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Autumn - Love It!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Update - Inside And Out.

Overwintering sowing and growing, but first the weather. 

We've had bouts of biblical rain recently along with some terrific wind. However, today we have ish-blue sky with a light breeze hence I had a wander around my little patch of paradise today. There may be rain later... Anyhow here's what I found.

Shallots, garlic and onions were planted out by October 22 and the first two are showing nicely.

With the onions I have some interlopers in the form of peas left over from the summer so hope that I might get a cheeky harvest!

Garlic not doing as well as these two just now but hope it picks up soon.

In the poly house the carrots and kale are peeking through and the meteor dwarf beans in the troughs are doing very well. 

The meteor beans in the greenhouse were sown a little later than the others and think I might plant them in the empty bed in there when they are all ready.

A little surprised at how well the hardy sweet peas are coming on to be honest; I need to check when they can be planted out!

In the greenhouse the beetroot seems to be growing well but there are more leaves than anything else; not sure how that is going to turn out...

A quick look at the cabbages seem to suggest they have not been nibbled by anything recently, after I removed the netting.

Have to say I'm quite chuffed that I seem to have some growing happening so just hope that they turn into edibles!

Garden prep has seen chicken poo, compost and covering put on the corner veg patch. All that needs covering now is where the few leeks and swede are in the main patch.

Inside now

First Christmas present is wrapped and a number have been ordered so must wrap them as they arrive.

The turkey has been ordered so can forget about that until the day before Christmas Eve.

The sloe gin is being given a shake once a week now. 

Christmas cake was made at the beginning of the month; I'll feed it some booze this week.

Ordered, as usual, a few crating bits for the festive season and have so far made this tag on the left which can be used as a decoration or given as a gift. The piece on the left is something I love making; this will be used as a back drop on a decorated table or shelf but could also be framed as a gift.

Christmas is now just six weeks away. Eeeek! Lots of planning to be done soon but not quite yet.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Moving Forward At Our Best Pace And Keeping Track Of Progress!

That's a title, but it sort of draws a finishing line under some things and for us to start others. Personally I've made the decision to keep this as a diary/record of us and our stuff; I think some people are just too busy to visit other blogs and see what people are getting up to; I know I like to read a couple that really interest me and that's about it so checking if people have commented on my ramblings I think is something that will not now be my main aim, but thanks if you do. It also gives me the opportunity to REALLY ramble on without worrying that people can't be bothered to read it!😃

I've kept my Twitter account for the Airbnb rooms, and I do follow people other than those directly aimed at that, but I'm careful what comes into my feed. From next week I am having a couple of days off social media; I'll take it off my phone meaning I'll have to get the laptop out to use it; not exactly the instant way Twitter is meant to be used but that suits me!

And so...Jon and I had a conversation this morning, at length, about what we are trying to do and where we are just now.

This was triggered by the fact that we've come to the conclusion, after some monitoring our electricity meter is not working as it should. I give 2 meter readings each month, one for the cheaper night rate and one for the more expensive day time right. However we have discovered the meter is switching to the low rate at the wrong time of the day - we believe it should correspond with the times given to us by our energy company or how can we expect to make the most of the cheaper rate period? I'll be talking to them tomorrow to get something sorted but we've also arranged to have a smart meter installed at the end of the month. I was against these as the older generations of them meant they were not compatible when you switched energy company but this has now been changed so that is good.

On the back of this we know that it costs approximately £350 per year to use an emmersion heater; as we have this turned on in the Summer only and run, at the most, 2 baths a day and I wash up a couple of times it seems a huge amount of money. Soooo we are going to start keeping the Rayburn lit through the Summer months as well as the Winter. This may sound to some people like duh! we should have made this decision from the get go, but you live and learn. I think for most people energy is the biggest outlay each month.

The energy issue has lead us to think that we have taken our eye off the ball a little recently when it comes to the reason why we moved to Wales and what our aims were. It was never about living what is often described as a frugal life. It was about being self-sufficient and self-reliant in the main, getting back to basics on our little homestead; saving money by not wasting money is our goal along with generating an income so that Jon does not have to work outside of the home.

We are not an extravagant family but our boys will never go without. However they are taught where money comes from and that we can't always have what we want when we want it. However, generally in our house everything comes to he/she who waits and that always works for us!

