Archive | November 2015

Path Edging And A Few Odd Jobs

After our fence was blown down in the gales last week, I had to wait until it was fixed by our lovely neighbour before I could continue with my new vegetable patch.

In the mean time I caught up with a few little jobs that I hadn’t quite got around to:

I first labled my homemade wine:

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I then finally sorted the basil that had been hanging in my kitchen drying for ages:

  In the summer my dad gave me a pot of basil from the supermarket and as I didn’t use it up I hung it in my kitchen to dry.  After a couple of weeks I transferred it into a paper bag so the bits didn’t go everywhere as it dried:

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The result was lovely dried basil, which I crunched between my fingers to remove the big stems and then I passed it through a seive to remove any remaining twigs:

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As there was only a small amount of dried basil I just topped up the jar of shop brought basil I had in my pantry:

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I also then turned my attention to Christmas and made sure that I had everything I needed for my Christmas presents. I only had the odd thing to buy as I tend to buy presents through out the year, either in the sales or if I find something unusual that I know someone would like.

After this I sat down with some lovely Christmas music in the back ground and wrote all my cards.  I like to take my time to do this as I have a few people that I only write to once a year, so I like to tell them what has been happening in our lifes:

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And finally I sliced an orange to dry, ready for my Christmas decorations. I arranged the slices on a piece of greaseproof paper over my radiator and I find they dry in a week or two without needing to put them in the oven.  I usually put a little hole in each one when they are nearly dry so I can thread some wire or ribbon through it.

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I absolutely love to see dried oranges around the house at Christmas.  The photo below shows the arrangement I made last year for our mantle piece:

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I was pleased to say that our lovely neighbour finished fixing our fence at the weekend and we now have some concrete posts that have been cemented into the ground, to strengthen our fence.  Hopefully this will withstand any further gales we have:

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So I removed the rubble from the old concrete and took it to the tip and then I had a general garden tidy, clearing away the bits and bobs I had laying around.  You can also see in the photo above that I put my old chair back in to position ready for next summer too:

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It’s funny what gets dug up when you have work done in your garden isn’t it…..I found a ‘pig with wings’ that I had completely forgotten about, which must be thirteen years old!….I’ve got to be honest I don’t know how or even why I have him, but I’m sure I’ll find a place somewhere for him to go.

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So now the fence was complete I could carry on with my new vegetable patch:

The ground wasn’t very level as I had dumped the old grass in a pile when I laid my new lawn in September, so I had to move that before I could start.  I had covered the grass with weed suppressant back in September to kill it, so I just spread it over my new area and I will just dig this into the soil for now and it will probably be rotted away completely by Spring time:

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I had already decided to have wood chip paths inbetween my new beds, as this would be cheaper than buying slabs.  However, I needed something to stop the woodchips from spreading into my beds…..so I brought some wood sawn treated timber to edge the beds and I set about making them:

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I have quite simply screwed them together using corner braces and screwed on bits of wood to secure them into the soil.

I didn’t think there was a need to have raised beds as the soil I have is good and it would just be a waste of money to ship in top soil.

I then forked over the area where the first edging was going to sit, removing any weeds as I dug and then I fitted the first edging making sure it sat level and in the right place:

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I then fitted the next edging and repeated the above to make a third bed too:

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And that is as far as I’ve managed to get this week.

I have two more beds to complete and unfortunately for Mr Thrift, I have three or four more slabs to lay next week (so I need to sweet talk him into helping me again).

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

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A New Area To Grow Veg & Wind Damage!

Unfortunately my step dad has been in hospital for another two nights this week, so I have spent a lot of time visiting him and looking after my mum too.  I would like to say things are looking better for him, but he is still not right.

So this week I haven’t spent too much time at home.  However I have amazingly made a start on the new area in my kitchen garden.

I managed to use the stepping stones that were in our old lawn, to make a small path to separate the new little flower patch (that I created last week) from my new vegetable area:

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I also moved our old chair onto our new lawn, so I can sit on it in the Spring:

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Mr Thrift then helped me to finish laying the slabs around my greenhouse which wasn’t too bad to do, but then we needed to lay the slabs along the fence which wasn’t so easy.

The area along the fence had my raised bed in.  I had tried growing my strawberries in this bed and the ’60 day raab’ as well and neither were succesful.  I suspect the bushes along the fence were taking the moisture, so I decided this would be a good area to put my mini greenhouses.

