Sunday, 16 November 2008

Iwade Christmas Fair




On Sunday 16th November 2008 a pre Christmas Fair was held in Iwade Village Hall in aid of the Church Heating Fund. Over £500 was raised on the day with lots of people donating prizes to the raffle including local businesses Costcutters, Opies and Budgens. Thank you.

Organiser Dave Manning would like to thank all the people who took part in making the day a success, including the members of All Saints Church for their cakes and jam stall, Father Christmas, Gaia Angelicus, Green Grub, Usborne Books and Buttonwhole to name but a few.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Dare to Wear it Pink 2008


An information pack was delivered to my boss at work and he gave it to me as I am always raising money for charity. So on Friday 31st October 2008 I encouraged my work mates to dress in pink and put a few pounds into the little box provided. As it was half term most people were away so it was down to a handful of people to join in. Some did and some didn't, nothing new there! So here is a picture of me and Dr Mark Hodgetts entering into the spirit of the day. It was taken by me on my mobile!
I went out and bought pink iced cakes for people to buy (as some people forgot to wear pink, how can you forget!) Anyway last count we raised about £50. Thank you to everyone for raising money for such a good charity.


Saturday, 25 October 2008

Saturday morning October harvest









I was putting out the washing this morning in the autumn sunshine and thought I would check my late sown carrots. To my amazement I had managed to grow a healthy bunch ready for tonights dinner. I wasn't going to try to grow any in my first year but I'm so glad I changed my mind! The ones I grew were Suttons F1 Maestro £2.75 a pack. I have left some more in the ground for next week. Next year I will grow lots more.

The Tristan T&M courgettes are still producing fruit, not as many but I never thought they would last into October. I managed to make a batch of spicy courgette chutney in August so that will be good for Christmas with cheese & biscuits. Everyone that has eaten my apple and tomatoe jam has said it was really nice. My dad ate the whole jar so I gave him another jar today from last weeks batch.

The celeriac that Anne gave to me as seedlings have given me four little plants. I thought they would be bigger but as its the first attempt I don't think they have done too bad. I think I should have watered them a bit more!

Jobs to do for October : collect leaves and bag up to make home made leaf mulch. It takes about a year but its worth it. I hid six bags at the back of our pond last year and have already used them to work into the vegetable patch. The worms will take it down into the soil ready for the spring.

Enjoy your garden today.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Celeriac soup recipe


I have some celeriac to harvest this weekend and I found this recipe to try. For lunch today I am making chunky vegetable soup out of the leftover veggies from this week plus fresh beans and courgettes out of the vegetable patch this morning. I've taken down the runner beans and the French beans and courgettes are still producing, not bad for October! I still have some carrots to harvest but thought I would save them for Sunday dinner.

Sunday I intend to sow the broad beans as I was advised to start them off in October. The bed is ready with home made compost that I dug in weeks ago. Enjoy the sunshine this weekend and make the most of your garden.


Ready in 45 minutes

25g butter
1 leek white part only thinly sliced
350g celeriac, roughly diced
150g potato, roughly diced
600ml vegetable stock, hot
5 tbsp single cream, to serve
Fresh chives, to garnish

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the leek and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the celeriac, cover with a sheet of damp greaseproof paper and a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes.

2. Remove the lid and paper. Add the potato and stock to the pan. Cover with the lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, partially covered, for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Cool, then blitz with a stick blender or whizz in a food processor in batches, until smooth.

3. Stir the cream into the soup, season and reheat until piping hot. Divide between cups or bowls and garnish with chives.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Tomato & Apple Jam


I visited my sister today and she gave me a bag of cooking apples from her garden. Then my mum gave me the last of her home grown tomatoes. So I intend to make this on Sunday morning.

Ingredients
500g tomatoes (skinned, deseeded and diced)
500g apples (peeled, cored and diced)
1kg granulated sugar
Juice of half a lemon

1. Put the tomatoes and apples in a large pan with the lemon juice and gently cook on a low heat until the fruit turns into a pulp mixure.
2. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, and boil rapidly for 5 mins stirring to prevent burning.
3. Reduce the heat, and simmer very gently for a further 15-20 minutes stirring to prevent burning.
4. Allow to cool then pour into sterilised jars.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

WILLOW 1991 - 7th October 2008



Sadly my wonderful cat Willow died in her sleep this morning. She has been with me and my family for over 17 years and was one of a litter of four kittens that we watched being born by her mum Wilma. Her sister Pipa sadly died yesterday morning, she was my mums cat.

She will leave a huge gap in our lives and our dog Moss will miss her too. Recently Willow started to sleep in the dogs bed and the often shared a plate of left-overs together, spagetti was their favourite !

She will be buried today next to my vegetable patch in my back garden so that she can be with me when I am out there pottering. I have ordered a small silver plaque to be put on an old chair that we used to sit in together.

Goodbye Willow

Monday, 15 September 2008

25 Miles and 17 Churches



Our team of four Iwade residents cycled for this year's Church Cycle on Saturday 13th September. (L-R Stephen Beard, Amanda Hurrell, Nicola McKenzie and Rowena Beard. We visited 17 churches in total and the Sittingbourne Cemetry as part of the 2008 Friends of Kent Churches Cycle.
We started at All Saints Church Iwade at 10am and after a hot cup of tea made by Sylvia and then made our way to Lower Halstow via Raspberry Hill. Another warm cup of tea was waiting for us followed by lots more tea and refreshments! We then cycled to Upchurch, Newington, Hartlip, Borden and stopped for lunch at the Maypole pub. Hartlip to Borden was the hardest bit, beautiful but very hilly! Thank you to the landlady for making some last minute sandwiches for the team after lunch had officially closed. So we had a rest in the beer garden before heading off into Sittingbourne to add some more churches to the list of those visited. It was then onto Sittingbourne and then back to Iwade Church Milton and Bobbing.

A big thank you to all those who sponsored the team including local companies Budgens, Iwade Garage, Scott Anderson Ltd and Costcutters.

Also a big thank you to all the people who were waiting at each church for the cyclists and walkers. A very warm welcome was made to us at each open church. And thank you to Hartlip Church, although this was not open, they had left some refreshments on the table outside!

The beautiful All Saint's Church Iwade desperately needs £8000 for essential rewiring and a team of Iwade residents are trying to help. Please give generously. It's a very worthy cause right on our doorstep.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Cycle Ride 13th Sept 2008

Just to remind all of you out there that I will be cycling for All Saints Church Iwade this coming Saturday. There is still time to sponsor me by clicking on this link http://www.justgiving.com/iwadechurchcycle2008 I will also except email bids with your full address and postcode for the extra gift aid donation.

Thanks for all your support. Amanda

Monday, 1 September 2008

Well its been a while since I wrote something, due to being on holiday (at home) and finding lots of other things to fill my time, gardening being one of them.

I went along to the Sheerness Flower and Vegetable show on Sunday, and now I wish I had submitted something! I've been making jam and chutney for the last month and my cherry toms may have even stood a chance! So I've asked Dave if I can enter next year. He said they need new blood so I may just put Iwade veg to the test next August. And its only about £1.40 for the annual membership, so no excuse really.

He also mentioned a gardening talk being held this Thursday 4th Sept at 7:30pm Tunstall Village Hall. Andy Garland from BBC Radio Kent will be there to give the talk. Anyway its only £1.25 to go along and this includes a cup of tea! I'll be going and I hope to meet lots of other keen gardeners. Maybe I will see you there!

My runner beans seem to be doing a bit better now, lots of new flowers on both varieties. French beans are still going mad, I have to pick them almost daily. Not that I am complaining as I may end up freezing some.

I've also been eating my cherry toms by the handful the last week. They are really good and actually taste of tomatoes (not like the shop ones!) My next-door neighbours little boy Brandon sat on his driveway at the weekend eating a bag I gave him. I've talked him into growing some for his garden next year. Better start them off young!

