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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Sunday 1st May 2022 – Bean time!!!

After several years of sowing at different time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the perfect time for me to sow my Runner and French Bean seeds in the greenhouse is on 1st May. That way they have exactly one month to grow and be the perfect size to be planted outside on 1st June. I live in the South East of the UK so all worries of frost have gone from that area by the beginning of June. If you live further north or south of where I am, then you know your frost dates and can adjust your timings.

So before Mark and I went out in the afternoon, and after I’d mowed the grass. Yes I know it’s “No Mow May”, but I couldn’t mow the grass at the end of April because we were out all day, so I mowed it today. I can’t see that one day would make a difference anyway. So once all that was done I went and sowed my bean seeds.

I have 3 different varieties this year and I sow them all the same way. The varieties I have this year are: Climbing French Beans “Blue Lake”, I love these, they’re so prolific. Dwarf French Beans “Safari“, these are perfect for growing round the edges of raised beds, or in large pots or troughs as they don’t need staking. And also Climbing Runner beans “Scarlet Emperor”.

I fill a pot with multipurpose compost (which ever you prefer to use) and place 2 seeds on top at diagonal corners.

When you have all the pots you want, then push the seeds down about an inch. Cover with compost, water with fresh tap water and label. They should germinate in about a week or so depending on the temperatures outside.

If you want to sow directly outside, then wait a couple of weeks and sow 2 or 3 seeds together in the same little hole, again about an inch under the soil.

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

Once all those were done then I pricked out my Wok Broc which is going great guns. I put one seedling into each pot and planted them deep, so all the stem was under the soil and just the leaves were above.

Then I pricked out my Rocket, but this I did in little clumps of about 5-6 seedlings because it’s happier that way. You don’t have to be exact with the number of seedlings, just a small clump will be fine.

So that was all done before we went out. On Bank Holiday Monday some of the family will be over, so I double if I’ll get any time out in the garden, but I have a half day on Tuesday so I’ll get my garden fix then.

Whatever you did this early May Bank Holiday I hope you had a wonderful time.

Keep watering those plants, I’m now having to syphon out the bath water because my butts are empty, looks like I may have to do the washing machine water soon if we don’t have rain in the next couple of days.

Happy gardening xxx

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Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th April 2022 – Pricking out

This weekend was mainly spent pricking out various seedlings. Some individually, but others in little clumps of 5 or 6 seedlings. When doing little clumps you don’t have to count them exactly, they will just clump in groups naturally, so if there are a more in some clumps and fewer in other, then that’s fine.

I’ll start with the single prickings out first, which was were some more Leeks “Elefant” and Celery.

I’ve grown this variety of Leeks before, but never Celery, Celeriac yes, so I’m guessing it’s about the same. The seedlings on both are looking great, so once you’ve filled the pot with compost, then make a hole in the centre and place the seedling inside. I planted them both a little further under the soil then they were in their seed tray, but not too far. Water from the top to settle the compost around the seedling and then from the bottom so the compost soaks up the water and encourages the roots to grow down.

They’ll stay in the greenhouses for about another 5-6 weeks which will take me to the end of May, beginning of June, when I’ll then plant them outside.

The next load of seedlings I did in little clumps. I’m using up all my flower seeds this year, some will go in my garden, some will go in my client’s gardens and the rest will go in the churchyard. I have California Wildflower Mix, Love in a Mist, Penny Royal and Red Poppies.

Again sow these a little deeper in the compost that they are in the seed tray. Some of these will go out in about 3 weeks time, others will take an extra week or so.

Once all that was done then it was a little check of all the plants in the greenhouses to see if any needed watering and then that was it for the day.

To say the next couple of weeks are busy is a slight understatement, so I won’t get any major chunk of time in the garden, it’ll be an hour here and there.

Have a great week and happy gardening xx

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Tuesday 19th April 2022 – Afternoon free.

It doesn’t happen very often that I have an afternoon free during the week, but today I did. So it was the perfect time to sow all my April seeds, inside and out. After lunch I grabbed a cup of tea and my April box of seeds and off I went to the greenhouses to start.

There are a lot to get through and I’ll put them in sections with the links to the various seeds just incase you want to get any yourself.

