Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Spring-ish cleaning!

I say Spring-ish as its not quite Spring yet, in fact this last week or so it has been very very cold here. I have checked my planting diary from last year and I am already two weeks behind where I was in 2012. I don't know about you, but as much as I love my garden, I hate being cold. 

Sprouts were first order of business this week, Along with my leeks, they have been very successful and plentiful over the winter. In fact so successful that even the dog and the hens have been eating them. Gibson, it would appear is very partial to a sprout, with no obvious detrimental effects. 

The remaining stalks were looking a bit sad, but it didnt take long to clear them. 



We have been eating these remaining few all week and the last of them are ready for dinner tonight. 


They were a variety called Brigitte F1, I will definitely be growing them again . They were delicious. 

And then the broad beans. Up until the end of January, the beans I planted late last summer were amazing, lots of growth and loads of flowers, in fact they were so good, I was jovially accused of faking pictures by some of my readers. I got my comeuppance though, Snow did them lots of damage and now they are very sad to look at. Some are making valiant efforts to regrow, but I am not sure what the outcome will be. 




For reasons known to me at the time, but to be honest, now long forgotten, I planted another row of broad beans in a different bed, right across the middle. Not the most sensible thing to have done, as the bed was now split in two by a row of beans. 


Only 5 had survived the snow, so I decided to try a bit of transplant surgery and move them in with the others. The advice I received from fellow gardeners varied from, "It will be fine", to "don't do it they will die!! ". So I did it anyway. 




They are now resident under the straggly beans, it will be interesting to see what happens. 

Now I had three of my bed completely empty and one still full of a green manure that I planted at the end of the summer. I seemed to remember the instructions on the packet, that I could no longer find, said to cut the grass and leave it on the soil for a couple of weeks, before digging it in. Jim got out his strimmer, and made short work of it for me. 



The other three beds all had a dressing of two year rotted, New Forest Pony manure and quick turn over with the rotivator. 





They are now prepared, and ready to provide me with another's summers bounty. Potatoes will be going in next week. 

I had lots of birds for company whilst this was going on, they were really enjoying all the nice fat worms that were being turned up. This little chap stayed all afternoon. 



All I need now are for my seeds to grow. Not much happening on that score yet, but signs of life are definitely in the offing. 

My rude chillies are growing nicely, 


Others are not looking so good, I think this may actually be a weed that has grown in the compost, but I shall give it the benefit of the doubt for now. 


Thats all I have to report from the veg patch for now, at the  other end of the garden, we have been trying to remove a huge bush root for a couple of weeks, I think it may be a long job as the roots spread is huge. 



And finally, out and about, we made a flying visit to france last week to visit our TR6 under restoration. This is the view that greeted us from the garden where we were staying.


Beautiful, I think you will agree.. Have a great week. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Week of Frustration!

Finally, its stopped raining, the sun has come out and the ground is beginning to dry out. First job on my very long list last monday morning, was to give the hen house and run a good clean out. Its been difficult in all the rain, so the girls deserved a nice freshen up. 

I was happily shovelling chicken poo and scrubbing out the house in the sunshine when I realised I had left the sawdust in the shed. As with most sheds ours has become a bit untidy over the winter. I therefore needed to lean over a lawnmower to pick up the large sack of sawdust, I had to twist a bit and so as I picked up the sack bent at the waist the inevitable happened. Something popped in my back.. 

Good job no one could hear me as the air turned blue.. And basically that has put an end to most outdoor activity this week. I have managed to do a few very gentle jobs in the greenhouse but thats all. 

I bought more seeds this week.. Yes more. and once again they were chillies. This time Dorset Naga. I bought them from Sea Spring Seeds who developed this variety. They claim they are the hottest in the world. Chillies, are measured by something called a Scoville Heat Unit or SHU. The Dorset Naga falls into the super hot category and was measured last year to generate between 544,000 and 1, 032,000 SHU. They also say they are difficult to grow and late to mature. Well I like a challenge, so I hobbled down to the greenhouse and planted 5 of my 20 precious seeds .


Some of my other chillies were getting very leggy in the propagator so I decided to put them in bigger pots and let them try and fend for themselves without the heat. 


They are now resident on the windowsill in the summer room.

And finally more leeks. I planted the first lot in individual cells. Nothing happening there yet. So this week I decided to use some of the 100 or so empty toilet and kitchen rolls I have been saving all winter. As they are card, my plan is once grown, to plant the whole thing so the roots wont be disturbed. 




Once a seed was popped into each roll, I watered, then wrapped it up in cling film, as I didn't have a lid that would fit over this lot. 


And that is the sum total of my weeks gardening activity. As I was feeling sorry for myself, I made short work of the little creme eggs that came from Rebecca in my Seedypenpal parcel.


In other news, as luck would have it we managed to get tickets for Top Gear again this week. I really wanted to go and wednesday dawned with me feeling not too bad, I was able to almost stand up straight so off we went. 



Of course I should have known better, standing for about 6 hours did not help at all, thanks goodness for heated seats in the car on the 2 hour drive home. And I have certainly paid the price since. It was worth it though. If you are in the UK make sure you watch sunday night. I wont say who the star was but we were delighted. Here's a small clue.


