Saturday, 5 October 2013

Life?! Don't Talk To Me About Life!

Okay, so Winter didn't end until the middle of May, Spring ran by at full tilt, Summer was glorious but I'm not quite sure how we got to October SO quickly. Where has this year gone? I can't believe that it's over 3 months since my last post...really not sure how time has flown by at such a lick - maybe there's a hole in the space-time continuum again?!

Actually, I think it's because despite the very late start, we've actually had a fabulous summer and actually done lots of 'stuff - unlike last year where we constantly getting rained off!.One thing we have done is finally completed one side of the front garden project that we began way back in March 2010....yes, that does say 2010! Things happen slowly around here  :-P

Anyway, the front garden has gone from this - the laurels were taken out by our Tree Surgeon, his lads and their Land Rover you do!
Then I brought in a bit of hired in teenage muscle from the school where I'm a Governor. They cleared some smaller roots, weeded the whole area and dug a trench to reduce the pressure on our old and somewhat wonky dry stone wall...a trench which I promptly began filling in with stones from the cleared area to help with drainage...yeah, right! Nothing to do with not being prepared to slog barrowloads for stones uphill to the stone come everywhere is uphill in our garden?!

To this in Autumn of 2012 after Himself had rotivated it:

And in April this year after re-weeding, much raking and rolling to levelling:

With this - Himself's lastest invention!

To this! A glorious, lush, green open space of approximately 220sq metres.......that is currently being covered in Autumn leaves! 

So all I need to do to do now (HAH- ALL!!!) is to finish clearing the other side of the drive - which is only about half the size, sort out/ fill in the huge holes where the laurel stumps were, get it something like level despite the rapidly changing gradiant of the slope and then get Himself in to finish the job and seed it. Simples! Should be done in time for Spring seeding...should be!

We've also finished the bottom pond up in the Japanese garden - but as that is several blog posts in its own right you'll have to hang on a bit!

We've had a superb year with the fruit and vegetables. You may remember that last year my vegetable garden looked like this:

So many of my vegetables drowned, rotted or just didn't bother poking their heads above ground because it was so cold and wet for so much of the summer...seriously depressing after all the work I'd put into getting everything ready in spring and we got very little that was edible as even the stuff that did manage to grow ended up woody and tasteless. You can read about last year's garden disaster here if you plough through past the trip to the Lake District, the wedding and the Olympics! 

This year has been a different matter altogether :-D The long, long winter meant I didn't even plant any seeds until April when the light started to improve and nothing was planted out until early June when the weather started getting better and better. the result? A lush green verdant vegetable garden!

Carrots - taken me SEVEN years to get decent carrots!, parsnips, 3 sorts of cabbages, spinach, rainbow chard, kale, French beans, runner beans......

....leeks, peas, raspberries, eating apples, cooking apples, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, rhubarb and my first ever blueberries.The bare soil is where the potatoes, onions and garlic had been - which is soon to be planted with broad beans to overwinter. The overwintering onions and garlic are going in where the carrots are about to come out!

 The greenhouse was equally productive, with 5 different types of tomatoes, cucumbers and my first aubergine to ever get to an edible size!

The 4 varieties of chillies and the 2 types of peppers cropped superbly and most are now nestled happily in my freezer.

We did have some anomolies amongst the 'Costulo Fiorentino' tomatoes - but I ate the red parts and am still here to tell the tale!

'Fort Sweetcorn' protected our best ever sweetcorn crop from the ravaging attacks of the foxes and badgers, allowing us to finally enjoy our full crop of sweetcorn rather than just getting the oddments the animals had kindly left behind! We've had roughly 50 corn cobs - all delicious so far :-)

Because I had interplanted, 'Fort Sweetcorn' had the added bonus of protecting the squashes as well. These 3 varieties cropped well but the Butternut squashes didn't and I have NO idea why.

A recent and decent hour's work!
...and the next day's pickings!

All of which lead to a flurry of cooking...this is the early stages of 'Old Dowerhouse Chutney' - a recipe from the Blessed Delia which has become a family favourite! :-)

This was one afternoon's work (it's a phone photo, so not as good a quality)

My grand total so far is:
8 jars of raspberry jam
8 jars of plum jam
8 jars of blackcurrant jam (with lbs and lbs of extra fruit in the freezer)
2 jars of Spitfire Sauce
4 jars of pickled cucumber
4 jars of pickled onions
3 jars of green tomato ketchup
3 jars of chilli oil
11 jars of green tomato chutney
14 jars of Old Dowerhouse chutney and
after my first ever experiment with American canning
5 jars of pickled French beans

The cooking apples are almost ready...but I'll need to stew and freeze most of them which may lead to a freezer crisis as both my freezers are full to bursting point. I'll just have to eat a lot in order to make the space then *sigh* .... a tough job, but I'm sure Himself won't be averse to helping out!

The only things that didn't work were the salad crops and herbs ...because the slugs and snails feasted on them :-(  I did plant some salad crops in trays in the greenhouse, which worked quite well but we didn't have the big crop I was hoping to get out of the ground.

That didn't bother me too much, but one event broke my heart!

My much loved (by me anyway!) 21 year old Land Rover finally failed its M.O.T., needing over £2k's worth of work on its chassis ... maybe I'd driven him through too many rivers and through too much deep mud over the years? - aaah, happy times!

Anyway, Himself sold him to the owner of the panel shop nextdoor to the garage and he's going to strip him down, rebuild him and then use him, so at least he will carry on being loved by someone else. I don't think I could have stood it if he's gone for scrap!

The final journey - and, yes dear readers, I wept!

He's been replaced by an eco-friendly, fuel efficient really girlie Kia Picanto...just not in the same league really. It's SO girlie that I couldn't even bring myself to put up a photo of it! Himself has promised me that I can have another Land Rover when we get rich......! Ho hum!


Pondside said...

Whew! That was a catch-up! You have been so very busy and had such great results - you put me to shame. Your place looks beautiful - and it was great to see your blog pop up on my sidebar!

BilboWaggins said...

What a wonderful catch-up. I'm going to spend much longer studying all the glorious photos when I have a little more time. Right now "recovering" from 5 hard miles today including the Whiteside ridge which was glorious. (Management in bath, Daisy flat out in front of fire, there will be no supper unless I move into the kitchen.)

So sorry the Lovely Landy has had to go ... sod eco-efficiency, fingers crossed it won't be long before you can swap the girlie Kia for a real car :}

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

Look at you with all your veg! I didn't sow any this year thinking I'd be moved by now so I'm a bit disappointed I didn't get to savour lovely fresh peas off the plant. Oh well, next year maybe.
Have you tried salad leaves in pots near the house? I often do this and they're really good actually. I grow the cut again ones and they've often lasted well into December - lovely fresh lettuce on my sandwiches the week before Christmas? Who'd have thought. But they do because they're protected by the house.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

So many news at once!
Open green space looks almost delicious! What a good place to rest an eye! I bet it feels great to finish an old project!
Your harvest is very impressive! Congratulations!

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Nothing wrong with taking a bit of a blog break, and good to hear that you had a great summer. It was super hot here, and we are not complaining about the wet autumn we are going through right now...need the rain.

Keep well.


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Honora, thank you so much. There is still - and probably always will be, plenty to do in the garden....but I have PLANS - Himslef says I always have plans! :-P

The veg garden has done us proud this year and I really do have a freezer crisis. My dad has 8lbs of damsons of mine in his freezer 25 miles away!

Nutty Gnome said...

Eyup Bilbo - I finally managed to get a comment posted on your blog then?!!!
I've been taking time out to do some more walking round here - so you'd all better come and visit us soon so that we can take you out on our favourite ones! :-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Liz. I have to confess that I am rubbish with pots!!! Anything in a pot that requires regular watering dies basically! Plus, the back of the house is north facing and quite dark near the house, the front of the house is south facing, gets very hot and we never use the front door so I would definitely forget to water pots out there!The green house and then the kitchen window sill worked fairly well though.

Pity you haven't managed to move yet - anything in the offing?

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Tatyana. Yes, having the lawn at the front is a huge improvement - and it'll be even better once the tree surgeons have been and lowered the crowns on a couple of rampant holly trees and thinned out the canopies on one holly and an ornamental cherry - but they've got protection orders on them, so we're just waiting for permission from the local council before they can do the work.
The other area down there that will be lawn is only about half the size, so we hope to get it done in spring - I've completed about 2/3rds of the clearing already.The front will really feel finished once that's completed!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Jen - yes, our weather this summer was great. I was keeping an eye on your temperatures though and was very grateful that we weren't have to deal with your heat!

It's ben warm right through to yesterday, but a cold front and lots of rain has hit today - Autumn appears to have arrived with a bang!

Wendy said...

Wow, everythign looks so gorgeous! I love that invention that He made!

Nutty Gnome said...

It has bee a fabulous year for crops this year Wendy...and I spent the weekend making sweetcorn relish - the very first time I've ever managed to grow enough sweetcorn to have any spare!!!, chilli jam, mango chutney, hot buttered rum apple pie and 12lbs of stewed apple for the freezer!

Himself is really a reincarnated Victorian inventor!

The Idiot said...

I have a ton of squash; don't know which ones are which, and now they've fruited I have less of an idea.

A Kia after a Land Rover? I feel your pain!

Nutty Gnome said...

If it's any consolation I have no idea what sorts my squashes are either - except that none of them are butternut squash!

The kia doesn't make my heart sing when I drive it :-(

sue catmint said...

great catch-up, you have done so much in the last 3 months, and if I have to choose between gardening and blogging, I always choose gardening too. But not the jam and the pickles and all that - I'm in awe of people who manage to do all that!

joey said...

So love catchin' up on your amazing/creative/busy life, dear Liz. Our friendship is golden like these lovely early November days. said...

I am so impressed with all your veg. You've inspired me for next year, I'm going to make raised beds and grow veg like yours.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Chloris, how lovely to see you. Thank you for your comments...blushing slightly now!
I've never used raised beds, but I know lots of people get really good results with them - and they're supposed to reduce the slug damage too...maybe I ought to use them then?!
Go for it and don't worry if some things don't grow well - it was a very steep learning curve for me when I first started 11 years ago, plus you can never predict what the weather will least here in Derbyshire you can't!
Good luck and enjoy! :-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Sue, yep I'd rather garden any daynot today as it's rained solidly for months now and the ground is in a right state!!
Jamming and pickling is easy, just time cosuming - I don't go in for all that stuff with jam thermometers and stuff though...I just cookit until it thickens up!Lots of the jams and pickles went into hampers for Christmas presents.

Nutty Gnome said...

Ah Joeyluv, my dear friend - so sorry for the delay in replying, Please don't think I don't value your friendship because I so do..just didn't look at Blogger for ages!
Life is busy as ever, but I'm aiming to be better at blthis year - and communicating in general! :-)