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Spring Life In The Garden.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Fun In The Sun, A Sowing And A Growing!

Good morning.

Oh my what a weekend! On Saturday we spent, as a family, 3 and a half hours putting up the greenhouse gifted to us by friends; where they live was apparently too windy for them to use it so they asked if we'd like it. You betcha!

It was a bit of a task but we did it in the end, all but the glass - Jon will get to that after a couple of other jobs around out little Homestead; there are a few broken pieces but he has some in stock so no trouble there.



We started putting it together where it will eventually be set down but it was a bit of a squeeze so we moved across to the other side of the garden to complete the task.



 I took this one as Harry was tightening up all the nuts and bolts.



This photo is after I'd re-sited the blackcurrant bush that was in the doorway, can you see? Its loaded with flowers and smells fab, as does the other bush, and I'm very confident of a good harvest, as long as I can keep an eye on them regarding the birds....


I now have to strim the area, it will be secured, I'll put some membrane down for this year and Jon said he'll build me some staging. Next year I'll see about having some raised beds but I'll have my planters for the tomatoes and other things this year when I get organised - v.excited!

Sunday was a great day! I got outside after a hearty breakfast I cleaned out the chooks with some great shavings I use from the sawmill. I sowed cabbage Offenham direct into the bed outside the Poly House. I have some in the conservatory in pots but thought I'd go belt and braces as really hope they come out as well as last year but just more, barring caterpillars. 

I forgot to sow peppers after the first lot didn't germinate so I've, again, gone for sweet pepper Romano and California Wonder. Because of the extra space with the greenhouse I've decided to sow gherkins again as they did sooo well last year.

I've direct sown sugar snap peas in the main bed and used some more willow canes for a little support. I've got a really mix going on in there just now. I was only thinking this afternoon that I must work out where to put things once the first early spuds are up as there is broccoli to think of, too, that is currently in the conservatory - nowhere near ready to go out yet, though.

I am continually checking my books and magazines for things I can sow just now, and as our weather is set to be great for the next week too I have to hold myself back! I'm lucky to have a good sized area and the new greenhouse, too, but it is never enough is itπŸ˜ƒ?

The raspberry bushes were getting properly larey so I've tied the other large one to supporting canes and noticed where they have self-seeded so will have to deal with that soon. Last year our neighbour gave me some raspberry canes and I planted them at the fence line between his and our garden and completely forgot about them. They are now well established now and it looks like there will be a great crop from them this year! 

We popped to Aber after lunch and I came home with four more bags of compost. Just out of interest, what do people pay for it where you live? I can get 200 litres for £10. Work clothes back on and with new supplies I planted out more sweet peas, this time in a planter with one of my trellis (2 for £1) and willow canes so that should be a lovey sight outside of the Poly House. 

I could finally put the last of the maincrop spuds Cara in! I admit to some of them being spoilt with overheating so I had to ditch a few.... but they are in the second massive tyre and one growing bag.


I clipped some of the big weeds before strimming and checked that it was ok for some to go on the compost; I also turned over one of the compost bins to see how it was progressing.

We managed to get some of the grass cut and it looks so much better - lovely view from the Poly House. Hope to get the rest done this week.


In other areas of the garden the three blueberry bushes are really coming on well - not sure if there will be any fruit this year.











The end of the small patch where the parsnips and radishes are sown are now quite defined by the radishes which is good to see.


The Marketmore cucumbers are peeping through after being put in the propagator in the Poly House after not doing well in the conservatory so its great my recycling has worked.


Right, have to get on. Just enjoying the weather today really, not too many jobs outside apart from drying the washing. Back to Slimming World tonight after a couple of weeks away and then Welsh tomorrow, also been off for a couple of weeks as life just got in the way.

Oh, in my quest to do a bit of writing where I can I've had a piece about learning Welsh accepted and is going to be published in our local mag promoting Aber. go me!

Looking forward to seeing what everybody is getting up to on your own patches of paradise in this fantastic weather we are enjoying just now.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx









Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Dw i'n hoffi garddio - I Love Gardening!

Oh boy oh boy what a weekend that was!

The weather was bloomin' glorious from Saturday until yesterday - not the same today by any stretch but still pleasant, and secretly a touch of rain would be good! Although I've had other things to do like welcoming Airbnb guests on Saturday afternoon, popping over to our local, annual plant sale and running the boys around I got out to work on my little patch of paradise and its been absolutely fab, really!

Over the weekend I've managed to put more compost in one of the massive tyres, in which I've now planted 12 of my Cara main crop spuds, and done a bit of mixed planting by putting in swede with red 'n' green salad bowl leaves in the main patch. I finally have the pea netting up on both sides of the frame, yay! (so promise I'll stop going on about it now) along with willow at the ends for the sweet peas - a few of them I have out out but more are almost ready to go out.

I had a good tidy up in the Poly House. Just because I'm going for the al fresco look it doesn't mean I don't have to keep it tidy....





At least I have a cracking view of everything!! Whilst having a tidy up I dried all the polythene I'd been using to cover everything up in the winter,



folded it up and it now lives in a couple of compost bags to keep dry until need it again.

Also I've been keeping two strawberry plants in the conservatory, as you may have seen, and I figured it was time to get them outside so I've made use of a shopping bag that is just a ridiculous size so here is how I have utilised it.




Jon was unable to cut the grass as the guests were enjoying sunbathing in the sun but we hope to get that done soon. Likewise I have a bit of strimmer tidying up to do - oh the joys of good weather and how it makes you want to just DO STUFF!

Talking to Tracy over the weekend we could almost see each other's smiles through the What's App because we were having so much fun just being outside in the sun doing what we love. 

I completely understand how gardening can be an aid to those struggling with mental health issues. I myself can feel the endorphins being let loose as I spend time outside, loving giving it a go,seeing how things grow and being excited about looking forward to enjoying the fruits, and veg, of my labour and my achievements later in the year.

Hope everyone had as much fun as me whilst making the best of the lovely weather. 

Today is an indoor jobs day. Bread is on the go, vacuuming everywhere is on the to do list because things, as expected, were neglected over the weekend but, hey, whatever.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx





Thursday, 3 May 2018

Warming Weather And More To Come?...

Hi!

The weather is definitely improving. (Hope my sunflowers grow this well!)


Image result for sunshine

Even though in Wales we're still getting rain showers, of course, the mercury is still rising. 

No more so than in the conservatory which, you probably know, is standing in as my Poly House until such time as the storm damage to the latter is mended.



Outside I can see the tops of the first early spuds from the Poly House, such is the rate of growth just now. 

On the fruit patch the apple blossom and other fruit trees are flowering and the blackcurrant bushes and raspberry canes are coming on a pace, too. 




The rasps have re-seeded themselves in a couple of places, which I'm very pleased about, but I'll wait until they're a bit bigger then tidy them up with bamboo canes and string as I did with the biggest of them this morning. 



Ooh, today my neighbour who works at the local nursery brought me another rhubarb crown; I've planted this with the first one and I'm looking forward to having quite a sizeable patch eventually; just grateful that rhubarb is not too fussy where it grows as the area I've chosen is a bit stony but it doesn't seem to be bothering it.



The wild garlic is getting huge so I MUST do something with it very soon!



Today I've sown carrot seeds in the same bed as the parsnips and radishes. 



Whilst doing that I've, hopefully, sufficiently bunged up a hole where a mole or rabbit got through into the bed at the end of last year's growing season. Not that much damage was done then and hope to minimise it this year.

I also sowed some spinach beet, perpetual spinach, among the 2nd early spuds in the main patch; this is another of my efforts at a bit of mixed planting; it is described like this:

- A delicious spinach substitute but easier to grow. High yields of nutritious greens and resists bolting in Summer. 

I'm getting very excited about how things are coming on and feel really positive for the coming weeks and months. I'm sure the good weather forecast for the weekend will help towards us all catching up after a very poor start to Spring.

That's all for now with my ramblings.

Bye for now.


Lou.xx

Monday, 30 April 2018

Guest post No.2 - Gardening, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Good afternoon all.

Over the last year or so mental health has been in the news a great deal; high profile celebrities and even members of the royal family have talked about how their mental health has been affected. People are feeling more encouraged to talk about things that have affected them, the impact this has had on their day to day life and and to seek help or treatment.

Recently the gardener David Domoney has developed the idea of an RDA (required daily amount) of gardening. He has found that 30 minutes a day of gardening can be a real boost to a person's mental and physical well being - you can read more abut it here




Today I am really pleased to have Kirsty from My Little Allotment as a guest blogger where she writes about how gardening has helped her deal with and improve her own mental health and wellbeing. Please take a look at her blog; she was recently featured in the June issue of the popular Kitchen Garden magazine.

began by asking Kirsty if she had been interested in or encouraged to garden before her mental health issues.

I had heard a lot about how good growing your own and gardening can be for the mind, and that’s how my little allotment started.

April was the 1 year anniversary of taking on your allotment. What is the biggest change both personally and also on the allotment?

The biggest changes on my allotment so far for me overall is the pumpkin patch area, last year when I started the weeds were up to my tummy and the ground was incredibly un-level. After lots of digging and clearing in the summer last year and some help from my friends this year I’ve finally managed to get it flat and ready for crops, there’s even a patio for summer evenings when we can have a bbq on the plot.

In a year I feel like I’ve come a long way in terms of recovery and it’s all down to my allotment therapy.

*What would you love to grow or are you growing which has proved to be something of a challenge

I think my aim overall is to give as many crops a go as possible. For me I tend to find the ‘easy to grow’ vegetables and flowers are always my nemesis! Last year I couldn’t grow a sunflower, but managed to grow aubergines who knows how I managed that one. So this year I’m really concentrating on getting some sunflowers to grow successfully as i didn’t succeed last season. I’m growing some really unusual varieties of squash this year and giving fiesta corn a go so I hope to have some fun unusual harvests.

* What is your go-to garden tool?

Ohh go to garden tool, that’s a difficult one. I relied on my fork heavily last year for ground prep, so I don’t know what I would have done without it, but going forward it has to be the garden hoe, anything that makes weeding easier is the one for me.

*Do you have a favourite gardening book, writer or celebrity gardener?

For me personally I don’t have a favourite book, author or celebrity gardener. I think because my passion is so new I’m open to reading and researching everything at the moment. At the moment my biggest inspirations are following the everyday people like ourselves that have a huge passion for growing their own fruit and vegetables and watching their journeys unfold.

*And I finally would like to ask you, as we are entering your favourite time of the year, Spring Bring It On, what plans are you most excited about?

For me the things that I’m most excited about this season are, hopefully harvesting a big harvest of squash, Watching the huge selection of dahlias come to life and of course watching max the giant pumpkin come to life. I decided last minute that I wanted to grow a giant pumpkin and he is already quite big, I’ve named him max and he is defiantly one of my favourites this year. 

I hope you enjoyed my guest blogger and I'd like to say a really massive thank you to Kirsty for taking the time to talk to me, for sharing part of herself regarding her love of gardening and how it helps her in everyday life.

Don't forget to visit her blog and you can follow her on Twitter @allotment9A.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx




Friday, 27 April 2018

Floral Fun, Sowing and Growing.

Good morning. A bit miz here today so pleased I got some outdoors jobs done yesterday.

In our garden we don't really do flowers, however we are very lucky that the previous owners planted so many daffodils which seem to increase in numbers each year. These are accompanied by a carpet of snowdrops which is further creeping its way up from the bottom fence line. Both the daffs and snowdrops have pretty much died off but are always followed by these lovelies. They're alongside the picket fence near the veg beds but it's so wonderful that nature replaces one thing after another.  



On the other side of the garden you'll find my Magnolia Stellata. 




When we first came to Bronllan I really hoped there was a Magnoia in the garden and not a cherry blossom and hey presto! This usually flowers between March and April but only came into flower last weekend, late like a lot of things just now. It is hardy so of course survived the recent bad weather no problem; I do hope it flowers into May because of it taking some time to bloom.

I've already had some of my wild garlic and it was, as usual, delicious. 



Its not quite in flower yet but it has re-seeded itself after last year so is really substantial now - can't wait for those edibles to put on salad; I'm going to make pesto and freeze it so I make the most of this wonderful herb.

The rhubarb, which is planted in the vicinity of the wild garlic, has been terrorised by the chooks when they went free range but I do hope it is resilient enough and recuperates; apologies for the chicken reference!

Now this is a tree I think which has come back after being cut back when the chicken enclosure was built.


Not sure what it is but I just like the colour.

Outside the kitchen window is my lilac bush which flowers when it feels like it to be honest! Looks like we are on this year; in the background across from the house is a flowering blackcurrant which I love.



The conservatory has definitely come into its own standing in as my poly house for now, but could do with a little of that warmer weather coming back... Anyhow, between the homemade propagator and in there I'm getting on with some seed sowing and growing. 

So far I have sown: 

Dwarf Bean Ferrari
Tomato Golden Sunrise


Climbing pea Colossus outside and in


Auberine Black Beauty
Tomato Costoluto Fiorentino 
Tomato Moneymaker
Tomato Red Peas
Turnips
American Cress and lettuce
Beetroot inside and out
Sweet peas
Rocket
Coriander and parsely outside
French Marigolds (for around the tomatoes)

They are all in various states of growth but most have some ways to go yet! 

I also have two containers of strawberries indoors - which I spotted yesterday are flowering!


Now, I've been making the best of the good weather this week doing a bit of garden prep. I've put a top layer of compost on the smaller raised bed and also the one outside the poly house. After being covered over for the winter there were hardly any weeds at all and now they look just lovely and healthy, ready for something very soon. Eeeek!


The larger one I think will have a mix of carrots, parsnips and shallots as the soil is much more well drained than the main bed. Have to keep an eye on the rabbits or moles that took a liking to the smaller patch late in the summer last year. 

