Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Potato Progress

Do you remember the potatoes that I planted in containers back on the 20th February? I thought I would update you on their progress. After planting three tubers to a container, they were kept in the greenhouse covered in fleece as the weather was still very cold at that time. They took a while to get going, and at one point I thought I may have lost them. Eventually they did start sprouting, and once that happened there was no stopping them. I kept adding more compost to the container as the foliage grew, this helps the plant to produce more tubers, and also prevents those tubers near the surface of the compost being exposed to light, which makes them turn green and makes them poisonous. As you can see from the photo, the container is now full with compost. I planted some containers with Sharpes Express, which is a first early, and some containers with International Kidney, which is a second early. First earlies can take as little as ten weeks to maturity. Working from the 20th February when they were planted, ten weeks would be this Saturday, however, as they took a while to get going and start to grow I will give them a few more weeks before I harvest them. The International Kidney took even longer to get going, most likely because they are a second early, and these take longer than the first earlies to maturity.

I wish I could also give some progress on potatoes planted at the allotment, but unfortunately family commitments have taken their toll, and they're not even planted yet. From reading information on planting times, it would seem that first earlies and second earlies can be planted up to the end of May, and main crop potatoes can be planted up to the middle of May, so all is not lost yet. I am determined that I will get them in eventually. It will just mean that I'm harvesting a little late this year.

The weather is supposed to be taking a turn for the worse towards the end of this week, but I'm hoping that we get some fine weather over the weekend to enable me to get to the allotment. The jobs I'm wanting to get done initially are planting potatoes, getting my peas in and building my bean wigwams.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Spring Bulbs

In the autumn, I treated myself to lots of spring bulbs, tulips, daffodils, narcissus and many more. Most of them were for the allotment, so that I would be able to cut them and bring them home to brighten up the house, but a few were for the border in the garden. Most of the garden ones are now in bloom, the daffodils have been out for a while, some tulips are out now and some are still to come. Seeing all the lovely colours makes me kick myself that I didn't get round to planting those intended for the allotment. I do this year after year, not only with bulbs but also with plants, which languish in their pots whilst I decide on a place to plant them. Some bulbs which did get planted were the Fritillaria Meleagris - Snake's Head Fritillary, which is a gorgeous little flower and one of our native wildflowers. Not only do I have these little checkered flowers in a deep purple/plum colour, but also a white, which also has a checkered pattern to it. Do watch out though if you have any in your garden as the Lily Beetle will decimate them. This year I really must do better and get some bulbs planted at the allotment so that this time next year my house will be brightened up with lots of colour.

I have made a decision about the beds at the allotment. Last year my beds measured approximately ten foot by four foot. This year I decided that I would do away with the paths in between the beds and make two beds in to one, making each bed ten foot square. Whilst digging over the allotment and planting, I'm finding it frustrating that I'm having to stand on the soil which has just been dug in order to reach the middle of the bed. Also, I know it's all in the mind, but somehow it keeps you motivated to dig over two smaller beds rather than one bed which measures the same. It makes you feel as though you have achieved more. So with this in mind I have decided to go back to the smaller beds. I know I waste space having more paths, but I feel I can manage this way better.

This weekend I intend to get my squash and sweetcorn planted. They will be started off indoors, and by the time they're ready to go out, the risk of frost should have passed. I've never grown squash before, but I have a few varieties to try, Butternut, Cha Cha, Carnival and Turks Turban. I will ensure that they have a much larger bed then four foot by ten foot as I know they like to sprawl.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Cherry Blossom

At the beginning of last year, I bought a cherry tree. As I am short on space in my garden it is planted in a half barrel. It's a Stella, which is a dessert cherry and has been grafted on to dwarf rootstock to keep it compact. Having it's roots contained in the half barrel will also prevent it from growing tall. Last year I got the grand sum of one cherry, which I didn't point out to my daughter who would have fought me for it, but instead greedily kept to myself without sharing. This year there is lots of blossom on the tree, so I'm hoping that we'll all get a taste this time.

Last week I was given two lovely awards from Tanya at Allotments 4 You. These are the Beautiful Blogger Award and the One Lovely Blog Award. It's always nice to receive awards, so thank you very much, Tanya.

The rules of the awards are to link to the blog which gave you the award, list seven random things about yourself and pass the awards on to other blogs which you feel deserve them.

So, for my random seven things:-

1) I had to wear a brace on my teeth when I was young. I had one with a plate which covered the roof of my mouth, but I hated it so much that I used to take it out as soon as I was on my way to school and didn't put it back in until I was round the corner from home. Consequently, it didn't work, so I ended up having to have one which was glued on to my teeth to prevent me taking it out.

2) I left school at the age of 16. I was due to go back after the summer holidays to start A levels, but decided during the holidays that I didn't want to return. My mum wasn't very happy and told me that I had better get a job before the start of school, otherwise I would be going back. I managed to get a job in a bank within the week.

3) I met my hubby in a pub where I was working. After our first date, I told my mum that I would marry him, and he proposed three months later. We'll be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year.

4) I'm a Cancer survivor. It will be 10 years in December since I had surgery to remove a tumour, I was given chemotherapy afterwards. My sister had died from Cancer the year before.

