New garden, new beginning

So, I’ve moved into the new place – it’s a Victorian end-terrace – and have a whole new garden to sort out. When we moved here, it consisted of a path, a lawn, and what seemed like about a ton of dog shit nestling in the grass.  After spending the last 20-odd years tending and shaping the old garden, It’ll be a challenge to get this one up to scratch – but you all know me… love a good old challenge.

The plusses:

  • it’s a completely blank canvas
  • I have two new (still slightly skitty) chickens called Judy and Liza
  • I have a greenhouse (in many, many pieces – still to be assembled)
  • I’ve already turned over the bottom part of the garden, ready for said greenhouse to be built on, with a veg plot at the side
  • the garden will never flood or be boggy, as I’m at the top of the hill – #winner
  • cuttings from various sources are lined up on the patio, and some seem to be taking
  • I have lots and LOTS of ideas (actually maybe too many for the space I have)

The minuses

  • The ex decided to lock all my gardening stuff* in my old greenhouse and take the key, so I’ve had to get new kit.

*actually was only going to take my greenhouse caddy my son bought me for Christmas and some seeds… but hey ho – I’m sure the ex will look absolutely delightful mincing around the garden in pink gloves, weilding the mighty pink trowel and hand fork

So there you have it… the intro to the new pad… will try to update more often 🙂

as it is now

as it is now



Wordless Wednesday: My new Kindle book

Click the image to see it…

All the weekly articles plus more, compiled into a kindle book

Even more onions… and a couple of carrots

Who’d have thought…the sunshine we had on order finally turned up! Just a short while ago the plants were learning to snorkel… now they are on a full-on package holiday in the Med.

Everything is going bonkers in the garden: the beans are romping up the canes, the peas are starting to pod, and I’m delighted to report that for the first time ever, I have cabbages that aren’t turning into leafy trees, but are actually beginning to heart up. Happy times.

We’re not harvesting much apart from lettuce at the moment (the purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) has finished so that got whipped out last weekend), but I’m confident that in no time at all we’ll be spoilt for choice.

You may recall a while back that I’d slightly over done the onion order. I’d omitted to add that shortly after, 100 more arrived in the post. I was going to keep them quiet, and put them in the seed drawer in the hope they’d keep through summer, for autumn planting. No such luck – a quick check at the weekend revealed some were starting to sprout.

It was evident that they had to go in, so that was the task at the weekend. Perusing the onion bed, it was already pretty packed.  However, clearing some weeds produced a few crafty spots in amongst the existing plants.

Casting aside the lovely neat rows, 100 red onions were duly popped in, willy nilly around the bed. Hardly any are planted up together, but I reasoned that if you turn up late for a party, you can’t be too precious who you sit with.

Next job was to plant out the carrots. Of the various rows of seeds I’ve sown, a grand sum of about ten carrots have survived. A couple of weeks ago I made paper pots and sowed some seeds in them, thinking I’d be able to move them to their final positions without disturbing the roots too much – I could plant the whole caboodle: paper pot, complete with soil and plants.

However, I hadn’t banked on the paper pots actually welding themselves to the side of the plastic crate they were in, so it was a bit hit and miss which ones came complete with pot, and which ones didn’t. No matter now though, they are all in, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. A few more rows of carrots went in around them, just to try their chances. They’ve all gone in the space created when the PSB came out. The crop rotation’s gone a bit to pot, as they’re supposed to go in the ‘roots and onions’ bed…err… I think not…

This one appeared in the Hinckley Times on 31 May 2012

Ground force

One of my early blog posts was about Mr G, probably the most sprightly 90 year old you could ever wish to meet.  His wit was slightly quicker than his feet, and he always had a twinkle in his eye and an abundance of cheeky banter.

After a tumble, he was taken into hospital, and when we visited, his two concerns were his wife and his garden. Shortly after this visit, I’m sad to say that he passed away.

He was a  very keen gardener, and we’d often joke about what was growing (or not), who had the biggest onions, and how the carrots were doing. (His never grew: mine always got attacked by the carrot fly). He’d also been instrumental in fuelling my enthusiasm for gardening, as I’d bought his old rotovator a year or two ago. From that moment, no patch of grass was safe in my garden, and the veg plots multiplied.

When he was gone, the garden was still overgrown as he hadn’t been well enough to maintain it, and this then became a worry for Mrs G, as they had both taken such a pride in the garden: it was always immaculate and well looked after.

This weekend, four of us decided to do a Ground Force. Armed with bags, tools and of course, the rotovator, we sprung into action. The task looked daunting at first, as the veg plot had gone to seed and the weeds had taken hold.

This was only half of the plot!

However, with four willing pairs of hands and a good few runs to the tip, the garden was soon cleared and was taking shape

A couple of hours later,  the area was tidied, and the path was at least clear enough for Mrs G to be able to use more safely. We’ll go back in a week or so and do a final tidy up and prune, but for the meantime, it’s certainly looking a lot better.

I’m sure Mr G would have been pleased.

The art of the compost bin

There’s a definite food chain order in our house. Us – dog – chickens, and anything in between goes in the compost bin. Apparently you shouldn’t add potato peelings – rogue plants pop up all over the place, and definitely no meat, as it attracts rats. The last thing I want to encounter when I open the lid is Roland and all his mates taking advantage all that free grub and under floor heating.

It’s amazing that you can put a whole year’s worth of kitchen and garden waste in there, and it transforms into lovely crumbly compost. Well, that’s the theory. Mine never quite resembles the stuff off the telly, but each year it does get a little bit nearer.

When I first got my bins, I chucked everything in with gay abandon, and the end results were blocks of congealed rubbish. That was OK at the time though – a quick blast with the rotavator soon chopped it all up.

I then went to an event where a woman was demonstrating the art of the compost bin, and I asked her the secret was to getting some of the good stuff.

“What do you put in?” she asked,

I ventured, “Oh, the usual… grass clippings, garden cuttings, peelings and anything that comes out of the chicken coop when I muck them out”.

“Hmmm…. Seems like you are missing the browns”, she replied.

The browns…. What are these mysterious ‘browns’? She then explained that the bin should be filled in layers, with a layer of browns every now and again. Browns, I discovered, were cardboard items. Apparently this layer traps the heat and blasts all the stuff underneath.

I followed this advice, and my compost was still not as top notch as the Titch-meister’s, but was definitely heading in the right direction.

Idly flicking through a gardening book, I discovered the elixir of first class compost was, in fact, urine. Yes, urine, wee, call it what you like, contains some ingredient that helps the whole process along.

Easier said than done. Whilst I get on well with my neighbours, I’m sure the last thing they want to see when they look out of their window is me trying to …ahem…. add to the compost bin. And practically, I’m pretty certain I’d fall in. Turn to Plan B. From my knowledge of the male species, they love to go anywhere BUT in the toilet. With three boys in the house, I would soon be bottling the stuff! I briefed them on their mission, and even provided an old watering can outside the back door. One week later the can was empty. Dry as a bone. Obviously they weren’t quite so fired up about this idea as I was.

I’ve had to resort layering up as before, and adding a bit of plain old water every now and then if the pile looks dry.

This appeared in the Hinckley Times on 24 may 2012

The showgirl carrot

Well, the onions are now well and truly out, and hanging up nicely in the shed:

All that’s left in the bed are some parsnips (nowhere near ready), rasberries (eaten), blackcurrants (eaten by birds) and some beetroot. I have to admit the beetroot was a bit of an impulse buy in last year’s Wilko’s end of season sale, as I can’t recall ever haven eaten one in my life… will have to do some swotting to see what you actually do with them.

A showgirl carrot - la la!

A showgirl carrot - la la!

Whilst clearing out the rest of the onion patch ready for whatever goes in there next year, I found a load more small onions (= one jar of pickled onions), and quelle surprise… a showgirl carrot!