Green Is The Colour

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……

May Planting

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!

Slugs & Snails

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 🙂

Stripey Cats & fields

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!

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Green Things

Kitchen Garden April 13

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!

Fairy House for Sale

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….

Cats In Kitchen Garden

Spring Brights

Spring FlowersMy poor little plastic greenhouse didn’t survive the high winds and neither did the pots and trays of seedlings. I’m not too disheartened though as the remains of the greenhouse was found next to my car and luckily there was no damage to the paint work! I’ve scooped up the soil and battered seedlings (RIP) and decided to wait a couple of weeks and plant directly as I can’t risk growing more seeds indoors (crious cats) and the greenhouse is now modern art.

Forced Rhubarb

I uncovered the rhubarb that has been forced (don’t think me too cruel) and was amazed at the beautiful colours of the leaves and stems. The rhubarb plant to the rear in the photo above is the same variety – this has been left to grow normally so I’m going to do a taste test at the weekend to see if the forced rhubarb is really sweeter… or just grateful to see daylight at long last!

Freedom

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.

March Garden

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!).

Bella outside

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.

Tired Cats

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!

March Garden

 

Early March

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 😉

Kitties

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.

Shoots and Teacups

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.

Garlic and Spuds

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.

Crusty Bread

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!).

Teacups

My Thinking Place

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.

Seed Sorting

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:

Kitchen Garden Plans

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!

Winter Kittens

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.

IMG_4548

Where’s your thinking place?

Vintage Typewriter ♥

Imperial Typewriter

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!).

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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!

Vintage Typewriter

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.

Tabby Kittens

 Happy Valentine’s Day x

(We’re also half way  through February – Hooray!!)

Flippin’ ‘Eck!

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in many ways around the world and commemorates the Eve of Lent. Over here we usually do this by eating lots of pancakes and arguing about the best toppings! I always look forward to this day as eating and arguing are a couple of things I’m good at and it helps make the February Blahs better. In the past eggs and butter were amongst the foods that were forbidden during Lent so making pancakes was the ideal way of using up these ingredients.

Pancake Day

My husband is the best pancake maker EVER so he’ll be on frying pan duty tonight when he finishes work. I asked if he wanted me to make a start but he’s quite particular about his batter 🙂 In my opinion the most delicious topping is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of vanilla sugar whereas the Master Pancake Chef prefers honey, syrup, treacle or chocolate spread (brute).
Here’s A Great Recipe and even if you don’t make pancakes tonight then it’s worth having them at the weekend – they’re lovely for breakfast with sliced banana, for dessert with icecream or even with a savoury filling and salad!

Traditional celebrations always make me think back to childhood memories.  My good hearted parents kept making pancakes until we were all full up. Please bear in mind that this was no minor achievement as I’m the eldest of four girls so the orange quarters usually ran out before the pancakes! Even as I write these words I can hear a faint sizzle of a frying pan and taste the tangy sweetness of being a little girl again. As I close my eyes I can see us all smiling and asking for more… “more?? you’ve already had six each!” x

…. but Pancake Day is not what I’m actually saying Flipping ‘Eck to. The Pyjama Gardener blog is one year old! I can’t believe that this mile stone has been reached and I know the reason for this is down to all you guys who read the posts, comment so generously and inspire me to keep going so thank you. As a thank you I will send you all a virtual pancake, fresh from the pan – you’ll just have to let me know which topping you prefer?

Translation Note: Flippin’ ‘Eck is a phrase used in the North of England that is similar to Good Gracious, Oh My Goodness, Oh Dear… or any of the less polite phrases of surprise!

Where Did All The Birds Go?

RSPB BirdwatchOn Sunday morning, armed with a cup of coffee and trusty binoculars, we settled down in the Garden Room to count birds for an hour as part of the RSPB Big Birdwatch survey. We usually have all sorts of feathered visitors and so we were quite disappointed at the low turn out from the birds. We had to document the maximum number of birds seen at any one time (rather than the total number of birds in the hour) and the ones that could be bothered to show up were:

Robin 1
Pheasant 1
Sparrow 6
Great Tit 2
Blue Tit 3
Woodpecker 1
Chaffinch 1
Thrush 1
Crows 4
Coal Tit 1
Blackbird 3

We expected to see quite a few birds such as wrens, gold crests, tree creepers, collared doves, long tailed tits and dunnocks but there was no sign of them (not even in the 10 minutes following the survey when they inevitably all come back out to play!). It’s not as if we expected to see a Golden Eagle or Pheonix rising from the ashes… just a little wren would have made us happy!

The RSPB forums indicate that the low number of birds have been a nationwide problem and the staff are urging people to send their results in even if they don’t seem representative. I’m not sure if the birds were scarce because of adverse weather conditions or a re-run of Downton… whatever the reason the results should be interesting!