Friday 17 December 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Not much action at the plot lately.
Well to be honest no visits to the plot for quite some time but in my defence this happened.

I managed to salvage my Christmas potatoes - but we've eaten them - oops!

Now we are spending our time visiting polar bears

and that man in the red suit - oh well there's always next year.

We will be digging the bean trench on Boxing Day (providing I can get the spade in the ground).
In the meantime hope you and yours have a Happy Christmas. Here's to good gardening in 2011.

Thursday 28 October 2010

A century

This is my 100th post - and boy has it been a long time coming!
We have been very busy this year with family and work commitments but have fitted in quite a lot of travelling too so the blog has had to take a back seat.
The allotment is winding up for the winter now - I wasn't in the right place at the right time to plant much to over winter just a few parsnips, brassicas but no sprouts (disaster - we love our sprouts) and that's it. the boys picked grandma a boquet when we were clearing up at the weekend . But who would give it to her?
as you can see they have their own way of sorting these things out!

Tonight we have been making preparations for the weekend. The pumpkins may be small but they look quite good I think.

We have two parties a disco and a school non uniform day to prepare ourselves for - Hallow'een was never this important when I were a lass. So off to polish up my face painting skills YS wants to go as a "zombie ear basher with a scythe" ,whatever one of those may be.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Bean at the plot

School holidays, holidays, w*rk and family have all combined to make the visits to the plot less frequent than ever this month. Tonight, after returning from the annual bank holiday camping trip we all mucked in to try to get some winter crops in the ground and see what there was to harvest.
The harvest was beans, beans and beans (oh and courgettes) and then some more beans. So now I am of to chop blanch and freeze, leave carrier bags for the neighbour, Mum and Aunty and work out how much of the remainder I can realistically get through and how much needs to be gifted.

We did manage to plant leeks and winter caulis and a few sprouting broc plants but I need to do some land clearance before we can finish the rest of the winter planting. I am trying enviromesh this year in an attempt to foil the butterflies/pigeons/ everything else that made last years brassicas a near write off - the cost made my eyes water but I'm hoping it will last for several years (it had better!).

Soon YS will be off to school and I may be able to sneak an extra lottie session in each week which should make next season a lot more comfortable/ productive/ planned but the best laid plans... We shall see and in the meantime we shall eat beans.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Visit to Tyntesfield

On the way to the French ferry a couple of weeks ago we stopped off at Tyntesfield Estate near Bristol.
We had a game of football (obligatory OS's choice), climbed the scaffold tower to the roof (YS), visited the tea room (OH) and finally visited the kitchen garden (Me!).
They were selling homegrown fruit and veg but we weren't impressed with the prices!

The cutting garden was spectacular - this in no way does it justice.

They have more staff than I do.
Up the tower
Cute box in the shop

Where are the photos of the veg?
This was as close as I got - there is a fan pruned cherry in the background...
I think I was so busy admiring the straight rows and lack of weeds I must have forgotten to take one. My, but their onions were big - you'll just have to take my word for it!

We had a lovely time there is a lot of walking involved in the visit, the gardens are a long way from the car park etc but well worth it.  The guide even took the trouble to show the boys where the 10yo gardeners boy would have slept in a cupboard above the benches in the potting shed when it was his turn to keep the boiler going during the night. OS pronounced this "cool". If you are looking for a stop of the M5 this summer it's well worth a look.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

I've got a red one!

Tomato that is. The reason that this deserves it's own special post?
Last year I got not one. The dreaded blight swept through whilst they were all still green.
I watched Alys Fowler's programme and she said that this year she wasn't even going to try, and I felt the same, but then...
Isn't gardening always like that? A series of disappointments and small victories.
Today was a victory.  I hope Alys changed her mind too.

Sunday 1 August 2010


Today we had courgettes for lunch.
Today we had courgettes for tea.
Today we had courgettes for pudding too.

I guess the courgette season is here?