Happy gardening. Amanda

Monday, 18 August 2008

Iwade Plum Jam

Whilst walking the dog on Sunday evening I noticed some windfall plums in the old orchard at the end of my road. So after making sure my Jack Russel followed me I managed to collect about 4lbs. I collected some jars from my mum today, on the understanding that she would receive one back full of jam! And of course one for my sister Danielle.

So I search the internet for recipes and came across this one on the Lakeland website. It's easy to follow so I am going to give it a try today.

Makes seven 454g (1lb) jars2kg

4lb plums
500ml (¾:pt) water
4lb sugar ~ warmed on a baking tray in the oven

Wash, halve and stone the plums.
Crack a few of the stones; blanch, skin and halve the kernels.
Cook the plums and water in a Preserving Pan for about half an hour, until the skins are soft.
Stir in and dissolve the warmed sugar, then boil briskly, adding the kernels towards setting point. When a set is reached, skim if necessary.
Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

That's it!

Happy cooking. Amanda

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Carrot Cake

I was in the mood for baking this morning and searched the internet for a carrot cake recipe. I found this one and made it in under and hour. Shame it didn't last that long as it was eaten before it had time to cool properly! I took some round to my friend Paula and we ate it with a cup of tea sitting in her garden catching-up.

Fool proof recipe as I have never attempted to make carrot cake before and it was really nice. I missed out the icing for my first one but will try that next time.

Ingredients
175g light muscovado sugar (I used normal brown sugar!)
175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs , lightly beaten
140g grated carrots (about 3 medium)
100g raisins
grated zest of 1 large orange
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I used mixed all spice instead of cinnamon and nutmeg)
½ tsp grated nutmeg

FOR THE FROSTING
175g icing sugar
1½-2 tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients - when everything is evenly mixed stop mixing. The mixture will be fairly soft and almost runny.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. (You can freeze the cake at this point.) I forgot to use the paper and it didn't stick too much!

Beat together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth - about as runny as single cream. Put the cake on a plate and drizzle the icing back and forth in diagonal lines over the top, letting it drip down the sides. Yummy!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Summer spiced courgette chutney


Here is a good recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website this morning. I am going to make this today as I have lots of fresh courgettes and red onions from the vegetable patch. I kept a few clean jars and will buy a kiln jar to keep some for later in the year. It’s the easiest recipe that I have found so thought I would give it a try. I am leaving out the root ginger as I’m not that keen on it!

2 onions , chopped
500g
tomatoes , chopped
500g
courgettes , diced
300ml white wine vinegar
2 Granny Smith
apples , peeled and diced
250g brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp mustard seeds
thumb-sized piece
root ginger , grated
4
garlic clove , crushed

1. Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Bring slowly to a simmer, stirring to stop the mixture sticking.

2. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours until dark, thick and chutney-like. Pour into sterilised jars and leave for 2-3 weeks before eating.

My week off


I've had a busy week at home. On Monday I had breakfast in Minnis Bay with some friends and walked along the beach. We took my friends nephews who really enjoyed thier day. I was really lucky as the weather was warm, sunny and dry. On Tuesday my sister came over with my niece Yazmin and we went to the Lees in Minster to do some beach combing. We found lots of shells and stones and I put some together and hung them up in the garden. A nice reminder of my beach visits this week. In the evening I took my mum to see Mama Mia, it was a brilliant film. I decided to take the dog back to the beach on Wednesday morning and we walked for an hour and a half. Moss slept for the rest of the day! On Thursday Ian's parents came over for dinner and we had a big Victoria sponge cake for Jack's 16th birthday (08-08-08).

Then on Friday we visited London Zoo as we hadn't been for ages and it was one of our favourite family places to visit when Jack was little. We packed a cool bag with lunch and started eating it before we even got there! We were lucky with the weather with only the odd light shower. You can do lots of things in doors so it gave us a chance to visit the aquarium and bugs.

The best bits of the Zoo were seeing the giraffes and penguins being fed and quite a new place called Meet the Monkeys. That was really good as the monkeys climb all over ropes and trees and you get to meet them up close, really close! I've added a picture of Ian looking up at the monkeys. We are all tired from the fresh air and walking around so we decided to have a quiet day at home today. I need to pick some French beans and do some weeding and put in some other seeds.





