A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


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Garden update

I’ve been busy in the garden and it’s starting to look quite a bit tidier. I’ve also started planting some of the plants outside. It may be a bit risky, but we should be past the last frost date here now and the long-range weather forecast looks good.

The greenhouse is so full, that I really needed to get some of the ¬†plants out of there. I’m hopeful that they’ll be ok but if not, I have plenty more ūüôā

The corn was getting quite tall so that’s gone into its bed along with plenty of egg shells. The war with the slugs has commenced.

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The cats have been outside in their pen while I was working. They’ve enjoyed the sunshine, and the bird-watching.

CatsThe courgettes were getting rather large so I’ve popped two of them into pots. The growbag between them is for two of the aubergines once they’ve hardened off a bit more.

May23-courgettesI’ve prepped the growbags outside the greenhouse, ready for the tomatoes. There’ll be three different varieties, some of which will go inside the greenhouse.

May23-greenhouse-01The inside is still looking full, but I was able to spread the plants out a little so they’re not crowded now.

May23-greenhouse-02One of the growbags is planted up with one Tigerella tomato and two Red plum tomatoes. the green pots have some of the Patio mixed Aubergines in them, and the brown pot is full of Dill.

There’s still a lot to do but I’m pleased with how it’s coming on and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Aubergines and Mini corn do as I haven’t grown them before.

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Garden update

Not much has happened in the garden since the last update but the greenhouse is starting to look a bit fuller now, with lots of seedlings and young plants.

I’ve done a bit of potting on as well as sowing more seeds and so far, everything is looking happy.

This is the first lot of courgettes that were sown. I’ve potted them on and they’ve been growing nicely.

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I’ve got lots of tomato plants now, all potted on, as are the aubergines. You can see them all on the middle row of shelving.

Apr30-seedlings01On the top there are some square pots with the baby sweetcorn, which was potted on last weekend. That’s coming on really fast so I’m hoping the weather improves soon so I can get them planted out. It’s my first attempt at sweetcorn so quite exciting.

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I also sowed two more varieties of courgettes. I did so well with the Black Forest last year, that I thought I’d try a variety this time.

Apr30-Courgettes01I was doing my usual greenhouse check and water before work the other day, and found myself singing to the plants as I went. All the news coverage on Prince must have got in my head as I was singing a variation on one of his songs. I’m sure the plants appreciated having Little Red Courgettes sung to them ūüėČ


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Herbs

I’ve had some time to work on the mini herb garden and have got it all tidied up. Most have survived the winter very well, including a ¬†couple that shouldn’t have.

HerbsThe rosemary is looking very healthy and fresh. The sage was a bit battered but it’ll be fine after a bit of a trim. The bay tree spent some time in the greenhouse when we were getting frosts, but is back out now and is looking good.

BayI didn’t expect to find anything in the tarragon pot, but it’s sending up new shoots and seems healthy.

TarragonThe fennel is coming back strongly, which surprised me, and it smells divine.

FennelBoth lots of parsley are looking nice and bushy, but I’ll sow a fresh batch with the dill and coriander.

The raised beds have been tidied and I’ve added some manure and feed. We’ve got some fleece domes to put on them once we figure out how to assemble them. Hopefully that’ll get done soon and I can get some beans in.


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Seedlings!

There’s not much going on in the garden at the moment. I haven’t had a chance to get outside and do much more than my daily greenhouse check.

Some of the seeds are coming up nicely in the greenhouse, especially the ones in the heated propagator. At the moment there are four different varieties of tomato in there and they’re all looking good so far.

Apr05-tomatoesOn the right are the aubergines, and you can just see the first one about to make an appearance. I’m quite excited to see how they do as I haven’t grown them before.

The basil was doing so well that I’ve taken it out of the propagator now and it’s on the main stand, under a clear lid.

Apr05-basilThe star so far though are the courgettes. I’ve just sown one variety at the moment although I have seeds for two more to put in later.

Apr05-courgettesThis is the variety that I grew last year, Black Forest, and it kept us well supplied with courgettes for most of the summer. I had five plants last year so I’ll just keep the strongest two of these and maybe a couple each of the other varieties.

I’m hoping for good weather next week so I’ll feel more motivated to get outside and sort out the raised beds and herb garden.


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A clean, shiny greenhouse

Well, maybe not shiny, but it’s definitely clean. We spent a couple of days emptying it, scrubbing it down and disinfecting it. Then we did the same to all the stands, propagators and lids, plus all the tools that I use in there, and put them back in the greenhouse.

The outside got a quick clean and we started moving all the tubs and grow bags, and removing dead plants.

270316-01It looks a lot tidier around that part of the garden now but there’s still a lot to do. The inside of the greenhouse is functional now though, which was the priority.