5) One of my hobbies is genealogy. I have traced my family tree back to the 1700's and have been in touch with a few long lost relatives, including my mum's cousin. I managed to arrange for them to meet, the first time they had seen each other in over 60 years.

6) I can touch my lower right arm with my right thumb, and my lower left arm with my left thumb.

7) My ears are pierced twice. I haven't worn earrings in the top holes for about 20 years, but they never heal up.

The blogs I would like to pass the award on to are:-

You are under no obligation to accept the award or pass the award on, but I wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blogs.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I Love A Bargain

Seeing Hellebores on many blogs this spring has renewed my desire to own one. I was pleasantly surprised when I visited my local nursery last week to discover a Hellebore on the reduced rack. OK, it's now on it's way out, and it's flowers have now faded to green, but I'm sure it will flower again beautifully next year. It didn't have a label with it so I don't know it's name, but you can just see a faded pink colour on the petals, so I should think it will turn out to be a pink variety. I really need to get some more colour in the garden over autumn, winter and spring, so this will go a little way to making this happen.

I spent some time at the allotment on Saturday and Sunday hoping to get my potatoes planted, but the ground was still very wet so I decided against it. More digging has been done though, so they should be going in very soon. Even with the lovely weather we had at the weekend, it takes time for the ground to dry out after all the rain we've had beforehand.

I also managed to get some tidying up done in the garden. My border got weeded and dug over, and I planted out a few sweetpeas, the rest will be planted at the allotment. I also planted a couple of Aquilegia - McKana Hybrid which I have grown from seed, and a Dicentra - Spectabilis Alba which was sent to me as a cutting from Georgie, and which I successfully overwintered in the greenhouse.

I saw lots of bees, butterflies and ladybirds around at the weekend, the warm weather must have brought them out of hibernation. The butteflies were Red Admirals, and I'm hoping that seeing them so early this year is a good omen as last year there didn't seem to be many around, well apart from the Cabbage Whites at the allotment, hoping to jump onto my brassicas. A couple of weeks ago I saw two Goldfinches in the front garden feeding on the seeds in the feeder. Last week I saw one in the back garden. I have never seen Goldfinches in the garden before, so I'm hoping that they stick around.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

I've Won Again

I think I must be on a lucky streak at the moment. A couple of weeks ago, I entered a competition on Amanda's blog Eight by Six, and won a seed parcel. I like to try different varieties of each vegetable, so I will enjoy using these. As well as the seeds, Amanda kindly sent some extras, a pair of gardening gloves, some wooden plant markers, a Ministry of Food sketch pad and a water sprinkler which fits on the top of plastic bottles. They will all come in very handy. Thank you very much, Amanda.

Now for the winner of my blog anniversary competition. Love Thy Space have very generously offered a kingfisher garden stake as the prize. My daughter did the honours and drew a name out of the hat, and I'm pleased to announce that the winner is Pamela from Pam's English Cottage Garden. Pam lives in the USA, but will have the prize delivered to her mum's address in the UK. Please email me your mum's address, Pam, you can find my email address in the side bar. I will pass this on to Love Thy Space who will despatch your prize direct. The kingfisher garden stake looks super, and I'm sure it will look lovely in your mum's garden and bring her lots of pleasure.

The sun is shining again today, so I will be making the most of it and spending some time at the allotment.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Blog Anniversary Competition

The first of April is traditionally known as April Fool's Day. This is the day when tricks and practical jokes are played on people. For some reason, this is the date I chose to start my blog, exactly a year ago today. But I'm no fool, blogging has brought me many things, pleasure, enjoyment, knowledge, and not least of all, many new friends. I want to thank everyone who has signed up to become a follower of my blog, those who leave a comment, those who read my blog on a regular basis and come back for more, and those who read occasionally or drop in by accident but linger to read more. Who would have thought a year ago that by now I would have over 50 followers, over 11500 hits, over 900 comments and countless friends?

To celebrate my first blog anniversary and to thank everyone for reading, following, commenting, and for their friendship, the wonderful people at Love Thy Space have very generously allowed me to run a competition with one of their super products as a prize.

Love Thy Space sell a whole range of wild birds which are ethically hand crafted in India. Each bird is attached to a garden stake standing approximately 1.2 metres high, and although powder coated to prevent corrosion, they do weather over time adding to the charm of the bird with contrasting rustic tones. These birds retail at £29.50 each.

I am very excited to be able to offer a Kingfisher garden stake as a prize in the competition. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog telling me which of my posts from the past year is your favourite, and why, and you will be entered in to a random draw. To give everyone a chance to enter, a winner will be selected and announced next weekend. Please note that due to the size of this item, it will not be able to be posted outside of the UK. Therefore, if you are one of my overseas visitors and you would like to enter the competition, please ensure that you have an address in the UK to which the item can be delivered.

I'm sure you'll agree that this is a fantastic prize, so get your comments in and be in with a chance to win it. Don't forget to follow the links to Love Thy Space and check out what other fabulous products they sell.

I hope that you all have a lovely Easter, and that the sun shines for us all.
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