So here goes…..

I’ll start with the herbs first, all of these need to be sown on moist compost and then sprinkle a little more compost on top of the seeds. A couple of different varieties of Coriander “Lemon” and “Leisure” (but they don’t seem to do this variety anymore or have renamed it). Basil “Genovese” you can beat it it’s amazing. There are loads of other different varieties of Basil so just sow them all the same way. Oregano, Sage and then I’m going to put Rocket in with this lot as well. The variety I have is from Spain, so have given you a link to one that looks the same that you can buy in the UK.

Next I’ll move on to the Cucurbits. Now these I have not sown in seed trays but in individual pots. I’ve sown 2 seeds per pot and at diagonal corners. If both seeds come up I won’t separate them as they will grow very happily together. Because these seeds are large they’ll need to be sown sideways and not flat. If you sow them flat then the water will sit on the seed and may rot them. The Cucurbits I have are two different varieties of Courgette “Green Bush” and Sunstripe”, just remember courgettes are prolific so you only need a couple of plants. A variety of Cucumber called “Alficoz” which again I bought from Spain, They are also sometimes called Snake Melons. I would have given you a link to a company abroad that you can get the seeds from, but due to the debacle of BREXIT these companies will no longer ship to us (Claire makes and angry face). So the only suggestion I can put forth is if you know someone who is either going on holiday or who lives in Spain, maybe they can bring you a packet of seeds home. I’m sure that’s still allowed. The company I got mine from in Spain, or you could try Franchi Seeds, you may find some garden centres stock these. Good luck xx

I have a mixed selection of Pumpkins so I’ve sown a few more of those. I do have “Atlantic Giant” Pumpkins growing, but fancied growing a few more.

Here’s a video with a little more information about sowing you Cucurbit seeds….

Next was my sweetcorn. This year the variety I’m growing is “Lark”. I’ve grown it before and it did really well. Again, just like the Cucurbits I’m sowing 2 seeds per pot, and also at diagonal corners. Some people like to soak their sweetcorn seeds before they sow them, but I’ve never done that. But if it’s something you do and it works for you then carry on. As they say “If it ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If both seeds germinate then when I plant them outside in the ground I won’t separate them. They’ll grow quite happily together. Whether you’re growing Sweetcorn, Popcorn, Baby corn, or the Ornamental corn they all need to be sown in the same way. You can sow directly out in the soil but I tend to find the germination rate is much poorer as the squirrels and various other garden visitors dig them up and run off with them.

Here’s a little video with more information….

I then sowed a couple more brassicas.

Firstly the most wonderful beautiful Cauliflowers ever, if people say they don’t like cauliflowers then give them these and they’ll love them. They taste like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli, if you’ve never tried them give “Romanesco” a try. And the other is Wok Broc “Kichi Chinese Broccoli“. It seems a little like sprouting broccoli, and looked interesting so I’m giving it a go. Sowing is easy, here’s how I sow mine.

The penultimate load of seeds is Chicory “Rossa di Trevisco”. Chicory has a bitter flavour to it and is closely related to lettuce, I suppose you could call it it’s second cousin once removed….whatever that is I don’t know. Sow these the same as the brassicas.

And finally I sowed a few more slower seeds, Delphinium “Belladonna Mixed”. These are perennials so will come back every year getting bigger and more beautiful each year. When they germinate they prefer to be a little on the dryer side, so make sure you don’t over water them. Sow them on moist compost and cover with a thin layer of a little more compost.

Well that was a fun filled afternoon. I’ll keep you posted on how everything grows, still lots more to do, but I expect that’ll have to wait until the weekend.

Take care and happy gardening xx

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Easter weekend 2022 – Today and tomorrow I will be mostly spending in my garden.

A long weekend and hardly anything planned. That doesn’t happen very often. Good Friday I worked, but that was because I really needed to finish off someones garden, and another I’d not been to for a month because last time I was due to go we had sleet, snow, hail, basically all that cold horrible weather. Saturday was spent doing shopping and house chores, but Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday were garden days. I had a list as long as my arm, and my arms are very long. I didn’t get through everything in the garden, but I made a huge dent in my list of things to do.

I decided a systematic approach would be best, so weeded and watered 3 of the large raised beds first. The fourth raised bed is the fruit bed and that is a job all on its own so will have to wait for another day. As I checked for weeds in the bed where I planted my potatoes I noticed a few leaves had broken through the surface of the soil. What clever little potatoes they are.

I’ll make sure I cover them with a little more soil just incase we have a late frost. Just pile some soil on the top of the leaves and it’ll look like a little mole hill. We do get moles occasionally in our garden, usually during the winter, but the more you walk around the garden the better, as they don’t like the vibrations. The row of Parsnips that I sowed next to the potatoes haven’t started to sow themselves yet, but they can be rather slow. There was enough room for another line of something else, so I sowed a row of Beetroot “Chioggia”. I love these, they did really well last year and they look so pretty when you slice them.

Here’s how I sow mine…..

Because I was in the garden the chickens assume that they are entitled to come out and play as well. One of the brassica cages is over the potatoes, but the other one is over one of the other beds where I’m planning on planting this years brassicas, so that’s the one they play in at the moment. You let them out and they follow me (well most of them) to their new little play area. I pop them in and they scratch about, then they dust bathe and then scratch some more before lounging in the sun.

Outside their play area, but also in the bed I have some room, so sowed a couple of rows of Carrots. I have three different varieties “Rainbow” and “Purple Sun” which I have mixed together and then “Paris Market Atlas” which I am keeping separate as they are round and don’t grow down like the rest.

Here’s how I sow my carrots….

After watering these in, and the garlic that is growing in the bed as well I then moved on to the brassica bed where my one remaining Brussels Sprout and several Sprouting Broccoli are. As soon as I got into that bed the chickens got all excited. They love their greens and were hoping for a little treat. How could I not oblige, they just love their mummy so much and are very sweet. So I dug up the last Sprout, took off any I wanted and then gave the entire stem to them. They’re like Piranhas. They pounced on the Brussels stem and surround it. They then proceed to peck off every scrap of green and within about 5 minutes all that is left was the thick stem. I tidied up any debris round the sprouting broccoli and removed any sprouting bits that had either gone over, or were about to go to flower. Don’t worry about striping these back to the stem, just give them a few weeks and new sprouts will appear that you can harvest. Sprouting broccoli is the plant that keeps on giving. I just boil mine in a small amount of water for a couple of minutes and it’s amazing.

I then dug up the remainder of the Leeks, and will cut them up in to slices and then put them in the freezer and take and use as and when we need them. Leeks freezer really well and just cook from frozen. They did really well this year, some were a little on the small side but that’s not a problem as you can always cook the whole.

So, once the 3 large beds had been tidied I then moved on to the 3 square beds at the back. The bed that has the Asparagus in is doing really well, and I planted the 5 new Asparagus crowns that I received from Sutton’s. I’m sure they’ll settle in very well with their other asparagus friends. Once they were in I gave them a good water.

The bed next to that has a Tayberry in, but there was space at the front to plant out my Peas. I thought little wigwams would be better with the space that I had. Hopefully the peas will climb up the canes, with a little encouragement from me, and not climb about on each other. Now these are in, I’ll start another lot off in the greenhouse so when the first lot are finished the next lot will be ready to harvest. Again I gave the bed a good weed before I planted out my peas, and then a good water once the peas were in.

Whether you have peas, sugar snap or mangetout they need to be planted out in exactly the same way. Here’s a video on how I do mine…..

The final bed at the back, not only has my Kiwi growing in, but the space at the front has my Broad Beans growing in as well. These are been in for a few weeks now and are settling in well. They have doubled in size since I planted them out a good month ago. Again a weed and thorough water.

I have a little Belfast sink that is the perfect place to sow little things. This year I have Radish growing which I sowed a couple of weeks ago and they are coming up wonderfully.

There is a little space left, so I sowed 2 rows of Spring Onions “Guardsman” next to them. Radish prefer cooler weather so I tend to find they do better at the beginning of the season, unless you can find a sheltered spot in your garden.

Here’s how I sow my Spring onion seeds….

I have to admit that all the 3 beds at the back do look lovely, especially with some tulips flowering between each bed.

Then it was into the greenhouses. They are both filling up nicely, but are also a little messy. My view is a clean and perfectly tidy greenhouse is never a well used greenhouse. That’s my excuse and I’m going to stick to it.

They both needed a general tidy up, seedlings needed to be pricked out, some plants needed sorting out because they’d not taken, some other plants needed to be planted outside, some troughs with plants needed trimming and moved outside and finally if I got time some seed sowing, but I couldn’t see that happening today.

I’d pricked out a load of Lettuce seedlings several weeks ago and they are now large enough to be planted outside. I have a little Woodblocx bed by the patio and this is the perfect place for them to go. So I planted them out and there were a few more little ones that needed to be pricked out so I planted them in small pots, and when they’re large enough they will go outside with the other ones.

I then pricked out my Celariac, a few more Tomatoes, some Rosemary, and some Italian Parsley. All these need to me planted deep, so all the roots and stem needs to go under the soil and only the leaves are showing above. Water from above so the compost can level off and fill up any holes, and then put a little water in the tray so the compost can soak it up and encourage the roots of the seedlings to grow down.

Having reshuffled various plants the greenhouses were now tidy. It was too late to start sowing any seeds, but Tuesday I am only working a half day so will do them then.

Happy Easter everyone and I hope you man aged to enjoy your weekend xxx

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Sunday 10th April 2022 – One, two, three and lift.

Another Sunday, another day in the garden, what more could I want. As usual when I came home from ringing I went out into the garden to check on everything in the greenhouses and gave them a little water. I need to do more pricking out and tidying in the greenhouses, but the outside needs my attention first. The Easter weekend I am planning on spending as much of it as possible in the garden so hopefully I will be able to get everything up to date then. I decided I would work Good Friday, but have the Monday off, the perks of being self employed you can decide. Mark is away from Friday to late Sunday, and Easter is very low key for us at home, so we’ll have a special meal on the Monday when we’re all together again.

The first job for today was to weed. The large beds have little Sycamore seedlings growing all over them, our neighbours have a tree and the little helicopters (that’s what my sister and I used to call the seed pods) flutter down into my garden. It’s not a problem, but you just have to remove them sooner rather than later.

The first bed was where the potatoes, parsnips and a row of garlic is growing. Once weeded, I watered the parsnips and the garlic and then moved on to the next bed.

Apart from a little bit of weeding I dug up the remainder of last years Spring Onions. They’re quite chunky, but grew really well. I’ll use them over the next couple of days and hopefully this years one’s I’ll sow next weekend. Once this bed was all weeded and tidy it was time to call Mark and Kai so we could move the brassica cage from the bed behind. Emily bless her was unable to help as she had her appendix removed only a few days before and isn’t allowed to lift anything heavy for 6-8 weeks apparently, so a heavy brassica cage was out of the question. But with two strong men and me (who is stronger than both of them put together) we moved it with ease.

Because I was out in the garden the chickens were complaining feeling that if I was out playing in the garden why weren’t they. Once the brassica cage was in place and hoped I had secured all the gaps, I let them out to play in the brassica cage in the sun so they could have a scratch and a dust bath.

We were having lunch inside when Emily suddenly said “Is there supposed to be a chickenon the fruit bed?” To which I answered “Um, no!” Cheeky little buggers had scratched enough soil away and a few of them had snuck out of the brassica cage and into the garden. One was in the fruit patch and another couple were wandering around the garden. After picking them up and putting them back where they were supposed to be, I sorted out the little gap they’d created and went back inside to finish my lunch.

I received some more Asparagus crowns from Suttons which I’ll put in next weekend. The variety I got was “Officinalis Mondeo” Only reason I chose this variety was because once we had a red Ford Mondeo Estate car and it was a gorgeous car, very long, so finding a parking space large enough was interesting, but so comfortable to drive, oh and the acceleration…wow! Turbo diesel injection!! I’m not a speed demon but it was fast. As I was unable to plant these today or this coming week as I’m so busy, I’ve laid them in moist compost.

Once it was time for me to go in, I let the chickens out of their brassica cage and they followed me back to their shed and run as I was carrying a pot of corn and mealworms. Victoria lets the children go and stays back as she wants a little grown up time with me. We sat on the grass and I gave her her own little pot of corn and mealworms and then we had a little cuddle before it was time for her to go in. She loves her mummy cuddles and a little bit of time away from the noisy children.

