Tag Archive | Planting snowdrops in the green

A ‘March’ Catch Up

Well it’s nice to be back blogging but as usual I haven’t been resting as planned, however I have been careful to make sure I’ve not been rushing around.

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March started off very wet and we had so much rain one night that our local park flooded in places!

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I had a wonderful mothers day with nice presents and a really nice cooked breakfast made by Mr Thrift.

One of the things my daughters bought me was a couple of bug boxes, that I am very pleased with and I put them up straight away:

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In February I repotted my blueberries and needed a mulch that was acidic (as blueberries like acid soil) and I remember that someone on here suggested I used pine needles, but I didn’t have any to use.

During March we had some very windy days and unfortunately an enormous branch broke off a pine tree at the park…..which was great for me as I managed to take a bag full of pine needles before the council shredded the tree (I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded considering how big the fallen branch was).  I placed them around my blueberries as a mulch and they actually look quite attractive:

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At the beginning of March I planted some new Snowdrops that I brought ‘in the green’ (this means they have just finished flowering and they establish quickly at this stage).  I did bring a very small amount back from my old allotment when I gave up but I like a lot of Snowdrops as I said previously they remind me of my old friend that passed away:

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At the beginning of March I also found that B&Q were selling their fruit bushes off cheaply.  I managed to get a redcurrant bush, blackcurrant bush and five summer raspberry canes for £6 which was a bargain.  I have planted them in an area that only gets 4-6 hours of sunlight in the summer, so this is a bit of an experiment….but for £6 it is worth a gamble.

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I have also had a go at making an arch to go over my path.  I have never really made anything before so armed with some left over wood and a bit extra that I purchased, I gave it a go.  I also used some expandable trellis from Wilkinsons.  After it was finished I gave it a paint with my faithful old tin of woodstain….the whole thing cost me just £16 to make and I am really pleased with it:

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I am planning to grow sweetpeas up the side of my arch and the sweetpeas I sowed previously have been growing nicely in pots and I will be able to plant them shortly:

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I then decided to carry on and try and make something to stop Judy (our rescue dog) from being able to run down the alley at the side of our house (and bark).

I brought an expandable trellis on legs, added a few bits of wood including an old gate that I made last year out of an old allotment cage and attached it all to our brick outhouse and house wall to make it sturdy. I also brought a cheap planter off ebay and attached it to the expandable trellis and painted the whole lot again with my faithful old tin of brown woodstain.

I lined the wooden planter with plastic (with drainage holes) and added compost.  I then went to my local nursery and brought some primroses and cowslips for £4 as they were selling them off cheap to clear them and planted them….and this is the result:

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I am very pleased with it, though I do need to rethink the area behind as it does look scuffy.

The Cowslips and Primroses will be replanted somewhere else in my garden when they have finished flowering and they will hopefully come up year after year.

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I have been busy in March sowing seeds, though you can see from the photo below that Judy has hampered my seed sowing at times….as you can see one of her dog treats was ‘hidden’ on top of my seedlings:

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During March I sowed red cabbages, white cabbages, coriander, greenhouse cucumbers, spring onions and various flower seeds:

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I have tried very hard to keep my seedlings in the house up until now, as the greenhouse heater is expensive to run, but I do know that when I sow my next lot of seeds next week I will have to switch it on.

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At the beginning of March in my cold greenhouse I also planted my onion sets in newspaper pots that I made (you can read how to make the pots here).  This week they were ready to plant.  I have planted half of them up to now, but I have made sure that I have planted them under environmesh as I had such a problem last year with the allium leaf miner.  The flies have two generations each year and the adults first lay their eggs in March / April and the next generation lay their eggs September to November:

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I also planted my ‘spare’ garlic that I sowed in January in newspaper pots and left to grow in my greenhouse.  I also planted with some leftover onion sets next to the garlic – again under environmesh…..it feels like one day I will have my whole garden under environmesh!

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This month I also planted the broadbeans that have sat in my cold greenhouse since the middle of January, again in newspaper pots.  As always, I raked in some blood, fish and bone a couple of weeks before I planted them.

