If months were colours then May would definitely be green. There are little shoots and leaves appearing everywhere and I’m sure if you could stand still for long enough you would be able to see things growing. The hanging baskets have been planted ready for Summer and they’ve been left in a sheltered place until the risk of frost has passed.
I’ve had a bag of dahlias tubers from Sarah Raven sitting on my kitchen table for ages – I’m convinced that I get more excited with the contents of this package than those contained within a Tiffany’s box. The ridiculously dull little tubers have finally been planted and I’m already excited about them popping up next to the salad and vegetables and adding a burst of colour. I could easily turn into a dahlia addict……
The pansies are still flowering well so I haven’t replaced them yet and I’m pleased to say that the Mr Fokker anemones are finally in bloom!
Unfortunately, the war on slugs and snails has begun (well in truth it’s more like a little scuffle at the moment). The hosta pots have now got a band of copper tape around the rim which will hopefully deter the slimy molluscs from crossing it and helping themselves to an all day breakfast. I’ve also surrounded the chrysanthemums with crushed egg shells but this appears less successful as there are already holes in the tender leaves. I want to try the slug pubs and up turned grapefruits but in the meantime I would love to hear if you have any favourite natural solutions that would help? The chickens would have a feast but would probably do more damage than the slugs!
The cats are also doing their best to help me with the gardening jobs. They love a spot of weeding (digging for no reason) and pest control (pouncing on anything that moves). It is lovely to have them outside in the garden with me and they love to show off, climb trees and race around the paddocks. They have been particularly entertained by the baby rabbits who are thankfully faster than they are! In the photo below Bella & Milo are absolutely transfixed on a rabbit on the other side of the window.
Isn’t it funny how the small things in life can make us happy? I’m so pleased that the French Tarragon has started to come through again this year – I expected the snow and frosts to have killed it so I’m really chuffed to see it again 🙂
The weather forecast remains poor – wind and rain for most of the weekend so garden plans are put on hold for now. Enjoy your weekend!
The herb border is looking rather ragged and this isn’t helped by the cats rolling around it but generally things are looking greener. Bella smells particularly fragrant at times (rather like Thyme) so I know where she’s been and when I’m out there both kitties love to roll around in the soil. It’s so good to be outside again and it’s lovely to see the currants and gooseberry in leaf – I hope to get a reasonable crop this year before the birds have a feast. I’m growing potatoes for the first time and using a black tub with drainage holes in the bottom. I’ve since covered this tub over with bubble wrap as I fear it looks remarkably like a cat litter tray!
The fairy garden is filling out nicely and is starting to be dwarfed by the squash, aubergine and chilli seedlings. There’s no occupants at the moment probably because of the two, furry creatures that zoom around at a hundred miles an hour before collapsing outside for a rest….
Well, here’s the fairy garden.. it’s a nice little plot with a temporary dwelling to the rear of the garden and there is planning permission for a more suitable fairy property in the future. It’s currently vacant and the asking price is some help in the Kitchen Garden (mainly to keep the slug population in check and pull a few weeds as they pop up)… ooh, and some magical frost protection would give them free house insurance.
The kittens have been making me laugh so much. Two crab apple trees arrived in the post and before I could dispose of the box they decided to hijack it and make it their own. They’ve realised it’s great for sleeping in, hiding in, peeping out of and unexpectedly swiping at things that pass by! It’s quite a long, thin box so it doesn’t fit in the utility room very easily so it’s currently in the garden room where they use it as a hide to watch the rabbits.
When the cats weren’t playing in their box they were outside chasing insects. They’ve tried stalking the local pheasants but get scared once the birds turn and look them in the eye.
If you would like to see two fairy gardens that are fully occupied and full of fun then I recommend that you visit lovely Alys who inspired me to make a fairy garden. You can then hop over to Boomdee’s Gnome Home and have a look at her vintage vibe… I hope my fairy garden will have good occupants soon 🙂
There’s nothing nicer than watching the seasons change and relishing those foods that are oh-so-soon-gone. After a poor, rainy Summer the Winter seems to have gone on forever so I was eagerly anticipating Spring. Unfortunately Mother Nature has decided to delay Spring for a while longer. Instead of cold, sunny days and daffodils we now have 6 inches of snow and biting winds. What the heck, if Mother Nature can be contrary then so can I… Summer fruit scones and homemade strawberry jam for afternoon tea!
Scone Recipe 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
squeeze lemon juice
beaten egg, to glaze
These are so simple to make! Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together and then add the butter, rubbing between fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and sultanas then combine well into the crumb mixture. In a jug combine the milk, vanilla extract and a squeeze of lemon. Don’t mokey around once you add the liquid to the dry ingredients – the secret to a light scone is to handle the mixture as little as possible. Gently roll the dough on a floured surface and cut out the scones out with a small cutter. Glaze with a beaten egg and put the scones on a baking tray into the oven at 220c for approx 10mins.
These are best served slightly warm from the oven with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. As a Summer treat they are great but as an antidote to a snowy Spring day with a nice cup of Assam tea they are amazing!
Snow has a particular beauty. A beauty that is perfect for a dark January day when the fires rarely go out and mittens are stuffed into pockets. This beauty doesn’t extend to March however when the birds want to build nests, the hares want to box and the plants want to grow. Mittens should be safely tucked away again… so safe in fact that they can’t be found again in Winter!
The chickens seem very confused (and this wasn’t helped when I gave them a little taste of fruit scone in what they consider the depths of Winter!).
As for the kittens; they refused to go outside this weekend. I can’t blame them. They stared out the open front door for a few seconds, sniffed the snow and then ran back indoors. Milo did step outside once and very quickly leapt back inside when the cold stuff hit his paws.
I look forward to the snow thawing as I’m pretty sure Milo only went outside to bury his collar. You see, Bella has taken to her collar really well and parades around as if she’s wearing a diamond necklace. Milo unfortunately has worked out how to get his safety collar off and hide it from us. This hide and seek game was quite endearing… only this time we can’t find it!
Brrrrrr. It remains cold out there so there’s not a lot of change to see in the garden. However, the days are certainly getting lighter and the Spring flowers are starting to put on a show. The wind has damaged quite a few plants and the covers keep blowing off but it has simply taught me to choose hardier plants this year.
The kittens are now 6 months old and this weekend they went outside for the first time. They have bells on their collars to give the birds fair warning that they’re around and after much encouragement they slowly made their way to the Kitchen Garden. Milo may be the bigger cat but he’s a scaredy cat! I haven’t got any clear photos of him as he kept close to the hedge line and darted everywhere – the best I could manage was the wet paw prints he left behind. He loved playing on the walls and was particularly interested in the hessian covering the asparagus. Bella who is not so reserved, happily climbed, sniffed and explored. The fur on her side is growing back now – they’ve both recovered really well (in fact it was me who was traumatised!).
We’ve not introduced them to the cat flap yet as I want them to get used to being outside first. We have four days off work at Easter in so it will probably happen then when we can give them lots of time and attention.
I’ve sown the first seeds at last – carrots, beetroot, chard, kale, broad beans and spinach all directly in the beds. Others such as tomatoes, aubergine, squash, sweetcorn and chillies have been brought indoors where they can get a cosier start. The only problem is where to keep the plant pots as the cats love soil and plants and the utility room is now their bedroom. I decided to put them on top of the oak beams in the garden room… I just hope they don’t fall on anyone’s head!
The cats are safely back from the vets and seem to be really pleased to be home. I’m sure after a couple of days rest they’ll be back to normal. Milo is quite groggy from the anaesthetic and is sleeping it off but Bella is trying really hard not to give in… she’s prowling around and trying hard not to fall asleep sitting up! They’re having a post op check up in a couple of days and they’ll be able to venture outside in a week or so – just in time to help me sow the first seeds 🙂
The days are noticeably longer and there is a whiff of Spring in the air. When I went outside this afternoon my mind was set on scratching about a bit but, in all honesty, there wasn’t that much to do. I pulled up a few weeds, did a spot of sweeping and then spent the rest of the time wandering around having a good look at the plants waking up from their sleep. Unfortunately, all the weeds are waking up from their sleep too so I’m currently trying to stay ahead of the game.
The sun was out for a few hours this morning and I once again had to restrain myself from sowing seeds – it’s still too cold and we don’t have a greenhouse yet! The seed box is laughing at me but I won’t play it’s games 😉
The kitties are growing so fast… they’re being neutered tomorrow and I already feel anxious. I know that it’s the responsible thing to do but it doesn’t stop me fretting about them. I just have to keep focused on them being able to go outside, chase rabbits and fall sleep in the Kitchen Garden. It will be lovely to hear the cat flap swinging to and fro again… I just need to get some collars with bells on to give the birds fair warning.
