23 April 2015

Blossom

The weather is lovely again, the sun is out and things are starting to grow in the garden. I also now have blossom on my trees. More to the point, not only do I have blossom on my apple trees "Katy" and "Christmas Pippin" but I also have blossom on my Conference pear tree. I am thrilled. The trees have been in the ground for about 3 years now and each year I have had fruit from both the apple trees but I have never even had blossom on my pear tree before in fact, last year, some of the branches went black and broke off and I almost dug it up and chucked it on the compost heap! I'm very glad I didn't, there is loads of blossom this year and I'm very much hoping for a pear or two later in the year.

Delicate creamy Conference pear blossom against the bluest of skies

Beautiful pale pink "Katy" blossom

Gorgeous deep pink Christmas Pippin blossom

I also nipped off to see my friends at the market. It's so nice to see them and I do miss my market stall but giving it up was the right thing to do in order to try and get my knee sorted out. As always, I came away with more than I intended because Bridget always has such lovely plants at such great prices that I can never resist. I bought two beautiful phlox plants for the little rockery that I'm making, a couple of "Gardeners Delight" tomato plants and a couple of "Ambassador"courgette plants to add to my growing stash of plants for this years veg growing attempt.


They joined my lovely sugar snap pea plants sitting patiently on the patio waiting to be planted. I really need to get on with it. Over the weekend I found out all my nice big buckets and pots ready to start potting them on but sadly, I need to wait until pay day to go and stock up on compost because unfortunately, there is no cash in the budget for compost this month. I did also pick up some cut-and-come-again salad leaves from my local supermarket for 99p ..... total bargain ...... they are now also outside enjoying the sunshine in a tray of water so they can have a nice long drink.


And finally, I managed to catch some picture of the cute blue tits collecting the dog and cat fluff to line their nests with. Sooooo cute :-)


20 April 2015

Nest Building and My First Veg Plants of the Year

The sun is out, the sky is blue ...... there's a song in there somewhere ..... and the birds in my garden are busy building their nests. This morning I spotted the tiniest wren with a beak so full the poor thing could hardly move and at this time of year I do like to do my bit to help the birds make a lovely soft nest for their chicks so when I brush my animals, I carefully put the soft fur from the brush out on the gate post by the food I put out for them. I wedge it half under a rock to hold it in place and when the birds come to get their breakfast, they usually leave with a beak-full of soft fur to line their nests with. I love watching them. Not a brilliant picture I know but it was very bright this morning and I couldn't see a thing on the screen.


I have also now bought my first veg plants of this year. I have been giving some very careful consideration to what I'm going to grow this year because, as I live on my own, growing things like big lettuces and big cucumbers seems such a waste. I never manage to eat a whole lettuce but I absolutely hate to throw things away. So, I have come to the conclusion that growing things that I can harvest and freeze if there is a glut, like carrots and cabbage and cauli and stuff is fine but things like cucumbers, lettuce and easily perishable things need to be things that I can eat in one or two sittings, better yet, they need to be things that I can pick and eat as I need them.

So here are some of the things I'm hoping to grow this year.

Cut and come again salad leaves. 
Mini cucumbers
Perpetual spinach
Rainbow chard
Sugar snap peas
Dwarf French beans
Lots and Lots of tomatoes
Potatoes
Carrots
Shallots
Cauliflowers
Kale
Beetroot
Courgette

And whatever else I can squeeze into my little raised beds. I also like to grow things in big pots and tubs because I can stand them off the ground and keep some of the evil, plant munching slugs and snails away from them. I would also love to grow things like squashes and pumpkins but I don't really have all that much space so it's not something I have ever grown before. Anyway, here are the first of this years plants ..... some sugar snap peas. 


Will any of you be growing your own veg this year and if so what will you be growing? 

19 April 2015

Time to Tackle The Tussocks Again and a New Blog Header

The weather has been so lovely recently down here in deepest Cornwall and with the nicer weather comes a little relief from the pain in my knee. I don't know why it happens but as the weather warms up the pain eases and with the lessening of the pain, I always experience bit of extra motivation to set to and get doing things .... in this case, this meant tackling the garden. So, this morning, I started on the big patio tidy-up in preparation for the massive job of strimming it tomorrow. The plant pots have been stashed neatly on the storage shelves, I moved the picnic table to the side of the patio so I will have a clear run at the tussocks tomorrow and I gave the table top and the seats a squirt with mould and mildew remover. With a hefty dose of elbow grease and a bit of a scrub with an old nail brush it's come up beautifully. Truthfully, I'm quite surprised the table survived at all because it was cheap and cheerful and was made from softwood which tends to rot quite quickly. I did give it several coats of outdoor wood paint but even so, I'm surprised it came through the winter as well as it has. 

Table Under Construction Last Year

Three Coats of paint Later

I also washed the parasol cover. Over the winter it stayed outside, flapping miserably in the cold winter weather, basically because I kept forgetting to bring it in and as a result, it had turned a slimy green colour with nasty spotty patches on the bits that were exposed to the elements. After two washes, it was still green so I had to resort to drastic measures. I sprayed it all over with mould and mildew remover and quickly stuffed it back in the washing machine for a third quick wash. It came out clean as a whistle so I popped it back on the parasol frame to dry in the sun. I'm so pleased. I didn't want to buy a new one but I'm not sure I could have lived with the icky green slime stains. 

I've also been playing with my blog header. I have wanted to change the picture for a while now but I'm ashamed to say, I couldn't for the life of me remember how I changed it last time and I didn't want to mess it up and get stuck with no picture. Anyway, I was feeling brave so I made a new photo collage using my favourite photo editing site and decided to give it a go .... I'm happy to say it was really easy to change and I really like it. It makes me think of summer. What do you think?

14 April 2015

What a Hectic Week!

It's been mad, mad, mad this week. I have been chicken sitting for my neighbours, one of my llamas has been giving me sleepless nights because of a cut on his leg, my youngest daughter is still home from uni for the Easter Hols and to top it all off I had to call out the RAC when the wheel on my car started to smoke on the way to the shops on Friday!! I'm shattered from all the running around and sorting and worrying but hopefully, things will now get back to some sort of normality because I'm rapidly running out of steam. I haven't had time to do any sewing for my Etsy-shop-in-the-making, the garden is looking like a jungle again and the dreaded tussocks are back (you can read about the saga of the tussocks here and here) so, as soon as my daughter goes back to uni, I am going to have to crack-on and get things under control again ..... I hate it when the house gets out of control. On the plus side, we did nip off to Looe to visit our favourite cafe for a cream tea which, although it has changed hands, was just as nice as ever, despite it now being a cash only establishment. I'm not very good at carrying cash in my purse, I always forget to go to the bank so tend to rely on my debit card. We spotted these lovely daffodil hearts on the hill behind the cafe .... someone has obviously been busy and I think they look lovely. 


I also whipped up a batch of shortbread. I had a craving for something sweet and as I usually always have butter sugar and plain flour in the house, it's my go-to-sweet-craving-quick-fix recipe. Simple as can be and you can be eating delicious shortbread in half an hour ..... less if you don't let it cool first ..... I have to say I do like shortbread that is still a little warm :-)




Ingredients

125g/5oz butter
55g/2oz caster sugar, plus extra to finish
180g/6oz plain flour

Preparation method

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth.

Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½in thick.

Cut into rounds or fingers and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

I know it says beat butter and sugar but I don't do it that way. I rub the butter into the flour then stir in the sugar and press it into the cake tin but either way works just fine. It's just that I'm a bit lazy and I usually can't be bothered to unearth the hand mixer.