Our first harvest!

Oh botheration! It’s raining! This is, of course, well needed and good for the garden, but why does it have to come at the weekend and not while I’m stuck inside an office?  I managed approximately ten minutes in the garden this morning before it started coming down too heavily to contemplate staying out there. Let’s hope tomorrow is better.

I did manage to get my first haul (haul may be a slight exaggeration but I’m sticking with it) of produce from the garden in those ten minutes.

Whoop! Homegrown goodness! The strawberries are from my three plants that I’ve had in a pot for a couple of years now. I’m still having no luck with the new plants in the raised bed. I’m going to put straw underneath them to see if that’ll deter the slugs, or whatever it is that’s eating them.

The potatoes are Maris Peers. I have three different types of potatoes in three bags up by the greenhouse, and while all three have (or had, in the case of the Maris Peers) humongous stems and leaves sprouting out of the top, the Maris Peers are the only ones which have flowered. They all got really battered in the heavy rain we had a couple of weeks ago so now I don’t really know what to expect from the other two bags.

I’d been waiting for some of our own potatoes before trying a recipe from my Pinch of Nom cookbook that I’ve been drawling over for a while. Pinch of Nom is amazing and is helping me immeasurably with Slimming World. It’s not strictly aimed at followers of any particular diet plan but is full of lower fat/calorie dishes and alternatives for people who are watching their weight.

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Bacon, onion and potato bake. Doesn’t it look yummy? It’s completely Syn free on Slimming World as long as you use bacon medallions (or cut any excess fat off) and count the cheese on top as part of your healthy extra A.

My version looked a bit different!

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Not a million miles off though, and it tasted delicious!

I had some potatoes left over, and certainly didn’t want to waste any after growing them myself, so I made my own version of the bacon and onion frittata from the cookbook.

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We can have this cold for lunch tomorrow. I’m supposed to fill one third of my plate with speed food (most fruit and veg) so I could do with serving this with some salad but unfortunately we don’t have any in! Maybe I’ll have some carrot sticks.

I whipped up some dessert so we could have our massive crop of five strawberries! I’d seen people talk about this in the Pinch of Nom Facebook group and decided to give it a go.

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Game changer! It’s so simple, yet tastes like a proper indulgent pudding. It’s just a couple of spoonfuls of quark mixed with an Options mint hot chocolate sachet (one Syn for half) and put in the fridge for a while. Obviously the strawberries made it!

Speaking of food, we had our first barbecue of the season last night. Slimming World friendly for me, obviously!

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We have the smallest barbecue in the world! It does for us though. I am quite tempted to invest in a gas one but can’t decide if it’s worth it.

My burgers were the anaemic looking ones at the back. I went to Tesco to get their meat free burgers because they have no Syns. Quorn burgers are two and a half Syns for some reason. I’m not vegetarian (obviously, given the bacon in my lunch) but I’m not a meat lover, especially red meat, so I’m more than happy to have veggie burgers, and it’s a bonus that they’re less Syns.

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Look at that! Double decker burger! On a diet! Look at Minnie sneakily eying it up!

I added cheese from my healthy extra A and I made a Syn free sauce with fat free natural yoghurt, mint and garlic. The barbecue was an impromptu decision so I’d already had my healthy extra B for breakfast, which meant I had to count the Syns in the bread roll but if I’d been more organised I could’ve had a wholemeal roll and counted it as my B option which would mean the whole thing was free!

I made some pasta salad to have with my sausages so I didn’t have to use more Syns on bread.

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The sausages are Linda McCartney veggie ones which are yummy. Much nicer than Quorn ones. I would’ve loved to have a couple of hubby’s real sausages but it’s a small sacrifice to make if I continue to lose weight. I tried to keep the Syns down by mixing the pasta with quark and fat free natural yoghurt instead of mayo, but I think next time I’ll use lighter than light mayo and Syn it.

I’m not losing weight super fast, but, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s hope so. Having switched from WW to Slimming World this time around, I feel like Slimming World is more sustainable. The diet gurus all say that you need to change your habits forever to keep the weight off and with WW that seems really restrictive and life altering to maintain forever because of the nature of the plan, whereas Slimming World is more flexible. We’ve had some really delicious meals which I would be happy to eat over and over again so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to stay on plan and that maintaining will be possible once I get to goal.

Support is crucial to anyone trying to lose weight. My hubby has no issue with weight, and he doesn’t put any pressure on me to change the way I look, but he knows it’s important to me so he tries to help as much as he can.

It used to be that you had to go to a diet group once a week to get external support, but these days social media plays a huge role. Writing about my weight loss journey (gosh that’s cliched!) on my blog and posting on Instagram is helpful to me, but there are millions of people on Instagram who post every meal they eat and give the recipes which helps to inspire me and give me new ideas. As I mentioned above, there’s a Pinch of Nom group on Facebook and most members seem to be following Slimming World so it’s a great community of like minded people sharing tips and tricks which are really helpful.

Let’s hope in a few months I’ll be able to report that I’m at target and planning to stay there forever! Right now, it’s nearly time for a takeaway – all counted and within plan, obviously!

Some garden goodness

I didn’t do a Six on Saturday yesterday because I was busy doing other stuff. Can’t quite recall what now, but I’m sure it must’ve been something productive!

Anyway, I thought I’d give you a quick update on garden matters. There’s quite a lot going wrong out there at the moment. My peas are growing through the netting over the raised bed because I haven’t got round to building the permanent frame over it yet, something is eating my strawberries despite having built the frame over that bed …

… the weeds are going crazy and a slug has snotted all over my gardening gloves!

However, we’ll ignore all that and focus on a few of the positive things happening out there.

My peas, despite growing through the netting, are flowering so I’m keeping everything crossed that we’ll soon have peas.

Not sure how I’ll detangle them from the netting to harvest them, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I have some beautiful roses blooming.

The top two are on our bistro and were a fiver each last summer. The bottom one is Hot Chocolate and was a present from my Mum a few years ago. It needs a hard prune when it finishes flowering this year.

I picked up another Rose today on the sale table at our local garden centre.

We’ve got a couple of plants with bright yellow flowers and I noticed today how cheery they look, so when I saw this I had to have it.

I’ve also got this Rose which has slightly unusual flowers.

It was from the same garden centre a while ago, also half price. I must find somewhere to plant both of these.

Here’s one of those pops of yellow.

I don’t know what it is, it was here when we moved in.

My Foxglove which wasn’t a Foxglove and then was a Foxglove is looking magnificent.

It’s got some secondary shoots gearing up to bloom underneath this one.

I really hope the first fingerhuts stay until all of these ones are showing their colours too.

I planted our Hydrangea out last year after the heat had passed. My in laws gave it to us and we’d kept it in a pot for a couple of years but it didn’t bloom very well, hence the decision to plant it out. I did wonder whether the change of soil might change it from pink to blue, but as you can see, it’s starting to bloom pink again.

I’m slightly disappointed because I prefer blue. All is not in vain though, it’s grown loads since last year so it’s obviously happier out of its constraints.

I pruned our Pieris yesterday (when it was really too hot to be wielding a pair of secateurs!) There was a lot of dead wood in the middle and it was really huge so I was quite ruthless. I think it looks much better – wish I’d taken a before pic. It’s opened up some space that I’ll be able to fill with some of my plants in waiting and it also revealed a little Fern at the back doing rather well in the shade.

My Dicentra Bleeding Heart is flowering again when I thought it was done for the year.

Isn’t it pretty?

My Festuca now has four babies!

When the first one appeared I was intending to pot it on, but now there are four and they’re quite nicely spaced around their mother, I can’t decide whether to let them grow in where they are. I’ll have to ponder on it.

I planted up my Willow that was in my Gardeners’ World subscriber goodie bag at Gardeners’ World Live. Pretty huh? It won’t grow any taller but it should grow well at the top so I can style it a nice bouffant.

This was a bitty post with no real purpose! I just fancied sharing a bit of garden goodness with you. I’m off work tomorrow so no doubt I’ll be back out there pottering in my happy place.

Six on Saturday 18th May

Evening all.

I wasn’t sure if I’d get round to doing a Six on Saturday today, but I find myself sat on the sofa at a loose end having spent the afternoon in the garden, so here I am.

I’ve had a productive few hours outside planting out my plants grown from seed and also a fun time taking photos. I was hoping to be able to make one of my points on garden critters, but the bees are so busy that none of them stayed still long enough for me to snap them. I’ll save that idea up for a future six.

So, number one – my Sunflowers, Sweet Peas and Cosmos are finally planted out.

They all seem to have coped ok with being left outside while I was away with work. Some of the Sunflowers are possibly slightly droopy so I’ve staked those that needed it using random sticks that I found in the garden. I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability and reusing resources lately so I wanted to use what I had available to me.

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Here they are all in situ. The Sunflowers are in two (OCD inducingly wonky) lines behind my birthday planter with the hope being that they’ll get big enough to rise above the planter so we can see them from our back windows, the Sweet Peas are tied into the frame and seem reasonably happy (so far) and the Cosmos are dotted around in three clusters to the back left and right of the frame and the front right by my Eupatorium. It doesn’t matter if the Sunflowers obscure the view of the Sweet Peas because I’m intending to use them for steady supply of cut flowers for our house and work, if I get enough.

On to number two.

I’ve hardened off my Calendula as well, but I don’t think they’re quite ready to be planted out yet so I’ve repotted them individually as they were all bunched together in their former home. Hopefully they’ll all thrive and then I think I’ll put them in my wheelbarrow to replace the primroses which don’t seem to be doing too well.

Number three – Funky Veg and Chillis and Spice update.

If you read my last post, you’ll know I was on a work trip in Italy from Monday to Thursday. I watered my seedlings in the greenhouse before I went and thought they be ok while I was away so didn’t leave hubby instructions to check them. Rookie error – the UK had good weather while I was away (typical!) and when I checked on my return everything was looking very sorry for itself! Noooooooooo!!! I watered everything well and went to bed with crossed fingers.

When I checked in the morning most looked well improved, and the above photos are how they are now. The Coriander’s recovered completely and even has its first true leaves and most of the Jalapeños look to have survived but I think the Cumin’s had it!

It’s touch and go with the Funky Veg. I think the two Stripy Tomatoes, the Yellow Courgette and the Purple Carrots will make it, but the Red Brussel Sprouts and the Rainbow Swiss Chard may have deserted me.

I have several other Yellow Courgettes growing and they’ve all recovered bar one so I don’t think I’ll have any shortage of courgettes! They’ve grown their first true leaves as well. I’ll be able to give some away soon.

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Number four – out of the greenhouse to the raised beds.

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The top photo is of the Strawberries and Raspberries. But it’s a mixed bag here. The Strawberry plants are flowering so I’m confident that they’ll fruit but the Raspberry canes are a whole different story. There are two different varieties and the ones at the top of the photo are supposed to be later fruiting, but they’re the ones with leaves. The ones to the right haven’t done anything at all! I planted them as soon as I bought them home so I’m not sure what’s gone wrong. I’m not overly confident about the ones that do have leaves because all the canes in the garden centres have lots more leaves. Very disappointing. Maybe I should bite the bullet and go to buy some more.

The bottom photo shows more success, thankfully. To the left are a couple of rows of Peas, in front of my feet are Carrots and on the right there’s a row of Red Onions and a row of Leeks, there’s not so many of them so it’s hard to see them. Apart from the Peas, they all look like wispy bits of grass but I’m hoping they’ll come good. Certainly the Peas and Carrots are going to need thinning out. I could do the Peas now, but the Carrots are so bunched up that I need them to grow a bit so there’s enough to get hold of.

Number five – Lunaria (or Honesty). It feels like it hasn’t lasted long, but I just looked back to when I first told you it was flowering and it was 6th April so I guess it’s not that short-lived. It just seems it, I suppose, because we’ve had a holiday and I’ve had a work trip during its flowering time.

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It does have a few flowers left but, as you can see, it’s covered in seed pods now. I must investigate how to harvest the seeds so I can grow a few more. It still looks impressive without flowers because it’s so tall.

Finally, number six – a new plant has grown itself. It appears to be some form of Geranium judging by its leaves, but it’s not the same as the other Geraniums in the garden, they have single, plain brightish pink flowers, but this one has these …..

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It’s growing itself in a pot that was left in our garden when we moved in so it’s all entirely free! Good for my sustainability (and frugality, which isn’t generally my strong point!)

I have loads more to share in the garden so it was hard to narrow this down to six! I really wanted to show you all the colour that’s springing up so maybe I’ll do another post tomorrow because I don’t want to break the Propagator’s rules! Check out his page for more sixes.

Right now, I think I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and head over there myself. Happy Saturday all.