I talked in my last post about extending our growing area for next Spring and that is very exciting. I'm now working on the layout for all the growing areas because, heavens to Betsy, if I can't supply the four of us with a really good amount of food with the space we are going to have then I don't know what!

So, we're keeping our focus on the job in hand, to reach our goals as we make them, to be are here doing what we signed up for and knowing that we really are, for us, living the dream.

Onwards and upwards!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Cooking On Gas...Well Logs Actually!

I think we are taking it as read, or as lit, that Winter is well on the way as yesterday we fired up the Rayburn; we have managed to leave it until November 1 which is great as we normally light it at the start of October.

I made the most of it I have to say and loved it. I baked a cob loaf which I have decided I can make pretty much every day and I have another baking as we speak. It is a very easy recipe. I made some egg-free choc chip biscuits for the boys as they came home from The Gramps today after being away since last Saturday. (Egg-free as the girls are freeloading a bit at the moment...) So lovely to have the boys home again and we still have time with them until they go back to school on Monday. 

I cooked lunch and tea on and in it, too.

So very pleased that once again we have eaten, heated the water and warmed the house with the old girl. We all squeezed together on the bench with the door open just watching the flames after tea. Fab!

This week I was pleased as punch, or rather as sloe gin! that I got round to picking and preserving some sloes just down the road from the house. Only about 12oz but enough so I popped them in the freezer to save me having to pin prick them all.

After having the gin and sugar added they are now sitting in the cellar being shaken periodically until ready to be strained for Christmas. Fab when you finally get round to doing something you've always fancied giving a go.

Not much going on outside just now; we have had all sorts of weather this last week or so. I've at times managed to dry the clothes on the line but we have had hail yesterday and some pretty heavy rain, too.

I've been doing a bit more Winter garden prep by adding compost to and covering over one of the massive tyres plus one end of the small veg patch. Also breaking news; hubby thinks we need one more large veg patch so we can really do our best to grow as much of our fruit and veg as we can. Its going to be dug out along side the three new planters he built; no pressure there, in fact loads, especially when not everything went as well as hoped this year. I just don't want to fail so we are going to make sure we have plenty of coverings so we do not fall prey to those damn caterpillas, or anything that eats brassicas really; I soooo want to have cabbages and broccoli next year, and anything else I can manage on the list that we really want to eat. Not buying fresh produce is something we really do want to get to grips with. Ok, rant over I think.

Another glorious day here today; a bit of a nip in the air but lovely.

I'm waiting on guests arriving at about 3pm so want to get outisde for an hour or so before then. Just waiting for the bread to finish and have my lunch. Had a morning of doing a bit of admin, trip to the bottle bank with the boys and putting out the washing whilst they stocked up on logs and kindling and done other bits and pieces so have to get some fresh air on this beautiful day.

Right that's all my ramblings.

Bye for now.


Monday, 22 October 2018

Autumn Planting, Sowing and Growing.

Good morning.

This is just a little update on what is going on in the garden right now; I am so loving this bright, and at times chilly, Autumnal weather. Even though it all looks a little thin on the ground I still love wandering around looking at things, normally reminding myself of jobs that need doing!

This was taken yesterday.

I've been busy planting out the garlic, onions and shallots this last week.

I have prepped one end of the main bed for the onions, used the raised bed at the back of the poly house for the shallots and one of the six tyres for the garlic.

The garlic is variety Provence White.

I've potted on the strawberry runners so have eight plants now I think sitting under the bench in the greenhouse. All looking quite healthy and I also put a couple to sell out front.

Over the last couple of days I took a look at my second compost bin. I haven't had anything out of this in possibly a year or so? It looked in such great condition and I've used this underneath the polythene covering as part of garden prep on the main patch until Spring. 

This was taken earlier this morning and today is just gorgeous, another chilly, bright day.

As well as the newly planted onion sets I still have some carrots in the small patch and spinach beet, dwarf green beans, leeks and swede in the main patch. I'll cover over the remainder of the space as and when it becomes empty but I'm getting there.

In the greenhouse I still have one sweet potato plant and the beetroot; not sure when the latter will be big enough to harvest but plan on pickling it and will not grow any next year.

I've also sown a little kale in the poly house raised bed just for me. It isn't taking up any necessary space and will hopefully grow well. Does anybody else grow kale undercover over the Winter?

I've been thinking of sowing a small wild flower area, perhaps near The Snug, but need to look at whether its best to sow seeds direct or to over Winter some and plant out in the Spring. Anyone have any experience of this? I think it would be better to have a dedicated bed to avoid my lovely husband mowing over them!!

In other news the boys break up for a week on both Thursday and Friday due to the youngest's school having an inset day. They're going to spend a few days with The Gramps from the Saturday so hope my back is feeling better by then as I hope to do some jobs outside. Struggling with a bit of a twinge I don't feel like aggravating just now, but sooo missing not being outside. Jon and I hope to go our for a meal one night, too; we don't often eat out alone so it is nice to do so some times.

We have been really busy on weekends with the Airbnb room recently even though we are into the later months. Jon needs to do a little maintenance here and there so hopefully we can get that done in the next week or so before our next booking at the beginning of November.

Right, I think that is me for now. Not too much going on but hope you are still enjoying my ramblings.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Phew. It's Been A While!

Hello, my last post was on my birthday, just over two weeks ago but seems ages.

Since then Autumn really seems to be coming in with a vengence and I love it; gradual changing in the leaf colours and the weather, too, with it being chilly at night time more frequently. However, yesterday, and today, have so far been glorious and the bedding is blowing beautifully on the line.

I thought I'd do a little round up about things since my last post. We've had 10 Airbnb bookings, including people booking the new room which is  great, plus others already booked including a repeat guest for New Year's Eve!

The garden is changing but I still love my little patch of paradise.

In the poly house bed I've sown the Nantes 2 carrots I ordered recently, hoping for an early crop in January, I took up the last cucumber plant and prepared the soil for not sure what yet and the Dwarf Meteor peas are showing already so very pleased with that. 

The Christmas spuds have been moved into there now as we had a slight frost on the night of October 6 and didn't want to risk it. However with the weather improving -  the temperature in there being 78 degrees yesterday, I was maybe being a bit panicky...!

My main crop spuds I'm very sorry to say have been an epic fail. I think my problem was planting the tubers far too close together coupled with the VERY warm weather plus not watering the tyres enough. Hay ho, lesson learnt and won't be doing that again next year.

In the greenhouse I have hardy Sweet Pea Spiced Mix just showing their faces which is great. The beetroot is doing really well and I took up the last tomato plant and sowed turnips in its place. The sweet spuds are dying back now but going to leave them a bit longer. 

The Spring cabbages are now covered with netting as taking no chances with those.

A few onions have bloomed a little late in with the cabbages so seeing how they do...

Jon has built all three raised beds now, including one a funky triangular shape, which needs painting.

The biggest couple of jobs I did this week were some of the beds. I took out the few weeds there were in the far end of the main patch then covered with with chicken poo, homemade compost and polythene for over Winter. 

I was outside until 7pm last night and the bed at the back of the poly house has now been prepared with lots of lovely homemade compost as I plan on putting either the garlic or shallots in there; sets will be arriving soon.

I just need to finish the other end of the main patch, now the climbing peas have been taken up as that will be used for the onions. I love getting things like this ready.

In the kitchen I've processed all the cooking apples gifted to me by Jon's dad, apart from a few I have stored in the cellar. The second freezer is packed with bags of them and I have bottled five jars of them in sugar syrup. 

But a little mad with myself as I didn't pack them down enough so there's a bit of a gap and excess syrup but it will make the puddings I make with them lovely and sweet!

Well I'd better get on as the next lot of washing will need to be out soon.

Bye for now.


Monday, 24 September 2018

Back To Basics

Good morning.

The weather has changed quite dramatically over the last couple of days. We were having monsoon-type rain ie. wet and warm but this weekend it has turned decidedly chilly and we succumbed to lighting the woodburner in the living room on Saturday evening. This morning is a might chilly also but a glorious morning all the same.

The shifting of the seasons brings most gardeners and growers of their own around to planning for the next growing season, and that includes me.

I have some overwintering plans in place which I'll update another time but just now I have a few other bits and bobs to share. To this end I have just received some new seeds. 

