Friday, 15 August 2008


I will be taking a little brake from blogging for a week or so, I'm traveling up to Shropshire on Sunday to go and see my Dad.

Dad has always been a bit of an inspiration to me, him being a bit of a pioneer of the whole recycling thing back in the 80's when I was little (before it was cool!), most of our house and garden was furnished with bits and pieces he pulled out of skips or rescued from building sites, it would then disappear into the wondrous recesses of his shed to emerge and week or so later fixed and beautiful! the reason for this sort of things was mainly we didn't have the money to buy much new stuff plus Dad really hates to see something useful thrown away (I have the same problems, I'm a bit worried I may be becoming a hoarder)

He was also the one who taught me how to paint, we used to spend endless weekends when I was little making complicated stuff out of cardboard and paper-mache, he's an amazingly musical chap too (sadly something I didn't inherit, although my sister used to be a wonderful clarinet player) he has taught himself to play guitar, clarinet (when my sister was finished with it!) and recently the piano.

Probably the best description of my Dad was when my sister Sally and her boyfriend Ollie were staying with us, Ollie said Dad remained him of someone but he couldn't think who? Richard, Sally and I immediately said Winne The Pooh, then fell about laughing, but I afraid he does, hes quiet and very funny and some of his furs been loved off over the years but that's definitely him

So why am I telling you all about my Dad on a gardening blog? well he was the inspiration for me starting all this way back in March, that's was when he started his chemotherapy treatment for cancer, basically the idea was if he couldn't come and visit because he wasn't well then he could at least see what Rich and I were up to on the blog (one of the reasons I post lots of photos), luckily the chemo hasn't been to ruff and he's be able to come and stay a couple of times.
This week however he starts his bone marrow transplant, a lovely fun experience I sure he's looking forward too!

So I'm going home to spend some time with my Mum and my Sister and wait for the doctors to give us our silly old bear back!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Fighting the Weather

Sunday was a crazy day weather wise, I seemed to be legging it back up to the greenhouse every 5 mins to keep dry. Anyway in between we managed to get loads done, what with one thing and another we haven't really done much in the garden for a few weeks so it was badly in need to sorting out (the russian vine weed was once again making a bid to swamp everything)
The greenhouse needed a bit of a tidy and a sweep.

The aubergines are finally putting on some growth.

This was the state of the potato patch, the plants seem to have gone really leggy and then been munched by snails (who have finished eating my strawberries and fancied a change)

and here it is a couple of hours later

I planted a row of beetroot seeds where the potato's had come out, I'll add another row in a week or so.

Notice my lovely blue plastic bag streamers, this is to (hopefully) stop the local cats using it as a litter tray!

I pulled quite a few of the onions and laced them into bunches to dry in the greenhouse, not the ideal place to dry them but our kitchen too small to have them hanged up in there (plus I don't want my whole house smelling like onions) and the shed has a small posse of mice who are quite partial to the odd onion.
While I was harvesting onions, Rich was working away like a maniac on the unending mountain of tiles, we're laying them next week so we need them all cleaned and ready to put down, poor Rich!

I feel it is worth noting that pink was the only colour they had when I went to buy the rubber gloves he's wearing!

As it was Sunday we managed to nip out to the local car boot sale, I once again managed to find treasure at a reasonable price!

I got these lovely little terracotta pots (some are quite old ones) for £2, I use the ones I already have a lot so I'm always on the look out for more, and while I was admiring my new pots Stella was making herself comfortable.

Gardening on a Shoestring

Most of the people who regularly read this blog will recycle and Freecycle on a regular basis, allotments and recycling tend to go hand in hand.
Richard and I are not what you would call extravagant, mostly because we've never had the money, not when we were growing up (we both grew up with very similar parents, basically you looked after what was your's because if it got broken there wouldn't be another to replace it, pretty sound parenting I have to say) certainly not when we left home to become students and not now in our own home, I think because we have always looked after what belongs to us we appreciated what things cost.

The garden is a typical example of this, most of out tools and equipment either came from car boots sales or was generously left to us by the previous owner of our house, the odd spade has also been brought for us by our lovely parents of course!

Freecycle has also be a huge help, quite frankly without it we wouldn't be growing half the stuff we are now, we've tried to pay it back by giving some good stuff away ourselves and I always try to pick someone who sounds like they really need what ever we're offering (note to anyone on bath freecycle, I'm a total sucker for a nicely written friendly email telling me why you need something!!)

here are just some of the goodies we've had in the past

One of the green compost bins is from freecycle, so is the smaller blue water butt, you can tell we use at lot of water and produce a lot of compost!

