Boring January!

January. I hate hate hate it. Its dark, wet and cold but all of the Christmas things that usually make winter bearable have finished and been packed away and there is this ridiculous pressure to be healthy and start new things – when all you want to do is curl up with a duvet and a chocolate pudding.

And I don’t think you can really do much in the garden in January either, especially if you work every given moment of daylight and rely on a few snatched hours on the weekend between the torrential downpours and the howling gales.

I’m really impatient for the spring to arrive so I can get planting. I even went and just stood in the potting shed for an hour the other day, it was too wet to be outside, but I felt closer to my garden. I went to the garden centre and bought the trays I’ll need in a few months time, and cleaned my tools (again). And twiddled my thumbs.

One useful task we’ve achieved though (thanks to reddit/r/gardening for the tip!) was to sit down and properly plan our vegetable planting for the season ahead. Last year we didn’t have the luxury, we only got our raised beds up in April and then it was a case of just growing anything we could that late in the spring. This year however we have time (so so much of it) on our hands when we can’t be digging or potting or sowing, so we sat and did the thing we like next best in the world – we made spreadsheets! :D

First we made a list of all of the vegetables we most like to eat – I think a lot of people grow things because they think they should but what is the point if you don’t enjoy eating it afterwards? Then we got out all of the seeds we’ve bought over recent months in dribs and drabs on wet-day trips to the garden centre.

We went through and matched those we want to plant to the list in our spreadsheet, and marked in when they need to be sown, where they need to be sown, when to transplant and when to harvest. We split items into those that will be grown outdoors (even if started in the greenhouse) and those that will be in the greenhouse*. We’re still buying seeds so they’re not complete yet :-)

Outdoors:

Planting schedule

 

Greenhouse:

 

Greenhouse planting

We didn’t quite go to the extent of our lovely but very committed gardening neighbour Mike who has a plan down to the day, the hour, the air pressure at which he’ll plant everything, but I think our graph will help keep us on track and make sure everything goes in when it is meant to. It will also help us with successional sowings, which we didn’t really manage last year.

Then we drew a map of our vegetable garden and what is currently in each plot. As you’ll see, we’re still getting plenty of veg out of the plot, from brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale and leeks to pak choi, turnips, kohlrabi and winter salads. But we’re going to use this map to plan what can come out so that we can add in the manure the fourth bed is filled with from last year, before spring planting.

Bed planner

So – how to fill a boring January? You could clean your potting shed, polish your tools, sort your pots and seed trays, purchase seeds, build a bird table, clear paths, fix guttering or – you could make a spreadsheet! :D

Here’s to spring!

* We don’t as yet own a green house. David plans to build one in February…

** A big shout out to reddit/r/gardening for keeping me sane and giving me some great ideas and reading over the winter months :-)

Fun with ferns

We’ve finally sorted out the side of our pond. After clearing the pond back last winter we thought we’d wait to see what popped up around the edges. Turns out there were huge numbers of lily bulbs and they were really too tall for the space, so we’ve taken them out and replaced them with a selection of different ferns. We also have our first flowering lily pad on the pond!

Look who has moved in!

We decided the lillies around the front of the pond were too tall this year, so as they are just finishing their flowering we cut them back and started to dig the bulbs so we can move them to a better place for next summer.

As we were doing so we spotted this little guy who has moved into our pond! As he clearly likes it, we decided we’ve left it long enough since we put in plants and the filter, so we’re going to get some fish soon.

Visiting Bath for our wedding

Hello, and first off, if you’ve not been here before then welcome to our blog! We share updates here about our gardening projects, and the huge amount we’re learning (and getting wrong!) along the way. Feel free to have a nose around and leave any comments or advice for us!

So, anyway, we thought that seeing as so many of you are travelling a long way to Bath for our wedding, and are likely to make a weekend of your visit, we’d share some ideas for great things to see and do locally with you.

Baths-1-

You’re lucky in that the Great Bath Feast is taking place throughout October with events including a tasting at the Michelin starred Bath Priory, a celebration of local game at one of Bath’s oldest pubs the Garrick’s Head and Chianti tasting at our friend Alan’s Great Western Wine shop. Bath is a fantastic city for food lovers – we are really lucky in that we still have a lot of family owned, small independent restaurants and producers, and we have highlighted a few of our very favourites below. The Great Bath Feast celebrates all of this, so it is a fantastic chance to sample the best of Bath’s culinary treats.

And to counter any preconceptions you might have that Bath is full of posh boring old people, the city is also hosting ‘Glow in the Park‘ on Saturday 11 October. This is a 5k run during which you get sprayed with ultraviolet glow paint before heading through UV light, strobe and fog zones… not for the light hearted or those who like to keep clean…

Of course if you’ve not been to Bath before we definitely recommend seeing the sights – you can easily see the Roman Baths, the Assembly Rooms, the Circus, Number 1 at the Royal Crescent, the Abbey (do take a rooftop tour) and Queen’s Square in a day, and still find time to bathe in the hot spring waters at Thermae Bath Spa to unwind. Evening entertainment, with or without children, is plentiful – but we definitely recommend the ‘Bizarre Bath’ comedy walk which leaves the Huntsman Inn at 8pm.

If you like gardens as much as we do and want to get out of the centre then either head to Prior Park (a National Trust property, Capability Brown gardens), to Victoria park and botanical gardens, to Sydney Gardens or to Corsham Court. Further out again, but ideal for easy day trips, you have Longleat safari park, Wells City and Cathedral, Glastonbury Tor, Stonehenge (although we prefer Avebury, also nearby…) or picturesque Lacock.

Palladian_Wide_Swan

If you’re planning to eat out please do take a look at Bistro La Barrique, a fantastic ‘petit plat’ style French bistro owned by our friend Michel who guarantees you true French service – brusque! The place doesn’t look much from the outside, and Michele is terrible at answering the phone so you just have to turn up and try your luck for a table, but we assure you that the food and wine are fantastic and make this our very favourite restaurant in town. Other good options include the Brewhouse (ale and meat), the Raven (pub with pies), or the Mint Rooms (great curry). If you’re staying outside the city near our wedding venue and want to treat yourselves then the Wheatsheaf is popular, but you’ll have to book well in advance.

Obviously we’re on the border between the Cotswolds and the Mendips, so there are fantastic walks between picture perfect villages all around. If you want to find a good local walk have a look at ‘Walking in Somerset‘ or give us a shout and we’ll send you some of our favourite routes.

These are just some of our favourite things to see and do and we hope we’ve whet your appetite for your visit to Bath. There is plenty more to explore which you can find info about on the Visit Bath website. We hope you have as much fun visiting our city as we do living here!

Inspiration from Major Lawrence Johnston

After going to the beautiful Yorkshire wedding of my little cousin Lucy to Gordon Stewart last weekend, we decided to break up a long journey home with a stop at the National Trust’s Hidcote gardens.

There is nothing like a large productive kitchen garden to really boost your enthusiasm. We we got home it was gone eight on Sunday evening, but I still got out and did a good hour of work on our little plot!