The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A bit more chard and other gardening notes

One more ramble about chard before I move on. I know I've written about it a lot, but if you grow your own stuff then life is like that, chard for weeks on end, then beans for weeks on end, then courgettes, etc etc. I love seasonality and wouldn't dream of buying courgettes in winter or kale in the summer. My favourite chard of all is rainbow chard. It is not only easy and productive but it looks really pretty as well. I didn't get good germination on my rainbow chard last year, I think the seed was old, but a few plants made it through the winter so I've left the colourful ones to flower and set seed and I will scatter the seed about in the hope that I will end up with a selection of colourful plants in amongst my home saved seed.
The last few rainbow chard running o seed

Wonderful splashes of colour
 And so on to radish.
 A friend gave me some winter radish seeds last year which I sowed in the autumn, but it was so cold that only a few ended up large enough to eat. The rest I left to flower because radish produce these great little pods which, if picked while still small and green, can be added to salads. They are lovely and crunchy and have a slightly, well, radishey taste. They aren't as fiery as radish so are particularly good if you find radish a little hot as I do. The flowers are also great for bees and I expect, although I haven't tried them, that the flowers would be good in salads too.
Crunchy radish pods
And finally a planting tip.

Before planting anything out (this applies equally to flowers, veg, shrubs etc) always soak the plants well beforehand. By soak I don't mean just pour a bit of water over them, I mean actually submerge the whole root ball in water for several hours, and if they are dry to start with then overnight is not too long.  Any more than overnight and you will start to do more harm than good and actually kill off the roots.
My allotment is several miles away and there is no water except what I collect in water butts. I plant things out, water them in and then they are often on their own for several days, I rarely lose plants from drought. When I garden for other people the same often applies as I can't always rely on people to water things when I'm not there.

Bean plants having a good soak before planting out

Sorry these are rather poor little plants, it's a wonderful climbing french bean that I've been growing for years, and I think these particular seeds may have been a bit old. I'll write more about them later.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Bovey Tracy Contemporary Craft Fair

A few more pictures from an amazing (if rather busy!) three days at The Contemporary Craft fair.
We think we helped about 250 children make books over the three days. These pictures were take in a dash round outside in one of my lunch breaks.

I want one of these
- better get pom-pom making!

A quiet moment at the punch and Judy stand

And of course the craft marquees were full of the most amazing and beautiful crafts. I may share my favourites with you if I get the urge. (I'm not a very 'good' blogger, so no promises!)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Childrens book making workshops at Bovey Tracy

Three days of teaching childrens book making workshops at Bovey Tracy Contemporary Craft Fair with Joanna Radford and the Devon Artists Network 

printing the covers

a bit of glueing
Busy teaching schoolchildren on friday

Helping someone with their  sewing on Sunday

a bit of sewing

and lots of happy children
The sunshine helped....

Monday, 10 June 2013

Chard in the vegetable garden

Belinda asked me about growing chard (ages ago!) so here'a ramble about chard.
My chard about a month ago
It came through this cold winter
with some protection from an old window propped over it
(see the brick?, that was propping the window up)

Chard is probably technically a biennial, which means it will run to seed in it's second year. I always have some on the go somewhere in the garden. It is fairly hardy, and will come through a mild winter without any protection. I always sow some late in the year then protect it with a cloche (or old window!) when it's really cold over winter and then I get a mad flush of growth in the spring before it rushes up to flower/seed. Mine is just running up to seed now, and I'm having to harvest it like crazy and give it away/freeze some. I also let a few plants actually run up to flower and seed and then randomly scatter the seed about in empty spaces. I always have chard coming up here and there and I just allow them to grow in any spaces I don't need for some other crop. They don't transplant very well except when very small and in very cool/wet weather, so I just use the thinnings in salads or cooked.
I use the leafy bits just like spinach and chuck them in stews, lasagne, risotto, in fact most meals right now as we have so much. The thick stems I cook separately and either cook and eat on their own as a veg or put in stews etc.