Sunday, 29 May 2011

Pretty Productive

Even though we're only end of May, I can't help feeling like it's getting late to sow certain seeds, and that's completely ludicrous, because there's loads of time yet, but I've not sown my Borlotti or Serbian beans, and have only 6 Runners on the go for an early crop of, eh?  (always makes me larf with the old boys, how they sow rows and rows of Runners/Kidneys, and then spend all summer-long complaining about having to pick them!)  As you can see, everything in The Funny Farm garden is coming on Leaps'n'Bounds with these sunny spells and showers, as well as the weeds unfortunately!
The goosegog bush that I tried to kill last year has produced a healthy crop, and with this afternoons' drying winds after this mornings' drizzle, the elderflowers were dry enough to risk picking for combining the two into a Wellie experimental 'Beena for the storecupboard.
I've taken 'an executive decision' (see Wellie lick finger and stick it in the air children), presuming that these Celery seedlings from Homebase are a modern 'self-blanching' variety, and so as not to get soil in their hearts, I've stuck some empties over the top.  The galvanised is to remind me to keep watering, obviously.
Glorious Gloria and I had a really fun lunch last week, and I managed to persuade Richard, the landlord of the best pub in Aylburton, The Cross actually, not allegedly the other one, to display a Flobalob poster for The Itton Village Produce Show on the beams round his bar.  I only mention this in conjunction with the photo of my ripening Strawbs, because Gloria expressed an interest in coming to photograph the Strawberry Bar when they were all beginning to drip over the sides of the table, and yes you can sweetie, but no you can't return home with your pockets full...
Having slung netting, fleece and environmesh over every bit of fruit in The Funny Farm garden, it's prolly helping to ripen a tad earlier, but naturally, seeing as I'm not entering much into The Village Produce Show this year, on account of organising it, I'm not worried if my fruit ripens way too early this year or not, because, once again, I can always freeze it and deal with it accordingly at a later date.

My Slug'n'Lettuce Bed is 'romping' away now, and perfect for a few 'giveaways' and salads of our own with a smidge of caesar dressing and a round of goats' cheese.
Perspectively, it's all a bit of a mess, but gradually coming together and beginning to happen.

With only a month until Invited Guests arrive for our Pretty Productive Open Garden Party, I still have a hell of a lot to achieve, but I'm confident that it's perfectly possible, will be a huge success, and ultimately, as enjoyable on the day as it's been putting into place.

Pretty Productive.  Pretty and Productive.  Love It. X

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Flobalobs, Furtling, and Fabulous Friends......

Having had SUCH a fabulous welcome from the lovely Louise at our local Library, the very talented Manageress at the British Red Cross Charity Shop to the left of the traffic lights that are always Red?! Cheppie Bookshop, the fabulous Arty/Crafty shop on the corner, the South Wales Argos/Free Press offices, Peter Merrick Himself at his Chemist, and forgive me if I've not mentioned anyone else, but I've only just begun to distribute these gorgeous Posters for The Itton Village Produce Show, but ALL of those peoples have truly adored the poster (having not noticed that 'first press' neglected to indicate on the poster where The Produce Show would be taking place, but that's all under control so that I can 'swopsy' posters with the correct information in a few days' time, eh?!  High Five Bruce, and thank you SO much for agreeing to do the posters once again this year.  Bless You.X)

It's been a very noisy Sunday in the garden this afternoon, with Magpie fledglings (underneath the oil tank, crashing into the conservatory window etc.) and Nuthatch babes coming to feed on the nutties, twittering away to their hearts' content, Spotty Woodpecker crash-landing on the feeder, and my cat having spent most of the day in the dog-house for killing a female HouseSparrow.  I kept being 'dead cross' and intolerant of her for hours and hours,growling at her even....... then went to dig a stubborn shrub out for a neighbour, came back, and the look on her little face was so pathetic that I had to pick her up and give her a huge cuddle.  Good job I never had Children, eh, children?!

