Allotment

My Sweet Little Allotment

Have I mentioned I love my allotment and how happy I am lately? Even flying visits to water leave me feeling immensely proud, happy and relieved. I got my new plot in March this year, just 2 months after having a full hysterectomy so I reckon I’ve every reason to feel mighty chuffed with myself. This place is my little haven, just as my old plot was (I reluctantly gave it up due to the stupid disease I was suffering with). I knew I had a long road ahead of me to get well and difficult decisions to make along the way, but now I feel as if I’ve come full circle and I’m back to my old self, full of excitement and eager to get stuck in. Of course, I’m careful not to overdo it (I’m still healing after all). I grab endless opportunities to rest and sit inside my little shed, sipping tea whilst looking out across the allotments is pure relaxation.

allotment, cream shed, vintage

On one of my more energetic days last week I cleared and dug over another bed opposite the patch of rhubarb, both beds are roughly the same width and length. I don’t have any solid plans to plant in this bed at the moment (but that could change, I’m thinking gloriosa daisies for autumn colour), I’m concentrating on marking the structure of the plot and improving the heavy clay soil. I didn’t expect to get this far with my plot so everything that has been planted is a bonus, I’m not expecting great things it’s just nice to see something growing, but if I do harvest something it will be even sweeter.

allotment shed, cream shed

Zinnia in the old trough are growing really well and flower buds are beginning to swell. I really hope this trough does well, it would be lovely to see it full of colourful summer flowers. I popped a couple of nasturtium in as well, you know, just to be sure!

galvanised trough, bunting

It hasn’t rained properly for many weeks now so I’m watering frequently during the evenings. My vintage watering can developed a very slight leak recently but that’s to be expected considering the age, it’s still usable though and I love it. I often wonder how many gardeners it served before me.

watering can, vintage, allotment

The sweetcorn plants are putting on a growth spurt now, they’re loving the heat. I put some bunting up around the plot to frighten pigeons away, I doubt it works but it looks pretty.

allotment, sweet corn, sweetcorn, bunting, growing, grow your own

Yesterday I planted lavender next to the shed, as it grows it will overhang the path just in front of the wooden gate (on the to do list), releasing calming scent whenever I walk past.

Kitchen Garden

Strawberry Season

Our strawberries are starting to ripen now, each morning I greedily search through the foliage for ruby red fruit. We grow Cambridge Favourite strawberries and started our patch with just a few plants, collecting runners over the years to plant in old wine crates, troughs and hanging baskets extends our picking enjoyment even further.

The original strawberry patch is 3 years old and full to the brim, my plan is to pot up runners before they root down into the lawn and start a new bed in autumn or early spring to eventually succeed the current one. To avoid a build up of disease and pests it’s best to plant on new ground every 3 -5 years, yields will reduce dramatically after 2 years but the plants will keep fruiting with a bit of care.

strawberries, garden trug, wooden trug, harvest, grow your own

Snacking on a warm strawberry straight from the garden is one of the most pleasurable moments of a British summer, another is a glass of Pimms swimming with sweet boozy fruit (for me anyway). Oh yeah!

Kitchen Garden

Busy Month of June

June is a hectic month for a gardener. Endless pots of tender plants that have been nurtured and protected for many weeks can go outside now, suddenly lots of planting and watering needs doing as well as successional sowing of fast maturing crops.

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen garden during this month, and with an allotment too you could say I’m pretty busy at the moment! It’s never a chore though, not when I get to be outside in the fresh air, listening to birds singing and bees buzzing. The kitchen garden is bursting to life (if a little behind due to a cold start).

I’m never alone in the garden, our German Shepherd dog loves to follow me around and lay in the cool grass as I get on with planting. I can’t quite believe she turns 9 years old this August, where has the time gone? Five years on from losing our other GSD weeks after his 8th birthday we feel blessed to have her every single day, I love her company so much, even when she squashes my plants with her bottom!

There’s usually another pair of beady dark eyes watching from a tree or a spade handle, my little gardener’s friend the Robin waits for the chance to grab a worm, hopping around me as I work. I managed a photo of my other garden buddy hopping between the borlotti beans looking for a meal.

