Greenhouse tales

So what have I been up to since my last blog. Not a great deal really. I had my mind made up for me with regards to my growing area when a mine greenhouse arrived in the post.

Cue childlike excitement at the prospect of my first greenhouse. Not a big greenhouse but mine none the less. Cue the dread when I realised how much work said new greenhouse was going to mean.

Not actually putting the greenhouse up. That will hopefully be the straightforward part. It soon became clear that the area it would be going in wasn’t going to be big enough. So then the head scratching about which way round I wanted it.

How to turn this area into the space needed. Now ideally I wanted the door facing the towards the back wall. Problem with that is I’d have to build a new wall for it as it would overhang the existing wall.

The other way round would mean taking down a fence and extending the area that was there slightly. By far this was the easier option but the door wouldn’t be in the ideal place.

Either way the fence had to come down so I took it out ready to measure the area so I’d know which was the more feasible option.

Once down it became clear building a new wall wasn’t really an option. I’m all for creating projects for myself but occasionally you have to give your head a wobble and have a word with yourself.

So it was that I started prepping the area. All went swimmingly. Until it didn’t. Extended the area no problem. May have slightly underestimated how much earth and rubble I was going to have to move.

It really didn’t look like much until I had to actually move it. Much cursing and asking myself what is wrong with me later I managed to get it done.

Next on the agenda, build a small retaining wall and level the area. Thankfully that went well and the pavers for the area went down really well

Then can the big day. Assembling the greenhouse. Much excitement. Even after the odd frustration and the plastic panels trying to Mary Poppins me over into next doors garden because of the wind.

But it was built. Finally. My first greenhouse. Something I never thought I’d see in our garden. My lovely wife and kids knew I’d be as happy as a Darlo in the Guinness brewery when they bought it for me and they are happy that I’m so happy. It’s hard to explain to a non gardener just how much it means to me.

But t I will say this. Whatever space you have, whether it’s a windowsill, a cold frame, a plastic growhouse (2 of which I’ve been using for years) keep growing and keep enjoying the benefits it brings you.

Plans

I got a little inspiration after reading @HemelAllotment latest wonderful blog yesterday to actually properly start looking at making plans for the garden this year, and think about when and how I’m going to put them into action.

I was going to have a tidy up and take a few pictures of what it looks like out there but I thought, why not be honest with my pictures. A few people who know me will know I’ve struggled with doing anything out in the garden recently and I feel if I blog the changes to the garden over the year, I’ll have a record of where it came from to what will hopefully be my own little piece of paradise.

So what plans are there? One of my growhouses has finally decided it doesn’t want to play and the zips have give in. This has made me look at my growing area and what I want to do with it. I’ve seen a lovely little greenhouse and I need to measure the area and see if it’ll fit. If not I’ll buy another growhouse. They’ve worked fine so far but it would be nice to have something more permanent. Either way everything is coming out and I’m going to use the old garden pavers to give a nicer looking area.

My produce border is going to have a change this year. We’ve been bought a love seat by my parents for Christmas and I’ve had an idea to put it in the middle of this border. It’s such a sun trap it should be nice to go and sit in the sun with a book and a cuppa. Or maybe even a cheeky beer or wine.

It will mean using some old blue engineering bricks to make a nice area to sit on. My biggest job is to make a pergola to go over it. It’s going to be a specific shape and size so it’ll be easier to make one than try and make one fit. Now I’m no carpenter but I’m sure I can knock one up that’ll look presentable. But the image in my head of sitting there with an evergreen jasmine, sweet peas and maybe nasturtium (or others) growing up there will make it a bit special I think.

I only have a small lawn but it’s great as it get the sun all day. I think it could do with a bit of seeding and feeding this year. Many times I’ve thought of paving the area but it’s nice to have a patch of grass to sit on in the warmer months. With the border I added you get a lovely variety of flowers to look at as well.

With my border being reduced I may look at pots for some of my produce. I’m limited to how much I can grow so it’s more important than ever that I grow just what we want, so as ever slad crops will be the main stay again. Lettuce, cucumber, radish, spring onion, beetroot, cucumber and sweetcorn at the very least. I’m determined to get round to growing herbs this year. I’ve got the idea of where I want to put them in my head, whether it works or not will be a different story. Watch this space

I bought my seeds in from the cold as I don’t want to risk them freezing. What is it about going through packets of seeds that brings out your inner child. Its like going into an old fashioned sweet shop and seeing so many old favourites you don’t know what to choose.

