Grow Your Own, Harvests

Harvest and Seedlings!

Despite feeling exhausted we set off out this morning, after a few hours of water watching by a local river we set off back to the allotment. I had collected 6 ornamental gourds see from a sale, a few pepper plants from a road see side sale later and we were ready to plant them out. These will fill a gap whilst we are waiting for our cucurbits to grow. After weeding the pumpkin bed we planted the gourds and two water melons into the ground bed.

I planned to plant twenty tomato’s in the ground, however they filled the greenhouse tripods perfectly, I shall take a further ten plants  along with our beetroot on the next visit. Seeing them filling the space makes me keen to plant the seedlings, however I want them to be strong and ready to flourish once they are planted out.

The peppers I potted into larger pots and set, them in a water tray in the greenhouse. After a good water, I collected a selection of hanging baskets in need of TLC These i intend to line and set with a selection of shrubs and plants which should arrive this week. 200  to be precise, a few for the empty pots around our garden and a few to sell on. At under thirty pounds I am looking forward to another project to grow on.

The last of the pak choi was needing harvest, along with a few red onions, I shall plant my beetroot in it’s place on our next visit. With the wet weather  it will not be long before the second sowing will be ready, it is definitely. Something I will grow again.

I collected 200 pint pots, wrongly priced on the shelf I got a great deal as they were labelled at 99 pence each. So when my shrubs and perenials arrive I will have a few little projects to create with my family, which will allow the shrubs to grow on to a reasonable size.

Using  left over wood I started to make a small garden stall for the girls to use in the garden,  to add in their play house as they pot on from the garden. A few other pieces and it will be ready for them to use.

Happy Harvests!

 

Cheryl

 

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Grow Your Own

Le Jardin

This week I have spent a little time investing in a few treasures for some empty planters, it was a visit to a local superstore. The eventual choices were a small Acer and a modest olive tree, both of which cost under twenty pounds. I enjoy the texture and shape of both tree’s and know they will grow into their quiet corner perfectly.

This week I built up a garden tray for transporting seedlings into the allotment, the recent visits have shown wonderful potato plants finally filling the main bed, along with hundreds of brassica plants, kale and beans beginning to break the ground.

With a week off to spend with the children, I have been potting on seedlings in abundance… Despite clear labelling my cucurbits have suffered the usual predicament and I have several labelled pots which I shall use for identification. Plantings  in large quantities  of butternut squash  and honey few seeds which I have been looking forward  to seeing will be establishing their first leaves before their treasure is clear. As usual I will be happy to have any successful plants stretching through our newly dug spaces.

The new tray holds around sixty plants which I plan on setting on our summerhouse roof with the addition of a wind break, this will allow me to set more seeds on, allowing a greater diversity in plants. Ensuring we are not tripping over the vast amounts if planters.

The tomatoes set in the greenhouse have been watered regularly, I intend to plant a further ten plants as an outdoor crop, last years struggled with the heat so these should enjoy the diverse weather we are having.

I have created some presentations to sell a few of our extra seedlings, I plan to create a pop up stall at the our home. This will allow my children to help sell our wares, I may even ask a friend to help as it would be a perfect chance to catch up.

At the allotment we will be planting beetroot , Marmande tomatoes and various cucurbits. Last night I set some squash and turnips into trays. I hope to transfer the compost into the first cloche bed, it will then be perfect for a mix crop of seedlings.

So on a sulky Sunday morning I am happy to prepare  what we need for the week ahead, thankful that the rain will water on our crops, while we get on with our day!

Happy Horticulture,

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

May

After a month of cool weather my allotment has been set aside for work at home, my daughters have a new room to enjoy from our little break and I am enjoying family weekends with our youngest snuggled close.

Our garden is amazing this time of year, our small pond full with new life some of which I have set into a small tank for our toddler to watch. The rainwater aquarium is home to a collection of  tadpoles, water snails and with the addition of a few grass plants is ideal for watching them evolve into froglets’.

Our Clematis is the star this month, millions of pale pink, scented flowers cascade over our a self supporting arch. Their scent is as strawberry chocolate , which is heavenly  for this time of year. I have decided to try to make some dried flowers to see if it holds the scent, as it is so invigorating.

The work  in the greenhouse  has shown an abundance of tomatoes, I shall be setting them into the bean frames to try them as an outdoor crop. My beetroot sowings, leeks, and flowers are finally starting to show promise, the month flew by and I found no momentum to share the menial tasks. A few weeding  visits and crops are finally settling in.

The harvest has moved from broccoli to salad leaves, Pak choi to be precise, it has grown perfectly and our second sowings are just beginning to grow on. The leaves I rinsed with salt water and finely chopped, these can be added to a salad or stir fry, another quick meal to add to our table.

