SARAH THE GARDENER

I forgot autumn gets cold!

I’m still in bed, the sun has come up, but it is cold.  It’s the first morning where I have actually noticed the cold, even before getting out of bed!  The kids are moaning about the cold and Hubby the Un-Gardener is frantically searching for his beanie!  Apparently the overnight low was only 7°C so we will have to get used to things getting a bit colder than that in the months to come.

It sort of came as a bit of a shock!  The weather, while quite wet has been quite mild, and we were tricked by our memories of autumns past and lulled into believing autumn doesn’t actually get cold.

Yesterday I went out and made some timely purchases, but I think I need to go back out and buy more.  Yay!  I’m a girl and a gardener, what better collision of coolness is shopping for gardening stuff!

My Shiny new gumboots

I am now the proud owner of a brand new pair of Red Band Gumboots and for some this may not seem so exciting, but for me….  well lets just say I’m having difficulty convincing myself to take them off!  When I first started gardening I had those cool funky, trendy gumboots, picked up cheaply at the red shed.  They were my first gumboots since childhood, and they had pretty flowers on them and they were cheap!  They didn’t last long at all.  Within the first couple of months my shiny new gumboots were dull, scratched, caked in mud and had bust open along a seam and were letting cold water and mud in.  I think their intended use was for a gentle bit of gardening in the suburbs, not hard core rural digging!

My tired, worn out gumboots

So the decision was made to purchase the real deal:  Red Band Gumboots – made for farmers!  And this pair lasted for years.  In the last couple of weeks I noticed my faithful boots had sprung a small leak up near my big toe where I had worn them out through season upon season of digging and weeding.  Cold wet squishy mud and water was sneaking in.  I had resorted to putting a plastic bag in the boot to protect my feet, but this solution wasn’t going to be a keeper going forward.  Now I have new boots and I love them!

I also bought new gloves with winter in mind.  I must be getting older and wiser or something.  In my early days as a gardener (5 years ago) I would work away quite happily bare handed, convincing myself that it is so much nicer to be in touch with the soil and the plants.  But what it really was, was I had never really worked with the right gloves.  I owned several pairs of these cloth ones that were never a close fit and when they weren’t filling up with dirt, they fell off.  So thoughout the growing season – and most of the year for that matter, my hands were stained to give me the green thumb I so desired.  All I needed now was my experience to catch up!

My tired, worn out gloves

Then I found these cool gloves that fit well and have some kind of rubber infused into the palms and finger tips.  You can work and feel the dirt and keep your hands relatively clean.  They work a treat!  Although I can still be found with dirt under my nails as I will more often than not end up gardening when I hadn’t intended to.  It starts with a weed here and a weed there and before you know it a whole garden bed has been made over without the use of gloves and more than likely in my good clothes!

But these hard working gloves don’t last forever and I had noticed the tips had worn through, so while gumboot shopping I picked up a pair of gloves.  I reached for my usual pair, but then another pair caught my eye.  They were better!  The rubber bit went all over them, so while digging in the cold wet winter dirt my hands will stay warm, dry, cosy and clean.  Well that is the plan.

My shiny new gloves

But to successfully do winter gardening I need more stuff!  I need thick socks, I need wet weather gear and I need thermal underwear….

Come again soon – daylight savings ends on Sunday!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

Odds and Sods

Sometimes it feels like my life is being narrated by the blogging ideas going on in my head.  A lot of the time it is just a short simple thought that really doesn’t have the substance behind it to be padded out to a full blog, or something more interesting happens that is perfect for an entertaining post that also satisfies the desire to create a story, or I’ll take a photo that at the time I wholeheartedly believe will become a blog in the very near future, but it never happens – my camera is full of these!

So today I decided is a good day to get these thoughts out of my head and out of my camera.

Frogs up my legs.

