Monday, 8 September 2014

September already

Wow, this year has gone by so quickly. The garden is still growing, although most is coming to an end.

I still have potatoes growing, I want them to get nice & big. The second lot of tomatoes I planted are still green, waiting for them to go red. The first lot planted in the baskets have finished & been composted. The cucumbers had a good run although they are still going the new fruits are still small & don't seem to be getting much bigger.

Over the last few months I have been very busy. Mum loves her garden & I've managed to pick up some Meerkat statues for her from freecycle. The lights don't work but they still look good. I also got a dehydrator & a yoghurt maker.

The yoghurt maker I've had for a while now, reading up on-line how to use it means that we are now getting lots of home made yoghurt for the dogs, they love it. The dehydrator is still a work in progress, the first use was a disaster. I sliced the apples too thin & they all stuck. So research was needed. Always spray the trays with oil & don't cut too thinly seems to be the way to go. The second try turned out much better. Pictures are the third try.

Last of the mini tomatoes whole. Sliced larger plum tomatoes

Second layer has sliced apple & banana

Top layer has sliced banana with cinnamon

There are five layers but you can use as many of few as you like. I might also buy some more so I can stack it higher for when I have more to dry. Not sure on how that would impact on drying time but it currently takes any where from 12 to 24 hours depending on thickness & what it is. So far I have only dried fruits. I have been searching on-line for other things & may try a few later on.

You can just see the yoghurt maker in the top left of the pics. Not bad for free, although there is usually something not quite right about it. The lid on the dehydrator is cracked & there are no lids for the yoghurt maker, but they both work fine as they are & I am very grateful for the kindness of strangers.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mum's garden

Well for the last few days I have been very busy in my mum's garden. She has gone away for a few days & I decided to surprise her.
I had thought at first it would be a simple job, replace the 2 short panels that had broken, trim the trees & just put in a few plants. That was in my head, the reality was not the same.

The 2 small panels turned out easy, sort of, they just fitted into my car with the back door tied closed. Took out the old ones & slid the new in easy. Then I made the mistake of cutting back the trees, they are supposed to only be bushes. That's when I discovered the rear panels were totally buggered & had to be replaced too.

Now these rear ones being a boundary fence are 12 foot tall. Not only will these not fit in the car they have to be lifted & slotted into the concrete uprights. So off to B&Q. I can't believe that they only cost £2 more than the small ones but still at £21 each it adds up & all panels  came to £80. Now 2 panels on a trolley pushing up the hill all the way home, I was surprised to find my son actually helped. Not only that but he climbed the ladder to help slide them in. Took a while as we both ran out of steam, they were heavy & not easy to maneuver, not only that but I had to clear the rear alley way from all the rubbish that had been thrown there by the neighbours. I also had to cut some planks of wood down for the last panel as the size is not normal.

I then had to paint them all as mum had never done it with the old ones, another reason why they needed replacing. I put in lots of new plants & made a herb garden in the little half moon brick bit. 2 new solar lights. I also had to repoint some of the patio, there is still a bit needing to be done but rain has stopped play at the moment.

Today I raked & mowed the front lawn for her. I also recut the edge so it's nice & neat & crisp. A couple of new plants too, trimed the old ones & her rose bush which she planted far to close to the wall but I can't move it or I will probably kill it.

Unfortunately mum doesn't look after her garden.

So she will have a nice surprise to return to.

Please note that I did return the trolley to B&Q.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Sorting out the blog

Well I'm not happy with Google & Virgin media. I don't know if any of you are with Virgin but after Google took over Blogger & you tube they stopped people using their virgin e-mail accounts to access their products. Basically they just want every one to use their gmail, so I had to take the plunge & open a gmail account. I am not happy that Virgin (a massive company) did not stand up for their customers.

So I am finally back on line, however as I am now using the gmail account for the blog I will not get any comments sent directly to my laptop & will only see them here.

So what has been going on in the garden? not much really. I still haven't finished stripping the old paint off the garden furniture, just been so tired.

The runner beans are sky high, been picking them daily but still manage to miss some which end up getting stringy (yuck).

The French beans bush type were a waste of time although a nice purple colour, the climbing type have produced leaves but hardly any beans. Every year I say I won't bother again but at least they don't go stringy when left.

There are 4 lots of potatoes, 2 in tyres which are doing really well with the top growth & the other 2 are in the pots I used for my sweet potatoes last year.

Tomatoes are doing well, I have Garten Pearl in baskets which are just not stopping. Then I have some plum types which I want to use to make sauce with. These are still green, probably had about 4 off so far. Now I did put them into the slow cooker to make puree with but unfortunately I left it on overnight & well..... Never mind, there are plenty more waiting to ripen.

The blueberries are finished, they made 4 jars of jam for mum. The raspberries are almost done, 8 jars of jam made considering most were stolen by the dogs. Didn't get many strawberries but the ones we did get were eaten straight away.

