Friday 30 June 2017

First Watch Of Gracie's Backyard

I don't get involved with many kick starter campaigns unless it really grabs my interest. So far I've invested in two of them. 
The first was a for a video on the Market Gardener Jean Martin-fortier. I had become obsessed with his book (and still am to be honest), his methods have altered how I garden and how I see my future here on this little farm. 
His video didn't disappoint, I could see the methods he'd been talking about in his book put into practice and although there are many videos out there, this was presented in a really useful way, with chapters detailing how to tackle certain issues (planting, weeds, etc). 

The second video I've backed is called Gracie's Backyard and it's a documentary from Ridgedale Permaculture, which is run by Richard Perkins. I got the download yesterday and watched it straight away.  
He's been doing a great run of videos on YouTube detailing how he runs his farm day to day and all of it's integrated systems. I find his videos fascinating, not least because his farm does make a profit.

This video was certainly less of a how-to and more a general overview of the farm and looks at some of the main issues I have with the farm. The main one for me is people working for free to learn the skills, this isn't something I 100% agree with and I'd be interested to know if the farm was still viable if he had to pay everyone a living wage. He says in the video that he's not happy to pay people that he doesn't think are skilled at what they do, but as someone who was paid whilst doing an apprenticeship I'm not sure this is a fair way to look at it. Also if this new farm model is to work in other locations around the world then everyone working there needs to earn a fair wage, there are already plenty of places running course to supplement what they do. 

The farm is amazing though.
I do love how they have many different activities going on within the farm; the "no dig" market garden, pastured eggs, pastured meat birds, sheep, cows and pigs as well as fruit bushes and orchard trees. Splitting revenue streams like this makes a farm income much more secure, but again all the activities are quite labour heavy and might not be quite so profitable if everyone was paid in full. The variety of work does makes it really interesting for everyone who works there as their day is varied giving a much more enriched working environment as well as a better way of learning. 

I also love how by selling multiple products from the farm the locals are becoming interested in what is going on there, in an area where agriculture is a dying art and most food is imported people can now see that there is a future in farming.

I really enjoyed this video and it gave a good look at the human aspect of what they're doing there and it has certainly given me ideas of things I could do differently here as well and how I could alter a few things I already have set up.

If you don't fancy paying to watch the video he has plenty of them on YouTube already and as he is putting what he knows into practice rather than just preaching it, I think the man is set to become a lot better know than he is already. 

Thursday 29 June 2017

Importing Fertility into The garden

A video where I talk about importing fertility into the garden and what I'm trying to do to produce more from my own land. 

What do you do to improve the fertility of your soil in your garden?

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Interesting Beets

I've got quite a few beds of beets in this year and I love trying new and interesting varieties. 
So far I've got three beds I can harvest from at the moment and these are the beets from each one that me and the children pulled up for tea last night.
From left to right Golden, Di Choggia and Albino! 
Only the middle one has got a decent name! Shame really, who'd call a plant Albino! 
The Di Choggia is really beautiful when it's cut up but they all taste amazing. I think I need to do a blind taste test really to see which is best. 
This lot got made into soup and due to the selection it didn't have the deep red colour that you'd normally get from beetroot soup but still tasted amazing served with fresh baked granary rolls. 

What's your favourite variety of beetroot?

Sunday 25 June 2017

My Week In Pictures

 Sorry I've been rubbish on the blog this week, It's been busy to say the least!
Here's a few pictures of what we've been up to! 
The hot days have meant every meal has been eaten outside on the new patio

Breakfast in pyjamas

Couldn't ask for better company! 
A sneak peak at the new chicken coop I've designed this last week or so! A blog post and video coming up on this next week! I'm really pleased with it!

Child labour podding broad beans for tea

Made up some more veg boxes this week to sell to people I know. I was really pleased with the selection

The sheep have been moved a couple of times this week. The boy loves the stock! 

The two younger ones playing nicely together, here playing mum's and dad's. Considering he's only 18 months old he's really good at playing the games the girls come up with!  

Some baking - Here's some more pesto swirls I made

Some summer crops are ready now - Syrian Cucumber 

Yellow Courgettes ready as well. I don't have a poly tunnel so I was pleased to get these so early.

Some lovely red cabbage ready as well in the garden. 

Trying to stop my biggest garden pest from stealing all my veg! She spends the whole time down there eating! 

Some brought in eggs for hatching - trying to bring in a bit of fresh blood for breeding. Bet the hen won't stay broody now! 

Harvesting potatoes with the girls today! Is there a better job to do with children?

Another compost bin completely filled! Shows the garden is in full swing at the moment! 

Saturday 24 June 2017

The Chance To Win A Shed

I think most people who know me know I love a good shed! So here's chance to win a little one. 

I'm not being sponsored to have this competition on my blog but I do win a small prise if the winner is directed from my blog, that said I'm going to enter the kids Wendy house so I doubt anyone else will have a look in.... 

