Writing

Mothers Day!

I have to admit the outside space we enjoy really does shine at this time of year, the shrubs and evergreens adorned with flowers are wonderful. Yesterday as the light warmed our space I had my best mothers day present, watching them interact and play together within the space. I love this weather you turn off the electronics, open the door and watch them all spill into the garden, there is always a level of disorder to the space but with six kids it holds its own.

I enjoy the variety of spaces, shelters created for inspiring play landscapes and architectural structure for the wildlife and to add height to our modest space. The summer weather has prompted a spring clean through the borders, our last woodwork collection requiring collection as the children have built small fairy dens and projects, eventually dis-guarded to the edges.

So this week we have sectioned off the outside shed using a few decking  boards from the allotment, this with an additional cabinet will ensure our expanding tool collection will have a place out of our summer house which will be set with our slide and toys as an indoor play space away from the house.

Thursday I managed to clear the deck space next to the house, using the space for the children’s sitting area and potting on area. This weekend I plan to set a large variety of plants for successional sowings and additional for using up flower, and fruit seeds which I often find adding to my seed collection yet never seem to sow them. These I will donate as I enjoy sharing the extra’s our endeavours provide.

So today I plan to enjoy a good Dinner, complete the essentials and wait for my husband to return to give me a some time to potter in the garden. After a few spritzers last night and for once an entertaining film, the occasional moment were I am reminded that a few moments can be set aside for me, at the cost of a few hours sleep! I enjoy the moments I share with my family, the riverbank being the first in hopefully many to enjoy the warm, bright days that we are currently enjoying!

So whatever your doing today, enjoy those precious moments!

Happy Mothers Day!

Cheryl

 

Family Postcards, Writing

By the river bank;

Yesterday was a day for excursions, my husband felt the need to take us to a local stretch of river for a long walk, unusual choice but as we walked the few mile stretch the weather was beautiful, and the world was vibrant and colourful. I was surprising how peaceful it was as we rambled down the pathway following the farmers fields and wind turbines.

I find them mesmerising from a distance but up close they were ginormous, as the propellers spun the shadows blinkered the sunlight and as we walked on the scenery shone bright ahead of us. Two swans were basking in the sun and a few large fish were visible from the surface of the water, sitting in the shallows was a pike idling out of the direct sunshine. One of the majestic birds, took flight behind us and the wingspan stretched the width of the river itself, each beat of it wings highlighted the elegance of this Jurassic sized bird. Its white plumage shone in the bright spring sunlight.

The deer made a rare appearance across the fresh green fields, they seemed to stop just long enough for us to watch them until they vanished off I the distance. I find each space I see, sets off a drive to plant it up with my own design whether it is in need of  a drift of wildflowers for the insects or a space to build a new home!

After a few miles we came across an array of daffodils, a few with unusual colourings, pom pom centres and multi headed varieties which were rare! The weather was warm and despite the usual addressing for safety it was delightful to see the space at its best.

After a brief visit to the allotment to plant some seedlings and transplanting my strawberries for our slabs to create a seated space we returned to work in the garden!

Happy Tours!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Sunday Sowing!

Sunday mornings are generally quiet, the sun is high in the garden and as we settle in after our family visit to the allotment I have managed to set the majority of our first seeds. After settling my daughter into her late morning nap the warm spring sun greeting our time, I began to plant the first of our larger pumpkins out into the ground. I had previously set a load of Sweetcorn and a few Atlantic giants to be the first half of the bed. I had set a few aside in the greenhouse just in case their was any frost damage, so seeing the others growing well under their covers I added these to the newly prepared bed.

I added milk carton cloches to ensure that if the temperature drops they will have a little support while they settle into the new space. The squashes we planted had grown on this week so we I chose the furthest arch to grow a selection of small Pumpkins and squashes to grow up, as my husband has collected a large selection of decking boards I will create a few supports to reinforce the top of the arches to accommodate the fruit as the plants mature.

After clearing our newest raised bed I set our first Brassica seedlings, they are tiny but with the protection of a scaffolding cover from our Early Sprouting  Broccoli, they should grow well! With A selection of January king, Golden Acre and Red acre cabbages which were approximately thirty seedlings, these I plan to resew this week to ensure a good succession of crops over the year.

The Kale I planted over the last year is still growing so using spaces between I have planted this years crop of Scarlet Kale to grow on. I Still have several different brassicas growing on in the greenhouse, so today I have enjoyed a few hours at the allotment with my children.

My tomatoes have their first leaves, so these along with the other seedlings will  be ready for next week. After an unusual dinner I returned to cook our favourite, before preparing for another week which is positive after a good mornings work. One step closer to an allotment full of a variety of crops for us to watch grow and harvest.

Time to Enjoy, some quality time with a busy week ahead!

Cheryl

 

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Allot of progress!

Today was a busy day, I returned to find a few panes broken and after boxing and safely clearing them I set about planting my blackberry bushes into the tyre they have sat in for the last few months. These I set at the side of the greenhouse, all of which will give a safe barrier between the pumpkin bed and the greenhouse which will prevent any serious accidents.

The fence required re-securing so a few screws later it was a little more secure, I will be purchasing a large fence post to divide in half and set behind the main panels. My paint was being used to help family! so, I will be choosing a vibrant colour as it needs a refresh already.

I potted up three troughs with peas along one side and a selection of small variety sunflowers, along with a large trough of peas with giant yellow sunflowers in the centre of the planter. These will clamber up the archways and cover the compost bins, I have several troughs at home which we planted a few weeks ago so they will be set at the compost sides at the end of the allotment.

I find it un-usual to have a little time without the older children, surprising how much I am used to the regular distractions, I find that having a chance to sit and enjoy our space which is already producing our first spring cabbages. Our Potatoes in and the next planting of crops already set in the greenhouse, I am looking forward to setting a few successional sowings to fill the space around us.

So, as my pots of pumpkins, squashes and Sweetcorn grow at home rapidly, I am looking forward to planting them out into the ground!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Recycling

A’ Frames

So Monday was a busy day, Finding myself with a free morning we ventured to the allotment, a few family jobs to complete my husband set on with painting while I built the first A’frame. Our beans have been set a few weeks now so as the first shoots formed I decided to put up an additional structure in the first bed. These frames I have used for Beans, but obviously Sweetpeas could also be set to clamber up.

The Bamboo canes set at a foot apart  was enough last year to support the rambling shoots once they finally established. So once in place I made a few ties with my wire cutters to secure the tops, crossing them over a centre horizontal cane and tying them off! Last year I covered them with container cloches to start them off but as the weather is extremely mild at the moment, and they have been started off in our small greenhouse I feel they will not stall in the ground.

Then I added the beans, one at the base of each cane, sprinkling a little slug repellent before mulching over the newly set seeds. I learnt last year that a little preparation saves returning to find your newly set crop reduced to stumps. However I always sow enough to replace what I set in the ground in the allotment at home, just in case of emergencies.

The first bed required a little weeding! so after clearing a few spaces I added some red baron and silver moon onions in the clear patches before mulching the whole bed with straw, I find this bed is quite clear of grass so the mulch will just retain moisture. I planted a mizuna last year which went to seed and a few new plants are dotted around so I will let them grow and transplant any seedlings into the salad bed.

The water is just over 750 litres, I believe before the season begins we will have a full tank. I had taken suckers of one of my variegated yukka’s at home so after potting them into pots and donating one I had four cuttings which I set in a water tray, these will take several months to root properly but along with the four I planted into pots in our front garden it will be a good return on the £10 I invested in the original.

Next I cleared my box beds, rescuing the small  strawberry plants from our walkways and setting them in trays I hope to add a few plants at home for supplying new runners to replenish those at the allotment. After adding a bag of compost it is now ready for this years Chard and Beetroot.

 

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Grow Your Own, Propagation, Writing

Sundays Seedlings!

Today the seeds we set over the last few weeks inside have begun to germinate, the popcorn planter sweetcorn is looking strong, almost reaching the top of its container it will not be long before I can pot them on and set a second sowing!

Our Brassica’s are looking great, I will set a few more when I pot these on as I hope to have a continuous succession through the year! I have three set beds which I plan to fill with our ton bag of compost from the first year, it should be perfect for building up firm growing area’s for cauliflowers and Broccoli.

Our Cloche frames are strong, however the scaffolding fabric will require securing to the framework to deter the Cabbage whites feasting on the newly planted crops. I shall add a few cup hooks to hold it in place.

My excitement today as our Pumpkins have just begun to show the first stages of germination inside, it will be a few weeks before the greenhouse sown crop catch up but it will good to see whether the inside set seedlings will get ahead after they have been climatized to plant!

I have already set all of my different types for this year which is probably around 50 seedlings, I will probably plant around 15 large cucurbits in the area which we have just manured and dug over. My next job is to dig over and trench manure in the final area of that side, this bed will probably fit another 25 plants.

Any extras I will donate or share, as between these I will set the sweetcorn, as the pumpkins will ramble through the small fields of corn. However as I plan to train the smaller pumpkins and squashes up the pergola, a few of which I set on our last visit at the allotment, hopefully when I return they will be just starting to germinate. I plan to add wire to three sides of it and cover it with mesh to create a space which is sheltered, that provides a little warmth in the colder months.

My Silver Moon onion sets are all showing new shoots so these will be planted on our next visit, probably in the front garlic bed. I will add straw to deter the weeds but these front beds I intend to rebuild with scaffolding boards in time.

So as Dinner Settles, I plan on finishing some chores ready for another week!

Happy St Patricks Day!

Cheryl

Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Propagation, Writing

St Patricks Day; Potatoes!

Today the weather has improved slightly from the last few days and the sky is bright blue with whispy wintery clouds, the wind has died down from its previous torrent! It has been a family week this week so I am grateful for my early sowing of potatoes, as today despite the good weather I am looking forward to a relaxing day at home!

Around the country however thousands of my fellow allotmenteers will be sowing their selections of potatoes in whichever style they choose, whether it be a no dig version successful piling of compost or the long enjoyed trench dug preparation. The enjoyment of potatoes straight from ground to table is surprisingly satisfying, the fresher the better!

I have set aside 6 pots for our potato competition, I let my children set a potted potato set into similar level soil to see who can grow the most over the season, something  we have done since they were small and that we have been lucky to have been supported in their local schools.

So Today post Sunday Dinner we will be planting a selection of Salad potatoes from our home favourites, to trial growing from supermarket bought potatoes. Whereas at the allotment we shall try setting a few chitted varieties in last years pots. Either way we hope for a more successful crop than last years pebbles.

Last year I planted a similar selection, Charlottes are our favourite salad potato, King Edwards and Desire are all from £1 bags. If I have the chance ‘Valor’, from the garden centre would be another variety I would find space for, but already my trenches are full of potential.

Trench digging for me ensures the ground is weed free, especially with newly dug beds riddled with couch grass. It also allows you to break down the top layers of soil which for ground that has not been dug for several years. I know plenty of people who try this method who are physically unable to dig but for me the cost of piling up good compost over the surface every year is to expensive a method for growing if you are purchasing it.

It is fine if you have ten years of rotated compost but for those just starting out I prefer straw as it is financially viable and prevents the weeds draining the crops of nutrients! I have a compost bin ready to clear, but at the moment I am focusing on ground preparation, I may however start using it to build up the ground levels on my main beds and for earthing up the potatoes as they grow.

Earthing up prevents the potatoes which surface going green and toxic in the sunlight so as they grow it also allows more tubers to grow on the enclosed layers increasing the yields from the plants. I have to say that I place my tubers at the bottom of the trenches and then double dig the plants out to reduce the need for earthing up. The principle being that the plant once established has a foot to set tubers in as it grows, once it is in the earth is already deep enough to ensure no tubers are likely to spoil.

If you are interested in trench digging your potatoes in please check out my previous post GYO: Potato Planting

If you are interested in container planting, grab a large container or pot and purchase some seed potatoes. These can be a £1 per bag from poundstretcher or £3 plus for a set weight at the garden centre. Early croppers grown for June, middle and late croppers for September just wait for your first flowers and check for the potatoes underneath.

If you plant a few in June you can set a few for Christmas dinner, or set aside an area with the plants you will add to your Christmas table. This will allow you to pick fresh and add a harvesting treat to your special day. This could be completed in a metre square bed or selection of containers and grow bags the opportunities are endless, over the years we have grown in Belfast sinks, potato bags and selected garden spaces. Which is perfect for growing a selection of crops on a small scale.

So whether you are trenching in this years crop, or planting in containers, today is the day to plant your potatoes!

Happy St Patricks Day!

Cheryl

 

 

Photography – Online CC

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Writing

Spring Preparations!

So my previous post mentioned our visit to clear and fill the new space, the twenty minutes work was enough to complete despite the rainfall! It would have taken much longer if I had not taken the time to clear it last summer, leaving the weed bags as a cover I had very little couch grass to remove. So now again another space ready for the many seedlings we have sown this year!

As you can see these are decking edged beds, which I was looking to replace with scaffolding boards but for this year I will repair if required. Cardboard will reduce the weeds that come through and absorb water so eventually it will become part of the soil. This space however was perfect so it will be planted with our onion sets that are chitting in our green house.

The Autumn Garden set last October is still thriving as you can see the flowers are still thriving in all of my decking pots! The investment has given us colour for the winter season and beyond, valuable over the darker season. I have found that the new spring plants are surviving the extremely wet weather and will hopefully bulk out for next year!

Along with the seedlings which are germinating in much colder conditions than I expected showing that Brassicas and Cabbages can grow in the lowest light levels and coldest conditions! Which is probably why previous years attempts on warmer windowsills have struggled! So for me I will be sowing a few more successional sets I a weeks time to maximise our growing of the over wintering favourites.

The Crocosmia is beginning to show new shoots, I shall be dividing the different growing areas this year as they have grown well! Our Garden is established and the forest style mixed with evergreens and ornamental structures of bamboos add an architectural element even when the plants are relatively young!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Home Craft, Recycling, Storage

Upcycling!

This weeks home project has been to find a corner unit for our bedroom! After several days contacting people with expensive upcycled cabinets and finding they were sold I began searching for one I could create to fit the space we needed. As with many homes the chimney is central to one side of our room and just by the door, as we needed a little more storage space I decided to try and find one to fit the space.

Last week while shopping I was in my favourite store and found some Chalk paint at £4.99, I do not usually purchase things extra but knowing they are usually expensive I picked one up in a Duck Egg blue, one of my many favourite colours! So after a little investigation he contacted someone who worked in a local charity shop selling one for £35 and he went to collect it.

As he returned with the usual war stories of parking vs 7ft cabinet, he had been given it for a fabulous £10 which the lady offered without bartering on our part. The door had lost some battoning but as I wanted the cabinet top open my husband removed it, so as my daughter had her afternoon nap I began to apply the paint!

The key to chalk paint is to give a shabby chic look! I have however found I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting, so after a while the stippling began to look ornate and I relaxed on trying to completely cover the chosen surfaces. I wanted the shelves to be mahogany along with the central base, the rest I painted in the blue.

Finally using a hand carved heart I had purchased from a recent venture to the charity shop on the door centre, my task was complete! A once unloved piece of furniture has now pride of place in our bedroom and fits perfectly, the best bit is the extra paint I upcycled an old chest of drawers which just fitted the other side of the chimney. So, for £15, I had two pieces of furniture to compliment our newly decorated space!

Investing time and energy, towards a goal can be rewarding especially if you enjoy the task!

Happy Upcycling!

Cheryl

Allotment, Writing

Spring Sunshine!

Yesterday between the chaos of torrential rain and shopping we managed to visit the allotment! The recent investments we had made had supplied us with a few large boxes perfect for providing a base for our new border, previously I had inherited soft fruit dug into it. Last year I took out the small bushes and weeded it, so yesterday as I lifted my weed bags from the base of it only a little couch grass required removing!

The base was then lined with the cardboard and soil applied over the top until it was level, to complete we had to collect a few more bags as seemingly my husbands memory had failed him and four bags vanished! My first investment on the plot this year it cost twenty pounds to fill, another space cleared and prepared for this year will be perfect for whatever I decide to set in it!

I had thought to move our strawberries which are next to the shed as this space is south facing and would make a great seating are for the children! This would require a few slabs which I have yet to source. So the onions which are currently setting their roots in the small greenhouse will probably be set their when they are ready.

Again our seedlings are finally establishing, my popcorn planter is showing strong shoots! The red mammoth, January king cabbages, Romanesco Cauliflowers and Broccoli are just setting and look wonderful! In a few weeks they will be established enough to plant out. The signs of spring are all around, the Ribes is in full flower, buds on the fruit tree’s and frog spawn in the pond, the garden is full of life!

Last years Kale seeds struggled but already the Scarlet and Nero are showing Promise! So today despite being tired, I am enjoying the time with our youngest. The wind blowing a storm outside, bright clear skies, white fluffy clouds and brilliant blue skies which is full of wonderful sunshine! Daffodils radiant in the evergreen borders and tulips rising up, Days like this are what makes the effort worth while!

Happy Springtime!

Cheryl