Tag Archive | Thinning seedlings

A Bargain Cabinet & Another Good Harvest

We have had some miserable, wet and cloudy days this week, but there has also been some beautiful sunny days where I have managed to sit for a while and watch the world go by.  I’ve noticed on these warm days the birds have sung beautifully, as if they are making the most of the final days of summer.

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A couple of time this week in my garden I have spotted a frog.  I don’t know if it is the same frog but it is very welcome in my garden as they love to eat slugs and snails.  I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo of it but below is a good photo of a frog I spotted at my allotment, waiting to pounce on a snail:

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This week in my garden I have started to ‘thin out’ the winter salads that I sowed a couple of weeks ago.  I used a pair of scissors again to chop off the seedlings that I didn’t want as this helps to stop any root disturbance on the remaining seedlings:

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Also in my garden I took the tops off my main crop potatoes (as the foliage had died off)…

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….and I then dug some of them up:

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These are a late variety called ‘Desiree’ which I have grown for a number of years.  I have found over the years that these potatoes don’t suffer so much slug damage as other varieties and they have a particularly good drought resistance if we have a dry summer and they always give me a good harvest….so I think they are a good main crop to grow.

‘Desiree’ potatoes are also a good all rounder in the kitchen, as they are great for mashing, roasting, chipping, baking and boiling too.

Unfortunately though I noticed that a few of my potatoes are suffering from ‘Scab’:

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“Scab can be caused by dry conditions when the tubers are forming and it is worse in alkaline soil.  Therefore if you are going to be liming your soil to increase the Ph level to avoid club root, this is best done after you have grown potatoes in rotation with your other crops”.

I do know my soil is very alkaline, so this is probably the reason for the scab on my potatoes, however I will just peel them and they will be fine to eat so I am not worried.

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This week I also cleared away my french beans as they have finished producing:

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I didn’t keep any of the seeds as I wasn’t really impressed with this variety, however I forgot to write down the name of variety.  Next year I will go back to growing a variety called ‘Maxi’ as they produce lovely thin, stringless beans with the advantage that the beans are grown above the foliage so they are easy to pick.

'Maxi' frenchbeans grown at my allotment in the past

‘Maxi’ frenchbeans grown at my allotment in the past

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The weather has certainly been strange this year and plants have been getting confused.  I saw on Gardeners World last week that Monty Don has Foxgloves in flower, which usually flower in Spring.  I have found my Primroses are in flower too….I wonder what will happen to them in Spring?

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This year I have grown two different tomato varieties outside.  ‘Outdoor Girl’ has been producing tomatoes for weeks now, but this has always been an early variety which I grow to produce a good harvest before the dreaded ‘blight’ hits…. this is something I haven’t seen this year thankfully.

I have also grown a variety outdoors this year called ‘Moneymaker’.  They have produced lots of big tomatoes which are yet to ripen….I am keeping my fingers crossed they all do, but I am finally seeing the odd one begin to turn red:

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I must say that over all, my outdoor tomatoes have produced a far bigger harvest than my greenhouse tomatoes, which I think is due to the cold, dull weather we had in April, May, June and July.

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The patty pan plant that surprised me and began growing a month ago from a seed I had given up on, is now growing a couple of patty pans….if it doesn’t turn cold maybe I will have one or two to harvest?

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I am still waiting desparately for my sweetcorn to be ready.  You know it is ready to be picked when the tassells turn brown and a milky liquid comes out of the kernals when you press a nail into one……unfortunately the liquid is still clear in mine So we will have to wait a bit longer yet:

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This week’s harvest:

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I am still astounded with the amount I have grown this year in my small back garden, though I am convinced that I can fine tune this and grow more next year.  One advantage of growing things in every inch of ground is there is certainly less weeding to do, which is a big advantage to me!

This week I thought it may be easier to show photos of what I have harvested:

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So you can see why I am so pleased with my new kitchen garden.

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This week in the home:

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I made passata again using my home grown tomatoes and froze it ready to use in the winter:

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I also froze the parsley, again so I can use it during the winter months for garlic bread and parsley sauce.  I just cut the leaves off, wash them and put them in a freezer bag.  When they are frozen they crumble easily in the bag:

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I made some more of my ‘vinegar spray’ which I use in my kitchen as a multipurpose antibacterial cleaner.  I make it by adding a few drops of Tea Tree essential oil to white distilled vinegar and it is as good as any antibacterial kitchen cleaner that you can buy and it is an awful lot cheaper too:

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Mr Thrift has continued to find some really good ‘whoopsies’ this week and it has meant that I haven’t made any homemade bread.  Some of the bread he has found has been reduced to just 9p……so we couldn’t resist it!

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Finally, since I decorated our front room I have been looking in charity shops for things to make the room more homely.  One thing I have been trying very hard to find is a cupboard to match the darkwood TV cabinet we have….and this week I found one:

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It cost me just £40 and I was really pleased with my find….until I got it home and realised that we have a little gas pipe in the alcove where I wanted it to go, so it didn’t fit.

So I had to saw a bit off the side praying it wouldn’t look too bad.

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In my shed I still had a bit of dark woodstain that I used on my mirror years ago, so I used this to darken the wood that I had cut so it wasn’t so noticable…..and I am really pleased with the result (thank goodness):

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Now I just need to keep looking for a few pictures for the walls and we need to buy a new carpet (when we can afford it).

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Well that’s it for this week.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog.

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

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Hidden Leicester, Cabbage Root Flies And More…

This week I nipped into town for a few bits and bobs.  On the way to the shops I took a detour and walked past Leicester Cathedral, as there have been a lot of changes to this area due to Richard III.

I pleasently surprised at how lovely this area now looks:

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I also passed through an area behind the Mary De Castro church where I walked through the ‘Turret Gateway’ which dates back to approximately 1423.

Years ago I took the same walk but didn’t know anything about it, so I was pleasently surprised to see that there is now an interesting information board next to it.

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I then walked past Castle Gardens and it was lovely and neat and the flower beds looked beautiful:

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I do wonder how many other beautiful areas there are in Leicester that I have forgotten about or that have been renovated…..perhaps it’s time I started to pay more attention to the city I was born in.

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This week we have had lots of rain and I have been dodging the showers outside.  Amazingly the ‘makeshift’ water butt that I set up next to my greenhouse (which I will sort properly when I get around to it), is full already.  This area obviously collects more water than I realised and I may need to set up another waterbutt there as well, so I can collect as much water as possible for my garden.

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Between the showers I have been sorting my cabbages.  Two weeks ago I planted my red and whilte cabbages and put plastic bottles over them to act as a mini cloche to each of them.  This was to protect them from the cold nights and the slugs while they were small.  However, they have grown so well that they were beginning to become squashed in the bottles, so it was time I did something about it.

I first built a D-I-Y cage using bottles and canes:

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I then removed the bottles and made homemade (and free) cabbage collars out of old cardboard, which I then placed around the cabbages to protect the plants from the cabbage root fly.

“Cabbage collars can cost between £3 or £4 for 30, but you can make them easily by using a square piece of cardboard which you cut a cross in the middle and place around the stem.  The cross in the middle allows the stem to grow.

  By using cabbage collars, you can avoid the cabbage root fly from laying eggs at the base of your plants.  The Larvae are white, headless and legless maggots and they feed on the roots of brassicas.  This will cause your brassica’s to either grow weakly or just wilt and die.

The following year, cabbage root fly will emerge from the pupae which overwintered in the soil.  This is a good reason to rotate your crops each year”.

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 I then put a net over the top of my bottle and cane structure, to stop cabbage white butterflies from laying there eggs on the leaves of my plants.

“Cabbage white butterflies lay eggs on brassicas (usually underneath the leaves) between May and October and it is the resulting caterpillars that do the damage to your plants by eating the leaves.

  The easiest way to stop them is by covering your plants with a net, but make sure the net has small enough holes and the sides are firmly attached to the ground to stop the butterflies from entering.

If you do find the tell tale yellow eggs on your brassicas, then you can squash them between your fingers and the caterpillars can be picked off using your fingers and destroyed”.

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I will soon be planting kale next to my cabbages, so I have made sure my cage was tall enough and the net was long enough to cover the kale as well.

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By the way, you can use this D-I-Y cage on a much larger scale if you want to.  In fact at my old allotment I used the same bottle and cane structure to make a cheap fruit cage:

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And also, don’t forget you can store your bottle cloches ready to use again easily, by using a cane pushed into the ground and sliding the bottles over them:

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This week in my garden I thinned the khol rabi I sowed a few weeks ago.  I find it easier to use a pair of scissors to thin my seedlings out, as this stops any root disturbance to the remaining seedlings (a tip that Angus Scott gave on my blog – so thank you Angus).

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Also, the area where I sowed my wild flowers a few weeks ago had a visit from a squirrel.  Unfortuantely one of my neighbours feed the squirrels money nuts and they dig the garden to hide them.

So I covered the area with wire that I brought home from my allotment, hopefully this will deter the squirrel while my plants are young.

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I ‘earthed up’ the potatoes I put in my old dustbin, by putting a few inches of compost over the shoots.  I will continue doing this until the shoots have grown over the top of the bin as this will stop the potatoes from turning green from the light.

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I transplanted my greenhouse tomatoes this week into their final pots.  I use old Blood, fish and bone pots to grow them in, with holes drilled in the bottom.  The lids make great saucers to catch the water underneath the pots in the greenhouse too:

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I also gave my greenhouse a sort out this week and removed some staging that I haven’t use this year, as I’m growing so many seeds.  This staging had become a bit of a ‘dumping’ place which wasn’t good:

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Unfortunately one of the two cucumber plants I grew from seed died this week.  Unfortunately cucumbers are suseptable to ‘root rot’ when the soil is too wet….I do know this and I obviously wasn’t careful enough, so it serves me right for not paying enough attention.  Luckily the other cucumber plant is doing well:

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Over the past few weeks I have been wondering where to plant my outdoor tomato plants at the end of May and this week I decided on a place outside my greenhouse.

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I dug up the grass (and the forget-me-not that had self seeded) and realised that the soil was dreadful…. there was only about an inch of top soil, which was full of stones.  So I dug some of the subsoil out and replaced it with a mix of compost and manure, ready for my tomatoes.  I then edged it with some of the stones I found when I was first clearing my new kitchen garden area:

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It looks much neater now and the forget-me-not is now sitting in a pot until it dies:

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In The Home This Week….

Back in the home this week I have decided to get a bit more organised and I bought a ‘things to do’ book to help me.  I borrowed some ‘post it notes’ from my daughter to create sections in the book:

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I am hoping that I will actually remember to write in it, so I don’t forget the jobs that I need to do.  I always had a book at my allotment for this reason where I would walk around my plot on a Monday morning and look at what needed to be done….I can’t see any reason why this won’t work in the home too….I’ll let you know in a few weeks.

I wonder if anyone reading this blog keeps a ‘things to do book’ too.  If you do, let me know if it’s successful.

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‘Leftovers’

Finally this week, I found myself in a situation where I had three sausages and a small amount of cooked chicken leftover in my fridge…..so I cooked the sausages, chopped them up and put them in a ‘use it up’ curry together with the cooked chicken and left over vegetables that I had in my freezer (I always freeze left over cooked veg to use in pies and curries etc).

I have never thought of using sausages in a curry before and I actually wondered if they would taste horrible, but I’ve got to say, they were really nice!

The recipe for the ‘Use it up curry’ can be found here if anyone is interested.

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Well that’s it for today, but I will be back next Friday as usual.

I hope you have a good weekend and thank you for reading my blog.

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.