I’ve got the majority of seeds I want for this year (yeah right!!) sweet peas, nasturtium, nicotiana, dhalia, sunflowers, salvia, primrose, alyssum, poppy, cornflower. I’ve been gifted some old ladies bonnet seeds and have no idea what they look like. The cosmos will not defeat me this year and I want some calendula as Iove the pics people post every year. No doubt I’ll go seed shopping and come out with varieties I had no intention of buying, but that’s part of the enjoyment.

I hope I can keep myself motivated to carry out all I want to, and I’m sure once I kick in it’ll all come together. I hope you will come with me on this year’s journey and share your own.

Stay safe. See you soon

2022. Time for change?

I’ve been thinking over the last couple of weeks what I’m hoping for in 2022.

I’m still not entirely sure. December hasn’t been a bad month I suppose. Managed to get to a gig for the first time in an age. James supported by the Happy Mondays. Arena gig which aren’t my favourites, but hey its been so long I felt I really properly enjoyed myself for the first time in S long as I can remember.

Sounds really silly but we went to the cinema twice for the first time in as long as i can remember.

Me and the youngest daughter are a bit geeky so Spiderman: no way home was always going to be on the cards. It was good to be sat and enjoying a film in the cinema. Another habit I’ve got out of. A few days later we were back for Ghostbusters Afterlife. Ghostbusters is one of my favourite films and this franchise always holds a special place for me. I’ll admit to getting quite emotional during the film which isn’t a bad thing.

I need more of this. Getting out and enjoying things. As I’ve said before it’s been easy to get out of the habit of doing things I enjoy for me. It’s a habit I need to get back into. So more cinema trips this year are on the cards.

One thing I do want to get back into next year is my fishing. After my trip with my youngest recently I’m hoping he keeps it up and wants to go more. It gives me an excuse to pick my rods back up and get on the bank. Fishing for me wasn’t always about the catching, it was about the being there and taking part.

Whether sat behind pike rods, casting flies for trout or anticipating the dip of a float there’s something magical about sitting by water and taking in the surroundings and the peace.

Of course there’ll be plenty of gardening. This year is going to see a change in one of my borders after we were gifted a love seat for Christmas. I still need to finish the seat I built last year and paint it up. It will be nice to have a couple of areas that any if us can use to read, listen to music or sit and snjoy the sun and the garden. I have plans for new seating area, and if it looks as good in reality as it does in my head it’ll be beautiful.

As for aanything else for the new year I don’t know what I want to do. I’m hoping that at some point normality returns and we can go about our lives as we used to. While times are like they are at the moment motivation is a struggle. Trying to find the will to arrange anything while knowing it could be cancelled is still something that manages to bring me down.

I hope the new year is better for you all and I wish you all the best whatever you will be doing

In music I trust

Music. Music is my medicine. Never a truer word spoken at the moment. I listen to a lot of music in general but at the moment I’m never long without it. It’s great listening to some albums I’ve not heard for an age. No one to please but me and my lug holes, and my lug holes are appreciating the noise.

I suppose music has always been a type of massive release for me. Any mood, good, bad, ugly, there’s always something to suit. Nothing quite like browsing through your vinyl or CD collection and selecting the record that will be just right for that moment.

There’s still quite a lot going on in the garden at the moment and it’s doing a good job looking after itself.

It’s that funny time of year where I know the growing year is coming to an end and it’s more about planning for next year than doing much for this year.

That being said I have more green manure that I’ve started in trays to get out in the next week or so and the garlic needs to go in. Starting some green manure in trays this year seems to have been a good idea. I might actually get a decent amount to take. Now do I want shallots or not? These are the burning questions.

I’ve spent a little time lately thinking about life in general and what I want from it. The conclusion. Fuck knows. I know I want a career change but don’t know what to. I know I want things to be different at home. Nothing drastic just little things that are getting me down but apparently it’s not the done thing to ask a 15 and 6 year old to leave home!

I need things to look forward to to stop me getting into so many ruts. At times my mood swings are holding me back from enjoying life. I look at the things we used to do. A walk at least once a week, a couple of pints at the pub, the cinema, a gig. I can’t quite pinpoint the time we stopped doing it. It needs to be rectified.

It doesn’t need to be some grand plan. Just little things to get us out as a family or a couple. That being said I’m looking forward to the night in Manchester to see The Happy Monday and James gig that I got tickets for for my birthday.

I need to find the old me again. I quite liked that version of me. Reflection is good, but looking back at what was won’t help me get back there. Only me getting off my lardy arse and making something happen will do that, and maybe if I get back to that, inspiration may come with ideas for the future.

Stay safe folks. Brighter skies are ahead.

Covid strikes again

I don’t think there’s anyone out there that hasn’t been affected by covid in one way or another.

Who would have thought at the start of this pandemic that it would change our lives in the way it has and we would still be seeing restrictions so long after it all began.

I’ve written in a previous blog how those first few weeks affected me personally, and how 2020 personally affected me.

Roll forward to 2021. The year we hoped the worse would get behind us and we could all look forward to the lifting of all the restrictions that have affected our lives and we could start returning to some kind of normality.

I sometimes feel guilty about bitching so much about how we as a family have been affected.

So many have lost loved ones and so many are still suffering from the effects of long covid which doesnt seem to be getting much press. There’s so many who suffer year in year out and have to live with it for life.

This year seems to have been a constant stream of feeling ill and isolating. If it’s not one of us it’s one of the kids that have shown symptoms and we’ve had to follow the same routine. Get everyone home, get everyone tested and stay off work and school waiting for results.

In the grand scheme of things it’s not a massive thing to have to do but it still starts getting to you.

Roll on to the little break we’ve had planned for months. Me and my wife have worked all through the pandemic. Been so careful all the way through it. As have my parents, so you just know when we get the chance to get away the virus would hit us.

Feels like such a kick in the gut. One more thing to knock you down. The only thing we are hoping is that the vaccine does its job and no one becomes seriously ill.

There’ll be other holidays. There’ll be other days out.

Please, please, the pandemic isn’t over. We still have to be careful to look after each other.

Stay safe.

Reflections so far

I suppose its time to reflect on the past weeks and get it down in my blog.

It’s been a funny old year for the weather and growing again. Some great successes, some not so great successes and some total complete and utter failures.

Cosmos I hate you. 3 sowings not one seed germinated. Zinnia. 4 plants out of a couple of sowings and I’m pretty sure they’ve been taken away by the plant fairies.

The list isn’t great reading this year. Issues with, sunflowers, slugs, snails, celery, pak choi (or as its now known, just pak it in) slugs, peas, lettuce bolting, slugs, radish, cosmos (so angry I’ve put it twice) peppers, chilli and slugs. I think the veg fairies are telling me to concentrate on flowers next year.

It’s not been all doom and gloom on the veg front. I did manage to get quite a bit of lettuce before it spat its dummy. The cucumber were a bit late but thay are coming on great. Loads of tomatoes and I seem to have avoided the dreaded blight so far, just need them to ripen. I did get peas just not as many as usual which was a shame, beans, strawberries, raspberries, spring onion, beetroot, garlic, sweetcorn nor done or doing bad so I really can’t complain.

A new one for me this year to grow are courgettes. Never doentham before but wa inspired to have a go by the lovely Kelly and I’m looking forward to pestering people for recipes so I actually use them.

That being said the sweet peas have done me proud again, as have the nicotiana. The lime green nicotiana have been one of my highlights. Absolutely loved them and they will definitely be making a return next year.

The flowers that have done well have done really well. We’ll the ones that have survived slugageddon in the grow house and once planted. I’ve apparently opened a Michelin star buffet for everything slimy this year.

Pansies and sweet williams just ressed and do their own thing every year so I let them get on with it. I’ve on purpose planted out nasturtiums this year. Apart from one plant getting obliterated by caterpillars they have been a very welcome sight in all the areas I put them.

Two new varieties for me this year have been Dhalia from seed and Livingstone Daisy. The dhalia are just coming into their own now while the daisies are trying to have a second fluch. I live dhalia anyway but it’s great to see so many more. The daisies are a joy but I may have to rethink where I put them next year.

