During our visit to Fillinghams’ Christmas Tree farm back in December, I spotted some packets of ‘Grow-your-own’ Christmas Trees for the bargain price of 99p each. I thought that these would be a fun thing for the youngest Mudlets to try to grow, so we paid for two of them and the girls were delighted with this extra purchase. All through Christmas the pods were proudly kept with their sleigh gifts and Christmas toys, waiting for the day when we could plant them …… and that day was today. Continue reading
Okay, when I say ‘It’s growing season again’, I don’t mean that you’ve all done a ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and hibernated the rest of your Winter or Summer (depending on where abouts in the world you live) away. No, what I mean is that with the Christmas decorations fast becoming a dim and distant memory and January passing by at a quite alarming rate of knots, I now have the windowsill space to place propagators and the knowledge that officially, our Spring is, along with Greenhouse washing and bed preparation only a matter of weeks away (sorry Sarah) which means that, if I want to stand any chance of harvesting ripe tomatoes, chillis or sweet peppers by the end of the summer, I need to get the seeds sown now!
So, this morning I trundled down to the greenhouses and pulled out three propagator trays, lids and seed tray inners, the potting station and garden labels before, much to the dismay of the array of birds who have been spending vast swathes of time at the feeders, setting about washing and rinsing them outside, before stacking them in front of the Rayburn to dry.
We are growing 5 varieties of chilli this year, including an interesting looking ‘Hot Curry’ chilli which I’ve never grown before but then, to be honest, out of the others, I’ve only ever grown ‘Patio Sizzle’ before which is a hot little chilli in its’ own right. The remaining varieties are: a hot ‘Paper Lantern’; a very hot ‘Tobasco’; and a hot ‘Jalapeno’.
Middle Mudlet helped me choose the Tomato varieties for this year. We settled on three and we haven’t grown any of them before either. One ‘Craigella’ produces a salad sized tomato, we have a mix of baby plum tomatoes called ‘Rainbow Mix’ and a cherry variety called ‘Sweet Baby’.
The final vegetable seeds for sowing today are two varieties of sweet pepper. I’ve never had much success growing sweet peppers but we use loads of them in cooking, the Mudlets like taking them to school to use for a mid morning snack and they are not exactly cheap to buy and, more often than not, are not in the best of condition well before their ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates. So we’re giving them another go but this year, as well as the usual ‘Worldbeater’ variety which produces what I would call a standard looking and sized sweet pepper, we’re also going to try and grow a smaller variety called ‘Mini Red’.
I mentioned back in the Summer/Autumn, that Middle Mudlet had asked for her own patch of garden this year and so she has helped me choose the seeds for this season:
- Winter squash ‘High Sugar Mix’ which is a favourite of mine and contains a mix of four sweet dumpling squash varieties which are ‘Harlequin’, ‘Celebration’, ‘Table Star’ and ‘Sweet Lightning’. The thing about this mix is that you have no idea whatsoever which seeds you have until the fruits start to develop but it is really exciting to see them start to grow, and their different colours add a bit more interest to the vegetable patch;
- Butternut ‘Butterfly’ which was one of the few things I tried to grow last year but to no avail. These are the left over seeds and as this was a gift from one of the Mudlets, I am going to try again this year and, with the beds manured and mulched to within an inch of their lives last Autumn, I’m hoping for a bit more success this year;
- One of Middle Mudlets choices was the Winter Squash ‘Honey Bear’ and I’m sure her decision had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the teddy bear she has had from being a newborn is also called Honey Bear. This squash has a dark green skin with a bright orange flesh;
- She also chose the ‘Atlantic Giant’ pumpkin seeds and we are really looking forward to seeing how these do and if we can actually grow a giant pumpkin for Halloween; and
- We also have the smaller pumpkin ‘Baby Bear’ which is described as a culinary pumpkin.
- The runner bean ‘Enorma’ will grace the back fence this year;
- Climbing bean ‘Blauhilde’ was another of Middle Mudlet choices having been drawn to the thought of purple bean pods decorating the garden;
- She also fell for the unusual looking ‘Asparagus’ pea which is a variety I had never heard off before, never mind seen, eaten or grown. It looks amazing on the packet and I’m as excited as she is to see if we can grow them and find out what they taste like; and
- One of the mainstays of our garden is ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ mangetout which is a prolific and tasty favourite of us all. The Mudlets often have these as snacks for school and can get quite impatient waiting for the first pods to reach munching size.
- Carrot ‘Cosmic Purple’ which was the one seed that Middle Mudlet really, really wanted to grow:
- Another of Middle Mudlets choices is cabbage ‘Minicole’. We don’t usually grow cabbage due to the space required but this is variety can be grown quite close together and can stand ready for cutting for up to four months and so I was happy to give it a go:
- We were both intrigued by the ‘Little Warpath’ lettuce which is described on the packet as the smallest iceberg;
- ‘Mixed Salad Leaves’ are another mainstay of our growing season and so will be sown along with the icebergs and both varieties will be sown at regular intervals to ensure a ready supply of salad leaves;
- Middle Mudlet chose these ‘French breakfast’ radish seeds to try as well. Radish is a crop I’ve never been able to master and have read and followed the advice of numerous bloggers and magazines, all to no avail. Fingers crossed that 2018 will prove to be the year that we crack radish growing; and
- A growing season in Mudville is never complete without sunflowers and we have the ‘Giant Single’ variety for this year.
We still need to get parsnip seeds for this year and another variety of carrot, as well as the green beans but other than that we’re good to go, having bought a bag of approximately 26 King Edward seed potatoes a couple of weeks ago. With the propagators washed and dried, it’s time to get the first of this years seeds sown and then the waiting game for the first sight of seedlings begins.
As a gardener, I have a great deal of admiration, respect and gratitude for the plethora of wild visitors who work tirelessly to pollinate my plants and keep them free from the army of pests whose sole mission in life is to inflict as much damage as possible. Continue reading
I haven’t planted much in my garden this year, some potatoes in potato bags and tubs, tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies in the greenhouses. Pots of strawberries have been left to their own devices with the minimum of attention, providing us with a lovely crop of berries earlier this year and the rhubarb has grown bigger than ever and is now ready for splitting with a section destined for the school garden. Continue reading
When we first moved into Mudville some 15 years or so ago, we inherited a rather straggly looking hedge, running down the side of our property and marking the boundary. It had obviously been neglected for many years and so we took on the no small task of bringing it back to good health. Seven years later and the hedge was transformed beyond recognition to a vibrant, bushy and green wall of nature, giving cover and shelter to the wildlife within. Then for a variety of reasons, we haven’t been able to do the trimming for the last 4 years or so and the hedge once again began to take on a sparse appearance, becoming tall and spindly and not looking in anyway shape or form like the well cared for hedge we had looked after so diligently. Continue reading
The summer holidays seem a long time ago now, as the temperatures take a decidedly downward turn, the sun sinks ever lower into the sky with each passing day and in the garden, plants start to give up the ghost, shrivelling and turning brown as the last of their fruits reach full maturity and, in the case of the pumpkins and winter squashes, start to develop their autumn colours and hardened skins. Yet it was only two weeks ago that the Mudlets’ schools opened their doors once again, at the start of yet another academic year and hordes of excited children arrived in the playgrounds, anxious to catch up with their particular set of friends, sharing news of holidays, outings and all manner of goings on.
So as the chill night air once again starts to envelope Mudville, I have decided that now is the time to share the summer happenings of our little family, to reminisce of warmer days and new experiences. Continue reading
Wow! Where has this year gone? It only seems 5 minutes since I was planning what I was going to plant in the school garden, agreed to help in the local community garden and took the decision to back off from blogging for a while to allow my mojo to heal and rejuvenate. As for my own garden, it has had the year off to replenish the depleted nutrients which have resulted from several seasons of year on year growing and in spite of zealous digging in of fertilisers. My beds are currently buried under a generous layer of farmhouse manure and freshly mulched hedge clippings, ready for the autumn/winter weather and local population of worms to work their magic, breaking it down into the much needed, aforementioned nutrients. With any luck growing season 2018 is going to be a good one. Continue reading
That’s the only way you could describe the state of my largest greenhouse. In fact it was far more than a bit of a mess, it was a bona fide disaster zone and I needed to sort it out pretty quickly. You see with the Jack Frost just around the corner, it was imperative that I moved the chilli plants which were in the smaller greenhouse, into the large one, so that I could set the small one up as the winter lodgings for some of the outdoor plants which weren’t frost hardy.
A couple of weekends ago I spent about 7 hours across two days, in my vegetable gardening clearing away, pruning, digging up and planting, untangling bean vines from bamboo structures interwoven with garden wire or garden twine. I hoisted, shifted and dragged bags of compost, spent and unused growbags, pots, tubs, house bricks and windblown branches from one place to another. By the end of the weekend I could feel with the usual gentle reprimand from muscles not used to so much activity and treated myself to a long, hot soak in the bath to placate them. Continue reading
Back in June, a quick survey of the hanging baskets and tubs dotted around Mudville, resulted in Mud deciding that most of the 6 or 7 year old baskets had well and truly outlived their usefulness and many of the herbs and plants, needed repotting into larger tubs or pots. So we all piled into Annie and headed off to the garden centre on the first of many trips, to replenish the baskets and plants. One area that we really wanted to address, was the corner near the barbeque which is almost entirely in the shade for most of the day, due to the gazebo and so that first trip was mostly dedicated to finding a selection of shade loving plants, with which to dress the covered well. Continue reading