Monday, December 17, 2012

Raised bed, newest path, digging, and chickens

Here's my new brick raised bed, topped by a glass shower door, aka "cold frame." Nobody is planted in it yet, but I plan on sowing some seeds in February.  It will be my I-don't-have-a-greenhouse-so-this'll-have-to-do bed.  For tomatoes, peppers, basil, and lettuces, I think.  I may totally change my mind, though.

Lately I've been darning socks.  A lot.  Mostly my own socks, but I've done Franklin's and Partner's, too.  How many darns can a sock have before it's all darned out?  I have a sock with about 7 different darns--though its mate has only 2.  It started out as black, but now it's multicolored.  I think maybe I'll darn in red from now on, and one day I'll have a red pair!

Excitingly, I had my first sale in my shop!  It was a pair of black toddler long johns which I designed and sewed myself.  I hope the little girl who wears them stays nice and warm this winter.

Though it's not easy to tell from the photo, I've been carting the dirt out from this area between our garage and next door's property.  It used to be covered in rubbish, then I planted runner beans along the wall, and now I'm slowly leveling it.  I've taken out about a third of the soil so far.  See those exposed roots under the elder stumps?  I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with those stumps, but hopefully I'll be able to get them out somehow.  Eerily, the big main trunk, detached from the stump since May, is still sending out leaves:   it's still alive!  I had planned on burying it, a la hugelculture, but I'm not doing any such thing till I know it's good and dead.

As far as Christmas goes, we're buying a chest freezer, but probably not till January, and Franklin's only getting a few hand-me-downs.  I think the only thing we've bought new for him is a set of magnets.  We also agreed not to buy anything for each other, though I suspect Partner has made me something (which I earlier requested) and it's possible I've made him something small, too (can neither confirm nor deny, so don't tell him).  We'll mostly celebrate by having a small feast and spending time as a family. 

My newest path leads to the back vegetable beds, and on the left is a low dry-stone retaining wall, surrounding the blackcurrants.  And right in the center is a DIY rainproof chicken feeder.  My design:  an upturned bucket with two arches cut out.  The chickens have had the run of the vegetable patch for a week now;  I hope they're aerating and fertilizing it well--they've absolutely demolished the last of the chard.  I went out there today only to see some sad, straggly stems, albeit in beautiful jewel tones. 

We're considering building the chickens a permanent coop, while still continuing moving them through sections of the property.  We have six sections back there, and they generally stay in a section for one to two weeks before moving to the next.  It allows each section to rest and regrow between visits, so they don't completely kill the grass and plants.  I like our little moveable coop because it's easy to move and clean, but it's not big enough for a roosting perch, which I think they'd appreciate. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pathmaking and Thanksgiving

In an unexpected week of sunshine, I've been on a path making spree.  This path connects the patio to the lawn and allows access to a wide bed, which I previously had to step into (and get muddy) to work on.  Those few bricks in the foreground are the raised bed I made this summer, and that pile of sticks at the back are off the doomed fuschia. 

I have another partial path in the works, connecting the lawn to the back vegetable beds, which are also being re-designed.  The back beds haven't really been in cultivation, and are mostly weeds or bare earth (thank you chickens!);  one, a sloping bed, has a short new retaining wall, making it a raised bed.  Pictures to follow.

I also made another raised brick bed on the patio next to the house, as planned.  I filled the bottom with small logs and tipped a load of topsoil in.  The logs should retain moisture and help with drainage and general fertility.  The first bed doesn't have them, so it'll be interesting to compare results.

I actually discovered another cache of old bricks at the back of our property, behind our (large) laurel hedge.  So many bricks around here!  Might as well make good use of the materials I have, right?  I'll be relaying all the paths in the vegetable plot with brick, and plan on using the existing concrete "flagstones" as more retaining walls for raised beds.

