My lovely little H,
Yet another month has passed. Every month I think you can’t possible do as much as the one before, yet you continue to amaze me. Somewhere during this last few weeks I realised calling you ‘Mini H’ seemed wrong; So ‘Little H’ you now are. You discover a new word or skill everyday and I can’t and don’t want to keep up. But there is no stopping you so all I can do is take pleasure in watching you conquer the world. Here’s what you did in September!
Every month I try to post my ‘Five Favourite Finds’ for the month. They can be absolutely anything new that I have come across. The challenge: making sure I find five each month. Some months really do prove tougher than others but there is lots of fun had in the search. I’m using it to try encourage myself to find new things and also share my finds with you all to save you the leg work! So without further ado and in no particular order…
Over my birthday weekend we went to my in-laws (my Father-in-Laws birthday is the day before mine). My Mother-in-Law is an exceptional gardener and her garden is both wonderfully matured and maintained. So we arrived to see borders bursting with colour and life. I got back home and peered out to our garden – immature in my view, having only lived in the house since Autumn last year – and also neglected because I don’t have the time to spend on it that I used to in a pre-H world. I know my MIL and I have very different life situations but I still felt incredibly depressed about it. My garden in the old house had reached a point where year-on-year it looked amazing and now I’m back to square one. I needed to see some new life in it and I needed to see it now! So on our way to Music Train one Monday, H and I dropped by our local B&Q…
When we moved in to our last house in 2007, the garden was just bare patches of grass. After years of effort, with support from my Mother-in-Law, it had really matured and came back looking stunning every spring with minimal effort. When we finally moved in September last year, the thing I felt the most gut-wrenching about leaving was the garden; Many of those plants I had nurtured from something as small as my hand to fully matured and established plants. I would have loved to have taken them with me, but that garden was their home.
2015 has been another challenging year, but more for happy reasons that sad, especially when compared against last year. Whilst the losses of 2014 are still very much felt, the arrival of H at the start of the year brought a bit of sunshine back in to life again. It’s pushed me to many extremes but it’s ultimately been a wonderful year so here is the summary!
The weather over the last few weeks has been really up and down. The average temperature has certainly gone up but where last month the nights were still very cold, we have had a lot of hot days and quite muggy nights. With all of the new warmth, the garden has just exploded with growth and everything is getting bigger by the day. However, with some of the scorching days we have had over the last week, it has been a real reminder of the commitment a garden takes even when the seasons growth is becoming established; One night I forgot to water everything and goodness it was a sorry sight in the morning!
That said, we have been fortunate (from a gardening perspective) to get some rain over the last few days so everything is looking much perkier again without me needing to get out the hose. This has encouraged the grass seed I put out to really start growing, although it’s still looking rather patchy.
In other garden related news, the courgettes are in the vegetable plot now and the broad beans are flowering. I have also potted-up the peppers (the first pepper is already just starting to grow!) and the tomatoes will go out this weekend, all being well.
The peppers in their greenhouse to make sure they get plenty of warmth.
I made some baked rhubarb the other night with what I thought was the last of the crop. I had left a few stalks but no new growth was coming through so I removed the rest before it went to waste. But lo-and-behold, I went out earlier today to discover this:
The butternut squash plants are also coming along well. My second attempt at seed-sewing produced three more successful plants to go with the only one I got from my first attempt. The more mature plant is also going to go out and join the courgettes in the veg patch this weekend. Whichever of the other plants I decide to put out for the second one will still need a couple more weeks to mature.
Finally, the baby spinach and baby lettuce are coming along wonderfully (in fact I must sew my final round of seeds this weekend!) and we enjoyed our first home grown baby leaf salad the other day with cheese on toast and home made tomato chutney.
It’s always so exciting eating your own crops, however small the portion. I can’t wait for everything else to start producing tasty ingredients for us!
