Archive for the 'Chit-chat' Category

mtp

Desktop Heather

heather

It’s time to trim my Heather plants back so that they don’t make leggy plants next year but some of them still have some flowers on them. So I collected what was left and put it in a tealight holder on my desk. I just love the colours.

mtp

Introducing Freeway

This is Freeway. And this is her, ‘love me!’ pose. We got her from the Humane Centre here in Portland about two weeks after we arrived. She was in an enclosure with another dog that barked at everyone when they walked past. Freeway just sat there and watched.

When we finally met her she was very sweet, quiet and gentle with the children – despite their best efforts to faze her. We decided to adopt her and it was the best decision for everyone.

She has settled in very nicely. She adores my husband (to a worrying degree) and is a cuddly companion for me. She tolerates the children’s antics with mild disregard. And does her duty as a dog – she barks at other, bigger dogs then runs away, hates the UPS guy or anyone daring to drive a brown van and generally secures the perimeter. She eats like a hound, runs faster that I thought possible even for a dog, scratches up the lawn and sleeps in all the places she’s not supposed to. What more could you ask for from a dog?

She wasn’t found on a Freeway (although that would make an interesting story) she is merely named Freeway after my childhood obsession with Hart to Hart and the fact that I wanted to be Stephanie Powers for years and years. Now that I’m resigned to never actually being Stephanie Powers I’m happy to have a dog with the same name as hers.

mtp

New Window Boxes

Since I have no garden to garden in as such (it’s a pile of dirt right now waiting for irrigation trenches to be dug) I turned my attention to the window boxes at the front of the house. They’re pretty protected by the porch so I’m thinking that any plants will be fine through the Winter.

I bought the plants at my local garden shop, Garden Fever. It’s not the cheapest shop in the world but then when you have kids there is something to be said for convenience (read: I had half an hour to do this so it had to get done quick!).

I went for a purple, sage green look with Lavenders and ever greens. They are, Artemisia Schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’, Parahebe Olsenii, Lavender Dilly Dilly, Nepeta Citriodora (Lemon Catmint), Penstemon Heterophyllus, Selaginella Moellendorffii.

Some of these plants will grow too big for a window box. But for now they seem happy and I’ll transplant them into the garden later on.

mtp

New Beginnings

Well, I have some news. I’m moving to America. Quite soon actually. In truth, next Tuesday.

We’ve been thinking about it for about a year. My husband is American and so we had begun discussing the possibility of moving to America ever since we got married eight years ago. We thought that we might move quite quickly but then life just got in the way. We had two amazing little boys and started to settle down in Bath. Everything was lovely for a time and then my husband started a company that was based in Florida and things started to get complicated.

Not only that but our oldest boy was scheduled to start school this September and with the idea that we might go before that happened we started to plan our move. Everyone in our family has an American passport, except me, and so I needed a visa – a long and tedious process that I won’t bore you with here. But… last week I finally got the nod from the embassy and the rusty cogs began to move.

Now, international removals are booked, cupboards are sorted, suitcases half packed and animals distributed. It’s really happening.

Where are we going? Can you guess? Think about the greenest, lushest, most creative, environmentally friendly, historic, forward thinking city in America. All those things you buy off Etsy – where do many of them come from? Think cakes, food carts, brew pubs, and family-friendly neighbourhoods. It’s Portland, Oregon of course! And anyway who can say no to a city that has the most amount of cycle paths in the United States and is home to the US rose test garden. Yes, Portland is for us.

I’ll be sad to say goodbye to my tiny garden here. Especially, the permanent residents like the Peach tree that I’ve nurtured from a meer whip to a fully trained fan. And of course the Grape vine and Pears and my brick coldframe and my forced Rhubarb. Hmmm… yes I’ll miss all of that.

But…my new garden is bigger. Big enough for a greenhouse at least (hallelujah!) and maybe there’ll be room in the conservatory for a citrus tree or two? I’m very excited about learning to do new things and experiencing new plants that I’ve never grown before.

The climate isn’t that different to the UK. It still rains a lot in Portland but the summers are slightly warmer which means I can grow more Mediterranean type vegetables like Water Melon, Chilli Peppers and Beefsteak Tomatoes. Hopefully I won’t have such a problem with blight!

So it’s goodbye to Blighty. What will I miss – oh just everything! The people, the weather, the media, Haws watering cans, Nutscene twine, Chelsea Flower Show, Monty Don, the BBC, decent porridge, subtly, my cat, the National Trust, London, CBeebies, The Guardian, Jeremy Paxman, you know the usual.

But I’m going on an adventure. And you can’t go on an adventure without taking yourself out of your comfort zone. So here I go.

I’ll be posting here about my new garden. What I plan to change, what I plan to keep. What I grow and where I plan to put me’ new greenhouse. Oh yes, there’ll be plenty to read about on My Tiny Plot over the coming months. So stay right where you are.

mtp

Lightening the Mood

Occasionally, I go a bit mad and grow some flowers. It usually ends badly but these dark red Geraniums I just couldn’t resist. Maybe it’s because they’re exactly the same colour as my watering can? Or maybe it’s all the patriotism is in the air. I don’t know. I just know that my morning cup of coffee on my garden bench is a little bit nicer because of them.

mtp

Pros and Cons of Box Edging

I planted some Box edging around one of my vegetable beds in April last year. It was really a test to see what it would look like and how I could manage it. If all went well then I would consider putting edging around the other beds to make it a feature of the garden.

I find that vegetable gardens can become a little stark in the Winter when nothing is growing and box edging was traditionally used to create interest all year round and to keep the soil from leeching out of the beds during the rainy season.

Well, a year on and overall I’m happy with it. The best thing about it is that it is green all year round. And in Spring it puts on a growth spurt and sends out wonderfully, fresh, floppy new growth. It’s also a great little barrier to keep boisterous boys off my Lettuce. I think the Box edging has saved many a seedling. The other good thing (which may also be a bad thing) is that it grows very quickly. In just one year the bushes have closed ranks and now form almost a solid barrier.

Now the downsides – and there are some. The bushes harbour snails and slugs. They sit inside the bushes and wait for it to rain, then at night when I’m asleep they come out and eat my seedlings. It got so bad that I resorted to scattering slug pellets through the branches into the middle of the bushes. I don’t normally use pellets but this seemed like a neat way to get rid of my nemeses without exposing everyone to slug pellets. It worked.

The other downside is that I have to trim the bushes to keep them neat and then I have to brush up the clippings because if you don’t they just sit there, looking green, forever.

So, in short, I can see why the Victorian head kitchen gardener loved his Box bushes. I can also see why you’d need an army of men to trim them.

I don’t know about you but I get hacked off with all the plastic that is used in gardens. I have a mountain of plastic pots from the garden centre, and have been given many plastic seed trays. I also go through so many plant tags that I resorted to buying plastic ones that crumble over the winter and leave tiny bits of plastic in the soil that I can never get rid of!

Other types of plant tags work for a bit but then some flaw is revealed – wooden tags look great but tend to rot after about two or three years. Slate can work but if you snap it the points are lethal. I even tried a label maker and I also tried copper but it was too hard to read.

I decided I’d had enough. I’ve invested in a plant tag making system that uses aluminium tags and these cool-looking metal punches that you use with a, very heavy, jig.

You place your blank plant tag in the jig, line up the guides, select your letter punch, put it in place and whack it really hard with a hammer. In this way you spell out your plant name. I’ve made tags for all my permanent planting such as my ‘APPLE – Queen Cox, planted 2008′. And ‘PEACH – Peregrine, planted 2008′.

The system works perfectly for trees and other permanent additions to the garden, like Roses, or Wisteria. You can even buy those ‘cloud-shaped’ tags that the Victorians were fond of and you can see in just about every walled kitchen garden you’ll ever visit. I have also bought a stock of stand alone plant tags that stick in the ground and bend slightly so that you can read them.

For other, non-permanent plants I’m planning to stamp out the type of plant ie. ‘Carrot’ but then add the variety in pen (which can be wiped off next year). I haven’t tried this yet but I’m hoping that it works.

So…the plan is never to buy another plant tag but to continue making my own until I have every type of plant covered. I’ll let you know how that goes. But for now I’m just going to sit back and admire my handy work!

Although my garden is mostly about fruit and vegetables I do occasionally make a foray into flowers. I recently decided it was time to brighten up my deck area. However, I have a one year old little boy who loves nothing better than to ‘check out’ mummy’s pots. The only thing I have on my deck is a large galvanised tub housing a climbing rose. It’s prickly enough to deter him but that doesn’t stop him providing a soil removal service on a daily basis.

If I were to go down the flower route, I would need to think about protecting them in some way. The anti-child planter started life as a basket for toiletries, and then graduated to a ‘not very successful‘ mouse deterrent. In its new guise it provides basic protection for white pansies and in turn doubles as a useful coffee cup rest. Everyone’s happy, as they say. Well, not everyone.

mtp

Rain, Rain, Rain!

You know it’s wet when a snail is sitting on the latch to the shed! I know everyone is talking about it but can I just say “Meh!”. More rain today, the same as yesterday and the day before and the day before that and…

This is the first time I’ve been out to the potting shed for about a week. And I got dripped on. I need my garden back. Just an hour will do.

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.

Next »