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.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Growing Dahlia Plants from seed

Earlier this year I stumbled on a link called "Blooms for Bees", you would need to grow Dahlia plants from seed and then count the number of bees on the flowers and submit your finding. I am a huge fan of bees and thought it would be fun.

One morning a beautiful envelope dropped through the letter box containing three small packets of seeds. I was excited but also a little concerned as I have never really grown anything from seed. I have seen my Mum grow vegetables from seeds, we grew up in a house where in spring we were dodging plants on window sills in fact everywhere, but I had never really caught the bug. Maybe to do with the fact I worked in hotels and never had any garden or space to call my own.

First stop was the garden centre to buy a seed tray and seed compost. I happily sewed the seeds, placed them on a sunny windowsill and waited. I did not have anything to water them with so found an old baby cup, it tricked out the water perfectly.




Not all the seeds germinated but lots did, then came the question what do I do next? they looked way too big for the seed planter. In to the shed I went, knowing I had potting compost and plant pots left over from the hanging baskets I planted up last year. The seedlings new home was on the patio table, poor things got rather cold and were not watered nearly enough, I am not sure how they survived. Though on really cold nights they were put them in the children's play command den. They looked leggy and not great and I honestly felt rather sad and even like I had let them down.







Early June we bought some bedding plants, so I decided to plant them out at the same time. My thoughts were I would have given it a go and if they do not make it I will learn and try again next year. But these poor sad looking plants began to flourish. 





Now look at them, they are stunning and have grown so big. The best part is the pollinators they are attracting, the garden is alive. I am shocked, with only a small amount of knowledge they to grew and I must admit I have caught the bug.  

If I can achieve this giving some of the poor care these seedlings received, maybe it is worth a go, not giving up even when times are bad. My fingers seem to be getting a shade greener, along with my willingness to try things out. Maybe we can all have green fingers, if we give it a go, laugh off a disaster and just keep trying, when it works you feel rather proud.


The Tactical Mummy

Me, Being Mummy

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Meal Plan Friday 1st September 2017

It is here the week I have to get myself back into gear and think about packed lunches again and evening meals that can be prepared in advance or cooked fast. As the children will clear the cupboards on getting home.

Friday - Chilli Bean Wraps with avocado, Sour cream, Cheese and lettuce. The boys had Mcdonalds (again, as I said this blog is totally honest) on Thursday so will have fish and chips tonight instead

Quick chilli bean wraps

Saturday - Italian Style Burger loosely based on this but I have brought in the chicken burgers and will serve with a crispy green salad

Italian style chicken burger


Sunday - Roasted Sausages, Potatoes and red onion with honey and mustard sauce. Boys will have similar but not too much sauce or onion.

Monday - Cajun Chicken Gumbo

Cajun chicken gumbo

Tuesday - Cheats Pasta Bake

Cheats gooey pasta bake

Wednesday - Meatballs all homemade

Thursday - Tuna Melt Wedges with crispy salad

Tuna melt potato wedges

The Tactical Mummy

Monday, 28 August 2017

Meal Plan Friday 25th August 2017

Wow where has the summer holidays gone to. Can not believe next week I need to be thinking about packed lunches and quick evening meals again. This week Mr MC&W is on holiday so we are having a lazy one and not making any plans at all.

Friday - Gnocchi with a two cheese sauce. The boys had peas and changed the blue cheese for Parmesan. Served with crusty bread and a green salad

Gnocchi with two cheeses and bacon

Saturday - Mr MC&W passed a huge exam at work so it is treat of steak and chips for us. The boys will have homemade pizza

Sunday - Pork and dumplings. The boys are having a McDonald's as a treat for lunch so will have a picnic dinner.

Pork- goulash with herby dumplings

Monday - It is going to be warm so we are going to have a lunchtime family BBQ

Tuesday - Mushroom Stroganoff the boys will have pasta with a homemade tomato sauce

Mushroom stroganoff

Wednesday - Ravioli for the boys and we are going to have a treat charlie bigham meal, as we are on holiday.

Thursday - Southern Chicken (thanks McCain), Roasted new potatoes, Roasted tomatoes and Salad. The boys will have fish fingers, Chips and peas.

The Tactical Mummy

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Meal Plan Friday 18th August 2017

Wow the meal plan really is late this week, I apologise. I have been rather poorly for over a week now with Vestibular neuritis which means I have been feeling constantly dizzy. This has not been pleasant and I am not completely better.

Friday - Gammon, Egg and Chips for us all

Saturday - Cesar Salad and salad for the boys

Sunday - Fish cakes with salad and roasted new potatoes. Boys will have chicken, Mashed potatoes and broccoli

Monday - Ravioli (brought) mozzarella and tomato salad and garlic bread

Tuesday - Bhaji Frittata with mango chutney. Omelette's and chips for the boys.


