Friday, 31 May 2013


It was a good bank holiday weekend. Lots of work completed in my garden including the removal of ALL of the nettles in the below photo. I now have a green cone (takes cooked food waste) planted in the middle which was a palaver in itself.

My main priority last weekend was to get plants out of pots. These seem to have been multiplying in recent weeks and I've run out of space for keeping them away from the slugs. I'm not very good at remembering to water daily so they are better off in the ground but if I put them out too early both the slugs and rabbits enjoy them a little too much for my liking.

New patch cleared, green cone finally planted after 3 1/2 years and number of pots reduced by almost half. A very successful day!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Which currants are these?

I have three small fruit bushes in my garden, white currant, red currant and black currant. They were planted out last year but, thanks to some devious plant label removal, I don't know which are which! I'm looking forward to the fruit ripening so that we can figure it out.

These plants are going to be moving at some point. I have a hedge at the top end of my veg patch which is made from a handful of overgrown shrubs. It has occurred to me that if I removed these boring plants I can create a sunny bed perfect for my soft fruit. It may take some time to happen (considering other on going projects) and I'm wanting to propagate the few plants I have to multiply my stock. But the decision is right and gives me a good goal to move forward on.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Romantic fiction

My mothers day 'card'
I stopped reading romantic fiction for a month.

I have always read, as a young girl I read through nearly all of the books in our school library. This wasn't small room! I have always had a book in one hand whatever else I've been doing.

I found the genre of romantic fiction many years ago and, due to the cheap availability of books through charity shops, was swiftly hooked. My favourites are the historical or regency novels thanks to the complete fantasy that they set up, rarely bothered with the discomforts of the era or realities of characters.

I've always thought of these books as relaxing though I'm beginning to wonder if I've become addicted to the escapism held within their pages which is bizarre as the story lines tend to follow a pattern. But they do guarantee a happy ending.

I have noticed that I am less grumpy without a book on the go. I am more inclined to get up and do something productive. I am more decisive. Things happen and I feel a better sense of worth. And I feel happier about not wasting so much time on reading rubbish.

The month over, I've started reading them again. On the days that I read I feel sluggish and I'm less patient with my children. I only ever seem to feel unwell whilst I have a book on the go. Is this telling me something? I certainly need to pay more attention.

For now I still enjoy romantic fiction and I will still read it. But I think that I have to be wary about how often I read, perhaps put a block on it for most of the time. This will be hard because I'm usually always reading something. Perhaps it is time to branch out into non-fiction more often. Then, when I choose to treat myself, I can still enjoy the fantasy.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Dicentra blooming

Do you remember these? Part of my purchases shown here. Not all of the half price roots seem to have made it but every root of dicentra has flourished. Considering how much it costs to buy a plant in a pot I'm over the moon, I love these little babies. Strange as I'm not usually into pink. Soon I'll get these shifted from my flower nursery into a permanent plot.

The dicentra are surrounded by poppy weedlings. I usually let some of these flourish, they are fabulous over exuberant pink pom poms. Pink again? I must be going mad!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Turning the lawn over to my boys

A few days ago I found some old tennis court posts hidden in a corner. So when I stumbled across some line spray at a local shop (whilst hunting for spray varnish) I impulsively purchased it. At just under £10 it was pricey but I'm glad that I did as it gave me the inspiration to create a tennis court. Lots of mowing later, lines marked out and a few tree limbs lopped, we were ready to play.
It's not full size, whilst the lawn area is large it isn't flat and the trees get in the way. But it's big enough for us to enjoy a volley. It's been fun reintroducing my boys to this sport. 
When planning what to do in the garden I sometimes forget that it isn't just for me. My boys need space too and, let's face it, there is plenty of room at the moment! The photo above is of what we call the middle lawn. We currently have two trampolines (one is only used for lounging as it has a hole) and a slackline too (seen in the far left). This is all visible from the house but far enough away for the children not to feel as if they are under constant supervision.
I'm happy to say that we're enjoying the tennis.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Keyhole garden

Marking out of keyhole garden
I had heard of keyhole paths before, thanks to my reading on permaculture, but had never come across keyhole gardens until I saw the idea in a gardening magazine. The article was highlighting the work that the charity 'Send a Cow' does in Africa.

Weaving the basket for compost
In a keyhole garden you create a compost heap in the centre and surround it with a flower bed. This ideally should only be as wide as you can reach but as we used this to fill in a hidden pond our size was dictated by the former ponds size. The compost is never removed, it's nutrients and insects will enable the compost to leach out into the surrounding bed.

Completed keyhole garden waiting to be planted
This garden managed to use up all of the compost that I have made since living here. Luckily there is an enormous compost heap at the bottom of the garden created over many years by a previous owner. Much of it is sludge but it made a good base for the two bags of bought in sterile compost from the garden centre. My boys helped to create this and it is to be their garden. They have big plans!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Drawing fairies

Fairy on daffodil
One of my recent 'missions' was to do a little bit of art every day. This didn't last long thanks to the sudden warming of our weather and any spare time was spent in the garden. I did manage to do a little though and used the book 'water colour fairies' by David Riche as inspiration.

I enjoyed this book. Not all of the artists are my cup of tea but I found the ideas combined with the waking up of my own dormant garden set my creativity urge alight. Above you can see a fairy sat on a daffodil. The pose was taken straight from my son who really didn't want to be sketched. The daffodil was from my garden.

I enjoyed the process of creating art in my sketch book. It didn't have to be perfect, it didn't have a purpose. This is a 'mission' that I will revisit.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Little green peg bag.

I love this little bag. I crocheted it using the green yarn that I made from felting wool.

Initially I started making some really chunky socks but unravelled it when I realised that there wasn't enough there and that the yarn was far too rough for socks. I don't know why I thought that they would be a good idea!

I does make an excellent bag though and has a strange iridescent quality considering the roughness of the fibre.

Here is my post on spinning this yarn. It's been in my box for a while now so I'm happy to have finally made something useful from it!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Leaf mould

Leaf mould
Gardeners gold, leaf mould, is lovely stuff. It's great for sowing seeds and improving the soil (mine is clay though, thanks to the previous owners, well worked and not too claggy). My garden is full of trees so I find the best way to collect leaves is to mow over them in autumn with the mower set high. It makes a great hoover and partially chops them up and adds just a little grass to help the leaves with rotting down.

Last autumn I managed to fill a second dumpy bag with leaves, I already had one filled from the year before. The older bag now has barely 4 inches of leaf mould as it loses a lot of volume over time. It's not perfectly ready to use as it could do with another year... but I've already nibbled into it and  suspect that it won't stay around that long. In previous years I have used bin bags but this is no longer my preferred method as they get chewed to pieces by animals over time.

Shown above is my latest find, buried amongst an overgrown patch of clutter. A bin bag of at least 3yr old leaf mould, probably older. I am so chuffed to find this! It is beautiful crumbly, friable, touchable stuff, far nicer than any compost. When we moved here I brought all of my leaf mould with me much to the disgust of C. All the other bags have long since been emptied so this is indeed a happy find.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


What it worth? It is feeling wanted, needed. Knowing that you have a place in your world.

Terry Pratchett explores this idea in 'Unseen academicals' with Nutt who repeatedly asks the questions, "Do I have worth?"

Do I have worth? Yes, but sometimes it is hard for me to see. And if I don't feel worth in myself than it is not surprising if others don't see worth in me. As a stay at home mum society does not give me much worth. I know that this is wrong but it is the way that things now are. Unfortunately I think that this lack of appreciation for motherhood (unless you happen to be supermum) has rubbed off on me.

I was always a high achiever at school. Doing well was easy. Now I find it hard to try things in case I fail. Silly but true. Perfectionism is not good and has prevented me from starting many projects. Sometimes I really do need that kick up the bum! But with each project I complete I feel a better sense of worth.

Having started with Pratchett I'll end with him too. Here's a quote from Equal Rites "If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly," said Granny.

Much better to do something badly than not doing it at all.

'If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly,' is originally by Gilbert Chesterton from his 1910 book, 'What's wrong with the world?' 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Washing line

My washing line is back!

To be honest I haven't really missed it much until the last couple of weeks with the sun finally shining. It came down whilst C was working on the garage over 6 months ago and my drier has been doing far too much work ever since. With the damp and cold I barely noticed it was gone.

