Friday, 28 March 2014

Build it and they will come

Well, build it and the plants will hopefully survive!

Yes, the combination of Spring plus a bit of rain meant that I beat a hasty retreat to the shed to finish the project I've had in hand over the winter - a new cold frame to replace the one which finally fell apart last year and was beyond repairs.

Not expertly crafted, but functional!
I did think about buying a new one, but after looking at the prices of the ones I liked, decided to try building my own instead: possibly a foolish idea as I'm not terribly good at DIY. It took some time to get started as first I had to clear a space on the shed floor for construction to take place, and that took a while - like housework, it's easy to find other, more interesting things to do instead. 
Finally I couldn't put it off any longer, and I found handy step by step instructions for making a cold frame in Geoff Hamilton's Practical Gardening Course. It looked fairly straightforward, so I assembled all the bits and pieces - some new, some old and recycled, and can now finally announce that yes, it is pretty easy to do, and cost half of what something similar would have been to buy.
If I can make it, anyone can - and probably much better.
But next time it will be easier, and now I know how cheap gravel boards are to buy, will probably be even cheaper too.

Click HERE for link

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Buzzzzz .......

All of a sudden, things are starting to happen in the 
garden - and insects are beginning to buzz busily around. I've seen a lot of ladybirds, and some of the most enormous bees.

Although wasps can be an asset to the garden  I prefer to discourage them as Archie has had several run-ins with them in the past, requiring emergency dashes to the vet when his head swelled up to alarming proportions. He has also managed to stand on a bee while out on a walk too, so nowadays I keep both antihistamines and the homeopathic remedy Apis mel close to hand during the summer months.

The arrival of insects means that it's time for the Waspinator to go up before any wasps start prospecting for accomodation: we had a nest a few years ago but since I've been using these, it seems to have encouraged them to go and look elsewhere. Medieval technology at it's best! You can find out more about them at 

What else has been happening in the garden? Well I found this lovely decorative trellis to ornament the side of the garden shed during those months of the year that the clematis is dormant ... and I'm glad that I took the decision to paint the shed last year too. It has been a nice splash of colour during the winter months, and the stripes remind me of the beach huts at Seasalter and Whitstable in Kent where I spent some of my childhood.

Click HERE for link

Friday, 14 March 2014

Bargains galore

"It's empty! That must be why you got it cheap!"
Nope, can't fit in there.
Obviously another bad buy!
Now that Spring seems finally to be on its way, the shelves in shops are once again filling up with gardening products. Not just at garden centres, but at supermarkets and pound shops too, and there are some great bargains to be had. The water butts on the allotment came from Wilkinsons several years ago as they were cheaper there than anywhere else - as was the 100-odd feet of hose I needed to reach the communal tap, while my mini greenhouse was a bargain bought from Morrisons, also a few years ago. I usually shop locally, but popped in there at the weekend to pick up a few odds and ends for my Mum, and spotted a plastic trug at £2.50 and a bird box for £3 and couldn't resist them. I've also had some excellent fruit trees from there in the past which compare very well against ones I've purchased from specialist suppliers - I'm still smarting about the pear tree I bought from one such merchant. Don't ask.
I also picked up a few bits and pieces from Poundland, and found a string of solar powered blue fairy lights for £3 in a charity shop. It pays to shop around, it really does! Although sometimes you get what you pay for - packs of seeds may sometimes be less full than the ones you buy at garden centres for example. But when you just want a few to fill in a bare corner, they are perfect for the job.

Nom nom
While on the subject of bargains, the pea shoots are thriving and nearly ready to start harvesting - although when I left them outside for a few minutes yesterday I returned to find that Angel was already sampling them. This was a great tip passed on via Facebook, which I shared on the Dog Friendly Gardening FB page - you may have spotted it. I used an old wooden tray, filled with spent compost and liberally sowed it with peas. The peas were a bargain too, at 50p for a box (just ordinary dried peas) from the supermarket, and which I've only used half of it. They have grown beautifully in the shed window, with no attention other than keeping them damp, and taste delicious (yes, I tried a few too as Angel reckoned they were nearly ready) as well as being organic and much cheaper than buying them in the shops!

Click here for link!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Spring is sprung!

Spring is sprung!

Or at least, if Spring hasn't completely sprung, is well on its way. Daffodils and primroses are in bloom and the bluebells on one of our favourite woodland walks are gearing up ready for the big display later this year.

Back indoors and under a fleece when the sun goes in ...

The frogs are engaged in frantic activity in the pond, and the sun is out and today it was even warm enough for Archie and Angel to shed their jackets and enjoy the feel of it on their backs. They've been having fun pottering around in the garden with me as I've been working on the borders - although they are quick enough to dive indoors and under a fleece when it goes behind a cloud for more than a few minutes!

The frogs are busy in the pond - six at the last count.
And no, those aren't real lilies but
artificial ones which give the fish a bit of cover!

The pea shoots are doing well in the shed at the moment - but more about them next week when I hope to start harvesting. In the meantime it's back to work on making a new cold frame for the allotment as it looks like I'm going to be needing it pretty soon!