Thursday, 24 June 2010

Elderflower cordial and Lloyd Socks

I got a real treat in the post this week - a pair of Lloyd Socks. The Lloyd Socks came from Canadian Sheep Farmer and are 60 % Sheep wool, 30% Nylon, and 10 % Llama wool. They were a swap for a duplicate copy of Fields of Plenty by Michael Ableman and amazingly I'd forgotten they were on their way, so it was a lovely surprise. I need a new pair of wellies now, (as my old ones leak), and that will be me sorted for the Autumn/Winter!

I also got round to picking Elder-flowers at last this week. On Tuesday evening we walked along to the field where we often play with the dog, and I collected 25 Elder blossoms while the other two played paw-ball. I use this recipe from the wonderful Creative Living Forum (see link in side bar).

25 Elderflowers
2 oz Citric acid
3 lb Sugar
2 Pints water
2 lemons sliced

Put dry ingredients in large preserving pan - boil the water and pour over other ingredients. Stir to melt sugar and then leave covered for 24 hours. Next day, strain through muslin (or I used a clean tea towel over a colander) and bottle. Serve with plenty of fizzy spring water - it's very good on a hot day.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Relaxing Sunday

I'm taking things a bit easier today. First thing this morning I took the time to clean out the hen house and just enjoy spending time with the hens.

At the allotment ... due to all the mulching no weeding needed and watering drastically cut down. In the polytunnel at the moment the Courgettes are looking good; Tomatoes just producing tiny fruit; and Poppies in flower and close to supplying seeds for baking; and outside the tunnel the Strawberry/Plum beds are mulched with straw and ready to go.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Busy day in the garden

A lot of the time I have felt like I'm just keeping up in the garden. But I hope that is beginning to change. Last year I visited a private garden that was open to the public - a lovely cottage garden, with a small allotment plot across the lane. It was the allotment plot that really interested me - it was pretty small (maybe about 30ft by 20ft) but well kept and full of produce. It made me realise that I wanted to keep my gardens in better shape...and that if I had less ground to cover I might actually grow more in the space I did have.

At that time I still had 2 full allotments and was struggling to keep on top of the weeds, never mind anything else. I was reluctant to give up gardening space....but last summer I finally did. Now I have 1 1/2 allotments and it's made a great difference. This year I've managed to dig over a patch of ground that was previously grass and plant it up - I'm able to keep things looking tidy at last.

Broad beans





Another change is that I'm mulching everything I can, which saves on weeding obviously and is making a big difference in the amount of worms and moisture in the soil. Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny hot day and I was free to spend several hours in the garden - as a result it looks great and I feel like I'm on top of things at last....and free to enjoy growing, processing things for the rest of the summer. There are lots of countryside related things I want to do - like making Elderflower Cordial soon - and I want to take the time to enjoy seasonal tasks, instead of rushing to fit them in.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Garden update

Very tired this weekend - in fact I spent two hours this afternoon sleeping on the just some photos from the cottage garden today...
First a view of the back garden in evening sun -

The very first fruits forming on the Quince -

- and on the Japanese Wineberry -

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Just ask!

I've never been a great one for asking for things...too quiet for my own good...but just lately I've decided to change this.

Example no. 1 - I've wanted to have hens for ages. Lack of space in the home garden, and concern over the cost of runs (I wanted something a decent size that gave them a generous space) to purchase put me off. I was mulling all this over earlier in the year and became aware that a neighbour who had always kept hens in their garden had sold them. What, I wondered, had they done with their very sturdy home-made hen houses? I wondered this to myself...then one day I happened to be chatting to him and thought "what have I got to lose?" So I asked...turns out he had chopped them up for firewood...but had parts and wood enough to build a new one. He got on with his work, then came back to me later, and offered to build me a hen-house/and or a run. Soon after this there was a change of plan ... he built me a new house....but said I could put it in a run in his garden, ready made 16 feet by 9 feet, and very secure. Plenty of room for the 4 hens I wanted. To cut the story short that's where my hens live now...there is even an old freezer in one of their sheds to keep my feed secure. A much better outcome than I could have dreamed of. In return I give them fresh eggs, and they get the pleasure of hens in the garden again.

Example no. 2 Last year I started using mulch on my beds (especially in the polytunnel) - I used mainly grass cuttings from my own garden, which I dried in the tunnel and then spread. Problem is that I don't produce enough. I have been wondering how to solve this. It crossed my mind to ask the guy who tends our local cemetery....but as usual I put off, thinking it might be creating more work for him in some way. Well, yesterday I had to ring him about something else...and I just asked him about it. It turns out that he takes trailer loads to be composted, but has to pay to dispose of it!! So he seems quite happy to bring some to my allotment and get rid of it for free....and he is bringing some today. Problem solved again.

So my advice is "Just ask" .... you never know it might work...and looking at it the other way round I'm always happy to get the chance to help someone out. I was reminded of this recently reading "Everyday sacred" by Sue Bender....who said that by asking for help you are giving people the chance to give which gives them pleasure.