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A Busy Week In The Garden

Well I can’t start today without mentioning the wonderful celebrations that went on in Leicester on Monday evening at ‘Leicester City’s Victory parade’.  I watched it all on the TV, but Mr Thrift was lucky enough to enjoy the parade at Victoria Park with my sisters and brother-in-laws, together with approximately 220,000 other people….this was absolutely amazing as Leicester City’s population is only 330,000!

Mr Thrift said the atmosphere was wonderful and it was an evening that he will always remember.  This event really did bring the city together.

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This Week In The Garden:

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The nights have been cold this week in the garden so I have made sure that my tender plants have been under cover at night.  I will continue to keep a close eye on the weather forecast for now.

However, as the end of May is near I decided to plant a few things making sure they have adequate protection just in case there are still cold nights to come.

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I started by planting out the runner beans I sowed three weeks ago in newspaper pots (they grow so quickly).  I put up some bean poles for them to climb up and then planted the beans.  I also planted some nasturtiums that I sowed two or three weeks ago from seed around the beans, as these attract the blackfly away from the beans – also if there are no blackfly around, I add the leaves to salads as they have a lovely mild peppery taste.

I then put some glass around the plants to give a bit of protection:

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I then planted out my outdoor cucumbers which are a variety called ‘Burpless tasty green’ which I have been growing for a number of years. Over the years I have had fantastic crops of outdoor cucumbers in warm summers, but I have also had one or two years where the plants just sat and sulked in the cold, wet conditions…..I’m keeping my fingers crossed the weather is good for this years crop!

I support the cucumbers by tying them to canes as they grow….but for now I have given them some protection from the cold and slugs by covering them with old pop bottles until they are established:

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I have also used pop bottles to cover the parsley I planted this week, as these plants are still small.  I again grew the parsley in newspaper pots, as this stops any root disturbance to the plant and the newspaper just decomposes in the soil.

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This week I also ‘squeezed’ in some beetroot into my plot (again sown in newspaper pots and covered in bottles for protection until they are established) ….

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I then planted my red cabbages which again I had grown from seed.  I made sure that I used my foot to firm around each plant as brassicas grow best in firm soil and then I put a home made cabbage collar around each plant to stop cabbage root fly from laying eggs at the base of the plants.

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I then planted my swedes in an area next to my cabbages so I could put a net over the whole lot to stop the birds, as they LOVE to eat brassica leaves!

Just before I put the net over the brassicas I sowed a ‘catch crop’ of radish between the cabbages to make use of every spare piece of ground:

“A ‘Catch Crop’ is a crop that reaches maturity in a relatively short time, which makes use of the ground in between crops until they are established”

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I also planted some spring onions that I grew from seed in a small area under my environmesh that was not being used, next to my garlic:

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And I planted some khol rabi under my net in a space next to my Spring cabbage:

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As my kitchen garden is small, I am determined to grow as much as possible in every spare bit of ground I can find….however I also want to make the area look attactive with flowers for me and for the beneficial insects.  These insects will in turn pollinate my crops and eat the pests that visit my garden.

So this week I planted some Calendula that I grew from seed:

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Calendula is a hardy annual that I grew for years at my allotment and I also grew some last year in my new kitchen garden too.

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‘Calendula Alley’ at my allotment

Hoverflies, bees and butterflies all love the Calendula flowers and as an extra bonus, the petals are edible and look really pretty scattered into salads….so I think it’s always good to try and squeeze some of them into a vegetable garden somewhere:

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This week my mangetout was ready to plant out.  I had sown it in guttering a couple of weeks ago and kept it in my mini-greenhouse until it had germinated, as I think I get a far better rate of seed germination this way:

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I decided to put the mangetout in my new planter as my polyanthus and cowslips had just about finished flowering.  I don’t know if you remember but I bought all fourteen plants from my local nursery in the middle of April for just 40p each…..and they have flowered continuously since then, so this was a real bargain:

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I moved each plant to a different place in the garden to flower again another year.  I then added a bit more compost and a handful of blood, fish and bone to the planter and then I planted the mangetout …. hopefully it will grow up the trellis at the back.