We planted peas late this year due to difficult spring weather, pods are just starting to fill out with fat peas from the bottom up and none have made it to the kitchen. Oops.

Busy or not I love a spot of pottering around when I’ve finished all my jobs. June brings goodies to the garden and snacking as I potter is a joy. Peas and young broad beans straight from the pods, oh and strawberries still warm from the sun, little moments like this make growing your own so worthwhile.

Kitchen Garden · Recipes

Broad Bean Bruschetta

fava beans

The broad beans I planted out in November have been ready for picking for over a week, I love picking young pods and eating the small beans while working in the kitchen garden so not many make it to the kitchen at first.

fava beans

I gathered some pods today to make a really simple lunch time bruschetta, it was so scrummy and easy to make.

I just taste as I go so I don’t really measure anything.

Pod broad beans and add to a pan of boiling water for no more than 2 minutes.

Drain then remove and discard outer skins to reveal the beautiful green bean inside.

Add a dash of olive oil and mash the beans with a fork or puree with a hand blender, entirely up to you.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice and pinch of salt to taste.

Toast bread (I use Italian toasting bread) on both sides and rub one side with a garlic clove, pile the bean mix on top.

Enjoy!

Allotment

More Planting on the Allotment

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and very hot, I decided to finish painting inside the shed during the hottest part of the day to avoid getting sunburn and I’m relieved to say it’s finished, hurrah! (well, just the door to do at some point!). It’s taken a while but I’m really happy with how it looks. I popped back to the plot after dinner as the sun was setting, it was much cooler and a better time to plant the borlotti beans up the hazel wigwam and get some sweetcorn in the ground.

It was getting late and I was starting to ache a bit so I didn’t get everything finished, I made my way home happy but tired. I popped back to the allotment today with our daughter (her day off work) to finish planting sweetcorn, the weather has cooled today which is much better for planting.

I took a sneaky photo of our daughter, hope she doesn’t find out….

The plot is starting to really take shape now as you can see in the photo below, the blue areas are waiting to be cleared and dug over to make more beds.

My shed is my favourite place to be, being slightly elevated I can look out over the whole allotment site and soak in the atmosphere. It makes me realise how much I missed this place and I can see my previous plot from here too.

After a bit of weeding and watering we made our way home for a cup of tea and a natter.

 

Allotment

New Fence and Planting

Last weekend I had a bit of help from Rich to put a fence around the allotment using chicken wire and fencing pins to keep rabbits and deer out. With the protective fencing in place I began the very first bit of planting on plot 33 with sunflowers, cosmos, zinnia and winter squash in the large beds. Sweetcorn, more squash and beans are hardening off at home before they also make their way to the plot.

Using locally coppiced hazel poles and natural jute twine (to tie the poles together securely at the top) I put together a wigwam for borlotti beans, I just love how rustic hazel poles look. The recent rain made it much easier to push the poles into the soil.

Next to the shed (where the previous compost bin was) I planted Velvet Queen and Black Magic multi-branching sunflowers, the colours are beautiful and I love growing them in our kitchen garden at home. Cosmos are planted towards the front to fill out the area with frilly texture and pretty blooms, bees and butterflies love them. The old trough was abandoned for years so I put it to good use planting it with zinnia (they can be tricky so fingers crossed they grow well), I’m super happy to have some flowers growing on the plot already.

Working on an allotment is thirsty work and my little camping stove comes in handy for making tea. I think it’s going to get a lot of use….

Thundery downpours are forecast for our region today and brightening up again from the weekend. I have a little bit more painting to do inside the shed and then it will be ready for the shelf to go up.

My little plot is really coming together already, luckily it wasn’t overgrown (allotments usually are when you take them on) thanks to the previous owner covering half of it over to keep weeds down and the time of year I took it on helped loads. If you’re taking on a new allotment take photos before you start working your plot, you’ll be amazed when you look back at them and see how far you’ve come. It gives you a great sense of achievement.

Happy gardening!

Kitchen Garden

After the Rain

Rain arrived late last night and continued till morning, the kitchen garden looks refreshed with a noticeable earthy aroma to the air. Even though the sun is covered over by heavy sky I can feel heat beginning to build already.

