Random thoughts and ideas about general annoyances and little ways in which the world could be made better
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An update on my vegetable plants, and the installation of an automatic watering system The post Garden Update – Vegetable Plants and an Automatic Watering System appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
It has been a while now since I posted about sowing the first seeds of the year. So I thought it was time I posted an update on how the gardening is coming along.
The recent sunny days have really stimulated growth!
The tomato plants are coming along a treat. I like trying different varieties, and the ones I am growing this year are Sungold, Apero, Romello and the reliable Money Maker.
I will keep some in the greenhouse all summer, and have already moved others outside.
We have several bags of potato plants which are growing fast and look really well. I got these bags from Thompson & Morgan last year. They may not look pretty, especially as this is their second year of use, but the handles make it really easy to move them around the garden. Our garden has a lot of shade, so it is useful to move things to sunny spots during the day.
After having success with Minipop sweetcorn last year, I am growing this again. The little baby corn are great in pasta dishes and stir fries. And the corn plants are interesting.
Strawberry plants in various pots are looking good, despite having had a few nasty greenfly problems. The greenfly seem particularly bad this year – I wonder if other people have noticed this?
I have had a blueberry bush for a couple of years now and it is very productive, though the fruit are a little tart (probably due to a shortage of sun at the crucial time – maybe it will be better this year). Unfortunately I am not sure of the variety.
The raspberry bush shown below is variety Ruby Beauty, one of several I bought this spring from Thompson & Morgan. It is looking great, with flowers just forming, and I have high hopes!
I also have a dwarf blackberry bush, variety Opal, again ordered from Thompson & Morgan, which has been a bit slow but is now showing good signs of growth.
Also growing well in pots, tubs and bags around the garden are various varieties of lettuce, oriental leaves, peas, beans, chillies, broccoli, carrots, spring onions, leeks, herbs – and even a few flowers. I will post more photos later in the year when the veggies (hopefully) start being productive. And to think I wasn’t going to do so much this year…..
The big news is that, after spending up to 2 hours a day watering pots in the height of the summer last year, we finally got round to installing a Hozelock system. Well actually, two.
We got a three way tap connector (one of which acts as a directional tap – see photo above). We then bought two Hozelock kits with automatic timers – one for each side of the garden. It was then a matter of locating supply hoses around the garden, and adding side branches as necessary to water various pots, hanging baskets and our VegTrug.
I thought this would be difficult, but once you get the idea it is actually much easier than I expected. I was also a bit dubious that there would be enough pressure to supply the hanging baskets and VegTrug, but they both work a treat.
We still have a few extensions to add, and quite a bit of tidying up to do so the supply hoses are less visible, but I was very impressed with how quickly we had a working system. The VegTrug is already benefiting. Last year it was a complete failure (see Mistakes Made With A VegTrug). But in its new location with plenty of light, and a regular, consistent supply of water, plants are already showing good signs of growth.
I bought our two Hozelock kits, and various extra components including the three-way tap, online from Keen Gardener. They had the best prices I could find, and the delivery service has been excellent. When I made a mistake with one of my orders they sorted it out immediately, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them.
As you can see from the photo of the tap above, I bought two different types of kits to compare. One uses a 13 mm supply hose, to which you attach smaller 4mm micro hose to supply each of the pots. The other relies completely on the 4mm micro hose. Both kits seem to work equally well.
The automatic timers mean that, in addition to spending less time and effort watering each day, I will also not be worrying about my plants when we are on holiday. I am sure my neighbour will also be relieved…
I am really enjoying my new gardening hobby. Hopefully I will soon be able to post photos of the first harvests from some of these interesting plants. Watch this space…..
The post Garden Update – Vegetable Plants and an Automatic Watering System appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
A photoblog of the open spaces and magical sunsets around my home near York, England The post Open Views and Yorkshire Sunsets appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
I am very lucky living where I live. Near my house is a path which leads through trees to the river. From the path there are lovely long, open views over fields.
After a Flood
Sometimes the river floods.
Runoff from fields turns the water a muddy brown colour, and fields beside the river turn into temporary wetlands.
Moody and Ominous Skies
Blue skies are lovely to see, but dark, moody, threatening skies before or after a storm are often far more dramatic.
I particularly love to stroll at twilight on a calm evening, when the colours and quality of the light are magical.
Sometimes as the sun gets low in the afternoon sky everything is bathed in wonderful golden light.
The Blue Hour
Sometimes as the sun goes down everything appears blue, hence the expression ‘the blue hour’.
And then there are the wonderful flaming sunsets.
I often worry that the open fields in the photos above will be considered prime building land, and we will lose these wonderful open spaces. I certainly hope this never happens. Many of us need these open spaces and calm, pleaceful places to relieve the stresses of our busy, fast-paced lives.
I know I do.
(Please Note – Many of the images in this post can be purchased as digital downloads – see Yorkshire Sunsets and Skies Gallery. Some can also be purchased as prints and gifts – just click on the image on this page.)
Last year I got a bit carried away with ideas of growing my own food. I was way too ambitious, and set far more than I could possibly hope to grow (see The Trials and Tribulations of a First Time Vegetable Grower). But at least there were a few success stories. As part of this newfound obsession, I bought myself… Continue Reading→ The post Mistakes Made With A VegTrug appeared first on Thoughts of...
Last year I got a bit carried away with ideas of growing my own food. I was way too ambitious, and set far more than I could possibly hope to grow (see The Trials and Tribulations of a First Time Vegetable Grower). But at least there were a few success stories.
As part of this newfound obsession, I bought myself a VegTrug. I thought it would be just the thing to increase the growing area in our limited garden space. And I would be able to work at waist height, avoiding back and knee strain (both of which have been known to cause me considerable problems).
Unfortunately, though, what seemed like the ideal spot for the new Trug was actually the worst place we could put it. We has a spare little corner where the Trug fitted nicely, with paving slabs already in place to stand and work on. What I should have realised was that this corner was so shaded that it got little light and hardly any rainfall. And the fact that the Trug was hemmed in meant I couldn’t get round it to work. In fact, with the covers in place, I couldn’t reach the back corners at all.
To make things worse I planted it far too densely. The result was that our expensive VegTrug, and no less than nine 50L bags of compost, yielded little more than a few substandard beetroots and dodgy salad leaves.
In fact the only thing that seemed to grow really well was moss, which formed quite a carpet over the winter when the Trug was left to its own devices.
As the saying goes, you learn by your mistakes….
The only option was to move the Trug, which we finally got round to this weekend. After removing the carpet of moss, we scooped out most of the compost.
We then moved the VegTrug to its new home in the centre of the garden. Here it should get plenty of sun and be easy to work on from all sides.
After cutting a few pieces of decking for the Trug to stand on, we popped the compost back in, set some carrot seeds in the deep middle part of the Trug, and transplanted a few lettuce and mizuna seedlings to the shallower edges.
With the covers back on (to protect the tiny seedlings from the local birds), the VegTrug is ready to go.
As a final touch we bought some paving slabs to make a better surface to work on.
Hopefully this year will be far more successful – I will let you know!
If you are interested in owing a VegTrug, they come in various shapes and sizes. Check out this page at Amazon for some great prices. I bought mine as a kit including the frame and a selection of covers, which was a significant saving on buying these separately.
And, unlike us, do think carefully about where you will put it…..
A photographic celebration of some of the wonderful trees around Yorkshire The post Wonderful Trees appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
There are so many reasons I love trees.
- They provide shade from the sun and shelter from the rain
- Their seasonal changes mark the passing of time
- They are so incredibly diverse
- They give us so many products – from foods to medicines to building materials
- They provide habitats for so many birds and insects
- But mostly because they are just so majestic and beautiful!
I thought I would post a selection of some of my favourites. These are all original photos from around my home in Yorkshire.
These and other images are available to purchase as digital downloads – see Trees Gallery and Yorkshire Sunsets and Skies Gallery. Many can also be purchased as prints, wall displays and gifts at Clickasnap – just click on the image for further details.
I do hope you enjoy them.
Oak Tree in a Field Near York
This old oak tree stands alone in the corner of a field near my house, so I see it in all its seasonal guises. Photo taken in late summer when the field had just been ploughed.
Shady Beech Tree
Dappled summer sunlight shines through this old beech tree at Beningbrough Hall.
Horse Chestnut Trees in York
These lovely horse chestnuts stand by the river in York. They provide flowers in spring, conkers in autumn and interest all year round.
Yew Trees on an Eroded Rocky Bank
These photos, taken at the Studley Royal gardens near Fountains Abbey, show just how resilient trees can be. The old yews trees are literally growing on bare rock and holding on by their roots.
Oak Tree with Beautiful Bark
The ridges in the bark of this old oak tree at Beningbrough Hall make beautiful patterns.
Magnificent Old Horse Chestnut
This fantastic ancient horse chestnut tree at Ripley Castle has the most amazing gnarled trunk, as you can see in the second photo below. Seen here in its autumn colours.
Amazingly Tall Cedar in a Garden
This wonderfully tall cedar tree is in the gardens of Burton Agnes Hall near Bridlington.
More Ancient Yew Trees at Studley Royal
Here are some more beautiful old yew trees at Studley Royal, photographed on a bright winter’s day. (Read more about Studley Royal at Self Arranged Journeys – Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.)
Trees look wonderful against vivid blue skies, as these photos show.
Of course trees are at their most colourful when their leaves change colour in autumn, making this time of year very special. Here are a few examples, and for more see the Autumn Splendour Gallery.
The Starkness of Winter
Although nothing compares with the colours of autumn, I really love the starkness of trees in winter. Without the leaves you can truly appreciate the overall shape and fantastic branching forms in a way you can’t at other times of year.
Like most things, trees have a special magic at twilight, when the light creates fantastic silhouettes against dramatic skies.
Thanks so much for looking!
There are currently talks in the UK about introducing a deposit return scheme for single-use plastic bottles (and cans). If this scheme is introduced, you will pay a fee for each single-use plastic bottle that you buy, which will be repaid to you if and when you return the bottle. Such schemes are already operating in several countries, and studies… Continue Reading→ The post It’s Not Just Bottles! appeared first on Thoughts of...
There are currently talks in the UK about introducing a deposit return scheme for single-use plastic bottles (and cans). If this scheme is introduced, you will pay a fee for each single-use plastic bottle that you buy, which will be repaid to you if and when you return the bottle.
Such schemes are already operating in several countries, and studies show that they do significantly increase the amount of plastic that is recycled. Which has to be a good thing – right?
Well, looking at the big picture, yes. Of course it has to be a good thing if the total amount of plastic recycled is increased, thereby reducing how much ends up in the environment.
But from a personal point of view – perhaps not so good. It will depend a lot on how the scheme will work in practice.
In our household we have been carefully sorting out our plastic waste for years. The local council provides a box specially for recyclable plastic which is collected every two weeks. If the new scheme is introduced, will we instead have to return the bottles to the point of purchase, or some other central collection point?
If so I am not looking forward to the queues. And what about less able people who have their groceries delivered to their house?
What About Other Plastics?
To me, one of the big issues is that people equate the plastics problem just to plastic bottles and bags. Many people seem to be unaware of the myriad of other plastic items that are found literally everywhere you look. See-through films on food products. Tags attaching labels. Hooks allowing products to be hung on shop displays. Rings holding six-packs of cans together. Interdental brushes. Medical applicators. Cosmetics tubes and containers. Tops on aerosol cans and sprays. The list really is endless.
Here’s a challenge. Just go on a normal shop and see how many products you can buy that contain no plastic at all – either in the product or its packaging. I think you may be surprised at how difficult it is.
Although I am pleased about any change that encourages people to use plastic more responsibly, I think this scheme needs to be carefully thought out. And it would be great if it could apply to other plastic items that do just as much damage as bottles.
For a few simple ideas to use less plastic, see Some Easy Little Ways to Reduce Your Use of Plastic.
How annoying it is when your quiet dinner for two is ruined by a noisy, inconsiderate party The post A Rant About Noisy People in Restaurants appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
Does this ever happen to you?
You go to a nice restaurant with your partner or family, hoping to have a pleasant meal with interesting conversation. Other people in the restaurant are, like you, talking quietly and enjoying their meals. Or trying to. Because there is one party that is just SO LOUD.
We find this happens often. Like last week, when we went out for a meal in one of our regular haunts. We were sat facing each other at a nice little table for two – so close that our knees were touching under the table. But we still couldn’t hear ourselves speak because of one incredibly noisy, inconsiderate, selfish group of eight on a nearby table.
It’s not that they were swearing, or being offensive, or drunk. They looked perfectly reasonable people. But they were all speaking so loud that they completely drowned out the conversation of everyone else in the restaurant. And every few seconds an almighty shriek of laughter would ring out that could probably be heard at the end of the street.
My partner and I kept trying to talk to each other, but we couldn’t get further than half a sentence before being bombarded by screeches and guffaws. And the poor waitress was having a dreadful time trying to hear what people were ordering.
It always amazes me that these people don’t feel embarrassed by their behaviour. Don’t they realise that everyone can hear every word they say? And don’t they realise that they are spoiling the evening for everyone else in the room? People go to a restaurant to chat and enjoy their meal. They are paying a not insignificant amount of money. It is not a pub or a night-club, and shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just not fair!
I certainly wasn’t the only person who kept glaring in their direction. A couple of times I definitely made eye contact with members of the party, and it must have been obvious that I was extremely irritated. But it didn’t make a blind bit of difference. They just carried on, completely oblivious to everybody else’s discomfort and annoyance. So unbelievably selfish.
I remember once being in a restaurant in a huge hotel in Norway. The restaurant was nearly empty when we went in, and we were looking forward to a peaceful meal. But just before we started some coaches arrived carrying what appeared to be several large family parties. We assumed our peace had gone.
But no! Even though there were groups of around 20 people, throughout the evening there was a just a pleasant background murmer of conversation. Everyone was talking, but nobody was loud and nobody dominated. It was so pleasant. So civilized! How an evening in a restaurant should be.
I wish we could all be more Norwegian…..
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