Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thursday 23rd February - Weather: Snowing!

Come on! Snow! I mean!! Seven years ago, my darling and I were preparing for our wedding day, the anniversary of which will be next Monday, and it was a glorious hot, sunny day! However, this time 36 years ago, my mum and dad were preparing for their wedding day, and yup, you guessed it, there was snow on the ground.

Anyhow, this is only a quick note to myself really to remind me that today I sowed, in Jiffy number 7's, basil, iceburg lettuce, arctic spring onions and brocolli early romanesco. They are now in the conservatory with my other seeds.

And although I haven't sat down and written a complete list, if memory serves me correctly, germinated are spring onions, celeriac, lots of tomatos, mesyabrytheums (sp???), spring cabbage, peas, broadbeans and the first of number one sons sunflowers is up! I will sit down properly and do a list...famous last words!

A beside the point note, the mummy hamster now has litter number 2, just 2 weeks after litter number 1 went to the pet shop. It is official now, they will all be kept seperate. The babes are only a week old but she is quite happy to let me take a little peek, and I would say there are at least 6 babies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wednesday 22nd February 2006 - Weather: FFRREEZZING!

I really am getting fed up with this cold weather. I don't want to wish my life away, but roll on summer I say! Anyhows, back to business. Yesterday I visited one of my gardens and the plan of attack was laurel trimming. He has lots in the garden, inherited from the previous owners, and they have been allowed to grow out of all proportions. I offered to start giving them a hair cut, and as the owners were away for a long weekend, I was really able to get stuck in. I didn't scalp them, the laurels provide a lot of privacy from the neighbours, but they garden beneath them is absolutely dust bowl dry, even after the rain we had earlier in the week, and the plants are begining to die. I did what I could reach on my mini steps using my super extendable clippers, and even if I do say so myself, I did a neat job. I took them all back by at least 18 inches, and to be honest, I could have gone further, but I wanted to do some weeding, and there is an ivy that has become a shrub and begining to smother a lovely old apple tree, so I needed to give that some attention. Filled their green wheely bin to overflowing, tidied up, and came home. I was cold through. Up that ladder, in amongst the trees, I really did get blown about and very very cold indeed! Thank goodness for fleece gloves and wooly hats! One thing I must remember get a pair of safetly glasses! I don't have any, and as I was cutting the branches back, several fell onto my face and twice I ended up with something in my eye. Not ideal as I had no access to the house or water if I needed to wash my eye.

Then today, at one of my other gardens. Shrub planting was the order of the day - and deal with some workmen that were visiting for various reasons. Six berberis bushes in the front gravel area, which was okay, but I had to scrape away the gravel first to expose the soil, and when I did find the soil, it was pretty useless! However, I have asked and asked if I should get any soil conditioner or compost, but they are willing to take a chance that the shrubs would take. I am sure they will be fine - tough as old boots Berberis! Next Photinia 'Red Robins' to plant. A couple along the huge conifer hedge as for some reason, some of the conifers never filled out, so it is patchy, and some in a new bed I am slowely creating as they get more and more plants, along the edge of the upper patio in the raised part of the garden. Finally a bed of berberis to eventually hide the compost heap. They are hoping to get a large batch of Willows to plant along the back fence as although their garden backs onto farm land, there is a public footpath which is regularly used, running immediately behind their fence, and they feel there is a lack of security and privacy. The willow they have chosen is very quick growing, and as with all willows, can be copiced to create a nice thick multi stemmed screen. Again, very cold, and the soil there is very very wet indeed.

Back at home, I really must get on with sowing some more seeds, and listing here what I already have sown and what is germinated already. With the kids help, there is a lot in and a lot starting to sprout. Very exciting. Am hoping to get to the allotment this week, weather permitting!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday 17th February 2006 - Weather: damp and dreary, then bright and breezy, then cold!

Had a request for my spicy pumpkin chutters so thought I would post the recipe. I had some today in a ham sandwich and it hit the spot!

4 cups cooked pumpkin flesh
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I only had white, so used white!)
1 1/4 cups malt vinegar
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins (I didn't have any, so chopped an apple and used instead)
3 chilli peppers, chopped (I used more as I had lots of fresh just picked and we like it hot!)
2 tablespoons grated garlic
2 tablespoons grated ginger (I didn't have any fresh, so used a teaspoon of dried)
1 teaspoon salt

Place everything in a large pan and slowely bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and reduce until as thick as you like it. Remember, it will thicken slightly when cold. After about 30 minutes, or when as thick as you like it, bottle it in warmed, sterile jars, and label when cold.

A note, whilst I remember. Popped to the lcoal nursrey yesterday with the kids and came away with an orchid plant for 2 pounds, with a new bud coming, some blue epicure spuds - these have incredibly dark blue skins, and the kids chose a selection of seeds for themselves. Daughter number one is giving mini corns a go, along with peas, and son number one is growing a huge array of sunflowers!

The broadbeans, 'Red Epicure', are now 5 inches tall so have been moved out into the greenhouse to slow them down and get them ready for going up to the allotment in the next 2 weeks. They will have fleece or cloche protection to start with up there. The peas are all up and growing quite strongly now in their paper pots, so they will get up to the greenhouse over the weekend. I am hoping to start some beetroots off in cell trays over the weekend. My swiss chards are starting to come up, but no spring onions yet! Strange as they were brand new seed. Still, plenty of time if they fail.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday 13th February 2006 - Weather: damp and dreary

A quick list of seeds that have germinated over the weekend and are still on their first seed leaves. All are tomatos.
Alicante, Gardeners Delight, Golden Queen, Orange berry, Great White, Taxi, Costoluto Fiorentino, Sweet Million, Super Marmande and Missouri Pink Love Apple.
If no more germinate, I think that is a good amount!
Still no signs of chillis or aubergines, but they can take up to three weeks to pop through. At least the heating is working again now so that should help things along. My broad beans and peas are growing great-guns so I will shift them out to the greenhouse this week so they have a week or two our there before being planted out at the plot. Also, that will give me a bit more room for a sowing or two of something else!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday 5th February 2006 - Weather: bright and breezy

What a busy day, took the kids to the park for an hour, then for a happy meal, home, homework done, and chores sorted so I could get into the conservatory and finally get the plants reorganised.

We repotted the giant bird of paradise yesterday and it looks very handsome in it's new Branhams blue glaze pot, so today I could tackle everything else. Everything has quietly become huge over the winter so I needed to gather all of my big clay and glazed pots from the garden, including the old oak half barrel that we brought for the bananas. I potted all the baby BoP into their groups, so Reginae in one, Nicolii in one and the other, whose name I have totally forgotten, is in the last. That gets rid of a lot of pots on the windowsill. Then the palm that Taxi gave me has been trying to escape upwards out of it's pot since I was given it, so that was treated to a new slightly deeper pot. In fact, one by one, most things were potted into bigger pots, unless of course they were already in big pots, like the clivia and orchids. The bananas were the last job. WOW they are monsters! So, in came the half barrel, on which I cut my arm (!) then in went all the babies. This left the monster Mumma. I cut of the bunch of bananas as they weren't going to develop any more, and that part of the plant seemed to be dying, so when I finally manhandled it out of the pot, I had to use a saw to cut the beast in half. The big lush half fitted nicely into the barrel along with some of hte pups, leaving one last pup who wouldn't fit. Now, I was going to throw this baby in the bin, but of course him indoors cringed, so the baby is now living in a nice pot alongside the mumma. All in all, I used 2 bags of compost and at least 8 big pots, but things are looking great now. The clivia has flowers and lots of buds so it is going to look great in a few weeks time. The orchid looks stunning, even though one of the flower stems snapped clean off and is now in a vase on the mantlepiece! Also, I think there are two different orchid plants in one pot as the other half has 3 flower stems, but the buds are completely different. And the monster Strelizia has at least 5 buds coming, and as each flower last 3 or 4 months, I think she is going ot be in flower for the rest of 2006!

Just thought I would mention the squash collection. As you can see, there are still loads to use and I am running out of ideas! I have just made a lovely big batch of hot and spicy pumpkin chutney which not only used up one of the huge pumpkins, but also used up a load of chillis which have finally ripened on the conservatory! Mum has given me a couple of different recipes which I hope to do over the week, but I think a lot of these are going to end up on the compost heap. Oh well, at least they will go back to putting some goodness in the ground!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday 3rd February - Weather: freezing, damp and dull! BBRR

Note: Sowed Celeriac 'Brilliant' in paper pots today to try and give them a head start.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wednesday 1st February - Weather: Dull Dull Dull

Off to another of my gardens today for a four hour stint. Lots to do! Planted two climbing Jasmines on their back fence, followed by a willow in the lawn. Then tidied up the compost heap moving the newer stuff to the back so I could get to the rotted compost. Used a couple of barrows full to mulch around the fruit trees. There is so much green stuff on the heap, I think they need to get a skip and get rid of it as most of it is grass cuttings and they aren't rotting down, just going slimey and smelly! The out to the paddock where I needed to create a new long border for a natural 'prickly' hedge. They are hoping to remove all the fence once the hedge is established and knitting together. Going to be painful for me to weed as 95% of the shrubs will be spikey. I will have to invest in some good eye goggles and really heavy duty gloves. Four hours whizzed by, but wow am I suffering now. My calves and thighs are aching along with my sore shoulder. I should have a long hot soak, but the kids won't let me, and I have the shopping being delivered tonight! I have never done that before, and only am this time because I received a good money off voucher so it made it worthwhile!

At home, the kids were very excited as they spotted the first green shoots on my broadbeans and peas. Several of each are through, and if the temperatures would go up a little, I think there would be a plantation of seedlings by the weekend! I will take the camera down with me and photograph the babies!