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Showing posts from January, 2012

Bradshaw's Chippenham

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NAH and I have been enjoying the latest series of Great British Railway Journeyson TV recently. Last week's trip took us back to our old stomping ground in the North East and I was taken by surprise by the wave of homesickness which hit me.

Great British Railway Journeys is one of those gentle little gems. A trip along various railway lines is the opportunity to explore the scenery, towns (often the less well known ones with the kind of quirky items I like) plus the history of Victorian times, particularly how the coming of the railway changed the face of Britain.

Each series is based around using Bradshaw's Guide*: a guide to Britain's delights aimed at the Victorian who wanted to explore by rail. It's different to most guidebooks as the order isn't alphabetical or by county, but by region and railway line.

Such is the series' popularity, the 1866 edition has been republished and NAH bought me one for Christmas. The entry for Chippenham (once I'd found it)…

Salad Days: Of Sprouted Seeds and Microgreens

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I'm experimenting with some radishes for microgreens - not quite the mini forest of waving seed leaves I have in my mind's eye yet, but aren't those root hairs fab?

Welcome to January's edition of Salad Days: our monthly get together on the fourth Friday each month to see how everyone's getting on with their52 Week Salad Challenge!
When I kicked off the challenge 3 weeks ago, I didn't expect the enormous reaction I've seen from right across the globe. Many thanks to you who've already started writing your blogposts and tweeting your pictures, experiences and questions using the #saladchat hashtag. I'm really chuffed with everything that's been happening this month :D
You'll find Mr Linky at the end of this post for you to enter all your Salad Days entries. Don't worry if you don't post today, that's why I'm using Mr Linky so that you can add them when you're ready...
The pea shoots are enjoying their move from the kitchen …

Some Dates for Your Diary

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Filling out the pages of this year's calendar reminded me there's quite a few brand new gardening related events to look forward to in 2012. Here's a roundup of some extra dates you might like to put in your diary...
March
There's no Red Nose Day this year, but there is Garden Re-leaf Day on Tuesday 13th March instead. All proceeds will go to the charity Greenfingers, which raises money to build gardens at children's hospices.
April
16-22 April has been designated as the first National Gardening Week by the RHS. Expect all kinds of activities designed to encourage us to get gardening - here's the schedule for what's happening at the RHS.
May
As I reported last November, May 18th is Fascination of Plants Day. The extensive list of participating organisations in the UK can be found here.
Various times and locations
This year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations include the creation of 60 'Diamond Woods' around the country. I'm delighted I've been invi…

Seed Giveaway 2012

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January's a great time to dust off the seed tin and see what I already have before hitting the slew of catalogues which have flopped through the letterbox recently. As a result I've found I have more seed than I know what to do with.
Last year's Nasturtium seed giveaway went down very well, so I thought I'd do the same with this year's spares. I've weeded out all the packets which have gone out of date, so you'll get something which stands a good chance of working well for you this year. Here's what's available - any numbers in brackets mean I have more than one packet to spare:
Flowers
Aquilegia x hybrida 'Crown of Jewels' Mixed Aquilegia 'McKana Giants' Mixed Bronze Fennel Calendula 'Neon' Helianthus maximiliani(NB perennial sunflower) Hollyhock 'Halo' Mixed Morning Glory 'Star of Yelta' Phacelia'Tropical Surf' Sunflower Sweet Rocket (32 1)
Vegetables
Artichoke 'Violet de Provence' Beetroot 'Alto' B…

Salad Leaves for January

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A quick, visual guide to salad flavours - spotted in Marlborough earlier this month
Update: this post is also a good starting point for February.
Starting a salad challenge in January is probably the toughest time to start here in the northern hemisphere but if we can prove we can grow something now, then it bodes well for the rest of the year. Thank goodness we didn't embark on this quest this time last year! The coldest winter in decades would have made life pretty tough indeed.
The excesses of Christmas have given way to New Year's good intentions so this is probably why this challenge has struck a chord with so many of you. There's a desire for fresh, tasty healthy food and finding anything remotely gardeny to do is seen as a good thing.
What to Do Now

I've found the most important thing to do is to check my seed tin before going mad with those oh so tempting seed catalogues. I've found I already have packets of mizuna and rocket a-plenty (both suitable for windowsi…

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #29

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Build your supermarket on one of the town's most popular estatesMake sure there's a large, warm welcoming area to get shoppers in from the coldAdd several features designed to help them spend more moneyWait for a blogger with a camera to wonder since when have coins not been cash?Et voila! I know I'm being a little unfair as these are a feature of many a supermarket outside of Chippenham, but it was only when I was in my local one that the penny (literally!) dropped ;)

GBBD: Topsy Turvy Land

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There's a surprising number of flowers in my topsy turvy January garden. The unseasonably warm weather we had until a few days ago brought many blooms to the fore well ahead of their time.
The snowdrops I showed you to welcome the New Year have gone over already, but have been replaced by many more. The first yellow crocuses are out and as you can see my pure white primrose has joined them.
I don't know its name because it came with the large batch of primrose 'Cottage Cream' I ordered a few years ago. Their colour is half way between the yellow of our native primrose and the one pictured.
Because I have so many of the others, this one is particularly treasured. It's also the only one which is vaguely flowering at the about the right time having only just opened its buds. The others have been flowering since last July.
You can see it's already sporting some fresh new growth and has been joined by plenty of other green shoots. The more seasonal cold of the past few …

Let's Eat Shoots AND Leaves!

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Coffee jar sprouting: puy lentils from day 1 weigh-in and soaking, through day 3 and 5 progress, to final weigh-in on day 7

As I don't have any maturing salad leaves at the moment, sprouting seeds is an excellent way to grow something fresh and tasty for my salad until my January sowings are ready sometime next month. They also take up very little space on the kitchen windowsill, so here's something quick and easy you can grow even if you don't have a garden!
I've raided my store cupboards for various seeds and my stash of old coffee jars which I've kept in case they come in handy one day. I'm using some elastic bands brought in by Skimble (and washed) to keep the cloth in place on top of the jars. I don't recommend you use a piece of j-cloth like I did at first as the weave is just a little bit too tight and makes draining the seeds a wee bit tricky. Sterilised muslin or old tights are a much better bet.
If you don't have coffee jars to hand, jam jars …

New Year, New Blog

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For the past few weeks there's been a new tab sitting alongside the one I have open for Veg Plotting when I'm typing away on my computer.
There's a tiny glimpse of it on the right of the picture. I can't show you any more as the blog belongs to a local company and I'm now looking after it for them on a part-time basis :)
The blog's focus is all about raising money for charities local to the company's various locations. It's something which fits in very well with my New Life's Resolutionswhich I outlined at the start of 2008, particularly those concerning Making a Difference and Finding My Passion. Last year the company raised over £70,00 for good causes and the blog is aimed at helping employees with their fundraising efforts and reporting on their many varied successes. I'm loving it!
It also means I need to make some changes as far as Veg Plotting is concerned this year as I'll have less time to blog, especially during the summer months when …

Who Are Our Influential Gardeners?

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Places of Change - Preparations for The Eden Project's show garden at Chelsea 2010
A few days ago The Daily Telegraph invited us to meet 30 of Britain's most influential gardeners as compiled by Tim Richardson. It's an extensive list, covering lots of different aspects of gardening and horticulture: designers, TV personalities, nurserymen, heads of relevant charities, magazine editors and more.
There's also a fair few names who'll be completely unfamiliar to most people: Martin Philips and Terry Duddy who sit jointly at number 4 for instance. They're cited as the Chief Executives of B&Q and Homebase BTW.
Now I have no idea how well these two garden or how stately their acres may be, so this list got me thinking somewhat. So much so, I was awake until 2am mentally compiling a list of all the people I thought were missing. That's the problem with this kind of thing: there's always room for it to expand much further.
Part of my problem is the list is …

The 52 Week Salad Challenge Begins

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Hurrah - lots of you have said you're up for the 52 Week Salad Challenge and lo, here we are in week 1! We have people from the UK, France and the USA all eager to have a go, so our salad is fast taking on an international flavour :)

Quite a few of you asked questions on how this is going to work, which is where today's kick-off post comes in...
The main idea is that we all grow and/or forage some salad leaves to eat every week this year. What and how much is entirely up to you. We're in completely different locations, have different tastes, levels of skill and resources available so devising something more specific to suit everyone would be very hard and might not be what you'd really like to do.
Over the year I'll be posting every Friday with ideas of what to grow, techniques to use and anything else I can think of that's salad related. I've already got oodles of ideas, but if there's something you'd particularly like me to post about, then let me…

Field of Light

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Yesterday NAH and I went to have a look at the Field of LightTM work currently on display at the Holburne Museum in Bath. It's by Bruce Munro who hails from nearby Warminster.
Here you can see part of the work itself, plus the reflections in the windows of the museum's new extension and the puddles below. The lights change colour along the fibre optic wires you can see on the ground. It makes for a totally magical experience.
NAH being the engineer he is couldn't resist fixing one of the globes back onto its light ;)
You have until January 8th (4-7pm) to go along and see for yourself...
Update:Here's an extra image (plus another one) published over at Sign of the Times :)

Happy New Year!

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May 2012 be a happy and healthy one for you and yours :D

As you can see my annual snowdrop count has commenced early at VP Gardens. I spotted these on December 23rd. They're just ordinary Galanthus nivalis, not one of yer actual early snowdrop cultivars which are meant to bloom the wrong side of Christmas. This is the earliest date I've recorded for my snowdrops - comfortably beating the previous record of 10th January and proving my garden is continuing in its topsy turvy nature from last year*.
Today the snowdrop count stands at 14, though it's set to go at least 100 times that over the next few weeks :)
* come to think of it topsy turvy is actually more normal than normal is ;)