This is the view from our front door, forget the rest of the house this view alone had us sold before we even set foot inside. Even now I have to pinch myself a little bit that I get to look at this as I get dressed in the morning and as I shut the curtains at night. Whilst we don’t live in the Brecon Beacons National Park itself those hills opposite are inside the boundaries and we pass that lovely burning beacon sign every time we drive somewhere.
The Western side of the Brecon Beacons is definitely less well known than the Eastern side with Abergavenny, Crickhowell and Brecon to name a few towns that are firmly on the tourist and outdoor enthusiast paths. But I encourage you to drive a little further and explore this quieter side and the area towards mid Wales. Simply stunning and you’ll find some fabulous small towns with independent shops and quiet forests where you can go for miles without seeing another person.
Not that we knew much about this area when we started looking, but the more we saw the more we realised we’d discovered some wonderful. The search brought us this direction purely from a monetary point of view, as we widened our search area North from where my job is we discovered our budget went that little further and ticked a few more boxes on the wish list. (if we could have stretched another 100k it could have bought the perfect house, always the way of course). For us the location also worked for my commute towards Swansea, about 50 minutes door to door, which isn’t perfect but is doable. However coming home and slotting back into countrylife soon makes it ok.
This is the point in the year when my enthusiasm for gardening normally wanes, the enthusiasm of Spring seems a long time ago and for the most part we have yet to reap what we have sown. However this year the enthusiasm for gardening was almost over much sooner; having spent a fun morning with the children planting loads of little pots with seeds we went away for a weeks holiday. Our neighbours kindly watered every day but unfortunately during the week a small army of mice or rats got into the greenhouse and have a veritable feast of crunchy seeds.
Some seeds did survive but quite honestly it was a massacre, I almost threw in the trowel there and then. But we regrouped and decided that it was only mid April so there was plenty of time for more seeds to grow. In they went with a few carefully positioned rat traps around the floor (which incidentally are proving quite effective).
Fast forward 6 weeks and we’ve now got real signs of vegetables coming; the squashes and courgettes are planted out and have the first few flowers coming, the runner beans are rapidly running up the canes and the first green tomato has appeared. The smell of tomatoes growing in a greenhouse has to be in my top 5 smells of all time, I can’t be the only one to put my hands to my face after picking out side shoots from a tomato plant and take a big deep breath through my nose much you like you do to a babies head. Simply divine.
We’ve thankfully managed to end up with a few different varieties of tomato which I love, it makes summer salads and meals so much more interesting. There are a couple of big beef tomato plants, some cherry tomatoes, some plum shaped yellow ones and also the standard tomatoes that Heinz sent us which might even be doing the best.
All of them are now potted on to bigger pots on the ground in the greenhouse with the help of my trusty assistant and we’re trying to be diligent in picking out the side shoots and generally keeping the plants tidy and growing upwards. I swear the plants grow a couple of inches every day, the do certainly seem to shoot up at this stage don’t they?
Now all we need to do is to remember to water them each day, plant out the beetroot, put the seedlings into bigger pots, plant some more lettuce seed and tie back the raspberries. Easy. I have loads of free time of course so shouldn’t be an issue.
How’s your growing going? What’s the biggest success so far?
Spring time is gradually creeping up on us, it’s getting a little bit warmer and last night the kids and I were able to go outside into the garden after dinner for a run around and play on the swing. I love this time of year as we gradually defrost from the winter and the expectation builds of what’s ahead. I love the newness of everything, the daffodils poking their heads out from the ground, the buds on the trees and all the birds appearing in the garden again.
It also means it’s time to venture into the greenhouse again to sort out the pots and the remnants of last years veg growing ready to start afresh with a new bundle of seeds. The clearing out this year involved removing a rather large (and very dead) rat from a pot which thankfully the children didn’t spot before I managed to dispose of it.
The first job was to plant the tomato seeds that Heinz sent us along with the first cucumber, broad bean and beef tomato seeds. We’ve also put some garlic into the raised bed already which apparently likes a cold start to its growing. Matilda and Henry were fascinated with the different shapes and sizes of seeds and never turn down an opportunity to get their hands muddy. I did my very best not to shout at them if they didn’t put the seeds in the trays in evenly spaced rows even if it did push my OCD right to the edge. After all what’s the point in having a rectangular tray if you aren’t going to plant rows perfect perpendicular to the sides?
We’ve covered them up in the propagators now and I’m crossing my fingers we don’t get a cold snap in the next few weeks. It is still chilly at times but there is enough sun around that in a week or so we should hopefully see the first shoots coming through and we can begin the game of thinning and transplanting to larger pots. I’m hoping the lady of the manor is going to do most of that given all the free time she now has with 2 children at preschool 2 days a week.
There are of course lots more seeds to be planted over the coming weeks, my rule when deciding what to plant is quite simple; it needs to either be suitable for going on a pizza or being served with it. I’m planning on making full use of the pizza oven this year and will need a good supply of vegetables and salad to go with it, not to mention a few chillies to throw on top.
What about you, are you growing anything this year? What’s your favourite thing to grow?
One of my very favourite blogging campaigns that I’ve been involved in is the Heinz grow your own, we had great fun with it 2 years agoafter we’d just moved into our new house and had a veg patch for the first time. So I’m very happy that we’re going to be taking part again this year.
This week we took delivery of this very awesome parcel containing the all important tomato seeds along with a wheelbarrow (which Henry has decided is most definitely his), a watering can and a fab colouring book. Henry has spent the past few days moving things around the garden in the wheelbarrow which is why I now have lots of little piles of stones dotted over the lawn. Matilda on the other hand would quite happily spend most of the day watering various things, mainly plants but also her trucker and my feet if I stand still for too long.
We’ll hopefully be getting the seeds planted in the next few days and then tracking their progress as they turn into seedlings and then eventually (we hope) great big tomato plants with lots of juicy tomatoes on them. So look out for more posts in the next few days and I’d love to hear what your vegetable growing plans are for the year.
If you’d like to get hold of some seeds of your own, you can head over to the Heinz Facebook page where you can use their app to win your very own seeds.
P.S. We’ve also made good use of the lovely wooden crate that the things came in, it’s now holding the firewood next to our log burner in the lounge.
I’m not the most green fingered person and find it hard to get too excited by flowers, but when it comes to things you can eat it’s a different story. I also want Matilda and Henry to learn where food comes from and get excited about eating peas straight from the pod or lettuce fresh from the ground. I think if you can get kids involved with food from a young age it can have a real impact on their eating habits in later life.
So with spring finally here we took the opportunity to get some seeds planted and tidy up the raised beds that were already built in our new house. My approach to planting vegetables is to grow things that we eat regularly (sounds obvious but lots of people plant what they think they should not what they’ll use) and also try to plant some unusual things like purple carrots.
With this in mind we have one raised bed now full with potatoes, onions and garlic. All things that are easy to grow and we’ll definitely make use of over the next few months. The other bed we’ll most likely plant a lot of salad leaves to go with all those BBQ’s we’ll be having.
Finally (with some help from Heinz) we’ve planted some Tomato seeds in trays which hopefully soon will have grown enough to be transferred to pots and then producing lots of juicy tomatoes. Matilda loved the fact that she now has her own little watering can and spent the rest of the afternoon watering every single plant in the garden and her feet.
Heinz have launched a grown your own initiative to encourage families to get into their gardens and grow some tomatoes of their own. For more information you can log onto their Facebook page where there are fun games for the family and free seeds being offered.
This is a sponsored post, Heinz sent me some seeds and gardening things for the children and will provide hamper of products if I publish 2 more posts tracking the progress of the seeds. All words and opinions are of course my own and I really do love growing vegetables.