Monday, 28 March 2011

De Dah!...Raised Beds. Trousers Covered in Kisses.X

I felt that Trousers hadn't done justice with his photos of the superbly crafted raised beds, so I wanted to do another blog (you are very very spoilt children this week, no?!)  because I'm a great believer in Credit, where credit is due, and obviously, there are more to do yet Trousers darling, ........So here we go:

Having started the Bored Beans off from seed in a polybag next to the Rayburn, then transplanted them into small pots in the warmth of the Conservatory, then chucked them out into the cold 'Mini-Me' Greenhouse, then turfed them out from there into the open ground, with empty pop bottle cloches over them at night, until finally, they're big enough and ugly enough now to stand on their own two feet without any TLC, they're less sappy for the slugs to nibble at, and hopefully, fully hardened off now.

THIS is infinitely better:  Proper photos of proper raised beds, and I've started to section them into workable squares, in order to aid my elusive Holy Grail of a Successional Sowing Technique(!)  (see every seasoned grower nod their head wisely?!)
 And having been hugely disillusioned in the past with having sown carrot seed, jumped up and down to see it germinate, and then slowly decline into a deep depression to see the germinated seedlings disappear magically overnight with the night forays of the dreaded tiny black keel slugs living in the soil, Wellie, at about two o'clock this morning, had a kind of what I'd call 'A Baldrick Moment', which in Wellie's mind, surmounts to 'A Brilliant Idea':

Which is to sprinkle your chosen Root Fertiliser in the seed-drill, then a layer of weathered soot, and finally, your carrot seed.  The darkness of the soot allows you to see how thinly or thickly you're sowing, and slugs don't like you've got a much improved chance of germinating your carrots - she said, licking her finger and sticking it in the air to see which direction the wind is blowing.

I can't profess to have tried it before, but it seems to make sense to me on a sensible growing level, so I'll give it a shot.  I do sprinkle weathered soot into my Potato trenches for the same reason. 

For now, I am going to leave you to get on with your own week, but I'd just like to say that I had a lovely telephone conversation with my friend Gloria today, after many weeks of us both just getting our heads down and getting on with things, and I'm going to see what she's done on her allotment next week, and then she's coming to The Funny Farm to take some serious Seed Sowing Photos after that.

Thank you to each and every one of you who follow my blog, and particularly, to you very new peeps that have joined the mad house!  Bless you.X

Sunday, 27 March 2011

More Pomp 'n' Ceremony Needed

 Welcome to another Funny Farm Blog update Kids.....  With the weather having been SO beautiful all week long, and so much hard work done, and loads of jobs chalked off the noticeboard, I feel really blessed to have learned to grow our own food, because I feel like the cat that's got the cream at the moment.

The above photo is Wellie's waist-line Sheila Strawberry Bar.... Last year, it was in a much shadier place, and grew salad crops, and quite frankly, I fancied a change (as ya do) and my Strawbs were needing a far superior home now to crop to their ultimate potential.  And besides, at ground level, there's real nasty invasive Horseradish growing, so soil-level land is pretty useless to me productively, and now I've effectively regained the land on a higher plane.  Clever Wellie......

Check out the farmhouse brekkie I cooked Trousers this morning.  For all you blokes reading this blog - good things come in small packages/a little bit of what you fancy does you good, and with the heart-shaped fried egg and last summers' homegrown cherry tomatoes gently defrosted in the Rayburn  (feel free to ignore the 'Egg Man' on the left, that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped?!  I was going to fry 'Eggy Sheeps', but my fave Sheep Cutter is broken in one corner, and the egg would've just run out into the frying pan). For some strange reason, Trousers says that A Shrink wouldn't know where to start with me?

Personally, I don't know WHAT he means! Because I enjoy making myself laugh, and occasionally, he laughs as well?!

I can't believe that he hasn't taken top-drawer photos of the raised beds he built for me yesterday,  because I wanted so much to show them off to you, although in the 4th photo you can just about take a peek, so I'll maybe do another blog update this week for a better tribute on his behalf, because he right royal deserves it.

 Note to self: must learn to upload photos from camera to 'puter myself, as Trousers now WAY too engrossed in Metal Detecting Forum to upload the correct and 'agreed' photos earlier chosen .
Anyway, the first early spuds in large tubs were treated to a well-rotted FYM earthing up this weekend, and check out the new raised bed with the box spiral - in true pantomime style "It's Behind You"!

The Kitchen Garden Potager is truly beginning to take shape structurally now and starting to intrigue me, so watch this space.X

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Jumps Up'n'Down....then goes Ouch!

The neighbour de-decked someone's decking for them, and as a favour, removed it from their garden.  He had got 'plans' for using it on some project or other himself, but had nowhere to store it properly, so kindly offered the planks to me for edging my kitchen garden beds. I was over the moon! (see Wellie jump up and down...)

With the much sunnier weather, and the recent glazing of my 'mini-me' greenhouse, the girls are growing a treat now.  And that's not compost in the potting tray, it's my cat (obviously, why wouldn't it be!) - she's got a thing about curling up for a snooze, especially if I'm kind enough to put some horticultural fleece in there for her added comfort.

I must take better care of my mature box topiary this year.  I only lost one of the balls, having dug them up two years ago to move, but the rest seem to have begun growing again.  They just need some liquid feed and a jolly good haircut!  I was out in the paddock picking up Sheep Doo-Doo last ya do, it's amazing how much you can collect in half-an-hour - it's all soaking in a big trug of water beside the shed, and should be ready to use in a couple of weeks.
Only another 15 or 20 Parsnsips to dig up and consume - bit sick of Parsnips now, if truth be known, but I've got a lovely Denis Cotter (amazing Irish Vegetarian Chef) recipe for Parsnip, Potato & Wild Rice Rostis, which freeze well.
Only about another hundred and fifty leeks to use up....! but I adore leeks anyway.  Make a brilliant base for any flavour Risotto or Quiche, don't they Sheilas?

Most of my herbs survived the freezing Winter we've just had, apart from the Rosemary, so I'll have to replace and reposition that somewhere more cozy.  This archway could have nice smelly Sweet Peas up it this year me thinks, and once the Viburnums and Hibiscus come into leaf, it'll add intrigue to the garden beyond.
I was wondering why I was a little on the stiff side when I woke up this morning! but wow! was it worth it!  as the majority of the veg beds have had a goodly dollop of two-year-old homemade compost now.... shame to see it disappear so quickly, but then I am rather spoilt with the huge mountain of farmyard manure waiting round the corner with my name on.......

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Saturday.... because I've let Trousers have the camera tomorrow?!

When Wellie's Fert'n'Liza Flobalob sat down round the garden table this afternoon with their friends, after this very very long Winter, they were delighted to see Uncle Trousers finally glazing The "Mini-Me" Greenhouse for Wellie and her gardening cat to work in.  The "Drafty Dutch" Greenhouse has so many panes of glass and perspex missing now, that Wellie can't effectively use it, and the "Peachy-Nectarine" Greenhouse is right royal leaking because the front is coming away from the rest of it.  But I shall do whatever I can, to do my best, with what I've been blessed with.

I've got a multitude of Tomato, Aubergine, Pepper, Globe Artichokes, Lettuces, Spinach, Chard, Cauli, Cabbage, Carrot, Parsnip, Hardy Annuals, The World His Wife And His Aunty seeds on the go at the moments in my north-east-facing Conservatory, and whilst the conservatory benefits from the warmth of the Funny Farmhouse house walls, I still insist on bringing the Tommies and Tenders into the warm kitchen overnight.  Afterall, there's no point germinating them, then neglecting them, eh?
And in order to make room in my kitchen garden now for this year's crops, I'm harvesting the last of my Autumn Leeks, very late sown that now amount to 'Mini-Leeks' that you'd pay a fortune for in the supermeerkats.  I'm of the brigade that uses the whole leek, not just the white bit, and when they're as sweet and tender as this, it really makes sense.  But I have loads of later-sown Winter Leeks that are just beginning to get a good 'girth' on, to follow on to feed us in 'The Hungry Gap' of the year, before other stuff is ready.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Doh!.... Plonker...... Plan B then!

So, here we are, down on the funny farm after dark children!  Why?

Trousers went off Metal Detecting with his mate Jim today, and his mate Richard, his mate Pip, and about a hundred other mates, and to be honest with you, even if I did know all of their names, I wouldn't bore you with them?.....leaving Wellie knee-deep in weeds, tantamount to a porker in wotsit to me, provided that  I've got BBC Radio 2 in my ears .  He'd wanted to take the camera with him to photograph his Roman Findings, but I stood my ground, telling him that I needed it to take photos for my Sunday Evening Blog Update, otherwise I'd have mutiny on my hands - isn't that right Boys'n'Girls?   I therefore made the grown-up decision, with him leaving at the crack of Sparrow in the morning, to hide the camera, just to be on the safe side.....!

To cut a long story only marginally shorter, I took some rather meaningful shots today, and Trousers, about an hour ago, was transfering them from camera to computer, unfortunately temporarily losing them in the Bermuda Triangle that connects both of those to his adorable brain.  Did we larf?
No, I'm afraid we didn't, but that's not important right now.....

Call me stupid (how very dare you) but I think he's getting his own revenge.  All is not lost though, as he found them again later after I'd taken these here snaps to give you something to look at this evening, and me to talk about.... hence the mention of a Plan B.

Having agreed to take over organising and the running of our local village produce show, from the very lovely Pat (show organiser for the last 20 years)  I'm really enjoying it, and it has helped rather a lot that I so love to cook, because I'm having a ball researching and experimenting recipes from my favourite books to include on the 'Recipe Provided' classes, to somewhat 'inspire' people to take part.
Gina popped round the other day (doing quality typing of schedules and forms to help me) and quite liked the Citrus Peel & Lavender Scones that I'd invented, but rather pointedly said that they could be bigger.  So I gave her a slice of the straight-out-of-the-oven Pineapple & Lime Drizzle Cake, still warm, hoping that that might lighten her mood .  Trousers though was the one to benefit from the next experimental cake, a Sticky Marzipan & Cherry Loafcake.  Absolutely to die for my friends!

And hopefully tomorrow, or the next day, if we can relocate my original photos again, Trousers will be looking a tad happier across the busy kitchen table at me, no?!