The much-needed rain encouraged lots of creatures from their hiding places, including fat slugs, unfortunately.

Young frog on chives
Anyone else reminded of the film Tremors?

We garden organically in our kitchen garden and allotment, relying on natural methods and predators to keep pest numbers down. During damp weather (particularly in spring) we pick slugs and snails off young plants by hand (yuk!). It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

Flowers are appearing on the peas which is really exciting, I can’t wait to pick fresh pods and snack on sweet little peas!

Looks like we’re in for a bumper crop of strawberries too! We grow Cambridge Favourite which have great flavour for making jam, if we are to have any chance of entering the jam class of our village show later this year we must refrain from scoffing them all straight from the plants!

Have a great gardening weekend!

Kitchen Garden

Letting Go

With this great weather set to stick around for a while longer we took the plunge and planted out courgettes and butternut squash in the raised bed kitchen garden. Mollycoddled from seed it was time to take a deep breath and allow tiny tendrils to explore, yikes it’s so hard letting go.

kitchen garden, raised beds, vegetable garden

Five courgette plants are more than enough for a family of four although last year we had a really poor crop, we usually struggle to pick them fast enough.

We will never complain again about a courgette glut (Ok, we probably will), fingers crossed for lots this year!

Allotment

Beautiful Evenings on the Allotment

The weather at the moment is glorious. Blue cloudless sky and warm sunny evenings spent on the allotment is a tonic, the stresses of everyday life melt away the moment I step through the gate. I absolutely love it here and I’m just so happy to have the chance to work another plot after reluctantly giving my old plot up a few years ago.

allotment shed

The sunny stuff is set to stick around for a while and I’m not going to waste a moment of it. While it may be too hot to dig for lengthy periods of time and unworked ground is like concrete anyway, it is however perfect weather for painting. And that’s what I’ve started to do inside the shed.

Using the same colour as the outside it’s starting to look really fresh and bright compared to before. I still have a fair bit to do and more coats should finish it off nicely, then the bunting can go back up. The shelf unit from eBay needs a lick of paint too, then I can fill it with bits and bobs.

I’ll post some photos once it’s finished.

Allotment

Allotment Shed

The new shed has been in place on plot 33 for a number of weeks, I’ve even managed to paint it a lovely shade of cream thanks to the warm dry weather that’s been hanging around. The paint of choice is Country Cream from the Garden Shades range by Cuprinol. The shed needs another coat at least and there are a couple of tricky spots to do that I can’t reach without a ladder.

I’m really pleased with how it looks with the little window curtains.

I plan to paint the inside too and then add bits and pieces I have collected including a bargain shelf unit I got from eBay for £5. I couldn’t resist adding some bunting inside for now, it looks so pretty don’t you think?

It’s not all been about beautifying the shed, I have put in some hard graft on the allotment too with help from Rich to get some beds ready for planting. But first I need to put up some temporary wire fencing using hook stakes to keep rabbits and deer out.

I’m very impressed with my inherited patch of rhubarb! Plenty of pies, jams and crumble on the menu I feel, perhaps a gin tipple too, you know, for medicinal purposes and all that ;)

allotment

Plot 33 has changed so much since I got it in March, I really enjoy the visits there. At the moment I’m digging a small flower patch next to the shed, with plenty of annual flowers coming along in the greenhouse at home it’s sure to be full of colour very soon.

Allotment

Rhubarb and Raspberries

A quick update on the allotment, I have a shed arriving in a couple of weeks time! I’m so excited to have a little space to retreat for a cup of tea. I have some little curtains for the window and I think I’ve settled on a colour to paint it….but knowing me that will probably change so I’ll reveal once I’ve committed to buying a tin.

After uncovering the old shed base from the pile of rotting wood we noticed the front row of slabs had sunk, we raised them up and checked it was all level. I’ve also weeded the rhubarb patch and levelled off some of the soil to tidy it up a bit.

