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31 Mar 2016

March in the Garden

March is the time to start preparing the allotment if it's not been done already. It has been mixed weather in Zürich but thankfully there have been enough sunny days to get stuck in and start making the beds ready to plant.

We finally got round to tackling the compost heap which has been untouched for the last 3 years. We have been chucking things in but never turning it or using the compost for anything. Amazingly it is in pretty good shape and once the beds were weeded I added it to the earth and dug it in. We bought a new compost bin so now have two to alternate between. Our allotment neighbours all seem to have 2 or 3 on the go...

Our tulips are doing well and are coming up. The rhubarb is coming alive again and the rich red colour looks ready to burst out. I have seedlings all over the house and love this period of time, where I start to imagine all the things that will be growing in the garden soon. Definintely need to get control of my seed addicion though! I am trying out cauliflower, celery and lots of different varieties of flowers this year for the first time along with the usual courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes.

We had a lovely picnic with the twins at the end of the month and went well prepared with food and plastic buckets, spades etc. They helped out by putting weeds in the bin, digging in the mud and enjoyed a wheelbarrow ride along the path! Looking forward to many more this year. I think the allotment will be manageable with toddlers if we go up there for short periods of time and give them specific things to get involved with. We also now have a sandpit and paddling pool for warmer days.

10 Mar 2016

Feeding My Seed Addiction

Some people buy clothes. I buy seeds. So here is a list of my favourite places to buy them. #seedaddiction

Higgledy Garden
If you are thinking about growing flowers in your garden, look no further than Higgledy Garden, based in Cornwall, England. Alongside an online shop full of the best quality flower seeds your money can buy, he also offers a huge array of free information to help you get started. Orders come beautifully packaged and shipping to Switzerland is often free (or very reasonably priced).

Franchi Seeds of Italy 1783
Probably my favourite seed company of the lot. The oldest producer of seeds in the world and a family business now run by the 7th generation. We have had a lot of success with these seeds and there are many organic varieties available. Seeds from Italy and based in the UK but they ship to Switzerland at a very reasonable price. Artichokes from Rome, Cardoons from Turin, Celeriac from Venice and many, many more...

C. und R. Zollinger
Just bought seeds from here for the first time so will  tell all once the growing season ends! Based in the French part of Switzerland, they have an array of organic seeds available. Shipping is only CHF 1- and super speedy. They also have some useful growing guides on their website. Also love the packaging and growing advice on the back of the packets.
Piccolo Veg For Pots
An Italian start-up, based in Venice, that offers a selected range of vegetable varieties suitable for the container gardening: 'compact and dwarf varieties that fit like a glove on the small spaces of the terrace'. Love the idea of this company and the unusual seed varieties they offer.

Beat Heuberger Weine & Gewürze
The self proclaimed 'hottest shop in Switzerland', owner Beat Heuberger, is a chilli specialist and connoisseur. Over 100 different varieties of chillies available to buy online - seeds available all year round and seedlings/ plants come early spring. He also has a shop in Kreis 4, Zurich - a treasure trove of all things spicy (and vast amounts of wine). We grew these spicy little numbers a couple of years ago in our tomato house.

7 Mar 2016

Mother's Day in the Garden

It's was Mother's Day in the UK yesterday. I have lived abroad for about 10 years now so rarely see my mum on this day but I still spend it missing her even more than usual.

Me, my mum and my bowl-cut.

With twin toddlers it can be quite hard to get time to yourself. Now that they are walking (running) everywhere, going anywhere alone with them is pretty challenging so my husband and I rarely spend time alone at the weekend but there are days when I just crave an hour to myself!!

When we first got our allotment garden I envisaged us spending a lot of time up there barbecuing, sunbathing, planting a few courgettes and strawberries. Eventually, once having a family, I saw us pottering around with plants and enjoying the space we have so craved after living in a city apartment (with no garden) for so long. However, the reality is quite different and I now really appreciated the effort it takes to grow good, healthy, organic, pesticide-free produce. The main tasks are weeding, watering, preparing soil, composting, cutting hedges, mowing the grass. In 3 years we haven't yet sunbathed or had a barbecue up there but I wouldn't change a thing.

Our allotment has become my sanctuary, the one place I go to alone. Two hours up there and I feel like a new person, with no technology, phone, company, twins to take care of. I am able to completely switch off. This time of year the garden is full of anticipation. There is little growing but the odd snowdrop, daffodil or bluebell. Now its the time to start preparing the beds, weeding everything in preparation for planting at the end of the month.

So this mother's day my husband gave me the gift of 3 hours up in my happy place to dig. After 5 minutes of hoeing, the blue skies disappeared and horizontal snow started pelting in my face. So I sat in my shed and went through a ton off seeds, planning what to grow this year and savouring every minute.

The walk up to the garden at the bottom of the snowy Uetliberg.

Everything looking a bit barren. Our shed is the one in the middle. It looks much better from the inside thanks to the Italian touch of the previous owners.

Not surprisingly I was the only person up there in this weather.
I think I have a seed addiction. There are about 100 more packets like these...

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