Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Thinking of buying a new shed ? Here is some sound advice on choosing one.

A simple guide to choosing a garden shed

When it comes time to buy a new shed for your home or allotment , the first thing you’ll want to decide on is the size of shed that you’re after. While it’s not good to end up with a structure that will totally dominate your garden and overpower other areas, you should try and go for the biggest shed you can reasonably accommodate. That way, not only will you have a large amount of storage space – you’ll also have plenty of room to get in there and look around when you decide to retrieve an item or two.

Once you’ve decided on the size, the next factor to think about is the material you’d like your shed to be built from. While traditional wooden  are still popular, there are also a growing number of other options on the market that may well suit your needs better. If you do go for a wooden shed then you’ll generally have a choice between overlap timber, which is rough to the touch and built up with each slat overlapping the next, or shiplap timber, which connects using an interlocking tongue and groove joint and gives a smoother finish.

Wooden sheds will need to be maintained and re-treated with external wood preserver every year, so take that into account before you make a final decision on your purchase. If you’d prefer something that won’t need maintenance, then a metal shed might be more suitable for your needs. Most often made from galvanised steel, metal sheds are rot and rodent proof as well as being non-combustible, which obviously can’t be said for wooden sheds. Many metal sheds are also available with a 10-year manufacturer’s guarantee, which will give you peace of mind going forward.

Another maintenance-free option is a plastic shed – and while the thought of a plastic structure might not sound as aesthetically pleasing as a traditional wooden shed, there are some surprisingly nice looking plastic options out there. A further benefit of plastic sheds is that they tend to be easier than their metal and wooden counterparts to put together – most sheds come flat packed and require self assembly.

As long as you think about the overall look of your garden and buy your shed to fit with its surroundings then you won’t go far wrong. Also have a think about whether you’re prepared to maintain your shed in future years and how handy you are when it comes to DIY before rushing into a decision. It may be worth paying a little more than you were expecting to if it means you’ll be truly happy with your purchase rather than just going with the cheapest option available and living with something you’re not particularly fond of.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Vine Weevils Oh how I hate those pesky pests !!!!!!

I had noticed that some plants that I have in pots were looking a bit lifeless and not seeming to be growing well. So I investigated as I thought that it could be the dreaded Vine Weevils, and sure enough a poke into the soil revealed the little horrors. I hate those weevils and the adult beetle more than any other garden pests. They do so much damage.
Just look at those horrid little grubs GRRRRRRR !!!!    I was not going to let them beat me so I dug out the infected plants (including a couple of strawberries) and washed them off right down to the roots and potted them on the next day after leaving them to soak in a container of water (to drown any weevils I'd missed) and they all seem to be recovering.  I bagged the soil from the effected pots and took it to the local tip. Then washed the pots out with jeyes fluid.  I know you can now buy stuff to killl the weevils, but it's expensive, so my way is cheaper and seems to work.  I have only seen a few adult beetles this year so far, so I'm hoping that there wont be too many around. How do you deal with this pest ??? I would love to know!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Five and a half hours working on the plot

It was so hot today wasn't it ? too hot in fact to work on the allotment, but I needed to get on and get cracking if all the jobs were to be done.  I had some help though as the hubby decided to give me a hand with preparing the bed for the Globe Artichokes. I had twelve to plant in total, six from Victoriana nursery and six I had grown from seed. Stephen's leaflet that accompanied the plants when they arrived recommended 3ft apart but that was pushing my allotted space a bit, so they were planted a little under the 3ft, but they seem to have ample room.

They are all in now and look good. I only wish I had a better look at the artichoke bed at RHS Wisley last year, that way I would know how big they are going to look. I know they get to 6ft but I'm not sure just how bushy they grow. Here's a photo of the finished bed. We had to scout around for some old concrete walling to bank the bed up.  My plot is on a slope so to even it out we put the walling blocks in and then evened the soil against them. It then drops down a little to the two rows of asparagus, so all the permanent plants are in one area now. I am very pleased with my box hedge that runs along my boundary. I got them from Free-cycle last year as someone was digging up their hedge along their front garden. I didn't think they would re-plant as they had been dug up and left for a week or so before we collected them, but they have taken well.

 This photo is looking down the artichoke bed and as you can see in the foreground I have planted lot's of cutting that I grew of Box taken from one I had in the garden at home. They will take ages to get to the size of the others, but they are growing and looking healthy.

