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Sunday, 29 May 2011

It's All Go On The Veg Front!

I personally think everyone should have a go at Grow Your Own, whether it be one tomato plant or a whole allotment plot, the satisfaction of harvesting something you have cared for since seed is satisfying and REALLY tasty!

We started out with one pot and one potato, when we harvested this and found a whole bag full of spuds at the bottom of that one pot, we were hooked!

We grow pretty much anything we like to eat now (as you may have seen in my previous blogs). So to update you all, our fruit & veg is growing nicely!

We currently have loads of lovely strawberries, and a couple of them are ripening super quick, so hopefully (if i get there before my two little monsters do) I'll have my first taste by the middle of next week!

The Maris Piper potatoes have gone nuts, I can't wait to dig these up and enjoy a tasty chip/mash or roastie from this favourite of mine!

We've also planted another row next to these, so we can have a second harvest, which means twice the amount!! Yum Yum!!

We have discovered that the old tenant was rather partial to a raspberry, we have had about 30 plants make an appearance from the ground (even after it was rotavated), so we have sectioned a batch off and are letting them grow.

From these plants I can guess we'll have way too many to eat fresh, so I'll enjoy freezing them and making jam out of them...and of course I'll share any receipes I try!

Our other raised bed is full of a variety of veg, we have onions, carrots, spring onions, lettuce, garlic, spinach, chard, beetroot and celebrese AND we still have room for more! We have already been harvesting the tender young lettuce leaves as well as the spinach, you just can't beat the taste of fresh produce!

My cherry trees are fruiting and my apple & pear tree seem to be budding, but i have a feeling that these won't fruit this year, but thats ok, i'll look forward to them next yr!

On the sunflower side, so far Callum seems to be in the lead, I have been hardening these off, ready for outside, like I said before we'll have to see who's will survive!!!

Well thats all for now, I'll be updating you about chilli & tomato plants soon!!!

Take Care And Get Growing!!!


The Transformation Continues.....

As you can see, my back garden certainly has come a long way in 4 months!
From This (24th Jan 2011)

To This (May 2011)

It hasn't been easy either, for instance the constant excavation of the millions of pieces of glass and broken clay pots from beneath the ground is still...well...unbelievable! I mean you have to actually see it to believe it!
This was dug up from literally less than a metre square of filled the wheelbarrow!!

Now I know you can use this for drainage etc, and I'm all for recycling, but considering we have practically a mound of the stuff that could fill a small skip, I doubt I can reuse it all!!

I have to admit, I'm pretty bloody proud of what we have achieved in the last few months and I know that the next few months will be super busy too with all our veg, so I'm looking forward to the time when we can actually sit back and admire our work!


Tuesday, 24 May 2011


“Allergic rhinitis, pollenosis or hay fever is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. It occurs when an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system, and triggers antibody production.”

A huge percentage of the population is affected by Hayfever, there are many different types of treatment out there whether they be tablets, syrups, nasal sprays, eye drops, maybe it’s a homeopathic treatment, natural remedy, or an old remedy passed down through the generations, what works for you?

I myself suffer terribly with hayfever and nothing really seems to help I’ve tried many things, off the shelf drugs from the chemist, nasal sprays, eye drops, , the list could go on, but nothing seems to be that effective – it may ease the suffering a little but not cure it. I want a cure!

I’ve come across this website

I have ordered some tablets and will let you know how I get on!

On the website it does say

“Alert ! alert! alert! – help yourself by drying your sheets and clothes indoors – never hang clothes outside to dry in summer!!!”

But to be honest I love the smell and feeling of freshly dried clothes from outside!

In the meantime people, you can keep a close eye on the pollen count in your area via the piri allergy website, simply enter your postcode and you get the results straight away, including a forecast option as well which is quite useful!

All the Best!


Monday, 16 May 2011

Vegetable Plants, Table Birds & Birthdays!!!!!!

Wow, it certainly has been a busy couple of weeks, hence the absence of posts from moi!!!

I have had a couple of birthdays, my hubbie to be last week and my youngest who turned 4 today! So we've been galavanting about, doing silly things like paintballing & trampoline building!!!

So just to update you, the garden is coming along, slowly but brilliantly, the grass seed has gone nuts since our rain fall and the turf is looking lush and green, can really start to picture my gorgeous garden to be! Finally!

Our potatoes, onions, carrots, radish & lettuce are sprouting through and we had our first pickings of spinach tonight (added to a lush curry!!)
Runner beans will be going in within the next couple of weeks once I get my wigwam up. Also have some sweetcorn, peas, broad beans & tomatoe plants to sort. So I gather from that the next (few) weeks or so will be super busy too!

I will have to update my "plan" seeing as the lovely Claire has been uber organised and updated hers, so not to be outdone I will be reposting mine v. soon!!!

The table birds are HUGE!!! It seems we have two rather large cockerals, who are now trying to "cockadoodledo" but it sounds more like foghorn leghorn at the minute! Bless!
The hens are doing well, even after their "attack" from my layers (the meanies actually pecked holes into the chicks during a mass attack!) They have now been seperated!

Had to re-pot the boys sunflowers today, hoping to be able to harden them off soon and get them outside, then the challenge really begins! Who's will survive the weather conditions and/or those pesky slugs??

Wagers being taken, tweet me!!!


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Jane Howorth Article Kitchen Garden and hen keeping and eggs!

Brilliant Article by Jane Howorth in the magazine Kitchen Garden issue June 2011 about Hen Keeping and the possible importing into the UK of millions of illegally produced eggs 'hidden' as ingredients in many common processed foods, deffinately worth a read!

For more information on the British Hen Welfare Trust and how you adopt some ex-battery hens visit

All the Best!


Monday, 9 May 2011

More raised Beds!

Yay! We had some rain on the weekend, our grass seed loved it! It seemed to almost spring up over night! It’s still pretty patchy in places but I think that has more to do with birds coming and helping them selves than the quality or the care of the seed.

Weekend was yet again a busy one, Spen and I (well Spen really I was just the helper) made another raised bed for over by the chicken shed for some beans and what not. We are going to mow the grass this week so as soon as that has happened I’ll post some more pictures (always looks so much better when it has had a good mow!).

But in the meantime here’s a bit of an update on progress, as you can see we’ve added three more raised beds to the original plans. Spen’s also fixed a proper lock on the chicken coop gate to avoid any more dashes from the chooks to get to the vege plots! Yay!

The greenhouse is now finished – I’ll post some more pictures of that later this week, we also have the possibility of some more windows as well so there maybe another greenhouse to add to that little area as well which will be great for the tomatoes and chillies this year! Will have to see what sort of windows are available first though before I get too excited!

All the Best!


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Multicoloured macaroons recipe

So last night Spen and I made some macaroons! The recipe is below but here’s a quick summary on our first go;

Never made these before but I’ve wanted to for a while ever since I saw them being made on Lorraine Pascale ‘ s BBC show a short while ago.
Supermodel turned patisserie chef Lorraine Pascale is the BBC's new home baking heroine. In this gorgeous new cookbook to accompany the series, Lorraine shares her expertise, passion and her all time favourite sweet and savoury recipes.

So we made the mixtre and unfortunately we discovered that I don’t own a piping bag. SO we tried to ‘bodge’ it and try using a sandwich bag with the end cut off – as you can see from the pictures below – they didn’t really work!

Although after they were cooked and filled with chocolate butter icing they definitely tasted great!! Now that we’ve made them once I will definitely be making them again – after I’ve purchased a piping bag! lol!

Multicoloured macaroons recipe

By Lizzie Kamenetzky

• Makes 20 |
• Takes 45 minutes to make, 15 minutes to cook, plus cooling

Macaroons are coming back into fashion in a big way.Carefully follow the recipe for perfect macaroons that will wow your guests.

