Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Black Eyed Susan – Rudbeckia

Another welcome gift from my daughter-in-law Deb. Three large healthy roots of this lovely hardy perennial. Deb is a gardener with her own successful company www.daisy-chain-gardens.co.uk. Thank you Deb.

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Charming, daisy-like flowers with prominent, cone-shaped, blackish-brown centres appear in abundance from August to October. This beautiful ‘black-eyed Susan’ is an excellent choice for the middle of a late summer border and it associates particularly well with ornamental grasses. It is a particularly free-flowering variety, that is best planted in bold drifts in a sunny or partially shady site that doesn’t dry out over summer. Information and picture from crocus.com.

Adam – Saturday 20th February 2016

My beautiful son, Adam, passed away on Saturday 20th February 2016. We were together when he took his first breath on the third of March 1974 and we were together when he took his last. I was privileged to be able to care for him until the end. He loved life and fought to hold on to it despite the awful suffering. I know he wasn’t ready and would have put up with anything for one more look at his beloved children. I am trying to get back to what’s left of my life as he would and often did tell me to.

Motor Neurone Disease

Did you know that this week is MND National Awareness week. Well my family has certainly been made aware as my youngest son, Adam, has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

https://www.mndassociation.org/news_and_events/our_news/mnd_awareness_week_1.html

He and the whole family have gone through a state of shock and grief that has hit us all like a jugernaut. After the first round of gp, consultant, hospital, specialists and awful tests we are now trying to come to terms with the diagnosis and what it will mean. On 31st May we had a family visit from a lovely MND Nurse, Heidi, but since then we have had no contact from any of the care team and remain in a state of limbo.

Adam is bravely continuing to carry on as normal and has made a special effort to take his six year old daughter on days out, seaside holidays and this weekend he, his girlfriend and his daughter are travelling to Cyprus for a week in the sun to make some special memories .

If my weblog has been a bit sparse on the gardening front recently it is because we have all been totally preoccupied with this current situation and my positive and optimistic view on life has taken a bit of a battering.

Ready for Season 2011 – Sean 40 Today

We have started to think about the new season. I know it is too early yet to sow seeds and I am determined to be patient. First thing on the agenda is to get the seed potatoes and start them chitting in egg boxes on the window ledge. I am sticking to earlies only again this year and planting them all in bags. My favourites from last season were Vivaldi, grown from potatoes bought from Sainsburys and Sharps Express, bought as seed potatoes from Focus. I am just growing those again this season. The second task is to get the parsnip seeds in in February if we have a fine dry day.

I intend to have another go at onions from seed as I have good seed left. Last years were not too good and got neck rot and went soggy before we could harvest them. I am not sure what I did wrong but will have another go.  I have Onion Ishikura, Ailsa Craig and a Sweet Spanish Onion. My instructions say sow very thinly in February under cloches or March to April out in the open. Ishikuri are salad onions and are meant to be harvested as spring onions, when they are about six inches high and pencil thick.  Ailsa Craig and the Spanish Onion are mild cooking onions which stay in the ground longer and are harvested when they have formed a large bulb. I have just read that the Ailsa Craig are known as Winter Onions and so should have been sown in the winter ready to grow on and harvest the following Autumn.Because of Christmas, very bad weather and flu I haven’t been to the allotments for a few weeks so I am looking forward to my first visit of the year. I am sure there will be lots of tidying up to do but hopefully a few nice surprises too.

Happy Birthday Sean. 40 today!!!!!!!!!

Madeira Cake

Today I made one of my favourite cake recipes. Its a variation on a classic Madeira Cake. All that is needed is three eggs one part soft butter, one part sugar and one part self raising flour and the batter can be adapted to the size of your baking tins. I use a smallish loaf tin and the following recipe:-

  • 150gms sugar
  • 150gms soft butter
  • 150gms self raising flour
  • three large eggs
  • level tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • One medium lemon

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Blend the salt into the flour. Add one third of the flour and one egg and fold in then beat the mixture. Add the next third of the flour and the second egg and mix in as before. Add the baking powder to the last third of the flour, add it to the mixture along with the third egg, and some of the zest and the juice of the lemon. Beat the mixture until of a soft dropping consistency then pour into your baking tin. I sometimes grate some lemon zest over the mix before putting it in the oven. Cook in the middle of the oven on 180 for about 35-40 mins. If your Cake tin is bigger you may adapt the measurements accordingly. I have also used a clementine for a change and golden syrup on another occassion. It is a very useful and reliable recipe.

Amazing!!

Rob found this little fellow when he was on his walk delivering the post. He seemed in distress and so he was brought home for a little TLC. He is a Blue Tit and seems very young.