My Kitchen Garden

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Today I have a quick tour of my kitchen garden. One of the first things I did when we moved house is plan the garden. While house hunting, I didn’t even consider anything without a good sized garden so it was wonderful to finally find something within our budget with plenty of space for planting and growing, as well as for the children to play.

I ordered these raised beds from Quickcrop who provided an excellent service. My husband assembled them for me and I laid them straight on the lawn, with weed suppressing membranes for the path areas (tucked just under each raised bed edge to prevent weeds coming through). I then emptied the pea gravel on top and had the raised beds filled with compost (I think I bought a tonne bag and divided it between the four beds). It’s not perfect and we haven’t got round to finishing the edges, but I’m really pleased with the result.

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Lettuce Descartes from seed, bought from Sarah Raven. It’s such a pretty, soft lettuce.

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I also planted red iceberg which is working well as a cut and come again salad crop. Last year I bought a living salad from Lidl and planted them out individually, which produced lots of beautiful lettuces.

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This bed is for tomatoes and aubergine, and there is a swiss chard plant leftover from last autumn which is still producing leaves. The marigold (Calendula ‘Nova’) has self seeded everywhere after I planted it last year.

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In other beds we have herbs, cucumber, courgette, spring onions, carrots, radishes, dwarf beans and Swiss chard growing. I decided to plant the vegetables I might need to look after more closely and herbs I need while cooking at home, while the other veg has gone in at the allotment.

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An Unusual Penge Garden

|I have lived in London for over ten years now and have come across many a front garden, from the scruffy and unloved to those with beautiful tiled and box edged paths. This is a completely different type of garden.

This little garden in Penge is a feast for the eyes with its incredible array of exotic and succulent plants.

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The owner was kind enough to speak to me about his collection which he has curated from specialist shows and bought from nurseries and online shops.

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There are lots of amazing varieties I’ve never seen before, such as this beautiful flowering plant.

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This house is in a beautiful area of Penge. It’s a lovely area for a walk to end with a cup of tea and cake at Alexandra Nurseries.

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It was inspirational to see someone’s passion for their collection and that they were able to display it so beautifully in a small space.

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Have you come across any beautiful, unusual private gardens?

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In My Garden

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The light in the garden in late afternoon was beautiful yesterday.

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These roses surprised me, we’ve lived in the house for over a year and I didn’t see any of these last year. They are beautiful, huge pillowy flowers with a beautiful scent.

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Perennial herbs – sage, chives, oregano and rosemary survived the winter and are flourishing again.

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This chard was also planted last year. I put a couple in the flower bed and the rest in the vegetable raised beds. They are pretty much the only vegetables that survived the winter, we did have a broccoli but it flowered before it grew much, as well as lots of purslane which no one was very interested in eating. We also had some of the leek today. garden3

I’m so pleased with the lupins. I have tried to grow these for years without success, mostly due to slugs. These were planted last year along with aquilegia, echinacea and verbena bonariensis which have all grown very well this year. I’d love to fill the bed with perennials and shrubs so its a little or no work garden. garden1

The colour is very striking, although I’m not sure it seems perfectly natural. It’s almost a royal blue.

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I’ve also started hardening off the seedlings (all ten trays!) but not everything looks ready to go out yet. Some plants don’t seem to have grown much in the last few weeks, but we haven’t had much sun really.

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I planted Little Leprechaun lettuce and Descartes from Sarah Raven, as they looked very pretty (as with everything from Sarah Raven!). There s also sweetcorn, squash, courgettes, cucumber, artichokes and various herbs. I also have seedlings for cut flowers – cosmos, cerinthe, sunflowers, zinnias, ammi majus, to name a few. There are just a few sweetpea plants (most didn’t germinate) which is a shame as I love them.

There’s plenty of work for me to do in the garden, and I am also trying to get our allotment in some sort of shape for beans and the big veg like squash. Are you growing your own plants from seed this year?

Sunday Thoughts

I’ve been doing some thinking about the blog and have made a few changes, including the theme which some may have noticed. I’ve also decided to add some more lifestyle and personal posts which I hope you will all like.

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One thing I’d like to do is to have a regular post to add some thoughts about how the week has gone, and interesting things that have caught my attention, such as great blog posts, progress in the garden, places I’ve been to or would like to visit or recipes I’ve tried. It will also help me to be able to look back on them all.

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We made two batches of scones this weekend, which the two younger children enjoyed helping with. I used the BBC Good Food recipe, which is reliable and straightforward.

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More crumbs ended up on the floor than in the bowl with this little one’s help, so he was dispatched to his dad after a little while!

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All three children love helping with baking, and it’s something we don’t do enough. Pancakes are made most weekends here but not quite as much cake as we’d all like!

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A bit wobbly round the edges, but delicious all the same.

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Good things this week:

Me Made May 2017 is underway, and I’ve managed to wear Me Made clothes most of the week! I realised I need more skirts and trousers to have a proper handmade wardrobe, as I haven’t made any of those so far.

My sister stayed with me for a few days as she’s come from abroad for a month or so. I got to babysit my adorable nephew while she went out to the theatre, he was a bit sad without his mum but at least let me give him some cuddles. We also went fabric shopping in Lewisham.

I had an article published on Amaliah.com on Fashion Revolution and making my own clothes. Please have a read and a look at the rest of the site which is full of great articles and fashion inspiration.

We did a bit more work on painting our fitted shelves and wardrobes, we might even finish one set by next week!

 

 

 

Minimalist Crafting

I’ve had a busy time over the last few months with having the house redecorated and rethinking how to manage our rather cluttered home. Although I am definitely more magpie than minimalist, I have started to rethink what we keep and whether it has value in our home or not. For ages, I have tried to keep things organised with more storage but have realised that stuff expands to fill the space available! And then I read something which made complete sense – you can’t organise clutter.

Since then, I have eBayed, Freecycled, and given away a number of possessions but still have a long way to go with craft items. I have been reading the Miss Minimalist blog, however I think her philosophy is a little too extreme for me – I think of a home as a warm, comfortable place to come back to; I  like lots of books to flick through and be inspired by, colourful piles of yarn and fabric, pictures and photos that remind me of good memories. At the same time, with stashing comes guilt. Recently I’ve been occupied with a crawling (now walking) baby, going back to work, and decorating, and there has been little time to sew and knit (besides the small problem of the sewing machine being in the room the baby sleeps in).The boxes of yarn and fabric have become something I ‘should’ use up and another source of clutter. I also worry about finished objects becoming part of the problem too, I mean who needs the worry of shawl clutter on top of all the other stresses in life!

I went to the London Modern Quilt Guild meeting yesterday and feel inspired to get back to sewing, but at the same time I’d like to keep the stash in check and at a level I am comfortable with. I revisited the Slow Stashing article on Knitter’s Review and think it is a great way of making sure the stash is a ‘happy place’. I have decided on a few ground rules for now which should help me to keep my crafting more minimalist. 

1. Knit/sew from stash – sounds obvious, but it is so tempting to buy just the right print for your project instead of using something you already have. Sewing or knitting from stash is doubly gratifying – you’ve made something beautiful and cleared space in your house. I also find it wasteful to keep buying when I already have so much and have felt less and less tempted to splurge recently.  

2. Sell/give away what I don’t intend to use or feel uninspired by. What can’t be sold can always be given away – I have previously not wanted to part with things I’ve paid good money for, but there is a pleasure in giving away things to people who really appreciate them. I gave away a bundle of embroidery magazines to an old lady who shared them with a group of elderly/disabled people and she was so grateful and appreciative. 

3. Approach Pinterest/Flickr with caution – there is a lot of scope for inspiration, but also the temptation of ‘oh I can make that!’ and before you know it, you’ve bought the yarn/fabric and added to the monster stash! 

4. Reduce the number of crafts – I now have scrapbooking, knitting, and sewing supplies, as well as small amounts of jewellery making supplies, yarn dyes and beads. I don’t enjoy the fiddliness of jewellery making and beading so it is probably time to let those go to a good home. 

5. I have more patterns than I have time to make them. So it’s ok to let go of the ones that are so far down the queue that they are unlikely to ever get made. 

6. Have only 1 or 2 projects on the go at a time – this reduces the frustration of never getting anything finished, and reduces clutter as there are fewer half finished bits of fabric hanging around. It also minimises the chance of said bits of fabric getting lost and having to dig out the pattern and cut the piece out again. 

7. Have a dedicated space for crafting which is available when I am free. This is going to be in the living room which has now been divided into two areas. That way I can sew in the evenings or when the baby is asleep. 

8. Make things that can be used and appreciated by others. Sounds obvious, but I often like making shawls, and don’t know anyone who wears them so don’t feel I can give them as gifts! Mittens, scarves, children’s hats, sewn items like aprons, potholders, table runners, pillowcases, bags and pouches are all useful and more likely to be used. 

I think that’s it for now! I’d love to hear your ideas for minimalist crafting or at least keeping the stash under control!

Ella Doran Sample Sale

I do love Ella Doran, and was really excited when I discovered our new home was practically next door.  I did enquire into getting one of her amazing custom roller blinds when we were decorating, but it was just a little over budget! So when I saw there was a sample sale going on, I had to pop in and have a look. The roller blinds are heavily discounted, but a ready made roller blind is quite a specific buy and they didn’t have the right size. They did have this lovely one available though, if anyone else is interested!

I did however pick up a pretty melamine tray, which I do actually need as we only have one fairly heavy one which is awkward to clean.

Lovely isn’t it? These trays are usually 20 pounds, but the seconds are discounted to 10. I can’t see any major faults myself. There are trays, coasters, cups and other random things in the discounted sections too.

Some older poster prints are on sale too between 2 and 5 pounds which is truly amazing, so I got a couple of those too.

and then some coasters which were fairly cheap to give as gifts. I am tempted to keep one set, I must admit.