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Monday, 30 November 2009

Where Does The Time Go????

Gosh! I thought that as the days grew shorter and things slowed down on the gardening front, I would find myself with too much time on my hands, with lots of time for blogging and dabbling in crafting activities. How wrong was I??

This last week I haven’t had time to not even smile at the garden, so there is no present updates on that front and to make matters worse Wednesday and Thursday there was a lovely break in the weather with lots of sunshine and mild temps and I couldn’t even get time to fit in a visit to the plot, BUMMER!!! (My hubby was home all week as well so I would have been able to go on my own and leave the bambino home, *^%%^^$& !!!)

So what kept me so busy you are probably wondering? Well I had a commissioned jewellery job to complete for a friend, which if I was not unwell a couple of weeks ago I would have completed a while back, as it is the cold made me lose a week plus some, which meant many a 2 O’clock to 4 O’clock morning bedtimes this past week.

She wanted some dragonfly brooches for her teachers and something for the two male teachers.

I attempted some very snazzy cuff links (for the brave male in your life/ for the lady who wants to jazz up her borrowed/ owned male shirt) and was really pleased with how they turned out. I thought I would have had some leftover for the blogshop after showing her them on Saturday but she took the lot. So after this blog update its back to the loft for more creating.

Since I was stuck in the loft for long hours each day last week I decided to take a few photos to show you all what I have to look out onto when I come up to breath.

See I told you we had some lovely gardening weather this week down my way (seen while sitting).

This is if I stand and look out the window.

And when I stick my head out of the window this is what I see ( I love touching the lumps of moss).

Other things that kept me busy was the kitchen, the weekend before last I was busy turning the green tomatoes I picked previously into chutney, golly there was a lot, I also did a small pot of apple jam. The tomato chutney was made following the Glutney recipe from River Cottage Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This recipe is certainly a fail safe recipe for garden veg gluts and I’m always pleased with the outcome. The apple jam was made simply by equalling the weight of the chopped apples with brown sugar and I added some spices such as cloves, bay leaf, nutmeg, cinnamon, and mace. Stewed it down till it reached setting stage and bottled in sterilised jars. End result was 15 jars of chutney and 4 jars of apple jam.

Well I know it doesn’t seem that much but the above mentioned stuff along with everyday life and a husband recovering from some minors surgery (not to worry he’s fine, went back out to work today), my last two weeks have left me time poor and shattered, thankfully I made it to bed early Saturday and Sunday night so I’ll be feeling good as new soon.

Oh! by the way check out what I harvested from the greenhouse on the 21st of Nov, how cool is that! This is the result of my ‘Extending The Tomato Harvest Period Experiment’. I’m afraid I didn’t label the posts I mentioned it in before and now I can’t even find them to link back to. So I’ll try to briefly explain what it was/ is about. In latter part of June I took the removed side shoots of the outdoor grown tomatoes and rooted them in water in the greenhouse. As they grew they were potted up into pots at least twice before ending up in their final black bucket pots. I also restricted their growth to a cordon style and to a particular height of no more than roughly 3ft/ at least three trusses of flowers. The whole idea was to see if I could extend my outdoor tomatoes by growing their clones in the greenhouse which should crop a little later and longer because the plants are protected by the elements when the weather change for the worse. So far so good the autumn was uncharacteristically mild so that was definitely to the plants benefit. And as of right now there are ripe tomatoes outside in the greenhouse waiting to be picked. A couple of cuttings even made it inside on to the kitchen window sill but I kept these in much smaller pots which forced them to concentrate on ripening the fruits quicker. So the question remains home picked Christmas tomatoes? I’ll have to wait and see.

I almost forgot to update you on the progress of my South American root veg. the Yukon has had lovely tubers on them since October but I’m yet to harvest any and as of last week the oca has begun to grow tubers, nothing yet noticed on the ulluca though.

Anyhow! Here are some more photo updates on my pass blog hiatus period.

What I Got Up to in The Garden October into November.

Beds were cleared and weeded, the compost bin overflowed quite a few times as a result.

Tender plants were moved from the greenhouse to the conservatory (chili plants, sweet potato, Greek basil, lemon grass and Vietnamese coriander) and from outside into the greenhouse (the South American root veges: Yukon, oca and ulluca). I also moved my succulent hanging basket (which sits as the center piece of my vege garden mini pond) that I started this year into the greenhouse, for although the plants are hardy, there is quite a lot of water retaining crystals at the base of the basket. This would definitely cause water logging over the winter which may cause me to lose some of the plants.

The mini meadow area was strimmed down (I removed the seed heads carefully first) then the area was raked quite roughly to remove some of the faster growing grasses which opened up some bare soil. Then I distributed the seeds from the saved seed heads and the seeds I saved from the field poppies that grew elsewhere in the garden this year evenly over the area (some of the wheat and oat seeds were already germinating with the warm wet environment of mid October). I then netted the are to prevent the birds taking the seeds.

In October month I was still fortunate enough to be harvesting a few summer crops, with some like the runner beans giving of their last right into November.
08/10/09 - A continued bumper harvest of plum tomatoes made me a second batch of chunky tomato sauce.


15/10/09 - The very last of the patty pan squash and sweetcorn (eaten as baby sweetcorn and baby squashes) included in this harvest.

15/10/09 - The last of the container grown potatoes, a main crop variety.

15/10/09 - WHAT THE !!!!!!!! a little aubergine. It never did get much bigger than this, I ate it anyway :)

The borlotti beans shelled and chucked into the freezer because as you can see from the green beans not all got to dry on the plants or in their pods.

03/11/09 - The last harvest of the runnerbeans.

03/11/09 - A combination of outdoor and greenhouse tomatoes.

09/11/09 - Still harvesting outdoor and greenhouse tomatoes, picking enough to keep the two tomato bowls filled.
Other developments in the garden has been the self seeding of the 2008 over wintered parsley plants. As you can see the mild weather has encouraged a plethora of parsley seedlings in this years sweet corn bed and where I wanted them in the cracks of the brick footpath boarding the beds.

Well I think this blog post is more than long enough so I’ll end it here and will try to complete my October into November updates over the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

So What Have I Been Up To: Time to Spill The Beans

So the kids thought they would be generous and give me their cold last week Friday. I still had to be mummy though and although it hasn’t really knocked me down it sure is hanging on and I still feel a bit rough.

Wow! that was some windy weather over the weekend wasn’t it. My greenhouse lost a pane of glass right over my storage boxes and with the torrential downpours I have a wet mess still to sort out. One job I was leaving to do last Sunday was to take down my
outdoor tomato shelter (it’s a two person job) and to bring in the green tomatoes to ripen and to make a few jars of green tomato chutney. Well Friday night windy weather also sorted that out and so I left my mum and hubby to put away the shelter (really glad it didn’t get broken) in a secure place for me while I took the girls to their drama classes.

So Sunday bright and early with the wind finally died down and the sun out nice and warm, I wrapped myself up and went outside to tackle the garden. Hubby repaired the greenhouse broken pane and I got on with surveying the damage of which thankfully there was little. The tomato plants and their supporting poles were taken down and the bed was cleared and weeded. I also took down my
mini greenhouse I erected for the melongene and sweet peppers, which also survived the high winds well. That bed was also cleared and weeded, harvestable fruits were picked. I also weeded some of the other beds with over wintering crops in them, with the soil being saturated from the night time showers the weeds came out with out any resistance. With all this clearing of the beds the compost bin got a colourful top up of spent calendula and French marigold plants, all full of seeds mind, so in two years time I expect to see lots of self seeded annual flowering plants through out the vege beds, which I don’t really mind, they are easy enough to weed out if they pop up in the wrong place.

Sunday’s harvest: inclusive some root veg, sweet peppers, herbs and green or half ripened tomatoes, two small celeriac which were roasted with the JAs below, the jury is still out on both these new veges to our home, we'll make a comprehensive decision on growing them again after a few more recipe ideas.

The Jerusalem artichokes I dug up had root aphids on them see the pic on the right, they didn't appear to have harmed the roots in anyway but I disturbed the soil as much as I could so the birds would find them.

At the end of the next few postings I’ll end with a little catch up postings of what I photographed or did during my blog hiatus (this of course will make the post very photo heavy, so bear with me). Right with this in mind here are my:

Autumnal Observations:

Well we are in the middle of November and autumn is drawing to a close but what a mild autumn we are having. Its currently 12°C with a possible maximum of 16°C forecasted for Thursday and Friday this week. Anyway here are my autumnal focused pictures.

There are so many sunny warm days, you'd be forgiven for thinking its August.

Very poor shots I know of the spectacle that is autumn but its all I got.

I have always wanted to capture a falling autumn leaf, I obviously haven't got the camera/ skills to capture the beauty of such a shot but well pleased to actually capture it.
What's autumn without fungi, they fascinate me...

Another life form I find intriguing are mosses...
The old apple tree have fruited well this year and the fallen fruits have brought back the birds with earnest.
Ripened Seed Heads...





Fox Glove




Salad Burnet

The warmer temps also allowed some flowers to keep on blooming or even to restart…
St John's Wort

Toad Flax ?type


One last Opium Poppy

Potted Honeysuckle's first bloom in bud.

Jerusalem Artichoke in flower.
With the warm October month we experienced the mini beasts were very much in attendance, imagine I saw my last butterfly to date on the 4th of November a red admiral flutter by my mom’s bedroom window and last night a moth was flying outside against the kitchen window (attracted by the light no doubt).
The JAs blooms attracted many pollen eating insects such as the hoverfly on the left and the lacewing larva on the right which was probably hunting pollen eaters.

With all this warmth the ladybugs made a last ditched appearance in quite larger numbers than would be expected. Any i disturbed while tidying up the vege beds were moved to the greenhouse to over winter. I found many tucked up among the seeds heads and thick leaf cover of some plants.

Once upon a time a ladybug got caught in a spiders web, "yum" thought the spider "a tasty morsel to keep going over the winter, just what I need". "Not on your life" said the ladybug "take that" as it excreted some bright sticky stuff from its body. "Blech!!!" said the spider as it tried to bite the ladybug, it scampered away to wash out its mouth. "Whew!" said the ladybug as it tried to untangle itself, then off it flew. (PS sorry but I didn't have the camera with me so I didn't get the first shot of the spider trying to bite the ladybug, if you click on the first shot in the right hand corner you would see the remains of the sticky yellow excretions of the ladybug).

Stink bugs and Spiders

Butterflies and Moths

Bumblebees; the one on the left and the left one in the blue shot looks like queens, the first shot is one appearing to look for an over wintering spot in my greenhouse but I sent it on my way.

The birds have returned to the garden, have naughtily not started to actively feed them as yet plan to do so end of the month. (The pics are not my best taken through windows, so as to not scare off the models).

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

Coal Tit


Blue Tit
There are bigger critters visiting the garden more now as we go into the garden less...
Cheeky Squirrel

Bedraggled fox from this year's litter.
By the way my Blogshop have had new items added to it over the pass couple weeks. Please pop on by and have a look.


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