Thursday 24 February 2011

Apple Trees and Blueberry Bushes

It is half term and we have just returned from a trip to visit Grandma and Grandad North. It was a very relaxing trip but, even at this time of year, it feels that a weekend away has left the garden neglected. With milder temperatures the weeds are really starting to appear and the fence remains a job on the 'to do list.' The weekend before our trip north we opted to plant out some new blueberry bushes and apple trees rather than start to build the fence. Garden Boy really wants to help out with the fence but we didn't fancy allowing him out in the rain with his virus so it seemed like a good opportunity to get started with our fruit. Fruit trees and bushes need to be planted or moved over the winter when their root system lies dormant so it was the perfect time for us to put our apple trees in the bed at the bottom of the garden. They really didn't do very well last year in pots so hopefully they will happier in the ground this year with a better supply of water.

The additional blueberry bushes were bought because, like the apples, we had little success with blueberries last year. Reading through our garden books I discovered that although blueberrry bushes are self fertile they do actually grow better if there is another close by, so our lonely bush now has two smaller friends to keep it company. Even if our initial bush still fails to produce much fruit we will still have extra fruit from the additional trees so we couldn't really go wrong with this solution and Garden Girl was happy with the idea of three blueberry bushes - one each for our Little Garden Helpers apparently, so maybe Garden Dad and I will still struggle to get our share.

And now we are refreshed and full of motivation for the coming weekend. The strawberry bed needs some attention, there are some weeds to pull up and a fence for Garden Dad and Garden Boy to build. And maybe Garden Lass will finally get to have her walk in the garden.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Giant Man and First Steps

Last weekend we finished laying the final pieces of weed fabric and gravel around the raised beds and it now looks really good. We are really pleased with our efforts. Since then we have spent far more time than you could possibly imagine trying to choose a fence, but eventually we found one that was the right height to offer a safe barrier for the children and had enough gaps to allow us a view into the vegetable garden from the house.

So this afternoon, having been forced to cancel our lunch plans with friends due to a contagious Little Garden Helper, Garden Dad visited the garden centre to gather all the supplies we would need for the fence. Normally our Little Garden Helpers love going along to the garden centre but Garden Boy woke up this morning with his neck swollen up to make him look, according to Garden Girl, like 'giant man.' According to the doctor it is likely to be 'a mumps like virus but not mumps' and there is nothing we can do but wait till it clears up. Apart from a bit of tenderness in the area of the swelling it hasn't seemed to bother him too much but he is contagious, hence our cancelled plans and Garden Dad's lone trip to the shop.

Along with all the fence parts Garden Dad also bought some seed potatoes so we can start them chitting tomorrow. Garden Girl and Garden Boy really enjoyed laying the potatoes out last year, making sure the 'eyes' were looking up at the sunshine, so they are eager to do this for us tomorrow, keeping them occupied while Garden Dad makes a start on the fence and I supervise Garden Lass's first walk around the garden. Today she took her first steps with the push along walker in the lounge, so not independent yet, but good enough for a toddle on the grass tomorrow with me close behind. She will be absolutely thrilled to finally get outside and join in the fun.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

National Doodle Day

Since last summer I have been using the very practical and witty Dodo Acad Pad to organise the chaotic social life of our Little Garden Helpers. Along with the diary pages there are blank pages to use for making lists and of course doodles, because lets face it doodling is a great time wasting technique for when we should really be busy doing the jobs on those lists!

It is little surprise then that Dodo Pad supports National Doodle Day; a day to raise awareness and money for  Epilepsy Action and the Neurofibromatosis Association. Since National Doodle Day was launched 7 years ago it has raised over £200,000 and this year National Doodle Day is taking place on Friday 11th February.

I was asked to contribute a doodle of my own, along with a £1 donation to the supported charities and with a doodle already doodled in my Dodo Pad I was very happy to join in the fun and the very kind Dodo Pad PR folk had my drawings analysed by a graphologist. Apparently this is what the doodle above says about me;

“Unlikely to be a pushy type, more likely to be slightly withdrawn or reserved and would probably prefer others to move or go first. Observant, likes to keep abreast of what is going on and may have a tendency toward possessiveness. May be easily diverted at times and seems to be pre-occupied with someone or something for which there seems to be no current satisfactory answer.”

I wonder if my preoccupation is with slugs, snails and weeds, to which there really is no satisfactory answer?! However I am not the only one getting easily diverted and spending my time doodling rather than working. There are now over 250 celebrities creating doodles including Bill Oddie, Sophie Dahl and Matt Baker and although the closing date for entering a doodle has passed you can still get involved and support the National Doodle Day charities by voting for your favourite celebrity doodle and/or downloading a template to make your own Paper Toy. I'll be having a go at making a YuKii  creature with our Little Garden Helpers tomorrow. So please do join in the fun and give a little to charity at the same time. More details about National Doodle Day can be found on the official website here.

Friday 4 February 2011

Shadows Eat Pies

Since we had fun playing with our shadows last week there hasn't been a whole lot of sunshine, so today when we were walking to Nursery School to pick up Garden Girl, Garden Boy asked the question 'Where my shadow?' 'Shadows only come out to play in the sunshine and the clouds are hiding the sun today.' There was a pause at this point after which Garden Boy said 'My shadow is at home in bed. He got a cuddly ted bear.' 'A shadow ted bear?' I ask. 'Yes' he giggles.

After a little pause I ask him what my shadow is doing and he replies 'It in the kitchen, making a pie for Daddy's shadow.' I wonder aloud if my shadow might make a pie for own dinner and Garden Boy says 'Noooo!' as if that was a most ridiculous suggestion, but then adds 'but it will save a bit of pie for me.' It appears I have a very considerate shadow.

At this point we spot some friends walking ahead of us and I suggest Garden Boy runs to try and catch up - any incentive to make his slow plod a slightly faster wiggle. He wiggles for a while although we have no real chance of catching up and our shadow conversation seems to be forgotton, until we reach the school gates when Garden Boy suddenly announces that his shadow is just waking up. 'But there is still no sunshine' I say and he replies happily, 'No, but there pie.'

Thursday 3 February 2011

A Work of Art

On Monday at Nursery School Garden Girl painted a picture of the bottom of her garden. She is very proud of the work we have been doing and obviously felt it deserved to be turned into a work of art. And I have to admit I agree. Now that the weed fabric is down, hiding all the muddy pathways and some of the pebbles give a general covering it is possible to see how nice our little vegetable maze will look when it is completed. We have one last bit of weed fabric to lay, in the bottom left hand corner which will be our seating area and of the two large bags of stones we had delivered before Christmas, there are now only 2/3 of a bag left to cover the paths. If we get this finished on Sunday we will be able to make a start on the fence the following weekend.

We didn't manage to scatter any grass seed at the weekend because Garden Girl and Garden Boy were enjoying themselves helping out with the weed fabric and stones. With a huge sense of importance Garden Girl announced to me half way through the afternoon that 'I am staying outside to help with our new paths until Daddy comes inside. Even if it goes dark. And I am even going to help with the tidying up.' And apart from a short spell when she was distracted by her bicycle, she did indeed stay outside all afternoon, till it went dark and helped with the tidying up. In fact Garden Dad said her help laying the weed fabric was invaluable as she held it down for him and helped lay it flat. Garden Boy came indoors a bit sooner because he became too cold but very excitedly told me all about moving stones so he obviously enjoyed the task and is looking forward to carrying on this weekend.

And poor Garden Lass spent a lot of time kneeling up at the windows, banging on them and trying to get outside to join in the fun herself. If only it had been warmer I would have let her go for a crawl on the lawn, but for the moment she will have to make do with the occassional walk around the garden with me to inspect the work's progress. And for anyone else interested in seeing the progress here are a few pictures: