Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Start of a New Year

As we say good bye to 2014 we enter 2015 and the challenge begins a year to become as self sufficient as possible.
The main Vegetable Garden
The main challenge to produce at least one piece of food every day of the year whether it be from the garden, foraged the wild or from stored produce. I wrote about the challenge back in July but it's not just about the produce it's about living a more sustainable life reducing waste recycling more. Some things will just not be possible as we rent our house changing our heating system etc. to be more efficient. But we will do our best where we can to make our lives a little bit more sustainable and self sufficient in what we us. We will be making regular blogs about our challenge through out the year so do come back and see how we are getting on. You can also keep up to date with on a daily basis over on our facebook page and there is also twitter @pottingshed1. Is anyone else set them selves a challenge for 2015 we would love to hear about it. 

Wordless Wednesday

As the sun sets on one year it will rise again on a new year and hopefully it will be better than last.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Gardening TV in 2015

We are nearing the end of 2014 and looking forward to a new year and growing season in 2015. There have been some great new gardening programmes in 2014 it started off with The Great British Garden Revival. Which was a great new program each episode looking at a different part of gardening from greenhouse's to rockery's. Then it was time to show off the Allotment, The Big Allotment Challenge this was a take on the Great British bake off where allotmenters go head to head to for the best in show rosette.  
In 2015 we see some old favourites as well as some new gardening programmes to wet our appetite these are some of the best to look out for.  
Britain's Best Back Gardens
Alan Titchmarsh has spent the past year searching for Britain's best back garden over 600 gardens applied. But only 30 have made it on to the program each week Alan travels up and down the UK and shows us 10 of these gardens in each episode.
Starts 6th Jan 8pm ITV1
Show Me Your Garden
This is a new gardening programme and is a bit like come dine with me. Each week three gardeners visit and judge each others gardens to see who get judges the best episode 1 starts in London.
watch a preview of the show
Starts 2nd Jan 8pm Sky 1
The Great British Garden Revival
This returns for a second series after it's success last year another 10 episodes each week covering one of the following subjects knot gardens, peonies, daffodils, bog gardens, lavender, wildlife gardens, climbers and creepers, soft fruit, and irises. Each week presented by a different presenter Carol Klein, Joe Swift, Rachel de Thame, James Wong, Tom Hart Dyke, Chris Beardshaw, Alys Fowler, Charlie Dimmock, Diarmuid Gavin, Christine Walkden and Toby Buckland.
Starts 6th Jan 7pm BBC2
The Big Allotment Challenge
Again another successful series from last year returns again to BBC2 but with a few changes to last year. It is going to be a lot more practically based after viewers feed back from last year another big change is there are no couples any more it is just individual Allotmenters battling it out for best in show. 
Starts 2nd Jan 9pm BBC2
As well as all your regular gardening TV favourites Beechgrove Garden and Gardeners world BBC2 are all back  back in the spring. So January is defiantly set to be a great month for gardening on TV.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Growing The Seeds For The Future - Self Sufficiency

As part of going self sufficient next year one thing I am going to have to start doing is trying to produce as much seed as I can. Now I am by no means going to be able to produce all the seeds in all the variety's that I will need this will be impossible. The space it would take to producing all this seed we also have the problem with cross pollinating.
 But if we can produce some of the more easier variety's then we could save a pound or two over the year. I have saved lots of peas and beans through the summer as well as cucumber, tomatoes and several other vegetables in varying quantity's. So I have made a good start to being partly self sufficient in seeds next summer one veg we do grow in large quantity's is onions. So i have selected four of the best 'Red baron' onions as well as the best of my 'Kelsea' onions that I grew this summer. I potted them up in the greenhouse one bulb per 3lt pot in multi purpose compost. Growing them on in pots helps with two things the first is I can move them around the greenhouse as they grow and also place them outside during the summer. But one of the main reasons is if you suffer from white rot in your soil you can use clean soil to grow on your new stock disease free. Oh there is a third reason as the seed begins to ripen if the whether turns wet you can pick them up and pop them in the dry of your greenhouse.
I use a similar method for root crops such as beetroot, carrots, parsnips etc. but you will need bigger pots to take the shape of the roots. Put about three roots per pot making sure they are not touching to prevent rot and grow on the same as the onions they will flower the following summer. Only put one variety to seed each year to prevent cross pollination between the variety's for more information there is a great website to get more info .

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Book Review - The Flower Farmers Year

There is nothing more cheerful than a bunch of flowers and it's even better if you have grown them your self. Everyone considers growing flowers for the garden to give pleasure outside but not many people grow them to cut for the house. When most people think about getting a bunch of flowers there first port of call is the local florist or worst of all the garage forecourt. But most of these flowers have been flown from all over the world traded at markets up and down the country. Creating a massive carbon foot print not to mention all the chemicals and artificial fertiliser that was thrown on them as they grow. Many years ago every town and city had several flower farmers producing all year round and there produce never travelled many miles from where it grew. But now there is a great new book to help get you started growing your own cut flowers in your own garden and even turn your garden into a business. The Flower Farmers Year by Georgie Newbery is a new inspirational book that by the time you have read it you will want to get outside and plant up a cut flower patch of your own.
Georgie is an Artisan flower farmer and florist she grows all her flowers from her small holding in Summerset and delivers them all over the UK. Everything is covered in this book from starting your first cut flower patch to going in to business Even the Tax man gets a mention. I have always planted and grown flowers in the garden and cut bunches for the house. But never planted any with the intention of cutting them for the house. But after reading The Flower Farmers Year this is going to change next year I am going to select several variety's to cut for the house.
This is a great book for the budding flower farmer, florist or even the seasoned pro will learn a thing or two. With Christmas coming up it will make a great present for any gardener it's only £19.99 available from all good book shops or direct from Green Books
Georgie also has a website where you can buy her flowers or even book one of her workshops. 
ISBN: 9780857842336

Saturday, 13 December 2014

It's all getting Christmassy

The decorations have come out of the cupboard the tree has come in and taken up most of the living room. Another Christmas tradition is the holly wreath that hangs on the front door to welcome guests to your home. So I have been out and about getting bits and pieces to make one, it all starts with the hoop you can use many materials to make the hoop but traditally you would use Willow or hazel.
I have opted for Hazel this year just gently bend the rods over your knee to make them more flexible and then start by weaving two of them into a circle. once you have got the circle formed keep on weaving in Hazel rods until it is strong enough to hold all the holly you are going to tie to it. I always tie a bit of wire around it just to make sure it doesn't spring open. 
Once you have made your circle we now need to cover up all your hard work making it. Cut up your holly into 6-8" lengths get two - three bits of Holly depending on the size of them place them on to the Hazel and tie with wire to the circle. Keep on doing this covering up the stalks with each new bunch you add and work your way round the circle until you get to where you started.
 Add a string or ribbon to the top of the wreath so that you can tie it up to your door. You are free to add hat you want to your wreath I have gone for a more natural look this year. I have simply added some dried Hydrangea heads and some gold holly I will probably add to it as I come across things such as cones etc. but that is the joy of making it your self you can do what you want in your own time. They are always much better than anything you will buy in a shop and it only took an hour of my time to make.
 This is also a great activity to get the Kids involved in although they may complain about getting prickled by the Holly. They do love making anything related to Christmas I will certainly be making more next Christmas as part of my year of going self sufficient.