Archive for June, 2012


Just Doing a Spot of Planning

I thought I would sit down with a nice cup of tea and my gardening notebook and do some planning. I don’t know about you but I encounter the same problem every year. I get too excited at the beginning of the season and plant up my whole garden with all the early season plants (Peas, Onions, Broadbeans, Lettuce etc) and then when it comes to putting the later season plants in (Pumpkins, Squash, Cucumber, Tomatoes etc) I have run out of space.

To compound the problem early vegetables like Radish, Spinach and Lettuce start to go over leaving holes in my garden that are not big enough to house say a Pumpkin because they are surrounded with plants that take a long time to grow (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower to name a few). I need a plan.

I find that traditional rotation and grouping vegetables by type doesn’t work for me in such a small space. Plus, my kitchen garden IS my garden so I want to avoid the ‘allotment’ look.

It’s still testing me, but I’ll let you know when I come up with something. Does anyone do anything purposeful to avoid these issues?


My Pineberry is Fruiting

I was checking over the garden and I noticed that my Pineberry is fruiting. I almost missed it since they are so very small. I estimate that the largest one is no bigger than my thumbnail. Teeny tiny!

And also the flowers have had a tendency to droop their heads to the ground so the fruit is almost impossible to see. But, yes they are indeed fruiting. They are a greeny-yellow colour with a blush on the one side that is turned to the sun. The seeds are very dark red and it's this 'back to front' colour that gives it such a strange look.

They look like unripe Strawberries but when you pick them and eat them they are soft and extremely juicy. They do taste a little of Pineapple. But really, they taste more of Strawberry I think. Maybe that's because they look like Strawberries and my brain is confused... but I think they taste more of Strawberry than Pineapple.

And…they are also sending out lots and lots of runners. Usually, my Strawberries get the fruiting over and done with and then concentrate on producing runners. But the Pineberries have decided to get everything over with at once and they’re doing both. I’m busy potting them up so that I can double my crop next year and give some away to gardening friends. Form an orderly queue now.


‘Rainbow Mixed’ Radish

About a month ago I sowed a row of mixed Radish seed, Rainbow Mixed. Radish grow very quickly and they also run to seed quickly too so you have to keep your eye on them and harvest them just at the right time. This is usually easily done when you sow the same variety but because these were mixed seed it was very difficult to get it right.

The yellow ones were invariably too big and a bit woody. Conversely, the red two-tone types tended to be too small. I think next time I’ll skip the mixed packets and go for separate rows of different varieties. They’ll be easier to manage I think.


My Pastel Swirl Cake

Although I’m a bit late with Cake Friday this week I have an excuse. I found this lovely Pastel Swirl Cake tutorial and just had to make it.

Inside, it’s a three-layer chocolate cake with vanilla icing. I didn’t have any purple colouring for the top layer so I mixed red and blue – that seemed to work.


Borage Nearly in Flower

The borage that I sowed way back in mid March are beginning to flower. They are tantalizingly close to popping open. But not yet! When they do I know they’ll be the brightest of blues. Maybe I’ll try to make a claret cup with them.

They have been so easy to grow. And as I understand it they will self seed everywhere so I won’t have to worry about floating flowers next year. I sowed them in the cold frame and then transplanted them into a sunny bed. They seem to love it.


Greenhouse Chic

Just a few more photos from Chelsea. Predictably, there were lots of greenhouses there. They were all stunning but what I found interesting was the different ways in which they had been decked out inside. Some were treated as hothouses with Lemons and Oranges.

Others were more traditional with a patriotic twist for the Jubilee.

This one had a handy little portable potting station that could be moved around the greenhouse. I could see this being very useful.

I particularly liked this one with its vintage ephemera. Impractical maybe but it looks great on display.

And I liked the way all the tools were hanging on hooks from the bottom of the shelf.


Pale Pink Roses

My mother-in-law is coming to visit so I cut some Roses from the garden for her room. I had to climb a fence to get them but they were so, so worth it. The gorgeous pale pink colour is beautiful and they smell even better than they look.

I’m not really into house plants but cut flowers, in my opinion, really do make a room. I also have no idea what variety they are since they were in the garden when we moved in and form part of our boundary fence with the neighbours. I hope they are enjoying them as much as we are.


Camping in a Van

Last week we took a weeks holiday in a campervan. As a family we’ve never done that before and so it was all new. The children were very, very excited about it. I’m not sure what it was about a campervan that piqued their interest so much.

Maybe, it was the fact that it was a ‘house on wheels’ or that the beds were high up, like bunk beds but with little curtains that you could peep out of. But whatever it was, this was the most excited I’d seen them about anything, ever. Including, the time a policeman stopped and said ‘are you alright mate?’ directly to Jackson.

I was excited about our holiday too. I always look forward to camping-style holidays. I like getting all my camping cookware out and using my red kettle! But mostly, and I think this comes from the gardener in me, I like the fact that camping ‘forces’ you to be out of doors.

We BBQ’d every night. Some nights were lovely and sunny and we sipped wine and read magazines while the food cooked. Other nights were cold and we needed layers and blankets and extra coals on the fire to keep warm. But the fact is we were still out there, cooking. You just don’t do that at home.

I also have a teeny weeny obsession with dusk and the light that it creates. Ask my husband, I will stay out longer than anyone else. He’s freezing and I want to stay, ‘just five minutes longer?’. I want to see what it looks like when the candle flame starts to glow, or what my book looks like when we really do need the lantern to see.

The other thing I love about camping holidays is that you just spend time together, with no schedule. Often we would just ride our bikes around and around the campsite. Or sit and watch as the boys got filthy playing in muddy puddles.

Or when it rained we sat around the kitchenette table and talked and drank tea (and beer), and ate cake, and drew pictures, and read books. For hours. I can’t remember the last time I did that.

I’m starting to think that possibly, just possibly, I fill my time with too much stuff. Always coming and going, and thinking of a trip here or an outing there. And maybe what I need to do is spend some more time doing nothing with the people I love.


Jubilee Celebrations


Nothing says ‘British’ like a beach hut on a grey day! With a cold box full of sandwiches followed by fish and chips and home time with two very tired children.


Purple Mangetout

My Mangetout is flowering. Actually, I had totally forgotten that it’s a purple variety until I saw the first flowers this morning. They really are amazing. And I love the way that you can see all the viens on the petals of the purple varieties.

When the pods form they have a unique dusty aubergine colour that is deep and seductive. And the taste is just as fresh and crunchy as regular Mangetout. And I must remember to sow some more before the Spring is through.

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