Here’s to a busy week, but afterwards a long weekend!

Take care everyone xx

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Sunday 3rd April 2022 – It is Sunday right?

When I woke up this morning I had no idea what day of the week it was. Honestly I seriously didn’t know. I was going through in my head each day of the week trying to figure it out. Where was I working yesterday? What did I do yesterday? Finally my brain caught up and I realised with great delight that it was Sunday. After a cup of tea in bed and a few funny little video’s that Mark saved throughout the week I was back on track.

The weather has warmed up a lot now, I wasn’t a fan of that cold blast that came though on Thursday and Friday, which included snow, sleet, hail and a bitter wind. There was still a chill in the air, but because the sun was now shining it felt much warmer.

The tulips were clearly enjoying the sun and decided to come out and play.

I tidied the pots at the front and gave them a water. They are looking mighty fine at the moment. The daffodils are just about finished, but that means that all the other flowers aren’t that far off. When they flower I’ll take photos and show you, but for the meantime you’ll just have to wait.

I then went into the back garden and sowed a small row of Radish “Logo”, I’ll sow a few more in about a months time and keep going like that until about the end of August. That way I’ll have a constant supply of radish throughout the summer. Radish don’t like getting too hot. If they do they’ll bolt and go very woody inside. So make sure you sow them in a shady spot.

Here’s a video with more information….

I also sowed a row of Parsnips “Gladiator”, just remember that parsnips are in the ground for a very long time (anytime from 9 months to a year) so you need to make sure you plant them where they won’t get in the way.

Here’s a video with more information….

I then went to the 3 square beds I have at the back of the garden and started to give them a bit of a tidy up, not that they were that messy anyway. The first bed on the left has Asparagus in and the spears have just started to break the surface. One spear is ready so I’ll harvest that tomorrow and we’ll have it for dinner, but the others are doing great and won’t be long. Once I’d weeded the bed I then spread a bag of compost on the top and tomorrow will get a bag of farmyard manure to put on top as well. Make sure you water the asparagus well, and if you don’t have well rotted manure then Seaweed Fertiliser will work very well. They are hungry plants and need be bit of food.

The second bed has a Raspberry and a Tayberry in, so I weeded that and the space in front of those I will plant my dwarf french beans, but I won’t sow them until May 1st in the greenhouse and then I’ll plant them out on June 1st when all worry of frost has gone from the south of England. After years and years of trial and error I have found that this works perfectly. So sow your bean seeds (Runner or French) 1 month before you plan to plant them outside. That way they’ll be about 6-8 inches tall which is perfect and haven’t started to twist round each other or a stick. When I sow mine I’ll let you know.

The bed on the right had an Issai Kiwi in. I’ve had mine for about 3 years now and it’s grown really well, but so far has not yet fruited. These can cope with fairly low temperatures and you’ll find that when the leaves come out in early Spring, if you have a frost the leaves they will wilt and go brown, but don’t worry as more green leaves will soon appear. Fingers crossed I will get some fruit this year. The space in front of the Kiwi I have planted my Broad Beans, so hopefully they’ll both play well together and not argue.

Here’s a little more information about planting out Broad Beans…..

Well that was that for today and more next week.

Happy gardening!

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Tuesday 29th March 2022 – Spuddies are in!!

This week is a very odd week as there is a 5th Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the month. Usually I just work the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th days of the month so having a 5th is a bonus day off. I worked Wednesday because I always do, but today I was down our local pub, no not for a pint of beer at 9am, but to give their raised beds and various flower beds a tidy up.

But once I’d finished there I was home and out in my garden. Today I thought I would mow the grass and then plant out all my seed potatoes, so that’s what I did to start with.

It was my grasses first cut of the year and some bits were a little long. It now looks much neater, so with regular cutting and feeding any bare patches should recover.

I have two different varieties of seed potatoes this year “Jazzy” and “Sarpo Mira”. I’m planting them in one of the raised beds this year, they just don’t do brilliantly in buckets. I got my trusty long handled bulb planter out which works perfectly. No bending down, no hard digging, it’s perfect. Don’t buy a metal one as they break immediately. You get what you pay for, and the makers of mine don’t exist anymore but there are other makes out there.

