Before I start, Debbie asked me something this week but I really don’t know the answer and I wonder if anyone reading this can help? Her question was:
” You don’t happen to know of any recipes for Hops as my greenhouse/sheds on the allotment are covered in their lovely cascades? ”
Unfortunately this is one thing that I haven’t grown, so if you can help please leave your ideas for her.
This week in my garden:
This week I have turned my attention to the part of the garden nearest to our house. Below on the left, is a photo before I started my kitchen garden last winter and on the right is a photo I took last week:
Over the summer I removed the bushes along the frence and myself and Mr Thrift removed the very old holly tree (which was an absolute pain dropping it’s leaves everywhere all summer) and we also removed the conifer on the left handside.
Finally I decided it was time to start re-vamping this area.
We have decided to bring forward my vegetable patch in a few weeks time, so that it is level with my greenhouse. This will give me a lot more space to grow in, but it would obviously reduce the grassed area in my garden. As we have a dog we decided we still needed an area of grass for her (though I must say she likes to have a walk around sniffing, but only ever runs if she is reacting to our neighbours dog).
As you can see in the photos above, we inherited a slabbed area where we have a table and chairs, but we rarely use these now as we have french doors that lead to another smaller table and chairs.
So after much discussion we decided to lift the slabs and turf this area so our dog still has the same amount of grass as she does now.
Mr Thrift helped me to move the slabs over the weekend, but we had to do this over two days due to the rain. So while it rained we covered the soil with some old weed suppressant to stop our dog from running in the mud.
We then moved the edging stones that separated the old lawn from the slabs and used two of them to balance the sides of the new lawn. The edging stones were cemented down and it took a while to dig them out and I had to ‘chip off’ some of the cement so we could reuse them:
I then spent the whole week preparing the soil.
I started by removing the part of the grass that I had decided to re-turf and then I started to dig over where the slabs had been……my goodness this was so hard as the soil was heavy, heavy clay. I think I could have made bricks out of the soil if I had wanted to!
There was still some sand remaining from when the slabs were laid, so I dug this into the soil to help open up the heavy clay particles.
Also, half way through digging I found an old pole that must have been used to support a rotary washing line years ago, but the amount of cement the previous owner had used was colossal. The lump of concrete was at least a foot wide and I dug down two feet into the ground and I still couldn’t find the bottom of it:
After realising there was absolutely no way I could possibly dig this amount of cement out of the ground without a crane, I decided to ‘chip’ away as much cement as I could using a hammer and chisel……it took me a whole afternoon to remove approx. four inches and I also foolishly managed to hit my hand several times with the hammer instead of the chisel!
Hopefully four inches of soil on top of the cement will be enough to stop the grass from drying out too quickly:
I then bought a metal file and cut off the metal pipe:
I fetched six very large bags of soil conditioner (£2 per bag) from my local nursery and spent ages spreading it and then digging it into the soil:
I also incorporated five bags of compost to give the soil a few much needed nutrients as well as improving the soil and I was finally ready to rake over the soil to level the area.
After raking the soil over I then trod over the whole area to give the lawn a flat, firm finish. I did this several times in different directions, raking after each time.
Eventually the area was ready for the turf and so I gave it a really good soak with my sprinkler:
Then Mr Thrift fetched the turf for me and I laid it.
I have sown many grass lawns from seed but I had never laid turf, so after watching Alan Titchmarsh laying turf on ‘you tube’ I decided to give it a go…..and this is the result:
I gave the lawn a good watering with my sprinkler and over the next few weeks I will be very careful not to let it dry out.
Also, if you look carefully you can see that I have temporarily placed chicken wire around the edge of the new lawn to keep our dog off it while the turf roots into the soil below.
In a few weeks time I will dig up the remaining ‘old lawn’ ready to extend my kitchen garden, but for now I need to keep it so that our dog has at least a small piece of grass to use.
I am very pleased with my new lawn.
In the kitchen this week:
This week my lovely friend from my old allotment site brought me some apples, golden gages and some victoria plums……after my freezer disaster last week these were all very welcome!
So I set about freezing them all and they will be used over the winter months in pies, cakes and smoothies:
My own kitchen garden is still producing lettuces, cucumbers, runner beans, parsley, chives, spring onions etc. and lots and lots of lovely tomatoes:
(The photo’s above are just a small amount of tomatoes that I have picked this week as I forgot to take a photo of the basket full that I also picked).
So as well as eating the tomatoes, I also made some more passatta this week to freeze for the months ahead:
So at the end of a busy week I am very tired and I’m aching all over. I also have a bruised hand where I hit it with the hammer and it hurts if I touch it. However I do feel like I have acheived a lot and I am very happy!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today. I will be back as usual next Friday.
Have a good weekend!