Monday, 13 July 2020

Bread Seed Poppy

I've failed to grow these far more time than I've succeeded. 

This year I started them in the greenhouse, but covered them over with a board. seemed to be the key to my success. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Ducks Got Big!

I can't believe how fast these ducks have grown! They are huge! 

We moved them into a bigger pen the other day and it was far easier than moving chickens! The kids loved herding them as they waddled along (the ducks not the kids waddled).

Thursday, 2 July 2020


Few fruits I love more than properly ripe cherries 

But few things do I struggle growing more. 

We netted our trees but still struggle to get more than a few berries. Time to go to the professionals. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Love is...

I'm struggling to get my eldest daughter to read at the moment, puts up a huge fight everytime.

So to convince her, this afternoon I said I was doing a boring job (oiling a unit in the workshop) & needed some entertainment as my audio books weren't working.

No fuss & she seemed to enjoy it.

Anyone else have to deal with a reluctant reader? WE have a house full of books and she loves being read to, I just hope she gets past this hurdle.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Homegrown Tea & Carrot Top Pesto!

I'm know I'm preaching to the choir here but a fully homegrown lunch does feel pretty good!

I had a forage around the garden and decided if I could pull a meal together from what we have growing for the five of us. My wife and children love a salad type meal and I tried to make it as interesting as possible.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Elderflower Fritters

For tea last night I decided to have a decadent foraged pudding - elderflowers fritters. 

Now I know the main calories are from store bought ingredients but it's the elderflower that really makes them taste amazing!

Ingredients -
Elderflower heads - fresh picked.
oil for frying
100g of self raising flour,
2 tablespoons cornflour,
2 tablespoons caster sugar,
1 egg
175ml of sparkling water.

Mix all the ingredients for the batter together, heat the oil, dip the heads in the batter and fry!

Make sure you dust them with icing sugar when cooked and try not to eat any stems (they don't make good eating).

We all loved these and ate far too many! Might have to try it with meadowsweet later in the summer!

Monday, 15 June 2020

Best Time Of The Garden Year!!

I love this time of year when we start to pull more than just salad out of the garden! 

Creating meals with lots of fresh veg is always exciting, and I love that the garden is now starting to produce loads! Last nights tea contained two of my favourites, garlic scrapes and broad beans! I need to grow more of both next year.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Homeschooling 101 - Game Prep

#### This post contains pictures of dead animals #####

This morning's homeschooling got off with a bang, after I dispatched a rabbit that was a repeat offender in the garden.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Chive Flower Vinegar

As well as trying to buy good ingredients I'm always looking for ways to improve them. 

Chive flower vinegar seems the perfect way to do this, it really makes some boring white wine vinegar interesting.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Socially Distance

With the change to the lockdown rules we decided it was time to see my parents face to face again - at a safe distance. 

We've had lots of Zoom calls but it's not quite the same! So I mowed a patch in the bottom field, a circle big enough for us to all keep a safe distance!

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Extra Growing Space

I always struggle with the edges of my garden. This is where weeds encroach into the veg beds and I generally loose control!  

The side of my poly tunnel is going to be one of those areas. It's about 3ft to the rabbit fence I've put in.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Strip The Willow

The other day I realised as I was planting my runner beans that when I had harvested my hazel bean poles I hadn't harvested nearly enough! 

But then again I have increased my growing since I cut them down!

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

May Garden Tour 2020

The garden is benefiting with the extra time I've spent in it lately.

There's so much going on so I decided to do a quick (ish) walk around the garden to show you what I've got growing this year.

Lots of crops for seed saving hidden everywhere as well. I'm hopeful this should be my best year for saving seeds and crops for drying! 

Monday, 25 May 2020

Elderflower Champagne

It's that time of year again when my hay fever is going crazy - It can only mean one thing - Time to make elderflower champagne!

Now it's not the elder flower that sets off my hay fever, but I always put the two things together in my head now!

Friday, 22 May 2020

Keeping The Old Mixer Going

 I posted a picture of this old mixer the other day and a builder friend of mine laughed at how dirty it was.

Yes, her best days might be behind her, but she's had a long hard life! 

Dad bought this about 30 years ago for £25 from a farm sale. It has done countless other jobs since then. It's main down side is it's not easy to move but otherwise it's a great bit of kit. I think it's been here for the last 7 years at least and used to do so many jobs. 

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Poultry Tour!

We have lots going on with the poultry on the smallholding at the moment. 

I've made some new pens, repaired old ones and seem somewhere near organised with it all so I thought I'd do a video showing you all round our birds and what we're planning to do.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Children In The Flowers

I love our paddock, part of me hates all the butter cups that grow there, but they do look so beautiful at the moment!

We're very lucky to live here and I have to pinch myself at times, especially during this lock down.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Unusual Commission - Miss Matched Drawer Unit

My carpentry has pretty much ceased during lockdown, but I have got an unusual commission to try to fit in around childcare. 

This one is for one of my toughest customers - my mother!

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Ducklings Are Cuter Than Chicks!

It's official - Ducklings are cuter than chicks! 

We've all been super excited for this hatching! I must have been a young child the last time we had ducklings!

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Frost In May

Round here this is not uncommon, but I think many have been caught out. It was quite a hard one and even froze the puddles.

But that's not to say I didn't take some risks!

Monday, 11 May 2020

Chicken Tractor Refurb!

When you keep more than just a few chickens having some extra pens is essential. 

They have lots of uses but having somewhere to keep a poorly chicken away from the others is essential and a pen around this size also makes for a great broody coop for a hen to sit on some eggs and have the chicks have safe access to some grass outside. 

This chicken tractor/ark is one I built in 2008. The picture above is how it looked when I first built it, complete with cedar cladding in our very tidy garden at our first house!

The picture below is me putting our first ex-battery hens in the coop and my first chickens since leaving home.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Lockdown Walks

We've not left the smallholding much over the last 6 weeks. 

But the last few weeks we've started to take a few more walks into the surrounding countryside to learn the local footpaths a bit better.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Home Grown Plugs

The other day I posted some pictures on my twitter of my hull less oats being planted. 

I've planted these as plugs. But plugs I grew myself.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

One Of Our Favourite Things To Forage - Lime Leaves

Now although my eldest asked if the "lemon" leaves were ready to eat yet, I was really pleased they'd remembered this foraged treat from last year.
Yes that is a Christmas jumper, no I don't care...

Even the Boy, who is going through a phase of not eating salad leaves, loves these.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Dandelion Bhajis

The girls love picking flowers, they are very stereotypical like that!

But here they had a purpose! They were picking them so I could make something. I wasn't exactly sure what but it seemed like a good reason to keep them busy for a while!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Questions For a Seed Potato Producer

This is a collaborative post

Okay this post is me being a proper geeky farmers son! It's a long post but I think it's really interesting one!

I'm always fascinated in how other farms run and when putting yesterdays post together with Potato House I had so many questions about how they operate, I thought it would be great to do a short questions and answer post. I asked Amy from Potato House the following questions and loved the answers:-

Why is Scotland known for producing seed potatoes? 
Our slightly cooler climate makes it easier to grow healthy seed free from aphid-transmitted diseases. In addition, our farm is at 150 m (500ft) above sea level so it is slightly cooler and better suited for organic seed production. Scotland has long been the supplier of seed potatoes for most potato production across the UK. Scotland also exports seed potatoes to many destinations notably Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, but also the Far East and South America.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Still Time To Plant Potatoes!

This is a collaborative  post

In gardening we are governed by many myths and old wife's tales. Just the other day I was putting in some potatoes and someone said to me that I should have put them in on Good Friday. Now despite the fact that Good Friday moves every year, I can also say that there is no way commercial potato farmers follow these rules - and they get some pretty impressive crops. 

So there is still plenty of time to put in potatoes! 

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Another Corner Controlled In The Garden!!!

My garden beds are looking pretty tidy, with only a few left to seriously weed out before planting. 

But there are some big areas of my veg garden that still need a lot of work. This bottom corner is one of them. This area used to be really wet until we drained the field around it, so while it was wet I put in some raised beds (2015 can you believe!). This worked a little bit but in the end they got neglected and the nettles have claimed them as their own.

So now seems the ideal time to take back control and gain a bit more growing space.

Some serious digging and pulling went into clearing this area! I had three barrows full of nettle and dock roots by the end. But with a little path down it I've now gained two more 10ft beds to grow some veggies on.

This is great news as I'm already running out of space and trying to figure out where things could go!

Have you tackled a neglected garden area lately? How did you do it? Plain elbow grease or a better way? Wish I could have got the digger in here to deal with this instead of my spade!

Friday, 24 April 2020

Using Up Leeks

 So the leeks are starting to run to seed and we still have a few in the beds that had them in.

So I'm keen to make sure we don't waste too many! 

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Duck Eggs In The Incubator

Using the incubator again! 

The last hatch a friend did at his house. He had runner ducks in there and I had Muscovy in as well. Unfortunately none of my dozen eggs hatched, luckily some of his did so it wasn't a complete failure (for him at least).

So this time I've gone for Aylesbury ducks. I'm hopeful that having some meat ducks will help vary what we produce a bit and if we keep some for breeding we should have some duck eggs.

Monday, 20 April 2020

New Bits Of Growing Space

Every year I struggle to fit certain plants into my garden and struggle for space but this year seems worse already.

I guess I've gone a bit mad with my planting and I have certainly increased the numbers somewhat with each plant to try to sustain us more.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

The Garden In April

I've never spent so much time in the garden in April before. 

This was just as a much needed rain storm broke

The lock down coupled with the glorious weather has meant I'm on top of it all for once! Well in the veg garden at least... Everywhere else still looks a mess!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Messing About With Small Scale Grains - Again

I think if you take how well I did at this last year this should go into the "why do I bother" pile. But like it or not grains are a huge stumbling block to self-sufficiency, or mine at least.

They provide a large proportion of my calories each day. Either through the porridge I eat daily for breakfast (oats) or the bread I eat for lunch (wheat) or the feed I give to my animals to help provide our protein with meat or eggs.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Kentucky Wonder?

Every year I try out different varieties of french beans.

They're one of my favourite veg to grow and a dead easy one to save seed from.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Seed Saving Leeks

Every year I try to save more and more seed of different varieties for veg.

This is for a few different reasons.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Indian Game Chickens In Their New Pen

The young chickens we hatched out in February moved into their new pen this week.

The new pen is huge and so far they seem to love it.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Outdoor Cooking With Scouts

This is from a few weeks ago, before the close down on social gatherings due to Corona Virus. 

It was my week to plan it and I'd said a while ago I fancied doing outdoor cooking.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Coppiced Bean Poles

With the lock down it's good to have some materials that are grown on site. 

A few weeks ago I harvested my bean poles and pea sticks from a stand of hazel we have in the bottom of the garden.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Polytunnel Doors

So I've made new doors for the polytunnel. 

These are simply made from 3x2 treated timber with some big heavy duty hinges I got from a job a few years ago.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Mice Keep Eating My Peas!

My greenhouses are bursting at the seams at the moment.
Cucumbers just starting to poke their heads up.
 I've gone a bit plant crazy. A lot of it is for seed saving and to bulk up the amount of seed we have stored so we could grow good quantities should we need to next year.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Very Wet Scout Walk & A Troll!

Four Mondays ago, before all this mess, we took our group of Beavers, young scouts between the age of 6 and 8, for a walk to the top of one of the local hills. 

The weather was horrendous. Perfect for a Scout walk in my mind. I always think its pointless if you go when you would on a family walk anyway.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Chestnut Fencing

I wrote this post before the lock down and went to get the posts before it as well! 

I've been planning on doing some fencing for a while now.

The area I want to tackle is around the polytunnel. I've been warned that rabbits do like to get through the plastic and so it's best to fence around it.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Polytunnel Layout

With the poly tunnel covered it's got me thinking about the layout inside it. 

How would you layout a polytunnel? I normally garden in 30" beds but want this space to be as productive as possible.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Don't "Panic" Plant

Seed companies have been selling out of seed or having huge orders that they can't cope.

Seeds from America!
I've seen lots of Tweets on Twitter and other sources of people growing gardens while they're in quarantine or lock down. Something I actively encourage as there might be predicted shortage of certain veg later int he year in the UK due to labour shortages as mentioned in my last post.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Now Is The Time To Garden

Weird, weird times at the moment and it doesn't look set to get any better any time soon.

I hope everyone is looking after themselves and doing as much social distancing as possible and staying home when they can. Unfortunately my wife can't as she is a teacher looking after key workers children, but the children and I are holding up at home and ramping up vegetable production. 

I think in the coming months the shops will see a shortage in green leafy crops and some veg. With the recent floods, predicted labour shortages and now the Corona virus it's going to have a huge impact, both here and abroad. My dad has a few friends that farm veg that weren't even going to bother this year as we would have no one to pick them due to brexit, so this will compound that. And I can't see Spain and others wanting to ship much here if they have their own shortages due it the lockdown, although money talks so who knows. 

So now is an important time as gardeners to step up to the plate and grow what we can. It's also never been a more important time to be a seed saver. Online seed sellers have been selling out, our little pots of home saved seed are like gold dust! Maintaining what diversity we can in a wide range of crops has never been more important.

Doing this also will give the children and me some real purpose and make us feel mildly useful. 

As I'm looking after the kids at home they are going to become my own little "land army" and will receive a mainly "outdoor education" as much as possible. I know that hopefully there wont be major food shortages, farmers are key workers, and the supermarkets being empty are due to panic buying nothing else, but I do think it's a good time to be a veg grow, for our bellies and our mental state of being and just encase! 

Remember it's still early so don't sow too much just yet!

Look after each other, keep in contact and grow!

Sending love,
Kev and family 

Monday, 23 March 2020

Isolation Cage?

This is nothing to do with the current problems facing the world. But all to do with seed saving. 

I have ten of these lovely looking board beans that I want to grow this year called Gloster Bounty. Trouble is it's not enough to eat a good meal of (when grown) and I know it likes to cross.

Ideally i'd like to build my stock of this seed up and grow it properly next year. So to do that I'm thinking about building them an isolation cage over the top. I'm not sure how well they'll pollinate then though, will I have to do it by hand or introduce pollinators like flies from fishing maggots? I'll need to do some research before that time comes! I love the idea of building my seed numbers like this! Hopefully I'll get enough to grow out a full bed next year!

Anyone else grown plants in an isolation cage and had to introduce pollinators?

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Heritage Seed Library Seed Guardian!

So I've decided to take my seed saving to the next level and be a bit more serious with it. I've volunteered to become a Heritage Seed Library Seed Guardian! 

This involves a bit more commitment. Basically you "adopt" a variety that they have low stock of in the library and grow it out for them. you get to pick this from a list with the history of each.

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