Now just because teacher was away for a week……

The garden is a bit like a class of school children. When the teacher is around they all behave perfectly, but if the teacher is away and a supply teacher comes in, then they mess about…..I know because I was a kid once.

Now I was away on my little holiday for 7 days, yes just 7. Not 2 weeks, not 1 month. Just 7 days. The garden decided to go completely loopy in that time.

Yes apparently the rain was “Biblical” so Mark said so everything got a good watering, but they all seemed to misbehave.

The fairy garden is just a mess as my Palm Cordyline decided to shed all of its brown leaves. I just need to pick them up and reshape the small shrubs and have a little weed. Not sure how many of the plants I’ve lost over the hot summer, but if I have spaces I’ll just have to buy more plants, oh no what a shame.

You may remember we had 2 wild bunnies in our garden, they came from the field at the back. I managed to capture one before I went and released it, but the other one was being quite aloof. Mark did catch it while I was away, but clearly was too loud when he saw it and it got scared and managed to wiggle out of the cage, bending the cage slightly as it struggled. We’ve not seen it since so maybe it found it’s way out our garden.

I gave the greenhouse a good tidy up, harvesting the last remaining tomatoes and peppers.

This years sweet pepper harvest. They’re not huge but they’re tasty.

I’ve now cleared out everything and they’re all tidy and ready for the winter now. Just some flowers in the greenhouses that will keep fine and only need watering occasionally.

Nice tidy greenhouses now.

While I was on my canal holiday I bought myself a little wooden basket. This is perfect for harvesting veggies for dinner and I put it to good use right away. How long it’ll stay clean is anyones guess….not long knowing me.

Veggies harvested for dinner tonight in my new basket.

The chickens came out in their extra little bit of a run and a couple of them bathed in the afternoon sunshine. I’ve got an empty brassica cage now, so they can use that as their new playpen. They’ll only be allowed in it when I’m out in the garden, they do have a run attached to their house so they have plenty of space to play. But I did give them a quick go in the brassica cage this weekend and they loved scratching around finding bugs. One of my chooks dug herself a huge bathing holes and even rattling corn wouldn’t make her move, so I had to go in and pick her up bless her.

They do love each other really, even though there are a few squabbles.

My two grape vines that grow either side of my arch have done amazingly well this year. The grapes are small and have seeds in them so they’re perfect for making grape jelly (jam) with. The bunches are impressive this year so I harvested them all and will wash and freeze them.

Fabulous bunches of grapes this year.

When the weather is cold and damp and I can’t get out in the garden I’ll take them out and make jelly with them. I think last year I got about 2 tubs full, this year it was a little more.

Just one or two……

“One day when I grow up,” said the little courgette. “I’m going to be a marrow.”

“But if you do that,” said the gardener. “I’m going to slice you in half longways, scoop out your innards and fill you with some mince and onions.”

Which is exactly what the gardener did for Sunday dinner…… And sprinkles some bread crumbs and parmesan onto for good measure.

Sunday dinner. Yummy!

The End……Did this blog suddenly get a little too dark?

Happy gardening!

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One canal boat, seven friends, six bell towers and several bottles of gin!

I had a little holiday recently. I was hoping to keep you posted on where we were during my week away, but the wifi on the canal boat was a little hit and miss….well more miss than hit. Sometimes it’s great that way because you can really get away from it all.

What more could you want than to spend 7 days on a canal boat with 7 other people, all of us bell ringers. I know to some people that would seem like a nightmare, but for us 8 it was heaven. This was the second time I’ve been on a canal boat, the first time was last year.

Our boat was called “Josephine” and what a fine boat she was to at 70 foot long. We had 2 bathrooms, so a “Boys” and a “girls”. Places for us all to sleep, a lovely little kitchen and lounge/dining area.

Josephine our home for the week.