 This is a photo of the fruit area. The raspberries are just growing up through lots of lovely manure. I cut them right back as they are autumn fruiting. The strawberries are in the little raised bed and there is a red gooseberry, a green gooseberry, about four different varieties of  rhubarb, a blackcurrant and the newly planted Tayberry. oh and two little twigs ! that are blackberries given to me by a friend which have taken and are just showing good healthy signs of growth. 
PS. that scruffy looking plot that looks like 'Steptoe's' yard is a neighbouring plot on the other side of a shared path !!! just in case you clicked to enlarge the photo and think it's mine !!! ha ha

I have some lovely tulips growing just outside the greenhouse which are beautiful shades of deep pink and a lovely green. The wallflowers didn't do so well this year on the plot, but the ones at home did ! I can't wait to get all my cosmos, dahlias, marigold, zinnia's and cornflowers in the flower beds. I love to have lot's of flowers on the plot to look cheery and for cutting and of course for the bees.

Whilst preparing the bed today I found dozens of Borage plants growing, all self seeded, so I saved a half dozen to dot around the place and had to compost the rest. I also found lot's of the lovely sunflower plant-lets from the multi-headed  sunflower from last year I think it was called Royal Velvet,or Velvet queen ?? something like that.   It had lots of small heads in bronze, red, gold and russet colours and it isn't to tall either.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Globe Artichokes

I have just received my Globe Artichokes from Stephen at  Victoriana Nursery . I am very excited about growing this vegetable as I only discovered that I liked globe artichokes last year when I had some that my daughter-in-law gave me, granted they were bought from the supermarket already prepared and in a jar, but they were delicious and then I had them in London as a starter in a Tapas bar. That's when I decided that I would like to grow some of my own. I would however recommend that anyone wanting to grow them buys a fresh one from the supermarket and tries them first as they can be difficult to cook and there are different ways to eat them. The French like to boil or steam the whole head and them pull of the leaves and dip them in garlic butter and then you scrape the flesh from the leaves with your teeth. Very tasty but I found it messy, so I will be finding recipes to use the hearts I think as they are yummy. In fact here some links  I found that might be useful if you are considering growing these delicious and architectural plants.

Here is a YouTube link to Stephen talking about his vegetable plants: In fact if you also click the link above there is another  video and lot's of good monthly advice to be had.

I already had a packet of  the variety 'Green globe' seeds, but wasn't sure if I would be successful in growing them myself from seed so I ordered some plants from Victoriana nursery just in case ! Stephen sent me six plants ready to go out on the plot, but as the bed isn't ready yet I decided to pot them up and try and get them in next week. There are three each of 'Romanesco' and 'Imperial Star' both of which are highly recommended by Stephen. I am pleased to say that my 'Green Globe' seeds germinated very well and I have some very sturdy plants which I am giving to a friend and keeping a few for myself to go with the other two varieties. I found that all the bother of sowing and caring for them wasn't really worth the effort though as the plants from Stephen arrived safely packaged and ready to go in the ground and the price of his plants are so reasonable, and the size of the plants I grew took up so much space in the greenhouse.

My Green Globe

'Romanesco' and 'Imperial Star' which will be putting on a big growth spurt anytime soon, as the root system is so healthy .


Now for a natter about  SWEETPEAS
I don't know if you like me have always grown your sweet peas in seperate modules ? well I always believed that this was the best way to grow them. BUT I find it time consuming, space taking and ALL those Toilet roll innards drive me mad !!! so having bought pots of them growing all together in one pot from the garden centre last year and I have to say that I didn't think that disturbing the little plants would work.  Well it did, and I carefully tapped them out of the pot separated them and popped them in the ground and I found them as sturdy as any that I had grown and mollycoddled separately in loo rolls . So this year I have done as the garden centres and grown mine in pots all together and they have transplanted very well in the ground and are growing nicely. I have now got lot's more growing in this way ready to go up to the lottie.

Finally to end this post here are a few photo's that I took this morning of a lovely creamy white pansy and a cheeky robin on the fence watching me and a pot of lovely spring primroses called 'Firecracker' in the foreground and 'Castillion' (at the back).  I love the colours of these and I think I will divided them and get more plants for next year.

Where is the month going ??  just two more weeks and we will be into MAY !
Have a lovely week everyone and let's hope the sun shines and has it's 'Hat On'  hip hip hip hurray !!

Friday, 15 April 2011

I'm sorry for the delay. We now have a winner for the David Austin Book giveaway.

I am so sorry for not doing the draw for the giveaway on Tuesday 12th as planned, but I have had a hectic week .  So here are the photo's of the draw with my friend Frances doing the honours of pulling a name out of the hat  !!!

Only five entries, which was a shame really as it's a beautiful book and worth £30. So maybe not so many Rose enthusiasts among my readers.

 Frances getting ready to take out a name.
(Thanks for your help Frances !)

And here we have the winner


If you let me have your address via my e-mail I will get the book posted off to you.

Have a great weekend everyone
M x

Friday, 8 April 2011

A busy time at the allotment

I've worked at the allotment for two days this week, and enjoyed every minute of it. The sun was shining, and I met with a good friend up there who also has a plot and we sat in the sunshine outside her shed (Oh the good life !!) and chatted and had a drink break, TRULY Allotment Heaven !!!

