Monthly Archives: December 2014

Let’s get serious….

Well, not that serious really.  Though I have decided to knuckle down and sort out a vegetable and flower planting schedule.  Ta da!

Apparently there are apps out there, only they need an ipad, iphone or isomething and I haven’t got an ithing.   I do, however, have a dodgy PC which has to be plugged into the router with an ethernet cable  which is lashed in silver tape.  It works …. until it gets a bit hot … and then it doesn’t.  Which is when  a lot of x?!!..@tives emerge.   I did play some of the demos of the apps but got bored and wandered off to make a cup of tea.

Mug of tea in hand, I’ve had a quick rummage on the internet….very quick.  A google search of ‘RHS Veg’ brought up the planner, (see here:  I’ve decided on a sowing rate of veg plot half row plus 30% for failures every week during the sowing span on the planner, (very scientific), from which I shall build in an email triggered alert in gmail to REMIND ME to do the sowing.  According to the veg planner first up will be  broad bean; french bean; cauliflower; leek; onion and tomatoes. I shall add chilli to the list.    As I am determined to use up the mountains of seed packets I have, the varieties will be whatever is in the cardboard box in the utility room.

Better go and haul out the propagator.

We missed the snowfall but have a heavy ground frost.  The ruby chard lives up to its name:













oh tannenbaum….

I’m a stickler for having a real, (as opposed to made from plastic), Christmas tree.     The smell of pine resin IS Christmas.   The other day we tootled off to a fellow smallholder who has a couple of acres of Norway spruce.  It is true to say that some of the trees had shapes that would be an acquired taste and in the dying light the selection of a balanced specimen could have been a bit hit and miss but we did locate a specimen to our liking.  The tree was cut, £15.00 handed over, and home it came.  We trimmed the base quickly and placed the tree in its stand filled with luke warm water.  Because once cut the tree should be treated like a whooping big cut flower.

DSC_0787The Norway spruce (Picea abies) is the traditional Christmas tree.  Non native to the UK, the species was introduced in the 16th century. It has a classic triangular shape with short green needles.  Yes, it does drop its needles more readily than a Noble or the Nordman fir but I think that is a small price for what I believe is a more elegant tree.  Getting a freshly cut spruce and putting it up a little later in December can help to delay needle drop.  Besides we have stone floors so sweeping up any discarded foliage isn’t a problem.

[¹ú¼Ê]£¨1£©Â׶صãÁÁŲÍþÔùË͵ÄÊ¥µ®Ê÷Every year since 1947, Oslo has donated enormous Norway spruce trees to the UK and USA in thanks for help during the Second World War.   These Christmas trees grace squares in London, New York, Washington DC and Edinburgh. As the trees are over 50 years old, each one has been selected years before, tended and grown on.      So I reckon it’s a pretty good choice.

Our tree will grace the library over the next few weeks and then be added to the log pile following the 12th night.

the beauty of brassicas….

I’m not sure that I came across a lot of cabbage in my youth.   Perhaps it wasn’t much grown in the mid USA in the 1960s.  I certainly didn’t develop any great dislike for cabbage as a food stuff and let me tell you – given my paucity in succession sowing technique I’m looking upon the Brassica tunnel with great affection at the moment.


Whilst not a necessity at this time of year, as any sensible cabbage white butterfly is long gone, I find that there is no point growing Brassica organically unless one invests in netting.  Scraping off the eggs or picking off the caterpillars – forget it.  Miss a few leaves, a few days and that way lies Brassica armageddon.  So devastating is the cabbage white to a brassica crop that for a short period in 2013 the NZ government offered a reward of $10 for every capture of a specimen of the non native interloper.   Goodness, if I had $10 for every cabbage white that flitted over the veg. patch.

Well the netting has done its job and there looks like there is plenty to play with in the culinary department – dwarf curly kale, cavolo nero and small heads of coloured caulis.

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Bring on the Brassicas……