• Sunday, January 03rd, 2016
I have seen mushroom growing kits in the UK before but this Christmas I was given a kit which was suitable as a gift since the marketing on the box was fun and smart.
Mushroom growing kit
It was easy to use, simply cut a cross in the plastic area of the cardboard container and then spray with water each day. Success was guaranteed or a replacement box would be supplied.
In my case it only took 5 days before the mushrooms started to grow. Since the box was purchased in France the mushroom variety is Pleurotes jaunes, i.e. pleurotus or oyster mushrooms. Within 6 days we had 2 huge yellow oyster mushrooms which we cut and ate as in an omelette. They had a subtle nutty taste.
It seems that one of the mushroom reached maturity since we saw a lot of spores had flown around the box but fortunately I don’t seem to be allergic to spores.
My friend also bought a kit for herself (a pretapousser.fr box) and started hers at the same time as I did so that we could compare notes. Hers started to grow later but she had lots of small mushrooms. I don’t know what predetermines whether you get 2 big mushrooms or lot of small fungi but you do please let me know!
• Sunday, January 29th, 2012
This is the start of a new gardening year for me as I rummage through the 2012 garden seed catalogues and plan my sowings for the year ahead. Today I went to my local garden centre and I bought some first early potato seeds, which are a variety called Swift, as well as a salad potato variey called Ratte which is highly appreciated in France. I have never grown the Swift potato variety before and I hope to get better result with this type of early crop which is supposed to be good for boiling as well as new potato.
Ratte New Potatoes
Last year I gave the International Kidney variety a try – they are the equivalent of the Jersey Royal new potatoes. Unfortunately the yield was not so good last year and this could be due to the dry weather which was not so favourable to a healthy growth of the tubers.
Last Spring I also grew a first early potato variety called Epicure, which is a typical Ayrshire potato but again the crop was not particularly outstanding.
On the other hand the main crop variety which I grew last year was Kind Edward, and the yield was good except that they did not store so well in the shed compared to previous years. The reason for this could have been the exceptionally warm autumn and winter which we experienced and this goes to show that no two years are the same with gardening. Certain crops will perform differently given certain conditions.
For now I have stored my potato seeds in a cool dark place ready for chitting in a few weeks time.
By then I will need to have finished digging the vegetable plot in time for planting my seeds in March. Speaking to fellow gardeners in East Anglia it seems that many of us are not yet done with the digging which makes me feel better.
Half way there with my muddy wellington boots and my fork I paused to contemplate the barren soil in anticipation for an abundant forthcoming harvest season.
• Saturday, June 20th, 2009
June is one of my favourite gardening months, not just for the organic vegetables which I have grown and started to harvest, but also for sheer burst of colours in the flower borders, and the wildlife activity going on right here.
Greenhouse in June
I particularly enjoy the evenings when I come back from work and go straight out to check if there are any strawberries ready for harvest.
We’ve had our first pea harvest which was so tasty that you can actually eat peas uncooked, but the quantity was rather disappointing – a big shelling job for a couple of handfuls of peas. I am considering sowing some snap peas next time.
We are finishing up the last of the green cabbage this week (much to everybody’s delight!). The rest of it has been ravaged by the white butterfly caterpillars and will probably end up in the compost bin too.
One of my favourite vegetables which I can hardly find in supermarkets: the artichokes have done really well this year. I have started to harvest a few heads and had to scrub off the black flies from a few heads but otherwise they are very tasty.
The early variety of potatoes are growing well but not ready yet for harvest. I have noticed that my second crop of lettuce has emerged so I have had to protect it from pigeons and rabbits.
The roses are looking great at this time of year and my flower borders are filling up nicely. My favourite rose this year is called Jude the Obscure, for its delicate scent and lovely shaped flowers.
My red oriental poppies all came up and now have gone very quickly so I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture. But I did finish planting all the flowers which I had sown indoors back in spring including the asters and more recently some zinnias which I have simply placed along the garden path.
The coming week is forecast to be a hot one, so I shall give the diary a rest to go and water my vegetables.
• Sunday, April 26th, 2009
The garden has evolved so quickly recently with the warm weather which we have enjoyed that it has proved difficult to keep track of all my gardening activities. However this is my update of what’s growing in the garden right now including the flower borders, vegetable and fruit areas.
My tulips are all out including the bulbs which I planted back in autumn in containers along with pansies grown from seeds. In turn, I have also spotted a few butterflies including the lovely red peacock butterfly.
The rose bushes are growing new leaves following the spring pruning which I carried out earlier in the year (I must remember to give them a good feed!).
• Wednesday, April 08th, 2009
Many of us will be looking for flowers to plant in our garden over the coming Easter Bank Holiday weekend and heading straight to the garden centres. Ideally we will be looking to bring instantaneous colour to our gardens and get planting over the weekend.
Fritillarias in my garden
There are always the usual pansies, primroses and potted bulbs which are easy-to-grow plants that won’t suffer too much from the frost which we may still have to endure until mid-May. But if you are looking for something different, I would recommend the following:
– these are in full bloom at present and are very handy as ground cover, looking like a carpet of purple/pink flowers. They will grow and cover more ground each year and are also easy to propagate.
: lovely delicate flowers which comes in so many different colour combination. Not scented though.
The Pasque flower is similarly a very stylish flower which is referred to in the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and in bloom at this time of year.
For scented bliss, try Skimmias who are in full bloom at present although the flowers are probably not their best asset. Similarly Mahonias are average size bushes which yellow blossom at this time of year and could make a nice addition to the back of a border or near a fence.
Otherwise, although not yet in bloom, I will be looking to plant more perennial flowers which will grow on and blossom for many years. For my blue border the addition of the heart shaped pink flowers of the Dicentra bleeding heart may complement the blue theme nicely.
Delphiniums are also a must-have perennial which are dominating my blue border and this year I shall try to propagate them this by doing some cuttings for the first time.
• Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
I like to dig my vegetable plot every winter/spring – not only because it is good exercise at this time of year but also because it allows me to give the area a good clean up and prepare for the spring time. It allows me to release any stress or anxiety that may have built up during a busy working week in the office.
Digging my garden
Now you don’t have to dig your garden if you do not want to, particularly since it is now commonly acknowledged amongst experienced gardeners that as an alternative to digging you can mulch and cover your soil with compost or well rotted manure. And you can just let the worms get on with the task of incorporating the organic matter into your soil.
Personally I prefer to dig my vegetable plot every winter because of the nature of my soil – heavy clay which benefits from being broken up and enriched regularly.
As I am writing this I realize that I am behind on my digging and currently I am still tackling the area where my squash, sweet corn and dwarf green beans were grown last year.
Naturally my faithful mascot – Fat ball Rob – will come and join me and seek any little worm which I have exposed in the process.
Obviously any arduous activity such as digging is always followed by a comforting cup of English tea and that’s me for the day!
My top tip: if there has been a lot of rain recently it is best not to dig the ground not just because it will be messy (this has never stopped me!) but trampling over wet ground only compacts it further.
Was it tip-top for you? Please leave a comment.
• Sunday, January 18th, 2009
This is my first post in this blog and I am really looking forward to an exciting journey of gardening going through all the seasons, and sharing with you all the surprises, successes and failures that gardening will bring along the way.
Robin in the snow
This is January and it’s time to prepare for the growing season, although I tend to think that November is when it all starts for me as I look back on what has been cultivated and start clearing the dead crops and flowers from the garden.
So this week I shall take another look at all the seed catalogues to see what new varieties will tempt me (what with so many varieties of flowers, vegetables and fruits to choose from!).
I shall also look back at which seeds I will continue to grow this year and establish a sowing schedule for the calendar.
Already it looks like the first seeds that I will grow this month will be chilies. Chilly seeds are very easy to grow and the plants do well on a sunny window sill which is ideal if you do not have a garden.
I hope that you will follow me on this journey as I am aiming to post my gardening activities on a weekly basis. So look out for my next post on my gardening plan!
I am only an amateur gardener and therefore welcome your comments and ideas for improvements.
May 2009 be a Happy gardening year for us all! (with a lot of sun…)