Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Looking Back - I think everyone does this post!

The last year has seen some major changes around our place. We’ve only been here 18 months but we’ve made it feel like home doing up quite a bit of the house. The garden is another matter. We’ve pretty much started from scratch this year with everything other than the lawn area (the only area that looks worse due to the addition of chicken digging up the lawn!).

Me taking down one of the old sheds

As you can see by the photos I started with a fairly bare, weed riddled plot but in a short space of time managed to build all the raised beds (planting them up the second they were finished as time was against me), remove an apple tree (although I’ve planted and apple and plum to replace it, and I got given an apple and pear tree for Christmas), build the greenhouse and give it a nice blue brick plinth, replace 100ft of fencing, make a good start on my shed, plant fruit bushes, build an arc and keep chickens and best of all grow plenty of vegetables to keep us well supplied nearly all year long!

Building and planting the raised beds

The raised beds finished just as spring was begining!

Full veg plot in Summer!

Greenhouse built and full of tomatoes.

Some happier ex-battery hens!

All in all I feel pretty happy with how this year has turned out, but I’ve got some big plans for next year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Merry Christmas Had By All

With all the merriment and visiting family and friends almost over it was nice to spend the day in the garden having a quite tidy up and to start to use some of my presents!
I’ve been quite spoilt this year and I’ve had numerous things for the garden – a posh dibber, some mushroom growing kits and two old fashioned rhubarb forcers amongst other things. The one forcer has gone straight onto the garden (although I know it’s too early, it looks so nice!).
I’ve also had some lovely books and mum managed to find me an old copy of John Seymour’s self sufficient gardener, as she knows that his guild to self sufficiency is one of my favourite books. As well as this I got a copy of the old 1980’s series of the Victorian Kitchen Garden on DVD, as ever since I was given the book from the series and read it cover to cover I’ve been hinting I want to watch it. (got lots of other none garden related presents as well but I wony list them here as there is far too many!)

I’ve started one of the mushroom kits today - white button mushrooms - so we should have some in a few weeks time. I wonder if I can save the spawn from some of these mushrooms to start a new batch when this one gets worn out – I’ve got a book on it somewhere I’m sure! As well as this I’ve planted some onion and radish seeds in the greenhouse, not sure how well they will do but its worth a try to get some veg a little earlier.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The shed to end all sheds

I’ve had a patch of concrete down since the end of last winter, but with doing the house up and the garden I haven’t had time to start on my big project - the shed!
I’ve just had a weeks holiday (got to use it up before Christmas) and I’ve managed to get the wall panels made and on Friday we had the big erection (if you pardon the pun).
My brother came round and in a day we got all four sides up and fixed. It’s a monster! 4m by 6m – the neighbours don’t mind as its sitting where two very rough sheds were before. It should make a nice workshop to do some carpentry in, I’m going to make sure it is fully wired and I might even get the inside plastered (as it will be insulated and heated) so that it will be a selling point when we want to move on from here (a summer house or gym for someone).
Over the Christmas holidays I plan to get the roof on and windows in (weather permitting).

Claire does think I'm building a bungalow at the bottom of the garden though!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

I’m Not a Pheasant Plucker

I’m not a pheasant plucker,
I’m a pheasant pluckers mate,
I’m only plucking pheasants because the pheasant pluckers late!

My brothers’ girlfriend got given a brace of pheasants at the weekend and she wanted someone to dress them for her. They had been hung for a week and were ripe enough for cooking.

I’m a bit rusty at dressing game birds, and my brother wanted to learn on one, so they’re not going to win any prises for looks, but they didn’t take too long to do and should taste pretty good.

I was a bit worried when my brother stuck his hand inside the bird and then smelt his hand - he was almost sick! But what did he expect the week old guts would smell like! My bros bird did look like road kill when he’d finished though as he pulled off a big patch of skin by mistake.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Frosty Mornings

It’s been nice to be at home when it’s light. I hate having to get up when it’s dark and get back when it’s dark again, so I've been looking forward to the weekends even more lately.
Managed to catch up on a few things, cleaned out the chickens and had a good tidy up. As my parents came over for Sunday roast (with five vegetables out of the garden!) we spent the afternoon planting spring bulbs in the flower boarders and by the cob tree, should add a bit of colour in a few months time.

Also managed to do a job I’ve been putting off for sometime (because it’s not garden or outside related), I’ve added another layer of insulation to our loft! It’s a job I hate, dirty, dark and horrible, but it should save us some money in the long run. I’ve also managed to catch one of the mice that are keeping me awake in the night, so I bated all the traps again to try and catch his mate in the loft. I think his mate is the one that wears lead shoes and likes dancing on the little bit of ceiling above my head!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Fruit trees and mushrooms

I spent a nice Sunday on my parents farm pruning the fruit trees in the new orchard with my brother. After doing the pruning course last week and the fact that my brother is a tree surgeon, I felt quite confidant. It was a cold day and we had to wait for the trees to defrost before we started, but we soon had the 3 and 4 year old trees pruned to size, we should hopefully get a bit more fruit off them than we have up till now, they’ve been slow getting established and we’ve only had about 2 apples so far. The plum, gage and damson trees will get pruned in the spring to prevent silver leaf.
After a warming roast dinner we braved the cold again to use up the dowel mushroom spawning kit that had been sitting in my fridge since the spring. To do this we drilled holes in some freshly cut logs every 6 inches, knocked in the inoculated dowels and then sealed the tops with wax. We then found a nice dark corner of mums’ garden to store them in where they won’t dry out. Hopefully in about 6 to 12 months time we should have some Shiitake mushrooms to eat.