Monday, 5 October 2009

As time goes by.......

It has been some time since I updated my blog as I have been busy harvesting my crops and fighting pests etc.

A lot has happened this year since I decided to grow my own and record the progress on this blog, the bottom of the garden finally got cleared ready to grow pumpkins, sunflowers, sweetcorn (not very successful) and rhubarb and it is now the proud owner of a lovely brick wall and new fence panels. The fence along the length of the garden has all been replaced and makes the garden look tidier and bigger, and we have built a raised bed which has been the home of peas, beetroot, cabbages, celery, and turnips, very tasty, and most importantly my children have been able to enjoy the garden throughout the year and have sampled fresh organic vegetables.

So now it is Autumn and the sunflowers that once towered the garden and held their heads up high to the sun, have now become feeding stations for the birds in the garden, except for the ones I have harvested the seeds from ready for next year. My pumpkins continue to grow preparing themselves for their role as Halloween lanterns, pumpkin soup and next years seeds, and I am harvesting the last of my tomatoes and celery. As the nights draw in and I begin clearing the vegetable patches in preparation for next year, oh yes I plan to do it all again next year, I return to my gardening books, magazines and seed catalogues for inspiration.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Reaping the benefits

Well August is finally here, it is officially summer, kids on holiday, flowers in bloom and of course black clouds and rain. Oh well the peas and potatoes seem to have enjoyed the wet the weather at least, which has meant I have been able to harvest satisfying amounts of peas and potatoes for tea which has been really rewarding. I am starting to see the benefits of growing your own, as my son sits with me shelling peas and trying them straight from the pod.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Mother Nature strikes again...

As we sat outside enjoying the morning sun I spotted a nest with a bird roosting in it. Looking through binoculars with Jack we saw that it was a Wood Pigeon nesting amongst the apple tree branches, as we watched she was joined by another pigeon. However the roosting Pigeon took no notice of her visitor as he flitted from one branch to another. After a while he began to fly at the roosting bird desperate to be noticed, this must have got some what tiresome for the female (having watched many many BBC wildlife programmes, I now began to assume that it was indeed a male pigeon trying his hardest to entice a female), or she simply wanted him away from her nest because she flew off to a tree near by.

Sadly this did not lure the male away from her nest, instead he knocked it off the branches and two eggs fell to the ground. On the female's return she looked hopelessly for her nest and eggs, eventually she sat quietly on the branches where her nest once was with a twig in her beak.

School Holidays

As the school year ended we headed off to Suffolk, a beautiful part of England, spending two weeks on an idyllic campsite with lush green grass among an apple and pear orchard surrounded by a moat. Everyday a little Moorhen family hurried back and forth across the field and everyday we were bombarded by FLIES!

And as I battled to keep the flies away from our meals I began to question their purpose, do they pollinate flowers?... help sow seeds?... or eat garden pests?... So as soon as we arrived home, well after I had had a cup of tea I googled their purpose and found this link

I still don't appreciate them

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Veg Patch Update...

Pea pods have begun to appear and have started to swell, since all the rain we have had, the sunflowers have had a massive growth spurt and I would say they are now taller than Jack. The pumpkins have begun to creep their way across the vegetable patch and the rhubarb are growing really well, I am so proud that I have managed to grow 5 healthy plants from seed. Little green tomatoes have begun to grow, the aubergines and butternut squashes are getting bigger, as are the parsnips and carrots, and the peppers have begun to flower. Talking of peppers, the chilli plants have an abundance of green chillies which are getting very long, and look fabulous. Friday we donated our surplus plants to Jack's school fair, two tomato plants, one butternut squash and 3 aubergine plants, I wonder if they sold?


Something has begun to attack my turnips so I have harvested the last of the crop today, the largest one weighed 312g and the smallest 57g. I think I have found the culprit who has been nibbling away at the turnips, as I cleaned the vegetables an earwig and ants swirled down the plug hole, so I think one of these is to blame, however it doesn't explain what has stripped my broad bean plant. We have found that turnips need to be par boiled before roasting them to rid them of the bitter taste, however, they also taste delicious raw, and as part of a stew/casserole. We have also tried cooking the greens, in the same way as spinach, so nothing has been wasted. Last week our Sunday lunch was accompanied by our first crop of potatoes, they were lovely and enjoyed by everyone, next year I plan to use seed potatoes grown in the raised bed or vegetable patch for a better yield and a more cost effective approach, as using the grow pack has turned out to be quite pricey, however it has been fun and easier plus we have learnt from growing them this way.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

