Thank goodness for some depth

In case you’ve somehow missed the following information: my soil is very thin. So, making a hole big enough for my last apple tree felt like too much of a challenge and didn’t happen. Actually, it didn’t happen for the first two either but, being bigger now, perhaps shallow soil is less of an issue for them.

However, with a rather large amount of newly acquired soil from pond-building, I thought the Ribston Pippin might benefit if I made a transfer to its site. Thus,

the point where the scion was grafted onto the rootstock is still above ground so that it isn’t going to turn into a standard sized tree but the trunk of the rootstock is not so exposed. I’m also rather hoping the ‘soil’ will bring with it some nutrition, especially the clay subsoil. Either way, though, I’m glad to be able to repurpose the pond soil.

Posted in forest garden, soil management | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Great British Bean

Ever heard of Hodmedod’s? I discovered this company at the wonderful Hunters of Helmsley, which was selling British-grown fava beans in what appeared to be non-plastic packaging.

Moving forward, I eventually got round to looking at the Hodmedod website and was pleased to see they sold other British-grown pulses as well as grains and seeds. This was music to my ears but it is only at the beginning of this week that I put finger to screen and placed my first order.

500g packs are cellophane

Thank goodness I have a child who likes beans. I’ve got a bit of work to do on the grains and seeds but the important thing is that she is being exposed to good food.

Anyway, why British-grown beans?

As you may already have gathered, I am rather a fan of locally grown food as far as possible. What you may not be aware of is the fact that I used to be vegetarian and, while I do now occasionally eat meat, non-animal sources of protein are my preferred option.

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that animal husbandry is a driver of global warming. I think at the same time that a few animals on a farm may bring benefits (manure for example); the food they provide is a natural source of B12 (which we can only really get in this form from eating animal produce) and because of our depleted soils, perhaps selenium falls into this category, too.

So, the meat we consume comes from our local organic farm and now I have found a way of obtaining plant protein without the air miles. What’s not to like!

If you’re interested, the Hodmedod website can be found here:

Posted in In the kitchen, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Another project – a slightly raised bed

You might wonder why I’ve embarked on another project when the pond is as yet waiting upon completion. Well, this new project ties into the whole because I need to do something with the soil mountain which has piled up in the middle of the garden.

One idea I had been toying with was to build a raised bed over the thin (both downwards and sideways) sliver of soil by the back fence. Each spring the bluebells come up and for the rest of the year I am graced with dandelions.

The bluebells are already coming through – they must have accustomed themselves to being in the shade to the extent they don’t recognised the fact it is now December gloom.

Now, I am happy to have dandelions, which is just as well, considering they are unstoppable. At the same time, it would be great if I could also have something else outside the bluebell season.

So, in order to facilitate this desire, I am using slats from the fence I chopped down at the back of the garden earlier in the year to create a border. Then some of the aforementioned soil can go in the bed I’ve created.

The white paint is becoming discoloured as the original fence preservative seeps through.

As per usual, I ran out of steam after doing the first stretch and now I need to keep my fingers crossed that the border holds and doesn’t get knocked when my neighbour is taking her bins out. And I also need to think about what to plant in my new-found bit of garden.

NB I’m aware that the new soil could rot the bottom of the fence but I doubt this will be a concern in the near future.

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Better a get a move on – it’s spring!

Since the marigolds in the front garden have decided to keep flowering, I decided that the remaining tulip bulbs should go in a pot.

The whole of the front really needs a sort out but I stuck to some weeding once the tulip pot had been placed on a bare (ish) piece of soil. It’s noticeably warmer at the front than the back, judging by not just the marigolds. The nasturtiums are still in flower as well and it looks like the early daffodils are decidedly early by far.

Unless the shoots peeping through the soil are the lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) which I planted at least two years ago but which had seemingly been dead on arrival. Anyway, flowers are always welcome, so I will be happy with whatever I get, in season or not.

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

A reason to love the rain

I hadn’t expected to do any digging this afternoon but after the Knit and Natter Christmas lunch, it seemed a good time to get the spade out. The upshot is that I’ve now dug down to about 30 cm in part of the bottom of the pond.

Perhaps the exercise would have been easier than I thought but methinks the rain since Monday will have softened the subsoil. And fortunately there weren’t too many stones. Certainly, none of them were particularly big.

Apart from not wanting to damage my back, my problem is impatience. I want the pond to be up and running. Really, though, it would be better to do the job right now, rather than have to make amendments next winter when I realise the pond is just too shallow.

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Not just any old puddle

Yesterday, it was mayhem at work because of a fire in one of our generators, leading to a power outage which shut all the buildings I was trying to use. So, there was nothing to do but come home – and see if I could work remotely.

This meant that I got to see the garden in daylight and immediately noticed that rainwater (yes, it was also a dismally wet winter day) had started to collect at the bottom of the pond area.

Fortunately, the water has now drained away, which for the sake of building the pond is good news – I hadn’t fancied trying to scoop out water to lay the sand and liner. It is also good news for the plants in the rest of the garden. I had been fearful that their roots would be submerged for long periods but it seems not.

In other words, though more dense and less porous than the topsoil, the subsoil should be possible to scrap down by another couple of inches. I’m leaving that till the weekend, though.

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


I’ve been dipping into the latest GROW Observatory online course, which is ostensibly about the results of their monoculture vs polyculture experiment this summer. I wasn’t able to take part due to lack of growing space but it is interesting, nonetheless.

Anyway, I’ve just been introduced to the website for Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute called Soilscapes. Basically, this will tell you quite a lot of interesting data about the soil in the U.K. In other words, the site kindly confirmed that my soil was low fertility.

Now, you might ask why I need a website to tell me why annual vegetables won’t grow in my garden. True, I’ve observed such but a part of me believed it was something I was doing rather than the natural state of things.

One thing that I could have clocked but didn’t was that the soil tends towards acidity: gorse and bracken growing practically outside my door. From a soil test, my soil appears to be neutral but then fruit does better than veg and possibly not just because of its perennial nature.

In any case, I feel I’ve joined a couple of dots this morning!

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments