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

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Propagation

Sowing Plug Plants!

As my seedlings take their time to grow on in the greenhouse, a few weeks of unusual weather has set them back, but with little sign of damage I decided to start our holidays with a visit to the Garden centre!

This place has a fabulous play area, so for me I find it the perfect compromise as I can search through the plants and they can follow the amazing dinosaur trail and spend some time in the park. On this trip I set off to choose a few trays of plug plants to allow the family to plant some crops into the raised beds as ours matures to a stronger size.

The shelves were a disappointment with very few varieties available, I ended up with mini pop corn, Pak choi, Brussel sprouts and Kale. I had hoped for some cauliflower or broccoli but obviously these had been purchased or overlooked. After a wander around and play we set off home through the villages and after the shop tomatoes being very small, I had seen a home sign for plants for sale and stopped to purchase four of the main varieties, Gardeners delight and Money maker.

Yesterday our plot visit was designed for the children to plant these and water them in, I found them a great little project and they did a fantastic job setting them in place as I cleared the old crops and set in the new. After around 40 minutes the new plants were in and after a quick water up we were home, refilling the plug pant trays with alternate varieties of the crops we had sown.

Having a huge seed selection, I chose a variety of Brussel sprout, Pak choi, Beetroot and potted on my Popcorn planters sweetcorn into the shop trays. This is a good way to offset crops to over winter as you harvest the first of your shop bought crops, late starters will be ready for a successional crop.

After setting a selection of Jack o’ lantern pumpkins and Atlantic giants to replace those taken in the unusual frosts, these I have set in larger pots and will not plant until they have their true leaves. I set a few salad trays with ‘Princess of India’; Nasturtiums and a pale yellow calendula variety and some mixed cosmos as those I had set in my planters are yet to germinate.

Once they were watered by my youngest I left them on the bench for a cool night to be placed in the greenhouse today! This will hopefully encourage them to grow as the warmer days set in! Our greenhouse is full of promise, tomatoes, early purple and a mass of cucurbit treasures which will need potting on shall be our project this week so by our next holiday we should be sowing an abundance of crops in our allotment beds.

So today with the sun shining, I have moved a few trays of established plants and set the new ones to warm in the greenhouse. The new plants growing in our soil, adding to the collection of crops we are trying this year, potatoes sown are yet to show but an investment in a hose adapter to our water tank will allow me to water the patch while the weather is dry.

So, hopefully you will have set some seeds of your own… spring is a perfect time for clearing and mulching whether in the allotment or at home.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Family Postcards, Writing

Holiday fun!

So with two weeks off I prepared in advance and collected a few sets of props for Easter, all of mine have enjoyed the search for eggs through our garden! So after finding a large plastic chicken container full of eggs for £4 and purchasing a craft kit full of characters from chicks to bunnies, eggs and flowers I filled a few of the chick eggs with my purchases and set aside a few for treats which I place in cool carrot bags designed for each child to have a treat.

The first was a chocolate egg hunt, I have also purchased Haribo bags, lollies, sweets and a selection of eggs for Sunday. The children enjoy the variety of treats and it costs around ten pounds to collect the props as the egg hunt cards which I added to large garden tags, cost a few pounds.

Whether it is part of your calendar or not I find this time of year is great for showing the circle of life, can help build a knowledge of reality about different food sources. A great opportunity to draw them outside in search of something, Which often breaks up the day and allows them to enjoy the wonderful warm weather we are having!

I am still thrilled by the addition of chicks into school at this time of year, for those who have not the access to their own it is great to watch the chicks hatching and growing over the weeks running up to Easter. I have sourced a few clips, I have found to access for my children to watch eggs hatching, chicks developing.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Cheryl

 

Gardening on a budget, Writing

Spring Garden!

Some times I find I need space from technology! After a few weeks of family focussed work I found inspiration in the garden, and echoing the growth in our life I found the light perfect to show the blooms of our garden. The Orchard flowers are beginning to appear on the tree’s, the plum has already been pollinated, but the later harvested fruit are just showing their white beauty.

The Ribes and clematis have 6 foot between them which I plan to sow some flower seeds between but along the fence they greet and gather, I love the clematis as it flowers twice a year and they blooms smell off strawberry chocolate. The archway it initially clambered has all but gone, however the tree like stem still holds the rambling arch strongly.

Our little decked area set for the children is still amazing this time of year, the combination of bamboo’s, ferns and my favourite ‘Bloodgood’ Acer which has flourished in its sheltered position. After adding mulch throughout the base of our planted and play areas around the garden it has created a relaxing woodland feel which the family enjoy playing in whilst searching for their holiday treats.

It seems and age away from when it was first planted, and today it still activates their imagination. A space for them to search for insects, grow their plants and create, priceless to see how they have blossomed and skilled in their own knowledge and confidence.

After a quiet afternoon enjoying the sunshine!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl