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How does your garden grow?

6 Jun

Are you growing any fruits, vegetables or herbs this summer?

Unfortunately we don’t really have any outdoor space in our flat, so we’re a little bit limited as to what we have space to grow. But I love having fresh vegetables and herbs during the summer months, so I always try to go something!

This year I’m growing tomatoes, peppers and basil. They all seem to be doing well – the tomatoes exploded during the few weeks of nice weather we had recently, which I am incredibly excited about. I have never grown so many – usually each plant gives me 10-15 tomatoes if I’m lucky. This year it looks like we might actually have a glut, something I have always read about but never quite experienced for myself!

The basil is just a supermarket plant, but seems to be surviving quite well. I try to cut it back (and eat it!) once every week or so, as it’s been growing really quickly.

And finally the pepper plant. This is the newest purchase – I bought it from Brixton market around two weeks ago. After a couple of days it transpired that it was infested with green fly, but after washing each leaf carefully with soap and warm water, that appears to have gone away.

I did also have an aubergine plant, but it sadly passed away about a week after I bought it – I think the pot I put it in was too small.

The two things I have done this year which appear to be doing wonders are 1) reusing the water when I boil eggs at the weekend – I let it cool down and then water the plants with it – the egg shells act as a natural fertliser! and 2) I have planted a marigold in with the tomatoes – I heard somewhere that this keeps green and black fly at bay and so far, it’s been working a treat!

Do you have any tips for growing veg indoors?

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A Christmas Tree isn’t just for (one) Christmas

12 Nov

Every year I buy a real Christmas tree. I don’t have anything against artificial ones, I just love the smell and the tradition of getting a real one. But they are getting more and more expensive every year, especially if you want a tree that doesn’t drop it’s needles and since I insist on putting up decorations on 1st December that’s quite important in my house.

This year I decided to buy one in a pot. They come with some roots on and if you look after it there’s a chance that you can put it outside for the year and bring it in again the following Christmas – two years of tree for the price of one.

The roots were starting to grow out of the bottom of the pot it came in, which is a good thing because it proves the tree is growing, but it was obviously running out of room and the soil it was potted in didn’t seem great quality. So, I decided to pot it up with some new soil into a slightly larger pot. I just happened to have a nice red one the right size but you could buy one specially.

I cut the tree out of its existing pot so as not to rip the roots which had grown through.

Then I loosened some of the roots with my fingers so they can spread easily into the new soil.

Put some new soil into the bottom of the new pot, stand the tree on top of it, making sure the top is well below the top of the pot and start to fill around the sides with soil. Make sure it is straight! This is quite difficult and you might need someone to help so one can hold it and turn it round to see all angles while the other looks from a short distance. Once happy, press the soil firmly and give it a good water. I’ll keep an eye on it until I bring it in for decoration in December and keep it watered when needed until next year. I’ll update you on the tree’s progress in 2012!

PS At the DIY store I also got these Violas to refresh my window boxes at a knock down price of 30p!

Growing spring onions

7 Nov

I saw this post on Pinterest about growing spring onions – apparently if you place the ends, with roots, in a small glass of water, the greens will continue to shoot out, giving you a perpetual source of spring onion.

I have to say, I was not really convinced, but thought it was a cool idea. I popped the ends of some onions into some water and one week later – ta da!

There is around 2-3 inches of regrowth on each of them already! This week I have had to buy some new spring onions for cooking, but next week I reckon there will already be enough for me to use.

I know that spring onions aren’t the most expensive item in anyone’s shopping basket, but so often I buy them, use one, and then the rest of the pack gets binned. This should not only save money, but also stop that pang of guilt every time I throw 5-6 unused ones in the bin. So clever!

Milly-Molly-Mandy’s Things to Make and Do

22 Oct

I loved Joan Lankester Brisely’s Milly-Molly-Mandy books as a child, so much so that I still have the two I used to read. So when a friend from Macmillan publishers sent me this new book I was thrilled. One of the things I loved most about the books was that MMM often made things and the story told you exactly how she gathered all her materials and how she made the item. Without looking back at the books I remember a story about a patchwork teacosy and one about how she turns a penny into something more by making and selling things and trading up (MMM was a business woman at heart!).

Things to Make and Do is split into chapters for Kitchen, Garden, Outdoors, Sunny days, Rainy days and one for each of the seasons.  There are lots of projects I remember doing as a child eg making Coconut Ice, decorating blown eggs, camping out and making pom poms. I like that the original illustrations are used, it’s nicely and simply laid out and would make a lovely gift for a child who likes to craft.

Make Your Own Herb Tea

24 Sep

A friend bought me a present of a Lemon Verbena plant a while ago and mentioned that it made nice tea but I forgot about it until I read the page on tea in Queen of Crafts.

I simply cut a sprig of leaves, wrapped them in kitchen paper and placed them in the airing cupboard for a few days. Once dried, I picked the leaves from the stem and put them in an airtight tub.

To make the tea sprinkle a few leaves into a cup of boiled water or, if you don’t like having the bits in your drink, make a pot, leave for a few minutes and then strain it.

A simple, easy and cheap way to add some choice to your drinks. Plus as you’ve grown it yourself you know there are no additives or sweetners. It’s about £2.50 for a box of 20 teabags which is more than the price of a whole plant from Nicholson’s Herb Farm. They also give some tips for other uses for Lemon Verbena, for example: adding the leaves to jams, jellies, ice creams, sauces and savoury stuffings or using it to make pot pourri.

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