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Spring Life In The Garden.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Stones and Spare Tyres

Good evening.

Those of you who kindly find themselves here on a regular basis will know I am on a quest to lose a goodly amount of weight.

well, at my weigh in last night I reached my first goal of...

  Your new award

that's 2 stone!
I am chuffed to bits with this and even feel confident posting a photo of myself which I haven't felt for a good while....

The spare tyre pun refers to Jon bringing home the last tyre I needed for the garden. This afternoon, once I had fed the chooks, I set to shovelling some of my own compost as I've run out of bought and felt this would suit the job. I put as much as I thought I needed into the tyre and then made a tripod, four canes actually, and planted out the climbing beans from the Poly House along with the four butternut squash that have been ready for a couple of days.

I haven't quite filled the tyre as I did for the spuds but I can always add a bit before they get too big. Also, I'm a little concerned that the sun won't be able to get to the squash but I'll be keeping an eye on them over the next few days.

The weather here has been perfect over the last couple of days, warm but with some rain and it is doing the power of good for everything. I love walking around the garden in the evening seeing how things are coming on.

Oh, one last thing. Jon acquired a trampoline for the boys the other day and after a but of refurbishment it is good as gold. They have wanted one for so long but we have never had the room until now.

Good night, said Zebedee - boing!

Bye for now.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Where We Are just Now.

Happy Sunday everybody.

As I've posted before, we are very busy with our Airbnb room but it doesn't mean other jobs around the place won't get done, even though we are booked until June 4th!

Outside over the last couple of days I have planted out the sweetcorn as it germinated and came on very healthily ready to be moved from the Poly House.

Talking of the PH, the benches are getting emptier as things are potted on....

but the floor is gradually becoming full of large pots, mainly the tomatoes. 

Things like all the pepper varieties, hopefully three, will ultimately go on the bench top as there will be room for them to grow upwards; the bench to ceiling height space is 1.2 meters, whilst under the bench there is 90cms growing space and the sweet potatoes will stay under there.

FINALLY my cucumbers have germinated!! 

They have taken an age! These will go in the space waiting for them in the Poly House raised bed, along with the gherkins. 

I still wonder at times that people say tomatoes and cucumbers shouldn't be grown in the same space. I did have plans to put my Marketmore cucumbers in the main veg patch as they are a variety suitable for outside but it is full now! I still could put them out but they would have to be in pots and I don't think support would be sufficient so in the Poly House they will go.

I have checked with Jon about the final tyre I need and he says he should be able to bring it home on Tuesday; I really want to get the butternut squash planted out as it is pretty much ready to plant out and I need to sow some more climbing beans direct.

Tracy asked me about plans for overwintering some veg in the PH. I had thought a tiny bit about this but not to the extent of any planning. Sooo last night I pulled out my July, August and September GYO mags to look for some advice; I came up with the following possibilities:

hardy Spring Onions can be started as can baby Carrot varieties, pickling Onions and Pack Choi. If anybody has any advice about overwintering it would be welcome.

(I am intending to put a heater for my Poly House on my Christmas list!)

Jon and I have been talking about animals and the field. We were all geared up to get the pigs when we come back from our holibobs, however we understand it is far better to get the pigs in Spring. This, we are told, is because if the pigs work the land in the Autumn and Winter it will turn into a quagmire so we are resigned to leaving the arrival of the pigs until next Spring.

Also around the same time we will hopefully get a couple of sheep, lambs, from our neighbourly farmer to keep in the field - but we're going to need a bigger boat, sorry, freezer!

Sad news on the poultry front. We lost one of our Sussex girls yesterday; possibly to heat exhaustion - no other signs of anything untoward. Jon has made a trip to the local supplier we use and get four more. 

He has made a perch for inside the hen house to give them a bit more space to sit.

We now have a total of 14 chickens so should guarantee 12 eggs on a good day which is plenty for selling, breakfast and baking.

We waved off the guests who stayed with us last night so washer is on and I am getting ready to welcome another couple this afternoon for two nights so will get the room done shortly. The boys want to go to the Rec for a kick about or play tennis so I'll go up with them a bit later as Jon has a few things to do just now.

Enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday and, as always, I look forward to seeing what everybody has been up to and hope you get the weather you need or want.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Busy Busy Busy.


Trying to be a little more positive than yesterday.

We have had sun and rain over the last few days and this has done wonders for the sowing and growing. Sorry if photos are a bit boring but just using them as a record for me if nothing else.

