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My English cottage garden – December 2014


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Hello everybody, I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. New Year still to come!

I am loving my Christmas present – a new shed! I’m so delighted with it, I could almost eat it, if you see what I mean.  It has been invaluable for putting the excess Christmas food in during the last week or so and the extra milk which I ordered over the Christmas period. The shed was put up a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t supposed to go inside it. I cheated! Still never mind, it didn’t spoil anything and now, every morning, I go up the path and peek inside to check on my geraniums, which are over-wintering in there. The baby ones, you’ve seen before, I keep indoors on the window sill but I don’t have enough window sills for all the others. At the last count there were over twenty of them!

The shed is going to look grand when the lilac bush comes into flower in the Spring and I will be popping back to show you when the buds are evident.

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This is the view from the inside, from the door. Geraniums on the right and at the back?

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Here’s a closer look:

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Four chicken nest boxes! Yes, I’m going to get some more chickens in the Spring. I kept chickens before, for ten years from 1990 to 2000 when their housey fell to bits! Now it’s time to have another go, I feel. I miss my hens a lot and can’t wait to get some more.

Here are some more pics around the garden this week:

View from the inside of the shed looking out, south:

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The woodpile:

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Pots of herbs by the back door. In the large pot are bluebells. I had to move them to make room for the new shed.

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I think you can tell how excited I am, can’t you?

Have a lovely Sunday.

Oma

Taking care of the babies (propagating geraniums)


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Back in August I took some geranium cuttings for next year. I usually take about twelve with one or two spares and I try to pick cuttings from the different colours so that I get a continuity. I currently have red, white, pink and peach. I am always on the look-out for that elusive blue, which hasn’t been invented yet (as far as I know).

The cuttings stayed outside until last week when I brought them in to keep them safe against the risk of frost damage. I put them on a window ledge. This one faces west, which is ideal because they get the evening sun but not all day sun. They all have well established roots now and every one has started flowering. You can see in the picture how they like to grow towards the sun. Each and every one is leaning towards the light and the sun.

So my babies are indoors now. I will water them once or twice a week until April when they will go back into the borders and make a colourful show. Yes, I could go and buy plug plants from the garden centre, but this way is just so much more fun!

The next stage is for me to bring in the medium sized plants, which were the babies last year. We have been promised frost! soon so I need to get on with it.

Oma

It’s pickle time at the cottage.


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It’s pickle time at the cottage so I’m putting my cares and worries away for a little while to wallow in the smell of salted vegetables and vinegar. Yum!

We always make mustard pickle at this time of the year and I have to add here that this is really Jim’s forte. I am just a helper. The ingredients are mainly, shallot onions, cauliflower, marrow, runner beans, a little flour and mustard and vinegar. We use the ordinary sort of malt vinegar, not the one with spices in it, but that’s just a personal choice.

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The vegetables have to be prepared and salted, then left overnight with a tea-towel over the top. This process extracts the excess moisture. In the morning, the vegetables are washed off and put in a large pan to cook. When cooked (imagine delicious smell), they are thickened with a flour paste mixture and then put into prepared jars for Christmas.

Here they are, all ready to give as gifts (just need the labels)  and to eat ourselves:

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Now, isn’t that a nice way to spend an afternoon?

Oma

Barbecuing in the rain!


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Sorry about the quality of the picture. I haven’t mastered my I-phone camera yet!

Larry has been in England over a year now and is still very much enjoying his life here. Here he is barbecuing in the rain. Look how much weight he has lost since he’s been living in England! He is really slim now and looks much better for it. I have been quite strict with him because he admits to eating junk food when he was in America, living on his own. I don’t really know what junk food is. Food is food, right? However, I suppose it is obvious that some foods contain far too much sugar and fat for our health.

Next month we are going to the doctor’s for our annual check-up and it will be interesting to see how Larry’s blood tests come out. For the last few years he has been borderline diabetic and took tablets to readdress that. Here in England, the NHS (National Health Service) does not give preventative treatment for that condition so when L had his blood tests, obviously the results were good because he’d been taking the tablets. However, now he’s had a year without those tablets and only been eating the food I’ve been giving him, I’m keen to find out what the difference will be. Do you take any preventative medicines?

Actually, we have had a lovely summer but over the last week or so it turned cold. Now this week we are going to get a heatwave. Our weather certainly is changeable!

Oma

Propagating geraniums (pelargoniums) – My baby geraniums.


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Here are this years baby geraniums. I usually propagate them in August, so that they have a good month or two to get going before I bring them indoors for the winter.  Once indoors, they will stay on the windowsill until April. It’s a long time and I have to nurture them. It’s worth doing because they will be perfect for the borders next summer.

This year I took slips, two from each colour, red, white, pink and peach. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will all take. I don’t use hormone rooting powder. It really is not necessary for these accommodating little plants. They root very easily; you just have to make sure that you take the cutting properly to avoid die back. (see my previous post, link below).

  I’m still on the look-out for a blue one! No luck yet.

Yesterday and the day before were very rainy here in my part of England and the little pots were up to their necks in water. That’s not a good thing because the roots will rot, so I brought them indoors just for one day to dry them out. I think they appreciated it.

The next step will be to bring in the plants which were last year’s babies and pot them up in larger pots ready to store indoors in a frost free environment (my back room).

If you want to read more about how I do it, you can click here and check out last year’s post, which goes into a bit more detail.

Oma

My English Garden – August 2014 – rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb


 

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It’s been a very good year for rhubarb in my English garden this year. Above is a picture of some stalks I picked the other day, and was glad to give away because there is only so much rhubarb you can eat as a family!

The leaves were gigantic as well. Here I am holding up two of them. They look like umbrellas, don’t they.

 

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It has also been a very good year for runner beans:

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and we have been eating them for a couple of weeks now. They are really a colder weather crop and so long as they get plenty of water, they always seem to do just fine. I prepare them as I was taught when I was small.  My mother was very particular about the cutting process and I had to get them just right. The thinner the better. Later on when I got married, I bought a bean slicer, but it never did such a good job. Now I buy a new knife every summer and use it for the first time when the first beans come in from the garden. That way I get the best cut, just so long as it’s not my fingers!!!

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We have lots of tomatoes, but they are not ripening very fast.  We need more sunshine, please?

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Lots of people have been clicking on a post I did last year about propagating geraniums.  I’ll tell you how this year’s babies are doing next time.

I greet you from a very rainy England 🙂

Oma