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Spring Life In The Garden.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Aaarrggghhh! Veg Patch Panic!

Good morning.

The weather today is a little overcast and a little less windy than when we got up.

I've been out and watered but feel there may be a shower later on.

As I walk around my little patch of paradise at the moment there are a few things I'm a little concerned about. We are having this kind of weather just now after three weeks or so of wonderful sunshine and not a lot of rain.

My Poly House is still uncovered in the main but really hopeful this will be rectified in a week or so. I have "in" there my tomatoes in planters and I'm not sure if it is a watering issue or something else but the leaves on a couple of the plants are curling. In the raised bed I have two gherkins and a cucumber which seem to be ok for now.

In the main patch, top of this photo, my first early spuds are not flowering but the second earlies are! They are all well earthed up so just leaving them be.

On a positive note the salad leaves, bottom of above photo, are going great guns and we eat them every day. In the back of my mind I'm thinking the sun has increased the foliage on my swede, also in this photo, as they are seemingly doing well.

In the small bed next to the fruit patch I have done well with radishes so far and plan on sowing some more. However, I sowed parsnip seeds underneath the radishes and I'm not sure if that has been an epic fail or they are not meant to show at all just now, because they are not doing!

My climbing peas are beginning to flower quite well but no pods yet so I don't think I need to worry about them, but I'm thinking about the foliage thing here, too, with it racing ahead and possibly the pods will not come....

Most of my anxiety is hopefully just to do with the late start to the good weather after the snow and bad storms, trying to be optimistic on all levels!

Any advice or assistance regarding all of this would be warmly received and, of course, much appreciated.

Bye for now.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Book Review - First-Time Gardener by Frances Tophill

Image result for first time gardener frances tophill

I recently bought this book. I don't normally buy garden books unless they are solely about sowing and growing edibles. However, this caught my eye as I've been enjoying Frances on Gardeners' World helping out on an allotment in Bristol.

I like the book for various reasons. There are lots of visuals to give you instant inspiration but in the written content you are not overloaded with information. Because I don't tend to grow many non-edible things I found it interesting to be reminded what an annual, a biennial plant etc is and then have suggestions made for the kind of plants to grow in various area of the garden. In general Frances gives around ten or so recommendations of things, be it which climbers, choices of trees, suitable grasses, vegetables to grow and border planting.

As the title says it's a great book for a first time gardener who wants to make a fresh start on an existing garden or deal with a new garden they have inherited. She gives advice on how to assess what you have, areas, soil type and a great questionnaire to identify how you want to use the garden. Following on from that she suggests ideas to consider when coming up with a design; this is done by looking at what style of garden you prefer.
Frances talks about hard landscaping including the materials you might use. She includes a small section on water in the garden and I enjoyed this as I'm hoping to refurbish our own garden pond.

At the end of the book she talks about planting and maintaining the garden and finishes with lists of seasonal jobs to do in various areas of the garden.

I think I would describe the book as uncomplicated and I have taken some really useful information from it without feeling overwhelmed. I fell somebody could read this and know exactly where to start in order to achieve the kind of garden they really want. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Sun, Salad, Strimming and Such!


The last few days have been very busy for us. Jon has mown and strimmed the lawn and its looking just fantastic. Even the patches at the far end of the garden where the bamboo was and the place where we used to have a fire are looking wonderful now; we are sooo enjoying the garden with this wonderful weather.

We sat and had lunch at the picnic table yesterday and the addition of the brolly was perfect; we are eating salad leaves and herbs at just about every meal just now which is very satisfying.

We purchased a new strimmer and Jon has been around  the main veg patch

and the fruit patch too. I've raked it and I've decided to put membrane down and Jon will get wood chippings to go on top and this will keep the weeds down. I so wanted it to be an au natural area but the weeds are no good when you want to look after the fruit trees and bushes properly so they've gotta go.

On Saturday afternoon, again flippin' hot, I put down membrane on the floor of the greenhouse. Sweat was dripping off the end of my nose! We shovelled sand onto it and laid it level; this will do for this year then we'll set it up right in time for next Spring probably with staging and raised beds.

I know it probably isn't the traditional floor of a greenhouse but it suits me.