First we pulled back the weed suppressant that had been covering the area.  I don’t know if you remember, I put the weed suppressant down in June to kill the lawn underneath it and then I planted my sweetcorn and tomatoes through it whilst the lawn was dying:

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If you need any proof that weed suppressant works then here it is:

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 We unfortunately then had to empty the raised bed!…

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I also had a dustbin in the corner, which I had planted potatoes in back in the Spring.  We also emptied this out …..but  I had hoped for more potatoes than we actually got.  However, we had them for dinner and they did taste amazing!…I do think the lack of potatoes was probably due to lack of water as I did keep forgetting to water them as they were tucked away in a corner out of site:

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We then laid the slabs together and moved the mini greenhouses and our water butt onto them and I was very pleased with the result:

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The next problem we had was to connect the water butt to the guttering that runs along our shed.  Unfortunately the back of our greenhouse is overgrown with bushes that we can’t get to and we came to the conclusion that if we fitted another piece of guttering there it would become clogged up with leaves etc which would either block it or enter our water butt:

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In the end we brought a a drain pipe and used it along the back of the greenhouse and hopefully this will work:

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Unfortuantely now we had moved the mini greenhouses around the corner, I found we had a gap between the shed and my greenhouse which Judy our lovely dog could run down and bark at next doors dog.  So after much thought I went out and brought a slim water butt and used this to block the area off and catch the water that drains off my greenhouse in the process.

I managed to get the water to drain into the water butt from my greenhouse roof by improvising.  I used a bit of spare pipe and a bit of thick plastic and amazingly it works!

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I then had a big clear up and moved all the rubbish and old bricks that had managed to appear in this area and then I started to clear some of the old plants ready for digging the area when I get time:

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I also removed the Ivy that had become a nuisance on the fence….it was starting to grow between the boards and I felt it would cause damage to the fence.  Some bits of the Ivy were quite thick and you can see in the first photograph below how the roots grow to ‘stick’ to their supports…Ivy really is an amazing plant:

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I was very pleased with how the new area was starting to look, so I then took measurements so I could work out where to put my paths and how big my beds would be.

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But unfortunately on Tuesday night we had gales across the midlands and our fence blew down!

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The fence is a shared boundary fence and luckily our neighbour is an ex-builder and is going to fix it for us as we have brought and paid for items to do this.

So unfortunately my new lawn is going to take a bit of a battering while it’s being fixed and I won’t be able to start digging yet, but at least the fence will be fixed quickly.

I hope the wind didn’t damage anything where you are!

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

Have a good week!

Easy Stew & A New Area in My Garden

It’s been another wet week here and I have been dodging the showers.  It has also been very mild for this time of the year too and at times I have been too warm in my coat which is strange for November.

My primroses are still flowering, obviously very confused by this years weather:

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However, the trees on the park are shedding their leaves thick and fast now and soon the only trees left with leaves will be the evergreens……..

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……..and this reminded that Christmas is on it’s way and I will soon need to make my Christmas cake and start to prepare my hampers.

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Unfortunately my step dad has been poorly for the last month or so and he ended up in hospital twice this week.  This has meant I haven’t had a lot of time to do the things at home that I normally would, as my sister and I have been visiting him and looking after my mum.

I have been very, very glad that I have had some meals prepared in the freezer as it has been an extremely tiring week.  One day as well, I used my slow cooker to make a stew……it has been ages since we have had stew and it was gorgeous!

I used stewing steak that I had lurking in the bottom of my freezer.  I am ashamed to say I brought it a year ago and it has remained there ever since:

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A Stew Recipe:

I make stew the way my mum taught me…….I put in the cubed stewing steak, a couple of chopped onions, peeled potatoes cut into quarters and whatever vegetables I have available

(I don’t even bother to brown the meat):

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I sprinkle with mixed herbs and then cover the whole lot with beef stock:

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I then leave it in my slow cooker all day on low

(if you haven’t got a slow cooker you can cook it in your oven in a casserole dish for

2 ½ – 3 hours  on gas 4 / 180C / 350F )

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In my garden this week:

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The curly kale is providing lots to harvest and so too is my perpetual spinach:

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The leeks I planted in early summer are now ready for me to harvest when we need them….I can almost taste the leek and potato soup I will be making when I get a chance.  They are not as big as I would normally like as I was late sowing them this year, but they are big enough to eat and that’s good enough for me:

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My lettuces under the environmesh are still producing lovely salad leaves….

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….And the lettuces I planted under a cloche are growing well now and hopefully I can soon start to use the odd outside leaf or two:

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I am still picking a few raspberries each week, which has surprised me as this is the first year of growth since I transplanted them from my old allotment:

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 Incidentally the tomatoes that I brought inside last week are continuing to ripen on my windowsill…..I am amazed that I am still eating homegrown tomatoes in November:

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And I also have plenty of stored potatoes left to use, which is something I didn’t think I would have after giving my allotments up in January this year.  It has made me really appriciate what I do have growing in my back garden:

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The one thing I managed to do in the garden this week was to start my new vegetable area.  I don’t know if you remember, back in September I began to rearrange my garden so I could use all the available space to grow fruit and vegetables, but also to have a space for my little dog to use.

I began by removing the slabs (which really served no purpose) and after preparing the ground I laid a new lawn in their place:

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I put chicken wire around the lawn to temporarily stop the dog from running on the lawn until it rooted into the ground below.