The Broad beans are doing well, but still covered for the moment as they were raised in the mini greenhouse and not planted direct. I had hardened them off for a couple of weeks, but a severe frost could still knock them back. I dug up a row of parsnips 'Hollow Crown'  the seeds were from Victoriana Nursery and they are so nice that I got the same again for this years planting.
I still have this row of parsnips to dig up a bit later on. I will probably have to blanch and freeze them as I will need that bed soon.
The Tayberry is doing well and looks like the fruit is starting to come which is exciting as this is the first year, although it was a good healthy potted specimen and a good size to boot. again from Victoriana Nursery.

There are so many ladybirds about on the allotment, so hopefully they and their young will keep the aphids down, it's wonderful to see so many.

My plot is beginning to look more alive and lovely and green again.  I have Calabraise, cabbages growing, and  purple Sprouting broccoli I actually got my first harvest from it last evening (at last) it's in for such a long time. I lost three plants out of the six I planted, but the remaining three don't look too bad. I am hoping to harvest for a couple of weeks to make up for the long wait.

I did manage to sow some carrots as well. I sowed two rows each of Early Nantes 2 and Nantes 5, not sure what the difference is ! we shall see ! Oh and the potatoes went in at last too,  all earlies.  I don't grow main crop any more as we don't eat that many potatoes, so its  just for the fun of digging some up for salads really.
SO lot's done and heaps more to do. I have a mixture of traditional veg beds and also raised beds on my plot and I must say the raised beds are so easy to dig over as the soil is lovely in them. But all beds are full of lovely fat worms this year more so than any other year. It must be the good manure I put on in the autumn.

Have a lovely weekend and don't forget to leave your comment on the post for the giveaway David Austin Roses book if you would like a chance to win it.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Book Giveaway - 5 more days to add your name for a chance to win

I am surprised that there are only a few names to choose from for this stunning book. It's up for grabs and absolutely free to the name drawn out of the hat, which is planned for 12th April.

If having to name a favourite Rose is stopping you well then just leave a comment that you want to go into the draw. But please put a link on your blog to the giveaway.

I hope your day is as sunny and gorgeous as it is here.

M x

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Gardeners little Luxuries

A friend of mine has been very impressed with some organic soaps and hand /body cream that she has been using. The fragrance she likes is called Gin and Tonic !! which suits her well  as it's her favourite tipple. Anyway I thought I would check it out and try some myself.

My goodies arrived beautifully packages in a nice sturdy white box and laid gently in straw.( well shredded white paper straw)
There was a gardeners soap and Tree-Mend-Us hand and body cream

The fragrance is lovely and the soap is highly exfoliating and contains nettle, comfrey, powdered pumice,shredded loofah and poppy seeds to scrub away the dirt from us gardeners hard working hands. Made with Olive oil to soften the skin and fragranced with organic Lavender, Organic Lemongrass and Tea Tree essential oil known to be antibacterial and antiseptic. Just to give you an idea how natural the contents are.

And some adorable bath bombs in the shape of 'Smelly Wellies'

I am so impressed with these products and can't wait for a chance to try the 'Hippy Rose' fragrance (that name is so me!)
The cream by the way is gentle enough to even use on the face, and are apparently used by many with very dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and skin conditions, so they are very gentle and pure.
If you fancy treating yourself or someone you love take a look at the website.
Here is the link to The Littlecote Soap Co.
The products are also sold at selected National Trust shops and many other gift shops around the UK.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Beans are in AT LAST !!!

I finally got my broad beans in. The roots were long and thick and sticking out of the bottom of the root trainers. The bed was already manured and prepared, so it just meant working out the spacing and length of rows.
Here they are :

on the left are Bunyards Exhibition and on the right Red Epicure, I've not grown the red ones before and it says on the packet that lightly steamed they keep their colour, and as I always steam my veg we will see if that's true when the time come.

The first Asparagus spear is up , that's exciting as I have been looking for it on every visit. I'm not sure how many are going to make it but fingers crossed a lot more than this one.
Even more exciting is the new Tayberry bush, it's growing so well and looks really healthy. The Tayberry and the Asparagus were both from  Victoriana Nursery .
I've managed to clean the greenhouse at the allotment with good old Jeyes fluid, it pongs a bit but does a good job. I haven't actually moved anything up there yet as it's all still in the mini-greenhouses in my garden (much easier to look after until all frosts are gone) There is still heaps more to do and lot's to sow, but I am holding back as things like cucumber, courgettes, french beans and mangetout all come on very quickly and then I will run out of greenhouse space.  I hope to sow a lot of things direct this year, thats the plan anyway !

Friday again !!!! have a lovely weekend everyone and please don't forget to leave a comment for the giveaway book by David Austin (Roses) see previous post.