Tag Archives: gardening

Our Very First Harvest!

Our Very First Harvest!

We have owned the garden across the road for about a year now and I am proud to say, so far we have lopped a load of massively overgrown Christmas trees down and destroyed masses of bushes of unknown origin.  We are rocking the ‘Garden Thing!’ whatever that is.

As you can see our garden is beautifully manicured, well maintained and not at all rainforest like.

In addition to this, last year I had a load of peppers, cucumbers and other veggies in the polytunnel which Sweara (MIL) gave me.   I would love to say that they grew really well and we had a fantastic harvest and I spent many hours slaving over a hot stove making home made veggie curries etc ….but I can’t, because I didn’t, I murdered the plants instead.  In cold blood I’m afraid. I deprived them of human comfort and denied them water. I’m a plant killer.  Bad me.  Very bad me really.  My initial burst of enthusiasm was dampened by drizzle and laziness.  There I’ve admitted it.   I promise to try harder.

At least this year we’ve managed our first proper harvest!  It’s erm…potatoes.  Yes, I know!  Potatoes grow themselves really, and it’s not hard and it’s nothing to be really proud of, but goddamit I am proud anyway!  We grew something and now we get to eat it!  In yer face ASDA!

Sausage shouted ‘Potatoes-tatoes-tatoooes!’ hysterically quite a bit. He was very excited and sulked if no-one passed him any to put in the spud box.

I know a bag of spuds cost barely anything and the effort that goes into growing your own is hardly worth it really, but we get completely organic, home grown potatoes on our plates within hours of them coming out of the ground this way.  How cool is that!

Darlek shows off our very first harvest! Spuds, glorious spuds! *bursts into song*

I’ll admit finding finding potatoes with suspicious holes in and finding weird wiggly things in the spud box is a bit of a downer, but I’m willing to persevere with this regardless.  There’s something so rewarding about digging them out of the soil, I think it’s the remainder of the hunter / gatherer instinct.  I get the same satisfaction from picking berries and collecting eggs.

My parents used to keep hens until a fox massacred the lot of them one gory night.  I do like foxes, but I don’t like it when they mix with livestock very much.  I’ve toyed with the idea of chickens a lot recently, but I’m not sure if I could cope with Reservoir Foxes in my back yard if one of the blighters gets into the garden and has a feeding frenzy.  Maybe we will have feathered friends, maybe we won’t.

Apples of the earth! We have more Pomme de Terres than we know what to do with!

So what’s for tea then? Mashed spuds with a side order of chips? Or maybe wedges with boiled potatoes for pudding?

I do love that the kids got so excited about our very first harvest.  Sausage and Darlek both know exactly where potatoes come from, they’ve planted them, watered them and dug them up too. From what I can gather they really enjoyed the experience and I do hope that they continue to be enthusiastic about where their food comes from and pay attention to how it’s grown a little from now on.  If nothing else I’ll be happy if Sausage now knows potatoes don’t grow on trees and Darlek remembers that a single potato has the potential to grow and multiply itself many, many times.  It really is quite amazing that one single lonesome spud has the potential to reproduce itself so many times.  Nature is amazing, it’s easy to forget that sometimes I think.

Treasure! We found the spout of a tea-pot which I thought looked very much like a tiny brown leg. So it’s not a mahoosive slug, or a poo before you say as much.

After a lot of digging and muttering about mucky fingernails, we took a bag of them indoors and I washed them in the sink.  The colour of the water was disgusting, Sausage refused to put his hands in there although he did like plopping them in the water in the first place.  I decided to make boiled new potatoes to go with our erm…..supermarket bought pizza and beans out of a tin.  Classy meal eh!  Well, maybe not completely ‘In yer face ASDA!’, maybe just a quick ‘Ner-ner-ne-neer-ner!’ instead.

Tiny spuds! Some were the size of marbles and were actually cute. I’ve never seen ‘cute’ potatoes before.

Here’s the end result!  I know the meal itself wasn’t exactly nutritious and that Annabel Karmel would probably tut at it, but at least it included home grown, organic, freshly dug, cute potatoes!

I think the potatoes cancelled out the trashiness of the rest of the meal, or at least that’s what I told myself anyway.

So there you have it, our very first harvest.  From garden to plate!  I noticed the peas have grown too today, so we will be sitting in front of the TV snacking on crunchy pea-pods instead of popcorn very soon too.  I’m sure the kids will be overjoyed.  Maybe, maybe not.  Most likely I’ll resort to bartering, ‘If you eat three of those pea-pods, you can have some Coca-Cola.’  Well it’s a start isn’t it!

Gardening in a Jungle

Gardening in a Jungle

This morning we got up late, had bacon butties, the sun shone and the kids didn’t try to murder each other – so it was a very good start to the day.  Because of the good weather, we decided a bit of gardening was in order.  Horace decided to fell a tree (as you do) and I decided to rip out some of the weeds.  As usual Sausage & Darlek decided to run around in ever decreasing circles.

After a really relaxing walk around Wycollar Dene, where we trawled riverbanks for fossils and I searched for arrowheads and lost treasure, we arrived home invigorated and determined to ‘do stuff!’.

Gardening Express very kindly sent me a package of plants earlier this week and today I thought I should make these plants feel properly at home.  So, armed with gardening gloves, spades, forks, trowels and aforementioned package, we set about making a dent in the weed population, which is no mean feat in our jungle.

Four plants perfectly packaged and ready for planting!

These are the plants I was sent, and they were really nicely packaged when they arrived.  There was no loose soil all over the place, and they weren’t battered or tattered at all.  Considering they’d just travelled quite a way in a cardboard box, they were in brilliant shape.

Can you see the weeds shaking? They're terrified!

As you can no doubt see, there are a ton of weeds in the background there.  That is where the plants are destined to go.  The whole garden  looks like that if I’m being honest , we’ve only just started trying to get on top of things, having only had the garden for a couple of months.  There’s a ton of trees that need felling too.  Horace is enjoying playing at ‘Lumberjacks’ though, and I plan to buy him a checked shirt some time soon. Cue Monty Phython’s song ‘I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK!’.  Forgive me if I’ve made that joke before, it just constantly amuses me. Horace is a ‘puter geek as a rule, and I struggle to take him seriously in his outdoorsy role.  So, anyway!  The kids and I waged war on the weeds!

Die Dock leaves, Die!!

Yes, before you ask, we’re using a small plastic paddling pool as a weed container. Some thieving git stole our wheelbarrow.  I hope the wheels fall off.  I’m not annoyed or anything…much.  Darlek got stuck in despite the silly gardening equipment and helped loose the weeds while I hauled them out of the ground as best I could.  At one point I put all my energy into ragging a blackberry bush out of the ground and fell arse over tit (a beautifully illustrative term I find!) into a pile of nettles.  It hurt and as I type my back feels very slightly warm and fizzy, nettle stings are wierd.

Sausage went off on his own and attempted to plant a huge stick.  He gets seedlings confused with sticks I think.  Good attempt though!

10/10 for effort!

Eventually we cleared a bit of room for one of the plants at least and here it is! I’m hoping it’ll grow up the fence with a bit of support, and we’ll have a pretty pink flower backdrop to that patch of garden. That’s the plan.  I suspect we’ll have to do battle with the blackberries to make sure they don’t take over that patch again though.   The other plants will be in situe next weekend I hope.  Weather permitting.  I shall be doing a sun dance on Friday.  I don’t know if there is such a thing, but even if not, I’ve decided to make one up.  I hate gardening in the cold & drizzle.  It’ll probably involve me shouting ‘Stop bl**dy raining!’ at the heavens and waving my arms around a bit.

Onwards and upwards I hope!

This is rather a long post, sorry.  I just love wittering on about our little patch. After getting wound up with the kids for standing all over the bit I was weeding I packed it in and went for a wander around to see what I could find.  This old tree stump had some amazing fungus growing on it, they looked like tiny black matches with white tips.  Any ideas about what it is?

Anyone know what this fungus is called?Just click to enlarge the photo.

