Monthly Archives: January 2017

Tackle Spring Cleaning Early

Tackle Spring Cleaning Early

Trash

January is the perfect time to start your spring cleaning – even though it might not be spring yet! After taking down all of your Christmas decorations, take the opportunity to freshen up your home for the new year. The holidays can cause a lot of wear on a home, especially if it is full of guests. Sometimes waiting until spring rolls around to give your home that deep cleaning and organization it so desperately needs can cause more damage and create a need for more repairs or replacements. So save some money and get a head start on spring cleaning before it is too late!

Caring for appliances

Kitchen appliances are always over worked during the holiday season, so it is a good idea to give them a thorough deep clean to ensure that they continue to work correctly. Rather than just wipe them down, pull out all the food from the refrigerator and clean all the shelves and drawers. Put a new box of opened baking soda in the door so the smell of leftovers does not overwhelm the whole kitchen every time the fridge doors are opened. Pull appliances away from the wall to clean the back of them as well as the wall and floor behind them to clean up any missed spills or food splashes. Set your oven to cleaning mode, and while it is being cleaned, run vinegar and baking soda through your dishwasher to freshen it up and make it function like it is supposed to.

Organizing closets

House Beautiful suggests that organizing closets is the first step to organizing your home. Click To Tweet

Spring flowers

Go through your closet and get rid of clothing you no longer wear. Dust shelves and vacuum the floor before placing everything back into the closet. Use products to help you stay organized throughout the year like hangers with clips to hang belts and scarves, and drawer organizers to keep accessories in place and easy to find. Tackle linen closets and coat closets as well to create more storage space that is definitely needed.

Washing walls

You might think it is old fashioned to clean walls, but take a rag with some gentle cleaner or even just soap and water, and wipe down even a small section of a wall in your house and you will see that walls truly need to be washed at least a few times a year. Ceiling fans, air conditioning, and heating units cause dust to collect on walls, and it is easily missed. If wall paint is chipping or faded, consider giving your home a fresh coat of paint if you got the time.

Improving the feel

Spring cleaning is a great time to give your home an improved or brand new feel.

There are easy and affordable ways to give your home a new look, so flip through magazines or scan Pinterest for decorating ideas and search for the best deals to create a new look for the new year.
Reward yourself with a gorgeous new home now that you have decluttered, cleaned and organized everything.Spring cleaning is not an easy job.

A very little salad

A very little salad

It’s not very impressive, is it?

 I usually do a bit better with my winter salads than this sorry lot.

I’m a keen greenhouse gardener in winter: there’s nothing quite like sitting in a cosy frost-free greenhouse listening to the icy rain pattering on the roof. I particularly hate to see the greenhouse borders sitting empty when they could be growing all sorts of tasty things: greenhouses become mini-polytunnels in winter, keeping lots of leafy veg just that bit more protected to get them through the winter. As well as salad leaves, you can grow chard, radishes, overwintering spring onions and even things like turnip tops – another one on my must-try list.

Salad in the winter

Though admittedly salad leaves always look a bit raggedy and unhappy by about January, you can generally still count on a few leaves you can pick over and enjoy in sandwiches. But this year I’ve got the timing all wrong and I’ve completely kiboshed my usual winter harvest.
Timing is crucial when overwintering crops: sow your seed too early, and they’ve peaked by autumn and are long gone when the cold weather comes. Just right, and they’ll be at harvest stage just as the cold weather hits so that as long as you go easy on them, you can carry on picking all through winter (they’ll grow a bit more during warmer spells).
Sow too late, though, and though they’ll make it up above ground level, they’ll hunker down and shiver all winter long at seedling stage, which is no good at all. I sowed these in September, thinking I could count on an extra month or so of warm weather through October and that should be enough. How wrong can you be?
So, note to self: don’t sow salads past, say, mid-August in future. Though of course, as soon as I do that we’ll have the warmest winter since time began and they’ll all bolt in the balmy temperatures before Christmas.

Taking care of the veg-growing

Image of vegetablesSometimes I think I’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery than growing my veg to perfection, what with increasingly impossible to predict weather plus the usual setbacks from slugs and domestic distractions.
Still, as so often with veg-growing, there’s a compensation: since the thaw set in my little baby plants have been positively basking in 12 degree temperatures as the sun hits the greenhouse, so they’ve just started perking up and putting out fresh new leaves. I reckon give it another month (and no more snow) and they’ll be well and truly off the starting blocks, which will mean

I’m probably going to be enjoying my earliest-ever spring salad crops this year. Click To Tweet

Looks like my lottery ticket is going to come in after all!

Blackberry Story

Blackberry Story

Don’t be fooled by the twiggy look: blackberries grow into monster plants

A lovely big package arrived on my doorstep the other day, with those magical words “Live Plants” on the side. This never fails to make me go all quivery with anticipation.

Inside was a twig, with some roots on the bottom. Not something to get many people excited, unless they’re fanatical kitchen gardeners and they happen to know this is the bare-root blackberry they ordered a few weeks back, arrived at last.
I have a rather attractive slatted fence my carpenter hubby made, disguising my shed nicely and just begging to have things growing up it. Since this particular patch is a bit on the shady side, it’s ideal for berries, which are among the few fruit which don’t need full sunshine.

Buying bare-root is the only way to go with berry fruit:

You get twice as much choice and you pay half the price. It never ceases to amaze me that a plant will quite happily put up with being dug up from its nice cosy home somewhere in, say, Devon, settle into a paper bag and spend a couple of days in the postal system travelling along motorways and doing all the other mysterious things parcels do before arriving on my doorstep, and then after all that spread its roots out in a hole in my back garden and grow like topsy as if nothing had happened.

But that’s how it is, and far be it for me to question it. The only thing that seems to kibosh all that is if you let the roots go for long without planting them back in the ground: three days at most. If you really can’t plant – and with the recent snow I was pretty lucky mine arrived while the ground was thawed – you can plant them temporarily in to a container of compost and plonk that outside while you’re waiting for the ice to melt.

Information about growing blackberries, types of blackberries and more you can find on the following blog www.niftyhomestead.com 

Have you tried berries in salad? Check out our post about salads.

Double pink flowers…

Anyway, so the blackberry now snoozing quietly by my fence is the very nearly thornless ’Ouachita’, bred in Arkansas, growing in Surrey. More prickly, but with, I’m promised, pretty double pink flowers is the other blackberry I’ve put in alongside which is ‘Loch Maree’. The reason I haven’t yet seen the flowers, despite having owned the plant for a year, is that it’s been languishing in a container on my patio: a process which has convinced me that it’s not worth trying to grow blackberries in containers. They just don’t like it – though a smaller variety likemight have been happier.

Later additions I hope will be tayberries and maybe loganberries too. Now all I’ve got to do is get that old 1969 hit by The Move out of my head…