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This afternoon we popped down to the Walton Lea Garden Party in Warrington.  We went last year and it’s always a lovely opportunity to go and enjoy their pretty walled garden and buy some gorgeous homegrown vegetables and fruit. 

We had a nice wander round the walled garden whilst munching on teeny tiny cupcakes – literally a mouthful.  I so enjoy seeing vegetables and fruit growing in such a beautiful old walled garden and going to the Walton Lea Project is almost like going to a National Trust garden.

Everything is looking a lot more parched and dry than last year what with all this steaming hot weather we’ve been having recently. 

But there is some gorgeous vegetables – like these stunning onions, all of which are for sale in the shop…

There is also a lovely selection of bedding plants and some good sized fruit bushes (redcurrant, whitecurrant and jostaberry) for a very good price – I would like to come back and get a few for the allotment.

We came away with…a selection of yellow and green courgettes, a punnet of redcurrants (destined for the pot to make a relish to go with a bacon and brie sandwich Mr Rigg fancies) and a punnet of blackcurrants (possibly for blackcurrant cordial)…

They were out of blackcurrants when we arrived, so whilst we enjoyed a stroll around the walled garden, someone went off to collect us a punnet of them!  Where else do you get service like that?!

And this gorgeous bunch of sweetpeas picked from their walled garden – and for only £1!

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So on the way back from the Cotswolds to Cheshire, the little sister and I stopped at The Organic Farm Shop – a great place on the outskirts of Cirencester near to where my family live.

I love visiting the farm shop and cafe, and I never need an excuse to pop in to pick up a few goodies.  And they have lots of goodies!  Loads of what they sell is grown or produced by the farm – from eggs and meat, to butter and cheese, and vegetables and flowers.

After driving down their tree-lined lane, past the fields of produce, the first sight we were greeted with outside the shop were buckets of gorgeous seasonal flowers and tubs of seasonal berries.  Share with me, for a moment, their beauty…

So on the way home from work, N and I met up at our allotment to dig up what seems like ten tons of potatoes.  They are happily stored away in an assortment of saved paper bags.  I took a wander round the allotments and took some snaps of the lovely plots that other people have – none of mine this time, it’s looking more like I’m cultivated weeds…

The nice man who owns the plot next to us is growing these beauties…

yellow squash

And another plot that is stunning and designed like a garden complete with lawn and benches has a fence that is partly covered in a vine.  In amongst that vine are these dark, glossy green squash…

green squash

There are purple beans…

purple beans

Giant cabbages…

cabbages

Yellow courgettes and their delicate flowers…

yellow courgette

Greenhouses overflowing with ripening tomatoes…

greenhouse tomatoes

…fattening cucumbers…

cucumbers

…and onions drying…

drying onions

There is corn as tall as me…

sweetcorn

Blackberries are turning in the brambles surrounding the allotments…

blackberries

Apple trees are groaning beneath the weight of their laden bows…

apple tree

There are pears plumping up…

pear tree

pears

And fat marrows discarded by the path…

marrows

One lucky plot owner has in one small space two types of apple and a plum tree at the back, all of which are sagging, heavy with fruit…

fruit trees

The final burst of sweetpeas are overshadowed by their neighbours…

sweetpeas

Mallows, hollyhocks and scrambling nasturtiums are taking over where the poppies were…

cottage flowers

And jolly sunflowers bob in the breeze…

sunflowers

My allotment offers up one final surprise of early summer – another crop of ruby red strawberries, sweet and juicy…

late summer strawberries

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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