Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Take 5

1) I'll kick off with a garden update. There has been quite a bit going on out there still, and it has been repaying us with lots of beans and courgettes, a reasonable supply of tomatoes and cucumbers, a good few squashes and pumpkins, and some very delicious sweetcorn. But this week we seem to have pretty much reached the end. 

Our biggest pumpkin stayed stubbornly green, we've picked it now and it's sitting in a warm, sunny porch at this moment and becoming increasingly orange speckled, but there is talk of carving it before the end of the month and I don't think the speckles will have spread all over by then - happily the children were far more interested in size than colour.

The beans, courgettes, pumpkins and sweetcorn all lasted really well but need taking out now.

The last of our sweetcorn from the weekend, Venetia was very happy with her baby corn (they were huge for baby corns), she grew them from seed herself.

Other parts of the garden are still happily producing though. The raspberries are looking far too wild but giving us lots of sweet, red treats every day still.

And I planted some late (a bit too late really!) spinach and salad leaves at the end of August/start of September in my newest bed.

The lettuce, in the middle, proved the most popular with the slugs and I don't think it's going to recover properly, but the rocket and spinach are now giving us a good supply of leaves - albeit tender, baby leaves! And I was very excited to find an old, unwanted plastic tunnel type thing at the Recycling Centre the other day, which I'm hoping may extend the season for it a little.

Next year I'll definitely be getting a couple of rows in earlier in August to make more of this Autumn season of growing. I almost feel like a proper gardener, already thinking about plans for next year!

I planted some garlic a couple of weeks ago (as per 'Gardeners' World' instructions - which has been regular viewing for the last couple of months!) but I need some advice on onions. When I bought my garlic bulbs they also had onions sets for sale next to them, of varieties which were suitable for planting in the Autumn to over Winter, just as garlic does. So I got some of those too and planted them at the same time. I was expecting them to follow the same kind of growing pattern that garlic does - ie to do all their growing underground initially and then pop up in the Spring. But I seem to have little, green onion shoots coming up already in my veggie bed. It feels to me that this must be wrong, and that they won't be happy throughout the Winter like this, but none of my reading about Autumn onion planting is giving me any clues on the subject. So if any one has experience of this and could please give me some advice that would be wonderful.

And some other planting that's been going on is blueberry planting. Back in September we went blueberry picking at a farm up on Exmoor. We took my Dad with us and he was extremely impressed with the quantities which the children consumed just whilst picking (vast!), and extremely unimpressed with the state of the 'road' we had to drive along to get there (it was possibly the worst 'road' I've ever driven along!). So the upshot of it was that he decided we should have some blueberry bushes in the garden instead, and he very kindly bought us a few. But my Dad's memory is (and, as he himself says, always has been!) a funny thing. Some things just won't stick in it at all, some things stick pretty well, and some things get well and truly wedged in there! The interest in buying blueberry plants got well and truly wedged, and, for a few weeks, every time he went shopping he came back with another blueberry plant, or two (there's a Garden Centre next to his favourite supermarket!). The children, predictably, thought this was brilliant! Being the one who'd be doing the work to plant all the blueberries I was more keen to keep the numbers manageable. We got to fourteen plants before I managed to impress upon my Dad the idea that we had enough (or quite possibly the Garden Centre just ran out of stock!), so I have been busy planting them all. The first few went into tyres in the veggie patch easily enough, but as they kept coming in I had to come up with another plan, and have ended up creating a couple of 'beds' elsewhere.

Number 2 bed under construction.
Here's hoping we get plenty of blueberries in years to come!

2) As well as loving the Pixie Hats from Big Little, I had a go at making one of the Wild Things Hooded Scarves a while back. There are lots of options to choose from, but I went for a fox initially. I was surprised at how quick and easy a sew it was, with lovely, clear instructions to follow.

But if you're going to give it a go, watch out on the sizing. I used the 3-5 year old sizing and it's much too big for Venetia (nearly 9 now) never mind the 4 year old for whom it was intended! I wasn't completely happy with the ears either, I think I should have made them smaller. Could be a great Christmas present make though.