I said previously that I wasn’t going to cut the raspberries down because I didn’t know if they were summer or autumn fruiting, I changed my mind and gave them all the chop to be able to remove grass and weeds without running the risk of losing an eye, a small price to pay I feel. The neglected patch of raspberries now looks tidy and the new canes can grow without competing with grass and weeds, a touch more hand weeding needed to get rid of the last stubborn bits and then I’ll give it all a good mulch of compost.

raspberry bed
Raspberry pruning and weeding before and after.

Plot 33 is tucked under more tarp and sheeting for now to prevent excessive weed growth, except the rhubarb and raspberries of course. Meanwhile, I’m on the lookout for bits of wood to make some raised beds!

I’ll update again soon.

Allotment

Allotment Snooping In The Snow

Winter is not letting go just yet with more snow falling over the weekend. Nicknamed ‘Mini Beast from the East’ I’d say a tame little pussy cat rocked up to Bedfordshire (at the moment anyway, fingers crossed). Nevertheless, the ground is frozen solid once again and that means no veg garden or allotment tinkering. Humph!

This latest dusting of snow didn’t stop me from my usual trot to the allotments to snoop look at the plots and soak up inspiration. It never ceases to amaze me how allotment folk utilise items that others would simply throw out with the rubbish, we’re a frugal bunch and I love that. Something else I love about allotment life is the humble shed. Ramshackle, brand new, plain or unusual. I don’t know why I adore them like I do.

The sheds on the allotments are actually pretty tidy, being a new allotment site most of the sheds were bought new rather than being inherited down through the years, they haven’t had the time needed to become significantly weather-beaten or patched up. I’m still window shopping and deciding which shed will work best for me and my new plot, as well as planning the plot layout on paper. Very exciting!

Plot 33, bedraggled and shivering in the snow….

But I have plans, with sprinkles of love and bunting.

Allotment

Back To The Magical World Of Allotments

After giving up my allotment a couple of years ago I began to regret my decision. I miss the allotment site and the charm and character of the sheds dotted around, even the sound of trains whizzing along the track I found strangely soothing. I miss the general chit-chat weather grumbles, and being around people who, like me, have a deep need for being at one with the seasons and growing food from a slice of land. There’s just something about allotments, once you have the bug it never really leaves you.

I’m currently re-building stamina with regular walks around the village after having major surgery in January, more often than not I made my way to the allotments to soak in the serenity. I found myself enquiring and much to my delight a couple of plots were indeed available. A particular plot caught my eye and I accepted the challenge once more.

My new allotment looks daunting but in reality it’s not that bad. The plot boundary ends at the blue tarp, just before the grass path in front of my neighbour who keeps a beautifully tended plot. Plot 33 is a quirky and unloved little plot with a curved boundary at the top, in a lovely position adjacent to the community orchard. The shed that once stood has gone but the slab base still remains, currently hidden underneath a pile of old wood. I find myself day dreaming about how my new allotment shed will look in situ as well as paint colours and bunting. Ooh shed shopping!

Previous shed base
Community orchard entrance
Lovely view from my plot

I’ve inherited four tired-looking rhubarb crowns with my new allotment, I’m not sure of variety but they look like they could have red stalks. I’ll give them a good mulch and let them do their thing this year, then I can see how they perform. Dividing will help regain vigour but that’s a job I cannot do right now so it’ll have to wait until the end of the year. It appears they may have flowered last summer judging by the decaying matter around them.

There’s a plastic raised bed thingy of strawberries, a couple of gooseberry bushes and a patch of rampant raspberries of which I’m guessing are summer fruiting, I’m not entirely sure. With this in mind I think I will skip pruning this year and watch how they grow and when they fruit. Weeding and mulching a must!

Patch of raspberries

My new plot is smaller by comparison but I still have to take it easy. I certainly won’t be digging anytime soon for obvious reasons plus I’m a big fan of the no dig method which is probably the route I will take.

Plot 33 and I will slowly recover, together.

Uncategorized

Storm Emma meets Beast from the East

For many days the UK has been gripped by the ‘Beast from the East’, snow and freezing temperatures tucking signs of spring firmly under a white blanket. Now storm Emma approaches from the Atlantic bringing more snow, clashing with Siberian air causing icy high winds and blizzard conditions. The entire country is now under a severe weather warning with worse yet to come, parts of Scotland, south-west England and Wales are on red alert for snow. Lives are at risk.

