Winter spiced tea recipe

Spiced tea was a recent discover for me, and to be honest, at first I wasn’t sure. Now however I am a full on convert. It’s another of those little comforters for the dark cold months we are about to embrace.

So where did this come form? Well for me, it was an innocuous little packet of tea we bought in Whittards. It was cold and dark and Kate and I were trampling along the high street near to christmas. I was becoming more and more annoyed at the endless christmas themed latte tasters that the coffee shops were offering as we passed. Kate was having a blast but at that time I hadn’t developed a love for coffee, so felt left out.

Luckily we passed Whittards and that mean I could treat myself to some nice tea to take home. After all the pumpkin spiced lattes, gingerbread lattes and Black Forest mochas Kate was sampling, the idea of a winter spiced tea grabbed me and I grabbed a bag of it. Off home we went.

This wasn’t the traditional Chai Masala or Chai latte, it was much more subtle and for me, much more winter (think cards with robins and snow). I loved it, subsequently so did my friend Hayley who loves tea as much as me and so we usually end up sharing new found delights.

So… to jump to the end of this rather long and meandering tale… this year I am making my own and it’s not as hard as you think. I make my own Lady Grey (and Hayley approves) so I jumped right in.

The dominant flavour (and aroma) for this tea is cloves. I know, shocker, I was absolutely assuming cinnamon given the associations with winter, but nope. It’s actually cloves. The secondary aroma and flavour is orange peel.

To make the tea

Ok we are going to make this as one mug of tea. You will need:

  • Black tea (tea bag or loose leaf but enough for one mug). Assam works great but any black tea will do the job. Avoid already flavoured or scented teas like Early Grey though)
  • An orange or satsuma to get that citrus peel. You just need a couple of bits of peel.
  • 4 cloves (whole). This sounds like a lot, but we are using them whole and not grinding them so they actually impart way more aroma than flavour.

How to

Brew your mug of tea to your liking. I drink my tea black so I don’t like it too strong. Then simply steep your cloves and orange peel in your mug of tea. Make sure you have a plan for how to get them out again. I have a little one mug tea pot with a filter basket that I use.

That’s it. Really. It’s so easy, but such a lovely, makes you smile cuppa.




Autumn is the time to give your lawn some love

You have all joined us on our journey from blocked car park to luscious lawn, so we thought it only fair to share some important autumn tips with you.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the hardest plants to grow and maintain in our garden, believe it or not, is grass. Well, not in all those places you don’t want it to; like between the paving slabs, in the flower beds and rockery, even in the greenhouse, but trying to get that beautiful, flat, green lawn is a heck of a load of work and I suspect it’s one of the reasons people give in with gardening early on because they didn’t realise just how much work a lawn is.

front of house
How the front looked when we bought the house

Way back when we first bought the house, there wasn’t a lawn. The previous owners had been elderly and found it was too much for them, so they had replaced it with a paved area which more suited their lifestyle. Kate, however, had two images in her head of what it meant to be a proper house owner and paving slabs weren’t on that list (house owner not flat or apartment owner).

These were;

  1. shovelling snow from your driveway
  2. mowing your front lawn.

So as you can imagine, quite early on we decided to lift the paving and lay a lawn. There is now quite a library of blog posts for your perusal all about our lawn adventures. Everything from laying the lawn to accidentally killing it and then having to re-seed it.

So over the last few years, we have learned about grass and lawns and how to look after them and we now have our yearly routine.

It all starts in the Autumn

or September to be precise.

After the summer, the lawn has been growing rapidly and using up nutrients in the soil, so it needs a really good feed. Not just a feed though, it needs feed with Autumn lawn food, high in potash and phosphates which will protect the grass from frost and ice. The high nitrogen spring/summer feeds encourage lots of leafy, top growth, which is soft and easily damaged by frosts, so you don’t want to use these for autumn and winter.

However, before we feed the lawn, we need to give it a good scarify to take out any moss, dead grass, dead leaves etc that are clogging up the soil and potentially taking nutrients away from our lawn. This is called thatch. This is also a good time to go around with a garden fork and put lots of holes into the lawn to release some of the pressure from the compacted earth and to allow air, water and nutrients down to the roots.

Unfortunately scarifying is as much work as digging, so prepare to be knackered, blistered and in pain, but we have found that gin and tonic that evening at least helps with the pain.

So how do I scarify the lawn?

We have found that the best way to do this is to rake the entire lawn in one direction and then go back and repeat this in the opposite direction, kind of like crisscrossing (or kriss krossing if you are a child of the nineties).

Now you can think about feeding. You can use dried food (which is most common) but be careful, we have a fine type of ornamental grass in our front lawn and it burns so, so, so easily. As you all know, so be careful. You won’t have to feed the grass as often during the colder months at all, maybe once in autumn once in winter (at most).

It starts again in spring…

So there you go, Autumn chores are done, but I did say we had a yearly routine….

Yep, you have to do all this again in the spring, just in time for the new shoots to pop up and say hello. However, the feed you use for spring and summer is different, you want high nitrogen feeds for this time of year. You want that green, soft growth I mentioned earlier.

Mowing really takes it out of the grass and so you need to feed it regularly throughout summer and spring. Our efforts over the last couple of years have shown us that feeding fortnightly with a high nitrogen feed works wonders and just for a bit of a giggle and to show how wonderful it is, here is a photo of the lawn when Kate hadn’t been paying attention when feeding. Make sure you use good straight and overlapping lines when you feed folks. Or this could happen.

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Can you see the parts which didn’t get the feed? I still chuckle when I see this.

Of course, you are actually wanting to see this… nice and even.

Moss

Lastly a bit of a tip for dealing with moss. If you’ve ever had a mossy lawn and applied the various moss killing treatments, you may very well have had the heart-stopping moment where your lawn suddenly develops huge black patches where the lawn once was. This is horrible, you put all that work in and it looks worse than when you started.

Luckily, thanks to Beechgrove garden, Kate has a solution to this, she uses a product called Mobacter. It works a little differently, it does kill the moss, yes, but you don’t get the huge black or bald spots because what it does is break the moss down and turn it into food for the grass so it actually feeds the grass at the same time as killing the moss. A word of warning though, it has the weirdest smell, be warned, it’s like a mixture of chocolate and chicken poo…. very weird and not very pleasant for a couple of days.

But worth it!

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Just for you… here is our explanation of scarifying your lawn – our pain and blisters included free of charge.




Let’s have a look back at 2019 so far

It’s not the end of the year, so it may seem a little silly to be looking back over 2019, however, when you are a gardener you are always reflecting and the end of one season and the start of the next is the perfect opportunity.

March

It’s hard to imagine the garden cold and bare, looking out now into the sunshine, but until March this year, there really wasn’t much happening. It was still far too cold to plant any seeds, even with a greenhouse, so March is when it all started. March is our “get seedlings going month” and also the month when we usually have a wee dabble in something new.

This year we tried something a bit different for beetroot in the raised beds. We used seed tape. I’ve always liked the idea of seed tape for the carrots, mainly because with the smaller seeds like carrots, you always sow too many and have to “thin them out” later on. This basically means pulling the “runts” and binning them. Which I hate doing, it’s just such a waste (more on carrots in a second).

So we saw seed tape and gave it a try.

If you’ve never used this before, it’s basically a big row of seeds encased in some paper. So you bury the whole strip and you get the precise amount of seeds, at the precise spacing you need for your bed. Sound awesome.

Not to mince my words… it was crap! We have had precisely NO BEETROOT this year. None, zip, squat, zero, nadda! Won’t be using that stuff again!

Obviously there could be lots of reason for this, but given that beetroot is probably our most successful crop ever and we are usually giving them away, this year has been a blow. We have had leaves, almost every seed germinated, but they just either bolted or didn’t give us anything other than leaves. Sigh! So this post has started with fail…. onto a win then 🙂

CARROTS!!!!!!!!

Yup, we tried something a tad different with the carrots this year too… not seed tape but root trainers. Which I will admit was a bit on the mad side, but hey that’s how we roll!

If you aren’t sure what root trainers are, they are little seed trays that are really tall, letting the seedling roots develop without being impeded by a shallow pot or tray. They split apart so that you can take each little plant out and plant it without disturbing the roots.

So I planted the carrot seeds directly into these and it meant I could bring the carrots on in the greenhouse, which is a bit warmer than the raised beds. It worked a treat. The carrots ALL germinated, and all came on really quickly. And best of all, no need to thin any carrots out, I used all the seedlings – smug!!!!!!

This seems to have made a huge difference with the carrots this year, all of them have been huge and most of them have been pretty straight. Normally we have some right weird ones.