You all have to get on well with each other, and muck in when it comes to opening and closing the lock gates. What you have to do came flooding back to me immediately, although to start with I forgot a few little things, but nothing major. There were those who wanted to steer (I wasn’t bothered as I did that last year), Jane did most of the cooking and what a fabulous job she did, especially with the oven on board that if you opened or closed the oven door too quickly it got scared and went out. Jane cooked us meat pies, casseroles, pasta, all sorts of tasty dinners. The kettle was always on the boil and tea was a constant. Paul did a couple of wonderful fried breakfasts which you needed to keep you going with all the walking we did from one lock to another. I’m sure I came back fitter, but slightly fatter.

Because we are all bell ringers Jane and Len worked out the route and also 6 towers that were all in walking distance from the canal.

All Saints, Braunston. Our second tower of the week.

During the evenings, and sometimes during the day the deck of cards came out and I learnt all sorts of different games…..still can’t understand Cribbage though. We never played with money, but played with matchsticks. I know that sounds slightly wrong, but you know what I mean. Usually before any game there was a chorus of “Oh I need my glasses!” We also played Bingo and Beetle Drive. Bizarrely Beetle Drive is made by Gibson Games and the lovely man who taught me how to bell ring back in 1986, his wife is related to its founder. Us ladies (there were 3 ladies and 5 men on the boat) also had an afternoon of crafting, we tried the get the men involved but they wouldn’t. I made a mermaid.

I covered up her special bits with a couple of seashells.

When it got to about 4pm, sometimes a little sooner, it was time for nibbles and a gin. We had several different flavours and it was very enjoyable.

We started off from the boat yard was in Napton and we travelled about 45 miles before we had to turn round and come back. So 90 miles in total for 7 days. We went through a couple of long tunnels. One tunnel took us just over 20 minutes to get out of, the other took us 42 minutes. “Could have rung a quarter peal in that time” was said. Coming out of a long tunnel was beautiful.

Coming out a rather long tunnel.

On our little trip we rang at the following towers: Napton on the Hill, Braunston, Weedon Bec, Cosgrove, Blisworth, Priors Marston. The first 5 towers were beautiful and easy to ring, the last one had character……that’s a nice way of saying they were a little awkward. But they all sounded beautiful.

There were loads of blackberries ready, and not wanting to waste any we picked some to go in our pear crumble one evening and a load more so I could make some jam. I didn’t have a recipe, but it’s not difficult, just add enough sugar until it tastes right.

Made just over 2 jars of jam, we ate some but the rest will keep for next year.

The last evening we had dinner at the local pub which was wonderful and then after our final sleep on the boat we packed up the cars Friday morning and all made our way home. The little group of our car (Jane who was driving, tall Paul and myself) stopped off at IKEA to get a few bits and of course you can’t go into IKEA without buying some Swedish meatballs, packets of sauce and lingonberry jam.

Home to a lovely wide, double bed. It’s difficult when you tend to lie on your front in bed and you have to sleep in a skinny bed. I don’t think anyone fell out of their beds, I nearly did but not quite.

Thank you all for such an amazing time. We expected it to rain for most of the holiday but we only got two heavy downpours that were very short and some light drizzle, and that didn’t spoil our time.

Back home to see if the garden behaved itself while I was away…….Anyone for a quiz?

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Sunday 24th July 2022 – It’s been a busy month!

Sorry for not being in touch for a while, but the last month what with one thing and another. I’ve been out in my garden little and often, but that’s generally just been me tying in and side shooting my tomatoes, weeding, pruning, harvesting, planting out various flower plants and the obligatory watering of everything. I’ve been grabbing the odd 30 minutes I’ve had before I go to work, and then a little time after work while the dinner is cooking. The weekends have been full on with one thing and another and Mark and I were a way for one weekend as well. I’m working on a few Saturday’s, just as a temporary measure to get someone garden tidy before they sell it as well. I’m fully booked all week so that was the only option.

But this Sunday was all mine! Just ringing in the morning and then as much time in the garden as I wanted. The ground is very dry, we’re in serious need of some rain, we had some fine drizzle this morning but that’ll evaporate now the sun is out. I’ve taken the outlet pipe out the washing machine so the water syphons into a very large bucket so that goes on the garden as well. If push comes to shove then I’ll syphon out the bath water, but that’s a big trek through the house with watering cans so isn’t easy.