The garlic has started to peek through but if you watch very carefully you can almost see the shoots trying to hide from the freezing blasts of wind that have now come to torment us. Last year I used the Utility Room as a greenhouse with good success… but the Utility Room is now the Kitten’s Bedroom and as much as they’d love to have soil and seedlings to play with I’ll have to be more creative with space this year.
The “Nicola” seed potatoes from Sarah Raven arrived in the week so I’ve started to chit them in an old egg tray. I smiled when I notice that one was heart shaped as hearts are dotted all the way around our home and it seemed a good sign for the growing year yet to come.
I’m quite excited because I’ve made some really tasty bread and it was soooo easy to do that it feels like I’ve missed the point! It’s from a book called Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes which shares the secret of a no knead method of bread making. I followed the most basic recipe and I’m hoping it’s not just a bit of a fluke but it was lovely – I’ll keep baking and let you know. Do you use this method of bread making, and if so, is it successful for you? I’m going to be a bit more adventurous with the recipe next weekend.
I seem to have acquired a new obsession – vintage teacups! I’ve decided to hold a small afternoon tea party in early Summer and this has given me the perfect excuse to collect them. I’ll be going full out – home made fancies, crustless sandwiches, scones and gorgeous little cups of tea. They’ll be bunting, flowers and lots of vintage loveliness and weather permitting we may even be able to sit outside (okay, I’ll stop it now, I’m just getting carried away!).
The lid of the seed box barely contained the multitude of packets inside and I had a familiar feeling when I peeked in… you know that feeling when you finally open the Christmas decorations box? You’ve not seen these things for a few months and yet instantly know the magic is about to begin! This time last year I didn’t even have a seed collection which just shows you how far (or obsessed) I’ve come in a year!
I’ve spent quite a lot of time over Winter looking through various seed catalogues but before ordering any more seeds I promised myself that I’d sort out the packets of seeds from last year.
1. The seed packets were spread over the table and I discarded any empty packets and those well past their expiry dates. I managed to spill some delphinium seeds so if these start to sprout up from between the tiles at least I’ll know they’re not weeds!
2. They were then sorted into vegetables and flowers and packed away by grouping them into beds. If I was properly organised I’d file them in order of sowing but in truth I like shuffling seeds like a deck of cards and rummaging through them.
3. The lid was so much easier to put on… but I’m sure this won’t be the case when the new seeds arrive!
4. Mmm…. don’t kitten’s have the sharpest little teeth?
5. I highly recommend Mark Diocono’s book “Veg Patch: River Cottage Book 4”. I used this to help me plan what veg to grow this year. The rough plan is as follows:
There are a disproportionate amount of sofas in this house… especially when you consider how much time we actually sit on them. A really nice place to relax is on the chaise longue in the garden room. Feet up, a good book, mellow music and furry friends….. purrfect (well it was until I noticed my bum print on the seat!!). The only problem with a thinking place is that it provides opportunity to change one’s mind so the 2013 Kitchen Garden plan has already been altered!
The view out of the window (as seen from the chaise) was taken a few days ago after another day of snow but it’s all green again now and the sun was out today… it must be very confusing for the wildlife. I managed to spend a few hours in the garden today, tidying the beds and smiling to myself. Spring is nearer than ever.
I love vintage things and I’ve been trying to figure out the reason why. I know that they have a certain look, feel and smell (yes, smell!) that appeals to me but it’s not just that. It’s hard to explain but these things are a link to a past I’ve never known but one that I belong to. It’s also because I get the chance to use things that have been used and loved before – there’s something that makes me want to touch and hold these things and they seem to sing when I do! I blame it on Bagpuss the old children’s tv programme – I’ve always loved this saggy old cloth cat and will probably add him to my blog some time soon (but I need to spend a good amount of time on it to do him justice!).
To save the house resembling a junk shop I am disciplined and only buy things that really speak to me . This beautiful vintage typewriter came into my life a couple of weeks ago and all she really needs is a new ribbon… not bad for a 70 year old girl!
It’s so sad to think that many of these vintage typewriters are being snapped up by jewellery makers who then cut off their keys and make charms and pendants from them. I know some of these old typewriters will be in a terrible condition, and I’m a big fan of recycling things, but there must be some perfectly good machines being destroyed. I’ve promised my husband that I won’t set up a rescue home for unwanted typewriters – but I would seriously urge you to rehome one if you can! These old typewriters take up very little room, don’t need to be fed very often (just the occasional sheet of paper) and are generally well behaved. On the down side you will risk breaking your nails when typing but most gardeners and crafters don’t have perfectly manicured nails anyway.