Ten pm 3 July 2018

After piano this evening, I suddenly got the urge to clean my car windows. Then in a fit of enthusiasm for being outdoors I started watering and generally pottering about in the back garden.

I completely forgot about the time with it being so light, until I heard my daughter call good night. And then I heard lots of cheering and shouting ‘Get in!’ around the neighbourhood (with all the windows and doors being open).

Now, I’m not a football fan but even I have just been touched by the excitement. So, here’s a photo of the garden at ten this evening to celebrate.

I can’t believe there’s any green at all – most of the plants are not getting watered, so it must be the morning dew sustaining them.

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I’m already juggling plenty of balls but when I arrived at Old Sleningford Farm this morning and was reminded of a promised sheep fleece, I could hardly say no!

Normally, the fleeces from the farm’s sheep go round the fruit bushes in the forest garden. However, Rachel had with one batch made a series of mats to sit on. These I had come across at the party a couple of weeks ago and fallen in love with. Hence the promise.

Now I have a bin bag full of sheep fleece

and have started to wash it before carding – if I decide to spin it – or weaving. If doing the latter, I’ll see if my dad can rustle up a loom as featured below. I’ve ready got the wood, and some dowelling would do for the rest.

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Melting the concrete

The unrelenting hot, sunny weather, coupled with the dearth of rain, means that it is going to be hard to plant out the remaining squash and sweetcorn.

I’ve managed to clear the ground needed

by pouring the contents of the washing up bowl on the patch and then digging out the garlic, stray Jerusalem artichokes, nettles and miscellaneous weeds. The latest bokashi bin is ready as well, so roll on about nine tonight when it has cooled down to 19 degrees C, so that the heavy work can commence.

The dryness is no doubt the reason why the strawberries have been smaller this year, but I’ve been good about watering the sweetcorn, which are already starting to produce fruit. Likewise, the tomatoes must be loving it.

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A changing dietary landscape

From the age of 16 to 26 years old, I was an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. It wasn’t hard, in the sense that I ever felt tempted to eat meat. It was hard in the sense that there was often little choice of meals in the public domain (e.g. restaurants).

Now, there appear to be a plethora of choices in comparison. Even vegans might more easily find something to eat (feel free to comment with your own experiences).

I still have grave concerns about the way animals are treated but wonder if avoiding eating them is part of the solution to climate change and related ills. Thus, I am intrigued by the following graph.

Graph: which diet feeds the most people?

It suggests that the diet which can feed the most people is a plant-based diet with milk. Add in eggs and slightly fewer people can be fed. And at the other extreme is the current Western diet, which appears to feed about half as many people as a lacto-vegetarian diet.

Unfortunately, I haven’t so far been able to find details of the study which achieved these results. It is therefore hard for me to gauge whether the graph holds any truth or if it is simply propaganda.

Furthermore, feeding the world and feeding the world well are two different things. There is no consensus, as far as I can see, on which diet is the healthiest (apart from the fact that most people do not eat healthily).

One thing is certain, however: no matter how productive my forest garden is, it will never provide all my dietary needs.

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‘Sorry for the lack of vegetables…’

When I went to my local organic farm today, there was a note apologising for the fact that, due to lack of rain, there were no vegetables for sale. So, it’s not just me then!

However, the shop-bought parsley I planted a month ago seems to be doing remarkably well – and I’ve only watered it once.

The strawberries also continue to be prolific. I’m picking 1-2 kg each day but there are fortunately plenty of people to eat the ones that don’t go in preserves.

The mint has doubled in size (ie ground coverage) as well. So, clearly a move away from annual vegetables is a sensible move as far as I’m concerned.

The potatoes I managed to get from the farm will come in handy with the nettles, which are also doing fine. Pity they need to come out soon to plant a butternut squash and the last of the sweetcorn.

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Yorkshire Stone

It doesn’t look like the fence on the left side of my garden is going to go up any time soon but I have been making plans for such an eventuality.

There’s no point in continuing with the business as usual model, otherwise I will possibly be wondering and waiting for a long time. Or I could be in for a sudden change in the levels of light in my growing space.

Above all else, I do actually want a pond in the garden. Going back to 2011, I found a secondhand book on the subject of water features, so it is about time I opened it and took some advice.

In the meantime, I’ve been looking out for some stones or paving on Freegle. And finally I collected a bootful yesterday.

They are currently piled up on my drive, as I haven’t had the energy to move them through to the back. Today’s evening train home from work was delayed by nearly two hours because of a potential suicide situation (ie we couldn’t move along the track in case the teenager jumped). Fortunately, I had a colleague for company and there was no jumping.

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Who doesn’t like to party?

This weekend gone, we were at Old Sleningford Farm for a magnificent party. I didn’t manage to speak to all of the 100 or so guests but every conversation was worth having. I also got some dancing in!

Anyway, during one conversation we ended up talking about the recent, unwelcome, blustery weather. Leading on from this came the suggestion of making strawberry jam with fennel. Definitely something to consider… In fact, this afternoon, I went so far as to experiment with a pound of strawberries and a few fronds of fennel.

For once, I put enough lemon juice in the jam, so it set – hurray! But the fennel worked, too, so I know what I’ll be doing more of tomorrow.

My daughter insists she is not going to try any but she had a good time at the weekend. These swings were great:

And here’s a view of the lake to round things off for this post:

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