Archive for November, 2011

Book review: Cabbages & Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping

Cabbages and Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping (Cabbages & Roses Guide) (Cabbages & Roses Guide)Cabbages and Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping (Cabbages & Roses Guide) by Christina Strutt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great recommendation from a friend, I may think of getting my own copy, or at least copying out some of the useful tips before it goes back to the library.
I was particularly interested in the section about making your own household cleaning products, as although I use eco-friendly brands like Ecover, I’m still not really sure what is in them – anyone know what an anionic surfactant is?? This book implies that if you have water, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, you can clean virtually anything. I’m definitely giving it a go.
There are also some interesting gift suggestions for scouring antique markets and shops for presents rather than buying something new (and probably plastic!).
A good section on gardening, and the uses of herbs.
And it is all written in an easy to read style, as if you were getting advice from a friend.

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Late November roundup

Yesterday I received two raspberry canes from a “free if you pay P&P” offer in Grow Your Own magazine.  Basically they sent me two sticks with roots on the bottom!  Anyway I’m not really sure where I want them to go but I obviously needed to get them in somewhere for now or they really would end up as just two dead sticks so I have put them in the veg bed against the fence.  One is called Polka which is an autumn fruiting variety, and the other is a summer fruiting Glen Ample.  I don’t know if I will get any fruit next year but we’ll see.

While I was outside I took a few photos of the late November veg patch

Overwintering veg

I got some of those FlexiBalls to build a low cage over the cabbages because I think the pigeons will start eyeing them up soon.  And also threw some organic wool slug pellets around them because something has already had a go.  These pellets are completely safe and made from the clinkers off a sheep’s bum! Nice!! They ponged a bit when I opened the bag. They are a good fertiliser too but whether they keep the slugs off is another matter.

Cabbages and new raspberry cane Glen Ample (back left)

There is a mystery with the garlic.  Quite a few of the organic Vallelado are coming up, but so far not one single shoot of the Solent Wight.  This is a photo of the onions with the garlic on the right, and the Polka raspberry at the back.

Onions, garlic and new raspberry cane Polka

These are my peas and broad beans, the peas are just starting to curl their little tendrils around the sticks

Peas (front) and broad beans (back)

And finally the sweet peas in pots in the growhouse

Sweet peas in growhouse

And that’s about it really.  I did have a quick look at the rhubarb and it looks like there might be a big shoot developing on the top of the crown.  I hope it doesn’t start growing yet.

I am currently reading a book a friend recommended to me called Cabbages & Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping.  It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of Bicarb of Soda and some white vinegar!!  Haven’t tried any yet but will do soon.  It’s all much more eco-friendly than the cupboard full of poisons most people have in their houses.

Dunham Massey

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a free family pass for any National Trust property from Emma at Alternative Kitchen Garden.  So as it was a lovely bright day on Saturday we decided to go over to Dunham Massey, somewhere we had never been before.

Unfortunately the buildings are closed at this time of the year but we did get to visit the grounds and the winter garden.

Part of the grounds are a large deer park but it seems some of the deer are quite tame and like to lounge around near the old gardeners’ cottages.

 

The moat has a huge collection of water birds, mostly Canada Geese

This is the house itself, I would have liked to have had a look inside

And then into the winter garden where there were some lovely autumn colours on display

There was a small orangery which had two small veg beds in front of it.  These were being cleared to save the grass around them, as the wet ground was being worn down by people walking around the edges.  There were some impressive veggies left in them though including very bright red chard and (as you can see by the scale indicator – Mr Veg’s hand!) some large cabbages.

These seed pods are from a lily which I didn’t write down the name of (- doh!) which only flowers after 7 years and then only once ever!  It was at least 10 ft tall.

And finally in the fallen leaves of the woodland was a bed of tiny cyclamen.  There were hundreds of them.  I remember my mum always having an indoor one around Christmas and never knew they actually grew outdoors.

Spicy tomato soup

This is my attempt at the spicy tomato soup recipe posted on Little Balcony’s blog.  I blended mine with the stick blender when it was cooked, and I’ve just had it for lunch. Yuuummmmmmmmmyyyyy!!!

Thanks Laura, it was delicious!!!

 

First frost

Woke up this morning to the first frost of the year.  And it was quite a heavy one.

All my fledgling veggies seem to have survived but the broad beans were drooping a bit

They should pick up later though because the sun is out and melting the frost quite rapidly.  My acer is a beautiful colour in the sunlight

and the last of the Gaillardia flowers are putting up a fight

Still harvesting tomatoes in November!

In my last post about my tomatoes, I really thought I would be taking them all off and getting rid of the plants into the compost.  But it is still so mild that I have left them to it.  I’m still getting a few tomatoes ripening up every few days and these are the few that are left now

I was going to try this recipe from The Little Balcony’s blog but I don’t have enough tomatoes and was very reluctant to buy any in the supermarket today.  Hopefully I can hang onto the ones I have picked and when the rest of these are ready I’ll try it then.

The various things I have planted are all sprouting nicely now

Onions & cabbages

 

Broad beans

 

Peas under fleece

 

Sweet peas

The new water butt is settled in on the patio and due to a couple of downpours in the last week is now completely full!!

New patio water butt

Until I started growing things I’d never eaten Swiss rainbow chard, but I have been buying it in a small greengrocers for the last few weeks and really like it.  So that will be on the list to grow next year.

One thing I have noticed is that I still have no birds in the garden.  The holly is covered in bright red berries and I have hung a bird feeder and fat ball in it too.  But nothing has even nibbled anything.  There were a couple of pigeons around last week and the magpies are kak-kak-kaking in our neighbour’s huge conifers but no little birds yet.  I hope they haven’t all got the hump because we disturbed their garden and took out the forsythia!!

Book review: The Allotment Chef

The Allotment Chef: Home-grown Recipes and Seasonal StoriesThe Allotment Chef: Home-grown Recipes and Seasonal Stories by Paul Merrett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in a row that I have read about someone starting an allotment and how they fared. This one is written by a chef from London (all three have been based in London!) who decides to grow his own produce and then write a book about it with recipes using the stuff he grows.

The first half is the biography bit, the obtaining of the allotment and the trials and tribulations of clearing it, planting, getting the family involved, trying not to visit the supermarket ever again, etc. Again it is not a how-to book but is fun and interesting.

The second half is the recipe section, with which I think the author has used some artistic license. I don’t think all the produce in the recipes came from his allotment but they do all look very tasty and hopefully I’ll give some of them a go.

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