I will add more plants to the planter another day:

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Another job I did this week was to ‘thin’ my leeks once again as there seemed to be so many growing in the tray.  Hopefully they will grow stronger now there are less of them….I must remember not to sow them so thickly next year!

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 I also ‘thinned’ my carrot seedlings which I am keeping in my greenhouse.  Normally it is best to ‘thin out’ carrot seedlings in the evenings to help prevent carrot rootfly, however as I thinned them out in the greenhouse then they will hopefully be ok.

I sowed these seeds far too thickly as the seed packet was a few years old and I thought most of them wouldn’t germinate….I was very wrong!

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Back in March I sowed some ‘cut and come again’ lettuce in my greenhouse and we have had a good supply of salad leaves over the last month or so. However the supply of leaves was just about finished and so I decided it was time to pull them up together with the remaining radish that I had sown around the edge of the salad leaves.

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This made room for me to plant my remaining indoor tomatoes.  As you can see from roots in the photo below, the tomatoes were ready to be planted:

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I also planted a couple of french marigolds next to the tomatoes as they are said to repel aphids and they look pretty too.

My greenhouse seems to be growing well at the moment and this week I noticed I have my first little cucumber growing.  I am being very careful not to overwater the cucumber plants as they don’t like to sit in wet compost.

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I am still continually tying my cucumbers and tomatoes to their supports as they grow and I am removing side shoots from the tomatoes when I spot them.

I also had room to plant some lettuces in my greenhouse that I have been growing from seed….I am trying very hard this year to have a continuous supply of salads (as we eat such a lot):

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Around the garden this week I have been weeding as we had some nice dry days at the beginning of the week.  Unfortunately I have been finding a lot of bindweed growing in a particular bed so I have been digging out as much of it as possible.  Provided I keep removing the top of the bindweed after it emerges out of the soil, it will eventually exhaust itself and die – but this takes a long time.

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Improving our lawn area:

Finally this week I turned my attention to our lawn.  After using a ‘log roll’ a couple of weeks ago against our fence I found had a tiny bit of it spare, so I cut it in half with a saw and fitted it neatly around our bay tree:

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I was very pleased with the results.

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I then decided to take off an inch of our lawn at the end, to make it easier to mow and keep tidy:

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While I was doing this I found a ‘leather jacket’ so I took a photo to show you….

“Leatherjackets are the larvea of craneflies (daddy long-legs) that live in the soil.  They can be very damaging to lawns and can eat the roots and stem bases of small flower and vegetable plants.  There are usually more around after a wet autumn”

  For now I won’t do anything about the leatherjackets, but I will certainly be keeping an eye out for any damage in this area.

There is a lot of information about Leatherjacket damage on the RHS website here.

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We have now managed to stop yellow patches appearing on our lawn by pouring water on the grass every time Judy (our dog) goes to the toilet.

However at one end of our grass there are still some bare patches where Judy used to run around going mad at next doors dog when he came out.  Judy is a lot calmer now and so I decided to reseed these patches.

I covered the new seeded areas with whatever I could find to stop Judy from running over it…hopefully soon the seeds will germinated and then thicken up quickly:

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It has been lovely spending so much time in my garden this week, especially as Judy has been ‘calmly’ waiting for me, enjoying the sun……this is something that I never thought she would do, so I savour every peaceful moment of it:

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

Have a great week!

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An Amazing Night For ‘The Blues’ & Potting On

Well I can only say that Monday night was amazing for Leicester, which is where I live ….. Mark Selby from Leicester, won his second World Snooker Championship and Spurs and Chelsea drew 2-2, which meant that Leicester City Football club were now ‘CHAMPIONS OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE’ (I never thought I would write that sentence on my blog).

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My family are big Leicester city supporters and Mr Thrift and my brother-in-law take my 85 year old dad and stepmum to all the home matches.  I also used to be a season ticket holder before our girls were born, in fact I still went to watch them when I was heavily pregant and I couldn’t fit through the turnstyles any longer and had to use the disabled entrance!