Oh, on Friday and Saturday I received some parcels in the post. I've been filling in some online surveys (won't be doing it any more as I seemed to be getting lots of spam email) and decided to cash in my £15 Amazon reward voucher. I went for the Sarah Rainey 3-ingredient baking book - there are lots of things in it I am going to try -  along with Frances Tophill's First Time Gardener. The latter is a lovely book with different chapters of interest and not just about sowing and growing, which for me is a change. I also chose some cute macaron-design writing paper to use when writing to my pen pals.

On Saturday the things I ordered with my letter voucher from Grow Your Own Magazine courtesy of Thompson and Morgan came. 

I went for some spray weed killer - I know some people don't like to use it but I need this for some small areas around the sleepers of my veg beds. I also bought rubber tops for bamboos canes to prevent poking my eyes out,

and some fly papers to hang in both the greenhouse and poly house. I ordered my sweet potato slips which will be here by the end of the month and to plant these in I bought four growing bags. Finally I treated myself to a fantastic Kent and Stowe trowel which is pure quality and just feels lovely in your hand, very posh I am with this and my RHS gloves!

On Friday I tied the front door rose back a bit and its in flower and already looking lovely.

Yesterday afternoon I took up a few spuds because one came up by accident when I was earthing up so wanted to check progress. I brought these in...

I'm now in a slight state of anxiety as when I took up the spuds on a couple of the plants there were a couple which were mushy. All the leaves are fine, no blackening and looking extremely healthy so fingers crossed that the rest will be ok, even though there are so yellow bolting-like looking flowers.... Hope my spud campaign hasn't finished before its started.

Here are the Robin chicks; they are growing and often seen with their little mouths open wide ready for food.

The sunflowers,

supermarket-bought lettuces potted on and


broccoli seedlings are all doing well. I plan on putting the latter in the spot where I'll be taking up the first early spuds.

Well I think that's my update done; the weather is forecast to be the same as recently until Thursday when we hope to get just a little bit of rain.

Hope everybody else is enjoying their gardens.

Bye for now.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Garden, Gifts and Guests!


Busy few days here on the Homestead. We had Jon's family here for a couple of days as the boys have been on half term this last week - gone back today, aaaand relax!

This is a bit of a mish-mash with what happened when but never mind! 

I've been busy in the garden with more of this glorious weather. Lots of the tomatoes have been put into planters ready to go into the greenhouse hopefully by the end of the week. I potted on some of the smaller toms and planted out some of the courgettes.

I have earthed up the first early spuds and I'm using up the last ones I bought so we can hopefully try our own by the weekend. Eeeek! Last night we harvested our first salad leaves and had them with herbs for tea; (no photo as too busy enjoying them!) soooo tasty and I'm chuffed how the salad leaves are coming on and I'm very glad I have sown and will continue to sow more as we go along.

We have cut the grass this weekend as Jon acquired a mower after doing a job over the Bank Holiday weekend and was paid with that. Alfie helped out with one side of the garden whilst Jon was putting the greenhouse on a base. I have membrane to put down and we hope to get the glass in this week.

We have also acquired/been gifted a couple of other things for the garden like this fab picnic table which was in use for lunch yesterday; perfect as half in the sun half in the shade. 

And for the garden, along with some onions and leeks,

these Kelveden peas have been put in a planter which came with a couple of pods already! Apparently they grow to about 17 inches tall so have installed some willow sticks as support.

I seem to be embracing the mixed planting ethos in the main patch. Here I have the leeks in the main patch

along with the lettuce, one broccoli, a courgette and a cabbage. I'm looking forward to trying the spinach beet which is also in there, I've a little more space but once the spuds start to come up soon there will be a little more area to use. The onions have been put in with existing ones in one of the tyres.

Talking of spuds the first earlies are just flowering.

In other news we had a one night Airbnb booking on Saturday night. They left at 10am, I received another booking at 2.45pm and they arrived at 6.45pm on Sunday evening! What is mildly exciting is that one of the guests was working updating a travel guide for Wales. What a hoot it would be if we got a mention in that? Also I expect a comprehensive review for these guests and frankly I can't wait!