BBC Dig In Update

The seeds we received from the BBC Dig In Campaign, have now all been planted and things are doing really well, Jack has planted up 5 tomatoes plants into their final position, and has three lovely butternut squash plants that are also ready to be planted out. The beetroot is happily growing in Al's famous raised bed, the carrots feathery foliage is lush and green (I just hope I have managed to protect them from carrot fly), and the lettuce we sowed in the Christmas chocolate tin has also begun to grow and will soon be ready to eat. Not bad for free... I wonder if the BBC will do it again next year?

From little seeds...

Like little Jack Horner eating his Christmas Pie, I stuck my hand into the tubs with the potatoes and pulled out a beautiful pink new potato (Robinta variety), it was such a lovely colour, sadly this faded when we boiled it to see how it tasted (it was delicious by the way).
This Sunday we shall be enjoying home grown new potatoes with our roast - can't wait.

My chilli plants are doing really well to, I have some really impressive green chillies hanging amongst the leaves, I wonder how long it will take for them to mature and turn red?

In fact so far my vegetable garden is looking promising, I can't wait to start harvesting my crop, we had some of my turnips the other Sunday with our roast, we boiled the green leaves, which tasted of spinach and we roasted the root, unfortunately they turned out to taste quite bitter so I need to do a spot of research on how to cook them as I normally just pop them into casseroles and stews.

Once the thunder storms have passed I shall pop out into the garden and take some photos to document just how well everything is looking.

Friday, 19 June 2009


I would like to say Hello to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, thank you.

I would love to here your thoughts and comments, if you click on the word comment (which is green) below the post you can leave a comment or two here.

Thanks once again for taking an interest in my garden xx

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

8th to 15th June

I've had a busy week in my garden, I have finally finished preparing the bottom half of the garden and all the plants have been planted, it is officially a vegetable patch at long last, with sweetcorn, pumpkins, rhubarb, strawberries and sunflowers, it looks lovely and will look even better once things begin to grow and bloom.

My salad box has begun to germinate there are the first signs of lettuce, spring onions and chives, I also have a dwarfbean coming up through the soil, and my aubergines are loving their new home in my greenhouse, and the chillies' flowers have begun to take the form of little green chillies,

every day something new and exciting is happening in the garden.

On saturday we said good bye to Simon & Penny Pumpkin the last two spare plants, as our friends Penny & Simon came up and collected them for their vegetable patch, they gave me a fabulous cookbook called the great allotment cookbook, there are some delicious recipes including Beetroot and Apple Relish, Pear and Chocolate Crumble, and Raspberry and Blackberry Cordial, I'm looking forward to some making of these once my vegetables are ready to harvest.

Today I harvested my first two strawberries before birds, slugs or mice feast upon them, and I also pulled up my first turnip... over the last week the purple and white turnip tops and begun to peep through the brown soil shaded by the lush green turnip leaves, and I'm afraid I am like it with everything, christmas, pregnancy, birthdays, I get excited and can't wait to find out what I'm going to get and gardening is no different, curiosity got the better of me with my turnips I just had to pull one up to see how big they were and how well they were doing,

and yes I did get laughed at for pulling one up of that size but I have seen them that size if not smaller, labelled up as miniature turnips at a sizable price in supermarkets. Anyway, now I have fed my curiosity I shall leave the rest until they are a little larger. (my children were impressed with it and that is all that matters to me!)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Here comes the rain again...

6th & 7th June

The rain is falling again, and it is so heavy I haven't been able to get out into the garden to do the jobs I wanted to do this weekend, however, on the other hand it has given me the time to get some jobs around the house done and update my blog.

I do hope it dies down later once the kids are in bed so I can nip out and do a few odd jobs, lets hope the rest of the week is dry I have so much to do.

Another Big THANK YOU xx

4th June

Thursday evening I was joined by my dear friend Sue, a bottle of wine and good conversation whilst we dug over the bottom of the garden... yes I did use my new fork it was fantastic!

Thanks to Sue's hard work I think it is finally ready to house my sweetcorn, pumpkin, sunflowers, strawberries and rhubarb plants, at long last.