The other day we were clearing away some of the more stubborn weeds in the goat paddock, namely those awful rust coloured  dock seed heads that can give the landscape a neglected and derelict feel, similar to the effect a rusting out car carcass would give.  Anyway there I was chopping a way with my long handled loppers, taking out the stalks at the base and I felt something wet and weird up my trouser leg.  Somewhat startled I gave my leg a wee shake and out hopped the cutest bright green frog. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me so you have to take my word for just how cute he was. I saw several more frogs while hacking way at the dock, and in the back of my mind I hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t end up chopping one in half by accident, which I’m pleased to say I didn’t!

Onions.

The summer that has just gone was awful.  We know that because I bleated about it so much, but as a result my onion crop was pathetic, in fact today I managed to pretty much cram the whole crop into two jars to make pickled onions!

Pretty much my entire harvest in two jars!

So to hedge my bets I have taken action – I mean it may not have been the weather that caused a poor crop, it could have been something I’d done, although I’m really quite happy to blame the weather and leave my gardening prowess intact!  I have sowed onion seeds earlier than I ever have before so, well the theory goes, that they will be bigger and stronger by the time they get into the ground on the shortest day and therefore will have a greater chance of success.  The wives tale round here goes “plant onions on the shortest day and harvest on the longest.”

Onion seedlings emerging from the soil always seem to me like a tall man getting out of a very small car!

This doesn’t bode well…

I don’t think feeding mice pizza is a good idea.  Hubby the Un-Gardener is of the school of thought that mice look so cute, how could you not feed them!

Tribute to lost chickens.

These pictures make me feel very sad

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this.  We had two wee chicken families going on in our coop.  One mum had 3 “teenage” chickens and they are so cute and another mum had three tiny chickens about a week old – one of which sadly passed away and was lovingly buried.  So our flock was expanding nicely and it wouldn’t be long until we could pass these babies on to our friend to populate their new coop.  Yesterday I went out to feed the chickens and was mortified to find that the two little babies and one of the older babies were missing, gone, no trace – not so much as a feather.  The mums were quite distressed.  I think it was rats. As the weather starts to get cooler they are turning to warmer places to hang out.  I found a couple of tunnels  leading into the coop and in a fit of anger I lobbed rat bait down each hole and covered them up!  I have also charged Hubby the Un-Gardener with the task of “Fixing It!”  I want the coop pest resistant.  I want heaps of impenetrable concrete laid, I want fine mesh fencing around the perimeter – I think sensor alarms and surveillance cameras are taking it a bit too far – but I did think about it… briefly!

My melons were such a disappointment.

Success?

Success?

I didn’t think I had managed to produce any at all – laying the blame for this firmly at the feet of the crappy summer.  Then when clearing weeds away I was delighted to come across two small specimens.  Melons – I did it yay!  I brought them inside and cut them open and shared with Hubby the Un-Gardener.  He is always hesitant when I offer him something first (after the chilli episode). It smelled like melon so I figured it would be fine.  But it tasted like a strange cucumber with a hint of bitterness.  So disappointed – next year I am going to foil the weather and grow these in the greenhouse.

Well that seems to have de-cluttered my thinking place.

Come again soon – I’ve a cunning plan that is so crazy it might just work!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

Nothing like shame avoidance to bring on frenzied weeding

There is nothing like having the imminent arrival of an important guest to shake away apathy and cause a frenzy of activity.  Lately I have been a bit slack on the gardening front.  I seem to have wholeheartedly embraced the wind down towards winter and wound right down.  I figured that as it cools down then the weeds will slow down and I’ll be able to get to them when I feel like it.

Shame prevents me from uploading any "before" photos!

Besides most of the beds don’t have any crops that need a new home, I mean it’s not like spring when you have a greenhouse bulging with greenery that desperately needs to go in the ground so you dig and weed and weed and dig every hour of light God sends and if things are really bad then you pop on one of those hat torches and keep going in the dark.

The expression “It’s a jungle out there” was probably the best way to describe the state I had allowed the garden to get into.  I do it every year – I take my crops and without so much as a thank you , I walk away with the intention of getting on to it later, knowing full well that it’s not going to happen and I’ll be the one in the dark, in the spring, digging and weeding with a torch strapped to my head!

Although the bed in the foreground is still a complete mess!

So I got news a couple of days ago to expect a very important visitor, and if it was Hubby the Un-Gardener who had the visitor, then he would just sweep the office, stack his papers nicely and put on the fresh coffee.  For me the stakes are higher, I would be ashamed if I let anyone see the garden in the state I let it get into.  I need to work hard.  I need to enlist help to get it done on time.  Why is my garden so big?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been digging and weeding, weeding and digging for days!  Fortunately a well prepared soil lovingly tended in the spring has prevented all but the most stubborn weeds from taking up residence.  The worst culprit is the Dock with its nasty taproot. I may even go so far as to say it is my gardening nemesis.

There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had when ticking a task off a list!

I’m nearly there, with about a quarter of the garden left to do.  Not only am I urged on by completely eliminating the shame factor when my very important visitor shows up, but a thought popped into my head while I was toiling away:  “Sarah the Gardener, if you get all this done now, it will be easy to stay on top of over winter and then  you will have more spare time for exciting projects!”  I like that thought, so I will push on and try my hardest to have a weed free garden by the end of the week.  Wish me luck.

Come again soon – I have a whole load of gardening gems floating around in my head!

Sarah the Gardener  :  o )

Come back summer – I haven’t finished with you yet!

At the beginning of summer I promised myself I would make two dishes before the end of summer.  A Nicoise Salad with fresh beans from the garden.  I had always wanted to make this dish but summer always slipped by so fast that it never happened.  This year I finally managed it, although it was a close call – in the latter days of February.  But it was still very delicious, with most of the ingredients coming from the garden.  I don’t know why I took so long to make it – maybe because we don’t really like beans all that much!

But that isn’t the dish I wanted to talk about.  Today I made the most incredible dish.  I’m not sure what delayed me, maybe it was I was waiting for that perfect summer day that never happened, or I was just procrastinating.  The first reason shows me in a better light!    The dish in question has a fancy name “Insalata Caprese Salad” but I didn’t know that until just now when I Googled it, because a Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad, just sounded too ordinary to do it justice.  Although its simplicity is its secret.  And it is so good!

Oh why did I wait so long – this is a dish that deserves to be eaten outside on a hot summer evening with a good bottle of something Italian, not inside on a wet, miserable autumn day!  Well I am just glad I got round to making it, driven by the fact that the last of the tomatoes are clinging to shrivelled plants, with the first hint of blight spotted on a bush in a damp corner.  As far as the tomatoes go – it was a case of now or never, I don’t even know what varieties I used as the labels had long since worn away, but they were red, ripe and juicy!

This is probably one of the last tomato harvests for the season

Another key ingredient – the basil had got lost in the herb garden – over run by the parsley that had gone to seed and the nasturtiums (mental note:  plant them away from other things next year – they are a bossy plant!)  Once I found them I realised that like the tomatoes – they too were on their last legs and were in full flower.  I really need to get in there and harvest and process them before it is all over and I missed the boat!

Mozzarella cheese - made by me!

The last ingredient was something I didn’t grow – but I made, and I’m so proud of myself.  I made the mozzarella.  Admittedly I had to make two attempts because yesterday it all went mushy at the last stage instead of going stretchy!  Having said that it is actually really easy when you follow the instructions (check here to see how) and I ended up with all these little balls of white cheesy goodness.  (I’ve kept some back to use on a pizza or cheese on toast – yum!)

Then I sliced everything up and laid them out decoratively on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and did-dah – I did the impossible, I turned back time and for a few minutes it was summer again!

So simple - but oh so good!

Come again soon – I have a crazy plan – I hope it works.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

Gradually the last vestiges of summer begin to slip away.

More often than not when I wake up in the mornings it is dark.  It couldn’t possibly be because I’ve been waking up earlier because I’m just not that kind of girl, which can be verified by the fact I have no idea if it’s getting colder outside on these darker mornings as I like to stay tucked up in bed until the last possible moment!  But eventually I have to drag myself out from under the covers and face the day.

Today is a Saturday, which is fantastic.  There aren’t many pressing responsibilities on a Saturday – other than making sure the kids get their basic needs met – you know:  food and water, the rest is up to them.  Today I can hang out in the garden guilt free!  But what to do with this free time?

