My summer garden – an update

This summer so far has been a bit of a funny one – I’m quite sure last year we’d had a good long spell of scorching weather, and I’m sure my tomatoes were much further on than they are this year. I’m praying for a late bit of warmth – extend the season into September. Greenhouse growing isn’t maybe going so well… my tomatoes and cucumbers are doing very well at, ah, growing tall and shooting out lots of leaves; not so well on the setting fruit side of things.

An experiment I did this year involved something I found on Pinterest… growing an avocado bush! Bush? Tree? Plant? It started with the core of an avocado, suspended via cocktail sticks over a glass of water, until it showed a root. I then potted it out and left it in the greenhouse where it would hopefully be warm enough for it. And…voila! An avocado shoot! Pretty impressed.

IMG_6764

Another experiment, or maybe aim should I say, of this year was to achieve what I failed to do last year. If you read my last post (see it here) you might have been surprised (as the feedback I got suggested from a few people!) to read about my success… in growing a cauliflower. Just the one! But check it out:

IMG_6759
I spy with my little eye…?

IMG_6760Obviously I failed a little with the zoom capacity on my camera here. But there’s my cauli, about ready to eat! Any suggestions on how to serve him and do him justice?

I seem to be doing well with my brassicas this year! Here’s a humongous Savoy cabbage:

IMG_6761Doesn’t quite look like the store-bought variety but I bet he tastes grand. I’ve already had two of my greyhound cabbages – they are delish! Here’s a third one: 

IMG_6769

I’ve been serving them up a variety of ways: in summer coleslaws (obvs), or fried cabbage and bacon, and yesterday I gently pan-fried some with some grated courgette to accompany my lamb chops I had for tea!

So my garden is going OK outside. Some of my carrots have bolted, maybe because of the confusing weather. Looks like we might have some home-grown potatoes soon!

So all in all, fairly pleased.

How is your garden growing? Are you having better luck with tomatoes than I am?! If you have any pro tips, let me know!

Thanks!

Katy x

 

A Rainy Day Recap – A Break from #summerschoolmadness

It’s been a while since I’ve done much blogging. I work in a company that runs summer schools so naturally we’re entering our busy time! Since I’m in recruitment, this is pretty much the story of my life – getting emails like this:

Activity Leader wants time off

I’ve been in my garden/greenhouse today a bit, though it has been raining on and off all day, which isn’t exactly ideal. I had managed to get quite wet walking Bilbo so I thought I might as well continue as I started.

Can you tell the photos I took on my iPhone and the ones on my DSLR?

Mum's garden Katy applesIMG_6622IMG_6614IMG_6613IMG_6612IMG_6611IMG_6610IMG_6609IMG_6608IMG_6607IMG_6606IMG_6605IMG_6604IMG_6603IMG_6602IMG_6601

 

Top marks for anyone who can name everything in all these pictures! We had home grown turnips with tea – and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I can actually grow cabbages! I’m sure loads of people will think that’s the saddest thing they’ve ever heard, but after last year’s brassica-related incident with horrid beasties, to see hearts forming on my greyhounds makes me rather excited! My potatoes look to be coming on well and I’ve about got everything set up in the position I want it to be.

Just need some sunshine now! I’m sure this time last year it was hot, sunny and dry.

 

An Update from My Garden

It’s been a quiet few weeks; sorry about that! I’ve not been very well – I had an awful cold and mega headaches, and even the thought of looking at a computer screen was enough to send me off to bed!

This weekend I’ve been in my garden a lot! April is past the midway point now so things are definitely coming on. My best friend Amy came to help on Saturday: I was meant to be passing on my wisdom but it was more about sharing the work!

We build my salad planter (see picture below), filled it with compost and planted out the spinach and mixed leaves from the greenhouse, dug in the shredded paper from my Minimalist Challenge into the second bed to retain water, repotted the squashes and pumpkins that were poking the roots out, and the courgettes too; we then sowed four different carrots (Harlequin, Red Samurai, Baby carrots and Chanteray), parsnips and salsify in that bed; we planted out the rest of my potatoes, and finally we sowed my Rosella tomatoes! Amy went away with a little courgette and some spinach in pots.

Sunday I sowed All Year Round lettuce, after discovering that Dad can’t stand mixed leave salads (apparently they’re “the weeds that grow at the side of the road”), and the pak choi from the greenhouse into the planter. I then weeded my caulis and cabbages, and sowed some fresh cabbage and broccoli for later in the year. In the papered bed I also sowed some turnips and shallots.

It’s been a busy weekend! I managed a little time with my camera.

Bought from Yorkshire Trading, this is to be my salad planter. I have spinach (back right), mixed leaves (front right), and have now sown All Year Round lettuce (front left) and Pak Choi (rear left).
Bought from Yorkshire Trading, this is to be my salad planter. I have spinach (back right), mixed leaves (front right), and have now sown All Year Round lettuce (front left) and Pak Choi (rear left).
Rosella Tomatoes (for all I keep calling them "Roselia" like the Pokemon!), these are to be dark red cherry tomatoes.
Rosella Tomatoes (for all I keep calling them “Roselia” like the Pokemon!), these are to be dark red cherry tomatoes.
Look at these bad boys! These are my courgettes (black beauty) and with the lovely warm weather we've had they've come on greatly.
Look at these bad boys! These are my courgettes (black beauty) and with the lovely warm weather we’ve had they’ve come on greatly.
These are my Dutch tomatoes (cherries) at the far back, with some Ailsa Craig tomatoes in the fore. There are some peppers hidden somewhere in between if you can see! These have been inside for about a month, and I've brought them into the greenhouse.
These are my Dutch tomatoes (cherries) at the far back, with some Ailsa Craig tomatoes in the fore. There are some peppers hidden somewhere in between if you can see! These have been inside for about a month, and I’ve brought them into the greenhouse.
Here you can see my cucumbers! 5 for 5! So pleased. There are courgettes as well round the edges, but I'm very pleased with my cucumbers! Fingers crossed I can keep them going.
Here you can see my cucumbers! 5 for 5! So pleased. There are courgettes as well round the edges, but I’m very pleased with my cucumbers! Fingers crossed I can keep them going.
Beans! Look at the size of them! These are runners down the middle, mangetout towards the left, which are lovely and flouncy, and on the right edge, dwarf beans.
Beans! Look at the size of them! These are runners down the middle, mangetout towards the left, which are lovely and flouncy, and on the right edge, dwarf beans.
Mange-touty! Last year I grew mangetout from store-bought plants, but I've started these from seed and they look pretty darn good!
Mange-touty! Last year I grew mangetout from store-bought plants, but I’ve started these from seed and they look pretty darn good!

 

What day of the week is it? – a quickie and an update

What is it about Easter week? Fresh off a four-day weekend and I feel like I need another long weekend to get over this one!

And what a full-on weekend it was! I felt like I never stopped. I went to Harrogate to see my best friend from uni on Good Friday, on Saturday I washed Dickie and did loads of gardening, Sunday we went to the Big Breakfast Car Meet at Specialist Cars of Malton where I took loads of photos, and then I baked Mum’s birthday cake in the afternoon, and then Monday was Mum’s birthday so we were pretty much full up with visitors and trips.

I don’t even know what day of the week it is! Is it Wednesday? Thursday?

I was poorly today so had to be off work. I still don’t feel 100%. I have an awful throat and a pounding head. I slept from about half nine yesterday till about half one this afternoon. Oops! Then I took it easy in the afternoon and pottered around in my garden/greenhouse a bit.

I was very happy to see this little buddy peeping up!

Hello little Carmen!
Hello little Carmen!

Now according to gardeners and my Nana, cucumbers are difficult to grow. The back of the packet is enough to put the fear of God into you – must be kept at these temperatures, the first few days are the most important; it’s like getting a puppy! Whatever you do to this cucumber while it’s germinating is something it will remember for the rest of its life. So naturally I was ready to chalk up cucumber growing to my now rather lengthy list of failures (not exclusive to gardening, I might add) – however I am now happy to say so far I have four out of the five seeds all happily germinated and poking their ways upwards into life in my greenhouse!

Hurrah!

Might this be a sign of good things to come? Oohoo, I shall take it as so! If I can nurture a cucumber into life, who knows what I can achieve? Making myself well enough for work tomorrow would be a start!

I will have more updates later on, I promise! On…whatever day of the week it will be!

Katy

x

Views from my Greenhouse – Lazy Sunday Update

This will be my 100th post on my blog!!

It’s a lazy Sunday here in Yorkshire. The clocks went forward which meant one less hour in bed. Boo! I got woken up by two little kittens-who-aren’t-really-kittens-anymore spring-boarding back and forth onto my bed. I’m trying to do a little bit of writing before we go to the Living North show at York Racecourse. I used to be an early bird: I always used to be able to get up at half seven/eight on a weekend, get loads of writing done while it was quiet at home. Now if I manage to drag myself out of bed at all, I end up on Facebook or the Daily Mail online, and then the morning’s gone! And I’m usually then in a bad mood which will carry into the rest of the day.

Yesterday I took some pictures in my greenhouse using my new camera, which I am still very much in love with!