 This scaffold netting reminds me of Andrex puppies, very strong, very long, and very useful when you have a specific need for it.  The searing winds today, and sometime last week, and the fortnight before, and the one before that (get my drift?)  It's proving to be absolutely invaluable for giving my crops that little bit of extra protection.......
 So... Here we have my 'alleged' Maincrop potato 'Mayan Gold' now in flower.  I did pose a question on the GYO gardening forum about why and what to do, given that Alys Fowler was answering questions there, but herself was postponed, and the forum has been unavailable when I've been available, so it seemed more sensible to deal with my own problem myself, and let someone with a more pressing horticultural problem take my place.  I'll just have a ruddy good 'furtle' in the soil, eat what's edible, and leave the rest to mature a tad longer, seems to me better than wasting Alys's valuables, when I'm 'Big Enough And Ugly Enough' to look after myself.
Now the photo below, holds at least two or three stories, and two of which I can comment on right now, because in a previous blog update, I showed you that I'd just split'n'divided my Mint and replanted those bits into the recycling box.  Well, will you just look at it now children!  It's gone crazy, and I am SO going to harvest some of that this week, in a medly of/collection of fresh herbs in small packages, into my freezer, because I've identified certain recipes for tarts/sauces that cry out for the freshest, and I'd be mad not to capture them at their best.
The second, is the climbing Hydrangea on the left, which was given to me yesterday by a friend as a present because she had a spare one.  That kind of generosity leaves me completely speechless, because I'm used to giving, rather than receiving.

On a similar note, I've promised my friend Gloria that I'd take her out for a lovely lunch this coming week, and, it's not a secret, but I'd be dead chuffed if she agreed to be a Steward in my first-run of The Village Show, in the Cookery and Preserves classes.  That isn't the reason for lunch... It's just because she's fun to be with, and I love her company, and I'm younger than her (Ouch?!)

So.  These are truly very very exciting times, because I'm planting loads of edible stuff into The Funny Farm Kitchen Garden, and what I have spare, I'm saving for my friends to plant in theirs'.

You lot are just amazing again to be here, and if you're not already receiving automatic updates of when the new blog is available to read, please do, because I shall be withdrawing my update titles from my GYO signataure very shortly.

Have a gorgeous week.
Your Wellie.X

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Pets, Plants & Pants.....

 BC, gardening cat extraordinaire, brought me a present this week?  Oh no... I was wrong, it was her  'elevensies'!  So I took her lead, and made myself a much more appetising buttered cheese muffin and a mug of coffee, which I wandered round the Funny Farm Kitchen Garden with, deciding what to do next on my ever-growing list of jobs.  Why can't I be more like normal people and stop trying to reinvent the wheel every five minutes?  I see one job that needs doing.... start that, then spot another, then another, and another, and before I know it, I've done a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and frustrated myself to kingdom come into the bargain.

In the front wall of The Funny Farm, things are just as frenzied with the two bees' nests now..... A couple of dead ones on the inside of the house, but not the monumental graveyard so far that we witnessed last year.  Whilst at a later date I'd lurve to properly keep a hive or three, for the moment, there's sufficientt Mother Nature going on around me to keep things sweet, and I don't want to run before I satisfy myself that I can walk, if you get my drift.  And talking of Mother Nature, not only have I seen cutesy Spotty Woodpecker baby this week on the nut feeder, then yesterday the first Redstart of the year, and today I was cutting some scaffold netting (don't ask?!) in half lengthways from around my fruit bushes, in order to put a temporary windbreak between the sheep paddock and my newly-planted outdoor tomato plants (all 66 of them?... I know, I need shooting, but I'm hoping to sell some tommies this summer to help feed the Rayburn with oil so that we don't keep running out like last Winter!!!)  And guess wot? for the first time in the two years that we've lived here, I was close enough to touch the Treecreeper that was foraging for grubs in the contorted hazel bush.  Fleetingly magical moments such as that are so, so special....

 And today, children, I'd like to show you how things are progressing in the 'tidy' part of the kitchen garden...(Having prompted a couple of lovely comments from yourselves the other week, I just had to point out that my kitchen garden is a far tidier place than my house?) but at this time of year, Trousers is always an absolute Darling when it comes to just putting up with me and my seedlings all over the windowsills, conservatory, kitchen worksurfaces & Rayburn.

