Tag Archive | Seed sowing

A Judy Update & Seed Sowing

I can’t quite believe it’s April already, the year seems to be flying by.

Each week as I walk Judy in our local park I notice different things.  This week I have spotted some of the Camelias flowering beautifully and the first Bluebells are starting to flower in the woodland area:

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Also, as the snowdrops and crocus displays in the park are finishing flowering, there are wonderful displays of daffodils to enjoy.

The park is full of wildlife and recently I have even heard one or two woodpeckers, which I have never heard before.

I think that Leicester City Council should highly praise their park keepers, as they really do work hard to keep this park beautiful.

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A ‘Judy’ Update (Our rescue dog)

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It’s been a long time since I have written a ‘Judy update’ so this week I thought I’d write about her progress.  I will first give a little recap for those that haven’t been reading my blog for very long.

The RSPCA described Judy as ‘A little bit nervous‘ but when we brought her home in October 2014 we realised very soon that she had a lot of problems.  We later found out that we were Judy’s fourth owners.

She was very underweight when we brought her home and she also had lots of ‘doggy’ nightmares where she would whimper and cry in her sleep and her little legs would twitch like she was trying to run away.  However she loved fuss, but if she wasn’t expecting you to stroke her she would ‘cower’, which used to break my heart.  Our trainer seems to think she was hit at some stage, but we will never know.

Her first day at home with us

Her first day at home with us

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By February 2015 our first behaviourist said that Judy was untrainable and we should look to rehome her, so we went to the vet in desperation who prescribed her ‘Selgian’ which is an anti anxious drug for dogs (which looking back, it didn’t really make a lot of difference to her).

We were then told about Steven Havers and contacted him in in April 2015.  We wrote a list of Judy’s problems to show Steven when he visited us for the first time.  I’ve listed below just some of Judy’s problems at the time:

She would bark and lunge aggressively at vans, cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes, bikes, every single off lead dog, every single on lead dog, balaclavas, hats, men (especially in dark jackets), walking sticks, council litter picking sticks, prams, pushchairs, birds, squirrels, cats, walking sticks, workmen with equipment (especially spades), diggers / cranes etc.

In the house she would bark at every little noise from outside or the neighbours, birds flying past the windows, washing machine, hoover, hand mixer, hairdryer, postman, TV.  She would ‘bite’ the water coming out of the shower/watering can.  ‘Wet’ if I left her on her own and pace up and down the room if I went into the garden.  She would also ‘wet’ if I left her in a room and shut the door.

In the garden she would also bark at birds, the neighbours when they were outside and she would never ever sit or stand still…she would just run backwards and forwards up and down the garden.

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It is nearly a year since Steven Havers first visited and as he says, he has trained me and not the dog.  Previously Judy was too stressed and scared to take treats, which was why I struggled to train her however Steven doesn’t use treats to train.  So after lots of training the ‘Havers way’ I am glad to say we have overcome most of Judy’s problems and she no longer needs the anti-anxious dog tablets that the vet prescribed.  She now has doggy friends who she enjoys playing with on the park and she isn’t bothered by ‘normal’ noises in the house anymore.  We can also walk past people and traffic etc. easily now (except the very noisy lorries).

She has now put on 2kg since she first came to us and is a healthy weight, Her coat looks lovely as we regularly brush her.  She now sleeps well next to our bed and she always comes for a cuddle first thing in the morning with Mr Thrift and I, which we don’t mind.

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The one problem that continued was she still barked and lunged towards dogs on leads when I go to the park and I have really struggled with this.  So last month Steven Havers walked with me and showed me different methods to use when we see a dog on a lead.  Finally I am managing to walk past dogs on leads about 50% of the time, but I will keep practising until it is 100% of the time.

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Would I have a rescue dog again?….I’m not sure if I would, as it’s been such hard word and I have cried many tears over Judy.   However I have spoken to lots of people who have had rescue dogs that have settled without any problems.

It really has been a rollercoaster ride with Judy, but I am so glad I have persevered as she is adoreable.  She deserves to be happy after her bad start in life and we all love her to bits.

Judy relaxing in her 'forever' home

Judy relaxing in her ‘forever’ home

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Seed sowing:

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This week I have been busy seed sowing again.  I have sowed my climbing peas in toilet rolls and my dwarf peas in guttering.  The peas will be kept in my mini greenhouse until they germinate.  Peas can be sown direct but I find I get a better gremination rate this way.