Lunch : Pasta with ribbons of courgette fried in olive oil with a cream sauce, chilli flakes and black pepper. Served with a green salad, smoked salmon and a wedge of lemon.
Pudding: Chocolate courgette cake, raspberries, cream.
Tea BBQ sausages, courgette marinated in olive oil and a little lemon, salad, potatoes. And ketchup.
Pudding BBQ chocolate bananas, toasted marshmallows.

Today I am liking courgettes.

(camera is broken again - but I guess by this point in the season you all know what a courgette looks like...)

Thursday 29 July 2010

The birds and the bees

My 4yo is a child of the soil.

One bedtime last week we were answering the age old question of "Where do babies come from?".
I told him that Daddies plant seeds inside Mummies and a baby grows.  He thought for a bit - "is it a carrot seed?" he asked. "No", I said "because that would grow a carrot". "Oh yes! I must be a baby seed". "Yes" I said. "That's good" he said - "because you can't grow carrots..."

(We then got onto the mechanics. After flatly dismissing the anatomical explaination of the "special cuddle" that Daddies give to Mummies he seems to have decided that Daddy keeps a magic wand in his trousers that he waved over Mummy. A trip to the magician will never seem the same again!)

On the gardening front after a week away in Brittany I am dusting off my courgette recipies.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Sunday lunch

I am quite pleased with myself this afternoon, not only did I cook a delicious Sunday lunch but most of it was home grown.

We had:

potatoes - look YS is so talented he grew them himself. Maybe now he will believe me when I tell him he will grow potatoes behind his ears if he doesen't wash...
Delicious roast lamb, home grown french beans (two sorts), homegrown broad beans, carrots (we'll gloss over those shall we?), homegrown roasted garlic - yummy!
 While we are on the subject of garlic mine seems to be growing bulbs half way up the stem - is this normal? never seen this before...

For pudding we had berries picked by OS

didn't he do well?

So I have a new camera and my gardening mojo is back thanks for all the support.
Lessons I have learnt.
  1. Do not leave 7YO in charge of camera
  2. Do not post on blog after drinking the red grape.
Have a good weekend!

Monday 28 June 2010

Reaping what I've sowed (or not)

I've had a bit of a rubbish year at the plot this year for several reasons, but mostly due to lack of effort - particularly effort at the right time.
Tonight I nipped to the plot to do a bit of watering the first for over a week to find the peas and broad beans cropping like mad but beginning to go over - water last week might well have helped. The radishes are small and firey again water is possibly a factor.The strawberries were also going great guns in amongst the weeds and there looks like a bumper crop of raspberries on the horizon (probably just in time for my hols).

But I feel a bit despondant, some of the beans have gone crispy - still in pots waiting for more canes to be brought up from the village, nowhere to plant the brussel sprouts out yet  and they are more than ready, and oh the weeds.
To top it all it seems I (well probably OS) have lost my camera which makes me less likely to update the blog, so less likely to get to the plot to have something to write about so more neglect and - you see where this is leading?
So I am resolved to pull myself together and get up there and pick the strawberies and weed again tommorrow. I will replace the camera and get my gardening mojo back.
Meanwhile OS has just been sick in the wash hand basin - events are beginning to conspire again...

Sunday 20 June 2010

Gardeners World (not weeding)

I gave the weeding a break this afternoon to visit Gardeners World Live at the NEC in Birmingham after winning a pair of tickets from Deb on Carrots and Kids thanks Deb! I took the family along too.

We had a pretty good time

Celebrity spotting ...
Tony who? Joe who? Said OH

We found a few veggi gardens (I bribed the boys with the promise of an ice cream for this photo)

Ice creams and the cactus and suculent stand - what more could a girl want?
Not to have her photo taken unexpectedly it seems...

So what did we think?