Thank you so much Sue for your help, it is really appreciated, I am so touched that you gave up an evening to come over and help.

Thank You xx

4th June

Jack and Al returned today from the supermarket with a wonderful gift for me a lovely fork & hand trowel to help me continue all the hard work I have done this year in the garden. I can't wait to use them both I was so touched by this lovely gift, sending a big kiss and thank you to my wonderful boys xx

Garden Photos

The first sign of olives

Al's famous Raised Bed
Peas, Cabbages, Turnips, Beetroot, & Celery

Lush Potatoes
Not long now before we are digging these up.

Curly, sunshine trailing Sunflowers

Sunflowers, Pumpkins, Peppers & Rhubarb

Sweetcorn and pumpkins

Monday, 1 June 2009


After such a lovely family holiday we returned home to be greeted by vegetable disaster, thanks to such a wonderful sunny week all my plants had dried out even though Al had returned home earlier in the week to water them all (bless him xx). So before I did anything else I had to water (drown) all the plants as the soil had shrunk away from their pots and all the seedlings had shriveled. I was so upset and disheartened, after all my hard work, and care over the last few months a couple of days of hot sun had destroyed it all. After unpacking our holiday things I went out again and gave the plants another good watering with a liquid feed, lets hope I'm not too late.

Monday 1st June 2009

Today as I went out to the garden to salvage what ever had survived I was greeted by such a wonderful sight, sun drenched lush green vegetable plants back from the dead, it is such a vast improvement from yesterday. Sadly the Marigolds, Hollyhocks & Stock seedlings have not survived my holiday neglect and the glorious weather we had.

I have planted the celery plants out into the raised bed, and sowed the Kinghorn Wax Dwarf Beans I received from Fiona a member of Swapsweed, and more beetroot seeds.

Card Reader is Back!
More good news, I have a card reader again, so I can load my photos onto my computer and start updating my posts with pictures.

Bank Holiday Madness!

The bank holiday weekend saw us depart from suburbia and head to the countryside for a glorious week of nature, family fun and SUN! With our car all packed up with the essentials; food, bedding, clothes and children, oh and my seed tray of aubergine seedlings we headed off for a change of scenery, beautiful hedgerows adorn with wild flowers, birds singing and the wonderful smell of cows and sheep! Yes I did say my seed tray of aubergine seedlings, and yes my family thought I was joking when I said that I would be taking my plants with me on holiday, but I wasn't, however I only took the newly germinated aubergines as I thought my other plants were pretty well established and would behave themselves left home alone for a week. So I watered all my adolescent plants, said my goodbyes and tucked them up in the greenhouse for the week. Later in the week my aubergine babies were joined by a new addition to my vegetable family, a tray of celery plants which I got when we visited Leominster. Both have had a good holiday enjoying the Sun's warmth and the shelter of our caravan awning.

Since sowing my seeds in the raised vegetable bed, I have been saying to my 5 year old that it would be good to make a Scarecrow to watch over the veggies, whilst in Church Stretton this week we have seen many varieties of scarecrows as the village of Longville has had a scarecrow competition and they have been dotted throughout the village.

As the sun graced us with it presence during our holiday we visited Acton Scott Working Farm Museum, introducing our 2 1/2 year old to farm animals up close and personal and picking up gardening ideas from the Bayliff's Garden, I also got a fabulous national trust book about home grown vegetables it is full of wonderful facts and tips, I have learnt a lot sitting in the sun reading this book. (As well as gaining gardening knowledge I also managed to get sun burnt)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Cruel Cruel World

Every year a family of sparrows nest in our gutter above the kitchen door, we are greeted every day with bird song and baby birds calling for their next juicy meal. It is just so fascinating to watch the male and female bird nip in and out of the gutter every minute of the day, taking a rest on the fence post before flying off to forage for more food or material for the nest. Sadly yesterday as I looked out of the back door I spied the first sign of the chicks this year, one of the young had fallen or was pushed out of the nest and as it lay there waiting for nature to make the next move his parents flitted around either looking for him or waiting to see if he would get up. It was quite moving to see such maternal/paternal behaviour of the sparrows they didn’t leave the lifeless chick for ages. After taking the children to school/playgroup I returned to deal with the dead body by the back door however nature had made it’s move before me, something had eaten it’s head, it is such a good job the kids are not tall enough to look through the door window yet. I decided that I would wait for Al to come home and deal with it (not that I am sure what I was going to do with it because I’m a bit girly when it comes to things like that, and as soon as I open the back door my children are there with their wellies ready to lend mommy a hand). By the time Al came home the baby sparrow had gone, I think our next-door neighbour’s cat has disposed of it for me.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Thrifty me!

Whilst doing my weekly shop I spotted a reduced Kabocha squash, which sparked a thrifty plan for next year… I thought I could make a soup with the flesh and keep the seeds for next year… A healthy hearty meal and a packet of seeds all for £1.25 – BARGAIN. It is a green skinned variety with deep orange flesh and a sweat flavour with a hint of chestnut. Check out my blog next year to see how successful I am at growing this variety of squash ;o)

Braving the Elements

Well this week has put my garden to the test, it has had to withstand strong winds, which sadly my greenhouse didn’t, the wind has managed to break the zip on the door so now I am using clothes pegs to close it at night.

And as the wind has started to die down (slightly) we have been greeted with a flood, well almost, we have had pretty shocking rain storms since Friday along with Thunder & Lightening, which according to Jack is Superheroes fighting Villains. Well if it stops him being scared when the thunder claps I’ll go with it, obviously my idea of it being friendly Giants rolling their dustbins out was not exciting enough!

Today the weather tricked me, it teased me with a splash of sunshine but by the time we had all got our wellies on and got out into the garden the blue sky had turned to grey and the heavens opened again.

I hope it doesn’t last much longer as I’m not sure how much more my tender little seedlings/plants can take, plus it is my friend’s daughter's first birthday this week and they’re having a garden party… Aunty Lucy will keep her fingers crossed for you Edie xx

On the positive note I have noticed a big difference in my garden over the last week, I now have turnips, beetroots, cabbages, nasturtiums, and peas breaking through the soil in the raised bed, there are sunflower, lupins and gladioli shoots just peeping out of the ground at the bottom of the garden, plus Jack’s carrots, tomatoes and butternut squash have all begun to sprout, as for my potatoes they are lush.

The Pumpkins have begun to show signs of flowers and the sweetcorn are doing really well I did plan to leave them out of the greenhouse this weekend to harden them off before I plant them out, however with the weather as it is I don’t want to damage them before their roots touch the ground.

My one and only pepper on the other hand... yes I thought there were two then one disappeared leaving one and now I can’t see any anywhere in the seed tray – what have I done? My Chilli plants however are a different story they are bushy with tiny fruits appearing on them, it is so exciting, it’s like Christmas has come early…

... sorry just doing a little jig of excitement.

PS I shall be adding photos to my posts as soon as I find my card reader.

Friday, 15 May 2009

For Victoria from Recycled Plant Pot Woman!

I bought some strawberries today and thought that perhaps I could use the punnet and lid as a seedbed and propagator, I have also seen my Liquid Tabs Tub in the same light, as long as they are both lined with something dark like a compost bag because apparently roots don’t like the light so I have read, I think they will be perfect.

I have also come up with another container idea I think you'll like, I am going to use the Christmas chocolate tins (1kg ones) that I keep every year to store cakes etc in (and never do) to grow my lettuce in, think it will be a hammer and nail job rather than a heated skewer to make the holes in the bottom for drainage. Do let me know what you think.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Maggie loves gardening; I thought maybe that the weekend’s interest might be a one off, but I don’t think it is what ever I have been up to today in the garden she has come over to lend a hand (it wasn't always appreciated especially when trying to transplant long leggy cabbages). Lets hope this interest continues throughout her life, perhaps she’ll have chickens etc and become self sufficient and green, a proper hippy chick.

Extreme Gardening

Well what a lovely day we have had blue skies and lovely warm sunshine, perfect for sowing more seeds, well that is what I thought until I stepped out side and nearly lost my head by the force of the wind rattling round my garden. However I did not let it stop me from doing my jobs for the day, although sowing seeds outside was not the best plan for the day, they were blowing everywhere, it will be interesting to see what pops up where especially in my seed trays, I have labelled them Hollyhock, Marigold, Stock and Foxgloves, but who knows what might pop up where. I’m sure I saw a Marigold seed in the tray labelled Hollyhock.

As I mentioned above I have sown Foxglove seeds today, the are so tiny that I have had to just scatter them across the seed tray, according to the packet there are 2000 seeds in the packet, that is going to take a lot of thinning out when the time comes.


the peppers are worrying me as they are not looking very healthy, but I shall not give up on them just yet.

Exciting news from the raised bed plot, I have 14 of the 18 turnip seeds have germinated and they look lovely all in a row, no sign of the peas, cabbages or beetroot as yet, I am checking everyday.

I have potted the remaining marigold plants into a container on my patio and two of the leggy cabbages have been potted up, I am hoping that they will accompany our Sunday roasts later in the year. The rest have gone to compost heaven.

Reduce; Reuse; Recycle

Alys Fowler’s book ‘The Thrifty Gardener’ has inspired me to look at empty bottles, containers etc in a different light, last year I decided that I would do my bit to recycle as much as our waste as possible, so I got my compost bin at a reduced price from my local council, I bought a bin which has 3 sections in it, I have a section for stuff that can go in my compost, one for items the council will recycle – tins, glass and paper (all goes in the one council recycle box) and then the other section if for non recyclable items. I also have the large white council recycle bag (bit like the IKEA bags) this is for plastic and cardboard, not the best thing to put light weight items in especially during windy periods, we have spent many a wet windy day collecting our empty bottles and cereal boxes off our neighbours gardens.

I’m doing my best to be greener in my lifestyle, I’m sure there is more I could and should do. Any suggestions, tips etc always welcome.

I digress sorry, so today I have planted more sunflower seeds (do you think I like sunflowers?) in a Vanish Oxy Clean tub, and have collected all the squash & pop bottles out of the recycle bag to use as cloches and protection from slugs.

I quite fancy the idea of using tin cans as flower pots too but according to Alys Fowler I need the ones that have a white coating inside as the metal ones rust, well obviously I am not buying posh enough tins as all mine to date have been metal, so for now I am going to use empty (obviously – don’t know why I wrote that for) plastic milk bottles, and the plastic baked bean pots that you put in the microwave.

Jack’s Dig In Tomatoes have begun to germinate; he has three little seedlings standing to attentions in his recycled plastic milk bottle flowerpot.

Gardener’s Companion

Al has taken Jack to a birthday party this afternoon so Maggie and I have slipped on our wellies and headed for the garden. I have managed to have a little bit of a tidy up and have planted parsnip & aubergine seeds, I know I am a bit late with this but I figured better late than never and I plan to grow the aubergines in my greenhouse rather than outside so this should aid the ripening of the fruit, if they appear.

I have also planted the marigolds out into the pots with my trailing sunflowers to try and fill the gaps. Talking of sunflowers Maggie has helped me plant more sunflower seeds today, she was brilliant, she sat next to me and Upsy Daisy (from In the Night Garden) sat next to her on a mound of spilt compost. Maggie helped me fill the pots with compost, and me managed to cover Upsy Daisy with some too, and then she took each seed and pushed them into the soil, when all 45 (yes 45 – I want to recreate the French sunflower fields in my garden) seeds were planted she watered them in… Bless her… It seems that my 2 ½ year old has more interest than my 5 year old; the only trouble is she loves digging and she keeps trying to dig in my vegetable pots and containers. She is so proud of her activities today that she showed the boys what she had done when they came home.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Prince Capsicum

The threat of the compost bin has worked, I have just checked the seed tray with the capsicum seeds in and I can see two, yes two, little green shoots breaking their way through the soil. SUCCESS, I am thrilled to bits so much so I did a little victory dance across the room ;0)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Photos of progress



Blooming Sunflower

The first sign of life at the bottom of the garden

Progress Report

Still no sign of germination in the Capsicum camp, 8 days to go before they face the compost bin. I would give them longer than this but I need the space and seed tray for seeds that are in date and have more chance of germinating.

All 3 potato bags have foliage appearing now, and I cannot earth up anymore so this is it, it’s down to mother nature now (with a little help from me), and a lot of luck.

I have thinned out the rhubarb seedlings today and re-potted the chosen ones, boy that was difficult selecting the ones to keep and the ones to discard. I’ll let you into a secret the ones that didn’t get potted up I have left in the seed tray in my mini greenhouse I didn't have the heart to chuck them onto the compost bin when they have put all that energy into getting this far. Pathetic I know.