Even though it’s still snowing here in the east of England and so cold I can barely feel my fingers, I feel our region has got off lightly so far compared to some. Having said that, those with livestock to care for makes things difficult wherever you are. Our chickens refuse to leave the coops and drinkers freeze within half an hour of refilling. I really feel for farmers and smallholders, plus it is lambing season.

The above photo was taken yesterday on my phone with shaky cold hands! Today the garden is completely submerged and it’s too cold to stand around taking photos. Us Brits have a good moan about the weather, hot or cold we’ll find something to complain about but we really are getting our a*se whopped right now.

Stay warm and safe x

Kitchen Garden

What’s Growing On In February?

Biting winds, rain, hail and snow showers, we’ve never been so thankful for the occasional glimpse of sunshine to provide some respite. Ooh naughty February! Welcome back to our monthly catch up posts where we show you what’s growing on in our garden smallholding.

The vegetable garden in February still offers fabulous things to eat thanks to a bit of careful planning. By dedicating a whole bed to carrots rather than just a couple of rows for late summer/autumn use, we’re still pulling tasty roots of ‘Autumn King’. Standing well in our soil our garden tends to get rather boggy in winter so this variety really is worth growing. The same can be said for ‘Gladiator’ parsnip, fantastic roots right through to spring.

Another great crop providing nutritious leaves from summer right through to winter is kale. ‘Nero Di Toscana’ will grow in difficult conditions such as a shady spot and poor drainage (trust us, we know!). The flavour improves after a frost and once it finally bolts the flowers can be eaten too.

We’ve just finished picking the last of the Brussels Sprouts and now we’re patiently waiting for spears of beautiful early sprouting broccoli to make an appearance. Early purple sprouting is sown late spring one year and produces from February/March the following year – so you really do need to be patient!

The veg garden in February

Autumn-fruiting raspberry canes got their annual chop this week. Rich carefully tidied around to remove the old leaves and debris being careful not to damage emerging canes, finishing up with a mulch of compost afterwards.

The canes are very spiky – gloves are needed! In just a couple of months the whole bed will be brimming with fresh new growth.

Rather than burning or composting we’ve decided to keep the cut raspberry canes and use them as organic slug and snail deterrents (due to the spikes), laying them on the ground in and around seedlings.

Something has had a go at the broad bean seedlings underneath the cloche tunnels (unlikely to be a pigeon, a mouse perhaps?), a bit of soil disturbance and a couple of seedlings vanished – one is wilting so I guess the seed bean is damaged. This is the first place we’re going to use the canes. I wonder if mice will be that bothered by a few spikes? It’s an experiment so we’ll let you know if it works.

Our chickens were beginning to lay regularly (except for Mrs Broody pants), a couple have now decided to have another moult which means no eggs.

Some of our girls are getting on for retirement, perhaps nearer summer we’ll increase the flock seeing as we have a new coop!

 

Kitchen Garden · Product Reviews

Windowsill Propagator Heat Mat

Our chilli pepper seeds have germinated much sooner than usual thanks to a windowsill propagator heat mat. We mentioned in a recent post we were using one in a trial and would blog about it if we liked it.

In just 8 days the first seedlings appeared with more popping up over the following days. As expected, a couple of seeds haven’t germinated but we have more than enough seedlings due to sowing more than we need.

The windowsill heat mat we are using looks like this:

It’s simple to use, just plug it in and place on the windowsill of your choice. We covered our seed trays with clear lids to help with humidity and kept the heat mat on for most of the day, switching off at night (purely for our own peace of mind!) allowing a radiator to provide a source of heat. The heat mat fits a standard size windowsill without hanging over the edge and can take up to two full sized trays, much more if the trays are smaller. It heats up quickly and doesn’t get too hot to the touch.

If you’re interested in getting this particular heat mat you’ll find it here. Priced at £16.49 with free UK delivery it’s a cheaper alternative to most heated propagators but still an expense. If this doesn’t suit your budget it’s still possible to germinate some seed by using a radiator or warm airing cupboard. Once germinated, seedlings can grow at lower temperatures in a bright room. It will take longer but you should see some decent results.