I put some garden string around them ready to support them when they are bigger:

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Elsewhere in the garden I planted some lollo rossa lettuce under glass (a bottomless box and an old piece of glass):

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I removed any yellowing leaves from around my Spring cabbages and sprinkles some blood, fish and bone around them and gave the ground a quick hoe.  I also gave them a seaweed feed to help perk them up after a long winter:

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I thinned the leeks that I sowed in January in the hope they will now grow bigger.  I use a pair of scissors to do this as it is so much easier just snipping them off and doesn’t disturb the remaining seedlings:

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And I sowed some mixed salad leaves and radishes in my cold greenhouse at the beginning of March and they are growing nicely:

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The garden is springing into life now and I have noticed that the bees are starting to buzz around my flowers, so I am glad I have plenty for them to choose from.  Incidentally the daffodils that I planted far too late last year (mid November), have been flowering beautifully during March….I’m so glad I didn’t just throw them away as I was so late planting them:

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In The Home During March:

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I made some more ‘mini cloches’ by cutting ‘pop’ bottles in half.  I will soon be using these in my garden:

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I found I still have some stored apples which I have started to add to my porridge in the mornings.  I also made some apple cakes too (the recipe is here):

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I also ran out of my last batch of laundry liquid.  I usually use Dri Pak soapflakes for convienience but unfortunately after ringing them I found out that they have discontinued them and they are no longer available.  They now sell liquid soapflakes which are equally good to use, however I chose some cheap, unfragranced soap and just grated it instead and this has worked just as well as the old soapflakes:

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(Here is the recipe for homemade laundry liquid).

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One last thing I wanted to tell you about this week is some flowers that we gave to someone special in March.  I didn’t want to buy them ready made up from the florist as they would have been so expensive, but I did want the flowers to be extra special….so I copied the florists and made my own arrangement with flowers from Leicester market instead.

The market sold me a ‘flower box’ for £1 (I’m not sure if that is the right name for it) and I used the roll of cellophane I have at home.  I carefully wrapped the flowers so that the bottom of the cellophane was water tight and put an inch or so of water in the bottom of the cellophane to keep the flowers fresh.  I popped them in the box and added a bit of ribbon and a gift card that I also brought from the market for 10 pence……..and this is the result, which I am very proud of:

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Anyway, that’s it for this week.

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

Have a great week!

 

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Planting Broad beans And Homemade Planters.

It’s been beautiful weather at the allotment this week.  Each day has started off cold but by the afternoon I have been working in my short sleeved T-shirt.

I noticed my Forsythia has started to flower:

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and the daffodils are looking lovely too:

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It’s has been feeling very much like Spring.

I noticed that there are buds on some of my fruit trees.  I was especially pleased to see the Quince tree I planted last month is growing.  I always worry a little bit just in case trees that I buy bare-rooted don’t grow (even though I have never had one that doesn’t).  So it is always a relief to see the little buds in spring:

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The area underneath my large plum tree is looking ‘spring-like’ too with daffodils and primroses:

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The ‘Christmas rose’  (Helleborous) is flowering well now and I noticed the first ‘For-get-me-nots’ (Myosotis) are starting to flower.

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Last week I ordered some ‘snow drops in the green’ and they came on Tuesday so I planted them.  ‘In the green’ just means that they have been lifted just after flowering so you can see what you are buying and it’s easier to plant them where you want them in Spring, rather than planting bulbs later on in the year.

I ordered more Snowdrops this year for my woodland area, in memory of my old friend who passed away last February when the Snowdrops were flowering.  I would like lots and lots of Snowdrops in this area, so I decided I would buy a few each year until I have enough.

Snow drops are really easy to plant ‘in the green’.  I just dug a hole and dropped them in and watered them well.

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This week at my allotment I planted my broad beans that I sowed at the beginning of January.  The variety is called ‘Aquadulce’, which is an overwintering variety.

I like to make sure my broad beans are well supported, as they do sometimes ‘flop’ over.  I use small canes and string to support the beans.  I use two strings at different heights:

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I also put little balls on my outside canes to stop me from poking my eyes when I bend forward to weed or pick the beans.  These balls were brought in the sales a few years ago from Argos.  They are balls that are used in children’s ball pits, with a slit cut in each one so I can place it on the canes.