Yesterday I potted on my seedlings, tomatoes and watermelon plants to be set in plastic pint cups, the larger planters I hope to sell on as grow on pots. At a pound for fifty they are perfect for growing the seedings on from plugs, without the additional pots. As they are new they present the plants at their best and can easily be personalised if required.

New adventures as I have search for new plants and resources to work with, soon my potted on seedlings will get ready to set into fresh soil. Until then I will set the view this month…

 

Happy Horticulture!

 

Cheryl

Allotment, Home Craft

A place to sit!

Today the sun shone as we set to work at the plot, unfortunately for my husband my daughter needed a feed post school run and for me that meant I could sit and watch as he applied the first coat to the shed. My youngest has reached the age of demand, my attention usually when I have something planned. I have to say it is no chore I am happy to enjoy these moments, especially if it means I can get a little more done.

Once my daughter slept I could potter around, this involved weeding the potato bed and mulching with the help of my toddler. After distributing it around the space I followed and thinly spread it over the potato’s and self sown flowers, I watered the ground before mulching as this will be held under the straw.

Following the sowings of the last week I was pleased to see the cucurbits had survived the last week, a few of which had secondary leaves. I know I have a combination of, squashes, pumpkins and marrows so I look forward to the fruits that will follow, with around 15 plants growing I hope to extend the bed in summer to set a second sowing of sweetcorn.

I found once my newly blue shed (the front face, for now!) I moved the shed onto the recently laid slabs, positioned on the old strawberry bed a few plants are thriving in one corner but the rest I transferred to a newly filled bed and mulched on the last visit. After moving the bench onto the space I let my daughter paint a few old plant pots to fit next to it which I hope to plant a few herbs. Mint or lemon balm are my favourite so I look forward to sitting down, once the box bed behind is full of my favourite herbs.

Finally, I found the central compost bin full to the brim with amazing topsoil, this has been sat since our first week and will be the foundation of the cloche bed which I intend to box in using our reclaimed decking boards and fill with the ton of soil. This will save us a lot of compost and mixed with the last of the manure will make a further three beds raise and enabling me to set a few as no dig beds. These will be ideal for pest vulnerable plants such as Broccoli and cabbage, allowing us to set them as they grow on from my variety of successful sowings.

Finally after using my new IBC hose adapter I could slowly water the potato’s, seedlings and pumpkins without walking three miles with my watering can. The adapter cost three pounds from ebay and can be taken home to ensure the tank cannot be used when you are away, the lack of water pressure is ideal as you can trickle the water as needed. However 200 litres, with a little wasted by young hands has been used in the last few days so I am hoping we have some torrential rain this week to refill the tank.

I would normally rush to finish the rest of the shed but, plan to return in a few days and do a little more, for now the side were we work is bright, vibrant and has absorbed the paint. I will soon have a wonderful blue shack to sit, although my pallet bench will require a little work.

The water melon seeds we planted together at the beginning of the holidays I have now potted on, a few plant pots for cherry tomato seedlings will let them grow on. I have a few reasonable seedlings in the green house now, only a few inches tall but strong with their first leaves. I will have around fifty plants by the time I am finished plenty of time to grow them on for summer. I intend to plant an outdoor row to trial in our climate as the greenhouse heat was too much for last years crop, I will set a three varieties as my seedlings were three varieties in one to add variety if I decide to share, donate or sell my extra plants. I chose Ailsa Craig, Moneymaker and Marmande as they are three different styles of tomato, small, medium and large, which I feel for new or old growers and will all be great added in summer salads or sandwiches.

I have set around eighty squash seedlings, these seeds were taken from our butternut squash this week, the seeds were free so I planted them all. A great vegetable for creating harvest characters, adding to stews and apparently roasting, something I am yet to try! Yes a lot of seeds, but I have still around thirty spaces in my cucurbit bed that I can plant as and when the seedlings develop and I intend to grow using as much of our space as possible.

My next visit will be filling our first cloche bed with soil and setting the cauliflowers, broccoli, chard and Kale of whatever variety establishes first. The new seeds the children set of crown Prince, Jack o lantern and Atlantic giant are our potted varieties which the children will water and I plan to set in and area so they can compete for the largest pumpkin. A little fun along with our potato competition to add to our growing season.

Saving, sorting and sourcing is allowing us a little more than we would usually have and is made through applying energy into the moments we find, sharing our skills and knowledge to grow our spaces both at home and the allotment. I am always looking for a space to achieve both together but for now it allows us to increase the space, variety and amount of food we can grow.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Spring Shoots!

This morning as the weather shows vague promise of good weather I am planning another visit to the allotment! With this planned, the last visits treasure is still strong on my mind and the new shoots some from our little greenhouse and some from the ground are beginning to shine through.

