Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2009
I had planned to do a spot of gardening today but two things stopped me, the rain and a heavy cold! Oh well just have to wait another few days. Snow is now on the way again but I hope the weather men have got it wrong. So I'll just have to stay inside and carry on knitting and looking at my seed packets and wait for my Chelsea Flower Show tickets to arrive! Happy New Year. Amanda x

It's snowing!

I just got home from my friend Jean's in time as the snow started to fall this evening. And I hate driving in it. It's lovely to watch when you are snug inside in the warmth but a nightmare to drive in. So I settled down in my PJs and started to make some felted hearts from felt squares I bought today. So much easier than the knitted ones. I plan to make some as presents, lets hope I have time before Christmas! Enjoy the rest of your week. Amanda x
The Christmas Fete gets nearer and I'm chilli jammed out! I've made 8 large jars to take along on Sat and one jar for tasting! Along with my home grown home made chutney. Advertising is almost finished, with the boards ready to go up tomorrow night with the help of Ian. Then I just have to make my lemon & white chocolate biscuits on Friday night so they are fresh and pack the car. Buy Sunday I think I will be exhausted and spend the day in my PJs! Enjoy the rest of your week. Amanda x

Winter harvest

I was only popping into the garden to go to the composter. But I had a quick look at the veg patch and decided to pull some leeks for dinner. Then I checked the carrots and they looked ready so decided to pull some for dinner. After all the rain the ground was easy to work with and the celeriac came up too! Well only two small ones, I left the other 13 for another time!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Amanda x

Mince Pies

It's a wet miserable evening here so I'm making a batch of mince pies ready for the Christmas Fete. I only cook mine for 10 mins, let them cool then freeze them. You can re-heat from frozen or defrost for a couple of hours and they are ready to eat! We eat them with vanilla ice cream for a dessert or just with a cup of tea.

Nigella Lawson makes a similar mince pie but a different pastry. When you serve them you can sprinkle some icing sugar.

Ginger & lemon star biscuits

I was given a tub of stem ginger this week, a huge tub 12.5kg! I plan to make some ginger jam on Monday and thought I would also try this recipe I found this morning. I made some round ones too as they were easier to dip in the chocolate. I also made a batch of mince pies and some jam tarts.

Makes: 24
150g plain flour
1½ tsp ground ginger
65g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
65g caster sugar
1 small egg, lightly beaten
50g preserved stem ginger,finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 small lemon

To finish: I decided to dip one side in Belgian chocolate from Sainsbury's!

1.Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Liberally butter 2 baking sheets.
2.Sift the flour and ground ginger into a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Add the chopped ginger, flour and lemon zest and stir the mixture until it forms a stiff dough. If it is very soft, wrap in foil and chill in the fridge until firm.
3.Roll out the dough as thinly as you can. D…

Tooth ache ......

The weather is miserable, my wisdom teeth hurt and I don't have enough hours in the day to do the things I want to do! I'm feeling miserable this week, as you may have guessed. At my age you would think I'd be wise, but oh no my teeth decide to hurt and I mean really hurt and now I have to have a full head x-ray to check what's going on. So to cheer myself up tonight I started to write out my Christmas cards sitting in front of the tv. Made me feel quite festive looking at last years cards and writing and stamping cheerful little pictures onto each envelope. I took a break from knitting tonight, almost finished a cute tea-cosy for a lady in Holland. My knitted items are going around the globe! Just need to decide what to make to put on the top as I'm fed up with pom poms now, so 70s and so time consuming! Anyway I hope to be in a better mood when I check back in a few days and maybe I will have finished the tea-cosy. Thank you to The Sunroom for mentioning my blog,…

Christmas crafts

I recentently purchased hand-made Christmas cards from the WI stall at the farmers market, so I thought I'd have a go. Well, only with tags for presents. Luckily my sister has a Sizzix die cutter machine and I borrowed it for a few days. It's great fun and reminds me of being at school! Some glue managed to make it onto the tags and they actually look quite cute. I bought the wrapping paper weeks ago so I'm making the tags to match. I then went around the house and in the loft to find last years cards and ribbon. The gardening club are having a craft evening in a few weeks so I've made some templates to take along.

felted hearts

I like to try something new most weeks, so this morning I searched the internet for a heart knitting pattern. After a lot of research and trying one pattern unsuccessfully I found one I could follow! I used a ball of Patons Lolly Orange that I bought from eBay recently. It was meant to be for my scarf, but sadly the colour wasn't a good match. But it's turned into the perfect colour for my felted hearts. I might even make some cards using one side felted. I'm off to knit the second side now! Have a great weekend. Amanda x

What to do with all those leaves

It's my third year collecting leaves from the tree in my front garden (well actually my neighbours!) I also collect them from my back garden. I leave them at the back of the garden and they are ready to use as leaf mulch the following year. It improves the soil and the worms do the rest. This year I decided to buy some Nutscene leaf bags as they are easier to use than plastic bags. I managed to fill one last Sunday and hoping to fill another one this weekend, weather permitting. It's free and makes use of all those fallen autumn leaves.

the scarf is finally finished!

I finished the seed stitch scarf this evening. I changed the design and added two hand-made pom poms. The scarf is off to Japan! My friend is over this week from Japan, she works for our distributor through my job. I've known her for many many years and when she is in the UK we spend some time together. On Saturday I am taking her to London for the day to shop in Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty and Covent Garden. As its her birthday next week I decided the scarf had to go to Tsujii. I just hope she likes it. The picture makes it look the wrong colour, its actually raspberry and the pom poms are combined with Patons Jet Lolly Orange.
The weather has improved so I plan to tidy up the garden, veg patch and plant the onion sets that Anne gave me a few weeks ago. The two Acer trees at the back of the garden have now lost most of their leaves, so these need collecting for leaf mulch for next year. For a small garden there's lots to do out there today!

Yesterday morning Jack came with me and Moss for a walk along the beach, in the rain. Despite getting wet it was fun beach combing and we found an amazing stone full of fossils. Well they look like fossils.

In the evening I picked up my knitting needles and continued with my Moss stitch scarf knitted in Patons Jet Lolly Orange. It such a lovely wool to work with, shame I'm almost out of it. I'm trying to locate another ball to finish the scarf! I originally bought it months ago from Kemps and was using it for other small projects. The plan is to put a pom pom on each end. I'll post a picture when its completed, not long now. I a…

Tomato & Apple Jam

Tonight I made a batch of tomato & apple jam. Here is the simple recipe.

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

Making and cooking it
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 gently to the boil stirring often, and boil rapidly for 5 mins stirring lots to prevent burning.
3. Reduce the heat, and simmer very gently for a further 15-20 minutes stirring to prevent burning until setting point is reached. If using a sugar thermometer, the jam is ready when the temperature reaches 105C. If you don't have a thermometer, chill a saucer in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Spoon a little of the jam onto the cold saucer. Push the flat edge of a knife against the edge of the jam blob and if the surface wrinkles it is beginning to set. If it doesn't wrinkle, put the plate back…

It's official knitting is back in fashion.

Well it never really went away did it?! It's just the credit crunch and people wanting to go back to comforting things that's bringing it back into fashion once again. I came across this article on a new blog I found today, give it a read it's really good The Daily Mail web site link is Anyway I thought of all my knitting friends and thought I would share it with you just in case you hadn't read it. The picture is brilliant!
Happy Knitting. Amanda x

Spice up your life

I mentioned to Anne this week that I was selling the chilli jam for charity. She said £1 was a bargain and maybe that's why I sold out so quickly! So all 14 jars are now sold, well one saved for me and one for Jill as she supplied all the chillies! Thanks to everyone who gave me donations for Breast Cancer charity, so far I've raised about £15 and still more jars to deliver next week. So if you reserved a jar I'll be calling on you for your money! I'm now thinking about buying some chillies just to make some more. I've also added to the gifts and made some chilli goats cheese in virgin olive oil to sell next week.

Chilli Jam

I used Nigella's recipe for this one. Thanks mum for the loan of your Christmas book. But I think it's super hot as I used a few too many chillies! Oh well it was my first attempt and it does look wonderful and looks like chilli jam. I hope everyone at work can handle it! I've enough chillies to make another seven jars plus more green and purple ones to make another batch of pickled ones. The recipe was easy to follow but de-seeding all those chillies takes ages. I did wear gloves as I remembered what Anne said when she made a batch last year. If you are local and want to buy a jar, please email me or leave a message. Suggested donation of £1 (or more!) All proceeds to go to the Wear it Pink campaign as I am organising an event at work.

Pickled Chillies

I was given lots of chillies from Jill at work (mine were a disaster!) So I decided to pickle some for her (and me!) Here is the recipe I found on Jamie's web site. Mine should be fairly hot as I couldn't be bothered to take all the seeds out! I used about 60. I am also making chilli jam and selling the jars at work. All proceeds to go to the Wear it Pink campaign as I am organising an event at work. Jamie's recipe for Pickled Chillies from his book "The Naked Chef"

600gr / 1lb 5oz medium green chillies
15 black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
5 teaspoons salt
6 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
1 litre / 1 3/4 pints white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

For this recipe you must buy perfect green chillies without any blemishes (you can use red chillies but they will be slightly hotter). Carefuly score from the stalk end to the tip on one side only and remove the seeds (use the handle of a teaspoon for this. Pour boiling water over the chillies, let them…

Hyacinth bulbs for Christmas

Seems a long way off but the shops are stacked full of Christmas stuff and its the start of October. The Iwade gardening club gave all the members three Hyacinth bulbs and fibre to plant up a Christmas display. I popped out today and bought an enamel tub for mine as it matches the other stuff in my kitchen! Anyway they are planted up now and tucked away in the cupboard for about 8 weeks but they have to be kept moist. I might make up two more for presents as I searched the net and they are expensive to buy completed. I'll post a picture when my camera battery has recharged! In the meantime here is one I found on the net.


Today was the farmers market in Iwade (this first Sunday of the month). For those of you who are local and missed it, the next one will be on Sunday 1st November. I met a local farmer from Rainham, just up the road from Iwade. On their stall was almost every type of squash I've read about. I couldn't resist the Turks Turbun as I had read about this on I forgot to take my camera so here is a picture of the squash I bought home and some home made pumpkin & pear chutney bought from the same stall. All the squash in the picture were £1 each, which is great value. The lady who makes the chutney lives in Iwade and said she would like to come along to the Christmas fete, which is great if you want to stock up or buy for presents. The pumpkin will be kept for Halloween, I bought a small one as I couldn't carry home the large ones!