Good news regarding the leggy sunflowers, that so many of you have commented on, you will all be glad to know that they have perked up since being planted into the wall planters and one is also in bloom. I think I might plant some marigolds (or something else) with them to fill in the gaps. What do you think?

Sweetcorn, pumpkin, tomatoes, cucumbers and marigolds are very impressive, I am so proud of these little babies, it is a pleasure to open the greenhouse doors to be greeted by such leafy, healthy plants, even the leggy cabbages are starting to look better, think I shall stick with them and plant them out when they are a bit bigger, I can but try.

I have also been down to the bottom of the garden this afternoon to see what’s happening and the flower bed where I sowed Sunflower seeds, lupins and Delphiniums the other weekend have seedlings appearing, it is just so exciting how everything is starting to do its thing, it’s like finding out you are pregnant then seeing the actual growing evidence on the ultrasound scan.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Be good to Bees

Jack has received a pack of free flower mix seeds today from the Blue Peter campaign to encourage bees in our garden.

I have also ordered some gardening books today for myself (Allotment Month by Month by Alan Buckingham and The Thrifty Gardener: How to Create a Stylish Garden for Next to Nothing by Alys Fowler) and a couple for the children which I am hoping will have projects for us to do to encourage wildlife etc.

Just checked the seed tray with the capsicum in; still no sign of germination after 15 days. I may have to record this one as a failure, I’ll give them another 10 days and then it the compost bin.

Think I might try and swap some of my spare seeds for someone’s fresher capsicums seeds and try again.

Must remember to get some more potting compost.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Spring Watch

Apart from the vicious pigeon that attacked me as I sowed the pea seeds this afternoon, the garden seems to be alive with nature already this year, there are bees busily buzzing around the flowers and blossom, and a frog resting under the shelter of the apple tree amongst the leaves of an unidentified plant (or weed). I also think that there is a family of birds nesting in the honeysuckle, a Robin family in the holly & Ivy and a Sparrow family in the guttering of the house.


I think I am in need of investing wisely in a greenhouse, I have always fancied the idea of having one at the bottom of the garden where mother nature does her magic, whilst Jack Frost and other forces of nature attempt to interfere with little success, and as I squeezed the cucumber and tomato grow bags into my mini greenhouses this afternoon it has reinforced the need a little more, as I’m not so sure how well these little plants will do in here. I’d like to grow something successfully.


I have also planted my leggy sunflowers into wall planters, as they are now more trailing sunflowers rather than giant ones. No laughing please, I’m sure they will bounce back I have given them a feed and spoken nicely to them, I have learnt my lesson not to be so keen with my sowing next year. Lets hope the ones I sowed last week in the flower beds do better and grow straighter.

Another Wet Bank Holiday Monday

The first of the Spring Bank Holidays, and it is wet, cold and grey, grey as far as the eye can see, but to prove I am no longer the fair weather kind of gardener I braved the rain and headed off to plant peas, turnips, beetroots, cabbages and nasturtiums in my famous raised bed.

How impressive does that look to the non-experienced gardener? 

After taking the photo I wrapped it all up with fleece and netting, thought this wise after I was attacked by a wood pigeon whilst planting the pea seeds.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

BBC Dig In

Jack has received his pack of BBC Dig In seeds from the Cbeebies Green Balloon Club, which he is over the moon about and has begun to badger Al for his own raised bed. So today, I sorted him out some containers to grow his vegetables in, drilled additional drainage holes, which impressed him “wow mommy knows how to use daddy’s drill” and we decided to sow his carrots first.

Jack contributed by helping me fill the pot with compost; however, he soon got bored and went inside to watch the telly, so in the end I planted his carrots seeds on my own. Think tomorrow I’ll prepare the containers for him, as I do understand that it is not much fun, and then he can plant the seeds and water them in, the best part using the watering can!

