Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Rainbow.......Want to know something for free?

Well, children, if you wait long enough in life, one day, just one day, the end of the rainbow can truly be yours!
And where better for it to land, than in my 'Not So Draughty Dutch Greenhouse' (note to self: give your greenhouses much shorter names in future Luv, as it'll take you less time to write the blog?)

And so I suggested to Trousers that maybe he should take his Lucky Detector into the field behind the greenhouse, as perhaps 'someone upstairs' might just be pointing a helpful finger in the right direction for your detecting?  How are we to know that there's not just a pot of Roman Coins, but a dead expensive million pound diddly-wotsit from Saxon times buried there?  (You can tell that I'm not very knowledgeable on the detecting front at all Jim, can't you, can't you?!)

Well, I know it's unusual for me to update the blog mid-week, but there's footie on the telly, and I've had to cover the cat's ears yet again, as Trousers is turning the air blue in the sitting room (see Wellie shake her head), yet another 'Naughty Corner' within The Funny Farm, as if there weren't enough already.....!

Anyway, you might be interested to know that my hurty elbow isn't playing me up quite as much as Sunday, but I did nearly hit the Chiropracter on Monday when he poked it.  Evidently it isn't RSI or Tennis Elbow, it's because I whacked it and I've bruised the bone.  Well 'whoopy doo', that'll make it okay then yeah?

The Funny Farm garden is becoming ever more increasingly exciting as the days progress now.  The Daffs are finally beginning to emerge, and the Tulips are forming.  The Elephant Garlics are beginning to sprout.
The Raspberry canes I relocated are (thankfully, phew, thank you Lord!) showing signs of revival....
Both The Peach AND The Nectarine trees in the.... Peach & Nectarine Greenhouse(!) are in full, full bloom, and I've never seen quite so much blossom in such a tiny space before.  Truly, that is the most fantastic sight I've seen in a very long time......  Now all we have to do is to cross our pinkies, and hope that I've done a good job 'hand-pollinating' (which I've done religiously every day with a weenie paintbrush), but basically, they've got two choices. And once they've decided, I've then got to 'thin' the fruits and everything............

I rather sadly counted my germinated Parsnip seedlings today.  I say sadly, because I'm not sure I've ever stooped so low before and actually 'had to'?  But what with my cat having sat on most of them, the resident foxes trudging all over them every night, and a very Vicki Pollard 'whatever', I think I've got 50ish that have survived as far as 'seed-leaf' stage.  So, upbeat news out of 70ish for me.
And with the unpredictability of my Early, Mid & Late Leek germinations in module trays, I've sown more Leeks today, just to be on the safe side.  Honestly, trust Wellie, you can never ever have too many Leeks in the kitchen.  Grown at anything from 6"-9" apart in a straight line, (see Wellie do the Austin Powers "ditto" action) you'd never even know they were there!

Anyway, my gorgeous cat is asleep on the dining room table, not a mouse's whisker away from my hurty elbow, and the noises coming from the sitting room now indicate that The Ball Game is finally finished.
(Evidently someone scored or something?)

Ouch?!.....No, I jest..... Each to their own.  I just love compost under my fingernails and growing stuff, and cooking stuff. But what I love most, is doing that for the man that I love.
The Delicious Miss Wellie.....Doesn't have quite the same ring as 'The Delicious Miss Dahl' does it?

And I'd hope not.
Bless You for being here. X.



Sunday, 28 March 2010

Clocks Forward, Leeks Backward

In the words of 'Manuel', of Fawlty Towers fame; "I no understand Mr. Fawlty!"....
I was very kindly given some organic Leek seeds by a friend, and, rightly or wrongly, sowed them all on the same day. An early variety called 'Almera', a mid-season variety called 'Ardea', and a late-season variety called 'Carentan'. Imagine the scene: day by day, you're watching and waiting eagerly for the first leek seedling to germinate in the Earlies. You wait patiently, and one pops up in the Lates, two pop up in the Lates, they all start poppin up in the Lates! Then one pops up in the Mids, two pop up in the Mids..... do you get my drift? Then just as I'm despairing of an Early ever popping up, they have just started to - completely bizarre....

Mustn't complain though, eh? Although I haven't quite finished having a mini-rant yet, because there's a lot of 'damping-off' going on with various seedlings here this year. It may well be entirely my own fault for not washing seed trays/pots as religiously as I used to, but it's difficult to adhere to a strict cleanliness routine in the greenhouse, when everything's still not as organised as I'd like it to be.

I can't begin to tell you just how much pleasure I get from sowing 'finger carrots' (Amsterdam Forcing variety) in plastic troughs high up off the ground and in the protection of a greenhouse. It's the horticultural equivalent of 'Ner Ner Ni Ner Ner!' from a childish adult to an adult carrot root fly. And basically, that means that you end up with absolutely beautiful, unblemished baby carrots, not totally unusable ones riddled with tiny white maggots.

And the same goes for Salad. I've never been thrilled to share my salad crops with Slugs'n'Snails? It hardly matters much when you're growing a huge lettuce, because there's loads to wash, but when you're dealing with Cut'n'ComeAgain baby salad leaves and small-heading lettuces, why should you share it? It's taken roughly a week for these little CCA seedlings to germinate in the foreground, and too, the weeny Little Gem seedlings that will follow on from the bigger seedlings at the far end. Successional-Sowing, is what it's called, and it's an elusive skill that most of us only 'aspire to'.

I'll try and keep you in regular touch with this salad bar, to show you it's progress, and how I yet have to learn the art of successional sowing (!)
Talking of raised carrots and raised salad, my strawberry plants are just beginning to burst into life again, and it will soon be their turn for some TenderLovingCare.
In the meantime, I'm crying off early tonight kids, I'm not my usual self, as I've got a dead-hurty elbow, and desperately need to rest it.
So I'll squeeze you later.X

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Rhubarb Rhubarb, No Custard

With there being nil de Rhubarb on The Funny Farm when we arrived last April, I promptly purchased two, and planted them into buckets, because I had completely no idea where I'd eventually want them sited, and knew not how much sun each part of the garden got, and when. So they're ready to be planted now, each into their own well-rotted FYM enriched planting holes. One is 'Victoria', and the other 'Glasnevin Perpetual'.

Similar to the new Asparagus plants (below) 26 at last count, I shall only harvest the odd stick or two from Vicky & Nevin this year, just to allow them time to settle into their new homes without being too raped or pillaged.

For the emerging Asparagus shoots, and Parsnip foliage, you do need very keen eyesight, but it is SO exciting! Every morning I'm out there with my Toast, Coffee and The Cat, taking stock of what's happened since I last looked (which is always yesterday evening with a cold glass of Pinot.... give the plants a chance Wellie!)

The Parsnips have had some Environmesh over them for the last couple of weeks, on account of the fact that 'someone' was disturbing the Loo Roll 'stations'. I have today caught my cat sat on one or two of them, but there's about 70 of them, so I can probly afford to lose a couple me thinks....
And having shown you loads of lambs recently, I thought I'd bring you this rather lovely tranquil moment from just outside our front gate yesterday afternoon... Dozey and Dorris, I think you'll find.

Trousers went Detecting again today with a local group, and so with it being such a lovely sunny day, Wellie got out into the back garden for a bit of A Tidy Up. I waged war on an old overcrowded Goosegog bush, and took a large congested central tangle of stems out, and did a mammoth amount of weeding of tiny chickweed & speedwell seedlings, which will really help in keeping the weeds down this summer.
Even if I DO say so myself, the Kitchen Garden is really starting to take shape now.
In the Not So Draughty Dutch Greenhouse, the potted up Wallflowers and Tulip Bulbs are progressing nicely, and the HA & HHA flower seedlings are just beginning to get their true leaves. It's all kinda slow progress, but steady enough for the time of year, so I'm happy.
Once again, thank you so much for being here and taking an interest in our plot.
And see you next time. X

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Fruits Of Your Labour..... So Lovely!

Okay.... any Horticultural Palmists amongst my readers today?! Am I going to live until I'm a hundred, have umpteen children, and win the lottery? Or is it, as I thought, that today is just an ordinary Saturday, Trousers has control over the Remote Control once again, and there's so much happening down here on The Funny Farm now, that I thought I might spoil you, and bring you extra blogs this weekend, because I don't want to watch the rugby, and you've all been so very good?! Now, the first and second photos here are really rather spesh, because this time last year, Trousers and I weren't living here at all, and so Wellie wasn't 'on hand' to get into the Nectarine Greenhouse and 'hand-pollinate' either the Peach Tree, nor the Nectarine Tree....... which leads Mrs. Wellie Watson to conclude that that's exactly WHY we only had one fruit in the entire greenhouse last summer, which sadly, just dropped off in my hand before it got a chance to grow. And I was, as we know too well in Horticultural terms: 'Completely Gutted'.....

I've only just pulled the netting cloche off this Savoy Cabbage to 'show you' that it's beginning to heart up nicely, whereas the ones out of shot, and not under cloches, aren't. Simples.

Now this little corner of loveliness, is my Funny Farm Wild Garlic patch. Evidently, cows just LOVE wild garlic? Let's feel incredibly sorry for cows this spring children, becauce Wellie is going to be ever so selfish and keep this particular crop to herself.

You see, our very good friends The Piglets, in their utmost generosity, bought me the latest cookbook from my very favouritest Irish Chef, Denis Cotter a couple of Crimbles ago, and the title of the book just spells how good it is: 'Wild Garlic, Gooseberries, and Me'. Just when do I NOT refer to this book?
Talking of which, Trousers visited his Bestest Friend.....In The World this week for to do some Detecting (blokey stuff in a field looking for buried treasure? and actually, they do find it... Jim'n'Trousers, they are one brilliant team, believe me). JIM, yeah, JIM gave Trousers the most brilliant Gardening Mug and Five Year Gardening Diary to bring home for me as a gift?
What a fantastically thoughtful and generous thing to do my darling!
Jim..... come here, and give Wellie a Right Royal Hug. X. Thank you SO much!
Now here (back to basics) I've got a wheelbarrow full of sheep poo that I collected from the field next door only yesterday, because knowing that rain is forecast, you get the mixture starting to 'mash' for free, before you tip it into another receptacle.

And.... I was delighted to discover, even with this very hard winter we've just been through, that the Comfrey I'd potted on to propagate my supply for 2010, has actually survived brilliantly, in the pots that kind of fell over, and shielded themselves beautifully from the extremes.
I'm also in the throws of rejuvenating my potted Mint. Mint loves to be given totally new space each spring to 're-invent itself', and you'll get a far healthier crop by allowing it to do this, with its roots allowed to roam free in new compost or soil.
Now then, there's a Garlic & Hazelnut Liver dish in the making for Trousers's dinner that I've never made before, and I will have to attend to right now, so I'm going to leave you until tomorrow.
So Forgive me disappearing?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates.....

... and not that dissimilar to Wellie's blog down here on the Funny Farm, to be absolutely truthful, because from week to week, you never do know exactly what you're going to get from me, until you open the sweetie wrapper that's on offer. It could be a boring old Orange Cream that you wished you hadn't picked.... it could be a Fudge Triangle, that you can live with, but too sickly to have another, or it could be the Sweetie of all Sweeties, and your absolute favourite.

In the photo above, under the netting cloche to the left, I've planted some lst Early 'Orla' Potatoes. Interestingly, I read somewhere, that 'Orla' are one of the best varieties of potato to plant in June (having kept one or two tubers back kind of now, but don't let the greenfly get to them), and then you can have New Potatoes for Christmas, allegedly. I've also got 'Charlotte', 'Nadine', 'Belle de Fontenay', 'Kestrel', 'Rosevaal', and ooh! who knows.... left to plant.

I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not sure? The square-ish middle bed with the birdbath is bang smack in front of my kitchen window. I'm dithering on quite a large scale here, because if I plant my 2nd Early Potatoes and they're not ready to lift when I want to plant my Early, Mid and Late Leeks, I'm not going to achieve the 'Winter Window' that I'd planned visually.
Until I decide, the weed-supressing fabric can stay there, warming the soil as well. But it is a good idea to get all of your chitted's in by the end of March if you can, because of the risk of Blight.

Well, with it feeling so beautifully Spring-like these last few days, I'm really beginning to get my proverbial 'Mojo' back, and hoping not to disappoint you this coming year, my Wellie-brain has been working overtime, and Trousers and I have put such a lot of effort in behind the scenes to make our 'Down on The Funny Farm' blog Extra Spesh, in whatever kind of 'grabs me' that I find I want to talk about. (See Wellie lick finger and stick it in the air. Uh-Huh... it's as professional as that?!)

The scenery is inspiringly beautiful here, even on a cold day. The Sheeps do just 'blow me away' every minute of every day, as I'm assured you 'Lambing Live' fans can well appreciate, with the bouncing and boinging of their new aptly named 'offspring'...
But naturally, there have been some sad moments in the last week or two.... Mummy 'D' had two lambs; one really tiny, and the other marginally bigger. She lambed out in the field, and both, so very cute, were doing okay initially. Unfortunately, Little D died one night out in the cold under our very noses, and Bigger D died just this week also. Mummy 'D' appears not to have noticed the loss of either, and is continuing her grass-eating marathon.

However!, on a lighter note, there are lots and lots and lots of Mums'n'Babies - ooh! did someone say that it's Mothering Sunday today?! (I think you'll find that Trousers forgot to give my cat pocket-money and take her shopping for a Mothers' Day Card..... Can you believe that children? Trousers on The Naughty Step, yeah?.....)
So - back to business, and this is Wellie's very noo 'Salad Bar' wot Trousers built yesterday. It allows for short -row -sowing of CCA (cut'n'come again seedling salad crops) at regular intervals, AND, with Wellie's idea, maybe a Parsnip, Carrot or Leek, for the local Village Produce Show, if she can find the time or energy this year to enter (or not), but I've filled the raised bench with well-rotted FYM, old potting compost from tubs that also had manure in it from early last summer, and will be topping up with some John Innes Loam-based compost, etc. etc. etc.
The reason I like to do this, is so that every morsel I cut for Trousers and I, isn't being shared by a Mollusc or three?
So I guess that was my Mothers' Day Prezzie after all? Ooh! What a Loverly Surprise Trousers, THANK YOU DARLING!!
And those of you who have followed our wayward blog since it began, can have Smartie-Points for recognising 'Big Girls Greenhouse glass and louvre vents' in the wings, desperately waiting to be joined at the hip to begin it's new life in the frame of things....
Now then. Do get your Field Glasses out my friends, because top-right, we've had this particular veg bed covered in black plastic sheeting, since late last summer, given that I grew some pathetic shallots and onions in my first year here last year (the weeds did brilliantly though.... fantastic crop!)
And I took the black plastic sheeting off last night, to reveal some very healthy white shoots on the abandoned Jermor Shallots from last year.
Your 'Starter For Ten': do I leave them and see what transpires? or do I scrub them out?

Closer to home (bottom left of photo) are about two dozen newly planted Asparagusses: Mary Washington, and Gijlim, from little ones that I potted on last year and grew on.
They have had one of the best starts in life that an Asparagus could ever have wished for: a trench of very, very well-rotted FYM, followed by 'up to one's armpits' in well-rotted FYM'n'soil mixed together, and topped with beautiful loamy soil, and TLC. If we don't get any rain to speak of in the next few days, I'll water them in to settle it all.
Doesn't it feel good to have the sunshine on your back once again?
I should Cocoa!
Now get out there kids, and get growing stuff!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

No Numpty No Longer!

Well, Welcome to The Funny Farm blog once again my friends, after a little bit of a virus infected it last week, rendering us akin to Chinese TV, all manner of pornographic smut, and goodness else knows what! But with the magnificent advice from our pals and moderators from The GYO Grapevine Forum, Trousers has managed to finally rid us of said nasty, and the numeral counter he'd installed, which is perhaps what introduced the virus. So I must apologise, because I'd labelled 'some numpty' as the cause. Trousers - you're not a numpty darling?! X

Please DO excuse the mess of buckets and pots in the background.
I think you'll find that it's called: Work In Progress, because I want to tip the compost-contents onto new beds that we've created since the autumn, and then pot on a few fruit trees in the bigger pots, etc. etc. You know how it goes....And to be fair, we've only been living here a while, so there's lots of bits'n'bobs yet to find a home for around the place. And I can't wait to finally get it all sorted and begin to enjoy living here properly.

And if you enlarge the photo, in front of the mess, I've relocated a lot of Autumn Bliss Raspberry canes (for now), just so that I can get some kind of order going on here perchance.

This here Onion & Garlic Bed, is coming along spiffingly now, speshly because I've labelled everything, and now know where everything begins and ends. And third row from the right, well done, I'm growing Elephants for the first time..... (large garlics, not the long-trunked variety!)
Trousers has worked wonders on my Draughty Dutch Greenhouse again today, and the thermometer registered 22 degrees in there, with the door shut. The amount of sticky-back-plastic and Fairy washing up bottles he's had to piece together to achieve it, it's a good job he was an avid Blue Peter watcher back in his childhood.

Yeah, not so draughty now, eh?! And he's repaired my dodgy staging, so that I can start to really get on with the sowing and growing for the season ahead.

If that weren't enough, Wellie's kind of decided finally where the majority of the Asparagusses are going now, so Trousers noisily dug the trench for her, so that she can fetch'n'carry the manure to fill it tomorrow (weather permitting). I felt that the ferny fronds would make a neat and attractive focus toward the sheep gate, so creating a visual focus for when the Viburnum etc. come into leaf, because where I secondly-decided to put them, there are ornamental bulbs coming up all over the shop, so I shall put annual flowers along there instead to keep in with my Biodynamic structure to the garden.

And whoopee-doo! the noo floor is down in The Conservatory! so it matches the kitchen floor now (except that it's way cleaner!) and a brilliant sink to wash my pots & wellie boots in too. How thoughtful the nice man has been.X. I'm largely going to use this room as a Summer Kitchen extension for having my brekkie and cuppa in out of the cold wind each morning, and of a weekend, I'm going to treat Trousers to a slap-up breakfast, for all of his hard work.
It's North-East facing, so is bathed in sunshine from the minute it rises, and we can sit and coggitate about the kitchen garden, and life in general, proverbially, until the cows come home.
(hahahah! get out more Wellie?)

Easter will soon be upon us, and I'm thrilled that our noo home and kitchen garden are beginning to take proper shape, as we will be at home partying and making up for lost time with Les Piglets.
I can see a tin of Quality Street ending up in my lap at long last?! Bring it on!
Once again, if you've read what I've lovingly written here, thank you.
And it is so good to be back virus-free and talking to you again.