Salvia and Borage two other new additions along with mixed seeds from a pack and our flying friends seem to have a enjoyed them this year which was something I was hoping to achieve.

So this year am I happy? Am I upset at my failures? Yes. Everything out there that survives ways makes me happy. Upset at the losses, of course. I sow seeds because I want plants. When it doesn’t work I get angry, upset and annoyed. Such is the life of a gardener. You aren’t guaranteed success you just do the best you can and hope it all comes out well. Along with wildlife and the weather iy can sometimes feel like hard work, but I’ll keep on coming back as it’s one of my pleasures in life.

Will I keep coming back and taking everything gardening can throw at me? Am I already looking forward to next year? You bet I am. Bring it on.

Full of life

Hello one and each. Hope you’re all well and enjoying this sunny spell. Apart from all the extra watering (I said we’d all be praying for rain)

I for one am so glad to see some much needed better weather. The garden had loved it, and plants that were already out and plants in the grow house have definitely been grateful for it.

I’ve still not got masses of colour but more and more flowers are edging ever closer to that special day when they share their loveliness with us. Buds on lots of flowers and others have leapt up getting ready to form buds.

This time of the season is always exciting. The anticipation and a little bit of impatience, for what is to come is sometimes unbearable. I’m sure I’m not the only gardener who is checking flowers in what feels like every 5 minutes to see if there’s been any changes. How many times I convince myself there’s been a big change to a plant when there hasn’t been is unreal. Patience is not one of my strong points.

That said there are a few flowers out there now looking fabulous, waiting for their brothers and sisters to catch up and join the party. Shouting to their siblings still in the grow house to get a bloody move on and get outside because the boss wants everything filling and full of colour.

It’ll get there. Same with the crops. Slowly but surely it all come good. I know it will. Got to keep reminding myself that it’s been a bit of a weird spring and behind I may be, but it won’t be for long.

My little experiment on the front is not in full bloom yet so not quite sure how that will turn out. Hopefully the pollinators will get some joy out them no matter what.

If I’m happy with it I may just throw a load of seed around next year, if not I put a couple of new beds in and go from there. Desicions, desicions.

Let’s all hope we have some beautiful colours and fragrance over these coming weeks, and we all have some great pictures to share.

Stay safe and look out for each other

Thankful

Well what a strange couple of weeks for me. After being so happy about getting my first vaccine jab I’ve been quite poorly. Not quite sure what with. Was it a reaction to the vaccine, a virus or something else. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so ill and have been genuinely frightened due to breathing difficulties. On the downside getting taken to hospital for checks was a scary experience. On the upside I got to ride in an ambulance for the 1st time.

I’d like to say thank you to the staff on the 111 phone line, the paramedics and everyone who saw me at the hospital. The doctor, the nurses and the porters. It does ram it home how important the NHS is to us all

With not feeling right the garden and in particular my seeds were neglected as I hadn’t got the energy to do anything. Luckily I didn’t lose too much apart from onions and dhalias. Dhalias I’ve resown, onions can probably wait until next time.

It did feel good to get out at the weekend and have a full on couple days deadheading, tidying and sowing new babies.

I didn’t realise how much I’d missed not being out there. When you have limited space there are only so many jobs to be done. Now we’re into the time of the year when I’ve always got something to do. Sowing, potting on, watering, feeding, mowing, trimming. To be able to get out of only for a hour after work is such a tonic and helps to keep me sane.

Not to everyone’s taste but one thing that always brings me early colour are the pansies. They always self seed in the front to the point I have to thin them, but I always collect seed and put them in lots of places. Lovely to look at while their friends are playing catch up in the seed trays.

Just for a bit of fun I took part in #worldnakedgardeningday again this year. It’s all a bit if a giggle and I enjoyed seeing so many people take part. I was told that it’s origins are from the Douglas Macmillan and it was set up as a kind of fund raiser. Its one charity that I do donate to but next year I’ll set up donation a to try and raise a few pounds if possible.

It was so great to finally get some rain. I can’t remember such a prolonged dry spell. The plants are thanking the gardening gods for their soaking.

The next few weeks are going to see more and more gardens coming to life and I can’t wait to see them all.

Stay safe and look after each other

Just the tonic

Is it lockdown fatigue? Has this last year changed us all over time, in ways we aren’t really aware of? Either way I don’t think I’ve seen a time when so many seem to be struggling and maybe don’t even realise it.

Do I feel like I’m taking things the wrong way a lot more than normal? Absolutely. Can I help myself? No.

I think we all need this lockdown to end once we know everyone is as safe as they can be, and try and get back to normality as soon as we can. It’s been good to see so many taking up the vaccine to help themselves and others.

It’s been a while since my last blog as I’ve not had too much to say. Over winter there’s not been much chance to get in the garden. With only having a small garden, at this time of the year the jobs don’t tend to take very long, but at last, there’s some bits of color bursting through and there’s been jobs to start. Forgot just how much I need to be out there.

So what plans for this year? I’ve talked myself into having to put more paving down and making some seats out of pallets. I’m hoping it will make a nice seating area. Put some lights up and add a few plants around it (not planned that part yet) get a fire pit and I’ve got a nice area to go out and read or listen to a little music, maybe even have a brewskie or two. It doesn’t look much now but watch this space.

Veg wise I’ll be planting the usual suspects I always do. Gone are the days of being seduced by the veg seeds packets and just buying them. Now if I know I’m not going to eat it, it doesn’t get sown. I have enough to keep us going. Peas, lettuce, beetroot, spring onion, radish, toms, cucumber to name some. Not a lot but we get a good crop out if the small border. You never know when the rogue nasturtium make an appearance again I may even try some edible flowers this year.

I’m sowing a lot more annuals this year as I’m trying to go for a lot more colour and pollinators. I’ve got some ticking over slowly in the growhouse, and some wildflower and butterfly and bee mixes directly sown.

I had my little helper painting the fence then sowing some seeds with me. His interest levels vary depending on the day but I’m hoping the gardening bug hits him at some point. Though he did ask for a plant for his room so which made me smile.

The front garden was is by design supposed to be low maintenance, but the big areas of nothing started to annoy me last year so I’m trying to do something about it this time. I’m letting the stock reseed itself and go where it likes, I’ve sown seeds direct which if they come up will either work really well or be naff and I’m planning on planting flowers out there. If it works I’ll do the same next year, it not it’ll be back to the drawing board.

I can’t wait to see everyone’s journey again this year. To see gardens and allotments full of colour and food brings me so much joy, and I love to go on the journey with so many passionate folk.

That’s it for me this time.

Stay safe and look out for each other.

Hello there

It’s been a while since my last blog as I’ve done barely no gardening and with work home balance I’ve not felt too motivated to do much else.

Dark when I leave for work and dark most days when I arrive home it’s made for a weird time.

It’s probably not helped that we seem to have had a lot of rain recently. Any down time I do have the weather has been pants.

Apart from over Christmas when we had the best snowfall we’ve had for years. It’s the first time my 6 year old had properly been able to get out and play in it. Snowball fights and sledging made for a few very enjoyable days. The joy on his face (and one of his big sisters face) reminded me why I carry on. Great times and memories made.

I love being able to be out and enjoy the snow. The way it changes how everything looks so much, the change can be quite dramatic. Even the not so nice can suddenly look pretty. Not so nice when I have to travel to work in it but I was off so was determined to make the most of it.

The playlist on my Twitter page #potteriesplaylist is going from strength to strength. Who would have thought that such a simple idea from one of my Twitter friends could bring me so much pleasure. It takes a lot of work but it makes me so happy every week when it’s on. Seeing people take part and have a laugh with each other reminds me that not all is bad with the world in these still strange times, and that there are some really lovely people out there. Looking forward to P week!

On the gardening front it’s that time of year when the sowing fingers start to get itchy. I know for me it’s absolutely pointless starting too early, as when I do I end up losing seeds that never germinate. Still it doesn’t stop me getting jealous looking at pictures of people who are able to start this early 😂😂

Whenever you’re starting you’re new growing year I wish you all the best for the new year and I hope we all get bountiful crops and lots of colourful, beautiful flowers.

Until next time, may your fingers be covered in dirt and hopefully we’ll start seeing new life in our gardens soon.