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Friday, 13 July 2012

Playing Catch up & Kill 'Em

Nemaslug Review
As this year I have been MEGA crap at sowing anything at all at the right time (due to personal circumstances) I have a lot of bare soil at the moment.  To top it off there are millions of big fat juicy slugs and huge snails this year thanks to Britain's dire weather; it's rained almost every day for months, with the occasional flash flood (to add that extra groan and mutterings about needing to emigrate!).  Have no fear though for the sluggy snaily things (technical gardening term) can be dealt with by Nemaslug.  If you don't know what this is it comes as a packet mix of micro-organisms that go to live in your soil and eat your pest by destroying slugs from the inside, they die in the ground (where they live), so no mess to clear up and unlike slug pellets there is absolutely no risk to pets, children or wildlife (so anything eating the dead slugs get no ill effects at all).  I was a bit sceptical but I won a free packet last year from following Chase Organics on Twitter (thanks guys!) and I have to say, it really does work brilliantly!  I have bought another pack which will go on the garden today, within 2 weeks the slugs will be pretty much all dead.  Brutal? maybe...but safe and effective!

Aaanyway, this week I planted out the peas that I had grown in tiny newspaper pots.  They are Early Onward variety, bit late!  But they are growing great guns (that's an expression, I haven't yet managed to grown legumes with firearm capabilities!), I reckon they will catch up and maybe give me a late crop if we end up with some late summer sun (ever hopeful!).  I germinated 2 cucumbers with an idea to maybe see if I can force them up to speed by growing them in the sunny extension (will that work? who knows, I don't) and also 2 pumpkins...because I love pumpkins so I'll give it a go and cross my fingers.  In the mean time, have a picture of the garlic scape I had on my Elephant garlic (it's a bit mature, they start out curly and then straighten with age).  I chopped it up and ate it in a vegetable omelette.  Yum!

This is a garlic scape, you can leave them on but the thought is that the garlic bulb will be smaller if you do.  So chop them off and lightly cook and eat them.

Monday, 9 July 2012


It seems to be a rubbish year for everything barring slugs and snails this year. Mine is a garden of giant molluscs, roaming the undergrowth devouring seedlings and terrifying small children (maybe I'm lying about that last bit). But but thing seems to have had a great time rambling through my garden's scruffier *cough* I mean 'wildflower areas' and that is Welsh Poppies! These beautiful little flowers have been prolific through the summer (ha! Summer! We totally aren't getting one in the UK), they're brightening up the view from the kitchen window with pretty little orange or yellow flowers, and now that the flowers are starting to fade I'm left with loads of drying seed heads spreading hundreds of tiny seeds.  I've let some seeds fall to the ground, I've also scattered some in different areas to keep the numbers up. I've also collected loads of them in my palm and stored them in an old spice jar for cake/bread baking. This is a really nice little garden extra I think.  I love it when beautiful things have an extra use, don't you?

While I was messing in the depths of my rather extensive spice cupboard (it's getting seriously ridiculous in there, how can one woman own so many spices, and cook so little!) I came across a 3 year old bag of white poppy seeds, usually used in Asian cookery.  I decided out of interest to see if they are viable seeds and so I sprinkled them over a pot of soil and...nearly all have germinated! Wow! I've read they will be opium poppies (legal to germinate in the UK but not in the USA, so I read).

Monday, 2 July 2012

Broad Beans

This is the first year ever that I have grown broad beans.  Despite being a vegetable grower there are quite a few veggies that I am really not sure about; beans being a prime example.  I have an issue with beans, from runner beans that make your teeth squeak (argh!) to the weird furry mouth texture that broad beans create for me. However, spurred on by watching an episode of River Cottage Everyday where Hugh's life-long broad bean hating friend was converted by his ideas, I took my River Cottage Every Day cookbook in hand and went for the Broad Bean Hummus recipe.  

You can see so far the harvest has not been great, although to be honest I only grew them at all because I had free seeds with a magazine and a lot of spare ground in autumn.  I did a few myself and gave the rest to dad for his garden.  There are lots of not yet ripe beans hanging on the plants, so I can do this again, good news!

Broad Bean Hummus, not much to it ingredients wise, but it tasted lush with a pitta bread.  Not at all like broad beans usually do, just fresh and summery  Top tip for ya! Use a pizza cutter to slice your pitta bread into strips after popping them in the toaster, you'll avoid getting singed fingers trying to cut them (they get sooo hot!)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Chicken Update!

This year we went from two ex-battery hens down to one....sad huh. Ruby our third chicken was unfortunately very poorly n while recuperating died last year. A month or so ago Clara got poorly due to a crop/intestinal issue and despite the loving attentions of Nath, and our fantastic avian vet (Amicus Vetinary Centre), she had to be put to sleep as she could no longer digest. This left only Nessa who was a sad chook because chickens are flock creatures who do very badly alone. As there was no ex battery rehoming event coming up soon enough, we opted for point of lay chickens. I am a rescuer by natural inclination so I did feel guilty buying new friends, but given the urgent need for company for an increasingly depressed looking Nessa, I think in this case buying younger birds was justified.

Off we went to Merrydale Poultry who I'd read good things about on the web. They had some blue egg layers on their site I'd been eyeing up, as they were sold out I decided I rather fancied the Copper Black Marrans, and maybe a white egg layer. After a chat with one of the owners we opted for a Copper Black and a 'Merrydale Snowbell' which is a White Star hybrid. I'm told ears are good indicators of egg shell colour....more on that in a future post. The birds have been named Gracie (the Copper Black) and Isabelle (the Snowbell). We released them same day into the Eglu with Nessa. That is normally a bad strategy due to territorial chicken fights! Popping them straight in worked great for us because Nessa was so lonely and was just very happy to have some new friends. Within 3 minor comb pulling squabbles the pecking order was agreed amongst the girls and n peace reigned. Fab!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Catching up!

Oh dear, I've been very lax with the garden spring summer. There's a lot of empty ground which I feel v bad about, although I'm plotting what I could get in there, there's always time to grow *something*.

At the moment Lakers Garden has potatoes (sprouted ones left over from last year's), the 
ubiquitous rhubarb - still insane...I'm thinking as it's late in the season and there's still masses of it...jam!? Also I've grown broad beans and field beans but I can't for the life of me remember which is which...and they look the same?!...argh! The chives are all blossoming, as you can see from the top picture, and there's some spring onions in, garlic in pots and strawberries in the planter.

The leaf mold I created by bagging up the leaves on the drive has now been spread on top of the beds. I have braved the hard slog of digging out the compost at the bottom of the compost bin to supplement the planters. The bottom of it had litterally turned to soil so it was a task and a half to dig it out! In case you are wondering, my compost bin contains bokashi waste, chicken poo and nest straw, vaccum emptyings, grass cuttings, annual weeds, tea bags, budgie cage emptyings...basically anything compostable! It makes for good compost and smaller black bags. Very worthwhile and I feel like I'm feeding my own ground with my very existence. Um yeah, I sound like a total hippy!

The compost bin...I need 2 really, this one is always blinking full!
Ooo...we have new chickens...more on that very soon! I won't leave it so long from now on.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Still Alive!

I'm still here and still waiting for the cold weather to properly go so I can start planting in earnest. More to come! TTFN!