The grass has now rooted really well and this week Mr Thrift helped me to remove the chicken wire.  He also helped me to bring forward the fence and gate so it is level with the end of the new grass.

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Judy absolutely loved the new grass to run around on and ‘sniff’ and she didn’t stand still long enough for me to take a photograph, which is why the photo below is blurred!

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We also started to lay a new path around the greenhouse, using the slabs I removed in September….unfortunately we only managed to lay three slabs and we ran out of time:

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The next day I started to dig an area along the fence to create a small flower garden.  At the beginning of the year I grew flowers in front of the fence and my dog destroyed some of them, so this time I decided to put the new flower bed behind the fence:

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I removed the old worn out grass along the fence (which I will use later).  As the area has been walked on for years I used my fork  to aerate the soil, to ensure that the drainage is good.  I then planted some daffodil bulbs that I brought at the beginning of September:

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To be honest some of the bulbs didn’t look too brilliant, but I planted them anyway as I have nothing to lose.  It’s also a bit late for daffodil bulbs, but I have planted them in November before and they grew well.:

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I then added some compost to the soil and planted the wallflowers I grew from seed.  Hopefully my new area will give a good display in the spring:

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 I still need to do alot of work in this area, but first the slabbing must be completed around the greenhouse and unfortunately I need Mr Thrifts help for this, as I can’t lift the slabs on my own.

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So that’s it for this week.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

Clematis still in flower in my garden

Clematis still in flower in my garden

Catching Up & An Apple Cake Tray Bake Recipe

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 November’ can be found here.

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

I hope it helps someone out there.

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This week I have started to get back to normal after decorating my daughter’s bedroom a couple of weeks ago.  It has felt nice making bread and cakes again:

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I also caught up with a few jobs I have been putting off.

  I started by flushing my plug holes with bi-carb and vinegar to ensue they don’t start to block up.  It’s great for removing food, hair and soap scum from your pipes.  It’s very simple to do:

I put one tablespoon of bi-carb in the plug hole and then I added three tablespoons of white distilled vinegar and left it for a few minutes to fizz away:

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I then flushed it all down with boiling hot water:

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I also finally brought in the tomatoes that were sitting in my greenhouse ripening.  I put them there at the beginning of October and they have ripened well:

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I left a few on my kitchen window sill to continue to ripen and I have left some out for sandwiches and salads,

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but I have also managed to make some more passatta to freeze:

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In my garden this week I started to use another batch of lettuces that I have been growing under environmesh….I pick the outside leaves of the lettuces so they continue to grow.  They should be fine growing outside under the environmesh for some time yet, before the harsh winter weather comes:

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One thing I noticed in my garden is I have somehow managed to grow a clematis.  I do remember that a clemastis used to scramble through the large photinia bush I used to have in the corner, but I assumed this was killed off when I cleared the area at the beginning of the year.

When I first saw it growing in the summer I twisted the growth around my trellis as I really wasn’t sure what it was (though I did suspect it looked like a clematis) and this week it has begun to flower….better late than never:

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I shall leave the plant where it is as it obviously wants to be there and I will prune it in February.

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I also finally bottled up the wine I made a few weeks ago.  I had a little taste and it is lovely already, but hopefully as it matures it will get even better.  These bottles will be great in my Christmas hampers:

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My lovely sister dropped in this week with some apples from the tree in her garden, as she has had a bumper crop:

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I sorted the apples and I wrapped up those without blemishes in newspaper and placed them in a cool, dark place to store them through the winter:

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I then decided to juice the remaining apples, so I started by washing the apples and then removing all the bad bits:

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Unfortunately there were rather a lot of bad bits and when I chopped the apples in half I found that loads of them were bad in the middle.  I’m not sure if they are bad due to ‘codling moth’ or wether it is the result of ‘mouldy core rot’:

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However, I did get enough good apples to do a little bit of juicing:

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It was a shame about the rotten apples but the juice we did get was absolutely delicious:

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My sister also gave me a few bramley apples, so I made an Apple Cake traybake:

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An Apple Cake Traybake Recipe:

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500g Bramley apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced (leave in water to stop them going brown)

350g self raising flour

280g caster sugar

225g soft margarine or butter

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

2 – 3 tbsp demerara sugar to sprinkle over the top.

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Preheat your oven to 180C / gas 4 / 350F and line a baking tray with greased, greaseproof paper.

Put the margarine, caster sugar, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and then seive the flour and baking powder into the bowl. 

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Mix until all the ingredients are combined and then add a little bit of water to the mixture if it doesn’t drop off the spoon easily.

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Spread half of the mixture into the lined baking tray and then arrange half of the apples over the mixture.

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Put the rest of the cake mixture on top of the apples and then arrange the remaining apples again on top

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Sprinkle the apples with demerara sugar

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Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Ensure the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer….it is cooked when the skewer comes out clean.

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Leave to cool for ten minutes and then slice.

Serve hot or cold on it’s own or with cream or ice cream.

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Enjoy!

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

Have a good week!