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Aaaah, still loving our life!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Plot to Plate and Other Stuff.

Hi! 

Both my boys have been a bit under the weather since the beginning of the week with coughs and colds but are both at school today for the new week.

They are both doing homework about the Strata Florida Abbey the ruins of which can be found in Pontryhdfendigaid, the next village to us.


Strata Florida, Ceredigion.


I've had great fun helping Alfie write a slightly tongue in cheek newspaper account of the time the site was part of the dissolution of the monasteries, complete with an advert for insurance! He has worked really hard on it so hope he gets a good mark.

This weekend I harvested these lovelies!



We had the spring onions with tea on Saturday and I shelled the pea pods; the latter was a bit of an experiment as I wanted to see how far on the peas were, some were a good size but they obviously need longer to develop

There was just about 2lbs of Arran Pilot spuds and I am quite chuffed with the cabbage, even though we lost one that was totally nibbled by a little critter. I am going to keep an eye on the others and then probably chop, par-boil and freeze them; currently the boys are not keen on cabbage and I would not want it to go to waste when Jon and I cannot eat them straight away.

So the spuds and cabbage were part of tea on yesterday!  

Yes, I CAN eat this much and still lose weight!



Once again my broccoli has been an epic failure!



I had a head that started forming but this has been got at and as there's nothing on any of the other middles I don't think there's much chance of improvement now. Does anybody have advice about re-sowing the broccoli in the same spot? I do have to think about rotation for next year but could I get away with trying for some again as there as still time? Because everything I grow is pretty much in raised beds, containers, bags, tyres do I have to apply the same rules to rotation if I am replacing/improving the soil with compost? 

Help!!! 

These are the second lot of tomatoes I solar dried; I put salt and pepper on them along with fresh basil and ...




they came out just brilliantly! I really can't wait until we put our own produce in there.


Jon is currently having a proper tidy out of his shed and everything with it. He found this which he forgot to tell me his dad had brought for me. Cool huh?

Not sure where to put/how to use it but useful none the less I am sure.



This morning I have been outside getting a few jobs done because the weather is changeable this week according to Countryfile - best weather forecast on the tv!  I started with cleaning out the chooks; six eggs already which is a better result than in recent days. I have cleaned out the top of the herb loo ready to sow or plant something new in there.

In the empty tyre from where I took up the spuds I have sown three butternut squash seeds to make use of the space.

I needed a few more bamboo canes for the PolyHouse so have cut a couple for now but will do more at the weekend. I read about making up a soapy water mixture in a sprayer to help with aphids and bugs etc so I've done that too.

I decided to sow a different kind of lettuce so have gone for salad bowl lettuce red; nice to add some colour to the plate. 

This is one of two courgette plants and I really hope I get a good few from them this year.



Ok, that is my little catch up.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx

Friday, 23 June 2017

Food - Growing, Eating and Drying.

Hello!

This is a a bit of a round-up of where we are on our little homestead just now.

Jon had begun building the new kindling and coal stores and I have finally got round to taking a photo of the finished article; I love it. As with the main woodpile it is close to the conservatory door so really easy for bringing supplies into the house.



On Wednesday we went to Aber for some outdoor eating on the beach and had tea. I roasted a joint of pork and sliced it when cool, I boiled some of our spuds which I took up yesterday - eeek! and I made some quick chocolate cakes so all made for a yummy picnic along with a portion of chips and my sun dried tomatoes of course!






It was a little celebration of Harry coming home from his 3-day school trip to Cardiff.

Now we have a little look around the Poly House. These are Marketmore cucumbers which took a little while to germinate but are now coming along. I have one planted outside as they are billed as an outdoor variety so I'll be able to compare as they are the same size.


Here are my sweet potato growing bags. They have spread about two feet so I think I will nip those in the bud so to speak so the energy will go to growing the 'spuds'.


These are two gherkin plants which are alongside the cucumbers in the raised bed. These have flowers so fruit may appear soon.


Piquant peppers are growing well and I hope there to be fruit soon; thanks again to Dawn for the seeds.

I can't resist showing a couple of photos from the raised bed outside the Poly House. These are my Golden Acre cabbages. I chose this variety as they develop small heads which are great for growing in small spaces. 


This is not such a success. My broccoli has either failed or is just growing really slowly! I did spot the beginnings of a head here yesterday but the others seem to be doing nothing to be honest. We shall see, maybe the rain we have today will help.


I have been keeping the straw bales for the chickens between my compost bins but it was not ideal as they could get wet or the straw could fly away. So I have used a spare water butt and it is filled with the loose straw....


and the second bale will hopefully stay dry underneath the dehydrator until it can go in the butt.

The dehydrator has produced some more lovely tomatoes.


Jon has nearly eaten all of them so need to find a wholesaler and buy a tray full until our toms are ready....


Well, I hope you enjoyed my little round up. The weekend is upon us, yay, so as usual I look forward to seeing what you will all be getting up to.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx


Monday, 19 June 2017

OMG - it worked!

Yay!!!!!

I am chuffed beyond words that the latest completed building project was indeed built for purpose.

The solar dehydrator has SOOO worked!

The baby plum toms I put in came out perfect and tasted so yummy.


I decided to put them in some oil; I know there are not loads but what the heck!


I added some home grown basil and seasoning, et voila! 

                                    

To say I am chuffed doesn't come close.

I put some banana and peach slices in, too, but the heat, unfortunately, was so severe that most of the peaches were practically burnt; the ones that survived were eaten and were really lovely - therefore no photo! The bananas, no photo either, I'm afraid were stuck to the tray but this has been a learning curve.

Today I am going to try some larger tomatoes. I CANNOT WAIT to be putting our own fruit and veg in the dehydrator!

Bye for now.

Lou.xx

Saturday, 17 June 2017

This And That Plus A Trip Out.

Hi!

We have had a few bits out of the garden over the last couple of days which is fantastic. Spring onions were lovely, strawbs are coming regularly but not tonnes, I wish, plus a few VERY tasty new spuds - Charlottes and Arran Pilots. Won't be buying any more of these from now on I don't think but I also am leaving them in the ground for a little longer yet so they end up slightly bigger.





What we have had a bit of trouble with are the hens; for some reason we were daily only getting between three and six eggs for a few days but thankfully today they seem to be back to laying as we had eight.

I found this when I was looking at some photos and just wanted to include it because I just love it.

On Thursday I put these baby toms in the dehydrator; we'll see what result we get and over how long; bit of an experiment as not the same as an electric one.



Yesterday I had a really lovely time over at Being Self Sufficient In Wales visiting Dawn and Martin; we had a great chat as usual. We had a proper look round all of the poly tunnels and beds and I picked up a few hints and tips as I always do. I  petted lovely Tess and Sol and tried some goats milk - tastes just like cows milk, really. We had a lovely lunch of quiche with lettuce leaves and radishes picked fresh from the garden.


I came home in time for the boys being back from school, along with a pile of seed trays which will be very useful next year.

                                       

Thanks for a lovely time Dawn and I'll get the biscuit recipe to you soon. 

Back home I had a look round everything. My salad blues I was given by the lovely Tracy from Our Smallholding Adventure are flowering - so pretty a colour -  but I have taken these off so the energy goes to the spuds; as they are a maincrop variety they will be in the ground for a bit longer.

                                                      

I potted on the last of my peppers so that is everything in pots done; anything else will be direct sowing I think but who knows! I was looking around the Poly House when putting the pots to dry and it's funny to see the shelves full of pots again as these won't be used a lot for some time.


On Thursday Jon started work on the kindling and coal stores alongside the main wood store. With the coal this means it can be poured in the top and there will be a board on an angle inside so we can always shovel it out easily. We don't use lots of coal as wood is our main source of fuel for the Rayburn and the woodburner but sometimes it just helps. This project should be finished today.



The small gap to the left may be made into a store the straw for the chicken bedding which would be great as it really doesn't have a dry place to be kept at the moment.

Harry is going to Cardiff with school on Monday morning until tea time on Wednesday so we have decided to get out jobs done this morning and then spend some time in Aber this afternoon. We will miss him and I know Alfie will; even though they have their spats he always says he is bored when Harry isn't here. Bless.

Right, those chooks won't clean out themselves.

Look forward, as always, to seeing what you all get up to over the weekend whilst we are going to be having this wonderful weather. 


*********

I used to keep a Journal of Gratitude but have decided to incorporate it into my blog instead,
so here goes.

I'm grateful we are able to just go to the beach on the hoof. On Wednesday I made bacon butties and we left for Aber when Jon got home from work. He and the boys ate them with chips and a fizzy drink in the sunshine; the boys went in the water and Jon and I just chatted - bliss and just then  I could not have thought of a better place to be.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Building Projects, Early Harvest and Second Sowings.

I think you may know by now that Jon does not do things by half. When I asked him if it was possible for him to build me a solar powered dehydrator he had a quick look on You Tube and said he'd got it!

Well today it was put in place, ready for the next sunny day we have and here is the beast!




In the section above where the fruit, veg etc will be laid out we were quite surprised how warm it felt when you put your hand inside even on a day like today. Really hoping from the best sort of weather to give a go really soon!

Something that hasn't gone so well are my onions, well some of them at least. The harvest looked as though it wasn't too far off but then I noticed some of them had started to go to seed. A quick check and I decided I would take them out and use them instead of leaving them in the ground with the top cut off.



The weather has been a little changeable recently but I have managed to get a fair bit done. Today, before the downpour, I re-sowed parsnips in the hope that these ones will work..


I have put the rest of the carrot seeds in the smaller bed, something I have been meaning to get round to for quite a while...


and then the gap I realised I had between the swede and turnip row and the garlic now has cauliflower seeds in. 


I've had a little look around the fruit area and the larger of the blackcurrant bushes has a good amount of fruit on it; 

not sure when we will be able to harvest them but can't wait! 

Our established apple tree has a little fruitlet on it...


and the blueberry bushes have improved but it will be a couple of years before we see any harvest from these...


Whilst looking at the fruit bushes I did a bit of tying to to make sure they don't get too battered in the wind and rain and then also did the same to the climbing peas and tomato plants as they are both getting quite tall now.

Today I also washed, cut and froze the onions I had to take up the other day so these are ready to use at a later date.

















In the poly house I've planted two of my Marketmore cucumbers in the raised bed..


then, because they are actually a variety which can be grown outside, I have planted one in a used compost bag to see what the difference is.


I am a bit miffed that I didn't get my lettuce sowing quite right.The ones I have grown we have really enjoyed and it has been great fun picking one when needed - just what this game is all about! Therefore I have already sown seeds in the sink outside and have today filled another drainpipe in the poly house to hopefully make sure we get a steady supply and I will keep an eye on the succession sowing as the weeks go by.

My niece has been staying for a couple of days and I've given her one of my piquant pepper plants as I think I can spare one!

Right, I think that is a nice little catch up; it really will be really funs how everybody's harvests are coming on. I'm looking forward to visiting Dawn, AND Martin, when I see how things are doing on Friday over at Being Self Sufficient In Wales, as long as my visit is not put off by too much rain!

Bye for now.

Lou.xx