Now I'm happy to have the washing line back. It's hard to beat line dried clothing.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Weight loss notes April - May

  • Monday 15th April, first day - 14stone 13lbs.
  • Monday 22nd April - 14st 8.5lbs => 4.5lbs lost
  • Monday 29th April - 14st 4.5lbs => 4lbs lost, 8.5lbs overall
  • Monday 6th May - 14st 7.25lbs => 2.75lbs gained,  5.25 lost overall
  • Monday 13th May - 14st 3.5lbs => 3.75lbs lost, 9.25 lost overall
I've not written much about trying to lose weight because I generally find weight loss blogs boring. I tried to write one myself in the past but keeping it inspiring was hard work especially on a bad week. I want all my effort to go into losing weight, not creating blog posts around what becomes very narrow subject of have I lost or gained.

We all know how to lose weight, eat less and do more. You don't need me to tell you how to do that. What I can say is how I succeeded this last month. The first two weeks I followed a meal replacement plan. The third week I tried to just eat sensibly which I found pretty hard. With hindsight I think that this happened to collide with pmt kicking in which didn't help (pmt was mild this month so I didn't realise at the time). I'm now back on the meal replacement plan though it varies as to whether I use this for one or two meals each day. The weekends I have been on real food for all meals and less strict but not stupid. I've not done any extra exercise but I have been doing heavy gardening almost daily, my muscles can definitely feel it.

So far I have managed to lose 9lbs. I haven't yet noticed any significant difference in how my clothes fit but hopefully next month I will. Fingers crossed that I can keep this up!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Solar water

When we first moved into this house we refused to turn on the heating. The central heating for this old four bedroom house was supplied by an eighties inefficient Rayburn powered with gas bottles. I love Rayburns but we both knew that this was not the way to go.

After a lot of research my partner installed a biomass boiler with accumulator tank in the garage, this is fuelled by logs and does a good job of heating our home and hot water. We had one solar panel that we had purchased for our previous property but had never got around to installing. This was put up on our garage roof and, along with it's own smaller accumulator tank, was installed to pre-heat our hot water before it's pipe goes through the larger tank.

We now have 5 more panels to add to the mix. This will hopefully supply all of our hot water needs throughout the summer and actually make a bit of a dent in the winter too. The frames are up, just a little more plumbing to do and hopefully it will be good to go!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Purchasing seeds


It's taken a while but I've finally chosen and ordered my seeds for the year. Doubtless I'll add a few impulse flowers over time but for now I'm quite happy with what I've got.

I'm currently in spring clean mode, trying to use all of the free seeds I've collected from magazines and getting rid of the ones I'm never going to sow. As I'm focusing on salads this year I'm surprised by how few new packs I've needed, all purchased within the £15 voucher I had for Thompson and Morgan, apart from some white clover seed that I bought through ebay.

For my own record, I have purchased:
  • Poached egg plant - apparently this is loved by beneficial insects
  • Chilli pepper 'Padron' - This is a medium chilli. I love chillis but don't always want to burn the roof off of my mouth!
  • Chilli pepper 'Poblana Ancho' - A mild chilli
  • Snake Gourd - a bit of fun for the boys!
  • Squash 'Turks Turban' (winter) - Just because it looks cool
  • Squash 'Patty Pans Scallop Mixed' - I think that we'll all enjoy trying these
  • Aquilegia 'Magpie' & 'Royal Purple' - I love granny's bonnets
  • Dianthus plumarius 'Sonata' - It was cheap and I fancy growing some of these
  • Comfrey - for when I run out of nettles to harvest (fat chance!)
  • White Clover - to use as a green manure
I hope that they arrive soon and grow well.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Why do I write this blog?

When I first started this journey I pulled together a folder and just let all of the ideas I had flow within it's pages. I've not picked up that folder for several months now. Perhaps I should.
This blog has become that folder. The routine of posting allows me to regularly keep on top of ideas and how I am progressing. I'm not posting for fame, there are no regular readers as far as I'm aware. I have not advertised this blog. But I do enjoy writing it.
I also enjoy making it look attractive and pleasing to my eye. I want it to be relaxing. Hence lots of photo's of clouds.
I don't share much of my family here, my eldest doesn't want to be shown and my youngest is too young to choose. This is also why I do not share my whole name and face. Am I protecting my family or just using this as an excuse to hide myself? I'm not sure, I hope that I'm not hiding. Perhaps I will be more open in the future.
What I didn't expect when I started this was to rediscover how much I enjoy writing. The blog format helps to prevent me from being too wordy and going on and on and on. Usually.
I also find it hard not to use emoticons, I sometimes feel that these help better express when I'm being ironic or feeling happy.  But when I use them I feel that I'm being lazy in not bothering to find the words to express how I feel. Sometimes using the correct word is hard.
I enjoy writing this blog. When that enjoyment ends, so will this blog.