So back to everything I did on Sunday…I did stop for a couple of ice lollies on the way…..

I cut down the potatoes. The leaves are starting to turn from green to yellow so they’re nearly finished growing. I’ll be digging them up as and when we need them now.

We also seem to have a couple of small wild bunnies in the garden again. They’re from the field at the back and have made it into the garden. I’m not sure exactly how they go it, but I suspect it’s at the very back of the garden behind the chicken house. Hopefully I can encourage them to go back the way they got in. I do have a couple of humane traps so when, or if I catch them then I can release them back where they came from. Yes I know that some of you are going to say they’re vermin and should be taken to a vet and have them put to sleep, but I’m just putting them back where they originated from. We live in the country, I mean really in the country, so it’s something we have to live with. Out here we live along side nature, and don’t try and fight it because we won’t win.

Now because I was in the garden, the chickens feel that they should be allowed out in their extra piece of run. Fair enough I suppose, mummy’s out playing so they should as well. Now Sunday was fairly hot still, not as hot as earlier in the week when we reached 38 degrees where we live. And yes I did work and yes I’m slightly crazy. I was fine thought, I put a cold wet flannel on my head under my cap and a cold wet towel round my neck and the ends down my t shirt. I have to admit I did look rather fetching. I finished at 3pm both days as where I was working they were all very concerned about me. Still when I got home I went out in my garden to do a little weeding.

The chickens got so excited to be in their extra run they hurried out and started to dust bathe. They soon realised it was a little too hot for them in the sun, so promptly hurried back inside their run and in the shade. When the shade finally came over their extended run they went back out to play.

My onion tops have started to flop over so that means they need to be harvested. So that was the first job for the day.

They should pull up very easily, but if you’re worried about pulling them up, then just use a trowel to encourage them out the soil. Once they are all up, you can either lay them on the soil for a few weeks and let the sun start to dry them out, or if you have room in your greenhouse put them in there, or even in a garage or shed would be perfect. Just make sure you lay them in a single layer and there is space between them. If they are too close the air can’t get around them and dry their outer skins off. Check weekly and if any are going soft then use immediately. This year I’m drying mine on top of my brassica cage. We’re not due any rain for the next couple of weeks so they should be fine. They’re all good decent sizes this year, all grown from seed and the variety is called “Globo”. I’ve grown these for several years and they don’t disappoint. If you’re going to store you onions in a hessian sack over winter then I would suggest drying your onions for at least 6 weeks.

Then it was on to my garlic. Again the tops have all gone brown and these are a little further down in the soil than the onions were, so a trowel is definitely needed to harvest these.

Here’s a little video I did a few years ago about harvesting garlic which I hope you find helpful…..

So this year, just like my onions I’m drying them on the top of my other brassica cage. Because I sowed them in the autumn of last year they had a very long growing season and turned out really well. So we’ve got lots of decent sized bulbs to keep us going. I’ve just got the last few bulbs from last year to use up and then I’ll start on this years ones. I won’t plait them as I can’t be bothered, so will just tie them together with some string and hang them in a frost free place and cut off the bulbs as and when we need them.

For the rest of the day I just did some weeding. I’m systematically going through all the beds. I’ve now done 2 of the large beds, just the other 2 large beds and the small ones to go.

I also planted out a few spare plants I have in my greenhouses and made sure that the tomatoes had been side shooted and were tied in properly.

Here’s a little video I made a few years back with information about side shooting …….

Just before I finished for the day I went round the garden to harvest various veggies for dinner. I am very please to say that the only thing on our plates for dinner that evening that I couldn’t grow were the sausages. Believe me if I could grow sausages I would. So in the mixed roasted veggies consisted of: onion, garlic, carrots, beetroot, courgette, potatoes and chard. The olive oil was from my parents olive trees. It was yummy!

Hope you’re having a wonderful harvest and please share lots of picture of your achievements.

Take care xxxxx

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Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th June 2022 – A weekend at home….Yay!!