The Cherry tree we planted in our first year is adorned with beautiful white flowers and may even fruit this year! The sight of Blossom is the true measure of spring for me, our home orchard add a majesty to our garden at this time of year. I look forward to seeing this tree growing on, set in a position in which it cannot shade over my neighbours plot it looks fantastic.

The Apple tree is set back behind our central compost bin, again this will cast shade as it grows however in the height of summer it will be good for anything growing on the  beds, as it will shade out the afternoon sun giving the plants a break from the heat.

Today I plan to collect our first bail of straw, the potatoes which are just beginning to show are just breaking the surface, as are the first weeds, also weeding and watering the potato bed. Once it is clear I can add a layer of mulch to the whole space to reduce the small weeds.

Last year the calendula was set centrally and as I checked the bed for potatoes I could see the self- seeded plantlets beginning in the bed. I intend to use the spaces every year, allowing them to regenerate from the previous years as a perennial planting area. This will save me paying for seeds, and break up the beds with a little colour.

My first planted pumpkins were lost due to the switch from frost to hot sunshine, unfortunately the cloches baked them. So this week has seen my children set another few seeds to allow them more opportunities, sweetcorn again is on a second sowing. Several of which I will plant today, ensuring everything gets a good water as they are set in!

The kale seedlings which are an unusual red colour and selection of Chard are growing on nicely! Hopefully they will thrive over the next few weeks, along with the sunflowers and tomato’s set in a trough of water to act as a reservoir over the warm days.

So today I will see what needs planting out and potting on, I will maybe even move the bench and check out my centre compost bin of top soil from the first year.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Gardening on a budget, Writing

Easter Treats!

The sun is blazing again today, but after our adventure yesterday we will be pottering around the garden! My seedlings finally finding their spaces, I have been searching for places to visit in our next holiday time! Fortunately I have stumbled across a little bargain which will make up for our two weeks nesting at home!

The visuals from yesterday still bright in my mind I am looking forward to getting the pool out at home and watching the family enjoy their own space. We had looked at another place to visit today but instead we will save it for tomorrow, and enjoy a quiet day in.

This week I have been donated some seeds from a friend including Berlotti beans, blue crown prince pumpkin seeds, and a carrot array for my husband who seems to enjoy setting the seeds in the boxes he graciously built for me.

I have set some Mahonia seeds this week which I collected from one of my two plants in the garden, hopefully the warm weather will spur them on and I will have some new plants to utilise. These provide winter blooms and seeds, so they are great for birds and early insects when everything else has died back.

The extra seedlings I will set today with a little help from my children, I am hoping for a few more fruit this year. looking at the weather I am hoping for a warm spell to bring everything on to fill the spaces the recent frost made. Whatever I grow I can share, but the space I have at the allotment there is plenty of room for extra seedlings!

So as my Husband returns with our Easter Eggs for the children, I will leave you with another snapshot from our day out, have a Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Cheryl

If you have a few hours to spare, Check out my previous posts and craft an Easter egg Brooders!

Family Postcards, Writing

Saturday Stars!

Today was amazing! An early start ensures we arrive at our destination, after the usual preparations, snacks, change of clothes, pack-up and medical bag! Finally we set of for our local beach, this was a pack-up, petrol and parking day. Drawn out to make the most of the warm, sunny weather.

After placing our youngest daughter in a carry harness, balanced by our pack-up bag we set off for the start of our beach trek. I found the walk refreshing, busy with other visitors we headed towards the sea, as the tide had washed up a surprising amount of Starfish. As my family set to rescuing them to the nearest deep pool I enjoyed the fresh air.

A seat for a light lunch, allowed me to rest a while, surrounded by golden sand glittering landscapes and children rambling through the sandbanks and beach collecting shells! A few treasures to mulch my pots in the garden, adding a little treasure to our landscape.

As we made our way through the beach we made an unusual decision to follow on to the main beach! This became a mini-adventure, tired children, clagging quick sand and deep estuaries ensured we walked at least a mile through uncomfortable terrain. As we hit the main beach we were muddy to say the least, but we made it back before the tide and had a scramble up quick sand to get back to the main path.

I have also a fantastic array of photographs of the family which I have selected a few to print and frame. The addition of the stars were a wonderful, an amazing bonus, something unusual to share!

Happy Holidays!

Cheryl

 

Knitting Pattern, knitting project!

Easter egg Brooders!

A few hours of knitting and finding an old knitting pattern donated from my sister in law and I have made a few egg brooders for my youngest to play with. It has been nice to take a little time as my youngest sleeps to make something new. I additionally found a formatted pattern on;

ref; http://www.dublin.mothersunion.ie/pdf/KNITTED_CHICK_WITH_CREME_EGG_FOR_EASTER.pdf

Brood Base;

Cast On 26 stitches

Knit 1, increase 1 stitch, Knit to end

Pearl 1 row, increase 1 stitch, pearl to end

  • repeat last two rows 5 times (36 stitches).

Tail;

Knit 2, slip 2 stitches, knit to end

Pearl 2, slip 1 stitch, pearl to end

  • repeat last 2 rows twice. (36 stitches)

Head;

Knit 4 rows

Cast off ten stitches on the next two rows (16 stitches in centre)

repeat on pearl row

Knit 1, knit 2 stitches together, knit 2 together, knit 1 on last three stitches.

repeat until eight stitches remain

cast off (8 stitches)

Beak;

Cast on 7 stitches

Stitch to stitch three rows

cast off 7 stitches

To Make;

Step 1; Using mattress stitch with the material knit side in and follow from cast on to the top of the head.

Step 2; Turn it the knit side out and stuff a small handful of stuffing and stitch the head at a graduate drop from the neck. Once secure centralise the beak stitching down to the last 5mm. Use the last of the thread to stitch the eyes, knotting through as you go.

Step 3; For a tidy finish sew through the back of the neck and pull tightly, to cut off the excess thread to secure inside the stuffing and out of view.

These were made with; UK 6 needles as they were the nearest size available and are more suited to the plastic egg or cup egg sizes than the Cadbury originals. I however find them perfect as knitted characters to add to a nest or Easter prop for your collection. I shall be reducing the cast on and building myself a Bunny Brooder over the weekend and maybe a unicorn for one of my daughters if I get the time.

Cast on using a three or four size needle and I feel they will be perfect for Cadbury eggs, I found this on a simple knit of around an hour maximum. This is perfect for a dinnertime knit or to complete in an evening, the larger the needles the larger the character. If you used a sized ten needle with a stiff Arran wool they would easily make cup or tea cosy size covers with a few additional cast on stitches to the pattern.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Cheryl

Propagation

Echeveria

I find that these types of plants are great! For a pound you can purchase a small plant with amazing potential.

I spent a few moments showing my children how to propagate from our new plants, with clear instructions not to take any further leaves off afterwards. Thankfully they enjoyed the little planter that much they pottered around keeping the small plants in wonderful condition.

As you can see the leaves act as reservoirs as with aloe, and other varieties that can allow a few new plants for free! If you strip a lower leaf and set it in dry compost and set it aside with grit or stones to mulch, in a few months you will have a newly rooted plant. 

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Knitting Pattern, knitting project!

Knitted Chicks; Egg Brooders!

A few hours of knitting and finding an old knitting pattern donated from my sister in law and I have made a few egg brooders for my youngest to play with. It has been nice to take a little time as my youngest sleeps to make something new. I additionally found a formatted pattern on;

ref; http://www.dublin.mothersunion.ie/pdf/KNITTED_CHICK_WITH_CREME_EGG_FOR_EASTER.pdf

Brood Base;

Cast On 26 stitches

Knit 1, increase 1 stitch, Knit to end

Pearl 1 row, increase 1 stitch, pearl to end

  • repeat last two rows 5 times (36 stitches).

Tail;

Knit 2, slip 2 stitches, knit to end

Pearl 2, slip 1 stitch, pearl to end

  • repeat last 2 rows twice. (36 stitches)

Head;

Knit 4 rows

Cast off ten stitches on the next two rows (16 stitches in centre)

repeat on pearl row

Knit 1, knit 2 stitches together, knit 2 together, knit 1 on last three stitches.

repeat until eight stitches remain

cast off (8 stitches)

Beak;

Cast on 7 stitches

Stitch to stitch three rows

cast off 7 stitches

To Make;

Step 1; Using mattress stitch with the material knit side in and follow from cast on to the top of the head.

Step 2; Turn it the knit side out and stuff a small handful of stuffing and stitch the head at a graduate drop from the neck. Once secure centralise the beak stitching down to the last 5mm. Use the last of the thread to stitch the eyes, knotting through as you go.

Step 3; For a tidy finish sew through the back of the neck and pull tightly, to cut off the excess thread to secure inside the stuffing and out of view.

These were made with; UK 6 needles as they were the nearest size available and are more suited to the plastic egg or cup egg sizes than the Cadbury originals. I however find them perfect as knitted characters to add to a nest or Easter prop for your collection. I shall be reducing the cast on and building myself a Bunny Brooder over the weekend and maybe a unicorn for one of my daughters if I get the time.

Cast on using a three or four size needle and I feel they will be perfect for Cadbury eggs, I found this on a simple knit of around an hour maximum. This is perfect for a dinnertime knit or to complete in an evening, the larger the needles the larger the character. If you used a sized ten needle with a stiff Arran wool they would easily make cup or tea cosy size covers with a few additional cast on stitches to the pattern.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Cheryl