I wanted to start my blog today by saying well done to my eldest daughter for her AS level results that she received yesterday. She has had a very difficult year (which I won’t go into here) but dispite this she achieved a ‘B’ in English language/literacy, a ‘B’ in psychology and a ‘distinction-star’ in hospitality……..we are extremely proud of her!
This week I visited Haddon Hall and gardens with my lovely sisters and had a wonderful day out. This was my eldest sisters Christmas present to us all….it was such a treat!
The website says:
“Described by Simon Jenkins in “1000 Best Houses” as “the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages”. Set in the heart of the beautiful Peak District National Park, parts of the house date from the 12th Century, sitting like a jewel in its Elizabethan terraced gardens, and overlooking the River Wye.
Film-makers flock to Haddon Hall to use it as a location. The house and grounds have played host to no less than three versions of “Jane Eyre”. Screen credits also include “Elizabeth”, “Pride & Prejudice” and “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “The Princess Bride”, the cult classic movie in which Haddon Hall becomes Prince Humperdinck’s Castle and village”
I enjoyed looking around the house as it was so interesting and the gardens were lovely too:
They had lavender lining their path in one area and the bees loved it. It reminded me of the lavender path I used to have at my allotment as it smelt so wonderful as you brushed past it:
(The photo on the left is Haddon Hall and the photo on the right is my old allotment)
In my kitchen garden this week:
This week I noticed that my sweet peas are being attacked with greenfly, so I spent a happy half an hour squashing them between my fingers…..as an organic gardener I prefer not to use sprays.
I think it has been a particularly bad year for aphids this year, so hopefully next year we will have a bumper year for ladybirds, as this usually happens.
There is some fabulous information and advice on the RHS website regarding aphids here if anyone is interested.
Everywhere around my kitchen garden seems to be doing well, though the ground has been really dry. This has caused some of my spring onions to go over a bit quicker than normal, so I pulled them up. I don’t want to waste them, though I don’t think they are good enough for our salads, so I have decided to pickle them like ‘silver skin pickles’.
My outdoor cucumbers are growing well now and my leeks and spinach have put on a growth spurt:
I also had a surprise this week as I found that a patty pan that I had given up on, is growing. I put three seeds in my big tub between my two courgettes after my previous sowing in pots didn’t germinate. Two seeds germinated and the slugs destoyed them and I thought the third seed hadn’t germinated until I found it this week.
I removed a couple of leaves from the courgettes either side of it, to allow the light to get through to the little plant. It maybe too late to get a harvest of patty pans now, but if we have a mild couple of months I may be lucky:
This week I dug up the last of my ‘2nd early’ potatoes which were a variety called ‘marfona’ (I still have my ‘desiree’ main crop left in the ground).
At my allotment I would always start to dig up my 2nd early potatoes in July, as I used to plant so many potatoes (early and main crops). This way I could spread the harvest over July and August as I always found digging up my potatoes such hard work.
Obviously it is really easy in my small kitchen garden, so I have just dug the potatoes when we needed them for a meal and I have got to say I am really surprised and pleased with the size some of them have grown, as they have been in the ground longer than I would normally leave them in:
In place of the potatoes I decided to grow some green manure. I gave the soil a good rake and sowed some phacelia. My seed packet is quite old now so I’m not sure if the seeds will even germinate, but I thought it was worth a try….I will have to wait and see.
“Phacelia tanacetifolia is good for sowing between March and September and it takes between one and three months to grow depending on growing conditions. It is a green manure that tolerates most soils.
If you leave phacelia to flower, it is a beautiful lavender colour that the bees absolutely love, which is why I used to grow it in my wildflower area at my old allotment. The one drawback is that if you leave it to flower it self seeds like mad. I will chop it down and fork it in before it flowers, so it doesn’t grow and become a weed to me next year”
I also sowed some seeds in the area where I pulled up my strawberries last week. I sowed ‘Broccoli raab ’60 days’ which apparently are quick growing broccoli-like shoots that grow on dwarf plants. I have never grown this before but the seeds were free with a magazine so I thought I would give them a go:
I also gave my apple and pear trees a summer prune. I am growing them as cordons so this first prune was to encourage the shape I want the trees to grow into:
This week I have been harvesting runnerbeans, outdoor tomatoes, frenchbeans, spring onions, potatoes, courgettes, parsley, a few peas and my first red cabbage of the year (that I couldn’t resist picking):
So overall I am very pleased with the produce my small kitchen garden is producing each week. Next year I will be looking at ways to increase my harvest and hopefully my fruit bushes will produce more in their second year too.
This week at home:
I started the week by making some more laundry liquid.
Just before our holiday last month I ran out of my homemade laundry liquid and I bought a box of supermarket brand washing powder to tied me over until we got back and this is what I have been using since then. I must say, I don’t think it washed any better than the laundry liquid I make (and mine is much cheaper) and also, my eldest daughter started to complain that the new wash powder was making her skin itchy!
Next time I will make sure I am more organised and won’t run out of it just before a holiday!
This week I also cooked and pickled the beetroot that I harvested last week and we are looking forward to eating it soon:
Finally this week, our old chest freezer unfortunately stopped working. Thankfully it was the freezer that I just kept my vegetables in and it was only a quarter full. I have been trying to use up the contents of this freezer for a while so I could switch it off completely and just use the other two freezers that we have.
I don’t know how long it hadn’t been working for, but everything was half defrosted and there was a puddle at the bottom of the freezer!
So myself and my daughter set about trying to save as much of the half frozen vegetables as possible.
We made a massive pot of tomato pasta / pizza sauce with vegetables to freeze in portions, I cooked lots of the vegetables in my steamer to freeze in portions and then reheat in curries and my daughter made a big pot of creamy, thick, vegetable soup to freeze in portions. I also filled my slow cooker with vegetables in gravy to again freeze in portions so I could reheat it for a lunchtime meal. I also cooked the sweetcorn I had left and froze it in portions so I could defrost it and add it to salads:
Luckily I still had room in my other two freezers for the things we made:
We managed to use nearly everything in the freezer, so really we were very lucky that hardly anything was wasted….and the soup was delicious!
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today. I will be back next Friday as usual.
Have a good week!