After the last couple of weekends being frantic, one with ringing for the Jubilee, and the other with a retirement party and collecting George from university, I finally had a weekend to myself and at home. Saturday morning was busy with shopping and getting pet supplies, the chickens eat so much. The afternoon was house chores and we had a BBQ in the evening which I managed to get it all cooked before it rained. There are 6 of us in the house at the moment so that’s a lot of food for a BBQ. Still the best thing about a BBQ is the left overs for the next couple of days.

This is only the first lot of BBQ food, we also had burgers, ribs, drumsticks and sausages.

Sunday, after morning ringing, I was out in the garden. I let the chicken out in their extended run and 6 out of the 7 decided to have a dustbath in exactly the same place. Now when I have a bath (not in dust but in water), I like to have a bit of space, but clearly they all love each other so much they want to squash together.

The heavy rain over night had watered the garden beautifully, but the outside tomatoes had been bent over a little. We had thunder and lightning as well, but I wear ear plugs and an eye mask in bed so didn’t see any lightning, but heard the first bit of rain and a slight rumble, but then went back to sleep. So the first thing I did when I got in the garden was to tie up the tomatoes inside the greenhouse and outside in the garden and side shoot the ones that needed doing.

Not all tomatoes need side shooting. If they’re a bush variety then don’t side shoot as that’s where the fruits grow from. If they are tall growing tomato plants then they do need side shooting. I know that some people plant the side shoots and get new plants, please feel free to do that if you like. If you’re growing your tomatoes in pots, and those pots are sitting in trays, just put the side shoots in the tray and when you water goodness comes out of the side shoot and is absorbed by the compost and into the plant. I’m guessing you could also soak side shoots in water for about 24 hours and pour that on the tomatoes that are growing outside, I don’t see what harm it would do.

The side shoots are the little stems that grow between the main stem and a leaf.

Here’s a video out side shooting that you might find useful….

I then finally managed to plant out my Sweetcorn. The first batch I sowed, only 2 plants germinated, so I sowed some more and they did much better. I bought more seeds, so maybe the others were a little old, I’m sure I’d only had them a couple of years. Sweetcorn needs to be planted in a block and not a straight line as they need to pollinate with each other and it’s best done in a block. This year I’ve planted mine out in-between my pumpkins and squashes, so they’re in a block, but not in straight lines.

Here’s how I planted out my sweetcorn…..

And finally I harvested a load of rhubarb, this I will cut up and put in the freezer. I gave the rhubarb crowns a very good water and feed with Shropshire Seaweed Fertiliser.

That was all for this weekend. The flower beds will need to be tidied and watered. Time to get my butt pump out instead of walking backwards and forwards with watering cans. The large raised beds also need a little tidy, but those will be jobs for this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to pop out before I got to work and when dinner is cooking I can pop out again.

If you follow me on my Claire’s Allotment Facebook page to see what I get up to during the week.

Have a wonderful week ahead and I hope you get to play in your garden to.

TTFN xxx

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Jubilee weekend Thursday 2nd – Sunday 5th June 2022

For those who don’t live in the UK this weekend was a 4 day Bank Holiday. We don’t usually get these, but we were celebrating our Queen being on the throne for 70 years so they added a couple of extra days holiday in.

Being a Bank Holiday and being self employed, if you don’t work, you don’t earn any money. So with that in mind I did work both the Thursday and the Friday. If you’re thinking that being a 4 day weekend that must have been relaxing (even if I was working 2 of those days) think again. I don’t think I’ve been busier. Not only working, but on the Friday, Saturday and the Sunday there was lots of celebratory bell ringing for the Jubilee. I’m sure that many of you heard church bells ringing over that weekend, and that was the reason. Basically it was a chance to ring loads. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but needless to say I was backwards and forwards ringing here and there all weekend. I rang some celebratory ringing at my home tower, 5 quarter peals (the shortest took 39 minutes, and the longest took 46 minutes to ring) and 1 peal (which took 2 hours and 46 minutes). All these sessions were of constant ringing, and your brain is working at 100 miles an hour concentrating so hard. There is a bell ringers site that you can view these on, but for the privacy of the other ringers I’m afraid I can’t give you the link. But if you’re a ringer you’ll know where to look.

