Dodging the showers!

It’s the end of November and there’s still quite a bit to do in the garden. However, you have to watch the weather to see when you can be outside and when you have to hide inside.

Now I’m a hardy gardener, but even I would rather be inside my greenhouses, when it’s pouring with rain than outside. There’s getting wet, and getting wet! I’m not willing to get wet, just for the sake of it and end up with a cold, no thank you.

So today was a day of dodging the showers, but I made it work, so that’s good.

I’m starting to propagate my sweet scented geraniums, sort out my new strawberry babies, and plant out my Autumn planting garlic.

Come and see how I got on…..

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Harvesting this years potatoes

Life has been so busy lately, and when I have a day off, I do get loads done, but there’s just not enough hours in the day at the moment. The clocks have changed and now the sun sets about 4.30pm.

I have managed to get out in the garden, and harvest all my potatoes, which is one good thing. I can tick that off my “To Do” list.

Here’s how they did this year.

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A Weekend in Liverpool

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I’ve been so busy. I have been Tweeting, Instagramming (is that even a word?) and putting stuff on Facebook though, so I’ve not been totally silent.

Last Saturday Mark and I drove, yes drove, all the way to St Helens, Merseyside. From North Kent, it’s a very long way. We looked at taking the train or even flying, and they were more expensive than 2 tanks of fuel for the car, so we had a little road trip together.

The reason for going up there, was it was my Granddad’s funeral on Monday. Granddad Norman was a wonderful man, always liked a cuddle, and liked tinkering on his keyboard whenever he got the chance. He was 94 and a great, great Granddad. Not many people can accomplish that! He will be missed greatly, but he had a very good life and a very full one.

Mark and I drove up on the Saturday, and spent the Sunday looking round Liverpool, and the surrounding areas. We wanted to go and see various Beatles locations, so started the day in Woolton church. As I rang the bells, with 5 other ringers for the Sunday service, Mark had a wander round the grave yard. We’re such a romantic couple aren’t we? He found the grave stone he was looking for (Eleanor Rigby’s), and then we wandered across the road to the church hall, which was where John Lennon first met Paul McCartney.

We then visited various other Beatles places, Strawberry fields, each of the Beatles childhood homes, some in a better state than others. All very unassuming homes, and on ordinary streets. Some owned by The National Trust, but others being lived in by normal people. We also visited Penny Lane, and the barber shop.

Then it was off to explore the city of Liverpool. First stop was obviously the cathedral. Oh my goodness it’s massive, makes Canterbury cathedral look like a little church. A service was just finishing, and members of the public were allowed to wander around. It was free which was a bonus. There were stone steps going here, there and everywhere (sorry just realised that’s a Beatles song). The ceilings were so high, it felt like you were in Hogwarts.

Now it goes without saying that I wanted to go and see the bells. In really wanted to go in the ringing chamber, I even told the lady who shows you where to go that I was a ringer, but she wouldn’t have it. I think you should have a special password to say, and then they know you’re genuine. Still never mind, next time. You had to get in the first lift, that took you to level 4, then climbs a few steps to the next lift which took you to level 10, then you had to walk up 108 steps to get to the very top of the tower.  The view from the top was unbelievable, you could see for miles and miles. Now heights don’t bother me, but Mark was a little freaked out. However he made it, and did enjoy the view, but didn’t get as close to the edge as I did.

On the way down I got an amazing photo of the bells. They have 14 bells in total, and are the heaviest peal of bells in the world.

We then visited The Beatles Story which was excellent, so much history and information. Lots of quirky items on display, and the White Room was very calming. Obviously we then went to the cafe for a cup of tea and a little nibble of something, it’s very exhausting wandering around.

Afterwards we walked round the Liverpool docks, stood outside the Liver Building, had a quick look at the Tate, wondered WTF these were outside the Liverpool Museum.…Superlambananas apparently, but they scared the shit out of me, and had our photo taken with the Fab 4. We finished the day at the cinema watching “Yesterday”, which is very good, and we thoroughly enjoyed.

We saw what we wanted to see, but there is still lots more to discover, need to go back again.

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Saturday 27th April 2019 – I’m up to date for April!

Yes I’ve done it! I’m up to date with everything that I need to do in the greenhouses for April. Everything is sown, pricked out, and planted, and the greenhouses are all organised and tidy.