Mum's sweet peas are sprouting up quickly now!
Mum’s sweet peas are sprouting up quickly now!
All my onions and leeks, keen and eager!
All my onions and leeks, keen and eager!
Lots of different salad things: spinach, rocket, radish and cos lettuce.
Lots of different salad things: spinach, rocket, radish and cos lettuce.
Chilli peppers closest to the camera survived the frost; some of the tomatoes in back did not.
Chilli peppers closest to the camera survived the frost; some of the tomatoes in back did not.

We had a nasty frost in the middle of last week, and all my cauliflowers shrivelled up, and a bunch of tomato stalks all fell over and have now died. I was a bit upset, yet other things seem to have endured. I think I have some tomato seeds left, so I might have another go next weekend sowing a whole bunch. But I’m running out of space in my greenhouse! Can’t wait for it to get a little bit warmer so I can start planting stuff out.

It’s a short week, hurrah! But I have lots of things to think about. Next weekend is a triple-whammy for me – no, wait, a quadruple-whammy! It’s Mum’s birthday, it’s the Big Breakfast meet, I’m (hopefully!) seeing my best friends from Bristol, and it’s planting time for chitting potatoes!

So much for a holiday!

Enjoy your Sundays guys!

Katy

x

Windy Farm – The DSLR Chronicles

Frosts, Greenhouses, and a new Picture-Taking Device…

Good evening all! Well, it’s evening here in the UK – but hello to one and all, wherever you are!

I’ve had not a very good week. I’ve had a terrible mind-numbing earache all week, so bad that it drove me to the surgery (and this is major, since I tend to lean towards the mindset that you should only go to the doctors’ surgery if you are in a serious situation, and not for a little sniffle or what-have-you), after much to-ing and fro-ing from dismissive pharmacy assistants and jarringly cheerful nurse practitioners.

My car has also been playing up. The Flying Banana is no longer flying! Its get-up-and-go got up and went! A mystery light came up on the dash, and then it wouldn’t build any revs or speed, and I wasn’t about to chug up and down hills for 35 miles with an iffy engine. And now it’s in surgery and I, the girl with three cars, is stranded. A pedestrian!! Unthinkable.

Then it came a hard frost over night. Look at my greenhouse!

25.3.15 A frosty morning

However a package arrived on Tuesday which cheered me up endlessly.

I bought a new camera!

Those of you who may recall my post about the Quest of Week Three (find it here: https://notmuchofayoungfarmer.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/minimalist-march-quest-of-week-three/) will remember that I have been searching for my camera for, like, ever! Since I have decided that my role as designated photographer-slash-camera-provider may have, unintentionally and unwittingly, provided somebody with a camera bounty after a night out, a new camera was in order. I use my iPhone but, let’s be honest, the quality is serious iffy.

So I went on tord ‘Bay and had a nosy. I’d heard of these mysterious ‘DSLR’ cameras before, raved about on every single blog and on every Pinterest pin about ‘how to make your blog better’, so I searched for DSLR cameras, looked at the ones ending on Sunday, decided I liked the Canon EOS one, was outbid on two (and went into a consequential rage because of being outbid), my Daddy then found me a buy-it-now, and so I did, and it came yesterday!

I am in love. The photos are amazing! I think I’ll end up looking at my iPhone photos with such derision and contempt now.

Here are some I took this morning!

A little lonely cauliflower... a lot of them seem to have been badly affected by frost!
A little lonely cauliflower… a lot of them seem to have been badly affected by frost!
The "Dutch" tomatoes and peppers, living in the utility room.
The “Dutch” tomatoes and peppers, living in the utility room.
Some onions... wow, the DSLR really shows up the green coming on the compost!
Some onions… wow, the DSLR really shows up the green coming on the compost!
My Ailsa Craig onions.
My Ailsa Craig onions.
Lots of little guys poking up here in my salad starters!
Lots of little guys poking up here in my salad starters!
Tomatoes that, unlike the Gardener's Delight, have resisted the cold - despite being uncovered overnight!
Tomatoes that, unlike the Gardener’s Delight, have resisted the cold – despite being uncovered overnight!

Ooooh, I’m ever so pleased! Expect a lot more photographs now folks!

It’s about to get serious!

I hope you all enjoy.

Katy

x

Grow, my pretties… Windowsill growing

These are what I call my “Dutch seedlings”. Mum brought them back for me from a Dutch garden centre when they went to Germany (without me!) last August.

They hadn’t shown much promise in the greenhouse, so I moved them onto the windowsill of the spare bedroom, and look at them now!

Little green soldiers standing to attention
Little green soldiers standing to attention

This photo was taken on, ooh, Friday morning – they’ve grown a few more millimetres since then! So here I have my “Dutch cherry tomatoes”, “Dutch peppers” in a mix of colours, and then some Ailsa Craig toms, because I had a few seeds left in the packet.