And finally I mentioned a few weeks ago it was Jim's turn this summer to be able to live a  dream, so we are awaiting the arrival of our TR6 sports car which is under restoration. Andy, the chap restoring it sent this picture and said that she was back on her feet!! 


Looking a bit better than the last photo I think you will agree. 

Well thats it for this week. The sun is shining and I am going to try and get outside even if that means sitting in the summerhouse reading my book. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

My name is Lorraine and I am a Seedaholic!

It must be the time of year, everything is on the verge of coming back to life. and I find myself thinking more and more about seeds. I even dream about them. In my previous life, I was more likely to be excited about the arrival of the Next Directory, or a nice catalogue from John Lewis. Now my heart is a flutter whenever a new seed catalogue drops on the mat, or I find a wonderful new website, selling them. 

With this in mind, I was delighted when the new round of Seedypenpals swops was mailed out. I mentioned last time that I had been paired with two ladies, one to receive seeds from and one to send them too. So I shall start with the seeds I sent. These were off on a bit of a jaunt, in fact to the South West of France where Sarah lives. Lucky them. With this in mind I tried to pick stuff that would grow well in a hot sunny climate. 


Some were seeds I collected myself in the garden, pink poppies and antirrunhum originally from seeds I got from the Lost Gardens of Heligan. There were a couple of things I got on my trip to Florida last year, Spaghetti Squash, Mixed Beans and Habanero's and some others including Beets, Asters, Larkspur and a couple of my Chilli Willy seeds. 

I was impressed how quickly they arrived. I think Sarah was pleased with the selection. I shall look forward to pictures of them growing in the garden of her beautiful home which she runs as a B&B. Have a look Villa Leon . They also run Bob Dylan discussion weekends if that interests you. 

I will return to Seedypenpals later in the blog.. 

So as this blog is mostly about seeds, I better tell you what else I have been doing. 

Leeks have been high on the discussion list amongst my gardening pals. So I decided it was time to finally pull the last of mine. 


There were only a few left standing forlornly in the middle of a bed. It didnt take long to pull them.


None were very big this season. I think I choose the right variety, but the weather didn't help. Those that we had, which I must say was quite a few, were delicious. I therefore bought the same variety for this year, With one difference.

Last year as I was new to this, I had purchased a tape impregnated with seeds which I then had to thin. This proved to be a real waste, and I could not bring myself to pull many out. This may be why those remaining were small. This time, I bought a plain old packet of seeds. 


 I have started one tray now, and will do more next month. To save wastage, and so that I can plant at the right distances, I have decided to plant them in cells. Its a bit fiddly picking up individual seeds, but this may work better. 



I also planted a few flowers, so if we do actually get a summer this year, I will get early colour. 


The cosmos and antirrunhum are seeds I collected from last years flowers, but the Cleome came from a wonderful flower grower called Ben who has a business called Higgledy Garden. I may have blogged about it when I received the seeds. If you love flowers, have a look at his website. The growing guides are a joy to read. 

The Chillies I planted last week are sprouting. Peter is a lot bigger than this little shoot now. 


  And I found this in a sheltered spot in the front of the house


A bit blurry, but I was excited to see a flower. 

And the second rhubarb plant has joined his mate, by sticking his head above ground


Everything is nice and snug in the greenhouse


Now back to Seedypenpals, via pickled eggs. A strange route you may think but all will become clear. 

The lady I was to receive seeds from is called Rebecca. Seedypenpals started on twitter and so we all follow one another and talk about garden related things. I was wondering what to do with the excess eggs that I always have. I am trying not to make so many cakes as I have had a bit of a disagreement with my scales. They seem to think I am heavier that I actually am.. 

Another lady suggested Pickled Eggs and sent me the link to a recipe for some rather spicy pickling vinegar. So I thought I would give it a go. This caused a bit of debate in a wider circle, with Rebecca declaring herself quite firmly in the anti pickled egg camp. 

They really didn't take long to make and I was finally able to use some of the Star Anise I bought on a market stall in St Lucia about 12 months ago. 






The smell was wonderful, so they are now resident at the back of the fridge for the next couple of weeks, to pickle. I shall let you know how they taste. 

So yesterday a package arrived from Rebecca. I was delighted and as I was doing something else at the time put it down to open with a cup of tea later. I did though give it a quick squeeze. I could feel three rather large roundish object through the packing. Ooh I thought, I wonder what on earth they are. Seeds that big must be awfully exotic. I was thinking of all sorts of things, Avocado was top of my list. 

I abandoned my other job as the package was now my priority, I carefully opened it and poured the contents onto the floor. Out rolled the three large objects... Imagine my delight when I saw this. 


CREME EGGS !!!!!

How wonderful. Not only did I receive some lovely seeds, but three little creme eggs. I think these will be eaten a lot quicker than the pickled ones. 


The pack included borage, nasturtium, cabbage, romanesque courgettes, french beans and other loveley things which shall all find a place in my garden. 

Thanks Rebecca .

So thats all for now. Its pouring with rain again so once more trapped in the house.