Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Rhubarb Rhubarb

I've been looking forward to harvesting some rhubarb from the allotment and the time was finally right. There's quite a large patch on my new plot, there's these two clumps as well as another clump which wasn't photographed which hasn't yet grown quite as large as these two. They must all be different varieties which I'm pleased about as it should prolong the harvesting period. I've also got a crown of Stockbridge Arrow waiting to be planted out.


I don't usually make a roast dinner on a Sunday, we usually have our Sunday dinner on a Monday, but I'd asked my mum and dad round for dinner on Sunday so I made roast beef, Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings. I visited the plot on Saturday and harvested the first rhubarb of the season with a view to making a pie for dessert.


I forgot to take a photo of the pie before it was cut in to, but this is a photo of what was left after everyone had eaten their fill. Don't look at the nasty brown bit where the filling had bubbled out of the pastry, we'll just ignore that.


I'd harvested enough rhubarb to make a second pie which I gave to my mum and dad to take home with them as rhubarb pie is their absolute favourite. I actually prefer a crumble so that's next on the cards.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Blog Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my Blog Anniversary Giveaway, I had a fabulous response, I'm just sorry that I can't send a prize out to everyone who entered.


I'm pleased to announce that the winner drawn from the hat at random is Trayci from Please May I? Congratulations, Trayci. Can you please let me have your address so that I can get the prize sent out to you.

I had so many lovely comments on my giveaway post so thank you all very much for those, they really made my day.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Chips Are Down

Well, the potatoes, which will make the chips, are down in the containers, at least.

This year, I'm growing three varieties of potatoes. Here they are just after they were first laid out to chit.

1st Early - Arran Pilot.


2nd Early - Anya.


3rd Early - Pink Fir Apple.


I usually grow all my potatoes in containers as I used to find so much slug damage to them on my old plot, but now I'm on a new allotment site, I'm going to have a go at growing some of them in the ground again. I'll just sow a row of each variety to try it out.

The rest of the potatoes will still be grown in containers. I like this method of growing them as they come out so clean and damage free, but there are downsides in that they take quite a lot of compost, they require lots of watering and, if you've got lots of buckets on the go, they can take up quite some space.

The first three containers, one of each variety, were sown on the 16th of March. Three tubers were placed in each bucket, and here you can see where each tuber has sprouted some foliage. I shall fill the bucket bit by bit with compost as the foliage grows until the whole bucket is full. The containers are residing in the greenhouse at present until the nights warm up a little, and you can see petals in the buckets which are being dropped by my little peach tree which is also living in the greenhouse.


I've since planted up more containers and I'm hoping to get some tubers in the ground very soon.

Don't forget to enter my Blog Anniversary Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 13th of April 2014 to leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Sowing, Pricking Out And Potting On

April is such a busy month for gardeners with all the sowing, pricking out of seedlings and potting on to be done. Sunday was the day for sowing my cucurbits, squash - Autumn Crown, Little Gem Rolet and Custard White, courgette - One Ball and Parthenon and cucumber - Mini Munch and Crystal Lemon.


If you remember last year, I had great success with Mini Munch cucumbers. As the name would suggest, the plants produce mini fruit, and they were prolific. I wasn't very keen on Crystal Lemon and wasn't going to bother growing them again, but my dad was particularly fond of them so I'll grow a plant or two just for him now that he no longer has a garden of his own.


I also sowed some morning glory - Heavenly Blue. They should look nice scrambling up the fence. I noticed this morning that they're already starting to germinate, hows that for fast work?

My tomatoes were sown on the 8th of March and I got them pricked out on the 26th of March. They're now residing in the mini greenhouse which is inside the big greenhouse for a bit of added protection. I've found that by moving them outside at the earliest opportunity where they can get extra light, it makes for healthier, sturdier plants.


Don't forget to enter my Blog Anniversary Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until Sunday the 13th of April 2014 to leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Cute As A Newt

Look who was lurking around our little pond over the weekend.


It was time for a bit of a tidy up of the pond, and the border where the pond is situated. As you can see, it's full of Marsh Marigold which is just starting to flower. As the pond was installed to attract wildlife, small logs have been placed around the sides of the pond for insects and creatures to use.


