Tag Archive | kitchen garden produce

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.

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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.

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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.

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Time to be honest:

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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.

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A quick update before I go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

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And Finally…..Judy:

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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:

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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.

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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

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A 2015 Garden Review….

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.  I can’t quite believe how quickly 2015 passed by!

The tree and decorations have been put away and I removed the bows and cones from my Christmas wreath and I have put it outside to decorate my table whist it is still alive.

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Mr Thrift is back at work and my daughters are at school again preparing for their A levels and GCSE’s in the coming few months, so the house is quiet again.

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Unfortunately this week Judy has been very poorly with some kind of bug that she picked up.  The vet told me that quite a few dogs in our local area have had it over the last week.

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I spent most of the early hours of Tuesday morning sitting with her, as she kept being sick.  Then during the day I kept getting her to lick a bit of water off my hand to stop her becoming dehydrated.  However, she is now recovering well.

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Today as it’s my first blog post of the year, I thought it would be fun to look back at my new kitchen garden which is now twelve months old.

For those that are new to my blog….unfortunately due to family problems and our very reactive rescue dog (who is a lot better now through training) I had to give up my beautiful four allotments last January.  I decided to embrace the situation and turn my garden at home into a ‘kitchen’ garden.

Below are the before and after photos:

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Unfortunately along the way there were many large roots that I had to remove….

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…and I found an awful lot of rocks which I laid around the edge of the garden to give beneficial insects places to hide:

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Unfortunately we also found that the fence behind all the shrubs, was rotten and we had to replace it (which was an expense we hadn’t expected):

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I brought a few things back from my allotment to plant (before I gave the keys back) i.e a gooseberry bush, three currant bushes, rhubarb, autumn raspberries, strawberries, a bit of comfrey, my blueberries and some jeruselm artichokes.  However I needed to buy some dwarf apple and pear trees which you can see in the photo above that I planted along the new fence as cordons.

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I planted my strawberries next to my greenhouse in the one raised bed I brought back from my allotment, but this was the one area that wasn’t successful over the year and I only harvested a handful of berries.  I can only think the bushes behind it were taking the water from the ground and it was just too dry, even though I was watering regularly:

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 The new kitchen garden filled up very quickly and so I started to plant in whatever space I could find around the rest of the garden:

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I quickly realised that I needed more space, so I brought the wire fence forward and used a bit of our lawn to grow sweetcorn and few a tomatoes in:

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I planted the sweetcorn and tomatoes through weed suppressant so the grass underneath would die back over the summer and this worked well.

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The garden produced an amazing amount over its first year and the photos below show just some of my harvest:

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I also managed to grow flowers here and there to attract beneficial insects to it:

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 So I was very pleased overall and I know when my fruit trees, bushes and rhubarb are properly established I will have more fruit, but I wanted to find a way to grow even more fruit and vegetables in 2016:

In September I decided to bring forward my lawn area so I could have more growing space, but still have a grassed area for our dog. I acheived this by lifting the slabs where we had a second table and chairs which was where the previous owner used to have their rotary washing line……

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…..however I didn’t expect their washing line post to be cemented into two feet of concrete which I found impossible to remove!….I sat for hours chipping the top four inches of concrete off so I could turf over it – I’m praying that this area will not dry out too much in the summer due to the remaining concrete under the top soil that I used to cover it:

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So after digging in lots of compost, I prepared the area and laid some turf:

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I had to leave this area protected from our dog for a few weeks while the grass rooted.

So in November I started the middle area of the kitchen garden:

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I used the old slabs I removed earlier to make a path around the greenhouse and along the boundary for my mini greenhouses (in the area which was really dry because of the bushes).  I also set up my waterbutt to collect the water from my greenhouse:

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I bought some wood and made five new fixed beds and bought in some woodchip to make the paths:

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Now Christmas is over my garden needs a good tidy and the lawn doesn’t look quite as neat after a couple of months of our dog running around on it (especially after all the rain we have had).  I also still need to work on the area next to the lawn too, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

My garden looks remarkably different compared to this time last year and I am now looking forward to a new year of growing my own fruit and vegetables.

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

I hope you have a good 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!