What shall we do from the list today?

I have lists everywhere of things to do in the garden, some big projects and some really small, but most of the time you have to go on instinct and leave the projects to the spare time in your spare time!  So as I stood in the garden looking about I could see immediately what needed my attention.  The Corn.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  It really did need that extra week propped back up after being blown down by the storm.

The corn in its heyday

In the beginning I had such a terrible job getting it started, I think I had to re-sow three times and had to go out and get more seed. In the end I sowed the seed on the same day that the farmer next door had planted out his maize and it worked really well for both of us.  But in my wee gardening book I will be writing down under the corn heading: despite corn preferring to be planted out directly, I prefer not to have to re-sow again and again.  So I need to start off indoors.  I also need to devise a wind break thingy to help them stand up to the average weather bomb that will ultimately be thrown our way midsummer!

A big bowl of sunshine to be stored away for the winter

The corn I harvested was great – all the kernels were full, plump and juicy.  So 30 delicious, perfect looking cobs have been chucked in the freezer for that yellow sunshine taste in the middle of winter.  There were a couple of manky ones – the kind where there are only half a dozen kernels.  In the past these have made up the majority of the crop, and so I would determinedly nibble each of the malformed cobs – I went to the effort of growing these stupid things – then damn it, I’m going to eat them!  This season there were so many “normal” ones that I happily threw the manky ones to the chickens, who gratefully gobbled them up.  So now we shall have homemade corn flavoured eggs for breakfast.

I reckon based on today’s supermarket prices for sweet corn ($0.75 each) I have saved the family the princely sum of $30 dollars! (Included in this calculation is the ones we have already eaten – I’m bad with maths but not that bad!)  With the added benefit of low food miles, I know where it has come from and I know what hasn’t been sprayed on it!

Such a sad sight

But then I had to turn to chopping down the stalks and clearing out the bed, removing all trace of a crop that has been such a prominent feature in our landscape all summer.  The garden just looks so barren without its height and lush presence.

Come again soon – the end of summer clear out is only just beginning…  sigh…

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

So much for my hopes of an Indian summer – we’re having a weather bomb instead!

The last day of summer.... Oh why have you been so cruel?

This was the worst summer ever!  I’m surprized I managed to get any crops at all.  I also feel all I did all summer was moan about the weather.  But I feel vindicated now.  All the news reports are coming in with exactly just how awful it really was. A quick Google search reveals headings such as:

“Sunless: A summer in name only”

“Who stuffed up summer?”

“Is this the worst summer weather you’ve ever experienced?”

“Summer 2012 – Land of the long grey cloud?”

“Summer downpours to continue” and

“More dreary weather marks end of summer”

So I didn’t imagine it.  My garden season was bad because the weather was bad.  The experts appear to be blaming it on La Nina who just bought buckets and buckets of rain and cloudy days to our summer holiday season and everyone seems to agree – this was a particularly bad summer which is great news because my credibility as a gardener remains intact – the poor yield wasn’t my fault!

Not exactly a bumper harvest!

And autumn isn’t shaping up to be much better – we are in the middle of a Weather Bomb!  So much for a quiet weekend pottering about in the remains of my garden,  a fast moving storm with fast wind (in excess of 120k/h) and lots of rain and lots of damage.  Throughout the country roofs have been torn off, trees uprooted and the power is out to many homes.

The corn was nearly ready.... I suppose I could just stand it all back up....

The Jerusalem Artichokes seem to have come off worst - I hope there will be tubers to dig up!

So I’m tucked up inside praying my greenhouse stays standing and that we get off lightly.  I phoned the insurance company to see if my greenhouse was covered and they said probably not, because it’s not a content and not really a building, and they don’t think they could insure it because its construction of polycarbonate panels and aluminium framing makes it too flimsy, and even if they could insure it – they wouldn’t do it on the day before a big storm.  But it’s worth a thousand hard saved for dollars!  That kind of money doesn’t come easily.  It’s not like a greenhouse is a disposable item – easily replaced.  So I go back to praying that my greenhouse won’t blow away.

Water filled milk bottles are suspended from the windows to prevent them from gaining lift and clearing the greenhouse for takeoff!

But the thought that has kept me sane is “there is always next season” and it runs through my head over and over.  And just to confirm that a gardener’s hope always rests in the next season there are three small seed trays with the beginnings of the best winter crop ever, hiding from the elements in the safety of the shed.

Stay safe little ones

Come again soon – maybe I’ll be able to actually share about gardening for a change!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

Cutting down the grass

With only four days of summer left the sun decided to show his face – hopefully as a result of guilt and shame for his lack of attendance during the last three months.  Yesterday was a wonderful day, all hot and blue skies and cicadas cicading and a day where the garden just beckons “come and play with me!” And that was exactly what I did.

Last minute potatoes, basking in the summer sun

With an ever increasing list of projects in my head, I took one look at the garden and knew exactly where to start:  mow the grass.  I feel like I have spent so much time this summer mowing the grass or waiting for it to dry out so I can mow it.  Normally at this time of year it is a shadow of its former spring self – all brown and dried with dusty patches where I have walked over it too much on my way to get tomatoes or herbs.  It barely needs mowing at all!  This year it is still lush and long and full of vigour that is reminiscent of the early days of spring.

It's not as bad as it looks

With all the long grass everywhere the patch just seems overwhelming – like a big weedy overgrown mess!  A quick-ish blat about with the lawn mower restores a sense of order and reduces the enormous amount of work originally perceived to the more manageable reality of the situation.

Although this mowing wasn’t without its ups and downs.  Our mower is a little trooper.  It is often asked to do chores that its wee budget body was not designed for.  It probably sits in the shed and daydreams about a small bit of grass out the back of a town house in the city!  But it is our little reliable rural mower and despite having numerous components fall off, he still pushes on through and gets the job done.  I don’t know what all those bits were for because he still works perfectly well?!

Our trusty old mower

But after shedding the most recent detritus, Hubby the Un-Gardener decided to “take a look.”  Although he’s not all that mechanically minded, he has a go, and pretty much always sorts things out.  He once took the gear box of the ride on mower apart and fixed it by taking photos with his iPhone every step of the way, googling the problem when he found it and then reassembled it by looking at the photos in reverse order.  He’s very resourceful!

So I hauled out the freshly made over mower only to find it wasn’t working very well at all, so Hubby the Un-Gardener suggested I use the ride on mower as the beds had been  designed to be far enough apart for it to fit.  But after a couple of sweeps I stopped it and got off.  I hated it.  It was too clumsy.  I wanted my old battered mower.  I understand that mower, I know just how far I need to go around the trailing pumpkins without shaving them off, it fits underneath the leaning fennel that has gone to seed, it gets close to the beds and I like that mower.

A clean cut under the leaning fennel

So Hubby the Un-Gardener sacrificed his Sunday afternoon in the sun to fix the old mower, and soon we were chugging up and down between the beds like old times – until we ran out of petrol…

Come again soon – with only a handful of days of summer left I intend to get the most out of them.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

 

When gardening isn’t gardening at all

When talking about gardening, thoughts of digging, nurturing tiny seedlings, weeding and getting dirt under the nails, watering and harvesting the fruits of your labours spring to mind. But there is one step on from this one that is just as labour intensive, but equally as rewarding.  That is processing the produce.  The other day I went to check on the orchard only to find the peaches and damson plums were ready.  They are relatively young trees, so the yield wasn’t massive (although next year will probably be) but they have come ripe together – alongside a large harvest of elderberries.

Jam, wine or sauce?

On top of this, the corn is coming ready so that’s approximately 60 ears that need attention, I have a huge pile of onions from my poor crop that are too small to be of practical use in cooking and so the only answer is to pickle them – so they are waiting in the shed, where I left them to dry out.  The kale and the rainbow beet have gone completely nuts and I should harvest some and freeze for winter use.  So there is nothing else for it – I have to make jams and sauces, pickles and wines, blanching and processing and do all manner of kitchen gardening jobs.

