Chicken tractors and mole diggers..

As always space is at a premium here at Riverside and more growing space is always needed. I have decided to add a long narrow border alongside the path that leads to the goat sheds. I have put my little chicken tractor on the area and have let my broody hen and her chicks start to clear the area for me..as they eat all the vegetation I move the coop along…and so on… I shall cover the cleared area with cardboard and cover that with well rotted compost, ready for planting.

Job done!Image

I have had some quite severe problems with moles here this season. They appeared back in September last year and spent most of their time  making molehills on the riverbank.. That was fine.. but now they have moved into my veg beds are are also undermining the newly planted fruit trees that I added to my little forest garden area. So I have bought a couple of solar powered sonic mole repellent units. No new molehills have appeared ..yet!

Image

The veg areas are filling out a bit now.. but it has been incredibly wet and windy here today so some of the plants are looking a little battered.

Image

…the newly planted willow arches are now green and lush!Image

The borage plants are in flower….

Image

One batch of elderflower cordial has already been made.. and as more sweetly scented  flowers open more will be made.. always leaving some behind to form berries for later in the season for elderberry recipes.

Image

Imageand whilst everything grows and blossoms here at Riverside our own latest flowergirl Anemone the goat kid blossoms too.. She is growing fast!

Image

The geese enjoy the sun in-between the rain.. They are moulting at the moment  so we have feathers everywhere…and Holly is STILL sitting on her eggs. x

Image

The vivid magenta sparkly centres of tree spinach brighten up a dull day

Image

Looks like we shall have an abundance of currants..if we get to them before the bird do, when they ripen!

Image

and strawberries too…Not ripe yet ( grown outside, not under glass or plastic) ..but plenty of fruit on the plants, ready to ripen. Every plant is heavy with fruit. Looks to be a bumper year for strawbs!

ImageDespite the unpredictable wet and windy weather lately, there is a feeling of natural richness here. Image

Everything looks healthy, lush and green!

 Image

Mizuna doing really well. We cannot eat it as fast as it grows.

Image

and the garlic is due to be harvested soon.

Image

Lupins adorn the orchard wall border.

Image

And I have been very kindly gifted this little polytunnel frame, by my lovely cousin…so next season I should be even more prepared for the growing season..Just need to get the plastic cover sorted asap! (Let me know the cheapest option).

Image

Goosegogs (Gooseberries) are looking good but still unripe. I have four gooseberry bushes here so far.

Image

All in all it is all looking udderly fantastic.

Image

….and I think Anemone (nicknamed Nemmie) agrees 🙂

Image

Advertisements

Vegetation, fascination, imagination…..precipitation!

Today I have been totally alone at Riverside. A rare occurrence!

My youngest sproglet has been at a sleepover with her cousins.

ImageDue to this childfree time being such an unusual event I had BIG plans to use this time as productively as possible.

Image

The plans involved LOTS of outdoor work and gardening and general plot tidying.. and guess what, it has rained hard almost all day!   Sod’s Law!

Image

It is almost June and  so cold that I have had to light a fire. The cottage was really chilly this morning when I came in from milking Tansy .

Image

Amongst the jobs that I did complete, in the rain, were the planting out of some young vegetable plants that were in dire need of removing from their pots and trays. I have finished filling up the new wall planter! It will soon fill up as the plants mature and I look forward to having a bit more growing space.The planter replaces a rotten wood fence that fell down in the gusty wind we had the other day. So it is making use of space that was previously unused for growing. Every little helps..as they say 😉

ImageI planted out more baby red cabbages, some kale,both Tuscan Black and a red curly variety that I have forgotten the name of, plus beetroots and bunching onions.

Image

I earthed up the potatoes again, weeded the pea bed and planted out four courgette plants,that were getting far too big for the large pots they were in.