Just remove any weeds, level off the soil and off you go.

If you aim correctly you’ll get a hole in one.

Afterwards a little more tidying in the garden by moving one of the brassica cages and then some weeding.

A wonderful bonus day.

Happy gardening everyone!!

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Sunday 27th March 2022 – Mother’s Day

Two lots of pressies in one week, I felt totally spoilt today. The previous week had been immensely busy (no change there really), and Saturday was full of household chores and shopping. Sunday was Mother’s Day and the weather was going to be a little “meh” in the morning but brightening up in the afternoon, but I was planning on being in the garden/greenhouses for as much of it as I could. The kids bought me in a cup of tea and my presents.

I know that it looks like the beers are attached to the t shirt, but obviously they’re not, how would I wash it? There is something so special about the kids tv shows that I watched when I was younger, especially Mr Benn, they’re just so innocent and quiet, no flashing noises and loud bangs….makes me sound like a massive oldie.

I had bellringing in the morning and as soon as I got home I grabbed a cup of tea and headed outside to the greenhouses. I had lots of pricking out to do and sorting, so that would take up most of my time, I would them see what time I had afterwards to see what I could do in the garden.

I started with my tomatoes, they’ve been a little slow in coming through, but are on their way and there are more just starting to germinate, so when you’ve pricked out all the ones that are large enough, level off the compost again, water and leave for a bit longer to let the others grow.

Here’s a little video showing how I prick out mine…

Then it was onto a load of brassicas, Brussels Sprouts, Calabrese, Cabbage and Kohl Rabi.

To be honest I should have done these last weekend, but we had the entire family, plus a couple of extra over for the day (I cooked for 19! Yes you heard me correctly), so needless to say I was a little busy all weekend. All brassicas need to be pricked out in the same way and make sure you plant them “deep”, which basically means all the stem should be under the soil and just the leaves showing.

Here’s a video explaining it a little more.

Then the Lettuce, where I grouped 3 seedlings together. When I harvest these I’ll pick leaves rather than the entire lettuce, so clumping them together is fine. Again plant these deep so the stems are under the soil and just the leaves are showing.

The Italian Parsley was next on the list for pricking out and again I clumped a small group of seedlings together. Parsley seedlings will be very happy in groups of up to 10 so you don’t have to be pedantic and count them exactly.

When the parsley is large enough I’ll plant it outside in larger pots. In a couple of weeks time I’ll sow some more seeds, so hopefully I’ll have a good supply throughout the summer and into the autumn. Make sure you water all the seedlings briefly from above, this will level off the compost and fill in any holes, and then from the bottom, so the compost will suck up the water and encourage the roots to grow down and fill the pot.

Then it was the turn of the spinach and chard. Again I clumped 3 seedlings together and planted them deep in the soil. I’ve not grown chard for a few years, I had some at the allotment and it did really well so it’ll be interesting to see how it does here. Spinach always seems to grow well and it’s always a great addition to a pasta dish plus the chickens love it.

I’ve got Artichokes and Cardoons growing in my garden and don’t really have any space for anymore, but I’m not going to waste the seeds as some of my client’s might like some in their gardens. The bees love them and the flowers look so pretty. Most people just keep them in their veg patch, but they look amazing in a large flower border. The roots are very long, so prick them out as soon as you’re able otherwise they get a bit tricky to move.

The first lot of Leeks are ready to prick out, the second lot of seeds I sowed are on their way, but they’ve been quite a way behind the onions this year, hopefully they’ll catch up soon.

The Peppers and Chillies have been rather slow this year, but they’re now on their way. I think they just needed a little extra warmth to wake them up. Now, Chillies and Peppers need to be planted “Shallow” which means that only the very bottom of the stem and all the roots should go under the compost. They don’t mind dirty feet, but don’t like dirty legs.

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

My seedlings are still quite tiny, but I’ve levelled the soil back over and hopefully a few more will grow later on.

