From Pot To Plate – Getting Seedy

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I had accumulated quite a seed collection – I had seeds left over from last year, I had bought seeds over the winter and I had received several many packs free from the magazines I had purchased and read for ideas.

A trip to a local hardware store saw me buying several windowsill propagators, some little cardboard plant pots and a large bag of compost.

I was prepped and raring to go.

I set about planting some vegetable seeds – tomatoes and courgettes initially. But my enthusiasm grew. I moved on to beetroot, spring onions, radish, carrots, different types of tomatoes, herbs, peppers, butternut squash, Turkish squash – I even planted watermelon. Then there was the flowers… Zinnia, petunia, ladybird poppies, Maltese cross, lavender, sunflowers.

The kitchen table was burgeoning.

So was the kitchen windowsill.

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I stopped at a different supermarket on the way home one evening and saw some fruit plants. I filled my trolley with raspberry, blackberry, gooseberry, wine berry, white currant, blackcurrant, redcurrant…

And our local garden centre had some strawberry plants.

“Yes, I’m Mrs Six, and I have a problem”

So now I needed a place to house them all.

Mr Six had a gig booked one Saturday night so Whilst he was out, I started looking at plastic greenhouses. Then that led me to glass greenhouses. But I couldn’t justify spending big bucks, especially as I was a novice so I looked for a second hand one. Then I saw exactly what I needed…

Rather than wait to discuss it with Mr Six, I bought it. I was now the owner of a polytunnel!

From Pot to Plate – feathered junkies

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a ‘Pot to Plate’ post.

This is counselling.

Mr Six is a very caring man. He loves to help. He’s one of the good ones.

And to this end, he had been quite keen to have a bird table when the garden was finished.

When we were visiting my lovely sister-in-law a few months ago, she levelled a warning at my husband – do not start feeding the birds; they’ll eat you out of house and home.

And she was right!

Last year Mr Six started off with a cheap bird feeder, filled with seeds or something, hung from the tree. And then a second appeared. This might have been filled with something different.

Anyway, the birds came. And they did indeed eat a lot.

We also had squirrels. Which is sweet.

At first.

But they are clever little buggers and will destroy your feeders.

So Mr Six had to buy squirrel proof feeders. And things to put suet blocks in to. And tubes for fat balls. And things for nyger seeds. And sunflower hearts.

Then we had a brambling. Which, apparently is a bit of a thing

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The birds came in droves (is that a thing?) so Mr Six started to split out the food. The larger birds prefer the suet so Mr Six leaves this food in the feeders in the trees. Whilst the smaller birds will come down to the seed feeders in the garden.

They now all eat a lot.

Basically, he’s now the birds’ bitch.

We used to be cool.

Now he wears crocs.

And spends Saturday nights, up a ladder, in his pyjamas, Filling the bloody feeders…

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From Pot to Plate – X marks the excavation

So I had a bit of a plan.

Munchkin and I had drawn out the garden and had a bit of a think what we would like.

You can view our grand design.

The area between the old pond and ‘Grandma’s Garden’ was a little bit of a nothing space. We had an old, existing fuchsia and I had bought another small one and potted it on. And I had started to grow some claret sunflower seedlings  to pot on in troughs. The idea was to blend the reds around the pond with the pastels of ‘Grandma’s Garden’. (This will be explained  in a future post).

We’ve lived in this house for over 10 years now. I knew that there was a paving slab within the lawn space between the pond and Grandma’s Garden and I decided to grab the edging tool and liberate the slab along its front edge from its grassy gaol.

As I edged, I discovered that it wasn’t one, but two slabs. Then a third. Then a fourth! I was so pleased with myself. I was proper smug.

Then I set about clearing the grass from along the side. And again, there was another and another and another. Oh I was smuuuuuuuug. Like the smuggest of all smugness.

4 slabs across.

4 slabs deep.

I had discovered a little patio. Me! Without help! I had discovered – and excavated – a 16 slab patio.

It’s close to the bird feeders (have I mentioned the bird feeders?? Jeez, they need a post all of their own! Mr Six has created his own little feathered junkies), sheltered from the wind by the neighbour’s bloody big tree that litters the garden with its waste leaf detritus – and it catches the evening sunshine.

It’s like a little slice of heaven in our own little potted paradise.

And I found it!

Did I mention, I excavated that bloody patio. On my own!

From Pot to Plate – Grand Designs

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The polytunnel is ticking over nicely.

Mr Six still lives in hope of regaining the kitchen table, because as seedlings were moved out into bigger pots and into the polytunnel, I ended up planting more seeds. Because, well, I’m impatient.

Not all the seeds are for food. There are flowers too.

I’m no designer. I have no flair for art. I’m not great at interior design. I know what I like and I know what I want.

Munchkin and I drew out a little idea. Admittedly, it’s not much. But in my head, it looks lush. The colours. The fragrances. The different areas representing things that matter to us.