The corn is ready...

The onion is waiting

But I need to fit this around doing the “real” gardening.  The rain has been such an ever present feature in the garden this summer which has its up sides and it’s down sides.  On the up – I haven’t had to water much, on the down, the lawns and the weeds have run rampant but because of the wet conditions it is neither practical or desirable to get out there and sort them out and worst of all:  the overall yields are down on previous years.

I also need to sow seeds for the winter crops – or we’ll never get any broccoli.    Then there are the maintenance jobs.  The wind last night was so strong it blew over my trellis set up for my cucumbers and luffas.  This really needs to be fixed because if I don’t my luffas won’t grow straight and who wants crooked luffas?  But it is still wet and yucky outside and while an important task, not one I’m looking forward to.  Maybe I’ll get Hubby the Un-Gardener to help so I won’t be the only one getting wet!

What a tangled mess!

The dilemma is what to do first – kitchen gardening or garden gardening?  I could just shove the fruit into the freezer for the minute and do the jam making on a cold autumn evening and warm the house while doing it, instead of overheating an already humid home, making it unbearable for all!

Having said that autumn starts next week, so then we can kiss goodbye to an awful summer and settle down to a season or two when you expect the weather to be bad and daydream about that perfect summer that will be knocking on our doors again before we know it.  I’m not normally such a moany gardener, I’m normally happy and excited, but there is only so much rain one can take before spirits are completely dampened!

On a different but very sad note – Smoochy Pooch (what the kids ended up calling the baby chicken) passed away and we held a wee funeral yesterday.  She was only with us a short time but made a huge impression on us all.  Funny the ways such a small wee thing can do that!

Come again soon – I need to do some kind of gardening – any kind of gardening…  I just need the rain to stop!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

Animal – Vegetable – Mineral?

This is supposed to be all about vegetables in my veggie garden, with exciting stories about broccoli and riveting yarns about leeks and tantalising tales about my tomatoes.  But this is being hijacked by animals.  I’m giving the impression I am a savvy rural type with an extensive menagerie.  I need to clear things up; I am not a savvy rural type.  I have some well-worn red band gumboots that are so well worn they have sprung a leak, but that is about as far as it goes.  I’m a gardener not a farmer.  Sarah the Gardener – Not Sarah the Farmer!

My well-worn Red Band Gumboots

I was going to tell a tale of woe about my broccoli – but it’s really not that interesting.  In the last season I thought I’d planted heaps of the stuff, but it turned out to be cauliflower!  I had heaps of cauliflower – all ready at the same time!  We don’t eat that much cauliflower.  I was aiming for enough to fit into our dietary requirements and was happy with that.  But I wasn’t happy with hideous amounts – we were never going to eat them all, so I made heaps of piccalilli with the zucchini that was also going mad.

piccalilli

The problem of the cauliflower was solved, but not the broccoli; we still didn’t have any – so this season I planted more only to have them turn into more cauliflowers.  So fed up with the whole situation I ignored the cauliflower row in disgust only to discover at the point of flowering the seedlings had somehow got mixed up and so there was broccoli, only I missed them!  I planted more, but the seeds weren’t all that fresh – don’t let broccoli seeds get too old because the germination rate is really poor.  So the single surviving, guaranteed broccoli seedling was planted with tender loving care and was doing well, only to be perfectly ready while I was out of town.  On my return I was disappointed to find lovely yellow flowers.  Missed it again.  I can’t remember the last time I ate fresh broccoli. Maybe next season.  And there ends my rather boring tale of my incompetence with broccoli.

Broccoli before I went away

Broccoli when I came home

However things got a little interesting again today with the animals – a lot more interesting than going on about broccoli and definitely a whole lot cuter than broccoli.   Tim the Helper went out to feed the chickens before school and came inside with a garbled tale of a half dead chick in the coop, but it wasn’t one of the babies.  This made no sense what so ever, so I went out with my pyjamas tucked into my leaky red band gumboots to find out what was going on.

