Sunny gardening

Us Brits are well known for being weather obsessed, so you will forgive me for telling you that the past few days have been glorious. The weather has been lovely and so this weekend has been all about planting. I had intended to complete my sketchbook contribution this weekend, but the timing of the good weather made it ideal for planting some of this year’s crops. The forecast for next weekend (when there are two bank holidays) is poor, so crafting is much more likely then.

In the past few days I have (whist wearing my new apron) potted up tomatoes and sowed lots of seeds: squashes, courgettes, a variety of purple sprouting broccoli that sprouts in the summer, chives, parsnips, asparagus peas, various lettuces, mizuna and rocket. I’ve cleaned out pots, weeded and removed brambles. From the shed I retrieved a plastic bin with a lid and filled it with nettles and water to turn into nitrogen-rich liquid feed – it gets stinky, but it’s good stuff and it’s free. And I planted a whole raised bed with potatoes and netted these to prevent Max (who I think is some sort of potato hound) from digging them up and eating them.

I’ve also been admiring the growth of other plants in the limery – lettuces, melons, lemongrass seedlings and carnivores:

The sun has gone in now, hence finding the time to write, but I am feeling very satisfied with my activities. What have you been up to this weekend?

Sowing and growing

Life is flourishing in the limery. Seeds that were sown a few weeks ago are developing  nicely into young plants – lettuces, tomatoes, sweet peppers and melons:

I sowed more seeds over the past few days, including the first ones outside. The latter is a pea variety called “Carouby de Maussane”, a mange tout with red flowers that is going to grow up the pea obelisk that Mr Snail created (I think most people use them for sweet peas, but I prefer to grow edibles). A few days of sunshine has given me the chance to weed one of the raised beds and that’s where the peas are.

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only planted yesterday, so no germination yet

 

Unfortunately one of the things that is flourishing in the limery is the cluster-fly population. I really don’t want to use chemical pesticides, but the flies have arrived before the carnivorous plants are doing their stuff. However, the recent sunshine has encouraged pitcher growth and so I’m hoping that soon the Sarracenias will be munching their way through the flies. I grew some from seed last year, so I’m especially pleased to see one of the youngsters producing a vigorous pitcher already. The sundews are also showing signs of growth; in particular the Drosera dicotoma looks like it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future (I think of it as living fly-paper). The Venus fly traps are growing too, but never really earn their keep apart from providing interest!

Amongst my favourite seeds to plant are the squashes, but I’m hanging on for a few more days so they don’t get too big before it’s warm enough to plant them out. And then there’s beans and borage and all sorts of herbs…

The Limery Awakens

We are just at the start of our second full growing season in the limery. Last year saw amazing successes with sweet peppers (capsicum) and a fairly healthy tomato crop (the last of which have on just ripened up in their box!). Now I’m starting to nurture this year’s crops (including at least one new one) and some of the carnivores are beginning to wake up…

As always, we are doing our best to reuse… the writing on the milk carton plant labels from last year has been cleaned off with meths, the padded packaging from around the new chicken feeder looks like it will make cosy trays for seedlings, none of the plant pots are new, we water the seedlings from a plastic milk bottle with a perforated lid and my dad’s propagator is doing it’s stuff for yet another year. Only the seed compost, seed potatoes and the seeds are new (in fact some of the seeds are from last year, plus we overwintered the pepper plants).

I do love the promise that spring holds.

And finally…

The limery has done us proud all year – from seeds sown in the propagator in January to the great abundance of peppers through the summer. Currently there’s a pot of rosemary flowering in there, although we’re a bit short of pollinators, and the passion flower vine is putting on plenty of new growth.

However, the most amazing thing may be that today, 20 December, I harvested these:

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Freshly picked today

 

That’s right – tomatoes still ripening on the plant in the depths of winter. From these I will be able to make winter solstice passata!

Three Things Thursday: 27 October 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, sharing plants. On a recent visit to have lunch with Sue (she comments as Coppice Learner on here), she gave us a little clementine plant (grown from a pip) for the limery… I have high hopes, although Mr Snail is worried about oranges outnumbering limes in the limery!! In the same spirit I’m currently experimenting with cuttings from our passionfruit vine* in the hope that I can share this with other gardening friends who have glasshouse space.

Second, a special mend. About 25 years ago, in the days before ubiquitous electronic gadgets to organise our lives, I bought myself a Filofax. Over the years it has travelled extensively and been used year after year. Until, that is, Sam decided that it would make a tasty treat and did this:

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it wasn’t supposed to be a dog chew

Fortunately, my friend Mr Stich has been able to restore it to its former state and so now I’m back to being properly organised again! He also sent me two lovely hedgie key rings that he made recently. What a talented craftsman.

Third, Sixty Million Trebles. I’ve recently come across this project via Danielle from The Make It Shop (where I spent World Wide Knit In Public Day):

The UN at the end of 2015 estimated that there are 60 Million refugees Worldwide.  The aim of this group is HUGE.  The objective is that in the summer of next year we create a world record for the largest crochet blanket. It must contain 60 million trebles.  This blanket will then be a yarn bomb in London.  After the event the squares will be taken apart and half of the blankets will go to UK charities and the rest to Hand in Hand For Syria. (Sixty Million Trebles)

I have decided to use yarn that I have been given to make at least one large square to contribute (each donation should measure 36 inches along each side). Here is what I’ve made so far:

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just a few hundred trebles so far

It’s not the need to highlight the plight of all the refugees world wide that’s making me smile, but the kindness and generosity of all those involved in doing something positive… another example of craftivism in action.

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

-oOo-

* My research indicates that passionfruit can be propagated by cuttings, but different varieties require different treatments (with/without growing tips; with/without leaves; in water/treated with rooting powder), although they should all be taken in autumn. Without specific recommendations for the variety that I have, I’m starting with the simplest approaches – stems with and without growing tips in water.

 

Three Things Thursday: 6 October 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, we are enjoying sunny weather here at the moment. Although the temperatures are distinctly autumnal (7°C when I got up this morning), it’s still lovely to sit in the limery and see blue skies.

Second, anticipation. Mr Snail has gone off to Ludlow today and should be returning home on Monday laden down with cooking apples. I know that in a couple of week’s time I will probably be bemoaning the fact that I’m still processing the things, right now I’m very excited about the prospect of them arriving. Here are a few pictures of past apple seasons…

Third, the return of my monthly lunch-date with some of my permaculture friends. Tomorrow we are planning a blind apple-tasting (I am taking some Ashmead’s Kernel) and a good catch-up since we haven’t got together for several months. This afternoon I have baked gluten-free Parisian gingerbread to take… let’s hope it tastes good – it’s the first time I’ve tried the recipe.

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Parisian gingerbread

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

 

Three Things Thursday: 1 September 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, chickens – happy and behaving naturally. Specifically the fact that this:

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Feathers!

is because of this:

Moulty Bluebell

Moulty Bluebell

not because of a fox or other predator. This is quite an early moult, but it’s good because the weather is still pleasant, so she’s not shivering or drenched (yet). As you can see the two new girls are also doing well; they are both laying almost every day… so I’m grateful for their eggs too.

Second, crafty activities. I spent the whole of Sunday sewing, crocheting, paper-crafting and generally being creative. I’ll write a whole post dedicated to some of the sewing sometime in the future, so here is an example of some paper-craft:

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Mr Snail’s birthday card

Third, tomatoes. For many years I have found it impossible to grow tomatoes. Every year in our old greenhouse I got only a tiny crop before the plants succumbed to Botrytis mould. This year is the first full growing season for the limery, and I’m delighted to report it’s turned the tide and I can now produce my own tomatoes – hurrah!

So that’s it for this week. What are you feeling grateful for?

 

Indigestion

You know that feeling… there was so much delicious food, and you just couldn’t help yourself… well, you are not alone.

In the limery, sunshine entices the flies in and then they can’t get out. This mass influx gets seduced by the pitcher plants and doesn’t last long. However, I noticed yesterday that the three largest pitchers of the Sarracenia leucophylla (which I’ve only had a couple of months) were looking rather sickly:

On further investigation I discovered that they may have over-indulged as the slender pitchers are full nearly to the top:

Fortunately, new young pitchers are growing to replace these, but I think the moral of the story is ‘over-eating can be fatal’!

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new growth

Three Things Thursday: 18 August 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, I’m smiling at rainbows. There’s a saying that you can’t have rainbows without rain, but it’s completely untrue. If you have one of Pauline’s fantastic light-catchers, you just need a little sunshine.

Second, seeing the limery as I envisaged it… with loads of plants, crops to pick and space for us too:

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this is how we see it from the kitchen

Third, happy dogs. A close friend of mine has just lost one of her dogs and has another seriously ill (possibly because of salmonella or poison) and so I’m taking time to feel grateful for Sam and Max. I also want to say thank you to everyone who has a shelter/rescue dog – there are so many unwanted dogs, let’s give them all homes before we start deliberately making more.

So that’s it for this week. What are you feeling grateful for?

…and a little extra one that has happened today (I knew it was going to, but not exactly when)… I’m day 231 here and you can watch the video tutorial here

 

Three Things Thursday: 11 August 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, meeting blogging friends in person. This week has been an especially good week for this since I spent Monday afternoon with Katy the Night Owl, drinking vast quantities of tea and setting the world to rights. And then today we had lunch with Sue, a blog reader who lives in the next county to us, but whom we’ve never met before. It won’t be the last time – again there was lots of tea, plus pies and cakes.

Second, pollinators. Our garden has been full of bees this year – especially little bumblebees. We see hardly any honeybees, although I noticed loads of these on my recent visit to London – clearly city bee-keeping is thriving. The limery, however, seems to be a magnet for hoverflies, which avoid the insectivorous plants and head straight for the flowers:

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hoverfly on a melon flower

Third, a trio of eggs. For the first time in many months, today I have collected three eggs. This means that the lovely young Mags (Light Sussex) has started laying – yay! Now if Anna could just get back to it, we’d be swamped!

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today’s eggs from (l-r) Mags, Tiffany and Aliss

So that’s it for this week. What are you feeling grateful for?

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