The hostas and ferns that fill a shady corner here at Riverside have enjoyed the rain today. No slug holes in the hostas yet. Permaculture certainly seems to keep the pest species at bay, as the hardworking hedgehogs and toads that live here keep the slug population under control.

Image

I have also planted out a variegated thyme, a red bergamot or bee balm, a pineapple mint, which is also variegated and some walking onions!. My first planting of those here! ….and I harvested yet more rhubarb! I am seriously impressed with the crop of rhubarb this year.The mulch of horse manure I gave the young rhubarb  plant last autumn has made a huge difference.

Image

So all in all a fairly productive day even if I did get wet. But I still have so much to do..

Image

I have started mulching an area of really overgrown land that runs beside my cottage plot.

I have been using all my spent straw/ hay and goat bedding over the last 6 months or so to deeply cover a completely wild area of thick nettles, grass and other perennial weeds.

Mulching has really helped reduce the nettles and is an ongoing process.

I have also laid some cardboard down to clear a small area ready for a deep bed, of home-made compost but to be totally honest I have a long way to go before it is anywhere near ready and I may just turn the animals out in it, for a month or so, just to eat it down a bit first, before I continue to do anything else out there.

I am feeling a bit despondent that I can’t get it sorted faster. But maybe it is meant to be a slow process, so that I get to work out where I will put plants and so I have time to save up for  the purchase of trees and perennials to fill it!

The weeds are growing faster than I can deal with them on my own  by hand. ..but still the mulching goes on…I won’t give up.

All in all it is about a tenth of an acre. It is set out in a long uneven strip..widening at the bottom as it reaches the slope up to  the riverbank.

Up by the river I aim to plant some willow for goat forage and weaving and so the roots help keep the soil in place.

ImageMy longterm plan is to eventually be able to make a mini forest garden on it.. with a meandering path.. curvy deep beds with fruit trees, underplanted with soft fruit and other edibles.

I want it to be beautiful as well as productive.. but I have a feeling it is going to take me some time to get to that stage.

Luckily I am very patient!

Thanks for reading my random wafflings. It is always a pleasure to get feedback and comments.

I always try to reply to everyone xx

Blessings xx

Seeds of promise…

Finally after a much later start than usual, I have trays of seedlings growing on healthily in my tiny greenhouse.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have pea shoots pushing up through the damp earth, waving their bright green leaves at the sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have birdsong to accompany me during my early morning milking and to lift my spirits and make rising so early less tiresome.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have sunshine in my garden and with it grows the seed of promise for a productive Summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When life throws obstacles at you it is easy to get disheartened, feel total despair and give up. We can learn so much from nature at times like this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the unpredictable weather conditions make it impossible for germination to begin, when nature decides to throw in a googly…the seeds silently bide their time and still they arrive full of energy and life anew. Fresh, unspoilt and ready to take on the world!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So although my vegetable and flower garden has got off to a slower than predicted start this year, due to the dire Spring we have had……and I, like many others here in the UK atm, are weathering some incredibly tough economic times, I  feel so grateful to have nature to guide me, comfort me and help me through the tough days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My garden is not only my sanctuary, my food store, my larder, my exercise, my hobby …….it is my friend too and I love it unconditionally xx

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chasing my tail….

I have had a very busy few days.

I have been exchanging my labour/ gardening skills for some much-needed firewood, seeds and other bits n pieces that I cannot produce myself (Some yummy edible treats for my daughter’s birthday on Sunday were amongst the items I bartered for this week )

I have also been tending a regular client’s garden for the first time this year. The big Spring clear up and grass cutting commenced on his plot this week. 27 grass boxes full of lawn clippings were removed!… which sadly he doesn’t compost himself but sends away in his green waste bin to be composted by the council.

The ground was a bit wetter than expected but I got a good finish and the client was very happy with the results. I also dug out some of his last remaining compost, from an old heap he had tucked away at the back of his plot, into a few wheelbarrows to spread on a large rose bed he has at the front of his bungalow.

I aim to bag up some of my well-rotted horse manure and use that on some of his other flower borders, as they could all do with more organic matter being incorporated into them.

On top of all this outdoor ‘work’, I am also selling my organic kefir grains online, making my cheese/ bread, milking my goats each morning , tending my own garden and all my livestock, getting seeds sown and helping my father sell his old motorbike on ebay.

Image

I have squeezed in my basic bread baking/ housework/ washing and H’s educational work in-between jobs…or whilst working.

H often brings a book along with her when we head out to work on someone else’s plot. She is also keen to learn more about gardening or the plants and insects we come across during our work outside. Every activity is a learning opportunity!

Image

Jobs that I have failed to get done are: more wood sawing/chopping (I am very low on ‘ready to burn’ fuel atm) , new geese enclosure fence posts erected,  although I did manage to paint them all with preservative, so they are ready to go but just not actually in the ground…yet!

I am still in the midst of trying to empty the old woodshed at the rear of the cottage and get all  the stored wood onto the side drive ready to cut and stack into the ‘not yet built’ woodstore …and I have to admit that the cottage floors haven’t been hoovered for two days *sigh

I seem to be chasing my tail.

But despite a hectic week, I have managed to get fairly organised for my youngest child’s birthday this Sunday. She has already had one gift early, some stick insects, as it would have been impossible for me to hide them. She has two Indian stickies and two Black Beauty Peruvian ones.. and yes she has named them all!

Image

If the weather is nice on Sunday, we plan to take a picnic to our local open farm (yes, a busman’s holiday!), with one of her brothers and her dad and whoever else wants to join us.

If the weather is wet we will have a family day indoors and a mini party with a fancy tea and cakes and play board games.

Image

Today’s jobs have included doing the last of the laundry, digging out some of my homemade compost and sieving it.. adding sieved leaf mold and sand to it.. and using it to fill the inner cardboard tubes from a year’s supply of loo rolls ( I keep everything haha).

Image

These loo roll tubes get used to grow my peas and beans in and also some runner beans for a client’s garden.

Image

Image

I have run very short of space in my teeny lean-to greenhouse, so have used an insulated box with a clear perspex lid as a mini greenhouse.I have placed this against the exterior South facing wall of the cottage, where the brick behind it will retain heat and where there is good light. Fingers crossed it does the job!

Image

We have had a very cold Spring so far and many plants are a few weeks behind schedule but  my borders here at Riverside are finally coming to life and we got a light sprinkling of much-needed rain today which made the garden smell wonderful. Am I odd by loving the smell of rain and wet soil?

Image

Image

…..and some sad news.. Crystal, the ride n drive pony that H enjoys riding, and the one that I occasionally drive as a single, is off to a new home for the Summer..possibly long term ..along with her three companions, Freddie, Bunny and Paddy..so we will be without a riding pony for H this summer and I will certainly miss driving Bunny and Crystal.

Image

At least we still have Honeybee and Bumblebee, our two littl’uns to ‘play’ with. Maybe it is time to seriously look for a larger ride n drive pony that needs a loving home?…x

Are you in Lincoln UK? Want to to become a Master Gardener?

Are you in Lincoln UK? Want to to become a Master Gardener?

We’re looking for people with a passion to inspire others to have a go at growing their own food.

Master Gardener vary hugely, from a couple of years growing experience to many decades. They’re welcome from all sections of the community. They don’t need to be experts on organic growing as this is part of training and support.

Click the above link to find out more!

My hot bed ( no not the sexy kind)

Sorry for the 3rd post in a single day..but I seem to have squeezed a lot in. It must have been all that sunshine 😉

Today I made a hot bed in my tiny lean to greenhouse. I seem to be struggling to get much to germinate, as temperatures have been so low here in East Lincs UK. Apart from the sunshine today we have had an awful lot of snow and sleet.

