Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Review your Life - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Week 30 – Sunday, 13th July 2008

Did not get too much done today and seemed really flat – all I managed was to get to church, have lunch and then went and laid on the bed to finish reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver which I have really enjoyed. I ended up having an afternoon siesta.

The book is really thought provoking and challenged me to review how I can change things about my choices, to think about the way I live and shop which can make a small difference to the world. A lot of the statistics in the book are really scary. I would really love to get my hands on a similar book but with UK stats and historical data. Must have a good look at the library next time I am in there.

There are also some lovely recipes in the book which I have copied off her website and will definitely be giving them a try - especially the bottled tomato sauce and antipasto. Her bits on her turkey adventures is really very funny and I must admit, I have started itching to try and get a turkey - or two - to raise for our Christmas dinner - especially since last year when our local butcher wanted to charge me £35 for a 4kg turkey. A bit pricey I think. So needless to say we had no turkey! I have started doing my homework and have even found a local poultry farm which sells rare breed chickens and turkeys (2 weeks old) for £8 each. So I have decided that when I get my second allotment, I will definitely think of getting some chickens for eggs and turkeys of my own. I have thought about the slaughtering part of the turkey but "I'll think about that tomorrow".

Holly Flops and Beheaded Sunflowers

Week 29 - Saturday, 12th July 2008

Got stuck into the garden after finishing off the oven. Its kind of funny how you get this lovely sanctimonious feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have managed to do something that you have been putting off for months done!

I also gave the kitchen a good once over and hopefully got rid of that irritating little spider who insists on spinning webs in the corners of the kitchen window. I know that I love nature but the little blighter gives away the fact that I have not dusted so he really is not playing the game.

I managed to get some lovely strong 6 inch bamboo canes and got all the Holly Flops standing straight-ish and tied to within an inch of their lives. A couple of them have started looking a bit scraggly but I do not have the heart to cut them down yet. Planted out the Echinacea into the flower border where the Dicentra is starting to die down. I will also need to cut her back but am holding off until the last minute. Hopefully by then the Echincea will be giving a show that will ensure that I do not miss her. I cannot believe that from that small little pot I bought at Kingston Lacey at the first garden show I went to she has now become this huge shrub that dominates the bed from early Spring until mid Summer. She was my first plant I ever bought in the UK!

Wollygog – the black Sunflower that Byron has been nursing since tiny, which he planted himself has unfortunately lost his head in the last wind storm we had. The flower is already formed so I might still be able to save some seed from him so that Byron can try again next year. Sunnyboy, the yellow sunflower - is still standing strong and tall and hopefully will live to flower. They have both topped 6 foot and counting.

I finally managed to get the lavender plants which I grew from seed this spring out into the front garden beds. I really want to try and get these two long beds to be almost all perennial and low maintenance. I already have geraniums, grandmother’s bonnet and Flemish poppies who all self seed themselves and come up every year. Also planted out the last of the poppy seeds that I received from the CGS seed swap and despite them germinating late hope they might give us a show for late Summer and self seed for next year.

Dirty Ovens and Moods

Week 29 – Friday, 11th July 2008

I had been in a strange mood all day and when I got home got stuck into the oven. Now I am a strange person – when I am agitated or upset about something I start cleaning! Which in itself is not a bad thing mind you? The stove was long overdue a good cleaning and one of my most hated jobs – that and cleaning out the deep freeze and fridges.

I used this new oven cleaner that Ella recommended called “Ovenpride” which is really good. The one thing that I will not repeat again is leaving the stuff smeared on the oven overnight. Although it did clean well I think that next time I will wipe everything off the stove after four hours. The oven racks and stuff though I will definitely leave in the bag overnight. The one problem I had was that the bag leaked and the next morning the cleaner had leaked all over the paving outside. The cleaning seemed to have done the trick and I was in a much better mood afterwards. Even managed to get to watch Gardeners World in between.

Slow Season

Week 29 – Thursday, 10th July 2008

Popped down to the lottie and dropped all the composting material. The lottie is looking really windswept and I feel really bad that I have not been able to come down as often as I would like but life seems to be so hectic at the moment. There never seems to be a spare minute to myself to slip away and get stuff done.
The tomatoes in the greenhouse on the lottie are looking really good with lovely tomatoes lower down the bush. I cannot wait until I can sink my teeth into a lovely ripe tomato. I must admit that the Peacevine tomato that I got in my HDRA seed swap this year is really impressing me. The tomatoes are a bit heart shaped and the most prolific plants this year really – only hope that it tastes as good as it looks. The Yellow Brandywine (in the house greenhouse), is not doing too well, but might still pick up later in the season. The Red Brandywine is doing OK and the others are slow but doing well. The only home grown tomato I have had to date is the Sungold’s. They are lovely but not flowering as much as last year – not sure if this is because I have been nipping out all the side shoots – maybe I should have left them all to their own devices – I did last year and got some lovely fruits.