By the end of it all, my fingers were very sensitive and sore, but I only ended up with one popped blister on one finger so that was a bonus. The only way to help your fingers after ringing so much is to wrap them in bendy micropore, I use Mefix, but by the following morning most of them are fine again and the tape can come off.

I sent a photo to my parents and sister of my hands wrapped in tape and my sister replied with a picture of Dobby from Harry Potter saying, “Dobby had to iron his hands!”

With all that bell ringing I wasn’t able to get anything done in my garden, just a little done in the greenhouses. I managed to plant up all my tomatoes.

Last year I grew them all outside and they all got blight, so this year I’m growing most in one greenhouse, and the rest outside.

They’re all potted up into 10 litre pots so their roots have plenty of space to spread and grow. If you don’t have 10 litre pots then slightly smaller will do fine, or tomato grow bags. The bamboo canes don’t go down very far, so I have to attached them to my staging frame which works brilliantly. The ones outside I’ve constructed a solid frame and attached them to that. Hopefully this year I’ll get some tomatoes at least and they won’t get blight.

Here’s a video with a little more information….I know I say 2 litre pots in the video, which will do fine, but if you’ve got larger pots then even better…..

Hope you managed to get lots done in your garden this weekend and had a relaxing 4 days off. This coming weekend is just as busy as we’ve got to collect our son from university as he’s finished his first year already. He needs to move out his uni digs so we have to pack everything back up, put it in the car and bring it all back home for 3 months before taking him and all his bits back to his new digs in September (he’s sharing a house with a few other people). Hopefully if they all get on he’ll be there for 2 years. I thought things were supposed to get easier when they got older?

TTFN

Claire xx

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Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th May 2022 – How are we nearly in June?!

Where has this month gone? Where has this year gone? I know the older you get the quicker times goes, but this is ridiculous.

Another weekend and lots more to do in the garden which is brilliant. Saturday morning I tidied the pots and containers out the front of the house, giving them a good water afterwards. The Perennial Poppies are starting to bloom which is wonderful. I just love their delicate petals, such a shame they don’t last that long.

Once that was done it was a tidy up of the car boot. It tends to get messy during the working week so the weekend is the perfect time to sort out anything that needs to come out and have a good tidy up.

I then had to go out and ring for a couple of weddings so that took up most of the afternoon and when I got back a little after 4.30 it was time for a sit down and a cup of tea. Emily and Kai are making dinner tonight so I’ll see what little things I can get done before dinner is ready. I love the fact that I don’t have to cook on Saturday, it just gives me a day off and I can get on with stuff in the garden.

But before I went out I also managed to get my Spanish Melons potted up in 3 litre pots. If you only have 2 litre pots then that’s fine.

Just fill the pot with multipurpose compost and firm it down. Carefully turn the small pot that your melon seedlings are growing in upside down. Make a hole in the centre of the compost in the large pot and carefully pop the melon seedlings with all their compost in the hole. Gently fill around the plants and water from the bottom so the compost pulls up the water encouraging the roots to grow down.

I also planted out my Dwarf French Beans, they won’t need staking and are perfect for planting at the end of a raised bed.

Here’s a video to help you…..

As I tidied up the greenhouses I found hiding next to some Poppies a tray of Rocket. To be fair the leaves do look fairly similar at a glance. Now I’ve filled up most of the space in all the raised beds, so where to put them. Now Rocket doesn’t last that long, so the ideal place would be next to something that won’t need to be harvested for a while. I have 2 rows of Carrots so decided that would be perfect.

The roots of the Rocket don’t go down very far so that won’t effect the Carrots, so I snuck them in between the two rows and hopefully they’ll play happily together.

My Climbing French Beans have been rather slow this year, I don’t know why, but I planted them out this weekend anyway, and then added some more seeds into the holes as well. Hopefully I’ll get some French Beans as I do prefer these to Runner Beans. French beans you just pick, nip the top off and then cook. Runner beans there’s all sorts of faffing about to do.

