The Cut Flower Patch competition

The Cut Flower Patch - Grow flowers all year round

The Cut Flower Patch – Grow your own cut flowers all year round

You might recognise the name WellyWoman from the green-fingered end of the blogosphere spectrum. Louise Curley has been blogging as WellyWoman since 2011, and also writes for the likes of The Guardian’s Life&Style section, as well as Grow Your Own, The Simple Things and Gardens Illustrated magazines. So it’s fair to say, she knows her onions. And cut flowers.

Louise’s book Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round is a practical but beautifully put together publication, and serves as an inspiration for those looking to make the most from home-grown blooms all year round. And the great new is that I have a brand-spanking-new hardback copy to give away!

Here’s some information from Amazon about Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round:

“Louise Curley looks at what makes a great cut flower, ideal conditions and soil and the tools you’ll need. There is advice on what to grow – from favourite hardy annuals, half hardies and biennials to spring and summer bulbs to adding foliage and fillers to balance arrangements – and advice on how and when to sow, how to support your plants and tips on weeding, deadheading, pests and feeding.

“Growing your own such means greater choice, working with the seasons and super fresh flowers. Bought flowers can be expensive and the international flower trade often means dangerous chemicals, poor working conditions for growers, demands on water resources and the ‘flower miles’ of worldwide airfreight.

“This book will help you get the most from your patch with guidance on how to cut the flowers so that they keep producing more blooms and how to look after them once they have been picked. The Cut Flower Patch is completed by a selection of flower arranging tips and sample arrangements as well as tips on finding great containers, planting plans and a helpful year planner.”

COMPETITION ENTRY

To enter my Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round competition, simply leave a comment below, making sure that your contact email address has been supplied in the appropriate field (no need to go public, wordpress automatically hides email addresses).

The winner will be picked in one week – Sunday 6th April – at 9:00pm. One comment/one entry per person.

Good luck!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The large vegetable patch has recently revealed a few claret-coloured gems amongst a mass of green foliage. The purple sprouting broccoli, having been planted very late last summer, is ready for harvest.

Purple sprouting broccoli can be harvested from mid-winter onwards, but we’ve waited a little longer before picking out the main head from the stem. A clean cut with a sharp knife will help to encourage side shoots, and lengthen harvest periods to around eight weeks.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

As they grow, broccoli plants like a good supply of water. This winter, we’ve had no problem at all with keeping the ground adequately moist…

The florets are ready for harvest when the flower shoots are well developed, but before the flowers actually open. Once picked, the florets can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. But we like to use ours fresh – steamed is best for retaining nutrients such as iron, vitamin C and E, and fibre, and the rich purple colour makes for a fantastic addition to stir fries.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The large tasty spears can also be served steamed with a large knob of butter. For me, the vegan alternative is a large knob of Pure sunflower spread. Another great serving option is balsamic vinegar, or a high quality virgin olive oil. We are also planning to harvest the side shoots, and will bake a sweet potato and broccoli pie.

How do you eat yours?

Lent

This year for Lent, I’ve decided to give up two things. Late nights, and plastic bags. The two are mutually exclusive, before you ask.

Sunrise at the Smallest Smallholding

For me, Lent used to be about giving up things that I loved, to make me think about how privileged I actually was. But now, I think that’s a bit sanctimonious. Now, it’s more about improving myself and trying to kick bad habits. Yeah. Still a bit sanctimonious. But it’s slightly less about me and a little more about the bigger picture now.

I am terrible for staying up far too late and sleeping badly. With feeding the animals and doing an end-of-day half-arsed clear up, it sometimes takes me over an hour to actually get into bed. I am also fed up of waking up and having that feeling of not wanting to leave my bed for at least another three hours. I also dream of waking early on sun-drenched Spring and Summer days, and pottering in the garden a good two hours before knuckling down to work. Just going to bed early could make that a reality. I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm each night. Already this week I’ve managed to be up easily by 7:30am without feeling like a complete zombie. I have an inkling that it has something to do with readjusted body clock from visiting Abu Dhabi for a few days (work), and the arrival of Spring.

Collecting plastic bags from shops are one of my vices. I am also very good at collecting the various ‘Bag for Life’ offerings from shops and supermarkets, but seldom remember to actually take them out with me again. We keep our disposable plastic shopping bags for collecting recycling, picking out cat poos from the tray (glamorous), and always try to reuse them before putting them into the recycling bin (minus the cat poo). But it’s a very bad habit, it goes against my green ethos and I need to make myself get into the habit of taking my ‘permanent’ shopping bags out with me every time I step out the door. Mainly because we are very disorganised and find ourselves popping into Waitrose several times a week because we haven’t really planned any meals. Keeping a bag in the car should help, but as of yesterday, getting a plastic bag from the supermarket or any other retailer is banned. Reusable hemp or cotton bags all the way!

Have you given up anything for Lent? Or do you think it’s an outdated idea?