Thursday, 16 November 2017

Really lazy

Oh dear, I had intended to keep up with the blog this year, but I have been really lazy.

I grew runner beans as usual, they turned out great & we have loads in the freezer to keep us going through the winter.

The sweetcorn was a bust yet again, don't know why I bother.

I didn't sow any tomatoes, still have lots of puree stored from last year that I haven't got through yet. 

Carrots were great, parsnips still in the ground but hopefully they will be awesome come Yuletide.

We had lots of nice strawberries but the raspberries were few due to the dogs wreaking the plants.

So I got on & made some more crochet items.
Jenny's Faith designed by Anastasia Roberts
I managed to get a load of old wax candles off freecycle. I've broken most of it down & melted it (still have 2 large slabs left). This has become new candles.
I will talk you through the process with pictures as I do not have video.

I broke all the pieces up & put them into spare jars & then started to melt it, some in the microwave, then adding it to the jars in the saucepan.

I used some old crayons to add colour, mainly because the wax was dirty (lots of dead flies too). I added some old wax melts to some of them, this added colour & scent (much better).
Topped them up all the way & let them start to harden, had to keep stirring for a while as the colour started to sink.

I took a metal paperclip, holding the tip I bent the 2 bottom bends either side so it could stand up & just opened them out a little for stability. I then cut a piece of string & tied it onto the tip that was standing up, lots of knots & twisting, I dipped this into some melted wax several times, allowing it to cool between & then gently pushed it into the top of the  wax whilst it was still soft. The wax does shrink as it cools & you can top up the indent you get if you want. The 2 candles on the left have just been done, the one on the right has burned for 8 hrs already with just the one wick. 

You can add the wicks after the wax has all hardened so I haven't put any in the other jars as yet. When first lit they do burn high for about 20 minutes but then settle down. You can add borax to the wick to make it burn brighter & longer but I didn't have any.

Much easier than adding wicks to the whole candle & you can easily remelt the wax if it's burned to the side, just lift the wick out & replace when it starts to harden again.
I also have been making more soap.
I wanted to be able to grow my own additives/colourings to use in my soaps but not all of it has worked out. I'm still in the testing stage but so far the only success has been the Dock roots. It has given a lovely pink, I used far too much in the test bar but it still looks awesome.
Dock coloured soap

In fact it's the same colour as the blanket I'm crocheting for my mum for Yuletide.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

More crochet

Been making some more crochet items to sell for Help 4 Heroes.

Summer Fling design by Garnstudio

Lisbon Tiles design by Garnstudios
Been harvesting a lot of Lavender buds ready for putting into sachets. 

Also harvested some Calendula for use in my balms. I need to get some Arnica seeds as I don't have any of those yet. I also need to find some Dutch Buckets for a mini hydroponic style growing for the plants whose roots I use, much easier to harvest from those. Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to find any in the UK so far.

Made some very nice soap, no added scents but lots of coffee grounds so that it's nice & scrubby, just great for getting all that gardening dirt from your hands.

Coffee soap, I cut it a little too big to start with, now cut that down to quarters & it's much easier to handle.

I picked loads of Blackberries to make jam with, heard about the slow cooker method & gave it a try. Not very successful as the jam didn't set properly.

I then crocheted some fish water balloons, they seem to be in vogue at the moment. Gave them to one of my gardening client's grandson, now I won't have to pick up all those little bits of balloon off the lawn.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Caught out

Oh dear, I think a lot of us got caught out with that cold snap. Luckily I had only put out a few plants.

The Lavender I ordered from T&M turned up, ahead of schedule. I expected them to be small but not quite this small. The postman had not been kind either, but a short while later they were all potted on & given a good drink.
bad postman

potted on & watered

I popped into the greenhouse to check on my plants there, they were all fine. 

Courgettes growing well, cucumber & melons a bit behind 

The strawberries have been hit by the frost, the leaves have a lot of brown patches. As yet I can't see any damage to the flowers so hopefully they are ok.

lots of flowers
 To top it all off as I came back in I spied a bird I have not seen for a long time. A Goldfinch. I don't mind too much that he/she was eating my grass seed, hopefully it will progress to eating the greenfly.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Things are starting to grow

Some photos of the flowers & growth in the garden.
President Roosevelt.

Cherry Blossom

self seeded Rhododendron 





Braeburn apple

Seed pods, will let these dry & sow them next year

not sure if this is a type of bee or a fly of some sort, see them often in the garden but they never stay still long enough to see them properly
Update, the flying thing is a fly called a Bombylius major and it lays eggs in bee nests so not a good insect from that point of view.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Mothering Sunday

So last week I ordered some more seeds, the last lot never germinated. I'm hoping these will. There was nowhere near 80 seeds in the pack, didn't bother weighing it to see if the weight was correct but suspect it included the wrapping.

The second set of seeds looks good. The Gromwell is for my Apothecary dye garden. The root is used to make a dark purple colour. The Anthemis was a freebie so I will have to google it to see what it can be used for.

I picked myself up a new hose as the other one I had is beyond saving. Although I love using these expandable ones they just don't last, I sometimes wonder if they are worth the cost. This one was only £8 off the market so not too bad if it only lasts a few years.

I also picked up one of these, something I've wanted for a while. Nice thing was that I picked it up for £8 with a bottle of ethanol thrown in. 

Today I picked up some more strawberry plants to fill up the trough I bought the other week. 
I also ordered some lavender from T&M, special offer for less than £5. They are only small but hopefully I can grow them on to use as a hedge out the front, to keep the neighbours from sitting on my wall (bees being a buzzing deterrent). 

Hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day, mine forgot.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

What to do during Winter??? learn to crochet

Well whilst I was waiting for Spring to come I had Winter to contend with. We don't often get snow this far south, this year it was again one evening of solid snowing only to wake the next morning with it all gone. My dogs were very upset.

With no gardening I get very bored so I have been learning to crochet to go along with the knitting & sewing I do. I have found many videos on You Tube & its been fun learning.

First I made my mum a throw(blanket), that was not easy & I really should have started with something a little less adventurous.

Snowflake Afgan
I did have fun making it & I have to admit quite proud even if there were some mistakes (mum will never know).

Next I made a wrap, the instructions were not very clear & I ended up undoing it & remaking it until I finally figured it out. Even then I had still gone wrong but at-least I know for next time.

Mobius Crochet Wrap available to buy on e-bay
Most of my items are being sold to raise money for Help 4 Heroes, there are also scarves/snoods available.

Next I crocheted another wrap in donated wool. This was a lot easier but still didn't got 100% right. The sizes were a little out & it's only now I'm realising USA size is not the same as UK size.

Peek-a-boo wrap available to buy on e-bay

Friday, 17 March 2017

Lovely weather

The weather has been lovely this week so I've been out in the garden. It helped that I also had an extra day off work.


First I sowed some carrots & some parsnips into my boxes. These are filled with a sand & compost mix which lets the roots grow nice & straight. I will thin them out as they grow.
I have sprinkled some vermiculite on the top & covered with my racks so no birds or mice can get to the seed.


Inside the greenhouse it's been getting very hot during the day, I did consider sitting in there & having a sauna.
I got to sowing some lettuces ready to go into my troughs outside. The strawberries didn't do well in there but I think lettuce will and it's all the cut & come again type.
I also sowed some runner beans, only 9 this year as they will be growing up the archway rather than having a whole bed dedicated to them. 
Runner beans in pots, lettuce in the trays

I also sowed some Thai Basil a little while ago, it has germinated & beginning to grow well. I also sowed some Lemongrass, so far only one seed has germinated but it is supposed to take a while.
I took some cuttings of my trailing geranium.

Basil on right, Lemongrass on the left.
 I also got round to popping my Sweet Potato into some compost, probably left it far too late.

Sweet potato
 The Geraniums survived over the winter in the greenhouse. The greenhouse is insulated with bubble wrap and they are sitting on the tray of the heated propagator to give them some warmth. I have turned this off now but they have all grown and as you can see they are all in flower too.

Overwintered Geraniums

The trailing Geraniums also survived

Outside I moved one of the mini greenhouses to the side of the doorway and the Blueberries in-front of the new bed. At the moment the carrots are in front of them but the box will be moved.

Now the strawberries. They hadn't done well in the trough a few years ago so I had used hanging baskets last year. I had hung them on the arch but they were awful to water & ended up drying out. It did mean that the slugs & snails didn't get them but I'm sure the birds made up for that. So this year I had a brainwave & decided to use the space along the greenhouse to hang a deeper trough. The trough didn't come with hangers so I bought some replacement chains & used those. Now as it's hanging along a side the chains were uneven, so I took 3 links out of 2 of the chains so it now hangs evenly & flush against the glass. Hopefully this is deep enough & I've added water retaining crystals to help. I bought some new plants as the ones I already have are at the end of their usefulness.
We have rain forecast for the next few days, hopefully it won't last long & I can get out in the garden again soon.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Ooo!! Look, I finally got back in the garden.

Everything fell apart over the last few years, that's not to say it's all together again yet. Depression can be a bad thing, it can make you lazy too. I feel better when in the garden but then don't really think about taking photos or coming back in to write on the blog.

There is also the lack of good weather during the winter so been sewing and crocheting but nothing is selling. Did buy a new sewing machine which is nice.

So, back to the garden & the nice weather we had yesterday.

I managed to build a new raised bed, took out 2 old ones & turned it into 1 smaller one. Put down 3 pavers & some shingle. Still need to fill it up but that can be done over the next few years.

I have 2 glass shower doors which fit over the top so I can use them as a mini cloche to warm the soil, they are frosted so it will also stop any scorch by the sun. My archway will be used for my runner beans to climb over.

These are the other 2 old beds, they will also be removed or at least moved over a bit as they are in the way of the shed. I mistakenly ordered the wrong size new shed last year so I had to shove it up into the corner but it sits too high and I can't get round it to mend the fence or weed so it will need to be moved slightly. To do that I will need to move the beds as you can see.

The top bed has a plastic greenhouse on it which I use to grow my cucumbers in, that has now been tidied up.

I tidied up the other bed, nice and clear now.

I had to re-pot my Blueberries, they are already starting to grow. I had to raise them on feet as they had got a bit boggy where the water wasn't draining away.

This year I've also started my Apothecary garden. There is Woad growing and also Alkanet. These will be used to colour the natural soaps I like to make. There is also some Plantain which I put into my balms. I will be making another bed next to this one, I already have Poppy (seed for exfoliating) and Rose (for petals) there, just need to define the bed.

The dock is for colouring in the soaps too, the root gives a pink colour. I need to see if the leaves can be used for anything too.

I cleared all the old strawberries out of my trough. I will be using this for lettuce this year, well that's the plan anyway.

Now I need to sort out all the pots and both compost bins. Oh and I've already found Vine weevil so will need to check all my pots again.

Everything is starting to get growing, hopefully I will keep on top of it this year.