A little bit more sorting in the greenhouses and moving of plants around. Getting some plants sorted to take to client’s gardens this week. Hopefully by the end of next week most of the flowers would have gone.

So a successful weekend, another busy week ahead, but before I pot up my tomatoes I need to buy some more compost.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and have an amazing week!

TTFN xxx

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Wednesday 25th May 2022 – Peppers in their final pots

Yes I know it’s unusual for me to blog mid week, but there is a lot to do in the greenhouses and out in the garden.

So before I go to work I try and pop out in the garden and do a little something. I also pop out again when dinner is in the oven. Little and often at this time of year is the key.

It’s that time of year when you have to shift bits around in the greenhouses as some plants have to stay in, others are going out soon and there is a lot of tidying and organisation to be done. I like to think of it as doing a puzzle, so a little bit here and a little bit there, you can’t do that, until that is done. So slightly chaotic but organised chaos.

So for the past couple of days I’ve been planting up my Sweet Peppers in their final pots. Now unless you live in a hot climate these have to spend their entire life under protection. I’ve planted mine in 3 litre pots which gives their roots plenty of space to spread and grow. Again because they are peppers they need to be planted shallow, so don’t bury the stem under the compost.

I then put the pots in trays and water from the bottom, that way the compost will soak up the water encouraging the roots to grow downwards. They will need staking as the plants will get heavy with all the fruit that it produces, so I’ve attached a bamboo cane to the metal frame of my staging and then the plants loosely to the cane. Don’t tie them tight because the stem will get larger and fatter.

Once the plants start to produce flowers then start to feed them. I use Shropshire Seaweed fertiliser which I find works brilliantly.

Here’s a little video with a bit more information for you…. (I know I say 2 litre pots in the video, and I’ve just said 3 litre, but either will be fine)….

Have a wonderful rest of your week, and more adventures this weekend….but not Saturday and I have 2 weddings to bell ring for on that day, so see you Sunday.

Happy gardening xx

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Sunday 22nd May 2022 – An entire weekend in the garden.

Now this hasn’t happened for ages, but nothing was going on this weekend. No cinema, no bell ringing, no seeing family. It was just me in the garden for the entire weekend. Obviously there was the usual shopping and household chores to do, but most of those were done on Saturday morning. It was then just me and my plants….it was beautiful.

Mark and I fixed the top of the wooden box which our oil tank goes in and I gave it another couple of coats of paint. The hinges had broken and new bigger ones went on. Yes we have oil based heating and hot water, and gas canisters….we live out in the sticks. We do have mains water and electricity, but sometimes the water gets switched off and we’re not told, and we have frequent mini power cuts. But you get used to it after a while and I never reset the timer on the oven or fridge freezer because it’s pointless.

But we do have wildlife all around from bunnies hopping around the back field and round the front and scooting across the road in front of the car, peacocks calling to each other, sheep and lambs in the field down the road, rhea’s grumbling as you walk past and a myriad of different birds flitting about, some small, some medium and some marsh harriers and the occasional owl and bats. The local swans in the stream are now teaching their babies about the Green Cross Code. Us locals drive sensibly, it’s the out of villagers that drive like idiots. Drive past them really, really slowly and carefully.

I got loads done in the garden so here goes. I know it’s early, but I’ve checked the weather and we are not due any more frosts in the south east of the UK so my Runner beans can now be planted out. The French beans are quite large enough so I’ll leave them for a little longer.

Here’s a video showing how I plant out mine…..

I then planted out my Cucumbers, all the varieties I have are outdoor ones so the beans are growing one side of the arch and the cues are growing the other. Hopefully they’ll meet at the top and make friends. I want to walk under my arch harvesting cues and beans all summer long. I have small dreams and little things make me smile.

When planting out your cucumbers, dig a hole a little larger than the pot they are growing in, carefully remove the plant from the pot and put it in the hole. Fill the soil around the plant and lean it against the bamboo cane. As it grows it should cling to the cane, but you might have to help it to start with.

The greenhouse needed another water, and now after the rain we had on Friday all my butts are full!! Yay!!

