Thursday, 23 June 2011

How does your garden grow.....

We have a reasonable sized garden for a house in Blackpool and even though in the past have grown veg, we didn't make the best use of the space we have, so a couple of months ago we gutted the garden, moved the pond, cleared out all the junk that had accumulated and saved the things we would use like tyres.
the only plants we left in were the bluebells that were just peeking through and the blackcurrant bush, there wasn't much else growing or worth saving. I got 20 willow plants off ebay from Scotland and planted them along the back fence in the hope that when they grow tall the neighbours will be blocked out a bit. We also got some pallet's and spent a long time, days in fact taking them apart and sawing them to size to make some raised bedsIt also took ages trying to fill them with compost, 2 of my compost bins spread between the 4 of them did nothing at all, we collected horse manure for free from a farm and my friend donated bags of cow manure each time she came round, we also managed to get some big bags of organic compost from Lidl (supermarket in UK) for cheap. They are still not full but they will do, thinking the raised beds was going to be a cheap way of gardening kinda went out the window by the time I had finished.
I have reused tyres to plant green beans, courgettes and potatoes, moved the chicken arc next to the big chicken house to make more room,
 My friend took me to the industrial site and we collected some windows from a skip, these have served well as pop up cold frames for rhubarb and lettuce, I did plan on making a mini greenhouse like Alys Fowler's one of her TV show but never got round to it. Along the back fence we have willow, mint, strawberries in tubs and hanging bags, bluebells and delphiniums.
In our beds we have lettuce, peas, carrots, potatoes, pak choi, mooli radish, sweetcorn, rocket, butternut squash, runner beans, french beans, red onions and lots f marigolds to deter the beasties that love to munch on my salad! I have planted foxgloves for the bees and have honeysuckle growing up the fence, this is for bees and for in medicine too.

I love popping out early morning after letting the chickens out of their house and looking around the garden to see what has grown overnight, the chillies, peppers and tomatoes are growing in the greenhouse very slowly this year because of the lack of sun in Blackpool, I'm hoping that will change soon.

Under the blackcurrant bush I have sacks of potatoes growing which I think should be ready soon, hey were the first things I planted out. I use the re-usable bags from Marks and Spencer which cost about 50p, you just snip off the bottom corners for drainage and then when your spuds are ready slice the side open and voila easy access and much cheaper than the potato sacks from the garden centre.

 In the right hand top corner of the picture is our herb patch, we are growing lavender, oregano, horseradish, 2 types of sage, lemon thyme, lemon balm, marjoram, chamomile and lupins - I know not a herb but just for the bees. I love getting herbs from the garden when I'm cooking, it makes me feel proper!
Lots of lovely rocket in this bed, I adore rocket, it's peppery flavour goes so well with tomatoes on ciabatta

one of the sweetcorn plots growing very well this year, not had much success with the other times I have tried to grow it, so fingers crossed we will get some cobs this time. I have copious amounts of nasturtiums growing all over the garden to feed the caterpillars then they wont eat my lettuce, the chickens love the leaves and the bright orange and yellow flowers are a joy, I haven't managed to get anyone to eat them yet, even me, which is weird because I eat all the other garden things, the thought of eating flowers though hasn't quite got me yet.

another little patch of herbs right by our back door so if its pouring down I won't get soaked!, here we have rosemary, thyme, parsley and elephant garlic, which I can't wait to grow because it's meant to be massive and we love to cook with garlic.

Growing cucumbers this year for the first time, didn't realise how spiky the stems are!

foxgloves are so pretty, I think it's quite magical when the bees pop inside to collect the pollen

the pond is right in the corner but everything has grown so much you can't quite see it, we have watercress growing in the pond and froggy was last spotted a few weeks ago so I don't know if he is still around or hopped of to the birdbath for a splash

 Look here our first cucumber, I was so excited when I saw it, I ran in and told the boys to come see, they did say well done but I think I was most enthusiastic and I don't even eat cucumber!  love to grow things and am so happy when my hands are in the soil, I'm still learning and each time I do the growing thing I learn more. I got a great book called grow something to eat everyday, it's like having a grandad giving you tips, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to grow and I'm proof you don't have to have a big garden to grow lots, its all about the position of things, I'm always trying to squeeze more in. The thing I can't seem to get right is the continuous growing, we always have gaps where there is nothing to eat except lettuce. What are you growing this year?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

just call me dotty doolittle

My friend went on a trip to London so we house sat and whilst there made some friends in the cows, they are so beautiful if a bit snotty, I loved talking to them and named them all according to their facial expressions

 my youngest loved them as much as me but his big brother was scared in case they jumped the wall, I'm not sure how high cows can jump but I'm sure we would of been able to run away fast enough!!, It was funny though, I was dared with much glee by smallest boy to touch the cows nose, imagine dripping snot albeit clear snot, with a big tongue lapping it up and I had to touch it EWWWWW, I think not, they laughed at me them for being a chicken!

 I love the markings and eyelashes, I think this one is called Molly speckled nose, a rather pretty lady if you ask me. As well as gardening, baking ( god my waistband is ever increasing), having some kind of flu thing that rubbish I went to a new knitting group. Knittaz with attitude is Blackpool's answer to molly makes in real life haha. We had a right old laugh taking about all sorts of things only a group of women would talk about!!
 I looked spaced out but I was probably just thinking, I get that gormless expression you know when I think!
One of the ladies who was running it went out of her way to make me some vegan/gluten/dairy free cakes but I'm sure they was made with just sugar, I couldn't finish one of them, since I have been more purer in my eating if I eat something too sugary I get a terrible headache now. Come to think of it my not flu started the day after......
Got a busy week with home school sports day which should be fun and a birthday party in the countryside, I have volunteered to be bouncy castle monitor - good or bad idea?! Hope you all have a fab week, ohh did you see Lily Allen's wedding dress, it was gorgeous, so lovely x