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 new year approaches and there are changes afoot

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed by in what seems like a mere blink of an eye. In just a matter of days we will be welcoming in another year and with it comes the promise of new adventures, opportunities and more chances to realises long held dreams, or brand new goals. As the years march on by, Mud and I watch our three beautiful girls grow both in stature (although I feel Little Mudlet will always be a mere slip of a thing), confidence and character. 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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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


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A Chilli Greenhouse

I'm thinking this is enough chillies now

I’m thinking this is enough chillies now

On a morning like today, with the sun shining and the outdoor temperature an impressive 14.5C, you could almost believe that Winter was finally losing her grip on our part of the world and that Spring had arrived. That’s ‘almost believe‘ though, not ‘know for sure‘ because one thing that gardening has taught me over the last few years is that Ma Nature doesn’t read books and most certainly does not follow all the rules, or that the advice in regards the seasons and specifically their start and end dates, written by experts can only ever be regarded as guidelines, best case scenarios and should not be followed verbatim. Warm as the day is today, there is still the possibility of snow and hard frosts have been known to hit as late as the back-end of May, as I learned to my cost back in 2010. Continue reading


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The Gardeners’ Apprentice

Little Mudlet worked hard clearing out the strawberry pots

Little Mudlet worked hard clearing out the strawberry pots

I’ve nearly finished the garden prep now with just two more beds to dig manure into and the large greenhouse to wash. My energy levels are still not brilliant and so when Little Mudlet offered to help me over the Easter weekend, I accepted gratefully and we made our way into the veg patch. Obviously the digging in of manure was not a suitable task for my 9-year-old and so I asked her to weed the other beds I intended to dig in that day, a job she carried out both enthusiastically and willingly. Continue reading


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The Mudlets’ sow some seeds

Middle Mudlets' propogator

Middle Mudlets’ propagator

“Can I have my own propagator to look after, please mum?” Middle Mudlet asked me the other day. Well what could I say, after all my whole ethos with the school garden has been to encourage the children to develop a love of all things green and growing and so I decided that the next round of seed sowing could be given over to the girls, under supervision. Continue reading


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Not for public consumption

Annual spring clean

Annual spring clean

There are certain things in life that really shouldn’t be seen in public and on Good Friday, I was one of those things. I’ve never been one to worry about fashion at the best of times, believing that comfort is far more important, and this is especially true whilst working in the garden but Friday morning I drew the line and when Mud asked me if I’d mind standing on the front drive and keep an eye on his tools for a few moments (he was doing some work on Annie) whilst he was otherwise engaged, I put my foot down with a firm hand and refused point-blank. Continue reading


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Potting on and more seeds to sow

I'm thinking 27 tomato plants is enough

I’m thinking 27 tomato plants is enough

I spent an enjoyable if lengthy amount of Saturday, potting on the large quantities of chillies and tomato seedlings that have spent the last few weeks developing their root systems and putting on growth, in the seed trays they were originally sown in. In total I had 72 tomato seedlings across 5 varieties, 11 sweet peppers and 56 chillies across 4 varieties. Of course 72 tomato plants is a little excessive for a family of four, even with two tomato loving Mudlets’ who are happy to snack away on the red fruits as if they were sweets and no amount of chutney making could utilise the huge quantities of fruit that we could find ourselves harvesting come the summer. Continue reading