The weather in the UK has finally cleared up and warmed up enough for us to get back out into the garden. Hurray!
Today, we have got most of the clearing out and setting up jobs done. Here’s what we achieved:
Broke up old rabbit hutch, broken grow houses and storage thingies that were of no use to us.
Took these and some other things to the tip.
Swept and cleared the paved areas.
Rearranged plant pots and tubs that had been randomly plonked down when we moved in 18 months ago.
Repotted two trees (eucalyptus and twisted hazel) that were in large tubs that didn’t drain, adding drainage holes and fresh compost.
Built the new wooden grow house and cleared a pile of dirt out of the place it now lives.
Raked over and removed remaining weeds from the area we did manage to rotavate.
Rebuilt the kids’ bike storage tent.
Packed everything that was left outside into the shed finally.
Emptied waterlogged compost bags onto the veg patch to be rotavated in.
What’s left to do:
Rotavate the rest of the veg patch.
Weed the herb patch and the pots and tubs.
Plant some things out that have been waiting in pots all winter.
Rotavate the end of the garden where brambles and weeds have taken over.
Plant fruit trees at the end of the garden and surround with grass seed.
Chop up leftover wood from the apple trees we cut down last year.
Build a circular seating area with chopped up wood and the mound of earth that remains from the lawn we dug up last year.
Sow grass seed on the seating area.
Remove horrible plants from the side of the path.
Transplant rose bushes from the front garden.
I’m pleased with our progress, but there’s still a lot to do. I am excited to get this all done, and I can’t wait to share the pictures of our lovely garden when it’s done. I’m really looking forward to gardening this year, and hopefully we’ll have better weather and a much better harvest than last year.
I had hoped to spend at least some of March out in the garden sowing seeds and tending to herbs. Unfortunately Mother Nature knew better. We’ve had freezing weather and several snowfalls. There are still snowy patches out there covering large areas of my garden and it’s been trying very hard to snow all day.
Last year’s gardening weather was terrible. Every time I planted seeds or seedlings, we had torrential rain and almost nothing grew. For parts of the summer my garden looked more like a pond than a veggie patch.
Here’s to coaxing spring out from wherever it’s hiding, and hopefully I’ll be able to get everything started out there in April. Fingers crossed!
Back in August my mother in law ordered some saffron crocus bulbs after I excitedly pointed them out to her on the internet. She divided the bulbs between herself, her daughter and me. I planted them up in September and during our recent house move
I noticed that there were green shoots coming through.
I have been checking on the shoots and in the last couple of days the crocuses started to appear. Saffron is meant to be harvested early in the morning as the flowers begin to open, so each morning I have crawled out of bed, put on my dressing gown and wellies and wandered out to check on the buds. This morning I found one beginning to open.
Armed with my scissors and a tissue I carefully separated the petals to get to the red stigmas and snipped them off, leaving the pretty lilac flower. The saffron strands are drying in my kitchen and I hope to be able to collect some more tomorrow as there are a few more flowers that look ready to open.
The crocuses were surprisingly easy to grow. I planted them in pots because we were moving house and I didn’t want to leave them behind. They are to be planted quite deep and well spaced, so I have 3-4 bulbs each in large bowl shaped pots that I used to grow salad during the summer. I planted them, watered them in well and then left them completely to themselves. We have had a fair amount of rain so I haven’t needed to water them, and they are growing happily without needing any attention. The bulbs are said to multiply quite rapidly so I should have an even better crop next year.
My pepper plants perked up a few weeks ago and started producing peppers. Yesterday I picked the first ripe ones! I got 3 small purple chili peppers and a small red pepper that I think is a sweet pepper, although I can’t be sure because I can’t remember what I planted. Next year I will label them better. There are three reasonably large peppers growing on another plant but they have yet to ripen, and most of the plants have small buds which hopefully will grow into more peppers.
