Sunday 28 April 2024

Make Some Pigeon Holes For Extra Space

We're always struggling for storage space, too much stuff is probably the reason in all honesty. And we do try to chip away at it, and reduce how much we buy as well. 

But our porch isn't really big enough for the five of us, it was as big as I was allowed to build, but it is still a squeeze with all the coats and shoes (so many shoes). I decided a little extra vertical space would help so made a set of pigeon holes. 

As is my way now I filmed the process, and the plans have been in Woodworking Crafts magazine. 


It was a fun, fairly simple project to make using reclaimed boards and some spare plywood. It's been in use for a few months now and has been a great success. 

Has it tided up the porch at all? No, but at least I can find my stuff now! 

Could you do with some storage like this?

Thursday 25 April 2024

3 Course dinner Cooked By The Children

My wife was a way the weekend just gone, but me and the children still had a lovely time. We went to a friends for a fish and chip supper on Friday night, had a lovely sunny day outside on Saturday and Sunday we went swimming with friends and had a picnic in the park afterwards.  

On the Saturday the children were messing about making some fun fake food, when I suggested that if they liked they could plan a meal for when their mum got home, I said I wanted three courses! They jumped at the chance and grabbed some pens and paper to make a menu. 

They settled on Italian, I told them that before we go swimming we could pop to the shops and get anything extra they needed. The starter was fairly straight forward (above) and had everything they love! 

Monday 22 April 2024

Trio Of Carved Toolboxes

 I've written a lot of magazine articles now, well over a hundred, and very occasionally I might hear back from someone who has read one. 

One of my first articles in Woodcarving magazine was about making a carved tool box for my daughters 9th birthday, this was a few years back now, so it was lovely to hear from Gordon in Ireland who had read my article and decided to make one.

He has now made three of them! I think the his use of colour on them is amazing! Talk about making  a project your own. 

Saturday 20 April 2024

April Homestead Tour

 I love this time of year. It's been a challenging spring so far (I know we're not even very far into it yet either!), but the sun was shining so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to go for a walk around the smallholding and have a look at what we've got going on. 

In this walk around you can see our downed oak tree as well as the garden ramping up production, everything is looking very green and lush, but we're still having lots of cold nights, so don't be fooled and get too much going too early! 

Let me know what you think (I'd love for you to leave a comment on YouTube as well if you would - helps loads! Even just a thumbs up is a big thing on that platform). 

Thanks for watching!

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Stored Apples In April

Although we still have some good, tasty apples left in the store we have started buying some the last few weeks. 

The stored ones just don't travel well now and as four of the five of us go off every day and need to take lunch the apples look very bruised an unappetising by the time it's lunch! 

so although I'm eating ours from the (apple) store, the other's aren't. It's shame, I could do with growing some that travel a bit better at this age. The middlest still takes dried appple with her every day though. 

I think it might be worth stewing up some of these and dehydrating the better ones before they loose too much condition. I had a go through the other day and I think the mild weather has made a few of them start to turn. 

If you store apples how are yours looking this year?


Monday 15 April 2024

Greenhouse Upgrade - Building The Base

 I've mentioned this before on the blog, but the little 8x6 greenhouse needed a bit of an upgrade this year. 

The base I put in some 12 years ago, it was just some 8x2 treated softwood I had left over from a job. It made a good temporary base and I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. 

The little greenhouse started it all off in the garden when we first moved here, it wasn't long until I got the bigger greenhouse, but it's always been useful. It's just the last few years it's fallen on a bit of disrepair and missed out on the love, becoming a bit of a dumping ground. As the base rotted out I just used it less and less. 

Friday 12 April 2024

Oak Tree Downed By The Wet

I was a bit broken hearted the other day. My daughter noticed the tree on our drive to school, it had gone over. 

This oak was always a little stunted, trying to grow out from the huge veteran alongside it. Always leaning over. 

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Watering Can Plunge Tank (mini one)

 Much as I quite like a few moments by the rain barrel to let my watering can fill up, I've decided that I'm wasting too much time doing it. 

So I dragged a water trough from the bottom field up tot the barrels at the back of the shed. It was just the right height (with the addition of a few slabs) to go under the tap. 

Sunday 7 April 2024

Polytunnel Clean Up

The polytunnel has been a constant source of shame for me over the winter. Full of dead plants and a thick green slime on the plastic. 

I was desperate to get it back into tip top form this year, it's such an amazing space for growing I really need to be making the most of it. 

So I've been trying to tackle it in spare moments when I could. Not that many spare moments make themselves known however... 

Friday 5 April 2024

The Self-Sufficiency Garden - Book Review

My wife got me this book for my birthday and as she handed it to me she said "I feel this is the book you probably should have written." 

She also said that she knows I'm not the target audience, and as I write this review please bare in mind that I'm not the target audience. I've also met Huw once, a few years back, he's a lovely guy and I love his YouTube channel and what he's been doing. 

What I want to do is say that I think this book is great, but that also it's flawed in a few ways. I really think this book was on the very cusp of greatness, it could have been one that is alongside some of my favourites and then it didn't quite nail it. Which is a real shame as I think it does a few things so differently. 

The main thing it does is put it's money where its mouth is. Rather than reading about a theoretical garden and what could be done in it, Huw created a garden 10m X 12.5m, laid it out with raised beds, a small polytunnel and covered beds. He used hot beds to extend his season (something I'm really going to have to try again) and got multiple crops from each bed. He shows how the beds are built and has plans of things you can build. 

As well as this he creates his own compost, and makes sure each scrap of space is used. In the book he takes you through a year in this garden, show when he sowed the seeds, when he harvests it and the overall yields he gets from it. 

This section is incredible, it really quantifies what a space like this can produce, and it's brilliant to see the cropping and successional sowing he uses to maximise the beds. There's great information there, but I wish he'd included the variety of the veg he was growing - especially the tree cabbage he mentions quite a few times. It's laid out really well and broken down month to month. 

Then I have to talk about the bits I thought were a little lacking. The "In The Kitchen" section is where the book doesn't feel right. the book is written with another guy called Sam Cooper and I feel they haven't let him have enough space. Like there's a section on curry where he talks about it over three pages with a few quick recipes, or a few pages on pastry or No-knead focaccia which has two pages. It just seems a little bit chucked together and random and not really in line with the rest of the book. 

With the book only being 200 hundred pages it just feels like a waste of the page count to dip into these things, especially when it's obvious the other author (Sam Cooper) knows their subject, but not give them enough space to show this properly. If they had limited it to just one subject, like preserving, it would have been far better in my opinion. 

Maybe it's a reflection of what people want from books these days, a magazine style book. Snippets that can be read easily. I wish this was two books really, both of them having more space to share the knowledge, The Self Sufficiency Garden could have become a bit of a bible for growing food like this if it had.  

I still think it's an amazing book and I love what Huw has done with that garden. He writes brilliantly and clearly, the book is beautiful throughout, with thick high quality pages and great pictures and plans. It's truly worth buying for the middle section of the garden month by month alone. It will on the shelf rather than being passed on and has given me a few ideas of things I'd like to try.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Sowing Seeds And Potting On

With a break in the weather at the weekend I managed to catch up on a bit of gardening. First job was to pot on a good quantity of chillies and tomatoes. 

Some of these haven't grown at a rate I'd expect. And I think the compost is to blame, bought in, but it's so unpredictable. I'm going to start adding a bit of seaweed feed to the watering can, not something I'd normally do this early on, but I feel they all need a bit of a boost. I don't normally buy liquid feed to be honest but the comfrey won't take kindly to being chopped already. 

Monday 1 April 2024

Wood Fired Pizza

 Saturday there was that yellow orb in the sky that we haven't seen for months. I decided to seize the opportunity, I got up early and set to making bread, then did my chores and lit the earth oven. 

I then tended it as I went about getting some gardening jobs (potting on far too many tomatoes and peppers), and invited some friends for lunch. Not much notice but it felt like we needed to grab this opportunity to worship the sun for a few hours. 

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