Have a great weekend. Amanda

Thursday, 31 July 2008

A sample of what I have been eating this week


There have been: courgettes, French beans, my first patty pan (picked too early I think!), first cucumber and a handful of runner beans! The picture on the left shows the vegetables I picked fresh this morning. The others were harvested earlier this week and in between there have been more French beans. They say the more you pick .....

I'm a bit disappointed that the dwarf beans seem to have exhausted themselves which gives me space to grow something else now! I picked up a packet of turnip Golden Ball last weekend so I will put them in this weekend.

I have all next week off work, so I am looking forward to visiting some friends, popping to the beach and having a rest.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

A Lazy Saturday morning


I didn't fancy tackling the housework this morning so I decided to water the vegetable plot again. I had watered it really well the night before. Luckily I did as I missed a courgette and it was huge, a baby marrow! That will teach me.

We have been eating French beans all week and they are so nice. We had so many that I even took some to work for Jean to eat along with some spare courgettes. I checked today and there should be enough beans for Sunday lunch. I'm so pleased I decided to grow more this year than last year. The runners got a bit wind swept and are now picking up with lots of beans. Hopefully I can eat some soon.

The cucumbers are doing really well by the back door and I have three that are big but have to wait a bit longer, have to be a bit patient. Same for the tomatoes, there are loads of them but none ready to pick as they are all green still, shame. I'm pleased I grew them myself this year as they were so easy and far more rewarding. But I think I will stick to the tumbling toms for next year as they don't get so wind swept like the gardeners delight. The sweetcorn that I decided to put in as an afterthought is also doing really well, I’m quite surprised. There are one to two cobs on each plant, so that should be plenty for us!

The celeriac, that Anne gave me, is doing really well. Thanks Anne. I just read up on them and I can't enjoy them for a couple more months yet, about October. I will grow them next year, as they seem to be trouble free so long as you water them daily.

I planted some Turnip seeds (Arcoat) a few days ago in a tub on the patio and they have already germinated. I hope they do ok as they look nice on the picture on the packet. The carrots I planted a month ago have also gone crazy; I think I need to thin them out a little bit. I also planted them in the vegetable garden as I had a little space or rather I made some space!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Amanda

Thursday, 17 July 2008

What's going on

Thank you to Dave for inviting me and other Iwade residents to the Sheppey Horticultural Society Flower and Vegetable Show.

It will be held at Delacey Hall, Esplandade Gardens, Sheerness (next to the Leisure Centre)
Saturday 30th August 3pm to 6pm and Sunday 31st August 11am to 4pm
Refreshments Available Admission 50p

I am looking forward to going to my first flower and vegetable show this August and have invited the gardening club in Iwade to join me. We can use this time to see how the experienced allotment holders do it and to ask any questions we may have.

And for all you serious cooks out there, Debenhams have a special offer on all Le Creuset cookware this weekend http://www.debenhams.com/ I haven't bought any of this range for ages and I really needed a large frying pan. So with the voucher I was given recently I treated myself to one! I just need to track down the lid now, I think John Lewis have them. So its going to be courgette & pea frittata for dinner tonight!

I've added a picture of some of my peas tonight. I may not have grown very many this year, only 4 plants, but the ones I have are perfect! And I started them far too late in toilet rolls! Must grow lots more next year!

Woolworths still had some seeds reduced this week and I managed to get some broad beans. Not sure whether to put them in the ground this autumn or wait until next year. If anyone has any previous experience I would be pleased to hear from you.

Enjoy your weekend. Amanda

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Summer Vegetable Soup


There were lots of courgettes, French beans and a handful of peas today so summer vegetable soup it had to be! With the left over carrots and red onions from Sainsburys :-( and some new potatoes from a local farm shop I was ready for action. I haven’t made soup for a while and just fancied a warm bowl before setting off to the church for the summer concert. Due to the unsettled weather it’s now planned for inside the church, such a shame. I’ll let you know next time how the concert was.

