Farm Visits & Growing Herbs

Before I start today I wanted to remind anyone that is interested, that my usual monthly blog post of

‘What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In June’ can be found here.

There is loads of information in this post e.g. weather conditions expected, what to sow / plant / harvest in June, jobs to do and pests / diseases that you may encounter this month.

I hope it helps someone out there.

My 'free' azalea that I have grown from a tiny little plant

My ‘free’ azalea that I have grown from a tiny little plant

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I have loads to talk about this week, but firstly I want to say an enormous “thank you” to all the people that commented on my blog last week after my ‘blog wobble’.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the lovely things you all said and it really has spurred me on to keep blogging.

All I can say is I am very lucky to have your continued support…thank you for this.

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Out and about during the week:

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Last weekend I visited two working organic farms with my friends from the ‘Western Park Organic Gardening Forum’.

Firstly we went to Oakley Grange which is a 660 acre farm, just outside Hathern in Leicestershire and a gentleman called Richard gave us a guided tour and it was most interesting to hear about his farm.

We had a lovely lunch too in his cafe.

You can read about the farm here.

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We also visited Manor Organic Farm in Long Whatton, Leicestershire:

“We have been farming organically since 1989 and believe that organic farming is a positive philosophy, and is more than just avoiding the use of artificial chemicals and fertilisers. It is a sustainable approach to farming which views the farm as a whole system in harmony with the natural surroundings and nature itself as well as the local community”.

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The farmer (Graeme) again showed us around the farm and told us all about his animals and the meat they sell.  One of the things he said really stuck in my mind……he said when he goes out for a meal he will only eat vegetarian meals as he doesn’t know how the animals have been treated by other people.  He said he only eats the meat that he has produced, so he knows that the animals have been treated well.

The butcher in their shop was also very knowledgable about the meat they sell and spent time showing me what I could buy and how much it would cost me.  Organic meat is a lot more expensive to buy, but I can now see the benefits of buying it……the hard bit will be convincing my family, so I need to think about this.

This farm also had a cafe and we all had a lovely drink and cake to finish the day off.

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I enjoyed both farm visits immensly and it was great getting so close to the animals.

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In my Kitchen Garden:

As it’s June I have been planting some of my more tender plants outside…..I started with my two butternut squash plants.

Our family love butternut squashes and I had the luxury at the allotment of growing lots of these as I had plenty of space:

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However, it would be impossible to grow this amount in my new kitchen garden, but I wanted to try and grow at least a couple of plants.  I decided to have a go at growing them up the post that holds my washing line.  So a few a weeks ago I tied some chicken wire around the post and dug some organic manure into the soil.  This week I planted two plants at the base of the post and as it was still quite cool at the beginning of the week, I placed a bottle over the plants to act as a mini cloche to help them establish:

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As the plants grow I will tie them to the support…..I will keep you informed on how they are doing.

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I have also planted out the tagetes that I grew from seed, along the edges of my paths.  I think they look good when they are in flower and their smell helps to confuse pests, which help to protect my vegetables.

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I had a few outdoor tomato plants left, so I decided to put these in pots as I couldn’t bare to throw them away.  I didn’t really want too many pots around my garden as it means daily watering, but I do love tomatoes so I decided to keep them:

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This week I planted some more spring onions that I grew from seed.  Again I sowed a few seeds together in modules and didn’t bother to thin them out, as they ‘push’ apart as they grow:

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The first spring onions are not yet ready to eat, but we have started to eat the onion sets that I planted closely together in March.  I don’t know if you remember but I  planted 66 onions very close together in the hope that I could harvest them over a longer period, by picking some when they reached ‘spring onion’ size and leaving the remaining onions to grow to a good size:

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Well I’m pleased to say my plan worked and I have been picking some lovely onions to put in our salads:

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Herbs:

This week I also planted the parsley that I grew from seed.  I love parsley as it’s easy to grow and I like to freeze it to use for the garlic bread I make in the winter months.

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The apple mint that I also brought home from my allotment has finally began to put on some growth.  I will leave it in its pot so the roots are contained and don’t become invasive.

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My daughter likes to put mint in her drinks to make them refreshing and I must say it’s nice now for her as she can just nip outside to pick a few leaves instead of having to remind me constantly to bring some home from the allotment:

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I wanted to include lots of herbs in my new kitchen garden but I didn’t want to use the small amount of ground that I have to grow them – so I have been wondering what to do with them for a while and then I found these pots in Poundstetcher a couple of weeks ago:

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As you can see the pots only cost me 74p, but when I got them home I found that they did look really cheap and nasty when I put them up.  So after a bit of thought I got some old white, outdoor paint from my shed and sponged it on lightly to make the pots look a bit older….and I think it worked and they now look a lot better:

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I then bought some herbs from my local garden centre and planted them in my new pots.

So I now have oregano golden french, marjoram gold, oregano country cream, thyme compact, sage and dill in the pots – though I do know that some of them will need to be moved when they grow larger in a year or two.

I also have lavender and rosemary in bigger pots in between my fruit trees:

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And I have chives growing along my path, which are looking beautiful at the moment as they are in flower and the bees love them…..and the flowers are adding a lovely colour to my salads:

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This week in my kitchen garden I also planted out the calendula that had self seeded in the compost that I brought back from my old allotment.

Calendula looks beautiful when they are flower and the bees love them and you can also eat the flower petals too.  They look great in salads or sprinkled on pasta.

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And finally in my kitchen garden this week I removed the top couple of inches of growth on my broad bean plants.  I do this when the first tiny beans are visable on the plants.

Blackfly absolutely love the top, soft growth on broad bean plants and this stops them:

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In My Home:

This week I decided to do a job that I have been putting off for some time….I have been cleaning the top of my kitchen cupboards for the first time since they were installed 18 months ago….so they were very dirty!

I used white vinegar and a scubber to clean them and they cleaned up well:

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I really don’t want to put this amount of effort into cleaning my cabinets like this again, so I have lined the tops with a sheet of newspaper.  When the paper is dusty and dirty I will remove it and replace it quickly with another one, without having to do any hard work:

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Since we have had the new kitchen I have thought the area above my cupboards looks quite bare, so this week I put some old baskets on the top of the cabinets and I have used some cheap wooden hearts to decorate them….and it now looks much more homely (and I have somewhere to store my jars for jam making too):

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Have a good weekend!

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21 thoughts on “Farm Visits & Growing Herbs

  1. Hi – I just had to comment this once more. Well done on making me feel very lazy! You are so, so clever and full of common sense and interesting ideas. I am convinced that you rarely sit down, so it is good to read about your outing. I think you’re wonderful and I am so glad that you now realise how much we all enjoy your diary and photo’s. Your garden looks incredible and so well established. It’s hard to believe that you only created that section a few months ago, What fabulous weather we have had this week, too. It makes us feel better whatever is going on in our lives. I hope that everything gets better for you, whatever other problems you have. You have such a positive outlook on life. I am very happy to hear that your little dog is improving , it’s been very distressing with her extreme behavioural issues. Also,I know how much you miss your friend. It takes some accepting when a lovely person is taken like that. She was so lucky to have you in her life. Thank you for being you xxx

    • What a lovely thing to say Patricia and how lovely of you to remember my friend…I still miss her dearly together with my father-in-law that sadly also passed away last July. The last two or three years have had some real low moments but I suppose it makes you appriciate the good times all the more doesn’t it.

      Have a good weekend and thanks again for reading my blog

  2. I love your site! Thank you for providing excellent information and ideas, as well as sharing pictures of your garden.
    Maggie.

  3. Gosh, so much I could say in response to your post….. Thanks first of all about the idea for storing stuff on top of kitchen cabinets. That will be great for all the hard and such like I keep for preserving. Goodness only knows why I didn’t think of it myself. Not sure if I can reach to clean up there, though.

    I was interested in particular to read about your visits to the organic farms as well. I only buy organic meat from my local farm now – it tastes soooo much better than any other. And my daughter (8 years old) has declared she will eat bacon only from there. Once you’ve tried it, you’re spoilt for life 😉

  4. All looking good. I would like to put in some azalea and Rhodes. Organic is quite a bit higher in price but I still try to eat heathy with in a budget.
    Garden is doing good here in Idaho…Coffee is on

  5. A multitude of great ideas in this post. What a great idea to put sheets of newspaper on top of your kitchen cupboards! Your two farm visits have whetted my appetite – must see if we can go one day. Your kitchen garden is looking great, so productive already.

  6. Morning Mrs Thrift, I found your website a long time ago and absolutely love, love, love it! keep it coming as i so enjoy reading about what you are doing, have achieved and it gives me hope & inspiration for my my garden & home. Talking of home my hubby & i are planning to revamp & up-cycle our kitchen & although it is 30 years old we cannot afford new units but have decided to refurbish our existing ones in August when we have 2 weeks off together. As my husband works away during the week & is only home at weekends it will be up to me to do most of the preparation of the work & as I only work part-time it will keep me busy & out of trouble. What a fantastic idea of yours about placing old newspaper on top of the cupboards to keep them clean, i will certainly be adopting that idea if you don’t mind? Please keep the blogs coming as i for one find them so interesting & informative & i am sure many others do too. Much love & hugs Sharon.x

  7. Your vegetables are coming along so well, i do like the idea of the containers on the fence and they do look better with the paint added. What a brilliant idea to put newspaper ontop of the units, i do so dislike that job and will be using that tip.All things are growing well here, the spring onions are slow and look like grass but we were late sowing, i have been giving away tomato plants and if there are any left in shall do as youand pot them up as we do like our tomatoes.Do have a good week.
    Sue

  8. Next time you visit my neck of the woods, I would love to meet you and share a pot of tea at either of the lovely farm cafes. I have driven past Oakley Grange so many times this week, and keep seeing the sign saying there is a craft fair tomorrow. Also it is Open day at Long Whatton tomorrow. We went last year and had a really fabulous day. It may be only a small farm but there was plenty to do, such as watching the sheep shearing, bread making, learning about bee-keeping, feeding the goats, riding in a horse drawn carriage and delicious organic burgers for lunch. You can really taste the difference with their organic meat. I would much rather my money is going to someone I can trust like Graeme, who isn’t driven by profit, but is focused on animal welfare and the environmental issues. I wish I could afford their meat all the time. I wanted to order half a lamb, which works out cheaper, but I have such a small freezer that I am worried I wouldn’t have room for it. Sigh! Being frugal and organic don’t go together 😦

  9. hello,
    lovely post!!! i love your new hanging pots…..they looks much better after your painting.
    i love parsley ,too. yesterday have i planted my tomatoes and today harvested I a few black currants.
    have a nice week,
    regina

  10. Loads of top tips there. Really pleased to see the garden is coming along so well, you’ve done fantastically. You’d be proud, this week I unclogged our very blocked kitchen sink using soda, white vinegar, salt and hot water…it was free-flowing sparkling afterwards.

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