Archive | July 2015

The Kitchen Garden Harvest & An Old Holly Tree

This week has been wet and miserable outside with a distinct lack of sun, dispite it being July!  Never the less the garden is still growing well, though my butternut squash, outdoor cucmbers and greenhouse melons really need the weather to be a bit hotter as they are sitting sulking at the moment and not growing at all.

I have started to reap the benefits of my small kitchen garden and for a small amount of work I am harvesting some lovely vegetables and there are some lovely flowers for the bees and beneficial insects:

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This week in my new kitchen garden:

My potatoes are beautiful this year with hardly a slug hole in sight at the moment (though this wet weather may change that).  These potatoes are a variety called ‘Marfona’ which are a second early and they are absolutely delicious and have grown to a good size:

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The lettuces are continuing to feed us well, together with the first spring onions I sowed in modules back in March.  My greenhouse cucumber plant has produced its first two cucumbers as well, though the remaining fruits are a long way from being ready yet.

Also we are now eating tomatoes from the one greenhouse plant that I brought from the nursery….(the other plants I grew from seed).  I bought this one plant in the hope I could spread out my harvest as I was a bit behind sowing my greenhouse tomatoes, so the plan was this plant would give me fruit until my others were ready….and the plan seems to be working.

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I have picked my first onions this week and they were also really good and tasty.  There was no sign of the allium leaf miner because I was very careful to cover them in environmesh.  You can read about the damage the allium leaf miner does here.

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I also had my first cut of curly kale.  It has grown really quickly since I sowed it on 22nd April and it looked too tasty to leave, so we had it for dinner last night:

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I also picked some parsley from my garden this week and I made a lovely parsley sauce to go with some fish that I bought:

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And not forgetting the courgettes that are coming thick and fast:

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And I picked some fruit this week too.  There isn’t loads of it as my fruit bushes are young yet, but it’s not bad for a first year.  I picked a few more gooseberries, some black currants and white currants and a few blueberries:

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I always think that the currants look like ‘jewels’ when you first pick them.

One thing my family were happy about this week, was I picked my first kohl rabi of the year.  I think it is a strange looking vegetable but it tastes lovely.  You can cook it like a turnip, or grate it raw into a salad, but I just chop the skin off and serve it raw as a snack with a dollap of salad cream and it dissappears in seconds in the ‘Thrift’ house:

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I have noticed a few things in my new kitchen garden will soon be ready:

My french beans and runnerbeans are growing well…

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My red and white cabbages are starting to bulb up in the centre:

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And in row of beetroot there are some I will be picking and cooking in the next few days:

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And my outdoor tomatoes just need some good sunny days to ripen:

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I also noticed that my swedes are growing nicely too, though these will be a while yet until they are ready.  I sowed these in newspaper pots on the 23rd April and then transplanted them when they were a decent size.  I always think this protects them from the slugs and snails as they are big enough to cope with a bit of damage when I plant them out:

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So amazingly the kitchen garden is doing really well in it’s first year.

I absolutely love the ability to pick something and cook it / eat it straight away.  This is one luxury I didn’t have with my allotment and I can honestly say I didn’t realise how lovely freshly picked lettuces tasted when you eat them immeadiately after picking them.

Homegrown potatoes, kale and parsley cooked within 45 minutes of picking

Homegrown potatoes, kale and parsley cooked within 45 minutes of picking

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I have got to be honest I haven’t done a thing in my new kitchen garden this week, other than water my pots and harvest my fruit and vegetables…..I suppose this is the beauty of having a ‘small’ kitchen garden rather than an allotment, though I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative thing for me as I still really miss my allotment plots.

However, this has given me some time to start to think about the rest of my garden that I haven’t yet planned.  This is the area that Judy (our dog) runs around in and we sit in.

Unfortunately there was an old holly tree next to the fence that really had seen better days.  It only has a few red berries on each year for the birds to enjoy and what few leaves it has, it sheds daily during the summer on the ground below…….so we decided it was time to chop it down.

An old photo of the holly tree on the right hand side

An old photo of the holly tree on the right hand side

We considered paying someone to chop the tree down, but it wasn’t really that big so we did it ourself by removing as many branches as possible first…..then while Mr thift sawed, I pulled the top of the tree in the direction we wanted it to fall, using our extendable dog lead as we didn’t have any rope!….yes you did read this right and yes ‘health and safety’ went out of the window for this job.

The top section cam down well and then Mr Thrift sawed the bottom two sections off easily.

I have since read that old folk law tells you never to cut a holly tree down as it brings bad luck…I am not superstitious but if we do have any bad luck from now on, at least we have something to blame it on!

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This will free up another growing area for me, though I’m not sure yet if it will be ornamental or not.

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In the home this week:

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This week it is a year since my father-in-law passed away and I decided to make a flower arrangement for his grave side.  I bought some yellow and white flowers to use as these are the colours he loved.  I used bay from my garden which reminds us of the wonderful greek kababs he used to cook us and I used roses to make a cross as they were his favourite flowers and the cross symbolised the church that he loved so dearly.  I hope he looks down and likes the arrangement and knows we still miss him so much:

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This week I decided to make a victoria sandwich (using my ‘chuck-it-all in method) as I have been fancying one all week and it was lovely.  I also made my usual bread rolls (white and brown) for the week and froze them so they are fresh each day for lunch and then I made some more dishwasher liquid out of soap nuts, as I had run out:

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My daughter has been cooking again this week (I love it when she cooks).  She used some of the homegrown vegetables to make a risotto and served it with a homegrown salad and some ‘whoopsied’ garlic bread…..a very tasty, frugal meal!

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My daughter and her friend also made some dolly mixtures at home this week using ready made coloured icing.  I thought they look brilliant!

They stuck the colours together by just wetting the surface:

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They put them in a bag made of cellophane and tied them with a ribbon and they looked great….they would make a really good gift:

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Finally this week I was about to hoover our bedroom carpet when I decided there wasn’t enough carpet left to hoover!   This carpet was left in the house when we first moved here and it wasn’t up to much then……it now had more holes in it than actual carpet.  I decided it was rediculous to keep it any longer, (especially as we kept falling over the edges where the holes were), but I knew we couldn’t afford a new carpet in this room yet.

I pulled some of the carpet up and found some lovely floorboards underneath.  There were no gripper rods either to hold the carpet down.   So being impulsive as I am, I shouted Mr Thrift and together we pulled up the whole carpet and underlay and took it down to the tip.  There was dust everywhere as the underlay and carpet had disintegrated in lots of places and it took me ages to hoover it all up.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the old, horrible carpet with the massive holes, but I did take a photo of the floor boards that we uncovered and they look great.

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I will sand down and re-varnish / paint the boards another time, but until then they look loads better than the old carpet.

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Finally this week, Wilkinsons had a sale with lots of gardening equipment and seeds.  I bought some seeds that I knew I needed for next year and I also treated myself to a sign for my garden that was reduced to £1.75.  I placed it on our outhouse door that sits directly outside my kitchen window, so I can read it everyday as it sums up ‘my world’ perfectly:

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

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

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A Holiday, Mildew & Blackfly Results

Last week we went on holiday, however before we went I had a few jobs to do in the garden:

I started by tying up my tomatoes once again and ‘nipping’ off the side shoots and then I picked the rest of my climbing peas and froze them.  These are a variety called ‘Peashooter’ which I have been growing for years now.  I always grow them from seeds I have saved, but I still have hundreds of left over seeds from last year so I don’t need to save any this year.

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In the past when I had loads of room at my allotment, I would leave the climbing peas until I had time to remove them and then I would simply chop the stalks and leave the roots in the ground to rot over winter as the root nodules add nitrogen into the soil ready for the next crop.

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Unfortunately, space is an issue now and I needed to get another crop into the ground so I pulled up the peas and the broadbeans that were in front of them and added the whole plants (roots and all) into my compost bin.  This way the nitrogen will still be added to my soil when I spread the compost when it is ready:

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After adding some blood, fish and bone to the soil I then planted some lettuce and perpetual spinach that I had grown from seed.  I was worried that the slugs would eat them as they were so small, so I covered them with plastic bottles while we were away:

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I also set up my watering system so all the plants that I have in pots get a daily watering.  Unfortunately I don’t have anyone that I can ask to water my plants so this way I can go away without my plants dying.  I have been using this watering system for a few years now and it works well, though it does take quite some time to set up each year, as I have so many pots to water:

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Our Holiday:

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We went to Scarborough again for seven nights as we love it there.  We booked the holiday last year (before we decided to get a dog) and got a bargain family room with breakfast, in a Travelodge for just £363.65.  When we got there we paid an extra £20 for our dog too.

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I don’t know if you remember, we went to Scarborough in February as well for three nights and it was horrendous with Judy, (our rescue dog) as she was awful with other dogs and we were like ‘ninja’s’ running in and out of the travelodge trying to avoid dogs to stop her reacting.  Even on the beach she was a nightmare going mad, barking and lungeing even if she heard a dog barking at the other end of the beach!….I think this was our lowest moment with Judy.

So after just eleven weeks of training with ‘Havers Dog Behaviours’ we decided to go to Scarborough again on another prebooked holiday…..we felt it couldn’t possibly be any worse than our February holiday after all.

I am very happy to tell you that it was so very different and we had a fantastic time.  She still reacts to some dogs on leads, but she is fine with nearly all dogs that approach her off-lead now and I even had the confidence to take her muzzle off after the first day (which is something I have been doing in our training classes).  Judy even made friends with the local dogs on the beach which was amazing:

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She still gets a bit anxious when there are lots of people about, so we walked her when the sea was out so there was more space.

  One day we walked over a small hill right at the other end of the beach and found a beautiful area, that only the locals seemed to know about.  There were beautiful wild flowers growing on the hill:

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Over the other side of the hill we found a small bay with lots of rock pools too.  It really was beautiful:

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We met a man who was collecting crabs and he explained that he catches the ones that are just about to break out of their old shells and uses them for fishing (apparently they are easier to get out of their shells when they are at this stage):

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We also spent a couple of days visiting a beach in Fraisethorpe, near Bridlington.  It is a very large, quiet beach so we took our chairs and windbreak there and had a lovely time, paddling in the sea and walking with Judy:

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What was unusual about this beach was there were some concrete boxes in the sand that I understand were once millatary ‘look-out’ posts that stood on the cliff side…..as time has past the cliffs have erroded and the concrete boxes have fallen into the sea:

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I also noticed the small cliffs also had holes in them which apparently are used by Sand Martins to nest in:

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The beach was beautiful and what was even nicer was there were no amusemnets, fish and chips or ‘tack’ shops around…..It really was the Yorkshire coast at it’s best and I would love to go back there one day.

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Back home:

When we came home everything was ok in my garden, except my courgette plant had developed ‘mildew’ on it’s leaves:

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(Mildrew is a white powdery fungus that is found on the leaves.  You can read about it here on the RHS website).

I removed the affected leaves and gave the soil a really good watering.  I suspect my watering system should have been on a little bit longer each day, but I’m sure it will be ok (dry soil can cause mildrew).

The other courgette plant I had was fine and incidentally the black fly was nearly all gone after using the black fly brew a couple of times before we went on holiday.  So I think the black fly brew was a success!

(You can read about the black fly brew here).

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I then found that the cucumbers in my greenhouse had developed whitefly, so I decided to try the spray out on these too…..I have every faith that the spray will work, though it took my breath away spraying inside the greenhouse as it stinks!

I will let you know the results.

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I also came home to a few tomatoes, courgettes and a our first blueberries of the year:

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After a few days home I had a big sort out of my freezers to see what I food I have left in them and I found some sweetcorn that needed to be eaten:

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And believe it or not I found some grated courgette from last year, ready to make Cheesy, Courgette Scones….so I made a batch, much to Mr Thift’s delight:

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The scones are a great way of using up excess courgettes and as I have proved, the grated courgette lasts months in the freezer without even blanching it.

You can find the recipe here:

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Back home in our garden

Back home in our garden

Well that’s enough for now.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this week.

I will be back again next Friday as usual.

Birthday Blog & Simple Living

I thought I would write about something different today….what living simply means to me.

'Calendula Alley' at my old allotment plot

‘Calendula Alley’ at my old allotment plot

Three years ago this month I wrote my blog for the first time, spurred on by Radio Leicester’s Tony Wadsworth. At this stage I had been on his radio show a few times talking about my allotment plots, cooking from scratch, old fashioned cleaning, preserving my crops etc. etc.

I was originally invited onto his show after sending a text to Radio Leicester during a talk on ‘moneysaving’ – I felt it may help someone if I explained how we saved money in the ‘Thrift’ household.

So here I am nearly four years later and three years’ worth of blog posts down the line.

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Right from the start I decided to write about the things that I would want to read about, which is why the ‘Thrift’ family came up with the name ‘Notjustgreenfingers’, as it wasn’t just a blog about my allotment plots.

Originally I was only going to write for one year as I felt this would be enough time to cover everything I wanted to write about without repeating myself and for the first year I wrote a blog post nearly every day.

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Lavender Fairy Cakes

Lavender Fairy Cakes

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So here I am four years later and as you well know things unfortunately have had to change recently in the ‘Thrift’ household.

The biggest and hardest change was giving up my four allotments at the beginning of the year and incidentally I thought no one would be interested in reading my blog after this.  However you have proved me wrong and thank you so much for your continued support and to all the lovely people that left comments spurring me on to continue writing after my recent blog ‘wobble’ a couple of months ago.

In fact my viewing figures have continued to rise since giving my allotment plots up and I can only think this is because my blog is now even more relevant to people growing in small back gardens as well as those with allotments.

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My old allotment

Part of my old allotment plots

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At the beginning it was mentioned to me on more than one occasion to make money out of my blog by advertising on it when I had enough people reading it….but I didn’t want to do this. The intention of my blog was purely to show people how we live a simple life by growing fruit and vegetables, cooking from scratch, old fashioned cleaning etc. etc. and I hope you feel I am achieving this as this is so important to me.

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My old garden

My old garden

My new kitchen garden

My new kitchen garden

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So what now?

I will continue to blog as I enjoy it, but I thought now was a good time to check that we are still living a nice simple life, the way we wanted to.

Chocolate courgette cake

Chocolate courgette cake

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So I wrote a list of what ‘simple living’ means to us and this is it:

* Living an unmaterialistic life (not keeping up with the ‘Jones’) and enjoying what we have instead of buying more for the sake of it.

* To reuse and recycle where ever possible.

* To live as frugally as possible and do things for ourselves if we can e.g. the decorating I did this month….in other words ‘living well for less’.

* Grow as much organic fruit and vegetables as possible in a small kitchen garden.

* To use all our garden produce, preserving what doesn’t get eaten straight away.

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* Clean using old fashioned methods i.e. Vinegar, bi-carb and lemon juice.

* Cook from scratch and continue to have meals together at the table each evening.

* Have a homely house that welcomes everyone.

* Spend lots of family time enjoying ‘cheap’ old fashioned entertainment e.g. board games, picnics, get together’s etc. but to also make sure that my daughters don’t miss out on anything that their friends have – (though they have learnt to wait for cheaper prices or have second hand things).

* Holiday cheaply in the UK

* Slowing down and ‘smelling the roses’ (this is the one thing I do struggle the most with, as I am not very good at slowing down as you know…but I keep trying).

I’m sure there must be some things that I haven’t mentioned, but this is the gist of it.

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There are things that I still want to do i.e. soap making, candle making, keeping chickens (though this is impossible with my dog at the moment), but Rome wasn’t built in a day and I have lots of time ahead of me.

Simple living started for us when my children were first born through necessity, but it very soon became a way of life (they are now 15 & 17 years old).

The way we live now may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ and it certainly isn’t the ‘norm’ but we like to live this way.  I’m certain there are many people out there that also like to ‘live simply’…..it’s just a shame we are still in the minority at the moment, but I am convinced that sometime in the future this will change, for the environment and for individual wellbeing.

The wildflower patch at my old allotment plot

The wildflower patch at my old allotment plot

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I would love to hear what ‘simple living’ means to you as well….I look forward to your comments.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday as usual. Have a good week!

 

Good Friends & A ‘Blackfly Brew’ Trial

Last weekend we invited some very good friends over for the evening and we had a wonderful time catching up, over homemade pizza’s and puddings.

A Homemade Lemon Merangue Pie

A Homemade Lemon Merangue Pie

A long time ago we all met in a large office and became good friends very quickly as we shared the same sense of humour and fun outlook on life.  We went on lots of holidays together, days out and spent many evenings laughing until our bellys ached.

We all met our partners, but that didn’t stop us as the group just got bigger and even when we all left our work place we kept in touch…..but then children came along and sadly, as often happens, we did seem to drift apart – however, one person did keep in contact with each and everyone of us……my good friend Helen, who passed away two years ago.

We all met up again at her funeral and we have thankfully stayed in touch since…..it seems to me that this was a ‘parting gift’ to us all from our wonderful friend Helen.  So Helen if you are looking down on us, thank you for this.

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In My Kitchen Garden this week:

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I’m very proud to say that my kitchen garden is now producing crops.

Besides the lettuce, chives and radishes we have been picking for a while now, I have now started to pick mangetout daily:

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And my first peas are ready for picking….but unfortunately they didn’t make it to the table as it’s become a tradition in our house to eat the first peas straight out of the pod…..there really isn’t anything that tastes as lovely:

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I have also been picking broad beans, but unfortunately with my decorating last week some of them became a bit too large.  However, as I tend to cook them and puree them up for spag bogs, curries etc (as Mr Thrift doesn’t like them), it really won’t matter.

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I froze the broad beans by blanching them for two minutes before ‘open freezing’ on a tray:

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I also picked the first fruit from my small kitchen garden….a few blackcurrants and gooseberries which my daughter ate.  The plants are very young and I think it will be a while before they will give me a large crop, but I am pleased I got something this year:

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And yes, that time of year is finally upon us……courgette time!  As usual we all look forward to the first courgette and we always fry it up and use it in an omolette….(I know we will be fed up with them again soon like everyone else, but for the moment we will enjoy them).

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(By the way, there is a post I wrote here that talks about ways to use up hundreds of courgettes, if anyone is interested).

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A Blackfly Brew & Bird Damage:

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This week I have noticed a couple of pests in my small kitchen garden.  The first was ‘birds’.  I had covered my climbing peas in environmesh to stop the ‘pea moth’ and also the birds.  Birds were always a nuisence at my allotment eating most things.  As they particularly love the tops of pea shoots, I covered them without thinking.  However, I didn’t cover my dwarf peas and they seemed to be ok, so I became complacent, thinking that I wouldn’t have a problem in my back garden…

Yesterday I saw a bird fly off as I approached my kitchen garden and I then found bird damage on my lettuces, but luckily I had caught it early.  You can see the tears on the outside leaf in the photo below (which incidentally it looks different to slug damage):

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So I covered my lettuces so the birds can’t do any more damage:

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Another pest I found this week was blackfly on my courgettes:

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Now I’ve got to be honest, I don’t usually bother treating my courgettes for blackfly as they are usually big and strong enough to survive it without effecting the amount I harvest and also the ladybirds usually come to my rescue and have a feast…but I wanted to try something new out this year:

I had recently read about a home made ‘All Purpose Organic Pesticide’ that ‘Eco Snippets’ had published and I thought I would have a go.  You can find the orginal recipe here.

This is what the website says about it:

“It can be used on a variety of insects that live in the dirt or on the plants including worms, mites and other parasites.

This entire pesticide will eventually break down and be reduced to nothing, so it is OK to eat any herbs or vegetables that are growing. This is mainly intended for indoor use, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work outdoors as well”

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So this is how I made my ‘Black fly Brew:

(I halved the original recipe as it seemed to be a hugh amount to make in one go)

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Ingredients-

  • 2 ¼ litres of warm water
  • 1 onion
  • 2 small hot peppers (I couldn’t find jalapeno peppers)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (I used my ‘soap nut’ liquid as it’s natural)

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First I roughly chopped the onion, peppers and garlic and placed them in a bowl:

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I then used a stick blender to puree them into a thick paste:

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I added the puree to the warm water and left them to ‘stew’ for 20 minutes:

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I strained the brew through an old piece of material and I then gave the remaining paste a squeeze (with rubber gloves on) to remove all the juices:

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I then added the liquid soap and gave it a stir:

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I poured the liquid into a spray bottle and the remaining into a spare plastic bottle and labled them well:

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Apparently this liquid keeps for two weeks in the fridge.

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It says on their website to use the spray every 4-5 days and it takes about 3 or 4 treatments to work….so I went out and sprayed one of my two plants straight away.

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The ‘EcoSnippets’ website says:

“Try to get all over the plant including the stem and under the leaves. Spray the soil as well so that the top of it is wet.

What this liquid does is make every part of the plant that it touches unpalatable to the insect. The water evaporates and leaves behind the odor and flavor. It smells and tastes gross and they won’t eat it. When they won’t eat anymore, they eventually starve. The liquid will not kill the insects on contact, so do not get upset if you see increased activity after the application. They’re simply struggling to find something to eat”

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I will monitor both my courgette plants and report the results back to you in a couple of weeks.

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In My Home This Week:

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I have had a relatively quiet week in the house after all my decorating last week, but I did want to mention a couple of things.  After our friends visit at the weekend, we had half a tub of mascopone left over and my eldest daughter decided she would use it so it didn’t go to waste (she obviously takes after me).   So she made a pasta sauce using tomatoes and mascopone and fried some courgettes, mangetout, onion and garlic and added it to the sauce:

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She then served it with salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and salt and it was delicious!

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She also decided to make some biscuits for her teachers at school, to say thank you for helping her during her first year of ‘A’ levels.  She made shortbread biscuits and then covered a an old sweet tub to make it look pretty and this was the result:

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I think this present is far nicer than any shop bought present that you could give and as I always say:

“A homemade present is from the heart, not just from your bank account”

I was very proud of her and I think she now deserves her title of ‘Ms Thrift’.

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Also this week Judy (our rescue dog) has not had a good week and has gone backwards a little bit with her training, but I am working on this with Steven Havers, our trainer and I am hoping it is just a ‘blip’.  However, she is still doing well overall and fitting in our family nicely at home.

 

Judy asleep with her ball

Judy asleep with her ball

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That’s enough for now, I will be back again next Friday as usual.

Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you have a good week!

Planting Leeks, Comfrey Feed & Wallpapering

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 July’ can be found here.

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

I hope it helps someone out there.

My New Kitchen Garden

My New Kitchen Garden

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In My Kitchen Garden This Week:

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This week I planted my leeks in a space where my lettuce and radishes stood last month.

I raked in some blood, fish and bone and I also top dressed the soil with compost as I am growing a second crop so quickly after a previous one.

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I then used my old wooden ‘dibber’ to make holes six inches deep into the soil:

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Then I cut the ends of the roots off each leek.

Previously it was thought that cutting the roots and the top off the leeks would stimulate the roots into growth…. I have read since that it doesn’t really make a difference.  I still cut the roots, as it makes it much easier to push each leek into it’s planting holes.

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I then pushed each leek into the hole I made with the dibber (sometimes it’s easier to twist the leek to get the roots to go down into the hole) and then I just watered each leek.

(You don’t need to back fill the hole with soil, as the water will settle the soil around the roots).

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This week in my kitchen garden I also planted the spring onions I sowed last month.  I am running out of room now and so I decided to use the space in between my fruit bushes (as their roots are still fairly small):

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I also sowed some more lettuce seeds in a very small space, again between my fruit bushes.  The weather has been so dry I watered the drill before I sowed the seed and then just pulled the dry earth back over the seeds.  This stops something called ‘capping’ which happens on a heavy clay soil.  It is when the wet soil on top of the seeds forms a hard ‘crust’ that the seed can not break through as it grows.

