Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Humble Blackcurrant

My childhood summer holidays, growing up on a country farm, was all about saving something.

If it wasn't saving the Hay it was saving the Turf.

Essential for the winter months ahead.

Then there was saving the fruit, from the birds.

My mother had ten Blackcurrant bushes (and four Gooseberry bushes) growing in the garden.

And once those juicy wee black berries started to ripen it was 'all hands on deck' to pick them.

Thankfully there were plenty of hands (I am the eldest of seven) so the job was a little easier considering the amount of bushes.

Then we lived on jam sandwiches for our school lunches!

We all love Blackcurrant jam our house and in our first year here we planted three Ben Lomond Blackcurrant bushes behind the polytunnel. And they love it there.

In June I put up a 'fruit cage' of sorts, some wood and a large sheet of netting, to keep the birds out.

And thankfully I had a bit of help picking the ripened fruit.

This was our third harvest and a wonderful harvest it was too, nearly 4kg for jam making in the future.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A bit of growth - finally.

*blows the cobwebs from the blog*

It just feels like it was the longest and coldest Spring ever didn't it?

Maybe it is just me but it seems everything is much slower growing this year than last. Even the slugs are slower! (which is great, I am not complaining!)

So in between showers yesterday I took my camera out for a 'walkabout' to capture a few things in our garden.

When out weeding the other day I came across this sapling at the side of our house, and after a bit of research (my youngest sister) it has been identified as a baby Ash tree ! No idea how it ended up here as it certainly wasn't planted here by the previous owners and there are no Ash trees anywhere in our locality. Just have to thank Mother Nature I suppose. Now we just have to find somewhere to plant it.

Ash sapling
 After planting our seed potatoes we had a few left over so my partner decided she would like to plant some for our patio, so two seed Red Duke of York potatoes were planted in an old pot. And they are thriving!

The ones in the raised beds are coming along nicely too..

Red Duke of York
Our other potatoes, Sarpo Miras, look like they are never gonna grow, but when I looked a bit closer I found them starting to peep through at last (just hope there has been no frost this week because I didn't top them up with soil).

On the other side of our garden our Rhubarb is flourishing, and we have already had two Rhubarb tarts from this lot!

And the Strawberries in the polytunnel are coming along nicely too! the bigger ones to the front of the picture are in their third year, the smaller ones their second year. Looking forward to some yummy fruits soon!

And last but not least (a rain shower sent me back indoors) our three Blackcurrant bushes are also thriving, and are getting a few visitors too! Heres one fella I caught working away...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Spring has finally sprung!

At long last I feel like it is Spring; the spuds are down!

It has been so cold and the garden has been so un-inviting the past few weeks that I was beginning to think we would never get our potatoes planted.

Two weeks ago I ordered top soil to top up our old beds and fill a new one. It is a shame really that our own soil has such heavy clay but having raised beds is brilliant for a garden that tends towards waterlogging!

Four tonnes of soil arrived and a new raised bed made, the last of the 16ft x 4ft ones that we planned on having in the garden. Thats six altogether now, plenty of room for crop rotation!

I got the boys out doors last week (thank God for Easter break!) to help me with the weeding while I started emptying the top soil into our new and old raised beds.

It wasn't the easiest of weeks for working out there; we had a few showers of snow sending us back indoors once or twice. But it had to be done!

Yesterday was a lovely day; not too cold. So we managed to fill the new bed and plant our Sarpo Mira potatoes in it. These were great last year; blight resistant and we got a good yield from them.

 In another bed we planted our Red Duke of York potatoes (earlies); never tried these before so hoping we get a nice crop from them, even if they are being planted very late....

Our Peas are up too, it is so lovely to see them sprouting, they are so cute!

The Sungold F1 Tomato seeds I planted are up too (all 8 of them) but I think I need to buy a few more seeds; don't think 8 plants are enough (we had 20 last year).

It looks like a gorgeous Spring day out, and theres loads of work/gardening to be done, hope it is gorgeous where you are too!!

Happy Gardening!!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

New Beginnings

I have always loved working with my hands; from gardening to all things DIY.

But the past two years I have been concentrating on re-decorating this old house we bought (tiling, painting, laying wooden floors) and getting the new extension sorted while also trying to sort out our garden and fence some of it in (fence the neighbours goats out more like).

But at the back of my mind I have yearned to to something more creative than making raised beds and fences!

So over the last couple of weeks I have gotten the chance to try out some of my ideas and as scary as it sounds in my head I have decided to open a Facebook page and 'inflict' my ideas on others.

I started with my easiest idea.....
Heart on a String Chalk Board
Then ventured into letters...

Then decided I would stick the chalk board and letters together....

So 'Little Crafts' was born....

I would love if you had a look and if you like what you see please feel free to 'like' my page : ))


Back to the gardening the last time I posted here I had chitted the potatoes, not much has changed since.
Although the potatoes are ready to be planted but their raised beds are not, just yet.

I have 4 tonne bags of top soil sitting outside waiting to be distributed among the sunken beds and I have the final raised bed to make/put in place.

