Germination – colds and seeds

I’m going to have to keep this one (relatively, for me) short and sweet, simply because I’m still not well and seem to have had a second wind with this cold. Or whatever it is. Bleh.

Firstly, thanks to each and every one of you that commented on my last post. I should have replied personally to each of you but, to be honest, I’ve lacked the energy and mind space to much at all lately. I’m just wiped out, especially this morning, having had about 2 hours sleep. But I have read, re-read, read aloud and read once more the comments thoroughly and taken heed. Believe me. I really have.

So as you’d imagine things have been going at a somewhat more leisurely pace here at The Smallest Smallholding. In the evenings, after work, I’ve been doing a little weeding whilst we let the bunnies ‘free range’, mostly because I’d either sit there and brood, or eat. So it’s a good time to do something constructive. Little bits and pieces, where I can.

If I feel any better this afternoon I might try and plant a few lavenders in, but I think today is a bit of a sofa day. I really thought I was getting over this cold/infection/thing but yesterday afternoon it came back with a vengeance. Is that normal? It just seems it’s been about 3 weeks in the making and then not a fully fledged cold, just a bit glandy (new word), tired, snotty on and off.  Now I’ve just got one of those really awful dry hacking coughs that make you gag, because I’ve been breathing through my mouth all night, a (literally) streaming nose and burning eyes. Joy. And then add to that beautiful picture a few spots (thanks in part to office-bought Krispy Kremes, NOT my idea), and rapid weight gain, and you have a truly stunning sight to behold.

Blergh. I’m no good when I’m ill. I was hoping to get over it a lot quicker so I don’t feel so down in the dumps all the time. It certainly hasn’t helped. And yes – I am dosing up on every known natural cold/immune system booster/remedy known to man.

Sooo rather than moan and relay all my symptoms to you (isn’t it boring), let’s talk fruit and veg.

My polka raspberries are sprouting now. despite Moppy’s attempts to eat all of the newly shooting leaves, so I’m hoping I’ll have a few healthy bushes to marvel at by the summer. My garlic and onions are doing well, as always, and the Charlotte potatoes are IN.

And my chillis and peppers are starting to germinate, despite not being in a propogrator – wahey! Well, not all have germinated quite yet. The jalapenos and cayenne peppers are yet to make an appearance, but I’m hoping once the conservatory starts to reach a suitable temperature, they’ll show themselves.

So I’m sort of on top of my planting, but there’s still a lot more to do. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to put everything this year. The onions and garlic alone (along with a line of raspberry canes) has taken up my biggest plot. I have a small bed dug out, reading for composting before I plant my salads. I figured a smaller bed for cut-and-come again salad leaves would be easier to manage and protect than big, long rows. I have one remaining vacant bed and I have to find room for cabbages, runner beans, a few varieties of squashes and goodness knows what else that’s lurking in my seed box. Hmm. Need to work out some space-saving solutions…

Either way, today I’m going to take it easy, and not feel guilty about it. I even had a relaxing bath at 6am (due to lack of ability to sleep due to feeling crap) with my copy of Country Living and a hot honey & lemon.

Thank You – and an Update on my Veggies

I just wanted to start this post by saying thank you to everybody that left me comments after my last post. I do take the time to read them, and although I may not always reply individually, I am so thankful that there are people out there that take the time to say kind, thoughtful and supportive things. It means a lot. I often read out comments to Rich or phone my Mum to tell her what people have said. It’s partly what my blog is about – sharing my experiences with other people so that they can decide whether doing whatever I do (I guess you could call it a stab at The Good Life) is for them. Whether it’s writing to inspire others, to help people by sharing my experiences, swapping tips and advice, spreading awareness or just providing someone with a bit of mindless ramble to read on their coffee break – it’s the comments that keeps spurring me on to do this.

So thank you to each and every one of you. And thank you also for sharing your experiences too – as henkeepers, united we stand, divided we… eat our eggs!