Wednesday - Take away curry. chicken curry for the boys

Thursday - Sticky Chicken Tray bake

Friday, 18 August 2017

Annual Seeds Review

A little while ago I wrote a post, I was full of excitement because we had sewn a few packets of seeds on a small side border. I had visions of a border carpeted in the most wonderful flowers.

Annual seeds to update border

Sadly this has not been the case, we watered them and I did not even weed for a while as I was not sure what was growing weed or wild flower.

We are now mid-August and this is what we have.




Well, not a huge success is it? I have to laugh at how sad these two flowers look.


There a couple reasons I know they have not worked, my youngest son has turned into a plant destroyer. He has pulled off petals and whole flower heads, he stomps through the border snapping plants under his small podgy feet. Then factor in slugs and snails who think they were planted as a tasty treat.




We have had some success and they are very pretty just a shame not in abundance.





Will I try this again? yes, I will try this again and in the same place. Next time I will sew a lot more seeds, they are not that expensive. Also, sew over a longer period and hopefully next year I am only battling slugs and not the plant destroyer.

Sometimes things work and some things they do not, I will try again next year with as much hope as I did this time.
Me, Being Mummy
Oldhouseintheshires
Oldhouseintheshires

Friday, 11 August 2017

Meal Plan Friday 11th August 2017

The summer holidays have not been full of the paddling pool fun and games we were hoping for. We have all been sick this holiday and it has put us out of action for around two weeks. This meal plan was quickly put together as I have now come down with the virus and feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Friday - Fish and Chips with peas easy to prepare and always popular

Saturday - Cajun Chicken Burger

Cajun chicken pineapple burger

Sunday -Toad in the hole

Monday - Paprika Pork served with tagliatelle

Paprika Pork

Tuesday - Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Broccoli and a cream sauce the boys will have a tomato sauce

Wednesday - Treat night so a curry box the boys will have chicken curry

Thursday - Courgette Lasagne - this is such a simple dish but really tasty

Creamy courgette lasagne


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Meal Plan Friday 4th August 2017

The meal plans have been a little delayed due to us getting back from holiday and then our youngest being very poorly. He needed a lot of care and we forgot the meaning of the word sleep.

Friday - Spicy Chicken (this was a McCain Gourmet) served with vine roasted tomatoes and new potatoes. The boys had homemade pizza.

Saturday - Moussaka (thank you Tesco Finest) with a fresh red onion, tomato and cucumber salad. I always thinly slice the red onion and put it in a bowl with lemon juice while the dinner cooks. The boys had linguine with ham and peas using up the tomato sauce we used yesterday for the pizza.

Sunday - We will have beef pie, roasted potatoes and green veggies and the boys will have jacket potatoes with sausages and peas

Monday - A new smoked mackerel salad nice light and fresh. The boys will have cheesy pasta

Smoked mackerel beetroot salad creamy horseradish dressing

Tuesday - Spaghetti and Mozzarella bake

Tomato and mozzarella spaghetti bake

Wednesday - Moroccan Mushrooms. The boys will have risotto with ham and veggies

Moroccan mushrooms with couscous

Thursday - Mexican Bean Chilli

Mexican bean chilli

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Hanging Basket Problems and Rescue

This summer weather or should I say the autumnal weather has been playing havoc with my hanging baskets.

They are being drenched, yet not getting enough water. They are being blown about all over the place, then add in the rather chilly temperatures and grey sky.

The plants are really unhappy, as you can see after another night of hard rainfall the petunias are looking really rather sad. The photos below show the damage the weather has caused.




They almost seem to be dying back and nothing is spreading as it did last year.






This has made me a little sad, but enough of that, what can I do to help them out.

One problem has been a lack of water, I thought due to the fact it had been raining hard they would not need watering, I was wrong. I gave them a good water and added some liquid feed. I will check them every day come rain or shine to see if they need water. I will also feed once a week. I did not feed the hanging baskets at all last year but these guys need a helping hand.

Deadheading, I deadhead them regularly but I really need to give them some time and attention. Especially after the hard rain fall, the flowers really suffer and need to be carefully dead-headed especially the flowers that have been damaged in the rain.

I am hoping these simple steps will help them recover and maybe we can get some warm sunny weather and they can begin to flourish again.


It is not all bad news though, the Nemesia Ice Pink is doing really well.





The Osteopermum and the Argyanthemum with regular deadheading are abundant with flowers, a lesson learnt from last year.






Seeing these three plants do well has helped my confidence, as I was starting to question if it was the weather or my skills as a gardener.