3) October is a big birthday month for us. It was mine at the weekend and Venetia made me a gorgeous chocolate roulade, filled with fresh cream and raspberries. It was delicious.

I also got my sewing machine back from a very long overdue service the day before, so that was perfect timing! There have been lots of ideas over the past few months that I've been itching to start, but which really needed neater, more even stitches than my machine was managing, so I squeezed in a little sewing at the weekend just for the excitement of starting something new!

It's going to be a baby quilt, I've nearly got the background quilted (lots of wavy lines), ready for a big applique picture in the centre. It felt such a luxury to be sewing with a machine which fed the fabric through smoothly rather than me constantly pushing/pulling it through!

As well as the joy of a freshly serviced machine, my friend Emma, gave me such a lovely, thoughtful present. A beautiful children's picture book about a home made quilt:

It's full of bright, colourful pictures and words which capture the magic of a scrappy quilt, and one of the main 'characters' is even called Sally - perfect!

4) I'm getting slightly better at remembering to keep my camera handy, and this week captured a few pictures of my most photographically elusive child - Sam.

5) Autumn has been pretty kind to us, it's been largely dry and sunny so far. And, as much as it could never rival Summer for me, it is a beautiful time of year  The leaves are all looking gorgeous right now and we are loving them. Here is my favourite for the year so far!

Such a tiny one and yet still so perfect, with amazingly vivid colours. I was making some driftwood Christmas wreaths the other day and as I was threading the pieces of driftwood on to the wire, it occurred to me that making a leaf wreath in the same way would be incredibly easy. So I cut some wire and bent a very basic loop at the top and we just threaded on leaves.

You can use thinner, more pliable wire than you'd need for driftwood.
We made fairly small ones since obviously it takes lots of leaves to fill them up, but actually it didn't take as long as I expected, leaves are, after all, so plentiful right now! And it would be a lovely thing to take and do on an Autumn walk.

Such an easy and satisfying craft for small hands in particular.

Happy Autumn to you!



  1. The roulade looks delish. The leaf project is a good idea. I may try this with my kids. Have always wanted to make a quilt, maybe a scrappy quilt would be a good starting point. Have a good week. Leah xxxx

  2. The roulade looks delish. The leaf project is a good idea. I may try this with my kids. Have always wanted to make a quilt, maybe a scrappy quilt would be a good starting point. Have a good week. Leah xxxx

  3. Rocket is one of our favorites from the garden. We are too warm here to really grow it properly during most of the year, though, and I've struggled to find a time to plant it. Maybe we'll actually cool off enough this winter to get a crop.

    Your talk of getting your sewing machine serviced makes me wonder when the last time I took mine in was... I'm thinking about a year ago? Hmmm... I wonder if it need it? (yes, probably, sigh)

  4. Your garden is wonderful. We tried a vegetable garden a few years ago but gave up when the deer and rabbits ate most of it. You've inspired me to give it another try in spring. Love the fox hood. I think the ears are perfect for a fox. What a lovely looking book and the pictures of Sam were fun to see. The leaf wreath is gorgeous. And, of course..........Happy Birthday.

  5. Look at your garden, I am so happy for you, you had a great season. And blueberries, you can let your dad know he can buy blueberry bushes for me anytime :)

    Lots of other crafty goodness going on too! Have fun!

  6. The fox hood is very much loved and used in lots of plays currently! We have 2 blueberry bushes and get lots but they need to have lots of sunshine. And picked pine needles to go round the bases as they love the acidity (?) they release x

  7. Such a productive garden, Sally. I am envious. Every time I read your garden posts, I remind myself that I really must get a move on starting mine. Hope the blueberries do well for you. The berries cost a fortune here, but I do like to eat some most days - blueberries, other fruits and yoghurt.

  8. I love your dad's ambitions for you to be a blueberry farm farmer! A belated happy birthday, your cake looks amazing :-)

  9. Wow! You have got a good harvest this year from your lovely veg garden! Blueberries are wonderful - I just love them. I chuck them on top of everything! Your cake looks sooooo delicious! Happy Autumn to you too. xCathy

  10. A lovely, happy post, Sally. Nothing tastes sweeter than vegetables from your own garden.


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