Pot of Soup (not cup of!)

It is so nice to go out to the veggie plot, pull stuff out of the earth and make a big pot of soup.  Well the pulling bit’s good I leave the making of the soup to my hubbie.  It’s all stuff that’s past its best or crowding out other things so a bit of a bonus really.

It’s much milder today so I did a bit of weeding after the pulling with a bit of help from the hens of course.  I demolished a few mole hills also but no doubt they’ll be back up tomorrow.  We’re treating ourselves to a piece of wild boar (Aldi’s best!) on New Year’s Day served up with our parsnips, carrots and braised leeks.  Makes  change from eggs!


Mangetout in flower!

Well, one flower.  I thought I’d try planting mangetout in October in an open coldframe – just to keep the worse winds off them.  We’ve had frost on a few occasions but they seemed to keep on growing although very slowly.  Surprised today to see a flower appearing.  Don’t really think I’ll get a meal out of this lot though. You’ll also notice that forget-me-nots has moved in to keep the mangetout company.

Hopefully, a bit more productiveness coming out of this little lot. We’ve been filling the leaf bin then leaving it for a couple of days then topping up.  Looks like another top up is due. The manure is from our next door neighbours horses – they’ve got four so there is no shortage of muck.  We’ll keep adding to this pile over the next week or so then call a halt.  By next winter this will be lovely and crumbly.  Last year’s pile is now sitting on top of where the potatoes are going in March- I’ve left the worms to do the digging!

Something I might still get a meal out of before the New Year is the perpetual spinach. This is such doer and I love the flavour.  Don’t know how many pickings I’ve had off this little stand. Potato rosti, perpetual spinach and poached eggs on top – yum yum! If I could only grown one thing this would be it- easy peasy and tastey. Must admit it looks better in the garden than it does in this picture.

A bit of a bird theme…

Well that’s more muck barrowed onto the growing heap.  As I’m making the heap bigger the hens are getting bolder and climbing higher in their never ending quest for earth worms.  I thought I’d upload a photo of my two hens but as I was downloading from the camera I noticed a couple more birdie pictures although you’ll have to trust me on the third one!

Known as ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ Warren although now they are both about the same size! Little Warren has black all they way to the tip of her tail unlike Big Warren who doesn’t.  Even today, on the winter solstice, they still provided me with two eggs .  Maybe those organic sunflower seeds they get daily helps.

This next picture is a bit blurry as the camera was a bit cold and it’s taken from within the house.  Bare in mind he’s on the upstairs balcony railing . He must have been able to see me and the camera as I was about three foot in front of him nonetheless he sat there for a good ten minutes. Really shooting hens must be more of a challenge than shooting pheasants!

Now, this is where the trust is needed. Depending on the weather our house is on the flight path of the cranes going south in winter and again north in spring.  You can hear them coming for miles and sometimes they come over in waves hundreds at a time for hours on end.  I find it impossible not to smile when I hear them coming they are just so life affirming.  The last group went over the house on the 24th of November and they were flying much lower then those in the picture.  Maybe next year I’ll have the camera to hand when a low flying group passes over and get a real picture. I took this picture as these cranes broke their ‘V’ formation to regroup.

Cranes honest!

Plans for 2014

Last night I had a good rummage through my seed box and made some decisions on what I’m going to grow in 2014. Some veggies have had their chance and for one reason or another they did not make the cut.  I’m afraid courgettes have had their day – we just get sick of the sight of them! In my garden broad beans start well then just give up the ghost and begin to play housemaid to a sqillion black flies so I’m afraid the remaining seeds are now in the compost bin.  So what’s new for 2014?  Well I’m going to try okra. To be honest I’m tempted by the beautiful flowers on the plant so they’re going in the island beds not the veggie plot. They can join the globe artichokes if they make it through the winter.

Okra flower

I’m also thinking of trying sweet potato. Not from seed though I thought I’d try and start a plant from a store bought tuber next spring.  From what I’ve read they’re not too difficult to grow and if we get a long hot summer I may even get a crop.

If I can tackle the rather large nettle patch at the top of the garden I’d also like to get some Good King Henry established.  The light levels should be about right there and it means they don’t have to take up room in the veggie plot.  I’m always on the look out for vegetables that can grow somewhere other than in the full sun of the veggie plot.  That’s how my next newbie made the list – Hamburg parsley.  This grows in semi-shade and you eat the root (I think you can eat the leaves also).  No idea what it tastes like but if I can stick it in the ground in semi-shade and forget about it then I may get to like the taste whatever it is. Finally, I’ve never tried growing sweet corn so I’m going to give it a try.  Because I’ve  heard so much about it I’m going to give the ‘three sisters method’ a go.  If you’re not familiar with this mode of planting you can read about it here.

Aubergine made the list – just.  If I don’t get some decent fruit next year I’m afraid 2014 will be my last attempt.  I’ve ordered ‘Black Beauty’ in the hope of a better crop – germination is easy peasy getting the fruit to anything worth picking is the problem. There’s a complete list of what I plan on growing under the Welcome Menu at the side of the page.



The Veggie Plot

My veggie plot is located near the house just in front of my wild life pond. It’s about 15 metres x 8 metres.  Along the fence I’ve got a grape vine (first grapes in 2013 – it’s been in since 2009)  with rasps and blackberries either side.  The blackberries are struggling but the rasps are doing OK.  I’ve moved my strawberries away from the veggie plot into their own area.

I’ve then got four rows a little over a metre wide with a path down each row. If I could afford it I’d have ‘proper’ paths and edging along the paths but I can’t so it’s earth paths and string to mark out the beds.  Since this picture was taken I’ve now created a 6th narrow row into which I’ve sown rhubarb and planted red bergamot.  I wish I could say the plot always looks this tidy!

Day One

Well this is a brand new experience for me.  I thought maybe I could start off with one of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year.  Funny how it’s often mistakes that seem to move your gardening skills forward. In 2012 I grew some wonderful Winter Carnival winter squashes. I dutifully collected the seeds and replanted them 2013. Oh la la …big mistake.  The veggie plot looked like a mutant squash zone – the wonders of unmanaged cross pollination. The vast majority went straight into the compost bins.  So in 2014 it’s definitely fresh squash seeds.  I want to try Sweet Dumpling next year and I’ll probably do a butternut as well. Well I’m off out to see to the hens.

Sweet Dumpling