Spring is sprung

Spring is sprung, the grass is rizz, I wonder where the birdies is!

That silly little rhyme always reminds me of my Dad, he always used to say it to us when we were children, and I still say it to myself when I see the first bursts of spring.

lots of things are now bursting into life on the plot and it is all looking glorious.

a few weeks ago I gave the rhubarb a top dressing of horse manure and it absolutely loved it.

the daffodils I planted in the autumn are now flowering, the tulips are up but the flowers haven’t appeared yet.

The bushes in the fruit cage are starting to come to life so hopefully I will have a decent crop this summer.

I was able to harvest some goodies for our Easter Sunday lunch, some cavelo nero, a small spring cabbage and a few leeks, with a hefty amount of rhubarb to make a crimble crumble for afters.

I made my first crumble of the year a couple of weeks ago and it went down a treat, so I do see a lot more on the horizon. I used a touch of cinnamon in the crumble topping and it was really lovely.

I will leave you with a couple of pictures of the plot coming to life.

until next time chaps, Toodle pip from Ruby and I


Making more beds

It was now time to start digging at the front of the plot, there are two large beds in front of the section that I completed first.

Again these beds were filled with couch grass and also had the old fencing laid across, which the weeds were growing through, so first things first these had to be moved off. I then did my usual dig and remove the weeds and grass to reveal the lovely soil beneath.

when I finished digging the beds over and removing the weeds, I decided to tuck them up for winter as I didn’t need to use them yet. So I have covered them up to prevent weeds growing until I need the beds again.

Before and progress so far, what a difference!

I also managed to net the fruit cage, in here is planted a standard red gooseberry bush, a Myrtle bush, a honey berry bush and three blackcurrants.

I also added the usual Angela touch, with some of my crocheted bunting (it wouldn’t be an Angela plot without it!)

The resident robin dropped by to check out any worms that were being dug up, each time I go to the plot he gets closer and closer to me. I am also pleased that the shallots I planted have started to show.

As the Yuletide season is upon us, I will leave you with some pictures of my Christmas decorations and tiddly Christmas tree.
Toodle pip

The digging continues

Things are really starting to come together on the plot now, I have managed to get get a few more beds dug and planted. In these, so far I have planted garlic, elephant garlic and shallots.

the next part to tackle was the strip of bed alongside the path, this was filled with couch grass, so it took me a while to dig it all out and sift the roots, but now it is looking lovely and clean and is now a viable bed, which next year I hope to plant my beans and munchkin pumpkins, I had great success with both of these over the arches on my last plot so I hoping for more of the same on this new plot.

The next bed to tackle, would be what I am calling my apothecary bed. This is where I am wanting to grow herbs and flowers to make into teas and balms, such as chamomile, calendula, echinacea. I have some herbs at home in pots, waiting to go into this bed, lemon thyme, stevia, peppermint and spearmint. The mints will be planted in large pots on this bed, not in the ground as mint can be a bit of a thug and I don’t want it to take over the whole bed.

Again, this bed was filled with couch grass and there was a path running alongside which had been completely covered with weeds. But after a day of digging and sifting I finally uncovered the glorious soil.

I am so happy with this and can’t wait to get it planted up. I have some saffron crocus bulbs to pop in at the end of the bed and I am planning on planting tulips and daffodils along the long edge nearest the wood chip path to creat a visual barrier between the beds and in the summer, I will try and grow some sunflowers there too.

Whilst I was digging, Mr Robin paid me a visit and watched keenly as I dug up his dinner, he is such a cheeky chappie.

Each time I visit my new plot, I am surprised with more and more goodies I am finding, I was amazed to find this chap blooming in November. I think it is possibly a dahlia, I am not 100% sure, but how beautiful and what a lovely discovery. I have a suspicion that when spring and summer roll around again I will be discovering more lovely flowery surprises, which is no bad thing in my book.

I shall leave you today with something, not from my plot, but from the lawn in work, this beautiful mushroom. I love how it appears to be dripping black ink. It’s like a Goth fairy house!
Toodle pip!

Birthday haul

Today I am celebrating my 47th birthday, I spent the day yesterday up at the allotment moving some more wood chip onto the paths, weeding the beds and I planted my garlic and shallots, but today I decided to have a lazy day curled up on the sofa with one of the books I got for my birthday.

pretty much all of my presents are gardening based and I love every single one of them.

so there we have it, just a short post from me today, I’m going back to read my book!

Toodle pip

Sign of the times

The hard work has been continuing on my new plot, the good news is that I have managed to finish the first six beds and have been able to plant them up, I have winter cabbage, leeks, Cavelo Nero Kale and Swiss chard.
I managed to get all of the dreaded plastic up from this entire section, I then laid cardboard on the paths and topped off with wood chip. On the beds themselves I made netted covers from blue water pipe and scaffold netting.

The progress of this first section

The next section I tackled was part of the back section, again I laid the trusty cardboard with a layer of wood chip.

In the fruit cage, I have planted some blackcurrants, and I have also planted something a little more unusual a honey berry, which produces elongated blue fruits and a Chilean guava, which produces small round red berries which are supposed to have a sweet sherbety taste. I thought I would have a go at growing something which was not readily available in the shops, we will see how I get on with them.
The next step will be to attach the netting to the cage.

I have also made the number sign for my plot, as it didn’t have one. For this I purchased two flat wood blanks in the shape of an apple and a pumpkin, painted them and added the numbers, before sealing them with varnish, ready for attaching to the gate, and hey presto, my plot has it’s name.

Carrying on with the homemade theme, Ali, the lady who had the plot before me had a flag on a flagpole, so I decided to make a flag to adorn the flagpole. I bought a plain flag and used fabric paint to decorate it, we will see how it holds up to the weather.

Silly, but I like it!

So there we have it, the progress made so far and some decorative touches. I will leave you with some action shots of Ruby as we all know she is the one who does all the work on the allotment!

Toodle pip for now

Welcome back to the jungle

Well goodness me, it is a long time since I last posted. The world pretty much stood still for a while as we were all confined to our homes. Allotment visits were allowed during lockdown but I was working from home so still only managed to get down of a weekend.

I didn’t have a huge amount of luck with my crops, as almost everything I planted, was decimated by hungry wildlife, courgettes, gone! Sweet corn, gone! The munchkin pumpkins I had so much success with last year, I think you get the idea.

I was however ok with my peas, I was able to get a good few harvests from those and they were delicious, so sweet! My shallots did well also and I was able to get a good harvest of those.

But, I also have some other news. Back to the title of this post, I now have a new plot, I swapped my half plot with a lovely lady called Ali, the paperwork was completed at the beginning of this week and I am now the proud tenant of a full plot.

It is very large, and there is lots of work to do on it, but it has huge potential. The photos below, show only a portion of the plot, as it actually extends beyond the greenhouse!

Ali, the lady I swapped with, very kindly cut down the weeds at the front for me before the big move. And Jan, the site secretary, enlisted the help of Brushcutter Dave and tackled the back section, which was six foot high with brambles and nettles.

I started bringing my things down from the old plot on Saturday with the help of Mr Inker, which gave me the opportunity to have a good old mooch at what was there.

I have a good size shed, a greenhouse, a patio, a cold frame, a huge water tank at the back of the shed, a pond, two massive clumps of rhubarb and a vast amount of strawberries.

First things first, I needed to make a plan. Unfortunately, the whole front of the plot is covered in clear plastic under about six inches of soil, even under the raised beds. The thought of removing it was daunting to say the least, so my plan of action is to tackle one bed at time, so I have somewhere to get planting and then when they are done I will do the paths bit by bit so that I am not overwhelmed.

I made a start on the first bed today, I took out some of the soil at the end of the bed and cut and peeled away the plastic, removing weed roots as I went, I then popped some cardboard down and moved soil from the next part to cover the gap, again removing weed roots as I went, I continued in this fashion until I reached the end of the bed and finally tipped in the first lot of soil I had removed.

So there we have it, exciting news. Ruby loves the new plot, there was lots of new sniffs for her to explore and I leave you with a bonus photo of Ruby having a shampoo and set after working hard on the allotment.

until next time, toddle pip.

Muck Glorious Muck

You know you are an allotmenteer, when you get incredibly excited by a delivery of manure.
I got a call from Jan, my allotment secretary saying there had been a delivery of manure and did I want some?……..er, yes please!
With some trepidation, I took Ruby to the plot with me. I had visions of her rolling around in the pile and coming home smelling of Eau de poo, but she was incredibly well behaved, after a couple of cursory sniffs, she left it alone.

I was able to give two of the beds a lovely thick mulch of this glorious stuff.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find no damage at all to the plot, as the UK has recently been battered by two storms, Storm Ciara followed a week later by Storm Dennis, I was thoroughly expecting to find my arches had been blown away, but no, there they were still standing proud!

I was also thrilled to see signs of life bursting through, the broad beans, garlic, elephant garlic and shallots I had planted earlier in the winter were doing splendidly.

The various bulbs I have planted around the plot were also bursting into life and it won’t be long before I have another dazzling display of tulips and daffodils and I can’t wait.

Everything is also springing to life in the teeny tiny garden at Sleepy Cottage.

until next time, Toodle pip

Winter wonderland

Winter is now here, nipping at my fingers as I tend to my allotment. I have a huge amount of tidying up to do, there are a few things still growing, my perennial bed is doing extremely well and I have been harvesting my leeks, some of which went in my turkey soup over Christmas (it tasted awesome by the way!)

A couple of weeks ago, I went up to my plot after a heavy frost and it looked so pretty.

The birds were happy as I filled the feeders for them,I have a variety of birds that come to visit, from the shy blue tits and coal tits to the super friendly robins that watch me keenly.

An inquisitive squirrel also came to visit and was pleased to discover the seeds on the feeder, so sat quite contentedly and ate his fill, Ruby was intrigued with his strange looking bird!

Christmas was a lovely time over a Sleepy Cottage, I was thoroughly spoilt by Mr Inked who gave me some incredible gifts, including some lovely gardening items. I love Christmas, the tree, the lights, the cosiness of curling up in front of the fire with a cup of tea listening to the wind and rain outside.

My tree this year has a vintage/frosty winter berry theme, with vintage onion baubles from the fifties, handmade baubles that I crocheted myself, little robins, icicles, berries, twigs and candle fairy lights, I even crocheted a little scarf for the stag ornament on the mantelpiece!

Ruby is exhausted with all the Christmas excitement

I hope your Yuletide was merry and bright and you had a wonderful time.

Toodle pip

Spiced Autumn soup

Now the weather has turned chilly, it is the perfect time to use up some of my autumn harvests with a delicious and hearty bowl of soup to warm the cockles.
This is an incredibly simple recipe that anyone can make, the part that takes the most effort is cutting the veg up.

Firstly I chopped up the vegetables, leeks, garlic, munchkin pumpkin, butternut squash (these were all home grown) carrots and parsnips (these were shop bought, as I sowed about a bazillion seeds and the number that germinated were a big, fat zero!) and added them to the pan with a little oil and sweated them off for a few minutes.

Next up, the spices. I added a teaspoon each of Cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and paprika and stirred this into the vegetables.

I then put water into the pan, about a couple of inches above the vegetables and crumbled a couple of vegetable stock cubes in and let it simmer, giving it a stir every now and then.

After about half an hour, I added a third of a packet of red lentils and let it simmer for another half hour, again stirring every now and then.
When the lentils had softened and cooked through, I used a stick blender to blitz everything together, and served it up with some hot, buttered crusty bread.

This is the perfect soup for those cold, winters evenings, hearty with a slight nuttiness from the lentils, and gentle warmth from the spices and utterly delicious.

Toodle pip for now.

Remember when

It was my 46th Birthday recently, and Mr Inker treated me to lunch out. I had heard good things about a local vintage tea rooms called Remember when, so we decided to give it a whirl.

The day was incredibly dreary and raining heavily but I decided to wear my favourite vintage dress and a vintage flower corsage and pretend it was a gloriously sunny day.

Remember when is situated in New Brighton, just a short stroll up from the promenade and has a couple of tables outside to enjoy a cuppa when the weather isn’t quite so dreadful.

Inside, this delightful tearoom is packed to the rafters with quaint and quirky decorations, including seating from an old hairdressers with the dryers attached.

We started off with a pot of loose leaf tea, served in china cups with a strainer, which Mr Inker nearly missed and almost ended up with the tea leaves in his cup (oh dear!)

Deciding what to eat, proved more challenging as everything on the menu sounded so delicious, finally we both plumped for the Welsh Rarebit (great minds and all that), served with a side salad and Worcestershire sauce for sprinkling over. It was rich, oozy and totally scrumptious.

The days cakey offerings are displayed in a vintage display cabinet with the pride that Nana displayed her finest china and although the Welsh Rarebit was incredibly filling, we didn’t want to pass up the chance to sample the delights Nana’s cabinet had to offer, luckily they will pack up a cake for you to take home so we took advantage of this and my goodness it was difficult to choose from the delicious looking selection. Mr Inker had had his eye on a slab of cherry cake from the second we sat down and I decided on a rather spectacular looking scone, which came with little wrapped bags of jam and clotted cream to pop on when I got home.

Before we left, I had to powder my nose, the bathroom is decorated in the same quirky manner that the rest of the tearoom is. Amazing!

I thoroughly loved my visit to Remember when, and I plan on returning with Mummy boots to try an afternoon tea as I know she will enjoy this and my Mum deserves to be treated to a visit to this delightful place.