From pink to green...

You'll have seen the second picture in this post quite recently (if not I shared it in the second part of my 2017 in photos) but it was only this last weekend that It dawned on me that it looked quite different.  This is what it looks like now.

Much smaller and greener than it was, but there are babies

Scroll down and you'll see not only is it smaller, but it's now also much greener, but there are also babies. I promise you it's the same plant.  

And+then+a+succulent.jpeg

I never realised this was a thing. But apparently it is. I know that now, thanks to reassurance from the internet. Succulents can change colour, as mine has, when there's less sunlight about, so that makes sense doesn't it?

Even though it's in our conservatory, there has definitely been less sunlight. But you know what, now I'm curious to find out if it'll change back to pink when the sun is around. Do you know?  Have you experienced this?  I'm curious. And quite impatient to find out...

 

My week this week: Lush

Well it's been a while since I've found the time to write a "my week" post; that's partly due to lack of time and in some weeks because there's been quite humdrum. There was a short break in Suffolk that was far from humdrum of course, but after being back at work for a couple of days it *almost* felt like it hadn't happened. Almost.  

The cottage was beautiful, and I notched up twenty miles on the bike and a new entry in the Loo Series and I've plenty more posts to come from the pretty county of Suffolk. What surprised me was it's so close to Norfolk but so different.  I still think Norfolk's the county for me long term though, but Suffolk will certainly be getting some more visits.

But back to this week. And lush. When I chose this word to sum up the week I was referring to my greenhouse, which also seems to have gone a little bonkers.  And it's looking very lush.  The tomatoes especially.  After refusing to grow much more than initial seedlings, now that I've potted them on, they've grown and grown and looking into my greenhouse, it all looked very lush. 

I mean just look (and for lush you could also substitute overgrown!)

TOMATOES EVERYWHERE.  SUDDENLY.

TOMATOES EVERYWHERE.  SUDDENLY.

The towel on the greenhouse staging you can see is an attempt to keep my plants watered while we were away.  It wasn't totally successful - or looking at the tomatoes, maybe it was... But clearly I needed to do something with them, and they're late as it is anyway.  After a visit to the plot last weekend, I realised that I'll need to plant my tomatoes where the onions where and hope that the foxes don't take a liking to them. And hope for a good autumn!

It seems though that Suttons Seeds took pity on my lack of growing success this year (don't mention my onions!) and sent me some seeds which I can sow now.

SEEDS FROM SUTTONS THAT CAN BE SOWN IN AUGUST

SEEDS FROM SUTTONS THAT CAN BE SOWN IN AUGUST

But first though, I needed to tackle those tomatoes. It's already August and they're not planted out yet so for the first time ever I put the weakest plants on the compost heap. And of course I'm hoping for a good autumn so that if fruits do appear they have time to ripen. Or failing that I'll be making green tomato chutney this year, so it's not all bad at all.

DESTINED FOR THE COMPOST HEAP. SOB.

DESTINED FOR THE COMPOST HEAP. SOB.

I've potted on the strongest plants and am hoping that a few days in the greenhouse will persuade them to grow upright again. And then they'll be destined for the allotment, and hopefully the sunny spot there will be the best place for them.

Looking better potted on, next stop our allotment
 
Chillies on the staging sorted out

I also potted on my chilli plants, there's flowers starting to appear so I may be lucky. As well as the normal bog standard chillies, from the seeds from Taste London, I've got a chocolate habanero growing and a couple of purple chillies too. There's also one I bought earlier as I wasn't sure if my chillies would make it. 

A chilli plant from RHS Hyde Hall

So with my tomatoes and chillies sorted out that gives me some space to start sowing some of those flowers from Suttons. I must remember not to go too bad as a few seeds go a long way. And I should start now to stand a chance of success, that's the lesson I've learnt this year, along with potting things on to help them grow well.

As I pottered in the greenhouse this afternoon I spotted pink through the glass. I discovered an everlasting sweet pea among a pot of jasmine and beyond that pink cosmos and angel wings looking just as gorgeous. I thought the colour in our garden was done, but it seems I was wrong. 

SWEET PEA LOVE

SWEET PEA LOVE

 
COSMOS GROWN FROM SEED
PRETTY ANGEL WINGS

So yes, it's looking lush inside and outside my greenhouse right now.

And I couldn't close this post without mentioning the HomeSense event I went to on Wednesday. It was their Christmas in August event and was a good chance to see a preview of the goodies they'll have in stores for Christmas, lush (as well as metallics) is a great word to describe those too. 

#homesensechristmas #metallics #feelslikewinter @myhomesense #gold

A post shared by Stephanie Robinson (@lifeat139a) on

And with a glass or two or prosecco before dinner, then there's probably also a case for the kind of lush you first thought of when you clicked on this post!

How has your week been?

The Reading Residence

 

* This is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are my own.

Sow & Grow: April

I've been reading the Grow your own fruit and veg magazine for a while now as part of my Readly subscription, and I find it a great read. It is one of those magazines that comes out really early - for example the May magazine is already out, and I find that confusing because I never know if they mean the real month or the magazine world month. I'm hoping it's the real month or otherwise all of my veg sowing could be a little out, but I digress.

They have a feature every month on the month's crops to sow and harvest, which I find a useful checklist as to what I probably should be doing veg-wise, and so I thought I'd share where I am against this guide on a monthly basis. I'd been contemplating a new Sow & Grow series of posts so it all seems to work together. 

So let's catch up with April's advice, as I've finally got around to getting started with my seeds. My garden is north facing, and so it takes the greenhouse a while to get the sun, which is always my excuse for starting later than I plan to (every year!).

ONIONS GALORE, AND ALMOST TIME (AGAIN) FOR NEW GLOVES

ONIONS GALORE, AND ALMOST TIME (AGAIN) FOR NEW GLOVES

Sow

  • Aubergines: I'm not growing aubergines this year, and haven't for a while. I grew them many years ago with mixed success, and while they were pretty plants there weren't too many good sized aubergines on them.
  • Brussels sprouts: I'm tempted to give these a go, and am pleased I'm not too late to get them started - well I've a few days left of this month!
  • Broad beans: Yay!  Mine are sown and I'm waiting for them to do their thing. To give them a head start I soaked my bean seeds for thirty minutes or so before planting which helps break down the shell around the seed, and I like to think gives them a head start.
  • Cabbages: Goodness, I'm not sure I've picked the last ones yet, actually I should check on those red cabbages on the plot again soon.  I will grow some, but I need to find some space first.
  • Carrots: I'd love to grow some of those baby carrots, but I think it's probably worth waiting until we have improved the soil at the allotment. It's currently so full of stones that I'd be the sure winner of the funniest shaped vegetable. I do have a tyre, which I could grow some in so maybe I'll try that.
  • Celeriac: We gave these a go last year, but didn't have much success. We managed to grow a ball of roots, and I think they suffered from the soil conditions too.  Maybe I should grow a couple of these in my tyre instead?
  • Celery: Maybe one day, but not this year!
  • Chillies: Something else I planted at the weekend. I've a tray of chillies sown ranging from Chocolate Habanero, through to Aji Lemon to more normal Jalapenos, and a free packet of seeds from Seeds of Change which we picked up at Taste London in the autumn.
  • Cucumbers: I've six of these planted too in small pots. This year I've got two varieties sown, a couple of seeds left over from last year and a new mini-variety which I've not grown before, but which promises to be a prolific cropper.
  • Florence fennel:  I think I'll give these a go, I've found some old seed - I'm not sure how old, or how active they are, so I will try some of them on a damp kitchen towel to see if there's a chance they'll germinate.  
  • Herbs: I've some chervil, garlic chives, basil, coriander, vervaine and tarragon on the go and I'm hoping I'll be able to use some of these in the new herb planter I've got planned, more on that soon though.
  • Kohl rabi: No, I'm never going to grow this vegetable, I ate it once and really didn't like it. It's a no, no, no, from me.
  • Peas: Yes, I'm planning on some peas so I'd better get cracking. I like to grow a pot for pea shoots for salads too and if I'm honest usually have more success with these.
  • Potatoes:  Well they're chitting and as I said earlier in the week they appear to be taking over...
  • Salad leaves:  I haven't any planted yet, and must remember to do succession sowing. I'd love to grow lettuces in lines, but in reality I'm quite often a cut and come again kind of salad girl.
  • Shallots:  I've sixteen of these on the go too, the fancy French-type which I like a lot roasted. In fact I like these any which way, maybe I should have got some more.
  • Sprouting broccoli: Goodness, this is up there with the cabbages although I had less success with my own plants last year. I'm definitely growing this again, and will be getting this started soon. It was the first plant we planted on the allotment in our first year, and probably my favourite vegetable (or one of them anyway)
  • Sweet peppers: I had some success with bought plants previously, but these aren't on my growing list this year.
  • Tomatoes: Yes, yes, yes. The tomato farm is swinging back into action and these are by far and away my favourite plant to grow. This year instead of over-sowing I've tried to restrain myself sowing two seeds to a module. Even taking this restrained approach I've still two seed trays full and more varieties I've not sown yet. This year I'm growing a couple of my favourite varieties again for the first time since we've had the allotment, so I'm looking forward to plenty of Tigerellas and San Marzanos.
  • Turnips: I'm going to grow these again, but little and often. I had some success with these last year but failed to harvest them all so the last of them rotted in the plot. Must remember to avoid that this year. 
TURNIPS IN 2016

TURNIPS IN 2016

Plant

  • Asparagus: Erm no, I love to eat it, but I think I'll leave the growing to the professionals. I think there's something special about buying the local grown asparagus on our Norfolk visits, it really is way superior to the imported stuff.
  • Blackberries: I'd like to grow these, and now have the plastic-covered wire fence that I could grow these up on the plot, but I think it might be one for next year, when I hope we're a bit more organised on the plot.
  • Blueberries: I have a plant in my greenhouse, which has come on leaps and bounds (see the picture below), it's even flowering this year and I'm hopeful we might have a handful of berries this year.
  • Gooseberries: This is on my list and I may be inheriting a bush. I have reservations, well, because I've heard about gooseberry bushes... Seriously though it's not a fruit I buy, but I think having grown it ourselves will make all the difference. I don't think I've had gooseberries since school dinners, and surely they'd have to be better than that...
  • Onions: Tick. I've got onions on the go, although I do need to plant them out.
  • Pears: We've a pear tree in our garden, I've no plans to add to this. We've not had much success with fruits from our tree though, but I think that's because we don't prune it correctly; the squirrels though have great fun with the pears and leave them half-eaten all over the garden.
  • Raspberries: We have some raspberry canes on the allotment and for the first time I think we've got the pruning right. These were one of the highlights when we finally checked in with the allotment this year.
  • Strawberries: I've another trough-full of strawberry plants from the garden to plant out over at the allotment, so this is something to add to the growing to do list. Some of them are already in flower, which surprised me, but that's a good thing I guess.  And it may mean some funny shaped strawberries if I leave it too long before I plant them out!
WILL THIS YEAR BE THE FIRST YEAR IT FRUITS?

WILL THIS YEAR BE THE FIRST YEAR IT FRUITS?

Harvest

  • Cauliflowers: I've none left to harvest. I grew four plants last year, one got decapitated by foxes, the other failed and I picked two. So not a bad result as two were weaker seedlings. But mine have all gone.
  • Endive:  I didn't grow any, and this is on the maybe list for when the plot's established.
  • Kale: I've picked what was left of mine already - it was slightly on the miniature size and very much enjoyed on our plate.
  • Rhubarb: Something I can grow. I need to get back over to the allotment and pick some. We've a disagreement here about rhubarb, I think it's perfectly acceptable at breakfast with greek yogurt and granola, but MOH disagrees. It's ok isn't it?
  • Salad leaves: Nothing to pick here, but I wish there was...
  • Spring onions: Hmmn, another one I struggle with. They should be so easy, but somehow it never seems to be. So I've none to harvest. Again.
  • Swiss chard: We do still have some on the allotment, but it was shoved into a corner and so hasn't been treated that well. But it's a hardy plant and I'll be cutting some more, MOH isn't a big chard fan, but I'm sure I'll be able to sneak some into meals at some point.
RHUBARB - AND GRASS - ANYONE?

RHUBARB - AND GRASS - ANYONE?

It's quite a long list isn't it?  But an interesting one and one that'll help focus my efforts i think. I'll be back with May's Sow & Grow in a couple of weeks, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get somewhere close to aligning with what I'm supposed to be doing!

How did you fare against the list?