If you do decide to get one please do let us know how you’re getting on.

Uncategorized

Winner Winner Chicken Coop

Just after new year I received some very exciting news from Bed-Down Premium Poultry Bedding – I had won first prize in their Facebook competition!!

Here’s what I won:

1st Prize – Cozy Chicken bespoke hen house in gorgeous ‘egg yolk’ yellow, Cozy Chicken superior bedding 10kg bales x2 and Marriage’s 15kg Royal Variety mixed corn.

Well, I almost fainted. What a great start to 2018!

First up I’d like to thank Bed-Down for running such a generous competition and for picking little ol’ me as the winner. I’ve never won anything quite like this before, the coop will really come in handy when we build the extra chicken run we’ve planned for some time now, more about that soon. The bedding smells divine and being super soft it’s particularly perfect for tatty ex battery hens needing some extra TLC and a nice soft bed to rest in at night. I know our hens are going to love snuggling down in it. Thank you to Marriage’s for the Royal Variety mixed corn, I can honestly say it’s the best we’ve ever used with our chickens. It’s contains pieces of carrot, peas and sunflower seeds, our hens go bonkers for it.

The coop and bedding were delivered to us a couple of days ago, I’m not well enough to have a photo done with it just yet due to recent surgery so Bed-Down kindly allowed me to use theirs. Once I’m able to I will take more photos and move some chickens in! Hurrah!

The chicken coop – squeal!!! Photo credit: Bed-Down Premium Poultry Bedding.

Superior quality bedding crafted from the finest, golden wheat straw, sustainably harvested fresh from Norfolk fields before being chopped and dust extracted with our unique Easy Breathe™ process for better respiratory health.

Encourages the natural behaviour of poultry!

Cozy Chicken at a glance

  • Poultry bedding from chopped and improved wheat straw
  • Insulating in winter, light and airy in summer
  • Durable, absorbent, comfortable for hens
  • Keeps eggs safe and clean
  • Naturally anti-bacterial & anti-fungal
  • Pleasant natural pine fragrance
  • Fully compostable
  • Great value for money, easy to use & store
Photo credit: Bed-Down Premium Poultry Bedding

If you don’t already follow Bed-Down on Facebook please do look them up and give their page a ‘like’. Follow Bed-Down on Twitter too. Keep your eyes peeled for more competitions throughout the year, you never know your luck!

Kitchen Garden

And Sow it Begins

I came home from hospital last weekend, my body is tired and sore but getting a little stronger every day. I ended up needing more surgery than expected which has set my recovery back with one thing or another but I am getting there, slowly. I miss spending time with the chickens and of course the day-to-day activities in the garden smallholding, family are mucking in and doing what’s needed. I long for the day I can join in rather than watch from the window but I’m not to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea for at least 6 weeks. Meh.

I guess I can cope with the tea bit.

After going through our seed stash last month we’ve ordered what we need for the new growing year with some new varieties to try, the rest will be our own saved seed. We will buy our seed potatoes very soon and set them out to chit in egg boxes.

We like to sow our tomatoes and chillies early, harvesting can begin as early as June/July depending on varieties grown. Chillies need constant heat to aid germinate so we’re using a seedling heat mat at the moment to help. We’ve never used anything like this before when germinating seeds such as chillies and peppers, we usually get decent germination results by using the warmest spots in the house but it can take up to a month to occur due to temperatures dipping at night. It’s a bit of a trial so we’ll let you know how the heat mat performs in terms of germination rate/time, and if we like it enough to recommend we’ll do a little blog post. Rich set everything up for sowing our seeds to avoid me lifting anything, all I had to do is pop the seeds in. It felt so good to be involved and gave me the lift I needed.

It’s official, gardening is therapy!

Kitchen Garden

What’s Growing on in January

I love writing these monthly catch ups on our kitchen garden, documenting the activities and plans. It’s a good excuse to get the camera out and really study the garden changing throughout the year. I use these posts as a reminder to look back on too.

January is usually a hard month for a lot of people, the weather hasn’t helped lift moods being so gloomy and dark. Threatening skies, murky and damp, I’m surprised some of our hens have come back into lay so soon.

But there are signs of good things to come. Take our rhubarb for example, it’s just starting to burst into life again after a brief moment of dormancy. It may not look much right now but in just a few weeks, it will. It’ll be all blushing stalks and leaves as big as dinner plates.

Go rhubarb!

If you want a super early rhubarb that tastes great and makes beautiful jams then Timperley Early is a great addition to your vegetable garden or allotment. It reappears soon after being dormant in autumn, pushing egg-like buds through the soil as early as December. Superb for forcing, it crops so early naturally you can pull it unforced late February to Early March. It’s not the heaviest cropping rhubarb but well worth growing for early cropping.

We’re still pulling some lovely roots from the carrot and parsnip beds. Autumn King carrots over winter in our garden and of course parsnips taste even sweeter after a good frosting. Long and straight parsnips from a no dig bed in its second year, not bad at all!

Kale ‘Nero Di Toscana’ (black Tuscan kale) has served us well throughout winter, the plants now resemble mini exotic palm trees with bare stems and leafy tops. Double rows of broad bean seedlings continue to grow well, protected under tunnel cloches from the destruction of chicken beaks and feet.

New growth sprouting at the base of the blackcurrants.

Our Brahma chickens enjoying some free time in the vegetable garden. When spring arrives and seed sowing begins the chickens are kept out using barrier mesh fencing.

I spotted some frogs in the wildlife pond preparing to attract a mate for spawning soon. We love the call of the males, we should start to hear it by next month.

We plan to sow chillies and tomatoes indoors in seed trays very soon, potting on throughout spring as needed. We do this every year with great results, eventually planting healthy and sturdy plants into the greenhouse towards the end of May, once night-time temperatures are steady enough.

I’m looking forward to putting a seed order or two in soon, it’s so exciting waiting for seed packets to arrive. I always try to grow either a new variety or something completely new to our garden each growing year, this year I’m thinking about growing Oca for the first time. Exciting!

Do you plan to grow something new this year?

Kitchen Garden

Beany Babies

January is such a bleak and dreary month, it also happens to be the month of our birthdays. Oh I do envy the summer-born, the endless possibilities for outdoor celebrations. The ground is sodden in our garden at the moment, it’s bitterly cold too – no garden birthday parties for us.

I do try my hardest to stay off the squelchy garden paths but I’m weak, I love to mooch around the garden prodding and poking for signs of life. I took a quick peek at the raised beds, trying to be as light-footed as possible.

Snug under the tunnel cloches the first seeds of the new growing year are up, six rows with two rows per tunnel of baby broad beans. I find using tunnel cloches so useful for overwintering and keeping crops safe from pigeons and our chickens. Only a couple of seeds failed to set but that’s fine, I always sow more than necessary and thin out later if need be.

Caulk Wight garlic we planted in November is very noticeable now, with Red Duke just starting to push through. If they all come up we’ll have around 90 bulbs of garlic to harvest in summer.

I’m giddy with excitement for the growing year ahead. There are a couple of hurdles for me to get over first but I’m so looking forward to being outside, sowing seeds and drinking tea in the sunshine.

Uncategorized

Happy New Year 2018

This year has been a tricky year for me with regards to my health. As some of you are already aware I had surgery in June which meant I couldn’t spend much time at all in my beloved vegetable garden during the best part of summer. The garden and blog were neglected and so the best part of autumn has been spent getting the veg beds and paths under control –  which we managed to do before all the heavy snow arrived!
I’m scheduled for major surgery in a few weeks time but I plan to be fighting fit and back on my feet in the greenhouse sowing the first seeds of spring as soon as I can (I might be a little late with it all depending on how I feel but everything catches up eventually!). I look forward to reading blogs and watching YouTube channels to see what you’ve all been up to in your gardens, allotments and smallholdings as I recover.
As this year comes to a close I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for following our small but precious backyard farm / garden smallholding journey, not just on the blog but via social media too. I wish you all a happy 2018 and a great growing year ahead.
 All the very best, Karen x