A weekend in the garden 25

I married a farmer’s son, so it was inevitable that we were going to grow stuff in the garden and not just flowers.  This became even more important to us when we had children.  We wanted to show them where their food came from and to encourage them to grow their own.  This year we are growing shallots, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, peas, runner beans, broad beans, cabbages, cauliflowers, salad leaves, radish, spring onions, tomatoes, strawberries (in hanging baskets) and an array of herbs (dill, basil, cress, flat parsley, chives, mint, sage and fennel). Center Parcs challenged us to share with you a day in our garden for this months Tots100 Center more »

garden 2013

The evolution of our vegetable patch in the garden 7

As the years have gone on we have learned that we just can not grow carrots. That cabbages are hit and miss for us and although we can grow onions they are actually really inexpensive to buy so are not best use of our tiny bit of land.

This year we have planted new potatoes, cabbage, sprouts, broad beans, peas, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers (in the conservatory), pak choi and salad leaves. We have three raised beds which have the peas in one, potatoes in another and broccoli and sprouts in the other. Each year we rotate what is in each of the beds and as soon as the potatoes come out in a week or so we will be planting some winter kale and other winter greens (spring cabbages).

We have two large barrels which both have broad beans in this year. We want to encourage the boys to eat them and growing them is often the best way for us to introduce a food to them. In fact the peas never get from pod to plate, just pod to mouth! We are growing strawberries in hanging boxes and baskets, but they are very small this year. Perhaps we need top replace them next year. Has anyone else had this issue?

Tomatoes are also grown in planters and we have one tumbler in almost the flowers, which has done remarkably well.

I also have a number of pots with herbs in including Sage, Chives, Mint, Rosemary, which remain outside all year round and we have more tender ones in the kitchen including Basil.

Our Dream Garden 3

We love our home. We moved here six years ago from Berkshire and this house was totally supposed to be a temporary stop gap until we built our own home on the farm. But……… we really love the house we bought and are very happy in it to have parked our other plans for sometime in the future. The only thing we would really love to change is our garden. As a family it really doesn’t suit our lifestyle.

So before I tell you what we would love to have from a garden let me show you our current garden. Please bear in mind it was a mud pit when we moved in!

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Tots 100 Garden Challenge – The reveil 7

My Tots100 Home Club garden challenge was always going to be a tough one.  What with it being used as a football pitch for my boys, the grass had given up and left town, just look at the sorry state of it before.  So I asked the experts at Homebase how to deal with my bare patches of lawn on their Facebook App and they came back and said that the only way to get it looking tip top again was to either patch it with turf or reseed it and try and keep the boys off it. We decided to reseed it, as September is the ideal time for this and purchased more »

Gardening with Thinly Spread 5

Chris at Thinly Spread and Kate at Kate takes 5 have teamed up to produce an idiots guide to gardening with children. Even though we have raised beds, I usually leave the gardening to MadDad and the boys, but this year these ladies have inspired me to take charge and join in.

The week before last me and the boys planted tomatoes, sunflowers, peas and beans and put them in a tiny plastic greenhouse that I purchased from Aldi.



The Gallery – An Apple Tree

This apple tree is 3 years old, we planted it after we moved in and started work on the garden.  It is small and only bore 6 fruits last year, but this year its branched are bowed under the weight of its fruit. For me this feel like parenting, sometimes you feed the children, nurture and look after them and it feels like they are just ignoring your advice, but then it just happens.  It clicks and there is please and thank you without prompting.

Frugal Food – Utilise your Garden

One of the many comments I got on my feeding a family of 4 for £50 post was that we must be green fingered or have a lot of room for growing vegetables. The truth is we don’t and I am not, we have a small back garden, but in 2009 MadDad built me 3 raised beds, they are not large, they are 6 foot by approx 3 foot and we also have a couple of barrels that we fill with potatoes. But those raised beds and what pots we have round the garden supply me with a steady supply of vegetables right through till the Autumn. At the moment we more »


A Wonderful Bank Holiday Monday spent in the Kitchen and Garden

I think the sun forgot our little park of the North East today. So we have spent the day baking. Maxi did all the weighing and measuring Mini did most of the stirring and tasting We have had a lot of fun and made lots of cakes Oat and raisin cooks and mince pies (mini’s favorites) Many Muffins, sweet mincemeat and St Stephens Day Muffins, in addition to some fairy cakes. Whilst I was busy in the kitchen, MadDad tended the garden, including planting out the courgettes and cucumbers. Everything is looking great and really coming along. He also washed and cleaned the cars, ready for the trip we are taking today more »


A weekend spent in the Garden

I said that I had grand plans for the garden this weekend, well the weather was mostly kind and we did manage to get quite a lot done Onions have been planted out, 2 varieties, Red Barron and Bedford Champion.  We have also sown some spring onions (Lisbon) direct in to the bed. Rainbow Chard has been transplanted in to the bed too, alongside side Chinese Broccoli, which is a new vegetable for us. We have also direct sown the runner beans, peas and dwarf beans in to another bed. The potatoes have been planted in to our two barrels. Our Sunflowers have been transplanted too, the boys are so excited more »



When the Sun comes out to play, so do we

It is so much more fun when the sun is shining and we have been making the most of the last few days of MadDad being on Annual Leave, before I have the boys to myself for the last week of the holidays next week. Vanilla Scones from The Pioneer Woman – Yum Chocolate cakes – never fail to be eaten I tried this, not very successfully, but had a great day out. The boys went to Locomotion at Shildon, which is part of the National Railway Museum They had a brill time and are already asking to go back. We all enjoyed the sunshine in Saltburn yesterday (after football practice), more »

Sunflower Club

We are taking part in Nuturestores Sunflower Club and have been busy planting our seeds. We are using single giant sunflowers and have decided to start them off inside, as last year our sunflowers were pretty late and lame! So we decided to plant our seeds in egg shells, as sunflowers don’t like to be transplanted and this is a great and Eco friendly way of doing this. Both the boys love gardening which makes my heart sing and we will be planting more seeds over the coming weeks We put one seed in each egg shell and covered with more soil. We are going to be doing a scrapbook like more »


Pumpkins and all that 10

We decided that we would carve our precious pumpkins today.  We are so proud that we managed to grow them ourselves in the garden.  Like all things in TheMadHouse, it was a family affair, but MadDad took centre stage. Although MiniMad is a super duper scooper Watch out man at work and concentrating hard Nothing too scary, the minimads dont like scary A face and a bat Then roasted pumpkin seeds, delicious and so simple. All you need do is scoop out all the seeds and clean them.  We like ours salted, so I boil then in salted water for 20 minutes, then toss them in garlic butter or olive oil more »



Making a start on the Christmas Presents 4

Look, my new to me sewing machine and my first project on it.  A new swimming bag for MaxiMad.  He picked out the fabric when we were in York a few weeks back from the Cath Kidston store (he has taste that young man)! Thing is once I had done one and mini mad saw it, I had to make another one this afternoon.  I also made these key rings as Christmas Presents and one for myself, as I always end up popping my car keys in my mouth to hold it I dont have any pockets on (so I can strap the children in their car seats). Do you like more »

Home Made Pasta Sauce 3

Cooking, baking, making, gardening, cleaning, well everything in TheMadHouse is a real family affair.  We tend to really enjoy doing things together.  Some may find that strange, but I love spending time with all the men in my life, including that very strange cat too.  Anyway I digress.  Remember all those green tomatoes from the garden, well some had ripened and we decided to make a sauce for pasta. So we set too, kind of in a production line way.  MadDad and I deskinned and deseed the tomatoes.  Maxi and MiniMad strained the seeds and juice. DadDad prepared the peppers and onions and MaxiMad chopped them.  I then cooked all the ingredients more »



Too Many Green Tomatoes

Our tomato’s just haven’t managed to ripen this summer and we have been left with boxes of Green ones, so we are taking a tip from Alan (Titchmarsh of course – garden guru) and have [popped them in to cardboard boxes and added an apple in the hope that some more of them ripen off. Once they are riper I plan to make jars of pasta sauce with them. But what to do with the green ones, Ideas on a postcard please………  Only joking, please add a comment if you have any easy and yummy ideas for me.

Autumn is here, the season of change 3

It seems apt to me that it is Autumn, it is a season of change, a season of colour and a season of harvest.   I love Autumn and Spring the most.  I love crisp days walking through leaves, hearing them crisp underfoot.  I love hats and scarfs, I love hot chocolate when you get in to warm up.  I love watching the ever changing landscape around us.  I love berry picking and eating!  I love the closing in of the evenings and closing the curtains.  I love that I can peek into other peoples houses when I pass.  But what I am trying to say is it just seems right, for more »


Its raining its pouring

The weather is very wet at the moment, so much so that a 25 min journey took me and the boys an hour and a half this afternoon and was very hairy in places. I was secretly pretty apprehensive, but the mini’s were loving every minute of it! Especially as they watched two cars fail to make it though the flooding and they gave a great big cheer when we manged to get through, MadDads voice in my head “high revs and go slow”. I have a diesel and that does make it easier in the wet.Well one thing that is loving the rain is our garden. MadDad installed a water more »