Tuesday, 30 June 2020

A few bits for the Freezer Part Two

Well I have been playing around in the kitchen again.  Essentially Freezing stuff that has come my way.  Oh how I have missed doing this, sad person that I am!

The first element on the list is Mashed potato.  I have the end of a sack of potatoes to use up.  I am not wasting them so mashed potato it is.  

All I do is cook my potatoes until they are cooked through.  I then put them through the potato Ricer into a clean bowl until all the potatoes have been used up.  Even though I was bought up wielding a potato masher, when it comes to nice smooth buttery mashed potato, the potato ricer wins hands down.  I then add butter (depends on how many 1lbs of potatoes you prepare as to how much butter goes in but for a standard serving for four a good knob of butter).  I then add a little milk and using a fork mix the butter and the milk into the potatoes.  Not too much milk to start with as you need a light smooth, but firm texture.  Decant into suitable freezing pots and put away in the freezer until you need to use.  For the two of us I use microwaveable bowls with lids.  Enough for two servings.  Alternatively you can pipe swirls of mashed potato and then open freeze them on a tray a bit fancier, but at the time I was at school this was a standard practice.  Once frozen decant into suitable containers for freezer storage. Mashed potato does go very starchy but adding extra butter and milk in the next step helps loosen it off I have found.

To use the mashed potato I let it defrost and then add a little saucer/teaplate to one of my layers in my electric steamer placing the mash on the saucer.  You can use an ordinary steamer until it is well warmed through.  I then tip into a bowl and if the texture is too stiff add a little more milk and butter to slacken it off.  You can use a fork or potato masher to do this.  Serve with your main meal and enjoy.  I do not like bought mashed potato but I don't mind doing it like this.

You can vary the flavours by adding cheese, cheese and onion, leftover cooked veggies and turn it into bubble n squeak or use as the basis for making Colcannon or Champ.  All are delicious and all save time by making in bulk beforehand especially if you work full time during the week.  I firmly believe that prepping a lot of stuff from fresh where you can gives you security in that you either grew or bought a good class of ingredient in the first place; you know its source and where it came from and you have food in your "Pantry" which includes fridges, freezers, etc which will take you through difficult times and especially when pennies are tight.  It may not always be the food that you would necessarily normally buy, or indeed fancy, but a meal is a meal at the end of the day and you can make the most memorable of meals with a few simple ingredients. Half the battle with cooking is understanding your ingredients and what goes with what.

Leeks.  I do not blanch these, I clean them and then cut into slices of a similar size.  I open freeze and then once frozen decant into freezer bags.  I will often serve these mixed in with stir fries and soups and quiches and just take what I want from the bag as I need it.  I normally slice in rings but next time am going to chop the leaves and pack into ziplock bags and then flatten them.  

Carrots. I peel and then normally chunk these, then blanch for a few minutes and then pop straight into cold water to cool down.  Dry off with straining and then dry off with a clean tea towel. 

These are a staple here and I quite frequently prepare these in two portion packs.  Often when there is some leftover veg in the rack.  No reason to waste if you pop it up.  I prepare rings, chunks and lengths of carrots - just a different presentation that livens things up a bit.  I also use these in stew packs.  I also turn carrots into Carrot crush with the addition of some Swede.

Swede.  I peel and then chop swede into small chunks and then blanch for a few minutes and straight into cold water straining in a colander and then drying off with a clean tea towel.  I normally package in two person portions and if just doing this decant straight into suitable bags or containers.  However if I am doing a batch of stew packs I open freeze the chosen mixture of veggies so that I can take out whatever I want to use from the package without everything being stuck solid.

Parsnips.  I peel and halve these and depending on the size of the Parsnips sometimes quarter these.  They are then blanched, cooled, strained and dried off with a clean tea towel.  I then prep up two person packages of about four pieces of parsnip and freeze.  You can also open freeze these as well especially if you only want a few pieces at a time.  To use these I pop straight into the roasting pan with hot fat  from frozen.

1800g reduced Strawberries came my way at a silly price.  I therefore bought them home, cored and washed them.  As they are for jam no sugar put into bag but doing this will give me the option of turning them into jam out of season

4 packs Hereford stewing beef at £1.20 per pack,  Bargain.  These have been wrapped and put into the freezer as is.  Will either make two good stews or I will process the meat and cook it and then turn into meat pie filling and will get about three large meat pies out of this.  Spare pies can in turn be frozen.