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Another job I did was to cut my chives down, now that the flowers (that the bees so loved) have gone over.  This way I will hopefully get another crop of fresh new growth soon:

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I also put some canes into the ground to support my Jeruselum artichokes, as they have a tendancy to fall over.  I also tied some string to the canes as well:

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Comfrey Feed:

The comfrey that I transplanted from the allotment has done really well and this week it is ready to cut down and use.

I chopped it up and put it in a pot, weighed it down with a brick and then just covered the comfrey with water:

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I then put a lid on the pot to stop flies getting into it and I will now leave it for a couple of weeks.

Comfrey feed is a high potash feed, so it is great to use once a week on all fruit and flowering plants.  You can read more about it here.

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To finish off the week I painted my second bench, to match the one I did last week and it’s come up well too.  I also had a general tidy up, putting all my seed trays and pots away:

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Finally, in my kitchen garden this week I noticed that my nastursiums are flowering.  These were found growing in my strawberry patch, so I transplanted them to each end of my runnerbeans.  I love nasturtiums as you can eat the leaves and flowers in salads, but they are also extremely good at attracting blackflies away from my runnerbeans, so I always plant them together:

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At home this week:

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This week I ran out of my kitchen surface cleaner so I made some more.

I use just white distilled vinegar and a few drops of tea tree essential oil.

White vinegar is a great mulitipurpose cleaner and if you add a few drops of Tea Tree oil it then becomes a multipurpose antibacterial cleaner, which is great to use around your kitchen.

You can read all about the wonders of using vinegar for ‘old fashioned’ cleaning here.

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I also decided to rejuvenate our bath towels and flannels as they were looking a bit old, as we have had them quite a while.  There wasn’t really anything wrong with them except they were all different colours and faded….so I brought a washing machine dye and here is the results:

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I was so pleased with them I decided to also buy a dye for my T-shirts that were also faded (but still had lots of wear left in them).  I dyed eight T-shirts all in all and you can see the before and after photo’s here:

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I was very pleased with them and now I don’t need any new T-shirts for this summer.

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This week at home I also cleaned the black mould from the PVC on our bay window:

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The only way I have ever managed to remove the mould is to use a mixture of bicarb and bleach (which I know isn’t an old fashioned method, but it works).  I have tried using lemon juice in the past but it isn’t quite as good.

I simply put some bicarb in an old tub and mix bleach in until it is a thick mixture (not runny) and then I use an old toothbush to thickly plaster it on the mould:

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I leave it for an hour or two and then wash it away using rubber gloves on my hands and this is the result:

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IF YOU DO THIS YOURSELF ALWAYS TEST A SMALL AREA FIRST TO MAKE SURE YOUR PVC ISN’T DAMAGED IN ANY WAY.

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If you remember last week we had the plasterers in to ‘skim’ the walls in our front room and ‘patch up’ our ceiling.  They did a great job on our walls but the ceiling was awful, so I spent a whole afternoon sanding it down!

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I then painted the ceiling, walls and woodwork and then I hung some wall paper on the chimney breast wall.

I love painting, but I’ve only wallpapered the odd easy wall over the years, but I thought I would give it a go.  I watched lots of ‘you tube video’s’ but still I found some of it very tricky (especially around the fireplace).  But I managed it and we think it looks nice and it has saved us paying out for a decorator.

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This room has desparately needed decorating for a long time.  We chose the colour of the wallpaper to go with our ‘charity shop’ three piece suite and we are really pleased with how the room looks now.  We just need a new carpet to finish the room:

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Happy Birthday Blog.

This week I have been writing my blog for three years and I wanted to say a big thank you for your continued support.  I originally only planned to write my blog for one year, but I have had so many lovely comments over the last three years that spurred me on to continue to write.

Thank you so much for reading my blog posts.

I will be back again next Friday as usual.

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Have a good week!