Tuesday 27 September 2022

Keep it going

 My gardening post this month is in the stages of petering out in the veg plot. It has been hard to keep everything efficiently watered but I am still calling it a success. 

The runner beans are still producing beans which we try and eat as we pick them although I have frozen quite a few batches. They need constant picking to keep them going. The French beans were OK to start with and then a rogue guinea fowl kept getting in and eating them. In the end they were little sticks in the ground but I had a good amount before he (?) got to them.

The tomatoes have been OK. Not as many as last year because the plants looked so stressed under the heatwave conditions but the ones we did have were fantastic. The variety is called Marmande. It has an orange flesh, hardly any seeds and the sweetest flavour. 

We have picked our fifth cucumber. The cucumbers seem to have faired better than anything else in the hot greenhouse. For fear of sounding like a right old woman, they taste like cucumbers used to taste! This is my last little pick before I tidy down in the greenhouse for winter.

Even my courgettes were a bit slow and let's face it, if you grow veg, you can grow copious amounts of courgettes. I do have my ego to blame here through because I let one grow to a huge weight to win a veg category at our village show which slowed the plant down and discouraged further fruits to appear - lesson learnt!

The best part of the veg patch has been the fruit. In total we had 7.5kg of strawberries and we are in the midst of a raspberry fest from the Autumn raspberries. It always feels such a great thing to grow because they are so expensive in the shops. I have had so many that I even made a batch of wine. That colour :)

Success has also been huge with my sweet pea fence. In some respects I created a monster which needed constant picking in order to keep it going but it smells sooooo good.

The rest of the floral garden is going well. I tried on my initial plan for the garden planting to ensure that there would be interest all year round. My flower vase which has been on my table since I put daffodils in it in March has been a constant show of what has been flowering week in week out. This week we have moved from the purple of the sweet peas to warm oranges. 

More alstromeria, dahlias and fennel this week.

These cranberry cosmos are destined for next week's vase.

In Beth's Wedding field she has the most amazing dahlias. Nothing like the kind of thing I grow. Huge colourful heads of all shapes and sizes for weddings and events. Sometimes she pops in the studio with a stem that has broken off too short for a bouquet and I stare at the shape of the petals in wonder. She arrived with these two beauties exclaiming they were too yellow for the wedding order. Yes please! The huge one is called cafe au lait.

I think I can keep the lettuce production going for a little while longer and then I will put the whole lot to bed soon.

 Did you folks grow anything good this year?

Jo xxxxx

Thursday 15 September 2022


September has been a month so far of harvesting and preserving. I know this kind of activity is a rarity nowadays but I love the way it punctuates my year and reminds me of my farming grandparents. So here goes...

Picking - Autumn Bliss raspberries. The canes are only one year old and last year we had a few but now we are picking a bowl full every night. I have made raspberry vodka, jam, muffins, pavlova... you name it, we are eating raspberries with it.

Receiving - some specimen stems from my flower growing friend every few days. These are the 'seconds' that don't quite make it to a bridal bouquet but always make it to my window cill.

Taking - a photo of a bee on one of her dahlias. It is dahlia central round here. 

Collecting - apples from lots of my neighbours. I purposefully did not plant a cooking apple tree when I chose my fruit trees because there are always plenty to be had.

Processing - is the only way I can describe using this round courgette that I missed when picking. I had a cooking session and made courgette and apple chutney, courgette cake and then soup. All delicious.

Filling - my table vase with this week's garden blooms from my own garden. I have cosmos, roses, dill, kanutia, gaura and the most beautiful snap dragons.

Deciding - to step away from the sewing machine for a while. I sewed for 7 hours yesterday for work and the sitting position made me a bit stiff today. I went for a good walk up a hill with my dog. 

Returning - to a small bit of knitting. After suffering with tennis elbow for eight months I can feel it easing a bit lately. I have been strict with myself and done 2 rows a night for the last two weeks. This curly caterpillar needs a good blocking to turn it into a butterfly of a shawl. 

Fixing - the handles on my favourite knitting bag which I bought in the South of France a few years ago. It looks as good as new with new handles.

Starting - a craft group in our local hall. The village requested that the hall be used more often so we have been meeting every week. I have taught four neighbours to crochet!

Sewing - up some lovely things which are all secret for Minerva but always keeping my hand in with our day to day wants and needs. At the weekend I made eight pairs of knickers for my girl. It started out as a lockdown need thing and now she won't wear shop ones!

Brewing - lots of homemade wine. I have bottled rhubarb and strawberry, blackberry, raspberry and bloke has had a go at cider. It may be getting slightly competitive!

Waiting - for the damsons one or two days more. We picked a few which are good for eating but the softer ones are better for wine. I am hoping to get my plum port brew on. It won at the local show but I have a habit of never being able to quite recreate the same wine twice. 

Leaving - you with the view as always. Life is treating me kindly.

Thanks for dropping in. Jo xxxxx

Monday 5 September 2022

Last week of holiday...ing

It is the last week of our school summer break here so it is time to indulge and indeed share the last bits of fun from our holidays. I missed my August...ing blog post because we were busy holiday...ing. So let's run with that shall we!

Relax...ing with a break on the east coast with my aunt and uncle: Long walks, scones, paddling and days out. The perfect relaxing break.

Eating - all the garden has to offer: courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and peppers. This was one of my favourite meals of summer.

Watching - Meg get to grips with yeast cookery. The rise on these cinnamon bums was amazing and they tasted pretty good too. 

Picking - what is on offer for free. These plums made excellent jam as well as puddings and fruit snacks but they never taste as good as when they are cooked.

Treating - ourselves to an art session at ArtShack. Heidi did some gel plate printing to put in her GCSE art portfolio; Meg did some lino printing and I went on a busman's holiday! My normal job is spent in front of a sewing machine then I chose to start some machine embroidery on my day out. It is a work in progress which will be worked further with hand stitching when my tennis elbow is better.

Baking - scones to eat with my heavy raspberry crop.

Refusing - to tidy this part of my girls bedroom. It is above my paid grade! I gave their rooms a good muck out generally and we sorted all of their clothes passing on the small ones to a friend.

Winning - Our local show. I was show champion (again!) It was tricky to get the perfect veg but I really enjoyed the flower arranging.

Rolling - over our Folk festival ticket from last year which we had to postpone because Heidi had covid. It was great weather and we enjoyed some live music, dancing and street food.

Filling - my table vase with yellow and orange this week. We have dahlias, sunflowers, alstroemeria and fennel.

Sewing - up a collared tunic. I wasn't sure when I started but I really like the feel of the soft draping fabric with the length of the over-sized shirt. It is called the Melody Tunic from StyleArc patterns.

Celebrating - that the big girl in our house is 15 and is as tall as me! We went to our local agricultural show at Burwarton then she had a sleepover in the field cabin with two of her friends. She is entering her last year of school so things will change a lot for her over the next 12 months. 

Leaving - you as always with the view. This one is through the other kitchen window where the sunset has gradually started to drift towards as the nights draw in. 

Happy Summer! Jo xxx