The cucumbers in both greenhouses are really not doing well this year and despite me putting down slug pellets, they seem to be getting struggling. They really seems to be struggling this year and the plant at home has only tiny little fruits on but the vine does not seem to want to take off – normally this time of the year it is twirling its way around the greenhouse in a bid for freedom.

This however seems to be a national problem as I was listening to Terry Walton on BBC 2 last Friday and he says their stuff all seems to be a couple of week behind that of last year – so maybe it will pick up.

Welsh Poppies and Granny

Week 29 – Sunday 6th July 2008

Managed to get into the garden for a while and try and beat the bush back into submission. The Holly hocks have now been nicknamed the “Holly Flops” as the wind has really battered them down this year. Surprisingly enough the Delphiniums have stood up to it and for the first time this year I have some half decent Delphiniums. Will try and save some seed this year for next spring. The Delphinium Requiem that I got from Di really do live up to them being slug resistant.

The Golden Hops on the arbour is now starting to look really tatty and not its best, but is still trying to take over the garden. The Welsh poppies (meconopsis) which self seeded from last year have really put on a good show this year and they came up just in time to hide the ugly daffodil leaves which were not yet dead. They also gave some lovely shade to the hellebore babies that I have planted out into that bed with the snowdrops. Hopefully next year I will have a lovely show all year round. I put in about 8 pots of snow drops that I got from Kingston Lacey so hopefully they will be happy and start bulking up and giving off a good show.

Isn’t if funny how plants seem to do so much better than the ones you molly coddle! I will definitely try and send some seed to the CGS seed swap this year as they are a really lovely poppy. I always think of Granny Kay when I look at them.

Broken Ribs and no butterflies?

Week 28 – Saturday, 5th July 2008

Got down to the lottie for two hours and managed to get a couple of odd jobs done. Also ended up picking a huge bunch of sweet peas for Mom. The perfume of them is really quite breathtaking. I am a bit disappointed with the Cupani that I have in a container on the back veranda though as I have had very little flowers off them and the scent is minimal. I was led to believe that they were the best smelling of them all and the original brought over from Italy by the monks! Oh well, will just keep feeding them and hoping for the best.

The dahlia’s and cosmos bed is looking really beautiful and we should have loads of vases of flowers right until the Autumn. The gladiolas have come up next to the shed – but no flowers yet! First time I am growing these so not sure when and how they flower. They are all flopping around a bit so will have to make a plan when I am next on the lottie and have time.

The pumpkins and gem squash plants are also looking very healthy but only have lots of leaves and no fruit that seems to be maturing. Not sure if it is just because there is not much bee action! The flower opens starts forming, then turns yellow and rots off!! I tried fertilizing two Hubbard Squash fruits and have marked the potential fruit so that I can start saving my own seed as this variety was from seed that I brought back from South Africa and will also need to save some of my corn this year. Hopefully it will take – fingers crossed! I harvested one zucchini about 15cms long and 10cm wide – the first of my ingredients for chutney. I think I feel a chutney making session coming on.

In the afternoon we went and helped Steve and Helen get their garden whipped into shape – it was in an appauling state and since Mom and Jacquie are taking over the house – we did have a vested interest. The garden was full of dead and overgrown trees and shrubs but after a couple of hours – several bags of rubbish later and a HUGE pile in the centre of the garden that needed to be carted off to the tip it was looking much better. That was the agreement – we came and helped but Steve had to dispose of all the rubbish. This backfired slightly as later in the evening he phoned asking Ron to come and assist and pull the trailer he had managed to loan to the tip – so Ron ended up dumping the stuff after all. Jacquie was a real trooper and was in there next to me despite her having broken ribs.

Well, it’s a long story – the broken ribs! At Rosemary’s beach party the kids were all piling on to one another so what does Jacquie do – jumps on the top of them (4 high now) – then Ron gets it into his bonnet to jump on top of the whole pile. Needless to say the pile came crashing down and he and Jacquie fell to ground quite hard. Jacquie could not move for about ten minutes and seemed to have lost her breath but she says that she definitely heard something pop! I have been watching her closely in case she has done some serious damage to anything so that I can shoot her off to A&E.