Poor wee thing

And sure enough and against all odds another chick had hatched – over a week after its siblings.  But its siblings were its down fall – first thing in the morning they were off out to play in the dirt and Mum had no choice but to supervise the adventurous chicks and leave the newly hatched baby in the nest.  By the time I got to it, it was so cold and despite only being at most twenty minutes out of the egg, I don’t think it would have lasted much longer.  The heart beat felt quite strong and so this little fella was definitely a fighter, so I warmed him up (I keep referring to him as a boy which is strange because I’d rather he was a she – will try the feather sexing thing tomorrow as they are still too small to tell).  The feathers dried out and turned fluffy and he has been my constant companion all day.  I even took him to a meeting because if I left him at home Toast the Cat may have eaten him.

safe and sound

I tried to take him to his Mum, but she wasn’t interested and just dooked him on the head.  So for the next few weeks I’ll be Sarah the Chicken Mum.  The first challenge will be to get the little fella through the night.  He’s still really wobbly on his feet, but I’ve made a nest in a shoe box with a hot water bottle, and old towel and a teddy bear substitute broody chicken. So far so good.

Cheeky Little Chicken (I think she's a girl!)

Come again soon – hopefully I will get a break from all the animals and get some gardening done!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

I seem to be a creature of habit, and this is causing bean issues in my garden.

I like to think I’m a bit of an adventurous spirit and live by the philosophy of “try everything once and the fun things twice” hence we will not be growing sugar beet again – great idea in theory, but if you miss the short window of opportunity between too small to harvest and too late to harvest, they are very bitter and really yucky!

So unless it was a really dramatic reaction of pure disgust from the family (kid reactions to zucchini is the exception – they can hate them all they like – I think they are yummy, so it’s: “I went to the effort of growing them so you WILL go to the effort of eating them!”), then the seeds in my collection are the ones I’ll grow.  This isn’t generally a problem as who doesn’t like to nibble on fresh peas while working in the garden, or making a fresh salad out of sun warm tomatoes.  Freshly dug potatoes on Christmas morning are almost compulsory and being able to answer a hungry kid with “go pull up a carrot” is brilliant.

Fast Snack for hungry kids

So most of the things in my garden are in there because they are loved and appreciated and have a special place in our diets.  Except one group.  Beans.

A whole bed dedicated to beans - I must be crazy!

I don’t know what is wrong with me – why do I keep growing them? I have even have a whole bed dedicated to beans! We don’t actually like beans all that much.  Last years are still in the freezer, beside the bag of this year’s beans that is steadily filling up.  I started to ignore them thinking neglect would reduce the crop, but have started giving them away to those who would appreciate them.

Just a days harvest of the dreaded beans....

Our diet is not completely devoid of beans and the yellow butter beans aren’t that bad, but why did I plant Scarlet Runners?  I hate the feel of the bean pod is all rough and coarse and then when you eat them they are all stringy- bleuck! I only had the seed packet because I grew a bean pole tee-pee house for the kids to play in – but they didn’t.  Now we have Scarlet Runners self-seeding all over the place in some kind of bean taunt – nah nah nan nah nah!

Seeds can come from all sorts of places

We also eat a lot of tinned beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, baked beans, so this year I decided to see what I could do in the garden, so I bought a packet of dried four bean mix from the supermarket and popped them in the ground, so I have growing in my garden kidney beans, pinto beans, haricot beans and pink beans!  I’ve never actually cooked with dried beans before so I think the growing bit is going to be the easy bit as I understand you can make people sick if you don’t cook dried beans properly.  I think I’ll experiment on Hubby the Un-Gardener!

Before long these kidney beans will be in a super hot chilli con carne

I was wondering where I get this habitual nature from, and then I spent some time with my Dad who is such a creature of habit that everyone was joking that they could predict what he would choose from a menu at a restaurant none of us had been to before! – So that is where I get it – I am my father’s daughter and I will have to fight my genetic makeup so I don’t end up planting Scarlet Runner beans in my garden ever again!

Remind me never to plant this many bean seeds ever again!

Come again soon – You know another veggie I have been having trouble with is broccoli – but I only have myself to blame.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

 

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