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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Sunday 13th March 2022 – Getting the whole family involved.

About 10 days ago I had another 5 bags of top soil arrive. This is usually an annual thing, I like to get it in before the end of the financial year as it’s an expense for work. The soil in the raised beds always drops slightly during the year, it’s just something that it does, but eventually I won’t need to get any more. Each bag weighs about a ton, so that’s a lot of soil for one person to move on their own. George is at university so got away with it this year, but with Mark and I shovelling into the barrow, Emily wheeling the barrow and then with the help of Kai tipping the soil into the bed and then Kai raking it about we were working like a very well oiled machine. We got the first 2 bags done within about half an hour, and then sat down for a little light refreshment, and then did the last 3 bags. We started at 10.30am and were finished by just gone noon. I didn’t think that we’d get them all done by lunchtime, I was hoping to get about 3 done, so that was brilliant. Well done team Woodside Barn!!

Lunch was tomato soup and French bread, and then a little telly before I was back out in the garden again. Just as we were finishing off the last bag of soil there were a few spit spots of drizzle but that didn’t bother us, but later in the afternoon the drizzle got a little heavier. This didn’t bother me as I was in the greenhouse sowing just a few more vegetable seeds and then a load of flower seeds. So here goes….

Now I thought I’d sown all the veg seeds that needed to be started off in the greenhouse, but one of my client’s got some free seeds off a magazine and very kindly gave them to me. Some I already have so will wait until next year, but I sowed these ones today: Swiss Chard “Fordhook Giant”, Leek “Elefant” and Celery “Green Sleeves”. All these I sowed in the same way by firming down some compost and then watering it, wait for the water to drain through and then sprinkle on the seeds, cover with more compost and water again, label and put a propagator lid over the top. Always water freshly sown seeds with tap or freshly caught rain water, when they’re larger then you can use butt water. The reason for this is because butt water has usually been sitting for a while and may be a little stagnant. Think of seeds like babies they need a little extra special care when they’re really tiny, but when they get older they can play quite safely in the dirt.

Here’s a video for sowing Leeks, but just to the same for the other seeds.

Now let’s move onto the flowers. I’ve not sow all the flower seeds I have yet, but I’ve made a good start. I think I’ve done all the seeds I have in packets, but I have a load of seeds drying in the garage from last year that I still need to sow. I expect I’ll do those next weekend or the early part of the following week, but when I do I’ll let you know.

All these seeds need to be sown on damp compost and then covered in a little more compost and watered again. As they grow I’ll take photos and show you have they’re getting on. So off we go…Papaver “Red Field Poppy”, Cottage Garden plants “Woodland Flower Mix”, Moraea Huttonii, Penny Royal, Love in a Mist “Persian Jewels Mixed“, Lavendula “Hidcote Blue”, two varieties of California Poppy “Carmine King” and “Single Mixture”, Papaver “Orientale Pizzicato”, Throw and Grow “Summer Picking Flowers” and a selection of Wildflowers from California which Mark got for me when he went to LA in the mixture are Poppy, Columbine (Aquilegia), Tidy Tips (don’t know what these are), Penstemon, Primose, Coneflower, Bluebell, and various other plants. It’s only available in the USA so unless you live there or visit you won’t be able to get any. I also sowed some Nasturtiums “Tall Single Flowered”, but I sowed 4 seeds per square pot. Don’t sow the seeds together, make sure you sow them a little way apart from each other. Just push the seeds in the compost about half and inch and then cover with a propagator lid as the mice will dig them up.

By the time I’d finished all those it was about 5.30pm and time to start dinner. We’d all worked very hard today, I doubt if I’ll ache tomorrow, as I’m used to doing heavy work with my arms but the others might feel the burn.

Whatever you’re doing this week I hope you have a wonderful time. If you are able to get and play out with your plants enjoy yourself.

Take care and see you soon xxx

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Monday 7th March 2022 – Half day fun!

Today I only worked in the morning, that’s because I’m so good at my job I’ve got their garden all up to date. Give it a few months and they’ll be much more to do, but for now it’s just a morning.

