harvesting - it's what I dream of in the dark winter months - hoping planning and anticipating spring when the process starts again.

I am getting ahead of myself I need to enjoy the present - the colours are starting to develop and the smells and of course the tastes of fresh produce. It is so rewarding and relaxing to enjoy the moment - I hope you stop and enjoy your moments too ! I would love to hear about your special moments you are enjoying!

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's been a while and I'm back!

Life as been busy for us at home - I've been working longish hours and have had long journeys to work. Our young people continue to keep us busy- having four children very close together has often meant lots of attention needed all at the same time and I had in my foolishness thought that the times when they were young were going to be the hardest!! I had no idea what was in store for us.

Start of the 2014 preparations- onion and garlic bed
Last year despite my best efforts, my trips down to the allotment were few and far between.
You've guessed right - one of the plans for this year is to spend more time down there. I really find it very therapeutic to be there - away from home, work and back to the simple things in life. Children, work, life will just have to wait - I need my 'Me ' time and the allotment so fills this need.
Over the Christmas holidays, hubby and I had planned to get to grips with the allotment and make it ours again as opposed to the wild wilderness it has become.
I'm rather ashamed at how bad it was!

 So over the last couple of days we have both been down digging sometimes together and sometimes separately and how lovely it was too. One of children asked recently what were we going to do when they had all left home- ' as you don't have a lot in common!'. Well how wrong they are - and we are trying hard to spend more time together - and the allotment is a great place to start! Just as long as we don't get like other allotment couples - some of which can be heard bickering away very loudly at times! 

This is my neighbours plot - we think he works overnight on it - it always looks good!
We divide our work Mr H is in charge of structures layout and buildings and general up keep .We agree on what we are growing and I am responsible for sowing  and planting. It seems to work well for us !
 So lots of digging being done - the soil is lovely now after years of  applying manure and lots of digging. Even after all the rain we have had, it's an absolute delight - its dark, crumbly  and lovely .
When we first started it was full of stones, rocks and flints! It's just the weeds we need to keep on top off and that's an on going battle. Even after a couple of days digging things have improved so much. 

It was a very cold and frosty start yesterday!
It was soo cold after yesterdays digging I was inspired to make some "new" wellie socks from old woollen jumpers destined for the charity shop ( sorry charity shop- I have sent you other things !!!) . There are lots of sites giving instructions and I had to look at them all for inspiration. Beware some sites offer instructions for leg warmers instead of socks! It was my toes that were cold not my legs!!
Tubular socks made from woollen jumper sleeves
Eventually I went for the tubular ski sock idea, using the sleeves and the ribbed cuff as the sock top. I tried the sleeve on inside out and pinned the garment so that it fitted around the leg, ankle, around the foot and toe area. I have made two pairs a shorter pair and a longer pair and  I am so hoping I don't have cold feet next time I go digging. I was on a roll and I had  previously thought about upcycling mittens  so whilst the jumper was there and the machine primed I also made these:

Mittens made from up-cycled woollen jumper sleeves
So hopefully no cold hands either!
 I am already starting to plan what I will grow and watching Nigel Slater on his new years day cooking programme ( I do enjoy watching his programmes ) he has further inspired me to get planning. So onto the Internet I go! I love looking for new seed packets  and  deciding what I will grow so that's what I'm up to  for the next few days ! I'm so glad to be back and have missed talking to you  and catching up with old friends! Looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings !!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunny days - and cooking

It seems to have a been a little while since I last posted. I have had a busy month at work and slap bang right in the middle of the lovely warm sunny weather I was hit by the vomiting and diarrhoea virus. This then swept like lightening through the rest of the family and has taken us all a little while to fully recover.

Our sunny days here in Hampshire were glorious and as you can see involved flower picking _ even though it was a dandelion and our lovely cat posed beautifully and patiently for us. We could almost see the thought bubbles above his head-"Lets hope this will be quick -I  need to flop in the sun somewhere and catch the rays" Its amazing how much he will put up with for certain members of the family.

Daisy flowers were made into chains and ankles were decorated

 Some people - much against their Mummy's advice turned a little pink in the sunshine.

 And then the sunshine disappeared and my thoughts turned to cooking and a batch of plum chutney was prepared and made

 Daughter made some coffee cupcakes:
 The preserving obsession  has begun to bite again and a batch of apple and chilli jam just had to be made:
 This mouli device was a present from my sister some years ago. I wasn't very sure of it at first as I have a blender as well as a hand blender-I'm ashamed to say that I had even thought of getting rid of it but this has been so useful especially when making apple puree  and most of all when making my apple and chilli jam!

 I've been busy making more preserves but more about that later.

I still looking for my new chickens and have made a definite decision to get bantams . I'm just searching now about possible sources and hope to update you in due course. There seems  to be a shortage of them and apparently they are in very high demand this year!

 I'm sorry this is a short and sweet post but with the youngsters coming and going at home, time is short! Hoping to get back to you soon.............................

Sunday, April 21, 2013

At long last - Spring ( I think) has arrived!

 I have been so fed up with  the damp grey dark days! I began to think that Spring would never come and that some how we would be jettisoned straight into a brief Summer before heading for the end of the year again. I do hope that this will not be the case.

Last week we made a visit to Southsea  near Portsmouth- some of us to shop at Gunwarf ( a retail outlet ) and some of us to catch some fresh air. As you can see the weather was cold and grey and we are still wearing t winter coats.

Its lovely seeing everyone letting go and we have such fun skimming stones- its  something childlike and just plain good fun.

See how grey the day was!

In sharp contrast, yesterday was glorious and I spent an afternoon down by the sea in Bournemouth. There was almost a continental feel for the day. Its funny how a little bit of sunshine can raise spirits and how  magically everyone is transformed from their winter clothed selves into their Summer persona. How amazing is that little bit of sunshine! I even enjoyed a cup of tea sitting outside a coffee shop in the sunshine and just enjoyed watching the world go by.

I am sure Spring is finally here- evidence from my garden backs this up:

 Today I finally got the greenhouse ready ! No seeds sown yet - I am way behind but hoping to catch up this week.

 The primulas are flowering:
 The tete-a-tetes are still blooming - they were such a great buy in December. I planted the bulbs which had just started to grow in my hanging basket outside my kitchen window. They have been such a joy to  watch grow and flower.

 The sunglasses came out today:
 Someone even did a bit of revision in the garden:
 After they had a little rest!

 The pear tree is starting to burst into leaf:

 The forsythia is well and truly blooming:
 There was even some blue sky
 I know it must be spring as we've been trimming the hedges
 My elder daughter did some weeding!
 The bulb hyacinths are in bloom
 Such a pretty shade of blue!
  The japonica bush is in full  flower

 And the heather is also a mass of flower- amazing as we are on chalk and they tend to like acid soil!

 This I took to remind me that I really need to plant more daffodils for next year
 Even the daisies in the grass were smiling:

And  last but not least I know its Spring as Mr H used the lawnmower AND the shredder!

Spring has finally sprung!