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Chewing Gum And A Homemade ‘Soup In A Mug’

I thought I would show you my daughters school trousers that she came home with this week….

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She had managed to sit in chewing gum at some stage during the day!….my heart sank.

I tried the usual advice of freezing the trousers, which I did overnight.  However, the chewing gum didn’t peel off in the morning at all as it was supposed to.  I had nearly given up when I read online to iron the chewing gum face down onto a piece of paper with a medium hot iron (no steam) ….the theory is the chewing gum sticks to the paper instead of the fabric when it is warmed up.

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So I just thought I would share this with you as it did actually work.  Though it did take me a long time and there is a tiny bit of residue on the trousers, but the trousers are thankfully now wearable again.

Afterwards

Afterwards

I hope this is useful for someone out there one day.

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I don’t know if you remember Judy (our lovely little rescue dog) is very reactive to other dogs and goes mad when she sees one.  Unfortunately our next door neighbour decided to get a dog of their own in January and this has been causing us a big problem every time their dog is in the garden.

As there was only a wire fence between our gardens, our behaviourist advised us to block the end nearest our house off so both dogs can’t stare at each other, as in ‘dog world’ this is threatening behaviour.

So I used the weed suppressant I won last year to cover the wire.  Unfortunately it hasn’t really helped our dog and back in Febuary we were advised to block the other end of the wire fence off too.

The wire fence before

The wire fence before

So after much debate, this week we decided to give it a go and again I used weed suppressant (that I won) hung onto the wire fence with curtain hooks…and it looked awful!

Mr Thrift and I decided it was too awful to live with and so we bought some cheap brushwood to cover it.  We know that brushwood doesn’t last too long, but we are hoping it will last long enough for us to correct Judy’s behaviour…..though it hasn’t had an effect yet!  However after putting it up we actually now think the garden looks much better…what do you think?

After

After

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Another job I finally managed to do, was the stepping stones in our grass (or what’s left of the grass).

Back in January when I cleared the shrubs at the back of our garden it was very wet and I was treading on the grass over and over, which made it extremely muddy.  We also then had workmen treading up and down the grass on the day it snowed in February, replacing the fence for us.  And to make matters worse, our dog runs up and down the grass, over and over again when next doors dog is out……so our poor grass has really taken a beating!

When it was muddy we bought some stepping stones that B&Q were selling off cheaply (as they only had a small amount left) and we just shoved them on top of the grass until the grass dried (or should I say until the ‘mud’ dried).

So I finally bedded them into the ground this week.  I know you are supposed to use sand underneath each slab, but I didn’t have any and just bedded them into the earth, but I’m sure they will be fine.

I just need the grass to re-grow now (but I doubt that will happen until we sort our dog out):

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This week I purchased two ‘garden tidy bags’ for £5.00.

Unfortunately my greenhouse has a solid concrete base and I wanted to grow more in there than I usually do, so I filled each bag with compost.

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One of the bags will have basil growing in it and the other I have already planted with my peppers:

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I have also been sowing seeds again.  I have sown spring onions, perpetual spinach, courgettes, patty pans and coriander.

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I also sowed swedes, in newspaper pots as they don’t like to be transplanted….when they are ready I plant the newspaper pot into the ground as well, so there is no root disturbance at all.

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Another vegetable I sowed was my dwarf peas and mangetout.  If you have been reading my blog since I started, you will know that I sow these in guttering, which I keep in my greenhouse until it has germinated.  This way I get a really good germination rate and it is easy to slide the plants off the guttering, provided I use only small lengths (you can read about it here if you are interested).

I use duct tape to seal each end of the guttering.

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Around my new kitchen garden:

This week I noticed that the radish, beetroot and kohl rabi that I sowed directly into my soil, have started to germinate which is brilliant, however there is no sign yet of the baby turnips that I sowed at the same time:

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I have also found calendula growing in the pot where I planted my Jeruselum artichokes last month.  I thought I reconised the seedlings a few week ago, so I left them growing just to make sure.

I used some soil from my allotment in this pot, it was the soil I brought my J. artichokes home in and it obviously had some calendula seeds from my allotment.

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I love free seeds, but I love these even more because they traveled home with me….so I have ‘pricked’ the seedlings out into new compost to grow on and plant somewhere special.

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Elsewhere around my new kitchen garden, the plants that I brought back from my allotment are growing well.

My rhubarb:

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My Globe artichokes:

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My black currants, white currants and gooseberries too:

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And I am really pleased with my autumn raspberries, as I have only two that are not growing out of the twenty three plants that I brought back home with me:

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So things seem to be going ok so far.

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This week I also managed another cut from the salad leaves in my greenhouse, that I sowed in March in plastic containers from the supermarket.  I also added some chives from my garden to the salad leaves too.  It feels so nice to be serving fresh, homegrown food to my family once again.

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And Finally:

I thought I would share a bargain that Mr Thrift found a few weeks ago:

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Carrot and swede, ready to use for just 10p per bag….he bought four bags.

I used one in my steamer and I’ve got to say it wasn’t very nice- I don’t know why, but it just didn’t taste nice.  So I froze the other four bags, not really knowing what to do with them.

A few weeks ago my daughter asked me to get her some packets of ‘soups in a mug’ for when she comes home from school and I have started to have the odd cup, so I decided to make my own with the carrot and swede:

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Carrot and Swede Soup with Chili and Coriander:

4 x 500g bags of ready cubed carrot & swede

2 ¼ pints of vegetable stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 small onions

4 teaspoons of ground corianda

2 teaspoons of mild chili powder (add more if you like it hot)

Salt & pepper to taste

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Put the olive oil and onions in a large pan and fry until soft.

Then add all the other ingredients into the pan and simmer until the carrot and swede are soft:

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Blend the soup with a hand blender or liquidiser until smooth:

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Divide the soup into ‘mug’ size portions and freeze.

I got ten portions out of my soup.

(I remove the plastic margarine pots when they are frozen, so the bags don’t take up so much room in my freezer)

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Defrost and then pop it into a microwave safe mug and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high.

Then serve your home made ‘soup in a mug’:

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Enjoy!

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

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Removing A Conifer And Planting Onions & Garlic

I thought I would start by mentioning that my usual monthly blog post which covers ‘What to do in the kitchen garden in April’ can be found here if anyone is interested.  It covers what weather to expect in a  typical April, which vegetables and salads to harvest, which seeds to sow and what to plant and also jobs that need to be carried out this month.

So it’s well worth a read to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

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October 2014

October 2014

Last weekend we began chopping down the conifer on the left hand side of the photograph above.  This was a small conifer I bought approximately 14 years ago when it was about 30cm high.  The label said it was a slow growing conifer that should grow no more than a meter high!

Obviously I wasn’t expecting it to grow as tall as it did and it was totally unsuitable for the place I had planted it in…. I had to tie the tree to our wall to stop it leaning over, as there wasn’t enough soil for the roots to keep it stable.

So we spent a happy morning chopping it down and poor Mr Thrift nearly wore himself out sawing the trunk across:

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But we eventually managed it and I rebuilt part of the dry stone wall that the previous owner of the house built and I replaced some of the compost.

I have decided this year to plant some sweetpeas to climb up the wall and I will be planting a few wild flower seeds underneath.

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It’s been a real wet and windy week here in the Midlands and all the rain reminded me that I still hadn’t set up my two water butts that I brought from my old allotments.

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I decided to catch the water from my house with the first water butt and so I bought a ‘Rain water diverter’ to fix onto my drainpipe.

I have got to admit I have never done anything like this before, but I thought I would have a go.  Thankfully it wasn’t too difficult and I managed it on my own.

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I tested it to make sure it worked by asking my daughter to pour water out of her bedroom window into the drainpipe (not very technical) and I am pleased to say it worked.

The rain water diverter should channel rain water into the waterbutt until it’s full and then it will go down the drain as normal.  The plan is that I will add another waterbutt at this stage though.

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It rained the following night and it did capture some of the rain and I was very proud until the morning when I noticed that the seal around the tap was now leaking….I must have caused some damage transporting the water butt from my allotment back home.

I had to empty the water butt again to repair the seal and it will now take a couple of days to dry so I am still unable to use the waterbutt.

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Next week I am hoping to set up my second water butt to capture the water from my greenhouse.

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This week I tried desparately to plant my onions and garlic which I started off at the beginning of March in my cold greenhouse (I was a bit late planting my garlic, but I thought I may as well give it a go).  Every time I started to plant them, it rained so I had to stop. Finally we had a lovely day yesterday and I managed to complete planting them.

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Both the onions and garlic had grown well in my newspaper pots and I had prepared the grown where I planted them a couple of weeks earlier by raking in some blood, fish and bone and covering the area with clear plastic to warm the soil up.

I decided to plant the onions 10cm apart and each of the rows just 10cm apart too (usually I plant each row 30cm apart).  If you plant onions closer together you will get smaller onions, but there is method behind my madness……as my kitchen garden is so small, I have decided to harvest the rows in between and eat the onions when they are ‘spring onion’ size in salads etc.

I have planted 66 onions altogether and I am hoping that this way I will have more to harvest over a longer period and the remaining onions can then grow to a good size (this is the plan…I hope it works).

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I also made two ridges using my draw hoe and planted the garlic into the ridges.  Garlic tends to rot in very wet soil and I was very conscious of how wet the soil in my garden was.

(I am keeping my fingers crossed that I have got away with planting my garlic so late):

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On the ground next to my garlic I have used some old grocery boxes (that I brought home from my allotment), to warm the soil ready to sow some beetroot seeds next week.  The boxes are great as it’s easy to rest glass on top of them and they have a small area just under the glass which lets the air circulate too:

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Dispite all the wind this week, my broadbeans seem to be doing well, though I do still need to provide some support for them, to stop them from falling over when they are bigger.

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At the moment they are still looking quite perfect and I am not used to this, as usually at this time of year on my old allotment, I would always see the tell tale sign of the ‘pea and bean weevil’….. maybe because I am away from the allotment I may not suffer so much?

  You can see in the photograph below, that my broadbeans last year had little notches in the edges of the leaves.  This is the work of the ‘Pea and Bean weevil’.

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The adults are beetles that are approximately 4-5mm long, but they are very hard to find as they drop to the ground when they are disturbed.  Their larvea eat the root nodules of the plant in the soil.

I have never yet lost any plants due to the Pea and bean weevil as most broad beans seem to tolerate the damage, but in theory a bad attack could kill your plants.  I make sure that when I overwinter my plants, they are healthy by giving them a feed in the Spring with a general purpose fertiliser (I use blood, fish and bone) and if the weather is dry then I water them.  This way I ensure my plants can cope with an attack without the need to use chemical sprays.

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Elsewhere in my kitchen garden my autumn raspberries are now starting to grow.  I am very relieved as the soil was very cold and wet when I brought them home from my allotment:

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My chives will soon be ready to pick if them keep growing at this speed:

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And the daffodills that I planted a few weeks ago are still producing a lovely display, together with a pot of bulbs that I planted two years ago:

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So all in all the new kitchen garden is starting to come to life.

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At home this week:

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This week I have been making my laundry liquid again.  I get a real buzz when I think about how much money I have saved by using it over the last few years and it is so quick to make.

You can find the recipe for laundry liquid here.

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I also made some more dishwasher liquid using soapnuts, as this also saves money and washes our pots and pans well.  Again it is quick and easy to make.

You can see how I make the dishwasher liquid here if you are interested.

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So all in all it’s been another busy week and I am looking forward to a rest over the Easter holiday….but I’m not very good at sitting still when there is so much to do.