The new greenhouse has been great in letting me try out these ideas. Having the staging makes it so much easier for me to deal with seedlings in there, without the constant back pain of having things on the floor. It was even great to get hanging baskets started off in there, now that I have hanging rails.

Only downside though, I kept smacking my head on them.

April

April was a busy month, busy, busy, busy. We had banana bread, hot-cross buns and little name tags for the plants.

The name tags were so much fun to make (who doesn’t like hitting things with a hammer?) and have been a whopping success. The greenhouse and beds all still have their little tags and they are all completely readable.

There was one bit of sad news in April though, Jim McColl, the longstanding presenter of Beechgrove garden retired. He has been an inspiration of mine and indeed can probably be blamed for my start off in gardening. So… it was only fitting that I paid tribute.

May

So April came and went, the seedlings got bigger and got planted on but just before then… some of them got brand new homes to go to. We have started the huge job of replacing our old, falling apart, raised beds.

To be fair, those beds were never meant to last this long, they were a tester to see if we liked the idea of gardening, I’m guessing we do then?

So out with the old and in with the new, solid railway sleeper raised beds.

new raised beds made from railways sleepers

I think you’ll agree that they do look absolutely amazing… but there was an awful lot of digging and moving heavy things involved and …. I put my back out.

Eli levelling the ground for the raised beds

I wish I could say that this was my only downside of May to tell you about, but alas it’s not to be. Some muppet also burned the hell out of the front lawn. It looked awful…. I wonder who that was????

But it did give us something to focus on and you guys really enjoyed joining in with us on social media and following the hashtag we created. It was fun hearing from you all on the stories of your lawn problems and knowing you were rooting for us (pun intended).

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/isthelawngreenyet/?hl=en

June

June saw the lawn go from bald to lush as the sun finally started to wake up and give us some sunny bright days and the greenhouse came alive.

The tomatoes began appearing and we even named a tomato plant in honor of Jim (see the previous mention of Jim McColl).

June was such a successful month that I don’t have any failures to tell you about, only successes, so instead let me remind you how amazing homemade Bakewell tart is….. mmmmmmm

We blogged our recipe especially for Luke, the young gentlemen who lives next door. We gave him some last Christmas and he has apparently been raving about it, so we gave him the recipe. He’s yet to pop in with a slice for me to try…. disappointed. This year he is getting coal!!!

July

Boy, this was only meant to be a quick update blog post but it’s been such a busy year, we’ve so much to tell you.

So July, I think the best thing I can do for July is not to tell you how awesome it was, instead let me show you. Fancy coming for a walk around the garden with me?

So that finally brings us to August

In August I shared two of my top gardening tips with you, pollinating your greenhouse by hand to increase your harvest and deadheading your flower to increase the colour and beauty in your garden.

We did have one sad face for August, I told you guys about our first experience of blossom end rot. Was a sad one as this was also the first time we’d grown San Marzano tomatoes so it was really frustrating to see something stealing them from us, but the good news is…. we think we’ve defeated it – yippeeeeeeee.

Watch out for a youtube video on Friday to find out more…..

So that’s us, a mahoosive update for you on the year so far… I can only guess what’s still to come. Keep popping back to find out.




More sweet treats to comfort you on a cold night: honeycomb cinder toffee

Growing up, we called this honeycomb but I’ve heard it called cinder toffee, hokey pokey, puff candy and even sponge toffee. No matter what you call it, this is a bomb of sugary delight and fabulous on a cold night, in front of the fire with a cuppa. 

You know the orange, toffee-like centre of a crunchy bar that just melts in your mouth and then goes super sticky? Well, that’s what we are making.

It’s actually really simple to make and very quick, although you do have to be patient and wait on things setting oh and did I mention it’s pure sugar? This is a big pile of empty calories that will rot your teeth… but oh my god it’s so tasty!!!

First things first though, we are going to be working with CRAZY hot, burny, molten lava-like sugar. BE CAREFUL!

Ingredients

  •  5 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 250ml water
  • 650g granulated sugar
  • 340g golden syrup

The science bit

This sweet delight gets called honey comb because of the bubbly texture, you don’t actually need to add honey to the recipe. I use golden syrup cause the taste an colour work really well and honey can burn really quickly.

Talking of burning, we are basically melting the sugar and then heating it to crazy temperatures,150ºC or hard crack to be precise. The water helps to stop the sugar burning, but the amount of water in the finished toffee also dictates the texture of the finished product:

We are going for hard sweeties as we want the crunchy texture.

Another note about water, or humidity to be precise, open a window while you are cooking this as the high humidity of the kitchen will make your honeycomb sink while it’s cooling.

Ok Let’s make sweeties

Grease and line a (roughly) 23-x-33 cm baking tray with greaseproof paper (grease the paper as well, trust me).

And make sure the paper comes up higher than the sides by a few cm and have all your ingredients measured and to hand, this is gonna be fast when it kicks off.

Sieve the baking soda and cream of tartar together in bowl and have this in grabbing distance. Trust me on sieving this. In a large pot, add the water first to help the sugar to dissolve, and then add the sugar and golden syrup and bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. You can swirl occasionally (carefully) but do not stir. Stirring will cause the sugar to crystallise. This is the hardest thing, I know but you must resist!!!!

Continue boiling until your temp hits 150ºC then remove the pot from the heat and QUICKLY sieve in the baking soda and cream of tartar mixture and stir quickly to make sure it has been incorporated, but stop once it’s no longer visible.

But quickly!!!

QUICKLY pour and scrape the now frothing contents of the pot into your baking tray and let it set. Try to do this without screaming, panicking or dumping the now volcano like pot and running away.

Do not touch it, stir it, try to spread it. Don’t even try to tip the tray, just leave it where it naturally sits. Did I emphasise enough that you need to be quick? It takes seconds for this to turn into a volcano of froth as the baking soda erupts but it also takes seconds for you to knock the air out, hence quickly and do not touch.

Now you have to leave it alone and let it cool for around 2 hours until it is solid. Really, I know it’s tempting to touch it and test if it’s set, don’t do it, it’s bloody hot!!!

After 2 hours smash it into bite-sized pieces and enjoy or you know be virtuous and give it away (but nobody likes virtuous I don’t eat sweeties types). It’s extra awesome dipped in chocolate, or so I’ve been told, cause you know I don’t eat unhealthy things so I wouldn’t know.

My body is a temple.

Oh sorry no, amusing park, my body is an amusement park, I always mix those two up.




Butternut squash soup… an autumn warmer or còsagach recipe

Last year we introduced you to our winter fun known as Hygge. It the association of all things warming and comforting to get you through the dark nights, happy with what you have and the time spent with loved ones. Well as we were telling you all about this, a local newspaper here in Scotland introduced us to what they are claiming is the Scottish term for this… còsagach.  Now I will not lie, I have never heard of this and no one I spoke to had either, but hey I’m all up for a new term to explain things which is way easier to say 🙂

So còsagach…. VisitScotland the tourism people are claiming it means snug, cosy or sheltered. Maybe relating to sheltered as in a den or foxhole, something an animal shelters in? Some folk relate this to a bit of a mix up with còsag maybe sounding like the English word cosy?

But hey, what the heck let’s have some fun and go with it. So today’s recipe is a warming Butternut Squash Soup for a còsagach autumn evening. Maybe after raking leaves in the garden adding more duct tape to the poorly and failing greenhouse?

Ingredients

  • 1 large peeled and deseeded butternut squash, cut into little bits
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 0.25 tsp chilli powder
  • 0.25 tsp paprika
  • 0.25 tsp cardamom
  • 0.25 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 litres stock (I like chicken)
  • Salt and pepper

How to

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan
  2. Put the squash into a large bowl with the oil, spices and salt and pepper and give it all a good mix
  3. Spread it out on a roasting tray and roast for about 45 minutes, or until squishy
  4. Fry the chopped onion until soft and then add it to your soup pot
  5. Once the squash is cooked, put it into your soup pot and add the stock
  6. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins. Check the seasoning
  7. When you are happy, blend the heck out of it!!! You want it velvety smooth

Serve it with some crusty bread and butter or for extra còsagach/hygge, you could roast the butternut squash seeds (just for 5 minutes or so) with some oil, chilli powder and garlic salt and then sprinkle on top.




Halloween here isn’t about pumpkins… apple spiced muffin recipe

I’ve been involved in a bit of facebook rant recently about Halloween and the fact that Scottish kids celebrate this as the American version (trick or treat) rather than holding onto the traditional Scottish celebrations I knew as a kid. It’s just one of those things, the world is becoming smaller with the advent of communications technologies. We grow up with American, Hollywood films and TV shows regularly come from the states, so it’s only natural that there is a crossover of cultures. So I suppose that’s where bloggers like myself have to talk about our cultural traditions so they don’t get forgotten.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is everywhere at this time of year… now. It wasn’t a thing really when I was a kid, but these days Halloween and Autumn, in general, are filled with pumpkin. We have pumpkin decorations in the shops and pumpkin spiced coffees in the coffee shops etc. Here in Scotland, the tradition at Halloween was to carve a turnip. Yep, a turnip and it was bloody hard work, really only adults had any chance. We also had a few other traditions which I loved.

Dookin for apples

Pic from  https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/glasgow-school-children-take-part-12106270

Dookin for apples was simply lots of apples bobbing in a big tub of water, which you had to catch with only your mouth – hands behind your back. There was much hilarity and soggy kids. We also ate apples coated in toffee with a stick stuck into them to hold, a bit like a lollipop.

Treacle Scones

Pic from  https://www.scotsman.com/news/how-scotland-celebrated-halloween-in-7-pictures-1-4272133

I have to tell you about treacle scones just for my baby sister Leigh (who turned 41 a couple of days ago – happy birthday Leigh! The game of treacle scones is basically, bits of scone, covered in black treacle, hanging from strings across the room (so they swing) and kids, again with hands behind their backs have to bite the scones. Imagine treacle all over your face, in your hair, on your clothes etc… My sister had long, thick curly hair and she was always a complete mess but the end of the game (it didn’t help that I worked out that I could nudge the scones just right so they’d swing right at her).

Guising

Lastly, in Scotland we go guising, not trick or treating. We made our costumes and go out prepared to “do a party piece” to earn our sweets. It could be you tell a joke, sing a song, show off your dance moves… or if you are my little brother, Arlen, tell an adorable cute poem when you are 3 – completely set up by myself and Leigh cause his cuteness got us extra sweets… We coached him well!

Anyways…. enough of my rant, you came here for a recipe..

Spiced Apple muffins (not pumpkin) for a warm autumn night treat

Ingredients for 12 large muffins

  • 500g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 180ml oil
  • 150ml milk
  • 400g jar of Bramley apple sauce (with chunks of apple in)

I am being completely lazy and using a jar of apple sauce, but feel free to use your own homemade sauce it will probably be sooooo much better.

Get Baking

Muffin wrappers

Step 1.  First, preheat your oven to 170 C for a fan oven or 190 C for a conventional oven & then prepare your muffin tin – if you aren’t using muffin wrappers as I do (see above), oil your tin.

Step 2. In a bowl, combine all your wet ingredients and sugar and then give it, really good mix to break up the egg and combine the egg and oil. Then add your applesauce and mix it through.

Step 3. Sift the flour, spices and baking powder into a big bowl and give it a good mix.

Step 4. Pour your wet into your dry, give it enough of a mix to combine but don’t over mix. How to know it’s right, it should drop thickly and easily off a spoonBaking can add more milk if it’s too thick and a little flour if it’s too runny.

Step 5. Add the batter to the muffin wrappers. They should be NO MORE than three-quarters full. Do not overfill, trust me, as they will rise heaps in the oven.

Step 6. As quickly as you can, get them in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 mins, until they are golden brown on top.

Step 7. Let them cool and then nom!




Season Finale 2018

Well our growing season here at Ar Bruidair is coming to an end, so today was about clearing up, cutting back and harvesting. It’s been a fantastic harvest this year, especially with tomatoes.

We currently have 2 massive bowls of tomatoes, a box of courgettes and a box of carrots on the kitchen counter, not to mention the pile of peppers.

I guess today is going to be about cooking.

See my season finale update on youtube





Hygge recipes to get you through autumn and winter: mushroom soup

The Danish, hygge (pronounced “HUE-gah”) is one of those words that just has no English alternative. Though there are many ways to describe hygge, we see it simply as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness.

Autumn is truly here, it’s time for warm jumpers, soft scarfs and comfort food.

I love the Danish attitude to life, and autumn and winter are a time when they really excel at showing us weather whinging Brits what an attitude adjustment we need.

So I thought instead of updating you all with a post about how bare the garden is starting look, I’d share one of our family favourites, a big comforting bowl of mushroom soup.

It’s great to warm you up after a morning of raking leaves and turning compost.

It’s such a simple soup to make and really versatile. So you’ll need…

Ingredients

  • 2 punnets of chestnut mushrooms chopped roughly (you can add more if you like make it as thick as you like your soup)
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 litre of stock

Get chopping, chop your onions as finely as you can and sweat them off in your big pot while you chop the mushrooms.

A tip for chopping mushrooms, a lot of folk wash the mushrooms first but I find this just makes them slimey and hard to work with because mushrooms are little sponges that soak up water. Instead use a damp cloth to wipe any rogue bits of dirt from them.

Once your onions have softened add your mushrooms and give it all a really good stir around to help the mushroom start to cook and release their liquor.

Next add your chopped garlic and chopped thyme and give it all a good stir. You only want the garlic in there for a minute of two as you don’t want it to burn.

Add your litre of stock and leave your soup to simmer gently for about 20 mins.

Once you are happy that everything is sufficiently cooked, get out your stick blender and whizz away until it’s nice and smooth.

You can do this in a normal blender, but I had a bad experience with this a few years back which resulted in Kate redecorating the kitchen so I stay with the stick blender.

So that’s your soup. Make it extra nommy and comforting by serving it with a wee swirl of cream on top and a slice of warm cheesy bread.

The cheesy bread recipe is available here.

Mostly, just serve with family and friends and enjoy.

 

 




Highs and lows in the garden 2016


We’ll it’s now officially autumn. Scary isn’t it? As I type it’s absolutely pelting down outside but it’s still warm enough that jackets are uncomfortable.

As you know from previous posts, we haven’t yet got around to growing any veg over the proper winter months but imag0319we do still have some veg going. We have a bed full of salad leaves and radishes and they’ll happily keep growing for a while yet.

There has been  a salad bed interloper though. Little cat footprints have appeared.

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The beetroot is still going, although some are the size of children’s footballs, we really need to do something with them and of course we have loads of tomatoes and chillies still.

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Speaking of tomatoes and chillies, that’s definitely been one of the highlights this year. The quadgrow watering system has definitely made a huge difference. I wasn’t sure about the claim to double your crop at first but realised the other day that we are still getting loads of tomatoes even though the weather has turned and we just haven’t been able to eat all the chillies were getting. The quadgrow has definitely been a good buy.

Flower wise this year has been a bit bland. The rotten weather early on in the year really had an effect on the growth and we just didn’t get the same amount of flowers, either budding or those that had appeared were destroyed by wind and rain.

The dahlias in particular which were a wealth of colour last year just got munched by slugs this year and the poor things gave up early on.  The two hydrangea are still going strong though.

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So all in all not a horrendous year I suppose.

Some exciting plans for next year but you’ll have to wait to hear about that.

 




The first frost are here. Gardening through Autumn.

The first frosts have arrived and most mornings now the greenhouse is opaque and the lawn sparkles. It’s cold enough to nip your fingers in the morning now and by evening you can blow clouds with your breath. Not exactly outdoor weather but there is still work to be done in the garden to get it ready for winter. I know, it sucks!

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Some of the plants and trees have started dropping their gorgeous, deep coloured leaves meaning there is always plenty of tidying to be done. One of which is the neighbour’s eucalyptus tree which drives Kate insane. Don’t get me wrong it’s a lovely tree and our neighbours look after it but the leaves are a funny shape and just defy being swept up. You can go over and over the patio but guaranteed Kate will still end up picking up all those leaves individually. Sneaky little sods.

Kate doesn’t swear often but those leaves bring out the evil, super villain in her. I swear I’ve heard her cackle as she dumps them in the compost bin.

It’s time to start protecting the more vulnerable plants and battening down the hatches as well. Our back garden is slap bang in the middle of a huge wind corridor so every year it takes a hammering and I usually lose at least one panel from the greenhouse. That means the gaffa tape comes out. At least this year I had some fun tape to use (it has hedgehogs on).

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Now that the greenhouse has had a tidy and the panels are taped I’ve brought the dahlias in. We cut them right back to soil level once they began to die back and now that they’re in the greenhouse, they are protected from the frost and can dry out over the winter ready for next year.

One of the other jobs to do has been to prune back the Heather and the gladioli. With the gladioli, you want to cut them down to almost ground level once they’ve finished flowering to stop them putting energy into making seeds, instead it goes into the bulb for the next year.

So a couple of hours in the garden and we’re getting set for winter.

The next job will be to get the compost into the veggie beds to get their nutrients replaced .

Even in the poor weather, work doesn’t stop in the garden.