But with the afternoon free what better place to spend it than in my greenhouses. The seedlings I pricked out last weekend have taken very well, so after a little shift around of various plants I could start my March seed sowing. I managed to get all the vegetable seeds that need starting off in the greenhouse done which I was well chuffed about. Still got some that need to be sown straight into the soil to be done, but I need to shift 5 bags of soil before I can do those. Hopefully this weekend Mar, Emily and Kai (shhhh they don’t know yet) and I can do that. The March flower seeds I’ve not even started yet, and there are a lot of them to do. When I do the flowers I’ll let you know.

Every morning, once I’ve fed the chickens, I pop into the greenhouses to see how all my plants are doing. “Oh you’re such clever little things aren’t you”, is a phrase I use quite a lot. Seeds and plants are like people, we all need to know that we’re doing well and like to hear positive words and feels of love.

So here goes with the vegetable seeds I’ve sown so far…..I’m gonna start firstly with Lettuce which is best sown from March through to October for some varieties. Don’t sow them all at once, sow a few in March, then a few more in April and so on, that way you’ll get a consistent supply throughout the year and won’t lose any through bolting (going to seed). The varieties I’ve just sown are “Crisp Mint” and “Mixed”. Then some Spinach “Amazon F1”. Some Parsley “Italian Giant” and some Artichokes “Green Globe”. I don’t think I’ll need any of these in my garden, but some of my clients, or even the local churchyard might like some in there. I’m part of the gardening club at the church where I ring bells, and we’re creating meadow areas and more areas for bees and butterflies so these will be great round by grave stones and various places. The church is very old and was built over 700 years ago so many of the gravestones are falling over and lost under the grass. We want to make it look more inviting for people, wildlife and a beautiful back drop for wedding photos.

All these seeds I sprinkled on top of moist compost and then covered with a little more compost. Here is a video to show it a little more detail.

Then we move onto more brassicas. Last time I pricked out one variety, but now is the time to sow more brassica seeds. I’m still harvesting my Brussel Sprouts and my Sprouting Broccoli is now ready to pick, but here goes with this years ones. I’ve not grown Kohl Rabi “Kref” for several years and the last time was on my allotment in Surrey. They did really well so I think it’s time to try them again. Calabrese “Ironman”, Cabbage “Greyhound” although these are quite old so I doubt if any will germinate, but who knows. Brussels Sprouts “Trafalgar” and finally Kale “Smoothie Mix”, these I grow specifically for the chickens as they love them. All brassica seeds need to be sown the same way so here’s a little video showing you how I sow mine.

Next we move onto some larger seeds, now these need to be sown in individual pots. I use the square pots from H S Plastics as I can fit 15 of them perfectly in my black trays. But if you only have round ones then that’s absolutely fine. Let’s start first with Peas, now these I sowed 4 seeds per pot so one in each corner, or if you have a round pot then put one north, south, west and east. The two varieties I’ve got this year are “Nairobi” which are Snap peas and “Shiraz” which are purple pods.

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

Then it was onto the Cucumbers. This year I’m growing outside varieties and up one half of my trellis arch, the other half I’ll grow tomatoes. I want to walk under dangling cucumbers and tomatoes this summer. I know it sounds strange or tragic, but I don’t really care. The varieties of Cucumbers I have are “Burpless Tasty Green” and “Diva”. I sowed 2 seeds, at diagonal corners, per pot, which I won’t break apart when they go outside in the soil. Push the seeds in the compost about an inch.

Here’s a little video with more information.

And finally some Pumpkins and Winter Squash. The Winter Squash are a Butternut variety called “Hunter” which I’ve grown last year and they do really well. Again sow 2 seeds at diagonal corners per pot, and push these in to the compost about an inch. If 2 seeds germinate then I won’t separate them as they’ll grow perfectly well together. The Pumpkins are “Atlantic Giant” and I am determined to get a really large one this year. Last year they did well, but I know I can do better. Just like the squashes sow 2 seeds in diagonal corners of the pot. If you would prefer to sow the seeds directly in the soil then you can but this can’t be done until the very end of May. However, the germination rate is much lower and I find it better to start off in pots and inside a greenhouse or on a sunny window sill.

Here’s how I sow mine.

I also took some cuttings from the large Fuchsia in the church grave yard. Once these get big enough then I’ll plant them back in the grave yard so the Fuchsia can spread the love. The best time to take cuttings from a Fuchsia is November onwards, when you prune them back after their flowers have finished and the leaves have fallen, but I can just about squeeze them in now. Just get some multipurpose compost and make it wet. Get a stem and cut below one bed, but above another. What you need to end up with is a stem with 2 buds on it (one near the bottom and one near the top). Put the stem in the wet compost and make sure you keep the compost moist and don’t let it dry out. After about a month or so roots will start to grow and then you can move them on to individual pots. I’m hoping that the cuttings I’ve taken will be ready to plant out Spring next year. Not all will take, but majority will if you make sure you keep the compost moist at all times.

Well that was this afternoon. The rest of the week is very busy so I’m gonna have to wait until the weekend to get back out in the greenhouses to do any more sowing and pricking out, as well as moving all that soil, but remember ssshhh don’t tell the others as I’ve not told them they’re helping me do that yet. But until then have a fabulous week and let’s hope the sun shines and you can go out and play.

Happy gardening xx

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Sunday 27th February 2022 – I’m gonna make my seedlings an offer they can’t refuse.

This weekend has been beautiful, much improved from last weekend. I hope when the latest load of storms blew through you didn’t lose anything. I’ve seen on various gardening and allotment Facebook pages that lots of people lost greenhouses. If you can, and I know it’s tricky to on an allotment site screw your greenhouse to a solid base of either concrete or slabs. For those who lost precious items I hope you are able to put them back together. We were very lucky and all I found was a slate roof tile on the gravel at the front of our house, but I couldn’t find exactly on the roof where it came from. Opposite lost 6 ridge tiles and 1 is clinging on for dear life so maybe the slate tile flew off from their roof. Oh but when Eunice blew through on that Friday we did lose electricity just before 3pm and finally returned a little after 11pm. But no biggy, we had fish and chips by fake candle light and then were in bed by about 6.30pm.

Anyway, this weekend the sun shone, the sky was blue and it felt very Spring-like. Saturday was spent shopping, getting a well needed hair cut (my hair was starting to make me look like a scarecrow), and various other household things. So Sunday was exactly as it said, it was a Sunny Day! So after I got back from ringing in the morning I went out in the garden to see what I could do. The electricity had been turned off again because the power company were sorting something out, but this time it was only off for a couple of hours and it was during the day and we didn’t need lights on. I have a gas top so we could still boil water for a cup of tea…phew!

My little seedlings are coming along very nicely, although some need a little more encouragement, but I’m sure they’ll appear soon. Time to start pricking some of them out and putting them in individual pots. So here goes……

The Onions “Globo” are growing brilliantly so they’ll need doing first.

Prick them out and plant them in individually pots. I use square ones from H S Plastics and I can fit 15 perfectly in one tray.

Here is a little video to explain pricking out a little more clearly….

My Leeks “Musselburgh” aren’t quite large enough yet so I’ll leave them for another week.

Then it was on to the Broccoli “Bellaverde Sibsey. I’ve not grown this variety before so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

Again these need to be pricked out into individual pots, but make sure when you put them in their new pot you plant them ‘deep’. All this means is that all the roots and the stem are under the soil and just the leaves are showing above. I find to make a good enough hole the best thing to use is your index finger, just pushing it down into the soil as far as you can and the seedling should then drop in easily.

Here’s a video with more information to help you. I know this is talking about cauliflowers, but pricking out any brassicas needs to be done in the same way.

Then onto the flowers I’ve sown so far. Some have woken up, but others still need a little more sleep. But for those that are up and ready for the day I’m going to start pricking out. Make sure that when you’ve pricked out all you can to level off the soil again as more may soon be stirring from their slumber in about a weeks time.

I have a couple of varieties of Marigold “Fireball” and “Crackerjack Mixed” which I planted 2 seedlings together in a square pot and come Cosmos “Candy Strip” which I sowed 3 seedlings per square pot. Again sow these deep so the stem is under the soil and just the leaves are showing above this will make the plants much sturdier.

Well that was all in the garden today. Mark and I then went off to the cinema to see The GodFather on the big screen. How is that film 50 years old? I think it’s a fabulous film, but to see it on the big screen was amazing. You get to see every single expression on Al Pacino’s face, how he’s torn by what he knows he has to do but knows what will happen if he goes through with it. I have a very soft spot for Al Pacino, always have done. Yes he is a little over the top sometimes, but if you watch him in some of his latest films like Donnie Brasco, Heat, Frankie and Johnny, Carlito’s Way and not to mention Glengarry Glen Ross…. wow! Need I say more. As we sat watching the trailers I wondered how many men had bought their ladies along saying…”This is a great film, you’ll enjoy it, it’s about family.”

Me I’d go and see that at the cinema any day of the week…..unless I have work or bell ringing.

Happy gardening everyone!

Don’t forget, that Lottie and Dottie are getting ready to start growing this year. If you want to encourage your little ones to grow their first seeds why not get them these. Perfect Easter presents. Click HERE to order them.

Also Claire’s Allotment Essentials is the perfect Easter gift for the big kids as well. Perfect way to work off all those calories from eating your Easter Eggs. Click HERE to order.

See you soon xxx

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February 12th 2022 – February seeds are now all sown.

This weekend was a weekend of contrasting weather. Saturday had blue sky, the sun was shining and it was fairly warmish. Sunday however, was grey, windy, rainy and cold. So guess which day I spent in the garden and which day I spent inside?

I had a wonderful time in the garden on Saturday. I weeded, harvested, sowed, planted, talked to the chickens a lot and I’m sure I swore a little at times (some times out of amazement, but others because I got stuck somewhere).

Let’s start with the harvesting. I’ve finally dug up the last of my carrots. Some had gone a little soft, but most of them were perfect. The first lot of last years carrots were multi legged, but the remainder were fairly straight. Some got carrot fly marks on them, but they’re easy to cut off. So generally a good carrot harvest last/this year. We had some with dinner on Saturday and the rest with Sunday’s dinner. I guess that means I’m gonna have to buy carrots like a normal person now….that is until this years carrots are ready to harvest. But that might be a while as I won’t be sowing them for another 4-6 weeks.

The chickens were playing in one of the brassica cages while I was out in the garden, so I threw in an old Romanesco plant which they thoroughly enjoyed. It’s like watching Piranahs round a piece of meat. They go in all guns blazing and have then stripped it in 10 minutes. So, back to the Romanesco. I harvested 3 heads which again we had for dinner Saturday, but I have 3 plants left where the heads are still a little small. These should be ready in about a weeks time, then I’ll move the brassica cage over and give the chickens a different area to scratch in.

I do love Romanesco, they’re so pretty and the pattern they create is so beautiful. If you’ve never grown them before maybe give them a go this year. They are a cross between broccoli and cauliflower but have a very delicate flavour.

Now on to the sowing of seeds. There’s a lot to get through so I hope you’re ready. I tend to do mine in groups, so all the flower seeds together, all the tomatoes….you get the idea.

So to start with it’s chillies and peppers. This year I’m sowing Hot Peppers “Cayenne Red“, Padron Peppers and finally Sweet Peppers “Rainbow Mixed”.

Which ever variety of Chillies or Sweet Peppers you’re growing this year, click HERE to see how I sow mine.

