Last Hurrah

So Dickie’s tax was up at the end of the month. Considering since we came back from Germany, I’ve driven him a grand total of once, Papa and I decided that it was maybe a good idea to SORN him. I have my dissertation to write in August, and then I start my PGCE in September, so I won’t have time to drive him much, and then it’ll be winter and he will go to bed. So I took him to work yesterday, for one last hurrah!

It’s been a pretty stressful few weeks of late: what with work running into high gear and one thing after another kicking off in the centres, and then getting pretty rubbish feedback from the chapters of my dissertation I’ve managed to write so far, I’ve not been feeling so sunny and shiny all the time. But driving to Hull down the windy, twisty-turny new way I’ve starting going, completely blasted them old cobwebs out!

And of course, we had to have a little photoshoot!

IMG_1748Looking pretty sexy in the car park at work… definitely the sexiest car at Victoria House that day!

IMG_1750Then of course I had to pull into a layby for a proper photoshoot! I like this picture the best, especially the reflection. Such a beast!

IMG_1751But look at this picture! You can see all the dirt and the pawprints on his bonnet. Oh, I’m so ashamed…

IMG_1754Oh, honestly… how many Subarus do one family need?




Accidental Investigating

A couple of days ago I uploaded a post that was quite rage-driven about some of my failed crops. It would appear that I had a bit of an infestation of cabbage root fly. Well today I do believe I have located the source!

Ages ago, I sowed a few radish seeds, despite the fact that I have experienced a few gluts, and am actually not that much of a radish fan. These were left in the cloche while life kicked itself up a notch and I didn’t have as much time to focus on all the goings-on in my garden. Thus, they ended up abandoned, sweating away in the cloche. I had some cos lettuces and such like also growing in the cloche, and these all mysteriously disappeared to nothing. The cloche was getting very hot in the day and did seem to be attracting all sorts of bugs and what have you.

Anyway, these radishes popped up, and sprouted, and then looked a bit ropey. I planted them out, half of them bolted so I pulled them up, and left the others – that as far as I could see looked OK – in the beds. Then I forgot about them. I planted them in between my cauliflowers and turnips, and on the yon side of my turnips as well.

Today, after turnip-gate the other day, I was watering up and wondered what this huge plant was nosing its way up to the sky. I pulled it out, thinking it was a weed that had launched itself skyward overnight, and was rewarded with a bolted radish – full of wiggling maggots! I pulled the rest of the radishes up, and sure enough, they were all nibbled or colonised by horrid white wiggly nasty things.

So I can only assume that they came from the radishes in the cloche! The cloche is empty now so hopefully is bug-free. All the radishes have been drowned.

Here is the Bucket of Disgrace:

I potted up my cauliflowers, which is probably very wrong, but I couldn’t think what else to do. Some look very worse for wear, yet this guy is standing up big and strong, so fingers crossed! It is still extremely hot so I’m hoping it’s a combination of heat and the stress of the transplanting that has them looking sorry for themselves, and not more of the damned cabbage root fly. Bane of my life!

Some sad looking cauliflowers:

The one at the back looks pretty good. The other two… I’m not so sure about. And these are the best examples! I’ll keep you posted on the progress of these cauliflowers…


A Raised Bed Disaster!

I should really be essaying, and essaying I shall, but I am in a little bit of a rage…

I have a row of rather fab-looking cauliflowers and a row of slightly lesser-fab-looking turnips in the second bed. Or I did a few days ago, as it has all gone to pot, and all gone wrong, and I am in quite a mood, and have thus been on a rampage around my garden…

At the weekend I noticed two turnips at yon end of the bed were shrivelling up and looking rather dead. I dug one up and saw there was no turnip at the end! I showed Mamma who deduced that ‘something’ was eating it. The most dreaded of words for a gardener to hear… Clearly not for this gardener, as I discarded the turnip and thought no more about it.

Then on Sunday I dug up another one, and this time I saw horrid nasty little white maggotty things squirming around in the remains of a sad turnip! They were fed to father’s fish, and the remains of the turnip thrown as far as my little wimpy arm could manage. I dug around in the soil to see if I could see anymore (surely little white things on brown soil would show up?) and found nothing, so thought no more about it.

