Other Exciting Things This Month…

OK maybe not exciting if you get your kicks outside of the garden. I live a fairly quiet life (I’m always working, working, working) so my excitement levels definitely peak if I dig something up out of one of my beds and it’s got something it’s supposed to have at the end of it! I.e. not a maggot-infested root, which is definitely soul-destroying.

Recently I’ve discovered I can actually grow carrots! The soil in the beds is sandy and free-draining, which is meant to be good for carrots, however it is unfortunately stony, and I’ve heard from innumerable sources that when a carrot hits a stone, it splits into a fork and grows around it, hence why many people end up with carrots which look like they could act out various forms of the karma sutra.

I was fully expecting all sorts of ‘obscene’ shapes, but we pulled up some very straight looking baby carrots! I’m ever so pleased, and ever so proud. They’re only little, but I had some for lunch today and they were excellent, if I do say so myself!

IMG_1760Granted, the red mat sort of takes away their orangeness, as they are quite vibrant, but I am definitely pleased as punch. I’ve pulled up a few more, but there are plenty left in the bed, so we should have a steady supply of good straight carrots!

I also pulled up a load of beetroot. Now I realise that I have planted the beets far too close together, and so have been gradually thinning them out. I also discovered that I had a few plants that didn’t have the characteristic red and green foliage: they were mainly pale green, and kind of looked a bit like celery. Well, Mamma and I pulled some up – look what we found!

IMG_1756So we have some normal red beetroots, fine and dandy, and even that white on in the middle looks just like an albino beet, and fairly normal. But that dude, second from left! He looks like a monster, like Chthulu or Davey Jones! His roots have gone mental. We argued about what they could be for a while – white beetroot, celeriac, kohl rabi – but I think they are just a couple of white beet seeds that got in the packet.

I do love things like this – nothing’s ever the same!



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!


New Addition – The Raised Bed Diaries #8

On Wednesday, Mum and I had a riding lesson, which was fun trying to see how much we’d forgotten while we’d been away. The riding school we go to is just up the road from the Irton Garden Centre, so smelling of horses and sweat, we went for lunch and then a trawl around the shop.

I got a strawberry plant, which I planted out this afternoon in a container.

Strawberry Plant


Looks a right beast!

After we’d been in the garden centre, we drove to my Nana’s to pick up my tomatoes. They seem to have shot up as well! Maybe I should leave all my crops alone a bit more often.

I planted some marigolds and poached egg plants (or, as I like to call them, scrambled egg plants!) in the bed a few weeks before we went away, and they’ve just started poking their noses out of the ground as well. Mum says she thinks my mangetout and onions have grown, but I can’t see much difference. Maybe I need to stop looking at them!

I have my asparagus plant to plant out this weekend, and the radishes to plant out as well. I also need to start my second sowing of salad leaves and radishes, if I have enough seeds. Busy, busy!

The Best Moment for a Gardening Virgin – The Raised Bed Diaries #3

What is the greatest moment for a trainee gardener, starting out? After all that hardwork, digging and shovelling manure and topsoil, stamping the plot down and raking it over and over, and then setting up my trays, planting teeny tiny little seeds in their little modules, I have some rewards!


If you look really closely, you can see the tiny little buds! These are my salad leaves.

The sense of pride and achievement I felt I think was greater than anything else!

And a few days later, they started springing up everywhere!




Nurture & Nature … The Raised Bed Diaries #2

So I have begun starting my seeds off! Mum showed me properly how to do my trays. As you can see here, they’re only half full, so I’m about to drop my seeds in.

Seeds planted in their tray


So far, dead pleased with my green-fingered efforts!

Five trays and a propagator

I have so far done: mixed salad leaves, spinach, radish, beetroot and courgette (the latter of which I don’t have the greatest of faith in – I think it’s too early), plus the freebie tomato seeds I got in the propagator.

These are all now to go in the cloche!

In the cloche

After erecting the cloche, which was so straightforward I’m sure I’ve not done it right, we picked a nice sunny spot to start them off! Also in the cloche are a few plants I bought, ready sprouting: onions, mangetout, and broccoli. Mum also put her sweetpeas in to fill it up.

The cloche

And here we have it! My babies! So pleased. Just got to wait and see if anything happens now…

It’s a Gardener’s World… The Raised Bed Diary #1

Many a hot summer holiday’s fun activity was being dragged around sticky greenhouses and garden centres… as a typical moody teenager, it wasn’t my idea of fun!

However, since moving to the farm, I’ve been getting itchy green fingers – which sounds like a disease in itself! I pestered Dad for where I could have my vegetable patch, and it was unanimously agreed that instead of a patch, I could have a raised bed. Then nothing much happened, beyond me dreaming of winning the village show with my excellent courgettes and fabulous onions, despite Nana buying me a trowel set and a pair of pink gardening gloves for Christmas. Then, lo and behold…

The Sleepers Have Arrived

Here you can see the two – yes, TWO! – beds have been marked out with the sleepers that Ma and Pa went to fetch from a nice gentleman who was something difficult to find.

Naturally, of course, being on a farm, we have access to pretty decent manure:

Who needs a compost bin?


So the next step is to get ’em dug up and filled in!

Half full!


And here is the first bed, full up! The soil was top soil shaken off the fodder beet out of one of our fields, and hence still comprised of a good few chunks – the barrow is full of the biggest bits.

So far, I am dead chuffed with it! And bloody knackered. And so, on that note… off to dream of shovelling manure and where to plant my crops!