Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

I won't be sad to see the back of the weather we've had in 2012, apparently, it's been the wettest year in England on record. I suppose it's only fitting then that we should have rain today to see the old year out, but I'm hoping for better things from 2013.

I've got great expectations for 2013, so it's nice to see that the bulbs I planted in autumn are already pushing through the soil. I'm looking forward to having some colour back in the garden, so I'm eager for them all to bloom. These are the crocus - Cream Beauty, but the iris - Retuculata and daffodil - Carlton are poking through too. I wonder if an early display is on the cards.

I'd like to thank everyone who has popped by my blog this year, especially those of you who come back to read more of my ramblings, and also leave comments, it's very much appreciated. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013. Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, 24 December 2012

An Unusual Visitor

We recently had an unusual visitor to the garden, a little Coal Tit. I noticed him eating from the feeder with the sparrows so I snapped him through the window. We don't often get Coal Tits in the garden, so it's always nice when one does visit.

Thank you to everyone who entered my little giveaway to win a RHS diary. A draw was made this morning, and the name pulled out of the hat was A Whole Plot OF Love. Congratulations, and if you'd like to email me your address, I'll get the diary in the post so that it, hopefully, arrives in time for the new year.

I wish everyone who pops by my blog a very merry Christmas.

Monday, 17 December 2012

I'm Giving Away A Year

That's right, I'm giving away a whole year, in the form of a RHS desk diary. It has one week to view on one page, and an illustration on the facing page.

The diary showcases the work of eight women artists, some were professional artists who illustrated books and magazines, some kept their work, which was later donated to the RHS, private.

It's a beautiful diary, but as I've gone back to using a Filofax, it wouldn't get used, which would be a shame.

If you could make use of the diary, and would like to give it a home, please leave a comment on this post before next Monday, Christmas Eve. I shall pick a name at random and get the diary in the post straight after Christmas so that it will arrive in time for the new year.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Not Much To Look At

I've never been particularly successful with my leeks. In past years, I've had spindly, thin specimens which have hardly put on any growth. I sowed my leeks earlier this year in the hope that this would allow them extra time to bulk up, but as you can see, they're still not up to much. Despite appearances, they're still extremely tasty. The only problem with small leeks is that you need to use far more in one dish than you would if they'd fattened up. I usually grow Musselburgh leeks but next year, trying to get them growing larger, I'm growing Autumn Giant 2 - Argenta. The name alone suggests that they should grow large. The packet states that they're thick, high quality, long and very heavy stems, so I hope these do well for me.

Apart from the leeks, the only other thing growing at the allotment now are three parsnips. I think I made three sowings of parsnips this year, yet all that germinated were these three. I'm hoping that they're growing well under the ground as I really need to make the most of them, having so few. I'd like to have them with Christmas dinner, but I think I'll also buy some from the shop, just in case my own aren't up to much as I'd hate to be without. It wouldn't be Christmas dinner without parsnips.

We've had some severe frosts this week and it's taking quite some time to clear the car windows on a morning. The soil in the containers which my bulbs are planted in has been frozen on more than one occasion, so I was surprised to see some shoots from my Iris Reticulata. They must be tough little things.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Digging's Been Put On Ice

I did make it down to the allotment at the weekend, but it was just as well that I was only going for a look round as I definitely wouldn't have been able to get any work done, the ground was frozen solid. As the photo shows, the standing water on the plot had turned to ice. This is the part of the allotment where we're going to lay another drainage pipe, to direct excess water away from the plot. It's not much good as it is at the moment as crops planted in this area just flood. The frosty days haven't let up since the weekend and it looks unlikely that I'll get any more winter digging done.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to be trying some different varieties of veg next year, so I thought I'd mention the cucumbers which I'm going to have a go at. I'm never particularly successful with cucumbers, so I'm going to hedge my bets next year and give three different varieties a try. The first is one I've grown before, Crystal Lemon. It's a round variety and grew well for me last time, producing lots of fruit. The second is Mini Munch, a variety which produces mini fruit, which will be good as there's only me and the tropical fish who eat cucumber in our house. The third variety is Fanfare. This is an outdoor variety which has a bushy habit and is ideal in containers, so will be good to grow on the patio. I'm hoping that by trying different varieties which grow in different ways, at least one will do well for me. I often wonder why cucumber seed is so expensive compared with other seed. I bought these three packets in the Wyevale sale for 50p per packet, but their usual combined selling price would have been £9.13. It's not as though you get plenty of seeds in the packs either, both the Mini Munch and the Fanfare only contain four seeds in each packet.

The broad beans I sowed a few weeks ago have germinated well. Only three seeds out of thirty six haven't germinated, so I should get a much bigger harvest next year than I had from my dozen plants this year. Bring it on.

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