Sunday, 27 February 2011

Boxes, beds and backs

I have had a persistent back ache, won't go into technical details, lets just say it's hindered my ability to get the garden ready for spring. So, we decided to employ a local to rotavate the bits I couldn't dig. I've given up on meadow one, well not exactly given up, but I want it to be mostly a fruit meadow and wildflower area. So the loganberries, raspberries and blackcurrants will be given a raised bed (when I can find some more free wood), some fruits trees (some wild, some bought) have been planted either around the edges or in the middle of the meadow and I have broadcast all the flower seeds I collected last year,

There still remains my hardy kale patch, which I'm loathe to get rid of, as it continues to provide and there's an area at the end of the meadow by the path leading to the bridge that has extremely good soil, currently it has broad beans in it.

The strawberry beds have been planted with more strawberries (runners, potted on from last years growth) and edged, there is also a fejoa some lupin trees and a black locust here to provide some shade.

I know I'll have to move the strawberries in a couple of years, but they can go up to the fruit meadow in due course. I've planted another rhubarb but it remains to be seen if this will flourish, there are three plants now and they don't do well. Even when forced

they may well have to moved up to the borrowed meadow (more about that in another entry).

The area around our climbing frame (used to be poly tunnel) which has some self-seeded sweat peas in it, along with some sweet williams and morning glory and kiwi, is now ready for more sweat peas, which were collected last year and are growing happily in pots at home.

I have tried to edge as many areas as I can with the wood I have managed to salvage from the roof of the house, eventually I'll get it all done, but given that the area on meadow two is at least an acre, not sure how or when or even if. The parsnips and early carrots are in and under fleece.

The leaf bed is sown and covered.

The over-wintered green manure, along with the contents of the compost bin

and blood, fish and bone have been rotavated into the beds for beans etc., this needs to be left for at least two weeks before planting. The over-wintered brassicas continue to flourish (thanks to the alpaca poo) and the purple sprouting broccoli is starting to show. In fact we're eating some tonight with some home-made sausages from our pig!!

Given our water problems and the amount of energy and effort last year, I am trying to only plant things that will grow from now until late June and then from october/november through the winter. Obviously things like peppers, aubergines and tomatoes will have to go through the summer but as they too will be in a raised bed, mulched they may do better and not need so much water. We know we have to come up with some clever water saving techniques, but whilst Rick is building the house, this is his priority, it takes up all his time and in order to get this done, other things have to fall by the way-side unless I can do them myself.

Last but not least the owl box rick made me for christmas is up and am just waiting for a resident..........

If anyone would like to donate a solar powered web cam thing, like the ones they use on Springwatch, that would be great, then I can see if there is any activity, adopt a box, maybe?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Cracking on (or cracking up)

We "despatched" the male pig, I will not be reporting about that here as it was wholly unpleasant and will not be repeated anytime soon. Lets just say that whatever breed the locals sold us they are not fast maturing or great meat providers!! we gave some bits and pieces to a friend and the rest is either in brine or has been smoked.

It has been decided that we will have to keep the females for another year to get what we need out of them but they are on a strict diet and we will have to wait and see if they got pregnant before the despatch of the randy male.

I have been busy in the garden, spring came and with it the promise and allure of growth and planting etc. however in my eagerness to get on, I did my back in. Something I have never done before, having been a pilates teacher for 7 years, back ache was not something I suffered from (although it was my original reason for becoming a Pilates teacher). I had religiously done my exercises and kept my back fit. There is not enough space in our flat for me to do what I need to do and the dogs dominate the only viable space, anyway, that's all excuses really, I've got out of my routine and discipline. I have recently started teaching a small class, filling in for the yoga teacher, so this has given me a renewed incentive for getting "back" on track. However, some serious anatomical intervention was called for and I embarked on a "find a therapist" quest. I found one, but let's just say I would not be recommending him any time soon......."back" to square one...self-healing.

So, I've found myself with alot of time on my hands and lying around recovering, was just too uncomfortable. So I got busy.

I made another cushion, discovering that not only can I NOT measure properly I also can't pin properly!!! notice the slightly off-centre vertical ribbon, cleaverly (or not) disguised with an "added-on afterwards to cover up my mistake" bow

next project...make a bag

Inside pockets and everything

This actualy went very well, there were no tears and very little swearing at oneself, measuring went OK as did the I think as long as I have some instructions to follow and actually read them, my sewing is improving

Marmalade, a must have and make in February, I was given alot of seville oranges and seeing as husband loves it, I made 14 jars of the stuff. There is still some left over from last year which is looking a bit shrivelled on top, "that's ok", he says, it would make a great steamed pudding....

Getting rid of food in the freezers to make way for more, I found another bag of whole frozen tomatoes and enough chillis to make 4 more jars of chilli jam, grateful for the time I have had to do all these things and just when my back started to feel OK again the rains came!!!!, mmmm, what to do next, orange curd, another bag, and the inevitable steamed marmalade pudding