Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Itchy fingers

I just knew I wouldn't be able to resist sowing at least some seeds in January. I tried distracting myself with horticultural revision, I tried sitting on my hands, but to no avail. I could literally hear the seeds crying out from their packets (in the seed tin, in the cupboard - they're quite loud these seeds...).
I justified it to myself by deciding only to sow seeds that take ages to germinate, like lemon drop chillies, or those that are really hardy, like leeks. But then blew that by including tomatoes and sweet peppers as well.
I explained to my other half that I'd definitely started to sow seeds as early as January last year - and then looked at my nerdy gardening diary book and saw that it was actually the middle of Feb before I'd done anything. Well at least I can say I've improved on last year...
Anyway, it may be too early, and I may live to regret this rash seed sowing, but it's just lovely to see the propagators sitting in their usual places on the heated kitchen floor. It feels like the growing year is within reach.
Anyone else want to 'fess up to any premature sowing?

Monday, January 23, 2012

January greenery

Given the mild weather we've had the last 2 or 3 months (ignoring the 3 days of freezing temps just last week) it's not surprising that some crops are much further on they they usually would be this time of year. The Aquadulce Claudia and Sutton broad beans, which were sown in late October germinated rather rapidly. Usually they get a bit of a growth check in Dec/Jan with a freezy spell and occasionally a blanket of snow. But not this year, at least not yet. These photos were taken in early Jan - some of the bean plants are already 40-50cm tall and flopping about. I really need to get out and create my usual 'boxing ring' style support with twine and pruned branches from elsewhere in the garden. I'll just add that to my to-do list...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sharing the blogging love

I was delighted recently to be given this blog award by Caro at Urban Veg Patch. The Suburban Veg Plot blog was originally started just for my own interest and veg garden records rather than to gain any wider readership (yes, I am relatively shy in real life!).  However, as I've started to read and enjoy gardening and chicken blogs by others, it's nice to know that in some small way people out there are getting some pleasure and/or amusement from mine. So, thank you Caro and I'm very happy to accept!

Acceptance of the award is conditional on the following:
Copy and paste the award on your blog
Thank the giver and link back to them
Choose five blogs (with less than 200 followers) that you'd like to pass the award on to and leave a comment for them on their blog.

So, my 5 chosen blogs to pass this award on to are:

These blogs cover the full range of growing exotics in Malaysia, growing veg according to 1940s advice, making plans for a smallholding dream, ex-batt chicken antics and veggie growing Down Under. Some of them I've been reading longer than others but all have given me a smile and a chuckle along the way.

Monday, January 2, 2012

There's a new sheriff in town...

Meet Georgie. Her shortcomings in the neck feather department are more than made up for by her size and attitude.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New year, new books, new chickens, new hope

Hello January 1st with your dark sky and wintery rain. My garden has taken on its usual slippy slidey muddy winter form courtesy of the London clay below. But the fruit trees are filled with chaffinches and house sparrows feeding frenziedly on the various fatball feeders I have hung out for them. And signs of spring are already out there - rich red buds are swelling on an ornamental quince.

Hello Christmas reads with your inviting covers and promise of homegrown bounty. There seems to be a smallholding theme developing... maybe I'll be needing to modify the title of my blog in 2012 if certain discussions come to fruition? My Gardeners' World subscription was renewed by my lovely in-laws so I'll be taking in all Monty's and Carol's ideas again this year. And the Versailles book? Well, it came with an invitation for a weekend visit to see the gardens for myself! I can already feel the parterre envy stirring deep within.

Hello new chickens with your pale combs and scantily clad wings. You three seem to have settled in
well since we brought you home on Dec 29th, but if you could just stop bullying the two chickens we already had, then life would be even more lovely. We re-homed you from a battery farm so that you could enjoy a carefree and free-range life, but that means you have to do the same for Chicken Licken and Ruby who have spent the last 2 days having their homelife turned upside down.

Hello EU barren cage ban. Though some European countries have failed to meet the Jan 1st 2012 deadline for removing all barren cages from their egg production industry, I am proud to know that the British egg industry is now barren cage free. Intensively produced eggs in the UK will still come from chickens kept caged, but the enriched cages do at least allow the birds to exhibit some natural behaviours such as stretching wings, perching and laying eggs in darkness. The British Hen Welfare Trust has been very busy in the past few months re-homing as many ex-battery chickens as possible in the approach to the ban - in order to prevent them being sent to slaughter. Only this morning I came across this lovely story of a rescue. If you can spare anything, please make a donation (details in the post itself), if you have room to offer a home to some ex-batts, please go to the BHWT website, and if you buy eggs, make sure they're British. We can hope that the momentum behind this campaign continues to improve the welfare of animals within our food industries.

My best wishes to you all for 2012 - may it bring you happiness, laughter and joy.