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Saturday, 22 August 2009

This Weeks Going Ons.

It has been a week since my last post and I apologise for my tardiness and apologise now for the length of this post. The week has been full of all sorts of going ons, so I’ll write about it day by day so as not to forget anything. Oh I’ll just say now, the weather has remained lovely with only a little rain on Friday, which meant I had to fit watering the plants into my days as well.

Saturday 15th -
Every morning I open the greenhouse and begin my inspection of its fauna inhabitants. This involves the searching out of open female flowers on my two melon plants and hand pollinating them. Which as you can see in the picture has proved successful. To keep track of the ones I have done I have taken to loosely tying their stems with a thin piece of yarn. Currently I have these three on one plant (which was grown from saved seed from a supermarket bought fruit) and two the other plant which is a variety called ‘Ogen’.

I generally spent the Saturday doing odd jobs here and there in the vege patch such as tying in the tomatoes, watering lots and removing rotten fruit off the old apple trees we have in the lawn area.

I’ll just show you now the photos I took on Saturday:

An arty shot of a sunflower.

This red admiral have been dodging my camera near on two weeks now, finally I got a shot of him, ain’t he a beaut!

Haven’t seen a song thrush in over a month, its that time of the year when they start to return to the garden, lets you know that autumn is on its way.

I have been showing you the different stages of the carrot flower and this is the end stage with the seeds ripe and dry ready for gathering (I love photographing them. They are so striking at every stage, they make great arty farty shots). Since the ones I sowed almost three weeks ago have come up I picked some and sowed them to see if they’ll germinate quicker as they are so fresh (well you can’t get fresher seed than this, can you?).

More and more varieties are ripening.

My youngest whose 4yrs likes to take photos as well and borrowed the camera for a while, so here are her shots from her perspective (and I promise there was no help from me).

Sunday 16th -
Today I worked on potting up some of the pot grown herbs and other plants that are currently housed in the greenhouse. The sweet potatoes that got started way too late and that I am going to attempt to over winter in the conservatory this winter also needed potting up. The second one was found to have at least two developing tubers, so I resigned myself to pot up into a much larger pot than I really wanted to (I also gave it a small wigwam to climb), hope fully this will give the tubers time to develop.

Pictures taken:
Well I found this a strange site, not a squabble in sight, just all three of them sitting sharing the same space for full on 10 minutes then they calmly flew off to their own destinations, very bizarre.
The day’s harvest.
Monday 17th -
My tomato plant inspections have revealed blight, I’m sorry in my efficiency to remove the offending leaf and any other suspect foliage I forgot to take a picture. I’ll quickly tell you how I control the disease when it surfaces.
  • First and foremost I try to prevent or at least reduce the risk by growing my outdoor tomatoes under an open sided cover which allows for good air circulation but reduces the amount of rain falling on the plants. I also grow my plants as cordons which also help to stop them from getting over crowded, again helping the air flow between the plants.
  • I only nip out side shoots and remove any low lying, dense crossing over and suspect leaves on dry days preferably bright sunny days (preferably well before sundown), which I hope allows any wounds to dry quickly
  • When the blight is confirmed I remove all the infected foliage and any surrounding leaves that may have been touching the infected foliage. Any suspect leaves are also removed forth with.
  • My secateurs are cleaned between each cut with menthylated spirits/ surgical spirits and I also immediately spray the cut wound with the spirits as well (I think this dries out the plant cells at the cut wound entrance rendering them inhospitable to the blight spores. I did this last year too during the very wet summer and have yet to see any blight develop at any of my cut areas).
  • I generally garden with latex gloves and so I also spray my gloved hands every so often when I’m doing blight pruning to prevent me spreading the spores on to uninfected leaves.
  • Lastly because I don’t maintain a hot compost heap, I discard my blighted foliage and / fruits either through burning or in my household waste.

Another job I got started was the preliminary tiding up of the flower beds. Like I have said before this really only entails the removal of certain seed heads to keep a control of self seeding perennials and I also worked on straightening and staking plants that were flopping into the footpaths (the main tidy is done mid spring when the hibernating minibeasts starting to wake and the perennials are beginning to emerge). Though it’s not yet autumn in my tidying I did disturb at least 15+ lady bugs from some of the undergrowths. So I deposited them into one of the bug houses I built last year which are dotted around the flower and vege gardens. So hopefully they still over winter in the garden.

Pictures taken:

The latest sunflower to greet me in the morning.

This field grasshopper was creating a lot of noise with its leg rubbing antics. I tried to catch it on video but it got shy as soon as I pressed the record button, so a picture will have to do.

The day’s harvest.

The traditional tomato bowl has finally been filled, ie we are picking quicker than we can eat (no bad thing).

Tuesday 18th -
We went into the town to run errands and the kids got to stop off at the museum for story and arts and craft, which is always a winner.

Now for a mini rant! Why don’t sports stores sell sports equipment? I ran around like a headless chicken trying to find some swim shoes for my girls between the museum trip and a Dr’s appointment. One of the stores shop assistance said the reason its hard to get want you think you should be able to get at sports stores now a days is because the stores are concentrating more on sports fashion than on sports, humph go figure. Anyway while sitting in the Dr’s waiting room I remembered the last place I got swim shoes for my eldest was at the leisure centre. So after the Dr’s a quick trip to the centre unearthed a pair for my little one but non for my big girl. The cashier said a good place to get them all year round would be at the coast, great that's where I’m heading tomorrow I tell her I’ll get the other pair there.

Since we were now spitting distance from the cherry plum trees I foraged from last week, we went to check and see if the yellow ones were ripe yet. Well some were so we picked a small amount of 2lbs and brought them home to ripen a little more before I make some jam with them. I also picked a 2lb bag of red ones for my neighbour.

When we got home a quick check of the vege garden revealed this cute little froglet, they are starting to spread out from the relative safety of the pond’s boggy area.

Wednesday 19th -
Another scorcher 30° C, a day made for the beach. Met up with a friend and her three girls + one niece and headed to
Stone Bay in Broadstairs, this is the best beach I have found thus far in Kent. It has sand, extensive rock pools and it never gets too crowded and I apologise, I completely forgot to take pictures of the rock pools inhabitants that my youngest and I discovered, there were crabs, shrimps, fish snails, limpets, sea urchins and barnacles.

The air temperature wasn’t marred by cool winds and my girls braved the British seas and went into the water much to my surprise. The day was lovely and on the way home I did get a swim shoe to fit my eldest but of course she had to cut her foot on a sharp rock in the water 15 minutes before we left.

Thursday 20th -
Knackered from the day before events not much was done today outside of a little light laundry and opening of the greenhouse

There are more developments with the greenhouse melons. The three I showed you earlier in the post have become one not surprising as all three were on the same side shoot so I knew the plant would cull what it could not maintain. These melons are easily becoming another growing obsession.

The only other thing I did was harvest some veges.

Friday 21st -
Laundry day, besides the laundry I just did a little crop maintenance and lots of watering. Later in the afternoon there was some rain heavy but not for long enough to make a difference.

I have started to harvest the seed from the previously cut seed heads of the amaranth plant. I’ll show you a picture when that job is done.

I did create a lovely light dinner which was liked by all: Courgette and Red Pepper Pizza.

Slice the courgette/s and red peppers very thinly and season with ground black pepper, fresh thyme, lots of crushed garlic and whole cloves (to your taste), olive oil to coat and sea salt to taste.

Bake covered in a baking tray on medium heat till almost cooked. In the mean time prepare the dough for the pizza and place onto your banking sheet.

On the dough spread some chilli paprika chunky paste (I get mine from my mum’s friend whenever she returns from her home country Hungary). A homemade version might be made with some roasted red sweet peppers, olive oil, sea salt, and chilli all blended together (I can‘t read the Hungarian words so can‘t say what other ingredients are in it). I prepared two of these with the second one coated with a non chilli version of the Hungarian paprika paste, in case the chilli one was to hot for the kids.

Next layer the cooked courgette and sweet peppers onto the prepared pizza base, dot a few choice pieces of gourmet type cheese (a goat’s cheese should work nice) over the surface (I used vegan cheese).

I baked the pizza at 120° C for about 20 minute to ensure the dough (mine was a thin crust) cooked through then I fan grilled it on high for a five minutes to crisp up the surface and melt the cheese.

I served it with julienne runner beans which were stir fried in olive oil with garlic, black pepper, roma tomatoes and salt to taste.

Saturday 22nd -
Today I did some more blight control maintenance on the outside tomatoes, things are still looking good. My neighbour on the other hand has had to get rid of two of his outdoor plants, confirming once again you can control the situation if the plants are covered against the rain.

Other small jobs were done, light weeding, watering, nothing major to report.

I did harvest some more today.

I also saw these what appear to be tine pea cockle fresh water mussels in the vege mini pond, there were hundreds (sorry for the poor pic quality).

At the end of the day we saw this in the sky, my youngest loves when they fire up, which I captured in this shot.

And just to end the moth populace is really high here are few I photographed this pass week.

Light Brown Apple Moth ‘Epiphyas postvittana’

Setaceous Hebrew Character ‘Xestia c-nigrum’

Tawny Speckled Pug ‘Eupithecia icterata’


  1. You've had a busy week.
    I think you're youngest daughter is going to be a great photographer, she's got an eye for it.
    Great photo of the girls in the sea. It's so nice to have the weather to get to the coast.

  2. wow..a really busy week for you but nice to find out there is a way to control blight!! What sort of melons are you growing?? This is something I would like to try and grow next year so would be grateful for any tips.

    Love all the pictures!!

  3. Kella,
    I understand totally why you have not posted. Being a mama comes first! But what a great time you have had and great weather too, unlike those of us in the North.

    I like your youngest girls photo's she has a good eye. It so good she is taking an interest.

    I also love the look of that courgette pizza. The next time you make some, please let me know, so that I can place an order at Kella's Kitchen?

  4. Thanks all three of you for the lovely comments,

    Yes the weather has been generally glorious all summer and when the rain did fall it was generally in the evenings and at night. I know some parts of Britain has not been blessed with good summer weather yet again but the south certainly got a reprieve from the wet summers of 07’ and 08’ which of course meant I had to relearn the art of watering my garden when necessary (which I got terribly wrong at times much to the detriment of some crops).

    Both my girls take a keen interest in photography but my OH and I stupidly bought them cheap digital cameras for their last birthdays (thinking that their interest would wane), which means they still use ours as theirs don't give good quality shots. There are birthdays and Christmas coming and I think we'll have to give them an upgrade, so they can fulfil their true photography potential. Since her efforts were well received, I’ll be sure to fore case more of both their photos from time to time.

    Jo it was definitely a good day for the coast, I couldn’t of planned it better. Not only was the weather and the beach goers numbers perfect but we didn’t even have to pay for parking :-)

    Tanya I have failed at growing melons for the last three years, so this year I waved the white flag and stop rebelling against using the greenhouse for them. I thought I would have failed again but then embryo fruits began to emerge and I felt hope rising that maybe, just maybe I’ll succeed this year. The young melon pictured is the fruit of a plant grown from saved seed from a supermarket bought honeydew melon (so most likely it’s a F1 variety grown by commercial growers, so it will interesting to see what the fruit tastes like) and the other is the variety ‘Ogen’.

    I’m growing them in black flower buckets with a mixture of compost, topsoil and rotted rabbit droppings and bedding material. I am quite certain they have filled the pots with roots as they are quite thirsty, and since the fruit emerged I have been give them plant food with each watering.

    The fruit from the supermarket saved seed plant is growing much more quickly than the ‘Ogen’, as you can see from the photos it has more than quadrupled its size in a week where as the ‘Ogen’ has only doubled its size with the two fruits it has.

    Re the tomatoes and blight, I certainly think its naïve for gardeners to really believe they can grow outdoor tomatoes without some sort of rain shelter in the summers Britain is now experiencing ie; wet and humid. My method worked for me last year during a very wet summer (though blight didn’t surface in our parts till mid September) and it is working again this year but the weather has certainly been much drier. After a very sad decimation of my crop in 2007, I didn’t want to experience that again hence why I tried this method, so far it has worked and so I’ll stick to it till it doesn’t.

    Mangocheeks, yep mommydom can certainly at times leave me time poor, it’s a good thing I love being one.

    I’m glad you like the look of my pizza, Kella's Kitchen? coming from you that’s high praise indeed but again I have to thank you for reigniting my joy for creative cooking.

    Well this reply is almost as long as one of my posts, so I’ll say bye for now, and thanks again everyone for reading and enjoying my blog.

  5. Hi Kella,what a busy and productive week you had. A great post and as usual full of inspiration, great shots including your little budding photographers, and always some sound advice. Have a great week ahead and enjoy the children at home with you as I would think they must be due to go back to school soon ?

    I haven't posted in over a week as we have had visitors. I harvested our first 8 sweetcorns on friday they were delicious.

  6. Hi Maureen, thank you too for your positive comments, I enjoy writing my blog, more than I than I envisioned I would do when I first started.

    Please don't remind me the kids are back out to school soon, I so hate to see my eldest disappear for 6+ hrs a day. The school hours plus the preparation to get there cuts into precious family time and I positively detest it >:(

    Sounds like you had a full week yourself with your house full of visitors, I look forward to reading your updates when you get the time to post again.

    My sweet corn is getting tantalisingly close to maturing, some of the earlier cob's tassels are beginning to turn brown, I just hope the local squirrels don't notice.

  7. Isn't that interesting that the supermarket saved seed is growing more quickly than the other? And I love the pics, both yours and your girls!

    I don't know how you remember what you did each day, I have trouble remembering what I did in the last hour...

  8. Hi Deb@carrotsandkids, its lovely to see you here, I love your blog.

    Yes the supermarket saved seed plants are romping way and the larger of the two is now the size of a tennis ball just egg shaped. Where as the fruits of the plant from bought seed is not much bigger than a small grape and has been that way for over a week. It isn't dieing or anything thus far just remained the same size, very strange indeed.

    Thanks for the nice comments about the blog's photos, I enjoy sharing them.

    How I remember what's going on each day? Taking photos regularly is my secret. Without my camera, I would be as you and remember little or nothing of my going ons (I love them and wouldn't be without them but kids have away of frying grey matter, iykwim.



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