My last photo is of some of the pretty weeds that I refuse to dig up as yet.  They look like big rounded daisies and they are everywhere!  Much prettier than dock leaves.  Something I adore about our garden is that there is so much to see  even if you just have a quick look around.  It’s like having our own bit of mini woodland.  Although I might get stressed about all the work that’ll be involved in getting it all in check, it’s an absolute joy to amble around, especially on a sunny day.

Pretty weeds can stay for the moment!

This is another ‘sponsored-ish’ post, it is mostly just me going on about gardens, but I do have to mention Gardening Express who have helped make a little corner of our jungle look that little bit more respectable.  I can’t wait to see those plants really growing and coming into their own.   When I get the others bedded in, I’ll post a pic of them too.

If you’re into gardening, and even if you’re not and you just like looking at pictures of flowers, please do have a dig around their site HERE!  They have some beautiful plants, are very friendly and I’d certainly recommend them!

‘Ello!

‘Ello!

I quite often sit and spend ages thinking of an appropriate title for my blogs.  Today I thought I’d save time.  ‘Ello!’  it is.  Short and sweet!  Rather like today’s update, well in regards to the short bit at least.

My life has not been particularly exciting, I have nothing groundbreaking to report.  Sausage has taken to dragging huge sticks to and from nursery / school, this has slowed the school run down considerably and is escalating at a rather worrying rate.  Today he carried something that resembled a small bush for about a quarter of a mile.  All of his sticks accumulate around the front door because I refuse to let him bring them inside.  I think the neibours think we are either building a nest or taunting pyromaniacs.

Darlek is being a little love at the moment.  She knows I’ve been stressed to the eyeballs recently and has taken to carrying bags of shopping whenever she can, dressing her brother in the mornings to the best of her ability and holding my hand lots on the school run – all of which is really, really appreciated.  At the end of the day when I tuck her up in bed, I always tell her I love her loads and that she’s my gorgeous girl.  Because she is.  She’s so thoughtful in so many ways.  She’s also incredibly thoughtless every now and then, but you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.  The other day I wore a pair of jeans that I suspect are a little too tight and she resorted to sniggering, telling me that she wanted to tell me something but that she wouldn’t do, for fear of offending me.  I told her I didn’t really want to know, but I’m presuming it was that my bum looked big.  That old chestnut.  Nice.

Horace, my lovely mother-in-law Sweara, and I, spent all weekend attempting to sort out the new house a little.  Sweara has done wonders with the polytunnel, and it looks like I might actually be able to grow something in there now.  It is, amusingly enough, carpeted now! I never realised quite how useful outdoor carpets are until recently.  They’re fabulous weed suppressants and I’m all for deterring nettles and dock leaves whenever possible.  If they’re going to live in our polytunnel, they’ll have to work a little harder to get through the flooring.  I hope that annoys them, blasted horrid stingy things!

The house is at that terrifying point where it looks like a building site.  Rubble everywhere!  I keep telling myself it has to get worse before it gets better – in fact I think that has become my mantra recently.  Having said that, I have really enjoyed hammering lumps out of the awful fake beams and helping Horace remove the horrendous patchwork of stones plastered to the fireplace, the bar (yes we have a bar!), and the side of the stairs.  Just call me Mrs Bob The Builder.  It’s daft really, I have no skills whatsoever, but I still feel really proud wielding a hammer and ‘doing stuff.’  I think it’s a Women’s Lib thing.

That is about it so far! In other exciting news…….my iPhone has grown legs and has hidden itself somewhere in the house.  So no photos until I can tempt it back onto my ‘puter desk.  Maybe I should set an iPhone trap.  What on earth would you bait an iPhone trap with?  Curled up cables? A post-it note with a phone number written on it? Suggestions welcome.

I shall have to find it because I have a number of toy reviews lined up for your perusal.  Photos are essential, as is finding the time to upload them, and to upload the blogs.  Oh for an extra day in the week!  It’s coming up to Xmas so there’s quite a few interesting toys on the market, and my kids are happy to test them to destruction.  If they’re destroying their toys, they’re leaving my stuff alone, so I have ulterior motives.  (I’m not bitter about my favourite vase being chipped….honest)


Garden Days – and so it begins!

Garden Days – and so it begins!