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This week at my allotment I also decided it was time to neaten up the area at the front of my plot.

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At the front of my plot is an area full of couch grass, where I can park my car when I bring it.  It is really useful to have this space as it is great for unloading my plants etc.  However, where it ends it is scruffy.

After lots of thought I decided it would be nice to have some flowers here, in long thin planters.  This would stop the couch grass from growing through the soil, but I found that this would be expensive to do….so I spent a good few months wondering how I could do this cheaply and last week I finally had an idea:

A few years ago my dad gave me some wooden grocers boxes with the bottoms removed.  The idea was to use them as mini cold frames with a piece of glass resting on the top.  For a few years I used them like this and they were great, however I stopped using them when I inherited my polytunnel.  So they have sat on my plot unused for three years, until this week:

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I took the sides off the boxes and used a saw to cut them down to the size I wanted and then put them back together.

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I then gave them a paint.

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I removed some of the grass at the front of my plot…

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…and put the boxes in place.  I hammered posts in the ground to stop the boxes from moving and covered the soil at the bottom of each box with weed suppressant to stop the couch grass from growing up through the boxes.

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I then filled the boxes with my homemade compost.

I think the boxes will look lovely filled with some flowers over the summer….I’ve just got to decide which flowers.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.  I will be back at my usual time on Monday.

Have a good weekend!

                                                       

Radio Leicester And A Blog ‘Pumpkin’ Competiton

Hi all, I hope you had a good weekend.

On Saturday morning I had a visit at my allotment from Radio Leicester, it was lovely to talk about my plot.  If you would like to listen to the interview, you can find it here (approx. 1 hour 26 minutes into the show).  It was a fun morning talking about my favourite subject (my allotment) and I especially enjoyed talking about my flowers which attract beneficial insects, e.g. bees, ladybirds, lacewings, ground beatles and hoverflies.

The photo’s below show my plot at the moment:

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Last week I gave my woodland area a good weed and I removed plum tree suckers that insist on growing from the roots of the large plum tree.  I made this area into a woodland area as it is too dry and shady to grow any vegetables underneath it.

I planted bluebell and daffodil bulbs last year around the tree and they gave a lovely display in the Spring.  Back in March I also planted snowdrops ‘in the green’, so I am hoping they will give a good display for many Springs to come.  I chose to plant snowdrops as a way for me to remember my dear friend, who lost her battle with cancer in February this year.  The week she died I noticed snowdrops were flowering everywhere and as we walked out of her funeral service, the snow fell so thickly from the sky it was just beautiful to watch.  So I decided to plant snowdrops, so that every February when they flower I can stop and remember my good friend and the wonderful moments that we shared.  I don’t want to ever forget what a big part of my life she has been.

'Forget-me-nots' that have self seeded

‘Forget-me-nots’ that have self seeded

I have also been replanting some self seeded ‘forget-me-not’ plants, which also seemed fitting for the area.

Below are my before and after photographs:

January 2012 when I took my fourth plot

January 2012 when I took on my fourth plot

My woodland area now

My woodland area now

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Last week I have put a couple more ‘bug homes’ around my plots.  You can buy bug boxes but I prefer to make mine for free.  I just cut up a few old canes using a saw and tie them to a piece of wood in the ground.

The bug homes recreate the natural nooks and crannies that insects like to hide in over the winter.

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I also gave my brassicas a good tidy last week.  I removed any yellowing leaves which can harbour pests and diseases and tied my brussels to the supports that I put into the ground when I first planted them.  This will stop them from rocking in the wind over the winter, as this can loosen their roots from the soil which can be another reason for ‘blown’ sprouts (sprouts that have developed loosely).

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I noticed my cabbages have a few slug holes in the outside leaves, but I’m sure this won’t be problem as so far the inside of the cabbages are fine:

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I thought I would remind you to be careful of frosts this week if your pumpkins and squashes are still outside like mine.  Bring them inside or cover them up if a frost is forecast.

Below is a photo of my pumpkin this year.  I put my wrist watch on it so you could see its size, as I am quite proud of it.  I am hoping I will beat my personal record of 76 lbs, which is nothing compared to last year’s new world record weight of 2009 lbs, grown by a gentleman called Ron Wallace.

My '2013' pumpkin

My ‘2013’ pumpkin

I thought it would be a bit of fun to have a ‘guess the weight of my pumpkin competition, just for fun (no prizes).

I don’t even know the weight of it yet, as it’s still sitting on my plot.  So even if you don’t normally comment on my blog, please have a go and leave your guess in the comments below and I’ll reveal the weight when I bring it home.

Last years pumpkin that was just under 54 lbs

Last years pumpkin that weighed just under 54 lbs

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at my usual time.

A Frittata Recipe With ‘Leftover Vegetables’ And A Week Of Allotment Work

It has been a very busy gardening week at my allotment.

I started by feeding my fruit bushes and trees with ’sulphate of potash’, which is a good feed for fruit and flowers.  I sprinkled it around the plants and forked it into the soil and then I gave them all a layer of my own allotment made compost:

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I also planted broad beans at my allotment.   I sowed the beans in December and they had sat quite comfortably in toilet rolls, in my cold greenhouse at home.  I raked some blood, fish and bone fertiliser into the soil before I planted them  (it is better to rake this into the soil two weeks before planting, but I was a bit late doing this).  I planted two double rows, each plant 20cm apart and approx. 60cm between the double rows:

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Another thing I planted was the garlic I had sown in pots in my cold greenhouse over winter.  Unfortunately, I lost most of the garlic I planted directly into my allotment soil, before Christmas.  I think this was probably due to the constant wet weather we had.  I’m glad I planted the garlic in pots as a backup now:

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Remember my bean trenches?  I finally finished filling the second trench with peelings etc. and I covered the trench with soil.  The runner beans will love to be planted here at the end of May, as they love deep, moist, fertile soil.

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I also received the snowdrops ‘in the green’ that I ordered a couple of weeks of ago and planted them in my new woodland area.  If you have read my blog recently, I ordered these so I can remember my friend who passed away last month due to a brain tumour.  Snow drops were in flower when she died and the snow fell heavily during her funeral and she would have loved how pretty it looked.  It seemed fitting to plant snow drops in my woodland area that will always remind me of her:

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It has been a really tiring week as I started to prepare my potato patch ready for planting next month.  I started by digging up my remaining leeks and parsnips:

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After this, I forked in loads of manure.  When I am moving and spreading my manure, I always wish I was a 20 year old fit male, instead of a 46 year old struggling female!  I find this job such hard work and I’m glad I’ve finished it now.

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Later, I froze the parsnips by peeling them and chopping them into roughly equal sizes.  I blanched them for two minutes and then froze them on a tray before bagging them up.

By freezing the parsnips this way, I can remove the required amount of parsnips from the freezer and roast them from frozen with my roast potatoes on a Sunday lunch time.

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I froze the leeks exactly the same way.  These will be used in soups, spag bogs, chilli’s etc.

You can read how to freeze vegetables here.

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Today, I thought I’d share a really easy recipe with you, that I cooked this week.  It’s a good way to use up cooked vegetables that are left over from the night before and it is so filling:

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Frittata with Leftover Cooked Vegetables:

8 eggs

Leftover cooked vegetables e.g. potatoes, peas, carrots, French beans

1 Courgette (I use ready sliced courgettes that I froze last summer)

1 Onion

A handful of parsley (again I use parsley that I froze last summer)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

A handful of grated cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

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 Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.

Fry the onion and courgettes over a medium heat, until soft.

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Add the leftover veg and continue to fry until they are heated through.  Add the parsley.

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Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and add the salt and pepper.

Pour the eggs over the vegetables and cook gently, without stirring, until the egg is approximately two thirds cooked.

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Sprinkle the egg with the grated cheese and put the pan under your grill for a further few minutes until the egg is set.

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Slide the frittata onto a plate.

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Cut into slices and serve hot with a nice crisp home grown salad.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back again on Monday.