I don’t really want to go down the fossil fuelled, paraffin heater solution or to have to pay for the use of electricity to heat the space, albeit small, so I decided to have a go at making a hot bed inside the greenhouse.

In theory it should be able to generate enough heat so that I am able to place seed trays on it to get the seedlings off to a good start. Well that’s the theory!

I started by digging out ALL the original soil in the one bed against the back wall. It was compacted and stony, so good riddance.

I will sieve out the stones over the weekend and add the soil to my compost bins.

I replaced this soil with three wheelbarrow loads of partially rotted compost and fresh-ish horse muck.

Steam rose as I dug it out and put it in the wheel barrow which was a promising start!

I shovelled this steaming compost mix into the ditch that I had dug out and added two boards, one above the other, along the front edge edge, in order to prevent all the manure mix from tumbling forward onto the concrete floor.

I then covered the hot manure mix with some horticultural fleece.. and just laid some of my seed trays on top of it. Simple!

It must be generating some heat as not long after I had completed it the clear lids on the trays had steam/ condensation inside them.

Tonight I covered the entire thing up with a sheet of clear polythene, weighed down with bricks at the corners. I shall remove this once the sun is up tomorrow.

So fingers crossed it may help warm things up. I will keep you posted.

Image

Image

Image

..and now it is time for me to get into my bed..

with my hot water bottle.

Night all x

The first day of Spring…or is it?

So Spring has sprung..apparently..somewhere in the UK? ..but not here in Lincolnshire…yet!

Image

Despite a lovely show of flowers from the pretty pink heather growing by my wildlife pond and from the snowdrops that are brave enough to open their delicate white flowers long before the sun puts it’s hat on, as far as I am concerned we are still, albeit unofficially, stuck in Winter.

Spring pah!

Although I did spot a very lonely, sunshiny yellow dandelion, whilst out walking today, which made me smile.

Image

Spring or not, today here, in deepest rural Lincs, we have had yet more snow, sleet and freezing rain. The ground is either sodden or frozen.

Temperatures feel even lower with the bitter icy wind cutting across the open farmland and whipping around your ankles. It bites at your nose and tingles your ears. My extremities become a vivid shade of pink, my nose begins to run ( sexy huh!) and my fingers ‘burn’ with the cold til they throb and ache!

There is nothing quite so chilling as plunging a bucket into an icy water-butt and accidentally spilling most of the contents over oneself before you have even had breakfast!  Brrrrrr!!

I have a greenhouse full of seed trays, doing not very much at all 😦

I have goats that refuse to go out (and who can blame them). Instead they are happily munching their way through record amounts of hay, whilst tucked up inside their warm and cosy sheds.

My two driving ponies are competing with them for the most consumed hay in one season! It is a close call as to who will win! But I know my purse is definitely losing!

I have arm muscles like Popeye, from lugging, chopping and sawing up vast quantities of foraged and scrap wood for my fire…… all Winter long. It certainly does heat you twice.. or in my case three times.. fetching.. then cutting/ chopping ….and then finally burning.

I like the burning bit best. It heats my home and my water ..and makes lovely toasted marshmallows and roast chestnuts…so I shouldn’t complain 😉

Image

So what is one to do when Winter refuses to leave and nothing much is progressing outside… (apart from eating marshmallows and chestnuts that is.)…….

Well in my case I bake bread and cakes ( yep more nommy stuff..do you sense a theme?) …I drink tea and write ….I help my daughter with her projects   ….and I get on with indoors jobs, like ..dum dum dum…..the dreaded ‘housework’.

Image

But I am LONGING to be outdoors, with my hands in the soil…

To feel the sun on my back, as I work in the garden….

To smell freshly cut grass…

To have a break from sawing and chopping wood and fetching it in each and every day …..

….and from getting up at silly o’clock each morning to get the fire lit before my daughter rises…*sigh

Image

Roll on Spring and Summer!

Image

A blessed Equinox to you all x