Compost Crumble

Since having this blog I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can write whilst working in my garden, and today was no different, this afternoon I finally filled the wonderful raised bed that Al built for me the other weekend, and whilst I was breaking down the compost by rubbing it through my fingers and sieving it with a soil sieve I realised that gardening is like cooking and that I had spent the afternoon making the topping for a compost crumble, I was even rubbing my tongue along the back of my teeth like I do when I am making the crumble for a rhubarb or apple crumb. I just hope this vegetable patch is as successful as my rhubarb crumbles are, I am so worried that all this effort is going to be in vain, like last year was, mind you like cooking I am following the recipes (sowing and growing advice) for growing the vegetables to the T.  My coffee table is the home for Carol Klein’s Grow Your Own Vegetables book, BBC Gardener’s World Magazines and other gardening books that I’m referring to, there are also several notebooks with notes, plans and ideas scribbled inside them, it’s like being back at University again.


This week I have turned a empty tube of Pringles into a transporter for pumpkin plants, it wasn’t easy let me tell you…

I had arranged to swap 2 pumpkin plants for 20 beetroots seeds and a packet of aubergine seeds with Emma from the swapseeds site, and I came up with what I thought was the perfect and simplest solutions of posting 2 plants, a Pringles tube, Emma gets her plants and my kids get the pleasure of eating the crisps, a win win situation.

Wrong  - like most of my ideas.

 The kids ate the crisps, step 1 of plan complete, step 2 putting the pots containing the plants into the tube, FAILED, the pots were wider than the tube – disaster!

Bright Idea number 2, I’ll make newspaper pots that will fit into the tube, an excellent idea I hear you cry, yes it would have been if the free paper had been delivered on the Wednesday/Thursday night as it normally is (wasn’t delivered till Friday afternoon) so instead I manage to convince Jack to give me his Hay Festival programme for this year to use, finally I had two plants in paper pots. SUCCESS!!

Step 3 putting them in the tube, would you believe it they were to tall to get both into the tube, so do I get another tube of Pringles, perhaps sour cream and chives this time? No need luckily I managed to find two smaller plants, which I then had to make paper pots for. Finally job done, 2 plants in the tube wrapped up in brown paper, labelled fragile, not that the woman in the post office took much notice of this as she dropped the parcel into the bag.

So on Friday, 2 of my little pumpkin plants began a new adventure, via royal mail I just hope they get there ok.

Just had confirmation from Emma that the pumpkin plants have got to her in one piece, thank goodness for that, they are now pictured on her blog "Into the Garden Space". So now the race is on to see who grows the biggest pumpkin this year. 

Thursday, 30 April 2009


I have always liked the idea of having chickens at the bottom of our garden,  going down to the hen house with the kids to collect the eggs for breakfast. I’m a Pisces so yes I do daydream a lot and imagine life through rose tinted glasses…

 Since becoming a member of the swapseeds site I have had some lovely conversations with other members about our gardens, one of whom has chickens. I mentioned my conversation to Al, he told me that we would not be having chickens (he’s my reality check),  so as a substitute he bought me this cockerel the other day on our way to collect Jack from school. 

I love it and from subsequent conversations about chickens with swapseeds members it is much better than the real thing as I don’t get the mess and the garden remains intact, sadly, however I don’t get fresh eggs either. 

(I just need a couple of hens to keep him company now)

My Photos

I planted some capsicum seeds at the same time as the rhubarb - still no sign of anything!!

Lemon Trees

Tomatoes & Cucumber

Sunflowers - this is what happens if you sow them indoors too early! Whoops

My Photos

  • The bottom of my garden... do you think it will be ready for June?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


22nd February 2009 – Jack has decided to grow potatoes so he has bought a grow kit from the garden centre today.  This now means I am going to have to read about how to grow potatoes. 

14th April the potatoes have sprouted , so Jack and I have planted the 3 types of potatoes (Colleen, Robinta, & Orla) today.

According to the box we need to check for growth after 12 weeks, which will be around the 7th July, by digging into the pouch by hand. We (I say we but it will actually be me who does all the mundane hard work, Jack is just interested in the fun bit - planting and harvesting – he gets bored quite quickly, well he is only 5) will also have to add a liquid tomato feed once a fortnight during the summer.

29th April – I have just been out in the garden and have noticed foliage in my potato sacks – I think they are actually growing, there is the slight possibility that we could be accompany our BBQs (here’s hoping for a proper summer) with our home grown potatoes this year.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

My to do list:

  1. Feed lemon trees every 7-10 days 
  2. Mulch Camellia with ericaceous compost and water with an iron sequestrene
  3. Spread a mulch of compost around fruit trees and bushes
  4. Finish pruning roses (April)
  5. Check potatoes for growth after 12 week
  6. Plant out pumpkins and sweetcorn in June

Chilli Peppers

16th February – I have planted some chilli seeds I had free with Gardeners World Magazine last year; if they don’t germinate it’s not the end of the world, as they haven’t cost me anything.

