Reading again

I’m still reading Carrots Love Tomatoes. I use the transparent sticky tag things to mark interesting places in the book. I have found one on “Celery dinant or French celery dinant is a unique type that sends out a multitude of narrow thin stalks. … it has a much fuller flavor than common celery…” Sounds interesting. Two tags on one page next – heavy water – “Snow contains forty percent less heavy water or deuterium oxide than normal water.” D2O apparently slows down some chemical and biological processes of growing plants. The other tag is about another weather phenomena – lightning. With each strike, increases the amount of nitrogen available in the soil. The book suggests tying tomato plants to metal poles to attract static electricity, with nylon strips (a use for those laddered stockings/tights..).

Planning – we’d like to put a pond on the second allotment. No idea if we are going for a preformed thingy or whether we’ll go for the butyl (or whatever it is called) liner. I’d like fish in the pond. My dad had built a pond and we had a few fish – shubunkins, fantails, comets, goldfish, as well as frogs and/or toads – though they disappeared when they saw me (I think I threatened to kiss them – perhaps they didn’t want to be my prince!), also there were newts. The pond was refreshed a couple of times a week (some water removed and clean (though I think the tap water stood for a day or two) water), and we didn’t have a pump/filter. Occasionally, we’d scrape the algae off the liner. There were plenty of other creatures, including snails, in there. The fish were happy and made baby fish.

It didn’t come

No sign yet of HSL seeds, order form sent off within 48 hours of receiving (Saturday reading, Monday post). I’ll just have to learn to be patient – I WANT MY SEEDS NOW!

While am waiting for the season to “begin”, I am catching up with reading. Current reading is Organic Magazine – February 2008 issue which has “This month in your garden” for January. Nearly bought Kitchen Garden Magazine but do I really want more tomato seeds (two varieties)?

So, what can I do this month – well, first on their list is to sort seed-box! I can’t sort my seedbox without the HSL seed (excuses, excuses!). I am not sowing anything yet, but I suppose I could sow some “indoor” herbs such as parsley, basil, coriander… This month in the garden (and allotment), I should get round to pruning the gooseberries and red/whitecurrants. OH did some digging at the weekend. On his next visit, he intends to shift some manure. Another urgent job would be cleaning out the so-called greenhouse (well, its more a continuation of the shed with corrugated plastic sheeting), if it doesn’t fall apart first. Have already cleared out the windowsill in the front room ready for later this month when I intend to start sowing seeds.  I wonder what the bitpart series Grow Your Own has to say for weeks 1&2 for January.

The vegetable the magazine looks at is celeriac: “celeriac may not be a pretty vegetable, but it’s hardy, it’s easy to grow, and it tastes great!” Well, I can’t grow it – all sowings have been a failure. They germinate ok, but when I transplant, they don’t seem to perk up, etc. Should I try again (4th? attempt)? Have done ok on celery – Solid Pink, I think it was – did brilliantly. Grew a different celery variety (self-blanching?) last year but it was ok-ish. Maybe I need to start celeriac earlier (the magazine says you can sow late January or February) I think I’ve been sowing in March.

Other books on the go are: The Gardener’s Wise Words and Country Ways; Carrots Love Tomatoes; The Little Book of Slugs; Reduce Reuse Recycle; Composting: An easy household guide. I returned the other books back to the library. I found he Allotment Chronicles – A social history of allotment gardening, to be a very boring book but I perservered for 3 chapters.  I still haven’t finished Imajica (having said that, I still haven’t finished Lord of the Rings started 22 years ago though think I had finished The Fellowship of the Ring back then).

Season’s Greetings

This will probably be the last post of the year.

Just catching up on various forums and websites. Came across an interesting term on the BBC – locavore: a person who eats locally-sourced food. A family in Fife tried to survive on food only from Fife. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7152009.stm

Last night made a batch of food for the birds – fat plus dried fruits. Have put some out today and within 5 minutes, a robin is feasting. Yesterday, there was a fieldfare in the garden. I wonder how many points that is worth in I-Spy. Just then, had a look in the garden through window – a seagull! Small person doesn’t like crusts on sandwiches for lunch, so I put those out for the birds. Seagull and magpie have snacked on them today. Other regular visitors include squabbling starlings, sparrows, dunnock, blackbirds, chaffinches and blue tits. The allotment also gets greenfinches and wrens. On the walk to the allotment, have spotted a couple of goldfinches.

Will be going to the allotment later to pull swede, parsnip and brussels for seasonal feasts. The frost apparently improves the taste of parsnips and brussels. We’ve had plenty of frost this week. Saturday night (15th), there was a dip in temperatures and ice formed. Even the car was reluctant to start on Sunday noon. This morning for the walk to school, the thermometer in the garden said zero celsius. It still says zero (9.43am). It has been a cold week. I can’t recall another cold snap in this location (only been here 7 years, plus this area as it is near the sea… etc, rarely gets snow (though a mile or two up road does as it is higher up)). Even the kale in the garden looks a bit sad, drooping. Still, the cold snap should be good against some pests, etc.

With it being cold outside, I prefer to stay snuggled up under a blanket to keep warm and read a book. I have several books on the go, Imajica and re-reading The Hobbit, plus some from the library: The Allotment Chronicles – A social history of allotment gardening; A-Z of Companion Planting; The Allotment Handbook by Caroline Foley; The Organic Gardener’s Handbook by Michael Littlewood. One book waiting to be read is The Gardener’s Wise Words and Country Ways by Ruth Binney. Looking at the last two books mentioned – the first, the “organic” one is printed in China, whereas the Wise Words is printed in GB. I’ve looked at other books on the bookshelf – Bob Flowerdew’s books are printed in Singapore. One book I’m looking forward to for April 2008 is The Self-sufficientish Bible by Andy & Dave Hamilton over at SSish. OH – take note!

Exam over!

Survived the exam. It’ll be close for getting the grade I want, but still, I did my best (well – apart from in the handwriting department. I had about 5 different spellings of String! Hope the examiner can read it!).

Went to the allotment. Some of it is looking a bit sad with the cucumbers saying enough is enough for the year. The cucumbers did crop well. Although they are a bit small, they do make good Jack-o-Lanterns. I tried one out (sorry, no photograph) at my local Woodcraft Folk (Gwerin Y Coed) meeting. This coming week, I’ll be doing more for our Halloween Party because Halloween comes during our half term week. I did some reading up on Halloween – a harvest festival. In a previous year, I’ve carved out a swede (that was tough), though think the turnip will make an easier candidate. I had read something that Neeps were used to make lanterns but there is a difference in opinion to what a neep refers to – is it the turnip or the swede?

The squash is going into action a bit late:
squashie

The nasturtiums are rampaging across the plot hiding a leafy thing:
leafything

It tasted spinachy/bitter but I don’t think it is a spinach. Looking at my sparse handwritten logbook, it appears it is a chicory – Grumolo Rossa.

Perhaps will get round to planting garlic this week – the only variety stocked at a garden centre I visited yesterday was the mild Germidour so that will have to do.

 I have already started typing up a plan of when to sow veg. Of course, weather/conditions may delay it but hopefully, I won’t be forgetting to sow things(especially those that should be sown successionally).

Currently reading Spade, Skirret and Parsnip – The Curious History of Vegetables. All interesting so far. Anyone want some “opium juice” made from lettuce?

The New Complete Guide to Self-Suffiency

Reading this book by John Seymour, only just started, but found an interesting quote I’d like to share with you:

“I knew a woman who grew the finest outdoor tomatoes I ever saw in a window box 12 storeys up in a tower-block. They were too high up to get the blight.”