Today is an inside day as much as I can manage. I'm on my second wash load, the guests have left and the bed is stripped. I'll get the room top and tailed after lunch when I have to pop our for chicken pellets and go to the post office. I need to fit in making some biscuits or a cake as the tin is empty and I was given rhubarb by our neighbour and Harry has requested I make a crumble. There are a few other things on my list but we'll see how we go; phone calls and admin/paper work can be done whilst I eat lunch - oohI need to watch the 2nd part of the British Scandal thing with Huge Grant, first one was ace!

Right I had better get on.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Garden Bits and Bobs.

Good morning.

Last evening I stood in the Poly House and thought to myself "I am soooo content right now." I was so happy to be there doing what I was doing. This was me, crocks, socks and shorts - not the best look!

The recent much needed rain has really brought things on in the sowing and growing department and I'm loving it. After the slow start to Spring we really seem to be catching up, apart from my tomatoes which are quite a bit behind last year but we're getting there. I have begun potting them on and have put some of the Sweet Aperitif variety in their last growing place with stakes ready for when they hopefully shoot up!

In the fruit patch, still slightly overgrown but getting to that! I'm really confident of a good harvest of soft fruit this year from the blackcurrants and blueberries as you can see here. No point showing the raspberry bushes as they are beasts!

As you may have seen in my last post I have cancelled one of my Twitter accounts. Before I did this I was really lucky to win a pair of gorgeous gardening gloves in a competition run between the RHS and a company called Gold Leaf gloves. Look!

When coming in the cellar back door the other day I saw this! A nest in the corner of one of the nooks. There are four eggs being looked after by a Robin; she happily sits on them even though I go in and out of the door quite frequently it doesn't seem to bother her at all.

I have picked some of the wild garlic, including flowers, and put it in stir fries and on salads; its been yummy.

I am doing my best to get the pesto made very soon as it is already dying back and I don't want to lose all of it. I really hope to be harvesting the first of our salad leaves very soon; as you can see they are looking great.

This is a mixed living lettuce I bought last week; I've planted them out before and they've grown really well so I thought I'd add this into the mix!

I was earthing up the Arran Pilot first early spuds the other day and look what I accidentally brought up! They will be properly ready for harvest quite soon so look forward to crossing that item off my shopping list along with salad leaves.

I'm chuffed to bits with how the main patch is coming on. The sweet peas on the end of the frame are coming on a pace, as are the climbing peas...

and spuds are looking great (see further down the post), I have red and green lettuce in there, too, and the spinach beet is peeking through although I'm not quite sure what it'll look like when ready to harvest!

 The dwarf beans seem to be catching up with the season....

as does the kale, beetroot and turnips in the small bed.

Jon tasted one of the first strawberries yesterday and I'm hopeful for a small but good crop on the two plants.

Right, that is my catch up for now. Visitors coming today and a few jobs to get done. Watered outside, chooks fed and washer on already so just to have breakfast now and crack on.

Bye for now.


Thursday, 24 May 2018

Sow-cial Media Ramble. Ya boo sucks!

I have a Twitter account for our Airbnb room where I tend to follow Welsh related accounts and things to do with tourism and visiting our fair principality. I really had looked forward to having one for myself where I could get some chat going with other like minded people with regard to gardening and sowing n growing. I set one up but I don't feel I get that - not sure if I am just not on trend with others.

Whilst just vacuuming - I think about lots of things when doing mundane but necessary tasks around the house - I began to come to the conclusion that I'm not getting out of it as much as I'd hoped; I think you are a blogger or a Tweeter. I unashamedly like to ramble more than a bit and Twitter, even with the extended amount of characters, does not really let me express myself enough. I feel like I'm in a rush and I HATE that at any time; that's another reason I don't like or use (just the once I think, Instagram - clue is in the name). Here I go, I like writing letters not emailing people because I love the anticipation of receiving a letter with news and stuff. The immediacy of knowing EVERYTHING about what is going on in general really gets to me at times. "Google it" everybody shouts but I think sometimes why not "find a book"!

Another thing is I did initially think if Twitter got too much for me then I would indeed cancel it. I feel pressured into tweeting something to keep me "out there" and frankly I'm not that bothered. There I said it. To this end I think I will close my Twitter account. I shall continue to love writing my blog - I'm so enjoying writing just now and have a couple of things in the pipeline which I'm very excited about and will carry on trying to find outlets for my rambling.