The best has been the cucumbers, I really love Socrates F1. All female, smooth & sweet. So worth growing as they perform wonderfully, even outdoors. We have had so many that we haven't been able to get through them all.

The weather has been very hot & sticky. Today it rained really hard, I had to unblock the drain as we were getting flooded. Luckily it soon drained away. It's still wet & raining now but not as bad. Stupidly I went out to the bin in it & got soaked. We have had a few good thunderstorms this summer which have looked spectacular.

There won't be much chance of getting out into the garden this weekend, the forecast says the rain will continue.

Rain stopping play
 The dog had dug a hole, again, which is hidden under the plastic cloche in an effort to stop her. I have now removed the wire which was along the left border & managed to tidy up to the road cone, so far I haven't caught her on there.

my little grow space
 I have plans for the top end but haven't had time nor money to get it sorted. I really need to fence it all off & level it as the whole garden slopes.

apples & raspberries along fence
 This year & last year the dog has eaten the berries & ripped the plants so I really need to put these somewhere where she can't get to.

Potatoes growing really well
 The type on the right are Roosters but the on left I used normal potatoes that had started to sprout (not seed potatoes). I don't know what type the were but I always have success doing this. There is no blight at all.

 I have 2 Braeburn apple trees but for some reason the fruit alternatively rather than every year. They are not ready for picking yet but are getting juicy & fat.

sweetcorn in pot
 Now I have grown my sweetcorn like this for 2 years now, I don't get may cobs but the one's I do get are lovely & big. We have already had a cob off & Dale said it was lovely. I followed my friends recommendation of cooking it whole in the microwave for 4 minutes, then cut the end off & squeeze it out. So much easier than all that peeling.

Garten Pearl
The baskets dry out really quick & need watering twice daily but there are loads of fruits, the only downside is they are very small.

I did raise the raised beds but I still need to fill them with more soil, that will have to be done when there is nothing in them. I have lost a blueberry bush to the dreaded vine weevil so that will have to be replaced at some point.

I can now start to catch up with everyone's blogs.

Friday, 25 April 2014

I'm back, well sort of

We have had a couple of nice sunny days lately (not today unfortunately) & I have been quite busy, only most of it not in the garden. I have had a lot of ups & downs lately & to be honest I'm not really sure what I am doing anymore.

So it was time to get into the garden. I have been pottering around for the last few months but without actually doing anything.

So off came the front of the compost "Dalek" & out has come most of the rubbish in it. I have sieved it & this time thrown away (dump) what hasn't rotted down. Most years I put it back in with the hope that it will eventually rot down & be useable, but then it never has.

You can see lots of bindweed roots at the bottom, these have come through from my neighbour's, so this year I will move everything & try to get rid of all the weeds too.
The sieved compost didn't amount to much but it had been put into a tyre stack & my first lot of potatoes have gone in. I will earth them up as I get more compost out of the bins. I still have another stack to fill, I also need to get to the tyre place & see if I can get more.

I seem to be procrastinating too much.

I owed some sweetcorn earlier this month into toilet roll tubes, they have already sprouted & I have planted them into my box. I have left plenty of room to top it up with soil as they start to grow. This makes them much better anchored & stops them getting knocked over. They also need a lot of nutrients & water as they are in a very small area & I can do that better in the box than in the ground. Also the gap allows air to be trapped when I put the glass on top at night just incase we have a frost (which isn't really likely this far south).

I had already sown some tomatoes, Garten Pearle for hanging baskets. These have grown really well so I popped them out of their cells & into the hanging baskets. The other tomatoes I sowed haven't even sprouted so I need to sow some more.

I have already taken off the bubblewrap. It stayed up really well in places, it didn't on the roof but that was due to the wind taking it off (the roof that is so of course the bubblewrap didn't stay up there).

Now, what else. Well the blueberries are doing well, lots of flowers. I built a planter for strawberries. Finally got it finished & planted up. Strawberries are flowering already.

It's making it look like I have done so much, but I haven't really, it's taken me months to get this far, I just don't have the energy.

So, I will just take a look at my garden looking neat & tidy (header picture). Just a shame it's from last year. Oh, yes, I finally got my seeds & stuff from Spalding's, might as well have not bothered, half the stuff I had wanted was no longer in stock & I had to choose other things.