So some more useful bits and bobs put out of the way without wasting anything.

Right upwards and onwards.  Need to get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 28 June 2020

Things have been a little hectic

Hello everyone, hope you are all okay.  Sorry I have not been around much this week there has been an awful lot going on here.

There have been one or two major life changes here in the past few weeks.  OH retires this Thursday being the chief change.  He was 65 in February and wanted to enjoy retirement.  He has it in the back of his mind that many of his loved family members went far too early including his elder sister and his younger sister, who died tragically about a week before her marriage to her long term partner.  One is never quite sure what life has in store for us.  It was his decision to make and his alone. He has also invested in a touring caravan again.  There are many places in this wonderful country of ours that neither of us have seen and having the freedom to get up and go when we feel like it will be very liberating.  It should be ready in a couple of weeks as we are having some extras fitted  and then we will have to make a decision as to where we would like to go.  There are lots of places we would like to visit.

The hot weather has severely hampered us this past week or so. I ended up getting up early to get on with stuff and felt that rough and wobbly I had to go back to bed.  That kind of jiggered me up a bit.  The bit I was bothered about is that despite resting and going to bed when I should my sleep was severely hampered.  I have found that in practical terms lack of sleep completely knocks my system out and leaves me open to epileptic seizures.  As I want to avoid this at all costs, precautionary measures were necessary and I had to rest up.  So far so good and at least I realised what was happening and was able to do something about it.

My glasses arrived and I am very pleased with them.  I can actually see now and am looking forward to taking up some embroidery projects again. I have some projects to get on with (well quite a few)  Just need to invest in a good magnifying lamp.  Does anyone have any recommendations?

I have since tried to find an NHS Dentist and no one seems to be taking on.  Will keep working on it as need to get sorted.

I have also got one of the greenhouses up and I am very happy with it.  OH has the other one to do and then some serious sorting out needs doing.  I will do a separate post on this in due course, but these really will help for next year especially in getting stuff started off earlier.  I think really at heart I am a country girl used to country ways.  The simplicity of growing your own, making your own and having the right amount of land, and taking it further with livestock and creating your own food supply system.  Somewhere with a house would be preferable as a house can always be modified and knocked into shape to make it workable for what you need it to do. That would really be my dream but I do not think it is OH's.  I would be in my element. I am finding as I grow older that there are certain things I cannot cope or deal with - don't know why .  One of them is I don't like crowds I prefer being in nature and where things are a lot calmer

I have also harvested a few Strawberries, a few Tayberries, two small cherry tomatoes and plenty of lettuce.  Only little things but very tasty and making me want to do more on more on the growing front.

On the food front I have had several reduction finds at very good prices and which will give me the opportunity to do some more preserving when I have a little more time on my hands.  At the moment I seem to have been chasing around like an absolute loon and there is not much to show for it.  There is another Freezer post to come shortly, and I go into more details on my finds within that post.  I am definitely building up my freezer store little by little as I find useful things.  I am fast running out of room I think that new Chest freezer is going to be arriving a lot quicker than OH anticipated.

Right upwards and onwards things to do whilst it is still light.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 23 June 2020

A few bits for the Freezer Part One

One of the things I love to do is to squirrel away lots of useful bits and bobs for the freezer that you cannot necessarily buy. These are usually items that adds to a meal or enhances it, or provides me with a useful ingredient from the freezer which does not limit my options.  In particular I always check out the reduced items section for suitable items to get at a bargain price but which are more than useful for cooking generally.

In the past few days I have prepped and popped the following items away.

Little plum tomatoes.  These are washed, dried up with a clean tea-towel and then bagged up as they are.  I use these in sauces and soups, casseroles.  I also fry them from frozen and serve them as part of a full English breakfast.  They are very fresh tasting and OH is particularly fond of them.  I just take out how many I need from the bag  and then return the rest to the freezer.  The bonus with this is if you grow your own you can get them straight from plant to freezer.  Even more flavour and goodness.  If there are any left at the end of the day (which is unlikely), they will be used up in general cooking or for adding to pasta sauce.  I have five bags of these.  It was buy a tray for £1 or two for £1.50.  I purchased six trays and have kept one out to go with the salad.