Raspberry Jam

I was in Sainsbury's tonight and they had lots of punnets of raspberries reduced. I picked up 3 punnets thinking they will be nice for pudding. Ah well they never made it as I had other ideas for them. At 9pm they were destined for jam! Here is the recipe I found and it made 2 large jars. Easy and it only took about 1/2 hour.


I've been knitting on and off for about 17 years. The first thing I made was a green cardigan and it was a total disaster and ended up in the bin! In the last few years I've come back to knitting and find it the best way to relax. Now that I get home and it's getting dark and I don't have time to be in the garden, knitting has become my new passion!

I have several projects on the go. 1. I get bored with knitting with the same wool 2. I find a more interesting wool 3. I find another pattern/project. So last night I was finishing off a wide ladies scarf in raspberry knitted in seed stich (very apt!) and Jack asked when I was going to knit him a scarf for sixth form. Big mistake as it meant I had to go to Rochester to the wool shop at lunchtime. Now I know I won't finish the ladies scarf as now I have a mission to knit with some new wool! So watch this space for the finished pieces. In the meantime here is the seed stitch scarf (work in progress!)

Seed Stitch :
Any odd …

Minestrone Soup

I found this easy recipe last week and decided to cook it tonight. Really easy yet it looks like Minestroni soup and you should have most of the ingredients to hand. I cut up a fresh courgette out of the garden and added two tins of chopped toms instead of all stock. It has come out a lot thicker, but I prefer thick soups!
After a hectic week, it was nice to be able to get up late this morning and walk around the garden in my PJs with a cuppa! Actually I do this quite a lot! I managed to harvest some French beans, courgettes and tomatoes. The courgettes and toms went into another batch of chutney. I popped into see my sister yesterday, I never come away empty handed! She gave me some fresh red chillies out of her veg garden, and they were huge. So I used two of them in the chutney to give it a good kick. I made four jars of chutney.
On Wednesday evening I was invited as a guest to the W.I. Harvest Supper. They really know how to look after their guests, and the food was lovely, especially the fresh beetroot salad. The evening included a raffle, chatting to people and a sing-song with our local church organist at the piano. It's not all jam and Jerusalem! It's a valuable network of women originally set up for rural communities who get together once or twice a month. Each month they invite a guest …

Saturday morning ... Butternut Squash

I decided to get up nice and early today so that I can make the most of my Saturday. I had a quick look at the veg patch and checked my two butternut squash. They have grown but are still not that big! I've never grown them before and I got my plant from Anne, so lets hope I get to eat these two. I had other fruits but sadly they died before they got to any size. I've added a couple of pictures. One is growing up a support with a cucumber, and seems to like it there. It just grew that way! The other is growing on the ground where I planted the actual plant. If this warm weather continues, it should keep growing.
It is the church cycle today, so I plan to walk round to give my support this morning and have a cuppa with everyone. There has been lots of support, and the money goes to restoration work for All Saints Church Iwade. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda x

Autumn has returned

Well after a nice hot sunny start to the week, it is now raining here in England. For once I have to say I am actually pleased it is raining! I didn't have to water the veg patch tonight, and probably won't for a few days. It should boost my late sown dwarf French beans (I had a good crop this week), carrots and spinach. I also noticed on my way home that the leaves on the trees have turned to orange and red, a clear sign that autumn is here.

Plum Cake

I found this very seasonal recipe this morning, and thought I would share it with you. As there were still lots of plums in the orchard yesterday, and I picked a whole bag with the help of Moss. I thought this made a change from jams & chutneys.

I adapted it and made one with apricots, which worked really well. We ate some warm cake tonight with vanilla ice cream! It's simple to make and tastes lovely. I added half dried cranberries & half currants to the plum one.

Please click on the link for the full recipe

Pickled Chillies

I was given a whole punnet of home grown purple chillies this week. So I decided to make a jar of pickled chillies. Here is the simple recipe I found on the net.

This receipe is for approx 900g of chillies.

Soak the chillies overnight in the brine mixture, as it helps to keep the chillies crisper. Cover the chillies with the brine in a bowl, and place a plate to keep them submerged

Brine : 3 cups water, 1 cup pickling salt (I use rock salt)

Next day make up the pickling solution as follows.

Pickling solution: 3 cups white wine vinegar, 3 cups water, 3 teaspoons pickling salt

Remove the chillies from the brine, wash and dry. Put a small hole into each one to stop them floating to the top of the jar!

In a saucepan combine the water, vinegar and salt. I added pickling spice and bay leaves at this stage. Bring this to the boil and then pour over the chillies. remove any trapped bubbles. That's it, how simple!
Store for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool, dark place before eating.

spiced plum & ginger chutney

I had some plums left over so I made a batch of spiced plum & ginger chutney. Here is a link to the recipe It turned out to be really tasty, although you can't really tell for 4 weeks until it has matured.

I took Moss for a walk this evening, and manged to catch up with Lisa. We collected another bag, but I did stop to eat some on the way! They are so delicious eaten straight from the tree. I plan to take some to work tomorrow, being my first day back for over a week. It's sad when holidays have to come to an end.

Ripe toms at last!

I picked some ripe tomatoes today and three cucumbers. They are an odd shape (cues), but they taste really good! I gave the veg patch a bit of tidy, as I hadn't touched it since just before our little break. It's amazing how much everything has grown, including my new rows of spinach I put in just before I went on holiday. Nice to see something new growing there and filling in the bare batch where the onions were. The drawf French beans I put in from my cheap packet from Netto are doing better than my climbing ones. I don't think I will bother with them next year. If you are not at home to pick them every day they stop producing. I picked so many large beans today, I don't care for them much! The Butternut squash plant has produced 4 fruits so far, and is going mad and flowering everywhere. I've never grown one before, so I hope I actually get to eat something from it.

The good weather is set to stay for a few more days, so that will be good. Enjoy your weekend. Ama…

Iwade Plum & Port Jam!

The plums in the orchard at the end of my road, are ready a week early this year. So I took the dog out for a walk and collected 6lbs of plums. I only needed 4lbs for the jam, and have kept the rest to make something else on Friday. They are lovely Victoria plums, very pink/red in colour and delicous made into jam. I added some port this time, to give it some warmth! I managed to get 9 jars this time, using an assortment of jars I've been collecting. I bought some pretty material and have made jam pot covers. I will give these as presents, as I have a lot of birthdays coming up in Sept. But I'll probably keep some jars for us, as I've just used up my last jar from last year.
I have found a great recipe on the Tesco web site for spiced plum and ginger chutney. I'll probably make that on Friday, once I have picked another bag full. I'll let you know how I get on. Amanda x

I'm back and fully refreshed!

We got back from our camping trip in Dorset this afternoon. I have fallen in love with Dorset, and can't wait to go back! We only stayed for 5 days (4 nights) but it was so relaxing. I even read a book, well almost finished it in the garden this afternoon. As luck would have it, we brought the sunshine back to Kent. Not sure just how long it will last, but it was good to get all the washing done and out of the way! Here is a photo off all three of us waiting for our mackeral fishing trip in Weymouth harbour! I caught loads, we had 8.5Lbs when we got off the boat. Jack & Ian caught some too (he he). It was brilliant! I would recommend it to everyone. Line caught to BBQ in under 2 hrs, now that's the way to eat fish. Ian taught Jack how to gut a fish, and we sat outside the tent eating them with bread and salad. Yummy

What with the weather and being busy at work, I haven't had much time in the garden recently. I have been eating French beans, courgettes, cucumbers. Thanks to Anne for the wonderful cucumber plants, I have eaten 3 large cues, and they taste just wonderful. I have a few other plants that are producing some smaller cues, and these are in my small pop up frame by the back door. They seem to like it in there with the shelter and sun (when we get any!). My peppers that Anne gave me have now turned red, they look so cheerful underplanted with my marigolds.
Some toms have started to ripen, the Totem ones I bought in a garden centre. Some of my tumbling toms looked a bit raggly so I had to take them out. Next year I plan to just grow them in the veg patch, rather than in pots.They dry out to much.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you get up to. Amanda x
Our first camping trip was a great success last weekend. The weather was ok, the site was good and we all had a great time. We spent two nights in Kent, at a site not far from Headcorn, just to try out the new tent! We took the right stuff, after spending hours in Camping International, and just about got it all into Ian's new car. We are now getting ready for the big camping holiday next week to Dorset. Lets just hope the weather is warm as they have predicted! Can't wait!
Here is a picture of Moss, our little dog, all cosy in our tent!

A quick look around the garden

I had a meeting this evening so quickly checked the veg patch before I left to sit in the village hall for 2 1/2 hours! I noticed three rows of dwarf beans have broken through the soil today, I'm sure I didn't see them this morning! Not bad for a 19p packet of seeds from Netto. Also the dwarf peas have germinated. Great, more veggies for the next few months.

We are planning a camping trip, well two actually. We haven't had a holiday for almost six years so it was time to do something about that. On Sunday we are off to get a new 4 man tent and camping equipment. First trip will be to a camp site in Sussex in a weeks time then I've found a great site in Cromer, Norfolk. I've never been camping, but for some reason I really fancy doing it this year. Ian has been to most camp sites in the UK, as his family did this most of his childhood. He's surprised that I want to do it. Jack likes camping and the dog will also come along. A proper family camping trip!

Anyway I&…

Pickled shallots

Tonight I decided to prepare the shallots for pickling on Sunday. I cut and peeled 80! I must be mad, but actually it was very therapeutic after a day in the office. So they are now sitting in the prepared brime ready for the pickling vinegar I need to make on Sunday, before putting them into jars. I should get 6 large jars out of them ready for Christmas! I was very lucky that I have a friend who works for Opies and he gave me 12 brand new jars. Oh and I need to make some nice labels in case I give a couple of jars away as presents.
A busy afternoon in the garden today. I had some spaces in my veg patch so I sowed some dwarf beans, beetroot and dwarf peas and had a tidy up. I forgot I had a packet of dwarf peas and it wasn't too late to sow them. They were the 19p ones from Netto, bargain! That way I get a late harvest long after the current peas have finished. I planted up my last remaining celeriac. I think I have 15 in the garden now (thanks Anne)

The French beans are flowering like mad so hopefully we should be eating them quite soon. Ihave been giving them some tomato plant food once a week! I harvested more peas yesterday and a bag of new potatoes, they were lovely. Oh and some courgettes. It's funny you wait ages for them to grow then all of a sudden you are picking them every day. I did buy one yellow variety this year and they are so sweet. The ones in large pots are doing really well. So next year I will just put them in pots and save some room in the veg patch.

Here is a picture of the last of my…

Potatoe & Pea Frittata

I had some fresh peas and courgettes to cook tonight and this is what I made! I added one green and one yellow courgette and lots of fresh peas.

100g new potatoes, diced
150g fresh peas
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely diced
8 large eggs
Salt & ground pepper
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

1.Bring the potatoes to the boil in salted water. Boil briskly for 5 minutes, then drain. Then leave until you're ready to add them to the frittata.
2.Preheat the grill. Heat the oil in a non-stick, ovenproof frying pan and fry the onion until it begins to soften. Add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes - don't let the mixture brown too much. You want it sweet and soft, with nothing crisp about it. Add the fresh peas for the last couple of minutes cooking. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to cool slightly.
3.Break the eggs into the bowl and beat in. Season and add the Parmesan.
4.Put your frying pan back on the heat; it should still be nice and oily. Pour the egg & v…

Red Sun Shallots ....

I planted 50 Shallots (Red Sun) on the 22nd February and I decided to harvest them today. I was going to wait but 1. I needed the room & 2. they looked ready! Just what to do with all these shallots. I might pickle some for presents. As the weather is dry and sunny tomorrow I can leave them outside to dry out. I'll then count them up!

I have managed to eat one courgette this week and lots more look promising for the next few day. This was from the plant my sister gave me as mine are still growing. I've been watering them like mad to get them going and it seems to be working!

But sadly I think one bag of spuds has blight. I noticed a few leaves tonight had brown spots so I ran inside to check this out. I removed the leaves and hopefully the spores haven't reached the tubers. Damn, this was my best bag and just about to flower. Lets hope I got it wrong and they will survive, somehow I think not.

Last night we had some baby carrots with dinner and fresh spinach. It bolted so I pulled the lot up and we managed to have enough for dinner, just! So I need to sow some more but it might get too hot and it will bolt again. Just have to take the chance I guess.

Have a good weekend. Amanda x

Happy Fathers Day

I am a little later this year with my courgettes. Mainly because my first batch didn't germinate which was odd. Anyway my sister Danielle gave me this one until mine were ready but they are now catching up. So it looks like I'll be eating my first courgettes next week.
Yesterday's strawberry fair in the village hall was good fun. I went along with Paula & Pat (her mum) and we had a cream tea and chatted to some friends. We bought lots of stuff from the gardening club stall and lots of bargains from the others including home made strawberry jam that Jack has just opened for his toast. He said it was delicious. And a Happy Fathers Day to Ian, Mike (my dad) and Derek (Ian's dad) x

What's for dinner?

After being in the office all day it was lovely walking around the garden this evening. I love this time of year when everything is growing in the veg patch. I decided to pull up a bunch of carrots to go with dinner. They were so sweet and fresh and some didn't make it into the pan. You may think it's not worth growing them as they take so long to mature and they are relatively cheap to buy in the supermarket. But you would be wrong and I think it is worth the wait! Once you have grown your own you will realise they taste like carrots and not bland like the ones in shops. I've added a photo of my new compost bin that I now use in the kitchen. I think it looks better on the work top than the blue plastic one!

It must be all the rain

The peas have gone mad! Whilst hobbling round the garden this morning I noticed they had grown so much and needed an extra support. Last year being new to all this I only grew 4 plants and this year I have two rows of about 20 plants. So should be a nice amount of peas in return. I haven't been out there for almost a week as I managed to twist my knee whilst weeding last Sunday night and tore a ligament! So I've been taking it easy and resting all week and I think it's now on the mend.

So today I can admire the garden but not do anything to it. Have a great day. Amanda x

Sunday 7th June 2009 - first carrots

It's raining today so I popped into the garden in my pjs to dig up some fresh carrots to go with dinner! I sowed them on the 21st Feb and had thinned them out a couple of weeks ago. A couple have forked but I'm not looking for perfection just tasty fresh food for the kitchen.

It's Iwade farmers market today so I'm going to pop round before 10am to get some lovely cakes and to catchup with a few people.

No gardening today unless the rain stops.


I thought I was going to have a nice relaxing day then remembered I had pre-booked my car service! An expensive morning so I won't dwell on that. I haven't done anything in the garden today as I felt like having an afternoon nap after the shock of the serivce bill and woke up at 4:30pm missing all of the afternoon!

I haven't got much to do out there as I spent a lot of time last weekend weeding and sowing some more veggies. My peas are now flowering and I put in some more pea sticks for my second sowing. I hope to be eating them in a few weeks time. We have eaten all the raddishes and some salad and tomorrow we are going to eat my first carrots from this year with a home-made beef & ale casserole. The first two sacks of potatoes on the patio are about to flower with two more smaller bags started off now and sprouting. All the rain did the garden the world of good and saved me watering for a few days.

Last weekend we had our first BBQ after cleaning it and painting the wo…

Happy Birthday

It's my 42nd birthday today and I am off to buy something nice, not sure what yet! I received some lovely presents. Ian & Jack bought me a new flat panel TV for the kitchen. It's really cute and fits on the worktop and comes with Freeview. Now I can keep watching a film whilst cooking! My sister Danielle bought me two planters for the garden and a paper potter. I made lots of seedling pots out of newspaper yesterday, such a clever gadget. Bob made me a gardening sign out of wood (you can see it in the picture on the right). My parents and Ian parents gave me money, Debbie at work a glass cake dish and Carol at work a lovely necklace. And lots of pretty cards.

Spent yesterday afternoon in the garden after popping to Millbrooks in the morning to get a couple of herbs to put in a hanging basket with one of my tumbling tom plants. Ian put a hook in the middle of my pergola and it looks really good there. I used my old hanging baskets that I normally plant up for the front of th…
Well my climbing French beans have decided to make an appearance, finally. Well it's not been that long really but this year I am not so patient and think things are taking longer to germinate. I then look at the date on the label and think oh it's only been a few days.

I potted up my tomato plants last week and they are growing really well now. I'll be pleased when they are planted outside and given to gardening friends so I can get into my dining room without tripping over all the pots. Thinking of this I have decided to buy a lean-to greenhouse this month. It's my birthday at the end of May so Ian said he will give me some money towards it. I've found the one I want so just need to save some more pennies before I order it!

Anyway I've not been up to much as have some sort of cold/flu virus this week and it's knocked all my energy. It's not like me to sleep much and today I slept all day and I'm still tired! So hopefully by the weekend my energy lev…
I had a busy weekend and managed to get some jobs done in the garden, but not everything I had planned to do. I potted up the tomato plants I grew from seed and these are now cosy in the dining room where they get the most heat. Hopefully they will grow quickly and be ready to go outside in the middle of May. I've only grown hanging basket/patio varieties as last year I got fed up with the larger ones falling over! They are heavy croppers and don't need any side shoots removed so they are much easier to look after. They also taste wonderful.

I'm running out of space in the pop up cold frame by the back door. But chances are if I buy a new one now I might not need it for very long so I will have to make do with windowsils and the dining room. My climbing beans havent shown any signs of germinating yet but hopefully they will next week!

Paula popped in on Sat afternoon after she'd spent all day in her garden. We drank lots of tea and chatted for ages. I walked her home and…

Growing French Beans

This link is very helpful and tells you what French beans did well in their 2008 trial. Luckily I bought some Musica in Homebase this week just in case my seeds didn’t work out too well. It says they are one of the top ones to grow with huge crops! am growing from seed Bluahide and these are not heavy croppers but have pretty flowers and purple fruit and also Sultana that I grew last year that was a heavy cropper. Happy Gardening!
This morning Iwade had a table top sale. If the weather had been better maybe more people would have ventured out. People started to arrive at the end of the sale which was a shame for all the effort people put in. Everything is now back in the loft maybe for another day?

I bought some cute Bellis plants from a local lady who grows her plants from seed, a very handy contact! They were 40p each, a bargain. Here is a photo of the Bellis in a cute blue pot next to a Hosta planted from one divided recently. I love Hostas especially after it has rained as the rain drops stay on the leaves. If you click on the photo you can see the water droplets!

Back to work in the morning and I've not completed all my garden stuff yet! Amanda x

Eight by Six has had an extension!

It's in! After an afternoon of digging and using half the composter it's finished. Well almost. I have to back fill and make it look a bit tidier but the new bed I've been waiting for is now in place. A big thank you goes to Ian for taking me to the wood yard this morning to collect the wood and for building it. Now just what to grow in it?! I thought about making it a home for the allium family or for beans.
I told Ian I would like to split the existing veg patch to make a path to the new one. He wasn't too impressed but I'll work on him! I just wish I could dig up more of the garden but then that would probably be over the top. I have tomorrow off to finish it and will do some more on Saturday if the weather is ok. At least I have worked off the Easter eggs today. I will pay for it tomorrow morning that's for sure.

Homebase has an offer of 3 for 2 on all thier seed. You can never have enough seeds! Amanda x

New raised bed

I managed to dig over the area for the new raised bed that Ian is building in the morning. I still don't know if I'll have enough room for everything I want to grow! So I've decided to grow my courgettes in pots this year around the main veg patch and got two ready today. That way I should have some space to grow my dwarf beans and climbing beans around the frame too. Once it's all finished I plan to finish off inbetween with bark to make it look a bit tidier and to keep the weeds at bay. I've also incorporated perenials and hostas dotted about to give it some extra colour and life and to attract the bees. Hopefully it will look good once it's all growing together. I haven't actually planned it, some where in the ground and I just put things in around them. I normally just walk around and think oh I'll put that there and that's where it ends up. If I buy a new plant or I am given one I don't rush to put it in the gravel area, I leave it in the …

Free Seeds

For those of you that caught the latest Gardeners World (I didn't but my sister told me!) they are giving away free seeds (again). Here is the link

I went to Millbrooks Garden Centre today with my mum and sister and we all made use of our 30% discount vouchers as it was raining (you get 10% if it the sun is out). This is to celebrate 30 years in the business. We stopped a while and had lunch in their restaurant for soup and a sandwhich then it was time to get home and get on with some gardening!

I always come away from my sisters with a bag of plants. She has a large garden and a big green house. This week it was dwarf runner beans she grew for me for the new troughs she bought me as an early birthday present and a cutting off of her dark red grass. Well she bought one for about £2 and managed to get three plants from it! I get all my gardening advice from her as she always knows what to do and when. She was that one that told me to cut straigh…

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all of you. I hope the weather remains the way it is this morning. The weather forecast is rain later which is a shame as its perfect gardening weather right now. My alliums have come through and promise to give a good show this spring. I planted these last summer from plants rather than bulbs. They seem to like where they are in the gravel. I checked my seeds in the pop-up cold frame and I was surprised that my Marigolds have germinated since last weekends sowing.

Enjoy your long weekend whatever you are doing.


A very productive day

I had a very productive day in the garden today. Making the most of the warm weather in my south facing garden I planted up most of my seeds!

These included:

Courgette: Patriot F1 (5) (Mr Fothergills)
Onion sets: Red Baron 30 (given to me by my sister)
Tomatoes: Gartenperle (5) and Tumbling Tom Red (20) (extra for Gardening Club)
Chilli: 5
Chard Bright Lights (planted in modules to give to friends)
Marigold dwarf double mixed (left over from last year) planted in modules to give extra to Gardening Club.

I still have to do the Patty Pan from last year and will give plants to Paula & Nicola. The plan is to grow one plant up my new obelisk that Ian & Jack bought me for mothers day. I also re-potted the 4 pepper plants given to me by Anne. They are doing really well and are now quite big! I hope I planted them correctly. I used some spare lollipop plant labels!

No gardening tomorrow as off to London sight seeing and a river cruise up the Thames.

Sweet Pea Coconut Candy

At the end of last summer I bought some seeds in Woolworths in the seed sale for about 60p. So tonight I decided to pop them into tepid water overnight and tomorrow I will sow them into some new toilet roll planters. They are fragrant, large flowered and excellent for cutting. I thought they would look good in a pot with a wig wam.
My red sweet peas took a while to germinate so I thought I would try soaking them this time. I've read that it can make them weaker plants but decided to give it a go anyway! I'll let you know what happens.

Small but perfectly formed

I planted my leeks a bit late last year, being my first attempt at growing from seed I transplated them in August. Yesterday I decided to harvest some of my baby leeks. They may not be as big as the commercially grown variety but baby leeks are just the thing these days! I plan to start some more from seed today and have a different variety to try this year Blue Green Autumn Neptune (Suttons) and have prepared a spot just for them! They smell wonderful when you lift them and they taste good too!

On Saturday 28th March I visited Yalding Organic Gardens just outside of Maidstone with my sister. We arrived just before 11am and waited for our host to take us on a tour of the gardens. Just as we did the heavens opened and we walked around for an hour in the rain. The gardens are really well designed as formal gardens, woodlands and vegetable gardens. They show you how to compost, how vegetables were grown during the war effort and offer lots of friendly advice.

The huge bowl of home made minestroni soup was very welcoming and warmed us up! You can visit all year and the normal entrance price is £6.50 which gives you a pass for the whole year. I think you can visit the shop and cafe for free.

We then headed back to the Potted Garden in Bearstead to look for some plants trying to dodge the heavy showers. And then finally back to my house for tea and cakes!

Today I plan to plant my new rhubarb plant somewhere suitable in the garden. I hope to use the rhubarb in a chutney recipe. Althoug…

sweet peas and peas

My sweet peas and peas survived being blow over on Monday night in the wind! I got home to find my plastic greenhouse on its side by the back door. Thankfully because I planted them in toilet rolls they survived. They are now safe in the warm dining room and some have germinated! Yippee. I've added a picture to show you what they look like growing in toilet rolls. I'll keep you updated on their progress!

As the weather forecast is terrible for this weekend I might not get anything actually done in the garden. But I plan to do some more seeds this Sunday. On Saturday I will be visiting the Yalding Organic Garden as part of the Kents Big Day Out. I will be taking my sister Danielle and hopefully have some lunch there

Anyway enjoy your weekend whatever you are planning. Amanda

I think Spring could be here

I visited the church this morning as I will be making a flower arrangement for the PC for the Bianual Flower Festival at the end of June. I have chosen The Sower and have lots of ideas jotted down on a pad. I plan to use the lovely garden trug my sister bought me for Christmas as its perfect. I wont give too much away now but I will grow my own flowers and veg for my display so it can all be used/recycled later. I'll post pictures at the end of June when its completed!

On the way back I popped into see Anne for a cuppa. We exchanged home made chilli jam (wicked and hot) for my tomatoe chutney. We chatted and Anne kindly gave me four pepper plants that she had grown. Anne - they made it home ok and I have put them in the dining room in front of the door to get the sun all day! I've just found the Celeriac seeds in my journal!

I checked my seeds sown on the 21 Feb and the following have emerged (yipee) Radish Scarlet Globe, Carrots and the Shallots have some green shoots. I am now…
I checked my recently sown seeds this morning and the raddishes have decided to make an appearance. It was so windy last night that my plastic cloche decided to end up half way down the garden so I will have to peg it back a bit better this time. Today I plan to cut back some of the perpetial spinach and do a little digging over. Hopefully some of my compost will be ready and I can dig some of that in.

I also need to measure the area to work out how much wood I need for the new raised bed at the back of my small veggie patch. Ian has offered to do this in March for me. It will be good to get this done so that I can get it started off before the main growing season kicks in.

My late sown leeks are still ok, although smaller than I had hoped. I may take one out today to add to my casserole! The red robin bushes at the back of the garden look great with all their cheerful red tips. I also noticed that the alliums I planted last year are showing through the gravel. They seem to do really we…

Spring is in the air!

As the weather was so mild on Saturday afternoon I started some work on my little veggie plot. Having a south facing garden it got quite warm and a hot cup of tea helped!

My mum gave me a cloche last year and this has now come in very handy. I had some leeks still growing and because I planted them a bit later, they are still quite small but seem to be growing better than I expected. It was my first attempt at growing them from seed so I may just have a late spring harvest! I planted some rows of Carrot (F1 Maestro) in-between the rows of leeks and have used the cloche to keep them protected. Hopefully I should get an earlier harvest of carrots and it might improve the leeks. I grew the carrots last year and they were very successful but I grew them too late and didn’t have very many!

I also planted 50 Shallots (Red Sun) as my shallots were more successful last year than my main onions, so I’ll give them a miss this year. They kept really well and I prefer them to cook whole in stews an…


I've been looking at growing potatoes this year in sacks in the garden but not sure if they are very good. To start me off I bought some Pink Fir Apple potatoes today, bargain in Wilkinsons only £1 for 5 but there were six in my bag! I will go back and get another potatoe variety next week. The Pink Fir Apple are now sitting in an empty egg box I saved for chitting. Maybe if anyone has any advice on growing potatoes in sacks/pots you could let me know. Last year I grew them in the veg plot but they took up too much space. A friend said you can grow them in grow bags but turned up the other way.

I also picked up some Red Sun shallots 50 for £1.25 which I thought was a good price. My shallots from last year were so much nicer than the ones you buy in the shops so I plan to grow more this year, maybe two varieties.

I still need to order the wood to extend the patch but will wait for better weather and I am also on the hunt for a long tro…

Iwade Village Farmer's Market

The first famer’s market took place today and was a huge success. Hundreds of people flocked to see what fresh produce was on sale which included fresh organic bread, local meat, eggs, cakes, vegetables, plants and chutney & pickles to name but a few. Many people travelling from other areas including Medway, Maidstone and surrounding villages. And it snowed today and people were still walking around even in the sub zero temperatures. At one point the village hall was so full you couldn't see to the other side!

I had a stall with Derek White (thank you for putting up with me all day!) selling Bennett Opies produce (chutney, pickled onions and peaches in brandy). They are a local company in Sittingbourne and have been around since 1880. I had to prepare the peaches and pickled onions last night and loved cutting up the peaches as I got to drink the juice from all the jars! Well not all 12 jars but most of them. They s…

Country Value seeds from Netto

I saw a recent advert from Netto for Country Value seeds for only 19p per packet. Well at that price you just have to buy them! Here are some of the ones that I bought.

Beetroot perfect 3 sow by Aug 2010
Carrot Autumn King 2 sow by Aug 2010
Carrot Early Nantes 2 sow by Aug 2011
Radish French Breakfast 3 sow by Aug 2010
Radish Sparkler 3 sow by Aug 2010
Onion White Lisbon Sow by Aug 2011
Leek Musselburgh sow by Aug 2011
Dwarf Bean Tendergreen Sow by Aug 2010
Pea Kelvendon Wonder sow by Aug 2010
Runner Bean Enorma sow by Aug 2010
Runner Bean Scarlet Emperor sow by Aug 2010
Marigold French Dwarf Double Mixed sow by 2011
Marigold (African) Double Mixed sow by 2011
Nasturtium Tom Thumb Mixed sow by 2010

I'll let you know how I get on with them later in the year.

Sunday Morning

I just had to get on and start something for the garden so decided to do a few pots of herbs today. I visited my favourite garden centre this morning and bought two little pots to get going as I had all the seeds. I bought some cute lollystick type seedling labels made by Burgon & Ball, I hated using the plastic ones last year! If I don't write the dates on them then I can re-use them.

I bought some more wild bird seed yesterday and hung up a new fatball feeder. I was amazed this morning as there were so many birds having their breakfast. It's so cold so I thought I would do my bit to help nature. They also enjoyed my homemade (stale) bread. Ian said I had enough bread in the garden to feed all the birds in Iwade! But the time we got back from the garden centre it was almost gone.

Back to work for me in the morning after almost two weeks break. Not looking forward to having to get up early and snow is forecast for the week ahead.

Bye for now.

Happy New Year

Well another year is over and I am looking forward to sowing some seeds for this year. I have already bought most of my seeds from the sales at the end of the summer. I haven't actually planned everything as I need to add another little raised bed soon. I had planned to do it in September but then got busy and didn't get round to doing it!

I managed to dig over the veg plot a few days before Christmas and I am glad I did as it was a good excuse to relax and forget all the things you should be rushing around doing at that time of year. It looks quite empty now apart from some spinach and leeks (which are not very big yet!)

I've entered some competitions on the BBC Gardening web site today in the hope that maybe I might win something, well someone has to!

I was lucky to receive some gardening gifts for Christmas presents and these will come in handy this year. My sister Danielle bought me a wonderful trug and I am looking forward to using it in the warmer months. My friend Debb…