The new shop opened on Monday and it was good to meet up with some friends and enjoy a glass of wine and some food. The report missed this weeks KM and Gazette so hopefully it will be in next weeks papers.

Not much happening this week in the garden apart from harvesting courgettes almost daily and French beans. Almost finished the broccoli and looking forward to making way from something else. My carrots are doing well in the long pots from a couple of weeks ago, so I may try some in the vegetable plot. Lots of friends have enjoyed my courgettes this month; they have been the biggest success so far. I read somewhere that one plant is ample but I had to have three. It’s nice to give some away to friends that are not growing any this year. If I have too many I plan to make chutney but can’t find my recipe that I printed out recently, it will turn up when I don’t need it!
Anyway off to check the summer soup. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda

Saturday, 5 July 2008

French beans and broccoli with my dinner

I am looking forward to Sunday lunch tomorrow so I can eat some fresh French beans and broccoli with my dinner. I checked on my leeks today and they should be ready in a couple more months. I’m so inpatient and can’t wait to pull some of them up and cook them with a cheese sauce!

I made three Frittatas this week with courgettes and herbs out of the garden. They were really good. I made and extra one and left it in the fridge to chill overnight and it was just as good cold as it was hot.

My sweetcorn has gone mad. My sister popped over today for lunch and said they will get a bit bigger yet. I think I might have to forget them next year to make way for something else. I am now planning to extend the vegetable garden this year as I’ve enjoyed it so much. Plan is to order some more wood in September in time to start growing some winter veg. I will probably go for some plug plants as they have been so successful and saves me time and space.

I planted up the carrots last weekend and they have germinated. Let’s hope we get to eat some fresh ones in October. I have finally managed to grow lots of Rocket for my salads. I was given a packet of Runaway by my mum and they grew so quickly, I’ll be eating that for the rest of the summer!

Anyway off to cook my dinner. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda

Saturday, 28 June 2008

After a hectic week at work it was nice to come home on Friday night and water all the vegetables and chill out before dinner. After the windy weather we have had some of the climbing beans and runner beans have a bit of wind damage, but I'm sure they will pick up again soon. I did manage to harvest some French beans this week and there are so many little ones everywhere I am sure to have lots more next week.

I had eight courgettes this week so decided to take some into work for the girls. They were delighted and I took Katy in some fresh farms eggs so she could try the recipe I found on http://www.mytinyplot.co.uk/ She tried it with my home grown spring onions and fresh parsley 'Envy' and said the onions were really hot and the recipe was lovely. It’s a shame I didn't sow another lot of spring onions, as I had no idea how good they would taste! As luck would have it when I got home the Marshalls seed catalogue arrived. So I decided to order some seeds and I will try the over-winter variety 'Guardsman' along with turnips 'Tiny Pal' as they look really good.

My peas have finally made an appearance and I have about six, just enough for me to eat whilst weeding next week! Now I know I can grow them successfully I will grow more for next year.

Well that's it from me for now as I am only taking a quick break from house-work so I can have a day off tomorrow!

Happy gardening. Amanda.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

So far so good

It’s hard to imagine that this vegetable project of mine only started at the end of April 2008. It was a stop gap until we get some Iwade Allotments. I didn’t know at the time if I would stick to it, like it or ever eat anything out of my back garden. After digging up most of my flower border I am now totally hooked. I am constantly researching to check to see if I am doing it correctly and what to grow next. I planted my first carrots (Maestro) today from seed that should be ready in October, and left it to the last minute as I thought they would be a waste of time. After seeing the prices in the supermarkets escalate weekly I decided to give it a go. I have never been a very patient person but I am learning gradually. If the packet says 12 weeks then that’s when they will be ready.

There is nothing to beat the satisfaction of saying “I grew that” and of course it tastes much better as it’s fresh from the garden to the kitchen in seconds. It also makes you realise how much we take food for granted. Driving your car to the supermarket a few miles away to pick up vegetables that have probably been flown around the world, that’s hardly fresh, is it? Obviously I can’t grow enough to feed our family of three all the time but with the help of a bigger patch - an allotment - it might just be possible.

Someone once told me that they hated the thought of walking into a supermarket and having to buy vegetables when theirs ran out in their garden. So they got an allotment and now have two! I’m beginning to see what they mean.

A few months on and we’ve eaten radishes, spinach, salad leaves of various types, wild Rocket, French beans and courgettes out of our small vegetable patch and it’s only June! I think its money well spent, you know where your veg has come from and what’s been put on it (or not) and of course it’s kept me fit with all the digging and watering. We still have French beans of various types, runner beans, tomatoes, summer squash, broccoli, sweetcorn, shallots, more spinach, cucumbers and red onions to eat yet. And I am now planning some winter vegetables and may extend the small patch I have this autumn.

Most things are grown from seed but it’s been just as cost effective to buy in some plug plants. I was discussing this with my friend Paula today about the leeks I bought as seedlings. They were £3 in total and I have 45 growing for this autumn/winter. That’s only 6p per leek. It would have been even cheaper if I'd got round to planting my seeds I have. It will be interesting to see how much they are in the supermarket later this year. I don’t have a greenhouse yet, only a small pop-up one. But saying that it has been very handy as I am now using it for the cucumbers as the British weather is not going to grow my out-door variety very well! Most of the seeds were grown in my dining room at the back of the house until the weather was warmer and I got my pop-up greenhouse. So you see it’s easy to grow most things from seed, if I can do it anyone can!

I hope to give you a weekly up-date now that my Blog is live for all Iwade residents to read (why do I say yes to things all the time?) And don’t forget that if you have an interest in gardening you can meet at the Woolpack pub each month for a chat and a drink. A friendly bunch of Iwade residents go along, chat and swap seeds etc. Hope to see you there.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Courgette Recipe

Here is a good recipe for when you have some of your own home-grown courgettes! I now have two courgettes that are big enough to harvest so I may try this recipe. I made a similar frittata last week and they are lovely if you have things to use up in the fridge. I never knew what they were called but always make these instead of an omelette. If you put a layer of potatoes on the bottom its even nicer.

Courgette Frittata

Ingredients
1 small red onion halved and sliced
2 medium courgettes sliced
olive oil for frying
6 eggs
50g mature cheddar cheese (grated)

Fry the onion and courgette gently in a little olive oil for 10 minutes until softened and turning golden. Beat the eggs then mix in the cheese and veg. Heat some oil in a small non-stick frying pan and pour in the egg mix. Cook, moving the egg around until the base is set. Slide under a hot grill until puffed and golden. Cut into wedges and serve with a leafy salad.

I found this recipe through http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk/ and it refers you to BBC GoodFood website where you will find loads more.

Happy gardening. Amanda

Sunday, 8 June 2008

A busy day pottering about


I spent quite a few hours pottering about in the garden today and made the most of the warm weather. Managed to go to my favourite garden centre Millbrooks this morning and only bought a new pair of gardening gloves. We have been going to the restaurant the last couple of months and now the weather is warmer you can sit outside. http://www.millbrookgc.co.uk/

The courgettes have gone crazy and are so big, its hard to believe that I only planted them a few weeks ago! There are fruits showing, so I should be eating quite a few. As I ordered some new patty pan seeds a bit late from Suttons, I only planted a couple of plants today. They look so small compared to the courgettes but the promise of the little white fruits is something to look forward to. I guess they will catch-up soon. The summer squash also has some fruit. Me being new to this, its all quite exiting. All the rain we've had made everything grow so well. Now I have started to feed everything.

The Iwade gardening club met last Thursday in the Woolpack pub. It was nice to see everyone and have a chat. Thank you Anne for the four celeriac plants. I planted them out today and watered them in well. I'll keep you updated on the progress. I have to admit that I have never eaten them before, but I am looking forward to eating these.

My tumbling toms are also doing well. One that I planted in a wall planter near the kitchen door is so big compared to the other plants. I thought it would be a good idea to have some close to the back door, so fresh for the salads.