One of our first major freecycle gets was the bricks to make the paths in the veg patch, kindly given to us by the lovely lady over at My Tiny Plot.

Our homemade rhubarb forcer, enabled Rich to have quite a few rhubarb crumbles which he was chuffed about.

The Belfast sinks which we're growing our salad leafs in to keep to slugs off (with the help of some cheap copper tape from ebay!)

The raspberries where all given to us by one kind lady, they have been fantastic and are probably my favourite think in the garden right now, they also introduced us to yellow raspberries, something neither of us had come across before. Surprisingly the birds don't seem to be able to spot the fruit so we haven't had to net them. The posts for the fruit frame were from our rubbish pile at the bottom of the garden so the whole thing cost us nothing.

Wood to keep us warm, we haven't had the heating on since the log burner was connected in April (yes I know its the summer anyway!) the test will come this winter as we now cant afford to turn the heating back on (thank you British Gas!!) so the little stove will come into its own fueled by kind freecyclers.

and finally our latest get, 22 old kilner jars given to us by and very nice family in Bath, most have there glass lids and just need a clean and some new rubber seals, some will be used in the kitchen and some in the greenhouse (to stop the snails eating my seed packets!)

In today's economic climate having any money left at the end of the month is pretty amazing, just paying the mortgage has become a struggle for so many, redundancy is up and house prices down, still I think it is somewhat encouraging to think you can do something as simple as grown a few spuds to put on your table and do it by not actually spending anything, simple by the kindness of strangers.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


I love a bargain, as I may have mentioned before I am magnetically attracted to car boots sales (to Rich's eternal delight!) and insist on going whenever weather permits (mostly because this is the only place I can afford to shop these days!!)

My latest find was this old rose bowl, I think it would have had a wire mesh top at one point so you could arrange the flowers in it, anyway its copper and I loved the relief rose border on the side. Its now sitting out side on our patio table with a pretty little purple plant in it, not bad for £3!

The patio table is also new, this bargain was snapped up by my eagle eyed mum from Tesco's summer clearance (how can they have a clearance sale already, its still summer!!) she manged to get this cute table and two matching chairs for £12, and it was the last set in cream in the shop!

As we were outside admiring our pretty patio, Rich noticed this little chap who was closely inspecting my last car boot find!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Editors Choice

Ooooh (again!), my little blog has been made editors choice on Best Green Blog, yet again let me say I'm very flattered that people want to read this (and look at endless photos of my hedges, see below!) even Rich has stared suggesting I take photos for this blog when we're out and about!

Preparing for The Royal Visit

My parents were visiting last weekend (which is why I haven't posted for a week or so), this as usual led to Rich and I vigorously cleaning and tiding the house and garden like mad on Saturday morning. One of the larger garden jobs that I had been putting off for to long was cutting the hedges, We inherited 2 chest height, 30 year old box hedge when we brought our cottage, there on either side of the patio and make sitting out there feel really private and cosy, they also add a good dollop of green to what would other wise be a bit of a bland space.

As any one who has box hedge will know they need regular trimming to keep them looking thick and health, I'm not mad for hedges or anything but as they have obviously been looked after nicely for so long I feel the least we can do is keep them looking good.

It is, how ever a bit of a punishing job, Rich managed to get out of it by running off to mow the grass around the fruit trees.

Yes I know, pictures of hedge's are VERY boring, but it took me ages and I was so proud of them when I finished I just had to show you. This was all done by hand you know...with shears...not electric hedges trimmers...hand shears!! I have blisters to prove this!

A Day Out

As my parents were staying we decided to have a day trip, we're lucky that we live pretty close to a lot of National Trust properties and as we're all members they usually make a pretty cheap day out! We decided to try out Tyntesfield, in Wrexall the other side of Bristol, its a Gothic Victorian house and gardens, I like the houses but I usually much more interested in the garden, when we got there I found out this place had a walled kitchen garden in the grounds, hurrah!

The kitchen garden was split in to two, one cutting garden and one traditional walled veg garden.

I think my favourite bit was the wonderful Victorian greenhouses set along the walls, they were mostly made of cast iron and brick, wouldn't it be amazing to have one of these in your garden!!

I love these little finials on top of the doors.

I wish I had this much space to grow veg...

I also love these, there terracotta celery forcing pots, brilliant aren't they!

So all in all a pretty good day out, I always enjoy seeing how other people grow their veg which just goes to show how sad I am!