Well we didn't stay that long - just over 2 hours was enough for the boys so I guess we barely scratched the surface but all in all it was a sucess.  The food was horrendously pricey but as the Good Food Show was next door it seemed rude not to try a few samples. There were some very silly things to buy, I failed miserably - I only managed to buy one £1 packet of seed. But there were some lovely moments (why did that man have a red and white sheep slung over his shoulders?) and a nice atmosphere to the whole place. The ask the expert bit was very middle England and easy to mock but what's not to like about people being passionate about their sweetcorn? So all in all a good afternoon out, I probably wouldn't have been as happy if I'd driven further or I'd paid £21 per ticket and next time, I'm sorry boys, I'd leave you at home.

This evening we got back to the lottie and I pulled weeds with new vigor.  I'm so close to finishing 2009 winter digging - maybe by the end of the week.

Sunday 6 June 2010

Can't blog

Can't blog - weeding!

Monday 31 May 2010


A while ago I read this post on nipitinthebud's blog. The photo montage captured my imagination and I wanted to do my own and so many moons later here it is. It holds the answers to the questions:

1. my name
2. my year of birth
3. siblings?
4. my birthplace
5. favorite food?
6. favourite drink?
7. shoe size?
8. favourite pudding?
9. trait valued in others?
10. favourite animal?
11. favourite book?
12. how I keep fit?
13. pets
14. favourite pastime?
15. one word to describe me
16. what I love most about life
Follow the instructions in the original post if you fancy a go - I really enjoyed it!

Wednesday 26 May 2010


Finally it is raining -just in time for the Bank Holiday.  I'm disproportioantely excited but felt that you lot might understand - unlike some I could mention...

Friday 14 May 2010

The benefits of being a slacker

I hate to boast but...
There was very little frost damage on my plot. 
This was beacause:

1.Nothing has been planted out yet.
2.I had forgotten to undo the greenhouse and therfore didn't forget to do it up.
3.The most tender plants have not yet progressed from the conservatory.
4.Beans don't get planted until May 10th (it is the law in my family).
5.I didn't earth up all the potatoes - but the ones I hadn't done I had absentmindely parked the grass clipping pile on  - (the compost is full up) thus saving them from damage.

So it appears there might be method in my madness after all.
In other news - I might be able to finish my winter digging this weekend (winter 2009). There again, maybe not.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Bluebell woods

I was skiving from the lottie again today - feel free to remind me next time I moan about weeding, being behind etc. We went to Rutland Water, the bluebells in Barnsdale wood were beautiful and smelt lovely too. They are definitely my favourite spring flower (OK and daffodils...).

It seems Anne Bronte rated them too:
The Bluebell
A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

(then it goes on a bit...)

If you haven't seen any bluebells yet - get out there!

Saturday 8 May 2010


I took the day off work on Wednesday, put YS in nursery took OS to school and got set for a full day at the plot. so did I get everything done?
I got my hair cut at the girl barbers, it seemed too good an oppurtunity to miss and then as I was in town I had a look round and one thing led to another but not to the plot.
I finally spent a measly hour weeding the new seeds.
So many good intentions.
I had a lovely day off but wish I didn't feel so much guilt!

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Poor Sad Baldie

He started out like many others - full of hope
He grew and grew. The caterpillars liked him. We didn't like them. Together we fought them off.
We talked about netting him to stop the pigeons. It was just talk. He survived extreme cold and snow.
Old Baldies friends were uprooted and consigned to the compost heap. But in a neglected corner deep amongst the grass, (how did that get there?), sits Old Baldie and a few mates.

And now we've found him we're gonna eat him...

Saturday 17 April 2010

Apologies for the weather

Not now - obviously - it's gorgeous here, but this summer I fear will be a wet one. I have just bought a new hose. OH has been, I would say happlily but I would be lying, putting it together for me as like everything at the moment it was flat packed.
So whilst he got on with that, I planted out the sweet peas, a second wave of peas, some beetroot and a row of carrots. So you can expect much weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth in about a months time when the carrots haven't grown/ have carrot fly/ have been eaten by slugs/ have been dug up by a cat/ have been got by volcanic dust...
OH had triumphed over the hose and watered them for me. The boys sat in the car and played with a whoopie cushion. Philistines.

Sunday 11 April 2010

First signs of sping (1-10)

1.I heard the first ice cream van.
2.Oh and the blossom is out on the cherry tree.
3.Trousers dry on the washing line.
4.The eggs are getting bigger.
5. The lawn needs mowing.
6. There isn't much lawn left after over winter footballing.
7. Remembering to close the greenhouse when you have already got into bed.
8. All horizontal surfaces contain a seed tray.
9. The collection of toilet rolls is at an all time low.
10. Bare chests in the garden (not mine obviously).

Hope you had a good weekend. Back to work for me tommorow after a very enjoyable Easter break  At least I can get to the plot in the evening now though!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

A fruitful day

At last we got something done at the plot!
 We planted two gooseberry bushes that had been neglected all winter in two small pots - I've no idea how they survived but they have leaves so deserved a chance. Planted 5 Autumn Bliss raspberry canes. I love raspberries and I'm hoping these will fruit this year.
Planted the potatoes, Premier, International Kidney and Pink Fir Apple. We had two Int Kid left over so I will put those in the recently vacated dustbin at the bottom of the garden. The boys had had enough after that lot so carrots were postponed until next time (carrots are always my nemisis). Just as I popped the tools back into the shed I noticed there was a bit of rhubarb worth having. So we had 5 sticks for tea with "puffy pancakes". All in all a fruitful day. (For the pedants I know rhubarb is a vegetable - but that doesn't fit with the title...)

Saturday 3 April 2010

Sow sow

I feel so far behind this year so it was time to have a day of sowing seeds. I sowed brassicas (though why I bother...), more peas, various flowers for companion planting and cutting, lettuce, beetroot and more sweet peas as my overwintering ones look a bit weedy. Look at me being peat free!
The boys helped by racing around my ankles on a bike and a go cart - and yes I do have the bruises to show for it. I have put the seeds to bed in a mini plastic greenhouse to keep them a bit warmer and prevent the chickens having a nibble. Yes you Farah!

Thursday 1 April 2010

First Earlies

In my shockingly lax gardening style I haven't really thought about planting potatoes yet. Too cold (snow again this morning) but they are chitting well ...
Maybe in about a week or so the soil will have warmed up a bit and I might consider venturing up to the plot.

This morning YS pointed out quite how lax my gardening has become. "Mummy are you ever going to get the potatoes out of the tub at the bottom of the garden?" cue Mummy muttering "What are you talking about darling, what potatoes?". But lo!
Look what we found, not a mess of rotting potato flesh as anticipated, but a handy tractor load.
(YS loves his tractor).
Note to self - keep better records - if I can lose a tub of potatoes what other delights might be waiting for me? Tommorrow I will venture again to the bottom of the garden.

Friday 26 March 2010

The boys are back in town

We went to the allotment twice last weekend. Once on Saturday which was a short wet visit. Luckily we like mud and the washing machine is fully functioning. We went again on Sunday, and what a difference a day makes - look what the sun brought out - us in T-shirts!
We planted beetroot, spring onions and radish.  Manured the potato bed-to-be (watch this space) and adjusted the compost heaps. We also found a few interesting bugs.
This is a shield bug. I don't think it does much harm and it kept the small boys interested for a while.
What will this weekend bring? It feels like spring but the forecast is for sleet and a hard frost on Tuesday/ Wednesday so I'm debating whether to dust of the fleece. On the plus side I won't be able to see the weeds if the fleece is on and the frost should be OK. On the minus side putting the fleece on might mean tidying the shed. What to do...

Sunday 21 March 2010

The vernal equinox

The flowers are out. They know it is spring!

Tuesday 16 March 2010

I dig digging

I love my family dearly, including those who came to partake of a Mother's Day lunch of roast beef and all the trimmings and chocolate fondant pudding with poached pears - yum!
But - it was still nice to nip to the allotment for half an hour and dig over the potato bed whilst the boys cycled around the garden and OH did the washing up.
I am sparing you the picture of a dug over potato bed - I kind of guess you might have seen one before. I took one for posterity though - bare weed free soil is a bit of a rarity on my plot - the moment needed to be recorded.

