November 9th, 2012

Homemade frozen pizza

We make pizza reasonably often, and since I got my awesome stand mixer for my birthday, I’ve been making more stuff in bulk. So we decided to make a load of pizzas and attempt to freeze them so we can have them whenever we want without all the hassle of waiting for dough to rise.

We mixed:

1kg 00 flour
2 7g sachets of yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
650ml lukewarm water

And then let the mixer knead it for 10 minutes with a bit of a rest in the middle. We covered the bowl and stuck it in the airing cupboard for an hour or so, then J cut up toppings while I made 6 strangely shaped bases. We made 2 pizzas as normal, but the ones we planned to freeze I put in the oven at 230C without toppings for 4 minutes to partly cook, then slid out onto cooling racks to cool for a bit before topping, wrapping in cling film, and freezing. I put a handful of coarse cornmeal to spread on the trays to prevent sticking, which also makes the crust taste extra nice.

UPDATE: We have made these several times now as they are SO good. To cook from frozen, preheat the oven to 180C and cook until the top is browned, about 18 minutes. These have ruined shop bought pizza for me as they are just so much nicer.

Pizzas ready to freeze:

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Pizzas we ate:

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The cost was flour – £1.99 (stupid waitrose expensive organic hippy flour), yeast – 20p, salt, sugar, oil – 30p, passata – 89p, sweetcorn – 40p artichokes, olives, sundried tomatoes – £1, mushrooms – 50p, green pepper 50p, mozarella 79p (reduced, woohoo!), cheddar 50p.

So yeah, I guessed some of the costs, and we weren’t exactly trying to keep it cheap, and the total was £7.07 for 6 pizzas! So it’s £1.18 per pizza! way cheaper than frozen pizzas from the shops, and with about 3 times as much stuff on!

In other news, my dragon is growing fast!!! so cute!

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September 3rd, 2012

New vivarium

Currently all the babies (now 20! only one egg unhatched) are living in a small 2’6 vivarium. This is fine for them at the moment, means they don’t have far to go to get to their food/cool spot/basking spot. However when they are adults, they’ll need something bigger. Gren and I decided we’d look for a secondhand viv to house the two we are keeping, figuring we’d manage to get something within the next couple of months that was in our budget. As it was, I found this on ebay. 4ft viv with UV tube, ceramic heater, and 2 lightbulb fittings, and a cabinet to keep all the bits in (and raise it out of cats-eye-view) for £66.50. Score.

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During my ebay hunting, I found this wonderful creation.

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If you have £279 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy it here. However, with the £50+ it would take to get the UV and other light fittings, that was just sooo far out of our budget. But it’s so prettttty.

So I figured if that sort of thing is makeable, then goddamnit I can make it. I asked the internet how to make fake rocks for vivariums, and came up with all sorts of complicated stuff involving chicken wire and cement and soaking the end result in water for weeks to make the cement lizard-safe. And then thought ‘fuck that, I’d rather just make it out of polystyrene’. After a little more googling, it appeared that many people have done exactly that, including this awesome creation, which sadly I can’t credit as I can’t remember the forum I found the link on.

So I went to b&q, hoping to buy some of their small 25mm thick polystyrene sheets. However, the website lied to me, and they were out of stock of the small sheets, so I ended up buying a sheet that is 2.4m long and 1.2 metres wide. Awesome. The inside of my car however is smaller than 2.4×1.2m. So I had fun in the carpark breaking this enormous thing into 3 pieces that I could actually transport home.

I decided to put my skillz to the test and make a little climby basky thing the babies can use in their current viv to iron out any problems I have with the creation process before starting on the real thing. As I expected, while cutting this polystyrene with a stanley knife is easier than cutting the box I made the incubator out of, it’s still a pain in the ass, so I ordered a hot wire cutter to do the job much more neatly and easily. I also learned that b&q own brand PVA glue is a pile of crap. I dunno if I got a bad bottle or what, but the consistency was more like water than glue, even after vigorous shaking and stirring. So I cut my shapes out, used a combination of the crappy glue and cocktail sticks to hold the whole thing together, then covered with a layer of grout, then another later in the evening when that had dried, and I’ve just started on painting it, using acrylic paints, the plan being to use lighter shades of grey for each coat.

It clearly looks like rock, as the intelligent auto function on my camera decided it was a landscape!

After grouting
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After a coat of black paint
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first grey coat
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Total cost of this insane project so far:

Vivarium: £66.50
Polystyrene sheet: £6.98
Crappy glue: £3.50
Paintbrushes for grout: £3
Grout: £0 (the builders left a huge bag behind when they did my kitchen, woohoo!)
Hot wire cutter: £15.19
Paint: £7.34
Mirrors: £3.97
Total: £106.48

I’ll need to buy something to seal it with, either varnish or resin, I’ve not decided, and I may well need to buy more paint, and I’d like a circular thermometer I can incorporate into my planned design, but I think all the other bits I’m thinking of I can either make from the polystyrene or can salvage from things I already have, so fingers crossed it won’t cost me too much more.

So far my only ‘plans’ for the design are drawn really badly in a sketchbook, so you’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out and hope I remember to blog about it while it’s still a WIP.

August 29th, 2012

Babies!

I think I probably forgot to blog about it, but these guys are J’s bearded dragons. He’s had Dizzy for a few years, and in spring decided to get a male to keep her company.

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After a couple of months in separate vivs, and a bit of territorial behaviour, they decided to become friends and live together happily, then after a couple of weeks of mating behaviour…arm waving, head bobbing, beard biting, we realised dizzy was finally knocked up! We didn’t see the actual penetration the first time, but she was getting fatter and fatter. Then she started frantically digging in the sand in her viv. We took her out and put her in a box of damp compost, but she wasn’t very interested in it. After a couple of days of spending an hour in the compost box a day, she decided she was ready, dug a hole, and laid 21 eggs in it. We carefully extracted the eggs and put them in an incubator which I made from a polystyrene box with a heat mat attached to a thermostat in. Later I put a perspex window in and sealed it with silicone so I could see the eggs without lifting the lid. I put a dish of water in the box on the heat mat to get the humidity up (image below shows a small heat mat, we changed it to a larger one a few days in), and put the eggs in dents on the surface of damp vermiculite. Half the eggs we put on the surface in the orientation in which they were laid, and the other half we candled and put with the yolk sac up, as the internet disagreed on which method was best. Both worked fine for us. The crappy hygrometer we had measured the humidity between 80 and 90%, and we set the thermostat to 28 degrees C. None of the eggs showed any signs of mould, but they didn’t really seem to do much either, then after a few weeks we realised they were getting bigger.

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After 71 days, one of the eggs looked dented, but the others looked fine. We expected them all to dent shortly before hatching, but nope, just this one. On the morning of day 72 there was one baby hatched, and 3 more eggs pipped.

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Now there are 14 babies! And they are so cute!

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And in other news we harvested a lot of stuff from the plot. Potatoes, red onion, garlic, carrots, beans, peas, courgette and one squash

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August 9th, 2012

Monster garden update.

I’ve been rather remiss at updating the blog, and rubbish at keeping records of gardening stuff. It started out so well at the start of the year, I had a spreadsheet with all the plants and varieties and notes about when stuff was planted and how it was doing. Then it got to about april when stuff actually needed doing in the garden, and doing stuff took priority over making notes about stuff. So today I tried to catch up and went out and made notes on what I’ve got and how it’s doing.

First, here’s some pics of my garden from above. I have a flat roof on top of the living room, and J had never been up there, so we got out the ladder and went to have a look the other week.

Main part of the garden:
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Veggie area:
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Veggie area overflow:
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Onto today’s cataloguing of plants.
Conservatory greenhouse:
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Kiwi fruit. No variety listed other than it being self fertile, was £1.99 at the local cheap garden centre so I thought I’d give it a go. Doing awesomely, I kept having to add extra canes and move the vine as it was growing. Very fast vigorous grower, but no fruit yet.

Gherkin cucumber. No idea of variety, grown from seed by my dad rather late in the season. Very vigorous growth, plants are now taller than me, and mini fruits are just appearing.

Grape, cabernet. Incredibly vigorous growth, has easily doubled in size in the few months I’ve had it, is now growing along the greenhouse roof. The grapes are getting bigger too. wooooo.
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Pink passionflower. Grew from seed this year, will have to check the packet for the variety. Seems to be pretty happy, about 50cm tall now, no sign of flowering yet. Will have to see how it does over winter.

Kumquat and lime trees. Well, they are still alive and covered in leaves and making new shoots, and the lime flowered very very early in the year, but lost all the fruit. I think maybe I’m not destined to grow citrus plants, but I’ll see how they do if they stay in the greenhouse, as they were moved around rather a lot last winter between the house and both greenhouses.

Asparagus. Grown from seed to eventually plant at J’s plot. Seems very happy indeed, just put into bigger pots and will plant out in autumn or maybe next spring.

Globe artichoke. Left them in their mini seedling pots for too long, but finally moved into bigger pots and seem to be doing okay. I really should move them outside. I would plant them out, but something killed all the artichokes at the plot, so there may be a change of plan regarding their location.

Chillis: Gusto purple and cayenne are doing ok, leaves a bit yellow, but had a few fruit from each. Should probably feed them and see if that helps. Jalapenos are doing pretty good, mini fruits just starting to form. Krakatoa F1 is doing great, lots of fruit on a very small plant. I picked it up at a garden centre I went to with my parents and now I’m hoping it tastes nice and isn’t just crazily hot.
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Tomato: mini charm. Well, it’s certainly very mini, and has a fair few flowers, but not fruit yet.

Main greenhouse:

J has been working on the patio in front of it, so I can walk to the greenhouse without having to put shoes on! Just need to put down a load of gravel and the messy area will look so much nicer.
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Everything is growing nicely
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Plants, from left to right.

Cucumber f1 female. No variety name given. Bought at a garden centre because the ones I tried from seed didn’t germinate. Doing amazingly. We will be overrun with cucumbers in a couple of weeks, I picked one yesterday and had half of it for dinner, and it was lovely.
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Sweet pepper. Can’t remember the variety without checking it. Not very happy. I planted 2 plants here, but their leaves started to curl within days of being in the ground, I figured it was cos the chickens had been pooping in that soil just a few months before and there was too much nitrogen or something. The first plant is soldiering on, and had a couple of flowers, but the second was killed by slugs.

Tomato. No idea what variety, just a random plant I had left in the greenhouse I stuck in to replace the dead pepper plant.

Tomato Shirley. Lots of full heavy trusses of fruit, still all green.

Tomato. I can’t remember the variety. One I grew from seed…it was the first one I planted, but it appears to be later than the others to set fruit, so I have no clues what it is.

Tomato, beefsteak heirloom type. Will need to check my seed packets for the variety. Doing very well except it fell on me the other day cos the cane broke. Fruits are still very small and green, but there are lots of them. Some of them look like crazy mutants.
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Tomato, again forgotten variety. I think it’s san marzano. Being a bit overshadowed by its neighbour, but doing ok.

Cucumber, same as the first one. Had issues when it was just planted with something eating it and making holes in the leaves, but I sprayed a couple of times with washing up liquid solution, and it killed whatever it was, and the plant is now super happy. It’s a couple of weeks behind the other in terms of cropping, but will still give lots of fruit.

Aubergine f1 moneymaker. Not as big as I’d expect, or as big as the one in J’s greenhouse (which is cooler than mine cos it is missing half a roof). Has made a couple of flowers and has more on the way, so fingers crossed I’ll get a few aubergines off it.

Tomato alicante. Doing well. Lots of trusses.
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Tomato Roma. Will soon give me the first ripe tomato of the year. About time! has lots of trusses, but not many fruit on each. Am still expecting an ok crop though, as there are still flowers on it.
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Tomato Roma. A bit behind it’s neighbour, but doing well.

Watermelon. Can’t remember variety, but it doesn’t matter anyway because stupid slugs ate it, even with a ring of eggshell around it. Next year I’m going to grow melons in pots in the other greenhouse.

Outdoor tomato bed.
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From front to back, left to right:

2 unknown varieties, both grown from seed. The second fell over in strong winds so its a bit freaky looking and won’t stay up straight, but it’s still looking ok

Shirley/moneymaker. Both doing ok, lots of fruit

Tomatoberry x2. The second one died, I think due to being knocked over in the wind and the stem breaking. The other seems ok

Supersweet/floridity, 2 rows. The floridity have tons of teeny tiny varigated plum fruits, the supersweet seem to be doing ok too.

Other beds:

Telephone peas/trail of tears beans. The peas are doing great, we’ve had a good crop from them, and they are the nicest peas I’ve ever tasted…even when the pods are overlooked and they get a bit big, they still have the lovely sweet pea taste and don’t get hard and nasty tasting. They are coming to an end now so I’m trying to resist picking any more and saving the rest for seeds. The beans are just starting to be ready now, we’ve had half a dozen so far, but the plants are still covered in flowers and tiny 1″ long beans. This is the second attempt, as the first lot were killed by an unexpected late frost.
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Random tomatoes:
I had a buttload of tomatoes left over in the greenhouse so I planted them out, way too close together cos i didnt want to take up the whole salad bed, and I’ll just see what happens.
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Courgette/asparagus:
One courgette plant ‘black beauty’, is giving soooo many courgettes, we’ve had several meals from it already and it’s still going strong. The asparagus is a mix of stuff I grew from seed last year, with 3 crowns I put in in the spring. It seems to be doing very well now it’s covered to stop the cats getting on it, and I’m looking forward to next year when I should be able to get my first crop.
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Celery ‘victoria’. Never grown celery before so I don’t know if it’s on schedule size-wise, but it seems to be doing ok.
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Cauli/sprouts.
Romanesco cauliflowers/wellington sprouts. Not a very good picture as they are covered in an anti-butterfly screen. They are growing really well in there though, at the plot we ran out of fleece and grew half our caulis under fleece and half under net, and the ones under the fleece are so much bigger, so I’ll definitely be using that technique in future.
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Artichoke/squash/currants
The artichokes (green globe) are now established enough the cats aren’t trying to dig near them, and one is starting to flower. Currants are doing ok, no flowers or fruit yet, but they were only planted this year. Squash (1 butternut and 1 something else…rolet I think) didn’t work, no idea why, they just grew a bit, very slowly, then died, equally slowly. They probably hate my shitty clay soil.
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And that’s pretty much it. Blueberries have been fruiting for months and are still going strong
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Strawberries have given a lot of fruit and have filled out the bed nicely…and if you look at the back of the pic you can see 38 more I’ve just planted from runners, which will go live at the plot once we’ve cleared space.
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I picked our november planted red onions ‘electric’ as the tops were starting to die back to nothing, we’ve had a few already, they taste good, just have to see how well they store now.
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And I picked the elephant garlic. Nom nom nom.
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We went to the plot the other day and stuff is generally doing well, but so are weeds, so we’re gonna go back one day this weekend. No doubt I’ll get tired after a few minutes of weeding, so I’ll do the same there and start making notes about what we grew, what worked out, and what got eaten by asshole slugs and squirrels.

May 11th, 2012

May update

Not been doing a whole lot cos i’ve been ill and the weather has been crap, but it’s ok because the garden has been doing things all by itself. Here are a gazillion pics of all the things growing.

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cherry tree planted last autumn

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raspberries happy in their new bed

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Blackcurrants

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Globe artichokes

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Asparagus (and weeds!), most plants started from seed last year, plus 2 crowns planted this year

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Red onions and one elephant garlic

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Climbing (telephone) peas

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Rocket, carrots (just coming through) and radish

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2 of the blueberry bushes

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The one bit of the garden that actually looks pretty

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Crazy mixed leaves in the greenhouse. I need to eat more salad!

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Perennials to be planted out, weeds :( and a tomato plant…moneymaker i think

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Sunflowers

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Silver birch has nice leaves on, and the lawn needs mowing badly.

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Acer and dragon lily

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Strawberries, from runners taken from my parents last autumn, and 2 honeyberries at the front waiting to climb the arch

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We dug in some spent colonised straw and a bit of new straw into the soil in the greenhouse, and it worked! oyster mushrooms, yay!

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Kiwi plants

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more telephone peas, long overdue for planting out

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even more telephone peas, these are for the plot

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stocks and perennial cornflower

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‘trail of tears’ climbing french beans, and a few caulis hiding at the back

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Tomatoes (i think these are costoluto) and morning glory

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Dwarf french beans ‘saxa’ on the left, climbing beans ‘trail of tears’ centre and right

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Globe artichoke ‘green globe’ at the front, tomato ‘san marzano’ centre, 2 watermelons, 2 butternut squash and 1 aubergine at the back

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more telephone peas for the plot at the front, romanesco caulis in the middle, and one lonely morning glory at the back (the others are already in bigger pots)

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Giant pumpkin at the front, middle right is a tray of mixed squashes and 3 courgettes which haven’t germinated yet, back right is more romanesco caulis, left is asters and busy lizzies

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cucumbers! and in the prop are 2 types of cherry tomato, and aubergines

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french marigolds

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What I discovered behind the compost heap yesterday. Goddamn polly.

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All cleaned up!

staging
I wanted greenhouse staging but couldn’t afford it, so this is the results of an afternoon’s work and some old timber I’d collected, plus a pallet that I couldn’t dismantle, but gren did it for me.

I got bored of pics at this point, but I also have indoors/in the other greenhouse sweet peppers, 3 or 4 types of chilli, physalis, passionflowers, 2 more types of tomato, asparagus, basil, oregano, swede, turnip, purple sprouting broccoli and 2 types of sweetcorn. And probably more things I’ve forgotten.

March 27th, 2012

My week (and a bit more) in pictures

I just realised that I’ve done a gazillion things in the garden that I’ve meant to blog about and didn’t, so I’m just going to put it all in here in one ginormous update.

A while ago, Thompson & Morgan had a special offer of ‘buy 20 perennials for £10’, so i figured I’d go for it, as the flower beds have been rather neglected in favour of the veggie patch. Other than edible things, the only plants I care about in the garden are an acer, a corkscrew hazel, a couple of ferns, a honeysuckle, and a climbing rose. Oh, and something I don’t know the name of, and a couple of geraniums and other things my mum gave me that I dunno what they are called. Given that I have a reasonable amount of bed space, I figured 20 new plants would fill the gaps nicely and make the garden pretty and hopefully cover more ground and stop the weeds. The plants arrived the other day, and this is what I got.

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I looked at the names and descriptions, and realised I only knew what a few of them actually were, so GIS to the rescue. This is what they will turn out like! The only one I’m not sure what to do with is the red hot poker…they are a bit 1970’s for me, and they get biiiiig. I’ll either give it away, or hide it at the back somewhere.

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Theeeen (and this pic is from ages ago, but never mind), I’ve been playing with my new saw. A LOT. I love it so much, it makes jobs that I’d not have been able to manage in the past sooooo easy.

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On that occasion I built a raised bed for J’s greenhouse.

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Then a couple of weeks later we built another bed for the side of my house to cover the sloping area.
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And he very kindly filled it with soil for me.
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Theeeeen last weekend, the internet was BAD. It was all ‘hey vampy, you know you want a conservatory but don’t have the gazillion pounds they cost? Well how about a secondhand lean-to greenhouse, you can pretend that is a conservatory, right?’. And I was all ‘DAMN YOU INTERNET, you know me too well!’. So I bought it, and after a rather scary (and possibly illegal) journey with bits of greenhouse sticking out the car window, we got it home, with the greenhouse, the car, and us, all in one piece. With Gren’s help, I got the frame up.

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Then I had to go buy timber to attach it to the wall, and my awesome woodyard also gave me some old flashing tape they had arrive damaged, cos I didn’t wanna pay £13 for 30m of the stuff when I only needed 4m. And with more gren help…there is wood attached to my house!

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And a greenhouse attached to the wood, and glass in the greenhouse!!
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This is what I see when I open the back door. A pretty area to sit in, and a place for the seedlings that were previously taking over the dining room.
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And littlecat loooves it in there, cos it gets really warm and sunny in the evenings, and I love it in there cos YAY GREENHOUSE.

A while ago I decided I wanted an archway over the steps in the garden, so the honeysuckle and rose have something to climb up and don’t attack you when you walk past, and so I don’t have to cut them QUITE as far back every year. I asked the internet, and it was all ‘hahahaha, you can get one for £150 if you’re lucky, oh, but by the way, it won’t actually fit over your steps’. So I looked at timber on the B&Q website, and they wanted around £50 for it. So I asked my favourite local woodyard. £15 for the timber and screws. Score. AND I GET TO USE MY NEW SAW AGAIN WOOHOO. So I borrowed gren’s car cos it’s bigger than mine, and went and picked up the timber when I got the stuff for fixing the greenhouse to the wall. And I built an arch. And it took less than 2 hours, even including the gazillion breaks I need to take when I’m doing anything more strenuous than sitting down.

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Of course, I didn’t exactly consider that it needed to be 5′ wide to fit the gap, and I’m 5’3 tall, meaning my arm span is about 5’3 too. So there is no way I can move an archway that is 8′ tall and 5′ wide. But again, it was Gren to the rescue, we moved it into place, marked where the holes needed to be, and had some fun hitting a bit of wood with a sledgehammer to make the holes, then put the archway in place. And it fit! And it looked awesome! And it only cost £15!!!!

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And now for other random stuff. We moved the manky sofa off the patio so the greenhouse would fit. It really needs to go to the tip, but even with gren’s help I have trouble lifting it more than a few metres, and there’s no way we could get it in the car. We considered cutting it in half with a chainsaw, but that would be messy and I can’t really lift the chainsaw, and gren drinks too much beer to be able to safely operate dangerous tools, so we decided to leave it in front of the veggie area, as there’s a patch there that is always in the shade so not suitable for growing things in, and I had been considering putting seating there at some point, because I do like to be able to sit out of the sun.

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As you can see, I’ve put down anti-weed plastic around the area and started to cover it with gravel. I have another 2 bags of gravel that will be put down once a strong man moves them for me, then after that I’ll have to save up to get another ton or so delivered so the entire area can be gravelled, with a few paving stones for easy access to the greenhouse and chicken area.

I love my manky sofa though, it’s nice for relaxing on in the shade.
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And just perfect for taking myspace style photos (ok, so I took the tablet into the garden for the first time, and was having lots of fun internetting and taking stupid pics of myself).
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I also put in some bricks to mark the edge of the flower bed, and widened it a little so there’s room for my perennials, and planted some primroses and catmint my dad bought me. Mummycat looooves the catmint, and has been rolling around on it a lot…I made a little cage from chicken wire to cover it so she can’t completely kill it. I hope.

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Aaaaand that is pretty much all I’ve done since I last updated. The rest of the time I’ve been sleeeeping. Apparently my need to sleep 12 hours a day turns into a need to sleep for at least 15 hours a day when I’m being active. And I’m sure my body will have its revenge in a few weeks, but I’m trying to both make the most of the sun and not overdo things….I still have a huge list of garden stuff that needs to be done, so hopefully the good weather and my relatively ok body will last.

OH! and!!! J’s plot! We spent a few days down there a couple of weeks ago. It started like this:

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I did strimming and planting, and he did digging until it ended up like this:
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We found a flying spaghetti monster:
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And planned where we are going to plant ALL THE THINGS. The areas with grey backgrounds are already planted, the areas with white are just planned.

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March 6th, 2012

March is when things start to get busy

Or, at least, they do when it’s not raining outside. We’ve had a few lovely days, then the last couple of days have been really horrible. Still, at least the waterbutt will get filled.

On Saturday we got to do some work in the garden, J dug some beds for me and I pruned the ivy and did various other non-physical tasks. And now the garden is looking sooo nice.

Here’s my new beds!
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And here’s the main veggie area with one new bed and one relocated bed.
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Here’s the greenhouse. Radish, spinach and mixed leaves planted in the ground, rocket and mixed leaves in the trough, and pots of sunflowers, moneymaker tomatoes, parsley, coriander, and onions. My windowsill has aubergines, black cherry tomatoes, sweet and chilli peppers, and more herbs, which will be relocated to the greenhouse soon to free up space for more planting indoors.
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When I work in the greenhouse, I often have spectators. They are most upset that they can’t get in to steal all my worms.
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And finally, mushrooms grow SO FAST. This is either 2 or 3 days after the last pic. We chopped them up and made them into a sauce with some button mushrooms, onions, cream, parsley, and cheese, and had them with pasta, and they were lovely.
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February 28th, 2012

mmmmmmushrooms!

My mushroom growing attempt appears to have been successful. After about 48 hours in the airing cupboard, the little dots of white were larger fuzzier dots of white, and after 2 weeks all the straw was held together in a giant lump of white mushroomness.

I gave one of the smaller bags to my mum, and put the other small bag and the large bag on my windowsill, in hopes that the lower temp and bright light there would encourage fruiting. I opened the bags to allow more light and airflow. After a few days I started to worry because nothing seemed to be happening, and the top of the bags kept drying out…even though the radiators in the house aren’t on that much, it’s still fairly dry in here. So I decided to hedge my bets and try a couple of different methods. The large bag, I put in the greenhouse. It’s pretty warm in there, and pretty humid, so I figured that would help, but I wasn’t sure if it would get too cold for them at night. The small bag, I left on the windowsill, but put it in the propagator that my carnivorous plants live in, in a separate tray so it wasn’t sitting in water.

I don’t know if the moving to humid places helped, or if just waiting did the trick, but now, 9 days after taking out of the airing cupboard, I have baby mushrooms on both bags!!!

The greenhouse bag I had a look in the top, and was greeted with these:

greenhousemush2
greenhousemush1

Cute baby mushrooms! Then I carried on working in there, and noticed this huge clump growing out the side of the bag.
greenhousemush3

The indoor ones weren’t as big, but still growing in a few patches:
indoormushrooms2

I moved them to their own propagator as the box to keep them out of the water wasn’t giving them much growing space.
indoormushrooms

I’m going to take some of the straw from one of the bags and mix with fresh straw, and see if i can get EVEN MORE mushroomy goodness to grow, so I can have them constantly and not have to worry about buying more spawn. Next time I might even just start them off in the prop so i can put it in the airing cupboard and just move it out with no messing around.

The greenhouse is doing well too now it’s warming up. The radish, spinach, and mixed leaves I planted the weekend before last are coming up.

greenhousebed

And the rocket and other salad leaves we planted in the winter are really coming into their own now. We’ve eaten a few as part of the thinning out process, and I further thinned them today and put the extras into another pot.

greenhousetroughs

I love my greenhouse so much!

February 25th, 2012

New bathroom, woo!

I’ve posted a pic of my bathroom here before. It’s generally relatively clean, but has a nasty ‘champagne’ coloured suite with gold coloured taps and beige tiles, and had a really nasty pink carpet. SERIOUSLY WHO THE FUCK PUTS CARPET IN A BATHROOM. And the paint was getting a bit peely and it just looked a bit crappy. Oh, and the shower leaked due to a really bad design of a bath with a raised lip at the shower end, so any water that went down the tiles at the back couldn’t go into the bath and ended up on the floor, and soaked through the FUCKING STUPID CARPET and started to weaken the board below. And the shower curtain was manky and mildewy and it was textured so it was really hard to get clean.

Here’s what it used to look like:

oldbathroomlabelled

Sadly a new suite and tiles were way outside my budget (and my DIY capabilities), but I knew I really needed to do something about the damaged floor board and peeling paint.

I was wandering around primark a couple of weeks ago waiting for bf to get off work, and I spotted shower curtains for £5. Not the most awesome pretty shower curtains I’d been dreaming of, but £5. So I got one. And then that motivated me to do everything else. I got some paint in a blue that would go with the shower curtain and not look terrible with the beige tiles and 5 different shades of wood, and found a cheap but good quality vinyl flooring remnant on ebay. I painted everything, then began the scary task of taking up the carpet. Luckily the water damage was only to one area of one board, and not to any joists, so I took up the board and replaced it (yay for having spare loft boards lying around so I just had to cut to shape and not buy any timber), then cleaned the floor a gazillion times and laid the vinyl. I discovered that b&q’s double sided vinyl floor tape is shit, and doesn’t really stick to chipboard OR vinyl, so it may need relifting and glueing down properly at some point, but fingers crossed it’ll be ok as it is.

Here is my new pretty bathroom! I am getting a new shower in the next week or so because the motor in the old one blew up and we’ve been making do with a non-powered power shower for 6 months, which is fine for cleaning yourself, but terrible for washing my masses of thick hair. And I’m crocheting a cotton bathmat in colours to match the shower curtain.

newbathroom1

newbathroom2

February 4th, 2012

Mushroom growing attempt.

So, I decided to grow mushrooms. I’ve done it before from a kit, but kits are expensive, and limited in choice. I decided to start with oyster mushrooms cos they sounded the easiest, so I bought some spawn from ebay.

spawn

The auction said you could use various substrates, but I decided on straw because it’s cheap and I happen to have a lot of it lying around for the chickens. I read all the info here and here, then got to work.

I didn’t want to venture into the cold dark garden, so I just grabbed the bag of straw that was in the garage. Only 530 grammes, when the auction said the spawn was enough to inoculate 850g of dry straw. But fuck, even 530g is a LOT of straw.

straw

I got some scissors and cut the straw into the recommended 2-4″ lengths, and shoved it in a pillowcase.

inpillowcase

I put the pillowcase of straw into a big pan then covered it with hot water. I was aiming for the normal pasteurisation of at least 70 degrees for at least 20 mins (to ensure the heat has penetrated right through the material), but my thermometer is broken so I just guessed.

inpan

While it was in the pan I disinfected the sink, then lifted the pillowcase out of the water and put it in the sink to drain and cool.

A couple of hours later, it was cooled enough, so I gloved up and layered the straw with small amounts of the spawn in food bags, and squished it tightly in. Then I realised it was going to take a lot of bags with that amount of straw, so I put the remainder into a tesco bag instead. I poked some holes in the bags and put them in the airing cupboard. I need to leave them there for a couple of weeks, then hopefully I can take them out and mushrooms will magically appear. fingers crossed!

inbag

Also in unrelated news I bought some make-up for the first time in years, partly cos i wanted sparkly eyeliner dammit, and partly cos it was £8 reduced from £30 and included mascara and eyeliner, both of which i had but really needed throwing out. And it’s pretty good, this pic was after about 4 hours of wear, and it’s still looking ok.

glittereye