The Land Rover Owners Wife


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It’s growing season again!!!

King Edwards make the best roast potatoes

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:

We have 5 varieties from the pumpkin/winter squash family and these are:

  • 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.

Beans and peas are also on the growing agenda for this season. We have two beans but could really do with a third and two types of peas:

  • 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.

The last of the seeds Mudlet and I chose for this year are an interesting mix:

  • 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.

 

 

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And so it begins

We need it to start turning orange now

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


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Halloween – shockingly quiet

Marshmallow spiders - my kind of arachnid

Marshmallow spiders – my kind of arachnid

By the time the younger Mudlets and I left the house to go trick or treating this Halloween, it had been dark for just over an hour and yet we had only had one set of callers. This was great news for the girls who were delighted at the prospect of loads of left over sweets, not to mention my marshmallow spiders but not so good for Mud, who wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of hoards of trick or treaters calling after we had left. Continue reading


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Who dunnit?

The second of our two pumpkins is now almost completely orange

The second of our two pumpkins is now almost completely orange

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


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Taking the plunge

It's good to see the right sort of green in the garden again

It’s good to see the right sort of green in the garden again

There comes a time each growing season, when gardeners have to decide that the chance of hard frosts has passed and they can start to move seedlings and young plants out of their greenhouses, into their final positions and for me, this year, that day was Thursday just gone (19th May). It was a warm but not overly hot afternoon, with a gentle breeze – perfect conditions really, especially for planting the willowy, fragile bean plants. Continue reading


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Pumpkin Crop 2015

At just over 19 inches at its widest point, this is our biggest pumpkin and it's pretty perfectly shaped too!

At just over 19 inches at its widest point, this is our biggest pumpkin and it’s pretty perfectly shaped too!

In terms of pumpkins, we have definitely done better this year than last in respect of the number of pumpkins that we have, although they aren’t exactly record breakers. By far the best results have come from the Sugar pie plants, with 5 offerings across 4 plants, but the Jack O’lanterns put in a last minute sprint, producing female flowers late on in August, two of which pollinated, bringing our total number for this variety to 3. Unfortunately, the white skinned ‘Invincible’ pumpkins haven’t done very well at all but I have promised Little Mudlet (she gave me the seeds for Mothers Day back in March) that we will try these again next year.

I think the prolonged cold spell at the start of the season has, once again, delayed the growth of the plants, as another local grow-your-own’er, has experienced similar problems to me and many of her plants have also thrown out a lot of female flowers far too late in the season and, as a result, these wont come to much of anything. Soil depletion is, I believe, another cause for the generally poor performance of my garden this year but topsoil, manure and blood and bones, will be added and dug in over the autumn.

But this is post is a celebration of the pumpkins that, in spite of everything, have grown and will be decorating our house this Halloween and will be used in soups, pies and cakes:

 


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Pumpkins!

Sugar Pie Pumpkins: at this point the large one was the size of an orange and the smaller one was the size of the lemon.

Sugar Pie Pumpkins: at this point the large one was the size of an orange and the smaller one was the size of the lemon.

This time last month I was really, REALLY concerned that we wouldn’t have home grown pumpkins for Halloween this year, due to the unseasonably cold temperatures which were prohibiting the growth of the squash and pumpkin plants in my garden. My vining squash plants were still huddled up, reluctant to spread their roots, never mind their vines and I was busy snipping off the female flowers, to try and prevent them developing into tiny fruit and stunting the spread of the vines. Then the sun arrived. The temperatures rose …… significantly …… and finally, the plants began to explore the world around them and soon became intent on making use of every available spare inch of ground, throwing out male flowers as they went. Continue reading


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Nipping the buds

Far too small for flowers

Far too small for flowers

This past weekend was a frustrating one, with almost constant rainfall from late Friday until mid afternoon Sunday and temperatures more akin to April than mid-June (especially at night), so many jobs that needed doing, had to be postponed. Out in the beds, some of the plants are really suffering with the unseasonably low temperatures and I had hoped to apply a liquid feed to them on Friday evening, to give them a much needed boost. However, with the forecasters predicting heavy rain from late Friday night, I decided that applying a feed to the beds was pointless and so I restricted my feeding to the greenhouse plants. Thankfully, the weather for the next few days is set to be warmer and dryer, so I plan to apply the feed to the outside plants today and then give them another feed in 3 days (permissible according to the instructions) to try and kickstart a much needed growth spurt. Continue reading


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A bit of squash (and other things)

The nearest propagator houses the winter squash and pumpkin seeds and the other is home to the flowers and courgettes.

The nearest propagator houses the winter squash and pumpkin seeds and the other is home to the flowers and courgettes.

As a result of my potting on, I suddenly found myself with a load of empty propagators and windowsills which could only mean one thing…. time to sow a load more seeds! I rifled through my seed drawers and to my absolute glee, realised that it was time to start sowing my winter squash and pumpkin seeds. Continue reading


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The Zombie, the Witch, the Vampire and a Werewolf

Pumpkins with candles: Little Mudlets (left), Eldest Mudlets (centre) and Middle Mudlets with the tall eyes.

Pumpkins with candles: Little Mudlets’ (left), Eldest Mudlets’ (centre) and Middle Mudlets’ with the tall eyes.

It was remarkably mild this Hallowe’en which made the trudge around the village knocking on peoples doors that little bit more pleasant and the Mudlets were able to do the whole thing without either wrapping up so tight they could have been mistaken for Carol Singers, or shivering in their flimsy Hallowe’en costumes (although they usually have layers underneath the costumes as well). This year they were joined by one of their friends who was wearing a werewolf costume and Eldest Mudlet who dressed up as a Zombie. The friends mum and I also went with them and it was a pleasant evening all round.

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