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Spend two and a half minutes watching this short film about how community vegetable gardening is helping those caught up in the Balkan wars.  Read about it here on the Ecologist website.

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I am busy getting ready for a week long conference next week at work, so am unlikely to get a chance to post properly for a week or so. 

Hopefully I might be able to post some pictures this weekend of our allotment – we managed to get down there last weekend and do a bit of clearing.  It’s not very exciting but must be done!

Happy gardening all of your who are lucky enough to be in your gardens getting ready for the spring!

With the lovely warm weather and sprinkling of rain that we’ve had recently in the UK, my garden has been busy growing.  My blackcurrant bush has lots of bright green leaves and pretty lilac buds forming…

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While waiting for my own tiny lettuce seedlings I have ‘cheated’ by buying some plug plants.  My mom has a really good garden centre near her and they always have a fantastic selection of plants and plant paraphenalia.  I choose two different varieties: red baby gem lettuce and green batavia. 

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Because the tiny lettuces had been living in a greenhouse at the garden centre I was a bit concerned about putting them outside.  So I kept them for a night in our lean-to/porch, and then managed to recycle these glass jars (that had previously had bulbs in) by turning them upside down and making them into mini cloches. 

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I am so looking forward to the first salad of the season.  It is such an exciting time of year in the garden, plus with our new allotment we have also been busy digging, but more on that another day.

This past weekend has been largely spent outside in the garden.  The weather has gone unusually warm for this small wet island, not that I’m complaining, so I welcomed the opportunity to get outside and into my garden.

cherry blossom about to burst

cherry blossom about to burst

Last spring N built me four raised beds at the end of our garden for growing vegetables.  Because they were built so soon before the growing season, we literally built them and that was it.  All the grass between the beds got really long and difficult to cut during the summer and was a haven for slugs and snails!  Then over the winter it just got patchy and muddy from us walking on it.

before and after of raised beds - April 08

before and after of raised beds - April 08

So over the winter we decided that this year we would lay some anti-weed membrane and cover it with bark chippings to tidy it up a bit.  The weekend before last we managed to dig over all the grass around the raised beds, and this past weekend we successfully laid the membrane and covered it with bark chippings.  The layer of bark chippings is pretty thin due to our funds drying up, but soon we should be able to buy a couple more bags and finish the job off.  It looks so smart and completely changes the shape of how our garden feels – wider rather than long and narrow.

raised beds - March 09

raised beds - March 09

Just before Christmas I saw a beautiful picture in a book of a weathered picket fence covered in purple flowers and small orange pumpkins and knew that it would be a perfect way to keep my naughty bunnies out of the vegetable bed.  It was fine last summer once everything had got going and the plants were abundant because the bunnies could chomp their way through the parsley or hide in the pea plants and no one would notice a few bits missing here and there.

Borage eating veggies from the garden...

Borage eating veggies from the garden...

But at the moment when there are tiny seedlings and shoots are starting to emerge they are a nuisance!  They just decimate everything.  The poor chives – these vibrant green juicy blades that are poking out of the rich brown soil – they just get mown down leaving only an inch or so remaining.  I’m sure it’s very good for my bunnies digestion but not for my tiny plants.  So now I am saving for a picket fence, have saved in my Ebay list seeds for the Cup & Saucer plant which was the one in the picture with the large purple flowers and am armed with a packet of ‘Jack Be Little’ pumpkin seeds.

some of my indoor seedlings

some of my indoor seedlings

The other success from the weekend was sowing lots more seeds.  I feel so much happier now that I have planted another set of seeds, just knowing that with a little bit of water and tender loving care tiny shoots will soon appear.  In the garden I put straight into the ground a row of rainbow carrots (yellow it turns out are even sweeter than orange carrots), a row of ‘Guardsman’ spring onion, a row of ‘Paris Market Baron’ carrots (round and stumpy), and a row of ‘Paris Silverskin’ onions (perfect for pickling).

broad bean plants

broad bean plants

At the back of our house we have what can only be described as a sort of lean-to, badly constructed conservatory type boot room.  The previous owner had his washing machine plumbed in which took up most of the space, but we use it to store anything and everything, and during the spring and summer it becomes Seedling Central.  One-third is brick, and two-thirds is windows, a back door and a plastic roof.  It’s perfect for starting off seeds as it gets so warm, much like a greenhouse.

the beautiful plant after which naughty bunny 1 is named

the beautiful plant after which naughty bunny 1 is named

So in an assortment of trays and pots, I have planted from seed peas, broad beans, leeks, and a selection of lettuces.  I have also started off some dwarf sunflowers, borage, cosmos, and some special blue sweetpeas called ‘Charlie’s Angel’ from N’s mom.

newly planted dwarf sunflower seeds

newly planted dwarf sunflower seeds

I am so excited to see the tiny seedlings from my sowing session a couple of weeks ago springing up, and the broad bean plants are doing incredibly well – there is something so satisfying about their sturdy green leaves unfolding.  More updates to follow on how my seeds do.  Happy planting!

tiny lettuce seedlings

tiny lettuce seedlings

I’ve got lots I could write about from last weekend, and will try and cover as much as possible in the next couple of days. 

Friday night we made homemade fishfingers and chips.  We also turned over lots of our flower beds and dug out compost to add to our vegetable beds.

Saturday we made mushroom pate, Marmalade Gingerbread, and spicy prawns.  I went to B&Q in search of lights, and anti-weed membrane (how exciting!) and N spent most of the day unsuccessfully trying to remove stubborn wallpaper glue. 

And Sunday we made bunny shaped dunking biscuits for my colleagues little girl – they came round to see the rabbits.  We also had a lovely morning at the Hulme Community Garden Centre’s ‘Potato Day’ and came home with a basket of goodies for planting out.

Borage was a bad bunny – he was caught in a wooden trough, digging up bulbs and chomping on them. 

Borage pretending that he's a little angel...

Borage pretending that he's a little angel...

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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