Chelsea Flower Show was really good on the 23rd May and we were lucky again with the weather. I was tired the day after and rested my feet! Ian managed to find a piece of wood for his new aquarium in the kitchen wall. It was heavy and he had to carry it back on the tube. We did get some funny looks. Most people go back with gardening equipment!

Anyway have to close now and get ready for another week in the office :-(
Lets hope the weather continues to shine.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Raindrops and wishes

Well I was thankful for the couple of days of rain we had, so I didn't have to do so much watering! Mind you it's keeping me fit filling up the watering can so many times. Must get a water but this year and tap it into the down pipe at the back of the house.

I managed to eat some fresh spinach this weekend in a salad and some radishes! They grew in about four weeks and I just couldn't wait any longer! Have sown some more around the garden and also a few weeks ago another variety with my pots and they are growing quickly.

Get well soon to Ann and hope you make a speedy recovery and get back on your feet soon to enjoy your lovely garden. Get well soon to my grandmother Eve who is rather poorly in hospital in London. I hope that my trips to see her this week helped a little. If it hadn't been for my sister I don't think I would have been so strong, thanks Dan. And of course good luck to Jack (my son) for his GCSEs this week, dreaded Maths on Monday morning. I've promised him a new mobile phone if he passes all of them, lets hope that gives him some inspiration!

The Purple Sensation bulbs that I planted last year have come up and flowered this year, I was so pleased. And whilst at the garden centre in Gravesend today they had them on special offer, so I bought two pots with lots of bulbs and planted them this evening next to my other ones. They were the emblem for Chelsea Flower Show for a few years and I'm off there this Friday for my annual trip, and it's also my birthday, I'm really exited. I missed it on TV tonight at 5:30pm because I was too busy in my garden but hope to catch it on Tuesday night. It's funny watching it on TV then going there a few days later.

Anyway must close as it's quite late, I'll write more soon.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Garden Festival

I am off to the Garden Festival held at Cozenton Nursery in Rainham on Saturday 10th May. This is where Medway Council’s nursery are based, Cozenton Park, Rainham. Every year they produce 175,000 high quality bedding and decorative plants are produced for the council and demonstration gardens. And each year they hold the garden festival over two weekends in May. I have been going for the past five years or so and I am going tomorrow with my mum and sister. We get some very good bargains and then all go home to do our planting!

I decided to plant some sweetcorn last weekend. Whilst visiting another garden centre they had some at seedling stage for around £2 for 20 plants so I couldn't resist! They are all planted and seem to be doing ok. The French beans are outside now and planted up. They grow so quickly that they are already going up the cane supports.

Anyway have a good weekend and enjoy the warm weather we are having.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

I spent the afternoon digging in some more compost, I had to buy some as I didn't have enough from my composter. The soil is much better this weekend after all the rain and I managed to put in some Broccoli and the shallots that I forgot I bought a few weeks ago. It's a good job I looked up how to plant them as I would have planted them too close together.

These are the vegetables that I will be growing in my first year. I didn’t realise how many things I would be growing until I typed this list! I was going to try sweetcorn, but due to lack of space I will have to give this a miss. I have cheated and bought the leeks as small seedlings and the broccoli, but everything else has been grown from seed. I have to say the tomatoes were easier than I thought and the beans grow so quickly! I am trying a new courgette as it has less leaves, saving a bit of space I hope. I have only chosen things that we eat as a family. No doubt we will have too many beans, but they can be given to friends if I end up with too many. Some of these vegetables are growing in tubs on the patio and the tumbling toms will be in hanging baskets by the back door. We do like lots of other vegetables, but I don't have enough room for everything we eat.

Second early potatoes: Maris Peer
Climbing French beans: Sultana
Dwarf French beans: Safari & Tendercrop
Radishes: French Breakfast & Scarlet Globe
Spinach: Tarpy F1
Leaks: Musselburgh
Courgette: Tristan F1 Hybrid (new this year)
Broccoli
Salad Onions: White Lisbon
Onion sets: Red Baron & Shallots: Red Sun
Tomatoes: Gardener’s Delight, Gartenperle and Tumbling Tom Red
Cucumber: Long Green Ridge
Wild Rocket & Chives
Various salad leaves

Friday, 2 May 2008

Seedlings

With all this rain over the past few days everything is doing well in the garden. I took a photo of the French Breakfast radishes this morning and they are looking ok. I didn't make it to the pub last night, so apologies for my absence to all the others. From reading various emails today; it seems that most of us were ill. Get well soon to Lynda, Nicola & Paula and sorry to Ann and Janet that I couldn’t make it.

I am looking forward to the long weekend and more pottering about in the garden. The weather forecast is good so I intend to make the most of it. It's a little too early to start planting all the beans etc so they will have to stay in my little greenhouse and my dining room for a little while longer. The peas I planted a week ago in my recycled toilet rolls are doing well, with signs of a good root system at the bottom. Thanks Danielle for the tip, I will use this in future as it will save a fortune on plastic pots and will keep the roots undisturbed for planting. And wrapping some damp newspaper at the bottom helped to keep all the compost in!
Ian said that my little vegetable paperback book arrived in the post this morning. So I now have a little reference book to show me what I should be doing each month! I’ll have a read up this evening.

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend and Happy Gardening.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Reading up

Thought I would buy myself a couple of books on how to grow vegetables. Have found one called RHS Vegetables in a Small Garden and it looks quite good. Unfortunately it's out of stock at Play.com so will try eBay! My sister has Grow Your Own Veg by Carol Klein, so no need to buy a copy of that one. If anyone has any good suggestions, I'd be really pleased with the advice.

Iwade Gardening Club meets in the Woolpack Pub on Thursday night this week. It's where you can meet up and exchange plants/seeds/cuttings etc with other keen gardeners. And of course it's a good excuse to have a drink and a natter! I think it's the fourth meeting. I'm not sure as I've only managed to get to one, and that was late due to the Annual Iwade Parish Council meeting being on the same night! Writing for the local papers means I go along to take notes and of course see what's happening in the village. I lead a very exiting life!

I'm looking forward to the long weekend so that I can do some more to the area where the veggie patch is. It needs more compost and the area in front of it needs to be dug over and something planted in there. I think I need to put some more bark chippings behind the frame work. Homebase have a 10% day this week, perfect!

I checked my French Breakfast radishes this morning and they are on their second set of leaves. I just hope that they actually turn into radishes after reading what Ann said yesterday. I decided to grow mine in a long terracotta pot and they look like they are growing ok. I have also put a row in-between my potatoes. The Red Baron onions are doing ok and have sprouted some new growth. I've got two lots on the go - some in a big pot and some in the new veggie patch. I had to move them as we kept treading on them whilst making the frame work! I have also got some tubs around the main patio with spinach, spring onions and Rocket. I had to grow something whilst we waited for the wood to be delivered! So far the spinach has come up and looks to be growing ok. Not sure as I've never grown it before, but thought I would give it a go.

Anyway that's it from me for now; I'll let you know what happened at the pub!

Monday, 28 April 2008

How it all began

As you can tell by the name, my little raised vegetable garden is only 8 x 6 foot. It was created on Saturday 26th April 2008 by my talented husband Ian!

It all started last year when a group of friends decided to find some space in Iwade for allotments. We have not been that successful to date, but we keep plodding on with the help of developers and local councillors.

So to get me started I decided to dig up my recently completed garden, to make way for something edible! My friends and family thought I was crazy to dig up what I had just finished, but when a woman knows what she wants you don't disagree. From January onwards I started to lift-up all the plants and give them to friends. There is no going back once it’s gone, it’s gone. I have to admit that some doubts crept in recently when I looked back at the area before I dug it up, but the finished results have made me realise my idea was the right one! I now have the bug and eat and sleep vegetables!

I hope you will follow my progress in my first year growing vegetables on my small plot in my back garden in Iwade (in The Garden of England)Any advice, even small, will be greatly appreciated!