Monday, 16 October 2017

Planting Snowdrops and English Bluebells

I came up with what I thought was a brilliant and simple idea. To plant snowdrops and bluebells under the LolliPop Trees Elaeagnus ebbingei and Viburnum Tinus trees. It would look beautiful in the cold winter months, white snowdrops peaking up in late January and as we begin to enter spring the bluebells would then come into flower. We have the perfect woodland setting and I felt the Snowdrops and Bluebells would compliment the trees. As I like to think about nature, I chose the snowdrops hoping it would provide any early bees with much needed flowers in the hard late winter and early spring.

I ordered some English Bluebells and single flower Snowdrop bulbs from J Parkers, 75 of each. I could do with more but they do naturalize, so in theory we should get more every year. This is enough to start with and the bank balance had to be considered.

There I was all excited and ready to plant, as I attempted to get the bulb planter into the ground the reality of what I was attempting to do hit me. I am trying to plant bulbs among the roots of trees, in clay soil that has had three children running around on all through the summer. Hard compacted clay with no real rain in a few months. This was not going to be the simple job I had visions of.

The truth, is it was very hard work. I started with a bulb planter, it broke after one go. Then a trowel and hand fork came out and nope that did not work. The last try was the small spade, it was still hard work, sometimes I had to stop and start in a slightly different place. It took me a good four hours over two days, though I am limited for time with a toddler. 

One small spade helping to dig the holes

I really hope they work and will keep you posted, I also learned a few lessons along the way.

Think about where your planting the bulbs - the area, the soil, whats panted around. Will your plants work there, Snowdrops and Bluebells are woodland plants so are ideal for under the trees. Most bulbs will tell you if they can tolerate shade.

Do you have the right tools - a sturdy bulb planter, I found a cheap one will not work unless you have a perfect soil. A trowel or small spade will help. Wrong tools and the job can really take a long time.

One rather broken bulb planter

I measured the bulb planter against the spade so I dug a deep enough hole for the bulbs.

How will they look when they flower in the spring as to how you plant them. I made the mistake of planting a couple of snowdrops as single flowers. So I then planted them in little groups of three.

Three little bulbs ready to grow

If you are planting over a couple of days maybe some little stick markers,  to show where you have planted the ones before. Again I learned this the hard way and they may come up in some random places.

Bulbs are an amazing way to get some simple colour in the garden and with the right tools are easy to plant and grow. For Spring flowering pants you still have time to get them planted and tuplis are best planted in November so lots of time.
Bringing up Georgia

Friday, 13 October 2017

Meal Plan Friday 13th October 2017

October is flying by at the moment, last week it was ATM birthday and this week it is Mr MC&W birthday.  We have another family get together on Sunday. School next week is rather crazy I had to get organised.

Friday - Charlie Bigham - Sweet and Sour Chicken. It has been a long week and needed an easy put in the oven and feet up meal. Boys had fish and chips at school so picnic dinner for them.

Saturday - Is Mr MC&W birthday so it is his favourite meal - steak, chips, mushrooms and peas covered in a peppercorn sauce. Boys are having pinwheel pizza

Sunday - Charlie Bigham again, our feeling was that I should not be in the kitchen cooking the whole time. Mr MC&W decided upon Beef Stroganoff, followed by cheese and biscuits

Monday - Ham and Potato Hash

Ham potato hash baked beans healthy fried eggs

Tuesday - Sticky Chinese Chicken Traybake

Sticky-chinese chicken traybake

Wednesday- Lingune and Tuna Sauce

Linguine with tuna sauce

Thursday - Saucy Roast Sausages with lentils

Saucy roast sausages with lentils

The Tactical Mummy

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Meal Plan Friday 29th September - Friday 6th October 2017

I can not believe how time has flown past. We have had ATM birthday and it is Mr MC&W birthday next weekend. The meal plans have been a bit of a nightmare and done very last minute. If your wondering about the two squash meals, the school had a farmers market and the boys brought a massive squash for 50p.....

Friday 29th September - Pizza - Waitrose do an amazing sour dough one, we will have this with a salad. The boys have fish and chips at school so it's picnic dinner for them

Saturday - Treat of a Charlie Bigham Spanish Chicken for us and the boys pizza

Sunday - Mushroom risotto, boys have risotto with peas and ham.

Monday - Slow cooked sausage casserole with mash

Tuesday - Fish Curry - a made up one with lots of coconut milk and curry powder

Wednesday- Gnocchi bake

Gnocchi and tomato bake

Thursday - Slow cooked Mexican chicken

Mexican chicken stew

Friday 6th October - Four cheese tortellini for the boys. We are having a bacon and mushroom salad

Warm new potato salad with bacon and blue cheese

Saturday - Pulled pork burger for the adults and pizza for the boys

Sunday - Family meal the choice of ATM Fish, Chips and peas

Monday - Thai Squash and Pineapple curry. The boys will have roasted squash soup and bread

Thai squash and pineapple curry

Tuesday - Harrisa veg and goats cheese salad. The boys will have chicken, mash, beans and broccoli

Harissa veg goats cheese and couscous salad

Wednesday - Cheese stuffed squash

Cheesy Stuffed Squash

Thursday- Mushroom Stroganoff the boys are going to try this and I am not sure of the reaction.

The Tactical Mummy

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Hanging Basket Review Summer 2017

At the start of the summer, I was very excited about the prospect of some spectacular hanging baskets. Last year I have to admit they were beautiful, full of colour and interest right until late September.

Lots of yellows and whites from last year

I had chosen to clash pink petunias to trail down a wall basket, purple and white petunias for a contrast. A wonderful basket showcasing lots of pinks with a hint of white and a bold yellow and orange mix.

However, this summer it did not work out quite as I had planned.

None of the trailing flowers really trailed, the petunias that were meant to tumble did not tumble, in fact, the plants did not really grow very much. The purple one's barely flowered, it left me with lots of pretty white flowers but no purple to contrast against. The  Calibrachoa Cabaret in white, Calibrachoa Goldrush and the Bacopa Snowflake were supposed to gently trail down the side of the baskets, they produced some pretty flowers but again they never really seemed to flourish.

The Purple and White Petunias that never really got going

The trailing flowers that did not trail
However, some of the more unusual flowers I planted worked really well. I am very much a give it a go gardener, I tried Osteospermum which was a lovely bold orange and Argyrantemum in a sunny yellow. With careful deadheading they flowered really well and looked stunning, just the effect I was looking for. The Nemesia called pink ice, wow, this one has flowered for the whole summer and has been reaching for the sky.

We did have some stunning flowers
It has been a bit of a reality check after last year. As you can see we have some real success in the form of nontraditional hanging basket plants.

The traditional plants fared less well, but let's be honest the weather was not kind. Every time we had the torrential rain the plants that were designed to trail were hit hard, as soon as they tried to recover we had more rain. If we had a few sunny days they really perked up, then it would rain hard. I made a massive mistake in thinking because it rained I did not need to water... NO this is not the fact and the poor plants got rather dry.

I will be back again next year with more baskets and plans. Maybe even some spring ones. I want to try and grow some plants from seed as I love Inca Gold which is small trailing sunflowers.

Last years hanging baskets

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Meal Plan Friday 22nd September 2017

I am not sure where this week has gone. It has been dominated by Type 1, we are having to change all the insulin levels as our eldest has been having hypos every night. Thank goodness we have a dexcom that alerts us to these. We are shattered from the broken sleep and constant worry. 

The meals other than Sunday are pretty budget friendly as we are a watching the pennies and as you can see we are having a lot of veggie meals which we love.

Friday - Sausages with caramelised onions served in brioche buns with coleslaw. The boys have school meals on Friday so will have picnic dinner.

Saturday - Chicken Kiev (shop brought) roasted new potatoes and a huge green salad. The boys will have pizza (not homemade)

Sunday - Slow cooked topside of beef with roast potatoes, Carrots, greens, yorkshires and lots of gravy

Monday - Bhaji Frittata

Bhaji frittata

Tuesday - Lentil Ragu with garlic bread

Lentil Ragu

Wednesday - Jackets with Tuna or beans and cheese

Thursday - Beef Cannelloni

Beef Cannelloni

The Tactical Mummy

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Meal Plan Friday 15th September 2017

Where has the time gone? We are fully back into the school routine and have the joys of homework added into the mix now. Easy or slow cooked meals are becoming even more important.

Friday - Smoked Mackerel with roasted new potatoes, Beetroot and salad - I will be writing this one up

Saturday - Spag Bol with garlic bread

Sunday - Individual Chicken and Mushroom pies (homemade apart from the puff pastry) - the boys pie will not have mushrooms served with carrots and broccoli

Monday - Spaghetti Carbonara - we use mascarpone and not too much egg thanks to a recipe by Jo Pratt Madhouse Cookbook

Tuesday - Jamie Oliver 5 ingredients Pasta and Aubergines the boys will have tomato pasta and ham and peas

Wednesday - Treat Thai Take out for us, the boys will have Jackets and beans

Thursday - Crispy Chicken, Mash, baked beans and broccoli 
The Tactical Mummy

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Meal Plan Friday 8th September 2017

We have survived the first week back at school, only for the eldest to have a sick but we have managed to avoid hospital so we are counting that as a win.

Friday - Mr MC&W is in London so we have no idea when he will get back so he will have a microwavable meal and I am having jacket potato with beans and cheese

Saturday - Easy food boys will have pizza and we are having a charlie bigham chilli

Sunday - Boys are having mash, sausages and veggies. We are having from the Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients Lovely Lamb hotpot. I am even using the neck fillet and for me that is being brave.

Monday - Smoked Paprika Paella 

Smoked paprika paella cod peas

Tuesday - We have some pesto left over so will be having. Boys will have ravioli.

Pesto pizza aubergine goats cheese

Wednesday - Omelets and Chips

Thursday - Roasted Chicken Breasts and new potatoes with Honey and Cumin for us all.