Permaculture Prize Fund

I seem to waking up maddeningly early at the moment – no doubt down to those light morning – so have been reading the Permaculture Magazine.

This is how I came to see the following advertisement:

Since posting this morning, I’ve discovered that the deadline has been extended to the end of June and the first prize increased to £10, 000. So, it’s something you can apply for, why not give it a go?

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Supermarket parsley

Last night, my daughter was playing steel pans at a music festival, so I had a lovely evening out – a beautiful drive along the A660, which provides one of the most amazing views in the whole of the country, as far as I am concerned. Of course, the bands were great to hear. And then on the way home, the children were hungry, so we popped into a supermarket, it being the cheapest option, to get some fodder.

The upshot of this little expedition was that I found potted parsley at a very reduced price. Especially appealing in view of the fact that I’ve mislaid the seed packet to sow my own.

The plants were deteriorating rapidly as today progressed, so I decided they had to be transferred to a planter now, rather than waiting for them to be hardened off. Hopefully, however, they will survive, as parsley is another of those herbs I enjoy eating very much.

The planter is going to be moved eventually back to the herb garden. At the moment, it’s standing on a patch where some of the sweetcorn will be going. These are doing very well – and these I have begun gardening off.

So far, I’ve got eight sweetcorn plants, two of which are already a fair size. If only it were warmer but, after last weekend’s high twenties, we’re back down in the low to mid teens.

Ah well, at least there is all the apple blossom to enjoy. And I harvested the first of the rhubarb today. This also seems to be on a bit of a go-slow, in spite of the pine mulch (which is doing well at keeping the moisture in the soil) and all those lovely bokashi solids round the crown. I think the cold weather might have something to do with it…

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

Whittling and old tights

It was wonderful weather for the workday at Old Sleningford Farm where we go once a month. I took one of my friends and I hope she enjoyed it as much as we did.

One of the jobs my daughter and I undertook was to whittle the bark off willow branches, so that they could be used as bean poles. Basically, if the bark is removed they won’t root.

As if that wasn’t enough gardening for one day, when we got home I spent a good couple of hours sowing, planting, removing netting and weeding. Then I decided it was time to remove the old tights that had been holding the first apple tree to its stake.

Poor thing! The tights had begun to throttle the trunk. This also made it difficult for me to cut them off, with the result that I made a small gash in the bark. However, I’m hoping some Vaseline will prevent any nasties getting in.

I also used a ‘new’ pair of tights, this time lower down the trunk and tied more loosely, in the hope that eventually I can remove the stake, once the tree is stronger. And of course I took the time to smell the blossom, which is now coming out on all the apple trees.

Normally, the crab apple blossom comes out first but I’m wondering if the cold start to spring held it back. All to the better, though, as there is a good chance the pollinators will be able to transfer the necessary and we’ll have a bountiful crop of apples.

With this in mind, although it could be too late for this year, having been told that Vaseline keeps critters from climbing up the tree and boring into the fruit, I put a ring of the stuff round the trunk for good measure.

Apart from hoping for the best on that front, I hope the oregano I planted in the place of the sage, which died this winter, settles in. And it will be good if the courgette seeds which came out of a fruit I got from Old Sleningford last year germinate and bear fruit. Not having had a crop of these for two years, it’s time for success in this department.

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Bye bye bills!

Before anyone thinks I have gone off-grid (no, not yet!), I still have bills, although I was pleased that the gas was less this winter than last (because of the new French doors?).

Yesterday, I dug a trench for bokashi solids, which I had lined with old bills/invoices.

Nice to see the back of more divorce paperwork – and nice to see it being put to good use. If only I’d known that each £20 I spent on a letter would be feeding my daughter and I one day!

Anyway, after filling the trench with bokashi solids, there were still some left. So, I sorted out the lemon balm.

When it first arrived in the garden, I put the shoot in a pot. It’s now outgrown this pot but the roots are a thick mass coming through the holes at the bottom. I therefore decided to leave it in the pot and simply fill the hole with the fertiliser before putting the pot in it.

So, all in all, a productive day.

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On the buses

Having bought a week-long bus ticket last Saturday, I’ve used it today to get to both my Knit and Natter group and my local organic farm, so I feel as though I’ve had a bit of an adventure. (NB I would normally use my car to make these journeys.)

It’s a shame that Arriva don’t do weekly tickets for children. This summer it would be great to use the buses as much as possible, now that I realise just how easy they are to travel on in the rural area outside Leeds. They aren’t as cheap, upfront, as the train or car when it’s the two of us but they do take the pressure off me. I’d also like to support the service as much as I can.

Anyway, I’ve got work to do in the garden (the rest of the bokashi bin needs to go in the ground after it’s been cleared of clover and rocket) but not having the photos to prove the future, here’s a photo I took from one of the bus stops I used this morning. There were houses across the road, which have got a decent country view.

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Unexpected onions

Yesterday, when I arrived at work, there was a big bag of onion sets in the staff room. ‘Please take them!’ one of my colleagues had written; her allotment association had ordered too many. Goodness knows how many they’d ordered considering the hundreds in the bag.

Anyway, I took a few and planted a number last night. Absolutely brilliant… I’m dotting them about the garden, as there isn’t a dedicated space for them this year.

Almost as soon as I’d put the onion sets in the ground last night, I saw a pair of pigeons come into the garden. I wonder if they were waiting for me to move off, as they came pretty close. They did, in fact, look like they were hanging about, pecking a bit in the ground where they were standing, but after a few minutes they flew off, possibly a bit disappointed.

I wish I could have got a photo. It was an enthralling experience, being so close to the birds. However, I knew they would be off the moment I moved.

Posted in Gardening, Wildlife | Tagged , | 20 Comments

The hugel pot and other matters

It seems ages ago since I posted about my plan to create a mini hugel bed in a pot for a tomato plant. However, the day has come.

I hope that the plastic sheet on top of the pot, weighed down with bricks, will prevent any unwelcome visits from rats. But it’s an experiment worth trying, considering bokashi solids and my own compost should feed the plant better than shop-bought compost. I did have to use a bit of the latter but only half as much as I would have, had the whole pot been filled with it.

Talking of bokashi solids, my original plan had been to move the compost bin before adding any to it. For better or worse, there is no available ground for it to be moved to, though. So, instead, I emptied the top half of the bin, put the bokashi solids in and then covered them up with the compost I’d taken out. Again, fingers crossed the rats don’t get wind of any delicious meals in that direction.

As if that wasn’t enough gardening for one day, I sowed two varieties of French bean (in the shed). One of these varieties is a borlotti type of bean, which will be interesting if it grows.

The cucumbers are germinating and so is one butternut squash plant (seed taken from the squash I bought in Saint-Malo), so it looks like I will be able to try the Three Sisters polyculture again this year.

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 16 Comments