This is our new ‘garden’ – otherwise known as the overgrown patch that makes me feel a bit wobbly if I think about it too much.  So much to be done!  There are a number of trees that have gone absolutely wild, quite literally.  They need cutting back or taking out completely so that we can get a little sunlight in there.  Horace says he’s probably going to need a chainsaw.  I say, I daren’t watch him with one of those things, they scare me witless!  He needs his fingers to pull weeds out, I’m terrified he’ll chop them off or something.

Trees need to be trimmed!

Chippings everywhere! I think there's half a quarry been scattered on here!

There is a heck of a lot to be sorted, and it’s hard to know where to start.   I need to draw up some kind of plan with paper and pencil, but that is a rainy day job, today the sun shone!  Instead I got my big boots on, got the wheelbarrow, the spade and the fork and dug for England! I’ve started on the raised beds, and have emptied one of them of weeds today, so that’s a start at least.  I found this little fellow hopping around, so I know there’s wildlife lurking in the garden already, which I think is fabulous.  I’m hoping to encourage all sorts of beasties into our garden.

Mr Frog! I didn't kiss him, he's not my type.

There’s a load of rubbish to be cleared too, which looks ever so attractive.  I shall be calling myself ‘Mrs Stig of the Dump’ from this day forth!  (picture the flies buzzing happily around my head).  I cannot wait to get hold of a skip and get rid of this lot.  Skanky horrid stuff.  Some of it must be useful, but it’s tempting to just get rid of it as soon as possible, it looks so ugly sat there.

Nice eh!

We have collapsed sheds too!   I wish we lived in India so we could hire an elephant to shift this stuff.  (random thought for the day).

Jenga sheds.

Still, despite all the work, there’s some hope!  The Blackberry bushes are blooming, so we’ll at least have them to pick, and there’s a few raspberries in one of the abandoned raised beds – they’ll go nicely with some ice-cream for the kids some time.   Speaking of which, the kids love their new domain!   It makes me feel so unbelievably happy to see them dragging sticks around, digging in compost heaps for worms, piling branches up for dens and running rings around trees and each other.  My happiest childhood memories are of playing outside.  In particular I remember dragging an old decrepit mattress half way up a tree, and thinking it was the best tree house in the world.  I want these sort of memories for my two, if I can instil a love for the great outdoors in them, then I’ll have done something right I feel.

Blooming Blackberries! Just add ice-cream in August.

This is not a pile of sticks, this is a 'Den!'

Today I was out there on my own, the kids were in school and nursery so I got quite a bit cleared from one very small patch.  Although it was easier to get things done, I did miss the kids’ giggling and them running around with woodlice etc. Plenty of time for that though!  It was wonderful to be outdoors, the sun shone, my shoulders burnt, the leaves cast speckled shadows, and for a couple of hours all I focused on was lugging bits of greenery about.  Heaven!  Which brings me nicely to my very last photograph, a Forget-Me-Not blue sky.  The heavens and the clouds were particularly beautiful today.

Looking up!

Diggin’ & Plantin’

Diggin’ and Plantin’

That seems to be the sum total of this weekend just gone. On Saturday we all tipped ourselves out of bed and ended up down at Darlek’s school field, helping to plant the new wildlife garden. I was very proud of Horace, as he was the only man there, it always strikes me as sad that school stuff seems to be the domain of women, even at weekends and fund raising events. So, there he was. 6ft 4, armed with spade and a grin. It made me even happier to see how the kids threw themselves into the task at hand.

Sausage wore gloves that were too big for him and ambled around trying desperately to be helpful, whilst getting in the way but being cute in the process. At one point I found him with a random stick, stuck vertically in the ground – he was studiously piling soil around it like he was trying to plant it. Darlek was a great help and plonked the sticks with roots in the ditch that had been dug, but eventually got a bit bored and found her niche with a couple of the lads who were litter picking with long handled pincer things and black plastic bags.  They wandered around the edges of the field waving their sticks at each other, shouting, laughing and waving litter at each other.