I have prepared and washed Spring Onions, thinly sliced them and popped them into a small washed out soft drinks bottle.  They can be used in stir fries, quiches, sprinkled on pancakes used as part of a Tortilla, in soups really wherever you need them.  I found the idea for doing this on Pinterest.  It recycles a drinks bottle or two that would end up in landfill and also supposedly stops the onion smell contaminating other food items.  Also supposed to be good to use in the fridge!  The theory works for me.  Have since tried this and it works.

Mixed Sweet Peppers. I had orange yellow and red peppers two of each. I wash these, de-seed them and then slice them then lay them out on a baking tray, layering with baking parchment like I did for the courgettes. Then freeze.  Once frozen I decant into a suitable container or bag.  Pop back in the freezer and then when I want some pepper, just take out what I want and put the rest back in the freezer. Good to add to a home made stir fry or indeed the Hawaain Chicken recipe that I make.

Two cartons of Strawberries.  These are washed, sprinkled with sugar and popped into a bag and then sprinkled with a little sugar.  There are many ways of using these, even if you collect together enough and make a batch of jam from them.  When I make Strawberry jam I always crush the Strawberries with a potato masher in any event so that the fruit is smashed and evenly distributed.  They are lovely with meringues and cream and also lovely in the bottom of a trifle.  Strawberries tend to lose their shape with preserving, but they still make a useful dessert.  A taste of summer in the middle of winter.  I have two small bags of Strawberries.

Blueberries I just wash, dry and freeze.  I use them in Blueberry muffins straight from the freezer and also in mixed fruit purees, even a puree with yogurt on their own.

Cauliflower cheese a favourite here.  I also make a version with both Broccoli and garlic which is yummy, but on this occasion it is just the plain cauliflower cheese.

Bread sauce to use predominantly with chicken, but if it is there ready made all you need to do is drag a pot out of the freezer.  All I do is make a traditional bread sauce and then pot it up.  I leave it to cool before putting in the freezer.

Courgettes, yellow and green.  Always a useful standby.  I wash and slice these, then straight on a tray lined with baking parchment and put the slices on.  Stacking them upwards until I have used up all the sliced courgette interleaving with baking parchment.  Once frozen take the frozen courgette off the paper and then decant into bags. I usually use both colours of Courgette in the one bag, to make it more appealing. Use in stir fries and also under Roast Pork - goes all nice and caramelised.  Yummy.

I have also read of a method whereby you grate the Courgette and then freeze it into bags.   This to me would be very useful for adding to Frittata and cakes.  I am going to try this as well but this will be for next time.. 

I also bought some green beans to freeze as well.  I have about four decent servings from two small packs of French Beans.

If you are lucky enough to come across some bargains, if you can please try and take advantage of this opportunity and squirrel away some good eating for you and your family.  It does pay dividends in the longer run.  Doing a bit every so often can save money and does not necessarily tie you to the kitchen sink.  Not everyone of us has a bit of land for growing stuff but it does not mean that you cannot do a little housekeeping and plan things forward and have a security blanket in terms of food storage.  Each of us is responsible for sourcing our food as best we can.  Recent events has seen panic buying which in course has led to food shortages.  With a little planning this need not happen.  I fell foul as I had been in a position where the freezers were not working and I lost a lot of food and money whereas they are normally well stocked.  So during the bulk of the pandemic I did not have the security and comfort of food to feed us without necessarily going to the shops.  I do not intend this to happen again.  Caught short by my own petard.  

So little by little I intend to re-stock the one freezer I do have.  I have been promised another deep chest freezer which I prefer soon.  The aim is to "Put Down" what I can when I can to see us through the winter months into next spring, with the aid of the freezers, canning, bottling, drying, jam making, wines, curds, whatever method I can to ensure food security as best as I can.  This includes keeping stock of puff pastry, margarine, butter and lard for baking and pastry making

There are more bits and bobs to do as I go along and I will pop up further posts in relation to this as they happen.  I prefer to freeze my own stuff from fresh where I can, perhaps with the exception of peas.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 21 June 2020

Saturday update and crabs

For the past nine weeks or so, OH has taken me on a shopping trip to get fresh fish.  He did not mention anything about going today though so I assumed he did not want to go.  It was only when we got up a little later and were just generally chit-chatting that he had assumed I did not want to go.  Despite being late we decided to go over to see if we could get anything and I managed to get a piece of natural smoked haddock for me, some Tuna for OH, some Crevettes and some crayfish.  They had sold out of dressed crab but they still had a couple of whole crab and he cracked the top off both and then left me to dress them.  Never done it before, but hey ho cannot be that complicated can it?

After the fish van we nipped to the bakery and then OH took us to do some window shopping on some items he is interested in buying.  So we went and had a look but this has raised more questions and potentially raises other questions which are going to have to be discussed thoroughly.

We then came back home and we had our cooked main dinner OH Tuna steak with me having the smoked haddock cooked in  milk and butter with a couple of poached eggs and bread and butter.  Went down a treat.

Later on we decided to have the crab.  Did not do too bad a job considering never done them before even got the leg meat out.  Shall not be too daunted to do them again.  Bit fiddly but they were lovely.

We finished off tea with a bowl of Strawberries and cream.  All in all it went down very nicely.

I hope I am able to get in the garden tomorrow to do a bit more sorting although I know we have to go out for a while tomorrow.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 18 June 2020

Self Care - The Eye test Part Two

Despite well laid plans to get organised and sorted in plenty of time, OH managed to scupper this by adding something else into an already tight schedule, hurrying me out of the house to the extent I forgot to put my eye drops in as I had planned!  Despite this we got there in the end and I attended for my eye test and I must say that it has been pretty thorough and I am pretty impressed with the service I have received at the Bridge Street Peterborough Branch of Specsavers.  Please note this is not an advertisement for them, but credit due to a very professional and efficient experience, despite Covid 19.  

I was also extremely surprised in how much eye tests have changed. I had the eye pressure test and the view of the eyeball and also a photo scan of the eyes and drops in the eyes and then had to wait a short while to see the Consultant Chitu.

I was right in that my prescription has changed for close work and computer work.  However my eyes themselves are in very good condition overall which is very good news from my perspective.  

I have been told that the medication I am on for the autoimmune conditions can with long term use damage the eye but that at the moment does not appear to be the situation in my case.  I also have some blocked tear ducts (part of the dry eye condition) and have been prescribed some microwaveable bags to use together with eye drops for use throughout the day to get them fully functioning again. The Consultant has on this basis asked that from now on I book a yearly appointment for review. He was pleased that I opted for the extra test as they now have a solid baseline on which to monitor my eyesight.

I have bought two pairs of glasses in the first instance and have chosen two separate frames, both different and both blue coloured.  My new glasses should arrive next week and I have a fitting appointment for next Thursday evening.

Well that is one thing off the Self-Care Hit List, once finalised next week.  Now to sort out what is next on the agenda.  Might just have to be my teeth, but am going to have to gear myself up on this one as I am petrified of needles and I need to have some teeth out.  Normally, because of the epilepsy they send me to the hospital for any extractions as they have the right equipment to hand should anything go awry.  I had looked at the website of my Dentist, but they are currently only dealing with emergencies.  Will get this sorted soon.

Hope you all have a good evening.

Catch you soon.



Self-Care Eye Test - Part One

I am off for an eye test and examination this evening as over recent weeks my eyesight has been a little bit fuzzier round the edges than it used to be.  I now need my glasses especially for close work near enough all the time which is frustrating to say the least so time to get this particular gremlin under control. (There are several to be addressed).  I am very good at looking after others but not so hot on self-care and the time has come where I am having to be a little selfish, although this does not sit well with me.   I am trying to concentrate on sorting myself out, as I am starting to appreciate that I count too and that I cannot solve everything although I will always do my best to help. 

OH had arranged appointment for me, but the Opticians rang yesterday as a questionnaire needed to be completed prior to the appointment.  They also offered an upgraded examination for an extra £10, so I have opted for this so we shall see what happens.  I am nervous to say the least as I hate being messed around with - it stresses me out and it is some time since I had my eyes tested and the last time it was not a particularly pleasant experience. Perhaps one of the underlying reasons I have not been sooner.  I tend to be a bit of an Ostrich and stick my head in the sand.  

I am very squeamish about eyes generally!  I have dry eyes and mouth in any event due to a condition known as Sjorgens Syndrome.  I have to use eye drops daily as often it feels as though there is sand in my eyes and sometimes they get sticky and really itchy.  I am supposed to use a mouth spray too, but I just do not get on with these, so I  make sure that there is always a bottle of water with me.  For those of you interested, there is a link here as to what Sjorgens is and its symptoms.

There are a whole raft of medical conditions that I have which are auto-immune disease related.  A lot of the individual conditions that I have throw up a lot of the same symptoms so I am never quite sure which issue is raising its ugly head.  At the end of the day we have an enhanced family history of auto-immune conditions on both sides of the family and the Consultants believe that the core reason for this is down to a wonky gene or two. 