My tomato plants got a bit neglected through the summer as well, but they seem to be recovering somewhat. I have a few green tomatoes and one that is almost red. Nowhere near a bumper crop, but better than I got last year (a few green ones).
Unfortunately I can’t take a photo as my camera is not working.
I have been to Yorkshire Lavender twice this summer and really enjoyed it. It is a herb garden, obviously focusing mainly on lavender, but there is a huge range of other herbs too. They also have an amazing selection of herbs and plants for sale, including some rather unusual ones that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
Some of my favourite unusual herbs were those that looked like a regular herb but smelt of something totally different, such as ginger rosemary, lemon curd thyme and basil mint. There were also pineapple sage and tangerine sage, although they looked rather more like mints than sages.
Some of the herbs were less well scented than others but interesting for other reasons, such as magic carpet thyme which was tiny and spread like a lawn, and a variety of sage which grew in huge bushes with large flowers (I forget its name).
The children also enjoyed Yorkshire Lavender, they ran through the lavender maze, played lavender snakes and ladders, tried to make friends with the deer and generally enjoyed being out in the countryside for an hour or two.
Yorkshire Lavender is free to visit, has a lovely gift shop, a lavender themed tearoom, and a wonderful range of herbs to enjoy in the gardens or bring home from the shop.
I have been trying to attract more birds into my garden, and this week I’ve had quite a variety.
The usual visitors, sparrows, blackbirds, collared doves and a wood pigeon, were joined by a coal tit, a great tit, a greenfinch, a couple of starlings and a sparrowhawk!
I haven’t managed to snap any photographs yet because they tend to visit in the morning when the door is closed. The sound of the door opening scares them away and photos through the glass are not worth taking. I will keep trying though.
My stevia seedlings grew into lovely big plants and I have potted the best six into two pots.
The leaves taste surprisingly sweet and sugary, not at all how you would expect from a herb.
I’m excited to be able to start experimenting with the leaves in my kitchen. I want to let them settle into their pots for a bit before I start taking leaves from them, but they seem to be happy enough so far. I will post back with recipes and ideas when I’ve had chance to try them out.
A few weeks ago I planted my first potatoes in the barrel I was given for christmas. They didn’t seem to be doing much, but after the recent rain they had shot up from almost nothing to the top of the barrel.
I topped up the compost this morning, and the barrel is now almost full. I’m really looking forward to having potatoes ready to pick in my garden. I hope they do well!
I have been trying to attract more birds into my garden. We usually get lots and lots of sparrows, a few blackbirds, and the odd dove and pigeon. I haven’t had much luck encouraging different species to visit my garden so far, but I have seen a lot of baby sparrows over the last couple of days.
I managed to snap this picture of a baby on my patio, although it’s a terrible picture through the glass. There have been a few babies dotted around the ground but this one was close enough to the house to be able to photograph.
I also saw a group of three babies fighting for their parent’s attention, fluffing themselves up and making a fair bit of noise for something so small. Another couple sat themselves on top of the bird table for a few minutes before hiding back in the hedge.
I was hoping to see more interesting birds in my garden, and although these are the same species as the ones that already visit, they are certainly a bit more interesting than the adult birds that I usually see.
My front garden consists of two strips either side of a gravel driveway. One side is currently planted with a mixture of herbs and alpines, most of which are overgrown. The other side is also overgrown with some bushy plants that I’m not overly keen on.
We have decided to take out all the overgrown plants and I will be replacing them with perennial herbs.
My current collection of herbs lives in terracotta pots in my back garden. The annuals seem to be happy with this arrangement but the perennials aren’t flourishing. I moved a sage from it’s pot to a spot in the border last autumn and it likes it much better in the ground.
The photo shows the tray of herbs that I bought at the garden centre today that are ready to go in the front garden. They will be joined by some others I am growing from seed, and the ones that are unhappy in their pots out the back. I will post before and after pictures when I’ve got the old plants out and the new plants in.