So early the next day we decorated the windows of our house with flags and posters.

The BBC news reported that on Monday evening the streets of Leicester were full of fans celebrating and from the minute the whistle blew to confirm LCFC were champions, I could hear people shouting “champions” and cars ‘hooting their horns’ into the early hours of the morning.

Myself and Mr Thift went down to the stadium the next day and there were still hundreds of people there celebrating, together with numerous TV cameras from around the world:

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We also met a ‘Vardy’ look-alike and had blue ice creams while we were there.

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  The atmosphere in Leicester at the moment is amazing (especially as this is all so soon after discovering Richard III underneath a Leicester city car park last year). 

We are a multicultural city and every race and religion are celebrating together, as we are all so very proud to live in our city! 

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In my garden this week:

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The weather has gone from snow and hail showers to beautiful warm days and the Spring flowers are still looking stunning in my garden:

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I started the week by planting some spring onions around my tomato plants in my greenhouse.  I am determined to use every single space in my garden possible to grow as many things as I can.

I started the spring onions in modules a few weeks ago as I find they germinate and grow better this way.  I put a pinch of seed in each module, but I don’t thin the seeds out as the onions will grow happily together and when I harvest them I pull up a ‘bunch’ at a time:

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I also planted three more tomato plants in the greenhouse and sowed some radish in between them.  I added some marigolds that I had grown from seed, (marigolds emit a strong odour that repels greenfly and blackfly and they will also add colour to my greenhouse):

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I continued to plant peas this week.  I planted the rest of my climbing peas against our outhouse wall:

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And some dwarf peas in the new area of my garden that I created last autumn:

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Also I found a small, empty spot that I had forgotten about, so I planted the remainder of my sweet peas here in a pot.  I will be dotting flowers all around my garden in the next few weeks, to attract as many beneficial insects as possible:

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I have also been potting up some of my plants that have grown too big for their pots, but it is too early to plant them out (because there is still a risk of frost in my area until at least the end of this month).  I know they have grown too big for their pots as their roots have begun to grow out of the bottom:

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I have repotted my tegetes, antirrhinums, marigolds, thyme, chervil, dill, sage, oregano and my remaining greenhouse tomatoes.  I have grown all of these plants from seed, which I think has saved me a lot of money over all and I also enjoy growing things from seed too.

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As I was potting my tomato plants up I noticed that there were side shoots growing on the plants, so I ‘nipped’ them off using my finger and thumb.  You can tell which the side shoots are, as they always grow between the main stem and a leaf:

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I will be continually ‘nipping’ off the side shoots on all my tomatoes as they grow, as these sideshoots are unproductive and take energy from the main plant.

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I also sowed some more seeds again this week…..I started with some mangetout as my youngest daughter and Mr Thrift LOVE these fried in a bit of butter.  Again, I used guttering to sow them into and I will keep them in my mini greenhouse until they germinate, as I seem to get a better germination rate this way:

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I also sowed some runnerbeans (for me, my mother-in-law and my dad), some frenchbeans (for me and my mother-in-law), outdoor cucumbers, kale, spring onions, sweetcorn, coriander, lettuce, beetroot, nasturtiums (to grow around my runnerbeans to attact the blackfly away from them) and wallflowers ready for next Spring.

All of these seeds are sitting inside our kitchen waiting to germinate, as unfortunately my greenhouse is bursting at the seams now as you can see below:

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The last gardening job I did this week was to cover up the gravel board that broke when our fence blew down in November last year in front of our grass.  Unfortunately when our kind neighbour fixed the fence for us, he left this board broken (I’m not sure why but I guess it would have been too hard to replace it).

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As the broken board was bowed I couldn’t just put a new gravel board in front of the broken one, so I brought a log roll to cover it up and I think it has done it’s job well:

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In the home this week:

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At home this week I have brought back one of my old routines of baking bread rolls at the weekends for the week ahead:

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I then made some garlic bread for tea with the rolls I baked and my stored garlic.  I also made some extra to freeze for another time.  I made the garlic butter and spread it onto the rolls and then froze the rolls.  When I need garlic bread for tea, I will take out the frozen rolls that I need and cook them in foil in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, gas 6 / 200C / 400F.

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I made a big batch of blackberry cordial as well (as my youngest daughter loves it and has been asking me to make it for months).  As my daughter is the only one that drinks it, I separated it into small usuable quanties and put it into the freezer, so I can take it out when I need it and then dilute it with water – this way it won’t get wasted:

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And finally I made some little fairy cakes with sultana’s – some to eat and some to freeze for another time:

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This week we have been having some lovely salads, using lettuce leaves and radishes from my greenhouse and chives from the garden:

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As I am being more organised I remembered to add defrosted sweetcorn and beetroot that I grew last year and froze.  I still have lots left in my freezer, so I must keep using it:

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And finally I added coriander that I have been growing on my kitchen windowsill:

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And the salads have been tasting wonderful:

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This week I also starting picking a bit of rhubarb and stewing it for my breakfast.  I’ve added it to porridge, sultana’s and greek yoghurt and it really tasted nice:

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Incidently, a lot of people think you can’t compost rhubarb leaves as they are poisonous….but you CAN compost them, as after a few months in your compost heap, the toxin level will have dropped so low that it won’t pose a threat:

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During the last week:

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My sister and I took my mum out for ‘afternoon tea’ as it was her 85th birthday.  The tea room was in Syston and it cost us £9.95 each.  The tea room was beautifully decorated as you can see if you click on the link here.

My sister had a cake stand with dairy free goodies (as she is dairy intolerant) and my mum and I shared the one in the photograph below.  There was so much that they wrapped up the chocolate cakes so we could take them home…..it was delicious!

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Finally this week I took some plants to my nephew and his family to help him out, as he has made some deep raised beds and a coldframe out of wood for his garden.  He had done a really grand job on them and they look great.  He is in the process of growing his vegetables from seed and hopefully, my adoreable great nephews will get the gardening bug too:

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I have had some lovely times this week and to round it off, yesterday as I walked my dog in Bradgate Park I heard a ‘Cockoo’ for the first time in my life (they are quite rare birds now).  Recently I also heard a woodpecker in our local park for the first time too….so Judy is bringing more unexpected delights into my life everyday and I am so glad we adopted her from the RSPCA.

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Judy with her LCFC football shirt on

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

Have a great week!

 

A Problem With My Leeks….

This week nature has produced some beautiful sites.  It started with the most beautiful red morning sky last weekend:

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And then a covering of snow that made everything look very pretty:

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 I’m very pleased to say that the snow disappeared as quickly as it came and this week and I managed to get into my garden to start my winter ‘clean up’ and start my preparation for the new growing season ahead.

I started by emptying the compost bags I had in my greenhouse as I want to clean my greenhouse in the coming week.  Nothing really grew very well in these bags, but I think this was due to my watering system overwatering the compost and the dreadful, dull weather we had last year.

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I spread the compost over two of my beds to help improve the condition of the soil:

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I started to put manure around my rhubarb too, but unfortunately I ran out of it so I need to but some more.  However I did manage to surround one of my rhubarb plants:

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I then cut down my old runnerbeans, leaving the roots in the ground as the nodules add nitrogen to the soil, which will be good for my brassica’s which will follow them:

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Next I cut the tops off my jerusalem artichokes which I grew in a large bottomless pot to contain the roots.  I will dig up them next week to see if I have managed to get a crop:

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So this area now looks better, though I do need to tidy my utility area behind:

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I also turned my attention to my leeks which have been very disappointing:

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As you can see from the photo above they have been targeted by the allium leaf miner and some of my leeks have started to rot.  I have written about the allium leaf miner here, it is a fairly new pest in this country and only appeared in Britain in 2002.

The allium leaf miner only ever affected my onions at the allotment which lulled me into a false sense of security, so I didn’t bother covering my leeks with environmesh…..but unfortunately they were were hit hard this year, so I will have to make sure I cover ALL of my alliums from now on.

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I took the photo above of the small brown pupae that I found in some of them to show you.  They are approximately 3-4 mm long, embedded into the stem.The pupae will overwinter in the plant or in the soil.  In the spring, the adults will emerge from the pupae and lay eggs and the first generation of larvae will then feed in April and May. The second generation is likely to feed in mid-September.

But I am pleased to say, some of my leeks were ok, so I did get a amall crop:

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This week I also tidied a bed that I had covered with environmesh in the Autumn, to give a bit of protection for my summer lettuces.  The summer lettuces had been picked a long time ago and I thought there was nothing underneath, but to my surprise I found a row of winter radishes that I had sowed in late summer and completely forgotten about:

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They have grown lovely and so I picked one straight away and later grated it into the salad we had for tea:

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I had a quick weed around them and then put a cloche over them to give a bit of protection:

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I also picked some winter purslane (sometimes know as miners lettuce) that I had been growing in a pot in my greenhouse and also added it to our salad:

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I love being able to pick winter crops to add to salads and I am very pleased that I have acheived this in my new kitchen garden, though I want to do a lot better for next winter.

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I also sowed my first seeds this year, which I always find exciting:

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I planted overwintering broadbean (Aquadulce), which over the years I have found they grow best in pots planted this month and then transplanted in the spring.  I also sowed leeks and the remaining garlic cloves that I had left over and these wil sit happlily in my cold greenhouse for the moment.  I also sowed my peppers, but these will be kept inside a propagator in the warmth of my house for the time being.

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This Week In The Home:

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I sat and finally sorted my seed tin as it was in a bit of a mess.  I listed down exactly what seeds I have and I worked out exactly what I want to grow this year in my garden.

I now have a plan of exactly when I need to sow my seeds and what I still need to buy.

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I am hoping to grow even more this year in my new improved small kitchen garden.

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I then caught up with a few things for the freezer…..each are small things that help me a lot to save time:

My daughter wanted some chocolate chip cookies, so I made them and then froze them so that I can take just a couple out of the freeze each day, so she doesn’t eat them all at once:

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I sliced some lemons up and froze them on a plate, ready to put in a freezer pot when frozen.  This way we have a ready supply of lemon slices to add to water when we need a drink.  As the lemons are frozen they also cool your water down without having to use icecubes:

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I then made a double batch of white sauce.  I froze one of the sauces in a freezer bag after it had cooled down.  Next time I need a white sauce I will just defrost it and reheat it in the microwave.  This way it is easy to use it as it is, or just add parsley for a parsley sauce or cheese for a cheese sauce.

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I made and froze leek and potato soup in portions.  Again I can just defrost a portion and then reheat it in the microwave for my lunch:

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I made the leek and potato soup using the leeks that I dug up this week:

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A Leek and Potato Soup Recipe:

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800g potatoes peeled and chopped small

800g Leeks chopped

1700 ml vegetable stock

800mls hot milk

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Add the potatoes, leeks and stock to a large pan:

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Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered for approximately 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

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Heat your milk while you use a hand mixer to blend the vegetables to make them smooth and then add the hot milk to the pan.  Bring the soup back to the boil and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time:

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 Serve and enjoy adding salt and pepper to taste!

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

Have a great week!

A Judy Update & A Kind Visit

I just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to an allotment friend that popped round last weekend with some of her produce.  I do miss my old allotment companions and so it was lovely to catch up with her and the goodies she left me were very welcome:

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Judy (our rescue dog) – an update:

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Judy is continuing to do well in her training classes and we are working hard on ‘recall’ with her at the moment.  At home she is lovely now and we all absolutely adore her cheeky ‘Jack Russell’ ways.

Last weekend we took Judy to the vets for her yearly vaccination and the vet was wonderful with Judy as he knew she was a nervous dog.  When he went to update the vaccination card that the RSPCA had given to us with all her previous vaccines on, he pointed out to us that the card shows that poor Judy had been in the RSPCA three times!  He showed us the three vaccinations they have given her and he explained that the RSPCA only give them when they enter their kennels.

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We hadn’t really studied the card before, but we realised that you can also see three different name and address stickers underneath ours……so we are the fourth owners!  From the dates on the card we can see that Judy was in the RSPCA at four months, again twelve months later and then again two and a half years later……thank goodness we found her when we did.

This explains everything to us, as she was bound to have lots of problems after the upbringing she has had.  I don’t know if the RSPCA have a policy of not telling people the dogs background or whether they hadn’t checked her history, but it would have been nice to know.

We will never know what our poor dog has been through but we do suspect that she was hit at some stage, as she used to cower if you went to stroke her unexpectly and she hated walking sticks, litter pickers etc. and she had nightmares over and over again where she would wimper and move her legs like she was trying to run.   This is improving as she is starting to trust us, especially with the training as well…..and she rarely has a bad dream now.

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  I know now that I certainly wasn’t experienced enough to deal with a dog with problems like Judy and I’m not sure if the RSPCA knew this or not…..She could quite easily have ended up back there if it wasn’t for the fact that I was so stubborn and determind to find a way to train her.

I have had to learn such a lot in a short period but I am glad to say Judy is now responding to the training and other dog walkers now comment on how much she has improved, which is wonderful.

The hard work is starting to pay off and I couldn’t imagine life without her now as she is always by my side.

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This week in my garden:

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This week I sowed some lettuce, summer radish and winter radish.

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I also planted some lettuce plants that I bought from a local nursery.  I may have to put a cloche over them if the nights turn cold in September, but they should be fine:

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In the meantime I needed to protect the lettuces from the birds so I used some enviromesh as my nets aren’t quite wide enough for this bed:

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I also sowed some carrots in my greenhouse (it says the latest sowing should be July on the packet, but as I think they will be fine as they are in the greenhouse)

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As it is now the middle of August, I decided to give my outdoor tomatoes a bit of help to ripen…..so I removed a few of the lower leaves so the sun can ripen the tomatoes easily:

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The outdoor tomatoes are doing really well this year, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for my greenhouse tomatoes.  I have been battling with whitefly in my greenhouse all summer and now four of my plants have finally started to die off, maybe from a virus transferred by the aphids?

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I picked the tomatoes and then I have removed the plants and destroyed them.  A lot of them were ripe and ready to eat, but I’m sure the green ones will still ripen (though some will be small), so I have put them in my mini greenhouse as I don’t want to waste anything:

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I noticed in my garden this week that the ’60 day’ raab and the phacelia (green manure) that I sowed last week has already germinated……I suspect that is because we have had quite a bit of rain this last week:

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This week I have had our first spinach harvest and it tasted lovely fried in a bit of butter…

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I dug up the last of my second early potatoes (marfona):

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And I have continued to harvest runnerbeans…..

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….and spring onions, lettuce, chives, kohl rabi, outdoor tomatoes and the odd cucumber.  We have had some lovely salads:

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At home this week:

I made some pickled red cabbage this week from some of the cabbage I picked last week:

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I made some pickled onions from the spring onions I picked last week that were going over slightly:

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And I have continued to freeze the runnerbeans that we haven’t cooked and eaten straight away:

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I also cooked the beetroot that my friend gave to me and sliced it and froze it.  This way I can take a few slices out of the freezer at a time, for my daughter who doesn’t like beetroot that has been pickled in vinegar.

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I also went blackberry picking this week and managed to find quite a few to freeze.  These will be used for pies and crumbles, but mostly for ‘smoothies’ which my daughters love:

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Finally this week I did my usual batch bread baking session.  I made white and wholemeal rolls and a loaf of bread to slice.  Most of these will be frozen to eat over the week as usual.

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So over all it has been a very productive week!

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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!

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! 

Greenhouse Shading And Banana Recipes

There has been some really miserable weather this week and it’s been hard to get into the garden to do any work.

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However, in between the showers I did manage to plant my mange tout, in front of my strawberries.  I am trying very hard to use every bit of space I have to grow vegetables.

This really is a trial year for my kitchen garden and I’m not sure yet if things will grow well or not.  I was hoping that I will have picked the strawberries before the peas grow taller and take away some of the sunlight….however due to the miserable, cool weather we have been having this may not work, as there are no sign of flowers on my strawberries yet.

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You can see in the second photo, I have put wire over the peas to stop the birds from eating them and my dog from destroying them (as she still goes mad when my neighbours dog is out).

I grew the monge tout in small lengths of guttering, which I ‘slide out’ into prepared soil when they have germinated.  I find this gives me a better germination rate.

You can read exactly how I grow peas in guttering here.

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I also planted out a few of my outdoor tomatoes that I sowed on the 5th April.  You can see in the photo above that I am leaving some glass over them because the temperature outside is still quite cool for this time of year.

The tomatoes are a variety called ‘Outdoor Girl’ and I have grown them now for many years outside.  One seed company describes them as follows:

“Tomato Outdoor Girl is a really tough outdoor tomato, very easy to grow and tolerant to low temperatures. Early to fruit producing medium sized fruits of good flavour and colour

I think they are spot on with this description, as they really do give a good supply of tomatoes early on, so I get a good harvest before blight hits.

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In between my tomatoes I have planted some Tegetes as they look lovely when they are in flower and they also confuse the white fly with their smell, so this will stop them from attacking my plants.

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In my greenhouse this week I took the bubble wrap down that provided a layer in insulation over winter, (before it actually fell down on its own).  I have left it in place over the last few years and it was now brittle and tore very easily.

I replaced it with shading netting that will help my plants on hot sunny days.  I bought my shade netting from Wilkinsons as I found it cheapest from there:

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Last week I planted my basil in bags in my greenhouse and this week I sowed a catch crop of radish in between them and amazingly the radish germinated in just five days.  I also sowed a row of radish outside on the same day and they are nowhere to be seen yet.

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This week I harvested my first radish from the garden.  These were sowed on the 10th April:

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 I also picked a few of my everlasting onions:

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And I had my third cut of mixed salad leaves that I sowed in a pot in March:

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(Next year I am hoping to be havesting more things at this time of year, now my kitchen garden is up and running).

The aim of my kitchen garden is to harvest as much as possible from a small space.

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At home this week:

I made a big batch of tomato and basil soup from tomatoes I grew at my allotment last year and froze (I just chop the fresh tomatoes in half and place in a freezer bag and then into the freezer).

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When the soup was ready I then froze it in portions, so I can defrost a bowl full for lunch when I want to:

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Top Tip:

This week my daughter brought some plastic cups from the ‘pound shop’ and she couldn’t get the sticky labels off:

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So I put a drop of olive oil on the sticky labels and then I used a scrubber to easily remove the sticky label and residue remaining:

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This also works for removing the sticky residue on jam jars when most of the label has been removed.

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And finally I made some banana lollies and some super quick and easy ‘breadmaker’ banana bread from the ‘whoopsied’ bananas that I bought at the end of last week and I have written bothe of these recipies below for anyone that is intersted:

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Super Quick And Easy Banana Bread In A Breadmaker:

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3 over ripe bananas mashed

200 grams granulated sugar

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

2 eggs

270g self raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

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Put all the above ingredients into your breadmaker pan and put it on a ‘pizza dough’ setting for 5 minutes.

Stop the breadmaker half way through and scrape down the sides of your pan with a spatula to ensure all the flour is mixed in well,

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When there is no trace of flour left, set your breadmaker on a ‘bake’ setting for 55 minutes:

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The result is lovely banana bread

(which incidentally can be sliced and frozen for another time):

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Banana Ice Lollies:

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2 Ripe banana’s

3 tablespoons natural yoghurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

60 grams chocolate

2 tablepoons of milk

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Use a hand blender to combine the banana, yoghurt and vanilla until they are smooth:

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Pour the resulting mixture into four lolly moulds, leaving a slight gap at the top for the chocolate:

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Put the chocolate and milk in a microwaveable jug and microwave on full power until the chocolate has melted (this only takes a couple of minutes so keep checking it).

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Let the chocolate mix cool down for a few minutes and then pour it over the banana mixture:

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Put the lollies in the freezer overnight:

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And then enjoy:

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

Have a good weekend!

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

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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!