Next comes the Tomatoes. Now last year the outdoor tomatoes all caught blight so I was rather annoyed about that. The ones that I had grown in the greenhouses did well, but I’m going to try something different this year…I’ll keep you posted. All I’m going to say is that all the tomatoes, except one variety will be grown in the greenhouses, so hopefully I’ll get a good crop. These are the varieties I have this year. All the way from Spain, but here are links to buy them in the UK “Minibel” and “Supermanmande”, good old “Gardener’s Delight” and finally “Giant Tree”.

Which ever variety of Tomatoes you are growing this year, this is how I sow mine.

Next I sowed Celeriac “Prinz” and Broccoli “Bellaverde Sibsey”. These get sown in the same way as the Tomatoes and Peppers. I’ve grown Celeriac before, but not for several years. It needs to be sown early and takes its time, but is well worth it. It’s not a pretty vegetable, but its taste makes up for that. Broccoli is always a must in our garden. I’ve still got Sprouting Broccoli in my veg patch, it’ll be ready soon and then I’ll be picking nothing else for several months.

The first of the herbs can be started off now, so the first to be sown is Parsley “Italian Giant” and Rosemary. I don’t usually grow Rosemary from seed, but thought I’d give it a go. When sowing these seeds, the Parsley needs to be covered with a little compost, but the Rosemary doesn’t. Just sprinkle directly on moist compost and do not cover with any soil.

We now move on to the first of this years flowers. I’ve got loads of packets of flower seeds and this year I’m planning on sowing them all. I’ll only need a few for my garden as it’s nearly full, but there are lots of places where the others can find a home. The first place is the church yard as I’m part of a group that helps maintain it. We’re going to create some meadow areas and any spaces round the side of the church that need a little bit of TLC. The remaining plants will go to my various gardening client’s. Each time I go to them I’ll take a tray of plants with me. Hopefully all the plants will find a new home and will be very happy. So to start off with I’ve sown Cosmos “Candy Stripe”, Marigold “Fireball”, “Boy ‘O’ Boy Yellow” and “Crackerjack Mixed”.

Again these all need to be sown on moist compost and covered with a little more compost on top of the seeds.

So that was all the seeds that needed to be sown in trays. The next ones are sown in small pots instead.

It’s very easy to do these. Just fill a pot with multi purpose compost and gently pat it down. I tend to place the seeds on the compost before I push them in, just in case you get distracted mid way through and then forget where you got to. Make sure you space the seeds out evenly and don’t plant them together in the same hole. Push the seeds in about half an inch and then cover with a little more compost. The Sweet Peas which were sent to me from Lidcott Barn I sowed 3 or 4 per pot, the Cucumber “Louisa” I sowed 2 or 3 per pot, the Melon “Sugar Baby” I sowed 4 seeds per pot (I know this may seem like a lot, but the seeds are quite old, normally I’d only sow 2 seeds), and finally Broad Beans “Aqualdulce” 2 seeds per pot.

Once you’ve sown them water well from the top. I covered all the seeds with propagator lids, firstly to keep the heat in, and secondly to keep the mice that seem to continue to come in my greenhouses at night from eating them. Still can’t figure out how they’re getting in, little buggers.

In this video I’m sowing a different variety of Cucumbers and slightly later in the year, but hopefully it’ll give you some idea of what I mean.

Once everything was done in the greenhouse it was time to weed and fill in some empty spaces in my Fairy Garden and the flower bed next to the chickens. There weren’t many weeds, just those annoying ones that seem to grow, but are very easy to pull out. I filled in any spaces I found with a variety of plants that I have in my greenhouses. The primulas are starting to flower and soon there will be lots of colour back in the garden again.

I’ve still got a few that can go in the front garden, but I’ll do those this coming week. Crawling about on my hands and knees is always fun. I think I finished outside about 4.30 in the afternoon. So after I’d tidied up I went inside and put my pj bottoms on. I’d not been wearing my sexy waterproof waders so my tracksuit bottoms were a little muddy, can’t be sitting on the sofa with dirty knees.

It was wonderful to spend so much time outside again in the garden. It’s all starting again which is great. Lots more to do in the coming days, weeks and months. Off we go again!!

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