So be it, life is for living and we have to get on with it.  Some days are good, others brilliant and then there are the days when the fatigue hits - you want to do stuff but the body does not co-operate and you have to rest otherwise it makes things worse.  A totally alien concept for someone who is used to rushing around doing this and that under their own steam.  No reason to give in though - have to work with it.  The trouble is that the body is being resistant but the mind is still as active and as sharp as ever.

So we shall see how we get on at the eye appointment later today.  Stage one in a self-care overhaul.  Will let you know how I get on.

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Wild Strawberries

Are starting to fruit in what was my herb garden.  I bought the plants off of Ebay last year and since then they have made themselves very much at home.  The fruits are weeny and so as not to waste them I have decided to freeze them in ice cubes to serve in drinks as I do not think for one moment that this year there will be enough to make any form of preserve.  Maybe an alcohol infusion - may be not but I thought that if I put some of the leaves in with perhaps some mint at least then it is making the best of something small.

from the photos above you will just start to see a flash of crimson in amongst the greenery as well as the promise of flowers and fruit yet to come.

I am amazed that the plants pulled through as quite a few were lost because of the dry conditions.  However I am encouraging them to spread their wings so that I can increase the stock.  Will have to see how things go, but I have some plans to put some in some tubs as well.

Catch you soon.



A little Project - Pea Shoots

As most of you regular readers are aware I am in my element if and when I can make something out nothing and more so if it is out of something I already have.  In this instance, it is something from my Pantry shelf, so a little different.

Predominantly for the winter months I keep in house dried marrowfat peas.  I make mushy peas, good solid English traditional food.   However at this time of year, I also grow in a planter, pea shoots for garnishing a home-made pea soup (the pea soup is made from frozen peas or indeed a different type of dried pea) [Ham and Pea soup comes to mind when using the dried pea.  However, before I make the soup we need to get the garnish growing.  In this instance we cannot put the cart before the horse!

To prepare your pea shoots, you will need:

Dried peas
A planter
A sheet of glass or some clingfilm

Get a planter, make sure it has the drainage holes drilled out.  Add some material such as broken crocks in the base to also help with the drainage.  Add some compost into your chosen plante. Set the planter with the peas being spaced out at about an inch at most.  Cover with compost, water lightly. I then place some glass panels I have on the top until the peas shoot. However you can use clingfilm or polythene as long as the peas are protected.  

We have a Pigeon problem here and they are quite adept at helping themselves.  In the interim however, make sure that you keep checking on the peas until they do shoot to make sure they do not dry out.  Once they have grown up to about a foot, start snipping and add to your soup, or indeed to a salad.  There is a nice freshness to them.  You can always dry any that you do not use and grind down to add to soup or stew mixes in the winter months, or indeed blend it with other green powders so that you have a flavourful mixture to add to good winter cooking.  Another way of getting greens down a child who is not keen on veggies.   Also a good way of introducing littlies to gardening and a gentle start on teaching them where their food actually comes from.

If you are keen on using these regularly, then set another planter after three weeks to give another batch.  If you need more you can continue like this until the end of season.

I will be posting the pea recipe when the pea shoots are through in readiness for you planning your weekly menu and making use of them.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Today has not been a good day

I was up reasonably early despite not sleeping very well as I could not get comfortable with it being warm and muggy an all.  Despite the best of intentions however, I did not get into the garden until about 1pm. 

I managed to sow some peas in a planter - see tomorrow's post for further details. 

I also had a surprise in that some of my sweet pepper seeds have taken at long last which just did not seem to germinate.  Will see if anything else puts in an appearance.

Then I did not progress very well as each time the fork went into the soil it felt like it was hitting concrete.  On closer investigation what I was actually hitting was a giant Tap root.  Believe it was for the dead Cherry tree.  Anyway not to be phased I dug out part of the root and got my garden saw and set too and made three serious cuts which took some time - hot work in muggy weather.  Here is part of the root which has been extracted.

It was absolutely rock hard.  I also did a small amount of further digging but am going to have to go back tomorrow, weather permitting for another go at it.

After OH finished work we went to walk Missy.  On the way round we called at my step-son and daughter in law's home.  She has been furloughed from work and to keep herself busy she has been experimenting with baking.  Today we were the beneficiaries of some home made Belgian buns.  They were very tasty and delicious.  L surprised herself with the results and she is not a bad little cook.  This time I did manage to take a photo.