The tomatoes are coming on a treat, all varieties and I have not too many more to pot on. I do have to keep an eye on the pinching and make sure I'm not pinching the ones I shouldn't! May take a hint from Tracy and put some of the pots outside tomorrow but probably Friday as that the is best day for us according to the forecast over the next week or so.

I have put the courgettes outside but will keep an eye on them in case I need to bring them back in.

I tied some string around the pea wigwams and on the canes for the sugar snap peas and I think the extra support is helping, thanks to Monty. Love him and Nigel!

The spuds, after my potato campaign anxiety, are doing better than I could have imagined! I feel the heat of the sun kept in the tyres is definitely helping, but the growing bags are also doing very well. 

Can't wait to plant our the sweetcorn; after a bit of a false start they are fab and really hope for a great harvest this year.

In the foreground of the picture are the piquant peppers I have grown from seeds given to me by Dawn, thanks again; took a couple of tries but so pleased they have come on.

I have some fruit starting on the strawberries and again hope for a better result this year due to the coldframe Jon built.

We have had a visitor in the carrot patch. Something dug down but it didn't look as if it were anything bigger than a mole but today I saw the same thing appeared to have made inroads via the fruit patch; will keep an eye on that.

At the weekend Jon strimmed the garden; it looks fab now. The boys are able to play tennis at the bottom near the Poly House and to think how much of a jungle this was at the start.

In other news I had a booking for the room last night for next week, then this morning another for tonight; all cleaned and done ready for them to arrive between 4-6pm. 

We are sooo busy up to the beginning of June so no idea what will happen next month!

My little brassica bed is thriving! Cabbages to the right, broccoli to the left with spinach down the middle all appear to be making happy bedfellows along with the sunflowers at the top of the bed.

Right, I feel better now I have written this. I have some baking to do for the boys before they get home so we are ready for a quick trip to the doctor before home for tea. Jon is on cooking duties tonight making chicken shnitzel for him and the boys.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Shock and Dismay.

Waking this morning to the horrendous news about Manchester made me so sad I cried. Jon said to me that London was sad, too, and it was but I said it seems to be getting closer.
We are safe here is what he sort of replied.
I do feel safe here.

This doesn't stop me feeling so much for the victims and people I know from where we used to live, being so close to Manchester from our old house.

What on earth has been achieved, and the children! A friend from near the city said two school friends of her children were caught up and actually injured by shrapnel from the bomb.

I am so sorry for anybody caught up in the dreadful, unforgivable act but I am going to say what I said after the Westminster bomb, I am more than happy and full of gratitude to be here in our bubble and this is exactly where we intend to stay. (Life in the Wild begins to look even more inviting than usual.)

People say we must not let the perpetrators get to us or make us stop living our lives the way we want. I know people with tickets for concerts in big cities coming up who say the security would be heightened so much safer but I think I would have second thoughts about things.

Such, another, sad day for humanity.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Good Jobs!! Even With The Rain.

A little up-date on the sowing and growing - what else? We have had some much needed rain but still managing to get some work done outside.

On Friday I took a proper inventory of how many seedlings I have which will ultimately need moving to their final growing places; best case scenario of numbers, what they need to be in and where they will actually go/fit.

I decided to take the poorly performing salad leaves out of the Poly House drainpipe as they just didn't seem to thrive. The sink outside is fab for lettuces so think I'll try the leaves in there, too. 

Probably will try radishes inside as outside they don't seem to work for me.

I also moved the sunflowers, which were in a small trough, into the bed with the cabbages and broccoli - may sound weird but there are only four of them; at the same time I realised there is a bit of room between said brassicas so I have also moved the spinach there, too. Bit of a squeeze but I'm sure all with be well.

The trough that was freed up from moving the spinach meant I could put the rest of the Dwarf Beans in so that was another good job. 

Beef toms were potted on and both Butternut Squash and Courgettes are coming on with good, strong leaves so potted on both of those, too.

Whilst in the brassica bed I did a bit of weeding and also in the main bed and potato tyres. Talking of spuds my Sweet Potatoes, not spuds I know, arrived yesterday so can't wait to get those in!

And look at these beauties! They are the salad blues kindly given to me by Tracy over at Our Smallholding Adventure. Don't forget to pop over and see what great stuff her gang are doing down on The Farm.

I've also planted my last five Maris Piper spuds in a spare compost bag, putting them outside along with the ones from the Poly House and the planter of carrots.

You know when there is that elephant in the room, that job you have been putting off? Well I finally go round to emptying the food caddy I had put a remedy in for the broccoli last year - didn't work. It had been lurking near the compost bins but no more. Yay!

These are the bunch of containers I bought at the weekend to go with the ones I already have including a large pot for the lime tree offer I ordered; I hope it will thrive in this. 