I'd love to see your sheds as well to be honest - send me them on my facebook page so I can see them as well!

Details below:

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Vlog Episode 6 - Walk Round

The next Vlog is on YouTube now!
Join me on a walk round the sheep and a look at my very productive veg gardens! Everything is growing like crazy and we're harvesting so much at the moment! 

Let me know what you think! 

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Identifying Plants - Feverfew

There's a clump of feverfew that's growing by my chicken feed shed all spring. 
I know it's feverfew but I don't know how I know that (if that makes sense). I can't ever remember looking it up, maybe I saw it in a book once and it stayed in my memory. But my daughter was asking me just the other day what the flower was. 
I thought it was a great exercise to confirm the knowledge in my brain, that it was the right plant, and show her that looking things up in a book is a good way to identify something you're not sure of. So we picked a sprig of flowers and went to one of my identification books (I have many) that I brought from a carboot sale years ago for a couple of pounds. 
This book is called "The Wild Flowers Of The British Isles" by Garrard & Streeter and although I know that these days most people just post a picture of a plant on a forum or a Facebook group and expect someone to come up with an answer, I still think it's great to look it up in a book. To me it seems a much more accessible medium to a young child. 
Luckily I was right, my daughter seemed to really enjoy the process and it was a fun five minute activity to do together. 

Apparently this plant is a great migraine preventative along with other medicinal uses. 

Anyone use this plant? I have loads growing!

Saturday 17 June 2017

Veg Box

Yesterday I put together a little veg box to say thank you to my doctor who had helped me out the day before. 

I think it looked pretty good. It contained:
Red oak leaf lettuce
Butter head lettuce
Bunch of radishes
Mange tout peas
Bunch of Di choggia beets
One kohlrabi.
Producing veg boxes is something I'm seriously considering to do next year at the moment, along with eggs I could also add at the moment kale, golden beets, bunched herbs, bag of mizzuna leaves, Paris market carrots, green garlic and broad beans.

Does anyone reading this receive a veg box? 

How many items do you get and what do you pay (if you don't mind me asking)? 

Do you sign up for the year or on a week by week basis?

Friday 16 June 2017

Afternoon Drama!

What an afternoon. 

This little one has been helping me all day (we're designing a new chicken coop) and I'd set up a tent for her near to where I was working so she could play as well.
Unknown to me she'd taken a flower in there (not sure which one yet) and I thought she must have rubbed some in her eye. She came to me quite distraught and saying she couldn't open her eye and it was burning. I washed it out quickly then grabbing the boy we jumped in the car to head to A&E but she kept falling asleep in the car which worried em even further. 

I wasn't sure what to do so rather than drive to the local town I called at the doctors in the village who luckily saw her there and then. 

They weren't worried and the signs weren't there for anything serious so just antihistamines to put my mind at ease and a good nap for her now so she calms herself down. 

Managed to pick my other daughter up just in time from school as well (well I was late but not too late).

 It's amazing to have a doctors surgery in the village and I'm so grateful that they saw her like that without an appointment (I should have gone to A&E really!). 

I'm not someone who panics but she was so worked up I was unsure what to do. 

Be careful with what your kids play with folks!

** This is copied from my facebook page and since getting home and getting her settled she said that it was sawdust in her eye. If she'd told me this before I would have worried much less. I was thinking it was an allergic reaction but I think now that it'l just that she rubbed it so much. 

Poor little thing but she did make me worry! Feel like a fool for charging into the doctors now though! ***

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Keyhole Garden

As I'm completely and utterly obsessed with the subject of growing food I've read about many ways of growing food but it's sometimes good to see these in person. 
I've never seen a keyhole garden in use before so I was pleased to see this one at Hellen's at the weekend. 
Made from a wall that had fallen down nearby, with a wire mesh compost bin in the middle it really seemed to be doing it's thing. Planted with peas this year and courgettes the year before they say it performs well in the garden.

I love the idea of this. It wouldn't work in my intensive veg garden but the principle behind it is great. 

Does anyone have a keyhole garden or would like one? 

What are your experiences of them?

Monday 12 June 2017

Physics Garden (Herb Garden)

One area that I was really impressed with at Hellens was their Physics Garden. My pictures really don't do it justice as my lens wasn't wide enough to capture it all. 
It's set out like a large wheel with raised beds, each section is divided into a different area of healing or usage. 

This is one section I really loved, all the poisons, but many had different uses. 
I also love their use of slate to mark the different plants and areas, this would be a great way to learn each one if you're reminded what they are each time you're in the garden. The manor was run by monks at one time so it quiet appropriate that they have this healing garden growing there now, this is in a little courtyard by the dovecote over looked by the manor house. 

The different sections for different things was also really clever. 

 The descriptions on the plants were really great and interesting.


See all this has really inspired me to up my herb game and grow more here. I grow quite a few culinary herbs (many with other purposes) but it wold be great to have lots more growing for other uses as well, maybe labling in this way would be a good way to increase my knowledge as well and make it sink in! 

What do you think? Is this a good layout for a herb garden? 

Anyone have anything similar growing in their garden (maybe on a smaller scale!)?

Hellen's Garden Festival

Today we had another great day at Hellens garden festival 
I'm afraid I haven't got many pictures (but lots of garden that I'll share later in the week), but we had a great time, my talk went well (but unfortunately wasn't attended by that many), the children did loads of activities and I managed to go on a hour tour of the garden without them! 
Wool weaving demo

Wool weaving

Pressed (or smashed) flowers

One fo the tents with lots of craft activities for the children

Girls showing off their facepaints
Sometimes you go to a show and it's just lots of stalls trying to sell you something, Hellens really doesn't feel like that, instead there's loads to see, areas to explore and stuff to do. Again I really don't feel like we did it all and should have got there earlier, maybe next year we'll go for both days. Great day out.

Saturday 10 June 2017

Scotch Bridget Apple Still Good To Eat On The 10th Of June!

I've just been cleaning out my fruit store and found a apple that's still good to eat on the 10th of June! 

In fact it tastes amazing and has only been stored in a frost free shed with no real special care except plenty of air flow.

Scotch Bridget is a duel purpose apple and one I've planted everywhere I've lived, a great apple to have growing if you're aiming for self sufficiency or living a preparedness lifestyle or even just wanting to cut your food bill and know where your food is coming from. 

The ability to store fruit like this would have been key to survival in the past and finding the right varieties combined with using storage methods of the past is an important skill to practice. 

I've written about it before on this blog here and here

What's the longest you've kept apples for?

Friday 9 June 2017

Hellens Garden Festival 2017

Don't forget it's Hellens Garden Festival this weekend!

It's a great festival with loads to do for adults and children alike and all for a truly amazing cause.

If you come on Sunday (2PM) you can even come and see me do a talk on "gardening with children"

Hope to see you there!

Thursday 8 June 2017

Some Lightheartedness On Election Day

A few parody videos to make you smile on election day.
First one is a rather catchy farmer one (Ed Sheeran cover)! 

And these two are some parenting ones that are a little too close to the truth! 
This one is another Ed Sheeran Cover.

And this one is a cover of Feetwood Mac

Now that should have made you smile, just one more thing:

Make sure if you live in the UK that you get out there and vote today

I don't care who you vote for (well I do but I won't tell you on this blog anyway) but make sure that your voice is heard, even if your party has no chance of getting in in your constituency show them that you support them. 

Wednesday 7 June 2017

A Tour Of The Coppice

The garden and the sheep (and the children) take up most of my time around here, but I have got a few other areas growing on quietly in the background. 

The coppice is one of those, it's quiet happy being neglected  but it's looking better every year. I did make some extra plantings this year and I plan to plant even more this next winter/spring - I'll clear an area of grass by leaving plastic on it and then plant it up with self seeding annuals or perennial herbs and bushes. 
Here's a little walk around of what it's looking like at the moment.

Let me know what you think!

What would you plant in there?

Sunday 4 June 2017

Playing Peter Rabbit

The girls spent a good three and a half hours with me out in the garden this afternoon. 
They were quite happy entertaining themselves, creating games and playing with the mud. 
 When I asked what they were playing they told me "Peter Rabbit". I asked who they were and my eldest said she was the cat and my younger daughter told me she was Mr McGregor's wife. They then showed me all their "pies" they'd made with mud and bricks and in each one was a character from the book "This one has Peter Rabbit in, this one has Benjamin in... we don't like rabbits in our garden!"
I guess I've taught them well on that front! 
Tasty pies...

Eating some New Zealand Yam leaves, these girls are animals! 

They had a great time playing in the mud but a wash and a change of clothes was needed! Lovely company for an afternoon planting veg! 

Friday 2 June 2017

A Talk On Gardening With Children

Last year I did a talk at Hellens Garden Festival and I've been asked back to do a talk again this year.

The last talk was on our journey with self sufficiency, one that wrote itself really, but this years is a little different, it's going to be about gardening with children.

My talk will be at 2 o'clock on the Sunday so I hope if you're local you'll come along and give me a bit of support! The whole day is for a great cause and there's loads going on for children and adults. the day we had there last year was amazing.

Planting tomatoes on Wednesday with the girls
This is certainly a subject I think I have a lot of experience with, as during the last five years I've really tried to involve my children in everything I do here when it comes to growing our own food. I've got lots of tips and tricks for getting them to help out, as well as having them with me whilst I grow most of the veg we eat, from things I've made to getting them to dig for things like New Zealand Yams and pretending it's buried treasure! 

But I want to know what your top tips are for getting children to help you in the garden?

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