Yes. Things have been a bit odd around here. The hens were such a focus for me and now it’s a bit strange having all this time where I’m not having to think or worry specifically about something else. I’ve now got the time to go for an evening walk in the nearby woods – we skirt the fields as the sun dips in the sky and then take the main path back through the woodland itself on the way back. The wild bluebells are starting to appear, and yesterday I found some wild garlic growing. I really wanted to plant some in my ‘woodland’ garden but I won’t be taking it from the wild. I need to find a supplier.

Speaking of which, at the weekend, being hen-less I decided I couldn’t just mooch around. So I tried to make the most of some reasonable weather and got sowing. I managed to put in some more onion sets, although one bag had been left out in the warm conservatory and had withered and gone soft. Bah! I also divided up some Cristo garlic cloves and plonked them. OK – I know – completely wrong time of year. But to be honest, if I don’t get them in now, I don’t know when I will.

I also sowed some Autumn King carrot seeds and a parsnip seed blend that Victoriana Nursery Gardens had sent through late last year. I know by now that the parsnips will take what feels like an age to germinate, so I’ve laid a load of chicken wire over the big veggie plot to stop the cats digging and the birds scratching. I WILL keep my seeds in rows this year!

I also mowed…or was taken for a walk by the mower, aka The Beast That Walks. Big job. Crap back. Rich had to take over halfway through.

Then there was the woodland garden seed sowing. I’d bought a woodland seed mixture (ragged robin, oxslip et al) and, running out of daylight, was a bit lazy in my sowing. I roughly raked over some bare soil, sowed the seeds, raked them over again and gave it a quick water. Who knows whether it’ll work. It hasn’t in the past, so I don’t know why I did it again. I’m hoping with perhaps a little more attention (like watering the seeds at least once more) and the fact that many of the plants are suited to dry shade, perhaps Lady Luck will do her thing.

Next on the list is sowing a mountain of sunflower seeds along one of the back borders. We want to encourage bees and hopefully, if we have a good summer, the sunflower heads will provide the birds with some ‘free food’. We’ve got the archetypal Giant individual sunflowers, as well as a dark-red and orange mix that grow around three foot tall. But before I can sow, I’ve got to clear a whole lot of nettles. I hate that job.

So what else?

Early potatoes are starting to get going now, but I’m erring them on to grow faster. Hopping from foot to foot and gesticulating at them and hope they’re taking notice.

My Cosmos are looking leggy because the rabbit keeps going on sitting on my seed trays and making them grow sideways. Rich, please can you make my greenhouse staging now? Cosmos = lots of bees.

Victorinia Garden Nursery’s Calabrese (Cabbage? I can’t remember!) selection are sowed and germinating nicely. Romanesco broccoli have done fantastically well in germination, and primo cabbages are super-fast at growing. Only 5 runnerbeans germinated, but seeing as I don’t really like them, and Rich only likes them raw, I think 5 plants are fine.

The butternut squash have been crap – the packet is a year old and I don’t have a heated propogator, so I reckon its a no-go. I might have another go, but I think I might just give my Mum some seeds and ask her to do the honours. Then later I’ll transplant them into some straw bales (stay tuned for more!).

My leeks look utterly unimpressive – like frail bits of thread, but as it’s early days I’m hoping they’ll come good. I’m also growing rosemary to add to my herb garden…the herb garden that I haven’t even started sowing the rest of my herbs for. Oh geesh. So much still to do.

THEN there’s my assortment of chillis and peppers. These are just growing in the conservatory and being complete buggers. But I seem to do this every year – forget that they too take an age to germinate. Patience, Lucy, patience.

All this food. I just can’t wait to start EATING it! That, I think, is possibly the best part. Or the bit where you pull the carrot/parsnip up and it’s huge and it just smells so good. Or where you take a look at your cabbages and are so surprised by how much they’ve grown in just a few days. Or you come back to the house with a trug stuffed with fresh food for tonight’s dinner. MMmmm.

I’ve still got so much to do, but am fast running out of space. So this is it. this is where I start telling you about my attempts to make the most of less space. This is, after all, the Smallest Smallholding. Even if we do currently lack any bi-ped, feathery residents. Later this year. I promise. After I’ve had a holiday. Good grief, I need a holiday!