Thursday, 29 July 2010

Harvesting and enjoying the food

This week my focus has been on a bit of tidying up at the allotments and eating the harvest!

I'm continuing to be thrilled by how much weeding the mulch has saved....and by the number of worms in the soil now. As I trimmed the edge of the grass path, and then turned over a strip of soil between path and bed I've been amazed by the number of worms..which are obviously loving the grass mulch that has spread onto this area (the blackbirds are always helping this process). So in two short sessions I've got half the garden done.

We are now harvesting Carrots, Kale, Spring Onions, Lettuce, Fennel, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, Redcurrants, Blueberries and lots of Courgettes. The hens are particularly enjoying the Swiss Chard harvest, and we are benefiting from all that green goodness via their eggs.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Radical Homemakers

My current reading is Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. A book I've wanted to read for some months now. I ordered it from Amazon to read while on holiday - and it is the most inspiring/heartening book I've read in ages. Here is the description from Amazon ..

Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises-drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities.

In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires.

Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act, and who have centered their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism, where domination and oppression are cast aside and where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude.

Radical Homemakers nationwide speak about empowerment, transformation, happiness, and casting aside the pressures of a consumer culture to live in a world where money loses its power to relationships, independent thought, and creativity. If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book.

Often reading about how much the world needs to change in the face of climate change and peak oil is very depressing. There seems to be too much to do, and not enough people who care.

This book is different though, it focuses on the stories of people who are actually making the changes in their own lives....who are trying to live simply/frugally...and it is a real treat to be in their company and it is hugely inspiring.
In the spirit of this I tried to get my local library to buy the book...but they didn't...but I'm not sorry to have purchased it. I think its a book that will be regularly re-read!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Berry picking

Trying to have a more restful day today(!) - however, I did pick some berries.

A bowl of strawberries ..

and the first of the White and Red Currants...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Flowers around the garden

Alongside the mulching something I'm focusing on this year is growing more flowers to attract beneficial insects. In nearly everyone of my raised beds I've added flowers, and at the garden entrance I have a hedge of Cat-mint. This has been in place for about 8 years or so, and at the moment is covered in flowers and if you are working near it, you can hear that it's also full of the hum of bees working. For me that is an essential sound of summer. A strong memory from childhood is of spending summer afternoons in my Grandma's garden. She had a large campanula plant that was always full of bees, so that sound was always part of summer. I took a rooted bit from her plant years ago, and have had it in every garden since. It is in my home garden now.

In the allotment garden Borage and Nasturtiums seed themselves every year. Mullein blew in, probably from the nearby railway line, and I've encouraged it to stay - for it's architectural beauty, soft colour, and for the bees. Gorgeous double Marigold's have self-seeded from plants bought in the market last year. Heartsease is another self-seed from plants grown from seed sown many years ago. This is a favourite of mine, and the plants are useful to move to any bare spots.

This year I've added Yellow Trefoil and Phacelia - grown from seed I purchased from Sarah Raven's catalogue earlier this year. I'm really pleased with both of them. The Phacelia is full of bees...and both will be regulars from now on.

I love the bees and hoverflies that come into the garden, and the presence of birds - who love to work through the mulch looking for food. some nearby allotment plots are immaculate - not a single weed in site. But to me they seem sterile - no wildlife to share the space. I wouldn't want to garden in that way.

Another flower is that of any vegetable plants I leave to go to seed. I did this last year with Mizuna and Chard and have had great success with self-sown plants as a result. This is something I want to encourage more will be leaving more things to self seed where I can as seen in Emilia Hazelip's garden. See video by going to

and finally today's harvest...

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Busy times

I've been busy lately - hence the lack of posts.

...Strawberries are ready for picking, and as well as bowlfuls for ourselves, I've picked 2lbs and made them into Jam.

Lots of Chard to pick too, lots of the bigger leaves have been enjoyed by the Chooks. I've been watering more than I would like due to the lack of rain...and still busy mulching as much as possible.

I discovered a wasps nest under construction in the roof of the hen house. I don't like to destroy such a beautiful thing....but think I will reluctantly have it is too close to me when I clean out the hen house/collect eggs....and too close to the hens.

... 13th July - wasps nest has now been removed!