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I have also sown my parsnips in kitchen roll tubes and they are in the warmth of my house, as again I get a better germination rate this way.

I wrote a post a few years ago about growing parsnips in kitchen roll holders rather than toilet rolls and you can find it here.

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I sowed some cucumber, pumpkins, butternut squash, courgettes, melon and patty pans.  As these are big seeds I put two seeds in each newspaper pot and I will remove the weaker seed upon germination.

“Squash seeds have a tendancy to rot in the compost so it is important to sow the seeds on their sides and not flat”

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These seeds will be kept inside my house in a propagator until they germinate and they will then be moved to my now heated greenhouse to grow on (it is warmer in my house at night than my greenhouse).

I have also sowed spring onions, beetroot, turnips, kohl rabi and outdoor tomatoes.

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Previously at my allotment I would grow something new every year to try.  So this year I thought I would carry on with my tradition.  Last year one of my good friends gave me some mini tomatoes to try and I was fascinated with them so I saved some of the seeds on kitchen paper.  After doing some research I have found that the tomato is called ‘Solanum pimpinellifolium’ or better known as the ‘currant tomato’ and it is the wild ancestor of all the tomatoes we eat today.

The tomato has the ability to freely cross with other tomatoes so this has allowed it to be used for the introduction of disease resistance traits in tomato varieties, as well as in the study of the genetic control of tomato traits such as fruit shape and size.

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I sowed the saved tomato seeds by just laying the paper towel on damp compost and then covering them with a thin layer of damp compost.  I have placed them in a propagator in the window and I will keep fingers crossed that the seeds will grow:

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After all the seeds I have been sowing this week,  I am really looking forward to filling my kitchen garden as full as possible with plants in a month or two.

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Well that’s it for this week.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a good week.

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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.

Seed sowing And How To Prick Out Seedlings

The weather has been beautiful over the weekend here in Leicester.  Yesterday I was actually working in a short sleeved T-shirt.

I noticed quite a few ladybirds moving about and one or two early bumblebees on my daffodils.  I also saw this lovely butterfly basking in the sun right at the back of my plot:

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The sunshine is a timely reminder that it will soon be time to sow or plant vegetables outside (though it is still too early yet as my soil is still too cold), so I have been finishing off digging manure or compost in beds that needed it.

I have also been feeding my fruit bushes, strawberries and trees with ‘potash’ which is great for fruiting plants.  It is also great for flowers too, so I have also used it to feed my flower beds.

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I sprinkle a handful around the trees and bushes and then hoe it in.  I will also mulch the plants with some homemade compost too when I get around to it.

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Since my last blog post, I have been sowing the following seeds at home:

Brussels

Red Cabbage

Greenhouse Cucumbers

Coriander

Mixed Salad Leaves

Lettuce – Webbs Wonderful

I germinate the seeds in unheated propagators next to my window.  When the seeds have germinated, I take the lids off the propagator and move the seeds to my heated greenhouse.  I keep my greenhouse at a minimum temperature of 10C which is just right for most of my seeds, though this weekend in the sunshine the temperature has reached well over 30C with the door and window open.

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And I have also sown a couple of rows of Lollo Rosso lettuce and a row of radish in my polytunnel, just to test how warm the soil is in there.

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I have also been busy making plant lables using old plastic milk bottles.  They are free and easy to make.  All you do is wash the plastic milk bottle and cut them to the right shape.  I use a permanent marker to write on them, the same way I would normally write on a shop brought plant label:

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I sowed some greenhouse tomatoes (Moneymaker) and some cauliflowers on the 14th of February and they were both ready to transplant.

Any plants that need a bit of extra heat (like my peppers) I leave them next to the window with some silver foil wrapped around cardboard, behind them.  This helps reflect the light which helps to stop the seedlings leaning towards the window so much.

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Just in case you are new to growing your vegetables from seed, I have written below how to transplant seedlings:

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How to transplant seedlings:

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First use a ‘dibber’ or an old pencil to ease up your seedlings from out of your pot.  Try and ease the seedling up from the bottom by going underneath the roots with the dibber.  Hold the seedling only by its seed leaves.

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Fill a clean pot with compost and make a hole in the compost with your dibber.

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Ease the root into the hole using the dibber and ease the compost around it gently.

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Water and move to a warm place, out of the sun for a few days.

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Then watch your seedling grow!

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Just to finish off, last week I dug lots of compost into my dad’s bed at the front of my fourth plot, ready for him to plant into soon.

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Unfortunately, he has been having more and more problems with his back and legs and after discussing this at length with him, he has decided to just use his garden at home to grow his vegetables in.  I must say this is a relief to me as I have been worrying about this area being too much for him, but I also feel sad as I will miss him at my allotment.

 April 2012

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at my usual time.

Seedlings, Snow and Painting

The snow has been beautiful to look at this week and it’s been so much fun for children, even though it has caused a lot of traffic disruption.

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Both my daughters’ schools were closed on Monday, so it was lovely to have them around.   I took my youngest daughter sledging and I’ve got to say we had a wonderful time.  My girls also built a snow man in the garden and they had a snowball fight with their dad, so they really took advantage of the heavy snow.

On Monday, I was worried about the heavy snow affecting my polytunnel at my allotment, so I went to check it.  There really was a lot of snow on it, so I knocked it all off with my brush.  Unfortunately, it had done a bit of damage, as the plastic was beginning to pull away from the door frame.  I will have to fix this on a dry day.

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My allotment visit was at 3.30pm, which was fine to get into the gate at the allotment site, but unfortunately by the time I left, the locks on both the allotment gates had frozen up as the temperature must have dropped.

I must admit I was beginning to panic a bit, having visions of being stuck all night in a cold dark allotment, but luckily someone came out of a house next to the gate so I was able to shout him.  He poured hot water over the lock and at last I was free!  I certainly won’t be going to my allotment in the snow at that time of day again!

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Remember the nineteen packets of unopened seeds I put on EBay…well I managed to sell them for £8.44, plus postage.  I know it isn’t loads of money but ‘every little helps’ as Tesco says in it’s well know advert.

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My seedlings are doing well on my window sill.  The coriander is looking a bit ‘leggy’, due to the low light level and the seedlings lean towards the light.  I take all of my seedlings off the window sill at night (so they don’t get too cold) and turn them around the next day, when I put them back on again.

To help with the light, I have covered some old cardboard in foil and put it at the back of all of my seedlings, this will allow the light to  reflect back onto them, to stop them leaning so much.

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My leeks are coming up nicely too.  I had wanted to move them quite quickly into my cold greenhouse, but the temperatures have been so low, even in the day time, that I haven’t been able to do this yet.  This means I will have to ‘harden them off’ first (which means gradually leaving them outside for a longer period each day, so it’s not such a shock for the plants).  I will wait until the weather warms up a little in the day time.

My onions are also doing well.  I used a pinch of seed in each individual module and they have germinated.  I then ‘thinned them out’ so there is now just one onion in each module.

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The onions will stay on my window sill for quite some time now.  I do have an electric greenhouse heater, but it does cost quite a lot to run, so I use my window sills until they are at bursting point.

Finally, my basil is also peeping through now, but my peppers are still in my propagator with no sign of germination.

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As it has been so cold and a thick layer of snow has covered everything outside, I haven’t been able to get to my allotment to actually do anything.  So I decided it was time I did the long overdue painting job on my hallway and landing.

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Over a year ago, my dad had some dated B&Q vouchers given to him (compensation from his housing association), which he knew he wouldn’t use, so he bought me some paint for my hallway.  I was really grateful to him as paint is expensive.

As my daughter had problems with her asthma for months last year, I daren’t start to paint just in case the smell from the paint upset her even more.  So that’s why it took so long to start.

I started by sanding down all the woodwork

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and then I painted the ceiling with a roller.

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I used a paint pad to put the paint onto the walls, which quickly coated it well.

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I only needed to use one coat of paint on the walls as it is a Dulux paint which is good quality and I’m actually painting it the same colour.  I think the colour looks ‘homely’ with the good quality carpet that we inherited ten years ago, when we moved in.

I am not the best painter around, so I used masking tape to cover the woodwork while I painted the walls.

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Afterwards I started on the woodwork.  In the past I have always used gloss, but it really does smell, so I’ve used a B&Q ‘Anywhere’ paint which is waterbased.  I used it in my both my daughters bedrooms and it has been fine, I so I thought I’d give it a try in the hall.

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I’ve still got to finish the woodwork, but I quite enjoy doing it when I’m listening to our local radio station.  I find painting very therapeutic and it will be so rewarding when it’s finished.

The ceiling after I painted it

The ceiling after I painted it

Painting your house yourself, is far cheaper than paying for a professional to paint it.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

Seed Sorting, First Sowings and Seed Potatoes

It’s been snowing all day here.

Earlier, I walked down to my allotment to check it over and it looked beautiful:

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Unfortunately my nets have taken a battering!  I cleared the snow off them but I will have to sort them out properly another day:

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Over the last two weeks I have been sorting all of my seeds out.

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As I have four allotments, I do need a lot of seeds.  I have a spreadsheet with all the seed packets listed on it, this way I know every single packet of seed that I have and the date they need to be used by (though some seeds I keep an awful lot longer than the date on the packet e.g. brassicas, as I know they will be ok to use a long time after the ‘sow by’ date).

 I do have a weakness with seeds and I find it hard to resist a free packet or a bargain, so after sorting them out I found I had quite a few duplicates.  I have never sold seeds on EBay before, but as there were so many I decided to give it a try.  I’m not sure if they will sell or not, but I will let you know.

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During the next week I will be sitting down and working out exactly what vegetables and salads I want to grow on my allotment this year.  After this I will work out a month by month plan, showing exactly when to sow my seeds and whether the seeds need heat or not.  I will show you the end results after I have completed this.

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Over the last two weeks I have sowed my first seeds for 2013.  Before I did this I made some more seed labels and in Mrs Thrift fashion, I made them for free.

All I use is an old plastic milk bottle that has been washed out.

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I cut it up into labels, with a point at one end and write the plant type on the label in permanent ink.

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The seeds I sowed were sweet peppers, coriander, basil, leeks and onions.  I have put these in a propagator on my window sill until they germinate, at which time the propagator lids will come off.  The leeks will then go into my unheated greenhouse,  while the others will be grown inside my house, where it is warmer.

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I also planted some more garlic.  Previously I planted some garlic at my allotment, but it has been so wet that hardly any have grown and I suspect they have actually rotted in the ground.  As a back up, I have planted some more in pots, which I will keep in my cold greenhouse for now.

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The broadbeans that I planted in December are just poking there heads through the compost, so I am really pleased with this.  These were planted into cardboard toilet roll tubes.

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Unfortunately, the broad beans I planted in pots at the end of October are really very leggy and probably won’t make very good plants now.  Unfortunately they are the result of mild weather and the fact that I haven’t been able to plant them into my allotment, due to the ridiculous amount of wet weather we have had for weeks on end.   I may just plant them in my polytunnel to see what happens.

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My two free strawberry plants from Spalding bulbs are still sitting nicely in my cold greenhouse.  I will plant them in the spring.

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Last week I brought my seed potatoes.  I usually buy them from a place called ‘Hawgrips’ which is in Enderby, Leicester.  I like to buy them early as I get a bigger choice of varieties to choose from and I make sure I get the ones I want.  I also like the fact that you buy them loose, rather than in bags, as I work out exactly how many I need and just count them into bags.

I have chosen my usual two favourites:

Marfona (A second early) and

Picasso (an early maincrop so this helps to miss the blight).

This year I have decided to also grow ‘Desiree’ potatoes, after much discussion with one of my fellow allotment friends.  I had such a big problem with slugs last year and my friends’ Desiree potatoes didn’t seem to have a problem, so I thought I’d try them.  I let you know how I get on.

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When I bought the potatoes home, I put them into trays to ‘chit’ them.  ‘Chitting’ just means that you are encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before you plant them outside.  All you need to do is stand the tubers with the eyes facing upwards, in trays or old egg boxes.

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Contrary to popular belief, chitting potatoes is not essential, except for early varieties, to produce an earlier maturing crop.  However, if you buy your main crop early like I do, then you may as well ‘chit’ them as well.

Place the potatoes in a cool, light place.  I leave mine in our bedroom, as it’s the coolest room in the house…so romantic!

I hope we have a better crop of potatoes to harvest this year, as they were full of slug holes in 2012.

Last years potato crop

Last years potato crop

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.