Tag Archive | Pruning bay

Winds In The Park & A Special Birthday

What a windy few days we had this week with storm ‘Imogen’.  Here in the Midlands we weren’t hit as hard as the southern half of the country, however I did see a couple of trees that had lost large branches in our local park which was sad to see.

IMG_1483 IMG_1482

The weather really has been strange this winter with more storms than usual and it has been very mild.  I think a lot of plants are quite confused about the time of year, though I’m sure they will adjust.

Whilst walking my dog this week I saw my first daisy….I don’t think I have ever seen one flower this early:

IMG_3179

Also I saw rhododendrons beginning to flower which is also a bit early, but beautiful to see on a cold damp day:

IMG_1486 IMG_1485

Another thing I found on one of my walks this week was a Christmas rose (Helleborus).  This is about the right time for it to flower, but I would have missed it if I hadn’t walked through a quiet wooded area in the park for a change:

IMG_3176

.

This week in my garden at home:

.

This week I have noticed that my rhubarb is growing well now (and I still haven’t got around to mulching it all with manure – I better hurry up).

SAM_2661 SAM_2663

I transplanted this rhubarb from my allotment last January so this will now be its second year, so I will be able to harvest a small amount this year and I am already looking forward to it!

“If you transplant rhubarb it is best not to harvest any the first year and only a small amount in the second year to avoid weakening the crown”

.

I have also noticed that my spring cabbages are beginning to grow a bit and it will soon be time to give them a feed.  I need to lift the net and remove the yellowing leaves first though:

SAM_2654 SAM_2653

The garlic that I planted in the autumn in the ground is doing very well.  I planted some ‘back up’ garlic in my cold greenhouse which is also doing well, so will have to find a place in the garden for it soon:

SAM_2657 SAM_2666

You can see in the right hand photo above that my broadbeans seeds and leek seeds are now growing well too.

In the garden my chives are poking through now and so too is my comfrey:

SAM_2660 SAM_2664

These things show me that Spring is on its way.

SAM_2665 SAM_2655

.

Inside the house the flower seeds that I sowed last week have now all popped their heads up too, which is surprisingly quick (lobelia, dhalias, marigolds, and antirrhiums):

SAM_2651 SAM_2652

To speed their germination I decided to give them a bit of ‘bottom’ heat in their propagator by placing it on top of my radiator, with a chair placed against it to stop it falling off….and it worked a treat!

SAM_2643

.

This week in my garden outside I moved my rosemary and mint forward and sunk them into the holes where my blueberries sat last week before I moved them.  I am keeping the mint in pots to stop the roots from spreading and the rosemary is a young plant.  By sinking the pots in the ground it keeps the roots a bit cooler which means I don’t need to water them so often in the summer.

IMG_3172

I gave the rosemary a bit of a hair cut too:

IMG_3169 IMG_3185

I also decided it was time to give my bay tree a hair cut too, so it doesn’t grow too big.  It certainly looks neater now:

SAM_2628 SAM_2630

Out in my small front garden I also gave my three spirea plants a good prune.  I find this stops the plants growing too large.  I planted three spirea plants approximately thirteen years ago and all I ever do is prune them in February and they look good every year…they were well worth the £2 each that I paid for them!

IMG_3163 IMG_3184

.

This week in the home:

.

This week Mr Thrift had a few days off work and we decided it was high time we sorted our cupboards out as they had become a bit messy.

We found things in them that we didn’t know we still had:

SAM_2635

We found some little plastic things that cover the screws in our plug sockets, that we didn’t know we had and we also found a couple of birthday candles that I must have bought and forgotten about – unfortunately my youngest daughter turned sixteen last November so I will have to pass them on to someone else to use:

SAM_2637 SAM_2638

It took a while to sort everything out but it’s nice to have tidy draws and cupboards once again:

SAM_2639 SAM_2642

.

This week there are two birthdays in our family.  The first was my step mothers.  My dad and step mum came round on Saturday (my step mums birthday) to watch Leicester City play on the television….this was a spur of the moment thing so I wasn’t prepared.

While they watched the first half of the match I made my step mum a birthday cake.  I did it as quickly as I could using my favourite ‘throw it all in’ recipe and I whipped up some chocolate butter icing to spread over it and I grated some white chocolate on the top.  I just managed to light the candles as the whistle blew for half time:

SAM_2634

I don’t think I have ever made a cake so fast, but it proves that it can be done quickly (though a little bit of the butter icing did melt on the top as the cake didn’t have time to cool down as much as it should have, but nobody noticed).

And it is my eldest daughter’s 18th birthday….where on earth did that time go?

She has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, well manored lady, who we are both so very proud of.

IMG_3186

I spent Wednesday and Thursday making a large cake for a her.  My daughter’s middle name is ‘Rose’ so I decided to have ’18’ roses around it.

I made three sponges and eighteen little mini cakes and decorated it with icing:

SAM_2645 SAM_2648 SAM_2649

My cake isn’t perfect, but I’m sure it has saved us a lot of money and ‘homemade’ cakes always taste nicer than shop bought cakes….and more importantly, my daughter loved it (thank goodness).

SAM_2650

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

Have a lovely week!

Advertisements

The Bones Of My Plot Is Complete & I Nearly Forgot The Bees!

I thought I would start by showing you a beautiful sunrise that I saw from my kitchen window this week.  A beautiful red sky…..and yes this was a warning of rain to come as later in the day it was very wet.

SAM_0575

The sun is rising earlier in the mornings now and after a few sunny days this week, it has really felt like Spring is on its way.

In fact this week I saw the first bee in my garden….

(sorry about the blurred photo as I rushed to capture it before it flew away)

IMG_2285

This made me realise that I have no early flowers for the hungry bees emerging.  I had worked hard over the years at my allotment to have flowers for the bees at all times, but I have to be honest I never gave the lack of flowers in my new kitchen garden another thought until this week.  I had planned to have flowers, but I hadn’t quite got around to planning them yet.

(The photographs below were from my allotment last year).

SAM_8527 SAM_8528

So this week I visited my local garden nursery and I managed to buy some cheap ‘Tete-a-Tete’ daffodils. They were priced at £1.50 for four pots, so I planted some between my new fruit trees:

SAM_0586 SAM_0585

Also, I bought a pot of later flowering daffodils and three primroses which I used to make up a hanging basket for outside my front door.  Unfortunately the basket did look a bit bare so I stole three of the pansies from the pots outside our back door and this filled out the basket nicely.

IMG_2294

.

I then turned my attention to pruning.

My bay tree was looking rather overgrown so I gave that a good prune, together with the three ‘Spiraea’ bushes in my front garden.  A good prune always makes the garden look neat doesn’t it.

SAM_0579 SAM_0583

I also noticed that weeds were beginning to grow between the slabs in my front garden, so I weeded  them out using my wonderful weeding tool which I brought back from my allotment to use.  It really does make weeding between slabs easy:

SAM_0578 SAM_9142

As the front of the house was looking better, I decided that my old front door mat was rediculously dirty and totally unwelcoming and I needed a new one.  I then remembered that somewhere deep in the cupboard under our stairs was a new one that I bought over a year ago, ready for when the building work on our kitchen was complete…..and I had totally forgotten about it!

So I threw our old mat away and placed the new one at our front door and the house definately looks more welcoming now:

SAM_0581

.

.

My New Kitchen Garden:

Last weekend I finally finished digging over my new kitchen garden and laying the paths around my fixed beds.

Mr Thrift helped me to buy more soil conditioner from our local nursery and I forked it into the remaining beds.  Incidentally, the soil conditioner I have been using is just £2 per large bag that you fill yourself and it comes from our local ‘green waste’ recycling centre.  It doesn’t have many nutrients in it like compost does, but it does help to improve the soil structure….and my heavy clay soil really needs this.

I also bought some organic manure  to fork into the beds I will be growing potatoes and brassicas in, as these plants are heavy feeders.  I used six bags of manure and each bag cost me £3.25, which is cheap for a bag of manure….however I will be looking at different ways to improve my soil next year.

SAM_0571

It was quite strange (and expensive) buying manure in bags, as I have always has plenty of organic manure at my allotment over the years……the tractor load of manure that I used to have delivered (in the photograph below) would last me for two years at my four allotments and only cost me £25!

SAM_5981 SAM_5982

It will take me time to get used to the best way to grow vegetables on a smaller scale.

.

This week I also put a plastic sheet over the beds that I will soon be planting my onions into.  Again I brought the plastic sheet back from my allotment, as it is great for warming the soil up a bit earlier.

I also used some of the weed suppressant that I won last year over a couple of beds.  These two beds were where our small lawn was (though it was really a mud patch after all the time I had walked on it while clearing the area).  So I turned the remaining grass upside down as this will help to kill it, together with the weed suppressant placed on top.

Please note I wouldn’t have done this if the grass was couch grass, as this needs to be covered for much longer to kill it completely! 

SAM_0569

.

I also moved my blueberry plants into their final location.  I have four blueberry plants in pots as they need an acid soil to grow and my soil is alkaline.  I plant the whole pot into the ground, which helps to stop the pots needing so much water in the summer.

I moved them to the shadier side of my new plot, which doesn’t get quite as much sunshine during the day, but this should be fine for them:

SAM_0558

One final thing I did this week in my new kitchen garden was to split the chives that I also bought back from my allotment.  I had just ‘heeled’ them into the ground until I got around to moving them.

I decided to place one small clump next to the path in each bed and eventually I will split them again and again until the path is fully lined with them, as we love chives in our salads and when they flower the bees love them too.

SAM_0559

.

So after some hard work, the bones of my new kitchen garden is complete and it is now waiting for the soil to warm up so I can begin planting.

As I have ‘fixed’ beds with paths around, I won’t need to tread on the soil again.  I am hoping that this will be the first and last time I will have to dig these beds.

Below are my ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs…..It was harder work than I thought it would be, due to the stones and rubble that were hidden, the rotten fence and the stumps that I found impossible to dig out of the ground on my own, but I got there in the end.

I am very proud of my new kitchen garden and I can’t wait to grow as many different fruit and vegetables as possible in it.  It will be quite a challenge in such a small space!

.

Before:

SAM_0234 SAM_0236 SAM_0237 SAM_0238

After:

SAM_0564

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday as usual.