Not with pretty bells all in a row, row, row unfortunately! Although for years and years I thought being contrary was a good thing…..
The peas are finished and the French beans are about 3/4 done.
The courgettes are getting their second wind and the cucumbers are filling out nicely. My kiwi plant I bought last year has put on plenty of foliage but there’s no sign of fruit or flowers.
The blueberries have plenty of fruit (though not very sweet) and are thriving now that they are in the correct ericaceous compost (oopsie!).
This is part of my second round of methi (fenugreek).
I usually cut it 2 inches from the soil and dig it in. Like peas and beans it adds nitrogen to the soil so I throw a load of seeds on bare land over winter to act as a green manure/weed suppressant and dig it in at the start of Spring There’s no need to buy the fancy, expensive stuff. I get a big bagful from the Indian shop for a couple of quid. The chillies are doing quite well but there’ll be more about them later
…..ooo I’m such a tease(!)
This year, I made my own fertiliser out of comfrey. I’d heard all sorts of horror stories about how it spreads everywhere but so far, so good. I planted two lots into neglected parts of the garden so that if it did spread it wouldn’t be a disaster. This picture is from one seed sown in spring.
Bear in mind it’s had plenty of leaves removed for fertiliser making. All you do is get a bucket or watering can and fill it up with loads of torn up leaves. Top it up with water and leave it for a week. Top it up with water again. I tend to keep it covered be a use it is stinky stuff! I dilute it 1 part comfrey tea to 10-ish parts of water. Then keep topping up your bucket. Comfrey grows FAST.
One of the plants I grow because of the expense/food miles issue is Physalis or syphilis as it’s known as in our house. It’s super easy to grow, it needs plenty of heat and water but really, if you could grow tomatoes you could grow these.
The other thing I do is cut the spent heads off the sunflowers and leave them to dry. I can plant the seed next year and the birds are grateful of the excess come winter.
I choose what to grow based on the following:
What tastes better fresh, plucked from the plant and straight into the mouth. Peas for example and tomatoes and strawberries just warmed by the sun.
What is easy to grow and delicious?
What is difficult to find fresh in the shops?
What is ridiculously expensive in the shops?
What incurs ridiculous food miles?
What is only available in bog standard varieties? Eg tomatoes
What gives a good yield per square foot? Eg climbing beans?
Over the next few weeks many of the garden centres have seed sales so now’s the time to start thinking about next summer’s crop.
I’ve been thinking about making one of those Japanese utility aprons for the longest time. Now the weather is heating up too its likely I’ll be spending longer and longer out there.
So I got my pinterest on. It seems there are two ways of doing this: prepare a big rectangle and two little rectangles for the straps. Or there’s the second way which I chose. I reckon this way looks a bit more professional and less thrown together. Also, I was supposed to start sewing my pair of self drafted jeans last week….o, and I got a new sewing machine for my birthday so I needed some serious practice.
I used this fabric, the closest thing to denim I could find at a bargain basement price…..big mistake! This stuff thinks it’s on the bias….all the time. It was a little tricky to work with.
I was going go go all Chinelo Bally and draw the pattern straight on thd fabric but i chickened out! I started off with a great big bit of that burda tracing paper and folded it in half. I marked on CF and the length to the underarm and CF. I used random bodice patten piece and traced around the relevant bits till I got a pattern resembling the ones I’d seen on pinterest. I decided to close the dart-y looking bit between the front and back bodices which opened up to give the skirt section a more A-line shape.
I cut out the paper pattern and tissue fitted it to dollyP…
.A bit had to tell really but it looked ok and I got stuck in to cutting out the fabric.
I cut out the pocket pieces and even remembered to interface the tops and the neckline of the apron too. I was feeling a little nostalgic about my college days when carpenter jeans were all the rage so I made a few hooks by putting long strip of fabric through the bias binding maker and topstitching it down. I couldn’t find little S hooks so I used carabiners and these clip things instead.
I decided to use snaps to open/close the apron so I marked the position and interfaced the wrong side. I used 10mm Prym snaps because thats what i had, I think next time I would used a 15mm staple or add an extra snap.
In my topstitching excitement I totally forgot to finish the ends of the straps properly so I turned the strap RST and sewed as close to the edges as possible. I turned them back out, pressed and pretended it never happened.
My new machine also sews those little tacks at the edge of pockets so I got busy with those too except, again, in my excitement I tacked down the second (accordion) pocket. Well, silver linings and all, as it happens, it makes a perfect spot to keep your mobile.
So here is dollyP modelling
And here I am flouncing around the garden.
I think if turned out pretty well despite a few careless mistakes. It was really useful practicing my topstitching and it was fun playing with my fab new machine.
Cost: 1.3m at £1.50 per metre, Gütermann thread £1.70
Time: 4 hours including drafting and all that
After I finished I discovered there are even easier options, Simplicity 1133 is very similar but it is finished with bias bindings so I might try that next time!
This year because of the crappy weather and my prodigious ability to procrastinate, I was a bit late getting started with the garden. But lucky for me a few good sunny days has meant the plants in the greenhouse (read conservatory ) have caught up and are actually thriving! So I’ll show you a little of what’s going on.
Last year we had a massive glut of Tom. Anyone who visited wondered around eating them like they were at the PYO farm and if we went visiting we would take a few boxes full. So this year I’m scaling it right back to tried and tested varieties. First is Sungold, a cordon variety with 13g fruits and plenty of them. They are a lovely orange colour and perfect for snacking on. The next variety, the tomatoberry were all the rage a few years back but I grew them for the first time last year. Another cordon cherry tomato these are named because they look like strawberries. The last variety I’ve planted was a last minute addition so they’ve got some serous catching uo to do! You’ll see them in the other pictures.
The biggest plants here are the Duchy Sweet peppers that I got on sale last year. I’ve never tried them so I’m not sure what to expect. The smaller ones are Padron peppers. I’m rather excited about these, I really hope they work out. A few years ago I ate them in a Tapas bar in Madrid and they were delicious! In the corner there you can see the third variety of tomato, the appropriately named 100s and 1000s. This is a high yielding plant!
Thsee are a variety called Black Beauty, I. Grew them last year too. They were tasty and high yielding, I got at least 8 courgettes from each plant.
It’s just not summer without sunflowers, is it? I’m growing the usual tall ones and a shorter, bushier variety. When the plants die I harvest the seeds to use to feed the birdies over winter….they go mad for them!
Herbs and others
In three middle you can see a couple of different varieties of basil and a sweet pepper plant at the top left. The two pots at the bottom right are Physalis (aka syphilis in my house but also cape gooseberries or inca berries).Last year I grew then in the conservatory and they went crazy! They are as easy to grow as tomatoes and if you keep them toasty and warm you’ll get a good amount of fruit….and considering the price of the berries in the shops…! There’s also some winter thyme and oregano in there
At the end of last summer I bought a kiwi vine. I put it in a sheltered spot protected from frost over winter but by the start of April it looked like it was done for. But all of a sudden it’s sprung back to life!
re I’m growing some methi, a typical Indian green leafy veg, next to it is the garlic that hid in the bed all winter!
My early peas have settled into their raised bed nicely, I just have to scare away the birds, cats and slugs. The other picture is the comfrey that has also spung back to life. I use it as a compost accelerator and fertiliser