My Cucumbers are all doing fine and germinating well. I sowed 2 seeds per pot and most have come up. All the varieties I have this year are outside ones so when the weather is warmer then they’ll go outside and climb up my trellis arch…. well that’s the plan anyway. When I get to do that I’ll let you know. But for now they’re just starting to get their first set of true leaves so they’re doing well. These won’t need pricking out, they’ll stay in these pots until I move them outside.

The first lot of Peas I sowed are also sprouting well. You can sow peas directly outside, but I find the squirrels and mice tend to dig them up and run off with them and the germination rate is poorer. So I like to start them off inside and give them until the middle or end of April and I’ll plant them outside. Once I do that then I’ll start the next lot off.

One thing I did plant outside today was my Broad Beans. They’ve been growing really well in the greenhouses but are very robust plants and don’t mind a little cold weather. I’ve been putting them outside during the day for the last week and bringing them back in at night so as to acclimatise them. You should acclimatise all plants otherwise they go into shock and stop growing. I’ve now planted them out in one of my square beds at the back, so hopefully they’ll be happy.

Then the final thing I did was to fill my hanging buckets. I bought these a while ago and have had various plants in them from nasturtiums to sweet peas. But this year I’m putting various herbs in them I’ve chosen Spearmint, Rosemary and Catmint that I ordered from The Secret Gardening Club. I know this may sound a little weird, but there is a method in my madness so let me explain. I seem to have stopped the rats from digging under the fence, but they now come over the fence. They do this by climbing up next doors Ceanothus bush, walking along the fence and then down into my garden….little buggers.

I’ve seen them do it. Rats eyesight is poor but their sense of smell is very sensitive and they don’t like any strong smells. Apparently they don’t like the smell of Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender and Marigolds. Lavender I have now put in medium sizes terracotta pots and placed in various areas of the garden, and as I couldn’t get Peppermint I figured Spearmint would have to do. The Marigolds aren’t ready yet, but when they are, I’ll plant them around the garden and the Catmint I was hoping they might think I had a cat and stay away.

Only time will tell if they work, but here’s hoping.

So that was my Mother’s Day. I did exactly what I wanted and with the help of the family I had a wonderful day xx

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Monday 21st March 2022 – The perfect way to spend a birthday.

Yes I’m 21 again! I know it’s amazing, I’ve been married for 27 years, and have two adult children aged 19 and 22, and I’m still only 21!!…..Clearly I’m older, but I’m not telling you how old I really am, you’ll have to wait until I get to the next decade to find that out. You won’t have to wait very long though.

I worked for a few hours in the morning, but soon all those half days will start to turn into full days because there is much more to do. So I spent the afternoon in my garden. I had to tidy the pots out the front and fill in a few spaces which I did. I weeded anything that needed doing and then watered everything out the front as well. We’ve not had rain for a while here, and all my butts are full so I can use the water from them. The weather lately has been very Spring-like, warm and sunny and gorgeous, I’m very happy.

Once I’d finished out the front, I went to the back garden, there is a lot to do and most of it I’ll do this weekend, but I put the chickens in the brassica cage for a little play, and went into my greenhouses to have a little play myself.

I like to fill old shoes with compost and plants, so Emily and Kai had some old shoes that now have a new lease of life. I hope they’re happy. I’m sure my work wellies will be promoted to the garden soon as they have 3 gaping holes in them and soil keeps getting in. I’m trying to find a pair of waterproof boots that are sturdy enough and it’s proving to be tricky. I’m considering getting some builders ones a bit like my Site ankle boots as they seem to last. Obviously mine aren’t that clean anymore, but at least they’ve not got any holes in them yet.

After a little bit more tidying in the greenhouses it was time to come in. We have a rule in our house when it’s your birthday, you get to choose what you want for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it doesn’t matter how old you are. My mum used to do it when my sister and I were young, so I’ve just carried on the tradition. I chose toasted teacakes for breakfast, bacon in a cheese topped roll for lunch, and fish and chips for dinner.

My parents finally managed to make it over from Spain so mum and Emily iced a cake I had in the freezer. I got to blow my four candles after I’d put the rubber plug in the bath, and put some ointment on my saw tips. I’d been playing with my garden hoe’s today and had some pea’s for my tea…..

A perfect way to spend my 21st birthday, now time to get on with life and enjoy every minute of it.

Happy Spring everyone!

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