I wanted to get as many veggies planted out in the raised beds this weekend, because I’ll need to pot up my peppers, melons, and tomatoes very soon.

I planted out the remainder of my leeks. Planting these out is different from most other plants, so here’s a video explaining it in more detail…..

My Celeriac is growing really well. It started off slowly, but once I’d pricked out the seedlings and put them in individual pots they suddenly had a growth spurt. I’ve planted each one about 6-8 inches apart from each other so hopefully I’ll have something to harvest later in the autumn.

Celery went in next. I’ve planted these on the other side of the bed to the celeriac so I don’t get them confused. They look exactly the same, well they are closely related to each other. I suppose you could call them second cousins. This is the first time I’ve grown celery so it’ll be interesting to see how they get on.

The last bit of space in the back bed is for the Sweetcorn and the cucurbits (courgettes, pumpkins and butternut). This year the first lot of Sweetcorn didn’t germinate so I sowed some more a week ago. One has only just started to pop through the soil. If no more has arrived next weekend, then I’ll sow some more. Doesn’t matter if the sweetcorn goes in a little later as I can just fit it in amongst the cucurbits.

Here’s a little video on how I plant out mine……

Apart from a little bit of weeding that was it for this weekend. The greenhouse has a little more space in it now, but I’ll soon fill that up when I plant my peppers, melons and tomatoes in their final pots, but that’ll be a job for next weekend.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and a wonderful week.

TTFN

Claire xx

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Sunday 15th May 2022 – A day to unwind….

This weekend wasn’t as hectic as last weekend, but there was still a lot to do. Saturday was the usual shopping, bell ringing for someone’s wedding and then a bell ringing striking competition. There were 7 bands (teams) ringing and you get judged on how many mistakes you make. The fewer the better. I am pleased to report that the band I was ringing in came 1st!! Yay!! We got 37.5 faults, the band that came 2nd got 40 faults, so it was close. We get the special cup for a year.

Sunday, after a little bit more ringing…well it is Sunday morning…, I was back home and back out in the garden to unwind. I need some time in the garden at the weekend, it re sets my brain for the coming week.

I got loads done. Firstly I let the chickens out in the brassica cage and all 7 of them started to have dust baths. They huddle together in little groups. It’s bizarre as there is all that room, but they end up together.

I then watered the greenhouses where most things seem to be growing really well this year so far. More beans are popping through the compost so that’s great.

My parsnips this year, not one germinated. I’m not sure why. The seeds tend to only last a couple of years, so maybe they were old. So in their place I planted out some more Lettuce and some Spinach.

I planted out my Chard in a row next to some onions.

Lettuce, Spinach and Chard all need planting out in exactly the same way, so here’s a video on how I do mine….

And most of my Italian ParsleyI planted out in pots next to the herb patch. I still have a few plants left, but will plant that out somewhere else, most probably in a trough, as I have one in the greenhouse. The more you pick the more will grow.

A little bit more weeding and watering and then it was time for lunch.

After lunch it was then time to get my brassicas planted outside in the cage that the chickens like to play in. Now if the chickens had their way then they would eat all my brassicas in about 5 minutes, but I clearly don’t want that to happen. So the chickens are now back in their large run which is attached to their house, and the brassicas are playing in the playpen now.

Give the chickens a load of credit, the soil in that bed is so fine and beautiful. They’ve scratched it about and pooped a load of goodness on the soil, so that’ll help the brassicas grow. I got all my brassicas out the greenhouses and placed the trays in the cage before deciding where they all should go.

All brassicas need to be planted out in exactly the same way and here is a little video showing you how I do mine….

After tying the peas to their canes and a little more weeding and tidying it was time to start the BBQ. It’s our first one of the year and we were having sausages, chicken and ribs on it.

I’m planning on having loads more this summer, and eating outside in the garden when we can. The weather stayed dry right up to the very end when I was cooking the last slab of ribs. But it was only a few big blobs and nothing too heavy. Still I put on a light jacket just incase.