I can feel smug for the next couple of days, knowing that I’m on top of everything for this month.

But you can bet in a weeks time I’ll be behind again as in May I’m sowing my beans, and I’ll have more pricking out to do. They’ll be weeding and more planting out to do, but this time it’ll be flowers, so I won’t be smug then. Hopefully I won’t feel like I’m chasing my tail, but as the weather warms up for summer the grass will need mowing more often, and I’ll have to weed more often.

But hey ho, when it’s all done, I can sit on the patio with a beer in one hand, gazing hopefully in awe, at the wonders in my garden.

I’ve made lots of videos that my daughter Emily is editing for me now. I pay her as I don’t have time, so you’ll have those coming very soon.

Don’t forget about my Live Show this Friday, for episode 500!! For more information sign up to my newsletter https://clairesallotment.com/newsletter/

Well I’ll make the most of being up to date with everything with a cup of tea and a piece of homemade battenberg.

Have a great week and look forward to speaking to you on Friday for the Live Show!!

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Friday 26th April 2019 – Chickens and Garden Assemble!!

I usually try to keep Friday free as I like to have an extra long weekend. Also I’ve worked bloody hard all week in various gardens, spending much of the time on my knees, and so I feel it only right that I have Friday off. I’m self employed, I can do what I want!

Well today is Friday, and firstly all the chickens spent their first night all together in the large house. They’ve been playing very happily with each other during the day for a week now, so it’s time they all slept together. They were all happy this morning, and eating and drinking from the same things.

Now I can empty the small house and put it back in the garage for next time. I can also take down the make-shift run and tidy that away. I have my garden back as it should be.

Emily is away at the moment, so Mark, George (doesn’t have school of Friday) and I went to see the new Avengers movie. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything about what happens. All I am going to say is go to the loo beforehand, and don’t take a drink in with you. The film is 3 hours long, and with the ads and stuff before, it comes out around three and a half hours. I could barely stand up by the end, and my bum was very numb.

This afternoon I went in the garden, and planted out my “Red Brunswick” Onion seedlings. They’ve grown very well, and it’s the first time I’ve grown large onions from seed. I’ve got some other white onions to go in as well, but they’re not quite ready yet.

I then had a big water, and then sowed a few more seeds. As I’ve planted out the first lot of Sugar Snap Peas, so I’ve sown the next lot, and a little bit more Lettuce Mixed Salad Leaves. I’ve also sown a few more flowers Honesty “Purple and White Mixed” and finally some Asperula.

Dinner time now, and the boys are getting fish and chips.

Time to sit down and relax.

5 happy chickens all together. Chickens Assemble!

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Sunday 14th April 2019 – A wonderful afternoon in the garden.

I’m so busy during the week, that I only seem to be able to get out in the garden for a substantial amount of time over the weekend.

Saturday was full of bell ringing fun, as loads of ringers came from Surrey where I used to ring and came to try out some bells near me. It was fabulous to see them all again, and catch up. I’ve missed them all very much. It was just like old times as we rang at 5 different towers during the day, had a wonderful pub lunch, and then some had to go home, but many came back to have supper at our house. I’ll try and convince some of the ringers I ring with now in Kent to take a trip to Surrey soon.

So Sunday being free, I managed to get out in the garden and do all sorts of exciting sowing, planting, and pricking out. So let’s start at the beginning:

Pricking out – I’ve now pricked out my Oriental Mustard seedlings. They’ve been growing really well, and I’ve pricked 5 seedlings together into small pots. Hopefully in about 6 weeks time they’ll be ready to be planted outside in the garden. I also managed to prick out all my Dill seedlings. This time I pricked out 10 seedlings into small pots. They’ll hopefully grow well, and I’ll be planting them out in the herb patch by the end of May.

Sowing directly outside – April is the time to sow your Beetroot seeds directly outside in the soil. Using a hand trowel, turn the soil over, just to open it up a little and remove any weeds. I’ve got 3 different varieties of Beetroot this year “Boltardy”, “Golden” and a “Multicoloured Mix”. I’ve mixed them all together, so it’ll hopefully be a rainbow of Beetroots growing.

I also sowed so Turnip “Petrowski” seeds. It’s been several years since I’ve grown Turnips, so I’ve sown just one row to see how they get on.

