Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Knitting, knitting

...just keep knitting. (To the tune of "swimming, swimming, just keep swimming" from "Finding Nemo").  I took a bit of an internet break after a month of journalling and posting. Also some sort of spring has arrived. It seems still be wobbly, with sudden temperature dips and I for one am not going to plant out my beans or pea quite yet.

The socks are a second pair of this type. I made a pair last summer on my holidays to be my dedicated bed socks. I need to have warm feet to fall asleep. I kick the socks off at some point of the night, I don't need the heating help once my feet have warmed up. Actually when I get going, I overheat quite easily. My husband says that the energy problems would be solved if I could somehow be hooked on the national grid while sleeping.

Throwing silly shapes in my socks...

I am using woolly socks all the time around the house, all year round. I usually have a stash, as I also get given some. This winter I have got through several pairs. I assume that all the socks were of similar age and were now beyond repair. ( I do darn my woollens). I am left with one pair from my stash and made these, so I could have long socks for daytime too. I feel that they are lovely and comforting especially when my calves ache.

This is the wobbly beginnings of an ambitious project in my book.

I have started a cardigan. I found the yarn in Finland last year and found a pattern on the net, which I like enough and which is at the same time not too complicated for a beginner like me. The knitting is not smoothest ever seen and I have made plenty of grim mistakes, but I hope that they get less as I proceed. This is the back piece, so maybe I can be a "wall flower" with it and nobody notices! What has kept me from big projects is that I used to get carpal tunnel syndrome as soon as the knitting got heavy. I hope I can hack this now. I haven't had bother with my wrists for years.

What really takes my time at the moment is the garden. I will now bore you stiff with unexciting pictures, which I took mostly for making a note of where I am at this point, this year. As mentioned, we are behind, like everybody else. Being in the Northern England means that we are at least two weeks behind the Southerners anyway, but this year is quite in its own league.

This is my polytunnel seen from the "main door". Can you see the greenery poking up from the hanging pots? They are my first peas. They are safe there from mice, which might still be tempted at this point of the spring to seek the sweet shoots in the tunnel.

 I use the tunnel as my potting shed and also store some stuff in there, all against the good principles of greenhouse gardening and such! I don't care as long as it all grows. Until now I have not had problems with any horrible plant diseases because of this. As you see, I am at the "seedlings everywhere" stage. This includes by the way also my kitchen window sill.

This is the far left hand side all full of seedlings and some lettuce growing. I would not have it had I not cheated. I bought a tray of"living salad" and planted it in my tunnel when it was a bit cooler still. It allows the roots to take and now I have some early lettuce. I tried another go two days back, but I think that at this point the plants have so much light and warmth that the shock of being re-planted is too much. You see one of the new seedlings near the bottom of the picture. It has laid itself as a limpet on the ground. I'll tell you if it and its mates perk up, but I seriously doubt it.

This is the big middle bed. A net divides it and today I planted some French beans along the net on the side of the round pots, where there is more space. The beans will grow behind my cucumbers and on the other side of the net go some tomatoes. A bit of the end of this bed is reserved for the sweet corn. I had a great success last summer, but in the end the aphids absolutely overwhelmed my beautiful corn and the cobs were underdeveloped. They simply did not get water enough.

My grape vine says hello! I am very excited about my grape as last year despite the horrendous weather I got 8-10 bunches of grapes.

On the right side of the tunnel there is in addition to the grape a shelf for seedlings and another bed, currently taken by overwintered leeks, which I hope to harvest in the end of May. In the first tunnel picture you can see that there is a climber in the end. This is a passion vine, which I have two of. I hope that they will flower and set fruit, nom, nom, nom. It didn't get damaged too much during the winter and is now getting ready to grow again.

By the door I have an old tumble dryer drum as a planter. An overwintered coriander sits there at the moment, but will get company as I sowed some more coriander there. I might also move the coriander production entirely outside.

Yes, desperately uninteresting, but I am so delighted that my garlic is doing this well. It is the two right hand rows. I planted it in November, it likes the cold to make the bulb split into cloves. My last attempt was not successful, but then I planted in the spring and my bulbs came from a chain store garden centre. These are from the Organic Gardening Catalogue. The punier bits are onions, also sowed in the autumn, but I think I might have set them a tad too deep.

My  mouth waters like Pavlov's dogs' when I am looking at these plants. They are globe artichokes. I usually plant a bit flowers with them as they are big and beautiful and I don't want to disturb the bed too much during the summer. In the middle I will put sweat peas and in between some cosmos. There are bi-annual pinks in the border already. As you see, I leave the dried plant stems for the winter to give me an idea where my plants should pop up again. I need to cut them away now.

I love the fact that all one needs to do is to get an artichoke growing and then weed a bit. The artichoke takes care of itself and comes year after year, unless you get a really cold winter with a prolonged frost period. That happened to me first winter when I had artichokes and even then one survived.

 In addition those boxes of seedlings have sprouting broccoli, kale, cucumber, spinach, artichoke, asparagus, basil, dill and parsley. I have pepper, more tomatoes, pumpkin, courgette, peas and beans on the window sills. My flower seedlings include nasturtium, calendula, tagetes, cosmos, zinnia, dark sun flowers, sweat peas, snap dragons and corn flowers.

 I took a risk and planted both beetroot and carrot today. I just have to repeat, if it gets still too cold. Some other veggies have to wait a bit too before I dare to sow them. A week ago or so I put my first potatoes in. I only do punk fur apples, the most delicious salad potatoes. I will do another batch in couple of weeks and then a final one for the main crop. That has always a risk of getting potato blight, but I'll try.

Well done if you made it here! I really, really wrote this for my own benefit to see how the garden changes during the summer and then again how the spring will be different in 2014. Have you planted anything?