Several times in the last fortnight I have thought that I need to sit down and blog. But whenever I do, I immediately get distracted by the garden. The weather has been so nice for gardening recently – dry, not too warm and relatively still. It’s hard to sit inside knowing that I could be out in the fresh air. This really is a full-on gardening year for me and my on-going 100 Happy Days photo stream has really proven how much my plants cheer me up – 19 of the last 38 days have specifically been about the garden with a further 7 being about indoor plants or things associated with the garden! It really is a way to connect with the Earth and de-stress after the trials of the day – I’d recommend everyone take it up, even if it’s just a tomato plant in a pot. For inspiration, here are some of the most latest garden highlights:
The main flower bed is really filling out now and some new plants went in this weekend including, amongst many others, Lily of the Valley and Verbena:
My purple silver lace primula continues to look stunning:
The vegetable patch is really starting to fill out now (the plastic sheeting is there to keep the ground warm for things yet to come!):
We’ve already had one helping of the rhubarb and it’s still going strong:
The first earlies are also growing at speed. All 10 seed potatoes are sprouting in the main bed, with the others in the bag slightly ahead:
The Charlotte’s are also growing well. The Roosters only went in this weekend:
The onions are also coming along strong, although are still small enough to need protection from chick wire:
I also got the broad beans planted out early last week and they are already getting bigger. I’ll need to work out what to cook with them as these are my ‘experimental’ veg:
Also, today’s success was a team effort between Sam, my Dad and I. We assembled a bamboo frame for me to hang netting over later in the season to spare my crop from the birds, cats and squirrels. Doesn’t it look pro!
Finally, for fun, I have planted some giant sunflowers. They were re-potted yesterday and are already several inches tall. Hoping we can get some 6-8′ tall, but they have a bit of a way to go yet!
One of my friends started posting on Facebook last week with the hash tag #100HappyDays. I was intrigued so I searched for it; What I found was the http://100happydays.com/ website. In summary, it’s a challenge to find something that makes you happy in every single day for 100 days. Sounds so simple but even as a relatively cheery (albeit slightly cynical!) person I can often pass a day feeling quite down. So I decided to take part!
I’m tweeting my pictures everyday and using the #100HappyDays tag. But here are my first three Happy pics:
Sam and I have had a very busy weekend. The Watling Parents came round on Friday to help tidy-up the garden. I got home to a wonderfully clean and tidy front garden and a half complete back garden. They stayed over and we continued on in to Saturday (with me disappearing for a Saturday row, of course). Sam and his Dad also finally got round to boxing in a pipe in the kitchen. It was a very busy day, so one might expect we’d have a slightly more relaxed Sunday. No…
This morning we did an Evan’s Cycles ‘Ride-It’ Sportive event. It started near Brookman’s Park (about 15 – 20 mins drive from us) so we were up promptly at 7am to get there by 8:15am. They offered 4 ride lengths: Fun (15 miles), Short (30 miles), Medium (60 miles) and Long (90 miles). We considered giving the ‘Long’ a go, but settled for the ‘Medium’. Haha, I jest – we went for the ‘Short’; After the limited amount of cycling I have done this year, even that was a worry. The longest I have cycled this year is 17 miles and that was a struggle.
Sam had his Strava running as usual, so the map and cycling details are here. My moving time was probably a smidge longer than Sam’s – I had to dismount on a couple of hills and was slower on some others. But we finished together – I finished. Hurrah! I’m totally grateful I am not attempting London to Brighton this year. It was good to have a challenge though and I am feeling suitably weary now. Just to top it off, I spent 2 hours at home sanding and staining another panel of the conservatory. I started it last year but had to stop because of the winter. Now 5/7ths complete!
Right, now I need a(nother) cup of tea!
So another weekend has flown by, although the weather was almost too lovely this time! It was absolutely roasting on Saturday – about 27 I think. I am now sat, back at work, feeling rather bored and looking at what is supposed to be a dead pigeon lying in the light-well next to my desk. It is really quite horrid because it most certainly doesn’t resemble a pigeon except for the wings. The flies are also buzzing around now. Sorry, not the nicest thing to be sharing.
Going back to the weather, the garden is loving the heat! The courgettes are all doing well. Some are bigger than others but that is to be expected. at the moment, the biggest one is in a pot as well, which is most unexpected. I have spotted at least 6 or 7 courgettes growing too so think that this weekends courgette buying will hopefully be the last for some time! I also got a little "grow house" so I can put my peppers outside. It’s basically a miniature greenhouse made with a plasticey covering. I repotted the little seedlings and left them outside last night. They seemed okay when I checked on them this morning!
Also, wedding preps are going well. Most things have been sorted now. Sam is going to look at attire in a couple of weeks, I have a dress toile fitting at the end of June (plus fabric shopping), bridesmaids dresses have been brough, Sophie is coming up with lots of ideas for decor. There is just so much to do though – it’s very stressful.