Monday 8 March 2010

Slowly, slowly, catchey monkey

My OH (to be known for the remainder of this post as lovely husband LH) looked after the boys for an hour and a half on Sunday so I DID get something done.
Broad beans under the cloches, peas under the glass lean to radish planted between the sticks, onions under the netting and a bit of digging to boot. Still some way to go though. I'm sure I was much further on at this time last year. Will the winter digging be done before August, will the weeds ever be brought under control and will the boys ever want to come out into the cold again. All this and more to be answered in due course...

Sunday 7 March 2010

The inside of the shed

Soilman posted about the state of his shed and dared us to show ours.  I think it is fair to say that I am not a (rude word deleted as I am a lady) but I am a little untidy. OH is horrified that I would publish this. It did have a positive side though, instead of tidying it I weeded the strawberry patch another task I do no undertake lightly - although the results were far from impressive...

Saturday 6 March 2010

I've bean planting

We went to the allotment yesterday YS and I. It was a lovely afternoon and my companion was very enthusiastic (it always helps). It was two hours until OS finished school so I had a chance to get  lots done.

First the broad beans. now beginning to get a bit leggy it was high time they were planted out. So we set to. My companion began to mutter about being cold and wanting to go and see grandma. I jollied him along but the mutterings turned into moans, so I increased my pace. Two full rows of broad beans were planted out in twenty minutes and that was it. Time up. Grandma was lovely, as always, and the tea and cake was very welcome but I NEED TO GET THINGS DONE! Grrrrrr!

So no photo either...

Sunday 28 February 2010


Still haven't been to the lottie as this week's weather is torrential rain and after watching OS play football in it this morning I really can't face getting bone cold again. So we are at home plotting what we are going to plant this year. The window sills are already filling up and the lovely lady is getting a bit crowded. (I see the windows need washing and the fence repairing too...)
This weekend YS and I have been planting flowers. Marigolds, Dahlias and Lobelia as well as some herbs and sprouting mung beans. The peas and beans are ready to go under cloches, the sweet peas are ready for the cold frame the parsnips are chitting on paper towel and the potatoes are laid out in trays in the conservatory. There are definite signs of sping in the garden though.  Here's hoping that next week there will be more outdoor progress!

Saturday 20 February 2010

Winter's last blast (hopefully)

Well the snow is back in Leicestershire. We were sledging again yesterday so it looks like yet another weekend of inactivity at the plot.

All is not lost however, I sorted my seeds out, and to the comment you can never have too many seeds I have to say - I can!

Friday 12 February 2010

February fill dyke

We used to sing a hymn at school.

"Glad that I live am I,
That the sky is blue,
Glad for the country lanes
And the fall of dew,
After the sun the rain after the rain the sun,
This is the way of life 'till the work be done"

So I'm looking forward to the sun as it is pretty wet at the lottie. I've clocked up 3 visits since Christmas totalling about 4.5 hours. I consoled myself by buying some (more) seeds.

Leeks tommorrow I think.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Ready, steady,sow!

I always get into trouble at this time of year as I'm desparate to get on with things (not sure why as the digging / clearing up / pruning has not been done yet) so YS and I dusted off the toilet rolls and planted peas and broad beans to try and get an early start after the over wintered ones didn't.

We get pleasure from small things in this house so when YS went to the toilet this morning he was very excited to find...
a pea!

So he had one, and that created another toilet roll and so the cycle continues...

Sunday 31 January 2010

January Blues

The snow put paid to any early broad beans
The pigeons ate the brassicas (as predicted so why didn't I NET THEM?)
But we loved the snow!

It hasn't been the best start to a new decade hence my lack of posts but this week we planted some seeds (broad bean, peas, sweet peas) to replace those that got a bit too hardened off and bought our seed potatoes and shallots so the season is a go (and I just got a post in before the end of January).
Onion seeds and leeks are next on the agenda.