Isn’t it funny how they’re not growing in these modules nearest the end?! Is it because they’re that little bit further away from the light? I turned them around, but not much seemed to happen.

Then I had to move the seedlings off the guest room windowsill due to a water-related incident… on an aside, white toothpaste (not the gel stuff) works absolute wonders on getting pesky water stains off painted wood surfaces! They are now living in the utility room until they’re a wee bit bigger, and then I shall move them out to my greenhouse.

So far I seem to be swamped with tomatoes! I think I have about four trays of tomatoes coming on. I’m hoping that they will all grow big and strong, and I might be able to sell some decently sized plants at the WI plant stall.

I will run around and take some more pictures today as part of my Greenhouse Sunday. Some things are coming on mighty fine…others, not so much.

Till laterz!

Katy

x

The Big Allotment Challenge

Has anyone else been watching The Big Allotment Challenge? Already it’s over – it seems to have gone by so soon. I was pleased: one evening I live-tweeted, and The Big Allotment Challenge favourited my tweet! And then all of a sudden I had an influx of twitter followers – I was ever so pleased!

It’s been very useful to watch for me, as an amateur grower. Though personally I did think that more time could have been spent on the how to grow section. Something so very difficult to grow, like a cauliflower, was over and done with in a flash. No mention of cabbage collars – and the little seedlings had them on! And naturally, I have a history with cauliflowers, considering all of last year’s crop was wiped out.

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed this year’s programme. I do find it a bit of an odd piece of scheduling: on a Friday night? Surely such a programme is more suited to a mid-week, Bake-Off slot? But I suppose I don’t know much about those sorts of things.

This year is my proper growing year in earnest. Last year was my training year: it started a bit late on, and I was greenhouse-less. This year I’m going for it, all guns blazing! I have my greenhouse – with shelves!! – and my two beds, and I have ordered my seeds, and my seed potatoes, and my potato grow bags.

One day I may even be a contender for The Big Allotment Challenge! I wanted Jojo or Rob to win, so I was very pleased for Rob. Poor Jojo did have a bit of a mare in this last episode. I didn’t much like Sandra: I thought she was manipulative, and her cruel remarks about the youngest contestant in the early episodes did stay with me. What utter growing heaven though! Heated greenhouse, a huge plot, and all within the lovely enclosed walls. But I don’t think my garden is too bad.

January Start

This is a post I apparently started on January the 21st, and didn’t get any further than the title! Whoops.

Anyway, here I am, rectifying that moment of madness on my part!

It is January! Hurrah! Or rather, it was January. It’s now February, but we’re doing this retrospectively. This means it’s the start of the growing year. And since I have my greenhouse, I can start! And if you perhaps saw my other post (Windy Day at Windy Farm, https://notmuchofayoungfarmer.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/windy-day-at-windy-farm/), you will have known that my poor greenhouse suffered a major casualty earlier on in the year: in the bad winds, all the glass in the back wall blew out! Thankfully my lovely daddy went and got me some more glass, and then he worked some magic on my door, and now all is well!

I’ve been looking forward to getting out in my greenhouse ever since the end of summer, really. I guess part of it was probably because I was so unhappy doing my teacher training, and doing something physical and quite personal, like starting off my garden (properly this year) was something so removed from what was making me unhappy – and yet, in December certainly, was looking like something I would never have time to do.

Time to get started!

IMG_2211

As you can probably see from the pic, I have sown out:

  • Cauliflower (All Year Round)
  • Tomato (Ailsa/Alisa (?) Craig)
  • Onion (Red Baron)
  • Leek (Autumn Mammoth)

It may seem early, but I did them as per packet instructions! It was the best feeling to be out in my greenhouse (it was very cold, so I had a nice flask of hot chocolate with me), working with compost and seeds – though my back was aching at the end of it!

Now, if you recall, I have had issues with cauliflowers in the past… My last batch fell prey to horrendous grubs: some cabbage root fly or other such pest. But this year I am taking no prisoners! They do say cauliflowers are the hardest things to grow, but I will give them my all! I’ve ordered cabbage collars (I’m not going to lie, a little bit in love with that alliteration) from the Dobie’s catalogue, and I also ordered some netting (from Achica, of all places!), so, fingers crossed.

IMG_2213

Heaven in a picture! A flask, a Sharpie, and a mess!

IMG_2214

And so here they are! The tomatoes are in the propagator, and the rest in modules. It’s relatively warm (ish) in the greenhouse, and a little bit more so in the prop, so hopefully, with a bit of luck, in a few weeks I can have pictures of little green nubs!

Katy

x