Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: gardening

Repotting and rats

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).

Tomato plants

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?

Henry planting seeds

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 planting time

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.

Filling pots ready for planting

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.

Planting seeds in greenhouse

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?

Guess who got hold of my camera remote?

Guess who got hold of my camera remote?

Grow your own

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 ago after 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.

Heinz wheelbarrow and seeds

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.

Shall we get the paddling pool out?

Did you see it at the weekend? That was spring that was, one whole day of spring and now it’s gone again for another year. Mother Nature has replaced the rest of the spring period with a new season called ‘stay home it’s torrential’ or SHIT for short.

Not quite this sort of weather is it?

Not quite this sort of weather is it?

So we did what every proper English person should do when the you get the first sunny day of the year; we spent the whole day outside. Soaking up the sun and trying to turn our pale English skin beige. Matilda got a little carried away and asked if we could get the paddling pool out, you have to admire her spirit but I didn’t really fancy a trip to hospital with a child who has hypothermia.

Sunday morning was spent wandering around Marlborough, looking in the shops and having coffee and cake (or babycino’s and ginger biscuits if you’re Matilda and Henry). We also let Henry loose with his reins on for the first time; hilarious watching him trying to run everywhere and shouting “NANNA” at the top of his voice every time my parents got too far away. He also decided that Matilda was the only one who could hold his reins, which has the benefit of keeping 2 children in one place!

The afternoon however was all about planning and in particular garden planning. My mum is a gardener and with her help we have some grand plans for the garden, a lot of work to be done but can’t wait to get started. We’ll hopefully have a garden that is both home to lots of birds, bees and bugs and perfect for 2 crazy children to run around in. I’ve of course already started a Pinterest board that features seats and a bug hotel amongst other things.

The garden during the Autumn

The garden today

I’m also about to start planting the first of the veg seeds in the greenhouse, amazing what a bit of sun does for your motivation and optimism. Especially considering just a few nights ago it felt like the house was about to blow away.

Anyone else feeling the spring vibe? Any grand gardening plans being made?

Down at the bottom of the garden…

Down at the bottom of the garden

Among the birds and the bees

Are some little people, planting tomato seeds

Getting ready to plant seedsI’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.

Matilda wateringFinally (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.

Matilda, Matilda, how does your garden grow?

This is a job I have been meaning to do for weeks now, the box of seeds has been staring at me from its perch on the washing machine in the utility room. Laughing at me every time I walk past “you’ll never get round to needing me, you may as well put me back in the garage you loser”. But after reading Christine Mosler’s post I decided it was about bloody time I got around to it.

So out we went, all 5 of us (sprout included) to sort out the raised bed and get some seeds sown.

We keep things pretty simple when growing veg and make sure to grow the things we actually eat a lot of over the summer. A very important lesson, particularly if you’re limited for space. So we have a good selection of salad leaves to go with the BBQ’s that we have 3 or 4 times a week in the summer. Then runner beans, broad beans and peas just because they are fab. Love eating them straight from the pods!

Other than that we normally have carrots, tomatoes, courgettes and some pumpkins or squash’s. All easy to grow and taste amazing fresh from the garden.

I think it’s so important that kids get to see where food comes from and what it looks like before it ends up in Tesco. So although Matilda is still very young I want to make sure she is already getting involved in the process and she certainly doesn’t complain about getting her hands dirty.

We sowed most of the seeds straight into the soil, it’s pretty warm now so should be ok. We put 3 seeds around each cane to give good odds of getting beads growing. The tomatoes and pumpkin we planted in small pots and will keep indoors until a couple of inches high at least.

So here we are, full of excitement and anticipation of the magic that is hopefully going to happen beneath the soil before those little green shoots appear. Here’s to a fabulous summer full of fresh crisp veg.

P.S. see that raised bed? All my own work, oh yes a man of many talents