Wednesday, 28 March 2012

An embarrassment of salad

What is the collective noun for salad anyway? An embarrassment? A glut? A gluttony of salad? I'm continuing with Veg Plotting's 52 week salad challenge (and I'm still feeling smug!)

This sunny March loveliness has been enjoyed by the salad plants in my polytunnel as much as it has been enjoyed by me. The plants are simply basking and putting on leaf faster than we can eat it. I've taken to forcing gifting huge bags of salad leaves on to horrified grateful friends. I've thought of putting a sign at the bottom of the drive saying 'salad for sale', but then I thought 'salad for FREE' might be better. Finally I settled on 'HELP'!

This is a BIG salad!

Can you see where I picked it from?

So many leaves! Lovely land cress, leaf beet and chard.

I've become quite brutal in my picking, whole plants scythed off and the bigger leaves composted, but it only seems to encourage leaf production. One thing is clear: I HAVE to do this again next year.

In the meantime I've been planting seeds for salad futures; chervil, tomatoes, chilli peppers, salad onions, coriander, rocket, broccoli raab, radishes. I'm not sure when the winter salad plants are going to call it a day (they've been producing leaves since December) but I don't want to be caught on the hop when it does all come to an end. I've got some lovely baby tomato plants from Aldi - a mini plum type (no variety given) and my weeding of the bed for the onion sets revealed buried treasure in the form of potatoes (Charlotte) missed during last year's harvest. Today's lunch will be new potato salad and erm... salad!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Blooming March

I've come to the conclusion that March really isn't my garden's 'month'. I took all these photographs to prove to myself that it wasn't all mud and couch grass but I was only slightly cheered. Everything is a bit battered and bitten, perhaps unsurprising really since we're fairly exposed here on the side of the Preselis.

This is a Rosie primrose and would look better if something hadn't been nibbling at its pretty petals.

Primulas always seem a good idea in the dark days of spring but they don't really stand up to the weather here. At least there are many blooms to come and bring a welcome splash of colour under the leaden grey skies we've been having recently.

These cowslips arrived as a tray of baby seedlings from Bovey Belle of the blog Codlins and Cream2 and they haven't really got into their stride yet this year. They're like fireworks, waiting to explode.

Look at all those buds! When these are all flowering it's a riot.

One of R8's many rosemary plants flowering happily in the gravel garden.

Native daffs smiling away in a damp shady corner.

The snowdrops were late this year. They used to be proper February flowers but now they arrive in March with the daffodils. Is this an effect of global warming? No flowers for ages and then they all bloom at once.

My lovely hellebore goes from strength to strength. I need more of these. Lots more.

The viburnum has finally forgive us for hacking it back to a stump and is flowering again.

So has it really cheered me up recording all these blooms? Not really. I haven't shown you a photograph of the rest because it's just not that pretty at the moment. It would look better with proper paths (funds don't allow) and it will look lovely once the annuals and herbaceous perennials come onto the scene.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Tadpoles update and a hill walk

In case you were wondering about the frogspawn I blogged about in January, it's hatched and the pond has been full of wriggling tadpoles for a few weeks now. Only a couple were up and about first thing this morning.

It was very frosty though so perhaps you could forgive the tadpoles for hiding in the warmer depths of the pond.

I checked on my other babies in the polytunnel - sweet peas doing well, other seedlings peeping through, nine out of ten strawberry plants doing nicely (one completely missing, something has swiped it.)

Then Brian suggested we take the dogs for a short walk on the Preselis.

The dogs were keen on the idea of a walk, but they HATE travelling in the car.

We headed for Pantmaenog, just the other side of the hill from us and not far enough for car sickness to take hold. Puddles must be sampled which means wet paws.

The trees have been harvested recently and a network of paths opened up to walkers, horse riders and bicyclists. The effect of the loss of mature trees on the landscape is quite dramatic (this hill looked as if it had male-pattern baldness for a while) but it's softening now and the new baby trees are getting a foothold.

The paths are bordered by chattering streams with musical waterfalls leading to big still pools that reflect the clouds.

We had intended driving a little further to the top of this hill which has views towards Ireland, but the dogs couldn't cope with the car for that long today. Perhaps next time.

Looking down on the old Rosebush slate works with the path from the car park in the distance. The 'short' walk we planned turned into a two hour, eight mile hike right round Rosebush but the weather was lovely, the sun was shiny (mostly) and the two dogs were happy.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dysfunctional family skirt

I've finally got around to sewing a skirt I bought the material to make ages ago. I was given the book, Sew Serendipity by Kay Whitt, for my birthday last year and it's full of lovely patterns for skirts, tops, tunics and jackets.

First on my list to make was a knee-length tailored skirt in two fabrics - one main edged with contrasting fabric and lots of top-stitching. I bought a lovely green background design with spots and swirly markings and found a basket-weave print green as the contrast band. I then had the mad whim to include panels of a fabric called Dysfunctional Family by Michael Miller which I had in my stash.

This is the finished skirt (shaky self-portrait taken in the mirror):

It's certainly different! I bought the fabrics to go with many things I already have in my wardrobe; this denim jacket, a cardi which matches the woman's dress colour, and countless T-shirts which co-ordinate with the dots on the main fabric.

The main speech bubble at the bottom says: That's it! I've had enough of your whining! Brian, pull over!! She's spending the rest of the trip in the TRUNK! Which is why I bought it, being married to a Brian and I've heard Are we there yet? over and over again a few times from the back seat of the car (but I'd NEVER put the perpetrators in the boot!) 

This one says: Thanks babe. Mother'll never taste the arsenic. Which just proves Mr Miller has a warped sense of humour, perhaps. It's fun, it's tongue-in-cheek and makes for a bright skirt.

I had to piece the Dysfunctional fabric (I'd only got a half metre) but the pocket hide the join (which is almost a shame because I managed to get it spot on). I also added a lining (the pattern without the pockets made from a bit of spare polycotton and added to the skirt when I sewed the facings at the waist.) All I need now is some slightly warmer weather and a reason to wear it!

Friday, 9 March 2012


This cheeky strawberry (from Spain via Tesco) really made my kids laugh.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


This is my favourite hellebore. Is she my favourite because she's the biggest, showiest thing in my garden at the moment? Probably, but she's so exquisitely pretty I'd adore her anyway. Flowers? Singing birds? Sunshine? Laundry flapping on the line? It's beginning to feel like spring.