The first of which are Nantes 2 early carrots. I plan on sowing these in either the greenhouse or poly house, maybe in containers or one of the raised beds in the greenhouse once the sweet potatoes have been harvested which should be some time within the next four weeks or so.

I also have plans for dwarf pea Meteor; these are very hardy and only grow around 16-18" tall so don't really require any support. I can put these outside or in but probably the latter space willing.

I admit to getting into a bit of a panic recently as my harvests have not been the best this year so....

I'm going back to basics for the next growing season. My aim is to grow plenty of what we all eat as I really want to see how much we can avoid spending money, on vegetables at least, examples being spinach beet and chard. I am the only person who eats either of these so I'm keeping these to a minimum as I had already sown some but these can be grown in the houses without taking up a lot of space. I have never done too well with spring onions so these are on the back burner for now.

So, along with the above new additions, this year I will mostly be growing - 

carrots, cabbages, broccoli, potatoes, onions, garlic (though not masses), cucumbers
NO gherkins this year, aubergines, tomatoes (hopefully a MUCH better result) peppers 
salad leaves, courgettes but probably just the one plant, dwarf beans as they were great this year so more of those, leeks, swede, turnips (not huge this year due to spacing I think but very tasty) and probably NOT climbing peas this year as for a really good harvest I think I need more space than I can allow.

More to the point with all of this I do need more space to grow enough of what we eat for it to make a real difference.

Currently I have the following space to use:
19 x 6 ft veg patch 
4.5 x 10 ft veg patch
3 x 3 ft veg patches, 3 of these including the one in the poly house
1.5 x 6 ft approx. raised beds in the greenhouse, 2 of these...

and this weekend Jon has built me one of three new raised beds which are 1.5 x 4 ft each; there will be three in total.

I like raised beds because at times I struggle with my back and the size of them may look a bit overkill but they are solidly built to last and hopefully make my back last a bit longer, too!

I've been thinking, but not overthinking as Jon thinks that is half my problem, I should be able to make a good go of it next year. I have literally just measured the new beds so really don't know what will go where but they are about a foot and a half deep so would be good for carrots, turnips, garlic, onions but not the brassicas as they will need more planting out space than that.

I look forward to using this new space in the coming months and sharing with you how I get on. I'd be interested in plans others have for the next season of sowing and growing.

Along with all of this I don't think I've yet shared the photos of our new ducks; 1 Khaki Campbell called Crispy and 2 Muscovy and the other are Duck-chess and L'Orange, as in duck a L'orange! They are not laying right now but the entertainment value more than makes up for them being freeloaders when it comes to feeding!

Oh and O M G, major excitement in the house is that we FINALLY have a quad bike.

Everybody in the family are extremely excited about this. It means we can get our pigs next year as Jon can get in the field to prepare things, we can get the trailer in the field to cut down trees for logs to store and the boys are just excited about getting to drive it! Get in!!!

I've just had to stop to put a match to the fire - really quite chilly and it is my birthday so I think I deserve to be warm!

That's all from me for today.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Foody Fest!

Good morning.

I thought I'd just do a catch up with a few food things.

I've finally got round to some preserving, two jars of the gherkins which have done so well this year, sold a few and given away a couple. The pickled ones are now in the cellar store room, adding to the goodies in there!

I quite frequently make apple turnovers but decided to do cheese and ham ones this time and the boys found them very delicious, so after them trying them I still have a couple in the freezer for another day.

It was our local flower and produce show on Saturday. I managed to make the long journey to the Canolfan (for those of you who don't know I live directly opposite our community hall!) in the rain that was teeming down and had a go at entering one of the baking classes and a veg category with some success.

Camp fire cup cakes...

salted caramel and chocolate

and most surprisingly 3rd place for my cucumbers! They were huge and thought I stood no chance due to them looking more like marrows!

Still working my way through the gifted apples and so far have cored, peeled, sliced and frozen 9lbs! Still as many, and more, to get through. Hope to bottle more in syrup like last year and make cakes and puddings, too.

Ooh, a very exciting thing has occurred recently. I have been asked to contribute to the Thompson & Morgan website as a blogger. Amazed, chuffed, honoured and all that so watch our for my first ramblings! 

Right, better get on as the washer is calling.

Bye for now.