Thank you for listening, caring if you can be bothered but other wise hope you enjoy reading my blog as I do the ones I follow and catch up with regularly.

Bye for now.


Monday, 21 May 2018

#Ilovemygarden and #IloveWales

Good morning.

Its been a great weekend.

On Saturday we finally got ourselves to the Spring Festival at Builth Wells; I've wanted to go ever since we moved here. Part of our journey, which was just over an hour, took us through the Hafod Estate which was gorgeous in the morning sunshine...

Image result for hafod estate images

and then we drove along the Elan Valley which is remarkable; we're really so lucky to live in Ceredigion!

I'd really like to look more into the history of the mines near the Elan valley.

We were parked up at the showground by 9am and I have to say there weren't as many people as I thought there would be but it was great, not too keen on lots of crowds. I was rubbish at taking too many photos I'm afriad, too busy enjoying myself and looking at stuff!

The boys had a go at the shooting range belonging to British Association for Shooting and Conservation

They declared it was easier to shoot the air rifle we have at home!

We saw rare breeds of sheep that were as big as a miniature ponies and goats with five horns, count 'em! There were mahoosive chickens along with gorgeous pigs.

I visited the Smallholders Centre and picked up lots of useful information.

I managed to catch up with Kim Stoddart of GreenRocket Courses and Badly Behaved Gardener fame as she was hosting the Speakers Corner. which was lovely. I popped back later just in time to hear a talk from the Wiltshire Horn Society; they breed sheep which don't need shearing as it malts- very interesting and I had seen these wonderful sheep when we first arrived at the show.

We watched the farriers working on the horses and this chap was very accommodating and just stood there looking wonderful.

We took a picnic and enjoyed it in the shade under one of the huge trees although it wasn't too hot when walking around the stands. (We didn't sit under this one!)

We headed home, seeing these wonderful beasts on the way, 

and were back by about 2.30pm which was great as Jon could get on with his jobs and I could get out into the garden!

**I made sure I sat down at 7pm to watch the royal wedding highlights; I'd managed to avoid any of the screens at the Spring Festival.

Image result for royal wedding

It was just lovely; Harry looked very handsome and I thought Megan's dress was simply gorgeous. I loved the dress James Blunt's missus was wearing, no surprise Posh was in black and not really smiling and of course there was Swooney Clooney!!

Anyhow back to the great outdoors at home. The weekend weather has been perfect, not too hot with a bit of a breeze. I've really enjoyed myself sowing seeds outside for more Dwarf Beans and Climbing Peas as well as some broccoli to go in the Poly House. This photo was taken at the end of last week I think, love it.

I've decided to make the best of the weather and use the Poly House as a pergola sort of thing, what with it being totally al fresco just now! 

We are planning on recovering the PH and putting the glass in after this coming weekend when a major project is finally finished. With the weather being so warm everything seems to be surviving very well at night with some kind of protection and then there's the propagator which is doing a brilliant job - it gets soooo warm inside!

I've ditched some seeds, including Moneymaker tomatoes, which had not germinated as I think the conservatory was just too warm for them. I potted on six of the Sweet Aperitif plants which came from Thompson and Morgan, sowed red n green lettuce and more spring onions in the sink.

This photo was taken at the end of last week I think and I love it; 

everything is coming along great guns; 2nd earlies,

Charlottes (excuse the surrounding weeds)

and the Climbing and Sweet Peas.

I have taken the decision to put a mole trap in the carrot patch. After thinking all was well when there's been no sign for a good few days the beast is back! I hope this will do the trick - thankfully its not going after the radish / parsnip sowings!

Jon has organised me a new outside tap as when the weather is dry and the butts are empty I can't get water to the beds,which I'm chuffed about.

Another titbit of happenings. I've written a small piece for our local, promotional glossy for Aber called EGO; I hope it'll be in the June edition.

Right, after all that went on at the weekend its a bit of an inside day today.The washing is already on the line, one bed changed, the bread is on the go, chooks fed and I'm about to have a brew before my next jobs which include making lemonade for the boys after school.

Looking forward, as ever, to seeing what you've been getting up to over the weekend.

Bye for now.