Yesterday Jon delivered the chicken house, with the help of some pals, to school and just has to put the fencing in now; he included a glass panel so the children can see the hens.

Also we have sold the ride on mower through a Facebook smallholding page, it IS the devil in my opinion, so probably won't use that again; the money will go in our holibobs pot. After work today he is fetching a pig ark that is going for free so we'll keep that until we need it in summer. Bring on the porkers.

On a family note I received the dates for what is going on at school from now for the next nine weeks or so until the boys break up for summer; residential trips to Cardiff, sports day, school fete etc.

I came across this article the other day -Embracing Life On The Homestead. It is a good read and I especially like the bit about dirt under nails. I often find myself coming in from the garden to put my bread on its next prove; I can get confused about whether I should be kneading the weeds or weeding the bread!

Right this post has been a real pain as have been having probs with my photo downloads so will leave it before anything else go wrong!

Bye for now.


Friday, 12 May 2017

Word Of The Week

Today I am joining in with Word of The Week via Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence
My word can only be one and that is


This week alone we have taken 5 bookings for our Airbnb listing; this is our best week ever and without any additional advertising or PR.

This is really important to us because it gives us confidence, and a good deal of assurance, that when we extend to a complete Bed & Breakfast business it will be a success. We continue to get fabulous feedback from all of our guests so far and are so pleased with our efforts.

Jon and I are also very excited about being able to work together every day.

That is my word of the day.


The Reading Residence

Monday, 8 May 2017

BBQ, Brakes and Boy What a View!

Friday afternoon saw a change to the meal plan as the weather was soooo nice we threw together a few things for a bbq and outdoor eating just had to be done. Yum!

On Saturday we were around the house with Jon starting on the job of changing the brakes on his car and we need to pop to Aber for a certain tool he needed.

I did some jobs in the garden including planting out some of the sugar snap peas in the sweetcorn patch and sowed more, too. I also added a few rocket seeds to fill in the gaps in my salad leaf drainpipe in the Poly House. And talking of lettuces I am so pleased with my efforts this year as last year they were very poor. Almost ready to use and I have a good more growing in the sink so we should be able to have them regularly soon. Eeeek!

On Sunday we had a quick lunch and then went into Aber as it was such a glorious day. We had decided to climb Constitutional Hill from where you can look down on the beach. Personally I wasn't looking forward to the climb very much but in the end it was fab, with the reward of an ice cream for all at the top. What a view!

We walked down, too, instead of taking the cable car.

On the way back to the car the boys tried to find their way through a maze!

Today we are blessed with yet another glorious day. Jon fixed up the hosepipe to the garage inside tap for me as I had to fill the water butts and all my bottles and water cans. 

So pleased to report that FINALLY my sweet corn is making progress and the few carrots I sowed in the Poy House are also doing very well; hope the ones outside do as well.

The spinach that was very small on April 21 is big enough for me to have picked a little - that will be for my tea tonight, probably just a garnish!

Lastly to report, my first attempt at growing basil is great and my summer cabbages are doing better than I could imagine. I am keeping a close eye on slugs on these and the broccoli but all well so far.


There, I think I am all caught up. A few jobs to do now before the boys are home from school no doubt in need of a cold drink and a snack.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Homesteading v Smallholding

This really is a bit of a blog ramble and I'm not quite sure of it's purpose but whatever. 

I recently came across something here on t'interweb about the difference between the terms smallholding and homesteading and the ideas behind both. I like both these but after reading over a few things I think we are more of a homestead than a smallholding.

Our property doesn't have purpose-built housing for animals on site, although our buildings could very well be converted into animal accommodation - we prefer to make money from them via humans!

We are using the land at the house mainly for sowing and growing because we plan on making use of the three acre field we have up the road from us, in part, for some animals - hopefully pigs first. I really must take a picture of that sometime, but here you can see what the shape of the land looks like; a bit weird I know!

The narrow part is what I always refer to as the walk way, although it is wide enough to get a car down it once there is a decent layer of hardcore or something similar put down; the road shown going straight up from the narrow end is a five minute walk to our house.

However, back to my original thoughts. Homesteading is also about using the things around you to make other items you may need. All the way through our time together Jon has always been very good at reusing and recycling. He always likes to keep things 'in stock' just incase they come in handy. (We had a coffee table that we didn't know what to do with and it is now the base for the school chicken house he is building.) Therefore around the house and garden we have chairs, seating, clothes peg boards, tables, the housing for the chickens and soon to be ducks not to mention my Poly House, amongst many more. 