Then today I got home to a massacre!

Mother didn’t even notice anything was wrong!

My turnips had gone from being proud and flourishing things to shrivelled up things…

photo 1

The cauliflowers are tall on the right, and the turnips – only yesterday – were of a comparable size! Today though they were wilting and dying off. Sure enough, when I dug one up, there were horrid nasty white wiggling things in the turnips!

photo 2

Only about a couple of millimetres in length, and in the very centre of the above image, there were a few on all of the turnips. All got pulled up and mercilessly (though with a heavy heart) thrown into a bucket of water. Then I started to panic. I read in one of my gardening books (The Complete Vegetable Grower, if I recall correctly) that turnips are susceptible to cabbage root fly… which also likes to target cauliflowers. What did I have growing next to my turnips??

Damage limitation was in full flow. I dug up all my cauliflowers and thoroughly checked them. I felt sick having to throw half of them away – out of twelve plants, I have seven which I hope, hope, hope I have saved. Probably against all instruction, I potted them up separately. I didn’t want to leave them in the soil – which I am now stressing about being infested with this horrid things and am tempted to dig the entire section up and chuck it away – and I wasn’t about to plant potentially infected cauliflowers near my broccolis and squashes. I will leave them in pots and see how they fare. If they start to go downhill, I think I may cry.

I’ve since read that I should put felt discs around the stems of the plants. Oh yes, I’ll just go the felt from the shed!! I suppose I shouldn’t be angry: it is a learning curve, after all. I’m not even a big fan of cauliflower. Nor do I even think I like turnips. However I feel especially victimised now! And they’re horrible squirmy things and I feel quite sick thinking about them. I just hope it doesn’t ruin the rest of the bed! I have a bumper crop of beetroot to the side and then my lettuces, swiss and rainbow chard, kale, and then two rows of carrots. Hopefully cabbage root fly doesn’t morph into carrot root fly!

Such Monday rage. I had a nice day at work – obviously a nice day at work and a nice garden don’t go hand in hand!

Happy Birthday: The Big 2-4

Everyone always says that the older you get, the less bothered you are about your birthday. It was my 24th on the 17th July and I completely disagree with that statement! This has been the most enjoyable birthday I’ve had for years, which I believe is down to a number of things… Firstly, last year I had a lesson observation on my birthday, which sort of ruined it for me! I was away from home, teaching in Liverpool, and while my lovely workmates at ATC Liverpool bought me a cake (I believe it was a Katy-pillar cake?) it still wasn’t quite the same. This year I stayed in Hull and even though I was at work I still had a lovely time!

The day before my birthday I went to Driffield Show with Mum and Nana, something I had never had the chance to do before, having worked in summer schools for the past five years. We took Bilbo and had a lovely day, even if it was hot and muggy and stuffy at the show. I took a few photos and if I remember I will make a blog post about them…

For my birthday itself, I got up usual time, and got Ma and Pa up as well (the usual rising time for the Loys is I believe some time after 8 o’clock – when I’m well on my way to Hull – and Father has been known to exclaim with disbelief, “there are two seven o’clocks in a day?!”) and opened a few presents before I had to go to work.

At work everyone came into mine and Louise’s office with a tray laden down with cakes and goodies, and sang ‘happy birthday’ to me, which was hugely embarrassing, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. And clearly the gods of summer schools must have been listening when I said I wanted no drama on my birthday… either that, or Louise was shielding me from it all!

For dinner I went out with my family and friends to Florios in Malton! I really enjoyed my meal, though I’ve since heard that a few people weren’t overly thrilled with theirs. I shared a garlic bread topped with tomato sauce, anchovies and black olives with Mum as a starter, and for my main I had grilled sea bass with tiger prawns, and they were beautifully cooked in a garlicky tomatoey sauce.


I think what made my birthday so successful, to me anyway, was that I got to share it with my family and friends, all the people I love! I want to thank everyone for all their lovely gifts, but what was most important to me was that I got to see everyone on my birthday.


This is one of my favourite presents! This lovely picture is by┬ámy friend’s mum, the very talented Moira de Lavenu, and I have been admiring it for a long time! Need to find somewhere to hang it!


