Saturday, 29 May 2010

Weeding and Feeding Largely!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but one day there's some loverly bare earth to plant into, and the next day, with a shower of rain, there's a carpet of weed seedlings.
How unfair is that?!

If you 'click' on the photograph above, you'll be able to see more of what's happening, and more of the blossom and things?

Mind you - I can't complain muchly, because I've been creeping up on myself totally 'Leaps & Bounds'. And it's only when I stop and brew a brew or a mug of coffee in Jim's 'World's Best Gardener' Mug, or later in the day, a glass of vino, that I take in what I've achieved already so soon in the twelve months that it's taken to get thus far in this garden. Because it's only when you physically STOP and look around you, that you truly get the pleasure, and the very extra special ideas that just 'ping' into your brain (or is that just me?!)

To be perfectly honest, I'm a bit embarassed about some of my Potatoes. I planted one tuber into each builders' bucket (Buckets: £1 each from Homebase) and I've seriously. seriously neglected each and every one of them. I kind of stuck each bucket in an old compost bag, with a view to earthing up, and time has just run away with me, and I am hanging my head in shame as I sit before you all......but hey! there's slug-free tatties for the local show, and many more for our salads, as well as those growing in the ground, so....
Chin Up've pricked out and potted on 270 Leeks today, in amongst the other things you've done, so don't beat yourself up quite so harshly, eh?!

I know it's extremely boring to talk about weeding, but honestly, I can sit for hours and hours.....
Tantamount to Ironing me thinks? Something completely mindless to do, but do it in the sunshine, or with something serious on your mind, and you're completely in Heaven.

I just sit here and think of Trousers......... aaahh!

Okay now, serious business in the week ahead: Wellie's Flobalobs are itching to get back into the frame of things...... so best I get my thinking cap on to reinvent their little cotton sox, children, no?!

Naturally, behind all of these words, there's some serious growing gowing on, because I'm passionate about growing our own food, and so I humbly apologise for missing updating The Funny Farm Blog just recently, but with my hard work now, you'll have a prettier picture to look at later on, I'm sure of it.X
Just before I go, I must just tell you of how very brave Wellie was this week, and how very UN-brave Trousers and my Gardening Cat were?
We've known for some time now (me'n'him) that there was a rodent living in that space down there. We've largely ignored that space, which I think is fair.
Until the evening before yesterday, when Roland, yes, Roland, decided to brush passed Wellie's ankle as she watered the Blueberry and Raspberry plants.
As she felt it brush passed and watched in utter disbelief, watching it and its' tail disappear in front of her, she called for 'Back-Up'.
'Back-Up' arrived in the guise of Trousers with Wellie's stainless steel Hoe.
Trousers then declined further participation with said Roland underneath the Oil Tank, and so did the cat.
Shall we just say: I know where it lives, and I shall be taking the matter into my own hands in order to conclude satisfactorily to closure in the next day or two.
Personally, I can't be doing with:
'Is it there still?'
'Are there babies brewing?'
'Is it looking at me still?'
'Is it stealing and of my produce?'!
Anyway. This time next week, consider it gone, or I'm a Monkey's Uncle....
Once again, it's so lovely to have you here, and thank you, thank you for reading our blog. X

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Want Something Done? Ask a Busy Person.......

Above, is a little glimpse of how my tender little darlings are doing in the TLC of our Conservatory.....
The Tommies are kind of sporting their second flower trusses now (2 each of Tigarella, Gardeners Delight, Red Cherry, Ferline) and then I've got another 8 Ferline (blight tolerant) coming on in the wings for a later crop too.
Actually, I thought I might start to root some of the what I call 'armpits' this year too? Namely, the bits you normally pinch out and throw away. I'll update you on my progress at a later date if all goes well, eh?!

And all of the various Pigletwillie Bean seedlings are ready for planting out over the next week or two under cloches (incidentally Piggie, I found the book you lost/forgot when you stayed over Easter, and will send it onto you this week darling.X)

The sweetcorn variety I've plumbed for this year is the same variety that I very very first grew, on the advice of someone called 'Johnboy', and it served me superbly well then, so I've chosen to grow it again now. I grew it in 'Rootrainer' modules until the roots were poking their sox off out of the bottom, and they got their freedom this very day into the earth, and I heard them go "Phew!" I used a long-handled bulb planting tool to take a core of soil out at 15" spacing, lobbed them in with a bit of cow manure, and, as you can see, a temporary cloche cover for the first week to help them settle in. The bamboo canes are only there to stop the cloches falling over/blowing away..

And here's the making of Wellie's very own ornamental Villandry-style Potager Garden....
A kind of 'Pretty Productive' garden outside of my kitchen window, to make washing up in the kitchen sink a bit more pleasurable.....
I kind of started off with the Bird Bath, for completely obvious reasons (!) I've got two birdbaths in the garden, and this one is for drinking, the other one is for bathing, on account of the depth of water, and the birds aren't stupid.... they use both individually, for the right reasons, so I don't get too much water splashed all over my Bored Beans or Calabrese, but the lawn underneath the rusty-old-arbour where they have a 'splash-about' gets drenched, so that's going to be particularly good for watering the Sweet Peas and the Winter Squashes and Climbing Beans I've got planned for around there.

Here though, the triangular beds have just been planted with a variety of Brassicas, and the boundary to the garden sports Bored Beans, weeds (!) and for the moment, Blackcurrant & Gooseberries. My plan is to grow Butternut & Kuri Winter Squashes along the border this summer, and just 'see how it goes', because my instincts are telling me that the fruit bushes are wrong here, (don't ask me why, it's just a gut instinct) so I've not planned this well, and will be needing to change it next year maybe (see Wellie lick finger and stick it in the air?)

You see, if you didn't start off with a completely clean canvass, you wouldn't have so much choice, and so much room for error? BUT.... I tell you wot Children, each and every day/evening, I am having THE most inspirational thoughts and ideas when I walk round the garden, and if I can implement even a half of them, I'll be a happy bunny.

You see, what started out, for me, as a simple task of planting some new potatoes, turned into a:
Well, what if I didn't dig down (because the soil's not been improved yet) and I just improve it 'on the way up' instead? So I put some well-rotted FYM on the soil-surface..... placed the chitted tubers that I'd been growing on in individual plantpots, which were now growing beautifully well, on top of the manure, earthed up a bit with soil, then lawn-mowings, a bit more manure, a bit more soil, another layer of lawn-mowings..... and suddenly.... Bob's Your Auntie!
How cool is that?!
Actually, what I haven't shown you at all yet, is the twenty or so 75l compost bags of new potatoes growing AROUND that raised bed. Never one to miss an opportunity, I wanted to be sure of some clean potatoes to enter into my local Village Show.

Competitive? ..... MOI ?!

I've recently received The Show Schedule for this year's Show which outlines what classes, what recipes, what flower arrangements, what photographs, what's what and what's not.

I'm delighted to announce to you, that this years' schedule makes no reference to a Vicky Sponge Sandwich. I only mention this, because I got myself purposefully out of bed at an extraordinary hour the other morning to practice making one for my visiting friends that day. One of my friends cancelled an hour before (wise move Lorna darling), but you, my Gloria-friend, took it on the chin with a "oh no, it's lovely!" To be perfectly honest, which she'd never tell you, it resembled two frisbies with my 'Not By Royal Appointment' Cape Gooseberry & Passionfruit Jam in........ so maybe I could try the 'Jam Swiss Roll' (any red jam) or the Cheese Straws, or the Cheese & Onion Quiche out on you when you next come to visit! Bless you Angel, and hope the photographs were what you wanted.... X

So! Just where on earth is this year disappearing to folks? We're almost half way to Christmas already, and I've only just put my Courgette seeds in, how unfair is that?!
And that's kind of where I've been this last week or two, she said, making her apologies.......
It's all very well 'talking about it', but if you don't pull your finger out and actually do it, The Fairies aren't going to come and do it for you, and after that, it's too late.

Our garden is getting so very exciting now, and I hope yours' is too.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Men, Mice, and Girls

Now then.... Down on The Funny Farm, this is a particularly Spesh Moment, captured for you this end of April, to show you that this is what A Private Dick looks like..... By that I mean, blokes what go 'detecting' in the privacy of their own backyard (don't go making your own story up Jim?!)

I'm not making 'light' of what's going on here, because I am so hugely thrilled that Trousers has started to do this once again after a gap of 10 years or so, and it has also brought him back into contact with some of his Best Mates, and that makes me smile Big Stylie. It's brought a huge smile back to HIS face also, where one was seriously missing, and nowadays, he can disappear for days, only returning when he's starving hungry. Him Tarzan, Me Jane?!

It's not always possible to harvest fresh vegetables from your garden or allotment to feed yourselves. The Savoy Cabbages and Curly Kale are starting to Bolt/Run to Seed now, and I've got a billy-no-mates Leek left (that I'm keeping to collect seed from), and that's why I grow quite so many herbs. I kind of take Sarah Raven's 'Grow what's expensive to Buy'. Fresh Herbs are expensive to buy, and you can make the yummiest of Risotto with handfuls of stuff from the garden, a little Arborio Rice and some excellent Vegetable or Chicken Stock, a this, or that growing in your own space, and you've got yourself a meal to be proud of for next to no money.

Let me explain this next photo: it's my class reminders for the up-coming local Village Produce Show, so that I can see exactly where I am, what I'm doing, and 'sod it, I've forgotten to sow the Victoria Sponge seedlings' ... Disaster!
To be perfectly honest, for a small village show, there's a serious amount of classes. And these aren't all of them. These are only the ones I feel able to enter on a personal level..

Normally, I fly by the seat of my pants, and I'm having to concentrate a little more, and that's proving difficult for me.

Do they not know that peoples actually work by day and sleep by night, and that the fairies are way too busy doing my housework to find time to do my garden as well?!

(Wellie is beginning to feel a touch of 'mad cow' disease setting in: see photo)

Last year, the immature fig fruitlets were getting 'pinched/nicked' and I was suitably informed that it would be birds, so this year, I thought I'd be clever, and protect them from the birds, but I hadn't thought this Cunning Plan Baldrick through at all. As the immature figlets swell, you then can't get the protective cloches off the stems without damaging the figlets;. DOH!

Wellie Wonker, and no mistake! Still.... I'm never too precious to learn by my mistakes, and today, I've rigged up an all-enclosing fleece tent over it instead.
If the figgy-fruitlets continue to disappear, I'll swap my verdict for mice. Simples.
Oh, and talking of mice... most of these babies have been rescued from the draughty dutch greenhouse because of exactly that, and are now safely growing rather well under my protective nose, and that of my cat(!) Baldrick Cunning Plan Mark II, I think you'll find?

I must just mention that I've recently re-made my acquaintances with two GORGEOUS Girlies, where we'd lost touch - namely Gloria, and Lorna, who are both coming to The Funny Farm next week for the very first time. Girls, we are going to have SUCH fun over the coming months and years. Thank you so much for your friendships. you're both incredibly special friends, in case you didn't already know that.X
And, naturally, I'm having to courtsey on a weekly basis, to say a big thank you to our newest follower to our Funny Farm Blog. You're most welcome.X, and I hope I'm continuing to do what's written on the tin for you all in terms of entertainment.
I must say, you're all incredibly quiet at the moment!!
But I do know that you're there, and so I don't feel entirely stupid talking to myself every week!Love You, Squeeze You til next time.X