Anything to save money and not waste what we have come across/acquired along the way! This is a way for us to be self-reliant because we don't have to buy everything we need and also we don't have to pay for tradesmen; this is for simple things like replacing a lock on a door or decorating the rooms to rent, plumbing jobs etc; we are so lucky we rarely have to pay out for that kind of thing.

I am keen to preserve more of what I will, hopefully, grow each year so that I don't have to grow the same things thereby trying different food. Last year was my first attempt at preserving anything and I did manage some great pickled beetroot, apple sauce, a good supply of onions which kept very well in the cellar store room and turnips were a great addition to meals along with courgettes, cucumbers, salad leaves and lots of herbs. I have some root vegetables growing this time along with potatoes so this will allow us to be more self-sufficient when it comes to food shopping.

Oh this really IS a ramble - sorry but my brain is ticking over, sorry!! 

At this point I could say that for the first four months of the year we had 519 eggs from the 11 chickens; this works out at 47 eggs per chicken. We are selling quite a lot, about £26 worth last month. We use some of the money to buy feed but as it seems it is the only way the boys are going to save money for their summer holiday we are buying things like grit for the girls, but at least we are doing something towards spending less of our own money at times. The ducks may come before we go away, depends if the supplier calls Jon again.

In other areas spending is not quite the same but we hoping to have the next Airbnb room done as soon as we can and that takes a bit of investment; but that also has been of great benefit since we began renting it out. Financially of course but also that we are confident people will return when we have more space - we already have our regular business gentleman who has been to us three times already since last month!

So right now I think we're homesteaders; whatever the description we are beyond happy.

I think I'll stop just now or you may get p***** off with my epistle!

Bye for now.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Good Job!!! A Lot More Than One!

There's nothing like getting a few jobs done.

On Friday I had a baking day due to a plan change re food shopping; I baked bread, rolls and loaf, plain shortbread and I think my best yet Millionnaires Shortbread for Jon.

On Saturday after food shopping and lunch we got ourselves outside and made a start.

Jon was finishing the verandas outside the Airbnb room; here they are from start to finish - with a little help from Alfie.

We are really pleased with how it looks.

I was busy in the Poly House and got lots done. I bought new sweetcorn kernels to sow as the others all failed but one and I must have them growing this year.

I potted on and sowed some more French Marigolds and put three Beef tomato plants in their final big pots.

On Sunday I decided to put the sweet peas in with the climbing peas as planned and at the same time set up a little netting for them at both ends, you can just see I think.

I sowed parsnip seeds as I've decided to put my cucumbers inside and use that outside space for something I can't grow indoors. I still had to dig the spot over, again, and take out more stones but done in the end.

We decided to go to Aber to get a second table and chair set to match for the next room and pick up a few things including this for my Poly House.

We finished up and had a quiet night watching the Durells and the finale of Line Of Duty.; it was soooo good!

Today, Monday, we were up quite early and after breakfast I headed to the Poly House. Jon was in the shed making the beginnings of a chicken house for the boy's school; they ordered one, the company went bust and they lost their money; he will make them a run, too.

I went straight to the potatoes as the frost caught the leaves the other day! I cut off the black ones but new green ones are already coming through so I'm keeping my fingers crossed! 

I didn't do very well with my sunflowers last year so hope for improvement with the four I put in a trough.

Due to a few failures with my sowing I decided to re-sow the following:

butter nut squash
sweet peppers
peppers boneta (should be grown outside)

I gave the spot for the swede a good turning over, as I did for the parsnips, then sowed the seeds.

When I look at my growing area I sometimes can't believe my eyes. It looks pretty much how I have dreamed of having a veg garden - I just hope it all comes off this year as I have worked so hard on it all.

I am very pleased there are signs of the carrots coming through, as with the shallots, in the new patch and I can see the rows of teeny, tiny leaves where the turnips are germinating.

The weather is glorious just now so Jon and I have taken a turn around the garden. The wild garlic is in flower and I have picked some to dry.

Here is some information about ways to eat and use the garlic; it is all but done by June so I need to keep an eye on it.

I have been looking after the strawberries now they are in the cold frame. I have lost a few of the plants but I can see some little fruitlets on the ones I still have.

I've been looking for a before photo of the gate. Reason being that we power washed it today, mainly me, Alfie and bit and Jon finished off. Trust me it looks sooo much better. We were going to paint it but I just like it like this. It was covered in green mossy stuff and looks like a new gate now. It will need preserving with something at some stage. 

Right, I'm going to close the gate on this post and look forward to catching up with what everybody has been up to over the last couple of days.

Bye for now.