I also sowed a few more Parsnips. I have 2 varieties this year “Gladiator” and “Tender & True”. I didn’t sow parsnips last year as I was still filling the beds with soil, and it was too late. We love roasted parsnips in our house, so I’m hoping for some lovely long ones this year. The soil in the beds is very sandy, and very few stones, so they should grow well.

I’ve also started to get my potatoes in. I’ve sown some in the raised beds, but the others I will sow in large pots. This year I’m growing “Sarpo Mira”. They’re my favourite potato as they are blight resistant, and I think they’re lovely potatoes.

The garden and greenhouses are filling up nicely, still loads more to do.

Well that’s all for today, I need to start dinner now otherwise the family will start to get “Hangry”. Yes it’s a word, it’s a cross between Hungry and Angry.

A busy week ahead (no surprise there), don’t forget Hot Crossed Buns on Friday. The weather is supposed to be warming up, so that excellent news.

Have a wonderful week, and keep an eye out for my new videos, there’s lots going on in my garden.

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A very busy weekend in the garden!

Well I got loads done in the garden this weekend, so I thought that I would put it all together for you in one blog post rather than in two.

Let’s start with Saturday 6th April first!

Two of our chickens Bert and Steve are getting along very well together, and there is now no more arguing, pecking and running away in panic. So the wire I’ve had in the big house and run has been removed, and they are now sleeping together (not in that sense), eating from the same trough and laying eggs in the same place. All is happy with Bert and Steve. Yes they are all girly hens, and yes they have boys names. It’s best not to ask. The other 3 girls are still in the small house, and with the help of the kids we’ve moved their house, which is now next to Bert and Steve, and I’ve given them a slightly smaller run. This means all the chickens can see each other all the time now. They’re been out in the garden all together and seem to be getting along quite well. There are the occasional pecks from Bert, just to remind them she is boss. I now have my second brassica cage back, and it’s all ready for some brassicas to go in very soon.

The patio has been cleaned, using a good old fashioned water hose and some brooms. I had the hose (wasn’t going to trust either of the kids with that) and they had a broom each. As they were sweeping away the mess, Emily discovered that she has a hole in one of her wellies, so we’ll have to get her some more this week. Even at her age (19) she still loves to splash through puddles. To be honest I do as well. If you don’t, you’re boring and weird.

Once all that was done, the kids went inside and I went in the greenhouses to prick out various flower seedlings. They all been growing really well and I pricked out “Cottage Garden Mix”, “Gypsophila”, “Linum”, “Clarkia”, “Cornflower Tall Mixed”, “Poppy Maanzaad”, and the last few Tomatoes. The flowers I did in clumps of about 5 seedlings per pot, as it’s quicker, and they look best growing and flowering in clumps. It’s how they’d naturally grow anyway if left to seed themselves.

Now onto Sunday 7th April!

A slightly later start as it was raining in the morning and was rather foggy, but I managed to get out into the garden in the afternoon which was great. I spent it all in the greenhouses as I had lots of April seeds to sow. I’ve written myself a list of things to do, and it’s an entire A4 sheet of paper! I’m slowly crossing things off, so that’s a good feeling. If you have a list like mine, I find it best to do all the same things together. So anything that needs to be pricked out, do all those first, then any sowing in the greenhouses, do all those, then all the planting out, and then finally all the sowing directly outside. I find it’s more organised and you get it all done quicker as you’re based in the same place and you’re not running back and forth all the time.

So I sowed my Spaghetti Squashes. I love these, they’re so tasty and meaty. I also sowed a few more mixed lettuce seeds (what ever variety you choose they all need to be sown the same way). I also sowed my Sweetcorn “Seville”, (this link is for plants, but I bought my seeds from here, can’t seem to find the seeds for sale), which I love. Some Spanish Cucumbers, which I bought in Spain several years ago and I’ve still got loads left. and finally some Lemon Grass “East India”.

There’s still loads more to do, with sowing various seeds directly outside, planting various things outside, pricking out various seedlings, and I still have more seeds to sow in the greenhouse. I’ve written a very long list and hopefully I’ll be able to get through it all this week. I have Tuesday and Friday off this week, so hopefully that’ll help.

I’ll keep you posted. Hope you’ve been able to have just as much fun in your garden/allotment this weekend as I have. Hope you can spend some time this week playing in there to.

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