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Leaving our kitchen, leads you on to a patio and a stoned area by the shed. Last year, I painted the shed green to help blend it in a little and this year I want to plant anemones in tubs just in front for a burst of colour. The polytunnel sits behind the shed on a patch of ground that has been a real issue for the last few years as we didn’t know what to do with it.

Then there is the butterfly garden. This is what kicked off the entire project last year – Munchkin’s nasturtium seed from Bodnant Garden. I bought tropical buddleia last year and now I have lots of Lilliput Zinnia seedlings to put in here, along with lavender.

Across the back of the garden I want lots of different purple and white flowers, some tall climbers, some groundcover and everything in between.

Around the old pond I envisage lots of red plants; geum, ladybird poppies, geranium (my grandad loved geranium) and Maltese cross. My dad was a lifelong LFC supporter so a sea of  red flowers seemed entirely appropriate.

There is an existing fuchsia nearby and we have bought another to compliment it.

The plan is to pot on my claret sunflower seedlings in troughs along the hedge and to create a flower bed to house the pots and plants we brought from my mother-in-law’s house.

There is a lot of work to be done but I’m excited to see where it takes us.

From Pot to Plate – Moving Day

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I woke up and couldn’t wait to get started.

The ground had been weeded and levelled the previous day, the polytunnel was in position, the sun was shining and we had no plans.

I spread ground sheets out to prevent the weeds coming back too quickly and wondered if I’d made a mistake buying such a big polytunnel. When empty, 2m x 3m feels HUGE!

I erected my staging and started repotting my seedlings into larger pots before moving to their new home.

When they were in the propagators and tiny pots, there didn’t appear to be too many. However, once in the bigger pots, the 10 courgettes took up rather a lot of room. so did the fruit plants that I bought. Add in the pots for the tomatoes, peppers and squash and there was barely any room.

Barely any greenery as they were so small, but so many pots.

As I did last year, I’m enjoying the solitude and headspace that gardening gives me. Each evening I get in from work, greet our boys, get dinner started then head out in to the garden for a few minutes to check the progress. The warm weather and beautiful sunshine has had a profound effect on the rapid growth of my plants.

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And now I’m possibly looking for another polytunnel to site somewhere else in the garden. You know, just for lots more plants and stuff. But these rumours remain unsubstantiated (in case Mr Six happens to read this)

From Pot to Plate – Going Green(house)

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It arrived.

The Polytunnel was here!

I was very excited. Obviously.

And I think Mr Six was excited too. About getting the kitchen table back. And being able to see out of the kitchen windows without his view being obscured by pots and seedlings. Without me fannying around in the kitchen and making a mess.

It was a beautiful day but we were busy, making the most of our week off work and getting out and about. However that evening  after dinner, Mr Six and Munchkin took off to a local field for a game of football and I couldn’t wait to get started.

The instructions were clear and I laid everything out. I was making great headway and by the time the boys returned home, I was almost done. (I did require Mr Six to help with the holding of the arches and the tightening of the screws though). I inched the cover on and stood back to admire my handiwork.

Then it dawned on me that there was nowhere to put it. Well, there was. I had the space but it wasn’t prepared. It was weedy and uneven. so the following day Mr Six and I set about remedying this. We weeded and Mr Six dug it over and levelled it.

Then we moved the polytunnel into position.

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Behold the beauty that is my new ‘office”.

All 2m x 3m of pure perfect plant housing and I couldn’t be happier.

What do you eat at a BBQ?

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When the weather heats up, meal planning invariably leads to eating outdoors – but when people find out that we’re vegetarians, they ask “But what do you eat at a BBQ?”

Well, when Mr Six and I first stopped eating meat 30 years ago (when we were at school) the meat-free choices were limited; Sunday roasts saw a lump of spongy material, soaked in a stock until softened then served up with vegetables and mince was a rather sawdust-like affair. But now things are very different…

Supermarkets are awash with meat-free alternatives, both own label and trusted brands (such as Quorn and Linda McCartney); sausages, burgers, nuggets, fillets, mince, ‘meatballs’, breakfast patties, the choices are (almost) endless.

We have recently discovered the vegan offerings from Iceland. This range offers those who don’t eat meat – and those looking to cut down on their animal based consumption – really delicious meal options.

We absolutely love the No Bull ‘meat’ balls with homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti as an easy midweek dinner. And the No Porkies Pulled Pork burgers are a real treat, as are the No Bull Jalapeno burgers.

But  the biggest hit with us all is the original No Bull burger. It’s a wonderfully moist, thick, beetroot burger that cooks equally wonderfully in the oven as well as on the BBQ and is just as happy in a  bun with a bit of salad as it is totally dressed up in the Big Triple bun with all the works.

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A great big, fat, dirty burger – two No Bull burgers on a Big Triple bun, dressed up with lettuce, tomato and cucumber, a slice of burger cheese and some gently fried red onions – served up with Hash Brown Fries

Now, who would turn this absolute stunner down?

Meat-free is far from bland! We’re eager to try the No Moo chocolate puddings next. Guilt free naughtiness is the order of the day 😊

What’s your go to veggie meal?

 

From Pot to Plate – Getting Started

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Last year, we met up with family at Bodnant Gardens and Munchkin was given a nasturtium seed to grow. I had wanted to grow a butterfly garden for a little while so this seemed the perfect starting point. I researched plants and decided on tropical buddleia, lavender and zinnia. I also had cornflowers and clary sage. They looked so pretty

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Discovering my dad was ill. Getting in from a busy day at work. Coming home from visiting my dad in intensive care. Parenting two teens through exams. It gave me head space. It provided me with solitude and time to think. Or not think. It was just what I needed.

At the beginning of this year, we decided to have the taller trees in the garden crowned and the men trampled the borders and destroyed the edging that I had installed. I felt pretty downhearted. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get involved again – but then I looked over my photos from last year and could see mistakes that I had made and knew what I wanted to do…

The flower beds definitely needed tidying. The flower choices had been too bold and this was a great point for starting afresh. I drew out the garden, planned a new bed to place the pots we had taken from my mother-in-law’s house and planned a few vegetables.

Last year I had a ‘plastic greenhouse’ that I picked up cheaply. It housed tomatoes and herbs. Everything was doing really well – until a bloody big storm blew it away. So this year I wanted a proper greenhouse.

And that’s the starting point for this year’s project. It’s growing arms and legs, but I do hope you’ll join us for the ride.

 

The day I abseiled…or did a charity ‘building dangle’

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A few weeks ago I got an email from our local town council as the Mayor was planning on abseiling down a local building to raise money for her charity appeal ‘Save a Life, Make a Difference’, which supports a hub that provides a counselling service for suicide prevention, depression, self harm and those that cannot access a private service.

There was a limited number of places available to join her, so I rang Mr Six to make sure we were free, checked with my boss that I could have time off and then emailed to confirm my place. The last 12 months have been hard and I felt that I really needed to do something positive.

My sponsorship form filled up quickly over the next week with incredibly generous offerings from my family and friends and when the day came, I could barely contain myself. Despite the horrible, grey rain, I spent the morning staring out of the window, willing the time to come.

As the hours passed, the weather started to improve and by the time we made our way to the venue the sun was out and it was a beautiful balmy evening.

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I met up with my fellow abseilers, had a quick chat and then we were taken into a room for a health and safety check, got kitted out with helmets and harnesses then led up to the roof.

The views were breath taking! We were given time to take it all in, to wave to the crowds that had gathered and then the time came.

I climbed over the barrier, perched on the ledge and leant back to remove the slack.

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AMAZING!

I absolutely loved it. I wanted to run straight back up to the roof and do it all again. And again.

I met some inspirational people, raised money for an incredible charity and had the best time doing it.

As I unharnessed, a lovely gentleman came over and said, “I got a photo of you flying” and here it is.

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THIS is how it feels to fly. And to be a little it more…me

Making a meal of it -roasted vegetable pie

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Healthy eating is important to us as a family.

Our oldest two sons are at uni and their cooking skills are impressive – they know how to cook from scratch, how to shop on a budget and how to to make the most of leftovers.

Last weekend we attended Blog On.  As ever it was a full on day of fun and friendly faces – but as we were away from home for the entire day so on Sunday we wanted to spend some quality time at home.

After breakfast, Teen 3 retreated to his bedroom to continue revising and Munchkin came out to help us in the garden (you can read more about our gardening exploits soon). We spent a lovely few hours planting up some of out home grown seedlings and tidying up, but Munchkin tired so he and Mr Six decided to go in and prepare dinner whilst I finished off moving pots, watering and generally feeling very ‘Tom and Barbara’…

When I entered the kitchen, I was blown away. There was the most amazing vegetable pie in the oven – and an very excited Munchkin.

Mr Six had shopped for the ingredients a few days earlier but, apart from slicing the butternut squash, he had let Munchkin prepare everything else. This meant that not only had they had some wonderful quality time together, Munchkin learnt some very important skills and gained self confidence.

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If you’re interested in making this dish, you will need:

  • Shop bought puff pastry
  • Butternut squash
  • Peppers
  • Courgettes
  • Red onion
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Rosemary oil spray (or fresh rosemary)
  • Garlic oil spray (or fresh garlic)

Mr Six peeled and sliced the butter nut squash whilst Munchkin sliced the rest of the veg, then they roasted the vegetables in the oven with a splash of oil until softened and starting to catch a little. Munchkin then sprayed some garlic oil and some rosemary oil over, rolled out the pastry, spread out the veg and covered with more pastry. Then he brushed with beaten egg. Mr Six put it back into the oven to cook through and once golden, served it with new potatoes, broccoli and asparagus.

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