270316-02There’s plenty of room for starting off seeds. I won’t be growing as much as last year, and I need to make it a lot easier to manage now that I’m working again, but there will definitely be veg as it was brilliant being able to harvest dinner from the garden last year.

270316-04My sowing and potting bench is all set up and I’ve already started getting some seeds in.

270316-03I love seeing the little seedlings come up. I need to make sure I find time to visit the greenhouse every day now to keep an eye on them.

The next job is to finish getting the pots and beds ready,

270316-05and to tidy up the herb garden, which is looking a bit tatty at the moment.

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Birdwatching

Frodo loves to come into my craft room so he can sit on the windowsill and watch the birds, visiting cats and anything else that moves. We’ve got a lot of bird feeders out there, including one attached to the window.

Frodo200216-02_bIt also means he can keep an eye on me in case I start doing anything interesting that may need his help.

Frodo200216-01_bI was attempting to get a cat-free photo of some crochet but got sidetracked into taking a couple of photos of Frodo instead.

When I reviewed the photos later, I realised just how badly I need to get out in the garden to get it ready for the coming season. There isn’t as much to do as the last couple of years, but I need to finish emptying the raised beds, and finish moving the one that got halfway before I started my new job back in September. I also need to give the greenhouse a good clean, ready for some seed-sowing.

Now that I’m working full-time, I’m going to have to cut down on the amount of things that I grow as I just won’t have time to look after them. I’m thinking of installing some irrigation to save some time. I have all the bits in the shed from when it was set up a few years ago, so it should be doable.

Hopefully the next garden photos will look a bit less messy.


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Final harvest

I thought the garden was just about finished for the year but I’ve got one last harvest from the greenhouse, which has been prepped and shoehorned into the freezer.

The Apache chillies did really well, with plenty of them turning a fiery red. I’ve separated them into hot and milder for the freezer but this is the last picking all mixed up.

mixed chilliesI’d picked about half that the day before too, so we won’t be running out of them any time soon.

The Heatwave chillies were still all green, apart from one that was just starting to turn red. They had got to a decent size though so they’ve joined the Apache in the freezer.

Green chilliesThe sweet peppers didn’t do very well at all. I’m guessing that was down to the cooler summer. I did get a few though, some of which had finally changed colour.

mixed peppersI’m not sure if I’ll try sweet peppers again next year. I had about a dozen plants and got very little from them. There are other crops that I’d like to try in the greenhouse so maybe I’ll go for something different next year.


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The last courgettes

They’ve done brilliantly well, but the courgettes are finally done. Only two of the plants are still green, and although they do have baby courgettes on them, I doubt they’ll develop any further now. I really can’t complain though as they’ve kept us supplied all summer long, fruiting before any of the other veggies and keeping me busy finding new ways to cook them, and preserving the rest.

I’m planning to grow some more of that variety next year, but fewer plants, and also¬†try a couple of other varieties.

I’ve finally given up on the butternut squash. Twelve plants and not one squash from them. The weather was against us this year, so I’ll give them another go next year, but just two or three plants. I’m going to give more space to things that did well for me, such as courgettes and beans.

I still haven’t harvested a single pepper. There are lots in the greenhouse, but they’re still green and are showing no signs of wanting to ripen to yellow or red, depending on the variety. I may have to cut my losses and pick them green and make them into chutney.

harvest041015The tomatoes are still going strong. The ones in the greenhouse are still providing three or four a week, but the Sungold, outside, are keeping us in almost more than we can eat – and I eat a lot of salad. We’ve still only had a few from the tumbling toms, so they may be going into chutney with the peppers as there are lots of green ones on there.

I don’t think we’ll be buying many preserves for a while as the under-stairs cupboard is getting quite full.


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Chilli peppers!

Woot! I’ve harvested the first of the chillies. The Apache plants have had loads of tiny chillies on for ages but they’ve really taken their time to ripen to a nice red. The bit of sun we had last week¬†has done the trick though and I managed to pick quite a few. All but a couple of those have now been made into chilli jam. Can’t wait to try that. Bet it’ll be smashing on a bacon butty!

I’ve also picked more tomatoes. We’ve picked¬†two or three of the Shirley each week and a lot of Sungold. A fair few of the Sungold never reach the kitchen though as they’re just so sweet and bite-sized ūüėČ

The courgettes are still cropping well. Two of the plants are gone now but the remaining three are still going. You only need to ignore them for a couple of days though and you end up with a marrow instead of a courgette. We’ve already stuffed a couple of the big ones, and I’ve made jars and jars of pickled courgette and also some piccalilli.¬†This one has been turned into chunky¬†dill pickles, with dill from the garden. Yum.

harvest2909It looks like the French beans are finished now but we may get one more handful of runner beans. We’ve done well with the beans this year. I’ll definitely grow more next year, but climbing rather than bush. I found the yield was better for the space they took, and I preferred the taste.