The Raised Bed Diaries 2017

When I first started this blog, it was about two things: Dickie, my little blue Subaru, and gardening. I was never much into gardening when I was young – always much more interested in reading and writing and that sort of thing. But when we moved to the farm, I decided I wanted to try my hand at vegetable growing. So my dad made me a pair of raised beds out of old railway sleepers and got me a little greenhouse that every time a storm struck, all the glass blew out of. True to my bookworm roots I bought loads of books on veg growing and started out. The first year was quite successful, the second year somewhat so, and then the third year I had moved into my house and my weekends seemed to get filled up doing other things. Mum kept the beds going, but I hadn’t manured either of them since the beginning and our land is sandy, hungry land that doesn’t do much on its own.

Continue reading “The Raised Bed Diaries 2017”

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.

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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: 

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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

 

My Apple Trees

For my birthday last year I got two apple trees (I think you might be able to see it here), a Katy (obviously!) and a Bramley. This year the Bramley has had an infestation of aphids – and they’re proper making my skin crawl. I’ve dosed the tree with soap and water and will see what it’s like tomorrow.

My Katy tree however appears to be unscathed! Possibly Katys aren’t very tasty. I don’t know. But while messing around with my camera I found some cool pictures showing a nice development of the tree:

IMG_6107 IMG_6104IMG_6448IMG_6449IMG_6450IMG_6621I’m gonna have some Katy apples! I’m very excited – even though I’m not entirely sure how tasty they will be. Katy apples are best known for making cider. Hmmm.

But we’ll see!

Until next time.

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!

 

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

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

Getting Ready for Spring… The New Raised Bed Diaries

Hello all!

After a weekend away, I’ve been back in my garden. 

It’s nearly March. March is the biggie month – the start of it all! ‘Spring’ is just around the corner, and things start heating up – hopefully figuratively and literally!

I’ve filled my greenhouse up with trays of sown seeds… as yet not much is happening. So far I’ve sown:

  • Various kinds of tomato (moneymaker, Ailsa Craig, sun gold, black cherry)
  • Leeks (I got free with my subscription to Kitchen Garden magazine)
  • Ailsa Craig onions, as recommended by DT Brown
  • Red Baron onions, which as the name suggests, are red onions!
  • All year round cauliflowers
  • And some cayenne peppers from seed, which Nana kindly gave to me, though with a warning that they were a little out of date, and should be sown with a pinch of salt.

So far, not much has happened, except…

I made a vlog! Check it out:

Who knew I had such a strong Yorkshire accent? Looking back at my video, I laughed for about half an hour over how I pronounced ‘greenhouse’. Anyway! This video seems to chiefly be about my cauliflowers. Here’s a pic of them!

I counted 29 little seedlings here - they're going strong!
I counted 29 little seedlings here – they’re going strong!

Whoa! Look at these bad boys! I counted, and I have 29 cauliflower seedlings! These, added to the two strong cauliflower plants that have overwintered on the bed itself, bring me up to 31 of the vegetable! Now, if you read my blog last year, you will recall that I had an issue with cauliflowers…

They all got eaten! They came on great, grew to a couple of inches high, and then I sowed by them some infected radish, or maybe there was already something nasty in the soil. Either way, a whole crop of radish, turnip and my cherished caulis were wiped out by nasty horrid maggotty things. Many tears were shed!

So this year I’m doing things proper. I’ve got my cabbage collars. Those pesky bugs aren’t getting anywhere near my brassicas! I’ve bought netting and all sorts. Last year was a trial run. This year it’s serious stuff!

What have you guys started at the moment? Have you got any seedlings coming up yet?

Katy

x

A Mysterious Order…

Hello gardening and blogging friends!

I received a mysterious parcel the other day. It was a cardboard box and this is what it looked like:

Live plants?! Whatever could be in here...?
Live plants?! Whatever could be in here…?

How mysterious!

I quickly tore into the box to reveal:

POTATOES!
POTATOES!

These are my extra earlies, from DT Brown. They are called Casablanca and there’s about thirty of them in here! I got a big box, lined it with lots of shredded paper (utilising my shredder, which is my favourite gadget at the moment, shredding all my documents from uni), and put them in that, and put the box in the shower room, where it’s cool but dry and light (as no one uses the shower in there, and it’s basically now turned into a potato chitting factory and is the place where my riding hat languishes, unused and unloved).

Now a few weeks later, they’re chitting away, so I shall have to think about getting some soil and getting ’em planted out.

Top tip! Ideal soil for potatoes to be grown in containers or potato sacks – mole hills! Mr Mole has kindly done a lot of the work for you: mole hills are good loamy soil. Just make sure a well-intentioned dog-walker hasn’t used said mole hill as a clever hiding place for a doggy bag! We have lots of hills on our fields that the dog walkers *shouldn’t* get to, so I might get the quad and trailer out, and go get a load of soil. That’ll possibly be next weekend’s job.

Happy gardening!

Katy x

In defence of pootling…

I’m not going to be the first person to say I am somewhat lazily inclined. That’s not to say come Saturday you’ll find me sprawled out on the sofa, manning the telly remote and exposing everyone to the tyranny of me. I have a dog to walk. He needs lots of walks. I tell him that, anyway; he’s just as lazy, if not lazier!

I do think our society as a whole – well, I can’t really speak for anyone outside of my little bubble – has created a mindset of haste and hurry. A few years ago, I remember reading in Grazia, of all things, about ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO?), which apparently was a genuine thing. I don’t dispute that: there’s nothing like sitting at home with a glass of wine, being struck dumb with the realisation that somewhere, out there, something is happening that you should really be part of. Be that a mad party, or a wicked night out, or the person you really fancy copping off with someone who really isn’t you… I imagine, you understand.

Anyway, I often jump on the bandwagon of mad crazy rushing around for a bit… after all, I do drive the flying banana that will lose its temper, all of its own accord, and overtake everything in front of it because they just will not get on. My dream holiday is a week at the Nurburgring. But at the same time, I love pootling around in my greenhouse, doing odd jobs, and simply enjoying being outside.

Which brings me to this article in question:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/society/11388406/In-praise-of-pootling-why-we-should-all-slow-down-stop-pushing-ourselves-and-spend-time-doing-nothing.html

I read this wondrous article on Friday, and while I agree with it in principle, I wouldn’t say I ever am in the state of ‘doing nothing’. I’m always thinking, thinking, thinking; whether it’s daydreaming, wondering, pondering, or planning out that book I always say I’m writing, yet have precious little to show for it, except the words in my head, thought up in moments where physically I’m engaged in one thing (potting out seedlings, etc.) but my mind is freed up to wander.

There is a guilt attached to sitting and doing nothing. We seem to have turned into a society of second-counters. It’s like doing nothing is suddenly a waste of time. As someone who spends much of her time driving from A to B, a serious block of ‘dead time’, I say value that time! From personal experience (and I don’t mean to cast dispersions, but… well, I am doing) I find that the people who view half an hour sat watching something mind-numbing on the TV, reading a book you’ve already read before, or spending, shock horror, a Saturday night in, are the people to whom ten days laid on a beach doing absolutely eff all is their ideal holiday.

Erm. Come to the Nurburgring. Beach ain’t got nothing on that.

Pootle on to your heart’s content! I am of the persuasion that the greatest ideas – the greatest creative ideas – come from pootling.

Katy

x