1. 175g icing sugar
2. 125g ground almonds
3. 3 large free-range egg whites
4. 75g caster sugar

For the filling
1. 150g butter, softened
2. 75g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy. (At this point you can stir in flavour extract, such as peppermint or lemon, and corresponding colouring such as blue or yellow, to your meringue mixture, depending on what kind of macaroons you want – see chef's tip. Or divide the meringue among different bowls if you want to make more than one colour.)

3. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

5. Meanwhile, make the filling/s (unless making chocolate macaroons – see chef's tip). In a bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar. (You can now add flavouring or nuts, and colour – see chef's tip.) Use to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.

Nutritional info

Per macaroon: 160kcals, 9.7g fat (4.2g saturated), 1.8g protein, 17.5g carbs, 16.4g sugar, 0.2g salt

Chef's tip

Macaroons taste wonderful plain, but why not add flavouring and colouring? Flavour extracts – such as raspberry, lemon and peppermint – and colourings are available in supermarkets and cake shops. Try to buy online. To flavour and colour your macaroons, in step 2, add around ½ tsp flavour extract, then add the appropriate colouring, a drop at a time, until you reach the desired intensity. Flavour and colour the buttercream in the same way. For chocolate macaroons, replace a quarter of the icing sugar with cocoa powder and use Nutella as the filling. For pistachio macaroons, replace half the ground almonds with ground pistachios (whizz in a blender or finely chop by hand), and use green food colouring to achieve a pastel green. Fold chopped pistachios through the filling, if you like.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Sunflowers, Seed & Turf!

I can safely say the Sunflower challenge is definately ON!

So far Callum is in the lead, much to the anger of Mackenzie. However it ain't over yet!! My boys are still enjoying nurturing their young plants and they check them every day to see if they have grown any more. And I have to say..I love a bit of healthy competition!!!

The grass seed has started to show through, it isn't quite the "lush green lawn in 10 days" as stated on the pack, but to be honest I don't blame the product, I blame the weather. It has been far to hot and dry for it so my evenings are spent soaking it!

I also have some more greenage in my very brown garden, a lovely friend from the world of facebook offered me about 24 rolls of turf...for free! So I enrolled my good ol' friend Claire and her bloke Spen's yellow passion wagon to help me collect it! It looks fab in my garden, it's finally all starting to come together, slowly but perfectly!


Sunday, 1 May 2011

new raised beds, broody chickens and washing line comparisons???

A busy day today! Caught up on nearly all the washing, how lovely is it when you can dry your washing outside! Makes things so much easier! Whilst on the subject of washing I have to mention that Mel (the other half of honestly its easy) cane over last weekend for a cider and a chat (as you do). During her visit our conversation skills hit an all time weird level, we talked about the benefits of a rotary washing line compared to a normal washing line, good lord!!! We obviously need to get out more!!

The bloody chickens got out this morning and I think luckily I may have caught them all in time – they only managed to destroy the Kale that was springing up and dislodge a few onions, we have now purchase another lock for the coop gate to make sure this doesn’t happen again!

We have a broody silkie chicken which is sat on a few of or fertile lavender pekin hatching eggs! Yay, will give you an update on whats going on with them in a couple of weeks when I go and try and candle them.

We’ve sown some more vegetables as well and I’ll update my little diagram next week with our new additions and there are also two new raised beds to add to it as well! We are also going to try growing some peas alongside the lavender pekins run, not entirely sre if this is going to work or not but only time will tell! In theory we are hoping (in or experience the girls don’t like peas, or not cooked ones anyhow!) that the peas can grow along side them and although we will lose some of the crop to little beaks most of the crop will be ok and the chickens will help with a bit of pest control, hmmmm, nice try we’ll see if it works!!

Here are the new beds we’ve put in, We are hoping that the bean pole’s will help to hide the oil tank a bit when they have things growing over and up them!

I do hope everyone is enjoying all this extra time off we’ve been having and have spent in wisely, in the garden as we have tried to!

All the Best!


PS The grass is starting to come through a little bit as well – all my hard work watering it all the time seems to be paying off!!