Tag Archive | This weeks harvest

A Cheap Pair Of Curtains & A Harvest

Yet again it has been wet and miserable this week……the slugs are having a party in my kitchen garden!

But as I write my blog today the sun is shining beautifully, so I have taken advantage of this and hung out two loads of washing.  My daughters think I am mad when I sit watching my washing blowing in the wind …… watching it always makes me feel so ‘grounded’ as though life is somehow ok when my washing is out ….. daft I know.


The last lot of laundry liquid that I made seems to have lasted me ages, but soon I will have to make some more.



As it’s been wet this week I spent a bit of time in my greenhouse tying up my tomatoes and removing any side shoots.

I also nipped off the tops of my plants as they have all reached the roof of my greenhouse.  I then removed a few of their lower leaves so the air could circulate and the sun can get to the tomatoes to ripen them.


I also tied my cucumbers to new string supports that I tied to my roof….hopefully they will grow along the string and produce even more cucumbers (you can just about see the string and cucumbers growing in the left corner in the photo below):


I then put two plastic bottles that I had cut in half, into the compost next to the cucumber plants.  Cucumbers easily die when the compost around the stem is too wet (stem rot) and as it has been damp in the greenhouse (as we haven’t had much sun) I have been concerned that my cucumbers would sucumb to this.  When I now water, the water bottles allow the water to drain to the roots of the plants instead of sitting on the surface of the compost:


I also continued to tie up the melon plants I have been growing in the greenhouse as well:


So the greenhouse looks a lot neater now and I am so looking forward to the first tomatoes ripening.


This weeks harvest:


I started the week by picking my last spring cabbage.  The cabbage looked lovely on the outside but there was a fair bit of slug damage inside, however we had a meal from it and I managed to make some coleslaw with the remainder so it wasn’t that bad:


I will be planting my curly kale next week in the space that is left in my brassica bed.


This week the strawberries have been ripening well and they taste so lovely:


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 Most of the strawberries didn’t last more than five minutes before we all ate them.  However a few did make it into strawberry and chocolate pancakes that my daughters made….

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I have also been picking broadbeans (a variety called aquadulce) that I sowed in January:


Normally I ‘pinch off’ the top three or four inches off each plant as soon as the beans start to form, as usually this is when I always see blackfly on the plants (blackfly love the soft growth at the top).  This year I left the plants as there really was no sign of blackfly and still there is no sign and the plants look so healthy….this is very unusual:

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My courgette plant has produced one more courgette……hopefully if the weather warms up I will get more.  However the courgette was quickly used in an omelette with the broadbeans and it was really tasty:

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The other squashes in my garden (patty pans and pumpkins) are also sulking in the wet weather too, however the butternut squash that I planted in a big pot is doing great and I have one butternut squash that is growing bigger each day:



I also pulled up a few small onions this week to use as spring onions.  When I planted my onions out I spaced them very closely so I could pull them up and eat the thinnings, while the remainder could continue to grow to full size:


And this week the first gooseberries were ready to pick.  I laughed at my eldest daughter when she ate one, as she said they were so sour……..she used to eat gooseberries like sweets and obviously her taste has changed as she has got older…..this happened to me as I grew older too.


As it’s the beginning of July now, I decided to pull a few more stalks of rhubarb up.  I won’t pull any more stalks up this year now, so the plants can build their energy up again ready for next year:


And finally this week in the garden I noticed my second early potatoes were starting to flower, so I decided to have a root around to see what I could find and I found these:


These are a variety called ‘Marfona’ and my goodness they were delicious….but we always love the first potatoes of the year in our house!


So all in all it was a good week for harvesting produce from my kitchen garden and homegrown fruit and vegetables always taste better than shop bought fruit and vegetables.

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This week in the home:


I don’t know if you remember, but back in August / September last year my dad was throwing out two garden chairs and I asked him if I could have them as there wasn’t much wrong with them.

  I decided to go to a car boot sale to look for some cheap curtain material to cover the seat pads as they had marks on them.  I found some curtains for £3 which I was very pleased with:

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For one reason or another I didn’t get around to re-covering the seat pads and at Christmas I even used one of the curtains to cover a plastic box, so I could stand the Christmas tree on it:



This week I finally decided to get the material out again and I realised that the curtains would actually fit across the bay window in our front room and the colour also matched the room too (though the curtains were far too long so they would need altering).  I have been looking for a pair of cheap curtains for this room since ever since I decorated it last summer, as our existing curtains were fifteen years old and VERY faded in places.

At the bottom of the ‘car boot’ curtains was some white paint, which is why they sold them so cheaply.  So I decided to get my sewing machine out and have a go at altering them.  The curtains were lined so I had to unpick the linning first and alter this as well as the curtain material:

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I have got to be honested, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I made it up as I went along….but it worked!


I also made a couple of tie backs with the material that I had cut off (making sure I didn’t use the bit that had paint on) and I’m really pleased with these too:

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So for £4.55 (£3 for the curtains and £1.55 for the thread) we now have a nearly new pair of good quality, lined curtains that will hopefully last quite a few years and I did this with just a few basic sewing skill.