And with the temporary windbreak up now, my garden girls get a little respite from these chilly winds.  Whilst watering the cordons in, I was musing whether to buy a cheap late bargain of maincrop tatties to plant at their feet, and I plumped instead for the brilliance of planting the Roma bushy plum tommies at their feet instead.  For me, this was another Wellie 'ping' of an idea, because there's netting at the back to keep their 'sprawl' more upright, and I shall be protecting the soil with a mulch of some kind, which'll keep the plum tommie fruits off the soil.  And when the base of the cordons are a little bereft, the Romas will help to keep it looking Pretty Productive.

 Now then.... this is serious stuff, and I have posed a question on the Grow Your Own 'Grapevine' Forum, but if you looked at the above picture (just try and ignore the picture below for a while if you can?!)  The potatoes nearest to you are Pink Fir Apple (maincrop).  To the left of the birdbath are lst Early Vales Emerald.  To the right of the birdbath are 1st Early Lady Cristl, then behind that, a whole row of 2nd Early Piccolo Star, then a whole row of maincrop Mayan Gold, which are just about to start flowering.  Can you see just how Bonkers this is?

And didn't I predict last weekend that 'WonderWellie' would prolly fly in to weed the carrot bed for me Kids?

Thankfully, she did.  My bottom isn't as big as hers, obviously, and who gave her permission to borrow my Wellies?!

Have a good week my friends, and be sure not to take this mild weather for granted.  Keep an eye on the forecast, just in cases, because it would be a tragedy to lose stuff that you've nurtured for all these weeks and months, eh?

Thank you for gracing me with your valued company once again, and I look forward to being your hostess with the mostess again next weekend.

AND, I should be able to give you a sneaky preview of The Itton Village Produce Show Poster.X.

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Absolutely  & Utterly Bonkers......   No, actually, you're making your own story up again Children, because I was referring to the fact that I tried to murder this gooseberry bush, along with two of its' sisters last year?  No word of a lie, they were showing 'thuggish' tendencies towards their neighbouring Worcesterberry and Chockerberry cousins, (and, before I forget which is which:  A Worcesterberry is a Gooseberry on a Blackcurrant rootstock, and a Chockerberry is a Blackcurrant on a Gooseberry rootstock).  Or is it the other way around?   Honestly.... I can amuse myself  for seconds with that conundrum every time, until I find the scrap of paper it's written on, then lose it, and forget again......Surely so many Senior Moments aren't good for one in such a short space of time.

It's also Bonkers, (see my friend Gloria over my shoulder now, but not literally, just 'peering', eh?) because the above-mentioned of Wellie's Goosegogs are ready well before the other bushes, or a glut of Elderflower heads, and many a recipe book marrying the two flavours well in a number of culinary directions, but given the wealth of blossom this Spring, mercifully uninterrupted by frosts, Wellie's got designs on keeping the fruit to HERSELF this year.

Last year, Mother Nature kind of had a 'Free For All' as far as the Orchard produce went, and there were Bluetits and bold young steers pecking, licking, coughing and spluttering all over the lovely apples, plums 'n' pears, and whilst I've got a perfectly good sink, with running water and everything, the damaged fruits having fallen from the trees then into Sheep Doo-Doo or Cow Dung, forgive me, but that didn't really blow my frock up much  to want to cook or preserve them?
So!..... here we have another nice picture of Wellie's hand/an update on how her 'tabletop' strawberries are coming along.  They've been planted in amongst a goodly dollop of manure, infilled with Westlands Multipurpose Compost with added John Innes, and mulched with grass clippings.  (Me and my grass clippings, eh?!)
 Now, only because someone brought up the subject on the GYO Grapevine forum the other day about pricking out/thinning Carrot seedlings am I even remotely touching on this subject.  But I wanted to show that it is perfectly possible.  The carrot seedlings in the background were bought as a £1.98 batch of 'Chantenay' seedlings, which I then thinned out, either individually, or in small groups, into homemade paper pots within the confines of my conservatory.  It's important to keep the paper pots moist at all times so that the roots have easy access to surrounding soil later, and, of course to plant them into a totally 'Carrot Root Fly Free Zone'.  It's Bonkers to even want to do this Kiddywinkies, but I have designs on them for my village show?!
(just ignore the weeds, Wellie will call in 'Wonder Wellie' wearing her frilly knickers on the outside of her strides, as soon everything else in the house and garden that needs doing is done this week, eh?!)
 Next up is my adorable little pussy cat.  Isn't she gorgeous?  Like HELL she is!....Wellie, knowing exactly when to withdraw her hand/arm/whole body at a moments' notice, just by looking into her beautiful eyes are the only set of Rules my friends!! Trousers and I have a sign for visitors that says: BEWARE OF THE CAT. And we mean it.
Well what else has been Bonkers this week?  I'm growing 'Myan Gold' Maincrop Potatoes for the first time, and I noticed today that they're just beginning to show signs of flowering.  Not a single flower on any of my 1st or 2nd Early Potatoes, obviously... Any advice out there?

