In green living, sustainable living on March 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm
The moving of big stones from the back field down to the garden continued today. We have decided to leave the remains of the little house and use the stones which are spread around the area. These must have been from an old wall. Same type of squared off cut stones. They were quite clever in the situating of the house. Down in a hollow sheltered from the prevailing winds. Nowadays the new houses are built without any regard to orientation.
Mr. Muscles aka Andy was home today, he can lift heavier stones than I. I was bringing 2 or 3 stones to the barrowload…
he could bring 5! Showoff!!
Taking a little break to enjoy the Spring sunshine…the dogs enjoy a bit of attention. Oops! A bit of intimate sniffing going on there…
then a bit of playing.
Down in the garden the stone edging looks good. All the boards will have to be gradually replaced as they have been in place for 8 years and are starting to rot. Can you see the hole in the centre of the biggest stone? This stone would have held a metal gatepost in days gone by.
More stones wait to be given a new lease of life in their new garden home. Repurposing is I think the new word for recycling. Reuse, recycle, upcyle, repurpose. Whatever you want to call it is fine with me.
In nature, sustainable living on March 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm
As Spring Equinox approaches we are spending lots of time in the garden. It’s that time of year when the green returns and we are enthused by spending time revelling in it. In the polytunnel beds have been dug and manured ready for the plants that are growing in the seed trays. The Peach tree is in full flower. This will need to be hand pollinated as there are few insects about this early. Some seeds are sown direct in the beds: Oriental Salad Mix, Rocket, Spring Onions and Spinach.
All the manure used in the garden is from our own animals. There’s also the compost made from vegetable waste from the garden, vegetable peelings and teabags from the house. It is full of worms, beautifully dark and crumbly.
Spring Equinox is a day earlier than usual this year because of the leap year. The Equinox ocurs about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day backwards on leap years, hence 20th March this year. The Sun will be rising earlier each day now, 6.o5 tomorrow, and nightfall will be coming later and later.
Strawberries are already flowering in the polytunnel, very early this year. This is an alpine variety, small but very sweet fruits.
At the Vernal Equinox day and night are of almost equal length. The Sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours, then sets exactly in the west. I look forward to the budding trees revealing their beautiful new leaves, the wind becoming less harsh, plants sprouting and everything being seized by the vibrancy of the Spring season. For this is the real beginning of Spring.
Everything in nature is being revived, growth really takes off and the Sun is gaining height and strength. A great festival of awakening.
Happy days to all. May you and yours revel in the joy and beauty of it all.
In Animals, off grid living, vegetable growing on February 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm
As Spring proceeds the animals sense the change in season, they are full of the joys of it. They are playful with each other and us. Bella loves to head-butt but does’nt realise her own strength so one has to be careful.
Once one goat starts friskin about they all join in. Enid, the hornless one, is usually pretty quiet but even she got caught up in the joy of it all.
The dogs get excited when they see the goats jumping about. They bark and chase after them which adds to the general chaos. Enid has her ears back in this pic. She does this when she’s not sure about something. Lettie just stands there barking away until I shout at her. She just loves barking. Right, that’s enough of that!
Time to do some chores. Vegetables to be harvested for the evening meal. The carrots and parsnips, together with onions, garlic and butternut squash will make a tasty, nourishing soup. The Beetroot will be juiced. There’s still quite a bit of beetroot in the polytunnel. It will have to be pulled soon before it starts to grow again. The parsnips are almost finished. They were all doubles this year, don’t know why. Still a good number of carrots growing in the polytunnel. They too need to be harvested soon. We always grow carrots in the polytunnel as they don’t get the carrot root fly in there.
Walking past the flowerbeds on the way to the house with the produce I notice the little Sedum (sorry, Saxifrage, thanks Alberto,) is ready to burst into flower soon. This has spread to create quite a big patch so it will make a good impact. Spring is here! Hurrah!!
Back in the house the stove is ticking over. Freddie fells the cold more than the other dogs, probably because he’s so small and has a short coat. He likes to sit as close as possible to the heat. Aw! poor little poochie!
In Animals, Gardening on January 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm
Officially it is still Winter but the weather has it’s own mind. Today was Springlike in the valley. Just beautiful! I spent late morning pruning last years growth, now dead and brown, from the perennials on the bed by the Birch tree. I leave it over Winter so the birds can feast on any seeds. The birds kept me entertained as I worked, lots of them singing and chirping in the Birch tree. So many Tits and Chaffinches, and a few Goldfinches too. Can you spot the little Blue Tit in the Birch Tree?
