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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A surprise from my garden

A pleasant surprise

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


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There’s mulching and then there’s Mudville mulching

Looks like a classic ‘after the storm’ kind of picture but the twigs are there by design.

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


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Back in the summer holidays ………

A moment for reflection

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


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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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It’s been a while

The Mudlets were thrilled at how well their pine cones sold and my toys did okay as well.

November was the last time I wrote something for my blog and, at that time, it was a relief when I took the decision to put down my virtual pen and walk away. That said, I would occasionally pop in and have a nose around the blogs I follow but for the most part, the WP tile on my phone was left untouched, neglected and alone, passed over as I reached for Google, email, word or the camera tiles instead. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, other than it became a chore to sit down and start typing which was a shame because I love writing, as is evidenced by the articles I still produce for the village magazine and letters I draft on behalf of Gardening Club or the PTA.

Over recent weeks, however, the urge to reclaim my blog has been growing ever stronger and I am finally ready to re-enter the world of blogging, albeit with a more relaxed approach and to start with, here is an update on happenings in Mudville: Continue reading


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A bit of a mess

Much improved

Much improved

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.

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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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The hidden tunnel – a school garden update

Lovely, lush plums ..... unfortunately the wasps agree!

Lovely, lush plums ….. unfortunately the wasps agree!

I am ashamed to say that as much as my own garden has received minimal attention this year for a variety of reasons, the school garden has received even less than that, bordering on none at all, although I did do a decent session of weeding and clearing early in the year. Events at the start of the year, regards my anaemia and the ensuing tests and appointments that have dogged the months since, knocked me for six and it was only in the last few weeks that I began to feel more like myself but with this improvement has come guilt over the dire state of my own beloved vegetable plot, a guilt which was further compounded when I saw the state of the school raised beds when the school reopened on Tuesday. As for the poly tunnel, well I didn’t even think about walking round to the back of the building and looking in on that, as there was nothing growing in it!

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Now you see it – the pond that is

What a difference 2 hours and a load of elbow grease makes

What a difference 2 hours and a load of elbow grease makes

Okay, let’s be honest, up to a week or so ago, as Summers go, the weather we’ve had so far this year has been…. well….. less than ideal. In fact if I’m totally honest, with the exception of most of the second week of Wimbledon, the lack of sunshine and warmth has been immensely depressing, frustrating and off-putting. Poor old Mud has been thoroughly cheesed off because since leaving his job three weeks ago, he hasn’t been able to get on with any of the jobs on Ciggy, Annie or the workshop that he had planned to do and has spent much of the last few weeks muttering about how he shouldn’t be at all surprised because this has been typical of his luck in recent years, in respect of the weather on his days off! Continue reading