The logs have fungi growing on them and are utilised by all manner of wildlife.


It was when Mick moved one of the logs that he found this little fellow underneath.


I don't know the first thing about newts so if anyone knows what kind this one is, I'd be very interested to know.


Needless to say, the log was placed gently back on top of the newt and the tidying up of the pond didn't happen.

Our pond is tiny, only 84cm X 64cm, but it's teaming with wildlife. There's always a frog or two to be seen, though they've never spawned in the pond, but we're well visited by baby frogs so they must spawn nearby and then use our pond for a holiday.

It just goes to show that you don't need a huge pond to attract wildlife.

Don't forget to enter my Blog Anniversary Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until Sunday the 13th of April 2014 to leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Plain And Simple For Me

I've always loved the traditional, plain, old, yellow daffodils, the ones you see growing at the road side or growing en masse in a field and blowing in the breeze. Therefore, it was with trepidation that I bought the variety Professor Einstein last autumn. Would it live up to my expectations from a daffodil?


The answer is a resounding no. Some of them have come up blind, that is with foliage but no flower, but the ones which have flowered just don't cut the mustard. I thought it would be a nice change to have something different to the usual yellow this year, but they don't do it for me. Professor Einstein has white petals and a striking, flattish, orange cup, nice enough but not what I want in a daffodil.


I'm pleased that I have some of my beloved yellow daffodils planted in the garden or else I'd be really disappointed this year. How about you, do you have a favourite variety of daffodil?

Don't forget to enter my Blog Anniversary Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until Sunday the 13th of April 2014 to leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Blog Anniversary Giveaway

It was five years ago today that I started writing this blog. I'd decided, after having just taken on an allotment, that it would be a good idea to have a sort of online diary, somewhere that I could jot down dates of sowings and harvests as well as recording the progress I was making on the plot.

Five years on and I've moved to a new allotment site and taken on a new plot. The blog remains as useful now as it was then for documenting what's happening at both the allotment and in the garden.

In the five years I've been writing the blog I've made many friends. It's great to connect with like minded people who share the same hobbies as I do as not many of my friends in real life enjoy gardening, so I'd like to thank everyone who stops by to read my ramblings, especially those who leave comments as it really is nice to have that interaction with people who have a similar hobby.


As has now become tradition on my blog anniversaries, I'm having a little giveaway. I'm hoping to be harvesting lots of fruit from my new plot and if all goes to plan, I shall be busy preserving some so that it doesn't go to waste. I thought for this giveaway, I would offer a preserving kit as well as a few extras which any gardener would find useful.


The preserving kit contains a 64 page book, tags, self-adhesive labels, ribbons, elastic bands, templates and decorative cloth lid covers.


I'm also including some twine, some little envelopes in which to store saved seed with room to write in all the particulars and some plant labels with a pencil, though I would advise you to use something a little more permanent than a pencil to write on them, I once made the mistake of using pencil and I ended up not knowing what was what after the writing rubbed off.


If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this giveaway, just leave a comment on this post by twelve noon on Sunday the 13th of April 2014. A name will be drawn at random from all the entries.

Thank you, once again, to everyone who stops by. It really does make this blogging lark more enjoyable when you're actually connecting with people. It wouldn't be half as much fun without you all here along the way.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Anyone For Parsnips?

I'm still harvesting parsnips from the allotment, though it's a bit of a race against time as they'll be starting to regrow any time now, they'll turn woody and then they won't be much good. I'm preparing them, par boiling them and then freezing them for future use. It's quite handy having ready prepared parsnips just to pop in a roasting dish. I've also given bag fulls away to neighbours, but there's still a row left in the ground.


Some of the parsnips have canker, I've had a few which are quite bad and others with only a slight touch of the disease, but once the affected part has been cut away, the rest of the root is perfectly fine.


I've come across some odd shapes, you'd never see parsnips like these in the supermarket. It can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to peel them when they've forked and the roots are entwined, but it's definitely worth the effort as they're delicious. Some are rather small, but most of them have been quite large, they all get used.


On the whole, I'm really pleased with the blemish free, straight roots that have been harvested.


These parsnips were growing on my new plot when I took it on at the end of last year, it's been lovely to have such a great crop without putting in any effort of growing them myself. I'll have to see if I can do as well with the ones I sow this year.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Cut Flower Patch Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a copy of The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley.


I'm pleased to announce that the name drawn out of the hat at random was Fran from Bonnie of Clyde. Congratulations, Fran. It's a beautiful book and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can pass these on to the publishing company so they can send out your prize.


I'm not surprised that this was such a popular giveaway, it's a wonderful book which I'm sure anyone would be pleased to have on their bookshelf.


Don't forget, if anyone fancies buying a copy of this book, the publishing company are offering it at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p. Please look at The Cut Flower Patch post for details.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Identity Crisis

Most of the spring bulbs which I planted in containers in autumn have now flowered.

The first bulbs to flower were the iris reticulata - Gordon.



Such a gorgeous, velvety, deep purple flower. I love the splashes of golden yellow. Absolutely stunning.


I bought two packets of crocus which I planted all together in one container. They were supposed to be the variety Advance, a pretty yellow inside coupled with a delicate lilac on the outside. I've looked forward to these flowering all through winter, but have been sorely disappointed with them. No way are these crocuses Advance. Most of them are a plain, deep yellow.


A few of the flowers have a purple marking on the outside, nothing like a delicate lilac.


They're pretty enough, but it's still a bit of a blow when you've been expecting something different.


They were only £1 per packet so I shouldn't really grumble, but you should be able to rely on the variety when they've been bought in sealed bags. I emailed Wilkinsons to let them know what had happened, attaching some photos of the blooms. I got a lovely email back the same day, saying that they want their customers to be satisfied with their purchases and that they regard customer relations extremely important. They will continue to monitor customer comments and product returns in order to highlight any recurrence of the problem. They asked for my address and within a few days, I received a £5 gift card as a good will gesture. You can't say fairer than that.


Flowering away now are the narcissus - Tete a Tete. Such cheery flowers, they bloom for a good length of time and stand up to the weather, bearing their flowers on short stems.



I'm now waiting on the daffodils - Professor Einstein to put in an appearance, they're already starting to bud so they shouldn't be long.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 23rd of March 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Cut Flower Patch post.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Garden Visiting In March - Part Two

My previous post was Part One of our trip to Manor Heath Park in Halifax. After our visit to the walled garden, we decided to visit the Jungle Experience. As we had Archie with us, Mick had to wait outside as dogs aren't allowed in this part of the park, but he didn't mind. Admission to the park and walled garden is free but there's a charge to enter the Jungle Experience, one whole pound. It was well worth it, and I don't know of many other attractions with such a low charge.


The Jungle Experience has a tropical atmosphere. Plants here come from all over the world, and there's plenty to see.




As I grow a couple of orchids myself, I enjoyed seeing some growing as they would in their natural environment.


There's an area containing carnivorous plants.


A tank holds butterfly cocoons.


On the top of the tank was this Owl butterfly feasting on a slice of orange. My photo really doesn't show its size, it was huge. These butterflies are usually found in rainforests and secondary forests in Mexico, Central, and South America.


As you might expect, the Jungle Experience has plenty of ponds and waterfalls.



Many of the ponds contain fish.


Some of the ponds contain Red Eared Terrapins.




Chinese Painted Quail wander around at leisure. They were introduced as the butterfly caterpillars were being eaten by spiders. They're ground eating birds and rarely fly.



There's plenty in the Jungle Experience to satisfy both plant and wildlife lovers.


The rest of our day was taken up in the park. There's a woodland walk and a park trail as well as a wildflower area. We didn't visit any of these, but would do so if we return. Instead, we gave Archie a good run on the expanse of grass. Our visit coincided with the start of the good weather and there were many families taking advantage of it. There's a great play area for children with many pieces of recently installed equipment and the Flutter-Bites Cafe, which was doing a roaring trade.

The spring bulbs were putting on a pretty display.



There's some lovely areas around the park to explore.



Manor Heath Park is great for a day out, with the added advantage that dogs can be taken along. The only downside was that dogs weren't allowed in the Jungle Experience so Mick didn't get to visit it, but we wouldn't have expected dogs to be admitted to an attraction like this anyway, so it certainly didn't spoil our visit.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Sunday the 23rd of March 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on The Cut Flower Patch post.