Veg Patch

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

Saturday, 19 April 2014

All about Oakhaven

I don't write blogs as often as I used to , simply because gardening is cyclical, which means every 12 months you do the same thing again. The plot is well established now and so I have been getting everything ready for the summer , but it would get a bit boring if I  just did the same thing over and over again, or grew the same things, so I am always looking for new things to do and grow, to make life a bit challenging. 

This year I have taken on a couple of growing challenges and then I decided I would love to use my hobby to raise money for Oakhaven Hospice. Regular readers will know that I volunteer for them in the local charity shop and have had some success winning a prize in the christmas window competition. I decided it would be a good idea to grow some plants and sell them to raise money. 

I didn't actually realise what a lot of work that simple thought would generate. There was lots to consider. What to grow, When to hold the sale, and how to get people to come. What to grow was pretty easy, I am a seedaholic, I have thousands of them so I riffled through my collection and picked stuff that I thought would sell . Seeds were sown and they grew and grew then the mammoth task of pricking out began. I want to make money so I didn't want to be spending it on things, like flowerpots, so after a fairly successful poster appeal at the shop, I was in possession of a huge array of pots in all shapes, sizes and colours. Then it was just a matter of getting on with it. 

As you can see its been a huge job, but its pretty much finished now, all I want is for the seedlings to grow to a decent size. 

That is only a small number of the plants I have, they are all over the place keeping snug waiting to go to new homes. In a moment of foresight, at the end of last year I took loads of penstemon and fuchsia cuttings. I don't know why but the idea must have already been in the back of my brain. They are all nice health plants now and ready to be sold.

I hope it will be a success and raise a few hundred pounds. I have mounted a poster campaign locally and as we live on a regular dog walkers route Jim has planted some signposts in the front lawn . Lets hope the people turn up or else I am going to be left with an awful lot of plants. If you live reasonably locally and wish to come along email me at and I will send you the details. I wouldn't recomend travelling any great distance to come, they are all plants you can grow yourself if you get the seeds from Ben at Higgledygarden 

So moving on, my own garden has also required attention and I have been busy doing all the usual jobs, Potatoes were planted some weeks ago and are already up .

I even have one growing out of the front of one of my compost bins. I was about to remove it then thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how they grow so I have left it there.

My autumn sown flowers are well and truly established and already producing flowers. 

And the good old rhubarb is huge

I have also planted my hanging baskets ready to put out as soon as there is no chance of frost

Last week on of my neighbours was saying that although she loves a daffodil it would be nice to have some different flowers in the house. I have been encouraging my neighbours not to buy imported flowers and they are sort of onboard. I was amazed, as her garden if full of the most beautiful flowers and shrubs so I took the challenge and using my excellent training from the Flower Farmer came up with these little jam jar posies. 

I have come to realise that there is always something to pick in the garden. you don't have to buy supermarket flowers at all. 

That's about all from the garden for now, but in other news, two people I have got to know via twitter and seedypenpals have both made bids to become famous. One by writing a book and the other by appearing on TV.

So the book first. Carl Legge who started the Seedypenpals scheme is well know as as expert on all things food and foraging related. He has written a brilliant cookbook which I have already read from cover to cover and shall be experimenting with soon. 

If you want a copy of the book you can buy it from Carls website, the link is in the sidebar of my blog, or you can get it from Amazon

And now the other bid for fame. Pete Taylor, who is one half of the duo known as the Vegetablist who run a website Vegetablism  has been appearing on your Tv this week. I have written about Pete quite often here as he was my first seedypenpal, and since then we have been in regular contact and I have managed to get involved in his various non competitions on his website. Along with his best mate Gary, who seems to know what he is doing, they are contestants on the new BBC2 TV show The Big Allotment Challenge

They spent months growing things now each week there are a series of challenges . The first challenge was a bit of a disappointment for them, as their radish was declared " a bit woody" by the judge . But the boys triumphed in the preserving section when they won best in show with their Petalberry Jam and Fruit Curd. In fact you can now make the jam yourself as the BBC have published it. You can find the recipe here . Make sure you watch the next episode on Tuesday Night and support them . 

Well thats about all for now here is the obligatory picture of Gibson enjoying a bit of sunshine on the beach

Have a great week and if you celebrate it, have a Happy Easter. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April's no fool

I haven't been at my best the last week or so, a nasty cough has stopped me from getting enough sleep and subsequently not paying much attention to whats been going on around me. Suddenly today its April and feeling a bit better, I finally had a good look at what has been going on in the garden. I haven't neglected the patch, I have been out watering my seedlings every day but they haven't had the usual level of TLC. 

Its truly amazing what a little bit of heat and some nice long sunny days can do. Colour everywhere. 

The wisteria I planted when we first moved here is romping along and looks in danger of actually flowering for the first time

And then there are the Baggie's. No I am not going mad. Our good friend and neighbour Dave is a lifelong West Bromwich Albion fan. Match days for him are a real test of his nerve lately, as they are not doing as well as he would hope, anyway, when the eucylpyus were removed we decided to replace them with Hawthornes. Now any true Baggie's (Thats their nickname) fan will know that "The Hawthornes" is the name of the ground at which the team play. Dave was delighted when we told him what we had bought and in his, and his much loved teams honour, the three trees are now know as W B and A. Although there is a chance that the Baggie's might, these trees are not going down. 

Here they are just after they were planted about 10 days ago

The variety is Paul's Scarlett, which was recommended by a lady I know on Twitter, called Emma who designs gardens in Bath. They will flower in the spring and have berries for birds in the autumn, but most importantly, they will shed the leaves so won't act as a huge sail when the Barton breeze gets up again next winter. 

Today they looked glorious with the leaves almost, but not quite out. 

Down on the veg patch, our evergreen Clematis is still in full flower and smells wonderful

and my very first flower of the year in the veg patch has bloomed. I planted these Calendula at the end of last summer and they have overwintered brilliantly

The rhubarb is growing like mad

and finally today I was able to get a few things planted. First the broad beans

and then finally the autumn planted sweet peas that had become very overgrown in the root trainer and were losing some leaves

As you can see they are already a good size and I gave them a feed to boost them a little. Hopefully in a couple of weeks this will be a wall of colour. This time I have labelled each plant with its name so I can get the ones I really like again. 

Out and about, as it was Mothers day last sunday, Georgie over at Common Farm Flowers was at full tilt. I baked a cake and loaded it in the car on Thursday and headed to somerset for a days flowery fun. As a not quite novice, I was given the job of packing the flowers ready to be sent out to the luck recipients. It occurred to me, as I peered into the boxes before sealing them that the next person to see these amazing flowers was in for a wonderful treat. So I captured the moment on a few of the ones I liked the best. 

Imagine opening the box and seeing these. 

And then I was trusted to make small jam jar posies which were to be sold in a local shop. 
I started slowly but gained confidence and it wasn't long before I produced these with another of the ladies that works for Georgie. 

I was rather chuffed. Hopefully my summer cut flowers will be arranged a bit more artfully this year. 

Well thats about all. The greenhouse is full of hundreds of seedlings ready for a plant sale I am having in May to raise funds for a local hospice. ( More on that another time) but my poor unsuspecting Dad who is arriving from Spain tomorrow for a visit, doesn't know yet he has a lot of pricking out to do. 

Hope all of your gardens and allotments are growing as well as mine, have a great week in the sunshine.