Too many things I had hoped to come this year haven't. I need to pull myself together & get on with what I do have. Stop thinking I can have better & accept what I do have is all I will ever have.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Do any of you remember the competition we had back in December 2012 for a spring bulb planting? If not it's here. Well I'm still waiting for my prizes. i was supposed to have £50 to spend so it was choose what you wanted & e-mail it to them. Well e-mailed several times to be precise, then the person dealing with it left so I had to e-mail someone else, still never got any of it.
So I have just e-mailed them again. It's taking the pi** really isn't it. Would have been easier to give me a code & I could have just ordered it straight off their site. Don't think I will be bothering with them again, although it does look like it all feel by the wayside with their club.
Oh well, off to buy my seeds from the local Garden Centre, I will keep them in business instead.
P.S. the sun is shining today, I have been enjoying it in the greenhouse.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Yucky Vine Weevils

A couple of you have mentioned that you luckily have never had any. I wish I didn't. It all started a good few years ago when one of my Rhododendrons went limp, well at first I thought it needed watering, then I tried feeding but no success. Then I was watching Alan Titmarsh (love him) on Gardeners World & he started telling us all about Vine Weevil, penny dropped & I was straight outside emptying out the pot & yes there was no roots left at all & loads of little grubs all fat. I didn't manage to save it but I did go out the very next day & bought some killer.

So for those of you who haven't seen any, I found some more :(

Now the grub on the left is a nice fat one, but on the right is a casing from one that has become an adult, so I know know they are on the loose. Not very happy.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Oooo, sun, oh rain!

It's been a bit of a funny day today. It started off with rain but by the afternoon the sun came out & shone beautifully. I literally ran out into the garden, I was not going to waste it although I was in the greenhouse (it's still a bit chilly). And it was a very good job I did.

Disaster...... I have an infestation of Vine Weevil larvae. I only found it as I was top dressing some of my overwintering pots. So I have spent the afternoon brushing & washing all the roots of my important plants & repotting in the hopes I can save them.
I should have known this would happen. For all the rest of the plants I have used a chemical killer (sorry all you organic gardeners). I can't risk any of them having grubs hiding in their pots as I have my Rhododendrons to think about. Then I will get some moth balls & put them in the pots to help keep adult's away.

On a better note I finally got the lead for my camera in the post. I still have a long way to go before I know how to use it properly but I have found some of the settings, especially the close-up focus.

Camelia flowering


Greenhouse (baby changing table on left)

Still harvesting carrots

Onions/garlic in cells & strawberries
   I feel a bit better after getting outside. I think we will all be happier when Spring arrives.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Another beautiful, but chilly day

I managed to get out into the garden again today. This has lifted my spirits (I suffer S.A.D) along with some good news I got yesterday eve. A dog that has been on the run for 2 months was finally caught & after winning a competition I saw the painting of my puppy.

I spent the day in the greenhouse tidying up & moving things around. There were a lot of very big spiders (horrible) to contend with but I got through most of it. The old bread trays have come in very useful & fit perfectly on the shelves of the baby changing unit. Cleaned & swept.

Now it's this time of the year that's great to clean all your pots & posts. Those nasty little plastic things you write on so you remember what you planted are the bane of this. Most of the time I end up throwing them away after I have spent hours with a rubber trying to get the pencil off. Well not today. I found the perfect way to clean them, I just have to share this (you probably all know but I didn't) Well indoors I use a Magic Eraser (Flash & JML) to clean stubborn stains, how stupid have I been. They are not cheap (£1) as they do not last long but they are worth it. Well today I grabbed it & used it to clean the pencil off. OMG!!! It just came off so easily, without rubbing or anything. So I can recommend to any of you that if you find it hard getting off that pencil with a rubber then use a Magic Eraser. You will be laughing at the ease of it (rather like the way I laugh when I use my Cuprinol fence sprayer).

So all in all it's been another good day. I hope your's has been too. I'm still waiting for some snow though.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


The one thing us Brits love to complain about is our weather. It has rained here so much that we have had floods & the ground is so wet it's like a mire. Luckily I live on a bit of a hill so the floods haven't taken over mine but just a little way down the road people have had to evacuate. To be honest I don't know what they were thinking of buying a house on the flood plain but then they do look lovely with the river running alongside (converted mill). The only thing that would make me buy a mill was if I converted the wheel to produce free electricity, but then you live with the knowledge it may flood & take precautions.

Anyway, today has been lovely, a bit chilly but sunny & not windy. I got on with building the baby changing table I got on Freecycle to use as a potting bench. It was a bit bigger than I anticipated but I got it done & it is lovely. In fact it is perfect, so if any of you are thinking of getting a new potting bench have a look for a baby changing table first. The only alteration I made to it was to take out the clips that hold the top in place, this is so I can remove it to tip any rubbish onto the compost heap easily.

I also bought myself a new camera, well it's second hand, the only problem is it didn't have a lead to download to the computer or charge it. So I have ordered one online & hopefully it will be here in a few days.

My garlic has been planted into cells, so have my onions, they are both already growing. I can't plant them out yet as I haven't decided what is going into what bed. I also want to change the layout of the garden so I have a bigger growing space.

It's already February & I can't wait for spring. I already have all my seeds & I'm now saving up my toilet roll inners for my runner beans. I also found some Calabrese that has survived, small head but very tasty.

We have more rain forecast for this week. Hope the weather is good to you wherever you are.