In the Garden – June Update

As I said sometime earlier, I’d like to do a monthly update of what’s going on in the garden. It’s purely for my own purposes so I can look back on it next year and find out how much further forward or behind we are, so don’t feel the need to read it, unless you suffer from insomnia.

So here goes…..

In the “greenhouse” I’ve got Snowball Cauli and Purple Sprouting broccoli, both grown from seed. They’re a bit lopsided as I didn’t plant them on quick enough. Not sure how they’ll work out but that’s all my fault. Also got lots of herbs growing from seed for, hopefully, planting out in the new herb boxes made by dad. The red peppers are coming along at last, although the chilli peppers from a growing kit bought last year, don’t seem to be thriving at all unfortunately.


Cauli’s and Broccoli


Red “bell” peppers


Pot of mint from mum’s and tiny mint grown from seed


Baby herbs










Also in the greenhouse I’ve put in winter pansies and hollyhock seeds ready for some autumn colour (hopefully!)

Moving into the main garden, the potatoes are going great guns still and have flowered beautifully. Katherine’s sunflowers and tomatoes are all doing well in their bright orange buckets (far better than ours in the garden actually – humph!). I built a cage for the cucumber this weekend to save the fruit growing on the floor, and that seems to be holding up okay so far (miracles do happen!). There’s new growth on the Arthur Bell roses (still in pots), orange tree and Christmas cactus, and Sheila’s Mrs. Sinkins white/pink, the amazing Twisted Celosia “Hot Topic” and Clematis are all looking very good too. The pot of wildflowers from a pack of seeds from BBC Countryfile are going ….well….wild, and we’re looking forward to finding out what’s there (and trying to identify it!).

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The dahlia hiding at the back of the leeks is coming along quickly after the weekend’s rain, and the lettuce is looking largely unmunched and lovely – not sure when to pick it though?! How do you know when it’s ready????

The beans are reaching the tops of their canes and have LOADS of lovely red flowers on them (at the moment!).


Moving down the garden the carrots are very thick and close set but I’m a bit worried about carrot fly and thinning them – it seems to me that you have to do it in the middle of the night, using tweezers, under netting and wearing full head to toe protective clothing – right?

The Yarcombe Chard donated by Brenda from work has been the most successful thing in the garden so far and is brilliant, fast growing and very, very handy to have around when I’ve forgotten to buy veg. The peas are starting to get a bit bigger at last and have flowers on them too thankfully. We also have sprouts and cauli planted in that area.


Right at the bottom of the garden we have rhubarb donated by Sharon, sweetcorn, duly planted in a circle (essential apparently) and three sunflowers grown from seed. IMG_1369

The sweetpeas are still dwarf but at least are big enough to tie up a bit! The Cosmos are still a great joy and seem to keep on flowering and flowering (hurray!) and both little pots of violas together with the hanging basket with them in, bought from the reduced shelf at Homebase have done remarkably well. The tomatoes are a bit of a worry…..those donated by Mrs. Smith and Sheila are doing fine, as are the cherry ones grown from seed, but the grafted Indigo ones have leaf roll which means they’re stressed – not half as stressed as I am with them being stressed!!


Over to the flowering side, all seems to be going well. The mesembryanthemum seeds which I recklessly put straight into the bed as seeds have started to come up in satisfying little clumps – can’t wait to see their lovely happy flowers! The geranium donated by Linda is thriving although it is a bit top heavy and needed a lie down after the rain we had. Everything else is coming along nicely. The pear tree that was rescued from being dumped is starting to get established, the leaves have stopped going brown and there’s new growth on it. The hydrangea is going to be spectacular soon – hopefully – and the big green bushy thing by the bird feeder has surprised us by having gloriously soft pink flowers – which has probably saved it’s life to be honest!

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The Acer is beautiful, though needs a bit of pruning later in the season to make up for what looks like years of neglect. We might try moving it to the front of the house at some point in the future but I’m not sure if it would be too sunny for it there.

The courgette donated by Rosie is going mad! It seemed to double in size after the rain at the weekend and has had lots of lovely flowers so fingers crossed that we will get some courgettes from it!

Finally (phew!) moving to the front of the house, the planter potted up by Kev is an absolute joy and makes me smile every time I come home.


If you’d have told me even 6 months ago that I’d be so excited about the garden, I don’t think I’d have believed you. Long may it last!


Foodie Photo Challenge – B is for Butternut Squash #A-ZFoodiePhotos

So, we’ve squished and we’ve squashed and here are the results of our Butternut Squash foodie challenge.

Frances has shown us a simple but delicious way to use the squash – very handy to know as I’ve never tried it this way before. She roasted it in olive oil, salt and pepper and added some soy sauce. Looks very tasty!

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Linda’s recipe for butternut gnocchi with sage and Parmesan sounds brilliant! I’ve never made any sort of gnocchi, or even eaten it, so it seems beyond clever to me!

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Now, I admit to having had a bit of a disaster with mine… I made butternut squash cupcakes and went so wrong somewhere along the line that I ended up with a loaf cake too! Initially I went messed up by making the very basic mistake of not reading the recipe right and missing the fact I needed quite a large amount of Olive Oil. I drained the end of our bottle and then had to resort to jimmying off the lid of a bottle of 1 cal Olive Oil spray to make up the difference! The cakes were very tasty the first day but seemed to disintigrate into a greasy mess a couple of days later – not exactly a success I’m afraid!


Chocolate next! Bring it on!!

H is for … Happy

So what is it exactly?! A very portly dwarf from Snow White? A very annoying song which appears to be superglued in the charts? Or the official view which is…

hap-py (hapē)

1. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

“Melissa came in looking happy and excited”.

2. fortunate and convenient

“he had the happy knack of making people like him”

(find the second one a bit odd, but there you go – it’s official!)

So, this elusive thing. Should we just be glad when we feel it, or should we try to document it? I’m coming down on the side of the first choice here. I recently TRIED a project called 100 Happy Days. Google it if you want a full description, but basically the idea was to submit a daily picture of what made you happy and to submit them with a hashtag to Facebook or other social media outlet. I thought it sounded brilliant and was convinced I wouldn’t be one of the 71% of people to “failed” the challenge. But, I lasted less than a month. Personally I don’t think I’ve failed but it’s a difficult concept to comply with. Not only does it assume that the happy thing is material or capturable, but that you’ll have a camera or mobile accessible at the time. And, the biggest downside, is that it makes you realise how much of the time you’re NOT ecstatically happy! So, to me it seems a much better thing to actually take the time to realise you’re happy, enjoy it, pack it away in your head to bring a smile at times you need a smile and move on to finding the next happy thing. By all means take a photo if you have a camera handy, but don’t add to the stress of life by forcing a happy capturable moment every day.

Oh, and be happy!