Monday, 17 December 2012

garden 2012 no 26 First snow in the garden.

It’s December and I guess it had to happen. We had our first light dusting of snow. We were promised a lot more over the following few days but it didn’t happen.
There was light, fluffy, white, dust sprinkled every where. It sparkled in the sun, was very pretty but not too cold. 
That was a week or so ago, now we have rain, rain and more rain. It’s not so cold, but its no where near as pretty either.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Garden 2012 no 25.

Garden 2012 no  25

My garden is cold, wet and resting, as gardens do this time of year. The last of the yellow and orange leaves of autumn will fall soon and then the garden will be in deep hibernation for a couple on months.

But look what’s happening indoors……….

Friday, 16 November 2012

Garden 2012 no 24; My Autumn Garden

Garden 2012 no 24

My Autumn Garden

I’ve not a lot to say today. I was stood by my garden gate waiting for the taxi to take me to my drawing class when I realised how much colour I have in the garden. 

I’ve never noticed the autumn colours in the garden before, maybe all of my tree/ shrub planting over the last few years is finally paying off. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Garden 2012 no 23

Garden 2012 no 23

It’s November, it’s getting cold out there and my gardening days are almost done for this year. Today I dug over the other small plot. Sometimes I wish I had a bigger garden and then I remember I couldn’t manage a bigger garden any more. When the weather is warm and dry enough I actually quite like this time of year in the garden. Its tidy up and put away time, and I find it quite satisfying to be tidying up and getting ready for the next year. I now have both little plots dug, weeded and de-stoned. If the weather is kind I expect I’ll go out again and give it another dig and remove some more stones.

I’ve been removing stones all year, I don’t know why but I kept them, well there’s nothing I could do with them and I’ve no where to put them so I had to keep them. And this is it, a whole years worth of stones, where on earth did they all come from? And what am I going to do with them? If I keep accumulating them at this rate I’ll run out of places to keep them. I think my garden produces stones better than it produces any thing else, shame I can’t use them.
My daughter came to see me while I was digging, she has offered to over winter the geraniums in her green house. I use them to deter pests and as a bonus, the flowers make the garden bright and cheery. But geraniums don’t survive much more that the first frost and there was ice on my pond this morning. I usually bring them indoors and they flower all year. They look great on the window sills but the down side is they smell awful, my charming granddaughter tells me geraniums smell like cats pee, she has a point. So problem solved for this year, I’ve dug them up, re-potted them and on Tuesday they will go to the green house for the winder, lets hope there is no severe frost before then.
I offered her some strawberry plants, mine threw out a lot of runners this year but she said her strawberries did really well and then were all eaten by her dogs before she could pick them. She refuses to plant any more just to feed the dogs. I guess I can understand that. I’ve re-planted the best of them and it looks as if I’m going to have another two tubs of strawberries next year which will be great for the jam making.

After that I did a little cutting back and trimming up on the shrubs, swept piles and piles of leaves into the compost and then called it a day. I may go out there again next weekend and dig it over again, or take some more weeds out of the slabs, or tie the last few bits back, or maybe trim some of the fruit canes back, or just do some more de-stoning. There will always be odd little jobs to do if I want to, but generally speaking, I guess I’m done for the year. It’s a bit sad when the garden closes down for the winter.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Garden 2012 no 23

Garden 2012 no 23

This is it in brief………………….
It’s that time of year again,
It doesn’t look much but,
I did this.

It was cold,
I was exhausted
I had this.

And now I’m heading off to a hot bath
The end.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Garden 2012 no 22

Garden 2012 no 21

There’s still stuff to do in the garden before real winter sets in and the ground freezes. Last Sunday I carried out boring routine tasks, I cleared the paved area of weeds and grass and removed the deep rooted weeds from around the fence. I tidied up around the outside of the fence and cut back the over hanging plants. I pulled the last of the spinach and lettuce and threw them in the compost because they were too bitter to eat. 

I’ve collected all the compost and filled up the empty tubs ready for next year, I’ll just have to feed and fertilize before planting. I missed most of the Tay berries and black berries this year because the fruit came when I was recovering from the eye surgery. The branbles were taking over and beginning to wind themselves around the two gooseberry bushes. 

My solution was to replant the gooseberry bushes in pots ready for next year and train the blackberry and Tayberry brambles around the fence where the gooseberries were. I’m hoping for a bumper crop next year because I missed the crop this year. I dug up the carrots; they were the only crop left in the ground. These are the weirdest carrots I’ve ever seen, no idea why they grew like that but the smell when they were dug up and washed was delicious. 

They may look like monster carrots but I think they will taste good.  I’m going to make carrot and coriander soup, that way their poor misshapen bodies will make no difference, as long as they taste good the soup will be good. After digging and bottling the beetroot last week I made beetroot soup using the stock the beetroot were cooked in, some red beetroot stalks, some beetroot leaves, some of my garlic, some of my red onions and some vegetable stock.  It’s a deep red colour and has a satisfying earthy taste. I ate some with home made garlic bread and saved some in the freezer

Next Sunday, weather permitting, I hope to finish off tidying up and tying back the fruit canes, clear the vegetable patch and start digging ready for the winter.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Garden 2012, no 21, Cooking with the Harvest

Garden 2012, no 21

Cooking with the harvest

It’s as if someone flicked a switch, the first two weeks of October were like a real Indian Summer; and now its cold, wet and miserable. The season changed in the blink of an eye, like flicking a switch. The heating is on, the winter woollies are out and the soup is on the stove. No more nipping out across the road to the shop in your indoor clothes, now its coat and shoes just to put the rubbish out. If you need milk or bread, or any thing else from the shop, remember to pick it up on the way home from work. Because once  indoors, it’s into the baggy, warm, indoor clothes, turn up the heating, close the blinds, close the curtains, lock the door and turn up the TV to drown out the sound of the wind.
Fortunately; I found time in my busy schedule to harvest every thing from the garden.  I’ve picked the last of the beetroot, last of the onions and last of the fruit. Actually, there are a couple of lettuce and spinach plants left in the ground, but they are old and taste bitter, so for now, they are staying in the ground until I get out and start digging.

I’ve done lots of cooking with the produce. I’ve been saving the fruit in the freezer, especially the rhubarb, until I had harvested as much as possible and could use it all together in a huge end of season jam making session.  

The Rhubarb was mixed with the fallen apples from my friends’ garden, I had bags and bags of apples, none of them fit to eat raw but perfect for jam making. I used some of the apples, all of the Rhubarb, a couple of lemons  and a generous amount of ginger and made jam, eight large jars of it, and it tastes delicious. I did have a little help with the labels.
And once that was done, I made sweet white jam. This time I used all of the gooseberry, all of the white currant and some more of the apples and another couple of lemons.

 No ginger this time, this white jam has a delicate sweet taste that I wanted to keep. There wasn’t as much white jam but poured into small jars it went a surprisingly long way, I filled 11 small jars in total. 
The fancy white frills around the tops are just paper cup cake cases placed upside down over the top of the jars before the lids are screwed down.
On to the Beetroot;
It was dug from the ground, boiled in the pan and bottled in spiced vinegar. 

This time I made another 5 large bottles of beetroot. Last time it was 3 large bottles and 4 small bottles, not a bad total for such a small garden and difficult year.
The last of this years cooking with produce wasn’t exactly cooking. I made eight bottles of infused olive oil. Which; I hope to use both as a salad dressing, and to cook with. Each bottle was filled with extra virgin olive oil to which I added one sprig of rosemary, one sprig of mint ( chocolate mint), a couple of garlic cloves, a couple of slices of red onion, and a few pieces of chopped red chilli. Every thing except the chilli came from my garden and the chilli came from my daughters greenhouse.
I still have quite a lot of garlic and some red onion drying out in the kitchen. At the moment I’m not sure what to do with them but I’ll probably just store them in the cupboard next to my potatoes that are already stored

So………..grand total for this year is’ bottled beetroot, pickled shallots, two lots of jam, herb oil, stored potatoes, stored garlic, stored onions, a bag of frozen broad beans and a bag of frozen spinach.  What I need now is a fairly dry day at the weekend to start weeding, tidying and digging ready for next year and before the ground freezes.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Garden 2012 no 20.

Garden 2012, no 20

A brief update, the seasons are changing, the temperature has dropped and the nights are longer. When I wake up there is a chill in the air, we still have nice days, in fact we have some extraordinarily nice days for this time of year, we have had a true Indian Sumner. But however warm and sunny the day, by late afternoon its over, the shadows are long, the temperature drops, the sun lowers, the light begins to fade and the sky turns red.
I spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday, which as it turns out was exactly the right thing to do because today it’s too cold, wet and windy to even think about gardening. The wind has been getting higher all evening and now I can hear it howling around the houses, slamming gates shut and bouncing bins down the street. When the weather is like this I’m so grateful to be warm and dry indoors. 
Yesterday was different; it was a perfect gardening day. The little strip of grass around the vegetable plot was overgrown and took forever to trim back with my hand mower. Most of the veg is finished now, I still have a few onions to dig and the strawberry runners need to be sorted, but virtually every thing else is gone except the pest deterrent geraniums.

 I’ve hardly been out since surgery and things are quite neglected out there. Something I will have to do soon is empty out one of the compost bins, sift and store the compost and make the bin ready for the next lot. 
I have so much garden waste lying in heaps around the garden I do need to get it sorted before the temperature plummets too far and it all freezes.  I even tidied up the shed, and while emptying every thing out, came across my old bike right at the back. 

I’ve not ridden a bike in years, as a young person I used to cycle every where. I should get this old bike serviced and start using it again, cycling is supposed to be excellent exercise and I’m sure a couple of new tires and some brake cables wouldn’t cost too much. Maybe cycling should be something else to plan for my retirement.This is the amount of shallots and beetroot I have bottled so far, the shallots have finished bow but there is more beetroot still in the ground.  

My next kitchen project will be to make herb oil. I’m still drying the bag full of rosemary and yesterday I lifted the garlic from the ground. I think garlic and rosemary oil sounds like an excellent idea. Oh…………..and yesterday I saw my first robin of the year, he sat in the apple tree and watched while I worked.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Garden 2012 no 19.

Garden  2012 no 19

I’ve missed being out in my garden but things are almost back to normal and I’ve spent a couple of days out there last week.
The seasons are changing and its time to start tidying up and sorting out ready for next year. All around here the fields are full of hay bales, the tractors are out in force, and once the hay is lifted the earth is ploughed. I like this time of year, it’s a good time to be in the garden. Already the Rowan berries are on the trees and the leaves begin to yellow.
The most noticeable thing in my garden at the moment is the geraniums. They are planted every year as a pest deterrent, and at the end of the year, once they have done their job, they bloom. Its ironic really, by the time they are blooming it’s almost time to lift them and bring them indoors. I don’t like having geraniums indoors because, although they bloom virtually all winter and are very pretty, they smell horrible. But if I left them outside they would all die and I would be buying new plants every year. If I ever get myself a greenhouse they would over winter out there, but until then, I have to put up with the smell indoors.

As I harvest the spinach, the lettuce and the last of the radishes, I sift the compost, add some chicken pellet fertiliser and organic feed and store it ready for spring. I’ve been doing this for so long now the soil I’ve salvaged together with the compost I’ll sift from the composter means I’ll not be buying big bags of compost in the spring. Being self sufficient in compost for the containers will make a huge difference to the finances, and as I’m retiring next year this is exactly the right time to reach this point.
I left the last container of rocket and mustard greens to go to seed and I think I have enough seeds to at least start growing in the spring.
I intended to grow two crops of potatoes this year but I didn’t lift the earlies in time to get another crop in, but rather than waste the space, I sowed a few carrots. These may be left to over winter until about February when I will need to prepare for next years potatoes.
The herbs picked up after all the rain and sunshine we had last month. I was surprised at the size of the herb harvest. I cut far more than I am ever going to need and now I have to think about what to do with it. I think I may well just freeze as much as I can because it keeps well if frozen and takes very little space in the freezer. I like to be prepared for every eventuality and I guess even the herb harvest could fail one year.
Rosemary had the haircut of her life. She was literally taking over, she looked more like a Christmas tree than a small rosemary shrub. I didn’t throw any of the cuttings away but I’m not at all sure what to do with it all, there is so much of it.
There is an awful lot of garden waste too. I was going to put it all in the garden waste bin to be taken away. At least that way it would eventually end up as good organic garden compost, But I decided to wait until I have taken this years compost out of the composter and see haw much I can compost down myself.
And so finally, yesterday evening, I ended up with a kitchen table full of assorted herbs, a few spring onions, a couple of packets of seeds and the biggest bag of rosemary I have ever seen. 


This morning my whole house smells of rosemary. I also picked all of the lavender and placed it head down in one of the grandchildrens sea side buckets, and sure enough, this morning most of the little flower heads have dropped off and are sitting in the bottom of the bucket. I usually pick some of the tansy flowers and keep them indoors over the winter but this year I was too late. They had all died off while I have been stuck indoors. But I gave the tansy bush a bit of a haircut too and I’m left with a big yellow bin full of tansy cutting which is supposed to be a natural insect deterrent for the house. I’m sure I will find a use for it somewhere. 

The question is..... what am I going to do with this???