Thursday, 23 February 2012

Of spuds and newt scenes

Potatoes chitting...
After yesterday's trip to the garden centre I have now got the King Edward potatoes ready for chitting. They are sitting in their egg boxes on the window ledge and will hopefully develop some nice shoots. Not sure I have enough room to accommodate all of these when it comes to planting time but I'd like to try. We had a lovely crop last year but hadn't planted that many as it was our first time but since it worked so very well, we'll get as many as possible into the ground (or I should say "grow bags").

I will also have to look into the details of when to sow the tomato seeds. I am pretty sure I read in another UK blog that they had already planted theirs into pots, so maybe it's time to get a move on and start these off as well. The variety we bought is a cherry tomato one, good for growing in baskets and pots and therefore ideal for smaller areas. Again, as it is my first time growing these, I will probably begin with just a couple of plants and see how we get on.

I am terribly excited about the new growing season! :-)

And exciting news from the pond! The frogs are not the only ones in the pond meeting up with their mates: last night 8 (!!!) newts were recovered by husband - they had only made it as far as a big puddle instead of the pond. All were rehomed swiftly and hopefully will be producing offspring in due course. They are quite shy creatures and we have only spotted them on a few occasions, so it was lovely to be able to see so many of them at once.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Let the growing begin...

We spent quite a long time in my favourite garden centre (Fforest Mill Swansea) and picked out the things I'd like to grow this year. I got so excited looking at all the seed packets! :-) Luckily, I managed to restrain myself and stuck to the plan: seed potatoes, broad bean and tomato seeds, onion and garlic bulbs...oh, and another grow bag and tomato feed. I still have some lettuce seeds from last season, so I will give those a go again (lambs lettuce seems to be best here as the slugs don't seem to like it) but I think I will stay clear of carrots as I had pretty average results with those. Carrot fly got to it and I think I'll be better off using the space for something else. Maybe I can grow a few more herbs instead or courgettes or... so much for not getting carried away ;-)

I wish I could get out in the garden and sort out the raised bed and grow bags but it is raining quite heavily again and it is also a bit early for some of the seeds to go outside. So I will have to bottle my excitement and just do the planning from indoors. I can get the seeds ready to germinate, the potatoes ready for chitting and do lots of reading to find out what tips other people have.

Last year, I kept a garden diary but I think this year I will use the blog to keep track of any progress. It will be great to post photos and keep a visual diary of what is going on in the garden at the different times of the year. Here's to a year of vegetable & fruit growing success!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Chicken soup on a rainy day

More rain today which is more than can be said for other areas in the UK which are now officially in drought. Let's hope the situation eases up a bit as it really doesn't look good for crops and drinking water levels. So, we definitely mustn't grumble about the additional rainfall in these parts and instead warm our bellies with chicken-noodle soup after walking the dog. After Sunday's roast chicken dinner I made stock out of the bones etc to be used as the base of our soup. From Saturday's lasagne (also homemade) we had some pasta left which hubby cut into strips and dried - these strips were added to the soup a couple of minutes before serving. I don't know what it is about chicken soup but it is just so comforting and nourishing!

Talking of comforting & nourishing...I am thinking of what to plant in the vegetable patch this year. It's only our second season, so it's all very much an experiment. I was thinking potatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions, garlic (if it's not too late to get this in the ground), tomatoes and possibly broad beans...we'll see! It's not a big patch, so I need to plan how to use the space properly, although the potatoes will not be in the raised bed but in grow bags since we had very good results with these last year. There'll also be the blueberry bushes which will hopefully carry lots of fruit this year. I can't wait to get out there and get everything ready, the first seeds planted and to watch everything come to life.