When I get this bed in place I will have six 16ft x 4 ft beds in our garden. Plenty for crop rotation in the future!

Last year I promised myself that I would start sowing my seeds early but I have only managed to sow our Peas and Tomato seeds this week! (bad gardener).

We have been saving our toilet roll holders for the Peas!

So this fortnight, with the help of the boys (who are on school holidays) I hope to weed and refill all of the raised beds, plus make and fill the last remaining one. Then we can plant our spuds!

Now, back to the scribbling/sketching of ideas for my 'Little Crafts' eeek.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Chitting time!!

Yes, it is that time of year again.

The egg cartons have been saved over the last few weeks and the seed potatoes have been selected and purchased.

This year we have decided to try out Red Duke of York for our First Early crop. The guy at the local garden centre maintains they are worth a try.

For our Main Crop we are going with Sarpo Mira again. We had a successful crop with it last year and it is blight resistant (and didn't drown in all the rain).

Egg cartons make the nicest beds for little seed potatoes to chit, eyes up!!

All the nice wee spuds in a row; our bedroom window sill full of chitting potatoes!

And our seeds arrived in the post from the lovely people at .

Hopefully next blogpost might be about sowing some seeds (must go get some potting compost).

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Our Seeds have been ordered!

What better way to end January than with some seed ordering!

Here is our list of what we ordered, (from the lovely shop) and what we hope to grow successfully this year (for ourselves NOT the slugs!).

Beetroot 'Detroit Globe' :

We did not have much luck with our Beetroot last year as the slugs made their way through the seedlings I planted out, so this year I intend to sow all the seeds and hope for the best!

Cabbage, Savoy 'Vertus':

We grew Savoy cabbage last year and what wasn't eaten by slugs was fairly successful, so going to stick with these guys again this year. They produce a nice solid head, while the slugs can have the outer leaves!

Brussel Sprouts 'Brigitte F1':

Never tried growing Brussel Sprouts before, but my mother has had great success with hers, so going to give these a try this year. Fingers crossed for our home grown sprouts for Christmas!

Lettuce, Butterhead 'Sylvesta':

Lettuce has to be one of the easiest plants to grow. I always plant enough though to share with the slugs and plant at intervals too so that we try to have continuous Lettuce throughout the summer.

Salad Mix, Spicy and hot:

Every garden should have a pot for salad mix!

Carrot, 'Autumn King':

A total disaster last year, every time a seedling popped it's head up out of the soil there was a big fat slug waiting to eat it. This year I plan on sowing more than last year in the hope we get at least one or 2 carrots....

Pea, Sugar Snap 'Delikett':

A lovely addition to the garden, I planted our Peas too late last year to have anything more than a couple of pods that we ate every time we passed the bed.

Scallions, spring onion 'Ishikura Bunching':

No salad is the same without a few scallions!

Tomato 'Sungold':

We are trying a different variety this year, after 2 successful years with 'Gardeners Delight'.

We have a few more things to get, but I think I'll leave that for another day.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Our Feathered Friends

We have a few Bird feeders in our garden and I try to keep those feeders filled during the winter months. Not just to keep the birds happy but selfishly so we can see them on a regular basis. We just love to see them around the garden, and what better way to catch a glimpse than entice them with a bit of food throughout the year.

Every garden should have at least one feeder! you just never know what you might see!

Our resident birds include Coal Tits, Great Tits and Blue Tits, regular and cheeky!

We have one Robin and a couple of Blackbirds who visit our feeders too.

Then there is the Wren out the back who doesnt come near the feeders at all but sometimes we catch it sitting on the washing line or the wheelie bins looking in at us.

We also have one Dunnock, and at the side of the garden, in the trees we have a Tree Creeper (whom we thought was a mouse the first time we spotted it running up a branch!).

We get loads of Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Sparrows too.

And every now and again we get some 'blow ins' to the garden.

I thought I would stick up a few photos today for you to enjoy!

This fella visited our garden about two weeks ago to feed off the seeds that the other birds dropped while feeding from the feeder. It was the first time we had seen a Pheasant up so close, needless to say we were all delighted to see him, and he came back for another three mornings too.

 The Goldfinch is a beautiful bird, they tend to visit in groups of 3/4. They visit us once or twice a week.

Male Chaffinch 
 A very regular visiter, himself and his Mrs.

Our Dunnock

Male House Sparrow
Female Greenfinch

Great Tit
This fella and 2 of his friends turned up the other day and I was lucky enough to get a nice few pics of them too. Very attractive posers.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Our Snow Garden

My Winter Poem
 by my son J age 8
Fantastic icicles on the trees
Fantastic snow falling on me
Fantastic snowmen looking at the light
Fantastic ice shining bright
I took my camera out on Monday to take a few photos; with snow covering everything the garden actually looked nice (instead of waterlogged).

The snow hiding the green covered tunnel

No work getting done today!
Hidden by snow instead of just weeds, looks prettier

The poor Daffodils have to pause growing again!

There is a queue for the peanut feeder!