Tag Archive | Primroses in flower

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.

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This week in the home:

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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:

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

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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:

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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).

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This week in the garden:

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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.

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

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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…

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

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

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

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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:

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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.

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

Have a great week!

Seed Sowing & General Garden Jobs

I hope you all had a lovely Easter.  The weather here was beautiful on Easter Monday and we even dug out our BBQ, which is something we haven’t done for an awful long time…..maybe giving up my allotments will bring nice advantages like this.

My Easter Cake

My Easter Cake

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This week I have been seed sowing again.  However I had to make some plant labels first.

I make plant lables by cutting up empty plastic milk bottles and they work a treat:

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I then sowed some spring onions, butternut squash, outdoor tomatoes, melon, basil, coriander, lettuce and parsley.

I keep some of my seeds in the greenhouse which is heated to 10C and some of them inside our house to germinate:

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I also sowed some climbing peas in toilet roll inners.  These are a variety called ‘peashooter’ which are quite expensive to buy, so each year I save some of my own seeds – these are seeds I saved last autumn.  The pea pods grow lovely and big and the peas are beautiful:

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I also sowed my parsnip seeds in kitchen roll tubes.  I sow them this way so I get a good germination rate and lovely straight parsnips…I have tried lots of different ways to grow parsnips and this way is definately the best.

You can read all about growing parsnips this way here if you are interested.

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This week I decided to cover my onions and garlic to avoid the allium leaf miner, which is a relatively new pest in the Midlands.  It attacks all alliums and over the last couple of years it did quite a bit of damage to my onions at my allotment.  The alliums in my back garden may be protected as it’s pretty sheltered here away from the allotment, but as I have lots of enviromesh I thought I may as well cover my onions to protect them, just in case.

You can read all about the allium leaf miner here.

I made the cage for the environmesh exactly the way I used to at the allotment, using canes and bottles:

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This week I also planted some lettuces.  I will keep them under glass until they are a little bit bigger as the nights are still cold at the moment.

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I also planted out the spring onions that I sowed on the 18th March.  I always had problems getting my spring onions to germinate in my heavy clay soil and I found that by putting a few seeds in modules really helps.  I don’t bother to thin the onions out as the bunch will grow happily together until you are ready to pull them up:

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It’s lovely to see more and more things growing in my new kitchen garden.

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Last week I tried to set up my first water butt, but I found it has a leak around the tap.  I fixed the leak last week and now it is finally set up and waiting for rain:

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This week I set up a second water butt next to my shed.  I spotted an old grey piece of guttering hanging from the back of my shed and so I hooked this up to some guttering to make a ‘makeshift’ channel to my waterbutt.  It looks a bit daft, but it will do the job for now:

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Another job I finally got around to doing this week was to sort out the nets I brought back from my allotment.  I measured them and labeled them, so I would know at a glace which one I should use in the future.

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I also washed some of my environmesh and folded it up ready for use:

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I managed to store them all in my storage boxes where I would normally store all my potatoes during the winter:

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Now that my nets had been put away neatly, I was able to start to fill the large containers that I brought home from my old allotment plots.  I put as much rubble as I could in find in the bottom of each pot together with a bit of polystyrene that I found.  This will help with drainage and also reduce the amount of compost that I will need to use to fill each deep pot too.

I used the council green waste compost to half fill the pots (as this is only £2 for a large bag) and I will then buy some compost to top the pots up as this will have more nutrients in than the council green waste compost:

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This week I also thinned the leeks that I sowed last month.  I don’t need too many this year so I will thin them out a bit more in a couple of weeks so I get nice, strong healthy plants.  The leeks are still very small as I only sowed them last month, which is later than I usually do, but I’m sure they will catch up:

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And finally this week I planted some Primroses in my new kitchen garden.  I love these plants as they look so beautiful in Spring with the daffodils, they are good for the bees and the plants grow year after year…..so I think they are a good plant to have in my kitchen garden:

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

I hope you have a good week.

Winter Vegetables And A Parsnip Cake

This weekend at my allotment I noticed that the snow drops I planted last year have begun to flower.  Where on earth is time going to?…I can’t believe it will be February on Saturday.

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I planted the snowdrops last year after my good friend passed away.  The day she died I noticed that snowdrops were in flower and they looked beautiful, so I decided to plant some in my ‘woodland area’ at my allotment.  This way I will remember her each time I see them in flower.  I will plant some more this year too, as eventually I want to see a mass of snowdrops in this area.

I still miss my old friend very much.

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I also noticed that I have some primroses in my woodland area that are in flower too.

There are also one or two early flowers on the poached egg plants and in the photograph below, you can just see a daffodil bulb poking through too:

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These are all reminders that Spring will soon be on it’s way, (though we do still have some cold winter weather to get through first).

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This weekend I brought some vegetables home from the allotment for dinner.  I have decided that I am very pleased with my winter vegetables this year:

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I put a twelve inch ruler next to the parsnips so you could see the size of them.  I tried various methods of growing parsnips with limited success, until I started to grow them in kitchen roll tubes.  This gives me an almost perfect germination rate and also nearly always gives me straight parsnips that don’t fork.

You can read how I grow my parsnips here.

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I have had a problem in the past with my brussell sprouts ‘blowing’.  I always thought that this was due to the soil not being firm enough around the plants, but I knew my soil was firm as I dug manure into it the autumn before and stomped around on it before I planted into it.

I then read that F1 varieties were less likely to ‘blow’ and I planted these last year….and I’m pleased to say I am very happy with the result.  The photo below shows a variety call ‘Igor‘, which I will definately be growing again this year:

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I am still picking carrots at my allotment.  I grow my carrots in a raised bed each year and then move the raised bed completely, to a different part of my allotment.  I fill the bed with homemade compost, leaf mould and a bag of sharp sand mixed together and this gives me good results.  After sowing I cover the bed with environmesh to keep the carrot fly out:

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You can read about carrot fly here.

I picked a monster carrot at the weekend, it weighed just over half a kilogram.  It was almost a meal on it’s own!

I put a teaspoon in the photograph to demonstrate the size of the carrot:

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The swedes are still good at my allotment too.  I love swede mashed with a little bit of butter and pepper, though I had never tried it until my husband introduced it to me a few years ago.  I think it is one of my favourite vegetables now.

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And I’m still using homegrown onions and potatoes from my storage boxes outside:

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All in all, I feel like we are living like kings on the winter vegetables that I have grown.  I’m sure they would have cost us a fortune in the shops to buy and it’s nice to know they are all grown organically, without any chemicals.

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I finished the above Sunday lunch with ‘Parsnip Cake’.  Parsnip cakes are very, very moist and taste very much like carrot cake.  This is how I made it:

Parsnip Cake

175g margarine

250g soft brown sugar

100ml honey

3 eggs (beaten)

250g self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

250g parsnips grated finely

1 apple grated

1 orange – use the juice and zest

130g cream cheese

100g icing sugar + extra to sprinkle on top

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Preheat your oven 180C / gas 4 / 350F

Grease and flour two 8 inch sandwich tins

Put the margarine, honey and sugar in a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has all dissolved.

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Allow to cool for a while.

Add the eggs to the pan and stir thoroughly.

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Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into the sugar and egg mixture and stir.

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Then stir in the apple, parsnip, orange juice and zest.

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Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes.

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Leave the cakes to cool.

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Make the icing by mixing the cream cheese with the icing sugar and then spreading it over the bottom layer of the cake.  Put the top layer of the cake on top and dust with icing sugar.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today, I will be back on Friday.

I hope you have a good week.