Archive for March, 2012

mtp

Mangetout

The Mangetout that we planted a few weeks ago in Jackson’s garden is growing well. He was amazed that it came up so fast and we put some sticks in for them to grow up. He wants to know if we can eat them yet? And even though I said that they won’t be ready for some time I expect he’ll still pick some and taste it, just to see!

He never believes me when I say things aren’t ready. He spat out quite a few green Strawberries last year before he admitted that I was right. He has a will of iron.

And… at the moment Jacskson’s little patch has more growing in it than my garden. All I have showing are some sprouting Onions and a row of Radish. I need to start concentrating on my patch! Ho-hum.

mtp

Hand-Pollinating Peaches

It’s that time of year again, when my Peach tree is in full flower with not a flying insect in sight. I’m not sure why nature does this. It’s clearly not optimal to base the whole of your future existence on one short week in the Spring when the ‘one vital tool you need to reproduce’ hasn’t even hatched yet.

So… it’s a good thing that I’m around with my long paintbrush. If I didn’t dab each flower and transfer the pollen from one flower to the next my Peach tree would no-doubt be barren. As it is last year, together, we achieved almost 100 per cent pollination. Hooray!

Let’s see if we can do it again.

mtp

Forcing Chicory – Success!

It’s been a long process but I finally have some blanched Chicory to show you. My, somewhat Herculean effort, started back in November when I lifted the Chicory plants I had been growing during last summer.

Then I stored them in damp sand (sometimes a little too damp) over the worst of the winter weather.

After this I planted them into deep buckets, put a pot over the top to block out the light and put them in a frost free and dark shed. There they have been happily growing (albeit painfully slowly) until now.

I harvested the Chicory today as the leaves were starting to fan out instead of stay tight. I was a little worried that the tips of the leaves were too yellow but brought them in anyway. Once washed and dressed I needn’t have worried about the yellow leaves as they were the best tasting part. They were absolutely devine. A complex taste really. Totally fresh and dewey with a hint of that Chicory bitterness towards the base of the leaf.

I liked it. We all liked it. I think I would have to dedicate a bigger patch of the garden to growing Chicory and fill more pots in the shed to make the enterprise worth while. As it was all my work ended in one lunch. The effort far outweighed the end product.

But… this is true of a lot of kitchen gardening. Mostly, for me anyway, it’s about the experience of growing something unusual and tasting something as nature intended, at its freshest possible moment. I think I’ve achieved both my goals here. And I’m already planning where I will sow this year’s batch of Chicory.

mtp

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all. These are the sweet gifts that I recieved from my boys and my husband. I feel special today and I hope the mothers amongst you feel special too.

mtp

Hedgerow & River

I bought a copy of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, a while ago for £1 from a charity book shop. It’s one of those titles that I’ve always meant to own and read but I never got around to it. In truth, I bought the book a few months ago but events conspired to whittle my time away until nothing was left for reading.

I picked it up again today and read the back cover first. Edith, the author, a young woman who was drawn outside almost every day to examine the nature on her doorstep. Who cycled around the lanes and countryside around her home and found Thrushes nesting in holly bushes, and green woodpeckers hammering in the distance.

Hang on, I thought. I could do that. My bike had a flat type (lack of use) so I fell at the first hurdle. But not to be put off, I set off down the lane with my camera in hand, and my beady eye at the ready. If there were Thrushes nesting in the holly, I would find them!

I didn’t find a thrush’s nest. But I was amazed at all the things I drive past, and occasionally walk past, every day. The clumps of Primroses clinging to the banks of the lanes.

The variety of colours that one plant can make from its leaves.

Ivy. Who knew?

Moss-covered stone tucked underneath a bridge.

The farmer’s horse keeping warm under his blanket.

A robin. Virtually, the only wildlife that I actually saw. Lots of rustling, tweeting and splashing going on as they disappeared from view but sightings – well, just this wee fella.

A fallen tree trunk that has been reclaimed by moss. Somehow it didn’t seem to fit. Like it should be on the seashore or somewhere like that. Everything else is so green and lush.

Epic trees.

And… back home for a steaming cup of coffee and to download my photos. I’m glad that I was inspired to look more closely at what’s outside my own front door.

Got some time in the potting shed today. Took the time to sort out which seeds will be in the next batch to be sown. I’ll probably sow some Beetroot, Radish, Rocket and Spinach in the open ground – ready with the fleece should we get some late frosts. I’m going to sow more Borage this year too. I’m pretty sure that it will self seed from last year’s plants but I’m not taking too many chances and sowing some more too. Also several different types of Lettuce will go into the coldframe ready to transplant into the beds come late April. Last year I planted my Lettuce in this sunburst design which worked out really well. They were really planted too close together but so long as I harvested alternate Lettuces the design held together well.

mtp

Spare Onion Sets?

A quick tip. If you have spare Onion sets left over from planting in the garden (I always do!) then plant some close together in a pot and use them like Spring Onions later in the season.

mtp

What I ‘Actually’ Do

I just had these lovely cards done with my blog and email details on them from Moo. They come in this handy little box that I can carry in my handbag and whip out when needed.

There are three flavours, Spinach green, Pea green and Lettuce green. I like green. And well…it says fresh doesn’t it.

My new cards will come in very useful when, occasionally, people ask me what I do. It’s a big question for me because what I actually do is sweep up bits of food, tidy toys, wipe noses and drive my car for what seems like 80 per cent of the day.

But that’s not very exciting so what I actually say is, “well erm… I’m a full time mum.” And then very quickly, like that’s not enough! I throw in, “but I’ve got a blog!” Ah, now you’re interested. “Yes, I’ve got a blog and it’s about gardening and growing vegetables and fruit and sometimes cutting flowers.” That normally does the trick because everyone, no matter who they are, is interested in at least one of those topics. Guaranteed.

The next thing they say is, “oh I’ll check it out, what’s the web address.” And I tell them and I see them forget what I just said. But not anymore! No, now I will say, “Here, take my card.” Like the professional, blogging mother-of-two that I am.

They should also come in handy at Chelsea Flower Show when I have the same conversation with about fifty different people in one day. Phew!

mtp

Lone Ranger

After a quick spin around the garden this morning I spotted this little guy sunning himself on a newly opened Blackcurrant leaf. I find the leaves on fruit bushes fascinating. They are always an interesting shape and usually a glorious colour too. If there was a design – it’s a pretty good one.

mtp

Ahem… Seed Potato Protection

I wasn’t going to show you my failed attempts at protecting my seed potatoes from the mice that live in my potting shed. But I’ve decided they’re too comical to waste. Last year, I fed all my seed potatoes to the shed mice, not on purpose you understand, but they did eat them all.

This year, knowing that their hungry little tummies were waiting, I tried to protect my potatoes while still allowing them to chit nicely. I thought I had come up with a genius plan – contain them in a wire basket on top of an upturned pot. And it worked, for a few days at least. I think they were actually figuring out a way to get up the flowerpot rather than into the wire basket.

Then, yesterday, I checked and yes they had got in, eaten two of them and scarpered. Then I realised that while the wire mesh was decent enough there were two huge holes at the top where the handles meet. Doh! Sometimes you can’t see what’s right infront of your nose.

So… my options are:

  • 1. Buy more seed and plant without chitting (not a problem says Monty Don)
  • 2. Buy more seed and construct better protection (this option = time. A commodity I have little of these days).
  • 3. Poison mice (oh but no…)
  • 4. Poison mice by inserting poison pellets into seed potatoes (more fun for me and at least they die happy, oh but no…)

Option one it is then.

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