Saturday, 24 September 2016

Shared Meals

My bricklayer, Dill, has been working hard on our extension and it feels that we're making progress now that we're out of the ground. I've even got the scaffold booked for a weeks time! 

The other day he was going to work late as he had to start late, so I offered him a evening meal with the family (he often has lunch with us when he's working here).
Focaccia from the other night
I like our girls (and boy) to eat with as many friends and family as possible, sat around the table I think it's really good for them and helps improve their manners. My youngest daughter is a little bit besotted with Dill anyway and has named one of her Duplo figures "Dill" who goes on lots adventures building towers. 
"Dillster" working hard! 
I also think it's essential that they treat people working for us how they want to be treated, a Polish friend of mine says that in Poland if you have builders working for you then they eat with you each lunch time. 

A really strong memory I have growing up is lots of people eating with us as a family, kind of like a stereotypical image of a farm kitchen. Anyone working or helping us on the farm on a Saturday used to have chips with us on a night time and dad even does this for his workers on a Friday lunch time now, my mum also does a big meal around Christmas for everyone that works for them (a great fun evening!) as well as a cooked breakfast on a Saturday. These memories are all noisy, fun meals filled with laughter, part of the reason I've always wanted a big family. 

I'd like to have more people eat with us, not for showy meals but for everyday run of the mill meals, and hopefully with a bigger house we should be able to do it more often. 

Do you like to have people round to eat?
Do you enjoy big noisy meals?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

A Little Girls Packed Lunch

Now I never want to be "that guy" but I was quite pleased with my little girls lunch yesterday. 
She had a sandwich made with homemade bread (my wife made the sandwich when she made her own but I baked the bread!), a tub of tomatoes from the garden and an apple from my parents farm off a tree I planted over a decade ago. 
Good to know where your food comes from - The flour for the bread was even bought from a mill not far from my in-laws and they try to buy local grains where possible.
Now I'm not saying every meal is like this in this house, but I'd like to do it more and more if I can. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Pear Rust

Walking around the orchard the other day, whist snuffling apples with the girls, I noticed orange spots on my pear trees
I knew straight away what it was - Pear Rust.
But it got me thinking, it's only meant to be able to complete it's life cycle with a juniper bush and I've not seen any close by. I'll have to keep an eye out when visiting neighbours in future as it's a shame to have my pear trees affected by this. Apparently if you remove and burn affected leaves from the juniper you can help reduce the rust on your pear trees, hopefully breaking the cycle and getting rid of it. I don;t think it's too detrimental to the tree but it can cause canker which will weaken the tree.
Anyone else have pear rust on their trees? 
What's the worst thing affecting your fruit trees this autumn?

Monday, 19 September 2016

Electric Daisies - Growing And Seed Saving

I've grown electric daisies for a few years now and I think they make a really interesting talking point in the veg garden. 

You won't be alone if you've never heard of them, they're an edible flower that is related to daisies, they are also called the tooth ache plant because of the plants ability to numb your mouth slightly. I'd never heard of them until a couple of years ago and though I just had to try them! 

Eating a bit of the flower makes your tongue tingle, a little like licking a 9v battery! If you have a big bit it can make your mouth numb for a few minutes. 
For a bit of fun in the garden they don't take up much room. I grew mine under my purple sprouting and they've done really well there, flowering all summer long. I start them like many other plants, sowing the seeds in April in the greenhouse and planting out after the risk of frost has gone. I give them very little care just picking off a few flowers every now and again - I wouldn't say they taste nice but the sensation is a little addictive! 

The plants stay small, being about a foot high (30cm) and spreading about the same. I grew eight plants this year which is far, far too many, just a couple would be fine. My girls think they're pretty funny as well, watching them try one always makes me smile! 
.There's not many uses for the plant, although I've read of people using them in posh cocktails and smoothies. 

The video above shows how I grew them and saved the seeds. I'm saving loads of seed which I'll happily pass on to anyone that wants them when I start seed swapping later in the year! 

Have you ever grown them?

Any ideas what I could do with all the flowers?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Extension Progress - Slab Poured!

My dad and I have had a few busy weekends wince the last time I wrote about the extension
Easiest to go through it in pictures:
The cavity under the ground level has been filled with a light concrete mix

Drainage has been added, pea gravel around all pipes.
I also built a man hole from scratch.

Drainage in the house surrounded by peas gravel and hardcore added to the slab

Wackered base

Sand blinding added so the plastic won't get damaged

Plastic added - this made a huge play pen for the youngest! 

6 inches of insualtion added to be under the concrete floor

Plastic to go between the insualtion and plastic as well! (build regs requirement) 

Wet concrete being laid - the grid pattern is the reinforcing in the concerete slab

Tamping the concrete roughly level - to lay the concrete we also had the help of one of dads workers Andy!
Got it mixed and laid in an afternoon.

Floating up the concrete late at night

A nice finish on the concrete - this will be the tiled floor of the kitchen eventually! 

It's certainly been busy around here! 
Yesterday and today are being spent getting ready for Dill the brick layer who is coming tomorrow. I've load the slab out with blocks, got all the starter bars in the walls, moved bricks so they're nice and close and made sure he's got plenty of sand and cement. Anything to keep him efficient and save me money! 
Exciting times now - can't wait to see this going up! 
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