It’s amazing how much early growth there’s been this year, 23rd January today and Sweet Cicely is already flowering.
Arum Lily has put on a lot of growth and
Escallonia is looking lush and healthy. Last year it came through the Winter but looked battered and bruised.
In the afternoon Lisa the Equine Dentist came to look at Daphne’s teeth. Donkeys teeth need to be checked anually especially as they get older. Daphne is about 22 now. Far back in the Donkey’s jaw are the molars, these often give trouble because the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw, the grinding movement is from side to side, so the teeth on the outer edges of the upper jaw and the inner edges of the lower do not get any wear. This in time leads to sharp points developing which will cause discomfort for the animal. The dentist uses a rasp, which is like a giant file, to rectify the problem.
Daphne did’nt need her teeth rasped today but she did have a loose tooth which Lisa extracted very quickly. Loose teeth can be sore and impede grazing so they do need to be checked by an expert.
And there it is, the troublesome tooth, gone! Daphne did’nt seem a bit bothered and returned to grazing as soon as she was back in the field.
In Gardening, Off the beaten track. on March 24, 2011 at 10:12 am
The first Cauliflower of the season, small but perfectly formed.
The “hungry gap” is the gardener’s name for the period in Spring when there is little or no fresh produce available from the garden. With good planning it is possible to avoid this lull in production. The cauliflower pictured is a variety called Marzatico from Italy. Seeds were sown last August and plants planted around end of September. We plant a lot in August for Winter and Spring crops. Oriental salads, Winter Onion sets, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale being the main ones. There is actually a variety of Kale called Hungry Gap which crops in Spring.
Ragged Jack Kale.
The Ragged Jack Kale is now going to seed but this is not the end of its production. The leaves can still be picked and the seed heads can be picked and steamed, they are quite like Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Do pick before flowers appear though. Removing the central shoot encourages the plant to send out lots of side shoots.
Meanwhile seed sowing continues furiously here. Yesterday I sowed a bed of Parsnips, we have just finished the last of the current crop, germination can be slow so they need to go in early. Peas were also sown. The variety is Meteor which I got from Seed Savers in Co. Clare. The don’t grow too tall, about a metre, so support is easier. These modules are great as they are longer than the usual ones and made from stronger plastic. I have them about 10 years and they are still in perfect condition. The extra length means plants can stay in there a little longer. Apparently these modules are using for growing tree seedlings.
In Gardening, sustainable living on March 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm
The first Daffodils opened here yesterday. Things happen a little later here as we are 110 metres above sea level. The bees are in ecstacy to have a supply of nectar again. It’s lovely to watch them flitting from flower to flower.
I wonder why so many Spring flowers are yellow?
The fields are greening up again, almost recovered from the hard Winter frost. Daphne is delighted to have fresh pickings again. No artificial fertilisers are used on the land here so no pollution runoff. Actually we are very lucky here as our smallholding is bounded by an organic farm. The only thing we put on the land is lime every few years. The land here is fairly acidic because of the high rainfall. The application of lime helps to sweeten the land and improves grass growth. Everything here, vegetables, fruits and animal health is dependant on soil health so it is incredibly important to look after it.
These hyacinths were some of my January sales buys. They were brought on in the polytunnel. The flowers started opening up yesterday so I brought them into the house to get the full benefit of their glorious scent. This morning the heat in the house had coaxed the flowers to open fully. The scent pervading the whole house today is gorgeous, I love it.
The weather here today is great, sunny since early morning. It feels like Summer. It’s the first day this year that I am only wearing one layer of clothing. Yippee, I’m off now to sow parsnip seed and continue mulching the fruit area.
In arigna, Gardening, sustainable living on March 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm
Spring has arrived here in Arigna. Lots of growth on everything fills me with anticipation of the abundance of Summer. Despite the hard frosts of Winter we have lost very few plants.
Fevruary Orchid with Kale behind.
In the polytunnel the Winter salads have started to grow again. We even have edible flowers from the February Orchid, actually the whole plant is edible.Its botanical name is Orychophragmus violaceus and it is’nt an orchid at all but a brassica which is native to China. Sown in Summer and Autumn it provides mild but tasty leaves in the Spring. It has been providing leaves and flowers, always welcome at this time, since the first week in February.