My Little Strawberry Picker

strawberry picker

This here is my little Stawberry picker. He knew when the Strawberries were ripe. He knew before me. He had been watching them all week. And yes there were a few green ones that came into the house ‘Can I eat this Mama?’ ‘Well I wouldn’t – and….” I was about to say and don’t pick any more green ones but he was already gone.

But today – yes! today we picked our bowl full of ripe, red Strawberries and ate them all as fast as we could.

picked vs shop

Not content with having one basket of Strawberries available my little Strawberry picker went to get the punnet of Strawberries that I bought at the shop the day before. I was amazed to see the difference. The store-bought ones were dull, and a little dry looking.

I suppose that’s why we grow our own, right?


My New Eco-Lawn


Here’s a rare photo of me (in shorts!) sowing a new eco-lawn underneath the fruit trees in my orchard.

What’s an eco-lawn? Well, good question. It’s a lawn that is low-maintenance. Either it has low-growing grasses and therefore doesn’t need much mowing, or it uses drought-tolerant varieties that will resist going brown in the summertime. And they usually have some kind of low-growing flower, or nitrogen fixing plant in there too for good measure.


I chose a mixture called Fleur de Lawn made by a local company but you can buy them anywhere. I used the bowls to divide it evenly across the space I have (I’m sure there are more scientific ways – like hiring a seed spreader). The mix I bought includes, ‘English Daisy, Baby Blue Eyes, Sweet Alyssum, Tiny Strawberry Clover combined with hardy low-growing grasses and other herbaceous plants.’

My plan is to let it get quite long – couple of inches, before I mow a pathway through it. Then after that I’ll mow the whole thing once a month. That’s the plan…


This is what the orchard looked like before.


…and a couple of weeks later.

Anyone else have any experience with eco-lawns? Any low maintenance tips?


My Clematis – What are they?


As most of you know I moved to Portland nearly two years ago and I inherited a beautiful garden full of the most amazing plants that someone else planted! I’m not the world’s greatest expert on Clematis (cover your ears Dad!). I have five amazing Clematis that are now in full flower and I don’t know what varieties they are. Any ideas plant lovers?






Crimson Clover Cover Crop


Try saying that after a few glasses of wine!

The Crimson Clover that I sowed back in October is finally flowering. And it looks beautiful. I know that some have warned against letting it flower but I really couldn’t resist. The flowers are so – red wine!


I think it looks so amazing as a lush green, almost hedge in the kitchen garden.


I chopped back half of it last month to make room for some plantings.


And it even looked good way back in October when it just got going. Up to now I’m impressed with Crimson Clover as a cover. Ask me again in a couple of months if I still like it :)


Pear Blossom and the Fruit Loop

pear blossom

At the weekend we drove out to see the Pear blossom in an area called the Fruit Loop near here. It’s where all the fruit farms are. There is mile after mile of fields that look like this. I was in heaven! It’s so interesting to see how gnarled the trees are and also how closely they are planted. The rows are far apart because they need to get a tractor down there but the actual trees couldn’t have been more than six feet away from each other. Incredible.


The sunburst pattern bed is coming along nicely. The onion sets have all sprouted despite each one being pulled out by birds several times. I have planted out Lettuce (Little Gem) and Kales that I seeded in my greenhouse. And along the back fence I sowed some Calendula to provide a backdrop to the planting. They are just starting to germinate. Where the string line and canes are I have sowed Spinach, and other varieties of Lettuce. It has been very wet here and the slugs are out in force so I’m crossing my fingers that I get a full complement of plants here.

Compared this to a month ago and you can see that a lot has changed.



Mini ‘Corn Salad’ Lettuces


At this time of year I like to cut my Corn Salad as mini-Lettuces and eat them whole. They are an excellent size for one. I’ve been eating them leaf by leaf for the last few months but now I need the space for something else and so I’m clearing them and eating them one by one. I just slip a pair of scissors under the soil, snip off the root and wash the leaves. All the soil comes off easily since there is no root, just a little stub and you can eat the whole thing.

Just add whatever you like to eat. I’m more than a little obsessed with tuna salad right now.



Wow! It’s been a busy two weeks in the greenhouse. Do you ever find yourself running from place to place because you haven’t got time to walk? That’s been me over the last weeks. So, so busy!

1st April 2014
In Greenhouse
– sowed Bell Pepper (California Orange)
– sowed Bell Pepper (Canary)
– sowed Delphinium (Giant’s Mix)
– sowed Shasta Daisy

In Garden
– re-sowed empty patches of Peas (Green Arrow)

4th April 2014
In Greenhouse
– sowed Lettuce (Marvel of 4 Seasons)
– sowed Melon (Crimson Sweet)
– sowed Melon (Charentais)

In Garden
– planted out Cabbage (Parel)

7th April 2014
In Greenhouse
– potted on Tomato (Glacier)
– potted on Broccoli (Waltham 29)
– potted on Hyssop
– potted on Echinacea
– sowed Lettuce (Marvel of 4 Seasons)
– sowed Penstemon (saved)

In Garden
– sowed Poppy (Lauren’s Grape)
– hardening off Kale (Nero Toscana)

9th April 2014
In Greenhouse
– sowed Cucumber (Marketmore)
– potted on Salvia (Blue Victoria)
– potted on Verbena (Brazilian Vervain)

In Garden
– planted out Kale (Nero Toscana)
– planted out Broccoli (Waltham 29)
– planted out Cabbage (Parel)
– sowed Carrots (Scarlet Nantes)
– sowed Calendula (Flashback)
– planted out Onion (Walla Walla)

12th April 2014
In Greenhouse
– sowed Basil (Aroma 1)
– sowed Lettuce Marvel of the 4 Seasons)

In Garden
– planted out Cabbage (Red Acre)
– planted out Cauliflower (Chef’s Choice)

In Orchard
– sowed eco-lawn (Fleur de Lawn)


My Zig-Zag Tulip Garden


This year I decided to plant up a zig-zag Tulip garden in one of the kitchen garden beds. My plan is to use this bed for early cutting flowers and then once the bulbs are lifted this will become the Tomato bed.


I planted the bulbs back in November and they started to pop through in early Spring.


They grew nicely and then…


Finally all of them are out now. I’m really happy with how it looks. Infact, I think I could have put more in. There are quite large gaps in between the flowers and next year I will pack more in to make the most of the space. Maybe some Grape Hyacinths?


Here’s my, very rough, plan. The flowers are as follows:

20 x Tulip Couleur Cardinal (deep red)
8 x Tulip Wildhof (cream)
8 x Tulip White Parrot (white)
9 x Hyacinth Double Hollyhock (Pink)


Planting Summer Cabbage


These Summer Cabbage (Parel) are almost ready to go out. They have spent a few nights in the coldframe and will likely go into the ground tomorrow. They will form part of the sunburst pattern that I’m planning for the large bed on the side of the kitchen garden. Cabbages are great for this as they stay pretty much compact and don’t encroach into other plants’ space.

Parel was a particularly good variety that I grew last year. One that would happily sit in the ground until I was ready to use it and was slow to bolt.

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