I’d spoken a while back about creating a couple of new raised beds for growing vegetables but put it on hold as I thought no point this year. However I was full of energy today and decided that it was worth starting, at least installing a temporary bed as I had quite a lot that I could grow now.
As you can see Suzy was on hand to assist as usual. I’d marked out a rough size with bamboo canes. It’s a tad smaller than it will eventually be as I wanted to leave room for the new edging that is yet to be made. Also I plan to turn this into a raised bed so that it will have some good quality topsoil added and enable better root systems. Once the shape and sized was marked the shape was cut with a grass cutter and the grass removed with a spade.
Now was the real energetic bit, to dig the soil over and remove as many stones and old roots as possible. Of course at this point the sun came out in full and tried to bake me. But with a few refreshment stops I soon had this part competed.
It would be better if I could edge the patch somehow and after some searching through dads bits and pieces collection I found some lengths of wood that would do for now.
After some compost was added I marked out where I wanted to put each vegetable. I decided to plant spring onions, red carrots, 3 different types of radish, 3 different varieties of lettuce and spinach.
This spot is visited by Suzy and the birds quite frequently so the next stage was to place some netting over. Again I had this available in the garden shed. It was easy to place as I dropped it over my mini cloche frames for support. A quick drench, tidy up and labels in, job complete. Total spend, zero! I already had everything that was required. Now to wait patiently for the vegetables to grow.
So there we have another quick relatively easy garden project. Fingers crossed everything grows. I’ll leave you tonight with a few more photos from the exciting veg and flowers. Night x
On the 20th of April 2020 we had to say goodbye to Rich. This was also the day that the Sunflower family competition got under way.
As I mentioned previously Rich and I had started to grow the sunflowers back in March and his idea was that each family member would have one, nurture them, talk to them and look at it each day and smile. I know I for one always smile when I see my happy sunny yellow faces beaming against the fence.
So here goes the final sunflower blog for 2020. Let’s remind ourselves as well as to what everyone’s looked like back then.
Craig and Sam –
Craig and Sam started off so well. They kept their sunflowers indoors for a while. Even Cosmo left them alone
Then Sam and Craig transfered the sunflowers to the big wide world of their garden in pool. Again they were growing nicely until disaster struck.
Brian has arrived to the competition. I think he should have been in the race between the Hare and the tortoise but he said he had a keen taste for sunflowers and he began chomping away.
Jan and Lisa – (and not forgetting the adorable Libby) Again a good start out in Reading. Their tactic seemed to be leave them outside during the day and bring them in at night. This lasted for a while until the winds came and snapped Lisa’s sunflower head clean off. It was like a scene from the revolution in Paris. Lisa was mortified and also out of the running.
Jans flower however fell off the table in the wind very early on in the race and its top snapped straight off. Fortunately the sunflower fairy delivered some new sunflower seeds which were planted with haste but lots of love. The result was that Jan was catching up and back in the runnings.
Auntie Jeanie – over near Bexleyheath. We had to keep an eye on Jeanie, as they say it’s the quiet ones you have to watch and as a keen gardener she had lots of previous experience and knowledge. Sally the sunflower was a bit of a mystery. We didn’t know if it was in or outdoors to start with. But slowly and steadily Sally grew stronger, survived the high winds, hail and rain and is now looking beautiful.
Nanny Bev – now this was risky for Gerald. He started of growing indoors but was soon planted into a larger pot and positioned outside, sheltered by a wall. However Bev has two very big strong dogs, would they like to nibble Gerald as they do the bamboo? Now I know that Bev gave Gerald the odd feed here and there. Did this help, would she be the winner?
Jo and Ben – well when I say Jo and Ben its really just Jo lol Ben has outgrown growing sunflowers. SUNY sunflower as did all the plants started their life here in Jo’s greenhouse. SUNY even remained in the greenhouse for a few more weeks as he had a phobia of slugs and snails. He needed quite a bit of reassuring that he would be safe in his new container and next to the fence. Also he was promised full sunshine. What he didn’t expect was a massive hail storm, pounding through his leaves. Fortunately the flower hadn’t quite revellers itself and survived. SUNY was also joined a few weeks later by the sunny eight. Eight youngsters all fighting for the best spot by the fence.
So here are some of the highlights.
The first out of the competition was Lisa in edition 5. Beheaded, a nasty way to go. Second out was Sam and Craig in edition 6. Although the Sunflower healer was called in in edition 7, we heard in edition 8 that the sunflowers had been revived, however we didn’t get to the root of the therapy and after some consideration it was decided that some foul play had occurred and they were now out of the competition. Great effort though guys.
Jo’s sunflower was the first to bloom back in edition 5, closely followed by Jeanie in edition 7. Nanny Bev was in full bloom by edition 8 and wow, Jan’s seeds had put in a great fight. What was she feeding them. Her sunflower, Ginny was in bloom just after update 8.
It’s been great fun hearing all the sunny stories, tears with the disasters but the main thing is that the competition has kept us all smiling and hopefully the readers of this blog to. Rich would have loved all the comical stories, especially Sams and Craig’s. I think Rich may have grown his sunflower on the shed roof to gain that extra height 🤣
So the moment you have all been waiting for. Drum role please.🥁🥁🥁
4th place goes to Jeanie with a grand height of 121cm and a flower span of 12cm.
3rd place goes to Jan with a height of 134.5cm and a flower span of 12.7cm
But second and first I think has to be a tiebreaker
We have the second highest plant with Bev at 168cm and the tallest plant is Jo’s with 170cm. However in second place with a flower span of 14cm is Jo and in first place a whopping 18cm span is Nanny Bev.
Not in the running though was one of the SUNY eight. One of Jo’s sunflowers reached an incredible 175cm tall and a flower span of 23cm!
A huge thank you though to Rich for starting the competition. I know I for one think of him every time I see SUNY and the sunny eight dancing in the breeze or smiling up to the sun. Rich wanted us to keep smiling just like he did through the tough times and he certainly got his wish ❤️❤️❤️
Many years ago my vegetable patch was turned into the berry patch as I was often away in the summer when the vegetables would be ready to harvest. We started the patch being full of strawberries, but I have since added raspberry canes and this year hanging baskets with cherry tomatoes.
As you can see the strawberries have taken over in some places and the raspberries needed thinning out.
Some of the strawberry plants are also now three years old and they didn’t produce much good quality fruit this year so it was time to pull them up and add them to the compost.
Last year I had planted up some of the runners from the existing plants and they had been in pots so far. But now there is room to plant them out into the strawberry patch.
The early fruiting raspberries have now finished fruiting so it is time to cut them back. It’s quite easy to do as the canes have already turned brown so easily identify.
Whilst I was busy working in the patch I had a couple of friendly visitors not bothered by me at all.
Of course I had my reliable little helper on hand today also.
So there we have another productive day in the garden.
Sunflower update: The results are now in, all sun sunflowers have bloomed. Results will be revealed in Sundays sunflower special Blog.
Part one today of prepping for the new greenhouse extension. Yes I know I’m mad wanting to extend the greenhouse, but it will be worth it next year.
So tools at the ready, Jono here to help we set to work.
Part of the reason also for taking out the Laurel is that the roses on the arch are not getting enough sunlight, taking it out will make a big difference.
After a few hours of cutting and sawing the job was complete. Thee is a big empty space, however so much more sunlight is getting through and once winter comes we will move the arch and extend the greenhouse. The plan is also to put in a second water butt at the side of the greenhouse. It will all be concealed by a new trellis and climbing rose which I hope to relocate.
Tonight I thought I would make a couple of videos to give you a tour of the garden. The photos Ive taken are lovely of individual plants but I think l this will give you a feel for the layout and design. Hopefully you can hear me in the videos x x
Sunday mornings are for laying in bed. I haven’t laid in bed for months but today it seems I fell back to sleep and woke with a start at 9.
What to do today? It was drizzling with rain but lovely and warm, so after Suzy and I had been for a walk I set off down to the workshop. I wanted to check that I had the right attachments for the drill for a project I want to start later in the week. Luckily I do so hopefully the weather will be on my side on Wednesday. More about that later.
Last year Rich helped me to place an irrigation system in the bottom border. But sadly I left it out during the winter and it appears something nibbled it. After investigating the garden shed I had almost all the parts required to relay the system. The only parts that I was short on was the spikes to hold it into the ground. With my crafty head though I found the wire and fashioned some new ground spikes. Now we can begin.