We are supposed to have rain and maybe thunder later tonight, but knowing the clouds they’ll decided to forget about us and float on by. I don’t know what it is about where we live, maybe because we’re right by the coast, but rain tends to miss us a lot of the time. You see it drifting over and get really excited, but them it goes “No, nothing for you today.” As long as the little we get tops up some of my butts then I don’t mind. It doesn’t take that much to fall as the roof is very large and it’s surprising how much collects.

FYI we didn’t get any rain over night, not even a drop, and therefore no thunder. We might get some Tuesday night instead.

Happy gardening and BBQing!

See you soon xxx

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Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th May 2022 – Peace in the garden and a little bit of naughtiness….

I did pop out in the garden first thing on the Saturday morning but that was just for Mark to take a quick photo of me and my Rhubarb. The first Saturday in May is Naked Gardening Day, yes it’s a thing, and the only thing you’re supposed to wear is a smile, so here’s my contribution.

Hopefully the neighbours weren’t looking out their upstairs windows at the time.

Once that was done, a freakishly busy Saturday, and yes more freakishly busy than normal, was to follow. The local church that I ring at recently had a massive restoration project done on it. The church is over 700 years old, and all the stonework, roof, windows, you name it, it was done and restored back to its former glory. For over 5 years scaffolding was going up and down all over the church, making sure that they kept the bell ringers secret door clear at all times. The church had planned a celebration weekend, but due to a certain virus it was postponed, but finally it happened this weekend. The church and grounds were open to the general public and we had visits up the bell tower to see how we rung the bells. The tower visits started at 10.30am and finished at 3pm, and 97 people came up to see what we do. I did all the talking (obviously) and apparently everyone enjoyed themselves. Afterwards I didn’t go straight home, but to our local butchers to get meat for the next couple of weeks, then Sainsbury’s for a general weekly shop and then I finally got home a little after 5pm! Just before I left Sainsbury’s I texted the family…”Just leaving Sainsbury’s. Wine please xx”. They obliged.

The reason I wanted to get all that done on Saturday was because I wanted to spend all of Sunday in my garden. So after ringing, yes more but only before the morning service, I grabbed a mug of tea and out I went. The front garden was first on the list with some general tidying up and watering which didn’t take long. My Lupines are in full flower and look so pretty.

Once that was all done it was into the back garden. First of all a little check on the greenhouses to check on the watering, and to see how my French and Runner beans were doing. I sowed them on 1st May so I was hoping for something. And bless them they didn’t disappoint. Some are just popping through the surface of the soil, but others are still asleep, hopefully they’ll all wake up soon.

The greenhouses are getting pretty full now, but if I’ve got time then I would plant some out today, but others next weekend.

A bit more weeding and watering of the back beds again. We recently had a little bit of rain, very fine drizzle early one evening, but it was enough to put some water in the butts. I don’t only get water from our roof, but next doors guttering runs down into ours so I get theirs as well…ssshhh…don’t tell them, I’m not sure they know.

Because I was out in the garden, the chickens felt they should be out to play also, so I popped them in the brassica cage so they could have a dustbath and a play. I’ll be planting this years brassicas in that cage soon, hopefully next weekend, so I’m not sure how they’ll feel about that. their playpen will have to go somewhere else, or they’ll just have to stay in their run.

In the remainder of the brassica cage where the chickens were playing I have a little bit of space left, so that’s where this years onions are going. I sowed them from seed in late January, pricked them out in early March and now they’re ready for the big outdoors. I plant them about 6 inches apart, so they have enough room for the bulbs to swell. Once they were in I watered them in well.

Here’s a little video with a bit more information…..

On the outside of a couple of the pots I found some small slugs. Now I don’t get many in my garden for some reason, snails you don’t see often either, not sure why. But so as not to encourage them to live in my raised beds I gave the little slugs to the chickens. Which they really enjoyed. One grabs it and runs off and the others all follow. Round and round they go, they’re so funny.

A little bit more weeding in the potato bed and I was done for the day. The perfect end to a very, very busy weekend. Now for another very busy week…..Is next weekend just as busy?…..Nearly, but not quite.

Have a great week and hope you get to enjoy being in your garden xx

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