Tuesday 31 May 2022

The Mixed Hedge Year 2

The hedge that we planted last March is looking really good!

Looking over the whole hedge I think out of the 500 or so trees we planted that only about 3 have died! A result I'm really pleased with. 

The 14 damson, plum and bullace trees we planted are also growing strongly. Most have little fruitlets on already, although I'm not sure how many will make it to my belly! 

I'm looking forward to watching this grow over the years. Be a while until I have to lay it though. 

Sunday 29 May 2022

Herb Planter

 I keep trying to create areas that are low maintenance but  productive. 

We have two brick planters on the patio. The one has thyme covering it and it grows beautifully all year, flowers around now and providing us with more herbs than we could ever use. It takes no effort to look after it! 

The other planter was going to be for more annual herbs, but last year it grew weeds and looked a mess. 

This year we've hit it hard. My wife dug out all the weeds, I topped it up with rotted cow muck and then put a layer of compost over the top. 

The children then helped plant some plants. Two types of sage, one new variety of rosemary and 7 lavender plants. Hoping these will establish and provide us with some much needed easy care patio planters, look beautiful and provide herbs for the kitchen. 

While they establish we also planted about 30 beetroot plants I'd started from seed in the greenhouse. Makes sense to use the growing space we have and should maybe ease the weed pressure if other plants are already growing. 

The children were excited by the herbs as it meant more for their potion making! 

What's your dream set of herbs for a planter?

Friday 27 May 2022

Kit Wines

I always used to hold off on kit wines, thinking it was cheating. 

Well I still think it is in a way, but my goodness doesn't it produce some good and cheap wine!

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Burn By Ben Short - Book Review

 I follow a lot of people that make their income through traditional skills on Instagram. The other day an account I follow shared that the book of charcoal burner was coming out. It's not often I'll pre-order a book but I decided to do it while I was thinking about it. 

The book follows Ben's journey from high paid ad man in London to a charcoal burner living in a hooped trailer in Devon. It talks about his struggles with depression and how he came to learn his trade and spend time in the woods to help deal with this. 

It's full of some great characters Ben has worked with while learning to work in the woods, some of which really reminded me of people I had worked with myself. 

This book is beautifully written. I read it very quickly as I just loved his writing so much, such an easy read. It really transported you there into the woods with him. He paints such a scene with his words and weaves it with a simple story and a bit of folklore effortlessly that it's hard to believe it's his first book. 

My only criticism is it finishes too soon for my liking, I want to know more and where his life takes him next, but maybe I'll have to wait for the next instalment?

Highly recommend. If he writes another I'll buy it straight away. 

Monday 23 May 2022

Ash Splint Baskets - Day 2

 Day two of the course was far easier than day one!

Day two was to use the materials we'd prepped to make some baskets!

Saturday 21 May 2022

Ash Splint Baskets - Day 1

 On a whim the other day I booked a weekend away for my wife and me. Now obviously I'm someone who enjoys doing something and when I saw a course about ash basket weaving I was really interested. This wasn't a subject I knew anything about and I thought it might be a good mix of my woodworking skills and my wife's skills for knitting/sewing. 

The course was near Bristol, was over tow days and my wife had been given a hotel voucher to use for her birthday so we decided to make a weekend of it. The course was through a company called Tree to Treen and the instructor was to be Chell Mateo

Sunday 15 May 2022

City Veg by Cinead McTernan - Book Review

 This book of "City Veg" by Cinead McTernan was given to me by Bloomsberry Publishing, but it in no way affects my review. 

Now I'll start by saying this is a beautiful looking book. Inside the pictures are gorgeous and is lovely to leaf through to look Cinead's small but beautifully formed garden. 

Her writing is also beautifully composed. I've not come across her before, but I'm under the impression she is off the telly (I don't really watch much TV so have no reference other than a google search). The book takes the form of a year in the life of gardening their small urban veg garden. I love how much they fit into their garden and the crops and meals they enjoy. 

Each month is broken into different sections about certain plants grown or harvested that month, then a simple recipe to finish it, to give inspiration on how to use that crop. 

I did enjoy the book, I imagine it would be a good winter read while dreaming of summer days in the garden and gluts of crops to come. However I don't think I'm this books demographic as it didn't grab me and make me want to keep reading in big gulps like I normally read a book. 

There was also one bit with a factual inaccuracy I was kind of shocked to read. 

In the section about seed saving (one of my obsessions) it says that "Tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas and pumpkins are a good place to start as they're very simple to save".

This isn't true. Peppers cross like no ones business, as do runner beans (although French are fine). Tomatoes are easy unless they have a protruding sigma (there are lots of varieties out there that do) and pumpkins are from the squash family (either c.pepo or c.maxima) and are promiscuous veg to say the least. Sometimes even crossing with inedible gourds, one reason we won't take them at the seed swap unless we talk to the person saving them to make sure they live either isolated (by a fair distance) or tape the flowers shut and hand pollinate. At best it grows true to the plant it's saved from, more likely it will mean someone puts effort into growing a plant that is a cross and potentially has insipid fruit on it that doesn't grow true. At best it grows true to the plant it's saved from, more likely it will mean someone puts effort into growing a plant that is a cross and potentially has insipid fruit on it that doesn't grow true. At worst it could be an extremely rare case where its dangerous. Google toxic squash syndrome for more information on the worse case scenario, although hopefully it wouldn't come to this. 

Then the next page it goes on to talk about cleaning them and collecting from more varieties of veg (some of which listed cross easily) as if it's an easy thing to do. Don't get me wrong, some seed saving is dead easy, but some isn't. It's a shame this wasn't made more obvious and is misleading. 

So this is a enjoyable light reading gardening book, but if you're looking for something more in-depth it might not be for you. 

Thursday 12 May 2022

Lawn Edging From Logs - part 1

I keep trying to find ways to use the timber around me. So the other day at mum and dads I pulled out some pear logs from a tree they had to fell a few years ago. 

Getting them back they were too big for what I wanted, I decided to cleave them down smaller, into quarters. 

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Growing In The Cracks

In my quest to lessen where weeds can grow I'm trying to grow plants to fill spaces that would otherwise be taken by weeds. 

One of these spaces is in the cracks in my paving slabs. I left gaps for this purpose though as what I wanted was a sea of creeping thyme between them (mum has this in her patio and I always think it's lovely).

Sunday 8 May 2022

Sowing Carrots After School

 All week he'd been on about sowing some carrots in the garden. So Last Thursday night I prepared a bed with extra compost. We marked out 4 rows and we sowed the seed between us. 

He was so happy to do this! Really makes me happy that he's so keen to grow his own food. 

Thursday 5 May 2022

End Of "Flockdown"

 The joy it brings me to have my chickens outside again during the day can't be understated. 

Part of me wants to rant about shed of 40,000 birds being the reason we have to have these restrictions. But to be honest I'm just happy they can all be out and about, eating a more natural diet and enjoying themselves.

I think the first day they were out I've never heard them being noisier! And they went everywhere, not sticking by their pens like I thought they would. Already had to tell two off that were in my workshop!

I know there is a far greater chance of predators, but I do just love having them outside. 

Who else loves seeing their chickens free range?

Sunday 1 May 2022

Making a Gate From A Yew Log - Green Woodworking - Part 2

 So with some chunks of yew at my house it was time to break them down a bit smaller. When I've worked with sweet chestnut a froe is a handy tools for this.

The knotty yew wouldn't entertain this idea though. So it was axe and wedges for every piece. Intruth I could have donw with soem bigger bits, as it was I ended up using quarters for the styles of the gate when really it would be better to hew something square from something bigger. 

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