Monthly Roundup – December 2021

The only green in my garden is the parsley in the Potting Shed!

The spring bulbs continue to push through in the ‘Blue’ pots.

Hmm? Snakeshead fritillery and snowdrops in these two – planted at the same time, but only one is showing signs of growth.

How difficult can it be?

One of the problems of a December birthday during a pandemic is what present do you buy? This year, my friend Vannessa solved the problem by giving me a grow-your-own kit of narcissi Minnow.

Stage 1 – prepare your compost by soaking the block in 300 ml of luke-warm water.

Stage 2 – plant bulbs, water, place in a cool dark place (7-9’c) and wait for shoots to appear. As the pot has no drainage holes, I’ve used a plastic pot that fits inside and left it inside the cupboard in the Potting Shed.

Stage 3 – will be to move the planter to a warm light place (18-20’c), so that means the windowsill in my study. Fingers crossed!

Six on Saturday: 20 November 2021

A grey morning, mild but no rain forecast. Apparently that’s all set to change from tomorrow when the wind changes from south to north east. Will we have snow? Are we really going to have a mini-ice-age? I hope not as my husband and I both have our booster jabs next week. He’s on Friday at 3 pm at the vaccination centre just seven miles away; mine’s on Sunday at 4.30 pm at a different one, eleven miles away. Either way, if it does snow here in North Wales, and it sticks, we won’t be going anywhere and will have to re-book.

But we’ll worry about that nearer the time. For now, here is this week’s Six on Saturday.

From soil to stove in forty minutes (includes twenty minutes scrubbing and chopping time). Leek and potato soup on the stove – half for lunch, half to freeze – and the start of Jerusalam artichoke soup for tomorrow’s lunch in the slow cooker – braising slowly in chicken stock.

Continue reading “Six on Saturday: 20 November 2021”


With the first sunny day for at least a week, Saturday morning saw me abandoning my studies for a few minutes in the garden. I say a few minutes but . . . you know how it goes.

First on the agenda was to dig up all the parsley and red-veined sorrel planted in the raised beds. I grew these from seed this time last year and they overwintered in the Tiny Greenhouse – an attempt to provide leaves for winter salads, until the slugs found the parsley! They didn’t seem to like the sorrel.

When the weather improved in spring, I planted the remains of the parsley, and the sorrel, first into large pots, where they fared no better. Finally I moved both to the raised beds where they perked up and provided leaves for months. Now I’ve put them back into pots balanced on gravel trays in the Potting Shed where they will have some sun. (The Tiny Greenhouse is still shaded by trees. Grrrr!)

Continue reading “Herbylicious”

Monthly Roundup: September

Compost Corner

Not strictly September but on the last day of August, I emptied Compost Bin 2 into old growbags and compost bags – eleven in total – ready to take to the allotment to help improve the soil in my bed. So while Bin #1 does its thing over winter, I can start a new batch in Bin #2.

I could, however, have done without the eight-and-a-half-hours in A&E with chest pains that followed; and the potential diagnosis of angina following two ECGs, four blood tests, and four hours on a cardiac monitor. I am now on one low dosage aspirin a day, have a GTN spray for when the pain starts. BUT, after a chat with a cardiac nurse on September 10th, it MIGHT NOT be angina after all. Further tests are being arranged.

Gardening, apparently, is the best exercise; though I doubt she meant lugging great pots of compost around and stretching across raised bed. She probably thought I meant a little gentle pruning and a bit of weeding!

Continue reading “Monthly Roundup: September”

Monthly Round-Up: August

August has been a long month, concentrating as we were on house and garden maintenance; not so much gardening, more prettifying the area around the garden by painting exterior walls and paintwork, as detailed here and here. A month that, as it neared the end, found us running out of energy and time to do the things that had to be done.

Tuesday last week found me painting the other side of the gate and the frame around the garage door, which I wasn’t looking forward to as it is fiddly to get at. The old paint was flaking off and required a lot of preparation before I could start. But it’s done now (though with the garage door half open I did spot a couple of patches where the brown paint hadn’t covered the blue; but they’re underneath the dips in the door and can’t be seen when it’s down. I can live with that for a couple of years).

Continue reading “Monthly Round-Up: August”

Monthly Round Up: July


To-Do List

Another tick on this year’s To-Do list. After the front path and drive (cleaned and sealed), the wall and gatepost (painted), I’ve had the paintbrush in my hand yet again – this time for the garage door! I can’t remember the last time I painted it but it’s been quite some time.

An up-and-over door isn’t the easiest thing to paint. I managed the top of the door (standing inside the garage with the door open) and the bottom of the door (standing outside on a stepladder), but I could only manage the lower half of each side due to lack of space inside the garage. It could probably do with a second coat (sometime) but it’s better than it was and I quite like the neutral brown colour.

I’ve still got to pain the white door surround. The paint here is flaking off so will need brushing and sanding, but that will be done at a later date, as will the door behind the brick arch (image 1 & 2). In the final image, the garage door looks blue, but it’s just the reflection of the sky in the wet (brown) paint – I haven’t “missed a bit”.

Continue reading “Monthly Round Up: July”

Six on Saturday: 28 November 2020

Another grey, dreary, wet Saturday, cold too. I’m thankful that I brushed yet more leaves up from the patio yesterday so I can stay indoors today. I prepared this SoS earlier in the week as I didn’t trust that we would have internet access after to conversion to fibre broadband. As you can see – I was wrong.


Just when you think there is nothing left in the garden to photograph, nature surprises you, as these new strawflower buds show.

Along with this pot marigold which it still going, and with another flower to open.

Continue reading “Six on Saturday: 28 November 2020”

Sowing for a Winter Harvest (4)


Mindful of the time it takes for seeds to germinate and develop into plants large enough to plant into the bags of compost waiting in the wings of the Tiny Greenhouse, I made a start on 22 August.

A point to note is the inclusion of coloured clothespegs to hold the plant labels. This guarantees means that even if the labels fade in the sun or through watering – and provided the clothespeg stays in the pot – I will know that the blue signify Parsley, the purple are American Land Cress, the white are Mizuna, and the pink are coriander.

After just three days – the Mizuna has sprouted.
2nd September – Mizuna growing well and an American Land Cress shoot has appeared.
8 September 2020


I ordered lots of herb and salad seeds.

  • Amaranthus – The leaves turn intense red as they develop – giving added colour in salads. It is more vigorous than the green type. Use the leaves individually or pick as sprigs
  • Cress – plain
  • Misticanza misculglio – Mixed Italian salad of chicories including red radicchio. This mixture contains no lettuce and is ideal as a perennial mixture for cut and come again. Red radicchio can be left over winter to head up or blanched for tender pink leaves. Green varieties can be left to grow on.
  • Mixed oriental leaves – This mixture contains : Mibuna (17%), Mustard Red Giant (16%) , Pak choi shanghai (17%), Komatsuma Tender green (17%), Mizuna (17%) , Chinese Cabbage Wonk Bok (16%)
  • Mixed spicy leaf – This salad leaf mixture contains : Rocket (25%) , Mizuna (25%) , Mustard Giant Red (25%) , Mustard Southern Giant (25%) 
  • Mustard Red Frills – Mustard Red Frills produces superb deep red and green shoots with a mild fiery mustard flavour that is easy to grow and fast growing.
  • Pea Serge (for shoots) – Tender cripsy shoots and tendrils of young pea plants make a wonderful edible garnish and a perfect snack. Ideal replacement for Samish (a variety of spinach).
  • Radish Red Rioja – Radish Red Rioja produces large purple red cotyledons, (first leaves) which will always show a small proportion of green seedlings. This variety is very popular for its colour and makes for a fantastic and colourful addition to salad.
  • Sorrel – red veined – Sorrel is a perennial plant with a sharp lemon flavour, one of the last to die salad leaves to die down for winter and one of the first to appear in spring.
  • Spinach Red Kitten F1 – with its attractive red stem and oriental shaped leaf, this salad leaf is very sweet in flavour.


On 25 August, despite gales and torrential rain, I escaped to the potting shed for more seed sowing.

  • Chinese Kale x 3 pots
  • Chives x 2 pots
  • Radish French Breakfast x 1 pot
  • Radish Spanish Black Round x 1 pot
  • Spring Onion White Lisbon x 2 pots

A week later and both radish were growing well, with the Chinese Kale not far behind.

Chinese Kale 1 September 2020
8 September 2020


8 September

Time for the next round of seed sowing

8 September 2020


In the Tiny Greenhouse, the Claytonia (Winter Purslane/Miner’s Lettuce) I sowed on 9 August, has its first true leaves and will soon be large enough to plant.

12 September

Time to plant up some bags.

Bag #1: Radish Spanish Black x 1, Mizuna Mix x 2
Bag #2: Radish French Breakfast x 1, Mizuna Mix x 2
Bag #3 (bottom right): Claytonia x 2, Parsley x 3. Bag #4 (bottom left): Parsley x 3

I look forward to eating the results in a few weeks. Should there be any sign of slugs and snails, I have a supply of crushed eggshells at the ready.

13 September

This morning, I sowed another pot each of Radish French Breakfast and Black Spanish Round. Then four pots of Mustard Red Frills. It may be that this is something that should be direct sown into the bags to mingle with other leaves, or when I plant the seedlings into a bag, I also sow seeds in the gaps.

As you can see, the pot of spring onions and the two pots of chives sown on 25 August are still quite small. I expect the mustard will be ready to plant before them.