The smaller one will have cabbage in I think; had that there last year but not too bothered that I should rotate such a small space. I'm going to put sunflowers in there, too, as it'll give a bit of height and colour, plus I should be able to see them from the top kitchen window when in full flower, then the chooks will get the heads at the end of the summer. Win win!

Ok, that is my update done for now.

As ever, look forward to see how your sowing and growing is coming along.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Mixed-planting Mayhem and Stuff.

Good morning.

I am embarking on a mixed-planting scheme this year, something dear to the hearts of certain gardeners - hi Kim.πŸ˜„


I've already admitted that being an organised kind of girl - yes, at nearly 50 I still consider myself a bit girly! - I always have a plan and a number of lists on the go therefore the process is something quite alien to me.

I've wondered if this method of planting has a detrimental effect on your harvest. I have my spud tubers and last year knew exactly where I was going to plant them, how much space I would need and a very rough idea of how many spuds I may eventually earth up. Now I have some fairly random planting in my main bed and a couple of tyres just now. When block-planting you can see at a glance exactly what you have. Also I would normally put the spuds in all in one sitting but I feel I need to wait for seedlings to be a healthy size as I am planting in the open not in a polytunnel; individual sees could get lost without tonnes of labels.

I'm not saying I'm averse to the process but as I still class myself VERY much as a novice but learning all the time and I also lack confidence sometimes. I'm going to give it a go as I can really see the benefits for the plants themselves and also me as a gardener, but there are things to  consider. I'd be really interested to hear from any other mixed-planting virgins! How are you getting on with the idea?

In other news, regarding no-dig gardening which I am also trying this season, I have a question.

Does the no-dig philosophy help get rid of 'keen' weeds such as chickweed, especially as they can remain viable under soil cover for 20 years plus? Just wondered.

Ok, the weather is dry just now, if a bit blustery, so going to get outside for a bit before I need to do some baking and other indoor jobs later. Thankfully I cleared the ironing pile yesterday due to the rain. Yay, go me!

Bye for now.

Lou.xx



Thursday, 19 April 2018

Here Comes The Sun!

The weather the last couple of days, as in most places, has been glorious, absolutely gorgeous. My boys' had a school football tournament yesterday so were pleased with the weather and I put out some washing to dry and got into the garden. Today my youngest is taking part in a cross country event in Aberaeron so he has gone with a hat and strict instructions to stay in the shade where possible. 

I'm just going to share a few photos; this is so I can see where things are progressing and to let you see how things are coming along.

In the fruit patch the blackcurrants and raspberries are leafing up really well. as are my baby blueberry bushes. A couple of the fruit trees are starting to blossom especially this one.





I've been sowing turnip and beetroot - a cylindrical variety - in the cold frame bed. In the lettuce sink I've added American Cress; I like that this one could be ready in as little as five weeks - saw Monty sowing it this week and happened to have some so spurred me on.

I was going to plant the three Charlotte tubers I have but only put in two, using the growing bags provided, as one hadn't chitted as much as I'd like; I'll leave it a little while yet.


Talking of spuds, I've the beginnings of my first earlies peeping through already!



The onions are progressing nicely but the garlic is doing really well.



Since moving the strawberry plants to the conservatory they are thriving, but no flowers yet.


The first lot of climbing peas I sowed 10 days ago are already sprouting; have moved them from the propagator into the conservatory to make room for other things getting a head start.



I sowed another lot yesterday; I hoped to get the frame for these put in place as I thought I had enough tall bamboo canes... and I did! Woop woop! A before and after of course.




Need netting at the weekend but chuffed with it, even though a little wonky at the top but very pleased with myself. Its one of those things I always dreamt of having when I thought about ever having a proper veg plot.

Today, before I put up the frame, I skimmed off the remainder of the chicken poo I laid on top of the patch before covering over for winter. Although the poo had, the straw/hay had not rotted down completely and I didn't want to leave it all on the patch. 

I came up with a great idea, I think. I'm definitely leaving the fruit area to go a bit wild, it does IN the wild so why not, but I thought to keep the weeds down from around the blackcurrants and raspberries I would take up a few of them then mulch with what came off the main plot. 

Very happy with the result but I didn't let it touch directly to the bushes as not sure that it a good thing to do - whatever!

Right, I've eaten my lunch whilst doing this in between the work outside, making bread, checking on the lambs (we are not bottle feeding anymore but just keeping an eye on now and then) and putting the washing out. Need to go move the last of the bought compost out of my car boot then I'll see what else I can do.

Looking forward to seeing what everybody is getting up to in the good weather and how your sowing and growing is coming on.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx