Monday, 27 May 2013

My Homegrown Vegetable Patio Garden - Week 8

I don't have very much to share this week. My veggies are all growing nicely but nothing has changed from last week really.

I gave my potatoes their last earthing up last week so so they are just being left to grow now. The biggest one is Leyla's. She loves the fact that hers is winning and reminds us all very often that she is the best :P

My three tomatoes are doing well and are outside all the time now. I originally planned to bring them in on a night for two weeks to acclimatise them, but ended up only doing it for a week. They have adjusted well and are looking nice and strong.

My five transplanted seedlings are getting big! They are kept inside in front of the patio doors where they get lots of sun. It won't be long before they need moving into their final pots outside.

These are Leyla and Naomie's tomatoes that were planted at the same time as the five above. They took much longer to sprout but the kids love them because they planted them all by themselves.

Get Your Crap Together

This summer I will be taking part in the 'Organize Me!! Sizzlin' Summer Series'. It starts on June 3rd so keep your eyes peeled for that. It will be awesome!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

What I've Made Wednesday #5

This week I have been making a cute little blanket for my two girls. I am loving the colours together. I have gone for hot pink, lime green and dark turquoise. It is looking lovely! It is just a giant granny square. I can't wait for it to be finished and to snuggle under it with my two gorgeous princesses :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

My Homegrown Vegetable Patio Garden - Week 7

Lots of things have been happening in the Mammy Made garden this week :)

My potatoes have grown so huge now that they are growing out of the top of my container!

I gave them their last earthing up this week. I just added soil up to the last two inches of the container and they can now be left to grow. I will keep watering them every other day. I will water them more if it gets warmer obviously but once every other day is working for the weather we're having at the minute. Even though it's May, it's still fairly cold and rainy here in England, unfortunately. I found two snails in my potatoes aswell, luckily before they were buried in soil, so I'm going to have to have a look at finding natural ways to prevent them.

My three tomato plants are doing very well. I was a bit worried they would get transplant shock since I had to pull their roots apart to pot them on, but they are looking brilliant. Really sturdy, I'm very pleased. They're outside during the day and I am bringing them in on a night to acclimatise them to living outside.

My other tomato seedlings are doing well, too. Some of them were ready to be moved into bigger pots, but some I have left to grow a bit bigger first. I replanted them in 4" pots, one seedling per pot. I think next time I will just sow the seeds in these pots to save time and work. They will be kept inside until they are ready to be planted in their big pots.

I also bought some living herbs to put out in the garden. I bought parsley and coriander, to go with the rosemary, sage and thyme that are still growing from last year. I repotted them in 6" pots as the pots they came in were really small. They will be left outside now. 

The sage and thyme are in a large tray with some weeds and I think rocket? I'm not sure because it wasn't me who planted these ones. The thyme is dying I think but the sage is huge and makes my whole garden smell delicious!

Monday, 13 May 2013

My Homegrown Vegetable Patio Garden - Week 6

My potato plants are soo big now.

I had to earth them up a bit more again this week. They are almost at the top of my potato planters! I think one more earthing up and they will be full so I will be able to just let them grow and grow.

Some of you may remember that I was not able to plant my tomatoes on last week due to not having enough compost left. I kept trying to find some free time to go and buy some more but the time never happened (as is often the case for mothers with young children :P), so I ended up leaving it until this week to plant them on.

They were really big and strong. They've grown much quicker than I thought they would!

I separated the three seedlings. Make sure to be very careful when doing this as you don't want to rip the roots. I was as careful as I could be but did lose some roots. I just hope there are enough left to keep the plants going because they have been doing so well up until now. A good piece of advice I heard, obviously after I had planted those three together, was to always keep your seeds at a maximum of two per cell, to make it easier to separate when the time comes, and to minimise the risk of transplant shock.

I used 30cm pots, one seedling in each pot. I added a couple of pieces of broken brick to the bottom, then a good layer of compost (about halfway up the pot) then a sprinkling of crushed egg shells. I will add the method for making crushed egg shells at the bottom of this post. I was originally going to buy some crushed oyster shell to add calcium to the tomatoes and therefore reduce the risk of blossom end rot, but looked on the internet and found it is much cheaper to just make your own version! I know some people just scatter broken egg shells over the soil as they use them but this way makes the calcium much easier to break down so the plant can actually get to it. I then added a bamboo cane. It's always better to add the cane at the same time as planting on, because if you add it later on you may damage the roots. Make sure you push it right to the bottom of the pot, to provide stability.

I pulled off the first two leaves on the bottom of each seedling. I can't remember where I read this but you bury the seedlings quite deeply, up to the point where the leaves were. This makes the plants much sturdier as they put out roots all the way up the buried stem, therefore giving the plants a better footing, so to speak. They look tiny in their new pots! They will need acclimatising to living outdoors so I will be leaving them outside during the day, but bringing them inside overnight, just for the first two weeks. This helps them a lot to get used to living outside. I was originally going to put them straight in my greenhouse but it is just a light one and has been blown all over the yard in the wind we have had lately, so I don't want to risk it really.

My other tomatoes are looking pretty sturdy so will be transplanted into small pots sometime this week.

Crushed Egg Shells

It is really easy to make your own calcium for enriching your plants. This is especially important in containers where the roots can only draw from the nutrients right there in the pot. As I said earlier, I originally planned to buy crushed oyster shell, as I had heard it was really good for adding calcium and therefore reducing the risk of blossom end rot. When I went to buy my compost, I couldn't find any crushed oyster shell and I really didn't have the time to be making more trips than really necessary. I don't have very much time without the kids during the week so when I do have free time I tend to do everything I've been putting off. Obviously I needed to find an homemade way. I googled and found that a lot of people just use chicken egg shells. They need to be dried first and crushed which is very easy to do. Every time I used an egg, I would put the shell into a bowl. I didn't rinse it out or anything, just made sure to get as much of the egg out (make sure no egg yolk is left inside) and then put it straight into the bowl. Leave overnight then crush. You will want to take something flat on the bottom to crush them with. You won't get them too small at first but keep going. Leave again overnight to make sure they are nice and dry throughout. I can't remember where I read this but it is something to do with the membrane. It needs to be dry otherwise the plant won't be able to get the calcium out. You obviously want to get the pieces as small as you can. I actually got them even smaller than in the picture, just by rubbing in my fingers, in much the same way as you would make breadcrumbs. You can see how small the pieces ended up in the tomatoes collage above. You can actually collect egg shells over a period of time and just crush as needed to fit more in. You want to make sure the last eggs to go in the bowl get the full two overnights of drying though.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

What I've Made Wednesday #4

I made the two cutest hats this week!!

I decided to make some little alien hats. I made a boy one and a girl one and they turned out so adorable!

Aren't they just beautiful!

The top one took me much longer because of the mouth so I left that off for the second one, and also because I made the second hat much smaller (a size 0-6months instead of size 3-5years) so the mouth probably wouldn't have fitted on anyways. The eyes are the same size so you can tell the difference in the two sizes.

I absolutely love them both!

Monday, 6 May 2013

My Homegrown Vegetable Patio Garden - Week 5 (part 1)

What a difference a week makes!!

My potatoes are growing really well! You can really tell the difference between last week and today. They have grown to be about as high as a large hands length already. I have been watering them every other day with a  full watering can each and it seems to be working.

I earthed them up this afternoon. To do that you basically pour more compost around all of your green, until there is only a couple of inches peeping through the top. Some of my shoots were much smaller and so ended up being completely buried but that's ok. Just cover until the top shoots are barely peeping through and you'll be good. I think the reason for doing this is it increases the amount of plant that produces potatoes so you end up with more. I did it today and I totally underestimated how much compost I would need. I bought 50l for my potatoes and my tomatoes and used all of it on the potatoes! When you've got them all earthed up, you will need to water them really well. I like to water until I can see it draining out of the bottom, then I know the compost has had a really good soaking and any excess can just drain away.

I am going to have to do the update for my tomatoes in the next couple of days because I do not have the compost to do it. Will head to the shops tomorrow then write up part 2 on my tomatoes either tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when I get a chance :)

Friday, 3 May 2013

Crochet car appliqué

I love making little appliqués to fancy up plain hats but the majority of things I make are girly. Things like bows, flowers, butterflies are all cute but no good for a boy. Well, I think boys deserve cute hats too!

To make your own crochet car appliqué, you will need:
3.5mm crochet hook
DK yarn in colours of your choice
yarn needle

1. using main colour, ch14, sc in second chain from hook and across (13)
2. ch1, turn, sc2tog, sc across to last 2sts, sc2tog (11)
3. ch1, turn, sc2tog, sc across to last 2sts, sc2tog (9)
4. ch1, turn, sc across (9)
5. ch11, turn, join with sl st under 2 loops of turning ch on opp side
6. ch1, do not turn, sc in the same st then evenly down the first short side of the car, work 3scs in the corner, sc across long side, 3scs in the corner, work evenly up the second short side, work 11scs around ch11, join with sl st to 1st sc, bind off and weave in all ends
7. join yarn in 5th ch on row 4, using both pieces of yarn ch3 to create a thick chain, bind off, leaving two long tails, using the yarn needle stitch this chain to the top of the car, in the very centre, weave in the ends very well

1. using contrast colour, make a magic loop, ch3, work 11dcs in loop, join with sl st to top of ch3 (12)
2. bind off, leaving a long tail to attach to the car
3. repeat for the second wheel

1. weave in the yarn coming from the centre of each wheel, use the long tail to attach the two wheels to the bottom of the car, overlapping by half, weave in all ends.

Your car appliqué is now finished and ready to be attached to anything you fancy.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

What I've Made Wednesday #3

This week I have mostly been making a little train hat for my friend's little boy.

It's his birthday this Friday and he is obsessed with trains so I made this for him. Hopefully he will love it.

Yesterday it was my birthday so me and my gorgeous girls had a picnic and a play in the garden. I made myself a coffee cake since they are too young and I didn't fancy cleaning up my kitchen for the whole of my birthday night.

I didn't exactly go to town with the decorating as you can see, but it was still delish and that's more important in my book :P

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