Still a few things to harvest in the garden, and a few things newly growing;  the peas are still sending out new flowers and very slowly still producing peas.  Franklin picks them straight off the bush to eat--they don't get a chance to see the dinner table!  Also some very beautiful rainbow chard, mostly with red stems, but a few pinks, yellows, and whites.  Not pictured, but no less delicious are my crinkly savoy-type cabbages and my turnips--we had another four golf ball sized ones at Thanksgiving.  We tried the turnip greens but had to give them to the chickens:  far too bitter, and we like bitter.
During Thanksgiving week, Partner, Franklin, and I visited a local stable and got some fresh horse manure to make an old-fashioned hotbed.  The theory is, the fresh manure piled up will get nice and warm, so plants can be grown in it during the winter.  I checked it yesterday--not warm.  But even if it doesn't, it's still a great addition to my soil.

Our Thanksgiving was small but nice.  We ordered a fresh turkey from our butcher;  it was Very Large and, we suspected (and later confirmed) a free-range bird.  It definitely was the best tasting turkey I ever had, though it was also the least tender.  Still, the taste made up for the chewiness.  We also had the afore-mentioned garden cabbage and turnips, along with a few non-garden veg.  I made pumpkin pie out of our Halloween pumpkin--Partner chopped it into large bits, baked, peeled, then pureed the flesh.  It was lovely, especially on the second day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A few things newly made, planning again

I've opened an Etsy shop.  Right now it's just got a couple things, like these cashmere lined wool mittens. I love making things with cashmere.

Other things made:  a similar pair of mittens, and three pairs of woolly socks for Franklin, which he loves (every time he puts a pair on he singsongs, "mummy made it!  Good job, mummy!").  Also a matching hat and neckwarmer for him, and a pair of felted slippers.  He's got all kinds of woolly things this winter.  And I'm so happy his coat still fits.  The extra length I put in the sleeves paid off!

Reflecting on the past year, and coming year a lot.  I'm making more grand plans for my garden and for my life.  I want to gain income from a source other than my current job by the end of next year, whether a new job, or some other employment.  I feel my talents are a bit wasted where I am now.  As a couple, Partner and I have done very well and paid off a good portion of our debts over the past year.  I hope to continue that trend and pay an even bigger amount in the coming year (the goal is mortgage-free by 2020).  And my favorite unfulfilled goal is to become self-sufficient in vegetables.  I can do it next year, I know it!

Partner and I both have the coming week, Thanksgiving week, off.  We have all sorts of household jobs to accomplish:  I'm hoping we can bring home a load of manure from a local stable, a tree needs cutting down, and we want to check out a reclamation yard for greenhouse building materials.  And we might just have a large turkey dinner one day, too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Autumn garden, new chooks, sewing, planning

I took my exam and feel like I passed.  I actually feel like I did really well, but I guess I'll have to wait and see.  Results in December. 
 I grew this turnip!  Um...except all the other turnips are still marbles, or smaller.  I don't know why. 

I've been spending a lot of time in the garden lately, chopping things down and tidying.  Today I got the handsaw out and trimmed my overwhelming laurel hedge at the back.  I also had a good go at the underperforming fuschia, and a few other shrubs.  While I normally enjoy fuschias, this one is all leaf and no flower.  I'll be actively attempting to kill it in the future;  it's too big to dig up, but I'll continue chopping it down if it grows. 

We added another three chickens to our flock, bringing the total to seven.  Everyone seems to have settled in, though there's been quite a lot of pecking;  all the new ones have little scars on their combs.  It's been about three weeks now and they've fattened up a bit already, though they still look bedraggled with bald patches.  We got them from the same charity as before, so they too are ex-factory hens. 
 Still have some things flowering, such as this snapdragon, and the nasturtiums and dahlias behind it.  But autumn's really coming on here;  leaves are falling and days are so short.  I feel the urge to stay inside and make stuff.
 I sewed this pair of jammies for Franklin from a men's wool/cotton blend pullover. 
 And this pair from a felted cashmere one.  So warm and soft!  As on the stripey pair, I used the sleeves for legs and the neckband for the waist;  I love how this one had a zip-up neckband--it makes a perfect fly.  I had just enough of the blue pullover to make short sleeves, but I wanted a long sleeved one, so used remnants from a gray cashmere pullover to make the sleeves and collar. I made him a gray cashmere undervest, too.  I source my cashmere from charity shops and usually pay around £3.50-£4.50 apiece.  Though most of them I usually wear myself, rather than cut up!

I also sewed myself two pairs of pajama bottoms from two XL men's wool pullovers, same as Franklin's:  sleeves for legs.  So nice to wear in bed.  I used to have some polyester bottoms which were warm but could get sweaty.  I haven't had that problem with the wool. 

Making many plans for next year's garden.  I'll be moving many things around;  my dedicated herb bed will be dissolved and the contents placed in the flowerbeds.  It's just too hard to reach all the herbs from the bed.  I might like to plant some berry bushes there instead.  I'll also be planting vegetables and fruits in amongst the flowers, in an effort to be more self sufficient. 
 I haven't been able to fulfill that self sufficiency goal this year;  we changed our eating habits this summer and have subsequently eaten many more vegetables than last year.  My garden supply is just not enough.  But I'm optimistic for next year!   I've collected some apple and wild rose seeds to attempt growing.  The rose seeds come from a wild bush in the park (not pictured;  that's one of mine above) that has the most amazing smell, and juicy, sweet rosehips.

Also seriously considering raising meat birds out back too.  I've been watching youtube videos on how to humanely kill both chickens and ducks, as well as pluck and dress.  I think I could do it.  Maybe.  Partner says he could do a chicken but isn't sure about a duck.  I have suggested ducks as we can get a breeding pair--we can't have a rooster for breeding chickens--too noisy for our neighbors.

Friday, September 28, 2012

My day

These days my life is pretty routine.  Every weekday I wake up around 7.30-8am when Franklin bangs my door open and hops in bed with me.  We have a snuggle for an hour (if I'm lucky) or we get up because there's just too much bounce in him.  We both get dressed and then go downstairs and check on the chickens, and Franklin usually reads or plays with toys while I put on a load of laundry and make breakfast.

Breakfast is usually either eggs or yogurt with fruit and nuts.  Sometimes both.  This morning we had eggs scrambled with cream, followed by an avocado and some almonds.  Franklin chose the avocado.  We then go for a walk, usually with the dog, unless it's excessively rainy.  This morning we walked without her to the butcher:  it's a long walk, and through the village, not the park.  Our dog is now 13 and lives a bit slower these days.  She still loves her walk though.

Once home from our walk we normally tidy up the kitchen, doing dishes, wiping counters, sweeping, etc, then prep for dinner.  Franklin sometimes hangs out with me, or sometimes goes into the living room to read or play toys.  I should probably mention we don't own a tv, so neither he nor I watch it.

After the kitchen is satisfactory, we eat lunch.  Today we had some sausages fried up with beets leftover from last night.  Lunch over, if nice we'll garden and play outside, or if not, we'll do a bit of housework (laundry's a favorite) or crafting.  Recent crafts:  I've sewed Franklin a couple pairs of woolly jammies recently from some old men's pullovers, and myself some woolly long johns from the same.  So warm and fuzzy!  I'm a sucker for good wool clothing.  Often when I'm sewing, Franklin will draw or play with plasticine.

Franklin will have his nap 2pm-ish usually, and I then get a chance to sit down!  I usually break out the knitting, catch up on emails, or play a computer game.  It's my relaxation time, and it's the only time I get all day for pure leisure. 

At around 4pm, I'll go back downstairs to start dinner.  Franklin sometimes wakes before then, but usually he'll come bouncing down the stairs a little after.  It's our habit that when I'm busy in the kitchen, he'll entertain himself, and normally we're in different rooms.  Sometimes he'll bring his book in and read to me, though.  He tells the best stories:  "kitty, doggy, baby bear sad...Jiminy Cricket!".

I try hard to have dinner ready by the time Partner walks in the door.  Sometimes we start eating before he's here, if it's past 6pm.  Tonight I made lamb tikka masala with a carrot, cucumber, and tomato salad in a yogurt mint dressing.  We had fresh pineapple and cream for dessert.  I like very much when we all sit down together and have dinner and chat.  I tell Partner what we've got up to for the day, and he tells me about the annoying person(s) he had to deal with at work.

When Partner's home, Franklin claims him;   they like to play football, cars, or other manly pursuits.  I occasionally stay and play, but normally disappear upstairs to start my studies.  I've got a final exam in less than two weeks, but it's hard to stay focused.  I've been going over past exam papers and feel kind of discouraged.  In the past, I've always done worse on exams than I've expected.  I've even come away from exams feeling I've nailed it, only to learn of a dismal result.  At least I've never failed!

After study, and once Franklin's asleep, I like to knit, read, and/or have a long bath.  That ends my day:  it's about 11pm and bedtime!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Mostly in the garden, as always, and a little on life

This last month I bought two blackcurrant cuttings from the local church sale.  They're not dead yet (that's my measure of success in the garden).  It was my goal for this year to plant another perennial fruit-bearing plant.  Done!

Here's my new flower bed at the edge of my patio.  I have since planted a few more herbs and the lettuce and radishes have sprouted.  I've already decided to build one more right next to the house at the opposite end of the patio--probably this winter.  At the moment, my potted peppers and tomatoes are there and I don't want to move them just yet.  The picture below is from about a month ago.  There are actually peppers and tomatoes on the plants now.
This is where I will build the second brick flower bed.

Speaking of tomatoes.  I have an orange one, and a couple light green ones.  This has not been a good year for them;  but when has it ever been?  If the orange one ripens, that'll be my first this year.  I keep expecting rain, but if this week's sunshine holds out, I may just get that (single) red tomato after all.

I start a new math class at the end of the month.  I also take my current class's final exam around the same time (last assignment already submitted:  woo!).  In the few weeks I have, I'm to cram as much me-time into the evenings, before I have to go back to studying.  I've got a few creative projects on the go (knitting and sewing), and have still been sporadically running. 

When I first started running, I had to stop and walk every few minutes to catch my breath, but now I can just slow down a little, while still running.  It's so cool.  I'm also doing yoga from a dvd--and it's even more strenuous than running.  What's even worse, it's only a beginner's dvd!  Years ago I used enjoy yoga at the gym.  It's fun to be flexible.  I look forward to the time I can reach down and touch my toes again...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What's flowering, new bed, wild fruit

 At last we've had some warm sunny days.  My tomatoes are forming little green trusses.  I have this terrible (hope it's not a premonition) feeling they'll go orange, we'll get a big rainfall, and they'll split and go moldy.  It's happened before. 
I built a very rustic raised bed at the edge of the patio;  I stacked some bricks up dry--no mortar--and just piled some organic matter and dirt into it.  I then transplanted some sorry-looking basil and scattered lettuce, radish, basil, and dill seeds.  I thought the bricks would extend the season a little by keeping the bed warm with radiant heat, and figured if I don't like it or it doesn't work well, I can always dismantle it easily.  The bricks were lying about anyway--as was the compost.  Free!
On one of our daily walks, Franklin and I discovered wild raspberries fruiting, and  spent many happy mornings in the raspberry patch, dodging nettles and bees.  Now the blackberries are coming into season, and so proliferant we don't have to range far to find a tangle of them.  Also in season: wild apples.  We know of several trees within walking distance--some sour, some extra sour.  No matter;  Franklin loves them all.  He eats everything but the stem. 

I also have my eye on a big stand of wild hazelnut trees.  When they ripen, I'll be there beating off the squirrels with a big fat stick.  Metaphorically.  I've only ever seen one squirrel (two years ago at that) in the park, and I've walking there practically every day for the last four years.  Maybe I'll be fighting off the rabbits.  Or ducks.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lots of photos

Here's my life in photos for the last month.

Here's a bouquet of roses, lupins, hydrangea, laurel leaves and St John's wort leaves. 
I eventually managed to successfully wrap my cherry tree in a net.
I love my vibrant red poppies, but watch out for burned corneas!
First flowers on my runner beans.
And on my peas, too.
My garage wall, with hanging baskets, climbing rose, and ivy.
First garlic bulb was so tasty--and pungent!
I made eight muffins with these four cherries.  Each muffin got half a cherry.
I planted some cabbage specifically for the chickens.
The main vegetable patch.
First peas!  We've been eating them for dinner every other day or so for the last two weeks.
I bought some strawberry plants on special.  10 for £5:  a steal!
My tomatoes are growing and beginning to flower at last, but my peppers in the foreground are still pretty measly. 
You may have noticed a theme here;  the only fun stuff I've done over the last few weeks has been in my garden!  Other not-so-fun activities have included housework (but don't drop by unexpectedly, ok?), schoolwork, and, er, work. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Harvesting and planting

Here's the thing.  I can't upload photos at the moment.  I physically have them on a little XD card, but that's where they're staying until my computer problems are sorted.  I've got some photos of a few sewing projects I've been working on I'm looking forward to sharing.

I made a goal to avoid buying vegetables from July onward.  Partner (President of Grocery Shopping), take note.  

I harvested all my garlic.  I could have sworn I planted no more than 60 cloves, but I pulled up 81 bulbs.  I brushed off excess soil and then laid them out on a plastic sheet in the garage.  We had a massive rainstorm which slightly flooded the garage yesterday, but I checked and my garlic was still dry.  

In the now vacated garlic bed I scattered beet seeds and put in another row of peas.  I think I still have time to plant one more batch of peas, and I've got a tiny amount of free space left for them. I also made my first harvest of peas;  I parboiled them in their pods with a few sprigs of fresh mint.  So yummy!

A fifth of my cherries disappeared in mysterious circumstances, leaving me with a grand total of four.  To prevent the others from the same fate, I draped a net and liberally applied clothes pegs to secure it.  When those four ripened to a beautiful bright red, I baked eight muffins, each with half a cherry.  I'm hoping for a bigger harvest next year.

But to make up for it, Franklin and I discovered some wild cherries growing in a little wood in the park.  We found them by accident when we looking for bee orchids and were caught by rain;  we ran to the nearest stand of trees and discovered ripe red cherries.  I picked as many as I could reach and Franklin ate at least half of them. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now running (but not the computer), garden harvesting

Traumatically, my computer died last week.  I've partially revived it, but it's functioning on artificial life support, and can't survive without it.  I was very concerned that I'd forever lost all my family photos and videos, my current assignment (due in two days), and my Sims;  I'm not sure which I'd mourn the most.  But I'm relieved to announce the photos, videos, and assignment have all been salvaged and the rescue of the Sims is imminent.

I feel so proud of myself:  I'm a runner.  I started running a couple weeks ago, with the couch to 5k program, and can now run a full 15 minutes at a time.  I like to take my dog Beauty out with me in the evenings when Partner returns from work.  I've often admired Beauty, for her ability to constantly run;  I thought, my body is designed for that kind of action, too.  Running makes me feel strong and empowered;  and my goal is to participate in the local fun run next year.  Maybe Beauty will too.

My new cherry tree has a grand total of five cherries, just turning yellow now.  I tried to drape a net over it, to keep the birds off them.  I think I need more practice.  It's already fallen off three times.
I read that this June has been the wettest in 100 years.  Perhaps that explains the lack of growth in certain vegetables, i.e. tomatoes and peppers?  The cabbages, radishes, and potatoes flourish, however.  *As do the weeds and slugs.  I read that most of the weeds that grow locally are edible to humans.  I'm not sure about the slugs, but I know the snails are, too.  If you're into that sort of thing.    I harvested my first garlic bulb--not quite mature in size, but fantastic taste, and the smell permeated the whole house.  Lucky we love garlic!  My peas also finally have a few flowers.  I sowed the seeds in several intervals, hoping to get a semi-continuous crop over the summer.  The youngest are about six inches tall, and the eldest about five feet tall.  Oh!  And Franklin and I ate the first of the carrots, straight from the ground--soooo tasty.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The chickens, update on garden stuff

I promised chickens and here they are.  Partner has named the front two Nellie and Jessie.  He's named the other two but I can't remember their names, nor which one is which anyway.  I can tell those two apart because one is slightly smaller and blonder, and the other is speckled.  Franklin loves going into their fence and following them around.  They don't mind at all.

Though my sister has been and gone, I wanted to brag about her big accomplishment during her visit:  she cut down a tree!
Here she stands on the trunk at the end of the day.  Notice the hand saw.  This tree was cut down by hand.  My sister's hand, mostly.  She took off all the main branches and then the next day Partner got the hand-held power saw (not a chainsaw) and cut down the trunk.  Let me point out this tree was not planted;  it's an elder and they spring up everywhere as a weed, and if left to grow, will end up a tree.  An ugly, hugely prolific, extremely soft-wooded tree.

The space, approximately 4' x 8', was completely taken over by the tree and had been used as a dumping ground by previous owners (after pulling out the fourth broken plastic basket from underneath all the rubble, I asked Partner, "What was wrong with these people?  Why couldn't they just use the bin like everyone else?!").  The task seemed overwhelming, but after a group effort, a lot of it was cleared out and I even planted my runner beans in the newly sunny spot.  What we'd assumed was a four foot high mound of trash was actually a 3.5 foot high mound of dirt under a layer of trash.  We now think it started life as a compost heap.

When those runner beans finish at the end of the year, we'll clear it out to ground level and incorporate it into the rest of the garden.  I'm thinking raspberry bushes.  It's a private little spot with the garage on one side, a wall at the front, and next door's shed on the other side. 
Elsewhere in my garden, I've planted peppers and tomatoes in pots and half reside under my "cold frame" (aka the shower door). 
My remaining tomatoes are in the ground under my other "cold frame";  I know it looks unprofessional, but it works--promise!  I took this photo a month ago;  since then, the bed in front (where that carpet is) was planted with broccoli which have shot up like rockets. 

Oh and I'm saving those elder logs for a hugelkulture bed later this year.  I'm really excited to try it out--I've been hinting to Partner we should cut down the other three elders on the edge of our property so I can use those logs too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I want to improve

There's so many things I want to be better at:  blogging for example.  I would love to post weekly or even more frequently, take fantastic photos (and make and do fantastic stuff to take photos of). 

I also want to be a better housekeeper.  My place suffers from a distinct lack of attention.  It'd be great to not be embarrassed when visitors arrive unexpectedly!

 I'd also like to be better at sight-reading music.  I'm moderately competent but would like to improve to extremely competent;  I would love to sit down to the piano and be able to play a piece of music through to tempo.  Right now I can usually do it if the tempo is Andante or slower.  Trouble is, I love fast and loud music, like Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody and Chopin's Revolutionary Study.

On the other hand, something I feel quite satisfied in:  my gardening.  I'm no expert, but I feel experienced and confident in my skills.  I put in enough work to make the outcome worthwhile.  One of my neighbors commented about my many weeds;  I told him it was a wildlife garden.  He didn't believe me, but it really is the truth!  I don't actually mind most of my weeds--they're banished from the main parts, but are allowed around the edges.  Side note:  our new chickens are brilliant at weeding.

I also feel pretty happy about my family and my relationships with Partner and Franklin.  I feel we make a good team and we have many more fun days than we do difficult days.  Perhaps I'll post a bit more about our fun family days in the future. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chickens, sister, spring harvest

We have chickens!  But no photos.  Must remedy.  Even though they've lived in cages all their lives, the four have learned how to do all sorts of chicken-y things in the past five days.  They can drink from a bowl of water, scratch the ground, perch on a roost, eat slugs, and--up until yesterday--fly.  I clipped their wings however, when I realized they'd begun experimenting with this new ability.
I think between them they've laid around two or three eggs per day since they've come to us (don't panic--that's candle wax in the egg carton).   Partner's begun naming them, and Franklin calls them "bok-boks."

My middle sister is over for a visit and Franklin loves her.  I've never seen him like this with anyone.  I may have to take advantage of her good nature and get her to babysit one night for us.  I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity--he never willingly spends time with strangers, even when I'm present.  And he was friends with her the very first day!

In the garden, I've harvested broccoli for the past few weeks.  When I go to it, I pick all spears close to flowering--encouraging it to continue producing.  Sometimes there's more than we can eat, so I freeze the excess.  Another new crop:  baby spinach.  And so far, one asparagus spear.  I had such high hopes when I planted them five years ago.  Franklin and I shared it between us, raw.  After all, one's better than none.

Pictured: a random forget-me-not.  It somehow insinuated itself into my turnip patch.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Seedlings, yarn vs cash

My little portable greenhouse is in my house at the moment.  It blows over easily, so the best position for both sturdyness and sunnyness is right inside the sliding door in our south-facing kitchen.  I've got plenty of veg and flower seedlings, with room for another few trays.  In fact, some of these are now big enough to shift outdoors.  I think when the spring winds have died down (around mid-May) it'll go back outside with its cover.

I've been making a little extra cash recently by listing some of my excess yarn stash on ebay.  I bought quite a lot of yarn over time, loved having it, realized I would never have time to knit it all, and painfully put a few up for sale.  Then when they sold I discovered it was actually more fun having the money than the yarn--now I'm addicted!  I've ruthlessly sorted through all my yarns and more than half are in the "for sale" box.  And if they don't sell?  Well, I can still knit with them, right?

Actually I'm crocheting lately.  I had fun dyeing some pale beige yarn into fairy princess pink and have been crocheting a lacy shawl.  It's been a while since I last picked up a crochet hook, and I'm enjoying myself. 

Another project recently completed:  my third skirt of the month.  No photo at the moment (I wore it and now it's in the wash):  again a simple knee-length skirt, but with a different pattern this time.  Photo to follow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring flowers, spring skirts, spring broccoli

Some really spectacular shrubs flower in my garden this time of year. This one we call the Burning Bush:
And this is the flowering currant; I actually have three dotted around, in varying shades of pink.
I picked some to put with a few tulips and random leftovers from a gift bouquet; I missed having flowers in my house over winter! And speaking of tulips--I think they have doubled in number from last spring. The past two years I've divided them and I need to divide them again this year. When I do so, I take them to a new un-tuliped part of the garden. If this multiplying continues, I won't have anywhere left for transplanting.
I've been busily sewing myself two new skirts. Both from the same pattern, different views. This first is some light wool with self-made piping. This wool is actually the same as I used to back Franklin's quilt. The piping is from an old cotton sheet; I'm very pleased with it. The skirt also has a zipper and a button in the back, and an invisible hem which sits about an inch above my knee. The waistband is cut on the bias.
The second skirt is some cute printed corduroy. The front panel creates a faux wrap-around that sits right at my knee. It has an invisible zipper (actually invisible, too! unlike previous attempts) and a hook and eye in back. The material and button have both been in my stash for at least four years--about time I used it.
I've also been hard at work planting more seeds, and the remaining 3.5 kg of seed potatoes. All potatoes bar about 12 are planted in grow sacks; I ran out of both sacks and extra soil, so the last few went in the ground. Still have lots of seed planting to continue with over the course of this month and the next.

And the first of my purple sprouting broccoli harvest. I'm going to be very vigilant and not let it go to seed this year; if there's too much for us to eat, I'll pick and freeze. All winter long I've been looking forward to this!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The unveiling of the henhouse

After a few weeks of digging, raking, and re-laying paths, most of my vegetable beds are either planted or ready for planting. I still have a small bed with my purple sprouting broccoli (now sprouting) and a large bed with last year's cabbages going to seed. I need to pull up all but one or two cabbages for seeds and dig over the bed to plant.

Today Franklin and I took a trip to the garden center to pick up some new seeds: peas, radishes, lettuce, swede (also called rutabaga). I hope I have room for everything! I was really tempted by some hazelnut trees; I almost bought one. Then I read the tag that said it wasn't self-fertile, i.e. you have to plant at least two in order to get nuts. Sigh. I couldn't justify spending £40 on trees today. Though I know exactly where I'd plant them...

The henhouse is ready for some chickens: tada! When I spoke to the hen charity, they told me I'd just missed the last collection and the next one isn't till the end of April. I guess we're not in a rush. Franklin really enjoyed helping his dad build the henhouse. In this picture, he's got one screw in his mouth and a box of them at his feet. He loved putting them into pre-drilled holes in the frame; it took a lot of concentration. Partner had a truly inspired idea of using an old drop-leaf table top for the roof; we can lift it up in case we need to get inside. We also bought some moveable fence so we can let the hens range but keep them out of sensitive areas like my seed beds.