Tag Archive | A homemade wreath

The Kitchen Garden Harvest & An Old Holly Tree

This week has been wet and miserable outside with a distinct lack of sun, dispite it being July!  Never the less the garden is still growing well, though my butternut squash, outdoor cucmbers and greenhouse melons really need the weather to be a bit hotter as they are sitting sulking at the moment and not growing at all.

I have started to reap the benefits of my small kitchen garden and for a small amount of work I am harvesting some lovely vegetables and there are some lovely flowers for the bees and beneficial insects:

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This week in my new kitchen garden:

My potatoes are beautiful this year with hardly a slug hole in sight at the moment (though this wet weather may change that).  These potatoes are a variety called ‘Marfona’ which are a second early and they are absolutely delicious and have grown to a good size:

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The lettuces are continuing to feed us well, together with the first spring onions I sowed in modules back in March.  My greenhouse cucumber plant has produced its first two cucumbers as well, though the remaining fruits are a long way from being ready yet.

Also we are now eating tomatoes from the one greenhouse plant that I brought from the nursery….(the other plants I grew from seed).  I bought this one plant in the hope I could spread out my harvest as I was a bit behind sowing my greenhouse tomatoes, so the plan was this plant would give me fruit until my others were ready….and the plan seems to be working.

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I have picked my first onions this week and they were also really good and tasty.  There was no sign of the allium leaf miner because I was very careful to cover them in environmesh.  You can read about the damage the allium leaf miner does here.

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I also had my first cut of curly kale.  It has grown really quickly since I sowed it on 22nd April and it looked too tasty to leave, so we had it for dinner last night:

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I also picked some parsley from my garden this week and I made a lovely parsley sauce to go with some fish that I bought:

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And not forgetting the courgettes that are coming thick and fast:

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And I picked some fruit this week too.  There isn’t loads of it as my fruit bushes are young yet, but it’s not bad for a first year.  I picked a few more gooseberries, some black currants and white currants and a few blueberries:

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I always think that the currants look like ‘jewels’ when you first pick them.

One thing my family were happy about this week, was I picked my first kohl rabi of the year.  I think it is a strange looking vegetable but it tastes lovely.  You can cook it like a turnip, or grate it raw into a salad, but I just chop the skin off and serve it raw as a snack with a dollap of salad cream and it dissappears in seconds in the ‘Thrift’ house:

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I have noticed a few things in my new kitchen garden will soon be ready:

My french beans and runnerbeans are growing well…

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My red and white cabbages are starting to bulb up in the centre:

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And in row of beetroot there are some I will be picking and cooking in the next few days:

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And my outdoor tomatoes just need some good sunny days to ripen:

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I also noticed that my swedes are growing nicely too, though these will be a while yet until they are ready.  I sowed these in newspaper pots on the 23rd April and then transplanted them when they were a decent size.  I always think this protects them from the slugs and snails as they are big enough to cope with a bit of damage when I plant them out:

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So amazingly the kitchen garden is doing really well in it’s first year.

I absolutely love the ability to pick something and cook it / eat it straight away.  This is one luxury I didn’t have with my allotment and I can honestly say I didn’t realise how lovely freshly picked lettuces tasted when you eat them immeadiately after picking them.

Homegrown potatoes, kale and parsley cooked within 45 minutes of picking

Homegrown potatoes, kale and parsley cooked within 45 minutes of picking

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I have got to be honest I haven’t done a thing in my new kitchen garden this week, other than water my pots and harvest my fruit and vegetables…..I suppose this is the beauty of having a ‘small’ kitchen garden rather than an allotment, though I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative thing for me as I still really miss my allotment plots.

However, this has given me some time to start to think about the rest of my garden that I haven’t yet planned.  This is the area that Judy (our dog) runs around in and we sit in.

Unfortunately there was an old holly tree next to the fence that really had seen better days.  It only has a few red berries on each year for the birds to enjoy and what few leaves it has, it sheds daily during the summer on the ground below…….so we decided it was time to chop it down.

An old photo of the holly tree on the right hand side

An old photo of the holly tree on the right hand side

We considered paying someone to chop the tree down, but it wasn’t really that big so we did it ourself by removing as many branches as possible first…..then while Mr thift sawed, I pulled the top of the tree in the direction we wanted it to fall, using our extendable dog lead as we didn’t have any rope!….yes you did read this right and yes ‘health and safety’ went out of the window for this job.

The top section cam down well and then Mr Thrift sawed the bottom two sections off easily.

I have since read that old folk law tells you never to cut a holly tree down as it brings bad luck…I am not superstitious but if we do have any bad luck from now on, at least we have something to blame it on!

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This will free up another growing area for me, though I’m not sure yet if it will be ornamental or not.

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In the home this week:

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This week it is a year since my father-in-law passed away and I decided to make a flower arrangement for his grave side.  I bought some yellow and white flowers to use as these are the colours he loved.  I used bay from my garden which reminds us of the wonderful greek kababs he used to cook us and I used roses to make a cross as they were his favourite flowers and the cross symbolised the church that he loved so dearly.  I hope he looks down and likes the arrangement and knows we still miss him so much:

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This week I decided to make a victoria sandwich (using my ‘chuck-it-all in method) as I have been fancying one all week and it was lovely.  I also made my usual bread rolls (white and brown) for the week and froze them so they are fresh each day for lunch and then I made some more dishwasher liquid out of soap nuts, as I had run out:

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My daughter has been cooking again this week (I love it when she cooks).  She used some of the homegrown vegetables to make a risotto and served it with a homegrown salad and some ‘whoopsied’ garlic bread…..a very tasty, frugal meal!

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My daughter and her friend also made some dolly mixtures at home this week using ready made coloured icing.  I thought they look brilliant!

They stuck the colours together by just wetting the surface:

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They put them in a bag made of cellophane and tied them with a ribbon and they looked great….they would make a really good gift:

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Finally this week I was about to hoover our bedroom carpet when I decided there wasn’t enough carpet left to hoover!   This carpet was left in the house when we first moved here and it wasn’t up to much then……it now had more holes in it than actual carpet.  I decided it was rediculous to keep it any longer, (especially as we kept falling over the edges where the holes were), but I knew we couldn’t afford a new carpet in this room yet.

I pulled some of the carpet up and found some lovely floorboards underneath.  There were no gripper rods either to hold the carpet down.   So being impulsive as I am, I shouted Mr Thrift and together we pulled up the whole carpet and underlay and took it down to the tip.  There was dust everywhere as the underlay and carpet had disintegrated in lots of places and it took me ages to hoover it all up.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the old, horrible carpet with the massive holes, but I did take a photo of the floor boards that we uncovered and they look great.

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I will sand down and re-varnish / paint the boards another time, but until then they look loads better than the old carpet.

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Finally this week, Wilkinsons had a sale with lots of gardening equipment and seeds.  I bought some seeds that I knew I needed for next year and I also treated myself to a sign for my garden that was reduced to £1.75.  I placed it on our outhouse door that sits directly outside my kitchen window, so I can read it everyday as it sums up ‘my world’ perfectly:

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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!

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An Easter ‘Catch up’

Hi to everyone reading my blog today.  It is nice to be back in ‘blogging world’.

On Friday evening, the temperature fell low enough for a ground frost to occur….I knew it was coming because I follow the BBC weather very closely at this time of year.

There is always some confusion about when a ground frost occurs…people typically think the temperature needs to be below zero degrees for a frost to happen, but this is only true for an ‘air’ frost.  A ‘ground’ frost can happen when the temperature falls below 3 or 4 degrees celcius.

Unfortunately, after walking around the allotment site I noticed that not everyone was aware that the frost was coming and the frost had damaged some of their potato shoots poking through the soil.  You can see in the photograph below that some of the leaves have been blackened by the frost.  If you know there is going to be a frost then it is best to earth your potatoes up to limit the damage.

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I was lucky as I only planted my potatoes over Easter so none of mine are showing yet:

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Over Easter I also planted the peas that I sowed in my guttering a few weeks ago.  This is how I get my peas out of the guttering:

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First I use a draw hoe to make a small trench the size of the guttering, ready to plant the peas.  If it’s been dry I water the trench.

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Then I use a spare bit of guttering and I lift one end of the compost to slide the guttering underneath the roots of the peas.

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The spare piece of guttering ‘pushes’ the peas out into the trench that you made with the draw hoe.  This is much easier when you use smaller bits of guttering instead of larger pieces.

  I then use the draw hoe again to push the soil back around the peas and the compost that they are growing in.

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I like to support my dwarf peas with chicken wire and canes and then I use cages to stop the birds from eating my pea shoots:

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I also planted my climbing peas.  They are a variety called ‘Peashooter’ which give lovely big pods with large juicy peas inside.  I planted the seeds at the beginning of April in toilet rolls and left them to germinate in my greenhouse and they have all germinated well:

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I usually use pea and bean netting to support my peas, but I get fed up of throwing it away each year as it’s impossible to untangle all the peas without it ripping…so this year I have invested in some plastic coated chicken wire in the hope that I can use it again and again, so eventually it will pay for it’s self:

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After planting the peas I used the same cages to protect the pea shoots from the birds…

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Things are growing well in my polytunnel now.  I also planted four spare tomato plants and a spare cucumber too

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In the right hand photo you can see the red lettuce that I sowed last month is growing nicely now together with the Webbs wonderful lettuces in the same photo.

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This weekend I prepared the ground for my wildflowers and sowed them.  I am hoping they give me a good display again this year.

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During the last week I have also planted my parsnips.  I sowed them at the beginning of April in kitchen rolls and they germinated well.  I make sure I plant the parsnip before the root reaches the bottom of the tubes to avoid the roots from ‘forking’.

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When I plant the parsnips I make sure that none of the tube shows above the ground, as the cardboard works like a ‘wick’ and dries the whole tube out underground, so I use scissors to cut off any excess tube above the compost.

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I covered the parsnips in plastic bottles just to give them a little bit of protection while they are small.  I find that plastic bottles need a bit of support so they don’t blow off, so I push a stick in each one at an angle so it doesn’t damage the plant underneath.

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My curly kale is flowering now so I have packed away the netting that was covering it and I will leave it for the bees to enjoy for a while, as there aren’t too many nectar rich plants around yet for them.

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Over easter I had some great harvests from my allotment.  It does take some planning to have vegetables to fill the ‘hungry gap’ but the planning is worthwhile:

'Hungry Gap' Vegetables

‘Hungry Gap’ Vegetables

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The cauliflowers were sowed a year ago, together with the spring broccoli….but they are worth the wait.

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At home my garden is starting to look like a garden centre with all the plants that I am in the process of hardening off!

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And my greenhouse is rammed full of plants too:

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A couple of weeks ago I planted up my hanging baskets.  I don’t bother with proper hanging basket liners, I just use a compost bag with the black side on the outside.  It works a treat because the plants grow over it so it can’t be seen and because it is plastic, it helps to keep the moisture in during hot spells.

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Finally today I thought I would show you something I made for our friends funeral last Monday.  I decided to have a go at making a wreath using the same method I used for my Christmas table wreath.

I bought some white chysanthemums to use, but everything else was from the garden as I knew he loved his garden.  He also absolutely loved Leicester City Football club and had supported them for many years and it’s such a shame he didn’t see them promoted to the premier division, which happened just after he passed away.   With this in mind I used forget-me-nots, so that the wreath was blue and white – the Leicester City colours.

I know it wasn’t perfect like the florists flower arrangements were, but I put a lot of time and thought into it so it was special to Dan….the last gift I could give to him.

I hope he looked down and saw it.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday.