I am really noticing the change in daylight hours this last week. Que the panic moment where Spring is upon us and I don’t feel ready. In anticipation of this, we’re getting a nice, early starting with the seed sowing again this year. Inevitably there will be some losses but it has served me well for the last 2 years since we started on this journey.
We have now sown most varieties of tomatoes, peppers and chillis, aubergine, leeks, peas, lettuce and cucumbers. The peas went into guttering and have been placed in the greenhouse, for when they are ready to plant out, maybe April time. They will just slide straight into a trench from the guttering, suffering little disturbance and making life easier for me.
Unfortunately, the fox has paid us another visit. The 3rd now. We have Vorwerk chickens that free range completely, meaning they sleep where they want to. Inevitably that meant they were easy pickings and 4 of the 6 went last night. The 2 hens that remain are now in with the other chickens and locked away on a night.
For the last couple of week’s we’ve been having mostly home grown teas. They mostly revolve around chicken, boiled potatoes, asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, kale and onion. I feel very happy to think that almost all of the teas are home grown.
This time of year is abundant for harvests and it certainly feels like we have to prioritise what to do as the list is ever expanding. We’ve been working on the mini orchard which is where the apple trees are that we bought off Kev. They’re all looking really healthy so I know he will be pleased to hear that.
Our next stage was to tidy it all up. Weeds are our nemesis, as every gardener no doubt. I loathe giving time to them so we decided to work smartly and do what we can do to keep them at bay or kill them completely.
So we looked around and gave thought to what we can do cheaply and effectively. We’ve loads of branches off trees piled up around the smallholding and in time these need shifting. So it dawned on us that we can use our wood chipper that we bought as part of this place killing two birds with one stone again! We started putting the branches through the chipper and have managed to produce some really great wood chip!
We took the grass out around the orchard, ground membraned it and covered it all with wood chip. I can’t believe how neat and tidy, and weed free it is! The back section is still flowers and fruit trees so in soil so weeds will still come through there but we can work with that for now.
Another job ticked off the list 🙂
We rotavatored the patch and cleared it of debris, weeds and odds and sods.
The Ste set about digging holes around 60-80cm apart so we can grow these trees as cordons. They will be pruned when needed in the summer (next year Kev?) to restrict their growth.
A total of 10 went in at these close intervals along the back row. We have 2 left to go in, 1 of which is going in right about where Rodney is sniffing in the photo below!
Our weekend was a really productive one. On Friday Grace, my daughter, had her friend over. It was lovely to have her here. She fit in perfectly, she felt right at home with the animals, enjoyed the food I made (making their own pizzas too), helped with the jobs and had girly fun. They had a lovely time together. One of the jobs I asked them to do, was to find the nest that my rare breed chickens have made. The chickens are called Vorwerks and are gorgeous. They free range anywhere they like which makes finding eggs fun. The girls did a great job discovering 18 eggs hidden in a warm part of the barn. We’ve removed them and they keep on laying there. She doesn’t seem broody so we will keep taking them away and maybe just leaving one or two, to let her know it’s ok to keep laying there.
Saturday morning I went out for my usual hack out and despite it being brisk and showery, it was great. Blew the cobwebs away and set me up for the day. I came back and Steven was up and the kids were all having fun. I made them pancakes and we said goodbye to Grace’s friend who had to leave for an appointment otherwise she would have stayed all day. We had some really nice comments from the friend’s Mum who is originally from Yorkshire. She misses it and said our smallholding in the country reminded her of it. You could see her appreciation in her face as she looked around the fields and took a deep breath in.
We then trooped off to the agricultural store where we had sourced some wood for the new project – more raised beds! To which most people have looked in shock and said, “what do you need more for?”. The answer is simple. We would like to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and I have an area of land that is being turned into a mud bath due to the high travel through it. We pass over it multiple times daily to let the animals out, in, feed, water, muck heap etc etc. That means barrows, buckets, big wellies, kids pounding around and animals, lots of animals. The animals are being moved to a new location in January so that will solve that. We’re putting a purpose built pathway in for the high travel area and in an effort to make every part of our land work for us, we’re adding more raised beds. 5 big ones and 4 small ones. The amount and size was dictated by the amount of wood we could get for the price we could afford. I will do a detailed post when the time is right but the plans right now are potatoes in the largest bed, peas, beans and such in bed 2, brassicas in 3, a pumpkin patch in 4 & 5 and then the 4 smaller ones will be salads, radishes, kale, tomatoes, etc etc.
I am currently reading up about rotating your beds and companion planting. I don’t understand how you can companion plant with something outside of the rotational group though, as then you may plant that companion plant as the main crop in that bed the next year.
Anyway, after we got the wood on Saturday, we had people arrive to collect a trailer full of muck which took the rest of the daylight so we locked up and went inside for the night. Sunday was due to rain all day but it didn’t! Steven got the first big bed made and we agreed on the design for the rest (always work in progress!). We sat outside and had a hot cuppa and a biscuit in the cold looking at what he’d achieved. He really is a clever and handy husband.
|The start of the new beds. getting the sizing right after putting all of the wood together|
The plan is to get the rest of the beds made, put plastic on the inside of the sides before the muck goes in, to try and save the wood in the long term. We’ll turn the grass that’s there into the ground and fill them to rest until Spring. Hopefully the Spring worms will do their jobs over the next few months and they will be ready to plant up come the growing season.
Yes, this is in addition to the 2017 poly tunnel and the veg plot we already have, so I will need to plan it into my daily activities to be able to tend to it all. If we’re going to do this, we’re doing it properly. After all, that’s why we waited so long for the right place.
More pics to follow of the finished beds, these were just a couple I snapped in between jobs as I was dashing by with barrows of muck to fill the other veg beds.
We also bought a sheep trough which they put straight to good use and my Dad and Father in law came over to fix our ride on mower. It now works a treat and I’m going to do a final topping of the nettles in the little paddock which can then dry out and the sheep will move into the for a while.
|Lucky thought I had food on me and still needs to figure the trough out.|
|Sorry for the poor quality but you get the idea 🙂|