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

Have a great Easter and a good week!

Living ‘The Good Life’ and How To Make Newspaper Pots

On Friday, Ed Stagg from Radio Leicester, rang and spoke to me regarding ‘The Good Life’, as the wonderful Richard Briers had recently passed away and he was discussing ‘living the good life’, on his Saturday program.

This week Ed Stagg was joined by a model, a cook and a happiness expert.  They had quite an interesting discussion after Ed had played my phone call and if you have a bit of time spare, have a listen and tell me what you think.

You can hear the discussion here (approximately 1 hour 38 minutes into the program).

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Over the weekend I have been busy freezing my Celeriac, Turnips and the Jerusalem Artichokes that I picked last week

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If you have never used Jerusalem Artichokes before, this is how you prepare them and freeze them:

Scrub each of the Jerusalem Artichokes to remove the soil

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Chop the ends off each one and remove any damaged areas.

Chop into ‘roasting’ sized pieces

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You can then roast  them in olive oil (approximately 45 minutes, Gas mark 6) or freeze them (to roast from frozen another time).

To freeze, all you need to do is blanch them for two minutes. 

What is blanching?

….Boil a pan of water, then put the Jerusalem Artichokes into it.  Bring the water to boiling point again and then time it for 2 minutes and then drain.  Immediately plunge the vegetables into very cold water, to stop the cooking process.

Lay the Jerusalem Artichokes onto a tray in a single layer and freeze.  When they are frozen, put them in a bag.  By freezing them in a single layer on a tray, they won’t all stick together and it will be easy to take out just the required amount that you need.

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How to prepare and freeze Celeriac:

Celeriac is a bit easier to prepare as you just need to remove the skin, wash and chop into usable sized chunks.  Again, I freeze mine at this time of year, so we are never without them.

To freeze, blanch for two minutes, exactly the same way as the Jerusalem Artichokes.

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Turnips

I use the turnips in a different way to roasting, I use them to make a cheesy gratin as a side dish with meals.  I’ll show you how I make it another day.

I left the turnips a little bit too long in the ground and the biggest weighed 1.9kg!

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I froze it exactly the same as the Celeriac and the Jerusalem Artichokes above, only this time I blanched it for just one minute.

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Newspaper Pots

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On Friday I promised to show you how I make newspaper pots.  My shallots are sitting happily in my cold greenhouse in the pots I made.

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Newspaper pots are great to make as they are extremely cheap and environmetally friendly to use, as the recycled materials decompose when you put them in the ground.  This also helps the plants that do not like root disturbance, e.g. swedes, that can be sown in the pots and then planted a few weeks later, still in the newspaper pots.

The plants find it easy to grow their roots through the damp pots when they are in the ground.

You can actually buy a ‘Newspaper Pot Maker’, it costs about £10, but I prefer to make them using either a baked bean tin, or a soya sauce bottle, depending on the size of pot that you require.  This is how I make them:

How To Make Newspaper Pots:

You need a newspaper, some masking tape and a soya sauce bottle for small pots

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Fold one sheet of newspaper in half and then into thirds

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Roll the paper around the bottle, so the newspaper is over lapping the base of the bottle

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Ensure you don’t roll the newspaper too tightly, or it will be hard to remove the paper from the bottle.

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Use a small piece of masking tape to secure the paper at the top and then fold in the newspaper over the bottom of the bottle.

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Secure the bottom of the pot with a small piece of masking tape.

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You can use different sized tins and bottles depending on the size of pot required.  For example, I use a baked bean tin to make pots ready for when I ‘prick out’ my tomato plants.

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I find it’s best to make the pots and use them straight away, as sometimes the masking tape becomes ‘unstuck’ if you make them too far in advance.

Also, when your plant is ready to go into the ground, make sure all of the newspaper is under the soil, or the paper will act like a wick and dry the compost out.

I love newspaper pots.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I’ll be back on Friday at approximately 6 pm.