Thursday, 18 February 2016

How to grow an apple tree from a pip

Red Delicious apples from my dads tree

These apples were picked in the autumn of 2015 just before my Dad's apple tree was cut down. I won't go into all the reasons why the tree had to go, they're complicated and very good ones.

As we ate them, I saved some of the pips intending to grow a replacement tree for my own garden that has the same genetic material as my Dad's tree (I'm not in a hurry and getting fruit out of it isn't really the point of the exercise for me).

I read somewhere that apple pips need cold to break dormancy; the cold makes the seeds think that they've had winter without actually planting them outdoors. Last November, I put some pips in a small tupperware container with some damp kitchen roll and then placed it in the bottom of the fridge (furthest point away from the freezer section). Eight to ten weeks should be long enough, every couple of weeks I checked they were still damp.

In January, I took the container out of the fridge. There were no sign of life at that point, they looked just the same as when I put them in. Ever hopeful, I loosened the tupperware lid and popped them in the greeenhouse. At this time of the year, I am heating my greenhouse but only just enough to keep the frost off the tender cuttings that I took at the back end of summer.  So, it's a bit warmer in there than the fridge during the day; I was hopeful the modest rise in temperature would make the pips think about growing.

Apple pips after breaking dormancy in the fridge

A couple of weeks after I moved them, I was rewarded by two of them sprouting roots. A very exciting time! I carefully potted them into individual 3inch plastic pots with multipurpose compost, covering them with no more than 3-5mm of compost gently pressed down.

Seedling grown from an apple pip

And now, today, here is the first seedling to germinate in my new greenhouse. When I saw it, I had an odd mixture of emotions, I'm really sad that the tree in Dad's garden had to go but it's touching and poignant that this little seedling is continuing the life of a tree that has been gone for months. It's a little piece of continuity and so I've decided to be happy about it. If you cut a tree down, I believe you should always plant at least one more; the other rootlet is also pushing it's way through. Two more pips have sprouted roots so they've been put into compost as well.

I've got another later batch of pips in the fridge now which are around halfway through their dormancy period. This time, I'm going to try to get them to germinate on a window sill to see if it can be done.  I may well become overrun with apples trees ...!

I remember as a child getting a lemon pip and a peachstone to germinate in my Dad's greenhouse, we even got a couple of small lemons out of it. I was far too young for gin and tonics back then, unfortunately! I can't quite remember what happened to the peach tree, I'll have to ask my sister.

What plants have you grown from pips/self-collected seeds?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Do your cockles measure up?

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, how did we end up eating cockles on Hunstanton promenade on a cold, windy day in February?

In the run up to Christmas, we kind of went into hibernation concerning working on the house renovations. Last summer and autumn was all about the vegetable garden and the greenhouse. This week we have started gearing up to do some more work getting our house the way we want it. Our goals for the Spring are to finish the dining room and sort out the old bathroom and adjacent room which we call the skullery,

Here's MTM measuring the fireplace hole in order to install a new electric fire.

As part of the work we want to do in the skullery, we came across the Rustic Warehouse in West Lynn in Norfolk. They manufacture units for Belfast sinks, we wanted to see what one looks like so today we headed out to their retail shop.

The Rustic Warehouse does exactly what it says on the tin, it's a completely authentic local business without any of the national chain razzmatazz and market-speak mumbo jumbo. You meet the owner and his adorable staffy, Murdoch, in their showroom which is more of a stockpile of wonderfulness than a retail experience. My kind of business!

Whilst I fed Murdoch treats, MTM explained what we needed, the owner is going to talk to the workshop guys to see what's coming through production-wise that might meet our needs and there'll be a phone call next week about delivery times.

The thing about West Lynn is that it"s quite close to the coast, only 33 mins to Hunstanton according to the Sat Nav. I can never resist a visit to the seaside if it's close, we had Missy with us so we decided to extend the trip by half an hour and go check out the beach and give us all a bit of a treat.

Boy o boy, the wind was so cold, it made our eyes water and my ears were raw after only a few minutes! We stopped long enough to have our cockles. We then went on an ice cream hunt. You can't go to the seaside and not have an ice cream even if it is bleedin' freezing ...  sadly, we had to abandon this idea as many places were shut for the close season.

The sun came out as if to mock our no ice cream status, I'm just grateful the cockle stall was open!

How do you like the seaside in winter? 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Grow your own yarn!

Marshalls Unwins and Mr Fothergill seed catalogues

Grow your own yarn ... as an addict to all things crochet and knitting, I really like the sound of that! I've joined Ravelry group Project Apocalypse started by fellow blogger Sheila   I gather that we're all getting ready for the apocalypse with the idea that when it arrives, no-one will be making yarn, if we do it ourselves, we'll be the best dressed survivors.

The manifesto of Project Apolocalyse kicks off with "You have what you stand up in and what’s around you. You can use fibres that you can find, gather, grow, harvest, brush or shear yourself."

Sheila is a multi-talented lady, she came to my attention as a yarn spinner which is when I started following her blog, over at Stitchin' Bints, but she does lots of other things too, just take a look at her profile! Cartoonist, software engineer, knitter, cider drinker, plays in a band ... the list goes on. If I do manage to grow some usable fibres, in order to turn them into yarn I'm going to have to learn how to spin it ... (I've got a book...!) it's rather handy that the leader of the group is an expert.

Sheila has already tried some nettles and I gather she's planning to cultivate some cotton this year. I'm going to try to grow some flax to make my own linen yarn. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for Project Apocalypse ... I'm going to be ordering my seeds soon, what will you be growing, gathering, brushing or shearing to turn into yarn?

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Snakes and ladders cowl or infinity scarf crochet pattern

Crochet pattern for a cowl

I'm pleased to announce that another crochet pattern is available for downloading in my Sooz Jewels Etsy shop now! It's to make this snakes and ladders infinity scarf which can be worn doubled as a cowl (see above) or long and lean (see below).

Crochet pattern for an infinity scarf

You can vary the length and width of the scarf and the pattern explains how to do this. Here's an orange version which is slightly longer and wider.

It crochets up pretty fast as it uses chunky yarn (also called bulky in the USA or 12ply in Australia) so you can easily finish in an evening or two whilst the weather is still quite cold!

© Copyright: Sue Doran of Sooz Jewels