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We are busy picking platefuls of raspberries, loganberries and strawberries from our garden.  The first of the raspberries appeared at the end of June, which seemed really early to me – anyone else finding that their raspberries are out earlier this year?

For all the cursing I do during the year about the raspberry canes that pop up in all the wrong places (like the middle of my raised veg beds!), and all the promises I make to pull out all of them over the winter, I can’t help but leave them when we get such a bounty during the summer.

The strawberries have all but disappeared from their original location (overtaken by the raspberries) but have sprung up in unlikely places.  If you pull back their parasol shaped leaves you discover lots of very sweet fruits – a wonderful surprise.

The loganberries are prolific growing over an archway, but I find if I don’t pick them in time many of them that still look ok have yucky little white maggot/caterpillas inside them – those ones go on the bird table.

We have too many raspberries and loganberries at the moment to eat, so I bung them in the freezer until a time when we have enough to maybe make some jam.  The strawberries are fewer so those we are eating.

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I’m not quite sure where to start following the sad demise of my robin babies.  It feels a bit soulless to tell you about the fab chip butty sandwiches we made or the lovely birthday party we had on the weekend with a group of our best friends.  So showing you some pictures of the little back yard at our previous house that we rented, which I transformed from a concrete square into a jungle of edible greenery, seems like a nice way to get back into the swing of things.

We rented a sweet little red brick terraced house for a year or so before we bought our first (and current) cottage together.  It was a two-up-two-down with a small yard at the back, but south facing which was a real plus and created a warm, sheltered pocket in our yard that was perfect for growing.

I’m going to practice writing shorter posts (as I seem to go on rather a lot!) and just give you lots of pictures to look at.  This is what we started with:

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Looking back it’s not the bland concrete postage stamp I thought it was – but really everything green you can see we put in. 

N built me three of these fantastic wooden troughs, which look so shiny and new – they are much more worn and aged looking now!

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I started to slowly fill in the space with pots, buckets and baskets brimming with plants.  One of the first things I planted in the garden was a honeysuckle that I wanted to grow up and over the shed – you can see that it did quite well and reached the top by the time we left.  N also built another larger, squarer trough that I used for growing peas and herbs:

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That summer I went mad with growing – peas, tomatoes, radishes, herbs, and many many more.  I also came to love spiders…at least in the context of them living in my garden…when I found this tiny miracle of nature strung between the honeysuckle:

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We enjoyed our first homegrown salads (those tiny purple and yellow heartsease are some of my finishing touches on a homegrown salad):

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I started my love affair with growing cucumbers.  We had trays of tiny cucumber seedlings on our bedroom windowsill, which later developed into these beauties:

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A colander full of homegrown spring onions, peas, pea shoots and parsley:

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This was a very special meal and I won’t forget it.  Everything you can see, apart from the flaked fish, was grown by my fair hands (and a helping hand from mother nature of course) – potatoes, pea shoots, spring onions, herbs, and nasturtium petals:

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This final photo is taken just before we left our little rented house to move into our current house, and this was the jungle I was talking about.  Everything just seemed to go bonkers (it was a very wet summer) and grow like mad.  It was so delightful to sit out here in the summer, surrounded by my own jungle, with the bees and butterflies buzzing about:

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Moving our garden to our new house was the trickiest part of our move, and we got some funny looks from passers by with our troughs of tomatoes that sat on our front drive for a couple of weeks.  You would think that moving to a house with a bigger garden would be great, but to be honest I have felt a bit intimated by my larger garden – the little yard was so easy to fill, so easy to overflow with lush green plants and colourful blooms. 

Some may think that I went a little OTT and that the yard actually looked better a little less cluttered, but I loved my little jungle.

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

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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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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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