During the week, I made the mistake of wearing pedal-pusher-Trizers to Mrs. Hyphen-Hyphens' to do a tad of weeding, with it being so warm, and I got very cruelly bitten to death on my ankles, (and you know how much I can be allergic to 'ankle-biters'; particularly in supermarkets), and I kid you not, I ended up looking like I'd got Elephantitis.  Trousers very kindly, eventually, agreed to go and buy me some anti-hissie-fit tablets, and after four days now I feel better.

Our registered Blog members totalled 28, then 27, and I witnessed 'Sleepwalker' abandoning The Funny Farm Blog, so could we all wish him/her well today please with their departure?
And a very warm welcome then to their replacement, whether or not it be connected...
And I'll be back here again, god willing, for you next week, if you'll let me.X

Monday, 2 May 2011


Let me kick off with the fact that there are some seriously beautiful roses around this lawn, the likes of which, until 2 years ago, I had never seen, and wanting to share them, I'm wanting to open my garden up nearing the end of June, to allow others to appreciate them as well, and maybe to earn the odd penny for the sake of our local village hall.

But I decided to give the front lawn a well-earned makeover, and I spent six hours yesterday just getting the dead stuff out with my scarifier, and these bags are packed solid/compacted down to their boots with dead moss and thatch.

I'm not sure how many years now that I've actively taken part on the 'GrowYourOwn' Grapevine Forum, but it's refreshing to find that my 'horticultural witterings' are still appreciated, so thank you, sincerely, to those of you who are recently, and hugely still appreciating me.

And I only say that, because of the gorgeous feedback that you give me, which does indeedy keep Wellie writing this blog, because without you, I'd feel pretty stupid sat here talking to the cat.
Is that the biggest lie that I've told?!   When am I NOT talking to my gorgeous cat??!

This evening.......Unless I make you laugh, or 'pull this one out of the bag' Children, this is going to be one hell of a boring blob update this week, believe me, because I have rather mundane photos here, and that's because there's serious stuff going on in the garden, like Lawn Scarifying, and Earthing Up Potatoes, and Growing Onions From Seed, and Sets, and Mulching to keep the moisture in and the weeds out.

Sometimes, like in one of my all-time favourite rom-coms: 'Love Actually', you could get given the 'boring biscuits', Sir, or, 'I'd give you the chocolate ones'.  And as a grower of your own food, it's constantly the boring ones, and the chocolate ones, isn't it?! and that's what keeps us keen, enthusiastic, and on our tippy-toes all of the time.

 This bed was the weediest of all of the veg beds last summer/autumn, so I decided that it needed a smack on the bottom for that, and so planted Potatoes, because we know that Potatoes will defeat any level of weeds. 

At completely the other end of the scale, onions will not tolerate any weed competition at all, so this year, I'm experimenting with mowing the sheep paddock, picking up sheep droppings and mowing the grass in one swoop, and then mulching the onion rows, hopefully fertilising the onions at the same time. 

Oh, and just having found out that you're here, have I  told you how gorgous that is?!x