A selection of my other presents, including a brand new Filofax, which I am very excited about filling up!IMG_1712

And then my two apple trees! I have a Katy apple tree (obviously!) and a Bramley, so am very excited to get these planted.

And finally, my cats brought me a present, albeit a little late: I came downstairs on Friday morning to find this guy!


And that’s it for a cheesy self-indulgent post-birthday post! A year to go now until the big 2-5!

The Raised Bed Diaries #12 – Out of Control Spinach



It’s been a while since I’ve posted so I now have a backlog of drafts and photos to plough through! I seem to be doing them on a crop rotation at the moment, so today’s Veg in the Spotlight appears to be… SPINACH!

I don’t understand why people don’t like spinach… maybe the Popeye marketing campaign backfired. Anyway, spinach was amongst the first seeds I got. I started it out in the cloche and then when I had an abundance of it, I put half of it into a bunch of small pots in groups of three or four plants, and the other half I sowed out into the raised bed.

Initially the pots flourished and were top notch. Then they seeded and went not good and were thus condemned to the compost heap. However the sown-out spinach, a bit of a slow-starter, soon grew out of control, and began to take over my plot! I like spinach and pick the young leaves to have in salads or sandwiches, and then grab loads of the big leaves and wilt them down like mad in a pan with garlic and butter. But we have far too much for just me and my mum to snaffle.

On the left is a picture of the spinach wildly out of control. I have hacked it back a bit at the front as it grew over the kale I had sown and about killed it before it had even begun.



The spinach was madly out of control, so in a fit of madness last Sunday, when I had been in energy-conservation mode all morning after being at York Races the day before, I got out my scissors and violently hacked away at the spinach, resulting in the below shot of my bounty!


Think it’s safe to say I can grow me some spinach!

I then went through it all and bagged up the baby leaves to have in salads. Mum and I then had the big leaves, wilted down to about nothingness with tea. Mum then also did an Allanby version of saag aloo with some leftover potatoes (not home grown sadly). Hopefully now the spinach will be easier to control!

But now that I’ve cut back the spinach, as a bonus, I’ve discovered some mangetout!



The Not-the-Raised-Bed Diaries

As my vegetables grow bigger and take over more of the garden, I realise they are bloating the limits of the Raised Bed Diaries, and so I have carefully decided to create a sister series – the Non-Raised Bed Diaries!


This is alongside the wooden garage (my beds are to the right of this picture). Here I have five runner bean plants (two in pots which are a bit small, and three more in a grow bag, one of which is the monster climbing up the garage); I have three courgette plants in a grow bag and two more in smaller pots; then three tomato plants in the end grow bag. Dotted amongst all of these are a few more of Mum’s sweet peas, just poking their noses up. The courgettes and runner beans are definitely better in the grow bags than in the pots, though I’ve had courgettes off the potted ones, and there are flowers on the beans.



This is to the rear of my beds, and is behind and to the right of the picture above. Edging our lawn are trees and quite a bit of bare soil. This spot was where I kept my leftover top soil from finishing my beds and was where the muck heap was left.It got quite overgrown with weeds, and so I spent a day digging it up and digging in the remainder of the manure and covering it with the topsoil. This has now turned into my ‘brassica’ garden! My six broccolis have moved in here, and I think were glad for some space. I do have plans to move out my cauliflowers into this new space, but as you can see, my squashes have taken up residence, and if you look closely you might be able to spy some sweetcorn! I think my caulis are a way off yet, but they are starting to jostle a bit for space in my bed.

IMG_1644 IMG_1642These are my potatoes! Originally I planted out our mystery chitted potatoes into three tubs and a potato compost bag. Then it rained and rained, and we realised there weren’t holes in the tubs, and then two lots of potatoes carried on growing, and the other two sank without a trace! So I drowned my potatoes. But these two look grand. Well, I say grand… The ones in the top picture look good, but the ones in the bottom picture look very sorry for themselves! There wasn’t enough soil in the bag and they fell over due to their own weight. While Dad was digging up the space under the pond to make it a bit deeper, he kindly donated some soil and I have them propped up again! They have flowered but there weren’t many flowers… I’m waiting to have time/for the foliage to yellow and die down a bit before digging around for some tatties!