Vegetable Garden

Sweetcorn – Tassels, Silks and Pollination

Our sweetcorn is doing pretty well, the male tassels (flowers) at the top are standing proud and the female silks are starting to show. Now we are coming to the crucial time that could render our first attempt at growing sweetcorn (from seed I might add) either a tasty success or a total failure.

Wind pollination along with planting in a block rather than a row will help to pollinate the silks, but, I shall also aid nature a little and try to hand pollinate as well. Anyone else done this before? Any tips? So far I have the following advice:

Tap the tassel flower when fully open to distribute the pollen to the silks below, or, run your hand up and down the tassel and then do the same to the silks to release the pollen.


As you can see we have at least 3 silks per plant, whether or not all become pollinated is any ones guess. I have a few pollinating ideas up my sleeve (oh dear that sounds a bit odd) so I shall try different methods on different plants and see how we go.

Harvest, Vegetable Garden

One Potato, Two Potato…

Charlotte Salad Potatoes

We harvested some Charlotte potatoes on Friday, our first potato harvest of the year and wow they were scrummy! We harvested two plants which produced more than enough potatoes to feed a hungry family of four, with some to spare too. This was our first time growing salad potatoes and they have definately earned their plot for next year.

Charlotte Potatoes 2009

The main crop are flowering away nicely, although they got a bit battered and bruised by recent strong winds but they seem to be holding their own. Which varieties are you growing and do you have any favourites? I have been making plenty of potato salad with the Charlotte’s, look out for the simple Karen proof recipe coming soon!

Fruit Garden, Harvest



Our strawberries are ripening now but its a mad dash to get to them before the birds do! We are growing  Elan and Loran varieties. I must get round to building some sort of fruit cage, I’m not a fan of netting for one reason or another. How do you cover yours?


Happy Birthday Jason


Our German Shepherd dog Jason turns 4 today. He is an amazing family dog, true to his form and loyal companion.

Happy Birthday Jason x

Vegetable Garden

A Lesson in Growing Courgettes

Male courgette flower

I’m simply sharing my recent findings for anyone, who like me, thought that wilting courgette flowers dropping off the plants was a problem. You see, it’s not. They are meant to do that. The first few weeks of flowers are the males, they open, look pretty, wilt and then drop off. No need to panic like I did.

The male flowers are found on the longer thinner stems, the females (that produce the courgette) are on the shorter and fatter stems lower down the plant. You may even notice a very small courgette begin to form behind an unopened female flower. If a female flower isn’t pollinated the baby courgette may grow slightly but then rot off. Male flowers do not produce, they are there purely for pollination purposes.

There are self fertile varieties to grow too!


Simple Coleslaw


Large carrots, 5 should do it (use more if your carrots are small)

Half a white cabbage (add red cabbage too if you have it)



Peel and grate the carrots into a mixing bowl or salad bowl, whatever is to hand. Slice the cabbage slightly chunky for crispness, then add to the bowl. Put a few dollops of mayo into the bowl and mix well so that the grated carrot and sliced cabbage are covered then squeeze lemon juice over the coleslaw, add more if you like your coleslaw zesty like me.

And there you have it, simple, quick and tasty.

Chickens, Projects

Chicken Run DIY in Photos

Building the chicken run

One of our chicken runs got a DIY make over yesterday. The extension took less than no time with my brother and dad on hand to build the panels and fix them onto the back of the run to open it up further. This now makes it near enough as large as our other chicken run.

Putting the frames together….

Putting the frames together

Wire mesh goes on……

Wire mesh

Putting the roofing sheets on……

Roof sheets going on

Nearly done…..

Chicken run nearly finished

Ta Da!

Chicken Run


Sunshine Girls


Just a few photos of our two new ex-convicts soaking up the sun. Very pleased with Becki’s progress, the limp that she had has almost disappeared, I’m pretty certain that she was stiff from lack of exercise. New fresh feathers are already sprouting and both lay tiny little eggs.



What a big hat Becki has!




Its too soon to join some of the other girls, they need more rest to build up weak limbs and they both could do with gaining more weight. Some of their poops have been a bit iffy so they are being sent to a poultry lab for testing, just to be on the safe side. If anything is lingering then it can be sorted quickly.

I think they are enjoying life at our Battery Hen Haven!

Vegetable Garden

Tomatoes – Grow Bags, Vegetable Beds or Pots?

Potting on Tomatoes

It’s that time again. Time to plunge my well nurtured tomato plants into their final growing position – or should that be resting place? I get nervous now because I don’t seem to have much luck with tomatoes once they leave the safety of my sunny window. My young  plants have been hardening off, dodging the rain and need to be planted out. I don’t have the luxury of a greenhouse so I chose outdoor varieties and cross my fingers tightly.

Last year our tomatoes did OK, I wasn’t over the moon with the taste and then blight got them. They were in pots and managed to do a little better than the plants grown in grow bags the year before that. I have never tried growing them amongst other vegetables in the ground. I’m wondering as I nervously tip my lovely specimens out of their pots – which method should I choose this year?

Where do you grow your outdoor tomatoes? Any tips?

Fruit Garden

Thinning Apple Scrumptious

Apple Scrumptious

Our young apple Scrumptious tree produced more young fruit than we expected it to. This variety of apple are quite large and with the tree being very young, we felt the tree would benefit from being a little less top heavy.

To be honest, we assume the tree felt the same way as removing some of the young fruit was not hard to do at all. We left each fruiting branch with either 1, 2 or 3 young apples, depending on how strong the branch was. Got to say, very impressed with this young tree so far. Hope the taste of the fruit lives up to its name.


More Hens



Well it was bound to happen. Our flock has expanded yet again.

In May I volunteered to help Little Hen Rescue rehome ex battery hens by rehoming hens from our garden. It was a very emotional experience, watching the hens go to their forever homes with keen, kind and very excited folk. It was heart warming to say the least. With the help of a friend and family members, we rehomed 94 hens. Unfortunately there were also a few hens off their legs, basically just too weak to rehome at that point and needed TLC. They were all put safely together on blankets, given food and water and then taken by a friend of ours to be cared for one to one.

After the long exhausting day I was full of mixed emotions. Elated for the hens that were sleeping on straw for the first time in their miserable lives, sad for the hens still enduring the battery farm and missing one of the poorly girls. I just could not get her from my mind, she kept me awake at night thinking about her. Of course, I knew she was being well cared for but my mind kept drifting back to her. I kept in regular contact with their foster mum and was updated on how all the girls were getting on but it was not enough. I had to give her a home here with us and our other nutty ex batts.


So, now I have 2 new hens. Whoops did I say 2 how did that happen? I have named them Hope and Becki. Hope is the hen that I could not shake and Becki is named after a friend. Hope is walking well and very skittish. Becki is still lame on one leg so she needs a bit more care. They are bonding together nicely and will remain together until they are a little stronger before being introduced to Chrissie, Auntie Marge and Brenda.

They had a lovely day yesterday in the late afternoon sunshine, dust bathing on the lawn and soaking up the warmth into their tired out bodies. Its tear jerking watching an ex battery hen experience these simple pleasures for the first time. Although I have witnessed it many times before, it still gets to me.

Wish them luck.