Laying the hose was not an easy job on my own. Climbing in and out of the plants, trying not to stand or fall on any. But after a couple of hours I had the pipes in place with droppers by each area that I need to concentrate the water on. Time for the big switch on. This system is operated from the water butt that gathers water from the shed and greenhouse roof, so it’s so important that I remember to turn it off or else there wouldn’t be enough water for the greenhouse plants. I turned the taps and returned to the flower bed to see if I had successfully installed the system.
Much to my delight water was dripping slowly from each mini tap. Hooray.
That was a tricky job but I’m so pleased id managed it. Next job was to plant up a couple of Clematis that had recently been delivered. I thought Id ordered one but two arrived. I planted the first Clematis next to a Jasmine behind my compost bin and the other in the back border. Hopefully they will grow and I can train them to cover various sections of the shed and trellis. Snails though tend to be a problem here, so I fashioned a snail defence device from a plastic bottle and copper tape.
The garden has been buzzing with bees and butterflies today. They are loving all the flowers that were planted last year. Last night we also had a huge amount of flying ants take off from the Salvia pot.
For dinner tonight we were cooking up a roast chicken. I’ve been growing carrots for a couple of months now and tonight I pulled one up to find a plump red carrot. How joyful. I pulled up a few more and some rogue spinach that had seeded itself in the spring onions. It’s so rewarding growing your own. Until next time. X
Last weekend Ben and I packed up Miss Lexy and headed off to a campsite in Henley on Thames. It was a campsite I’ve been before with Rich on a few occasions so thought it would be a good place to return to as I would be doing all the van life bits without him.
We had a nice easy drive down, the M25 was the clearest I’ve ever driven. Clearly many people are still staying at home.
Arriving at the campsite was different to past check in’s as we had already been sent the gate code and pitch number so that there was no contact with the reception staff. This we managed to do and found our pitch with ease, Parked up and plugged Miss Lexy in. it was now that I started to realise this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. I knew how to do all the electrics and water ect but what I wasn’t used to was doing it all without Rich. We had such a routine, each knew what the other would be doing. We were the perfect team. It was a shock for myself how I realised a big part of our team was missing so it wasn’t going to be the same again.
Part of the reason for our trip was to have a well earned change of scenery the other was to meet up with Jan and Lisa. We had booked a lunch at the campsite on our arrival day. This was the first time I had eaten out since February due to lock down. We had to book in advance but that was ok our table was waiting for us and we ordered with staff in gloves and masks. My roast beef dinner was beautiful, although strange eating from a paper plate and wooden cutlery. It was great to catch up and after a few hours chatting Ben, Suzy and I returned to the van to relax for a while and enjoy the sunshine.
I put up our camping sofa and Suzy made herself at home immediately. One happy relaxed puppy.
The first night in the van was so strange. Ben was very comfortable in the roof space but I felt lost. My wonderful man wasn’t there sharing the space with me. We had such fun when in the van and this evening really made me realise how much I was missing him. We were so fortunate to have so many adventures and in the last year trips out and our honeymoon in Miss Lexy. My friends have told me to keep going, keep going away in the van. Rich will be watching me and supporting me in a way he can. ❤️
We made it through the first night. Ben woke early, makes a change 😂 so we got ourselves organised and walked into town to meet Jan and Lisa for another lunch out. The walk didn’t take long and it was so nice to walk through the streets with all the pretty houses and many flowers decorating them and the streets
Henley is famous for its yearly regatta but sadly this year the event wouldn’t be running. After our delicious lunch by the river we all went for a boat trip along the river towards Marlow. The sun was shining and the dogs seemed to love the sights and smells.
After a glorious afternoon Ben and I headed back to the campsite. More views of historical buildings and the old brewery.
Our trip was coming to a close. It’s going to take some getting used to but I will keep trying despite it not feeling right with out Rich by my side.
Today Bev and I headed off to the rose nursery near Leeds castle. I wanted to buy a standard rose to give some colour and height in the border. Rumwood nursery has the best selection of roses I’ve ever seen and great prices. We chose a yellow rose called sun blessed. It looks fabulous in its new location.
The rest of the afternoon was spent pottering in the garden, moving a few plants, enjoying a relax in the hot tub and a steak and chips dinner with Ben in the garden.
Lockdown has been frustrating, challenging and unknown. We have all missed seeing our friends and family. Going out for dinner, being able to just walk into the supermarket and going to the cinema.
Well today we did just that, we went to the cinema. Bluewater have put some newish films on for £5 a ticket, reduced the capacity by 50%, made everything contactless and strict cleaning.
A trip to the local shop to stock up on drinks and popcorn and off we went. Bluewater was fairly busy and still has it’s one way systems but easy to navigate.
The screen only had 5 other people in it. Plenty of space. Then they teased us with new trailers of Top Gun and James Bond. I can’t wait for them to be out at the cinema. We saw Jumanji two. A good film with some great actors and some comical moments.
It was a nice afternoon. It gave us a glimpse of the world getting on with everything despite the pandemic.
Once home I spent some time looking at all the plants in the garden. Some are coming on really well. Some have been chomped.
The greenhouse is doing well and the first melon has now appeared.
The first tomatoes on the big plants have appeared which is very exciting and the salad crops are doing so well, my salad tonight was 100% grown by me. Very satisfying.
There is also more beautiful flowers now, so colourful.
What a difference a day makes- one day your loved ones are with you, the next they have slipped away and those of us left behind have a gaping hole in our life.
Also in times like these you really do appreciate your friends, the messages of support and the kindly written words. I have received so many lovely words of well wishes and encouragement over the last few days. Complimenting me on how strong I’ve been. But the last few days have been so tough. Why do we feel more emotional and upset at birthdays? I’m upset everyday but this has been tough. Every time one of you has sent me a message or made a donation to the Ellenor I’ve cried again. I really do have amazing friends and family and I’m so thankful.
Some of you didn’t want me to be on my own today (yes Ben is here but he doesn’t usually get up until after lunch) So one of my friends arranged a surprise afternoon tea/ lunch which was held at Bev’s house. So much effort went into it. There were birthday banners, balloons and a prettily laid out table. Flowers and the most pretty birthday cake I’ve ever seen. Thank you it was so lovely but I can’t eat any more cake for a few days 😂
The spread consisted of sausage rolls, savoury scones, plain scones, fruit scones, carrot cake, chocolate cake, and this huge birthday cake. Not forgetting tea and Pimms.
Ben made me chuckle this morning. When he got up he apologised for not wrapping my gift up properly. He didn’t know where the wrapping paper was kept. I think he improvised very well ☺️
First thing this morning I took Suzy for her play date with some of the local pups. Normally she plods along the path, sniffing and peeing her way along, but no not today. She knew, I was pulled along, not a single stop until we reached the field then she was off. A very happy puppy.
Once again thank you all for being there for us. It’s very much appreciated and we couldn’t have got this far without you x x
What a windy week it’s been. Has everyone survived? Are all the sunflowers in one piece still? Let’s find out.
Sam and Craig – last week we heard that they had been in touch with a sunflower healer. Part way through the week I was updated with the good news that they were well and truly back in the race. It did appear on first glance that magic had happened in Poole, however a birthday video call later in the week showed up some sunflowers on the dining table. They had cleverly tried to fool us. Great effort guys
Auntie Jeanie – We have a weather beaten Sally this week but she is still holding her roots and dancing to the windy beat. She even seems to have another bud forming. Well done Sally.
Nanny Bev – Gerald can’t make up his mind this week. He now wants to be called Geraldine. Why I hear you ask? Well it appears Geraldine is having babies too☺️ congratulations.
Joand Ben – SUNY is still in bloom but near the end of his petals now. However the great news is he is getting ready for the next show with some more buds. As long as he can hold on in these blustery winds. It’s appears the sunny eight are dancing away with SUNY as they blow this way and that, again just holding on my the skin of their roots. Fingers crossed they will survive.
Jan- We have been informed this week that Jans flower is no longer nameless. I guess sunflowers can grow into their names and this is no exception. Introducing the one and only Ginny come lately. She is late to the party but look at her. Tall and strong (and being pampered by going for a trip to the summerhouse to avoid the high winds.)
A few have asked when will our sunflowers be judged, well the plan is that those in bloom can now measure the height and width of their plant, and once we have all the measurements a winner will be announced. Jan’s may follow in a week or so as it’s playing catch-up.