Saturday, 19 May 2018

Dig or No-Dig gardening?

We were watching Beechgrove on BBC Scotland the other day when Charles Dowling came on to talk about no-dig gardening with Jim (the presenter for 40 odd years!). I have the No Dig book too. I wish we could get to the stage of going no dig!  It has taken herculean efforts to dig over our veg bed this year, mostly because the weather kept us off it from October to late March and it just went to weeds.

So here is the last section done this week. We have dug every bit of couch grass, docks, nettles and grass roots out. We have not got enough compost to cover such a large area as Charles Dowling suggests so I am going to cheat. We brought some of that garden fabric to keep weeds down and I am going to cover this whole area between the sweetcorn plants.  I will have to take it up before the winter as we get a lot of wind here.  I really can't keep up with the weeding any more but can't give up the veg either!  We need a plan for next year.

We have about 60 sweetcorn plants ready to go when the night temperatures improve - its been down to 3.5C in the last few days, even though its been 20C during the day.

They are out of the greenhouse and being hardened off a bit in the poly tunnel.  

After the joint digging effort my husband pulled out the Rotavator and went over the soil to make it fine and ready to plant. While the machine, his lawn mower and ride on mower were out of the shed I thought I would run a broom round and pick up the soil and dead grass that gets left behind.  Mostly it was just dry and dusty then I spotted a strange grey mouldy bit behind the pick axe in the fine corner.  YUK. I went to find husband. When did you last use the pick axe? What did you leave there?  Puzzled he went to look.  OMG. An animal (squirrel?) had got in and died obviously weeks ago. YUK YIKES.  I went to make the tea and left him to that.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Sheringham Park

I took this photos over the early Bank Holiday then did not have time to tell you about the visit. Sheringham Park is a National Trust property on the coast in Norfolk (Near Sheringham, obviously).  Had some bluebells but the heat had nearly done for them but the Rhododendrons were coming out beautifully. 

There were several trees in the lower part of the park with the most beautiful "lattice" bark pattern.

We walked all the way through the park to Weybourne station on the Holt to Sheringham North Norfolk Railway. Look its Thomas!  Packed with excited kids.  We stopped for a while to enjoy the steam trains, a cup of tea and a bench.

Walking back through the park we found just enough energy to climb the viewing tower to look over the trees.

Would recommend a visit, but two things - bank holidays in good weather makes it very, very busy. ~And lots of dog owners who think you all like their mutts and that those long leads are not a trip hazard! If you are not a NT member the car park is £6.

Could not find enough benches in the shade as the place was packed with people, so we popped round the corner to a local Woodland Trust area (Pretty Corner Wood - aptly named) and had a cool rest on the picnic benches on one of the highest points in Norfolk (90 mts) looking out to sea. it was very hazy but there is sea at the bottom of this valley - a small coaster just went by honestly!
Tried to stay out late enough to miss the traffic coming home but so did everyone else so it was a slow crawl back.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Garden progress

Last two weeks have been incredibly sunny here with good temperatures between 19 and 25C and just two rain showers early in the mornings or overnight.  Potatoes are up and showing good leaves, direct sown veg seeds are starting to emerge and our runner beans are in.  Made a 30% reduction in the amount planted this year as we are trying not to have a glut.  I did not like the ones I put in the freezer last year so we are going for eat, sell at the gate or give away strategy.

Taken 3 years but the lilac is finally making some growth and has lovely blooms. Next to bluebells and wall flowers the scent of lilacs is one of my spring favourites. 

Those 3 things remind me of my youth in an unspoilt fairly rural (then) part of Hampshire. When we go back I am shocked that my "village" and the country side is nothing but housing estates, M27 and business parks. It has all gone.

Courtyard gardening

Now that my kitchen makeover is nearing completion my husband thinks I need something attractive to look at. We have a dreary courtyard area with brick on three sides with no view (unless you lean sideways while standing on one leg).  So he is putting in some pots, and hanging stuff that likes the shelter and the shade.

He made the wooden trough out of scraps and then in our local garden centre found the hanging garden thing on the left hand side. Three for £10 - which will give us 9 planting pockets. Not too expensive. We will source plants as and when we find suitable shade loving ones and I am thinking I might splash out on some solar fairy lights.

Hope no one thinks I am going to spend extra time in the kitchen though.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Do I look hot?

One of the things all boat owners will tell you - its a lot of maintenance!! Husband bailed the bilges out (at least a dozen bucket loads) and  I had to scrub all the insides to get rid of winter grunge.
I think this where I was saying  - "Dearest Husband, Do you see that pub across the water?  I bet they have cold beer!!"

If you are wondering why one of my rag plaited rugs is here on the staging - the surface is covered in a hard non slip treatment by the Environment Agency we rent the berth from. We quickly learnt you can lose a lot of knee skin or a pair of jeans in seconds and now go equipped with mats and rugs to help getting up and down uninjured.

Sunday, 13 May 2018


If you are in to grow your own and eating seasonally then this has got to be a crop for you.  We planted five asparagus three years ago and this year in  the warm weather  they are going mad.

You do need well drained soil and you do need to build up a hump to spread the plant roots over. Our bed is about 3 feet wide and 10 foot long at most.  After that it needs little looking after, keep weed free, mulch, and after June leave the plants to go to ferns and build up their strength.

We have a good half dozen spears every day for the last week and that should go on till mid June. When we had only a few at the start I would slice them into an omelette for lunch.  As the amount grows they become more of a major dish.  I usually steam them or  blanch quickly.  Two lunch dishes this week have taken advantage of bits of pieces left in the fridge or freezer.

Firstly, in a hot dry frying pan heat up some sliced spicy meat - I had some left over spicy salami. When the juices run throw in some blanched asparagus and char slightly. Serve with grated hard cheese topping as a starter dish.  Last week we had the first of our spring cauliflowers - so the asparagus topped a nice cauli cheese!

We have been out a few times this week so we have built up 2 days growth to be picked. Today they went mad and were up to 15 inches tall when we got home in the late afternoon. Temperatures up to 25 C all day and the plants just loved it.

Second dish I am trying when there are a good number of spears is to roast  a dish full of asparagus with olive oil and black pepper till soft. Grate any cheese available to your taste  - I had a bit of left over feta cheese one day which I mixed with a strong cheddar and that was good.  Next time I tried mozzarella and  Parmesan it was not so good.  Any way, continue to bake in oven till cheese browns.  Either top with bits of bacon or brown to a crisp some bacon on a separate dish and add to the top of the cheese later.   Serve with a bit of salad makes a nice lunch.

Had half a dozen spears today so I sautéed them with half an onion, some left over boiled gammon chunks, a bit of red pepper and a big spoonful of mild chilli powder. Very tasty lunch with handful of salad leaves.

Monty Don on Gardener's World this Friday had an asparagus bed that was finally coming to fruition. Knowing he has very clay soil near Hereford I was surprised how flat it was!

Friday, 4 May 2018

Bank Holiday soon

The fly tipping just down the road reported on 2nd May was gone by 10 am this morning. Well done to the Council reacting within 2 days.

Knee is now a bright yellow colour - as its not quite warm enough for shorts, I am keeping it hidden by jeans.

Husband is trying to strim long grass round the hedges but yet another baby hare keeps popping in and out and putting him off.  Far too much wildlife round here.
We are planning to take some time off from gardening and housework this weekend and enjoy the hear!  I have put some cider in the fridge and some ice cream in the freezer.

Dig or No-Dig gardening?

We were watching Beechgrove on BBC Scotland the other day when Charles Dowling came on to talk about no-dig gardening with Jim (the presente...