So nearly everything in the room is second hand – the TV, the TV cabinet, the nest of tables, the lamps, the pictures, the cabinet, the settee and now the curtains.  It just goes to show that you don’t have to spend lots of money to furnish a room nicely.  Our room my not be everyones cup of tea, but it’s homely and we love it ……though we are still saving up for a new carpet to finish the room off!


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

Have a great week!


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.


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:


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:


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’:


“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.


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


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?



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:


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.



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?



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:



This week’s harvest:


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.



This week in the home:


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:



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:



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!



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:


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.


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).



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!

A Hard Week of Laying Turf

Before I start, Debbie asked me something this week but I really don’t know the answer and I wonder if anyone reading this can help?  Her question was:

” You don’t happen to know of any recipes for Hops as my greenhouse/sheds on the allotment are covered in their lovely cascades? ”

Unfortunately this is one thing that I haven’t grown, so if you can help please leave your ideas for her.



This week in my garden:


This week I have turned my attention to the part of the garden nearest to our house.  Below on the left, is a photo before I started my kitchen garden last winter and on the right is a photo I took last week:

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Over the summer I removed the bushes along the frence and myself and Mr Thrift removed the very old holly tree (which was an absolute pain dropping it’s leaves everywhere all summer) and we also removed the conifer on the left handside.

Finally I decided it was time to start re-vamping this area.

We have decided to bring forward my vegetable patch in a few weeks time, so that it is level with my greenhouse.  This will give me a lot more space to grow in, but it would obviously reduce the grassed area in my garden.  As we have a dog we decided we still needed an area of grass for her (though I must say she likes to have a walk around sniffing, but only ever runs if she is reacting to our neighbours dog).

As you can see in the photos above, we inherited a slabbed area where we have a table and chairs, but we rarely use these now as we have french doors that lead to another smaller table and chairs.

So after much discussion we decided to lift the slabs and turf this area so our dog still has the same amount of grass as she does now.

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Mr Thrift helped me to move the slabs over the weekend, but we had to do this over two days due to the rain.  So while it rained we covered the soil with some old weed suppressant to stop our dog from running in the mud.

We then moved the edging stones that separated the old lawn from the slabs and used two of them to balance the sides of the new lawn.  The edging stones were cemented down and it took a while to dig them out and I had to ‘chip off’ some of the cement so we could reuse them:


I then spent the whole week preparing the soil.

I started by removing the part of the grass that I had decided to re-turf and then I started to dig over where the slabs had been……my goodness this was so hard as the soil was heavy, heavy clay.  I think I could have made bricks out of the soil if I had wanted to!


There was still some sand remaining from when the slabs were laid, so I dug this into the soil to help open up the heavy clay particles.

Also, half way through digging I found an old pole that must have been used to support a rotary washing line years ago, but the amount of cement the previous owner had used was colossal.  The lump of concrete was at least a foot wide and I dug down two feet into the ground and I still couldn’t find the bottom of it:


After realising there was absolutely no way I could possibly dig this amount of cement out of the ground without a crane, I decided to ‘chip’ away as much cement as I could using a hammer and chisel……it took me a whole afternoon to remove approx. four inches and I also foolishly managed to hit my hand several times with the hammer instead of the chisel!

Hopefully four inches of soil on top of the cement will be enough to stop the grass from drying out too quickly:


I then bought a metal file and cut off the metal pipe:


I fetched six very large bags of soil conditioner (£2 per bag) from my local nursery and spent ages spreading it and then digging it into the soil:


I also incorporated five bags of compost to give the soil a few much needed nutrients as well as improving the soil and I was finally ready to rake over the soil to level the area.

After raking the soil over I then trod over the whole area to give the lawn a flat, firm finish.  I did this several times in different directions, raking after each time.

Eventually the area was ready for the turf and so I gave it a really good soak with my sprinkler:

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Then Mr Thrift fetched the turf for me and I laid it.


I have sown many grass lawns from seed but I had never laid turf, so after watching Alan Titchmarsh laying turf on ‘you tube’ I decided to give it a go…..and this is the result:


I gave the lawn a good watering with my sprinkler and over the next few weeks I will be very careful not to let it dry out.

Also, if you look carefully you can see that I have temporarily placed chicken wire around the edge of the new lawn to keep our dog off it while the turf roots into the soil below.


In a few weeks time I will dig up the remaining ‘old lawn’ ready to extend my kitchen garden, but for now I need to keep it so that our dog has at least a small piece of grass to use.

I am very pleased with my new lawn.



In the kitchen this week:


This week my lovely friend from my old allotment site brought me some apples, golden gages and some victoria plums……after my freezer disaster last week these were all very welcome!

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So I set about freezing them all and they will be used over the winter months in pies, cakes and smoothies:

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My own kitchen garden is still producing lettuces, cucumbers, runner beans, parsley, chives, spring onions etc. and lots and lots of lovely tomatoes:

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(The photo’s above are just a small amount of tomatoes that I have picked this week as I forgot to take a photo of the basket full that I also picked).

So as well as eating the tomatoes, I also made some more passatta this week to freeze for the months ahead:




So at the end of a busy week I am very tired and I’m aching all over.  I also have a bruised hand where I hit it with the hammer and it hurts if I touch it.  However I do feel like I have acheived a lot and I am very happy!


I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.  I will be back as usual next Friday.

Have a good weekend!