Saturday, 7 November 2009

Kitty poem

I keep remembering the first five lines of this rhyme, when I scoop Ginger into my arms and cuddle him. It's very twee, granted, but I think it's cute, and I was happy to find it from a Google search.

I knew this poem from a child when we had cat after cat, until, if some of you remember, I became allergic at the age of 9 (this is Muffin).

So, without further ado, I present you with this anonymous poem. Unfortunately, I had to change the gender, so I lose one particular rhyme ...

I love little Kitty,
His coat is so warm,
And if I don't hurt him,
He'll do me no harm.

So I'll not pull his tail,
Nor drive him away,
But Kitty and I
Very gently will play.

He shall sit by my side,
And I'll give him some food;
And he'll love me because
I am gentle and good.

I'll pat pretty Kitty,
And then he will purr;
And thus show his thanks
For my kindness to him;

But I'll not pinch his ears,
Nor tread on his paw,
Lest I should provoke him
To use his sharp claw.

I never will vex him,
Nor make him displeased -
For Kitty don't like
To be worried or teased.


Apparently it first appeared in 1830 to teach young children to respect their cat. As well one should because they can, if they want to, dig all five claws into your hand for no apparent reason.

Friday, 25 September 2009


I'm sure I have mentioned, more than once, my severe dislike of the arachnid. It's a phobia, actually. An irrational fear. I know that. And I wish I didn't have it.

Because, you see, it has hampered me severely in doing any gardening at all, throughout the months of August and September. This month is always the worst time, and it is no exception this year. I thought I had found a solution but alas it is only temporary. They always come back.

Actually I was reading an article today on the BBC website about how it's a "good year" for the arachnid (see, I don't even like the word "spider"). Great. I was grateful at least there were no pictures, because I can't even bear to look at one. But I thought I should be informed, so I read it with a sinking heart.

Thankfully during the summer months the garden was fairly low maintenance - enough variation between sunshine and showers to enable the plants to grow vigorously. Watering is a fairly simple task anyway, as you can be far enough away from any offending insects to at least give the plants a good dose.

I did reap a harvest of sorts, which I will share with you next time - but I also failed miserably on the caulifower front.

The cabbage white butterfly. Basically I was running an all you can eat, 24-hour restaurant for this pesky butterfly. When I came to harvest the caulis, which looked fantastic from a distance, I found that this was a completely inedible crop.

Unless you like caterpillars, that is. Probably a good source of protein.

The left border is in an awful mess as well, thanks to the fact that I haven't been able to weed since the invasion. I feel like ripping most of it up and starting again. Given the fact that the soil there is awful, I probably should anyway.

Basically, I feel like a gardening failure. I suppose there is always next year.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Cat Treats

It's called Nepata cataria. Common name, Catmint, or Catnip.

And kitties love it.

Funny, he was very hungry after that.

Not many of these have made it out of the pot and into the garden over the past year or so. But if I did manage to plant it, someone would always find it.

So go on, treat your cat today.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A Temporary Solution

This is what I have been known to refer to as the ugly front. I might go so far as to say, the hideous front.

It is perhaps an affront to me, because it is right in front of my nose, as it were, when I sit outside and enjoy the garden, on the "patio" area. You can just see my chair on the right.

It has improved greatly in the recent past, because of the weed burner, and now it's just an unsightly mound of dirt.

Much has been discussed over the last two years. The ideal would be a brick wall, which would involve a lot of work, and considerable expense.

Less costly would be railway sleepers, which has been mooted recently. Or just simply, a cheap concrete wall.

Frankly anything would be better that what it is now.

In the meantime, I have come up with this

A stretch of weed control fabric, which at least saves me weeding the patch when time could be well spent elsewhere in the garden. I plan to extend this idea across the whole area, just until we all make up our minds what sort of solution we want to spend our money on.

And the cat likes it, so it can't be all bad.

It's not terribly pretty, but then it's not terribly ugly.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

A Tree Adventure

Pretty tree. The problem is (if you can see, it's not on our property), it creates a considerable amount of shade, and this year it is dropping more sap on the left border plants than I would like. Plus, too many branches overhang the shed. Considering that last year, this happened on windy spring day

a whacking great branch came down, narrowly missing the shed, more of those branches overhanging the shed is a bit of a worry. Just like that, it snapped off.

The man upstairs decided that today was a nice day to tackle the tree. So armed with his trusty ladder and a large hacksaw, he set to work.

Then he got up a bit higher.

And then, just to make me really nervous, a little higher.

My role in this adventure was much more grounded - he would throw a rope around a branch for me to hold while he cut, so that when it fell, I should give it a good pull and then it would not hit a fence panel or the shed roof.

I was only marginally successful in this, but the shed/fence/wood burner are, thankfully, intact, with but a few scratches on the shed roof.

Eventually our reciprocating electric saw came out, and the result is much less tree.

(Interesting, that, reciprocating saw - what is it reciprocating to?)

And I think someone is going to enjoy a good fire ...

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Weekend and Recent Activity

I had one day of the last beautiful (weather-wise) weekend to do some work. But firstly, I finally went out and bought ourselves a sun lounger, so I didn't get out there as early as I wanted. But it was ever so popular with the feline population.

What I did do was get right down with the weeds, and pick them out by hand. No hoe-ing, but sitting on the soil and pulling them right out.

I was wondering why, in the patch that should have been most weed-free, where the tomatoes were last year, I had so much to pull out. Do you know what? There were plenty of tiny tomato plants that must have self-seeded last year. But they would do nothing to speak of, so they had to come out.

What was an absolute weed fest one week ago, is now clear.

All of that work took me an hour and a half. What is left is the spring onions, the purple sprouting broccoli at the back, the lettuces, and the tomatoes.

But this was bothering me very much.

Right by the shed. I thought I really should do something, especially what was encroaching on the vegetable patch.

Well, guess what? Yer man upstairs went to town today, and cleared that patch.

WOO HOO! The garden is nearly "finished"! It just remains to keep it clear of weeds.

When I arrived home from work, I discovered the clearage. And then he came back down in the evening, and had, what he so eloquently put, " a beer and a burn". Man and fire. Can't be beat, they love it.

And I say, why ever not?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Cats and Water

It's quite extraordinary how cats will drink absolutely any old bit of water.

This is Ginger, and there is always a bowl of fresh water in the kitchen for him. But is he interested in that? No. He's finding liquid sustenance in a bucket full of old debris from the garden, which has filled up with rain.

He's not alone.

Little blackie was having a nice drink here, in a trug full of rain water several days old. Then he had company.

I even met a cat in Los Angeles (one of five very pampered cats in a very nice home), last time I was out there, where I was staying - and what was he doing?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Pest Control

You may remember that I have said in the past, I hate spiders. I know it's irrational, and my esteemed father has been telling me for years, for as long as I can remember, that they are beneficial creatures.

But they are gross.

So, this year, in the interest of preventing the situation that always happens come September, when numbers of them are festooned amongst the plants in every border preventing me from doing any gardening at all, I am taking steps.

Now, of course in the vegetable border, I am not able to spray the lethal but highly chemical spray I purchased last year which is highly effective at eradicating this particular pest (to me it's a pest, I know, they are beneficial ...). However, by doing some internet research, I came across this site:

If like me you have an aversion to eight-legged things I can tell you now, there are no pictures of them on here (always a worry for me). And there are all sorts of interesting articles on here, including a paragraph about a natural product that sadly I can't get here. I may visit a Home Depot store, however, on my next trip back to the States and see if I can find it.

So in my situation, I have opted for this method:

A Good Use for Tobacco

Get a package of pipe or chewing tobacco, soak it in a gallon of boiling water until it cools. Strain the liquid into a clean container. Put a cup of tobacco juice and 1/2 cup lemon dish soap (i.e. washing-up liquid) into a hose-end sprayer and spray. I did this at our house two years ago and have been practically spider free since. This works on all kinds of bugs. I thank Jerry Baker, the Master Gardener, for the tip since we were literally being taken over by spiders. Elaine

I did do this last autumn, and I seemed to have some success in keeping the blighters at bay. But as I say now is the time for preventative measures before they actually get to that point, big, exceedingly ugly and hanging around in my borders. With that in mind, when I watered the garden on Sunday I used this method.

I couldn't find pipe tobacco (or chewing tobacco, come to that) easily, so I just bought a packet of normal rolling tobacco. Maybe it's just me, but it smells quite nice.

The lemon also seems to be a deterrent - another really gross bit of information, but apparently spiders "taste with their feet" (eeewww) and don't like lemon, so even a bit of lemon pledge sprayed on window and door sills stops them entering your house (you can bet I'll be doing that come autumn).

The war continues ... do I find beauty in a spider's web? Do I heck.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Summer Solstice!

And Happy Father's Day to my wonderful father, and all fathers across the world.

I'm afraid I accomplised very little today, but at least I can show you some pictures of the vegetable growth.

The potatoes. Oh my goodness. I hope they're not planted too closely together, but I am hoping for a bumper crop when I dump everything out come autumn. I'm glad I didn't take up space this year in the garden itself, but this is all just one big experiment, so we shall see! The strawberries are cute in their strawberry pot, but I've had one ripe one so far, which my husband said was absolutely delicious.

Runner bean, red. I'm assuming that means the flower, not the bean! Very pretty it is, too.

Lettuces (and cat), various including the cauliflower, sprouts and broccoli, and of course the tomatoes.

I did at least water today - a special watering, which I shall explain later, as the last time it rained (and rained mightily) was Monday. A few spots yesterday but nothing to speak of.

The day was very kind in the end - warm and sunny, enough so for my little sun-worshipper to get his fill.

Says it all, really - Happy Summer all!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Great Vegetable Plot

Well, as I recently mentioned, the vegetable plot has been greatly expanded this year.

This is back in January of this year, when just for fun I decided to deal with the weeds that were waist high (at least). I'm afraid it doesn't look quite as good as this right now, at least next to the shed. Where we have that 12 ft. plot (and it's about 10 ft down to the lawn) is, of course, fine thanks to my wonderful tiller, but next to the shed ... well, that will be dealt with in time. What the upstairs couple want is a swing for their little girl, which will be sweet. So I haven't touched that part of the garden at all. Hey, I've done enough digging elsewhere, right?

So in the newly expanded vegetable plot

I have planted the following:

7 Brussels sprouts

8 broccoli

10 cauliflower

5 tomatoes (Moneymaker, Alicante, Beefsteak, Gardener's Delight, Juliette)

9 purple sprouting broccoli

2 rows of lettuce

1 small row of spring onions


plus some lettuces in pots.

Very exciting.

It's hard to see from these pictures, but they are all there, in the ground. And twice to three times the size already, since planted! I will share some pictures soon of the growth.

Now, since I had ordered a bumper pack of veggie plug plants, I had to find some extra space (it's amazing how quickly one runs out of space - when you need two feet around each plant, it goes fast). So in two "patio planters" I have the potatoes, and also beetroot.

Okay, they're not massively attractive, but did I mention the credit crunch?

To round it all off, the raspberry I planted two years ago is bearing some fruit - not a bushel full by any means but it is yummy! And I've planted up a strawberry pot and have my fingers crossed for that, too.
Fingers crossed for everything!