Here in Peterborough, the weather started off overcast and at one point I thought it was going to rain.  However the sun came out but it has been really muggy and stormy all day.  I have had what I call a storm headache hanging for most of the day.  We have not had a storm per se but it has chucked it down with rain and freshened things up a bit although it is still muggy.  The animals have been feeling it despite us having the windows open and the fans on.

I am going to try and get an early night in the hope that I am a bit more with it tomorrow.

Hope you have all had a good day.

Catch you soon.



A Day in the Garden

This post should have been posted last night unfortunately my photos had not downloaded.  I think technology and I are fated to never blend!  I had 74000 emails and I am now down to 66000.  Still a few more to go before puter will be working correctly.

I have been in the garden for most of the day and now am absolutely cream crackered.  Very slowly am edging my way to the end of part one of operation Tugging Ivy.  Further fun in this regard is planned for tomorrow weather permitting.  I hope to start early.  I have split the garden from the tree to the shed into three parts.  I think the Ivy section is the toughest part of it.  I have dug out massive roots today and the soil in parts is like concrete.  Very hard on the hands.  More garden rubbish is piling up.

Section two is where the bush remnants, Buddhlia and bramble section are and then lastly Section three the area designated for the patio which has all sorts in it and on it.

Where I left things yesterday.

Some of the many large roots removed.  Still more to go.

Starting to make slow progress.

Edging along little by little.

I am pleased with what I have achieved today though despite it being hard work.  I want those greenhouses up so that my Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Gherkins and Melons have a home as well as Basil and Marigolds in the greenhouses then I can get on with the hanging baskets and then get my Runner Bean plants both purple and green into the garden, get my canes set up and then my string lattice work woven.  I am hoping to be able to get a row of peas in as well.  The Courgettes, Pumpkins, Pattypan Squash, Butternut Squash and Florence Fennel also need planting up.  Some of my seeds I have not been able to locate so will just have to go with the flow and with what I have been able to locate.

Once I get this first part of the garden sorted I can get on with the other stuff in short bursts.  I still have a lot of stuff to do in the house.  However whilst the weather is fine I am getting stuck in, in the garden.

Pity the Brambles have to come out here, but  do have three Bramble sets currently in pots to go in somewhere.

The bit left to do as I left it last night.

OH knew I was in the garden whilst he has been working, he just did not know what I had been doing.  I showed him the photos tonight - I think he was a bit gob-smacked with what I have actually managed to achieve.  I think he has not quite grasped the fact that I am enjoying the gardening despite it being hard work.  I am enjoying turning a sows ear into a silk purse.  I also want to be able to sit out in the garden, perhaps working some of my craft projects when the weather is nice and the light is good.  It will also be good to have friends and family over and to be able to socialise and entertain utilising the garden, perhaps on the promised garden swing OH promised me for my birthday a few years ago and which am still waiting for.

I am determined to get things done, as I want to carry on with the gardening into next year building on what I have achieved this year if I possibly can weather and health permitting.  I think being in the garden out in the fresh air is helping me generally for the better.  Last year it certainly did and despite it being a milder winter than usual, overall I have had a better winter than I usually do.

It is peaceful in the garden and I am starting to find myself a little bit - I pick up on what is going on with people and sometimes I get over-saturated and just need some time for myself. Trying to manage this aspect of my personality is not always easy for me.  It is a WIP - there is no right or wrong way and each of us needs space now and then to recharge the batteries.

I found this Rose on my one and only Rose bush in the garden.  Very lightly scented but pretty all the same.


If I can continue on, reclaim the glass greenhouse and clear the jungle this year as well (once the three segments highlighted have been dealt with above), I will have more growing and planting space overall and have the ability for next year in starting off the seeds a lot earlier.  Just need to locate a good electric propagator. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Right cup of coffee time then time to get stuck in.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 14 June 2020

Garden update

Yesterday the sun was out and after coming back home from our unexpected trip out.  I decided it was high time I checked out the growing houses to make sure everything was okay.  I am happy to report that everything is tickety boo although I seem to have had a complete fail on peppers of any sort, yellow ball courgettes, yellow courgettes and chilli peppers.  My green courgettes are through though.

The rest of my plants are all looking extremely healthy and lush especially my herb planters and my salad leaf containers.  There is lots of Basil, Thyme, Garden Mint, Parsley plain leafed and curly leafed.  They are looking really productive.

Due to the bad weather I have not been able to get out to make more progress with pulling up the Ivy.  I need to get the greenhouses up as I now need the space in the growing houses.  So yesterday I jumped right in and cleared the pots out of the area I am temporarily going to use for the greenhouses and swept and cleared that part of the existing pavement of everything.  I then started digging down the edge of the pavement into what will for next year be the permanent bed for Rhubarb, Asparagus and Strawberries.  For the time being the Rhubarb is in individual pots in which it can live until sort out time later in the year.

The garden as  left it yesterday

One of about 5 full buckets of roots I have removed from this small strip of soil.  It is back breaking work and this is the first initial dig through.  However once this area is done I shall then dig across the other way to remove any stragglers.

A Closer look at the area cleared you will still see the coil of wire in situ.

Now the digging is taking some doing.  I have only managed to dig with a fork three rows and I am part back-digging as I go along.  The roots that are coming out are incredible.  I have two old winemaking buckets full of roots so far just out of those rows.  It is heavy going and my body knows I have been digging!  As I have to pull the top of the Ivy off as I go along in any event I thought I might as well tackle it together.  The area I am working is only small, a small segment of the area that needs sorting out overall but big enough for me to get both greenhouses up and get everything where it should be.  

I have lots of hanging baskets to sort out i.e flower hanging baskets, tomato hanging baskets and I am going to do some experimentation with some other bits and bobs.  The bars inside the greenhouse will be ideal for hanging up and planting the baskets as Well as starting them off on before getting them into the garden. The beans and peas also need to go in and I need to get Marigolds in with the tomatoes and Basil and the Nasturtium baskets sorted.  I also need space in the growing houses for other stuff.

My Oregano has taken as has the Lemon Verbena.  The Tarragon and Thyme have not taken though.  This was to do with my experimentation on taking herb cuttings.  Both the Oregano and Lemon Verbena are nice sturdy little plants.  So back to the drawing board with the other herbs.  The Lemon Balm and Thyme I have planted from seed has also come through.  Am still waiting on the Lovage.

I have lots of pots with plants in and there will be a load more by the time I have finished.  I am having to play shuffle a pot as I am going along at the moment, but it will get sorted and everything will pull together in the long run.  I have Blackcurrant plants in pots which need to be in the garden but at least they are alive and thriving.  

I used to have a fruit garden where the jungle is and once that is reclaimed I am hoping to get them put in there but that is going to take some doing.

So I have been back in the garden this overcast, warm and latterly sunny Sunday back to my Ivy tugging/pulling and digging.  I have been in the garden most of the afternoon it has been hard work but I have enjoyed it.  My little Robin friend has been with me again and he has nabbed a couple of worms.

My plants for my hanging baskets were all flowering and looked very pretty that I could not resist taking a photo.  There are Nasturtiums and Lobelia as well as Gypsophillia to join them as well as some more trailing Fuschias.

I have now double dug about eight rows.  Remember the photo at the top showing a coil of wire embedded in the Ivy.  This has now been freed with the aid of my secateurs. and I have started nibbling away at the root that was holding the coil hard to the earth.  I had not appreciated just how much of a thug the Ivy actually is.  There have been roots where I did not expect them to be, very large with lots of little strings of tiny roots on spurs off them.  They have taken some pulling.  I am hoping for an early start tomorrow and this section needs sorting for the greenhouses otherwise I am going to end up losing a lot of plants which I do not want to happen.

There are further plans afoot for the garden.  We had intended putting a patio area down last year and indeed I bought some slabs for this. I am working towards this area so that we can get this put down and then come out into the garden for a meal or just to relax when the weather is nice.  The bottom area of the garden will not take as much weed pulling as the area I am currently working in as it was only done last year.  I would also like a fire pit so that can also enjoy the colder evenings and some fresh air. will see how things pan out.

Whilst the weather is good I am trying to get as much done in the garden as I can although I still have lots to do in the house.  Providing some food for the winter months is high on my list of priorities and if I can put up as much as I can either by way of various preserves as well as in the freezer I shall be a happy bunny.

I have taken a lot of photos today but Google these days seems to take an absolute age to download them.  As they have not all loaded I may update this post later or tomorrow depending on when the photos are there.

I hope you all have a lovely evening.  I have no sense of time at the moment and did not realise how late it was.

Catch you soon.



Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)