Monday, 6 May 2013

May Day

I always enjoy May Day. Some years I go overboard with flowers in the house, others we get out and about. This year we've done a mixture of things over this bank holiday weekend.

May day itself, on the first, was unobserved. I forgot! But we've been having lots of fun this weekend in the garden. Yesterday we visited the event 'Siege' at Old Sarum. Whilst my boys enjoyed this my youngest's favourite bit was visiting the prototype Neolithic houses that the Ancient Technology centre group had been building in the car park. My boy has some strange reactions to buildings, he absorbs the atmosphere and just likes 'to be'. The Neolithic building was dark and slightly smoky which you wouldn't expect to grab him but he happily settled in on their woven beds and didn't want to go. This has happened before with him but usually in religious buildings such as churches or cathedrals.

Today I was planning to go to Old Wardour Castle for more May fun... but it is such great weather that I'm happy to stay home and enjoy the garden. So out there now I will go!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

April review, May planning

How did I do for April?

Home & garden: Get into the garden everyday, even if it's just a walk.
Definite tick here, this happened. Helped by the dropping of the bitter cold wind and a return to our mild but not exciting weather.

Wellbeing: No romantic fiction.
I succeeded here too. I probably ought to write a whole post on this at some point but suffice to say I wasted very little time glued to books that aren't reference.

Health & Fitness: Plan meals for healthy eating.
Did well here. With the warmer weather I took this a step further and am now trying to lose weight.

Celebrations: Easter (though almost over)! St Georges Day

Arts & Crafts: Sketch a little something everyday.
I started well, I think I will revisit this challenge in the future. Too much time spent productively in the garden!

Self learning: Limit shopping budget.
Still trying my best here.

All in all a very successful month and highly influenced by the weather improvement. I need to accept that I am strongly influenced by the weather and seasons and work with this rather than fighting against it.

And for May?
I don't have any particular goals this month, the garden requires a lot of my attention over the next few weeks. So I'm going to let things slide a bit and see how it goes.

Mulching with grass

Top half of bed was mulched today, the bottom half a week ago
I first came across the idea of mulching with grass from a Bob Flowerdew book, 'The lazy Gardener' I think. His point of view was why waste energy taking it to the compost when you can just place it in the border whilst mowing. Grass is full of nitrogen and great for improving the soil.
This isn't a border but my veg patch. On empty ground I layer it several inches thick as I find that it shrinks down pretty quickly. The photo below shows a bed I mulched after the first cut, about a month ago. It has almost entirely disappeared into the soil.

This bed was mulched thickly with grass clippings about a month ago.
I find that it does an excellent job at keeping down the weeds whilst the soil is bare. When the plants are in I tend to use grass with a more sparing hand either thinly spread or making sure that a small area around the plants themselves are kept clear, apparently grass can burn if it's applied too thickly but this has yet to happen with me.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

What a lot of life!

blossom on our old plum tree
This blog is becoming a bit of a gardening blog at the moment but whilst the weather is nice it's great to get into the garden.

Working outside yesterday felt fabulous and I could feel that the world is teeming with life. The birds were twittering away in the trees, though this in itself is not unusual as the birds are rather loud around here throughout the year. I think it has something to do with the arable desert of monoculture crops that we're surrounded by, in contrast the village gardens must be something of an oasis. I saw lot's of butterflies, bees and wasps darting around the flowers. There are signs that something is digging my garden for grubs in the orchard. Loads of insect life, especially in the compost heaps. Signs of moles in the garden (I'm okay with this as they are in the rougher area, I really ought to start collecting the soil from the mole hills) and I even scared a rabbit away from our bonfire. This was a timely reminder of why I shouldn't bother sowing seeds direct into the soil. I even heard my first cuckoo.

Mole hills
The spring flowers are looking great at the moment, the primroses are so exuberant that they are almost pushing themselves out of the soil. The celandines are incredible, some are HUGE this year. My daffodils are dying a slow death but there is still a lot of interest from the bugs. We don't have many daisys but those that are here were stunning in their simplicity in the middle of our drive way.

Lesser celendines
My vegetable patch is under control again though I still have plenty of areas to work on. I appreciate how every year it gets just a little more organised, a little more under control. My next focus is the area around it, the 'walls'.

Veg patch weeded (for the moment...)