Drinks and biscuits were provided, so both of my two were in their element. Every five minutes Sausage sidled up to me hopefully and said ‘Bizkit?’ (I genuinely think he ate about 6) and Darlek was similarly enamoured with them. I’ll admit that I ate about 4, the last two I ate sneakily when I didn’t think anyone was looking. There were about 15 packets of the things so I don’t feel too guilty. Well, go on then, actually I do a bit now I’ve evaluated just how many biscuits we must all have eaten between us. One wonders if we’ll get invited to these diggin’ do’s again, or if we’ll simply be known as biscuit monsters and shunned….

I thought it was lovely that the teacher who was organising the work, insisted that anyone who helped out threw a handful of the wildflower mix over the freshly turned over soil.  It seemed important somehow, a final gesture.  So that when we walked past in a couple of months time and the ground was covered in a ‘Marmalade Mix’ of wildflowers, we could each think, ‘We helped with that!’ It’s nice to be able to make even a small difference in the the area we live in.

After that we went over to my sister’s and drank cups of tea and chatted.  Horace and my brother in law disappeared for a while, and I only realised where they were when my Sis burst into peals of laughter and pointed out into her garden.  Horace and Brother-in-Law where both involved in a battle with a small tree.  I think being outside and planting stuff had gone to Horace’s head a little and he had dragged BIL (I can’t keep putting Brother-In-Law) into his gardening frenzy.  You see, Sis has been meaning to sort out her garden for ages.  They moved in and inherited a lovely sized area, which is unfortunately covered in literally tons of gravel, and has two sorry looking stick trees planted unceremoniously in the middle of it. The plan has always been to cut down the trees, remove the gravel and commence planting flower beds and a lawn.   I think BIL had mentioned this plan and a casual fag break out the back had spiralled out of control and the trees were the first casualty.

Horace with knackered wheelbarrow in industrial landscape (previously Sis's respectable back garden)

It was very funny to see BIL stood there looking a combination of bemused and amused whilst Horace had aforesaid tree at a 45 degree to the ground and was hacking it with a small axe.  They both looked a parody of masculinity, all axes and manual labour and fags hanging out the corner of their mouths.  Knowing how much Horace usually avoids the outdoors like the plague, and how BIL doesn’t like being made to do stuff – they were playing out parts that were exactly the opposite to their usual roles.  It was like they were pretending to be ‘real men’ or something.  All they needed was Monty Python’s ‘I’m a Lumberjack, and I’m OK’ playing in the background.  Then it would have been perfect.

The next day was even better.  We went back for the afternoon and carried on decimating Sis’s back garden.  I raked gravel into gravelly stripes, and then shovelled these stripes into piles at the back of the garden, and Sis and Horace did the same.  We did have a wheelbarrow but it had a  puncture so it was useless, I swear it was taunting me and my aching back.  Darlek wandered around looking for precious stones amongst the gravel, and had her jumper kangaroo pocket loaded with different coloured stones of various shapes and sizes.  Just like her mum I thought.  I can’t ever walk alongside a river without coming home with piles of stones.

Sausage stared out of the window at us, grinning and waving inanely every now and then.  By the end of the day it looked like there’d been a huge stone mole loose, piles of gravel everywhere!  Two uprooted trees lay dying in a pile, the hedgerows had been hacked and had shed green fronds all over the place and a make-shift fire burnt smokily in a firepit in the middle of the destruction.  Through teamwork and hard effort, we had turned a half respectable back garden into something that resembled an industrial nightmare.  Sis’s neibour suddenly started paying attention to what was going on. After 5 months she’d paid so little attention that she actually asked Horace ‘How are you settling in?’ over the fence.  Horace said he was settling in fine, but didn’t actually live there and that he was the BIL.  Sis and BIL have lived there for the grand total of 5 months, I suspect it’s taken a grand garden wrecking weekend to finally get her attention.

We came home after having our wages paid in the form of hotdogs and mustard, and pined for a garden.  We want our own garden to pull in pieces and we want it NOW! (stamps feet).  I think Horace has proved this weekend that he can muster enthusiasm for the outdoors if he tries hard enough, Darlek can plant hedgerows, Sausage can plant sticks and I can dig a bit and moan about my back.  I think plans and schemes maybe afoot…