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Latest posts by obelixx

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 10:26

Not for me.   We have a large garden which I love but having lost one whole growing season to neck problems and surgery and then another season and a half to double foot surgeries i'm finding it hard to get it all back under control where pernicious perennial weeds have invaded and my own plants have got a bit too excited and gone invasive.

We have a fruit plot, a veg plot, shrubberies, woodland corner, wildlife pond and shelters and a lot of grass for dogs to play and some stunning plants which are a joy but I don't want to be a slave to my garden and I don't want to be feeling it's a constant batte rather than a pleasure so when OH retires in 13 months time we're probably going to sell up and buy something a bit easier to manage.

Definitely no question of having chooks or other critters now.  We can take the dogs and cat with us on hols if we're clever about where we go and where we stay but I wouldn't want to be tied to other livestock which limits even short stays away.

Trusted chilli seed suppliers?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 00:13

They're a good company Zoomer.  I've ordered ornamental flowers and grasses seeds several times in the past and always been impressed with the quality.   They have some unusual plants.

Trusted chilli seed suppliers?

Posted: 26/11/2014 at 13:05

Last year I ordered Red Padron, Bulgarian Carrot and Hungarian Black from Plant World Seeds - - and had excellent results until most of the seedlings were wiped out by a freak hailstorm.   I had cleverly gathered all my babies together outside to get rained on rather than rely on OH to water them while I was away for 3 days.

Some of them eventually recovered and produced a few fruits which have been good so I'll be ordering more of the same this year and adding Fish to my list and also sowing some saved seeds just to see what I get.

They have interesting lookng tomatoes and other veg too and some fabulous flowering plants.

What are you getting rid of...?

Posted: 26/11/2014 at 12:50

Yesterday I dug up and composted about 2 square metres of phlomis russeliana which is a plant I like but not when it's on a takeover bid. I also dug up several clumps of sorbaria which has turned out to be a suckering shrub.  Fine when it stays along the boundary but not when invading my border.

Next on the list is lysimachia clethroides alba which I really like but has also proved to be jut a bit too happy so a couple of clumps will be dug up for a newly cleared area over and the rest will be composted.

Next year's big project is to clear and replant the beds around the pond.  They've  been invaded by flag iris and yellow dead nettle and rush grasses which can all go.



Favourite allotment food recipes

Posted: 26/11/2014 at 12:37

I make a sweet and sour red salad with red cabbage and beetroot.  Much nicer than brasied red cabbage.  Good with hot or cold pork and chicken and sausages and good for snacking too.   Depending on the time of year, the cabbage, radishes, beetroot and red onion come from the garden:- 



250g / 8oz red cabbage, shredded

430g / 15oz tin        red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

125g / 4oz radishes, sliced

1              small red onion, sliced thinly

1              red bell pepper, cored and diced

200g / 7oz beetroot, cooked and cut into strips

1              red apple, cored and cut into chunks




4 tbs        red wine vinegar

4 tbs        soft brown sugar

2 tbs        light soy sauce

2 tbs        sunflower, safflower, rapeseed or grapeseed oil


Cover the cabbage with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes without further heat.  Drain well.

Combine all the salad ingredients.

Combine all the dressing ingredients and taste for seasoning.   Some people find it more sweet than sour so you may want to adjust the vinegar levels.

Toss the salad in the dressing.   The salad benefits from being left to marinate an hour or two before serving and keeps well for at least a week.   


Fragrant tree

Posted: 26/11/2014 at 10:07

Milk is such a verstaile product which produces a wide variety of godies - milk, cream, clotted cream, sour cream, butter, buttermilk, ice cream and cheeses and so on.    I try always to but organic milk, cream and cheeses or else regional products which aren't mass produced.

Our neighbours have a mixed arable and pastoral farm.  When we arrived 21 years ago they had dairy cattle and sold milk, butter, yoghurt and fromage blanc but then the EU introduced rules about having separate, tiled rooms for each process and which would have cost a fortune to convert their perfectly adequate facilities.

They sold all the cows, bought a few more horses and opened a riding school and archery club and now earn most of their income from their 2 personal interests.    Clearly not every farmer can diversify this way and it will take a great deal of organisation for farmers to band together and resist supermarket pressures to sell at below cost..

There is a movement slowly starting in the UK which is seeing customers change from supermarket shopping to smaller and more local shops and suppliers.  Let's hope it gains momentum and good quality producers who care for their animals and land can start to get decent prices again

Tulbaghia - wow!

Posted: 25/11/2014 at 17:41

I love these plants and had some in my sheltered front bed for 3 seasons where they were well drained and sheltered from prevailing winds.  They did fine for 2 winters with plenty of snow and -10C in full sun but didn't like the following very cold winter with less snow for insulation.  

Strictly 2014

Posted: 25/11/2014 at 00:16

One of the advantages of watching SCD and the results tonight instead of live is that I was able to fast forward through Barry Manilow.   Never liked any of his songs and wasn't about to let him murder Louis Armstrong!

Good show and good result.

Brendan has been calmer ever since he got married and is quite the softy now he's a dad.   It'll be interesting to see what he does with the rumba next week.

Can't understand wardrobe malfunctions after all these years.   The costume department produces some amazing outfits but also some horrors and never should have left Caroline's skirt so long once they'd done the dress rehearsal. It was just asking to be stood on in the intro moves.  Thought she recovered very well.

Didn't like Jake's samba.  There's something creepy about him.   Loved Frankie's Viennese waltz and enjoyed Pixie's Charleston although OH and I found some of her leg positions ugly and ungainly rather than quirky.    Simon's salsa was good.  So pleased Christine has a good partner.   We liked Mark's tango too but don't understand why people think it's an angry dance.  It's powerful and controlled and can be much more steamy and sensual than a rumba but it isn't angry.


Gunnera Manicata Overwintering

Posted: 24/11/2014 at 15:23

I have lost 2 of these in the past from unexpected first frosts below -5C.  Previously they had survived winters of -20C for several weeks because I got to them before the frosts and folded over the large, dying leaves to cover the crown and then buried the whole plant under 3' of garden compost.   

My third and last attempt at growing these is in a pot and gets potted up to the next size in spring so it can grow well.  For winter, I bury the pot in the border in the greenhouse.  Once it gets to a size where I can no longer move its pot it will be planted out and I will keep a weather eye on the frost forecasts and use my judgement when I think the forecasters may be wrong so I, and te gunnera, don't get a nasty surprise.

Fragrant tree

Posted: 23/11/2014 at 17:47

No single variety of shrub or tree is going to mask the smell as their season of fragrant flowers or foliage is transient and, in any case, your nose will become desensitised to persistent fragrance, whether good or bad.

I'd rather live next to a farm than an airport.  I was shocked by the all pervading smell of aviation fuel at the back of Zaventem airport when out on a hunt for sculptures by a certain Belgian artist - .


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