21st February – HOORAY 3 out of the 6 seeds I planted have germinated, that’s 3 more than I expected.

18th April – I have had to re-pot my chillies now as they are doing so well, I can’t believe how good they look.

I must remember to use a tomato feed once the fruits are set.

Pumpkins & Sweetcorn



At the beginning of April I planted 20 pumpkin (Hundredweight) seeds and 35 sweetcorn (F1 Applause) seeds, over the month they have germinated and grown really well, they are now living in my mini greenhouse waiting for the frosts to end and for the bottom of my garden to be transformed before they are planted out. Because of my success with the pumpkins I have been able to give away 10 pumpkins plants to friends, family and fellow gardeners. (There are still a spare 5+ plants once I have planted the ones I want)

The seed packet informs me that pumpkins like a rich soil and need to be watered and fed regularly, with what it doesn’t say so I’ll have to head off to the Internet and my bible – Carol Klein’s Grow Your Own Veg – a wonderful book.


20th April – I have sown about 25 rhubarb (Victoria) seeds today; they are now keeping the kids company in their bedroom on their windowsill next to the 3 chilli plants, which are looking fantastic.  No windowsill is free from seedlings and propagators in our house except for the ones that are in reach of Maggie’s (32 mths) curious little hands.

25th April – I have just checked the propagator where the rhubarb seeds lie and they have begun to germinate – hooray!

Last weekends (23rd-26th April) activities

What a beautiful weekend, glorious sunshine allowing the entire family to get out in the garden and enjoy it, whilst the kids have been setting up home in the playhouse, Al has been wonderful and built me a raised bed for my veggies, it was a very green (we reused the wood from some old fence panels – untreated of course) and economical project until we began to fill it with compost and top soil, to date it has cost us £43 and it looks like we need to add more to fill it up!

And what did I get up to I hear you ask… well I attacked the nettles and bindweed that dare cross my path each year and I planted sunflower seeds, delphiniums, gladiolas, and lupins (very cottage garden). I also built a little path, which I am extremely proud of, it is next to the raised bed so that I don’t trample on any flowers when I’m weeding and (fingers crossed) harvesting my crops.

My gardening story so far...

Last year as I watched the supermarket prices steadily rise I decided that I would become an earth mother and teach my children how to grow their own vegetables, we planted tomatoes, strawberries, peas, pumpkins and aubergines but sadly it was not as successful as I hoped it would be, I blame the weather... 

But I shall not be defeated, hopefully I have learnt from my mistakes and with a bit more sunshine and a little less rain I shall have a better yield this year.

One success I did have last year, to my surprise, were my lemon trees, I took 3 pips from a fresh lemon and planted them into some compost and let nature take it’s course, now I have two impressive looking plants/saplings whatever the correct term is for a year old lemon tree.  Only another 7 years till we get fruit, according to a gardening book I have.

This year I have sown pumpkins, sweetcorn, chilli peppers, and rhubarb, I have obtained two tomato plants and two cucumber plants from my dad and I also plan to sow peas, turnips, carrots, parsnips, aubergines, beetroot, lettuce and spring onions.  My son, Jack, has joined the BBC Dig In campaign (yes we have actually received the free seeds from the BBC) and so he will be in competition with me growing his own carrots, beetroot, squashes, lettuce and tomatoes.

Oh yes we have also planted 3 varieties of potatoes although I am not very hopeful of these as we have bought a growing kit and the instructions we have followed are completely different to the advice I saw on Gardeners World the other week – who knows.

Monday, 27 April 2009

About this Blog

Hi there, my name is Lucy and I have decided to grow my own vegetables this year, to make it a little more economical I joined the yahoo group swapseeds, where members can swap seeds, advice, etc etc about their plants and gardens. Since being a member I have met a fellow gardener, Emma, who has also decided to start growing her own vegetables this year, and we have agreed to swap seeds and plants to expand our ventures. Emma is also the reason why I have started this blog, she has already created one to keep a record of how she is doing and has suggested that I start one too so we can keep in touch and see how we are both getting on. So here it is my blog... enjoy xx