Monday, May 28, 2007

Might even get some salad now

And finally for today (time to skedaddle home from work now, I've stayed late when I wasn't supposed to - have to run now to make it to a meeting of volunteers for the local tool shed) is what I got up to yesterday afternoon in between rain showers.
Actually, I was very lucky and the rain stayed away for a good three hours in the afternoon - it started to pour just as I was finishing putting away the bits and pieces I'd been using in the garden. Which explains this also slightly blurry picture (it's absolutely nothing to do with my shakiness and lack of skill - yet - with a digital camera. I swear!). Do you like it?

That part of the garden is where very little grows and so I made the bed by covering the yellow grass and mossy bits with cardboard and newspaper and piling topsoil and compost onto it. That was late last year and this year a few months ago I planted phacelia, a green manure crop. That seemed to grow well enough and I dug it in about three weeks ago. If you look closely in the background of this photo you can see the bed before I started putting up my mini-tunnel. This part of the garden gets almost no direct sun, maybe an hour a day, so I'm hoping to grow some salad crops and thought the tunnel might help a bit (not to mention keep the birds away. Of course, this way I also get to show off how well some of my courgette seedlings are doing :)

I planted some perpetual spinach, babyleaf lettuce, some more scallions, something I can't recall at the moment and then in the final section I planted out all the seedlings I started in April, most of which seemed to have just given up the ghost. It's a mixture of spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, a pea (maybe, it might be just something that was in the soil anyway as it only grew about 2cm) and all the other pots of soil which nothing grew in at all. I wasn't particularly careful about the planting either - if anything survives it survives and if it doesn't I'll consider it more manure for that patch. I plan to start more seeds inside this evening - it's pretty late in the year to be doing it but with the weird hot then cold then warm again weather it's probably worth a try anyway.

Are these potatoes?

I'd seen no action in my tyre and all of a sudden last week I spotted this:

Does this mean I have potatoes growing at last? Or has something weird and wonderful blown in to my soil-filled tyre?

Three days later here is what they look like now (bit blurry this picture from yesterday - it started to lash rain so the last few shots had to be taken from the safety of the kitchen door).

And while we're at it, can anyone help in identifying this? It's a blowin in my front garden - this picture was taken about four weeks ago, the flowers didn't last long but there's a lot more greenery now.


Well, I finally managed to get the time, camera and weather all working together for once and managed to get a few photos taken of the garden. I bought seeds for a hanging type of tomato (Tumblers) and of all my seeds these three are the only ones starting to look like real tomato plants. I bought a hanging basket and then realised that it was my old hosue that had several hooks hanging up already for baskets. So, not being willing to start trying to hammer into concrete (I just have visions of bringing walls crashing down around my ears) I am considering putting the basket on top of the shed and favouring the planting to one side which could then hang over the side of the shed as needed.

Here's a photo of the shed, what do you reckon my chances are? It was tricky trying to take this photo by stretching my hand out around my bedroom window and trying not to take a picture of my neighbours' garden as well ('cos that just felt wrong somehow)! The lighter part of the shed roof you can see is where the sun is shining. It's one of the few places in the garden which probably gets sun most of the day so could be an ideal spot for tomatoes. Here's the same shed taken from the ground. It seems quite big but really only half of it is ours. From the right edge of the door back to the hedge is our shed. When you open the door there is a wall immediately to the right and from there up as far as the house is our neighbours' shed. I bought a hanging basket which is just one of the plastic types and it has a slightly flattened bottom so it should be possible to just rest it on that flat roof. Would welcome any comments/suggestions.

Here are the three seedlings I have at the moment. I'm so proud of them.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Top 100 books

I have about a dozen posts half started in my head and really need to get them down on paper. Still haven't set up pc at home although have done a good bit of clearing up in my bedroom and have monitor and pc set up on table - just need to dig out bag of cables and keyboard and hook it all up now. Really hope it works, haven't used it since I moved house over a year and a half ago.

I've found a couple of blogs which I really like but will wait until I've more time to faff around adding in links and all that. One of them is called Garden in your Pocket and it's a woman in Brisbane who reviews books she has read. Kind of like an online bookclub for one. I've been intending to write occasional reviews of the books I read anyway (some of the dozens of posts swirling in my head) and this is the spur I needed I think.

I also want to compose a list of my top 100 books (partly to see if I even have a hundred to list!). These are books I've read and have (or will) re-read and will always want to have a copy of. I have to admit I'm not one of those people who reads a book and remembers it all immediately. My brother-in-law almost never reads a book a second time because he can still remember it even years later. I, on the other hand have loads of books I've read five or more times and have some books that I like to pick up every year or two for another read. So, I am going to start writing my Top 100 list and although I won't complete it now, I will come back to it and update as and when I find the time and inclination. This list will not be in any particular order (maybe one day when I have time I'll alphabetise it :) ) and I am allowing myself to count trilogies/series as only one entry.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
2. Farseer Trilogy - Robin Hobb (and the Liveship and Tanwy Man trilogies)
3. These Old Shades/Frederica/Cotillion - Georgette Heyer (actually almost any of her historical romance novels, these are just three I particularly like - some of the few books to make me laugh out loud time and time again)
4. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
5. The Crystalsinger trilogy - Anne McCaffrey
6. Dragons of Pern - Anne McCaffrey (perhaps only the first few books though)
7. Sparhawk trilogies - David Eddings
8. My Roots, a decade in the garden - Monty Don (have just finished this on loan from the library but want to buy my own copy to read again - can't believe how much I enjoyed this.)
9. Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (and Alexandria's sequel, Scarlett - the book so much better than the dreadful TV version)
10. River Cottage Cookbook - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
11. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
12. Skinny Legs and all - Tom Robbins (as much sentimental value for the time and place I was given this as for the book)
13. Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn (just did a quick search and realised there are three more books in this series - more books to go on my must-read list)
14. The Bone Doll's Twin (Tamir Triolgy) - Lynn Flewelling
15. Harry Potter - JK Rowling
16. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
17. Narnia books - C.S. Lewis (although re-reading them a couple of years ago the religious symbolism seemed a bit too strong for my taste these days but they are still magical books)
18. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
19. What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge (probably one of the first books I cried reading)
20. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
21. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (have only read once but really feel it's a book that'd be worth reading multiple times)
22. 1984 - George Orwell
23. Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier
24. Chocolat - Joanne Harris
25. Making History - Stephen Fry
26. His Dark Materials trilogy - Phillip Pullman (if I had to choose a top book to read ever this and the Count of Monte Cristo would defintely be contenders)
27. The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
28. What's eating Gilbert Grape - Peter Hedges
29. The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
30. The Far Pavillions - M.M. Kaye
31. The Irish trilogy - Walter Macken (re-read the first of these recently and was dismayed to find that the religious aspect of these was far more than I remembered and again, that's just not to my taste these days)
32. The Children of the New Forest
33. The Little House books - Laura Ingalls Wilder
34. Seed to Seed - Suzanne Ashworth
35. Strumpet City - James Plunkett