Productive Small Fruit and Vegetable Garden

Productive Small Fruit and Vegetable Garden

You really don’t need an allotment or a large garden to have a lovely supply of fruit and veg throughout the year. 

My garden isn’t large, but I have shoehorned in fruit and veg plants all over the place. Usually in containers. 

Here are some examples:

Cherry tree in a container gave me loads of lovely fruit this year. This picture below is just some of it. It’s a Stella cherry in case you were interested, and will not get massive. 

Rhubarb in containers. Had them for a couple of years, and got a good crop this year. Behind them is asparagus. I have three crowns in this tub. It’s past asparagus season so I’ve let them grow out. 

Raspberries in containers. Two summer fruiting, one Autumn (on the right) and one black raspberry which I planted in the middle tub just this year. Will see how I get on with two plants in one tub. 

Apple tree in a 3/4 barrel. Not a good year for apples this year. This is a ‘family tree’ and has 3 types of Apple grafted onto one rootstock. 

Potatoes in sacks. Just about ready to be harvested. 

Plum/damson tree. Again a family tree with two types grafted onto the same rootstock. Going to be a good crop this year, after having none last year! One of the few trees I have planted in the ground. 

Strawberries in grow bags on an old table. They grow brilliantly this way. 

Difficult to spot them, but the pots at the front and back of the picture are blueberry plants. Really easy to look after and heavy cropping. This tub is mostly full of blueberries from my first picking this year. And there are loads left on. 

Tomatoes in grow bags. Do you like my tripod frame?!

And of course a raised bed. I have two, but one is for cut flowers. I have beetroot, courgettes (2 plants) and beans (cobra, purple, roquencourt and borlotti) in here. I get loads of beans and courgettes. 

None of this is much hassle, and I get to go foraging every summer evening when I come home. 

Great gifts from the garden today (30th July 2016)

Lovely collection of goodies after my 2 week holiday at the end of August. 

Raspberry Ice cream


My daughter is a complete sucker for raspberry ice cream. So as raspberries are in season at the moment, I promised to make her some. 
It was actually difficult to find a raspberry ice cream recipe online that wasn’t made with coconut. But I found a deliciously Ella recipe for black raspberry ice cream (find it here). I roughly translated it into UK weights and measures, and used an ice cream maker (which you don’t have to). She adapted it from a recipe here.

400g raspberries

300ml double cream

150ml semi skimmed milk

1tsp vanilla bean paste

3 large egg yolks (I used 4 medium ones)

130g sugar

60g cream cheese

Heat the raspberries till the juice spills and then mush them. Let them cool. 

Mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Mine was quite thick and sugary still. 

Heat the milk, cream and vanilla until it just boils. Add a bit to the sugar/yolk mix to loosen it. Then gradually whisk the sugar/yolk mix into the milk/cream mix.

Gently heat, whilst stiring until it’s thick and coats the back of a cream. It is very very sweet. Don’t worry as it will be balanced out by the raspberries. 

Add in the raspberries and cream cheese. 

And stir together until the cream cheese melts. 

Let it cool and then freeze in an ice cream machine or freeze and stir every 20 mins until frozen. 

Ta da…

It really is delicious. Not too sweet and not too tart. Yum! Maybe my daughter won’t get any!

And I reckon would be amazing with dark chocolate chips in it or made with some Chambord (black raspberry liqueur). 

And here it is with chocolate orange meringues (see my recipe here) made from the left over egg whites and fresh fruit from the garden. Deeeelicious!

Inspiring Gardens – Nymans Rose Garden

Inspiring Gardens – Nymans Rose Garden

It’s been a while since I shared pictures of a garden that inspires me. But I took so many pictures of Nymans rose garden today that I felt I had to share. 

July is the perfect time to visit as they are all in full bloom, and it looks magnificent, despite no doubt being battered by the recent heavy rain. 

So no commentary. Just lots of pictures of beautiful roses. 

And these aren’t in the rose garden, but are pretty gorgeous anyway. 

The Cutting Patch – Little Vases of Loveliness

The Cutting Patch – Little Vases of Loveliness

I love growing flowers in my garden, both to make the garden look lovely, and to cut and bring into the house. 

In fact I even turned one of my raised beds into a cutting patch, to keep me going with a supply of flowers for the whole summer. 

This is when it was just planted up (7th May). Copper rings round the dahlias to protect them. Dahlias stay in there all winter. I lose a few each year, but usually only a couple. And I’m too lazy to take them out each year. 

This is what it looks like right now (mid June – netted at the moment to keep the cats/foxes off). Stocks flowering already. 

This year I’ve planted:

Dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, nigella, cornflowers, stocks, and one solitary marigold!

This is what it looked like in high summer last year (post a picking session, so looking a bit bare – but that’s kind of the point – they are not grown to look make the garden look pretty)

And here are some little vases of loveliness from last year…

I’ve also got loads of sweet peas growing elsewhere in the garden, which give an endless supply of sweet smelling flowers. 

And even though The cutting patch isn’t ready yet, the garden is already providing some little pots of gorgeousness:

Can’t wait for these peonies to burst into life. They are a mix of Pillow Talk and Sarah Bernhardt. 

2016 update – mid June

This was taken in the car. I picked some flowers to take to a friend in a jar. Car cup holders are great places to transport little pots of flowery loveliness. 

1st weekend in July…

5th July – this is what the patch looks like today. Quite a change from 2 months ago when it was planted out! Cornflowers, calendula and stocks going strong. Zinnias, cosmos, chrysthanthemums (the annual kind) and dahlias all about to burst into life. 

Vases for the 1st weekend in August. I’m now cutting flowers once or twice a week, and making plans to put in loads of tulip bulbs so I get cut flowers from March to November!

Pot Luck – round 2

Pot Luck – round 2

So last years pot experiment wasn’t overly successful. Mostly not enough in each pot, and not enough thought gone into it. 

So I’m trying again this year. It’s a bit of a faff planting out lots of pots each year (and I have a lot of pots!), so I’m going more for perennials with a bit of annual flower interest. I’ve also taken all of my tulips out of the pots and put them in the flower bed. I’m trying to cut down the amount to do in the garden so I can spend more time just enjoying it. 

These were planted out the 2nd weekend in May, and I will post updates later in the year. 

Alyssum and the only chrysthanthemum which made it through the winter (froggy I think)

A lavender standard, alyssum and Aubrieta Kittie Blue

4 scented carnations edged with lobelia

A mixture of purple pansy, helichrysum gold, lobelia, calibrachoa can can coral reef,  bidens aurea. Colours inspired by a bouquet from bloom and wild that I sent to my sister! I already quite like this one. 

Climbing rose with alyssum planted for a bit of trailing interest at the bottom

Salvia with trailing verbena 

Helichrysum gold and two verbenas

Standard rose (cheap from Tesco)!with two helichrysum (silver?), lobelia and verbena

A bunch of the pots together. Looking nice already I think. 

Perpetual wallflower (erysimum) with verbena and alyssum. You can’t see it from this photo, but the verbena at the front is the most amazing light silvery mauve, and looks amazing at dusk. It’s Aztec silver magic. And I love it. 


Standard lavender (from ikea!) with alyssum. Tagetes (various, 3 in a pot) and helichrysum in front. 

Three rudbeckia (summerina collection from Thompson & Morgan) – perennial rudbeckias. 

With purple plant from Homebase behind (can’t remember the name!)

Scabiosa ( with wallflower behind)

And here is one I’ve done at the beginning of June

A petunia (no name – cheap one from the market) with chocolate cosmos choca mocha (perennial cosmos that smells of chocolate). Also popped a rudbeckia that I had grown from seed in there. Can’t remember what it is as the label had faded, time will tell!
June update (10th June, so about 4 weeks after they were planted up).

Some already looking quite pretty..

Stocks – could maybe have squashed a few more in. Maybe 5 rather than 3. They smell great though. And I put some in the cutting patch so I can have them in the house. 

Chrysanthemum froggy looking a bit slug eaten! But the alyssum looks pretty. 

I love these verbena, but they are quite unpredictable. You can’t tell if they are going to grow up or sideways!  Looks nice with the wallflower though, which looks like it’s going to continue to flower for a while.   It also looks great next to the scabiosa (just in the edge of the picture on the left) as its a very similar colour. I wonder what they would look like in a big pot together. Maybe one for next year. 

Still liking this one. Waiting for the pansy and the calibrachoa to flower again. 

Like the lobelia around the edge. It’s such a tough little bedding plant, and comes in lots of lovely colours. This is going to look amazing soon when the dianthus flower. I cut off lots of the early buds to try and get them to flower, and it looks like it has worked. 

This is definitely a success. The bees love the salvia, and I love how it looks with verbena at the bottom. 

Also love how this is looking. Nice mix of white verbena and lobelia with the silver helichrysum at the base of the standard rose. Just waiting for some more roses to appear. 

Here are some before and afters. Photos on the right taken first weekend in July. 

30 Day Shred – Level 2

30 Day Shred – Level 2

Wow. Level 2 is definitely a step up from level 1!

Some of the moves are difficult to get your head round, so I found myself watching the video quite a bit to make sure I was doing it right. You also need more space to move than in level 1. 

I did the first day last night, and this morning I’m not aching crazily, but definitely more aware of my abs.

So I’ve done all 10 days. Straight through with no days off. And I feel great! I even exercised on a weekend away, and on my (ahem) 45th birthday. I don’t know who this crazy exercising woman is, but I quite like her. 

I’m doing a mixture of the advanced and easy versions, and it definitely feels easier than 10 days ago. I feel ready for level 3. 

Other people are noticing – I went swimming with my sister and she commented on how trim I was looking. And I’ve just discovered I have ribs!! I can not only feel them, I can see them. Who knew?!

Everything feels much tighter and drawn in,  my back is definitely looking much more muscly and I keep showing people my guns. Proper muscle definition!! It’s not really showing up much in my measurements, but I don’t care because I can see and feel the improvement!

Here are some photos:


And a day 1 to day 20 comparison. 

Taking a day off today and then onto level 3 tomorrow. Bring it on!

30 Day Shred – Level 1

30 Day Shred – Level 1

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred for ages, and I’ve found a really good incentive to do it – I’ve booked to do a boudoir shoot at the end of January. Lots of photos of me in skimpy underwear – you bet I want to look good!

It’s a nice and short workout – just 20 minutes. I can do it in my living room. And all you need is a yoga mat and hand weights. Both of which I already have. 

I bought the DVD from Amazon for about a fiver. You can also get the videos free on YouTube. 

So today is the 30th December, and I did the first session. It’s broken into three levels, and I did level one.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I expected. I can’t do the full press up, but I wasn’t completely dead at the end of it, and could definitely go harder tomorrow. I used my lightest hand weights, but will go up a weight tomorrow and see how that feels. Off to yoga later (first time in ages), so that should stretch me out nicely. 

Here are some before photos so I can record progress. 

Would love to tone up my arms, back and butt! Not overly concerned about the weight loss aspect. I’m still doing the Slimming World thing, and am close to target, (abut 6lbs off) so anything that nudges me closer to that would be good. 

And here are some measurements:

Chest: 39″

Natural waist: 29″

Belly: 35″

Hips: 40″

Thigh: 23.5″

Bicep: 10.75″
Note I take two waist measurements – the natural waist is the thinnest bit, the belly is around the belly button. I tend to lose more off the latter. 

Day 2 – well despite thinking day 1 wasn’t so bad, I do ache quite a lot today. Mostly in my legs. But did level 1 again this morning, and it really is achievable! I think it being only 20 minutes, and lots of short exercises makes it go really fast. And I quite like Jillian’s tough love approach! I did go for my middle size hand weights (1.5kg), and it was absolutely fine. 

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day. Let’s see how I get on with a hangover. Then I will take a day off on Saturday as I’m off to a spa for the day. I think I will need the massage I have booked! I do think it’s wise to have rest days to give your body time to recover. Maybe I will do a bit of yoga on Saturday instead. 

10 day update. I totally love this workout! It’s so great to do just 20 minutes and feel great afterwards. I have kept with the 1.5kg weights, except for the chest fly (I think that’s what it’s called – the one where you lie on the floor) – I use 2.5kg for that. I’m also doing the advanced version of all the exercises, except push-ups – still on my knees for that. 

I feel more toned, but not much difference measurements wise yet. 

-.25″ off my arm

-.5″ each off my waist and belly

+.5″ on my calves. Which I don’t mind because it’s giving me more shapely legs!

Here are some photos, taken immediately after workout 10 (excuse the washing drying in the background)!:


Not noticing much difference in the pictures (maybe a bit more toned on the back), but my arm and leg muscles and stomach definitely feel firmer. I think this is fairly typical. I’ve looked at a lot of other 30 day shred blogs, and it’s only really when you compare the beginning and end photos that you see a big difference. 

Side by side day 1 to day 10

        Day 1                             Day 10