Archives

A Hard Post To Write…..

My life has changed enormously since I started to write this blog four years ago when my daughters were just 12 and 14……they are 16 and 18 now and have turned into beautiful young ladies who we are very proud of.

Three years ago I lost one of my best friends to cancer and then two years ago my father-in-law passed away too.

After this I then had to give up my lovely four allotments in January 2015, due to family problems and our rescue dog, who turned out to be highly reactive and took up an awful lot of my time (and our money) to train.

SAM_3575

On top of this I have recently developed a lower back problem that is causing me a lot of pain when I bend.  I visited a physiotherepist and he said it is just ‘wear and tear’ and I should continue doing everything as normal, taking pain killers when I need to…..and this is what I have been doing.

.

The last few years have really been hard for our family, though I have tried to put a smile on my face and carry on as normal…. but things are now settling down in the Thrift household and life is finally beginning to calm down again.

SAM_3480

.

Time to be honest:

.

However recently I haven’t really felt myself, but I have struggled on regardless.  Quite often I have felt very drained of energy and tearful and I have been really struggling to sleep at night which doesn’t help.

Mr Thrift and I have come to the conclusion that either the last few years have finally caught up with me or it is simply that ‘time of life’ that all women my age go through….or a mix of both!  Either way I feel I need to sit back and relax a bit more and take some time out for myself, instead of my usual rushing around.

So for now I have decided to take a break from my blog for a few months (as it does take me quite a lot of time planning and writing it each week).

I really hope you don’t mind me making this decision, but hopefully it won’t be for too long.

.

.

A quick update before I go:

.

My kitchen garden continues to do well and I am harvesting fruit and vegetables every day in small amounts:

      SAM_3701

This week I have taken up my onions and I have had a great crop….I am very pleased with them:

SAM_3677 SAM_3678

My outdoor and indoor cucumbers are doing well too and we are picking them daily:

SAM_3705 SAM_3712

My beetroot, kohl rabis and cabbages are just about ready to pick:

SAM_3699 SAM_3703 SAM_3698

And so too is my one and only butternut squash that I grew in a pot this year:

SAM_3700

And I am picking raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes and runner beans almost daily:

SAM_3619 SAM_3658 SAM_3628 SAM_3688 SAM_3696

.

The flowers are doing well around the garden as well, which is great for beneficial insects that pollinate the crops…… it also looks very pretty and I’m hoping to spend more time enjoying it all:

SAM_3492 SAM_3580 SAM_3685 SAM_3687 SAM_3690 SAM_3695

SAM_3686 SAM_3702

.

.

And Finally…..Judy:

.

Lots of you ask about Judy our rescue dog.  In October 2014 we brought her home from the RSPCA – we were fourth owners and she had a hugh amount of problems that became apparent two or three weeks later.  The poor dog was scared of everything, but unfortunately it all came out as barking and lunging.

She reacted to traffic, men, bikes, birds, prams, the TV, men in hats, walking sticks, litter pickers, any little noise in the house etc. etc. but the worst thing of all was her reaction to other dogs….which caused many dog owners to shout and yell at me when their dogs approached Judy (even though she was on a lead and muzzled).

The two photos below were taken on her first week home with us in Oct 2014:

SAM_0225 SAM_0227

As you know we tried everything, kalm aid in her food, pheromone deffusers and collars and even doggie ‘prozac’ from the vets and nothing worked….until we found Steven Havers.

Steven trained me to deal with all of Judy’s insecurities and we will forever be in his debt as Judy has now turned into a wonderful dog, who we all love very much.

She hasn’t worn a muzzle for over a year now and over the last few months Judy has made lots of doggie friends and calmly socilises with them, sometimes in groups of ten or more dogs at a time.  She is now off-lead on the field in the park and nearly always comes back to me when I recall her……I am so proud of her and other dog walkers comment on how well she is doing nearly every day.

I am so glad we perservered and didn’t give up on her.

Judy now

Judy now

.

.

Well that really is it for the moment.

In the meantime I want to say a big thank you for your continued support over the last four years and I really hope you understand my reasons for taking a break.

Thank you for reading my blog today…….I hope to be back in a few months time.

Look after yourselves and enjoy the rest of the summer.

XXX

Advertisements

Nature Is Wonderful….

This week has been another week of sunshine and showers.  It has also been quite windy at times and I have had to tie up some of my peas and sweetpeas, as the wind blew them away from their supports…..though no harm was done as you can see in the photograph below:

SAM_3477 SAM_3479

I think nature has a way of dealing with all situations and the sunshine and showers are certainly helping my plants grow.  Rain is full of nitrogen so the garden is now looking lush and green.

SAM_3475

The sunshine and showers also produced the most spectacular rainbow in the sky (though my camera doesn’t really show the pure beauty of it as well as I would have liked).

SAM_3396

 Nature really is wonderful, but it is all too easy to take it for granted….I firmly believe that global warming is happening – every gardener has already seen the changes in the seasons – but it is so easy for us all to ignore and pretend it isn’t happening…..I know a lot of people think that it is a problem that just the goverment should be dealing with and yes I do think they should be doing more… however if we all did our own little bit e.g use our cars less, buy less ‘stuff’, recycle where possible, eat less meat, be mindful about using electricity, etc. then maybe it would make a difference.

I realise people won’t agree with me and I know how hard it is when you have children / teenagers in the house wanting ‘this’ and ‘that’, but every little bit we do (even the smallest things) will all add up.

SAM_3482

.

This week in the garden:

.

This week I finally got around to using the extra comfrey feed that I made last year.  I never got around to using it as I still had some left over from the first batch that I had made last summer.

I really expected it to stink as it had been there since last year, but amzingly it wasn’t too bad:

IMG_3860

I strained it through and old rag and I managed to get three bottles of comfrey feed to use on my fruit and flowers around the garden, as it is so high in potash.  It is particularly brilliant for tomatoes.

IMG_3858 IMG_3859

As my comfrey is still growing well, I started another bucket of comfrey tea off.  It only takes a couple of weeks to make, though I do tend to leave it stewing until it is needed:

IMG_3867

IMG_3869 IMG_3878

“To make comfrey tea all you have to do is fill a bucket with the comfrey leaves and stems and weigh it down with a brick and pour over cold water.  I cover it (to stop flies getting in) and leave for approx. two weeks. Be warned, by this time the smell is revolting!  Strain the comfrey tea liquid into another container and put the remaining comfrey in your compost bin.

To use it I put 2 cups of comfrey tea into a watering can and then fill it with water and give it a good mix”

   .

.

This week I noticed that my runner beans were flowering and they look very pretty.  However, I also noticed that they had climbed to the top of their supports, so I chopped the top of each plant off:

IMG_3866 IMG_3863

By nipping off the top of each plant, they will become bushier and produce more beans lower down.

.

Now that I had harvested my last spring cabbage, I decided to plant my curly kale seedlings….but first I decided to give the area a quick weed and remove the yellow leaves from the cabbages under the same net.  The yellowing leaves can harbor pests and diseases so it is always a good idea to remove them every so often:

 IMG_3870 IMG_3871

Incidentally the cabbages are growing well this year, probably to do with all the rain we have had:

SAM_3484

After this I raked in some blood, fish and bone and then planted three curly kale plants that I had grown from seed.  Hopefully if the plants grow ok then three plants will be enough for us over winter:

IMG_3873 IMG_3874

.

I also tied up my jeruselum artichokes as one of them had fallen down……they are planted in a bottemless deep pot, to stop them from spreading and it seems to be working:

IMG_3876 IMG_3877

.

Another job I finally got around to doing was to ‘prick out’ my wallflowers that I sowed a few weeks ago (they really should have been done by now).

SAM_3390 SAM_3391

If you look really closely at the photo on the right, you will see tiny holes on the leaves…..these holes are made by the flea beetle….

“The adult flea beetle eats the leaves of most brassica’s (including wallflowers) and their larvae will eat the plant roots.

Bad infestations can kill the plants, however this is unusual.  I have found that seedlings are more suseptable to flea beatles, so if my plants come under attack I feed them regularly with a seaweed fertliser until they grow bigger and stronger.

In my experience the flea beetle will set back your seedlings, but it is very rare they don’t recover with a bit of care”

.

I also transplanted the fox gloves I sowed a month or two ago, into bigger pots to grow on:

SAM_3386 SAM_3392

  Foxgloves (digitalis) and wall flowers are both biennial plants, which simply means they grow one year and flower the next and then die.  When my plants are big enough in autumn I will plant them in the ground where they will hopefully give me a good display next year.

.

Another job I did this week was to repair a bare spot on my lawn.  I raked over the area and then spread some grass seed that I had already mixed with compost.  I then covered it with my heavy plastic propagator lid to protect it from Judy (our dog) and I have made sure it has been well watered.

Hopefully the grass will grow well:

SAM_3394

.

I have also continued to tie up my outdoor tomato plants:

SAM_3486

And I have continued to dead head all the old flowers around my garden, so they produce lots more new flowers:

SAM_3490 SAM_3489 SAM_3487

.

.

This weeks harvest:

.

The strawberries are doing well considering it is their first year (I ignore the books and don’t remove the flowers the first year and I have always had good crops).  I have had two harvests this week:

SAM_3422 SAM_3448

The courgettes have finally decided to grow and I have picked two from my two plants this week:

SAM_3449

And I am still picking broad beans from the plants I sowed in January:

SAM_3441

I noticed that some of the pods were suffering from ‘Chocolate spot’, but the beans were fine inside:

SAM_3440

“Chocolate spot is a fungus that only affects broadbeans.  It leaves red-brown spots on the plants and the pods.  It usually affects plants in damp humid conditions, so if you have space you could put your plants further apart so air can circulate around.

In my experience chocolate spot rarely affects the beans inside the pods, so I actually ignore it and don’t do anything except give the plants a liquid seaweed feed to help them along”

I froze my broad beans to use over the winter when there isn’t too much around.  I always blanch them and then open freeze them on a tray until they are frozen….then I put them into a freezer bag:

SAM_3473

.

I have also been harvesting my peas.  I have been picking my dwarf peas and my climbing tall peas (which are an old fashioned variety called ‘peashooter’).  All my peas have done well this year and there are lots more still growing:

IMG_3879 SAM_3442

SAM_3444 SAM_3443 IMG_3880

It always amazes me that a whole basket of pea pods produce so few peas….but the peas are so sweet and delicious I can’t help growing them each year!

SAM_3425 IMG_3882 SAM_3445

My eldest daughter and Mr Thrift helped me to pick the pods this year and remove the peas…….I so love my family helping as it is a time we also chat about ‘this and that’ and laugh together.  I hope my daughters remember these time fondly when they are older.

I froze the peas in the same way I froze the broad beans….but I bet the peas won’t last until winter as we all love them!

Frozen broadbeans & peas

Frozen broadbeans & peas

I didn’t want to waste the pea pods so I made a ‘pea pod soup’, which my daughter loves.  You can find the recipe here

SAM_3430

I used rapeseed oil this time instead of olive oil, which made a darker soup…..it tasted the same but didn’t look quite so appertising so I will use olive oil again next time:

SAM_3431

.

This week I have noticed:

.

This week i have noticed my first raspberry on my ‘autumn’ raspberries (not sure why this one decided to grow early):

IMG_3857

My first mangetout are ready to pick (my youngest daughter has already spotted this and has been picking and eating them raw this week):

SAM_3481

My ‘mini’ pumpkin plants are covering the ground around my sweetcorn well – this keeps weeds down and the moisture won’t evapourate as quick if we get any more hot days:

SAM_3476

The dahlia tubers that I grew from seed last year and then overwintered in our brick outhouse, are starting to flower:

SAM_3480

 

And finally this week, I have noticed that the garden has lots of different types of bees and hoverflies visiting and this week I have spotted two different little frogs:

SAM_3492 IMG_3902

This is a wonderful site to me as it shows me that my organic gardening methods are working and the beneficial insects are now coming to my garden, helping my garden to become more and more productive by polinating my crops and eating the pests, such as slugs and snails etc.

.

Thank you for reading my blog this week.

I will be decorating our bedroom over the next week or two, so I have decided to take a two week break from my blog….I hope you don’t mind.

However I will be back on the 5th August as usual.

Have a great weekend.

XXX

My Kitchen Garden So Far This Year….

This week the weather hasn’t been good, but the plants in my garden have been loving the rain.

Other than tying my peas and tomatoes up and removing the odd sideshoots from my tomato plants, I haven’t really been able to do a lot in the garden.  I have also been trying hard not to do too much in the house this week, so I don’t disturb my two daughters as they are revising hard for GCSE / A-level exams.

So I thought it would be nice to give you a slide show of my kitchen garden, so you can see how it is doing at the moment.

For those who are reading my blog for the first time, I started my new kitchen garden in January 2015 after giving my four allotment plots up (due to family circumstances).  Previously my little garden was a mix of large shrubs and so I dug the whole lot up to start my new vegetable plot:

SAM_0233 SAM_0234

SAM_0249

.

You can see from the slideshow below that I have tried hard to fill every space possible in my kitchen garden and I am still growing plants from seed to replace any spaces that become available.  Also (as always) I have squeezed in as many flowers as possible to attract beneficial insects to my plot and I now  have four bug boxes to encourage them to stay in the winter.

I have tried to remember that our garden is a not an allotment, so I have also used flowers to make it as pretty as possible so my family enjoy being outside in the summer…..As well I made sure we have a small lawn for our dog to use, by removing a slabbed area in the garden last year.

In 2015 (my first year) I managed to grow far more than I expected in my small garden, however this year my garden is a lot more organised so I am hoping to grow even more…..though I can still see I have plenty of room for improvement…..but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I hope you enjoy the photo’s.

 I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week.

XXX

.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_1771

.

This Week In The Garden:

.

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.

SAM_2864 SAM_2865

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:

SAM_2867 SAM_2870

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:

SAM_2904 SAM_2905 SAM_2907

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.

SAM_2884 SAM_2888

.

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) ….

SAM_2885 SAM_2887 SAM_2890

.

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.

SAM_2913 SAM_2914

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”

SAM_2915 SAM_2917

.

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:

SAM_2891 SAM_2892

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

SAM_2908 SAM_2918

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:

SAM_2843 SAM_2844

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.

My Calendula at my allotment

‘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:

SAM_1982

 .

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:

SAM_2813

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:

SAM_2727

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:

SAM_2871

.

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!

SAM_2835 SAM_2836

 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!

SAM_2850 SAM_2859

.

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.

SAM_2847 SAM_2846 SAM_2848

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:

SAM_2849 SAM_2858

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.

SAM_2854 SAM_2855

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):

SAM_2860

.

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.

SAM_2883

.

.

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:

IMG_3717 IMG_3716 SAM_2833

I was very pleased with the results.

.

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

IMG_3721 IMG_3719

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.

IMG_3723

.

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:

SAM_2874

.

.

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:

SAM_2911

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

Have a great week!

XX

How To Avoid The Pea Moth & How to Harden Off Plants

I wanted to start today by saying a big ‘thank you’ to everyone that reads my blog and for all the lovely comments I receive each week.  It really is the comments that spur me on to continue writing.

Things changed in the ‘Thrift’ household when I gave my four allotments up last year, however your comments gave me the confidence to continue blogging about my new ‘kitchen garden’.

My blog will never win awards, but as long as people are reading and enjoying it, I will continue to write.

Thank you.

SAM_2789 SAM_2790

.

This Week:

The weather has gone from one extreme to the other over the last week or so….from hail and snow to hot, sunny days.  On Sunday morning I walked my dog early to avoid the heat and even then it was warm enough to walk around in short sleeves:

IMG_3676 IMG_3663

I always think the park looks beautiful in the early morning and I love to hear the birds sing at this time of the day…. they sing so loudly, as though they are excited about the day ahead.

I noticed the bluebells looking stunning in the dabbled shade under the trees and the ‘Cytisus scoparius’ (common broom) looking equally as impressive, in amongst the hawthorns that are in blossom at the moment:

IMG_3675 IMG_3673

I felt blessed to be walking around the park at this time of day on my own, as it felt magical.  I couldn’t help but feel lucky to be there and have the time to stop and enjoy it.

.

However the park looked completely different on Wednesday after twenty four hours of rain, but it still looked beautiful:

IMG_3709

.

In My Garden This Week:

.

As it has been warm this week I decided it was time to start to ‘harden off’ some of my frost tender plants that have been sitting in my greenhouse, by moving them in my colder ‘mini greenhouses’.

IMG_3693

“Hardening off” your plants allows them to adapt to outside conditions before they are planted in their final positions.  There are two ways to do this:

1) Put your plants in a cold frame and gradually open the window of the cold frame more each day until it is fully opened or

2) Put your plants outside for an hour or two for the first day and then gradually increase the time they spend outside each day afterwards.

The RHS suggest that hardening off plants properly takes approximately two to three weeks.

 .

This week I also started to put some of my homegrown bedding plants into pots so they can grow on and look pretty in the summer.  I used marigolds and dwarf dahlias:

IMG_3677

I also made up a couple of hanging baskets with the cherry tomato plants that I grew from seed:

IMG_3683

As with everything else, I will harden them off gradually and I will be bringing them back inside my greenhouse every night until all the risk of frost has passed.  This is usually the end of May in Leicester, however I am still very careful to watch the weather forecast even then, as a few years ago I lost all  of my outdoor tomato plants at my allotment in the first week of June!

.

This week I removed the glass from my climbing peas that I planted out in April, as they are now growing well:

IMG_3687

I tied some garden string around them to give a bit of support to help them climb.  I also draped some environmesh over the plants to stop the birds from eating them and give a bit of protection fron the pea moth (though I didn’t have quite enough to cover the sides, but it worked well like this last year):

IMG_3691 IMG_3692

 “Adult pea moths lays their eggs in May, June and July on pea plants.  Their caterpillars feed on the seeds that develop inside the pea pods and then drop to the ground in late summer to pupate……this is a good reason to rotate your pea crops each year.

You can reduce the damage of the pea moth by covering your plants with environmesh or fleece”

.

The tomatoes that I planted in my greenhouse are growing well now and I am continually ‘pinching off’ the side shoots that are appearing between the main stems and leaves….you can see in the before and after photos below:

IMG_3684 IMG_3685

.

The seeds that I sowed last week have started to germinate and I have moved them from my kitchen into my greenhouse to ‘grow on’ for a week or two before I also start to ‘harden them off’ ready to plant later this month:

IMG_3678 IMG_3679 IMG_3680 IMG_3681 IMG_3682

.

I noticed this week that the first geraniums are starting to bloom in my hanging baskets:

IMG_3699

And elsewhere in the garden the dwarf wallflowers that I sowed last year are giving a good display….

IMG_3696

….together with the two dicentras (bleeding hearts) that I replanted after finding them growing recently in my border (though I haven’t a clue how they got there):

IMG_3694 IMG_3695

 And finally in my garden my Azalea is beginning to flower.  My dad gave this plant to me when it was tiny – it came ‘free’ with some plants he ordered and he didn’t want it.  Over the last few years it has really flowered well:

IMG_3697 IMG_3698

.

.

This Week In The Home:

.

There is not much to tell you about this week except I have spent time altering the length of a new pair of curtains that my dad brought for his front room……unfortunately they were fifteen inches too long!…. (I’m not sure why he decided to buy this length of curtain).

After I altered them I decided to ring around a couple of well known shops to see how much they would charge for altering curtain lengths, just out of curiosity……I was quoted £35 by one and £40 by another!  It’s amazing how much you can save by learning a few basic sewing skills.

SAM_2824 SAM_2825

After altering the curtains I took them to my dad’s home and hung them up for him….but unfortunately they weren’t really wide enough either (which I didn’t realise before as dad had given me the measurements).  This meant I couldn’t gather them up very much at the top, but I did my best.  However, they didn’t look too bad in the end and dad seemed very pleased with them …. and that is all that matters!

IMG_3700 IMG_3702

.

That’s it for today.  Thank you for reading my blog.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.  Have a great week!

Woodchip Paths & Christmas Decorations

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 December’ can be found here.

Don’t be fooled into thinking there is nothing you can do this month……..

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

I hope it helps someone out there.

SAM_5091.

.

This week in the home:

.

This week my youngest daughter turned ‘sweet sixteen’….how on earth did this happen so quickly?

We all had a lovely day together and my eldest daughter made a birthday cake, in the shape of a ‘Dairy Milk’ chocolate bar (my youngest daughter’s favourite food) and it was absolutely delicious!

SAM_2413

.

Unfortunately my step father is still not well, so this is taking up a lot of my time with phone calls, hospital visits and taking my mother shopping.  My mum and dad both remarried and so between Mr Thrift and I, we have three sets of elderly parents (though my father-in-law sadly died last year).  With two teenage daughters this means that myself and Mr Thrift are part of the ‘sandwich’ generation and recently I have felt quite run down from it all, especially as I have also spent the last year trying hard to train Judy, the RSPCA dog that we adopted on top of this (though we all adore her).

However, I have no choice but to carry on with things the way they are at the moment and I can only hope they will get better over time.

SAM_2430

.

So this week in the Thrift household we put our Christmas tree up, as decorations in the house always cheer us up.

As we now have a three piece suite in our front room it was hard to find a place for our trusty old Christmas tree.  After trying different places in the room we finally wedged it in the corner, however it looked very small and hidden by the furniture…..I came up with the idea of standing it on an old plastic box to give it some height, which I covered temporarily with one of the curtains I recently brought from a car boot sale (to cover two old reclining garden chairs that I was given).

SAM_2421

We put on some Christmas music and all four of us decorated the tree with a bit of singing and daft dancing in between.  All in all it was lovely afternoon and we all think the tree looks nice due to the box it stands on and you can actually see the tree lights twinkling outside our front window for the first time:

SAM_2423

We also decorated our stair banister in the hall with our old garland and I fixed our Christmas wreath to the front door.

SAM_2436 SAM_2433

We have used the same ‘artificial’ decorations for many years now and they still look good.

This year I decided to add to our decorations with a cheap garland I brought for the fireplace.  I have decorated it with some cones and I will add the slices of oranges I am drying on my radiator when they are ready too:

SAM_2432 SAM_2424

The room is looking beautiful now (except for the carpet that we still haven’t managed to save up for yet but we are trying to ignore it for the moment).

.

This week in the garden:

.

Last week I brought some primroses for 50p each as I thought it would brighten my garden in the dull December days ahead.  This week I planted three of them in a pot next to my back door and the rest I planted in a hanging basket outside our front door….and I am very pleased with them.

SAM_2403 SAM_2405

I love primroses as they flower each year and look beautiful.

.

This week I also tried very hard to finish my new vegetable patch.  I was going to ask Mr Thrift to help me to lay the final three slabs, but unfortunately I couldn’t complete my final two beds until they were laid…..so I decided to do it myself.  I’ve laid plenty of slabs on my own when I had my allotments so this didn’t bother me too much, though Mr Thrift did tell me off!

This meant I could then continue with the final two beds next to the slabs…

SAM_2425

I then created a very small area for a flower to be planted next year, using the edging stones I have spare:

IMG_2868

And I completed the edging next to the bed in front of the fence:

SAM_2420

I then used old weed suppressant to cover the new paths, using old pins from my allotment to secure it down:

SAM_2428

And then I brought some bags of woodchip from our local timber yard and covered the weed suppressant with it.  Over the years I have found that if you place woodchip on weed suppressant, it doesn’t rot down as quickly as it does if you place it directly on the soil.

Unfortunately I was a bag or two short of woodchip so I will have to make another trip to them before I can complete the paths in my new vegetable area.  However it is looking good so far:

IMG_2870 SAM_2429

After completing the paths next week I will start to concentrate on improving the soil.

But for the moment I am pleased how it is shaping up.

.

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

Have a great week!

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:

SAM_2332 IMG_2820

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

IMG_2821

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:

June 2015

June 2015

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

SAM_2338

 We unfortunately then had to empty the raised bed!…

SAM_2340 SAM_2341 SAM_2342

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:

SAM_2344 SAM_2345

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:

SAM_2353

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:

SAM_2355

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

SAM_2357 SAM_2354

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!

SAM_2349 SAM_2350

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:

SAM_2333 SAM_2363

SAM_2362 SAM_2366

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:

SAM_2361

SAM_2348 SAM_2365

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.

SAM_2372

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

IMG_2827 IMG_2826

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!

.

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

Have a good week!